1830s   |   1840s (Part 2)   |   1850s   |   1860s   |   1870s   |   1880s   |   1890s onward

The Athenaeum   |   Millennial Star   |   Christian Reformer   |   Chambers' Ed. Jour.
Dublin Univ. Mag.   |   Methodist Review   |   So. Literary Messenger   |   Congregational Mag.

- 1841 -


Journal of English and Foreign Literature, Science, and the fine Arts.

Vol. ?                           London, U. K., Saturday, March 27, 1841.                           No. ? ___________________________________________________________________


The Book of Mormon: an Account written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates taken from the Plates of Nephi.

"Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile: written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. Written and sealed up, and hid upunto the LORD, that they might not be destroyed: to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof: sealedby the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the LORD, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of GOD.

"An abridgment taken from the book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the LORD confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven; which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the LORD hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the LORD, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD manifesting himself unto all nations. And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of GOD, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of CHRIST.

Translated by Joseph Smith, jun. First European, from the second American edition. Liverpool, Young & Co.

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! Can such things be,
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: --

The first was persecuted
  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.

- 1841 -

M I L L E N N I A L   S T A R,


Vol. II.                                             Manchester, U. K., May, 1841.                                             No. 1.

[ 01 ]


In the Edinburgh Intelligencer of April 7th, there is an article taken from the Athenaeum on the subject of the Book of Mormon and the Latter-Day Saints. This article fills several columns of fine print, being mostly taken up in extracts from the Book of Mormon, &c.

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!
              Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer cloud,
Without our special wonder?"
We answer, No. For Isaiah the prophet speaks of the Book of Mormon and the work connected with it as being "A MARVELLOUS WORK AND A WONDER." See Isa. 29. To this bear all the newspapers witness!

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.                                                 3

of 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.                                                 5

stood 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.

- 1841 -



Vol. VIII.                                       London, U. K., June, 1841.                                      No. 90.



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:

IN  MEMORY  OF       
Who departed this life, December 27th, 1814, aged 60 years.        

While through all thy wondrous days
Heaven and earth enraptured gaze,
While vain sages think they know
Secrets thou alone canst show,
Thine alone will tell what hour
Thou'lt appear in greater power!
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:—
"If they go on as they've begun,
     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.

- 1842 -


Vol. ?                           London, U.K., Saturday, November 5, 1842.                           No. 562.



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."

- 1843 -


T H E   D U B L I N
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.

[pg. 283]




WE are accustomed to boast of the intelligence of the nineteenth century -- to laud ourselves on the march of mind in these modern days, and to speak of the popular delusions by which past generations were misled, as of the special shadows of "the long night now gone down the sky." Mormonism is a bitter reply to our self-laudation; it exhibits to us a convicted swindler received as a prophet by thousands in both hemispheres -- a literary forgery so thoroughly absurd and puerile, that its gross anachronisms may be depicted by a school-boy of the lowest form, recognized as a revelation, and placed on the same level of authority as the Bible itself; -- a creed full of the most palpable falsehoods and glaring inconsistencies, exercising an influence not inferior to that of Islamism at its first promulgation, not only in America, the place of its birth, but even in England, and especially in those parts of it where the arts and sciences seem to have received their greatest development.

Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer cloud,
Without our special wonder?

Viewed merely as a social phenomenon, the history of such an imposture is no unworthy object of enlightened curiosity; but, unfortunately, it has a deeper interest: hundreds of our countrymen annually quit their homes to join the ranks of the impostor in the wilds of Illinois, taking with them their hoarded savings to swell his treasury. We have conversed with these deluded men; on all subjects, save religion, we have found them shrewd, clever, and well-informed; but, when a reference was made to Mormonism, they at once became insensible to reason and argument; neither clergyman nor layman could turn them from their error, or convince them of the absurdity of their proceedings. We have spoken with some who had returned from the "City of the Prophets," after having lost their little all, and suffered the most severe hardships in their double voyage across the Atlantic, and their perilous pilgrimages through the wildest parts of America, and, with only one exception, we found that the experience of their own sufferings, had not been quite sufficient to dispel the delusion. There lingered in the mind some reverence for the ravings of the pretended prophet and his artful apostles, united with a vague expectation of some inexplicable event, which would suddenly bring about "the reign of the saints upon earth," and raise them to the rank of nobles and princes. Such astonishing perseverance in detected error led us to examine closely a system which, for boldness of assertion and nullity of evidence, is without a parallel in the annals of human imposture. Our investigations have been kindly aided by numerous friends both in England and America. A perfect Mormonite library is piled upon our table, and forms a display which leaves the Abbe Dulauren's Bigarures de l' Espirit Humain far behind in the distance. It will, probably, be most convenient to our readers if we 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, indicating, at the same time, some of the circumstances which have tended to give it currency in England and America.

Joseph Smith, jun., "the prophet of the Nineteenth Century," was born in the State of Vermont in the year 1895, but before he reached his tenth year, his father and family removed to the village of Manchester in the State of New York. Between the years 1817 and 1827, several strange manifestations of extravagant fanaticism took place in America, particularly in Ohio, Missouri, and the State of New York. They commenced with the system of revivals and camp-meetings amongst the methodists, several of their preachers struck by the extraordinary accounts which Wesley has recorded in his journal


284                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

of the wondrous workings of the Holy Spirit on congregations during his sermons, were tempted to try the experiment of producing similar effects by their own eloquence. Meetings were held in the open air, and lasted for several days in succession. During their continuance the people remained on the ground day and night -- some sleeping in tents, others in waggons, and not a few bivouacking in the open air. Exciting sermons, full of the most extravagant rant, were delivered by a series of preachers, who relieved each other; and the intervals were filled by alternate scenes of singing, shouting, and crying, accompanied by gesticulations of the most extraordinary character. Some fainted, others fell into convulsions; many ran round the field roaring like maniacs -- some rolled in the mud like swine, and whole multitudes practised a kind of jerking jump not unlike frogs, such as may be occasionally observed among the Welsh methodists. But the most favored of the manifestations among the Americans consisted in getting down on all fours, growling, snapping the teeth, and barking like dogs. It was not unusual for an entire congregation to assume this posture, and to continue more than an hour demurely looking and barking at the minister while he delivered to them a wild rhapsody of the visions with which he had been favored, of angels and heaven, and the holy city. It is very little to the credit of the American conference that no effort was made to check these scandalous scenes, which gave just offence to all sober-minded persons, until the consequences of applying such a stimulus to the passions began to manifest themselves in undeniable signs of gross immorality.

Smith's predecessor, Matthias, may be considered the creature of these revivals. We might reasonably have doubted that in the nineteenth century an ignorant half-witted clown could have imposed himself on a multitude of followers, as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ returned to earth, had not the madman Thoms, or Courtenay, successfully practised the same delusion on the peasantry of Kent, and Johanna Southcote established a sect, whose first article of faith stated that she was to be the mother of the Messiah at his second advent. Matthias, whose real name is said to have been Stone, preached doctrines too closely identified with those of the anabaptistsin the days of Luther for the resemblance to have been merely accidental: the impostor's attempts to imitate John of Leyden brought him, however, into awkward contact with the legal authorities, and the cowardice which he displayed on the occasion was fatal to his adherents.

About the year 182[4] the mania for revivals spread from the methodists to the baptists. Mr. Campbell, a man of some learning and considerable wealth, began to teach that baptism, by total immersion, was absolutely necessary to salvation. Endowed with great boldness, pertinacity and zeal -- gifted with native eloquence, pure in his character, and respectable by his position, he was soon regarded by his followers as an inspired prophet. The sect of the Campbellites, which he founded, still maintains a lingering existence, but many of his converts apostatized to Mormonism.

Manchester, the residence of Joseph Smith, was frequently visited by rival revivalists of various denominations, but principally methodists, presbyterians, and baptists: their leaders vied with each other in rant and extravagance, reflecting no artifice which seemed likely to increase the number of proselytes. Families became divided by sectarian controversy, and that of the Smiths seemed likely to contain as many denominations as it did members. Joseph, in his seventeenth year, began to feel, as he informs us, "the awakenings of conscience," and was at first disposed to join the methodists. Before taking a decisive step, he went into a grove at a short distance from his father's house, and besought God to inform him "which of the many hundred denominations under which Christians had ranged themselves, really constituted the true church."

"While thus pouring out his soul," says the narrative published under his superintendence, and implicitly received by his followers, "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


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  285.

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. They further declared, "that all the religious denominations as were believing were believing in incorrect doctrines, and consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom; and he was expressly commanded to go not after them, and he received a promise, that the true doctrine -- the fulness of the Gospel, "should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable."

Every particular of this tale is an obvious plagiarism from Mohammed's account of the first revelation made to him in the cave of Hira. Like Smith, the impostor of Mecca relates that Joe was placed in a state of doubt and perplexity by the number and variety of the religious denominations which divided the world -- that he retired into a solitary place to seek for divine illumination -- that he was visited by the archangel Gabriel, "who wrung the black drop of original sin" from his heart, and that he received a promise of a future revelation, to be given on "the night of power," that is to say, on the night when the archangel Gabriel mounted him on the celestial steed, or rather donkey, Al-Borak, and guided him through the seven heavens into the ineffable presence. Lives of Mohammed form a conspicuous portion of the popular literature of America; and we can feelingly testify, that some of their publishers reprinted English works on the subject, and given them an American nature. There are so many striking resemblances between Smith's conduct and that of Mohammed, as to have no room for doubting that the American impostor has taken his Arabian predecessor for his model and example.

Smith's "night of power" was delayed until the 21st of Sept. 1823, and is thus described in the Mormonite narrative: --

"He had retired to rest, as usual, only that his mind was drawn out, in fervent prayer, and his soul was filled with the most earnest desire, 'to commune with some kind of messenger, who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God,' and also unfold the principles of the doctrine of Christ, according to the promise which he had received in the former vision. While he thus continued to pour out his desires before the Father of all good; endeavouring to exercise faith in his precious promises; 'on a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room. Indeed, the first site was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed with a calmness and serenity of mind, and an overwhelming rapture of joy, that surpassed understanding, and, in a moment, a personage stood before him.'

"Notwithstanding the brightness of the light which previously illuminated the room, 'yet 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 glorious being declared himself to be an Angel of God, sent forth, by commandment, to communicate to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and also, to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel, concerning their posterity, was at hand to be fulfilled; that the great preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah, was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the gospel, in its fulness, to be preached in power unto all nations; that a people might be prepared with faith and righteousness, for the Millennial reign of universal peace and joy.

He was informed, that he was called


286                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

and chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God, to bring about some of his marvellous purposes in this glorious dispensation. It was also made manifest to him, that the "American Indians" were a remnant of Israel; that when they first emigrated to America, they were an enlightened people, possessing a knowledge of the true God, enjoying his favour, and peculiar blessing from his hand; that the prophets, and inspired writers among them, were required to keep a sacred history of the most important events transpiring among them: which history was handed down for many generations, till at length they fell into great wickedness: the most part of them were destroyed, and the records, (by commandment of God, to one if the last prophets among them,) were safely deposited, to preserve them from the hands of the wicked, who sought to destroy them. He was informed, that these records contained many sacred revelations pertaining to the gospel of the kingdom, as well as prophecies relating to the great events of the last days; and that to fulfill his promises to the ancients, who wrote the records, and to accomplish his purposes, in the restitution of their children, &c., they were to come forth to the knowledge of the people. If faithful, he was to be the instrument, who should be thus highly favoured in bringing these sacred things to light: at the same time, being expressly informed, that it must be done with an eye single to the glory of God, that no one could be entrusted with those sacred writings, who should endeavour to aggrandize himself, by converting sacred things to unrighteous and speculative purposes. After giving him many instructions concerning things past and to come, which would be foreign to our purpose to mention here, he disappeared, and the light and glory of God withdrew, leaving his mind in perfect peace, while a calmness and serenity indescribable pervaded the soul,"

This celestial vision was repeated twice in the night, and again on the following morning. On the last occasion, the angel led Smith to the place in which these precious relics were deposited, which, as we are informed with laudable particularity, was "in a large hill in the east side of the main 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, according to the narrative, he 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, according to the narrative, made his appearance when the box was opened, but did not condescend to explain the purpose of his coming. The following is the description given of the plates thus miraculously found: --

"They were filled on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found "a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims of a bow. This was in use, in ancient times, by persons called seers. It was an instrument, by the use which, they received revelation of things distant, or of things past or future."

The narrative then relates that Smith accurately copied one of the plates, and sent it by a person named Martin Harris to New York, where this transcript was shown to Professor Anthon, who "was unable to decipher it correctly, but offered his assistance in translating the original record."

It is a fact that Martin Harris of Palmyra waited on Professor Anthon with such a paper, and Anthon gave him a certificate stating in substance, that it contained only vague imitations of alphabetical signs, utterly destitute of meaning. Smith subsequently persuaded Harris that this declaration was only a proof of the professor's ignorance. Had Smith known that Anthon's literary reputation is mainly based on his unscrupulous plagiarisms from German and English scholars, to whom he never acknowledges his obligations, the professor's authority as a linguist might have been lowered to the standard of his editorial honesty.

No one of the Mormonites records mentions the period when Smith received "the gift of interpretation," and the consequent power of translating these records. Three witnesses, however,


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  287.

bear testimony "to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people," in the following terms: -- "We know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a certainty that the work is true." These witnesses are Martin Harris, already mentioned; Oliver Cowdery, author of the official narrative which we have quoted; and David Whitmer, who further reported that the angel who appeared was "like a man in grey clothes, having his throat cut." Eight witnesses subsequently attested that "they had seen and hefted," that is, handled, so as to be conscious of the weight, these wonderous plates; but these are the father and the three brothers of the prophet, and three brothers of the David Whitmer who signed the first certificate, Smith's mother, also, bore testimony to the real existence when the Rev. Henry Caswell visited her last year at Nauvoo.

"I am old," she said, "and I shall soon stand before the judgment seat of Christ; but what I say to you now, I would say on my death-bed. My son Joseph has had revelations from God since he was a boy, and he is indeed a true prophet of Jehovah. The angel of the Lord appeared to him fifteen years since; and showed him the cave where the original golden plates of the book of Mormon were deposited. He showed him, also, the Urim and Thummim, by which he might understand the meaning of the inscriptions on the plates, and he showed him the golden breast-plate if the high priesthood, My son received these precious gifts, he interpreted the holy record, and now the believers in that revelation are more than a hundred thousand in number. I have myself seen and handled the golden plates; they are about eight inches long, and six wide; some of them are sealed together and are not to be opened, and some of them are loose. They are all connected by a ring which passes through a hole at the end of each plate, and are covered with letters, beautifully engraved. I have seen and felt, also, the Urim and Thummim. They resembled two large, bright diamonds, set in a bow, like a pair of spectacles. My son puts these over his eyes when he reads unknown languages, and they enable him to interpret them in English. I have likewise carried in my hands the sacred breastplate. It is composed of pure gold, and is made to fit the breast very exactly."

We have found the Mormonites very jealous when any inquiry was made respecting the existence of these plates; they generally declared that they were invisible to the profane, and could only be seen "by the eye of faith." Martin Harris made the same declaration to a gentleman of Palmyra, declaring that when shown to him, they were covered by a cloth, through which he saw them "just as distinctly as anything around," not indeed with his bodily eyes, but "with the eye of faith."

Martin Harris acted as Smith's amanuensis, writing down the supposed translation of the plates from his dictation. But on those occasions the prophet was hidden from his secretary by a curtain or blanket. On one occasion, Harris' wife, who always looked upon Smith as an impostor, clandestinely abstracted more than a hundred pages of the translation, but the prophet published a revelation, expressly forbidding him to translate that portion a second time. Smith's account of this revelation is prefixed to the American edition of the Book of Mormon, but is omitted in the English re-publication.

About the middle of the year 1830, the Book of Mormon was published, with the following singular title, which we copy in full length,

"The Book of Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates, taken from the Plates of Nephi."

"Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile: written by way of commandment and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift and power of God.

"An abridgment taken from the book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven; which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and


288                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God manifesting himself unto all nations. And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun"

Immediately after the publication of their new Bible, the Mormonites regularly organized themselves into a society, and took the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." The narrative gives the following account of the first outburst of this enthusiasm, and those who are acquainted with the religious (?) literature of America will at once recognize the phraseology as the ordinary cant used in the descriptions of Methodist and Baptist revivals.

"Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of revelation and prophecy, and began to preach and bear testimony, as the spirit gave them utterance; and although they were the weak things of the earth, yet they were strengthened by the Holy Ghost, and gave forth their testimony in great power, by which means many were brought to repentance, and came forward with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and were immersed in water confessing their sins, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; and saw visions and prophesied. Devils were cast out, and the sick were healed by the prayer of faith, and laying on of hands. Thus was the word confirmed unto the faithful by signs following. Thus the Lord raise up witnesses, to bear testimony of his name, and lay the foundations of his kingdom in the last days. And thus the hearts of the saints were comforted, and filled with great joy."

The Book of Mormon, as the narrative with truth declares, "contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament;" it is divided into several books, named after their supposed authors, Nephi, Mormon, &c., It professes to contain the history of the early settlement of America, and to connect its successive civilization with various events recorded in the sacred Scriptures. We need only give a brief summary of this history.

It states that, soon after the Flood, the Jaredites, a religious people, "obtained favour in the sight of the Lord," and were miraculously led by a royal prophet, named Nephi [sic], "from the tower (of Babel) to the great ocean where they were commanded to build ships, in which they were marvelously brought across the great deep to the shores of North America. And the Lord God promised to give them America, which was a very choice land in his sight, for an inheritance." The Jaredites became a very great and powerful people; they built cities, anticipated many European discoveries in metallurgy and mechanical science, and established extensive factories. Having, however, fallen into wickedness, they were, after the lapse of fifteen centuries, swept from the face of the earth. Their sacred records, however, were left on plates of gold "by one of their last prophets, whose name was Ether, in such a situation that they were discovered by the remnant of Joseph, who soon afterwards were brought from Jerusalem to inherit the land."

This remnant of Joseph consisted of the pious portion of the kingdom of Israel rescued from Assyrian bondage, and brought to America about the time of the prophet Jeremiah -- that is, in the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. Here they were subsequently joined by a remnant of the Jews, similarly rescued from the Babylonish captivity; and the united people soon surpassed the ancient Jaredites in wealth intelligence, and civilization. After some time, a wicked man, named Laman, seduced a great body of the nation to forsake the paths of righteousness; and his followers, who took the name of Lamanites, drove the faithful remnant from their settlements in South America, across the Isthmus of Darien to the northern forests. Before this event, the Lamanites, like their brethren, were "white and exceedingly fair," but God "cursed them in their complexions, and they were changed to a dark colour; and they became a wild, savage, and ferocious people." The pious exiles assumed the name of Nephites, from the second Nephi, who was their leader, "and in the days of their righteousness, they were a civilized, enlightened, and happy people." After the lapse


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  289.

of time, however, many of the Nephites fell into gross wickedness, which was punished by earthquakes, and other convulsions of nature, about the time of our Saviour's birth. The next great event in the Nephite history is of such a nature, that instead of abridging it from the Book of Mormon, we shall extract the summary given in the authorized confession of faith issued by the Mormonite church.

"Those who survived these terrible judgments, were favoured with the personal ministry of Christ. For after He arose from the dead, and finished his ministry at Jerusalem, and ascended to heaven, he descended in the presence of the Nephites, who were assembled round about their temple in the northern parts of South America. He exhibited to them his wounded hands, and side, and feet; and commanded the law of Moses to be abolished; and introduced and established the Gospel in its stead; and chose twelve disciples from among them to administer the same; and instituted the sacrament; and prayed for and blessed their little children; and healed their sick, and blind, and lame, and deaf, and those who were afflicted in any way, and raised a man from the dead, and showed forth his power in their midst; and expounded the Scriptures, which had been given from the beginning down to that time; and made known unto them all things which should take place down until He should come in his glory, and from that time down to the end, when all people, nations, and languages should stand before God to be judged, and the heaven and the earth should pass away, and there should be a new heaven and new earth. These teachings of Jesus were engraved upon plates, some of which are contained in the book of Mormon; but the more part are not revealed in that book, and are hereafter to be made manifest to the saints."

In the fourth century after Christ, the Nephites had so far degenerated from the piety of their ancestors, that God delivered them over to their enemies, the Lamanites, by whom they were cruelly harassed for a long succession of years. The commander of their eventful history may be best told in the authorized summary, issued by the Mormonite missionaries in England: --

"At length, the Nephites were driven before their enemies, a great distance to the north, and north-east; and having gathered their whole nation together, both men, women, and children, they encamped on, and round about the hill Cumorah, where the records were found, which is in the State of New York, about two hundred miles west of the city of Albany. Here they were met by the numerous hosts of the Lamanites, and were slain, and hewn down, and slaughtered, both male and female -- the aged, middle aged, and children. Hundreds of thousands were slain on both sides; and the nation of the Nephites were destroyed, excepting a few who had deserted over to the Lamanites, and a few who escaped into the south country, and a few who fell wounded, and were left by the Lamanites on the field of battle for dead, among whom were Mormon and his son Moroni, who were righteous men."

"Mormon had made an abridgment, from the records of his forefathers, upon plates, which abridgment he entitled the "Book of Mormon;" and, (being commanded of God,) he hid up in the hill Cumorah, all the sacred records of his forefathers which were in his possession, except the abridgment called the "Book of Mormon," which he gave to his son Moroni to finish. Moroni survived his nation a few years, and continued the writings, in which he informs us, that the Lamanites hunted those few Nephites who escaped the great and tremendous battle of Cumorah, until they were all destroyed, excepting those who were mingled with the Lamanites, and that he was left alone, and kept himself hid, for they sought to destroy every Nephite who would not deny the Christ. He furthermore states, that the Lamanites were at war one with another, and that the whole face of the land was one continual scene of murdering, robbing, and plundering. He continued the history until the four hundred and twentieth year of the Christian era, when, (by the commandment of God,) he hid up the records in the hill Cumorah, where they remained concealed, until by the ministry of an angel they were discovered to Mr. Smith, who, by the gift and power of God, translated them into the English language, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, as stated in the foregoing. "

Such is a faithful abstract of the celebrated Book of Mormon, now before us in the shape of a substantial volume, containing six hundred and thirty-four closely-printed pages -- several thousand of which have been circulated in the north of England, and received by credulous multitudes


290                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

as authentic records of inspiration. We have ourselves heard it read by a father of a family on a Sunday evening, as a substitute for the Bible, and have heard Mormonites prefer it to that sacred book, declaring that it contains a more plain and ample system of revelation. We shall now extract some passages from the work, which will sufficiently prove that it is not only an audacious, but a very clumsy forgery, and which will, in some degree, help us to trace its origin. Our first extract shall be a portion of the vision of Nephi the Jaredite [sic], the supposed cotemporary of the tower of Babel. It is designed to forshow 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 broad allusion to the Church of Rome in a prophecy supposed to be more than three thousand years old, is so obvious a manifestation of forgery, that it at first sight seems inexplicable how an artful impostor could have ventured upon such gross deception. We have, however, learned from the Mormonites themselves, that this precious blunder has in no small degree contributed to the success of the imposture. From 1825 to 1832 there was a strong current of popular prejudice against the Romish Church in the state of New York, which was considerably strengthened by the publication of Maria Monk's pretended confessions. Some convents 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. Similar circumstances assisted the Mormonites in Lancashire. However wholesome the excitement produced by the eloquent appeals of such orators as Messrs. Stowell and M'Neile may have been, it is certain that some of their followers carried the anti-papal cry and feeling to a morbid excess, and that many of the dissenting bodies used it to seduce multitudes from the church of England, as "the daughter of the mother of harlots." The Mormonites profited greatly, and still continue to profit, by the circumstance. They have persuaded their followers that popery is on the point of being established in England, appealing to the


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  291.

exertions made to procure its diffusion in proof of the fact; and they declare that men anxious to ensure the salvation of themselves and their families must hasten to the new Jerusalem of the Latter-day Saints in America.

A second and more flagrant blunder occurs in a subsequent page of this pretended revelation. Nephi relates that after the emigrant Jaredites [sic] had sailed, and had been tossed for several weeks on the pathless ocean, the crew rose against him, as the Spanish sailors did against Columbus, but a tempest ensuing, they were forced to release him, as he was the only person capable of working the ship. He is then declares:

"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!"

We pointed out this gross anachronism to a Mormonite elder in Preston, who was about to emigrate with his family to America about three years ago, urging on him the fact that no mention was made of the mariner's compass in the authentic books of Scripture. To our great astonishment, and not a little to our amusement, he unwittingly explained the probable source of this palpable blunder. He averred that the compass was mentioned, quoting from the account of St. Paul's voyage, (Acts xxviii, 13,) "we fetched a compass, (that is, took a circuitous course) and came to Rhegium." It was in vain that we showed him that the declaration respecting "the compass working whither Nephi desired it," clearly proved the author to be utterly ignorant of the use of the implement; he replied that Nephi was speaking of a miracle, and that miracles were incomprehensible to carnal reason.

Among other obvious marks of forgery, the constant use of the word Christ as a proper Hebrew name, while it is in reality a Greek title of office, "the Anointed One," being in fact the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah; deserves to be noticed, because the error is not confined to the Mormonites. The term. from inveterate custom, is used, indeed, like a proper name -- or rather, as an untranslatable designation, by western Christians, though not by many of the eastern churches; and we should be unwilling to abandon an epithet which has been hallowed by the reverence of centuries; but we cannot comprehend why the word should be left untranslated in the versions of the Bible into the modern language of Asia -- why, for instance, instead of using a Chinese equivalent, the sacred epithet should be travestied into the unmeaning form of Ki-li-tu-su! But the use of the Greek epithet, "Christ," as a Hebrew term, is not the only evidence which may be adduced of the clumsy and gross ignorance of some of the parties engaged in this imposture. The second Nephi, who takes up the pretended history at a time supposed to be cotemporary with the events recorded in the New Testament, introduces our Lord as thus addressing the assembled descendants of Joseph in America: --

"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."

Here we have not only the former blunder of "Christ" repeated, but also the name "Jesus" appears in its Greek form, and not as the Hebrews would have called it, "Joshua;" and 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 which had never heard of the Greek language. It is quite clear the impostor mistook Alpha and Omega for some sacred and mystical sounds, to which particular sanctity was attached, -- an error 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. It may


292                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

seem surprising that marks of falsehood so obvious and so decisive should for a moment escape detection and exposure; but unhappily we are forced to conclude, from the pamphlets before us, that the American methodists, who first undertook to expose the Mormonites, were not one whit less ignorant than those whom they assailed. Good, however, sometimes arises out of evil. We are informed that the American conference has begun to impress upon its preachers the importance of studying the Scriptures in the original languages, on the religious grounds that no one should begin to teach the Bible before he can read it. Had they, and the preachers of other denominations, adopted this principle earlier, Mormonism would not have attained its present strength, nor a clumsy forgery passed current as a divine revelation.

We have now to explain the origin of the imposture, which is one of the most singular events in literary history. To understand it aright, we must bear in mind that there were two impostures, originally distinct; the discovery of the pretended gold plates by Smith, and the production of the alleged translation, or Book of Mormon, which was an after-thought, suggested by a worthy with whom we shall soon make our readers more intimately acquainted, denominated Sidney Rigdon.

In the year 1822, Smith acquired some celebrity in his neighbourhood as "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 hidden treasure by spells and incantations. Joseph Smith, in his eighteenth year, professed to have found a mysterious stone -- the same that figures as the Urim and Thummim in his pretended revelations -- by which he could see the exact spot where money has been concealed, or where mines of gold existed. Several persons were duped and cheated by his arts, which were beginning to get stale, when he devised his notable scheme of the plates, designed in the first instance as a plot of pretended treasures and forged antiquities. As such he proposed to pledge them to Martin Harris, dwelling rather on their intrinsic value as gold, than on the importance of their inscriptions.

We shall now see how this fraud was connected with 'The Book of Mormon.' An old clergyman of the Presbyterian persuasion [Spaulding], having quitted the ministry, entered into business in Cherry Vale, in the state of New York, where he failed in the year 1809. Thence he removed to the state of Ohio, where he established himself as a speculator in land, but again became bankrupt in 1812. About this time public attention was first directed to the antiquities of the "mounds," those unquestionable relics of a civilization which must have become extinct long before Columbus had passed the Atlantic.

"The ancient remains of the United States," says Mr. Bradford, the latest and most intelligent writer on the subject, "bear evident marks of being the production of a people elevated far above the savage state. Many of them indicate great elegance of taste, and a high degree of dexterous workmanship and mechanical skill in their construction; others betoken the existence of a decided form of religious worship; while the size and extent of the earthen fortifications and mounds, demonstrate the former existence of populous nations, capable of executing works of enormous dimensions, requiring perseverance, time. and combination of labour for their erection."

Long previous to this discovery, it had been a favorite theory with certain speculative writers, that the red Indians of North America are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel; indeed the theory has still many advocates, both in the United States and in England. Spaulding hoped by combining this theory with recent discoveries to produce a kind of national romance, 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 early colonization of America. As he advanced, he was so delighted with his success, that 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


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  293.

to be the same as those found in the 'Book of Mormon.'" In 1812, Spaulding took his manuscript to Pittsburgh, and placed it in the hands of Messrs. Patterson and Lambdin, printers; it remained in their hands when the unfortunate author died, a victim to disappointment and vexation.

Mr. Caswall is of opinion that this manuscript came into Smith's hands without the intervention of Rigdon, and was prepared for the press by the arch-impostor himself, without any literary assistance. This, though possible, appears to us far from probable; small as the literary merit of the Book of Mormon is, it appears to us beyond Smith's powers. We have before us his Book of Doctrines and Covenants, containing a record of the special revelations vouchsafed to him as guides for the government of the church, and in it the following passage equally remarkable for its grammar, and for the evidence it affords of Smith's care of the money which he and his apostles wring from their dupes --

"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.

We must now give some account of Sidney Rigdon, whose share in the propagation of Mormonism was scarcely inferior to that of Smith. He was originally a printer [sic], and was employed [sic] in the office of Patterson and Lambdin, where Spaulding's manuscript romance had been deposited. There is no decisive evidence that Rigdon obtained possession of the MS., but after Lambdin's death it disappeared from the office, and has never since been found. In 1827, Rigdon separated from the Baptists, and commenced preaching some points of doctrine, partly agreeing with the Campbellites and partly different. The new doctrines related to the literal fulfilment of the prophecies, the restoration of the lost tribes of Israel, the actual reign of the saints upon earth, and the restoration of miraculous gifts. He brought forward, but less prominently, that the saints should have a community of goods, but he strenuously insisted that baptism by total immersion was absolutely necessary to salvation. Every one of these doctrines have been introduced among the fundamentals of Mormonism.

The only difficulty in ascribing to Rigdon the principal share in the deception of the Book of Mormon, is, that proof is wanting of his being acquainted with Smith previous to its publication. Rigdon himself, in one of his published letters, swells strongly on this circumstance; and Parley Pratt, who, up to last October, was the head of the Mormonite mission in England, avers that Rigdon was converted by him several months after the Mormon church was established. Against this, however, must be set the evidence, that Rigdon made frequent visits to the locality in which Smith resided -- that his former doctrines and those of Mormonism are precisely identical -- that he had so prepared his old flock as to induce more than one hundred of them to embrace Mormonism at the same time with himself -- and that Smith immediately after Rigdon's own profession, issued the following revelation, as coming express from God, which is thus given in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants: "It is meet that [my] servant Sidney Rigdon shall live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments" -- sec. 64. And again, when Rigdon first visited Smith the additional revelation was made -- "Behold, verily, verily, I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works; I have heard thy prayers and prepared the for a greater work. Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth even as John to prepare the way before me," This last passage appears to us decisive evidence of some previous concert between Smith and Rigdon.

A revelation was soon received that Kirtland, Rigdon's residence in the State of Ohio, was to be the eastern boundary of the promised land, which was to extend westward to the Pacific Ocean, and that the new Jerusalem would be erected within its limits. A place for it was actually found in Jackson County, state of Missouri


294                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

and here the first stone of the city of "Zion" was laid by Rigdon and Cowdery, under the authority of a pretended revelation from Smith. New revelations involving fresh demands for money, were now published, and their nature will be easily understood by the following extracts from the Book of Doctrines and Covenants --

"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."

Kirtland, the name of which was changed to Shinahar, was chosen as the place for the erection of the "Temple of the Lord;" a singular edifice with this name was begun in 1833 and finished in 1835; it was eighty feet long, sixty in breadth, and fifty-seven in height, being divided into two stories, each twenty-two feet high, with arched ceilings. In each room were eight pulpits, four at either end, each designed to hold three persons. These were intended for the twelve priests of the order of Melchisedec, and twelve of the order of Aaron, into which Smith divided his hierarchy. The most extravagant and shocking scenes of extravagance were exhibited in this building; "the unknown tongues," which Smith had at first discarded and denounced, were revived; convulsions and fits were exhibited to the wondering congregations as examples alternately of angelic and demonical possession; and some of the Mormonites ran through the country like lunatics, following, as they declared, supernatural beings visible to themselves alone.

The crowds of poor Mormonites who flocked to Zion were unable to purchase lands, and therefore became "squatters." Some of them boldly declared that the "Lord had given them the land for an inheritance, and that the Missourians, like the Canaanites, ought to be dispossessed." This was but the revival of the three Massachusetts' resolutions, passed by an assembly of Puritans in the 17th century, previous to dispossessing some Indian tribes of their hunting grounds. The resolutions stood thus on the record: --

1. -- It was moved and seconded -- "That the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" -- carried unanimously.

2. -- It was resolved with equal unanimity: -- "That the Lord hath given the inheritance of the earth unto his saints."

3. -- And finally, the meeting carried by acclamation -- "Resolved, that we are the saints."

The Missourians took the alarm, and on the 20th of July, 1833, rose in their fury, demolished the printing-office in the Mormonite village of Independence, tarred and feathered several of their preachers, and threatened utter destruction to the rest, unless they immediately quitted the district. At first the Mormonites appealed to the law, but in the western states of America an appeal to legal authority was just as inefficacious as an appeal to the Grand Lama of Thibet, or the Pope of Rome, and not quite as rational. It so irritated the Missourians, who equally hated old law and new gospel, that they drove twelve hundred Mormonites from their huts, the greater part being women and children, on a dark wintery night, barefoot, and nearly naked, into the bleak prairies. Cruelties still more atrocious were exercised on obnoxious individuals: several were flogged to death [sic], and houses of all were burned to the ground.

The intelligence of this persecution healed the divisions which threatened premature destruction to the church at Kirtland. Smith resolved to meet force with force, and led a body of well-armed Mormonites against the Missourites of Jackson county; but, on approaching "the Gentiles," his courage failed, and he entered into negotiations which led to a truce. About the same time a bank which Smith and Rigdon had established in Kirtland, and which, even on their own showing, had been most fraudulently conducted, failed. Legal process was commenced against the prophet and his vicar. Ohio became an unsafe state for them, and


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  295.

they came with their host of followers to Clay county in Missouri. Here Smith openly avowed his intention of propagating his religion by the sword; and not content with emulating Mohammed, he took a leaf out of the book of Hassan-ebn-Sihah, and like that "old man of the mountain," organized a body of sworn assassins, under the name of the "Danite Band." The Missourians, alarmed by the threats of vengeance for the late outrages loudly vented by the Mormonites, had again recourse to arms: the militia of the state was called out to keep the peace; but this body proved worse than useless -- indeed one entire company, commanded by one Bogard, a Methodist preacher, actually joined the mob in attacking the Mormonites. Limited as was the civil war which ensued, the most fearful atrocities were committed on both sides. At length Governor Boggs, who had just been elected on account of his known hostility to the Mormonites, assembled the militia and all the Missourians who would accompany him, marched against the Mormonites with overwhelming force, and compelled them, under a menace of immediate extermination, to surrender at discretion. A court-martial was then held under General Lucas, composed of nineteen officers of militia, and seventeen preachers of various sects, who had served as volunteers against the Mormonites; and this singular court commanded that the prophet and his principal comrades should be publicly shot in the square of the town of Far West, in the presence of their followers and families! Luckily for Smith, one of the generals happened to be a lawyer and a man of sense; de declared the proceedings of the court-martial illegal, and induced the Missourians to reserve their prisoners for trial by the civil power. These leaders after being several weeks in prison, contrived to make their escape, and, returning to their deluded followers, asserted that they had been miraculously delivered like Paul and Silas of old.

This persecution was, on the whole, favourable to the purposes of Mormonism. The violence of the Missourian mobs, and the open connivance of the public authorities of Missouri in these outrages, were universally reprobated by the other states of America; and the rival state of Illinois offered a refuge to fifteen thousand Mormons who were about to be driven from the different counties of Missouri.

Early in 1839 Smith found a new situation for the New Jerusalem in the state of Illinois, on the Upper Mississippi, at the head of the Des Moines Rapids. Here, on a semicircular curve, formed by the "father of rivers," he laid the foundations of a city denominated Nauvoo, a name which, he informed his readers, signified "beautiful" in Hebrew. During his imprisonment, however, suspicions had arisen in the minds of some of his followers, and they required of him some miracle as a sign of his mission. He had the blasphemy to reply in the words of our blessed Lord -- "A wicked and perverse generation seeketh after a sign," and with this answer his deluded followers were contented.

Here we may remark that a slight error in the English authorized version was the source of Smith's triumph. The Jews did not ask "a sign" from Christ -- it would be absurd to have done so, for his miracles were notorious -- they sought for "the sign" -- namely, "The Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven," which sacerdotal popular tradition from the days of Daniel had taught them to be the only certain characteristic of the Messiah. We dwell on this the more particularly, as all the Mormonite publications before us set forward this mistranslation as an error for their prophet's working no miracles in public.

Having re-established his community at Nauvoo, Smith had sufficient influence to obtain a charter for the new city from the legislature of Illinois, with liberty to raise a body of militia under the command of Smith, as lieutenant-general; he also obtained charters of incorporation for companies to build the temple, erect a hotel, conduct a manufactory of earthenware, and, to crown the whole, a charter for a Mormonite university.

Mormonism was first introduced into England by two of Smith's elders, named Kimball and Fielding, in the year 1837, who came to Preston from America, immediately after the failure of the Mormonite bank in Kirtland. They obtained license to preach at the quarter sessions, and their success was perfectly astonishing. Circumstances,


296                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

however, were greatly in their favour: the manufacturing distress, now in the sixth year of its pressure, was then commencing; emigration to America was recommended by high authorities, and artisans who had saved a little money, were eagerly inquiring where they could best invest their small capitals. The followers of Johanna Southcote and Edward Irving, disorganized and unchurched, had not recovered their senses, and only sought some new form for the indulgence of insane enthusiasm; and finally the Methodists, by their firmness in putting down all exhibitions of extravagant fanaticism, had alienated no small portion of the most ignorant among their followers, for men whose intelligence has not been developed, require to be excited by appeals to their passions. "They hooked on the whips and [str---] of every sect in Lancashire" said one who for a short time belonged to their body, speaking to us upon the subject; and as there are more varieties of sects in Lancashire than in any district of the same size under heaven, perplexed and straying sheep from the different flocks may always be had in abundance. About two years afterwards, Parley Pratt, having escaped miraculously as he said, from the Missouri prison, came to England, and assumed the superintendence of the Latter Day Saints. He established a printing office and bookseller's shop in Manchester, where he published a periodical called, the Millennial Star, now conducted by his successor, Ward. in Liverpool. Pratt is said to have raised a considerable sum of money from his deluded dupes; he seemed to us a man well calculated for the purpose; to the ignorant he dilated at extreme length on the superhuman learning of Smith, laying claim to no small share of similar acquirements himself; but to persons whom he suspected of a learned education, he was very reserved and uncommunicative. From Lancashire Mormonism spread into the mid-land counties, where it made numerous converts among the farmers. It reached London, but did not make much progress in the metropolis; but we have been credibly informed that it has been very successful in Wales and the south of Scotland. In the latter part of the year 1842, more than five thousand dupes emigrated from the port of Liverpool; and we must now turn back to Nauvoo, to see the nature of their probable reception.

The Illinois legislature and state government, in a spirit of re-action against the ruffian violence of the Missourians, not only, as we have seen, incorporated the Mormonite city, but created the prophet a general in the army, and the provost of a university! The latter title would have been too ridiculous even for the Mormons, and Smith declined the presidency, under the pretext that it would interfere with his revelations. While at Kirtland, he undertook a new translation of the Bible, in which he was assisted by Sidney Rigdon. It has been published [sic] at Nauvoo, but good care has been taken to prevent its reaching this country. He also, with the assistance of his elders, produced a collection of Mormonite hymns, composed, as he asserts, under the direct influence of Divine inspiration and which really have been very efficient agents in the success that his system has attained. 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 with whom we have conversed, to the psalms of David; and triumphantly quoted to the Methodists as superior in unction and spirit. One specimen will suffice; it forms part of a contrast between the first and second advent of the Messiah: --

The first was persecuted
  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.

Smith's last literary fraud is the most amazing of all, and far surpasses that which the Rev. Dr. Wall has


1843.]                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  297.

fixed upon Champollion. By some means or another, he obtained possession of four Egyptian mummies, which he exhibited for a time for a time to his followers, as the bodies of an Egyptian king, his two wives, and daughter of another king. After some time he removed the papyrus rolls in which they were enveloped, by the application of no more delicate instruments than a backwoodsman's hatchet, and exhibited the fragments as the actual autographs of Abraham written with his own hand while in Egypt. Last summer, a little after he had quarrelled with Sidney Rigdon, he commenced to publish what he has been pleased to term a translation of these documents in his "Times and Seasons," a periodical which he edits at Nauvoo. The absence of his better genius, Rigdon, is singularly apparent in this miserable forgery; it is full of the grossest blunders. He makes the Ur of the Chaldees part of the territory of the Egyptian Pharaohs; not aware that the Egyptians mummified animals, he gives fanciful names of idols to the representations of animal mummies -- he makes sad havoc with the geography of Palestine, putting places for persons, and persons for places, and he favours his followers in Abraham;s name with a system of astronomy, geology, and cosmogony, compared with which that of Mahommed or the Ephrem Syrus may be regarded as the very perfection of wisdom. Within forty-eight hours from the time in which we write, two numbers of this palpable forgery, were placed in our hands by a Lancashire Mormonite, in every other respect a most respectable and intelligent man of his class, and particularly conspicuous for mechanical skill, in the full hope that it would lead to our conversion.

Shortly after we met one of the returned Mormonites; he describes Smith as a man of middle size, very stoutly built, with something of a rakish and dissipated air, "not at all like the prophets of old." This agrees with Mr. Caswall's account, whose manuscript of the Greek Psalter he pronounced to be "A Dictionary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Our informant stated, that the Mormonite community bore the worst possible character in the adjacent country; but this he attributed (and, we believe not unjustly) to the pertinacious hatred of the Missourians. The Methodists, he informed us, are the most rancorous against the Mormonites, because the greater proportion of the converts have been obtained from their body, and, for a similar reason, the Baptists rank next in animosity. It is curious that the attention of the red race has been strongly directed towards Mormonism; and, of Smith had any elements of heroism in his composition, or any sympathy of feeling with the Indian tribes, the prophet would have no bad chance of establishing himself as the regenerator of the native Americans, and the probable founder of a new empire between the Mississippi and the Pacific. During the course of last summer, Mr. W. saw several Indian chiefs at Nauvoo, who had come to see the prophet who professed to have discovered the last records of their nation; but these shrewd sons of the desert soon discovered Smith's weakness, and returned home in disgust.

The Mormonites very openly profess their dislike to the American constitution, which, after the proof they have felt of its utter inefficiency to afford protection against the mob-law of Missouri, is by no means wonderful: many of them (and these not of English descent) profess allegiance to Queen Victoria; but the great majority would gladly see their prophet assume, like Mohammed, the attributes of royalty. Smith would have done so long ago, only that he wants elements of greatness, or rather has never got over the weakness of cunning, necessarily generated by the petty frauds of his youth. One instance of this weakness is, his permitting his mother to exhibit the four Egyptian mummies in their broken and naked state for a quarter dollar to each visitor; a piece of petty cheating, which must prove fatal to any scheme of playing the knave on an extended scale. At the present moment, Smith affects to regard Nauvoo as his Medina, and Zion, in Missouri, as his Mecca. He preaches to the Mormonites the necessity of reconquering their holy city, and taking vengeance on the wretches by whom they were expelled. It is for this purpose that his legion is kept to regular drill, and would now be an overmatch for an equal number of American militia. The recent assassination of


298                                                   Mormonism, &c.                                                  [March.

Boggs, the governor of Missouri, by one of Smith's Danite band, and the ostentatious protection afforded to the murderer in Nauvoo, have, however, alarmed the Missourians. They applied to the state of Illinois to have Smith arrested, and, he was apprehended by a messenger, but was again liberated on a habeas corpus, issued from his own court in Nauvoo. This has been annulled by the Illinois state court, and the prophet seems likely to be left in what the Americans call "a pretty particular fix;" and so think many of his old associates, who have not only quitted the Mormonite ranks. but actually commenced assailing him through the press. The race of the prophet appears almost run: in Lancashire, Mormonism is certainly on the decline, and in London we have been unable to find any recent traces of its existence. It is possible that Smith may make a sanguinary struggle in America, and, that the civil war in the Western States may be renewed; but his followers have no confidence in his courage, and his book of Abraham has placed such an additional weight on credulity, that it must break even the faith of Mormonites if further continued. It was a sad blunder in Smith to forget that his prototype, Mohammed, was a man of only one book.

We have reserved for our conclusion one of the most extraordinary incidents in this strange, eventful history. The general outline of the career which Smith has run, was predicted by Robert Southy in a work published the very year before that in which Mormonism was started. Here is the passage: --

"America is in more danger from religious fanaticism. The government there not thinking it necessary to provide religious instruction for the people in any of the new States, the prevalence of superstition, and that, perhaps, IN SOME WILD AND TERRIBLE SHAPE, may be looked for as one likely consequence of this great and portentous omission. An OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN might find dupes and followers as readily as the All-friend Jemima; and the next Aaron Burr who seeks to carve a kingdom for himself out of the overgrown territories of the Union, may discover that FANATICISM IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON WITH WHICH AMBITION CAN ARM ITSELF; that the way for both is prepared by that immorality which the want of religion naturally and necessarily induces, and that CAMP-MEETINGS may be very well directed to forward the designs of a MILITARY PROPHET. Were there another Mohammed to arise, there is no part of the world where he would find more scope, or fairer opportunity, than in that part of the Anglo-American Union into which the elder States continually discharge the restless part of their population, leaving laws and Gospel to overtake it if they can; for in the march of modern colonization both are left behind." -- Southey's Colloquies, vol. ii., p. 42, 1829.

The history we have given affords much room for painful, but not useless reflection; our narrative, however, has extended to such a length, that we are precluded from comments. We shall only say, that no pains have been spared to authenticate every fact which we have stated -- that many repulsive circumstances in the history of the delusion and its concomitants have been omitted from motives of delicacy, and that, in our humble opinion, the progress of Mormonism in England and America is a very sorry accompaniment to the march of intellect in the nineteenth century.

Note: It appears that this article is an expansion (probably by the same author) of the piece, "The Book of Mormon and the Mormonites," which first appeared in the London Athenaeum during the first part of 1841 -- see also its reprint in the July, 1841 issue of The Museum of Foreign Literature, Science and Art.


Methodist Quarterly Review
(NYC: G. Lane & P. P. Sanford)

  • 1843 (Vol. III No. 1)
      "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

    1. Mormonism and the Mormons: an Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Sect self-styled Latter-Day Saints. By Daniel P. Kidder. 18mo, pp. 343. New York: G. Lane & P. P. Sandford, 1842.

    2. The History of the Saints; or, an Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism. by John C. Bennett, 12mo., pp. 344. Boston: Leland & Whiting. New York: Bradbury, Soden & Co. Cincinnati: E. S. Norris & Co. 1842.

    3, The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review, Number for October, 1842.

    THE history of religious imposture is replete with facts as instructive and admonitory as humiliating and alarming. How it comes to pass that base and stupid imposition wins its way upon the credulity of multitudes of men, and finally comes to be regarded as the voice of God, is an inquiry which has in different ages of the world called forth the talents of the wise and good -- of both philosophers and theologians. It is still however a fact, which to many is involved in inexplicable mystery. How rational minds can be gulled into a belief that the God of infinite holiness and wisdom would employ knaves to teach religion, and to perfect his own revelations, is a problem that many are not able to solve.

    A thorough understanding of the intellectual and moral character of man, as developed in the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed by experience and observation, will conduct us to the only safe and satisfactory conclusions upon this subject. Man is so constituted that religion is one of the wants of his nature, and religion of some sort he will have. But he is so perverted in his moral nature that he is averse to the pure and true religion which God has given him; and hence any new religion, or any modification of the old and true religion which offers him the unrestrained indulgence of his animal appitites, or some mitigation of the rigor of the divine precepts, finds in him a ready reception. There is also in many minds a fondness for novelty and the marvelous, which binds both reason and conscience, and preponderates in their decisions in relation to matters of religion more generally than in any thing else. Such minds, when brought fairly under the power of some novelty, or some wonderful, and, to a cool judgment, incredible relation or theory, are almost wholly incapavle of a regular process of reasoning, or of arriving at just conclusions in relation to the subject of their fanatical admiration. Hence we find men of every false religion perfectly honest in their adherence to it, and perfectly


    112                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    incompetent to see in it any defects, or to view in a just light the evidences of the selfish designs of those they make their spiritual guides, though all this is as obvious to all the world besides as the sun at noon-day. Men in this condition are really more entitled to our sympathy and forbearance than our contempt or censure. The poison has acted upon their minds until their regular functions are subverted, and all their moral judgments are actually the hallucinations of insanity.

    But we must come to the consideration of the particular subject of this article, viz., "Mormonism and the Mormons." Our object is not to argue the matter with our "Latter-day Saints," nor to give many specimens from the works at the head of this article; but to give the reader a sketch of the facts which our authors have authenticated, and of the results at which they have arrived.

    The principal actor in the Mormon imposture is Joe Smith, an ignorant, fanatical, and licentious renegade, who, in connection with his father, was impelled by a money-digging mania to visit the mountains of northern Pennsylvania to prosecute his calling -- that of discovering secret treasures in the earth by peeping at a stone in a hat! Here he married Emma Hale, of Harmony, Susquehannah county, without the consent, and contrary to the wishes, of her parents and friends. Smith's character is proved to have been grossly immoral by the affidavits of his father-in-law, brother-in-law, his wife's uncle, and a cousin; besides a long list of respectable names in the state of New-York where he was raised.

    The deponents in Pennsylvania we knew well in 1816-17, the first year of our itinerant life. We have a distinct recollection of their several traits of character, and as clearly have in our mind's eye the present wife of "the prophet." Father Hale, as he was called, was a pious, an honest, and a shrewd man, who settled in that rough region of country in an early period in order to gratify his propensity for hunting. Father Lewis is still alive, and it will be a sufficient endorsement of his character to say that he has for many years been an acceptable and a useful local elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Father Hale's house was the preachers' home, and Em, as she was called in family parlance, acted a subordinate part in the work about house. Elevated, as she now is, we in those old times often partook of a good repast of venison, eels, and buckwheat cakes, prepared by her hands. Our general impression is, that she was of decidedly moderate intellectual caliber -- quite below the average grade of the family. But subsequent associations may have wrought in her marked and salutary changes.


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       113

    When Joe first broached the grand hoax of "the golden Bible," it was talked of solely as a money-making project. In a conversation with Rev. N. Lewis, about three years since, he informed us, that the first that he heard of the matter was a sort of vague representation from Joe and Em, that they knew of something that when carried out would make them and all their friends rich. And when the story came out about the "gold plates," and the "Great spectacles," he (Lewis) asked Joe if any one but himself could translate other languages into English by the aid of his miraculous spectacles? On being answered in the affirmative, he proposed to Joe to let him make the experiment upon some of the strange languages he found in CIarke's Commentary, and stated to him if it was even so, and the experiment proved successful, he would then believe the story about the gold plates. But at this proposition Joe was much offended, and never undertook to convert "uncle Lewis" afterward.

    As to "the Book of Mormon," which, indeed, constitutes the foundation of the system of Mormonism, it is proved, most conclusively, that the whole, excepting the religious matter, is identical with a book written, but not published, by one Spaulding, in the state of Ohio, as a novel, and entitled, "The Manuscript Found." it is made quite probable that Smith came into possession of the MS. through the agency of Rigdon, his coadjutor and orator, whom he very easily converted to the faith, after, by the aid of one of his dupes who had the means, he had published this wonderful book.

    The first converts to the new religion were from among Smith's family and friends in western New-York. None of his wife's friends in Pennsylvania, with all the prospects of becoming rich presented before them, have to this day, as far as we know, become Mormons. This is honorable both to their heads and hearts.

    In the history of the Mormons we mark several important periods. The first is, when they took possession of what was revealed by "the prophet" to be their "eternal inheritance," in Kirkland [sic], Ohio. The next, when, by erecting a magnificent temple, and setting up a bank, and going into various other speculations, they exploded, and went to the "far west;" where they found another "eternal inheritance" in Missouri. And, finally, when, by coming into collision with the Missourians, they were forced by fire and sword to leave the state, and finally found another "eternal inheritance" in Illinois, where they have their present head quarters, and where "the saints are to come up to the gathering." Upon the wake of public sympathy, raised by the


    114                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    persecutions which the Mormons suffered in Missouri, they rode into a condition of prosperity and success before unknown. They are building a city on the bank of the Mississippi near the rapids, which they call Nauvoo. * Here they are erecting a splendid temple, and Joe has published a revelation that the saints must erect a great house to "be called the Nauvoo House," where he, Smith, "and his heirs for ever," are to have "a suite of rooms for their accommodation." A wonderful display of arms and military power is made here by "the saints." And what is a little more than would have been expected; even of Joe Smith, he bears at once the titles of "prophet," "high priest," "president," "mayor of the City of Nauvoo" and "LIEUTENANT GENERAL of the Nauvoo Legion!"

    The fanaticism of Mormonism is set in a true light, and accounted for and explained by the author of the work first placed at the head of this article, with Christian moderation and candor. This is indeed more truly an occasion of grief and sorrow than of ridicule and merriment. And the author never laughs when true religion weeps and bleeds.

    The sham miracles of "the Latter-day Saints" are altogether blasphemous, and too shallow to require investigation. The amount of the whole of their miraculous power consists in curing some of the brotherhood of an attack of rheumatism or the toothache, which comes on just at the time a miracle is wanted, and is instantaneously cured "in answer to prayer."

    Their prophecies consist in foretelling something that "the prophet" means to bring about -- not unfrequently of the sudden death of some one he intends to murder by the agency of his "destructives." And "the prophet" "discerns spirits" by the means of a regular system of espionage, carried on through the agency of his confidential and official informers. The system is made up of an admixture of several parts and parcels of heathenism, Mohammedanism. Judaism, and Christianity -- the ultimate tendency of which is to the grossest licentiousness and infidelity.

    Its licentious and disorganizing tendency renders it dangerous

    In the month of May, 1839, we passed up the Mississippi as far as Stephenson. Joe was then in duress in Missouri, and the Mormons were flying for life across the river. We saw a motley group on the bank of the river, who, as far as we could judge, had no covering for their heads but covered wagons and some small tents. Little did we then suppose that this was an embryo city, which would develop itself so rapidly as that in three years from that time it would become the glory of the "Latter-day Saints," and the terror of the great west.


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       115

    to the civil and political interests of the country, as well as utterly subversive of the public morals, Still we certainly agree with the author now under review that "persecution" is not the proper instrument with which to assail this hydra monster. Mormons should be treated just like other men. When they conduct themselves as orderly citizens, they should be suffered to enjoy their opinions and to exercise the full liberty of conscience. When they become insane, they should be sent to the hospital or asylum provided for such persons. And when they are guilty of crime, they should be tried before the civil tribunals of the country and punished according to tile laws. And we can but express a hope that by due process of law, and not by the agency of a mob, Joe Smith will be brought to appropriate punishment for his numerous gross violations of the laws of the land,

    An abstract of the doctrines of Mormonism is given by our author, as follow;--

    "Stripping off its mantle of hypocrisy, Mormonism stands forth in the following cardinal positions -- a meager and ghastly skeleton.

    "1. Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord, and a priest after the order of Melchisedek.

    "2. The Book of Mormon is true, that is, inspired.

    "3. Zion is on this land, (Nauvoo, Illinois.)

    "4. Matter is eternal.

    "5. God is a material being.

    "6. The saints are to be baptized for their dead relations, on peril of their own salvation." -- Mormonism and the Mormons, p. 234.

    The following is the author's account of the Golden Bible: --
    "1. The Mormon Bible originated with men destitute of a good moral character.

    "2. The primary design of its publication was pecuniary profit.

    " 3. Said Mormon Bible bears prima facie evidence of imposture.

    "4. It basely perverts the language and doctrine of the Holy Scriptures.

    "5. It blasphemously imputes to God language inconsistent with his character and holiness.

    "6. Excepting perverted plagiarisins from the Scriptures of truth, that book is nothing but a medley of incoherent absurdities.

    "7. The system of Mormonism has arisen entirely from the Book of Mormon, and the contrivance of its 'authors and proprietors.'

    "8. That system has been and still is propagated by means of deception.

    "9. Mormonism, at the same time it pretends to be 'the fullness of the gospel,' is intrinsically infidel, and opposed to Christianity. It can never be reconciled with the principles of a pure religion.

    "10. Its legitimate effects are to degrade and heathenize society." -- (pp. 329, 330.)


    116                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    A remarkable fact is, that several of the early disciples of Mormonism have abandoned the community, and exposed the errors and corruption of the pseudo-prophet; and yet anathemas, fulminated against them in the name of the Lord, are all that seems necessary to retrieve his character with the great body of "the saints, and to sustain his influence among them. Besides a mass of ignorant deluded fanatics which Joe has gathered around him, he must have some base accomplices, His scribes, and orators, and bishops, and presidents, must be made up of men, if not so reckless and fool-hardy, yet quite as wicked and as infidel, as himself. "Emma, daughter of Zion, elect lady," and by special revelation constituted poet * -- to compose and select hymns for the saints -- tardy as are her mental operations, knows better than to dream that Joe, her husband, acts under a divine commission. But such is the charm of influence, power, and wealth, that her convictions are stifled by the commotion raised through this agency in a mind but too feebly guarded by cultivation and an elevated moral code.

    From this general view we shall proceed to a few particular deductions from the facts presented by our author.

    Should we, in the present crisis of human affairs, undertake to plot a scheme of evil that would be worthy of the especial patronage of the prince of darkness, and promote, to the greatest practicable extent, the interests of his kingdom, we should feel constrained to copy the prominent features of the system called Mormonism. The leading objects of such a scheme would be,

    1. To discredit the word of God; 2. To impugn the evidences of Christianity; 3. To destroy the authority of Jehovah, and to establish some species of idolatry or man-worship; 4. To unite fanatical Christians and sworn infidels in a common crusade against evangelical truth; 5. To sap the foundations of morality and virtue; and, finally, To promote all iniquity in the name and on the credit of religion.

    Let us now pass to the parallel.

    1. The starting point of Mormonism is its sham bible; a miserable mixture of fictitious narrative and sanctimonious rant; interspersed with passages plagiarized from the word of God. This

    * We have before us one of her official productions, with the following title: "A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ, of the Latter- day Saints. Selected by Emma Smith. Nauvoo, Illinois. printed by E. Robinson. 1841." This book is made up of hymns gathered from all quarters, a portion of which are miserable Mormon doggerel, whether composed by the "elect lady" or others we have no means of determining.


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       117

    is palmed off upon the credulous as a supplementary revelation, designed to supply the defects of the Bible. Henceforward the Book of Mormon and the Bible must he so identified as to stand or fall together. Both are rejected as offensive, and the object is gained.

    2. Mormonism has made an insidious attack upon the evidences of Christianity by maintaining a pretended parallel between the method of its own propagation and that of the religion of the gospel. Under the name of miracles, tongues, interpretations, and prophecies it has resorted to a species of spiritual jugglery, marvelous, indeed in the eyes of its victims. It has, on the whole, gained to itself the unenviable credit of conjuring up a counterfeit very serviceable to infidels, and very troublesome to weak-minded Christians.

    3. Joe Smith's highest spiritual claim has been, to be considered "a prophet of the Most High," but under cover of this dignity he has ruled with a rod of iron. Success in imposture has imboldened this originally stupid villain, until he now grasps at the very prerogatives of the Godhead. He endeavors to make his own perverse will superior to all law, human and divine. Among his followers he has thus far been but too successful. Thousands have been taught to render him homage, and their devotion appears to be as pure as that of the heathen who court self-immolation to appease the wrath, or to promote the infernal joy, of their idols.

    4. Mormonism originally made claims to the highest sanctity. On this ground it obtained many of its adherents and some of its chosen apostles. Its principles have long been fundamentally atheistic, and now it openly courts the favor of organized infidelity. Infidel and Mormon newspapers interchange extracts with the greatest appearance of mutual satisfaction, and the strongest evidence of intimate relationship. Henceforth we may regard them as identical in design, and fitly matched in the service of their common author.

    5. The progress of Mormonism has the invariable tendency to unsettle the grounds of rational belief. It establishes a false criterion of right and wrong, and having substituted the will of man for the authority of God, it has broken down the barriers of conscience, and opened upon society the very flood gates of wickedness.

    6. Such a tremendous enginery of Satan, countenanced on the one hand by a prevailing respect for religious pretensions, however absurd, and sustained by political intrigue and flattery on the other, could not be put in motion without destructive consequences. Such consequences are just now becoming fairly developed. Years


    118                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    may be required to show the full result; but we may fairly presume that we have already a faithful index of what it will be. This may be seen in wholesale swindling, fraudulent bankruptcy, infamous deception, female prostitution, adultery, polygamy, treason, and murder. All these iniquities in their multifarious developments are disguised under the profession of piety, and sanctioned by solemn appeals to the God of heaven.

    What portion of the earth has been cursed with a more reckless attempt at the subversion of all good, and where has ever religious imposture flourished more successfully than in this enlightened, Christian land, since Mormonism arose? We tremble when we contemplate the responsibility of those who might have interposed influences to save its victims; but who neglected to inform themselves of the proper methods of so doing. All have been wondering that so stupid an imposture could make any progress in the midst of so much light. Just as though it were depending on its claims to truth for success, or as though there were not in fallen men a natural tendency to confederacies of evil. Such ideas are entirely mistaken, and yet they seem to have prevailed, until Mormonism is prepared to enforce its pretensions by the sword.

    Its downfall has been repeatedly predicted, and is again, at the present moment, supposed by many to be inevitable. In the midst of all its former reverses it has only increased. Hitherto all attempts to subject its founder to the penalties of law have been in some way defeated, and, at the same time, converted into capital for the advancement of his object.

    Up to this hour Mormonism continues to be zealously propagated on both sides of the Atlantic. Whatever may be the result of the present crisis, the -manner in which this system of false religion sprang up, and the steps by which it has arrived at its present character and position, cannot fail to be subjects of interest to those who would become acquainted with the world as it is, with a view to its amelioration.

    Let those, then, who wish to see a fair and impartial account of the miserable imposture which is now eliciting so much public interest, read "Mormonism and the Mormons." The style of the work is plain, natural, and perspicuous, and the mechanical execution in keeping with the Book-Room works generally.

    The above was prepared as a brief review of the work placed first at the head of this article before we saw the announcement of the work of General Bennett. As far as this work goes for


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       119

    any thing, it confirms all the leading views of brother Kidder, and all our general impressions upon the subject. We can only occupy space to make a few brief notes upon the work of the general. The author, "for eighteen months, was living with the Mormons at their chief city, and possessed the confidence of the prophet himself, and of his councilors;" but says it "is a very gross error" to suppose that "I was for some time a convert to their pretended religion." He says, "I never believed in them or their doctrines." It seems that his object in joining Joe "at the seat of his dominion" was to possess himself of his secrets, and then "expose his iniquity to the world." So, according to his own story, the whole of General Bennett's Mormonism was a mere farce -- was deception played off upon a diviner! What is this but meeting the devil on his own ground!

    That General Bennett has shed much light upon the internal policy, and the abominable wickedness of Smith and his coadjutors, cannot be rationally doubted. Whatever construction is put upon his course, and the spirit he manifests, none can doubt but his numerous affidavits are authentic, and most of his facts amply sustained. There are, however, many exceptionable things in this expose of Mormonism.

    To say nothing of the revolting scenes which he describes, which, for the honor of humanity, and the security of the public morals, had already been made sufficiently public through the newspapers, there are many things in the book which mill leave a bad impression. In his great zeal against Mormonism the general loses self-respect and a sense of propriety. In a controversy with Rockwell, in relation to the murder of Boggs, the Mormon saint is represented as saying, "I have been informed that you said Smith gave me fifty dollars and a wagon for shooting Boggs, and I can and will whip any man that mill tell such a cursed lie." And the sum of the dignified general's reply is, "If you wish to fight, I am ready for you!" The general is rather too laudatory of his correspondents and coadjutors at Nauvoo. They are rather too "good" -- the female portion of them are almost too "good-looking," " beautiful," "amiable," "lovely," and "accomplished" -- have too many "charms and attractions." One of these charming ladies, he says, "is one of the most devoutly pious girls in the world" and, perhaps in proof of her extraordinary piety, he tells us, that in a controversy with Joe upon some delicate matters she called him "a cursed liar." Rather a singular flare up this for such a paragon of piety.

    The author professes a great regard for the laws, the morals,


    120                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    and religion of the country. All this may be very sincere. But it is rather singular that in saving the country from the overflowings of wickedness, infidelity, and heathenism, he should seem bent upon a crusade against the Mormons, which implies a little more than an appeal to reason and the laws. A war of extermination must be waged against the poor deluded Mormons, and all Christian people must come up to the help of the mighty deliverer, who will carry "the war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt" The reader will gather a tolerable idea of the spirit of the work, and of the feelings and character of the author, from the following brief paragraphs, which are all we have space for in the present article: --

    "I shall be in Independence, Jackson county, Missouri, as soon as possible, to put the ball in motion; (to which place my friends will hereafter direct their communications to me;) and if the war must be carried to the knife, and the knife to the hilt, the sons of thunder will drive it through. The eves of a Boggs will never slumber nor sleep, until the rod of Aaron divides the waters, and the supremacy of the constitution and the laws is acknowledged in the land, and violence and misrule hide their hydra head; and I shall hold the rapier of justice in my right hand, and my left arm shall bear the shield of truth, until I bruise the serpent's head." -- Mormonism Exposed, pp. 262, 265.

    "Will not the people of the west open their eyes to their imminent peril? Will they suffer a community of murderers to congregate their forces, and immolate those nearest allied and most endeared to them by the ties of humanity and consanguinity, without a murmur! Citizens, be ready to put your armor on, and spread your banners on the air! for if the battle MUST be fought, I will lead you on to glorious victory in this great moral struggle, where the cause of morality and true religion is bleeding at every pore. Arise in the plenitude of your strength and assert your rights, and in the name of the Lord God of Israel, lay the revels low! Vox populi, vox Dei." pp. 280-281.

    "Should I be sacrificed or slain in the conflict, my blood would be avenged by God and my country. I never feared to die, but I did not intend to sell my life cheaply until the world had the truth of the Mormon organization before them in bold relief. The issue is now made up; 'their die is cast, their fate is fixed, their doom is sealed:' their temple will be profaned, their altars desecrated, their city devastated, their possessions confiscated, and their idols immolated; and reason, sober reason, will once more resume its empire in the minds of the people, and folly, fraud, and imposture, hide their hydra head. All honest individuals, who have the requisite Moral Courage, will now cease to worship the Mormon Baal, in the modern Babylon, and will bow submissively before the Lord God of the universe, renounce heathenism, and espouse Christianity." -- p. 292.

    "It is to vigorous and united effort that me must look for the final suppression of Mormonism; and the citizen of the Christian is highly


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       121

    culpable who stands by in apathy, and, with folded arms, coolly looks upon the progress of a system that will eventually destroy, if not timely checked, our religion and our liberties, and involve us and our country in the most direful and irretrievable calamities.

    "The Mormons, strong already in their numbers and their zeal, are increasing like the rolling snowball, and will eventually fall with the force of an avalanche upon the fair fabric of our institutions, unless the people, roused to resist their villainy, quit the forum for the field, and, meeting the Mormons with their own arms, crush the reptile before it has grown powerful enough to sting them to the death." -- p. 307.

    This reminds us of what was said of one of old, "His driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously." We most sincerely regret that measures so exciting as those which are in progress under the direction of General Bennett are thought to be necessary to bring black-hearted villainy and blasphemous imposture to retribution. Why will the sober and reflecting portions of community sleep -- give themselves no trouble to gain correct information of the character and progress of a dangerous faction, and a conspiracy against religion and our free institutions, until the warring elements are put into commotion, and then permit hair-brained adventurers to mount the whirlwind and direct the storm? Whatever provocation has been given by Joe Smith and his gang, there is no call for outbreaks of popular fury. The evil is already sufficiently alarming, and needs not to be aggravated and enhanced by bad management. We must be permitted to hope that tie people of the west will honor the laws; that no violence will ensue. The way to render the evil incurable is to assail the Mormons in the spirit of fiery persecution. But as much in earnest as we are that Joe and his wretched accomplices should suffer for their licentious, bloody, and treasonable conduct the just penalty of the laws, and that they may find final escape from this utterly impracticable, we protest against all unlawful or indirect measures to accomplish this object. This opposing imposture to imposture, cursing to cursing; fanaticism to fanaticism, and violence to violence, is not the way to cure either heresy, fraud, or faction. But there are empires in religion and politics as well as in the healing art, and their panaceas are often more to be dreaded than the diseases for which they are offered as the remedy.

    We must conclude with a brief notice of an article on Mormonism in the British Critic. This article is principally occupied with a work which bears the following title: "The City of the Mormons; or, Three Days at Nauvoo in 1842. By the Rev. Henry


    122                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    Caswall, M.A., author of 'America and the American Church: and Professor of Divinity in Kemper College, St. Louis, Missouri, London: Rivingtons."

    It seems, that upon seeing many of his "unfortunate country-men" passing: up the river "to join Joe Smith," Professor Caswall determined to visit Nauvoo, "and, if possible, obtain an interview with the prophet himself." He accordingly "embarked on Friday, April 15, in the steamer 'Republic,' having prudently laid aside his clerical dress; and, in order to test the scholarship of the prophet, provided himself with an ancient Greek MS. of the Psalter, apparently of the thirteenth century," The professor arrived on Sunday morning, was landed on the opposite shore, and crossed the river to Nauvoo, in a canoe, where he attended "meeting," and heard several discourses from "the officiating elders." The following is his description of the congregation: --

    "The temple being unfinished, about half-past ten o'clock a congregation of perhaps two thousand persons assembled in a grove, within a short distance from the sanctuary. Their appearance was quite respectable, and fully equal to that of dissenting meetings generally in the western country. Many gray-headed old men were there, and many well-dressed females. I perceived numerous groups of the peasantry of old England; their sturdy forms, their clear complexions, and their heavy movements, strongly contrasting with the slight figure, the sallow visage, and the elastic step of the American. There, too, were the bright and innocent looks of little children, who, born among the privileges of England's Church, baptized with her consecrated waters, and taught to lisp her prayers and repeat her Catechism, had now been led into this den of heresy to listen to the ravings of a false prophet, and to imbibe the principles of a semi-pagan delusion."

    We would merely inquire here, by the way, what the professor means by "dissenting meetings?" Have we here any privileged religious establishment? We are aware of no such thing -- and, of course, can see no propriety or justice in denominating any body of Christians dissenters. Are all dissenters who are not attached to the English hierarchy? Then are the whole American people dissenters, and have been so ever since the declaration of American independence. Or are those Christian communions who did not ask the king and parliament of Great Britain for leave to organize themselves into a church in this country, after the American revolution, on that account dissenters? This would be a strange reason. But are we dissenters because we did not give up our organizations and merge ourselves in the Protestant Episcopal Church, which was the latest of all the leading Christian denominations in perfecting her organization, and is now the smallest


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       123

    and least efficient of them? We judge not. We would just hint to Professor Caswall that should he see proper to return to America he had better leave a little of his dignity behind him.

    The professor had an interview with the prophet, which he thus describes: --

    "On landing at Nauvoo, I proceeded with the doctor along the street which I mentioned before as bordering on the strand. As I advanced with my book in my hand, numerous Mormons came forth from their dwellings, begging to be allowed to see its mysterious pages; and by the time I reached the prophet's house, they amounted to a perfect crowd. I met Joseph Smith at a short distance from his dwelling, and was regularly introduced to him. I had the honor of an interview with him who is the 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 bands 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 characterizes 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 the 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 prophet now turned to me, and said, 'This book ain't of no use to you, you don't understand it.' 'O, yes,' I replied, 'it is of some use; for if I were in want of money, I could sell it, and obtain, perhaps, enough to live on for a whole year.' 'But what will you take for it?' said the prophet and his elders, 'My price,' I replied, ' is higher than you would be willing to give.' 'What price is that?' they eagerly demanded. I replied, 'T will not tell you what price I would take; but if you were to offer me this moment nine hundred dollars in gold for it, you should not have it.' They then


    124                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    repeated their request that I should lend it to them until their prophet should have time to translate it, and promised me the most ample security; but I declined all their proposals. I placed the book in several envelopes, and as I deliberately tied knot after knot, the countenances of many among them gradually sunk into an expression of great despondency. Having exhibited the book to the prophet, I requested him in return to show me his papyrus; and to give me his own explanation, which I had hitherto received only at second hand. He proceeded with me to his office, accompanied by the multitude. He produced the glass frames which I had seen on the previous day; but he did not appear very forward to explain the figures, I pointed to a particular hieroglyphic, and requested him to expound its meaning. No answer being returned, I looked up, and behold! the prophet had disappeared. The Mormons told me that he had just stepped out, and would probably soon return. I waited some time, but in vain: and at length descended to the street in front of the store. Here I heard the noise of wheels, and presently I saw the prophet in his wagon, flourishing his whip, and driving away as fast as two fine horses could draw him. As he disappeared from view, enveloped in a cloud of dust, I felt that I had turned over another page in the great book of human nature."

    After this extract the reviewer gives us a condensed view of the professor's confab "with the surrounding Mormons, in which his ingenuity was fully put to the test," and finally closes with a "plan of emigration" put forth in the professor's book, suggested, it would seem, by the success that had attended Joe' Smith's efforts in that way.

    By the way, some of the reviewer's statements savor not a little of ignorance of American affairs in general, and of the facts he undertakes to represent. Whether Professor Caswall has led the reviewer astray in the matters referred to, or whether he has proceeded to his statements and executed his review without having read the book he reviews, we cannot say, as we are not able to find a copy of the work. The following quotation embraces what we especially refer to: --

    "Mr. Caswall had an interview with the prophet's mother, who gave him an account of her son's early years, which clearly indicated that she was herself no dupe, but a party to the imposture. He requested her to furnish him with a 'Book of Mormon.' She accordingly permitted him to take one of the first edition, belonging to her daughter Lavinia, for which he paid the young lady a dollar. We have seen this identical volume, which has all the look of having been well read. As for the contents, they are mainly a hodge podge of Scripture, the purely inventive part bearing but a small proportion to the whole. In half a dozen places where we have opened, the matter is very much the sort of stuff which a vast proportion of our countrymen hear 'at


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       125

    meeting every Sunday. We should not have been the least startled to have heard it from one of our common field-preachers. It is well known now that it originated in the circumstance of a romance, composed by a Methodist preacher for his private amusement, falling into worse hands, and, after some years, appearing, a good deal enlarged, a new revelation, pretended to be copied from certain golden plates, which Joseph Smith's mother assured Mr. Caswall she had seen and handled.

    "It appears this is by no means the first delusion of the kind in these melancholy regions, which indeed are lands of darkness, and lying in the shadow of death. Mr. Caswall gives some account of another notorious deceiver, one Matthias."

    Now as to the Mormon Bible, it seems the reviewer could give us, without difficulty, " the contents," and what it " mainly" consisted of, after he had "opened" only "half a dozen places." Such an examination would scarcely have enabled an ordinary mind to grasp and correctly report the "contents" of so large a work as "the Book of Mormon."

    But in all these "half a dozen places -- the matter is very much the sort of stuff which a vast proportion of his countrymen hear 'at meeting' every Sunday. Now we fear that the reviewer knows just as little about what is said "at meeting" as he does about the contents of the Book of Mormon, and this is almost nothing at all. For it is not true that this book is "mainly a hodge podge of Scripture," for the largest portion of it is made up of fictitious narrative. As to the meetings he refers to, they must embrace those of the Methodists, and the various other bodies of dissenters, or he could not say "a vast proportion of his countrymen" attend them "every Sunday." Now is this a true bill? Does this grave reviewer intend to say that "very much the sort of stuff" as the "hodge podge of Scripture" of the Book of Mormon, his "countrymen hear at" these meetings :every Sunday?" This is the courtesy and regard for truth which characterize the great of Puseyism.

    Moreover, the "romance," which constituted the foundation of the Book of Mormon, was not a composed by a Methodist preacher." Spaulding, its author, had been a Congregational minister, but never a Methodist. But this is so slight an error with regard to what "is well known," that perhaps the "Critic" will think it quite immaterial.

    The reviewer's lamentations over the "darkness" of "these melancholy regions,' to an American, sound really ludicrous. Terrible to relate! "it appears this is by no means the first delusion of the kind in these melancholy regions, which, indeed,


    126                   Mormonism and the Mormons                   [January

    are lands of darkness, and lying in the shadow of death. Mr. Caswall gives some account of another notorious deceiver, one Matthias!" Now we fear that Professor Caswall has not told the whole story, that this " one Matthias" lived and figured in and about the cities of New-York and Albany, * and perhaps the reviewer is yet to be informed that "these melancholy regions" are within the see of a bishop of the true succession, and one, too, of real high-toned catholic principles.

    Another item of information would not have been amiss, and that is, that Matthias never succeeded in making many disciples, perhaps for the reason that he sent no apostles over to England. Now had he pursued Smith's policy, there is no telling what his success might have been. In relation to Smith's converts the reviewer says: "Incredible as it may seem, the greater part of the recent converts to this extravagant delusion are directly from England -- sound, enlightened, Protestant England." And Professor Caswall says, those who were "born among the privileges of England's Church, baptized with her consecrated waters, and taught to lisp her prayers, and repeat her Catechism, had now been led into this den of heresy, to listen to the ravings of a false prophet, and imbibe the principles of a semi-pagan delusion."

    Alas! alas! for all this! Why is it, dear Mr. Critic, that when you have, with your consecrated waters," (holy water?) regenerated your children, and made them members of Christ's mystical body, you do not nurse them, and prevent them from falling under this dreadful delusion, and emigrating to "these melancholy regions?" What are the shepherds doing while their poor sheep are so fatally devoured? Do, sir, try to keep them at home, where you have hospitals for the insane, and means of instruction for the ignorant, and not let them be led off into these "lands of darkness lying in the shadow of death."

    All Englishmen, and other foreigners, who come to America to better their condition, and to do the country no harm, we bid a hearty welcome to the privileges and blessings of our free institutions. But we wish English Mormons and paupers to stay where

    * We would recommend to the "Critic* the history of Matthias and his imposture by our citizen, Colonel Stone. This book would add several important items to the second-hand and imperfect information he has gained from Professor Caswall. He would, at least, learn that dark and "melancholy" as are these "regions," there are some here who are able so far to nerve up their souls to rigorous effort, as to look through the "darkness" which is so prevalent, and to take a philosophical and moral view of the general subject of religious imposture, from which even "the Critic" might derive instruction.


    1843]                       Mormonism and the Mormons                       127

    they are. We have here "darkness" enough without an additional cloud flung over us from the old world. Being "baptized with consecrated water, we find does not always make even good citizens, much less good Christians.

    But if religious "delusion" is proof of the "darkness" of the land where it occurs, would it be presumed that any such thing had ever shown itself in glorious old England? But where has religious fanaticism and imposture been more rife than in "sound, enlightened, and Protestant England?" To say nothing of more ancient fanatics and impostures, where lived and flourished the fifth-monarchy men? Ann Lee? Joanna Southcoat? and Edward Irving? It must be acknowledged that Joe Smith has far exceeded these English gentry in the magnitude and success of his enterprise, it is not so clear that this is owing to the "darkness" of the "regions" where the scene of the farce is laid.

    But in conclusion we would say, that if Professor Caswall has, by his books or otherwise, contributed in any measure to confirm the prejudices of the British press against our country and our institutions; if he joins in with the blind and stupid slang of such publications as the article under consideration, we would counsel him to remain in "sound, enlightened, and Protestant England." We would advise him, that with such narrow and prejudiced views of America -- not excepting the great commercial emporium and capital of the state of New-York -- he will not long be allowed to teach the youth of the enlightened, enterprising, and chivalrous west. Even a "divinity" chair cannot long be occupied by such a"professor" in any portion of the republic.

    The professor must become Americanized before he will answer our purpose. He must not publish in England that he has, as says the Critic, visited "an utmost corner of the habitable globe -- or the haunts of a megalotherion;" or that the evils which are, in whole or part, imported. are to be set down to the credit of the country, the form of government, or our deficiency in intelligence, or a true regard for religion. "Melancholy regions!" "Lands of darkness!!" No, Mr. Critic; you are misinformed. We have, to be sure, no established religion -- no beneficed clergy -- nor do we want any: no bloated nobility -- neither have we millions of poor perishing for bread! We have a free constitution -- religion stands upon its own broad basis -- we have plenty in all our borders -- only the vicious and the idle need suffer want! Where are the "melancholy regions." where the "darkness?" Fear sir, look at home -- look at Manchester! -- and do not forget Oxford!


    Southern Literary Messenger
    (Richmond, Virginia)

  • 1844:
      "Rise & Progress of the Mormons"

  • 1845:
      "Mormonism and the Mormons"
       see also: comments for this article

  • 1848:
      "Memoir of the Mormons"

  • Vol. 10.                           Richmond,  September, 1844.                           No. 9.

    [pg. 526]


    OF  THE


    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.

    2nd. The Book of Mormon. Translated by Joseph Smith; 4th Edition -- 1842.

    3rd. The Nauvoo Neighbor. Weekly Newspaper; published at Nauvoo.

    4th. The History of the Persecutions in Missouri.

    5th. The Times and Seasons; a Semi-Monthly Periodical, Nauvoo.

    6th. An Address to the People of the U. States. By a Minister of the Church of Latter-day Saints.

    The works which head this page, are by no means remarkable in themselves, either for excellence of composition, or intrinsic value; but owe their importance, solely and exclusively, to the fact, of their forming the basis and foundation of the Mormon Faith -- constituting the starting point of the Mormon people; of whom much has been spoken and written, and but little known, and even that little, so discolored and distorted by prejudice and falsehood, as to be almost valueless for purposes of real information.

    The object of the present article is briefly to trace the leading and fundamental articles of their creed; with a glance at their present condition and prospects. This we are the better enabled to do from having personally visited, during the summer of 1843, the City of Nauvoo, the head-quarters of the faithful; in which are congregated 17,000 Mormons. While there, we had frequent conferences with the Elders of the Faith, conversed with the redoubtable " Prophet" himself; and procured all the information, relative to the faith and people, accessible to a stranger.

    Having possessed these facilities, we would fain impart the information thus acquired, relative to this new and strange faith, which bids fair, at no very distant day, to constitute an important element in the population of the Mississippi Valley; and which, from its rise, increase, and steady growth, may well claim the attention of all thinking men; since religious fanaticism, in all times and all ages, has ever been found a most powerful lever to uproot and destroy existing Institutions; and no sect can be deemed contemptible, or powerless for mischief, the members of which are thoroughly in earnest, and cursed with a proselyting spirit, which "will compass sea and land to make one proselyte;" who, when convinced, surrenders himself heart and soul to the guidance of a scheming, unprincipled, and ambitious leader, whose whole life hitherto, has been an acted lie, and whose malignity is only equaled by his power.

    For the Mormon people are not, as is generally supposed, a small and scattered band of ignorant and squalid fanatics, destitute of all worldly wisdom, or common sense, -- victims of an artful delusion, blindly staggering on to ruin in the steps of the arch hypocrite, who, by his pretended Revelations from Heaven, has duped and plundered them. On the contrary, they are an eminently practical and industrious people; sober, orderly, and discreet, as far as temporal matters are concerned; but in Religion, bigoted and fanatical to the last degree; yet, so far from rejecting or despising the test of argument, willing and ready, at all times, to enter into Theological controversies with strangers, in which their wonderful familiarity with the Bible, (the Prophecies especially,) is very apt to give them a decided advantage; be their adversary either Laic, or Polemic.

    We were informed by the Captains of the Steamboats on the upper Mississippi, that their boats were actually haunted by these itinerant Mormons, roving " like roaring lions" seeking whom they might entrap into a religious controversy; and often is the incautious traveller amazed to find, in the shrewd and sensible individual with whom he has been agreeably conversing, a member of the church of "Latter-day-Saints," (as they somewhat vain-gloriously term themselves,) ready to maintain, even to the death, the "Revelations" of the "Prophet," Joseph Smith, and firmly persuaded that he and his church are alone of the "Elect."

    Nor is this an entirely new and distinct Religion, which has sprung up in the wilds of the Far-West, to supersede the doctrines of Christianity; for it is based upon the Prophecies in the Old and New Testaments, and its professors claim to be the only genuine Christians. The "Book of Mormon," whence they derive the name by which they are commonly known, and which is generally supposed to be their Bible, is in fact intended merely as a supplement to the Bible, which they make their rule of faith, and chiefly contains a pretended history of the Aborigines of this country, to which we shall presently refer in its proper place. For the present, as it is both curious and instructive at all times, to trace out the growth of a delusion in the human mind from its first imperfect glimmering to its final blaze, we would briefly sketch the origin and growth of this idea in the mind of its founder, finally developing itself in the form of

    * This article was written some months previous to the late disturbances which resulted in the death of the Prophet.


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          527

    a new Religion; tracing his steps, from his first hesitating hints of possessing some secret sources of information, not shared by others, to his daring and arrogant assumption of inspiration and prophetic powers; by which some clue may be afforded to the strange self-abandonment, and wild credulity, which can induce his followers, many of whom are men far his superiors in intellect and knowledge, to prostrate themselves in lowly reverence at the feet of this ignorant and blasphemous impostor.

    If we needed another confirmation of the Poet's words,

    "How strangely subject is the human mind,
     Godlike, and gifted as it is, -- to err!"

    we might find it here; for though on the page of history we may read of the strange absurdities and barbarous crimes men could commit in Religion's name; although the blood-stained catalogue of the enormities perpetrated under the mask of faith, is enrolled on the chronicle of the past; and although, turning even to our own early history, the sad spectacle is presented us of the Puritan Fathers flying from persecution, and braving danger and death for freedom of conscience; yet, in their turn, becoming bitter persecutors, and driving forth with stripes and scorn, the harmless Quakers and Anabaptists; yet still, we fondly hoped, that fanaticism had been expelled from our land by the light of enlarged intelligence and general education; that the people had grown too wise, to be made the slaves of their own religious fears, and that religious freedom might flourish here. Sadly have these high hopes been disappointed; for few countries have been more rent and divided by Religious factions; whose war has hitherto been carried on by words. But a new element is now arising in our Western valley; a new creed, whose fanatic followers are ready, had they the power, to proselytise like the Mohammedans, at the point of the sword, and number already, by their own account, 200,000 in the United States, and with untiring zeal extending the numbers of the faithful.  

    The prevalence of religious delusions in the U. States, is a subject of curious inquiry; not that they prevail to a greater extent among us than among the people of other nations, but because, from our peculiar institutions, and the general diffusion of intelligence, it would be supposed more difficult to find dupes to delude; yet, in a country professing of all others to be the most free, no sooner have the fetters been stricken from the limbs of the people, than artful and designing fanatics attempt to forge them for their minds; and Faith, that pure Spirit, whose seat should be " fast by the throne of God," breathing to erring man of mercy and peace, is by their hellish arts converted into a grim Demon of terror and pain; enslaving the souls of those whose bodies are vainly free; for the true seat of freedom is in the soul, and he whose will is subject to the commands of another through superstitious fear, is the most abject of slaves.

    Strange that Religion, the very essence of which is love, should be so often based on fear, lowest and meanest of the springs of action; b a se in itself, and baser i n its promptings -- that the hope of immortality, elevating man to a place in the scale of being, but " little lower than the Angels," should be made " the hangman's whip to scourge us!" Yet with the Apostles of all the new creeds, in which, unhappily our country is so prolific, fear is the motive principle; freedom of though t, is reprobated as "want of faith;" and the unhappy convert, whose heated imagination has caught at the absurdities, so zealously preached to him, and is ready, in his blind zeal, to follow the news light whithersoever it may lead, is stripped of all free will, and hurried on so far by the contagious enthusiasm of his fellow victims, that his pride forbids him to recede after his eves are opened to his folly, and the earnest fanatic is converted into a cold and callous hypocrite, anxious to cover his own shame, by deluding others into sharing it with him.

    The rapidity with which impostors gain converts in this country is indeed remarkable; witness Matthias, Swedenborg, Miller, Joe Smith, and innumerable others; with but one exception, coarse, illiterate and vulgar impostors, whose ignorance is only equalled by their villainy. And yet, the American people have the reputation of being a very sensible people; hard, shrewd, unimaginative; little prone to enthusiasm, and perpetually inquiring into the "reason" of everything. Such is their admitted character. These contradictions are difficult to reconcile; so much hard common sense, and so much wild credulity. A partial explanation may be found in the reaction that ever takes place in the human mind, from not thinking at all, to thinking too much; the excitement and feverish activity of intellect, induced by free institutions and the diffusion of knowledge, before the stormy elements, so violently agitated, have had sufficient time to settle down and form their proper combinations. Such was the case in France, when the ecclesiastical and civil fetters, which had galled the people so long, were suddenly stricken off, and they grew drunk with freedom, rushing headlong into the wildest infidelity and most lawless license. Then, as ever, the violence of the rebound was proportioned to the weight of the pressure, which so long had bowed down and crushed the people.

    Our revolution, though it was different in kind, was yet similar in character; it was built up on the "wreck of old opinions;" it was an impatient shaking off of exploded formulas, the substance of which had long worn out; but whose forms still remained; and the same chainless and terrible energies


    528          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    of awakened mind, which wrapt France in the flames of a revolution, a Saturnalia of crime ushering in the dawn of a brighter day, are here employed in working out the grand moral problems of man's mission and destiny on earth, and his existence in a future state, -- once, the vexed questions of a few speculative and daring minds, but now entering into the popular mind, and absorbing the attention of the masses of the people.

    Such are the strong and earnest struggles after a satisfying doctrine, now convulsing the minds of our countrymen, and driving many of them into "false doctrine, heresy, and schism" against common reason and common sense; such is the storm, at present black with its angry and rolling clouds, through which the sun of truth will finally shine forth in triumphant splendor, to flash on the inquiring minds, now darkened with error, the conviction of these ever-abiding truths, that the ways of God's providence are, and ever will be, inscrutable to the finite creatures formed by his hand, and the servants of his will; and that "the upright heart and pure" is more earnestly to be sought after and valued, than any new and Titanic efforts to scale the heavens by ranting violence, or stormy piety.

    Viewed in connection with this national tendency, the Mormon movement is one well worthy of notice; being an attempt to establish a new Theocracy, to substitute "Revelations" through inspired individuals, for fixed and settled rules of conduct; a daring effort to create an "imperium in imperio;" and to crush all individual will and freedom of thought, under a stupendous church machinery; a despotism extending not alone to the mind and body, but seeking to fetter even the soul; and all this the work of a poor, ignorant, obscure, and heartless hypocrite; devoid of social position, mental culture, or even that great world-lever, wealth -- but possessed of a stubborn, dogged energy, an unflinching effrontery, and a profound knowledge of human nature in its weakest points. By these means, and these alone, he has reared up a church in the wilderness, who firmly believe in him, as an inspired "Prophet;" and as the fire spreads over the wintry prairie, so has their infectious zeal multiplied converts to their new doctrine, until the "Latter-day-Saints" number their tens of thousands, whose active emissaries never rest.  

    In the western and northern cities, their churches may be found; and scarce a nook or corner of our Union that has not been visited by their itinerant preachers. They have penetrated into Western Virginia; in the States further South they rarely venture; but from the "East," as they quaintly term the Northern States, are drawn many of their converts: "the old Puritan leaven" is often kneaded up into this new" bread of life;" and the mighty Valley of the Mississippi begins to feel their power and to fear their ultimate designs.

    In Missouri especially, the jealousy and hatred of the people burst forth in actual and open violence. They thrust them forth, not without a shedding of blood, from their borders, and forbade them, by an order of extermination, from again setting foot on their soil; and this persecution has done more to strengthen the Mormon cause, than any good works of their own could have done; since, from time immemorial, the sympathies of the people have always been with those who suffer, and against those who persecute, verifying the words that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

    The Mormons have themselves published an account of these persecutions, the title of which heads this article; from whence our information on this subject is chiefly derived, which, although probably exaggerated, is in its main facts, unhappily, not entirely devoid of truth, as we learned from the admissions made to us while in St. Louis by disinterested persons, who united in deploring the extremities to which the citizens of Missouri were carried by hatred of this people; stating, at the same time, that ample cause was given them for their conduct, by the actions of the Mormons; which the latter, however, sturdily deny.

    The Missouri version of the matter is simply this, that the " Latter-day-Saints" have two creeds. One Exoteric, or public, which they profess to the world at large; the other, Esoteric, or private, known only to the initiated when they become members of the church, and that the latter is in fact the real religion and rule of conduct which they impose on themselves and are governed by in their intercourse with the rest of the world; and that this creed simply amounts to this, viz:

    "That the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof -- that the Saints are the rightful inheritors of the earth -- that they are the Saints, therefore the earth with all it contains belongs to them, and is theirs of right."

    And that acting upon these principles, the Mormons unscrupulously appropriated the goods and property of the neighboring Missourians, and perpetrated divers wrongs and enormities against them; which finally induced them, since mild measures had failed, to drive them out of the country, as a nuisance which had to be abated; all of which, the Mormons most solemnly deny; attributing the conduct of their enemies to a desire of appropriating their property and goods, which they certainly did do, without making (as far as we could learn) any reparation therefor.

    For the present, however, we will pass by this controversy, and attempt briefly to sketch the early history of the "Prophet," Joseph Smith, as detailed in one of the works before us, written by a member of his church, which, as Goethe said of his own autobiography, is composed both of truth and fiction, the latter preponderating to a very considerable extent. The book, however, is well


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          529

    written, and in addition to the imaginative life of Joseph, contains a sketch of the Mormon creed, to which we shall presently call the attention of the reader. It is a very curious production altogether, considering it as written by an educated and well informed man in the 19th century, apparently in sober seriousness, being much better fitted for the meridian of the 13th or 14th century, when marvels and miracles were not uncommon, but matters of every day occurrence. The narrative is quite matter of fact in its tone and style, and would compare well with De Foe's "Robinson Crusoe," were it not for the exceedingly unromantic name of its hero; a name, which no skill could render euphonious, or remarkable.

    The style and title of this veracious and peculiar little book, are as follows:

    "An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, which unfold the History of this Continent, from the earliest ages after the flood, to the beginning of the 5th century of the Christian era. 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."

    From this work (obtained in Nauvoo) is to be derived all the information, attainable to the uninitiated, touching the history of "the Prophet" and his doctrine.  

    From it we learn, that

    "Mr. Joseph Smith, Jr. who made the following important disco very, was born in the town of Sharon, Vermont, on the 23rd December, A. D., 1805. When ten years old, his parent, with their family removed to Palmyra, New York, in the vicinity of which he resided for about eleven years. Cultivating the earth for a livelihood employed most of his time. His advantages for acquiring literary knowledge, were exceedingly small hence his education was limited to a slight acquaintance with two or three of the common branches of learning. He could read without much difficulty, and write a very imperfect hand; and had a very limited understanding of the ground rules of Arithmetic. These were his highest and only attainments."

    It may be supposed, that he had subsequently applied himself, to remedy the defects of his early training, by diligent study and self-improvement, but such is not the case; any one conversing with him can easily perceive, that he is an illiterate, ignorant and vulgar man, rough in his exterior, and boorish and unpolished in manners and address; so that we can confirm the statement of the veracious Pratt. The author then proceeds to say, that

    "When somewhere about 14 or 15 years of age, he began seriously to reflect on the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence; but how, or in what way to prepare himself, was a question as yet undetermined in his own mind. He saw that if he understood not the way, it would be impossible to walk in it, except by chance, and the thought of resting his hopes of eternal life upon chance. or uncertainties, was more than he could endure."

    These thoughts were exceedingly natural and probable, as occurring to the mind of an ignorant, uneducated plough-boy, 15 years old; but the prefatory remarks are merely intended as a foretaste of the wonders which immediately after be pours out with a prodigal hand. So he continues with the meditations of young Joseph, carried on probably while he was running a crooked furrow, or attending a "cider frolic," in which the Green Mountain boys especially delight.

    "The great question to be decided in his mind," quoth Pratt, "was -- if any of these, denominations be the Church of Christ, which one is it? Until he could become satisfied in relation to this question, he could not rest contented. The only alternative that seemed to be left him was to read the Scriptures and endeavor to follow their directions."

    Finding reading rather fatiguing, probably from want of sufficient exercise in that way, although he "could read with out much difficulty," our young "Gallio" hit upon a shorter plan of solving his doubts, and here the respectable Pratt, who has hitherto been rather prosy, and snuffling through the nose, begins to display the imaginative vein, which entitles him to be considered a species of prose Milton, dealing in "Angels holding converse with mortals," etc., though the snuffle through the nose, is still at times perceptible; for Joseph

    "Now saw that if he inquired of God, there *as not only a possibility, but a probability; yea more, a certainty that he should obtain a knowledge which of all the doctrines was the doctrine of Christ, and which of all the Churches was the Church of Christ." "He therefore retired to a secret place in a grove, but a short distance from his father's house, and knelt down and began to call upon the Lord. At first he was severely tempted by the Powers of Darkness, which endeavored to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance until darkness gave way from his mind, and he was enabled to pray in fervency of spirit and in faith And while thus pouring out his soul, he at length saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above, which gradually drew near." "It continued descending slowly until it rested on the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it."

    The effects of this light were somewhat peculiar upon Joseph's system, being somewhat similar to those produced by the inhalation of the Nitrous Oxide Gas, for Pratt, who seems intuitively to have known the feelings of Smith on that occasion, proceeds to say,

    "When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and immediately his mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was surrounded, and he was enwrapped in a glorious vision, and saw two heavenly personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed that. his sins were forgiven. He was also informed that none of the existing churches was the true church; and that the fulness of the


    530          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    Gospel should at some future time be made known to him. After which the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace indescribable."

    We have quoted this bare-faced lying and miserable twaddle, merely as a specimen of the general tone and temper of the book, which abound in similar scenes. The impression would be purely one of unmitigated disgust, did not the reader reflect, that this wild raving was accepted as truth by. numbers of intelligent and apparently rational beings; and we have ourselves heard Joseph's divine mission, and communications with celestial visitants, sustained with rare powers of argument and reasoning, in a squalid garret at Nauvoo, by analogies drawn from the New Testament, and the meek and lowly character of the Founder of the Christian faith.

    The vision has not even the merit of originality, since it was evidently suggested, and in fact almost copied, from a scene in the life of poor Cowper, whose diseased imagination once suggested to him a similar phenomenon, with the exception of the heavenly shapes; but in his case, it was evidently the phantom of an excited and diseased imagination acting upon a nervous and shattered frame, the precursor of that madness, which afterwards prostrated his powerful intellect; but which this coarse impostor seeks to appropriate for his own purposes of deception.  

    But this was only the first act; the interest is much heightened in the second, where the scene opens with Joseph in bed, (another lame imitation of Samuel's vision,) thus detailed by the veracious and imaginative "Minister of the Gospel." And

    "It pleased God on the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, again to hear his prayers. For he had retired to rest as usual, only that his mind was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his soul was filled with the most earnest desire 'to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God;' and also unfold the true doctrines of Christ, according to the promises which he had received in the former vision. On a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room. Indeed the first sight was as though the house were filled with a consuming fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed by a calmness and serenity of mind and an overwhelming rapture of joy that surpassed understanding, and in a moment a personage stood before him." "The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam." "This glorious being declared himself to be an angel of God sent forth by commandment to communicate to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and also to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel concerning their posterity was at hand to be fulfilled; that the great preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in its fulness to be preached to all nations, that a people might be prepared with faith and righteousness for the millennial reign of universal peace and joy.

    "He was informed that he was called and chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God, to bring about some of his marvellous purposes in this glorious dispensation. It was also made manifest to him that the 'American Indians' were a remnant of Israel; that when they first emigrated to America they were an enlightened people, possessing a knowledge of the true God, enjoying his favor and peculiar blessings from his hands. That the Prophets and inspired writers among them were required to keep a sacred history of the most important events transpiring among them; till at length they fell into great wickedness; the most part of them were destroyed and the Records, (by commandment of God to one of the last Prophets among them,) were safely deposited to preserve them from the hands of the wicked who sought to destroy them. He was informed that these Records contained many sacred Revelations pertaining to the gospel of the Kingdom, as well as Prophecies relating to the great events of the last days; and that they were to come forth to the knowledge of the people. If faithful lie was to be the instrument who should be thus highly favored in bringing these holy things to light. After giving him many instructions concerning things past and to come, he disappeared, and the light and glory of God withdrew, &c. But before morning the vision was twice renewed with further instructions. In the morning he went out to his labor as usual, but soon the vision was renewed, the Angel again appeared; and having been informed by the previous visions of the night concerning the place where those Records were deposited, he was instructed to go immediately and view them."

    He accordingly repaired to the place, which is minutely described by one Oliver Cowdery, a neighbor and proselyte of Smith's, in Western New York, from whose narrative we extract the following particulars.

    "As you go on the Rail-road from Palmyra to Canandaigua, in the State of New-York, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road, as large perhaps as any in that country." The southern side of this hill was the place where the discovery of the pretended Records was made. Mr. Cowdery goes on to say "How far below the surface these Records were anciently placed I am unable to say, but from the fact that they had been for some fourteen hundred years buried, and that too on the side of a hill so steep, one is ready to conclude that they were some feet below, as the earth would naturally wear away more or less in that space of time." "A hole of sufficient depth was dug; at the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface being smooth. On this stone rested four others bedded in cement, forming a box impervious to rain or moisture. This box was sufficiently


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          531

    large to admit a breast-plate, such as was used by the ancients to defend the chest, &c., from the arrows or weapons of their enemies. From the bottom of the box, resting on this breast-plate, arose three small pillars of cement, and upon these three pillars were placed the Records. This box containing the Records was covered with another stone; the bottom surface of which was flat, the upper crowning." " When it was first visited by Mr. Smith, on the morning of the 22d September, 1823, a part of the crowning stone was visible above the surface, while the edges were concealed by the soil and grass. After arriving at the repository, a little exertion in removing the soil from the edges of the box, and a light pry brought to his natural vision its contents."

    Then follows another blasphemous description of the reappearance of the "Angel of the Lord" and his instructions and admonitions to Joseph Smith: he also exhibited to him "The Prince of Darkness, surrounded by his innumerable associates," whose old title of the "Father of Lies" has been fairly wrested from him by this new "Prophet." He was informed that he was not yet quite purified enough in heart to obtain the "Records," but should at some future time; followed by a long string of prophecies touching the future glory of his people, which the pious narrator summarily disposes of in the following words --

    "Although many more instructions were given by the mouth of the Angel to Mr. Smith, which we do not write in this book, yet the most important items are contained in the foregoing relation. During the four following years he frequently received instruction from the mouth of the heavenly messenger; and on the morning of the 22nd September, 1827, the Angel of the Lord delivered the Records into his hands."  

    "These Records were engraved on plates which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven to eight inches in length and width, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters on the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the Records was found a curious instrument, called by the Ancients' Urim and Thummim,' which consisted of two transparent stones clear as crystal set in two rims of a bow. This was in use in ancient times by persons called Seers. It was an instrument, by the use of which, they received revelations of things distant, or of things past or future."

    "Soon the news of his discoveries spread abroad throughout all those parts. False reports, slanders, etc., flew as if upon the wings of the wind in every direction. The house was frequently beset by mobs; several times he was shot at, and very narrowly escaped; every device was used to get the plates away from him."

    Finally, being wearied out by these annoyances, he determined to leave that part of the country, and' putting the plates in a barrel of beans," says his biographer, "emigrated to the northern part of Pennsylvania," after having been twice stopped and searched vainly for the plates of gold which, by a special miracle, we suppose, were hidden from the eyes of the searchers.

    "Having provided himself with a home, be commenced translating the Record by the gift and power of God through the means of the Urim and Thummim; and being a poor writer, (inspiration not being a school-master,) he was under the necessity of employing a scribe, to write the translation as it came from his mouth;"

    Though the name and residence of this scribe, so important a witness of the truth of this statement, is no where given. He then continues to state that --

    "Mr. Smith continued the work of translation as his pecuniary circumstances would permit, until he finished the unsealed part of the Records. The part translated is entitled the 'Book of Mormon,' and contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament."

    He then proceeds to give an analysis of the contents, to which we will presently recur.

    Such is the pretended origin of the Mormon Faith. The name of "Latter-day-Saints" was adopted by them from a passage in the prophecies of Daniel, which they have applied to themselves, which is as follows "And the Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom, under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High; whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom; and all dominions shall serve and obey him." -- Daniel vii, 27.

    A very interesting question here arises, whether Smith actually discovered any plates at all, divesting his narrative of its supernatural machinery, and making allowances for a poetic amplification of his materials? On this point conflicting opinions prevail, among those best qualified to decide. It is true that he parades the Testimony of Three Witnesses," and also the "Testimony of Eight Witnesses" in the sequel of the " Book of Mormon," to prove the existence of the plates; but their testimony goes for nothing, for they prove too much, more than they possibly could have known; and are all of them, friends, kinsmen, converts, and probably assistants in imposture with the Prophet. The "Testimony of the Three Witnesses," laying claim to their knowledge "through the actual presence and direct communication of an angel," we will not insult the understandings of our readers by quoting. It is signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris.

    The " Testimony of the Eight Witnesses" is more plausible and reasonable, and is in the following words -- "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues


    532          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    and people unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, hath shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands. And we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship. And we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it."

    S. H. SMITH.

    None others have ever seen these plates, and the weight of evidence would be therefore strongly against the probability of any such discovery, were it not for one or two corroborating circumstances; the first of these is, that at or about the period of Smith's discovery of the plates, a few of the original characters transcribed by him were sent by a person named Martin Harris to Professor Anthon of New York, who examined them, but professed himself unable to decipher them, expressing however the opinion, that were the original records brought he might be able to decipher them. It can not for a moment be supposed that an ignorant country boy as Smith then was, destitute of all culture or knowledge, could have imposed his own clumsy fabrications upon so learned and acute a scholar as Dr. Anthon is universally acknowledged to be; but must have copied them from some originals in his own possession, in some way discovered or procured; and this view of the matter is somewhat confirmed by the second corroborating circumstance before alluded to, which is the discovery of "six brass plates," similar in shape and character to those described in the narrative of Smith, which were discovered near Kinderhook, in the State of New York, * in April 1843, buried in the centre of a large mound, surrounded by human bones, which apparently had been burned. The communication to the newspaper relating the particulars of, the discovery, was made by a Dr. Harris of that place, to which was appended the following certificate.  

    "We, citizens of Kinderhook, whose names are annexed, do certify and declare that on the 23d of April, 1843, while excavating a large mound in this vicinity, Mr. M. Wiley took from said mound "six brass plates" of a bell shape, covered with ancient characters. Said plates were very much oxydated. The bands and rings on said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure. The above described plates we have handed to Mr. Sharp for the purpose of having them taken to Nauvoo." Signed by nine citizens of Kinderhook.

    It will be recollected that when Smith left the State of New York for Pennsylvania he was twice stopped upon the road, and subjected to a strict search; yet the plates could not be found; is it not then, under the circumstances, a reasonable inference, that he concealed the plates in this mound, at Kinderhook, * for his future uses, and that either by artful management or accident they were discovered and sent to him as above mentioned, forming an additional link in the chain of his proofs.

    We have now before us a facsimile of these brazen plates, and the hieroglyphics they contain are certainly very curious, bearing but a slight resemblance to either the Mexican or Egyptian hieroglyphics, with which we have compared them. The mound from which they were taken was in the shape of a sugar loaf; the usual shape of the mounds which abound in the valley of the West. So much for the plates; now for the pretended translation of the hieroglyphics inscribed upon them.

    The ancient mounds and other antiquities which have been brought to light upon this Western continent, many of which bear marks of a much higher civilization than the Indian tribes ever could have attained to, -- the bones of a race different from the Indian, which have been discovered in caves in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere, and the thousand traditions among the Indians relating to events, recorded only on the pages of the sacred volume, have all combined to induce the belief among the learned who have made this matter their peculiar study, that the Indians were not the aborigines of this country, but dispossessed and destroyed a far superior and more civilized race, the relics of whose skill in the arts still remain to testify the proficiency they had made in the comforts and refinements of life.

    The recent and startling discoveries of Stephens in Yucatan and central America, who has stumbled upon the ruins of magnificent and splendid cities, unknown to history or tradition, which must in former times have been the seat of some powerful but vanished race, extending back into the earlier ages of the world; The strange and peculiar civilization of the Aztecs, as graphically described by Prescott in his delightful history, evidently a rude graft upon some purer and higher civilization the origin of which their own traditions ascribed to a white stranger coming from the East; The many rites and ceremonies prevailing among the rude Indian tribes, resembling, or copied from those of the Eastern nations, though strikingly perverted from their original intent -- and the relics of an older and higher civilization daily disentombed from the mounds of the Western valley -- all combine to prove with irresistible force, that the Indian Savages were not the earliest and only inhabitants of this Western continent, and that the so called New World, although its records have perished, leaving only a few crumbling ruins to attest the existence of a former people who dwelt within its borders, may yet have nourished in her bosom

    Hardly probable. The plates spoken of were found at Kinderhook, Illinois. -- [Ed. Mess.


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          533

    a civilization coeval with and as distinctive as that of Egypt.

    Whence this civilization was derived, whether indigenous to the soil, or brought by its framers from a foreign land, we have no means of ascertaining now, though many of the customs and ceremonies still lingering among the Indian tribes would go to confirm the latter. Some of these are peculiarly striking; such for example as the form observed in taking a solemn oath among the Western Indians, where the person affirming placed his hand under the left thigh of him to whom he was pledging his faith; a custom extensively prevailing among the Oriental Nations in ancient times, which existed among the Israelites, and is frequently referred to as a prevailing and common usage, in the Book of Genesis, and in other parts of the Sacred writings. It is from these and some other analogies, that the opinion has been strenuously urged and maintained, by learned inquirers, that the Indians were in fact the lost Tribes of Israel and much skill and learning has been employed to set forth and defend this theory. The North-Western passage was supposed to have been the route by which they reached this continent; and the transition from the shepherd to the hunter state was by no means difficult or unnatural: the change of color is, by these theorists, accounted for by the gradual change wrought in successive generation by exposure to the elements and the hardships of hunting life.

    It is this captivating, but wild theory, which has been artfully seized as the basis of the Mormon faith; which is wrought out with much artistic skill and imaginative power in the " Book of Mormon;" a book far beyond the powers of Smith to compose and which as an imaginative fiction, will take a high rank in American literature, long after Mormonism as a faith, shall have shared the fate of all the falsities, which ever bear within them the seeds of their own destruction.  

    Before giving a brief and rapid analysis of the contents, it may not be amiss to attempt an answer to the inquiry, whether Smith himself was capable of composing this book? To this question an emphatic negative must be returned. As before stated, the man himself is a vulgar and illiterate impostor, whose ordinary conversation is grossly incorrect and trivial; totally incapable of composing a connected sermon, far less a sustained and skillful narrative; yet by his deluded followers, this very argument is used, as a proof of his inspiration, (a analogy drawn, we suppose, from the case of Balaam's Ass.) Who then did write the Book uf Mormon? The belief of the best informed on this subject is, that it 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; and that this history of a new Religion was composed by him to while away the tedious hours of a sick man's chamber. Upon his death, the MS. is supposed to have fallen into the hands of a man, whose name (we think) was Sidney Rigdon; a keen, shrewd, unscrupulous man, of a restless and daring intellect, but lacking physical courage. Finding in Joseph Smith the qualities, which (as he supposed) would make him an useful and obedient tool, in case of success; or a convenient scape goat in the event of failure; he tutored and drilled him in the part which he was to play; and the event showed, that unfortunately, his calculations as to the "dupability" of his fellow citizens, were too correct. The new doctrine took like wild-fire, Smith was elevated into the dignity of a Prophet; and an injudicious persecution endeared him to his followers, by the cement of a common suffering in a common cause; and Rigdon, too late perceived that he had mistaken his man; that beneath the rough exterior was hidden an iron will, before which he himself was forced to bend; and that like the Sorcerers of old, who invoked the Fiend, he had gained a master, where he sought a slave.  

    He had committed himself too far with Smith to expose him; and had shared too much in the imposture to recede; so he was forced to play a subordinate part, but still remains the secret guiding spirit of the Mormon policy; of which, he is the head, and Smith the hand to execute.

    That the account given above of the composition of the "Book of Mormon" is the correct one, is s verified (to our mind) by the internal evidence of the name, of which neither Smith nor his colleagues, understood the latent meaning; as we presume our readers know, that the word "Mormon," in Greek, signifies a "bugbear," or imposition: the name "Moroni" too, next in importance in this book, signifies in the same language "a foolish person." The division of the work into different books, as well as the style, is in studied imitation of the Scriptures, and as far as such imitation can be, successful. The names of the different books are as follows: the Book of Nephi; of Jacob; of Mosiah; of Alma; of Helaman; of Nephi, Jr.; of Ether; Mormon, and Moroni, prefaced by an extract from the latter, who was the son of Mormon, as follows:

    "The book of Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon Plates, taken from the Plates of Nephi."

    "Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile -- written by way of commandment and also by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. Written and sealed up and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, to come forth by the gift and power of God into the interpretation thereof. Sealed up by the hand of Moroni and hid up unto the Lord; to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God."


    534          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    Our limits, and the space we have already occupied, will not permit us to give more than a very brief outline of the contents of these several books, contained in the book of Mormon. The following, which we quote from one of their elders, contains the chief events:

    "In this important and interesting book, we can read the History of Ancient America from its early settlement by a colony, who came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We learn that America, in ancient times, was inhabited by two distinct races of people: the first, or more ancient race, came directly from the great Tower, being called Jaredites; the second race, came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ, being Israelites, the descendants of Joseph. The first nation, or Jaredites, were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the 4th century. The remaining remnant having dwindled into an uncivilized state, still continue to inhabit the land; although divided into a 'multitude of nations,' and are called, by Europeans, the 'American Indians.'

    "The remnant of Joseph, after arriving in this country, separated into two distinct nations, the Nephites and the Lamanites; the former having a copy of the Scriptures, engraven on plates of brass, in the Egyptian language the Nephites emigrated towards the Northern part of South America, leaving the Lamanites in possession of the Northern and middle parts of the continent. The Nephites throve and flourished; but the Lamanites, because of the hardness of their hearts, brought down many judgments on their own heads; and the Lord cursed them in their complexions, and they became a dark, loathsome and filthy people; wild, savage and ferocious, waging desperate war against the Nephites, by whom they were repulsed with great slaughter; tens of thousands being frequently slain on both sides, who were piled together in great heaps upon the ground, with a shallow covering of earth; which accounts for the existence of those ancient mounds filled with human bones, so numerous at the present day both in North and South America. 

    "The Nephites were favored with the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, for after he arose from the dead, and finished his ministry at Jerusalem, and ascended into Heaven, he descended in the presence of the Nephites who were assembled round about their Temple, in the Northern part of South America."

    Finally, a tremendous war took place between the Nephites and Lamanites, in the Western part of New-York; where, like the Kilkenny Cats, they actually demolished each other; the records of the Nephites having been concealed in the hill, "Cummorah," which is in the State of New-York, about 200 miles West of the city of Albany; Moroni, the son of Mormon, escaped from the battle and continued the record down to the 420th year of the Christian era; when he

    "Hid them up in the hill Cummorah, where they remained concealed until, by the ministry of an Angel, they were discovered by Mr. Smith, who, by the gift and power of God, translated them into the English language, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, as stated in the foregoing."

    In the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the correct mode of baptism, from the "Book of Mormon," but knowing that no one of any of the denominations had the authority to administer it, were somewhat puzzled, until the difficulty was solved by the appearance of an Angel, who laying his hands upon their heads, ordained them and ordered them to baptize one another, which they accordingly did.

    In the year 1830, a large edition of the "Book of Mormon" first appeared in print; converts were made; and in the same year, on the 6th of April, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints" was organized in the Town of Manchester, State of New-York; and this was the "cloud no bigger than a man's hand," which now hangs with ominous blackness upon our Western Horizon, presaging a terrible storm. Since that time their numbers have increased with an amazing rapidity, unparalleled by the spread of any other religion. Their first move was to a place in Missouri called " Far West:" here they settled in great numbers, until in that neighborhood alone they amounted to 12 or 13,000. The jealousy of the Missourians, excited by religious and political causes, aggravated by alleged outrages committed by them on the citizens of Missouri, at last burst out into open violence, and a war was waged between the two parties, in which man' lives were lost on both sides; but the Mormons finally worsted and driven from the borders of the State. They have published their statements of the matter, which charges the Missourians with the perpetration of great cruelties, but whether truly or not we have no means of ascertaining. It is stated, however, that Governor Boggs of that State issued an exterminating order against them to the following effect.

                                        Jefferson City, Oct. 27, 1838.

    SIR: -- Since the order of the morning to you, I have received information of the most appalling character, which changes entirely the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of the State. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace. Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may think necessary. The whole force will be placed under your command.

                  Signed, L. W. BOGGS,       Governor and Commander in Chief."

    This document is very much to the point, stern


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          535

    enough and merciless, but giving reasons for the terrible severity of his orders, in those brief words. "Their outrages are beyond description." What they are he does not state, probably because well understood by the officers to whom the order is addressed; there is some confirmation afforded, too, by the very vindication put forth by the Mormons; for in it appears an admission of a secret organization existing among themselves, known by the name of the "Danite Band," who "had certain signs and words by which they could know one another, either by day or night." They are bound to keep those words and signs secret. And the author of the "defence," speaks much of the "horror expressed by the mob at some secret clan known as the Danites," of whose real character and objects, he professes ignorance, "not being a member."

    Driven from Missouri. the "Latter-day-Saints" took refuge in Illinois, where they were kindly received, and from the Legislature of which State, they have received some valuable privileges; one of which is the incorporation of their city, and the establishment there of a municipal court of their own, which, as we were informed by the Prophet himself, has jurisdiction of all civil and criminal causes arising within the corporate limits; thus insuring their civil independence of the State authorities; the other important privilege being the authorized establishment of the "Nauvoo Legion," a military force, which has been subjected to a thorough and perfect training under able officers, invited and paid for that special purpose, and which, animated by fanatic zeal, would be an effective and dangerous force, led by a reckless desperado, burning with hatred and unsatisfied revenge.  

    The city of Nauvoo, (a Hebrew word, signifying beautiful,) is the great city of the faith, the Mecca of Mormonism. It is beautifully situated on a range of hills, sloping gently down to the Mississippi's edge. As a military position it would be almost impregnable, three of its sides being washed by the waters of the Mississippi; and the fourth protected by a range of hills. It merits richly the name it has received, for as our noble boat, breasting the rapid current of the Mississippi; majestically glided up to the city, her deck was thronged by eager strangers, and exclamations of delight and astonishment burst from every lip. We knew that but three years before, a scattered and persecuted remnant had fled to this spot for refuge, and expected only to find a few wretched hovels with squalid and poverty-stricken inmates. And lo, in the bright sunlight of an August morning, we looked upon a thriving and populous city, from whence arose the hum of labor, and the stir of peaceful industry. The dwellings on the water's edge were humble indeed, for here it was the terrified and stricken Mormons had first paused to rest, after escaping from their enemies; but stretching back from the water's edge, for six miles, was one unbroken row of finished and partially finished buildings of substantial brick or stone, and on a hill, towering above the rest, keeping, as it were, watch and ward over the infant city -- its graceful proportion clearly defined against the bright blue sky, arose the walls of that classic and stately "Temple," which, when completed, will proudly vie with any similar edifice in the United States, and which is to make Nauvoo the centre spot and rallying place of all the faithful.

    It was indeed wonderful to think of. But four years before, the wild primeval forest, the silence alone broken by the dashing of the Mississippi against its banks -- and now, a city numbering 17,000 souls, whose population was increasing each day by emigrants from Europe, and the States. The Prophet himself said to us, "My city has grown up like Jonah's gourd:" he may well beware lest the further analogy holds good. The city is situated on the upper Mississippi, about 400 miles above its junction with the Missouri, midway almost between Quincy and Galena. The surrounding country is still an unbroken forest, and he who has never seen the forests of the Far-West can form but an imperfect idea of nature's gigantic products in the wilderness.

    We were strenuously dissuaded from stopping at the city, being warned that it was dangerous; but persevered in our original intent, and candor compels us to admit that we received every kindness and hospitality at the hands of the Prophet and his people. They are not a polished and courtly people; to forms they attach no value; but in that truer politeness, which consists in a sincere desire to aid in fulfilling all the wishes excited by the curiosity of a stranger, the rugged "Saints" of Nauvoo might give some useful lessons to the perfumed and contemptible dandies of the older cities. Justice, too, compels us to admit that during our residence in the city we saw or heard nothing which was calculated to offend the most scrupulous delicacy, or the nicest morality, and we pried about and questioned, with genuine American spirit, in all directions; and a careful and watchful examination and inquiry, forced upon our minds the conviction that whatever the sins of the Mormon people might be, they did not lie upon the surface of their society. Their city is the most quiet and orderly of its size we have ever visited; there are no loungers to be seen in their streets, all is hard world; there are no public houses or drinking houses allowed within the city, and they refrain entirely from the use of spirituous liquors; in fact, in its police and arrangements, it is a model city. The only objectionable feature that struck us, was the bitter fanaticism of the people; not that they refuse to argue their doctrines, or speak intolerantly, but any one who looks upon their stern and rigid features, flashing forth a fierce enthusiasm on


    536          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    any allusion to their creed, or listens to their conversation, garnished like that of the old Puritans, with Scriptural quotations, must be convinced that with them the passion of religious fanaticism, like Aaron's rod, has swallowed up all others; they may be dupes, but the mass of them certainly are not hypocrites. Every thing revolves around the church, of which Joe Smith is the acknowledged head. The church owns much property, which he holds as trustee, and the profits of which he manages. The old system of tithes has been revived among them, and he who has no property must contribute a tenth part of his labor to the erection of the "Temple;" the walls of which are already upwards of thirty feet in height; the building is of yellow stone, which can be procured in great abundance near the city, and the design of the temple is both novel and imposing. In the basement story is placed a baptismal font, in imitation of that in Solomon's Temple, supported by twelve oxen, carved out of hard wood, the size of life, and beautifully executed. The Prophet is said to have been the architect who planned the building; if this be true he has displayed as much skill in fabricating buildings as religions.

    He deserves no credit for it, however, since his followers declare that he received the plan by special revelation; as well as the plan of a very extensive hotel, now in the course of erection, by which revelation, himself and children are to have and hold a suite of rooms in the said hotel, when finished, in perpetuity, rent free, which the infatuated people have willingly assented to, on condition that the "Prophet" keeps the tavern, which he has actually agreed to do. The Temple being unfinished, in favorable weather their religious services are conducted in a grove, bordering on the Temple; and here we saw assembled upwards of 5,000 people, men and women, listening with eager attention to the words which fell from the lips of the Prophet, who preached to them on that day. They came in carriages, carts and wagons, and remained seated as they came. Others were ranged upon benches, set out upon the grass. The Prophet stood upon an elevated platform of boards, with 12 of his elders seated behind him; his appearance was by no means prepossessing; his voice harsh and untunable, his sermon a compound of ranting violence and scraps of Scripture badly applied, and ungrammatical to the last degree. Judging of him by this specimen of his powers, we should have regarded him as a stupid, ignorant ranter, devoid of intellect or sagacity; but a subsequent interview in private, dispelled these opinions, and convinced us, that if not an orator, he was eminently fitted for a man of action; a rude Cromwell on a smaller scale, of dauntless energy, and fertile in resources. In person, he is large and bulky, upwards of six feet in height, and broad ill proportion, possessing great physical power; his head is small and phrenologically bad; the animal greatly preponderating over the intellectual; his hair of a light brown brushed back from his face; his complexion ruddy; the cast of his features heavy, common-place and sullen in expression; his eye small and of a dull gray color, heavy and lustreless when in repose, but when we mentioned the Missouri outrages, glaring with suppressed passion; the whole face indicated but little intellectual power, but much low cunning and subtlety, with an hypocritic humility upon it, evidently not its natural expression.  

    His whole aspect and appearance was that of a rough, ignorant countryman; and no stranger meeting him by chance, would ever dream that that heavy, inert looking individual was the celebrated " Prophet" of the Mormons; the founder of a New Faith; verifying the scornful words of Oxenstiern to his son

                      "Nescis, mi fili, quam parva sapientia regitur mundus."

    The space we have already occupied, warns us to close this article on a subject, which we fear may not interest the generality of readers; the importance of which, however, we have by no means exaggerated.

    It only now remains for us to give a brief outline of their doctrine or rule of faith, which we shall extract from an " Address" by one of their elders to the people of the United States, the caption of which heads this article.



    The Latter-day-Saints believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost who bears record of them, throughout all ages the same, and forever.

    They believe that in Adam's fall all men sinned, but that Christ's atonement was all sufficient for the removal of "original sin" in man and that all men not transgressing some law in their own persons are guiltless in the sight of God. For which they quote Romans v., 28. John xii., 32.

    All infants, by their creed being incapable of knowing good and evil and of obeying or disobeying a law, and there being no transgression where there is no law, if they should die in their infant state would enjoy eternal life, being neither transgressors themselves, nor accountable for Adam's sin.

    They believe that all men will be judged by the light that is in them, and that those who do not know a law can not transgress it.

    They believe in the Holy Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles; and that all mysticism, or private interpretation ought to be done away with. The Scriptures should be taught, understood and practised in their most plain, simple, easy and literal sense, according to the legitimate meaning of the words and sentences, precisely the same, as if


    1844]          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          537

    found in any other book. The prophetical and doctrinal writings contained in the Bible are mostly adapted to the capacities of the simple and unlearned -- to the common sense of the people. They are designed to be understood and practised, without which none can profit by them.

    The Latter-day-Saints believe that the

    "Gospel dispensation revealed and established one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Holy Spirit; in short, one system of religion, one church, or assembly of worshippers, united in their doctrine and built upon the truth; and all bearing the general name of Saints. God is not the author of jarring and discordant systems -- His kingdom is not divided against itself; and for this reason we have no confidence in the sects, doctrines and teachings of modern times, so far as they are at variance with each other, and contrary to the Scriptures of truth. We have therefore withdrawn from all these systems of error and delusion, and have endeavored to restore the ancient doctrine and faith which was once delivered to the Saints, and to build a society thereon, hoping the thereby to enjoy the peculiar gifts and blessings which were so abundantly bestowed upon the churches in ancient times."

    "We hold it as the duty of all men to believe the Gospel, to repent of their sins; and to be immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ 'for the remission of sins.' The Latter-day-Saints also after immersion lay on hands in the name of Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Ghost; they are then considered Saints, or full members of the church."

    "The Latter-Day-Saints believe that the gathering of Israel and the second advent of the Messiah are near at hand; that it is time for the Saints to gather together and prepare for the same."

    In accordance with this article of faith, the Prophet has summoned the faithful from all parts of the world to remove to Nauvoo by a special order, which is so curious and characteristic, that we can not refrain from quoting one addressed to the people in Philadelphia.  

                        Special Message to the Church in Philadelphia.

    All the members of that branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day-Saints which is located in Philadelphia, Penn., who are desirous of doing the will of Heaven, and of working out their own salvation by keeping the laws of the Celestial Kingdom, are hereby instructed and counselled to remove from thence without delay, and locate themselves in the city of Nauvoo, where God has a work for them to accomplish. Done at Nauvoo, 29th day of May, 1843.

               By order of the quorum of 12.
                BRIGHAM YOUNG."

    Similar circulars were sent elsewhere, and met with prompt obedience. In relation to the Book of Mormon and the Revelations of Smith they use the following, language.

    "We have implicit confidence in the Book of Mormon, not however as a new Bible to exclude the old, as some have falsely represented. We consider the Book of Mormon as a historical and religious record, written in ancient times by a branch of the House of Israel, who peopled America and from whom the Indians are descended. The Book of Mormon corroborates and confirms the truth of the Scriptures by showing that the same principles were revealed and enjoyed in a country far remote from the scenes where the Jewish Bible was written.

    "Many Revelations and Prophecies have been given to this church since its rise, which have been printed and sent forth to the world. They also contain the Gospel in great plainness, and important instructions to the Saints. We believe that wherever the people enjoy the religion of the New Testament, there they enjoy visions, revelations, the ministry of Angels, &c.; and that wherever these blessings cease to be enjoyed, there they also cease to enjoy the religion of the New Testament."

    Such is a faint and imperfect outline and sketch of this strange faith and people, drawn from their own lips, and from personal observation; a new and startling product of our free institutions; showing how far men may be misled by a confidence ill their own judgments and contempt for established forms; rejecting a creed for its alleged inconsistencies, and embracing in its stead one which is a tissue of contradictions and absurdities!

    As a sect already important and powerful, and every day gaining accessions of numbers and strength; fortified in an almost impregnable position, and consumed by a fanatic seal, which sends its missionaries to Jerusalem and the "farthest Ind" -- which has already drawn into the Holy City converts from Calcutta; and whispers its words of consolation to the Australian savage, -- this new doctrine may be wondered at and dreaded, but may not be despised.

    To us, its import is sad and humiliatingly; weakening our confidence in the strength of the human intellect; and clouding our brightest visions of the onward progress of the human mind in successive ages. That an imposture so palpable, gross and monstrous as this, should succeed, even for a day, in duping so many thousands of rational beings, as are even numbered in the city of Nauvoo, is indeed a mortifying reflection on human wisdom and human pride. It may serve as a warning and a lesson to the Sciolists of the present day, that in all respects the XIX century has not progressed so far in advance of the so called "dark ages" of the world, as their own inflated vanity would induce them to believe; and furnishes yet another proof, even in this practical age, that "Man can not live on bread alone," but yearns after some spiritual food, and as the mariner, tossed on the billows of an unknown and mighty ocean, in the dark mid watches of the night, looks to the bright Polar Star to guide him safely on his course into a safe harbor, so the soul of man, involved in a black chaos of uncertainty and doubt, tempted, tried,


    538          The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People,          [September

    and suffering, yet turns in longing hope to the bright Morning Star of Faith, which is to usher it into a cloudless and glorious world, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

    South Carolina.                 E. D.


    Vol. 11.                           Richmond,  August, 1845.                           No. 8.

    [pg. 474]


    The Messenger for September, 1844, contained a very ably written and interesting article, from the pen of E. D. of South Carolina, (who, par parenthesis, is a decided favorite of ours, for his convincing articles upon Native Literature and International Copyright Law.) entitled, "The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People." Notwithstanding the care with which the paper was written, and the very favorable opportunities that the writer enjoyed to obtain an accurate knowledge of the origin of the Mormon Faith, he has fallen into some slight errors, and has, moreover, treated the alleged discovery of the "Mormon Bible" with a seriousness which, in our opinion, is calculated to work much evil hereafter -- and more especially, should his predictions of the ultimate progress of that faith prove true. He has permitted himself to allow the possibility that the assertions, made by the late Joe Smith and his "witnesses," in regard to the discovery of the "plates upon which they pretend that the "Book of Mormon" was written, may be true; and has considered the whole matter in that earnest way which is calculated to create a doubt in the minds of those who, otherwise, would at once condemn the story for a tissue of romantic falsehoods. To all of this we enter a serious protest. The pages of the Messenger will be read in after years, when all the unwritten facts, which are now possessed by a large portion of the public, will have passed entirely from the recollections of men -- when those,


    1845]                                Mormonism and the Mormons.                                475

    who now know that the whole story of the miraculous origin of that book is a sheer fabrication, shall have been called from the stage of action: -- and what impression will the reading of E. D.'s account and argument leave upon the mind of the reader of that day? Could he say at once, as we now can, that, as the name of the book would intimate, the entire matter was a "bug-bear," having its origin, or at least its sadly perverted use, in the minds of some two or three designing and dishonest men. Surely he could not. If we argue now to prove the improbability of this miraculous origin, after years will take our doubts for concessions as to its truth -- and history will write it down as an attested fact. Unquestionably many a broad romance, many a poetical fiction, many an

                      And crazy ribaldry of fancy,"

    has found its way into the sober pages of history for a fact, solely for the want of a decided denial. while it was in the power of the world to deny with the facts before it.

    It is our intention, in a very brief article, to give what we believe to be a correct statement of the facts connected with the origin of the "Book of Mormon," and the rise of the "Latter Day Saints." We chanced to be a resident of Ontario County, New York, at the time of the first appearance of the "Seventh Wonder" in the person of Joe Smith -- and our recollection of the circumstances, as they transpired then, is yet quite strong.  

    Let us first notice the " Golden Bible," as it was then familiarly termed. 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, or was even entitled to the doubtful honor of having originated the scheme for humbugging the marvel-loving portion of the American people, who never trouble themselves to look beyond the surface of things. Others had the credit, there, for all this -- and among them figured conspicuously Sidney Rigdon, and a gentleman of Palmyra, New York, whose name we shall now withhold, from regard for his connections, but who was willing to sink so far his good name for the sake of making to himself a few dollars by publishing the "Golden Bible." These two were then supposed to be the authors of the work -- but after days divulged the fact, as the reader will learn from the following statement, that they had been guilty of availing themselves of the work of a third man, and one, too, who innocently wrote what has since produced not only error, but bloodshed. The real author of the Mormon Book was the Rev. SOLOMON SPAULDING, a minister of the Congregational Church; and to sustain this statement, we adduce the following extracts from a narrative published by his widow, in 1839, at that time the wife of a Mr. Davison, of Mason, Massachusetts. She says:

    "Rev. Solomon Spaulding, to whom I was united in marriage in early life, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was distinguished for a lively imagination and a great fondness for history. At the time of our marriage, he resided in Cherry Valley, N. Y. From this place we removed to New Salem, Ashtabula county, O, sometimes called Conneaut, as it is situated up on the Conneaut creek. Shortly after our removal to this place his health sunk, and he was laid aside from active labors. In the town of New S alem there are numerous mounds and forts, supposed by many to be the dilapidated dwellings and fortifications of a race now extinct. These ancient relics arrested the attention of new settlers, and became objects of research for the curious. Numerous implements were found, and other articles, evincing great skill in the arts. Mr. Spaulding being an educated man, and passionately fond of history, took a lively interest in these developments of antiquity; and in order to beguile the hours of retirement, and furnish employment for his lively imagination, he conceived the idea of giving an historical sketch of this lost race. Their extreme antiquity of course would lead him to write in the most ancient style; and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book in the world, he imitated its style as nearly as possible. His sole object in writing historical romance was to amuse himself and his neighbors. This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same time; and I recollect the date well from that circumstance. As he progressed in his narrative, the neighbors would come in from time to time to hear portions read, and great interest in the work was excited among them. It claimed to have been written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the earth, and assumed the title of "Manuscript Found.' The neighbors would often inquire how Mr. S. progressed in decyphering, the manuscript. and when he had a sufficient portion prepared he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear it read. He was enabled, from his acquaintance with the classics and ancient history, to introduce many singular names, which were particularly noticed by the people, and could be easily recognized by them. Solomon Spaulding had a brother, John Spaulding, residing in the place at the time, who was perfectly familiar with this work, and repeatedly heard it read. From New Salem we removed to Pittsburg, Pa. Here Mr. S. found an acquaintance and friend in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. Patterson, who was very much pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for a long time, and informed Mr. S. that if he would make out a title page and preface he would publish it, and it might be a source of profit. This Mr. S. refused to do for reasons which I cannot state. Sydney Rigdon, (one of the founders or leaders of the sect,) who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons, was at that time connected with the printing office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated. Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and to copy it if he chose. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all echo were connected with


    476                                Mormonism and the Mormons.                                [August

    the printing establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to the author; and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington county, Pa., where Mr. S. died, in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was preserved carefully. It has been frequently examined by my daughter, Mrs. M'Kinstry, of Mason [sic]; Massachusetts, with whom I new reside, and by other friends."

    After the Mormon sect had gained a slight foothold, and had sent abroad through the land preachers for the purpose of making proselytes to the new faith, a woman of that sect held a meeting in New Salem, at which she read numerous passages from the "Book of Mormon," which were immediately recognized by the older inhabitants of the place and among, others, by the brother of Mr. Spaulding, as parts of the "Manuscript Found." Mrs. Davison's narrative proceeds:

    "The excitement in New Salem became so great, that the inhabitants had a meeting, and deputed Dr. Philastus Hulburt, one of their number, to repair to this place, and obtain from me the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding, for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible, to satisfy their own minds, and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive. This was in the year 1834. Dr. Hulburt brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript, signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all of whom I was acquainted, as they were my old neighbors when I resided in New Salem. I am sure nothing could grieve my husband more, were he yet living, than the use that has been made of his work. The air of antiquity, which was thrown about the composition, doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to purposes of delusion. Thus a historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred Scriptures, has been construed into a new Bible, and palmed upon a company of poor deluded fanatics as divine. I have given the previous brief narration, that this work of deep deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation, and its author exposed to the contempt and execration lie so justly deserves.

                                    MATILDA DAVISON."

    The above narrative is accompanied by a statement signed by the Rev. Dr. A. Ely, pastor of the Congregational Church in Mason, and D. R. Austin, principal of the Mason Academy, who assert that Mrs. Davison is a woman of irreproachable character and a humble Christian; and her testimony is worthy of implicit confidence. "Should any one be lead to wonder why these facts were withheld from the world for the nine years which intervened from the first publication of the Mormon Bible and their being made public by Mrs. D., we can only surmise, in answer, that she did not look upon the movement as one calculated to have a very long existence; and, giving too much credit to the good sense of the world, did not think such a palpable imposition could draw after it many followers: -- and, indeed, as she states in the opening of her narrative, nothing but the fact of converts having been obtained immediately under her own observation, aroused her from this belief.  

    But let us follow the "Manuscript Found." At the time it was left in Mr. Patterson's office, in Pittsburg, Sidney Rigdon was employed there as a printer. It remained in the office "for a long time" was at all times accessible to Rigdon; and are we not justified in believing that he then made a copy of it without the knowledge of the author. Some time about the year 1828, Rigdon made his appearance in Palmyra, where he worked at his trade; and near the close of that year, if our recollection serves us, some little talk began to spread abroad in regard to some mysterious "plates" which had been found near that place. These "plates," it was said, had been discovered by Joseph Smith, Jr., not, as "O. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel," says, in the "side of a high hill" near "the railroad as you go from Palmyra to Canandaigua," (where, by the way, there was not then, nor is there now a rail road,) but in the bank of the Erie Canal, about two miles from Palmyra. The peculiar time of the "discovery" of these important records, sustains the charge that Rigdon took with him to Palmyra the copy of the "Manuscript Found," which he had made in Pittsburg some twelve or fourteen years previous; and finding 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, he 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. The first thing necessary was to obtain an accomplice, who should act as the Prophet -- the finder of the "plates" -- the founder of the new sect; -- and the more ignorant and boorish he might be, the better, so that he were gifted with some degree of shrewdness and low cunning -- the actors "behind the scene" would furnish all other things necessary. Such a character, Rigdon's accomplice knew he would have in Joe Smith, one of a family of three or four who then lived in Farmington, near Palmyra, and who all belonged to that lowest class of mankind found everywhere, as hangers-on at groceries, "spunging" for their liquor, and doing small jobs for the privilege of getting drunk. Joe was a drunkard -- low in means -- and, of course, ready to embrace any opportunity which offered him the chance of enlarging the quantity of liquor he imbibed. The accomplices did not mistake their man. Joe was really cunning, and possessed one of those peculiar minds which enlarge in cunningness as their field of operation expands, but never increase in any of the higher and nobler faculties.

    This tool -- this "man of straw," who was to be set up as the leader, but behind whom Rigdon was


    1845]                                Mormonism and the Mormons.                                477

    intending to act as the real "Prophet" -- being obtained and instructed in the part he was to sustain in the drama, the next step in the chain of operations was, to spread abroad more fully the trumped up particulars of the discovery of the "plates," and to announce to the public the fact that Joe Smith was engaged in making a translation of the mysterious characters engraved thereon; which translation, it was said, would he given to the world as soon as that labor was accomplished. This was in 1829. The matter was talked of, and the principles of the new sect were pretty fully explained, during that year -- and some few followers were obtained, consisting entirely of two classes of the community:-- those who were ignorant and vicious, and had nothing to lose by such a course -- and those who were dishonest, and thought they saw in the new scheme an opportunity to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the less acute of their fellow-men. Among those who had nothing to lose, whether of character or wealth, stood prominent the "witnesses" who testify to having seen the "plates," viz: Cowdery, the Smiths, the Whitmers, etc. They were all men of low repute -- not one of them, as far as our recollection now serves us, enjoying the respect of his neighbors. But, let that pass: we wish to trace the progress of events. In the Spring of 1830 Rigdon, in the meantime, having found it convenient to become a convert, as he pretended, to the new faith -- the church of the "Later Day Saints," as they, with peculiar modesty, called themselves, was organized in Manchester, under the auspices of Joe Smith, and immediately afterward an edition of twelve hundred [sic] copies, as we were informed, of the "Book of Mormon" was printed in Palmyra -- a copy of which original edition is now laying before us, bearing the following imprint: "Palmyra: printed by E. B. Grandin, for the author: 1830."  

    Here, then, the church was under way, -- and the peculiar tenets by which the members were bound one to another, and which were expressly calculated and intended to operate in such way as to draw to one spot all, or nearly all, who became believers in the faith, undoubtedly suggested to the minds of many then, that, viewed in a "wordly" light, it might possibly prove a good money-movement. Under such an influence, some three or four men, of Canandaigua and Palmyra, of seeming respectability -- that is, men who never infringed the laws of the land so palpably as to incur their penalties, and who were careful never openly to outrage the moral laws, not from any love of morals, but from a fear of the world -- some three or four men, we say, of such characters, joined the church; and their outward respectability did more for it in that region, than all the mummery of Joe Smith and Sidney Rigdon combined. But even these could not make it succeed where the apparent, prime-movers were known; and, consequently, having taken there the first steps towards making it what it has since become, and having published Mr. Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" for their "Golden Bible," they removed from Manchester, in 1831, to find the spot on which was destined to be built the final "city of refuge" for the Christianity of all the world -- which important duty, they claimed, had been devolved upon them by the Lord. After wandering "many days," Joe Smith, by divine revelation, as he asserted, ascertained that Kirtland, now in Lake county, Ohio, was where the Lord intended the Temple to be built; and thitherwards they turned their steps, and "tarried not" until they reached their final place of rest, as the deluded followers supposed.

    Here, at this "Western boundary of the Promised Land," as Joe Smith designated it, the members of the since notorious Mormon church congregated, to the number of about two hundred, and here was their first settlement. A Temple was built -- a society organized, -- and one of the first acts of the leaders was the assumption of the banking privilege and the establishment of a bank. This privilege they exercised to the utmost extent, and "Kirtland money" was as plenty in the West at that time as have been the issues of similar equally well-founded institutions since that period. But there is a day of " breaking up" for all wordly matters -- and the Kirtland bank did not prove an exception to the general rule. The public wanted money for the bills, and -- the bank failed. When this catastrophe occurred, Joe Smith fortunately discovered that he had made a slight mistake in the location of the New Jerusalem -- that the "Western boundary" was still farther West; and, consequently, a removal was determined upon.

    But we did not intend to furnish, in this article, a history of the movements of the Mormons: our intention was merely to show what was the origin of the "Golden Bible." Had we not already wasted too much paper upon the subject, we might possibly be induced to say something about the "mysterious characters" which Dr. Harris forwarded to Professor Anthon, (and which mysterious characters, we presume, are to be found in repeated instances among the published antiquities of the Mississippi Valley, and entirely within the reach of Dr. H.,) -- and add a word about the plates found at Kinderhook, in Illinois, by -- whom? Queerly enough, by members of the Mormon sect! We will let all these things go for what they are worth; and, returning once more to the point from whence eve started, we cannot but express our astonishment that this statement in regard to Mr. Spaulding's work has never attracted the attention of Sidney Rigdon, or some other leaders of the Mormons. It has been made public for some years, and notwithstanding it boldly presumes to upset the very foundation of their creed, they have quietly


    478                                Mormonism and the Mormons.                                [August

    permitted it to rest, trusting, we suppose, and not unwisely, to the inordinate love of the marvellous, which is so strong a characteristic of our people, to sustain them, and protect for them the "silver veil" which hides from the world the hideousness of their deformity and renders that mysterious which, without the shade, would be horrible. The question naturally suggests itself -- does not Rigdon fear that the original copy of his Book of Mormon would be produced, should he have the hardihood to deny the truth of Mrs. Davison's statement? But there is another very pertinent question, which ought forever to set at rest the story of the discovery of "the plates" -- and it is this: Why have these plates never been seen by any one but Joe Smith and his "witnesses?" The discovery has always been denied by the public at large, and why, with the means so ready at hand to establish the truth of the assertion, has it not been done, by exhibiting the plates themselves? There is but one valid answer to these questions -- the plates never existed.

    We cannot permit ourselves to believe that the Mormon sect will long exist. The history of all delusions of the kind (with one solitary exception) proves to our mind that its career will be a brief one -- and at this moment the seed of its overthrow are at work. Poor Joe Smith has already fallen, by the hands of murderers, and is, in all probability,

                          --- Confined to fast in fires,
                          Till the foul crimes, done in his days of nature,
                          Are burnt and purged away;" -- 

    Rigdon has, in effect, been expelled from the church, and is laboring with his pen to prove the corruptness of its leaders -- the extraordinary powers which were granted, (and, we are sorry truth compels us to say, granted solely for the purpose of making political capital,) for the government of their city, have been swept from them by an act of the last legislature of Illinois -- and disease and want are scattering the masses which have been collected at Nauvoo. The unity was destroyed with Smith -- and with more than one leader to rally around, the church must fall. A number can never save it -- there must be one, and one only; one possessing an unusual portion of firmness and decision of character, who shall be able to grasp the reins of control and wield them with unaided effrontery and presumption. The iron will of one man has, at all periods of the world, had more influence with a band of infatuated visionaries, than the councils of a multitude of advisers. The Mormons, so far as the public have been able to ascertain, have never had but one such man -- and he was the Prophet Joseph, Jr.

    Enough of the Mormons. The reader will excuse us for wasting so much fair paper on a subject so worthless.
    Xenia, Ohio. W. B. F[airchild].


    Transcriber's Comments

    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:

    01. He knows that its "miraculous origin... is a sheer fabrication"

    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."

    More Connections

    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.

    Sarah Cowdery Alverson (1822-1906)

    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.

    Mormon Fairchilds

    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."

    Final Thoughts

    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.


    More on the NY Fairchilds, from Ontario Co. Historical Society

    The Fairchilds of Bloomfield, N. Y.

    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.

    [pg. 641]


    It may be thought by some that the subject of the following article does not deserve the time and labor bestowed upon it. A fanatical delusion begun and carried on by inventions so preposterous and yet so common-place, would at first sight appear wholly unworthy of notice, in the present enlightened age. But, when we look at its extraordinary success, its singular ascendancy over its devotees, and the serious disorders it has produced in some parts of the country, it assumes an importance greatly transcending its own intrinsic merit, as well as that of its supporters. It becomes a prominent feature in the history of the times; and might profitably employ an abler and more accomplished pen. This sketch is undertaken, in the hope, that it may attract the attention of others more comptent to the task, and thus lead to a more thorough development of this strange episode in our national annals.

    A writer in the Dublin University Magazine once characterized this faith very happily, as "Mohammedanism in the New World." And, except that the Arabian prophet may, with some reason, complain of his company, the comparison is appropriate. The mean origin, the astonishing spread, the shallow devices, the blind devotion, and the untiring perseverance, of the two sects, are all striking points of resemblance: but, however mortifying to our national pride, it must be admitted that the eastern impostor far excelled his western imitator, in character, in policy, and in achievement.

    Joe Smith, the Mormon prophet, (or "Joseph," as his people called him, out of Scriptural simplicity,) was born in Sharon, Vermont, on the 23rd December, 1805. About ten years after, his parents removed to the neighborhood of Palmyra, in New York, where they lived for several years. The family were low: not merely poor, but without the respect of their neighbors. Joe himself grew up, with the tastes and habits of what is now called a "loafer." He was an idle lounger at drinking shops; ignorant, uneducated, coarse, and vicious. Except the trifling jobs which fell in his way at these haunts, he did no work: unless we dignify with that name an occasional turn at "money digging," a searching for hidden treasure, the favorite pursuit of vagabonds in every age. He is still well remembered in that vicinity as he is here represented: and his disciples, unable to contradict the facts, have sometimes had the effrontery to build an argument upon them, by comparing his origin with that of the fishermen of Galilee.

    Near Palmyra, according to his story, the Spirit of the Lord found him, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, and awakened him to religious thoughts by a miraculous vision. A subsequent revelation, in 1823, disclosed to him that he was chosen of God, as the instrument of a new dispensation: a dispensation, which should fulfill and complete those heretofore vouchsafed in the Old and New Testaments. He was informed that the American Indians were a remnant of Israel, a branch of the tribe of Joseph: that they had been conducted to this country a civilized people, possessed of the true religion, and favored of the Almighty: that they walked not in the ways of the Lord, but fell into all manner of wicked courses, and massacred one another in endless wars: that, at last, they were almost exterminated in a great battle, at a hill called "Cummorah," 200 miles west of Albany, in the State of New York, and not far from Joe's residence in Palmyra: and that the survivors degenerated into the savage tribes, whom the Europeans found in possession of the country. It was further revealed to him, that the ancient records of this people, which had been kept from time to time by their Seers and Prophets, were saved by divine providence, and " hid up" in the hill Cummorah, A. D. 420, by Moroni, the son of Mormon: that, in due time these records should be entrusted to him, and he should be enabled by inspiration to translate and publish them to the world: and that, through his agency, the kingdom of "The Latter Day Saints"' should be established, the New Jerusalem built up, arid the whole earth prepared for the final coming of Christ. Some parts of the foregoing summary were probably made known in later revelations, but the question of time is unimportant.

    * 1. The Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun. First European, from the second American edition. Liverpool, England. 1841.

    2. Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: carefully selected from the revelations of God, and compiled by Joseph Smith, Jun., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick C. Williams, presiding elder of said Church. Kirtland, Ohio. 1835.

    3. A voice of Warning and Instruction to all people, containing a declaration of the Faith and Doctrine of the Chinch of the Latter Day Saints, commonly called Mormons. By P. P. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel. New York. 1837.


    642                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    After many preparatory visions, the sacred plates were at last committed to this Moses of the Latter Day Covenant. With them he received a pair of spectacles, consisting of two transparent stones, set in a bow, by the aid of which he was to interpret the records. This instrument was called " Urim and Thummim:" and its use by "Joseph" was supposed to settle decisively the long controversy, touching the nature and office of these mysterious jewels, among tile Jewish priesthood. The plates were of gold, seven or eight inches square, not quite as thick as common tin, bound together like a book, and secured by three rings running through one side, or edge, of the plates. The book was six inches thick. The plates were covered with Egyptian* characters, and were found resting on a breast-plate, and enclosed in a stone box, se cured with cement. Some of the plates were sealed up, others were open.

    The work of translation was commenced, but was now and then suspended, by reason of sundry backslidings on the part of Joseph, which are not explained. At such times, he and his fellow-worker, Oliver Cowdery, were admonished that the power was withheld from them, on account of the divine displeasure. In the book of Doctrine and Covenants, are contained several revelations, connected with this matter, given in the years 1828 and 1829. It appears from one of them, that Joe had delivered the translation, so far as it went, to some faithless friend. The latter refused to return it; and tempted Joe, by challenging him to test the genuineness of the first translation, by the production of a second. But Joseph was relieved from this dilemma, by a command, which dispensed with the trying ordeal. He was forbidden to touch the plates already translated; and was directed to proceed with the plates of Nephi, which would furnish a more particular account of the same matters, and would thus confound the wicked devices of the infidel.

    An edition of 1,200 [sic] copies, of the "Book of Mormon," was published in Palmyra, New York, in 1830. It is presumed to be the same, in substance, with that afterwards published in 1841, at Liverpool, in England, under the auspices of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Parley P. Pratt. The latter contains the 1st and 2nd Books of Nephi -- the books of Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, the words of Mormon -- and the books of Mosiah, Zeniff, Alma, Helaman, Nephi (the second,) Mormon, Ether, and Moroni. The whole is a prosy and awkward imitation of the Old Testament in subject matter and style; abounding in bad grammar, verbose trifling, puerile conceits, stolen incidents, and palpable anachronisms.

    But there is another history of the Book of Mormon, which proceeds from Gentile authority. Mrs. Matilda Davison, of Mason, Massachusetts, whose character is vouched for by two witnesses, a clergyman and the head of an academy in that place, published, in 1839, a narrative to this effect. Her first husband was the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a Congregational minister, with whom she lived, in New Salem, Ohio, about the year 1812. He regarded with curiosity the antiquities found in that State, and indulged in speculations about their origin. At length, he conceived the idea of writing a Scriptural romance, taking up the lost tribes of Israel, removing them to this continent, and deducing for them an imaginary history. The Book of Mormon was the result. As he proceeded, he read portions of his work to his wife and friends, who felt an interest in his labors, and remembered many of the strange names that occurred in it. From New Salem, he removed to Pittsburgh, Pa. There a Mr. Patterson, editor of a paper, became acquainted with the production, which was entitled " Manuscript Found." He retained it for a considerable time, and even proposed to Spaulding to publish it; which, however, was declined. It was returned to the author; who, afterwards, removed to Amity, Pa., and died in 1816.

    At the time when the manuscript was in the hands of Mr. Patterson, Sidney Rigdon was employed by him in his printing office, and had ample opportunities to read and copy the work. In the year 1828, Rigdon was engaged at his trade in Palmyra: and, at this very juncture, the public began to hear rumors of the golden plates discovered by Joe Smith. Rigdon became, soon after, one of his most zealous and able coadjutors, assisted in the translation, and continued to be a leader in all their affairs, only inferior to Joe himself, until a short time before Joe's death in 1844.

    The people of New Salem, in the year 1834, were surprised to hear certain passages read from the Book of Mormon by a female preacher, which they recognized as parts of Mr. Spaulding's manuscript. His own brother was one of the audience. A public meeting was held: a committee appointed to visit Mrs. Spaulding, (now Mrs. Davison) and compare the new revelation with the old romance. It was done accordingly, and the identity of the two fully established.

    The Mormons, of course, declare this account of the " Golden Bible" to be only a device of the Arch-Enemy himself. But the circumstances of

    * After [sic] their establishment at Nauvoo, Joe procured some Egyptian mummies, and caused several sheets of papyrus, covered with hieroglyphics, to be framed with glass, like pictures. His mother, then almost in her dotage, kept these as an exhibition, and explained to visitors, who always paid a small gratuity, the history of "King Pharaoh, and his wife, and da'ter," (being the mummies there present,) and their connexion with the children of Israel, and the Latter Day Saints: all of which she derived from the sacred papyrus. Her accounts would sometimes have astonished, if not edified, the learned historians of Europe and Asia.


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               643

    persons, time and place, are too clear and conclusive, to be resisted by any sane mind. The only unaccountable thing about it is, that a minister of the Gospel should have written such wretched trash and have found people patient enough to listen to its reading. The names of Mormon and Moroni have been sometimes referred to in confirmation of this story. The first is a Greek word, meaning a frightful mask, or, (as children call it,) a "scareface." The latter is supposed to be an anomalous formation from the Greek, "mormos," a fool.

    The work of translating and making proselytes was industriously pursued. At first, the converts were men of no better reputation than the prophet: but, by degrees, others, having an outward show of respectability, joined him, from hopes of profit, or other motives. Missionaries were sent out, who found ready audience among a people, eager, (like the Athenians of old,) "to tell or to hear some new thing. Curiosity, discontent, and love of change, predispose many in every community, to favor all sorts of novelties, and especially such as appeal to their appetite for the marvellous. The spirit of fanaticism was powerfully stimulated. Passages of the sacred history and prophecies were plentifully quoted, and their fulfilment confidently promised at the hands of the new preachers. All religious teachers were denounced as false guides, who did not possess the true tests of authority -- divine revelation, and the power of working miracles. For themselves, they laid claims to immediate inspiration; to the gift of prophecy; to the power of casting out devils; to the ability to heal the sick, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, and the crippled; and to a divine protection from the venom of serpents and other poisons. Nevertheless, the missionaries were cautioned that they should not " boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world:" reserving them, probably, for such minds as were prepared, by weakness and superstition, for an easy belief.

    I have not materials for tracing in detail the progress of this sect. But it appears, that, in the year 1831. they had been sometime settled in Kirtland, Ohio, and were contemplating another move to the West.

    From some cause it happened that the Prophet several times mistook the place intended for the rebuilding of Zion. From New York it was transferred to Ohio: thence to Missouri, and afterwards to Illinois. But, after his death, the perverse Suckers* obliged them to another pilgrimage: and the "City of the Great Salt Lake," among the Rocky Mountains, is now the chosen place for the concentration of the faithful. How long it will remain there the issue of former prophecies gives some reason to doubt. But one thing is observable, in every removal except the last. They always selected a rich country, thinly populated, where their peculiar institutions" might have room

    "Gaily to burgeon, and broadly to grow,"

    without the interference of unregenerate neighbors. At the same time, it was advisable, to be so near other settlements, that the Saints might participate in their wealth and substance, by that process which they facetiously called "milking the Gentiles."

    All the affairs of the church, spiritual and temporal, were regulated by frequent instructions from Heaven. These were, generally, communicated to Joseph himself: but often to other persons. Sometimes it happened, that the subordinate leaders displayed a tendency towards self-seeking and arrogance; which was invariably rebuked by a revelation of the Divine displeasure, and an injunction to amend. The most minute directions were given, upon every subject, some of which will be quoted presently. But upon all the disciples was constantly urged the great duty, to contribute their substance, beyond their immediate wants, to the common stock of the Church, for the good of the poor, under the direction of the proper officers. Of these, there were a great number, and of various grades. There was the Prophet, the Patriarch, the Melchisedec priesthood, and the Aaronic priesthood: High Priests and Presidents, the Twelve traveling Counsellors or Apostles, the Quorum of Seventy, Bishops, Elders, Priests, Deacons and Teachers; whose respective powers and duties were prescribed to them by the same high authority. Now and then, special provision was made for the support of particular persons; and it may be easily anticipated, that the Prophet and his family were not overlooked. He did not forget that the laborer was worthy of his hire, and that the ox should be unmuzzled which treadeth out the corn.

    In Kirtland, they so far departed from Scriptural precedent, as to establish a bank; Joe Smith being President, and Sidney Rigdon Cashier. It shared the fate of similar institutions in the hands of the Heathens around them. The country was flooded with its paper, and the Bank vaults were innocent of specie. The service of Mammon was believed to have been highly profitable to this brace of Apostolic financiers: but, as they removed about that time to Missouri, and rendered no account of their stewardship, their gains are left to conjecture. One thing, however, is certain -- the holders of the notes never got a farthing.

    The reader may not be displeased to see a specimen of the matter and manner of these revelations. I will, therefore, select a few extracts from some which relate to the transmigration from Ohio to Missouri. From "A revelation given in Zion, July, 1831. 1. "Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith

    * This is the sobriquet of the Illinoisians.


    644                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in the land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints: wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom, here is wisdom. Behold the place which is now called Independence, is the center place, and the spot for the temple is lying westward upon a lot, which is not far from the Court house: wherefore it is wisdom, that the land should be purchased by the saints; and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile. * And also every tract bordering by the prairies, inasmuch as my disciples † are enable to buy lands. Behold this is wisdom, that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance.

    2. "And let my servant, Sidney Gilbert, stand in the office, which I have appointed him, to receive moneys, to be an agent unto the church, to buy land in all the regions round about, inasmuch as can be in righteousness, and as wisdom shall direct.

    3. " And let my servant, Edward Partridge, stand in the office which I have appointed him, to divide the saints their inheritance, even as I have commanded: and also, those whom he has appointed to assist him.

    4. "And, again, verily I say unto you, let my servant, Sidney Gilbert, plant himself in this place and establish a store, that he may sell goods without fraud, that he may obtain money to buy lands for the good of the saints; and that he may obtain whatsoever things the disciples may need to plant them in their inheritance. And also let my servant. Sidney Gilbert, obtain a license, (behold, here is wisdom, and whoso readeth, let him understand,) that he may send goods also unto the people, even by whom he will, as clerks employed in his service ‡ and thus provide for my saints, that my gospel may be preached unto those who sit in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death.

    5. "And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant, William W. Phelps, be planted in this place, and be established as a printer unto the Church: and lo, if the world receiveth his writings, (behold here is wisdom,) let him obtain whatsoever he could obtain in righteousness, for the good of the saints, &c., &c."

    *         *         *

    A part of the "wisdom," so often commended to the attention of the saints, evidently consists in the wholesome adage, "to mind the main chance." They are enjoined to secure the lands -- to peddle goods -- to print papers -- all for the purpose of "obtaining money" for the good of the church: and, in another revelation, appears an injunction of very especial propriety -- " Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer!"

    Another leading object, which they never lost sight of, was to retain as long as possible, their foothold in one place, even when establishing "Zion" in another. For instance, take the following from

    "A Revelation given in Kirtland, September, 1831."

    *   *   *  " I willeth ** not that my servant Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I, the Lord, willeth to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland for the space of five years, in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some: and, after that day, I, the Lord, will not hold any guilty, that shall go, with an open heart, up to the land of Zion: for I, the Lord, requireth the hearts of the children of men."

    About the year 1831, as has been already said, the settlement in Missouri was commenced, and the towns of "Far West" and "Adam-ondi-ahman" were established. It would perhaps be a hopeless task for the philologist to attempt the etymology of Mormon names: with my slender pretensions, even a conjecture is out of the question. This disability, however, is much less regretted than the want of precise accounts of their actings and doings in the new Zion, which obliges me to pass hastily over this period. Between the years 1831 and 1838, when they were finally expelled from Missouri, dissensions and difficulties, between the Saints and the other settlers, increased in frequency and violence. The same complaints of their dishonesty and turbulence -- their defiance of all laws. moral, civil and social -- which were afterwards urged against them by the people of Illinois, were heard from the Missourians at this time, in justification of themselves. At length, affairs were brought to a crisis. The Mormons refused obedience to the officers and process of the law; alleging in excuse the danger of trusting themselves in the hands of cruel enemies. They fortified their towns as well as they could, set up a sort of martial law, and prepared to defend themselves by military force. The militia of the State was called out under the Governor's authority. Gen. Doniphan, since so distinguished in Mexico, a gentleman of high and unblemished character, was placed at their head: and after some warlike demonstrations, Joe Smith surrendered himself a prisoner to answer various felonies of which he was accused, and his people dispersed to seek a refuge beyond the limits of Missouri.

    Governor Boggs incurred great censure, at the time, for the severity of his orders, which allowed the Mormons no other alternative but exile or extermination. By no portion of the community was this conduct more disapproved, than by the inhabitants

    * Query. Indian and White man?

    † Prophet loquitur.

    ‡ This seems to be a provision for the employment of spiritual pedlars. who were to drive a trade in Mormonism and other "notions." Their invoices could probably wind up, like the advertisement of a worthy deacon in New England, with Godly Books and Gimlets."

    ** According to Murray, English grammar requires the noun and verb to agree in person, as well as number; but this revelation is given, not in English, but in what Macaulay would call Mormonese.


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               645

    of that part of Illinois to which the fugitives turned their steps. They began to arrive in Quincy, and its vicinity, during the winter of 1838-9. They were, for the most part, wretchedly poor, scantily supplied with clothing, and almost destitute of food. They were compelled for want of houses, to camp out for weeks together at that inclement season, in the river bottoms, under such shelter as poles and blankets afforded them. They were the most humble and submissive of men. They described their wrongs and sufferings in the most moving terms: but still, rather in the language and tone of unresisting martyrs, than those of defeated and vindictive partisans. Every body was filled with compassion. Contributions were freely made for their relief, in money and necessaries, both by the public authorities and by individuals. Employment was given to them on farms, in workshops, and in private families: and many of them distributed themselves through the adjoining counties, and even in distant parts of the State, pursuing various avocations. There seemed to be a fair prospect of their being gradually absorbed in the general population of the country: and their inoffensive demeanor conciliated the good will of their new neighbors, while it confirmed the prejudice against Gov. Boggs and the Missourians. The sequel will show, what reason the people of Illinois had, for a subsequent change of opinion; and how far they were justified, even without the countenance of their own government, in adopting measures similar to those which they had condemned.

    Early in the spring of 1839, Joe Smith escaped from prison in Missouri, and rejoined his followers in Illinois. A great gathering took place soon after, a few miles from Quincy at an old camp-meeting ground. On this occasion, the Prophet first addressed himself to the ears of "Suckers," for numbers of the old residents were attracted thither by curiosity. In one of his harangues, he alluded to the obnoxious doctrines charged upon them by their enemies, and showed some ingenuity, in avoiding offense, as well to his disciples, as to the surrounding Gentiles. He said he had been asked, whether he claimed the power to work miracles, to cure the blind, to heal the sick, &e. "No said he, "I don't claim any such thing. No man can do such things. God alone can do it. When I am requested to do it, I pray for the sick -- I pray God to cure them. If he please to cure them, they will be cured. If not, I can do nothing without him!" In reference to the gift of interpreting unknown tongues, he said -- " Whatever gift is necessary for us, we shall receive from God: if it is necessary for a man to have the gift of tongues, God will give it to him; and if not, he won't get it." These subterfuges are shallow enough, to be sure: but he well knew the mental depth of the Saints. And, while others smiled at the impudent cunning of his evasions, the faithful were highly edified at the wisdom, which confounded his questioners. One of his observations, notwithstanding its blasphemy, is too characteristic of him to be omitted. He referred to a schism in the Church, created during his imprisonment, by a man, who assumed to be his successor, and to receive revelations at Springfield in Illinois. "I don't know any thing about his revelations," says Joe. "God can give revelations, if he pleases -- this may be true or it may be false. I don't know any thing about it. I can't be every where at once. God Almighty must attend to some of these things himself."

    After some time spent in visiting different parts of the country, and conferring with his counselors, the Prophet once more selected a site for the Holy City, and prepared to collect the Saints together. Nauvoo was the name bestowed upon it, which is said by some, (I know not how truly,) to be a Hebrew word signifying "the Beautiful." It well deserves the appellation, for a more beautiful and commanding situation is scarcely to be found. A high bluff, approaching the Mississippi, slopes gradually down into a level bottom, two square miles or more in extent, and surrounded by a semi-circular bend of the river five or six miles long. On the opposite shore is the town of Montrose in Iowa, formerly Fort des Moines, in a prairie bottom, stretching several miles to the west, and shut in by an amphitheatre of hills. To the eastward after passing through a belt of timber, two miles wide, you emerge upon an open prairie, some eighteen miles across, and extending almost indefinitely to the north and south. The view in every direction commands a lovely and fertile country. But the advantages of the site, in point of trade, by no means correspond to its picturesque appearance. The extreme upper part of the town affords the only landing. The channel from thence runs on the Iowa shore, and leaves Nauvoo inaccessible to the ordinary boats, except at very high water. Add to this, that within a short distance above and below, the back country has much better and more accessible outlets for its produce, and the commercial disadvantages of this place must be apparent to all. In fact, there had been previously several attempts to build a town there: at one time it was fancifully called "Venus," by which name it was known for some years to the Post Office Department; and more recently, the "City of Commerce," had been projected in a magnificent, but unsubstantial scheme, by certain proprietors, from whom it passed into the hands of the Mormons.

    In the course of three or four years a city sprung up here as if by magic. The descriptions of travellers contain, as might be expected, many exaggerations, from the haste and imperfect information with they wrote. But, after making all just deductions, its extent and activity are still wonderful. Some good houses of brick, some of wood, and a few of stone, were scattered throughout its extent:


    646                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    but the far greater part were of a temporary and indifferent character, and not a few, in the suburbs, were built of turf, cut in squares and dried in the sun. The population in 1844 was estimated at 15,000, which is probably not far from the truth: but it must be remembered, that the city limits surrounded a space some three miles square, and embraced cultivated fields, and even farms, within its jurisdiction. Besides this, the population were of a fluctuating character. Families were constantly arriving from other States, and emigrants from foreign countries; many of whom, after a short stay, removed to other settlements of the Mormons, or "stakes," as they were called, planted in that and the adjoining counties. From these lesser towns, also, there was a continual reflux of population, which appears to have been partly owing to the restless habits of the people, and partly to policy: for thus was kept up and diffused, throughout all the settlements, a singularly intimate acquaintance with each other's situation and affairs.

    The Temple itself was a solid and costly building: and the projected "Nauvoo House," (in which Joe Smith and his family were, by special revelation, to possess a suite of rooms in perpetuity,) was commenced on a scale of corresponding excellence. But their other public buildings do not deserve mention, and the private dwellings have been already noticed. On the whole, the city it self (though an attractive sight to him who beheld it from the cupola of the Temple, or some distant elevation,) well warranted the odd comparison of Gen. Brockman, the leader of the anti-Mormons in 1846, "that it looked to him, as if the houses had been thinly sown and badly come up!"

    During the first year or two of the settlement, matters went on smoothly enough. The policy of the Mormons was conciliatory. They engaged in farming. mechanical and other pursuits, while the surplus funds of the new comers were drawn from them by the Prophet and his confederates, in the shape of contributions, loans, &c., to supply their own wants and the public necessities. The country people, and visitors generally, were treated with civility, and no pains spared to cultivate the good opinion of all classes. But as the Mormons grew in numbers and strength, they increased in confidence, and at the same time became an object of attention to political adventurers. Of these it cannot be denied, there were enough, and more than enough, of all parties. Some of the dominant party desired their votes to perpetuate the possession of office; and others, of the opposition, wanted their aid to acquire it. The mass, of both parties were governed by no such influence; but most of the office-holders, great and small, as well as those most anxious to succeed them, became, to a greater or less extent, candidates for their favor and influence. This resulted, ere long, in the charter of the city of Nauvoo, the incorporation of Nauvoo University, and the establishment of the Nauvoo Legion, as a distinct portion of the militia of the State. The authority conferred by the Legislature in these acts, although ample and, in some particulars, objectionable, was soon warped and stretched by Mormon ingenuity, to an absurd and pernicious extent.

    An adventurer, named Bennett, who had been, (to the surprise of all who knew him,) appointed Quartermaster General of the State by the then Governor, (Thomas Carlin,) turned his new position to account, by forthwith joining the Mormons. Through his agency, the celebrated Legion was gotten up and organized; and by his orders, all the State arms, of every description, cannon, small arms, swords and pistols, were distributed to the militia of Nauvoo, so that, for a long period, the State was without weapons for the volunteers and militia of other counties. Bennett was a man of some ability, and much more pretension. He boasted a great deal of his military knowledge, and the exact discipline of his Legion; and occasionally treated the public to a grand parade and a prodigious sham battle. Some idea of his real merit may be inferred from this -- that, on one occasion, he appeared on the field as Major General, to command a Legion of 1,500 men, himself on foot, and with a huge fireman's trumpet slung around him for the purpose of giving, orders. But there were subordinates in their array, who were not without courage and conduct, however ridiculous the little General himself might be; and the numbers and union of the Mormons, together with the monopoly of the State arms, and the large additions reported to have been made to them, from their own resources, made them a formidable enemy to the scattered and unarmed population of the surrounding country.

    But it was in civil affairs, that the movements of the Mormons were most alarming. Before the summer of 1844 -- a memorable period -- had arrived, they had usurped and successfully exercised many powers totally inconsistent with the peace and good order of the community.

    In 1843 Joe Smith was arrested by order of the Governor of Illinois, upon a requisition from the Governor of Missouri, to answer the charges upon which he had formerly been imprisoned, and from which he had escaped.

    Twice before, had he been so arrested, and twice discharged, upon habeas corpus, for irregularities in the process; once by a State Judge, and once by a Judge of the U. S. District Court. But on the present occasion, the Prophet was unwilling to trust the Gentile Judiciary. He was intercepted by a band of his own adherents, who turned the tables upon the officers of the law, and carried the whole party to Nauvoo. There, the City Council of Nauvoo, a Board of Aldermen and Justices of the


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               647

    Peace, went through the solemn farce of trying a writ of habeas corpus, nullified the action of the two Governors, dismissed the officers with a reprimand, and set at liberty the worthy President and Mayor without more ado!

    Among other acts of usurpation, this "imperium in imperio" -- this sovereign Legislature of Nauvoo, had promulgated and enforced the following --

    They established a Recorder's office for the Record of deeds, independent of that provided for by the State laws in every county --

    They issued Marriage Licenses, contrary to the State Laws, requiring them to be issued from the County Court.

    They assumed jurisdiction of suits for Slander, and other causes, cognizable by law only in the Circuit Courts.

    They passed an ordinance to punish, with fine and imprisonment, all persons guilty of disrespectful words concerning Joseph Smith! One man was actually fined $100 under this ordinance, and reversed it on appeal to the State Circuit Court!

    They arrested peaceable visitors to the city, confined them in jail, and subjected them to inquisitorial examinations, on pretence of regulating the police of the city!

    The writ of habeas corpus, already mentioned, was frequently resorted to, by the City Council, to discharge persons arrested under the civil and criminal process of the State! And officers, who came to execute such writs, as well as persons reclaiming stolen property, were taken into custody for alleged breaches of the peace, till the culprits could escape and the property be secreted!

    And, to cover all sorts of cases, they passed another ordinance, prohibiting, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, the service of any process whatever, unless countersigned by the Mayor of Nauvoo! And these penalties they forbade the Governor of the State to remit by his pardon!

    It is needless to point out the gross and palpable usurpations of these ordinances. I will only say, that the charter under which they pretended to act, was similar to other acts of incorporation for municipal purposes merely.

    But one resource now remained to the anti-Mormons, and of this also they were soon bereft -- to wit: the administration of Justice in the Courts of the State. The people elected three County Commissioners and the Sheriff. The Commissioners selected the Jurors, and the Sheriff summoned them, besides supplying the vacancies with talesmen. The Mormons had the majority of votes. By degrees, all these offices were filled by creatures of their own selection -- the juries were so packed, as to preclude a fair trial -- they were tampered with in the jury rooms -- while the ready resource of false witnesses enabled the Mormon suitor to present his case in any shape that was necessary to success. The fountain of justice was polluted at its very source, and the sufferers under this infamous combination were wholly without remedy.

    In the mean time the Mormons begun and carried on an alarming system of plunder. Property, of all movable descriptions, became daily more insecure. Horses, cattle, farming utensils, domestic poultry, clothes on the line, honey, every thing, in short, which contributes to the wealth and comfort of the farmer, were carried off by these marauders. Nor did other classes escape. Stores in the little towns were broken open and rifled of their goods: and every article which lay within the reach of cunning and audacity, and which was not "too hot or too heavy" to hold, was transferred from the rightful owner to these freebooters and their confederates. More indirect methods were not neglected, also, of "milking the Gentiles." It is well ascertained, that a regular manufacture of counterfeit money, both in coin and in paper, was got up and superintended by the heads of the Church. The silver coin was well calculated to deceive even men of some experience: and large quantities, not only of these issues, but of gold and bank notes, were circulated among the unsuspecting country people.

    At first, the more moderate of the old settlers were not disposed to believe the Mormons guilty, and attributed the charges to prejudice or malice. But, as time wore on, and these offenses became unaccountably frequent -- as theft after theft was traced to Nauvoo -- as the efforts to reclaim property were defeated, now by false witnesses, now by the abuse of their corporate powers of legislation and the perversion of so-called legal process, and sometimes by open force -- as neighborhoods, hitherto quiet, became invariably disturbed, whenever Mormons settled among them -- as crowds of suspicious people swarmed about Nauvoo, and traversed the country without ostensible business and as the country became flooded with counterfeit money, whose source could not well remain undiscovered, elsewhere than in the Prophet's City -- in proportion as these indicia of guilt forced themselves upon the observation of the most candid, doubts ripened into suspicion, and suspicion into full conviction, that Nauvoo was the headquarters of a gang of bold, artful and desperate villains.

    This belief, and the very natural feeling of hostility growing out of it, gained ground by degrees throughout the county, and extended itself to those in other counties, who had the best opportunities of ascertaining the truth. It was, however, by no means universal. The Mormons had many adherents beyond the pale of the church, or the limits of their city. Some were undoubtedly honest in, their good opinion; but the greater part were governed either by motives of interest or of fear. Besides the bait of Mormon votes to the office-hunter, there were the temptations of profitable traffic for such as enjoyed the favor and protection of the


    648                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    Prophet: there was in many cases, the tie of near relationship to some in the Church: and, very frequently, a dangerous proximity to the Saints, which kept down the disposition to oppose them, by apprehensions of robbery, fire, and assassination. The country, in the immediate neighborhood of the Mormons, became thus divided into three parties: the Mormons, the Anti-Mormons, and the Jack Mormons; by which last name were distinguished those who did not profess the faith, but who adhered, openly or secretly, to the temporal views and interests of the professing Saints.

    The "old citizens," or Anti-Mormons, at last be came sensible that there was no other course, but to root out the nest of miscreants from their midst: and they eagerly sought some favorable occasion to undertake it.

    It is not pretended, that, in every collision between the parties, the Anti-Mormons were blame less. When affairs get into such a condition as has been described, and when dissensions break out in to civil broils, the best cause w ill be sometimes dishonored by excesses and violence, not to be justified. To some of these, I shall have occasion to advert, and I shall speak of them as they deserve. But he who will soberly review the whole conduct of the two parties, throughout the seven years of Mormon rule in that unhappy country, will be disposed to wonder -- not at the excesses of the exasperated Anti-Mormons -- but at their forbearance in the beginning of the troubles, and their moderation at the end. I hazard nothing in saying, that half of the provocations endured by that people, would have wrapped in flames the most peaceful county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    In May or June, 1844, certain Ex-Mormons, seceders from the church, established a paper in Nauvoo. for the purpose of breaking down the Prophet and his adherents, by exposing their hypocrisy, extortion, licentiousness and other crimes. These seceders had been influential men, and deep in the secrets of the supreme councils. Their fire was hot: and its effect threatened to be fatal. Joe Smith called together the ever-ready City Council, and consulted on the crisis in which they stood -- a desperate remedy seemed necessary: and they resolved to apply it. They declared, by ordinance, that the paper was a public nuisance, and issued a warrant to their city marshal to abate it forthwith! Armed with this authority. and supported by the presence of the Mayor and Council, the officer broke into the printing house, destroyed the press, and threw the type into the street!

    One of the proprietors went immediately to the circuit clerk, and complained on oath against the authors of, and actors in, this riot. A warrant was issued against them, upon this affidavit, and a constable, with one follower, went to Nauvoo to serve it. He served it first upon Joe Smith, and his brother Hyrum, * and then upon the others. The Prophet began with threats, and swore he would lose the last drop of his blood, rather than go to Carthage, the county seat: but, growing cooler after a time, he fell back upon his ark of safety -- the writ of habeas corpus! He issued writs for the other defendants a part of them, being the City Council, issued a writ for him: they tried each other and discharged each other: and the constable was sent off by the City Marshall (himself a defendant) with the assurance that they would never be taken out of that City by his writ!

    The constable called out the posse of the county to support him in his office: and, in view of the military organization of the Mormons, he required them to be armed and equipped for hostilities. The volunteer companies turned out promptly. Others were soon raised and organized: aid was sought from other counties: arms, ammunition, and provisions collected: and messengers dispatched to apprise the Governor of what was going on.

    Nor were the other party idle on their side. They called all the brethren from the scattered settlements, into Nauvoo: paraded and drilled their troops every day: stationed guards about the city who allowed no one to pass in or out, without leave of the city authorities: formed magazines for their support and defense: and, in short, enforced practically (so far as they knew how) all the strict regulations of martial law. Even after the Governor had taken command of the Anti-Mormon force, the United States' mail was stopped in Nauvoo, and detained for several hours, until the Mormon council thought proper to order the driver's release!

    Nauvoo is about 250 miles above St. Louis, on the river, and about 18 miles below, stands Warsaw, then containing about 1,000 inhabitants. In the interior, about 18 miles from the two other places, is Carthage, the county seat, having then some 400 or 500 inhabitants. Warsaw and Carthage were the chief centers of the Anti-Mormons, but there were several other villages scattered through the county, not inferior to them in zeal and activity. At Carthage, the Governor, Thomas Ford, joined the Anti-Mormons, and assumed the command. He was a man of respectable intelligence and attainments: but weak, timid, fickle, and irresolute. He at first demanded an unconditional surrender of the Mormon leaders: but allowed them to shuffle him into a correspondence, which lasted several days, and which greatly impaired his influence with the men under his command.

    He adhered, however, to his demand that the leaders should surrender themselves. The Smiths became alarmed, and crossed the river to Iowa: but were, unfortunately for Illinois, as well as themselves, persuaded by their people to return. At length, they voluntarily gave themselves up to a

    * That is the Mormon spelling.


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               649

    company of dragoons, who were sent to Nauvoo, to demand the public arms. They were brought to Carthage, and gave bail upon the writs, first sued out against them. But, by this time, other affidavits were filed, accusing them of treason, in levying war against the authority of the State. The hearing was postponed for want of witnesses: and the Smiths, with several others, were committed to jail for safe keeping.

    During this interval, to gratify the public curiosity, the Governor had the militia formed into line, and marched with the Smiths along the front, to exhibit them to the people. Unluckily, the company, selected as a guard, were placed in front, and thus made to assume the seeming position of an honorable escort. Indignant at this, which they construed into an affront, they marched off the ground, leaving the Governor and his prisoners to make their way through the crowd to the tavern. A still greater blunder succeeded: for an order was issued, to arrest and disarm the refractory company, which was one of the best in the country. and the nucleus of the infantry militia. They formed, and loaded their pieces for self-defense -- a terrible commotion spread through the camp -- their comrades prepared to stand by them -- and the tumult was only allayed, by the Governor's countermanding and disavowing the offensive order.

    This incident, however, was not without mischievous consequences: and another mistake, which soon followed, precipitated the catastrophe, which we are now approaching.

    The Governor had directed the forces at Warsaw and Carthage, to rendezvous, on Thursday, the 27th June, at Golden's Point, a few miles from Nauvoo, and to march upon that city. His object was, probably, to make a display of strength, and thus to convince the Mormons of the folly of resistance. On the morning of that day, however, apprehending that some disturbance might take place, if he marched with so large a force, he ordered all the troops to be disbanded, except 200 men. A part of these were already in Nauvoo, as a police: another part (the very company which had mutinied before) were placed as a guard at the jail: with the residue, he started for Nauvoo.

    The order to disband met the militia from Warsaw, on their way to the rendezvous. Their surprise and resentment were extreme: and they were still further inflamed and incited to violence by suggestions of treachery on the part of the Governor, and a design to release the prisoners. Speeches were made by men, who had suffered personal wrongs, indignities, and menaces, at the hands of the Mormon leaders: and the most disastrous results were prophesied, if they should be permitted to escape. It was made known to them, that an attempt had been detected, to convey disguises into the jail: and the event afterwards proved, that the prisoners, although in custody, were actually armed to the teeth! The result might be anticipated. Some seventy or eighty men marched hastily upon the jail, overpowered the detachment on guard, not without some suspicion of collusion, and (after a brief resistance on the part of the prisoners, in which some of the assailants were wounded,) succeeded in killing the two Smiths, and wounding one or two other prisoners.

    This deed was a bloody and lamentable crime, for the victims were prisoners, under the protection of the law; and, moreover, the militia of the country had expressly promised the Governor to respect his pledges for their safety. But, in estimating the guilt of the murder, we ought not wholly to lose sight of the previous causes of exasperation, and the state of feeling, excited by the circumstances already detailed. As to the Smiths themselves, they deserved their fate, had it only been inflicted under the sanction of the law.

    The Governor was informed of the occurrence soon after it happened. He left Nauvoo immediately, and by a precipitate night march, removed himself full sixty miles from the scene of action. On his way, he advised every body to flee from the wrath of the Mormons, and, with few exceptions, his advice was followed. But the suddenness of the blow paralyzed the hearts of the Prophet's people. The Anti-Mormons also were shocked at the event. And the county remained, for some time, in a state of deathlike stillness and quiet.

    From this time forward, Governor Ford was a decided enemy of the Anti-Mormons. The danger, to which he conceived himself to have been exposed, dwelt heavily on his mind; and he charged the whole party with criminal designs against his person. But this did not save his credit with the Mormons. They accused him of connivance at the murder, though, unquestionably, he was wholly innocent. And thus he lost altogether the confidence and obedience of both the antagonist parties -- a circumstance which contributed much to prolong and aggravate the feud between them.

    The authors of the murder were never ascertained. Five persons were indicted and tried for the offense. Counsel were retained by the State, and sent from Springfield, to prosecute them. To secure an impartial jury, special officers, from other counties were appointed to summon the venire. But all was in vain. No witnesses, except Mormons, could be procured: and their evidence was interwoven, with so much that was incredible, as to destroy its weight altogether. One of them saw a miraculous light surround the body of Joe Smith, at the moment of his death, which struck motionless a man, who was approaching to mutilate his remains! And some of them saw and conversed with him, face to face, several days after his death and burial! Besides this, one or two of the


    650                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    accused produced clear proof of an alibi: and the jury could not do otherwise than acquit them all, for want of reliable testimony.

    For more than twelve months after the death of the Smiths, nothing happened, calling for our special notice. Partial disturbances and collisions were of every day occurrence, but the general peace of the county was not broken by any convulsion. At last, about the month of August, 1815, a party of Anti-Mormons once more resumed the offensive, with a view to harass and drive out their adversaries from the land. They went from house to house of the scattered settlements, compelling the inhabitants to remove their persons and property to Nauvoo, and burning the dwellings, barns and outhouses, to prevent their return. No injury was done to their persons or furniture, except in one instance. One night, a Mormon was shot at his own door; whether from motives of private revenge or wanton cruelty, was never known. These outrages were disapproved and condemned by the great body of the people: and, indeed, not more than 20 or 30 individuals were, at any time, seen engaged in their perpetration. But the measures, adopted on the other side, produced a speedy reaction. The Sheriff of the County, Backenstos, * who had been elected by the Mormons, and was devoted to their interests, collected some 400 of them on horseback, for the purpose of arresting the rioters, and suppressing the violence. Had he acted in good faith, his course would have been commended. But, under the pretext of doing his duty, he scoured the county in pursuit of leading Anti-Mormons, who were not concerned in the out-break. His myrmidons entered houses by force, ransacked, and often pillaged, the property of the inmates, and, with threats and demonstrations of force, terrified the most orderly and inoffensive, no less than the turbulent. The latter, indeed, for the most part, sought safety in flight. On one occasion the Sheriff surrounded the town of Carthage at nightfall, drove all the men promiscuously into the Court-House, and detained them for several hours under an armed guard, while he conducted an inquisition into their persons and behavior. A garrison was left in the town for several days, keeping it in a state of constant terror. The prominent citizens were followed every where, to the post office and to places of business, by men with drawn swords or loaded rifles, watching every motion and word which they made or uttered. A Reign of Terror prevailed throughout the county: in the course of which, several lives were lost, some of them by the most unprovoked and cold blooded assassination. Among these, was a young man named Wilcox, who went to Nauvoo on business, was arrested as a spy, and never heard of afterwards. And a quiet old farmer, named Daubenbeyer, returning home, alone and unarmed, from the county town, was shot and thrown into a ditch, where his body was found several days after. Plunder was carried on more actively than ever, for which they had some excuse, on the ground of reprisals for the loss of their own houses and crops.

    At length the Governor was induced, after repeated applications, to interfere. General Hardin (who afterwards fell at the head of his regiment, at Buena Vista) a man of great and acknowledged worth, was sent, with a body of militia from distant counties, to restore peace. Immediately upon his arrival, he required Backenstos to disband his posse, which order, after some demur, was complied with. Tranquillity once more prevailed, and steps were taken for a final termination of the contest. A convention was held of delegates from the surrounding counties, which declared, that the Mormons must and should remove from the State, and pledged themselves to support each other by force in effecting it. The leaders of the Mormons, who had succeeded to the influence of the Prophet, expressed their willingness to go, if time were allowed, to make preparations, and sell their property. A treaty was made with them, under the sanction of General Hardin, upon these conditions. They were to remove the following spring: and, in the mean time, an armed police was left by Gen. Hardin, to keep the peace and enforce the laws, until the period for emigration arrived. It consisted, at first, of two companies, under the command of Major Wm.. B. Warren: but was soon reduced to one, the Quincy Riflemen, under the immediate command of Capt. Jas. D. Morgan. The duty, which was one of no small delicacy and peril, bringing them often into collision with both parties, was discharged, both by officers and men, with great fidelity, intelligence, and courage. ** The two officers, above named, and most of the men, joined the First Illinois Regiment during the war with Mexico, in

    * The brother of this worthy had married the niece of Joe Smith, and preceded him in the office of Sheriff of the County.

    ** During Major Warren's command, he accompanied the Judge of the Circuit to Nauvoo, by express understanding with some of the chief men among the Mormons, for a friendly interview. The first thing, which surprised them, was an armed outpost, which they encountered two or three miles from the city: at which Warren remonstrated, inasmuch as both parties had been prohibited from assembling in that way. He was very cavalierly answered then. When they were received by the leaders in Nauvoo, and conducted to a public room, they were entertained with violent and: inflammatory speeches, abusive of the Governor, the people of the State, and the functionaries and officers then present. Menaces were frequently thrown out: to which the crowd at the doors and windows responded, with shouts and the clashing of weapons. Major Warren replied to them with becoming spirit and firmness: and the cool and resolute behavior of himself and his small escort, had the effect of preventing the personal outrages, which seemed likely to follow.


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               651

    1846 and 1847, and were highly complimented, on several occasions, by General Wool, under whom they served. For this favorable notice, their friends at home were prepared, by their faithful and efficient service in Hancock County.

    But, in the spring of 1846, this force was withdrawn, and its removal was immediately followed by agitation. The Mormons, it cannot be denied, had emigrated in large companies: three-fourths, at least, had taken up the line of march for California. Among them were Brigham Young, and the other heads of the church: induced thereto in part, as was supposed, by the pendency of certain indictments for counterfeiting, against them, in the United States' Circuit Court. But still there was a formidable number left, who declared (and probably with truth) that they had not the means of removing, and could not sell their property. The last difficulty was unavoidable. For reasons already explained, the value of lands and houses was wholly factitious, created and sustained entirely by the presence of the Mormons. And, although they were offered and sold, at one half, and even one fourth of their cost, few sales could be effected; and such as were made, resulted in a still greater depreciation, in the hands of purchasers. The people of the county detested the place too much to think of settling there: and the only dependence was upon strangers coming in from a distance. Large numbers of these arrived: some were men of worthy and respectable character; many others persons of broken fortunes and doubtful reputations; and a considerable proportion were Mormons in disguise from other States. At the time of their final expulsion, one of the trustees of the church admitted that they had not, until then, abandoned the hope of retaining a foothold at Nauvoo: which they designed as a sort of resting-place or depot, for emigrating parties, prior to their departure for the Western prairies.

    This policy did not escape the penetration of the Anti-Mormons: and, as soon as circumstances favored them, they determined to counteract it. A pretext was all that they desired: and, in the month of August this was afforded, by the forcible rescue of a Mormon in Nauvoo from the hands of a constable. Again, as in 1841, the posse was summoned -- and again, the people began to assemble in arms, and to prepare for a conflict with their enemies.

    At first, the enterprise was unpromising. Many of the firmest and most influential Anti-Mormons disapproved the undertaking, and refused to join in it. But, nevertheless, the purpose was maintained, and the encampment went on, slowly increasing in numbers, subsistence, and munitions of war.

    The Mormons were much reduced in force, but they made up their deficiency, to a great extent, by cunning and address. Besides the new comers of their own faith, they found natural allies in the adventurers already described; and they had the art to sow distrust, between the better sort of the new settlers in Nauvoo, and the Anti-Mormon party. For months before, they had contrived to alienate them from one another by false reports: and now, they persuaded the residents of Nauvoo that the Anti-Mormons had, for their main object, the plunder and destruction of the city. Many hasty and imprudent threats, uttered by individuals, had given color to this charge: and, it is probable, that such a result might in truth have taken place, if the town had been carried by storm. Thus influenced, the new settlers were induced to take the lead, in the preparations for defense; and, under cover of their names, the Mormons hoped to fight their own battle, and maintain their ground. The Governor was applied to once more: he refused to come in person, but issued his proclamation, denouncing the Anti-Mormons as usual, and commanding them to disperse. At the same time, he issued commissions to the leaders of the opposite party, authorizing them to embody the militia, and break up the Anti-Mormon camp.

    The effect was the very reverse of what he intended. His proclamation was treated with open contempt and derision. The attempt to levy militia was wholly abortive: and those engaged in it were told plainly that they should never reach Nauvoo. Even in remote counties, the people said to them, "when you march one man to Nauvoo, we will send three to the camp." Those, who had hitherto held off, now flocked to the standard. They became convinced that the issue, whether for good or evil, was finally made, and must be decided. The pretext of the civil process was scarcely spoken of. They looked upon the quarrel, as one that was to determine the possession of the country; and avowed the resolution to drive out the Mormons, or to abandon the State. They smarted under the imputation of cowardice, which had rested upon all their former demonstrations, and made up their minds to efface it by perseverance this time, at whatever hazard of life and property. Some idea of the feeling may be gathered from a saying of one of the most amiable and dispassionate citizens of the county, who had long kept aloof from the struggle -- "It is too late now to retreat," said he "the issue is made up -- and we must cut their throats, or they will cut ours!" Men of every profession and calling left the cares of business and the comforts of home, to encounter the vicissitudes of weather and the other hardships of camp duty. Those who, from age and other circumstances, were unfit for active service, were no less busy in other departments; and an old farmer sent word to the Anti-Mormons that his crop of wheat -- 1,500 bushels -- was subject to their order, to any extent which their wants might require. The Anti-Mormons had now been several weeks


    652                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    in camp. Their first leader, Gen. Singleton, had effected a treaty with the Mormons, which his own men refused to ratify; alleging that it gave time to the Mormons, and they would evade a compliance with it. Singleton, therefore, threw up the command and retired from the camp: and Thomas S. Brockman was chosen in his stead.

    The great want of the Anti-Mormons had been a Leader. There had been always men enough among them of intelligence, high principle, and courage. But there was no one of that peculiar talent, which is necessary to win the personal confidence, to command the obedience, and control the feelings of men, whose submission is merely voluntary. Such a leader they now found in Brockman. He was a blacksmith by trade -- a Campbellite preacher by choice -- a sort of cross between Wat Tyler and Hugh Peters. He was a strong, humorous, stump-speaker -- uneducated, but sensible and sagacious -- a sober, kind neighbor -- a plain, good-humored, familiar companion -- but resolute and fearless -- and capable of enforcing discipline to a degree, that, with such a force as his, was astonishing. Of course, there was little or nothing of military show or etiquette. But, in the substantial discharge of the soldier's duty, in obedience, forbearance, vigilance, and endurance of hardship, raw militia have seldom equaled the men under his command. When he was elected, there were some 350 men in camp, about 12 miles from Nauvoo. He immediately advanced 8 miles nearer, and encamped. The movement itself increased the general confidence. Reinforcements came in; and he advanced by degrees, skirmishing as he came, until he got within a mile and a half of the Temple, where he entrenched himself. Here his numbers swelled to 800 or 1,000 men, and he resolved on an attack. The Mormon force was very inferior, not more than 300 or 400, as it is said; but they had the cover of the scattered houses and fences, and a better knowledge of the ground. The Anti-Mormons had several six pounder field pieces, from which they fired round shot and grape with considerable accuracy. 'The whole fight was at long distances, and hence few were killed or wounded on either side. But the Mormons were driven, step by step, into the city itself, until the cannon shot were exhausted: when, Brockman, satisfied with his success, retreated, slowly, and in good order, to his camp.

    Two or three days of inaction followed; during which, the Anti-Mormons were busily engaged in collecting ammunition and provisions, and were constantly reinforced. The Mormons, though few in numbers, and without the prospect of succor, seemed determined to dispute the ground, inch by inch. The streets were mined in the vicinity of the Temple, where the last stand was to be made. The besieged had arms and ammunition in abundance; and every thing betokened an obstinate and bloody struggle.

    At this juncture, a public meeting was held by the citizens of Quincy, to consider the state of affairs in the adjoining county. Quincy is about 60 miles below Nauvoo on the river. It was resolved to send a committee of 100 Anti-Mormons, unarmed, and in the character of mediators, with instructions to propose a compromise. The basis of the compromise was to be -- 1. The Surrender of the City of Nauvoo. 2. The immediate removal of the Mormons. 3. Permission to a fixed number of them to remain as trustees for the settlement of business -- and 4. That the rights of persons and property should be respected by the Anti-Mormons. The terms, it must be admitted, were hard and severe; but it was well known, that none better would be granted by the successful party; and the only alternative would be, a fight without quarter from street to street, and from house to house.

    Between 65 and 70 of the committee appointed, went up immediately, and reached the scene of action on the third day after the engagement. There seemed at first no prospect of success. Both parties were filled with the strongest hatred and distrust of one another; and the greatest obstacle was found in the apprehension, that the city would be sacked and burned if it were given up. By dint of great and patient exertion, however, on the part of the sub-committees, sent to treat with the two parties, an arrangement on the basis proposed was at last effected, and the treaty signed, after dark, on the second day of the negotiation.

    The next morning, which was the 17th September, 1846, the treaty was made known to the Anti-Mormons by General Brockman. In the course of the day, most of the obnoxious Mormons and other residents of the city withdrew from it; and those who remained, occupied themselves in preparations for removal. About 4 o'clock, P. M., the Anti-Mormons broke up their camp, and were formed in column of march. Brockman rode from front to rear, halting at every section, and requiring of every man a pledge, that he would respect persons and property, and obey orders. The pledge was given, and it was kept. The army, receiving a late reinforcement after the march was actually commenced, moved through the city, and encamped in a field, at the opposite or lower end of it, near the river. No disturbance whatever occurred: and so soon were the apprehensions of violence allayed, that, at night, the Mormon Trustees requested a guard of Anti-Mormons for the temple, to protect it from the violence threatened by some of their own people, who were enraged at the surrender.

    Complaints, and charges of misconduct, were afterwards made against a company of 100 men, who were left for some weeks in Nauvoo, to see the removal


    1848]                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               653

    carried into effect. It is admitted by them that one of the number was caught, stealing a Mormon's property; but he was promptly arrested by his comrades, lodged in jail, and in due time went to the penitentiary. They also admit, that some Mormons, who ventured to return from Iowa, after being once sent off, were ducked in the river as a punishment, and again transported to the other side. With these exceptions, the accusations were all denied; and no satisfactory evidence was adduced to sustain them.

    Within two weeks after the expulsion of the Mormons, the condition of the country was perfectly tranquil. The Circuit Court held its session, and the ordinary business of the country resumed its usual channels. When all had subsided into quiet, the Governor became suddenly alarmed for the peace of the country, and made his appearance unexpectedly, at the head of some 70 men, to suppress all disorders. He found nothing to encounter, except ridicule and irony; but these assailed him, from every quarter, and in every conceivable shape. He went home at last, mortified and disgusted, and revenged himself, by making his campaign the subject of a special message to the Legislature, in which he assailed the Anti-Mormons without mercy. The latter were too much gratified at their recent good fortune, to be concerned at any thing, which his Excellency could say or do to their prejudice. The Legislature ordered the Message to be printed, and laid on the table: the Governor's term of office soon after expired; and he fell into oblivion, as soon as the excitement died away, which alone had brought him into notice.

    Before leaving this part of the narrative, it is proper to advert to the fact, that large contributions were made by the Anti-Mormons, immediately after the surrender of the city, for the relief of the people thus driven out. Not only were the remaining stores of the camp turned over to them, but subscriptions in money, clothing and provisions, were got up in the different towns, to which none gave more liberally, than the prominent Anti-Mormons. A committee of these very men proceeded with the subscriptions, raised in Quincy, to the Mormons in Iowa, and delivered them into their own hands. Even during the hostilities, at least one destitute family in the vicinity of Nauvoo, was fed, by Brockman's order, out of the Commissary's stores, while the head of the family was known to be in arms in Nauvoo. It was no war upon women or children: and none regretted more than the Anti-Mormons themselves, that the necessity of expelling the men involved also the unavoidable suffering of the other sex, and of their unfortunate children.

    With a few remarks upon the character of the Prophet, and his people, derived in part from personal observation, I will close this article, already perhaps too long.

    Joe Smith, at the time he resided in Illinois, was a stout and rather corpulent man, about 5 feet 10 inches high, and from 35 to 40 years of age. His manners were generally plain and blunt, with an appearance of simplicity, which covered a large share of cunning and deceit. He was usually very civil and hearty in his deportment; but when influenced by liquor, or ruffled in temper, he became coarse, brutal, and abusive. His mind was of an ordinary cast, and his general intelligence very limited; so that educated men were at a loss to account for his influence. But he had, to an astonishing degree, the art of cajoling the multitude, and of controlling the illiterate, the vicious, and the fanatical. On one occasion, he caused great scandal, by appearing in the streets drunk, swearing lustily, and challenging men to wrestle. But he had the address, strange as it may seem, to obviate the ill effects of this display, by representing it as an experiment, solely designed to test the faith of the Saints! If at any time, a subordinate proved refractory, he was speedily denounced, and accused of the grossest crimes by the Prophet himself; and, in every instance, he was crushed by the indignation and contempt of the people. In this way, the Prophet put down, by a word, the redoubtable Bennett, the two Laws, and even the crafty Sidney Rigdon himself. Joe's vanity was inordinate. Success elated him beyond measure; and his career exhibited not a few contrasts, between the most reckless insolence, and the most abject and despairing cowardice. Some of his projects of empire, as disclosed by men at one time in his confidence, are well nigh incredible, from their absurdity: the vicissitudes of his fortunes, as it has happened to greater men, inspired him with an insane reliance upon his destiny.

    His vices were, unquestionably, many and infamous. The system of concubinage, (practised by himself and others of the initiated,) which he called "Spiritual Marriage," is proved by all the testimony, which can be adduced in such cases; by the concurrent evidence of those, who were admitted to the inner secrets of his councils, and who, from whatever motive, divulged them to the world. Some of his victims opened their eyes too late to the delusion. Others, horror-struck at his proposals, abandoned and denounced him, only to incur discredit and odium with the mass of his dupes, and vindictive persecution from his accomplices. It is well known, that attempts upon their female relatives, and connexions, caused his quarrels with Sidney Rigdon, and the two Laws: and, even his blood relations accused him of similar designs upon members of his own family.

    The Danite band, whose existence was well ascertained both in Missouri and Illinois, were a chosen gang of miscreants, hardened to every species of crime. One of these, O. P. Rockwell, has been heard to boast of his attempt on the life of Gov.


    654                               Memoir of the Mormons.                               [November,

    Boggs, in terms that were scarcely equivocal; but, at the time of his imprisonment in Missouri on this charge, there was no evidence within the reach of the prosecution sufficient for his conviction. The barbarous murder of Col. Davenport in his own house at Rock Island, was traced to Nauvoo, and some of the perpetrators there arrested, notwithstanding considerable opposition -- and the disappearance of obnoxious persons, and the frequent threat, that "their enemies should feed cat-fish in the Mississippi," leave no room for doubt, that deeds of blood were familiar things to this select body guard of the Assassin Prophet.

    It is by no means designed to charge these enormities, indiscriminately, upon the whole body of the Mormons. There were, doubtless, many among them, who were sincere believers in the faith which they professed; who knew nothing of the dark secrets of those who ruled their hearts and conduct; and who were taught to regard the accusations against them, as slanders, emanating from open foes, or treacherous apostates. Yet their proficiency in the arts of verbal evasion, * and their proneness to dissemble, must detract largely from our good opinion. These were, indeed, inevitable consequences of their system: of the secrecy injoined by the chiefs, whom they obeyed with implicit reverence, as the Oracles of God; and of the prevalent idea, that to keep faith with Gentiles was no part of their religious duty. Deriving their rules of action from sources, believed to be directly inspired by the Almighty, they justified themselves by the example of the Israelites; and respected no laws-- natural, social, or municipal -- which came in conflict with these heavenly commands. Their tenets of faith, except under these modifications, bore a general resemblance to the more enthusiastic of the Christian sects; and their ordinary discourses were not unlike the exhortations, at the revivals and camp-meetings, so common throughout this country. It was only, when their peculiar revelations came under discussion, that they displayed the wide differences, which separated them from all other denominations.

    Numbers of them have given convincing proof of their devotion to the cause, by adhering to it through every extremity of hardship and privation; after sacrificing fortune, family, friends, respectability, and all that conduces to the comfort and embellishment of life. They turned a deaf ear to the advice and entreaty, which would have persuaded them, to disperse through the country, and seek a livelihood, in separate families, like other people. No -- the church of the Saints was the object of all their desires. Wherever its standard was set up, however great the distance, however appalling the difficulties and dangers of the way -- thither they resolved to direct their steps. And when the stake was finally removed to California, they prepared, with few exceptions, to follow to the Pacific, or to perish on the road. They have been decimated by famine and sickness. Foreseen and foretold disasters have fallen heavily upon their caravans and encampments. But their purpose of concentration is as fixed and unchanged as ever. In a fertile region, where ordinary toil is sure to be rewarded with plenty and comfort, they have for two years persisted in an irregular, nomadic life, more like that of the wandering Arab, or the Indian of our own land, than the habits of men reared in a civilized society. Hence their continued want and suffering; calamities, that will scarcely have an end, without a radical change in their creed and character. It is a sad and humiliating, it should be an instructive, lesson on human weakness and degeneracy, in an age which boasts of its improvement and intelligence.

    Their future fate is matter of conjecture only. But, if they thrive and prosper in their new possessions -- if they adhere to their fundamental maxim, "that the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and his Saints shall inherit it," -- if they seek to accomplish this destiny, as they have heretofore done, whenever they believed their strength adequate to the work -- then the colonists of the Pacific shores may expect to realize, in that remote country, what their fellow-citizens have experienced in the great valley of the Mississippi. The emigrants may encounter, on the broad prairies of the west, a banditti more formidable than the daring Comanches: the weak settlements will be exposed to incursions, not less harassing than those of the Seminoles in Florida; and, if the Mormons should establish themselves in strength upon the sea-coast, the commerce of that region may find in them enemies, as active and relentless as the piratical Malays of the other continent.

    * The writer, already referred to in the Dublin University Magazine, gives an amusing example of this trait. He was conversing with an English disciple of this faith, a man of sense and respectability, just on the eve of departing for America. To disprove the genuineness of the Book of Mormon, he pointed out a passage in which the navigator Nephi says of himself: "I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it" -- insisting that the allusion to the mariner's compass, so long before its discovery, was fatal to the authenticity of the narrative. But the Mormon maintained the antiquity of the invention, on the authority of St. Paul: "for," said he, "we find him say in Acts, ch. 28, v. 13, 'and from thence we fetched a compass and came to Rhegium.'"




    Vol. ?                                             London, U. K.,  September, 1844.                                             No. ?



    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!


    Transcriber's Comments


    Back to top of this page

    History Vault   |   Bookshelf   |   Spalding Library   |   Mormon Classics   |   Newspapers

    last updated: Apr. 20, 2012