The Book of Mormon: an Account written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates taken from the Plates of Nephi.
Here is a bitter satire on the much talked of "march of mind," and the self-laudation of "this nineteenth century!" Here is a pretended revelation, so absurd, so puerile, that it would seem unlikely to impede on the most ignorant and uncivilized, which has found thousands of followers in England -- has been adopted by a party sufficiently numerous and wealthy to support a monthly periodical called the Millenial Star -- and has so far advanced in organisation as to possess synodical conferences, local councils, and a general assembly!
And overcome us like a summer cloud,
Without our special wonder?
We have nothing to do with the religious tenets of the Mormonites; it is enough to say that they are nearly identical with those of the German Anabaptists in the days of Luther, and that there are grounds for suspecting the coincidences to have been intentional; but the audacious forgery before us belongs to literary history, and, if for no better reason than its novelty, deserves to be investigated: indeed, in boldness of assertion and nullity of evidence, it is without a parallel in the annals of imposture. We shall first state the account which the Mormonites themselves give of their pretended revelation, and then from external and internal evidence show what was the origin of the forgery, and some of the circumstances which have contributed to give it currency both in America and in England.
Joseph Smith, jun., the apostle of the Mormonites, declares that reflecting upon the many hundred denominations into which the Christian world is divided, he went into a grove, at a short distance from his father's house, and there besought Divine aid to show him which of all the rival claimants was the true Church. "While thus pouring out his soul," says the narrative published by the Mormonite church, "anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner." Into this cloud of glory Smith, says the narrative, was received, and he met within it two angelic personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features; they informed him that all his sins were forgiven, that all the religious denominations then existing were believing in erroneous doctrines, and consequently, "that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom." At the same time he received a promise, "that the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time be made known to him."
It is worth pausing to observe the similarity between this story and the account Mahommed gave of the first revelation he received; the coming of the angel Gabriel to his cave; the purification from original sin, and the promise of a future revelation to be given when he made the night-journey to heaven.
Joseph Smith, like Mahommed according to some traditions, did not pay much attention to the first revelation; but a second was vouchsafed to him in his bed-room, on the night of the 21st of September, 1823. A single personage appeared by his bedside, and notwithstanding the brightness of the light which previously illuminated the room, "there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenance was as lightning, yet, it was of a pleasing, innocent, and glorious appearance; so much so, that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul. The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men of this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam." This celestial being informed Smith that the American Indians were "a remnant of Israel," who had anciently prophets and inspired writers amongst them, and that some of their records, "by commandment of God, to one of the last of the prophets" had been deposited in a safe and sacred place, to keep them from the hands of the wicked who sought to destroy them.
The third revelation, which was vouchsafed on the following morning, informed Joseph Smith of the place where these relics were deposited; it was "in a large hill in the east side of the mail-road from Palmyra, Wayne county, to Canandaigua, Ontario county, state of New York, about four miles from Palmyra, and within one of the little village of Manchester." Here Joseph Smith found a square stone chest, containing plates like gold, "about seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite so thick as common tin." The Devil made his appearance while the box was being opened, but the purpose for which he came is not explained in the narrative.
The angel did not allow Smith to take these golden plates until he had been instructed in the Egyptian language, for it was in "the modern Egyptian" characters and language that these plates were graven. On the 22d of September, 1827, the angel delivered the record to Joseph Smith, Jun., and in the course of the following year he transcribed his translation of "the unsealed" portion of the records, under the name of 'The Book of Mormon,' which, as the narrative with truth declares, "contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament." The work was, however, not published until the year 1830, and on the 6th of April, in that year, the Mormonites formed themselves into a sect, under the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" -- that is, about the time that the Unknown Tongues began to make a noise in England. The first burst of this enthusiasm was terrific; in the words of the narrative, "Devils were cast out, and the sick were healed by the prayer of faith and laying on of hands." An impostor named Matthews, or as he called himself, Matthias, proclaimed himself the Supreme Being, and might have become the head of the sect, had not the death of one of his votaries under suspicious circumstances placed him as a criminal at the bar of justice, where his cowardice and his stupidity united to disenchant the female portion of his flock, which was both the larger and the more lucrative to the impostor. The disclosures made at the trial, of the influence of this man, were scarcely credible.
The Book of Mormon, included in a substantial structure of 634 pages, consists of two histories or romances very inartfully connected. The history of the Nephites, a portion of the tribe of Joseph, occupies the first portion. They are described as having emigrated from Jerusalem under the guidance of the prophet Nephi, and having been miraculously led to America, where they became the progenitors of the Indian race. Many years after their settlement they are supposed to discover the records of the Jaredites, an extinct nation, which came to America about the time of the building of Babel. The specimens we shall extract from this strange production will both serve as examples of its style, and also help us to trace the origin of the forgery. We shall first extract a portion of the vision of Nephi, in which he was foreshown the discovery of America by Europeans.
"And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me saying, look! And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms. And the angel saith unto me, what beholdest thou? And I said I behold many nations and kingdoms, and he saith unto me, these are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.
"And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles, the foundation of a great church. And the angel said unto me, Behold the foundation of a church, which is most abominable above all churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil, that he was the foundation of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church: and also for the praise of the world, do they destroy the Saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
"And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And it came to pass that the angel said unto me, behold, the wrath of God is upon the seed of my brethren! And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, which were in the promised land.
"And it came to pass that I beheld the spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
"And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles, upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles, and they were smitten. And I beheld the spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles; that they did prosper, and obtain the land of their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceeding fair and beautiful, like unto my people, before they were slain.
The allusion to the Church of Rome in this part of the vision is so obvious a manifestation of forgery, that it may appear strange how an impostor could have been guilty of such a blunder; but from 1825 to 1832 there was a strong current of popular prejudice against the Roman Catholics in the state of New York, which was considerably strengthened by the publication of Maria Monk's pretended confession; some converts and chapels were destroyed by fanatical mobs, and these circumstances, no doubt, induced the author to court popular prejudice, to which, when at its full height, in America, no appeal can be too gross.
A still more palpable blunder occurs in a subsequent page. After the emigrants have sailed, they are described as mutinying against Nephi, as the Spanish crews did against Columbus, but they released him when a tempest came on, as he was the only person capable of working the ship. He is then represented as saying:
"And it came to pass that after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after that I had prayed, the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."
The impostor was not aware that he was antedating the discovery of the needle's polarity by several centuries, and he speaks of the compass in such a way as to show that he was utterly ignorant of the nature of the implement. A Mormonite elder has unwittingly explained the probable source of this error; when pressed with this palpable mark of forgery, he unhesitatingly replied that the compass was mentioned in Scripture, quoting from the account of St. Paul's voyage, "We fetched a compass, (that is, took a circuitous course) and came to Rhegium." It would be fortunate if the misapprehensions of the sacred text, by such ignorant readers, were confined to a blunder so innocent as this whole whimsical misapprehension.
The history of the settlements of the emigrants in North and South America contains some romantic and some very puerile incidents; but passing these by, we turn to the prophecies of Nephi, to show how cunningly they are framed to support the imposture. The prophet is represented as predicting not merely the long concealment and future discovery of the sacred books or plates, but also that the language in which they were written should be unintelligible to the learned, and should be interpreted by one whose only learning was derived from inspiration:
" But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book, take these words which are not sealed, and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying, read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, bring hither the book, and I will read them: and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain, will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof, to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned, shall say, I am not learned; then shall the Lord say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. Touch not the things which sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men, that I am able to do mine own work."
In a similar strain the prophet enters into an anticipatory argument with those who shall declare the Bible is the sole revelation of the Deity:
"Thou fool, that shall say a bible, we have got a bible, and we need no more bible. Have ye obtained a bible, save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember they which are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many, that I am the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be, until the end of man; neither from that time henceforth and forever."
The history of the pretended Israelites is continued in the books of Enos, Jarom, Zeniff, &c., and through them all, we find one signal proof not merely of imposture, but of the ignorance of the impostor, repeated with singular pertinacity. Every successive prophet predicts to the Nephites the future coming of Christ; the writer has fallen into the vulgar error of mistaking an epithet for a name; the word "Christ," as all educated persons know, is not a name, but a Greek title of office, signifying "The Anointed," being in fact a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah; it is true that in modern times, and by a corruption which is now become inveterate, the term is used by western Christians, as if it were a proper name, or at least an untranslatable designation, but this is a modern error, and it has been avoided by most of the oriental churches. Now, the use of a Greek term, at an age when the Greek language was unformed, and by a people with whom it was impossible for Greeks to have intercourse, and moreover, whose native language was of such peculiar construction as not to be susceptible of foreign admixture, is a mark of forgery so obvious and decisive that it ought long since to have exposed the delusion. Unhappily, however, we are forced to conclude from the pamphlets before us, that the American Methodists, who first undertook to expose the Mormonites, were scarcely less ignorant than themselves.
A second Nephi takes up the history at a period contemporary with the events recorded in the New Testament. It avers that our Lord exhibited himself to the Nephites after his resurrection, and the words attributed to him bear still more conclusive evidence of the ignorance of the impostors:
"Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the Sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."
In addition to the former blunder respecting the name "Christ," we have the name "Jesus" in its Greek form, and not as the Hebrews would have called it, "Joshua;" but we have furthermore the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet given as a metaphorical description of continued existence to a nation that had never heard of the Greek language. It is quite clear that the writer mistook Alpha and Omega for some sacred and mystical sounds, to which particular sanctity was attached, -- a blunder by no means confined to the Mormonites, -- and wrote them down without perceiving that they were an evidence of forgery, so palpable as to be manifest to school-boys.
The change of colour in the descendants of the emigrants is stated to have been a punishment for their sins, and the final sealing up of the sacred records before the arrival of the Europeans is attributed to the increasing wickedness of the people. The rules, principally relating to the necessity of total immersion in the sacrament of baptism.
Enough has now been said to show the nature and character of this extraordinary forgery. Had the success of the imposture been confined to America, we might have noticed its history briefly, as a strange example of the aberrations of the human mind; but it is making rapid progress in England, particularly in the manufacturing districts; and it is also spreading in Wales. Furthermore, its contents are not made from the lowest ranks; those sought and obtained by the Mormonite apostles are mechanics and tradesmen who have saved a little money, who are remarkable for their moral character, but who are exposed to delusion from having, as Archbishop Sharpe expressed it, "studied the Bible with an ill-balanced mind." We feel it therefore a duty to expose the origin of the imposture and to give some particulars respecting its authors, which we trust will be of service in preventing the spread of the delusion.
From the testimony of eighty different persons residing in Wayne and Ontario counties, New York, it appears that Joseph Smith, junior, was originally a "Money-digger." It is a common belief in America that large sums of money were buried in the earth by the buccaneers, and by persons compelled to fly from their homes during the Revolutionary war. Of this belief many impostors have taken advantage, declaring that they can discover the treasure by spells and incantations. The success with which Smith practiced these arts, pointed him out as a fit associate to Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery, who had by accident become possessed of the manuscripts which were made the foundation of the 'Book of Mormon.' It is of some importance to observe that there were two sets of impostors, originally distinct, -- the pretended discovery of the metallic plates, devised by Smith and Martin Harris, and the pretended translation of these plates, published as the 'Book of Mormon,' which appears to have been suggested by Sidney Rigdon.
Smith, Harris, and some others, were known as the "Gold Bible Company," before the pretended discovery of the plates, and for some time after that event seem to have had no notion of founding a new religion. In the authentication of the pretended discovery, signed by seven witnesses only, which Smith published, the witnesses only testify, "We have seen and hefted (lifted), and know of a surety that the said Smith hath got the plates of which we have spoken." Hence the original fraud appears to have been a scheme of pretended treasures and forged antiquities.
We shall soon see how this fraud was connected with the 'Book of Mormon.' A clergyman named Solomon Spaulding left the ministry and entered into business in Cherry Vale, New York, where he failed in the year 1809. The discoveries of the antiquities of the "Mounds" occurred about the same time; and when he removed after his failure into the state of Ohio, he found much curiosity excited by these relics of extinct civilization.
Long previous it had been a popular theory with certain speculative writers, that the aboriginal Americans were the descendants of the Ten Tribes; indeed the theory has still many advocates in the United States. Spaulding hoped by combining this theory with recent discoveries to produce a novel, the sale of which would enable him to pay his debts. He resolved to call it 'Manuscript Found,' and to present it to the world as an historical record of the first inhabitants of America. As he was a vain man, he frequently read portions of the work to his friends and neighbors. His brother, his partner, his wife, and six of his friends testify. "That they well remember many of the names and incidents mentioned in Spaulding's manuscript, and that they know them to be the same as those found in the 'Book of Mormon.'"
The manuscript was prepared for press, and in 1812 Spaulding took it to a printer named Lambdin, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: before any arrangements could be concluded, the author died; and as the MS. was of great extent, Lambdin was unwilling to risk his money on the speculation. He lent the MS. to Sidney Rigdon, who, on the death of Lambdin in 1826, joined with Smith in palming it on the world as a new revelation. The worthy associates re-wrote and greatly altered the work; their additions to it can indeed be often traced by the clumsiness with which they are introduced, and among these additions we find prominent the promise, that the New Jerusalem should be founded in America, the command that the saints should have a community of goods, and the rule, that all admitted into the body should receive baptism by total immersion.
The history of the fraud is a proper introduction to the purposes for which it was designed. In addition to the 'Book of Mormon' the impostors have produced another work, called 'The Book of Doctrines and Covenants,' which they allow to be seen only by the initiated, and to be put into the hands only of those on whom they can depend. No copy of this work is to be procured in England, but we have been able to obtain some extracts taken by gentlemen in America. In this work the demand for money meets us everywhere. The following language is put into the mouth of the Supreme Being: --
"Let all the monies which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive.... Let all those who have not families, who receive money, send it up unto the bishop in Zion, or unto the bishop in Ohio, that it may be consecrated for the bringing forth of the revelations, and the printing thereof, and for establishing Zion." sec. 17. "He that sendeth up treasures unto the land of Zion shall receive an inheritance in this world. And his work shall follow him. And also a reward in the world to come.... It is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, jun., should have a house built in which to live and translate. And again it is meet that my servent, Sidney Rigdon, should live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments," sec. 64.
The following reveals some particulars respecting Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the supernatural origin of the 'Book of Mormon:' --
"Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God, for my servant Oliver Cowdery's sake. It is not wisdom in me that he should be intrusted with the commandments and the monies, which he shall carry up unto the land of Zion, except one go with him who is true and faithful. Wherefore I, the Lord, willeth that my servant John Whitmer shall go with my servant Oliver Cowdery," sec. 44.
In August 1831, the Mormonites, or "Latter-day saints," commenced their settlements in Missouri. In about two years their numbers had considerably increased, when the other inhabitants of the State took up arms against them, and a sanguinary civil war raged for nearly five years. We have no inclination to enter into the details of the lawless outrages committed on both sides, or the frightful picture they give of American life in the frontier provinces. It will be sufficient to say that true bills for murder were found against the Mormonite leaders, and that many of them contrived to escape from prison. Among the fugitives we find the names of several of the Mormonites in England, particularly Parley P. Pratt, the editor of the Millenial Star at Manchester. In the Mormonite appeal it is recorded:
"A bill was found against Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, and Luman Gibbs for murder, and also a man by the name of King Follett for robbery.... In the evening when the jailer brought in their suppers, they walked out at the door: that is, Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, and King Follett; Luman Gibbs continued; the others were closely pursued and Follett was retaken and carried back; but the other two effected their escape to the State of Illinois."
Since their expulsion from Missouri, the Mormonites have settled in Illinois, and founded three towns, the chief of which they call Nauvoo -- a name from which they have the hardihood to assert is derived from the Hebrew, and signifies Beautiful. They have sent missionaries into various parts of England to collect recruits; the deluded victims are persuaded to deposit their little stocks in the treasury of the sect, and are then sent over to the settlements on the Mississippi. They have been most successful in Preston, from whence no less than forty-four respectable persons, respectable at least in their class, have emigrated to the Mormonite colony within the last three weeks. This success may, in some degree, be attributed to the art by which the Mormonite leaders have connected themselves with the Temperance movement, In the 80th section of the 'Book of Doctrine,' the Temperance rules are strongly enjoined on the Mormonites, and hence they can present themselves to zealots in the cause as the only sect in which total abstinence is a matter of religious obligation. We find also that they are endeavouring to gain the Irvingites and Campbellites; for in a communication from Clithero it is stated, -- "As soon as the converts were baptized and confirmed, they spoke with unknown tongues." The last reports of the Mormonite Elders boast of increasing success, particularly in Staffordshire, Herefordshire, and Wales; and we have reason to fear that the boast is not wholly destitute of foundation.
Before closing this statement it is necessary to say a few words respecting the Mormonite hymns, for which they make a claim to divine inspiration, and which have really proved very efficient agents in their success. Greater balderdash than these productions can scarcely be conceived; they are devoid of grammar, sense, or rhyme; and yet they are compared by the deluded Mormonites to the Psalms of David. One specimen will suffice. It forms part of a contrast between the first and second advent of the Messiah: --
And into Egypt fled, --
A pilgrim and a stranger
Not where to lay his head.
The second at his temple
Will suddenly appear,
And all his saints come with him
To reign a thousand year.
The first a man of sorrows
Rejected by his own;
And Israel left in blindness
To wander forth forlorn.
The second brings deliverance,
They crown him as their king,
The own him as their Saviour
And join his praise to sing.
Human patience can copy no more. Before concluding, however, we must call the attention of those who are engaged in resisting the progress of this heresy, to plain internal evidences of forgery which we have shown in the 'Book of Mormon.' The imposture is artfully framed to catch those who are familiar with the language and style of our authorised version, but know nothing of the original; we see that its authors have adopted the most vulgar errors, but we may also see that they would not have adopted them. had not such errors been common. A very little general instruction would have saved most of the victims of this delusion; and assuredly nothing but a vast extent of popular ignorance can account for a success of such an imposture here, at the time when it had notoriously begun to fail in America.
Note 1: With this article British religious reporters graduated from the pages of transient tracts and newspaper columns, into the more respected realm of series periodicals -- the sort of publications that might be gathered into bound volumes and preserved for future consultation. The 1840s British and American magazines that began printing reports on the "Mormonites" could typically offer more space for longer, more detailed articles than those featured in the more ephemeral columns of daily and weekly newspapers. The Athenaeum, a weekly paper out of London, spanned the gap between weekly newspapers and a magazine periodicals -- thus furnishing a literary stepping-stone for subsequent "Mormonism" articles to gain entry into respected journals such as the Dublin University Magazine. The March, 1843 issue of the latter title featured an expansion (perhaps even by the same author) of the London Athenaeum's 1841 report. -- See also the reprint in the July, 1841 issue of the Philadelphia Museum of Foreign Literature, Science and Art.
Note 2: The Mormons in the United Kingdom did not take the The Athenaeum's accusations lying down -- see their response in the Millennial Star of May, 1841.
M I L L E N N I A L S T A R,
EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY P. P. PRATT,
47, OXFORD STREET, MANCHESTER.
Vol. II. Manchester, U. K., May, 1841. No. 1.
REPLY TO THE ATHENAEUM.
The writer, after copying the title-page of the book, observes, "Here is a pretended revelation so absurd, so puerile, that it would seem unlikely to impose on the most ignorant and uncivilised, which has found thousands of followers in England -- has been adopted by a party sufficiently numerous and wealthy to support a periodical called the Millennial Star -- and has so far advanced in organization as to possess synodical conferences, local councils, and a general assembly!
And overcome us like a summer cloud,
Without our special wonder?"
The writer next introduces several lengthy extracts from the said book, -- compares it with Mahomed, -- pronouces the whole a base forgery, -- and brings in the imposter Matthias, who lately figured at Sing Sing, near New York, and would fain leave the impression that he (Matthias) was connected with the saints. A more false and wicked insinuation was never penned by man, or instigated by satan, the father of lies. Matthias had no more to do with the saints than he had to do with the Athenaeum.
After many ignorant and unjust remarks, the writer proceeds to find fault with Mormon, for mentioning the compass of Nepbi several hundred years before the discovery of the needle's polarity.
The ignoramus seems not to possess the knowledge of the fact that the compass is supposed by many learned men to have been invented in Egypt, and well known to the ancients; and that it is a matter of authentic history that it was used in early times to traverse the deserts of Arabia and Africa. (See Mr. Davenport's works on electro-magnetism, lately published in New York.)
But, be this as it may, it has no bearing upon the subject of the compass ot Nephi, spoken of in the Book of Mormon: for the book tells us expressly that
2 REPLY TO THE ATHENAEUM.the Lord prepared the said compass, and that it was not invented by man.
It would be presumption indeed to say that the Lord had no knowledge of the needle's polarity until some man discovered it and taught it to him. -- Query. Who taught the Lord the art of ship building? -- (See the plan of the Ark as given to Noah.) -- Who taught the Lord to be a tailor? -- (See the account in Genesis, where the Lord God made coats of skins for our first parents.) -- From whom did the Lord derive his knowledge of architecture? (See his plan of the Tabernacle and also the Temple! !!)
From whom did he obtain education, for he wrote with his own finger?
Or who taught him the trade of stonecutting, that he might hew out the two tables which Moses broke?
If man originated all these things, and then taught them to the Lord, then perhaps He is indebted to man for his knowledge and skill in preparing the compass of Nephi!
The Athenaeum sets it down as a sure mark of forgery that the terms Christ -- Jesus -- Alpha -- Omega, &c., should occur in a work translated from an ancient American record, seeing these are Greek terms. A more ignorant objection than this can scarcely be imagined. What! must a translator enter into the origin of words; or must he use them as they are in common use, without regard to their derivation? Must an English work of the nineteenth century avoid all terms except those which were originally English, all which, though now in English use, have been borrowed from the Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Egyptian, Chaldeic, Arabic, and a hundred others?
Certainly a translator would find but a barren language indeed. English literature is almost entirely made up of words adopted from other languages. The ancient dialect of the English was a barbarian jargon, barely adapted to the use of the unpolished natives in the common concerns of life. It had no literature until the light of science, civilisation, and Christianity, in its progress westward, dawned upon the remote island of Britain -- dispelled the darkness, polished the rough manners of the natives, and enriched the language by degrees, by the introduction of an almost numberless variety of words borrowed from the languages of various nations, who had in turn stood foremost in the ranks of polished life.
Among the terms thus introduced were those of Christ, Jesus, Messiah, Alpha, Omega, Jehovah, God, Baptise, Sacrament, Bible, Testament, Confirm, Apostle, Disciple, Prophet, Evangalist, Pastor, Deacon, &c. &c., -- none of which were originally English, although now in as common use, both in America and England, as any English words we have. Now, in translating the Book of Mormon from the Egyptian into modern English, all these, and a thousand other words and names, must be avoided, or it will be considered "all a forgery." In other words, a translation of Egyptian into English must be Egyptian still! and be entirely unintelligible to the millions for whom it is designed. The word compass, for instance, must be "Liahona," and the honey-bee must be called "Deseret."
All the Saints, and all the Methodists who have opposed them, are now set down as fools, because they have not discovered these ''sure and certain marks of forgery," viz., that the Book of Mormon mentions the name of Christ in an English translation! Having made this denunciation, this giant in literature congratulates himself and us with the sure expectation that the work is effectually detected and overthrown!
How it is that the Athenaeum, the Edinburgh Intelligencer, and a Preston paper, and some others professing a high literary character, should have imposed upon themselves and their readers, and exposed their own ignorance and folly by giving publicity to a piece so fraught with weakness and inconsistency, it is difficult to imagine. But so it is; and this is but another proof that on religious subjects men have lost their reason, and gone mad; the firm and fixed traditions
REPLY TO THE ATHENAEUM. 3of men having long since taken the place where reason and thought should preside without a rival.
After quoting largely from the Book of Mormon, and criticising its language, the Athenaeum remarks as follows: --
"Enough has been said to show the nature and character of this extraordinary forgery. Had its success been confined to America we might have noticed its history briefly, as a strange example of the aberrations of the human mind; but it is making rapid progress in England, particularly in the manufacturing districts, and it is also spreading in Wales. Furthermore, its converts are not made from the lowest ranks; those sought for and obtained by the Mormonite apostles are mechanics and tradesmen who have saved a little money, and who are remarkable for their moral character, but who are exposed to delusion from having, as Archbishop Sharpe expresses it, 'studied the Bible with an ill balanced mind.' We feel it therefore a duty to expose the origin of the imposture, and give some particulars respecting its authors, which we trust will be of service in preventing the spread of the delusion."
It then proceeds to give the usual catalogue of lies and fables which are connected with the old Spaulding story, and which have been published and replied to, and republished and replied to for several years, both in America and England, till at length they have ceased to be noticed, or to have any effect among friends or enemies. Indeed, most of those who embrace the doctrine of the Saints have read the old Spaulding story and all the other concerns about money digging, before they joined the society. If our enemies wish to oppose us they must bring something besides these old fables, for they have been sufficiently tried, and found unsuccessful.
However, each succeeding edition of these "old wives fables" has something fresh added to it, which the lovers of falsehood suppose will answer their purpose better and better still.
For instance, the Athenaeum has given us an edition with this addition, viz., that Spaulding's Romance " was lent to S. Rigdon." The former editions, we believe, only venture a presumption that S. Rigdon might have seen Spaulding's Romance. So that, upon the whole, we would recommend this Athenaeum edition, as the best calculated to answer the purpose of all who wish to stop the truth, by the circulation of falsehood, of any we have ever seen. There is also another lie which is well worth the attention of all lovers of slander and falsehood, viz., that the Saints are commanded in the Book of Mormon to have a community of goods. There is no such commandment in the Book of Mormon, but only an historical allusion to the fact that they did some times have a community of goods in ancient times; but it is well known, both at home and abroad, that the Latter-day Saints have no community of goods.
The words "total immersion" are also used by this learned critic. We are so unlearned that we hardly understand his meaning, or where total immersion differs from the baptism which is practised by that sect to which the editor belongs: perhaps they may immerse the thumb, the arm, or the big toe, and then inform their flock that they have been "buried with Christ in baptism." Romans 6th.
We are next informed that the Saints have a book called the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which is kept secret from all but such of the members as can be depended on. This is another ignorant blunder. The book referred to was published to wicked and righteous, as far as it would go, till it was out of print, so that at this time it is impossible to supply even our own elders and Church officers with a copy, until reprinted.
He says, "In this work the demand for money meets us everywhere," and then proceeds to give a few garbled and misquoted extracts, touching our temporal affairs as a colony, and seems to wonder that the Saints should use money in purchasing lands, printing the Word of God, building houses, &c., as though
4 REPLY TO THE ATHENAEUM.a prophet or apostle never mentioned money in the whole Bible. Indeed we suppose he never read the prophet Isaiah, which says that they shall come with their silver and gold to Zion. Moses and the prophets, and Jesus and his apostles, speak more about money and property than about any other subject whatever. But this editor seems to think it strange for God to give a revelation on the subject of money!
We are next informed that in 1831 the Saints commenced a settlement in Missouri; that about two years after, the other inhabitants of the state took up arms against them, and a sanguinary civil war raged for nearly five years, after which (the Athenaeum says) TRUE BILLS FOR MURDER were found against some of their apostles and leaders, particularly Parley P. Pratt, the editor of the Millennial Star, and that the Saints were EXPELLED FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI, and have finally settled in the slate of Illinois, and founded three towns.
A strange ignorance of the rights of man, as guaranteed by the American institutions, is here betrayed by the writer.
First, he informs us that the other inhabitants of Missouri made war upon the Saints for five years. This is as much as to say they became MURDERERS, ROBBERS, PLUNDERERS, &c., of the Saints, and next informs us that these same murderers, who made war upon the Saints, sat in judgment upon P. P. Pratt and others who defended their wives, children, houses, and homes, in this "war," and found bills against the said patriots for MURDER!! Next, he says, these same Saints were expelled from Missouri. Now, as the editor of the Athenaeum is a literary character, who professes great intelligence, as also is the Edinburgh Intelligencer, will they be so kind us to tell us by what law part of the citizens of an American state make "war" upon other citizens of the same state? Secondly, by what law self-defence is construed into murder? Third, by what law the citizens of one state are EXPELLED to another?
Or, to suppose a plain case -- suppose the inhabitants of Edinburgh were the owners of the lands and houses of the town and vicinity; that all the estates were theirs by an undisputed title, obtained from the highest authorities of England by fair purchase; suppose these people were all Methodists and their neighbours were Roman Catholics. These Catholics drive the Methodists out of Edinburgh, and finally out of Scotland into England -- rob them of millions -- take forcible possession of their lands -- burn part of their houses, and occupy the remainder -- and finally kill some scores of them, and imprison others, on pretence that they had aided in the defence of their firesides, wives, and children; and that this defence should be called murder. Such would be the true state of the case as it transpired in Missouri, and as published in the American papers in all parts of the republic. If the English editors are ignorant of this, they are wilfully so, for almost every paper in America has given details of that horrible persecution, which has called forth the sympathy of all parties, both political and religious. Even public meetings have been held, both in New York and several other large places, on behalf of the suffering, persecuted, and exiled Saints.
These meetings were composed of editors, clergymen, statesmen, governors, merchants, lawyers, &c., nearly all of whom were unconnected with our society. The proceedings of these meetings have been extensively published in the political papers.
Besides all this, the whole matter has been two several times before the American Congress, with an overwhelming degree of testimony, and this memorial and its accompanying documents printed at the expense of government, by order of the last session of Congress. Indeed, the said Parley P. Pratt, whom the Athenaeum accuses of MURDER and of an underhanded escape from justice, has since his escape from prison
REPLY TO THE ATHENAEUM. 5stood before the Senate and House of Representatives at Washington, and before his Excellency the President of the Federal Government with an application for the whole Missouri affair to be investigated, and the wrongs redressed according to LAW. These are public facts well known to the world, being not only published in the newspapers, but several different authors have published each a history of this persecution. One of these, a work of 216 pages, is now extensively published in England, and may be had at the book stores in Manchester; it is entitled "A History of the late persecution of the Latter-Day Saints in Missouri,'' &c.
Now with all this information before the public, it is downright wickedness or unpardonable stupidity and ignorance that causes editors in this country to speak of this awful affair in a point of light so unjust, so disgraceful to humanity. No doubt if such men had the power they would burn men to the stake, in order to compel their thoughts to run in the channel which popularity may happen to dictate.
These men have now to learn that ihey have men to deal with who never yet feared the face of mortal since they were put into possession of the knowledge of the truth; and who will expose their folly and absurdity whenever they attempt to oppose the truth with such foolish imaginations and wicked lies. But to return to our review. This literary hero next observes that we have a town in Illinois which we call Nauvoo, and which we "have the hardihood to assert is derived from the Hebrew."'
What does he mean by hardihood in this sentence? If he is so ignorant as to think Nauvoo is not Hebrew we pledge ourselves to prove the fact by quoting the original, chapter and verse. ("They were beautiful, adorned." 225th page of Joseph Samuel C. F. Frey's Hebrew and English Dictionary, published by George Wightman. London, 1839.)
As he has been so kind as to inform us that the Saints in England deposit their stocks in the treasury of the sect, will he inform us who the treasurer is!!
We had like to have forgotten to notice the story of Mr. Smith being a money-digger. What! a clergyman dig money!" Can such things be without our special wonder?" Very few of them would dig either money or potatoes. No, indeed, not they. Some poor man must dig all the money and potatoes for them. But Mr. Smith, it would seem, is an honourable exception -- a pattern of industry. Would to God that others would follow his example, and dig for a livelihood. The widow, the orphan, and the labouring poor would then have less cause of complaint.
We are next told that 44 persons have emigrated from Preston to our colony in the last three weeks. Astonishing! What! forty-four? We would inform the gentleman that near one thousand persons have emigrated within the last few months, and that thousands more will go soon.
Next follows some remarks on the hymns of the Latter-Day Saints. These are said "to be destitute of grammar, sense, or rhyme;" but we would only say that our hymn book is becoming extensively known, and the hymns will speak for themselves. A mere glance at our hymns will show the above remark to be entirely unfounded.
We must now close by informing the public that we have a quantity of the tracts on hand entitled "A reply to Mr. Bush," which will entirely refute the statements of the Athenaeum and other papers, in relation to the origin of the Book of Mormon and the rise of this Church. We will therefore (to use the style of the Chinese) caution the public that if they remain in darkness, and continue to believe a lie, It is Their OWN FAULT.
Query To Editors. -- Gentlemen, will any of you venture to give your readers both sides of the question, by publishing the foregoing reply? We fear you will not. -- Ed.
JOANNA SOUTHCOTT.Joanna Southcott was born in April 1750, and was the daughter of a small farmer in Devonshire. For many years she gained her livelihood as a servant in Exeter and the neighbourhood; and her character in private life was free from reproach. From her early years she delighted in the study of the Scriptures, and was accustomed, as she declared, on all interesting occasions, to apply to Heaven for advice. She believed that sooner or later an answer was always returned -- by outward signs or inward feelings.
"Her mission commenced in the year 1792, and the number of people who joined with her, as believing her to be divinely inspired, was considerable. They thought her to be the instrument, under the direction of Christ, to announce the establishment of his kingdom on earth, as a fulfilment of all the promises in the Scriptures, and of that prayer which he himself gave to his followers; and more particularly of the promise made to the woman in the fall, through which the human race is to be redeemed from all the effects of it in the end. She thought that the seven days of the creation were types of the two periods in which the reign of Satan and of Christ are to be proved and contrasted. According to her, Satan was conditionally to have his reign tried for six thousand years, shadowed out by the six days in which the Lord worked, as his Spirit has striven with man while under the powers of darkness; but Satan's reign is to be shortened, for the sake of the elect, as declared in the gospel; and Satan is to have a further trial at the expiration of the thousand years, for a time equal to the number of the days shortened. At the close of the seven
[ 334 ]
thousand years, the day of judgment is to take place, and then the whole human race will collectively bring forward the testimony of the evil they suffered under the reign of Satan, and of the good they enjoyed under the spiritual reign of Christ! These two testimonies will be evidence before the whole creation of God, that the pride of Satan was the cause of his rebellion in heaven, and that he was the root of evil upon earth; and consequently when those two great proofs have been brought forward, that part of the human race that has fallen under his power, to be tormented by being in the society of Satan and his angels, will revolt from him in that great day -- will mourn that they have been deluded -- will repent -- and the Saviour of all will hold out his hand to them in mercy -- and will then provide a new earth for them to work righteousness, and prepare them ultimately to join his saints, who have fought the good fight in this world, while under the reign of Satan."
"The mission of Joanna," said one of her followers, "is to be accomplished by a perfect obedience to the Spirit that directs her, and so to be made to claim the promise of 'bruising the head of the serpent;' which promise was made to the woman on her casting the blame upon Satan, whom she unwittingly obeyed, and thus man became dead to the knowledge of the good; and so he blamed his Creator for giving him the woman, who was pronounced his helpmate for good. To fulfil the attribute of justice, Christ took upon himself that blame, and assumed his humanity to suffer on the cross for it, that he might justly bring the cross upon Satan, and rid him from the earth, and then complete the creation of man, so as to be after his own image. It is declared, that 'the seed of the woman' are those who in faith shall join with her in claiming the promise made in the fall; and they are to subscribe with their hands unto the Lord that they do thus join with her, praying for the destruction of the powers of darkness, and for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ! Those who thus come forward in this spiritual war, are to have the seal of the Lord's protection; and if they remain faithful soldiers, death and hell shall not have power over them; and these are to make up the sealed number of one hundred and forty-four thousand to stand with the Lamb on Mount Sion! The fall of Satan's kingdom will be a second deluge over the earth; so that from his having brought the human race under his power, a great part of them will fall with him, for the Lord will pluck out of his kingdom all that offend and do wickedly. The voice which announces tne coming of the Messiah is accompanied with judgments, and the nations must be shaken and brought low before they will lay these things to heart. When all these things are accomplished, then the Desire of nations will come in glory, so that 'every eye shall see him,' and he will give his kingdom to his saints!
"It is represented that in the Bible is recorded every event by which the Deity will work the ultimate happiness of the human race; but that the great plan is for the most part represented by types and shadows, and otherwise so wrapt up in mysteries, as to be inscrutable to human wisdom. As the Lord pronounced that man should become dead to knowledge if he ate the forbidden fruit, so the Lord must prove his words true. He therefore selected a peculiar people as
[ 335 ]
depositaries of the records of that knowledge ; and he appeared among them, and they proved themselves dead to every knowledge of him, by crucifying him. He will, in like manner, put the wild olive to the same test; and the result will be, that he will be now crucified in the Spirit!
"When the mission of Joanna began, she had prophecies given her, shewing how the whole was to be accomplished. Among other things, the Lord said he should visit the surrounding nations with various calamities for fifteen years, as a warning to this land, and that then he should bring about events here which should more clearly manifest the truth of her mission, by judgment and otherwise: so that this should be the happy nation to be the first redeemed from its troubles, and be the instrument for awakening the rest of the world to a sense of what is coming upon all, and for destroying the Beast, and those who worship his image!"
Some time after the above sentences were written, Joanna Southcott died of a protracted illness. It was given out that she was to be the mother of a second Shiloh. Presents were accordingly made her for the Babe, especially a superb cradle, with a poetical inscription in Hebrew.
A stone placed over her remains in the New Burial-ground, Maryle-bone, has this singular inscription:
This epitaph was probably her own composition. An undoubted specimen of her poetical powers may gratify the reader's curiosity.
"March 12, 1800."The following words were spoken to me, in answer to the ministers mocking my writings:—
The nations all may weep;
Out of My mouth the word is gone,
And I shall it fulfil.
Unless the priests they do awake,
Your nation I shall chill
With sore distress, to wound your breast,
When harvest doth appear,
By sun or rain to hurt your grain,
And bring a famine near,
By scarcity you all will sec;
But if they do awake,
And now repent, like Nineveh,
Their cause I'll undertake."
Bold as were her claims, it was thus that she generally contrived to elude us in an impenetrable cloud.
It was her practice to distribute among those who embraced her opinions, sealed papers, which were called her "seals," and were
[ 336 ]
supposed to possess the virtue of charms. Thousands applied for them.
The faith of her disciples was not extinguished by her death. The dead body was kept warm for four days, according to her own previous directions, in expectation of a revival, and the birth of the promised child; and it was not consigned to the dissector till putrefaction had rendered it extremely offensive. Hopes were cherished for years and years, that although she had been withdrawn for a season, she would return with her son, and fulfil the promises, the accomplishment of which had been delayed on account of the wickedness of the world.
She lived on the bounty of her disciples and the sale of her writings; but the statement that her seals were sold, is a malicious calumny. One of her believers left her an estate of £250 per annum: and an unmarried lady, who was born and educated in fashionable life, forsook her family and friends, and shared her fortune with the prophetess.
It is by no means true, as it has sometimes been represented, that the sect was confined to the lowest and most ignorant persons. It was at no time, however, very numerous. Two reasons have been assigned for this circumstance: the one, that the followers of Joanna were never persecuted; the other, that the sect never produced any preacher of indefatigable activity or of overpowering eloquence.
The life, prophecies and doctrines of Joanna Southcott are contained in the numerous pamphlets which were published during her ministry, either by herself, or by her zealous disciples, Mr. William Sharpe, Dr. Kichard Reece, and the Rev. Thomas P. Foley, or by her two female companions, Miss Jane Townley and Ann Underwood.
"Upon the whole," says an able writer in the Edinburgh Review, "the mission of Joanna Southcott is an extremely curious article in the history of human credulity. But, while we laugh at the simplicity of her disciples, we may all of us do well to look homeward, -- and to consider whether our own belief is not, on various occasions, determined by our feelings more than by evidence, -- whether we are not sometimes duped by respected names or bold pretenders, -- and sometimes by our own fancies, fears or wishes." ...
[ 386 ]
Mormonism (from the Scotsman). --
Many of our readers will be aware that a set of impostors, calling themselves Mormonites, have for several months back been busy in disseminating their tenets in Edinburgh, and attempting to entice the ignorant and unwary to join their ranks. The sect had its origin some years ago in America, from whence a few adventurers have lately come, in order to circulate their opinions in this country. One of these pretends to be an apostle, and declares that he has had intercourse with angels. They also assert that by a particular revelation they became possessed of a book called the Book of Mormon, of equal authority with the Bible, and that they have the power of working miracles, and of speaking in unknown tongues, &c. The absurdity of these pretensions should have rendered them harmless; but we understand that they have already entrapped a considerable number of individuals. The book called the Book of Mormon was, we understand, written by the late Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a retired clergyman, who resided in New Salem, America. It is, in fact, nothing more than a religious romance, in the style and phraseology of Scripture. On removing afterwards to Pittsburgh, the author shewed his MS. to a Mr. Paterson, an editor of a newspaper in that place, who offered to print it, but Mr. Spaulding refused to allow him. Mr. Paterson, however, had a person in his employment named Sidney Rigdon, who had an opportunity to copy the MS., and became the leader of a sect who adopted the book as a part of the sacred Scriptures. When the nostrums of this sect were promulgated in New Salem, where the author had lived, and where his work was well known, the fraud was exposed by the brother of the deceased, whose widow also signed a declaration stating these facts, which was published in the newspapers, and a copy of which we have seen. The adventurers we have now alluded to imagined, no doubt, that their distance from the scene of the original imposture would screen them from detection; but we hope the facts here stated will serve to put individuals on their guard.
(From the Scottish Pilot.) -- On Tuesday evening, a Mr. J. B. Rollo, who was till lately an elder among this deluded sect, exposed the folly and imposition of the Mormonite system, before a large audience in Whitfield chapel. He described it as altogether a money-making speculation by Pratt, who came over here from America as apostle of the new faith. It seems, Mr. Pratt has decamped with more money and a great deal more good clothes than when he made his appearance here. He purchased largely from Sutherland, the tailor in Broughton (whose flight we recently related), and promised payment when they should both reach Mount Zion on the Mississippi. From Mr. Rollo’s exposure, it would appear the infant sect has had little peace from the pertinacity with which one case of delinquency after another on the part of this American swindler has been discussed at their meetings. The speaker did not explain how he had ever been led to give his adhesion to the ridiculous hoax he so wittily exposed. It is surprising that there are still many who cling to it as if nothing had occurred to damage the character of their leaders; but its adherents are the most doltish and illiterate of the community.
Vol. ? London, U.K., Saturday, November 5, 1842. No. 562.
MORMONISM.The sect of the Mormonites, or Latter-Day Saints, has of late years become familiar by these names in Great Britain. They derive their first and standing appellation from a work called the Book of Mormon, assumed by them to be the fruit of inspiration and revelation, and taken as the text-book and Bible of the sect. The Book of Mormon, published two or three times in North America, and once in Britain in 1841, had the following origin: --
Some twenty and odd years since, a young man named Joseph Smith, the founder, apostle, and prophet of the Mormonites, followed the profession of a money-digger in the United States. It is a common belief in some of the maritime districts of that republic, that large sums of money and masses of bullion were there buried in the earth by the buccaneers, as well as, more recently, by persons concerned in the Revolution. The pretence of discovering these treasures by incantations was an artifice to which needy and cunning men frequently resorted, and Joseph Smith, according to the best testimony, distinguished himself peculiarly in this line. While he was engaged in these and similar pursuits, he received, as his own story runs, several revelations from heaven, relative to the religious sects of the day. On the first occasion when he was thus favoured, he had gone into a grove, and there besought divine aid to show him which, of all the denominations of the Christian church then existing, he ought to reverence and follow as the true one. A bright light, he said, appeared above his head; he was received up into the midst of it; and he there saw two angelic personages, who told him that all his sins were forgiven, that the whole world was in error on religious points, and that the truth should be made known to him in due time. A second revelation of a similar description informed Smith that the American Indians were a remnant of the children of Israel, and that prophets and inspired men had once existed among them, by whom divine records had been deposited in a secure place, to save them from the hands of the wicked. A third communication, made on the morning of September 22, 1823, informed Smith that these relics were to be found in a cavern, on a large hill to the east of the mail-road from Palmyra, Wayne county, state of New York. Here, accordingly, Joseph made search, and, as he says, found a stone-chest containing plates like gold, about seven by eight inches in width and length, and not quite so thick as common tin. On these plates was graven the book or bible of Mormon, so called from the name given to the party supposed to have written and concealed it. Smith was not allowed to take away these golden plates until he had learned the Egyptian language, in which tongue, or a modern dialect of it, the graven book was composed. At length, in September 1827, Smith was deemed qualified to receive the golden plates, and he transcribed an English version of the characters, which was published in the year 1830. The work made a considerable impression on the poorer classes of the United States, and a sect was formed soon afterwards, calling themselves "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." From their text-book, they were more familiarly called the "Mormonites."
The Book of Mormon, which is nearly of the same extent as the Old Testament, contains, properly speaking, two distinct stories or histories. The history of the Nephites, a portion of the tribe of Joseph, supposed to have emigrated from Jerusalem under a prophet named Nephi, and to have been miraculously led to America, occupies the first part of the work. The Nephites founded, says the story, the Indian race. Many years after their settlement, they are also stated to have discovered the records of the Jaredites, an extinct nation which came to America about the time of the building of Babel. The revelations of various prophets to these Jaredites and Nephites, and direct divine communications respecting "my servant Joseph Smith," the apostle of the present day, compose the staple matter of the Book of Mormon.
From beginning to end, this work is filled with evidences of forgery and imposture. The peculiar style of holy writ is borrowed throughout, and, as regards words and names, many separate languages are drawn upon, proving the assumed writer of early ages to have all the information of our day before him. The difficulty arising from the red colour of the Indian skin, so different from that of the Jews, is overcome by the arbitrary and easy medium of a miracle. Their colour is said to have been changed as a punishment for their sins. Things are spoken of, which, it is well known, were not invented till late times. For example, it is said by the prophet Nephi, in allusion to a mutiny that took place on his voyage to America, "And it came to pass, after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it." Besides antedating the discovery of the needle's polarity by several centuries, the writer here evidently misunderstands the use of the compass altogether. A Mormonite elder, being pressed on the subject of this blunder, pointed to the account of St. Paul's voyage, which has this sentence in the English version: "We fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium." The misapprehension of this sentence, the first words of which mean merely, "We made a circuit," had obviously led to the blunder of the composer of the Book of Mormon. According to the Athenaeum: "The history of the pretended Israelites is continued in the books of Enos, Jarom, Zeniff, &c., and through them all, we find one signal proof not merely of imposture, but of the ignorance of the impostor, repeated with singular pertinacity. Every successive prophet predicts to the Nephites the future coming of Christ; the writer has fallen into the vulgar error of mistaking an epithet for a name; the word 'Christ,' as all educated persons know, is not a name, but a Greek title of office, signifying 'The anointed,' being in fact a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah; it is true that in modern times, and by a corruption which is now become inveterate, the term is used by western Christians as if it were a proper name, or at least an untranslatable designation; but this is a modern error, and it has been avoided by most of the oriental churches. Now, the use of a Greek term, in an age when the Greek language was unformed, and by a people with whom it was impossible for Greeks to have intercourse, and, moreover, whose native language was of such peculiar construction as not to be susceptible of foreign admixture, is a mark of forgery so obvious and decisive, that it ought long since to have exposed the delusion. Unhappily, however, we are forced to conclude, from the pamphlets before us, that the American Methodists, who first undertook to expose the Mormonites, were scarcely less ignorant than themselves.
A second Nephi takes up the history at a period contemporary with the events recorded in the New Testament. It avers that our Lord exhibited himself to the Nephites after his resurrection, and the words attributed to him bear still more conclusive evidence of the ignorance of the impostors: --
'Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.' And again, 'I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.'
In addition to the former blunder respecting the name 'Christ,' we have the name ' Jesus' in its Greek form, and not, as the Hebrews would have called it, 'Joshua;" but we have, furthermore, the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet given as a metaphorical description of continued existence to a nation that had never heard of the Greek language. It is quite clear that the writer mistook Alpha and Omega for some sacred and mystic sounds, to which particular sanctity was attached -- a blunder by no means confined to the Mormonites -- and wrote them down without perceiving that they were an evidence of forgery, so palpable as to be manifest to schoolboys."
The same authority which we have now quoted gives a hint of the probable origin of this whole imposture, for, as we shall show, Joseph Smith is a man scarcely capable of inventing or writing even the ravings of the Book of Mormon. A clergyman named Solomon Spaulding, had left his ministry, and entered into business in Cherry Vale, New York, where he failed, in the year 1809. The sepulchral mounds of North America were then exciting some interest, and it struck Spaulding that he might relieve himself from his distresses by composing a novel, connecting these mounds with the lost ten tribes of Israel, supposed by some to have peopled America. Intending to name his work "The Manuscript Found," he wrote it in the old style of the Hebrew compositions. In 1812, the work was taken to a printer named Lamdin, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but the author died ere any arrangement could be made for its publication. Lamdin also died in 1826. He had previously lent the manuscript to a person named Sidney Rigdon, and this person it seems to have been who, in connexion with his friend Joseph Smith, formed the idea of palming it on the world as a new revelation. The manuscript was well suited to their purposes, and of course they would make such changes as appeared requisite. That this was the true source of the Book of Mormon, is borne out by the testimony of the wife, brother, partner, and several friends of Spaulding, who had heard him read portions of the manuscript, and who recognised many of the names and incidents in the Book of Mormon to be the same with those occurring in Spaulding's novel. The difficulty of supposing paper of any kind to have been so long preserved, appears to have suggested the additional and characteristic device of the "plates of gold" to the money-digger, Mr. Joseph Smith. Sidney Rigdon is now the "prophet's" secretary. He, by the way, and a few other persons, have alone been honoured with a sight of the said plates.
It might be deemed superfluous to say so much on this subject, were it not that the Mormon delusion has spread widely in North America, and even in Great Britain. Joseph Smith and his colleagues settled in 1831 on the Missouri, whence they were soon after expelled on account of their lawless conduct. They then went to Illinois, and founded a town or city, called Nauvoo, near the Mississippi, said now to contain 1700 able-bodied men, exclusive of women and children. To this place too many emigrants are directing their course even from Great Britain. What sort of people they will find in the persons of the prophet and his associates, appears very clearly from a little work by Mr. Caswall, who visited the city of the Mormons in the present year (1842). The following is his picture of Joseph Smith: --
"I met Joseph Smith at a short distance from his dwelling, and was introduced to him. I had the honour of an interview with him who is a prophet, a seer, a merchant, a 'revelator,' a president, an elder, an editor, and the general of the ' Nauvoo legion.' He is a coarse plebeian person in aspect, and his countenance exhibits a curious mixture of the knave and the clown. His hands are large and fat, and on one of his fingers he wears a massive gold ring, upon which I saw an inscription. His dress was of coarse country manufacture, and his white hat was enveloped by a piece of black crape as a sign of mourning for his deceased brother, Don Carlos Smith, the late editor of the 'Times and Seasons.' His age is about thirty-five. I had not an opportunity of observing his eyes," as he appears deficient in that open straightforward look which characterises an honest man. He led the way to his house, accompanied by a host of elders, bishops, preachers, and common Mormons. On entering the house, chairs were provided for the prophet and myself, while the curious and gaping crowd remained standing. I handed a book to the prophet, and begged him to explain its contents. He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied, that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter, but that I should like to hear his opinion. 'No,' he said; 'it ain't Greek at all, except, perhaps, a few words. What ain't Greek is Egyptian, and what ain't Egyptian is Greek. This book "is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics.' Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said,' Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics, and them which follows is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.' Upon this the Mormons around began to congratulate me on the information I was receiving. 'There,' they said, 'we told you so -- we told you that our prophet would give you satisfaction. None but our prophet can explain these mysteries.'" The error of taking a Greek Psalter for a specimen of Egyptian hieroglyphics, sufficiently proves the slender pretensions of Mr. Joseph Smith to be a mystery-expounder.
In another part of the hook, Mr. Caswall relates a few personal anecdotes of this worthy, mentioned to him by credible witnesses; but they refer to such scenes of drunkenness and profanity, that we should not feel justified in transcribing them. Enough, we think, has been said to expose the character of a dangerous impostor, and to prevent individuals amongst our working population from expending their little all on the faith of such a man's promises. We have before us a letter from an unfortunate cotton-spinner of Lancashire, which shows how necessary such a caution is. The Mormon preachers in England had described Nauvoo to him as a land overflowing with milk and honey, and a place where the divine Being had commanded a temple to be built, that might be a refuge to all mankind. Joseph Smith, at least, had certainly commanded this, as the following very unequivocal passages from his writings will show: -- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, let all my saints come from afar, and send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messengers, and say unto them, 'Come ye with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and all who have knowledge of antiquities that will come may come; and bring the box tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth; and with iron, and with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth, and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein: for there is not a place found upon earth, that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the priesthood.'"
By such blasphemous and deceitful stuff' as this, the poor cotton-spinner, like too many others, was induced to go to Nauvoo, where, like other victims of delusion, he was wretchedly used.
It is needless to carry our notice of this matter further. Every shadow of evidence yet obtained tends to prove Mormonism to be a gross imposture, and one unworthy of notice, save on account of the dangers which have here been described and exposed.
Note: This report was reprinted in 1847 Edinburgh edition of Chambers' Miscellany, as part of a more expansive article, entitled "Religious Impostors." Throughout the 1840s this literary improvement was also independently distributed as Chambers' tract No. 14. It was somewhat superseded in the 1850s by another Chambers tract, entitled "History of the Mormons."
U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E.
Vol. XXI. London, Simpkin and Marshall, March, 1843. No. 123.
NEW MOHAMMEDANISM IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA.
284 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 285.
286 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 287.
288 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 289.
290 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 291.
292 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 293.
294 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 295.
296 Mormonism, &c. [March.
1843.] Mormonism, &c. 297.
298 Mormonism, &c. [March.
Methodist Quarterly Review
(NYC: G. Lane & P. P. Sanford)
"Mormonism and the Mormons"
(This is largely a summary of Daniel P. Kidder's 1842 book -- the reporter knows the Isaac Hale family, but says little about its various members -- some words are wasted in response to Caswall and a British reviewer)
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 111
112 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 113
114 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 115
116 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 117
118 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 119
120 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 121
122 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 123
124 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 125
126 Mormonism and the Mormons [January
1843] Mormonism and the Mormons 127
Southern Literary Messenger
"Rise & Progress of the Mormons"
"Mormonism and the Mormons"
see also: comments for this article
"Memoir of the Mormons"
Vol. 10. Richmond, September, 1844. No. 9.
THE RISE AND PROGRESS
1st. "Facts in relation to the discovery of Ancient American Records, with a sketch of the rise, faith, and doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints." By O. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel -- 1841.
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 527
528 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 529
530 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 531
532 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 533
534 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 535
536 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
1844] The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, 537
538 The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People, [September
Vol. 11. Richmond, August, 1845. No. 8.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
1845] Mormonism and the Mormons. 475
476 Mormonism and the Mormons. [August
1845] Mormonism and the Mormons. 477
478 Mormonism and the Mormons. [August
William Buell Fairchild's 1845 Article
The author of the article, "Mormonism and the Mormons," in the Aug. 1845 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger makes some very interesting remarks regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon. The author (Mr. W. B. Fairchild) says:
02. He was "a resident of Ontario County, New York" when the book appeared
03. "No one, at that time, who knew Joe Smith, had the most distant idea that he
was the author, or was in any way connected with the "getting up" of the book"
04. "Others had the credit... Sidney Rigdon, and a gentleman of Palmyra, New York, whose name we shall now withhold, from regard for his connections"
05. That this unnamed co-conspirator of Rigdon's "was willing to sink so far his good name for the sake of making to himself a few dollars by publishing the 'Golden Bible.'"
06. That "Rigdon took with him to Palmyra" a copy of Spalding's 'Manuscript Found,' "which he had made in Pittsburg some twelve or fourteen years previous" (c. 1814?).
07. That Rigdon found "in Palmyra a congenial spirit for humbugging the world, in a man far better endowed than himself, to give to the manuscript the necessary dressing to make it play its part with success in the scheme of fraud."
08. Next, that Rigdon "there divulged the matter, and, under the impression that a handsome speculation might be realized out of the publication of the work, he, and his associate, addressed themselves seriously to the furtherance of the scheme."
09. Finally, that Rigdon's secret Palmyra "accomplice" was the one who introduced Joseph Smith into "the scheme."
William Buell Fairchild of Bloomington, NY
Since the author has asserted he knew such deep, dark secrets, it is logical to presume that (if he is here telling the truth) Sidney Rigdon's "accomplice" was an adult male living in the Palmyra area whom the author knew very well. The "author" here is William Buell Fairchild (1810-1883) who was born in Bloomfield township, Ontario Co., NY. Since William says he knows so much about Rigdon's secret plans, it stands to reason that the unnamed "accomplice" was either a relative of William's or a very close friend of his family. At least William's source of information must have been such a person, and his reluctance to name that individual strengthens that probability that he was one of his male relatives.
William's parents were Dr. David Fairchild (1767-1814) and his wife Sarah "Sally" Robinson. They were originally from Berkshire Co., MA, but emigrated to western NY shortly before 1800. The Federal Census for that year shows David, his brother John, and their Uncle Jonathan, all living in Ontario Co. The same three Fairchilds are also shown living in Ontario ten years later, but by 1820 all of them disappear from the Census reports. Jonathan apparently died shortly after 1810 and John and his brother David died in 1814, leaving Sally Fairchild a widow and her young son William Buell Fairchild, fatherless. The mother, son and one other brother, Moses, are accounted for on pages 376 and 378 of the 1820 Ontario County Census report, all living in Bloomfield township but by 1830 they had all either moved away or were for some other reason not listed as living there as heads of households. Oddly enough, the 1820 listing shows Sally Fairchild living in close proximity to members of the Alger family, probable close relatives of Samuel Alger and Clarissa Hancock Alger, the parents of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s first plural "wife." Other near neighbor was Alpheus Cutler (later a notable Mormon), along with various members of the Hamblin, Noble, and Buell families.
Thus it can be shown that William Buell Fairchild was a younger contemporary of Joseph Smith, Jr. -- a contemporary who lived a few miles west of the Smith family and who had ample opportunity to learn something of that family's notorious activities.
The Oct. 20, 1819 issue of the Geneva Gazette reports the marriage of Miss Sarah T. Fairchild of West Bloomfield to David J. Baker. The June 18, 1818 issue of the Geneva Gazette reports the marriage of Lydia Fairchild to Chauncy Barnes of West Bloomfield, along with the marriage of A. H. Fairchild of Lyons to Susan Loverhill. The latter groom was probably Abraham or "Abram" Fairchild. In 1820 William B. Fairchild had two relatives (Abraham and Samuel Fairchild) living in Lyons township (where the Lyman Cowdery family was then living) and by 1830, a Hannah Fairchild (perhaps Hannah Winchel Fairchild, wife of Samuel) was living in Arcadia, within walking distance of Palmyra. Hannah is listed on page 70 of the 1830 Wayne County listing, while Lyman Cowdery (brother of Oliver) is shown living in close proximity (page 73 of the same listing, also in Arcadia township). An Abram Fairchild lived near William Cowdery (father of Lyman and Oliver), also in Arcadia township (see pages 80 and 87 of the list). The Lyons Western Argus for Oct. 5, 1831 shows letters waiting in the nearby Newark Post Office for Lyman Cowdery, Lyman's father William Cowdery, and "Abram" Fairchild. Several other Fairchild families lived within 20 miles of Palmyra between 1800 and 1830; their exact relationships with one another have yet to be determined.
A Secretive Lawyer?
William B. Fairchild wrote his 1845 Messenger article to correct the piece written by "E. D." and published in the same magazine in Sept. 1844. In the earlier article Mr. E. D. says that the Book of Mormon "was the production of a young Lawyer, or Divine, in Western New-York; a young man of high talent and much promise, who was early the victim of a rapid decline." The fact that William Buell Fairchild does not contradict this statement may be significant. Certainly a person with theological or legal training might be expected to be literate enough to help the Rev. Sidney Rigdon revamp a Solomon Spalding historical fiction into a "divine record." Also, if such a young man was "early the victim of a rapid decline," his demise could have removed him from the scene before the Mormon church ever left New York for Kirtland.
There are two intriguing old newspaper reports which appear to lend some credibility to E. D.'s assertion regarding the "young Lawyer, or Divine, in Western New-York." On Mar. 1, 1831 the editor of the Cleveland Advertiser reported that "Some months since, a young lawyer living in the western part of the state of New York," had written "the wonderful Mormon bible" and then had "lodged his sacred deposit in the bowels of the earth." This account appears to agree roughly with the one told by E. D. thirteen years later. The Ohio editor also adds this detail to his report: "he marvellously appeared in disguise, in the form of an angel, to a man named Smith, and revealed to him where he would find the sacred treasure. Smith accordingly went, found the Mormon manuscript, and in his researches to find some one to interpret it, he fell in with his angel lawyer, who readily unravelled the mystery." Some reconstructions of this history (going back to Pomeroy Tucker and other writers of the mid 1900s) would name Sidney Rigdon as the one who "marvellously appeared in disguise, in the form of an angel, to a man named Smith," but it would not much damage those old speculations to insert an "accomplice" of Rigdon's at this very point.
Another early account -- and one not nearly so remarkable as the story told in the Cleveland Advertiser -- also connects a certain "lawyer" with the emergence of Mormonism in western New York. Editor Abner Cole, in the May 1, 1830 issue of the Palmyra Reflector says: "We are informed that an "honest Attourney" (from compunction we suppose,) is about to abandon his lucrative profession, and enter upon the preaching of the "Gospel according to" -- Jo Smith." Some students of Mormon history have guessed that this honest Attourney" might have been Oliver Cowdery's brother, Lyman Cowdery, but that argument is in no way a conclusive one. No lawyer is know to have joined the Mormons at this early date -- though convert William W. Phelps of Canadaigua was perhaps trained in the legal profession. The more likely explanation is that Abner Cole had heard rumors in or around Palmyra that this unnamed attorney was about to join the three-week-old "Church of Christ," but that his baptism never took place. One can only wonder if the lawyer here referred to was "early the victim of a rapid decline."
It should be noticed here that William Buell Fairchild was a man of some very interesting family connections. His father, David Fairchild, had a brother named Daniel, who in turn had a daughter: Harriet Fairchild (1798-1885). Harriet was thus the first cousin of William. She married William Alverson in 1819 in Berkshire Co., MA, and, by 1820 (see pg. 80 of Federal Census for Huron Co.) she and her husband had moved from there to Brownhelm township, Huron (now part of Lorain) Co., OH, not far from the town of Oberlin. On Feb. 19, 1823 the couple had a son, Daniel Fairchild Alverson. This Daniel was thus the first cousin (one generation removed) of William Buell Fairchild. On June 15, 1848, this same Daniel Fairchild Alverson married Sarah Cowdery (1822-1906) in Rochester, Monroe Co., NY. Sarah was the daughter of the celebrated frontier printer and editor, Benjamin Franklin Cowdery (1790-1867). Sarah and her father were both second cousins of Elder Oliver Cowdery.
William Buell Fairchild's connection with things Mormon does no stop with his being related to Oliver Cowdery, however. Daniel Fairchild had another offspring named Grandison Fairchild (1792-1890) -- and he was the father of the famous James Harris Fairchild (1817-1902), President of Oberlin College. Grandison brought his family from Berkshire Co., MA to Brownhelm township, Huron (now part of Lorain) Co., OH in 1818; (see also pg. 80 of Federal Census for Huron Co.) Thus, the young James H. Fairchild grew up in very close proximity with Daniel Fairchild Alverson, the future husband of Sarah Cowdery. Her father, Benjamin Franklin Cowdery, edited and published the Oberlin Evangelist between 1839 and 1842. As editor and/or publisher of the local paper, Mr. B. Franklin Cowdery would have been well known to Professor James H. Fairchild, who was by then employed by Oberlin College. In fact, Daniel Fairchild Alverson probably first became acquainted with Sarah Cowdery while her father and his family were living in Oberlin.
[Update: Ted Reising-Derby points out that Mary B. Alverson Mehling, in her 1911 Cowdrey Genealogy supplies personal information stating that her father (Daniel) and her mother (Sarah) first met while both were members of the same church in Rochester New York, at a period following their residence in Ohio.]
Young James H. Fairchild attended the newly established Oberlin College between 1834 and 1838. Among his classmates during the first half of his studies was Lorenzo Snow, the future President of the Mormon Church, who completed one term of study there during 1833-34, a couple of years before he converted from Campbellism to Mormonism. James H. Fairchild later effectively put the damper on the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship -- after his friend Lewis L. Rice discovered a Spalding manuscript in Honolulu in 1884. Oddly enough, while William Buell Fairchild struggled to explicate the Spalding claims in 1845, his first cousin (one generation removed) struggled to bury those same claims forty years later. (It is reasonable to assume that James H. Fairchild maintained contact with his cousin, Daniel F. Alverson, and that after Daniel's marriage, Professor Fairchild would have had direct access to Sarah Cowdery recollections concerning her father's relatives -- including the infamous Oliver Cowdery) In 1900 President Snow's son, Elder Le Roi. C. Snow, visited Oberlin College and receieved a warm welcome there from Professor Azariah Smith Root, who "said he had read and heard so much of" Lorenzo Snow, and that "he was deeply interested in [him as] the present President of the Mormon Church."
More might be said of how the Fairchild and Cowdery families crossed paths in several different ways in and around Oberlin, in Huron (later Lorain) Co., OH. A cousin and namesake of the famous Solomon Spalding even lived in Amherst township, Lorain Co., during the late 1830s and early 1840s, revamping the elder Spalding's "Romance of Celes," shortly after Parley P. Pratt moved out of nearby Russia township and James H. Fairchild moved in (relocating from Bownhelm to Russia). A great nephew of Oliver Cowdery actually became a professor at Oberlin College in 1890 (the year after James H. Fairchild retired as President, but while he still remained there as a professor). This was Kirke Lionel Cowdery (1866-1946). So, a case might just as well be made for the paths of Pratt, Spalding's cousin, the Fairchilds and the Cowderys all coming together in Lorain Co., Ohio between 1830 and the mid 1840s. Certainly somewhere in all these entangled pathways there must be enough substance whereupon to "hang a tale" or two.
The extensive Fairchild clan of Connecticut (and later of Massachusetts) produced many separate families over the years, the respective members of which may today be only distantly related. There were some Mormon Fairchilds who joined the LDS Church as early as the time of William Buell Fairchild, and many more of whom were members in the period that James H. Fairchild served as President of Oberlin College. Jedidiah M. Grant (father of LDS President Heber Grant) took Susan Noble Fairchild (1832-1914) as a wife in 1848; she was the daughter of Charles Fairchild and Eunice Noble of Genesee Co., New York, but was raised mostly by Eunice's parents, Ezekiel and Theodocia Bates Noble of Penfield, Monroe Co., New York. Her uncle was the notable early Mormon Elder, Joseph Bates Noble (1810-1902), who was born in Egremont, Berkshire, MA and who moved with Ezekiel and Theodocia Bates Noble to Monroe Co., New York in 1815. In his autobiography, Joseph mentions going to work for a "Harrison A. Fairchild" in 1828. This Harrison lived in Bloomfield township, Ontario Co., NY, where several other Fairchilds (including young William Buell Fairchild) were already living. Joseph's sister Eunice married Charles Fairchild about 1831 -- probably in Genesee County, but possibly in Bloomington township, Ontario Co. Other interesting folks who lived in or very near Bloomfield during the first decades of the nineteenth century included "rodsman" Alvah Beaman and a fellow with the unusual name of Brigham Young (see 1830 map for relative locations of Bloomfield, Palmyra, Manchester, Mendon, Lima, Livonia, Avon, etc.).
Judge Joel King Noble of Broome Co., New York (1789-aft. 1842; relationship to Eunice and Joseph Noble unknown), in 1842 wrote some interesting words to professor and author, Jonathan B. Turner: "You may... ask me behold what Jo [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has done. I say Jo. is the cat's paw; the Lion is behind the curtain. You then enquire who is the Lion; I say Mr. Rigdon was not the Lion until after the Book of Mormon was printed. He may be the Lion now; You yet enquire who was the Lion (first) was I [to] say 2 individuals -- [the] names of [the] 2 I keep for present..." It appears here that Judge Noble had some recollections of the secret activity behind the origin of the Book of Mormon which were rather similar to those of William Buell Fairchild. Whether the "lion" mentioned by Noble in 1842 was the same man as the "accomplice" spoken of by Fairchild in 1845 remains unknown.
Elizabeth Fairchild (1828-1910) was a plural wife of Brigham Young. She came from Ohio, lived in Nauvoo, and apparently died in Utah, estranged from Brigham. She was the daughter of Joshua Moroni Fairchild (1797-1891) who took Prudence Fenner (a widow living in Ohio) as his third wife during the late 1820s. By 1831 Joshua and Prudence were both Mormons -- they moved that year to Jackson Co., Missouri. Sons Alma and Moroni Fairchild were born to them in Clay Co., Missouri in 1833 and 1835. Both sons later emigrated to Utah and may have accompanied their father to Idaho. Although Moroni and Alma Fairchild were named well after the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon, one can only conjecture as to how a man born in 1797 came to possess the middle name "Moroni."
Why did President James H. Fairchild put so much time and energy into his 1885-86 effort to kill the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship? His old friend, Lewis L. Rice, eventually adopted the Spalding claims, but Fairchild himself remained their opponent for all of his life. It is true that in his later years President Fairchild modified his original stance, admitting that the surfacing of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript in 1884 did not prove that Spalding hadn't written some other story that was used as the basis of the book, but this modification on his part apparently left his earlier opinions largely in tact.
Could it be that President Fairchild was aware of the 1845 article, written by his father's first cousin? Or, more to the point, could it be that President Fairchild was aware of much the same information that William Buell Fairchild kept to himself when he wrote his 1845 article for the Southern Literary Messenger? If so, it is not unlikely that President Fairchild was just as committed as was William Buell Fairchild in keeping the "family secret" identifying Sidney Rigdon's "accomplice" in preparing the Book of Mormon for Joseph Smith's "translation." In fact, such an understanding of Fairchild's possible hidden thoughts would go far to explain his zeal in destroying the Spalding claims. His father's cousin had implicated some close relative or associate with Rigdon in compiling the Book of Mormon from Spalding's manuscript. By turning public attention away from Spalding, President Fairchild also turned away public attention from Rigdon and any accomplices Rigdon may have had prior to the publication of the Mormon book. President Fairchild's 1884 journal entries show that he had the Spalding manuscript found in Honolulu in his hands for only about an hour before he left Hawaii for the U. S. mainland. Yet, in that very short time -- in which he could have devoted only a few seconds to reading each of the document's pages -- he became determined that an exposure of the manuscript would help disprove the Spalding authorship claims and delight the Mormons. One can only wonder what President Fairchild's motives were then and in later years, when he did so much to cover over the old Spalding claims.
John and David Fairchild are found in the early records of Bloomfield, Ontario County, N. Y. Both are found in the 1800 and 1810 census records, but neither in the 1820. In the town of Phelps there is also a Jonathan Fairchild in the 1800 census.
The will of John Fairchild of Bloomfield, dated Jan. 20, 1813, mentions his nephew Moses Fairchild... A codicil dated Apr. 22, 1814 mentioning a wife, Patty Fairchild, and brothers, David, Moses, Aaron and Daniel... This will was probated Apr. 27, 1814.
In the records of the Congregational Church of Bloomfield we find that on Apr. 17, 1811 John Fairchild, a Baptist, was admitted.
In McIntosh's History we find on page 206 that John Fairchild was settled in East Bloomfield by 1805.
John and David Fairchild both came to Ontario Co., N. Y. from Sheffield, Berkshire Co., Mass. John appears in the 1790 census of Sheffield. In the Great Barrington, Mass. Deed Book #34 we found that John Fairchild of Sheffield sold to Daniel Fairchild for 100 Lbs his title to lands, etc., inherited from the late Moses Fairchild of Sheffield.
In Granger's Early History of Canandaigua on p. 10 we found an account of the medical diploma granted to Dr. David Fairchild in 1799... In the Bloomfield Church records we found Sarah, wife of David Fairchild, as joining before 1800.
John and David Fairchild were evidently the youngest sons of Moses Fairchild, b. 1721 in Stratford, Ct., who settled in Sheffield, Berkshire Co., Mass. He married Susannah Bosworth and had nine children: Zachariah, Mary, Ellis, Moses, Jr., Aaron, Daniel, John, b. 1765 and David, b. 1767....
McIntosh's History also mentions the "former home of one of the physicians, Dr. Fairchild," now the property of Mrs. Hall... speaks of Dr. Fairchild and Dr. Henry P. Hickox as partners in a drugstore in West Bloomfield from 1813-1818. ...
Obituary for John Fairchild: Died -- "On the 27th Capt. John Fairvhild, aged 49, a very respectable citizen." Ontario Respository, May 3, 1814.
Will for John Fairchild dated 20 Jan 1813, in which he bequeathed all his estate to his beloved nephew, Moses Fairchild. A codicil to this will dated 22 April, 1814 gave a bequest to his wife, Patty Fairchild: $500.00 to his brother David Fairchild, $100,00 each to his brothers Moses, Aaron and Daniel. No children named.
There are several Fairchild land deeds before 1800 both buying and selling land in Bloomfield. Again no mention of any children.
No obituary for David Fairchild; he died intestate. Mr. Clark Peck, a friend, was appointed administrator... On 30 December, 1815 Mr. Peck was authorized to sell only enough of David Fairchild's land to satisfy the remainder of his debts.
From Turner's "History of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase," this item: "In 1799 a medical diploma was recorded for Dr. David Fairchild."
From McIntosh's "History of Ontario County 1788-1876" these items: West Bloomfield. "The Congregational Church of West Bloomfield -- Shortly following the organization, August 16, 1799... united with the church... Sarah, wife of David Fairchild" ... "Drs. Hickox and Fairchilds opened a drug store in 1813, opposite the present tavern. They sold to Dr. Lewis Hodge previous to 1818."
From Conover's "History of Ontario County," this item: "The Ontario County Medical Society was organized in 1806. Dr. David Fairchild was a member."
Sally (Sarah) Robinson Fairchild is not found in the 1830 or 1840 census records for East or West Bloomfield township.
Vol. XIV. Richmond, November, 1848. No. 11.
MEMOIR OF THE MORMONS. *
642 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 643
644 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 645
646 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 647
648 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 649
650 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 651
652 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
1848] Memoir of the Mormons. 653
654 Memoir of the Mormons. [November,
Vol. ? London, U. K., September, 1844. No. ?
THE RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON.
The public journals having recently announced the violent and tragic death of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, whose impostures have deluded thousands both in Great Britain and America, it is proposed to present the reader with a brief account of the rise of the sect of Mormon, or, as they call themselves, "latter-day saints," which will supply an instance of religious fraud on the one hand, and of silly credulity on the other, that has not been equaled by any similar attempt to palm an impudent fabrication upon the simple and unsuspecting during the present century. The following passages are from the pen of Smith himself, narrating the history of his own life, and of the pretended revelations on which his prophetical commission is based: --
"I was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, on the 23d of December, 1805. When ten years old, my parents removed to Palmyra, New York, where we resided about four years, and from thence we removed to the town of Manchester, a distance of six miles.
"My father was a farmer, and taught me the art of husbandry. When about fourteen years of age, I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and, upon inquiring the place of salvation, I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society, they referred me to one place; and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection... I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord. While formally engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enrapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light, which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded 'to go not after them,' at the same time receiving a promise, that the fulness of the Gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.
642 RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON.
"On the evening of 21st September, 1823, while I was praying unto God, and endeavouring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room; indeed, the first sight was as though the house was filled with a consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body. In a moment a personage stood before me, surrounded with a glory greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel, was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fulness to be preached in power unto all nations, that a people might be prepared for the millennial reign.
"I was informed that I was chosen to be the instrument in the hands of God, to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensation.
"I was informed also concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, (America) and shown who they were, and from whence they came; -- a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilisation, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me. I was also told where there was deposited some plates on which was engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night, and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God, unfolding the majesty and glory of events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of 22nd of September, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
"These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was six inches wide, and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving.
"With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim on a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim, I translated the record, by the gift and power of God." *
The cool mendacity of these statements must excite the indignation of every reader, and that feeling will be increased as he becomes more fully acquainted with the facts of the case. Joseph Smith never
* Mr. J. D. Rupp, of Lancaster, Penn. U. S., about two years ago projected "An original History of the Religious Denominations at present existing in the United States," and that the work might be "as free as possible from all grounds of complaint," he made application to many of the most prominent divines and lay members of different denominations for assistance; many of whom at once consented to write or procure the necessary articles respecting their several bodies. Amongst others, Joseph Smith was applied to, and he supplied the article, from which we have made these extracts; having been obliged by a copy of this interesting and useful work, which was only published at Philadelphia in May last. It is now on sale in London by Messrs. Wiley and Putnam, Amen Corner.
RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON. 643
showed these golden plates to any one, for a very obvious reason; but to give something like confidence to his disciples, he undertook to read off their contents to a man of the name of Harris, who acted as his amanuensis; and subsequently to another person of the name of Cowdery. This was done in a room that was divided by a blanket, on one side of which sat "the prophet" with his mystic apparatus, as he pretended, and on the other the poor dupe, who was occupied in recording the English version which Smith enunciated. Instead of translating from Egyptian manuscripts, which he blasphemously pretended to perform by the help of a Divine oracle, it is most probable he read from a manuscript tale, which came into his possession as follows. In 1812, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, of New Salem, wrote a story for the amusement of himself and his friends, based on the hypothesis of the Hebrew origin of the Indian tribes. He afterwards removed to Pittsburg, and there he showed it to one Patterson, a printer, who wished to put it to press. This Mr. Spaulding would not allow; but as Patterson wished to borrow it, the manuscript was left in his possession for a long time, and was at length returned to its author. That gentleman died in 1816, and his widow retained the book in question till 1834, when she was surprised to find that the volume which was the fruit of her husband's fancy had been published, in a somewhat altered form, as a new revelation from heaven, and was impiously declared to be as much the word of God, as the Bible itself. On further examination, it was found that in the printer's office at Pittsburg there was a person named Sidney Rigdon, who was a heterodox Baptist preacher; and there is strong reason to suppose that he transcribed this volume from Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and that through him it passed into the hands of Joseph Smith, with whom he associated himself, and by whose aid, after three years, he at last completed and published "The Mormon's Bible," a duodecimo volume of nearly six hundred pages. *
"The Book of Mormon is divided into fifteen books or parts, each purporting to be written by the author whose name it bears. These profess to give the history of about a thousand years from the time of Zedekiah, king of Judah, to A. D. 420. The whole work professes to be an abridgment by one Moroni, the last of the Nephites, of the seed of Israel, from the records of his people. Not to trouble the reader with details respecting this absurdest of all pretended revelations from heaven, we need only say that it undertakes to trace the history of the aborigines of the American continent, in all their apostacies, pilgrimages, trials, adventures, and wars, from the time of their leaving Jerusalem, in the reign of Zedekiah, under one Lehi, down to their final disaster, near the hill Camorah, in the state of New York, where Smith found his golden plates; and in that final contest, according to the prophet Moroni, about 230,000 were slain in battle, and he alone escaped to tell the tale" †
* These facts have been attested by Mrs. Davidson, the late widow of Mr. Spaulding, and by Dr. Ely, of Monson, and Mr. Austin, principal of the academy there.
† Baird's "Religion in America;" Turner's " Mormonism in all Ages."
644 RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON.
There is, in the book itself, as the reader will readily suppose, internal evidence sufficient to prove its spurious character. It abounds in errors, grammatical, chronological, and philosophical. It relates, for instance, that Nephi was directed across the sea by a compass, almost two thousand years before the invention of that useful instrument.
But to return to the prophet's own narrative: --
"As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentations, and slander, flew, as on the wings of the wind, in every direction. My house was frequently beset by mobs and evil designing persons; several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped; and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me; but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony. On the 6th of April, 1830, the 'Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints,' was first organised in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, state of New York. Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of revelation and prophecy, and began to preach as the Spirit gave them utterance, and, though weak, yet were they strengthened by the power of God; and many were brought to repentance, were immersed in the water, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. They saw visions and prophesied, devils were cast out, and the sick healed by the laying on of hands. From that time, the work rolled forth with astonishing rapidity, and churches were soon formed in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri; in the last-named state, a considerable settlement was formed in Jackson county; numbers joined the church, and we were increasing rapidly: we made large purchases of land, our farms teemed with plenty, and peace and happiness were enjoyed in our domestic circle, and throughout our neighbourhood; but, as we could not associate with our neighbours, who were, many of them, of the basest of men, and had fled from the face of civilised society to the frontier country, to escape the hand of justice, in their midnight revels, their sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, and gambling, they commenced at first to ridicule, then to persecute, and, finally, an organised mob assembled and burned our houses, tarred and feathered, and whipped many of our brethren, and finally drove them from their habitations: these, houseless and homeless, contrary to law, justice, and humanity, had to wander in the bleak prairies (in the month of November) till the children left the tracks of their blood on the prairie."
Every reader who credits "the prophet's" testimony will regard this as a very unprovoked and inhuman persecution, which no resentment at the supposed fanaticism or blasphemy of the Mormonites could justify. But there is a very different, and much more probable version of this sad affair on record.
"They took up their abode in the state of Missouri," says Mr. Buckingham, "where they purchased some lands at the government price of 1 1/4 dollar an acre, and began to form a settlement. Not content, however, with occupying what they could buy, and living on the produce of what they could till, they began to preach that Missouri was the promised land, covenanted by God to be given to the believers in the book of Mormon; and that it was their duty, if they could not obtain it peaceably, to take it by force of arms, and to drive out the unbelievers there, as Moses had driven out and extirpated with the edge of the sword, the Moabites and Ammonites that opposed his passage through their territories; and as Joshua, after him, had driven out the Jebusites, the Canaanites, and others, to
RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON. 645
possess their lands, which the Lord their God had given them. With this example, and the professed direct inspiration of their prophet, these deluded people thought there was no sin, but much virtue, in seizing the promised land of Missouri as their own, as soon as their force would admit of the attempt. The previous settlers in Missouri, however, who had bought land, and improved it, before Joe Smith or the book of Mormon was known to them, did not recognise the heavenly covenant by which they were thus robbed of their legal possessions, and, therefore, they anticipated the Mormonites, by taking up arms and expelling them from the state.
"This was not done without many a hard struggle, for, being all armed, they fought desperately, and many were killed and wounded on either side. The sheriff of the county in which the first affray occurred, took part with the people of Missouri; and the result was, that they were ultimately driven across the river into Illinois, where they now occupy the small town of Commerce, just twelve miles above Keokuck, on the opposite side of the Mississippi, and their number is said to exceed 5000 persons." *
This places the case in a new and startling position, and shows how frightfully this impostor perverted the word of God. The warrant of Moses for his edicts against the Moabites and Ammonites was the possession of a miraculous power, which, in fact, worked with the chosen tribes for the subversion of their enemies: this sufficiently attested the authority of heaven, and authorised its vengeance on earth; but without any such credentials this ambitious and cruel adventurer, under the pretence of a Divine commission, involved whole districts in the horrors of civil war; and when overtaken with public vengeance he could hypocritically whine about "the injustice, the wrongs, the murders, the bloodshed, thefts, misery and woe that have been committed upon our people by the barbarous, inhuman, and lawless proceedings of the state of Missouri!"
After their very natural expulsion from Missouri, they found a temporary asylum and too-confiding friends in the state of Illinois.
"Here, in the fall of 1839," to resume the prophet's own narrative, "here we commenced a city, called Nauvoo, in Hancock county, which, in December, 1840, received an act of incorporation from the legislature of Illinois, and is endowed with as liberal powers as any city in the United States. Nauvoo, in every respect connected with increase and prosperity, has exceeded the most sanguine expectations of thousands. Nauvoo now contains near 1500 houses, and more than 15,000 inhabitants. The charter contains, amongst its important powers, privileges, or immunities, a grant for 'the University of Nauvoo,' with the same liberal powers of the city, where all the arts and sciences will grow with the growth, and strengthen the strength of this beloved city of the 'Saints of the last days.'"
How greatly "the saints" need some educational establishments may be inferred from the style of their leader; but the following story from an American paper leaves it beyond dispute: --
"Some time since, the Rev. Henry Caswall, a Professor in Kemper College, near St. Louis, and an Episcopal clergyman of reputation, being about to leave America for England, paid a visit to Smith and the saints, in order that he might be the better able to represent the imposture to his countrymen. It is so happened that the Professor
* Buckingham's " Eastern and Western States of America," iii. 192.
646 RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON.
had in his possession a Greek psalter of great age, which, as a relic of antiquity, was a curiosity to any one -- but to some of the saints who happened to see it, it was a marvel and a wonder. Supposing its origin to have been as ancient, at least, as the prophet's Egyptian mummy, and not knowing but the Professor had dug it from the bowels of the same sacred hill in Western New York, whence sprung the holy Book of Mormon, they importuned him to allow 'brother Joseph' an opportunity of translating it!
"The Professor reluctantly assented to the proposition, and, accompanied by a number of the anxious brethren, repaired to the residence of the prophet. The remarkable book was handed to him. Joe took it -- examined its old and worn leaves -- and turned over its musty pages. Expectation was now on tip-toe. The brethren looked at one another -- at the book -- then at the prophet. It was a most interesting scene! " Presently the spirit of prophecy began to rise within him; and he opened his mouth and spoke. -- 'This book,' said he, 'I pronounce to be a dictionary of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics!'
"The brethren present were greatly astonished at this exhibition of their prophet's power of revealing hidden things. After their exultation had somewhat subsided, the professor coolly told them that their prophet was a base impostor! for that the book before them was only a plain Greek psalter! Joe 'stepped out.'"
When Dr. A. Reed was in the United States, he met with a company of these deluded fanatics on their way to the "far west." A gentleman inquired of one of them, why they left their own country? "Oh," he said, "there is ruin coming on it!" "How do you know?" "It was revealed to him." "How was it revealed to you?" "I saw five letters in the sky." "Indeed! what were they?" "F A M I N," was the reply: a reply which occasioned much ridicule and some profanity. *
Amongst the other wonders of Nauvoo is the Mormon temple, of which Joe Smith has the impudence to speak in the following terms: -- "The temple of God, now in the course of erection, being already raised one story, and which is 120 feet by 80 feet, of stone with polished pilasters, of an entire new order of architecture, will be a splendid house for the worship of God, as well as a unique wonder for the world, it being built by the direct revelation of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the living and the dead."
"Since the organisation of this church," Smith adds, "its progress has been rapid and its gain in numbers regular. Besides these United States, where nearly every place of notoriety has heard the glad tidings of the gospel of the Son of God, England, † Ireland, and Scotland have shared largely in the fulness of the everlasting gospel; and thousands have already gathered, with their kindred saints, to this the corner-stone of Zion. Missionaries of this church have gone to the East Indies, to
* Narrative of a Visit to the American Churches. Vol. i. Letter 10.
† It is truly humiliating to know, that "the travelling elders" of this sect have seduced multitudes of our countrymen, both in the manufacturing and rural districts, although they are in most cases so ignorant, as to be unable to read their own texts. They maintain the efficacy of immersion-baptism for the remission of sins, and their strange practice of administering it at midnight, or at early morn,
RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON. 647
Australia, Germany, Constantinople, Egypt, Palestine, the islands of the Pacific, and are now preparing to open the door in the extensive dominions of Russia. There are no correct data by which the exact number of members composing this now extensive and still extending church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be known. Should it be supposed at 150,000 it might still be short of the truth."
But though Smith's report of the position of himself and his disciples was so flattering, their affairs at Nauvoo were already disturbed. Amongst other personages of great authority amongst them was General John C. Bennett, commander-in-chief of the Nauvoo legion! chancellor of the University of Nauvoo!! mayor of the city of Nauvoo!!! &c. It is obvious from his numerous and high-sounding offices, that he must have been familiar with the secret councils of the great prophet and his brother Hiram, the patriarch of the church. These illustrious
appeals still more strongly to the superstitious feelings of an uneducated and credulous populace. In the close of the past year, the following article appeared in the daily papers:
"THE MORMONITES, OR LATTER- DAY SAINTS."
On Monday last, an inquest was taken before Mr. T. Badger, coroner, and a highly respectable jury, at the Gate Inn, at Handsworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, on view of the body of Robert Turner, of Sheffield, aged thirty- five, by trade a spring-knife cutler, whose body had been discovered on Sunday afternoon last in the river Rother. It appeared from the evidence of William Bellamy, Matthew Gregory, Simeon Gee, and others, that Turner had embraced the religion of the Mormonites, or Latter-day Saints, and after preaching at Handsworth Woodhouse on Sunday, the 19th of November, he gave out, that if any person felt thoroughly convinced of the truth of the religious principles which he professed and preached, and would attend early on the following morning, he would baptize them in the river Rother. Accordingly, very early on the following morning, several persons met Turner, their preacher, in a meadow called 'Fairy Meadow,' adjoining the river above Woodhouse Mill, and the party, after praying and singing, and being addressed by one of their preachers from Sheffield, as to the absolute necessity of their being born of water and of the Spirit, or else they could not enter the kingdom of heaven, several of their disciples at once proceeded to strip off all their clothes, and Turner plunged into the river, which was deep, and considerably swollen by the late rains, followed by one William Bellamy, a collier, whom he baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He got out safe, and then one Matthew Gregory went in, and the priest, after plunging him over head, to use the man's own words, and nearly 'slockening' him, he, with great difficulty, half-drowned, much starved, and frightened, scrambled out of the river, and saved his life; but Turner, on leaving hold of Gregory, unfortunately slipped forward into the deep water, and the current running strong, he was carried away into the middle of the river, and soon sank to rise no more. Exertions were made to save the man, without effect. Daily efforts have since been made to find the body, and on Sunday afternoon last it was discovered standing upright in the river, with the head partly out of the water, and about twenty-five yards only from the place he was drowned. The corner and jury, after making strict inquiry into all circumstances of the case, but strongly condemning the rash and inconsiderate conduct of the parties in plunging into the river, where is was both seep and dangerous, and strongly recommending the survivors not again to run such risks, returned a verdict of 'Accidental death.'"
648 RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON.
functionaries at length quarrelled, and General Bennett, the commander, the chancellor, and the mayor, of the legion, the university, and city of Nauvoo, made affidavits, in which he charged Smith with having first foretold the violent death of Ex-Governor Boggs, and then of having employed one of his minions to fulfil his deadly prediction by assassinating his victim. Bennett offered also prove "the prophet" guilty of another murder if the Governor would interfere. The wife of one of the elders also published on oath, an exposure of Smith's base conduct towards herself, and which is supposed to have driven her husband, Elder Pratt, to commit suicide. These disclosures naturally provoked resistance to the prophet's administration. A newspaper was set up in Nauvoo, called The Examiner, in the columns of which his conduct towards his ignorant dupes was fearlessly exposed. This their spiritual dictator could not permit. He, therefore, collected a mob of his most devoted adherents, who proceeded to the office of the Examiner, which they attacked, and at once thoroughly demolished.
The governor of Illinois, hearing of this outrage, marched, in June last, to Carthage, eighteen miles from Nauvoo, and found the people of that place greatly excited against "the prophet" and his partisans, and resolved to proceed to "the blessed city of the saints," in order to arrest him and all his city-council, that they might answer for this riot and their other crimes. To prevent this, the governor sent messengers to Nauvoo to summon Joe Smith and his associates to appear at Carthage, to face the accusations that were urged against them. The prophet and his brother the patriarch, and their confederates, became alarmed, and would have fled the city to escape from justice; but the inhabitants felt that, if they were not secured, vengeance would fall upon the people, and the innocent would suffer for the guilty, and they would not, therefore, permit them to escape. They all, therefore, proceeded towards Carthage, and surrendered themselves to a posse sent by the governor for their arrest, and also gave up all the arms of "the Nauvoo legion," which belonged to the state of Illinois. "The prophet" and his friends having entered into a recognisance for their appearance at the next circuit court, were again arrested on the charge of treason against the state of Illinois. On this they were committed to gaol; but their examination was postponed in consequence of some military movements of the governor, who left only one company of fifty men in Carthage, eight of whom were on duty at the gaol, and the remainder were in camp about a quarter of a mile distant. Governor Ford proceeded with sixty horse to Nauvoo, where he made a speech to the Mormonites, telling them of the excitement which prevailed against them, and warning them of the dangerous ground on which they stood. Whilst he was thus absent from Carthage, an armed band of about 200 men in disguise, attacked the
RISE AND RUIN OF THE SECT OF MORMON. 649
gaol on the afternoon of Thursday, June 27, and, overpowering the eight soldiers who were on duty, they rushed towards the apartment where these unhappy deceivers were confined, and fired upon them. Hiram Smith, struck by a ball in his head, exclaimed, "I am a dead man!" and immediately expired. His brother Joseph received several shots in his body, and leaped towards the window, but escape was impossible, and he fell before the fire of his assailants; and crying, "O God!" he also died. Elder Taylor was also severely wounded in several places, and his state was considered dangerous. The violent men who committed this frightful outrage immediately fled to the woods, but were not pursued, for there was not sufficient force to arrest them; besides, as they were all disguised, their persons could not be known, though it is conjectured that they were disaffected Mormonites.
It is said that there is but one opinion throughout the country in reference to this dark tragedy, and that is, that summary vengeance has at length fallen upon the men who merited it. At the same time, all persons must regret that it occurred while they were prisoners, and when they had a right to expect the protection of the state. The Mormonites will now claim for their prophet the rank of a martyr; when, had he been tried and convicted, he would have died a felon's death, which, it is believed, he most righteously deserved. On the arrival of the news of this event at Nauvoo, "the prophet's" wife and children manifested but little sorrow, and his votaries found it expedient to be extremely quiet, as the inhabitants of the surrounding district have cut off all the supplies of the city, and are resolved that the Mormonites shall not remain in a body in that place. The governor has issued a proclamation, calling out the militia of ten counties to preserve the peace, and 500 troops of the federal government are ordered into the district for the same purpose. Happy will it be if these vigorous measures prevent any further effusion of human blood. But the testimony of history awakens our fears. In the fanatical outbreaks of the Anabaptist Millenarians of the sixteenth century, in Germany and Holland, under Munzer, John Bockhold of Leyden, and other deceivers, it was found that they were so mad in favour of their dogmas, that property and life were violated with impunity, till they were put down by the iron hand of military power; and we dread a similar close to this wild project.
The Rev. Henry Caswall, to whom the public are indebted for this account of the catastrophe, has truly remarked, that "there is something extremely awful in the termination of the earthly career of this daring impostor; and we may imagine his agony when, about to enter upon eternity, he uttered his last exclamation, 'O God!'" At the early age of thirty-nine, after an unprecedented career of villany, he has met with a terrible retribution. He "ploughed wickedness," and "reaped iniquity." "His years have been shortened," -- he has "perished, and come to a fearful end." May it awaken his besotted votaries from their delusion!