The Historical Magazine
(NYC: American News. Co.)
"The Book of Mormon"
first published Miller statement
another McKee statement
Vol. VI. August, 1869. No. 2.
II. -- THE BOOK OF MORMON.
N O R T H A M E R I C A N
R E V I E W.
Vol. 95. Boston, Mass., July, 1862. No. 196. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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MORMONS AND MORMONISM.In the more intricate embarrassment of the question of Slavery, which now so oppresses the mind of the American nation, the question of Mormonism, which had begun to be troublesome, has been thrust into the background. Every one is asking, What shall we do with four millions of negroes? and, in despair before this huge practical problem, few notice the dilemma into which the Latter-Day Saints are likely to bring us. Yet, very soon, if we may trust the recent reports from Utah, the high court of the land will be called to say what they will do with the harems and the hierarchy of the followers of the American prophet. Already the New Jerusalem is knocking at the door, and claims the right allowed to all who have established their power on the public soil. With numbers sufficient, the Territory asks to be confirmed as a State, and to add its brace of delegates to those who sit in the Senate-house of equals. On what pretext the claim will be denied, it is not easy to see. Slave States have been admitted, and why should not a State be welcomed which can bring another of the patriarchal institutions? The religion as a vow cannot be urged as an objection, since this is no
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stronger than the vow which binds every faithful member of the Church of Rome to its ecclesiastical head. All precedents are certainly in favor of the Mormon demand. Yet a compliance with it will be evidently awkward, mortifying, and ridiculous, and will seem to commit an enlightened people to the toleration and the patronage of the customs of barbarism. If Utah is admitted with its polygamy, why may not some island of the sea, which America may come to possess, claim, with its Pagan rites and its feasts of human flesh, to be received as a sovereign State into the Union?
The importance of this question should lead us to accept gladly all trustworthy information concerning a phenomenon which, in spite of its disgusting features, is one of the most remarkable of the nineteenth century. It is a significant fact, that in the new Biographie Generale, which gathers in the lives of the great of all ages, but one American, Jefferson, has so large a place as the present High-Priest of the Mormon Church; other statesmen, generals, discoverers, and preachers Edwards and Franklin and Fulton are all subordinate to this illiterate leader of a sect; and there can be little doubt that, if the sect should have proportionate growth in the rest of this century to its growth in the thirty years since its foundation, Joe Smith will be classed in history with Mohammed rather than with Simon Magus. The vulgarity of its beginning will be forgotten in the great success of the imposture. Indeed, there are already philosophic vindications of the Mormon movement; and we can observe a disposition to class this new creed and church among the established religions of the world.
A great deal has been written about the Mormons in these latter years. Emigrants to California, stopping at Salt Lake City, in their way across the plains, have been moved to tell of the beauty and the prosperity of this oasis in the desert. Government officials, vexed by the exile and the suspicion to which they have condemned themselves in accepting a sojourn in that unfriendly land, have sent home to the journals their reports of its dreariness and its wickedness. Our own Review is almost the only one which has not favored the new Israel with elaborate notice. The apostles of the sect, sent to all
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 191
quarters of the world, have not been idle; and Mormon literature is respectable in quantity, if not in quality. Side by side with the Bible and the Lives of the Saints, in the book-shops of Paris, is exposed for sale a French translation of the Book of Mormon, more readable than the original. In the chief cities of England, there are establishments specially devoted to the publication and distribution of Mormon works; and the Latter-Day Saints Book Depot, in London, at 35 Jewin Street, City, radiates light to all parts of the Mormon universe. This candle is not hidden under a bushel; but the candlestick is carried over land and sea. The reports of the Mormon evangelists, of their zeal for the faith, of their labors, dangers, and sufferings, remind us in many particulars of the Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses of the Jesuit missionaries; and the archives of Deseret are fast coming to rival those of the Roman Propaganda. Ample materials exist for a criticism and judgment of the Mormon pulpit, and the three volumes of sermons named at the head of this paper are only the first three of an indefinite annual series. In all the walks of literary effort, Mormon genius is represented. It has produced histories and philosophies, as well as catechisms and expositions. The poems of Eliza R. Snow, Religious, Historical, and Political, from the specimens we have seen, we should judge to be at least equal to Tuppers verse. Mrs. Belinda Pratts Defence of Polygamy is certainly an extraordinary ethical treatise, both in the subtilty of the argument, and the vigor of the diction; and Parley Pratts Key is more complete and intelligible than many metaphysical treatises by learned professors. Mormonism, moreover, has no favored speech, and receives and spreads its inspirations in any language that it can command. Elder Dan Jones and Elder John Davies have enriched Welsh literature by the visions and truths of the new salvation, and our eyes are blinded by the horrid array of consonants in the titles of their pamphlets, which no prudent tongue will venture to articulate. The French, the Germans, the Danes, and the Italians read the Book of Mormon in their own speech, and in a few years it will doubtless be inscribed in Chinese and Tamil for the benefit of the converted worshippers of Fo and Buddha. It is a
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remarkable fact, that a sect so ignorant should in so short a time have produced such a multitude of printed works; especially when we consider that the spirit of the leader is hostile to literary development. The Mormon Pope is as suspicious of free publication as the Roman Pope, and does not desire for his people the fame of culture. He would have them shrewd, industrious, obedient, and virtuous, but does not care to have them learned in the lore of schools or libraries.
Mormon books, or, to speak more accurately, books concerning the Mormons, may be divided into three classes, those issued by members of the Church, those issued by enemies of the Church, and Gentile works belonging to neither of these classes. This last class is much smaller than the other two, since very few Gentiles who have written about the Mormons have written impartially or in their favor. The Anti-Mormon works, not including articles in reviews, are very numerous, and Mr. Burton, in his singular catalogue, gives the titles of more than forty. Some of these are by travellers, some by apostates, some by hostile politicians, and some by hostile preachers. These works are unequal both in temper and in truth; some are kind and mild, but inaccurate; others are accurate in facts, but false in conclusions; while a considerable number are both untrue and malignant. The falsehoods of Joe Smith are fairly matched by the falsehoods of his enemies, who have not been restrained in their warfare by ordinary scruples of decency. Many of our readers are familiar with the ponderous lucubrations of Rev. Henry Caswall upon the Church of America and its future; but to appreciate the self-sufficient ignorance and bigotry of this demonstrator of religions, one must study his judgment of Joe Smith and the Mormons. It is necessary to say, nevertheless, that the most unscrupulous calumniators of the Latter-Day Saints have been women. Mrs. Maria Ward, Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, and Mrs. Ferris have shown in their delineations of Mormon life an unrivalled fertility of invention and mastery in vituperation.
Of the Gentile works which the Mormons accept as giving on the whole a correct view of their condition and character, the principal are those of the military engineers who have
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 193
been sent to explore the Salt-Lake Basin, Stansbury and Gunnison, and of the English travellers Kelly and Chandless. But two quite recent works of this class in magnitude and thoroughness have cast all the rest into the shade. One of these is by a well-known Englishman, whose name has become the synonyme for all that is daring, persistent, sagacious, and successful in hazardous travel; the other by a Frenchman, less known as a writer, but eminent as a naturalist, and experienced in journeyings both on land and sea. The English writer has the advantage of a five years later date in his visit to the new Zion, a long period in a community so rapidly growing. But the Frenchman has the advantage of a more protracted stay, a calmer observation, and a better-digested use of material. Captain Burton's work is certainly the livelier and more entertaining of the two, but M. Remy's inspires more confidence and supplies more original information. Indeed, the solid worth of the Englishman's book is largely borrowed from the patient investigations of the Frenchman; and the slighting tone in which Captain Burton speaks of Remy's "generalisms" upon the new faith is hardly fair, when we consider how much he is indebted to Remy for his own conclusions. It is characteristic, however, and reminds us of the style in which Captain Burton treated his companion, Captain Speke, in his last narrative of African discovery. Burton's work by no means supersedes the work of his French predecessor. Remy visited Utah in 1855, it is true, but his book was not published until 1860, and the information which it contains is brought up nearly to that date. It is simply ridiculous for Mr. Burton to say that "an account of Great Salt Lake City in 1855 is archaeological as a study of London life in A. D. 1800." So far as the scenery of the country, the appearance of the streets, and the social, economical, political, and religious condition of the people, are to be described, scarcely any change has come in these five years. The population is greater, the wealth has increased; but the order of the state and the order of the church were the same in 1860 as in 1855; and the additional features which Mr. Burton is enabled to mention consist in the erection of a few buildings and the construction of a few public conveniences. His personal
194 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
observation of the Mormons adds very little to those of the French traveller. His volume is more full only as it has borrowed from more numerous and various sources, and it may be called a skilful compilation, enlivened by anecdote and personal narrative. One serious defect this volume has, -- as all the volumes which we have seen bearing Captain Burton's name, -- a scoffing arid reckless tone, which mocks at moral scruples and hearty faith. There is not only no condemnation of false morality, but a certain contempt for all who are shocked by immoral customs. Captain Burton, indeed, does not profess to admire polygamy, or to prefer it to the common custom of the Christian world; but he seems to have no moral and religious objection to it, and to regard it as a mistake rather than a sin. He sees only "fanatics" in those who oppose it as contrary to the Divine law and degrading to the human soul.
In this regard, the work of Remy is much to be preferred. He gives to the argument for polygamy its full weight, and avoids imputing bad motives to those who defend the custom, yet does not conceal his disgust for it as a perversion of the Divine purpose. Nor does his philosophic scrutiny of the Mormon faith ever lapse into sympathy with its eccentricities and follies, or convey a sneer at the established forms of Christianity. He is as little of a "fanatic" as Mr. Burton, but much more of a Christian; and toleration of the false creed does not make him forget that he belongs to the ancient Church. His book is a remarkable instance of the fairness with which a Catholic may examine an alien superstition without compromising the sincerity of his own religious faith. M. Remy constantly speaks of the "Mormon Church," the "Mormon Pope," and recognizes the system as having in it many elements of truth; yet we have not learned that he has lost caste at home by this candor, or that his book has been put in the Roman Index. If Mr. Burton, on the contrary, has faith in anything sacred, we cannot discover it in his book. One religion seems to be to him as good as another, and a Mormon apostle to have as much truth as a Christian apostle.
A considerable part of both these works is occupied by a description of the journeys to and from the Great Salt Lake.
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 195
M. Remy, with his companion, Mr. Brenchley (a fidus Achates, whose dear attachment he can never sufficiently praise), came to the Mormon country from California, over the Sierra Nevada and by Carson Valley, returning on the southern route, by Fillmore, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Mr. Burton crossed the continent from the East, and has given a graphic narrative of his toils and experiences in traversing the prairies, the Rocky Mountains, the desert, and the Western Snowy Range. Both travellers had their full share of dangers, hardships, and surprises, -- fights with the Indians, disabling of their beasts, petty annoyances, and ludicrous adventures. It is needless to say that Captain Burton makes the most of these, and that his descriptions are very stimulating to the imagination of an excitable reader. M. Remy is less gifted in picturesque description. His botanical enthusiasm sprinkles over the page the scientific names of plants to a fatiguing degree, and the record of his march has a certain even monotony, which reminds one of the "stathmoi" and the "parasangs" of the great retreat of the Grecian leader. In dissertation and in history his style is good, and even spirited; but in description he fails, -- certainly in comparison with his brilliant successor. In the one book, the descriptions are the most interesting portion; in the other, the least interesting. Remys book is a treatise, while Burtons is a book of travel, if we judge them by their characteristic tone.
We shall not in this article dwell upon the details of these journeys, which in either work cover more than three hundred octavo pages. Captain Burton's chapter on the Indians of the West would in itself furnish substance for a separate article, and Remys minute record supplies material for an exposition of the natural history of the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada. We shall confine our view to their statements concerning the Mormons and the Mormon religion, corrected or justified, as the case may be, by the words of the Saints themselves, as they are given in authorized publications. Into the history of the sect, so often told, it will be unnecessary to enter; nor shall we touch the question whether the prophet Smith died "as the fool dieth," or died a blessed martyr, as his followers believe. It is likely
196 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
that the works before us will add the question, "Was Joe Smith a fanatic, or an impostor?" to the similar questions concerning Mohammed and Cromwell, so long the stock questions of all debating societies. We shall forego all sentimental allusion to that marvellous exodus, the heroic endurance of which wins the sympathy even of those who hate the superstition. We shall tell merely the condition of the Saints, and the truth about them, as seen by these clear and open Gentile eyes. There are some things, certainly, in both works, to which the zealous believers will object. Neither writer has discovered in the existing prophet those godlike qualities that stamp a man as heaven-sent, or has presented the social condition of the New Jerusalem as the perfection of holiness. Neither writer predicts for it such a future as the seers promise in their confident discourse. The vulgar and prosaic side of Mormon life is set in both volumes in bold relief. Yet, in all substantial respects, these volumes are a vindication of the Mormons from the charges brought against them, and are a candid statement of the facts as they appear. Either would be allowed a place in the homes of the happy city, and doubtless copies of both are already in circulation there; since the work of Remy has been translated into English, and allusions to it have been made in the discourses of the brethren.
The first thing which arrests attention in a notice of the Mormon people is their singular name. What does it mean, and whence did it come? Aristophanes uses the word to signify a female phantom, a "hideous mask;" and the enemies of the sect commend a title which so well describes the distortion and ugliness which the system brings upon the nature and condition of woman. But it is not probable that Joe Smith borrowed from the Greek satirist, or that he would have fastened upon his religion a designation so unfortunate, had he known its primitive meaning. The name is doubtless an original invention, and symbolizes in its incongruous etymology the peculiar eclecticism of the sect. It is half Saxon, and half Coptic. In the ancient Egyptian tongue, according to the erudite Smith, "Mon" was the expression of "goodness," of excellence. It was the equivalent
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 197
of the Greek kalon, and the Hebrew tob, with the advantage of being more recondite. The easy prefix of the syllable more at once gives a cabalistic sound and a grand idea to a word simple and smooth upon the tongue. "Mormon" means more good, more than the good, something better than anything which has come yet; and this is what the new church is intended and destined to be. Its sound and its signification are not unlike that of the name of a superior class of schools in New England, and the genesis of the word "Mormon" is perhaps as correct as the genesis of the word "Normal." We know a musical amateur, more familiar with Bellini than with Cicero, who persists in deriving this educational epithet from the name of the Druid priestess.
Yet the name Mormon, it is sad to say, is not that which the sect delights in. Its large meaning is not appreciated. Sidney Rigdon's title of "Latter-Day Saints" is generally preferred; and we find in Utah the same repudiation of what was once honorable, that we find in the case of the Druses of Syria, and of some Christian sects. The second title describes the prophetic spirit and the future glory of the new church, and, though more difficult to pronounce, is certainly more religious and Scriptural in its tone than the first. The Gentiles, nevertheless, will persist in using the name which the Founder gave to his creation, and which is fastened to the sacred book. There is no insult intended in their use of the word, more than in calling the Friends Quakers, or the Catholics Romanists, or the Unitarians Socinians. As a man may claim to be Friend, Unitarian, or Catholic, without belonging to the churches of Penn, Socinus, or Rome, so a man may claim to be a millennial believer without being a Mormon. The preacher of Crown Court in London is a "Latter-Day Saint," though he hates the American imposture which has assumed this name. In the published discourses, and in the Catechism of the sect, the word Mormon very rarely occurs. Indeed, the appeal is to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, rather than to the new revelation, and the sacred plates dug up from the hill Cumorah are quite subordinate to the tables of stone which Moses
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received on Sinai. The word brought to light by the angel Moroni is almost as unknown to the faithful in Deseret as the Sibylline oracles were to the citizens of Rome. It is joined to their history, rather than to their politics and ethics.
It is a shorter process to analyze the name than to compute the numbers of the Mormon people. Their own estimates are not to be taken as strictly exact, and their hopeful visions inflate their statistics. The gross estimate of 400,000 in all parts of the world will come nearer to the truth if it is diminished one half. The number is probably from 200,000 to 250,000. Of these, undoubtedly less than half dwell within the limits of the sacred land. The list of M. Remy, drawn up in 1859, reckons the numbers in England and Scotland to be 32,000; in Ireland, 1,000; in Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula, 5,000; in Germany and Russia, 3,000; in Switzerland and Sardinia, 1,500; in France, 500; in Africa, 350; in Asia, 1,200; in Australia and the islands of Oceanica and the Pacific, 10,000; making about 55,000 not on the American continent. To these he adds 2,000 for the West Indies and South America; 8,000 for the English colonies in North America; 10,000 for California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Arkansas; 10,000 for the State of New York; and 20,000 for the other Eastern States; which will swell the whole number to 105,000, leaving a balance of 80,000 for the Territory of Utah. To this estimate ten per cent should be added, to meet the rate of increase in the three years which have since passed. We cannot, however, accept this reckoning as just in its proportions, or believe that there are twenty times as many Mormons in the State of New York as in the whole French empire. On the contrary, the reports of the apostles warrant the belief that there are more Mormons in Paris than in New York, not reckoning those who are passing on as emigrants to Zion. The numbers which M. Remy gives may be accurate in their aggregate, but not in their distribution. And he has omitted to mention Holland and Belgium, which have furnished to this, as to every variety of religious sect, a full supply of adherents. The missionaries of the new faith would not surely neglect
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 199
the land of John of Leyden from their travels. The United States census of 1860 does not, indeed, return 80,000 as the Mormon population of Utah, but gives only the moderate number of 49,295; while the Mormon census of four years earlier had given 76,335. But this census of 1860, like most of the political works of Gentiles in the Territory, was cared for in the most loose and unsatisfactory manner. The table of immigration alone from 1851 to 1861, by vessels from Liverpool, shows sufficiently the inaccuracy of the census. From this table it appears that not less than 21,195 Mormon emigrants left that port for America within the ten years specified. These, added to the official census of 1850, of 11,380, with the immigration from other quarters, and with the natural increase, would carry the number at least as high as 60,000. It is safer to believe that the present Mormon population of Utah is above 70,000, than that it is below 60,000. This estimate by no means covers the whole population of the Territory. The saints claim to possess the goodly land, but they have not yet driven out all the native tribes. Besides the white Gentiles, who are numbered by hundreds, there are "Lamanites," which is the Saints name for Indians, who are still numbered by thousands. They are becoming fewer year by year, but they are still numerous enough to prevent enterprise and to endanger travel in all parts of the Territory. Not many have been won to the saving faith; yet, as a rule, they are far better affected to their Mormon neighbors than to the white men of a different creed. Captain Burton reckons the number in the two races of the Yutas and the Snakes, who divide the land with their hunting-grounds, to be, within the Territory of Utah, about 19,000 souls.
Substantially, nevertheless, Utah is the habitation of the Saints; and unless they are driven out by persecution or force, they will undoubtedly come to be more and more the owners of the soil, as they are already possessors by "eminent domain." As yet they have colonized but a small part of it, and the few spots which they have reclaimed are but specks in the vast desert. They have established one large city and several small towns in a territory nearly as large as France, more than
200 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
600 miles in length and more than 300 in breadth. They have reclaimed a few thousand acres from the 200,000 square miles of land, more or less. There is the plan, indeed, of a future great state, and a score of "counties" are already marked off, with their capitals. But most of the settlements in these counties are so small, that one might pass near them without seeing them, and half a dozen houses are sufficient to secure the name of "city." This municipal title is perhaps prophetic, and may save trouble for the future. In the naming of these cities there is no exclusiveness; profane history is allowed to share with sacred history, -- the names of saints with those of sinners. In Utah County, the chief town of which is Provo, there are David City, Lake City, Lehi City, Love City, Spanish Fork City, Payson City, and Palmyra, as many cities as contended for the birth of Homer. In Box Elder County is Brighams City, of which we are uncertain whether it records a compliment to the prophet, or one of his numerous speculations. New sites, however, are every year laid out, and it is quite likely that the number of settlements is already a third greater than in 1860, when Mr. Burton sought information concerning them. All these outlying towns and counties can be regarded only as suburbs of the central Zion, -- as the source of supply to the happy seat by the Great Lake, where the ark of the Lord rests. For all purposes of judgment concerning the Mormons in Utah, Great Salt Lake City is Deseret as truly as Jerusalem is Palestine or Paris is France. The life of the capital here is the life of the province, and one who has seen the capital has seen the people.
Yet a word or two should be said upon the natural features and conditions of that land in which the Mormons have chosen their lot. It is not in all respects a goodly land, nor will it without long toil be made to flow with milk and honey. It is high enough to be cold in winter, and dry enough to be hot in summer. The lowest valley is 4,000 feet above the sea, while there are snowy peaks that rival in altitude Mont Blanc and the Jungfrau. Of navigable rivers there are none, and half the streams lose themselves in the sand and mire. Lakes abound, some of large size; but of the largest the only productions are salt and sulphur, and none will ever be of much
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 201
use for commerce. Rain falls heavily in its season; yet for long months the thirsty ground waits in vain for relief. The air is usually clear and dry, but too often saturated with dust, and vexed in mid-winter with storms of snow, and in midsummer with storms of lightning. The climate is rather healthy than agreeable, good for the lungs and muscles, but not for the nerves. Few die of consumption, but not many escape the toothache. The glaring sun in the hot season is dangerous to the head and to the eyes, and the Mormons handkerchief, straggling from under his hat, reminds one of the Bedouin keftyeh.
The natural wealth of the land is not great. it has rock enough in various kind, -- granite, slate, marble, serpentine, and sandstone; iron enough and coal enough, when machinery shall be applied to work them; but hardly one fiftieth of the soil is fit for culture. The "bench-lands" can be made productive only by artificial irrigation, and the "bottom-lands" are rendered half-barren by the lime which they hold in solution. Crickets and grasshoppers in some years darken the air by their incredible swarms, and destroy every green thing before them. Fortunately, however, Providence, watchful of the Saints, has relieved them in a measure of this plague by the aid of an army of little white gulls, which come after the locusts like protecting angels. The gull is to the Mormons what the owl was to the Athenians, and is as sacred in their regard as the eagle to Columbian patriots. These nuisances, drought, salt, frost, and locusts, tend to make the crops uncertain, and the Mormon farmer sows in hope rather than in faith. His grains are wheat, oats, corn, and Chinese sugar-cane. His vegetables, which are of large growth and coarse fibre, are carrots, turnips, beets, cucumbers, beans, and potatoes. In the southern part of the territory cotton is successfully cultivated. Wood is comparatively scarce, and it is difficult to find enough for building purposes. The most common kinds are the soft willows and alders in the lowlands, and scrub-oaks and cedars on the highlands. The new temple cannot be ceiled with such precious beams as came to the house on Moriah from the hills of Lebanon. In the sweet liquids of the forests the Saints are more favored. There is balm in their Gilead; and
202 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
from the leaves of poplars by the brooks a dew is collected which serves as a healing balsam.
In that part of Utah which the Mormons have peopled, wild beasts are not abundant. There are some wolves, and foxes enough for a Mormon Samson to repeat, near Lehi City, the former experiment at Lehi of the Philistines. Of the vermin which swim and the vermin which burrow there are only too many, and the jaws of the callotis, or "jackass rabbit," may make as much havoc with the crops, as the ass's jaw in the hands of the Hebrew champion with the hostile armies. That "feeble folk," the conies, hide here in the clefts; and the elements of King Solomon's daily provision may also furnish the house of his Mormon successor, -- "ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts and roe-bucks and fallow-deer and fatted fowl." The fatted fowl are in inexhaustible quantity and delicious variety. Of the Levitical list of birds unclean, the vulture and the kite, the stork and the cormorant, the hawk after her kind, the swan and the pelican, all remind the Saints of the land of ancient Israel, while of birds fit for sport and food the numbers are far greater. In autumn the dish of the Roman epicurean is served up in Salt Lake City, and they catch larks without the falling of the sky. The "horned frog" is the chameleon of Utah; lizards run upon the walls; and there are poisonous serpents like those which the Psalmist describes, which might commend to the people that prayer of Israel in the wilderness. The sweet waters are full of fish, large and small, but bivalves of the nicer kind are denied. Plentiful pasturage guarantees an unlimited raising of sheep and cattle; and when camels are fairly introduced, they will thrive and multiply as largely as in the Arabian desert. The Canaan of the Western mountains is destined to become a great grazing country, and before its valleys are covered over with corn, its pastures will be clothed with flocks. The winters are too severe to allow much culture of the vine, and the abstemious habits of the Saints would discourage the culture if it were practicable. Yet among the fruits for which premiums were offered at the annual exhibition of the Deseret Agricultural Society, in 1860, were grapes, as well as the other common native fruits.
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 203
At the beginning, the position of the Mormons in this distant land seemed to be one of almost complete isolation. Remote by six weeks' journey from civilization on either side, secluded by ranges of mountains difficult to scale, protected by their surrounding deserts, they might confidently expect to be undisturbed in their home. No railway and no telegraph would pursue them so far; and their Paradise was as truly separate from the heathen world, as was the fabled garden of Atlantis. But the California excitement broke that dream of isolation. The trail which the exodus had marked became the road for the hunters of gold, and the city by the lake was a house of refreshment to myriads weary with the heat and burden of the way. It is yet a disputed point whether the Mormon colony gained or lost by the commerce of this western emigration. Its revenues were increased, but its morals were not improved; and if the bad population was to some extent drained off, the love of gold was unduly stimulated. The more religious Mormons still dread the coming of that great line of railway which shall bind them to the Gentile world, and would forego the advantages of news and intercourse, and the resources which it will open, for the sake of the sacred retreat which this communication will destroy. Some already long for a less accessible Zion.
A new exodus, however, is not likely soon to occur. Only by compulsion will the Saints desert the city which their hands have so broadly, if not strongly and beautifully, builded. The sensation which the wayfarer experiences at the sight of the New Jerusalem from the Wasatch Mountains is the sensation which all travellers remember at the first view of Damascus from the hill which overhangs it; -- and here the first impression is not, as at Damascus, destroyed by the nearer interior view. Cleanliness, that close adjunct of godliness, is in excess rather than in defect. Every street has its Abana and Pharpar, and a more unfailing stream than the Judean Siloa flows softly by the house of the oracle. The plan of the city (not yet fully carried out, it is true) is substantially that which John the Divine saw in the city upon the mountains. "It lieth four-square." Within this greater square are lesser squares, forty rods on
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each side, each enclosing an area of ten acres. The dividing streets, which run perfectly true to the cardinal points of the compass, are eight rods in width, including sidewalks of twenty feet on either side. Every house, too, must stand twenty feet from the front line of the lot, thus leaving an open space of forty feet between it and the highway. In each square there are eight house-lots of an acre and a quarter each, though the owners are not compelled, in the erection of houses, to limit themselves to a single lot, but may put two together. At intervals, squares are reserved for public use. The city of the Mormons avoids the common mistake of our Western cities, of covering all the land with buildings, and will leave breathing-places for the people. Its plan may be monotonous and tiresome to the eye, but is at least convenient, neat, and orderly. The distances are magnificent, certainly; but ought they not to be so, to correspond with the hopes and pretensions of the people? Ought not the New Jerusalem to be as unlike as possible to the old Gentile cities of narrow streets, dry, dark, leafless, and crooked? Abundance of light, water, air, foliage, and movement so unobstructed as to seem partial rest, is the end to be gained. And it has been gained thus far. If the Broadway of the Mormon capital is not grand in its edifices, it is at least far superior in its proportions to the Broadway of any Atlantic city. It is protected by a grateful shade, and it hardly deserves the mean name which Captain Burton's coarse wit, as we believe, rather than the custom of the people, has attached to it, of "Whiskey Street." He testifies that running water rather than bad whiskey gives character to all the streets of this city.
This main street is the centre of business and traffic for the capital. It extends from north to south, midway between the eastern and western limit already laid out. On this street are the principal shops, both of large and small wares, the most important offices, the hotels, the saloons, and some of the best private residences. The special attraction of this street is the two squares, opposite to each other, which are set apart to contain the buildings of the Temple and the residences of the prophet. The grand monarch of Israel, it
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is recorded, built the house of the Lord before he built his own house of the forest of Lebanon. The new monarch has reversed that order; and while stately, and in some sense palatial edifices, adorn the Prophet's Block, Captain Burton could see only a hole in the ground in the place where the Temple is destined to stand. Seven years had already passed since the first solemn breaking of soil in the pious work, and only the foundations had yet been laid. Since that time, as we learn, the work has proceeded, and part of the singular plan has been revealed to the eye in the walls and buttresses. M. Remy is able to show a picture of the sacred building, as it will look when its roof is complete and its pinnacles are all raised. Its architecture is less grotesque than the architecture of that monstrous absurdity which was set upon the hill of Nauvoo, and, apart from some specially Mormon improvements, is not much baser "Gothic" than the average of churches in the Atlantic cities which claim that designation. Its dimensions are not enormous; indeed, not too large to allow a speaker to be heard with ease. They are given by M. Remy as 46 1/4 metres in length, by 36 1/2 in breadth, with walls of 3 metres in thickness, which would give, in English measure, an audience-room of about 130 feet in length by 100 in breadth, -- smaller than many of the new Catholic churches. For the first Temple, Joseph Smith had received the plans directly from the Lord; but the design of this second house, bearing angelic signs on the apex of its pinnacles, has been accepted from the appropriate hand of one T. O. Angell, a brother beloved, its height from the basement to the apex of the roof will be upward of a hundred feet, and each front will be adorned with three projecting towers, tapering to spires. The whole structure will be of granite, and it is to become, by its solidity and its beauty, its originality and its fitness, the most remarkable edifice of the earth. We cannot learn that in this Temple those colossal oxen with their basins, which puzzled visitors to the Temple at Nauvoo, are to be set again, in their lumpish solemnity.
Only a fraction of the four hundred feet square of the Temple Block will be occupied by this edifice. The remainder
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is not left unoccupied, but, beside the workshops and the storehouses for the construction of the Temple, there are three other structures at present contained within it. One of these, at the southwest corner, is the Tabernacle, a long, barn-like building, where the faithful assemble to hear the word dispensed, waiting for the completion of the greater house. Here, as over the ancient altars, the swallow has found a nest, and leads out her young in noisy flocks. Just north of the Tabernacle is the Bowery, a meeting-house of more airy and rustic construction, which holds the surplus of hearers that the Tabernacle will not contain. In the northwest corner of the block is the Endowment House, which, from the engraving in Mr. Burton's volume, does not seem sufficiently imposing for the high mysteries which pass within it. Here the initiated assume the sacred shirt, and receive the gifts of the Spirit. No profane foot may cross the threshold, and what is done there is known only through the questionable revelations of the apostates. If these may be trusted, the scenes enacted in that holy place are a repetition in part of the mysteries of Eleusis, and in part of the religious plays of the Middle Age.
Opposite to the Temple Block is the Prophet's Block. We shall not attempt to describe the congeries of buildings which cover this enclosure of the seraglio of the Mormon Sultan. The "Lions House," where the chief sultana dwells, a stuccoed structure, built in a year at a cost of $65,000; the Public Office, where business of church and state is transacted, and the prophet receives his visitors; the "Bee House," a long pile of buildings yellow in color, and garnished with a score of dove-cote windows in its attic story, the harem of the enclosure; the Tithing-House, where the contributions of the faithful are heaped together, awaiting to be converted into money; -- these, and other smaller buildings, attest the grandeur of the prophets state. The finest works of Mormon art are found here. The lion over the portico of Mrs. Young's house may remind a spectator of Wellington's statue at Hyde Park corner; and the beehive on the house of the other wives has a pleasant Attic suggestion. The Saints rejoice in the dignity of their leaders abode, and grudge him none of his good things.
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In this connection, some notice is proper of the master of this property, the man who, in the somewhat extravagant phrase of M. Remy, "unites in his hands more power than any potentate in the world." Brigham Young (or "Brigham the Young," as he is called in the biographical sketch of M. Isambert) is a native of Vermont. By his mother's side he is descended from one of the numerous races of Central Massachusetts, and has gained by his connection with this race the name by which he is most endeared to his followers. Their style of address is not "Brother Young," but "Brother Brigham." He was born in June, 1801, though the freshness of his features would indicate a much younger man. His frame is strong and well knit, somewhat tending to obesity, and his stature is fully of middle height; yet there is nothing in his look or his manner which shows a man born to command. Captain Burton's minute description of his eyes, cheeks, jaws, beard, shoulders, and hands gives the picture of a shrewd and cunning rather than of a large-minded man. This impression is confirmed by the excellent engraving, taken from a daguerrotype, which appears as the frontispiece to M. Remy's first volume. This face gives the idea of a smart man of business, but not of an organizing genius or a spiritual seer. There is no divine speculation in those narrow eyes, and no reverential faith in that rounded and commonplace skull. It is difficult to understand the magnetism of such a countenance.
Yet it is evident, not only from the impressions which the prophet produces upon his visitors, but from the discourses of the published volumes, that this head of the Mormon Church is in intellect and in ability no common man. He has strong sense, great practical sagacity, a keen insight into character, a fertility of invention, and a simplicity of mariner, which make him fit to rule. He is at once affable and reserved, courteous and dignified, assuming nothing for his office, yet tenacious of his right and his place. There is in his address and his conversation no mark of an impostor, and he speaks calmly, in a natural tone of voice, and with no striving for effect. He does not pretend to be a saint further than his office gives him this privilege, and he brings
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to his brethren the conclusions of his own reason, and the dictates of his own will, rather than any special messages from the Lord. Between his life and his professions there is consistency, and the stories of his intemperance both M. Remy and Captain Burton pronounce to be patent falsehoods. He is, in eating and drinking, an ascetic rather than a sensualist. Tobacco, in any form, the prophet never uses; and by example as well as precept he is the advocate of abstinence from intoxicating liquors. We cannot be much in error in deciding that he is an honest, sincere, wise, and determined enthusiast, fully convinced of the truth of his faith and the justice of his position, and ready to maintain his claim at any sacrifice. His education was only that of a New England common school, and his early trade was that of a painter. But he has shown himself ready for any duty, a master in diplomacy, and fit to be a ruler. He has secured his full share of the goods of this earth, and has houses, lands, mines, utensils, and money in fabulous abundance, as compared with his associates. His private property is estimated at from half a million to a million of dollars.
In the next block north of the President's Block is the residence of Heber C. Kimball, the Second President. The appearance of this favorite Mormon orator seems to have affected both M. Remy and Captain Burton unpleasantly. His manners could be characterized only as vulgar. His age is the same as that of "Brother Brigham;" his stature is tall and portly, his face is smooth-shaven, and his style of address is colloquial and irreverent. There is hardly one of his published discourses that is not a flagrant offence to decency. He gesticulates in the most extravagant way, and perpetually strives to be witty. Like most conceited preachers, he loves to dwell upon the virtue of "humility," and the duty which he most strongly enforces is that of absolute submission. He denounces the wickedness of the brethren with a hearty good-will, and is ready to call them fools, rascals, and liars in the same breath in which he addresses them as "gentlemen and ladies." In one discourse he tells them that they "are all in hell." There is an air of jaunty
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indifference to the reception which his discourses meet, which betrays real sensitiveness. "What do I care for what the world says? I care no more about it than I do for the squalking of a goose." He is a true worshipper of his superior, and he distinctly inculcates the lesson, that, for the sake of "Brother Brigham," father and mother and brothers and sisters must all be forsaken. Kimball is the heir apparent to the holy seat, and, if he should outlive the prophet, will doubtless expect to succeed to his dignity. His wives are numerous.
In the neighborhood of the Temple Block are also the residences of other high Mormon dignitaries; -- of General D. H. Wells, the Third President, a large-boned, red-haired, and grim-looking personage, who rules the battalions of the saints, the Abner of this Israel; of John Taylor, the Paul of the new dispensation, who has travelled far more widely than the first "Apostle to the Gentiles," and encountered nearly as many perils, -- an amiable companion, and a careful observer; of Elder Wilford Woodruff, gifted in the exposition of Scripture, and serious in his views of life and duty; of George A. Smith, "the Historian of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," constant to magnify his office, and ready on all occasions with panegyric of the departed and recollections of the heroic times; and of other eminent men, whose names we are reluctantly forced to pass by. These dwellings, with the adjoining Council-House, History Office, Social Hall, and Hotel, give honor to the centre of the Mormon city, and diversify its attractions. As a rule, the buildings on these surrounding squares are somewhat mean in their appearance, low, plain, and built of adobe bricks, or of rubble. They are clean rather than elegant. But to the eyes of the faithful they have a singular charm, and the life of the city tends to cluster in this neighborhood.
The surroundings of the city are at once appropriate and picturesque. On the east tower the Wasatch Mountains, and a ride of a few hours brings one into the wildest gorges and glens. On the west runs the river Jordan, northward from the sweet waters of the Lake Utah, the Galilean lake of Mormondom,
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to the bitter waters of the Great Salt Sea; and, by a singular coincidence, this western Jordan has about the same length, the same breadth, and the same winding way with the Jordan of Syria. The "swelling of Jordan" here, however, is less regular, and the want of forests has been provided for by the judicious contract for a million of trees, at a cent each, to be planted along the banks. North of the city are hot springs, where the baths of Tiberias are recalled by the sight of the naked Indians who warm their limbs in the refreshing flood. Twelve miles from the city is the Great Dead Sea, which has points of resemblance as striking as its points of contrast with the Sea of Sodom. That is 1,300 feet below the ocean level, while this is 4,200 feet above. That is a single, unbroken sheet of water, while this is studded with islands, on some of which are mountains. In neither of the seas is there any organic life, and the waters of both are buoyant to an extraordinary degree. In mineral elements the waters of the two are nearly alike, and the surrounding scenery is not very unlike.
In the short time which has elapsed since the beginning of the colony, not much change, of course, could be effected in the landscape by culture. The internal improvements make as yet very little show. The Jordan is crossed by a "rickety" wooden bridge, and the roads are mostly primitive paths upon the plain or the hill-sides. Only a few of the remarkable water facilities have yet been put to use. But the spirit of Mormon civilization is favorable to all material conquests, and they are commanded to subdue as well as to possess the earth. The prophet would encourage all schemes which may increase the resources of his nation, -- would have them plant orchards, smooth the fields, and build mills, wherever a site shall invite or allow. One of the "lions" of the region is the establishment of Mr. Little, in a canyon about thirteen miles east of the city, where the rocks rise perpendicularly on each side two thousand feet above the narrow pass. Here are a tannery, a grist-mill, and a factory for adobe bricks. Beyond, in the Great Cottonwood Canyon, are a series of saw-mills, where a million feet of lumber are prepared for market in the season. The
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labor and expense of keeping the roadway open through this ravine is very great, and the scene can be compared only to that in the wilder defiles of Switzerland.
Whoever has occasion to describe the land of the Mormons twenty years hence, will doubtless tell of model farms, of thriving factories, and of immense improvement in the practical arts. But all these are at present in embryo. The Saints have no foreign commerce, and they desire none. They wish only to be self-supporting and to establish themselves as a peculiar people. Among their converts are mechanics of all kinds, sufficient to meet their own wants. If they are allowed to labor in peace, their persevering industry will be sure to give them strength. Yet they do not trust wholly to this. From the beginning, they have been a military people; and a review of the Mormon Battalion is a spectacle which visitors ought not to lose. The "Nauvoo Legion," which is the nucleus and basis of the present military force, was organized in 1840, and was made to include all the males between the ages of sixteen and fifty. Its present number in the whole territory of Utah is estimated by Captain Burton to be from six to eight thousand men. The officers of the Battalion are a lieutenant-general, elected by the commissioned officers, a major-general, who is only his deputy, and a full staff, according to the military system of the United States. The territory is divided into military districts, corresponding mainly to the different counties. This militia is well armed, regularly and thoroughly drilled, and ready to be called into service at short notice. Beside this, there are in many parts of the territory companies of mounted "minute-men," who are to be at all times prepared for the official summons, -- a precaution absolutely necessary in a country liable to sudden and stealthy Indians attacks. If the enemies of the Mormons are to be trusted, they have also a secret battalion of "Danites," serpents in the path, destroying angels, who are banded for any deed of daring; and assassination, and the frequent violent deaths of travellers and emigrants, are attributed to the treacherous stroke of some brother of this fraternity. How far this account of the Danites is to be believed, it is impossible to say. The
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Mormons declare that it is a base and ridiculous calumny, and that no such society exists among them. The fame of it, nevertheless, is a terror even to many not over-credulous, and it saves the Mormons from many insults from their enemies. They ask no protection from abroad. They are competent to their own defence, and the United States troops which have been quartered from time to time in their territory are regarded as intruders, if not as foes. At present, we believe, all these troops are withdrawn, and the Gentile officers are virtually at the mercy of those who acknowledge only the sway of the prophet.
In civil affairs, the Mormons are not yet free from the interference of Gentile governors, judges, and sheriffs. During the administrations of Presidents Fillmore and Pierce the head of the Church was also, by appointment from Washington, the head of the state. It was of no consequence to Brother Brigham in what way his authority came, so long as he held it. For a few years past he has been constrained to recognize a co-ordinate ruler in the able Georgian who conducts officially the affairs of the Territory. Governor Cumming was possessed of rare sagacity, and his skilful management of his embarrassing part showed him to be the right man in the right place. He is on excellent terms with the people, and has done much to reconcile them to a dependence upon the general government, which is not much more than nominal, and interferes little with their practical freedom. The obnoxious judges of the Federal courts, some of whom disgraced their office by scandalous, if not actually criminal practices, have gradually been displaced, and a better class of men substituted. The office of judge in Utah is not, however, sufficiently lucrative to invite the highest talent, and the dangers and discomforts of the position make it to a sensitive mind but little better than penance. The Federal judges have not much work to do.
The local system of administration in Utah is very simple. There is a Territorial Legislature in two chambers, of thirteen and of twenty-six members; a Supreme Court, of a chief and two associate judges; three District Courts, in each of which one of the supreme judges presides; a Probate Court; and
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minor justices of the peace. Most of the law business of the Territory is transacted before these inferior functionaries, who are Mormons. The lawyers profession is not favored; but there is a class of cases arising from the "peculiar institution" which gives employment to the courts. The jurisdiction of the Probate Court seems to be very elastic. Mr. Burton was privileged to "assist" in this court at the trial of Mr. Peter Dotson, the United States Marshal, for purloining some copper plates from the house of Brigham Young, Senior, on a civil suit for damages, in which the defendant, as might have been expected, was cast and muleted in the sum of $ 2,300. The scene in the court-room was odd and characteristic, -- the judge with tobacco in his mouth and heels as high as his head, and the lawyers and witnesses distributed in that pleasing confusion which marks a Western tribunal; yet all things were done decently and in order; the forms of law were observed, and the verdict was strictly according to the evidence. The Mormons pride themselves upon their regard for even justice, and are ready to give to the men that they hate all that is mentioned in the bond. The chief subjects of dispute among themselves are marriage and divorce. It is not always easy to tell to whom a wife belongs, when she has been sealed to several husbands.
Some of the statutes of Utah are worth noticing. Assassination in the first degree is punished by death, and in the second, by imprisonment for not less than ten years. To kill a man in a duel is a capital crime; and if the duel be not fatal, the parties suffer from one to three years imprisonment, and pay a fine of from $100 to $1,000. The keeper of a house of ill-fame is liable to ten years' of imprisonment and a fine of $500. The keeper of a gambling-house must pay $ 800, and spend a year in confinement, if convicted of the crime, and those who take part in gambling are punished by a fine of $300 and six months' imprisonment. The laws concerning "inheritance" are generally just. No man's property can be divided until his debts are paid; a posthumous child, though unprovided for by will, shares equally with the rest; when no will is made, all the wives have an equal portion; natural children have the same rights as legitimate
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children, when their identity is proved; and the husband and wife inherit alike from each other. Though the law of Utah allows negro slavery, it puts restrictions upon this custom which go far to nullify it. A master having carnal connection with his African slave forfeits his right, and the slave becomes free. Any individual, man or woman, who has carnal connection with a negro or negress who is not his own property, is condemned to an imprisonment which may reach three years, and to a fine of from $500 to $1,000. Such laws in the Southern States would work emancipation faster than escape or purchase. Captain Burton would have us believe that the object of legalizing slavery in Utah is purely humane, to induce the Saints "to buy children, who otherwise would be destroyed or abandoned by their starving parents." This humane purpose seems, however, hardly consistent with the fatal exclusion of the descendants of Canaan from the blessings of the promise. "Lamanites" may become heirs of salvation, but into the Mormon paradise no soul of a negro shall enter. The black population of the Territory is hardly large enough to be reckoned. In the census of 1860, the whole number of slaves is set down at twenty-nine. It is probable that no free negro would remain in a land where he is under a social curse.
Concerning taxation in the Mormon land, opinions are widely divided. Gentiles declare that the burdens are as great as those which Israel bore under the yoke of Pharaoh, while the Saints pretend to rejoice in their freedon from onerous imposts. In 1860, the value of property assessed in the Territory (excepting Green River and Carson Counties) was $4,613,900. On this the Territorial tax of 1/2 per cent would yield only $23,369.50, -- a sum not very great for the expenses of so vast a region and so large a population, -- exceeded by many towns in New England of five miles square and five thousand inhabitants. In addition to these there are the octroi and the water tax, which are local and municipal, and meet the special expenses of the city governments. Every hundred pounds of merchandise which come from the East pay $20, and every hundred pounds from the West, $25. The city governments of Utah, chosen by popular suffrage,
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consist of a mayor, four aldermen, and one councillor for each ward. They hold office for two years, and have charge of all municipal regulations. The mayor and aldermen are also judges of the city courts, but from their decision an appeal may be taken to the Court of Probate. The tithes are an ecclesiastical tax, and are not to be reckoned in the estimate of civil expenses.
If the burden of taxation in Mormondom is less than we might suppose, the expenses of living are so great that the acquisition of wealth must be difficult, and require strict economy and constant industry. Captain Burton thinks that one dollar in London would buy as much as four dollars in Utah. The wages of servants are from thirty to forty dollars per month, which is nearly equivalent to a prohibition of all menial labor. Hand labor is worth two dollars a day. Provisions raised at home are cheap enough, but all luxuries are expensive; and he who would drink tea, coffee, or wine must pay for his indulgence fivefold the cost of these articles upon the seaboard. In one characteristic feature of a city the capital of the Saints is lacking; -- there is no market, -- no central place where provisions are exposed, and the people congregate to find supplies. Articles of wood and metal, too, are costly; and every nail which the carpenter in Utah drives is worth almost its weight in silver. Bulky articles of domestic use, such as blankets, are mostly made within the Territory; and until factories shall be established, the wives and daughters of the Saints will ply the busy loom. Fortunately, most of the foreign converts, especially those from Wales and Cornwall, were previously skilled in this domestic toil.
The Mormons, as a people, are not enthusiastic in the cause of education. Their leader has no special regard for book-knowledge,and the duty impressed upon the people is rather to increase and multiply and subdue the soil than to seek forwisdom. Yet a certain amount of intelligence is required, -- enough to keep the people from vice and to secure their obedience. The children of the Saints have a bad name for precocious depravity; even M. Remy speaks of them as "grossiers, menteurs, libertins avant l'dge;" and in the accounts of the apostates they are impudent, profane, dirty, and
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disgusting. Captain Burton gives a different statement; and while he admits that they are smart and pert, finds them clean, good-looking, and intelligent. The discipline of the Mormon home is not indeed of the Puritan kind; no corporal punishment is practised, and the early Christian training is rather "muscular" than sentimental. A Mormon boy is taught to handle the axe, to use the revolver, and to ride without stirrups, as virtues which secure the blessings. In the district schools, which as yet are supported by each district within itself, the boys may learn to read and write during the winter months. In the Salt Lake City there are schools in each ward. Most of the teachers are women.
The plan of Mormon education is not, nevertheless, confined to these district schools, with their limited range of studies. A larger field is traced out. We read of the "Chancellor and Board of Regents of the University of the State of Deseret;" of the "Deseret Universal Scientific Society;" the "Polysophical" Society; the "Seventies Variety Club;" the "Deseret Theological Institution;" the "Academy," at present affording to boys only instruction of the higher kind, but expected by and by to give the same facilities to the other sex. The superintendent of this last institution is Orson Pratt, whom all accounts agree in representing as a man of extraordinary talent and attainments, versed in languages and sciences, and eloquent in discourse. His published sermons are far superior to those of most of his brethren, and are at once acute in their reasoning and correct in their rhetoric. He amazed M. Remy by the extent of his information. His murdered brother, Mr. Parley Pratt, is said to have been his equal in ability and culture.
In the schools of Utah the English language is used, though the confusion of national tongues is as great as in Babel, and the English alphabet is commonly employed. The fine phonetic invention of Judge W. W. Phelps, the astronomer and astrologist of Utah, has not yet been generally adopted, and the forty signs of the "Deseret Alphabet" have still a cabalistic show to the uninitiated masses. Those who have studied this new alphabet pronounce it to be a great improvement for exactness and for convenience upon the common alphabet. The
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characters are graceful and easily written, and each represents a separate sound. Judge Phelps, the inventor, is a notable person, ingenious, indefatigable, and eccentric. In the mystic ceremony of the "Endowment," he personates the Devil, and performs the part to perfect acceptance. On the weathercock of his house is the Hebrew legend ~~ Hinnenu, -- Adsumus, -- "Here we are," which the careless typography of Captain Burton's book alters to ~~, "Hakbaz," a word not found in the Hebrew. He is the almanac-maker of the Saints, and has put forth some as remarkable predictions and computations of time as any in the works of Dr. Cumming. His fame for astrology is shared by Mr. Albert Carrington, a graduate of Dartmouth College, and editor, according to M. Remy, of the "Deseret News," the official weekly newspaper, which contains the reports of the sermons. Captain Burton, however, mentions as the editors of this paper Messrs. Smith and McKnight. The "Mountaineer," owned by two lawyers, is the rival weekly paper of the great Salt Lake City. These journals have the usual columns of extracts, news from the East and West, court reports, agricultural and business statistics, sermons, and occasionally original stories and poems. In the leading editorials questions of general politics and of social and religious science are discussed. The "Deseret News" has already reached its twelfth volume. It is a folio of eight pages, each with four columns, and the subscription price is six dollars. "Brother Brigham" has of course a censorship, which, happily, he is not often called to exercise.
No interest of the Mormons is so important to them as their faith. The foundations of the state were laid in a religious idea. Secular as it seems, and mingled with very gross and material elements, Mormonism is yet a very positive religion. Its dogmas are distinct, and its hierarchy is very complete. Every Mormon is taught to know what he believes, and to give a reason for it, and if sedulous inculcation can give sound and saving know ledge, none of the Saints need be lacking.
In his philosophical "Introduction," M. Remy is pleased to mention Mormonism as one of the three remarkable religious movements of America. Emerson, Channing, and Joseph Smith represent the three principal "phases of faith" on
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this side of the Atlantic. The religion which Emerson teaches is pure individualism, which renounces all external form and dogma, and makes the man his own god; the religion which Channing gave is a reform of existing faiths, according to the principles of reason, retaining only what can be harmonized with the enlightened sense of man; while the religion of Joseph Smith is an eclectic agglomeration of the available peculiarities, or perhaps we may say of the proved truths of all other systems, -- Pagan, Moslem, Jew, and Christian. The first system is a system of rejection; the second, of elimination; the third, of fusion. M. Remy apologizes for placing such honorable names as Emerson and Channing in so degrading a society, and would by no means liken the invention of an impostor to the work of those for whom he declares his profound admiration. In ranking Joe Smith with religious reformers, he by no means makes himself the defender of this charlatan.
In the multitude of interpretations, it is not easy to decide the exact average of the Mormon belief. The Catechism is clear enough, and does not vex us with many metaphysical subtilties or distinctions; but so large is the liberty of prophesying, that the effulgence of commentary confuses with its cross lights the central sun of faith. Orson Pratt and his brethren have done for the elements of their religion what the Rabbins have done for the Mishna. The "Pearl of Great Price," perpetually quoted in the Catechism, is an abridged targum of the Biblical account, containing the substance of holy doctrine, with the addition of the Book of Abraham, "translated from some records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham whilst he was in Egypt, written with his own hand on papyrus. With a facsimile of three papyri." In the deciphering of these Egyptian "papyri," it is only just to say that the Spiritualists of New England have been more fortunate and successful even than the Mormons. Documents have been brought to light the existence of which had never even been hinted, and the last novelty that we have seen advertised is a new version of the four Gospels, revised, corrected, and adapted to the wants and opinions of the present age, by the spirits of the four Evangelists.
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In addition to the "Pearl of Great Price," the standard authorities of the Mormon Church are the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," being a selection from the Revelations of Mr. Joseph Smith, -- a duodecimo of 336 pages; the Book of Mormon; and, above all, the Bible. The seers and preachers may press their opinions upon the Saints in their assemblies, but these four volumes constitute the substance of law and testimony. To them new revelations may be added, but from them nothing shall be subtracted. The Mormons complain that they have been judged too much by the opinions of their preachers. They appeal to the inspired sources; and in our statement of their faith, we shall take rather what we find in the Catechism than what Messrs. Remy and Burton report of the speculations of their doctors. Even the word of the prophet, where it declares no new positive vision, is to be judged as a human word, and to be set aside if it conflicts with the infallible record of truth. Such a conflict, indeed, is not probable; and if the brethren seem to see their prophet in an error, it is the part of modesty rather to suspect their own impression, and to believe themselves mistaken. Brother Kimball labors to persuade them that the voice of Brother Brigham is always the voice of God.
In the Catechism of the Saints, as compiled by Elder John Jaques, there are eighteen chapters. The first chapter is of personal facts and preliminary personal duties, -- ethics before theology. What is your name? When and where were you born? In what branch of the Church were you "blessed" and baptized? These are the first questions asked of the neophyte. Love to God, to parents, and to all mankind are then stated as the three prime duties, and the reward specially promised to filial obedience is the Jewish reward of many days upon the earth. A "short life" the Mormons regard as a calamity and a punishment. The second chapter of the Catechism lays down tradition, reason, and, best of all, revelation, as the three ways of "knowing God." Of "Revelations" we have a "great number" specified, -- to Abraham, to Moses, to Isaiah, to the father of John, to Stephen, to John the Divine, to the brother of
220 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
Jared, to Lehi, to "a great multitude of Nephites," to Joseph Smith, to Oliver Cowdery, and to Sidney Rigdon. The question of number in the Godhead is decisively answered. There are "many Gods," but only one who should be worshipped. Jesus is God, the Holy Ghost is God; the three persons are "one in character and attributes, but not in substance." John saw 144,000 gods, and all faithful souls will at last become gods. God is in the form of a man, and has a man's body. He is omnipresent by his spirit, but his person is only in one place at a time. There are three states of existence for the souls of men, -- the pre-earthly state, the earthly state, and the post-earthly state, when souls go back to God from whom they came. The affairs of earth were primarily decreed in a grand council of "the gods," in which the rebel Lucifer presumed to dissent and was cast out for his contumacy. The gods organized the earth, but did not create its elements, which always existed, since it is impossible that something should be formed out of nothing.
The Mormon doctrine of the origin of sin adheres in detail to the Scriptural narrative, but modifies it only by maintaining that the fall of man was a great blessing and a most fortunate circumstance, since it secured salvation to so large a number, and made it possible for men to get to heaven. If Adam and his spouse had partaken of the "tree of life" rather than of the other tree, they would have had no mortal children, and would have been always subject to the Devil. Of Christ's redemption, the Catechism teaches that it extends absolutely to all children under eight years of age, and to others through faith and repentance, which, with baptism, are the three things essential to salvation. Baptism must be performed by immersion, and all persons who have arrived at years of discretion ought to be baptized. After baptism come the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which all true believers can enjoy, and which are communicated by the laying on of hands of the apostles and elders. The Lord's Supper, a memorial sacrament, may be observed on every Sunday, and if wine cannot be procured for it, water may be used. It was one of the revelations to Joseph Smith, servant of the Lord, that water more truly represented the Saviour's blood than wine purchased of enemies.
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 221
There can be no schism in the Mormon body. The Saints are exclusive, and they affirm the anger of God against all other churches, large and small, which they include under the head of "sects." The signs of the Latter-Day Saints, it is stated, can be readily recognized; -- a perfect organization; continued revelations; the Holy Ghost present; unity; the conversion of the wicked; the building of temples instead of churches and chapels, and dedicating them to God instead of to men and women; persecutions without number; and exemplary virtue; -- all these proving that the seal of God is visibly set to the union of the anointed. A slight abatement, however, must be made from the pretence of unbroken unity. The plague of heresy and schism has invaded this band of brethren. Leaders of sects have been cast out with terrible anathemas; and in the catalogue of Mormon members, M. Remy reckons two thousand "schismatics" and "independents" in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The early days of the Church, before its hierarchy had become fully organized, were greatly disturbed by the revolts of self-willed zealots. Of the later apostates, many have returned penitent into the bosom of the Church.
To the ten commandments of Moses and the two commandments of Jesus the Mormon Catechism adds a special "Word of Wisdom," given to Joe Smith on the 27th of February, 1833. This word of wisdom denounces the use of wine, except it is home-made; of animal food, except in winter, cold, and famine; of tobacco, because it is filthy; and of "hot drinks," because they relax the stomach. The third paragraph of this word teaches "that wheat is good for man, corn for oxen, oats for horses, rye for fowls and beasts, barley for useful animals and for mild drinks for man." Very much of the Mormon preaching is upon the subject of dietetics and hygiene. The care of the body is closely joined to that of the soul.
The longest chapter in the Catechism is the seventh, that which describes the hierarchy, -- unquestionably the great strength of the religion. In its elaborate priesthood, rather than in any system of dogma, does the power of Mormonism rest. The people are awed and charmed by this vast and
222 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
orderly organization, complete before their eyes, and embracing the world in its sweep; and all the more because it has no paraphernalia of robes, or badges, or tonsures. In dress, demeanor, conversation, and occupation the priesthood are like the people, having the same trades, and claiming by their religious rank no exemption from ordinary duties. This priesthood is twofold, -- of Melchisedek first, and then of Aaron. To the Melchisedek priesthood belong the Presidency, the revelations, and the keys of spiritual blessings. It is to the Saints what the monasteries are to the Oriental churches. To the Aaronic priesthood belong the keys of ministration and the care of outward ordinances. This priesthood, Levitical and confined to the seed of Aaron (though we cannot discover any Jews in Mormondom), is an "appendage" to the other. The various officers of the Meichisedek priesthood are included in the general name of "elders." The special names of these elders are Apostle, Seventy, Patriarch or Evangelist, and High-Priest. An apostle organizes, a patriarch blesses, a seventy travels and preaches (the word "seventy" means a single person, -- there may be a hundred seventies), and a high-priest presides and administers the ordinances. The duty of elders in general is to preach and baptize, to ordain other elders and the lower orders, to lay on hands, to bless children, and to lead in the meetings. To the Aaronic priesthood belong Bishops, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons. The bishop takes charge of the temporal business of the Church, and sits as judge upon transgressors. The priest administers ordinances and visits the Saints. The teacher and deacon watch over and comfort the Church. All these officers must be specially ordained, and all of them must be in the right line of descent, and have received a special call from heaven. There are no irregular admissions into this hierarchy; and every man must stand in his own lot and do his own work.
From these two orders of priesthood are made up the nine "quorums" of the Church. Of these quorums, the chief is the "First Presidency," which consists of the President and two councillors. The President is to be seer, revelator, translator, and prophet. Next to this is the quorum of the "Twelve Apostles," a travelling council, who go where the President
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 223
bids, were it to the ends of the earth, to preach the Gospel and build up churches. They also have a president, who is chosen by seniority of age. The next quorum, of the "High Council," consists of twelve high-priests, with a president, whose business it is to settle difficulties in the Church. The "Seventies" are separated into quorums of seventy members in each, of which there were, in 1855, thirty-nine. Each quorum has seven presidents, and the seventh presides over the other six. The seven presidents of the first quorum of seventies preside over all the quorums. We need not specify the quorums of the lower ranks of the priesthood, which are arranged with equal precision. The "Presiding Bishop," who is chief officer, must be, if it be possible to find such a person, a "literal descendant" of Aaron. If such a person cannot be found, then the Order of Melchisedek supplies the officer. This contingency is not probable, since the same revelation which imparts the knowledge of the Lords will may confirm the lineage of any whom the choice of the Church prefers. Angels can always testify to purity of blood, as well as to purity of doctrine; and doubtless Brother Edward Hunter has celestial authority for his Levitical pedigree. It is distinctly allowed, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that claimants may ascertain their right by "revelation from the Lord."
Mormon theology reckons, not two, but many "dispensations." The Catechism mentions ten, -- the dispensations in Adam, Enoch, Noah, Jareds brother, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Lehi, Jesus, and Joseph Smith. Of these, the last, which bears the name of the "Dispensation of the Fulness of Times," is the greatest and the final, confirmed by manifold testimonies, by gifts of miracle and prophecy, by prodigies in the heavens, and by the delivery of hieroglyphic plates. The end of all things will be the destruction of the wicked; the prosperity of the righteous; the evangelization of the world by the new Gospel; the establishment of a New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri; the descent of Christ upon the Mount of Olives, "which will cleave in two;" the defeat of the Jews; the resurrection of the Saints; a peaceful millennial reign of Christ; and at last the change to a new
224 MORMONS AND MORMONISM. [July,
heavens and a new earth, "on which the glorified immortal Saints will live and reign as kings and priests throughout eternity." One item of this eschatology seems to be questioned. Not all the Saints consent that the New Jerusalem is to be in Jackson County, Missouri; and it is probable that, after the completion of the Temple in Salt Lake City, a new revelation will substitute that place as the abode of supreme bliss.
This statement of the faith of the Mormons is taken from Elder Jaques's Catechism. But the more abstruse symbols of the Church add some refinements. Orson Pratt, in his commentary on the fourteen articles of the Mormon creed, develops the materialism of the system, the efficacy of baptism for the dead, the humanity of the Deity, the physical resurrection of the body, the rejection of "lazy" men from the Christian salvation, and the reserve of the Lord in communicating important religious truth. That reserve was signally manifested in holding back the revelation of what has become the characteristic feature of the religion. Three eras are already reckoned in Mormon history, which Captain Burton styles the Monogamic, the Polygamic, and the Materialistic. The first authentic communication of celestial marriage, or plurality of wives, was made to Joe Smith in Nauvoo on the 12th of July, 1843. It was accompanied by an explanation. Privately imparted by the prophet to a few friends, it gradually became a rule of conduct. But not until nine years afterward was it openly promulgated by Brother Brigham as the order of the Divine Life. Now it is professed, defended, and gloried in. No man in Mormondom is entitled to the praise of piety unless he can boast of more than one woman "sealed" as his wife. The greater the number of wives, the greater the honor.
The length to which this article has already extended spares us the duty of reviewing the Mormon argument for the practice of polygamy, and exposing its sophistry and its folly. With all its ingenious use of Scripture analogies, with all its pretence of preventing licentiousness and promoting chastity, with all its physiological pleas and statistics, it cannot be freed from its disgusting and revolting character. It may be true,
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as the Saints allege, that the morality of their community is better than that of the average of Christian cities, that there is scarcely any gross vice, and that their women are contented and happy. The strongest vindications of polygamy, indeed, have been from the pens of female writers. Yet it is evident to even superficial observation, that the decency and good order of the Mormon state is not attributable to this abominable custom, but rather to circumstances of position and government. The Mormons were as pure, as upright, and as industrious before the promulgation of polygamy as they have been since. And their best history is in that period when there was a single wife to each husband. The doctrine may be kept in the Church on a religious pretext, and doubtless some who marry second and third wives do this now from religious motives, and not of free desire. But in the beginning it came into the Church through lust and sensualism, and the Divine sanction claimed for it was the excuse for low passion. We shall not waste words upon what is so hateful when joined to the idea of a Christian society, -- upon the most pernicious of all the hallucinations of this century. The hallucination seems to be gaining ground even in a more respectable branch of the Christian Church, if we may trust the recent letter of the English Bishop of Natal and Colenso as a sign of the times.
The Mormon sacred days are not very numerous. The Saints keep Sunday after the manner of the Christian sects, by going to the regular place of worship, where the songs of Zion are sung, prayers are offered, one or more sermons are preached, and the sacraments are administered. Both the prayers and the sermons in Salt Lake City are reported in short-hand to be printed. -- In each town there is but a single place of worship, since it is not becoming to have any rivalry or division of the congregation. Those who cannot find seats must stand, and those who cannot get in and hear must stand without and wait. Sometimes a text is taken for the sermons, but usually they are harangues upon the topic uppermost in the speaker's mind. There are two services on Sunday, the second like the first. We cannot find that the Saints have yet been vexed by the passion for a liturgy, or have tried the experiment of "vespers." The spirit of the discourses keeps
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the attention fixed, and neither M. Remy nor Captain Burton mentions any instance of sleeping in the sacred place. Twice in the year solemn conferences are held in the capital to transact the business of the Church. These are on the 6th of April and the 6th of October, and they last four days. At these conferences the officers of the Church are re-elected, every man having a vote. As the voters are told whom to vote for, the process is an easy one, and there is no need of that electioneering machinery which must precede the meetings of the Gentiles. The conferences are usually thronged by brethren from all the settlements, are opened with prayer and music, and are accompanied by statements of the history and prospects of the Church. The martyrs are called to mind, the promises are repeated, and any new visions which may have been vouchsafed in the past season are produced for the joy of the assembly.
For the day of National Independence the Saints have substituted the 24th of July, the day on which, after long journeying across the waste, in the year 1847, Brother Brigham and his company entered the sacred precincts, and established there the seat of their Church. This day of deliverance is kept more soberly than the national holiday of the States, nor are unrestrained potations and a lavish consumption of powder regarded as fit signs of gratitude and joy. In all things, Mormon customs keep a sort of subdued decorum. Nothing excessive is encouraged or permitted. The shoutings must not be too loud, nor the dancings too long. The life of the Saints must be even, and work must be interfered with as little as possible. Indeed, the cardinal virtue of the Mormon system is industry. Without this, an amiable temper, a decent behavior, respect for superiors, and ardent piety are all imperfect. The beehive is the sign of the people, and the law is that all shall work, and each shall do as much as he can. The symbol is defective, inasmuch as in the Mormon hive there are to be no drones and no queen-bee. Men and women, high and low, are all to be workers to the extent of their force.
A word should be said upon the music of the Mormons. According to M. Remy, this is of a superior kind, arranged in part from selections from the best masters, and executed in a
1862.] MORMONS AND MORMONISM. 227
style not much below that of Westminster Abbey and the Sistine Chapel. The singing is congregational, and the women join in it with great spirit. In the Salt Lake City there is a "Musical Society," which gives concerts from time to time. The Saints are fond of lively metres, and utterly avoid all doleful and dispiriting music. Even when the terrors of the law are presented, a cheerful strain accompanies the threatening, and the parting hymn always disperses any gloom and fear that may have been cast upon the assembly. The exhilaration of song rather than of strong drink is that in which the Saints delight. The prophet frequently describes his spiritual condition as prompting him to dance and sing. A propos of this tendency, M. Remy has appended to his work a treatise upon the Shakers, whom he calls the antipodes of the Mormons.
The details of the condition of the Latter-Day Saints which we have here gathered, are but a small portion of what might be collected from the abundant sources within our reach. But we must forego further gleanings. Upon the future of the Mormon people it is not desirable to speculate, -- whether the newly-elected Representative and Senators will be allowed to sit in the American Congress, or whether this alien community will be again driven out from the land which they have occupied. Some predict a short life for so mean a fanaticism, and believe that it will die out within this century. Others see it growing to become a great and powerful religious body. To some, the falsehood of polygamy which it has adopted seems certain to be its destruction, while to others this singularity seems to insure its increase. Whatever its future may be, it is a most curious phenomenon of the present time, and offers material for study and reflection which is new in religious history. After the hundred embodied vagaries of religious imposture, Mormonism gives something original in its theology, its methods, its customs, and its developments. Its eclecticism is a novel combination; and while it is the union of many generations, it is the only species of its own genus. What philosopher will show us the true place of that aggregation of ideas which, in spite of its elements of good, remains in its whole only a monstrous and ridiculous excrescence?
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AMONG THE MORMONS.
We speak of crossing the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Salt Lake; but, in reality, they reach all the way between those places. They are not a chain, as most Eastern people imagine them, but a giant ocean caught by petrifaction at the moment of maddest tempest. 'For six hundred miles the overland stage winds over, between, and around the tremendous billows, lying as much as may be in the trough, and reaching the crest at Bridger's Pass, (a sinuous gallery, walled by absolutely bare yellow mountains between two and three thousand feet in height at the roadside,) but never getting entirely out of the Rocky Mountain system till it reaches the Desert beyond Salt Lake. Even there it runs constantly among mountains; in fact, it never loses sight of lofty ranges from the moment it makes Pike's Peak till its wheels (metaphorically) are washed by the Pacific Ocean; but the mountains of the Desert may legitimately set up for themselves, belonging, as I believe, to a system independent of the Rocky Mountains on the one side and the Sierra Nevada on the other. At a little plateau among snowy ridges a few miles east of Bridger's Pass, the driver leans over and tells his insiders, in a matter of fact manner, through the window, that they have reached the summit level. Then, if you have a particle of true cosmopolitanism in you, it is sure to come out. There is something indescribably sublime, a conception of universality, in that sense of standing on the watershed of a hemisphere. You have reached the secret spot where the world clasps her girdle; your feet are on its granite buckle; perhaps there sparkles in you eyes that fairest gem of her cincture, a crystal fountain, from which her belt of rivers flows in two opposite ways. Yesterday you crossed time North Platte, almost at its source (for it rises out of the snow among the Wind River Mountains, and out of your stage windows you can see, from Laramie Plains, the Lander's Peak which Bierstadt has made immortal) that stream runs into the sea from whose historic shores you came; you might drop a waif upon its ripples with the hope of its reaching New Orleans, New York, Boston, or even Liverpool. Tomorrow you will be ferried over Green River, as near its source, a stream whose cradle is in the same snow peaks as the Platte, whose mysterious middle life, under the new name of the Colorado, flows at the bottom of those tremendous fissures, three thousand feet deep, which have become the wonder of the geologist, whose grave, when it has dribbled itself away into the dotage of shallows and quick sands, is the desert margined Gulf of California and the Pacific Sea. Between Green River and the Mormon city no human interest divides your perpetually strained attention with Nature. Fort Bridger, a little over a day's stage ride east of the city, is a large and quite a populous trading post and garrison of the United States; but although we found there a number of agreeable officers, whose acquaintance
480 Among the Mormons. [April.
with their wonderful surroundings was thorough and scientific, and though at that period the fort was a rendezvous for our only faithful friend among the Utah Indians, Washki, the Snake chief, and that handful of his tribe who still remained loyal to their really noble leader and our Government, Fort Bridger left the shadowiest of impressions on my mind, compared with the natural glories of the surrounding scenery.
Mormondom being my theme, and my space so limited, I must resist the temptation to give detailed accounts of the many marvellous masterpieces of mimetic art into which we find the rocks of this region everywhere carved by the hand of Nature. Before we came to the North Platte, we were astonished by a ship, equalling the Great Eastern in size, even surpassing it in beauty of outline, its masts of columnar sandstone snapped by a storm, its prodigious hulk laboring in a gloomy sea of hornblendic granite, its deckhouses, shaped with perfect accuracy of imitation, still remaining in their place, and a weird looking demon at the wheel steering it on to some invisible destruction. This naval statue (if its bulk forbid not the name) was carved out of a coarse mill stone grit by the chisel of the wind, with but slight assistance from the infrequent rainstorms of this region. In Colorado l first began to perceive how vast an omission geologists had been guilty of in their failure to give the wind a place in the dynamics of their science. Depending for a year at a time, as that Territory sometimes does, upon dews and meltings from the snow peaks for its water, it is nevertheless fuller than any other district in the world of marvellous architectural simulations, vast cemeteries crowded with monuments, obelisks, castles, fortresses, and natural colossi from two to five hundred feet high, done in argillaceous sandstone or a singular species of conglomerate, all of which owe their existence almost entirely to the agency of wind. The arid plains from which the conglomerate crops out rarefy the superincumbent air stratum to such a degree that the intensely chilled layers resting on the closely adjoining snow peaks pour down to reestablish equilibrium, with the wrathful force of an invisible cataract, eight, ten, even seventeen thousand feet in height. These floods of cold wind find their appropriate channels in the characteristic canyons which everywhere furrow the whole Rocky Mountain system to its very base. Most of these are exceedingly tortuous, and the descending winds, during their passage through them, acquire a spiral motion as irresistible as the fiercest hurricane of the Antilles, which, moreover, they preserve for miles after they have issued from the mouth of the canyon. Every little cold gust that I observed in the Colorado country had this corkscrew character. The moment the spiral reaches a loose sand bed, it sweeps into its vortex all the particles of grit which it can hold. The result is an auger, of diameter varying from an inch to a thousand feet, capable of altering its direction so as to bore curved holes, revolving with incalculable rapidity, and armed with a cutting edge of silex. Is it possible, to conceive an instrument more powerful, more versatile? Indeed, practically, there is no description of surface, no kind of cut, which it is not capable of making. I have repeatedly seen it in operation. One day, while riding from Denver to Pike's Peak, I saw it (in this instance, one of the smaller diameters) burrow its way six or seven feet into a sand bluff, making as smooth a hole as I could cut in cheese with a borer, of the equal diameter of six inches throughout, all in less time than I have taken to describe it. Repeatedly, on the same trip, I saw it gouge out a circular groove around portions of a similar bluff, and leave them standing as isolated columns, with heavy base and capital, presently to be solidified into just such rock pillars as throng the cemeteries or aid in composing the strange architectural piles mentioned above. Surveyor General Pierce of Colorado, (a man whose fine scientific genius and culture have already done yeoman’s service in the study of that most
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interesting Territory,) on a certain occasion, saw one of the wind-and-silex augers meet at right angles a window-pane in settler's cabin, which came out from use process, after a few seconds, a perfect opaque shade, having been converted into ground glass as neatly and evenly could have been effected by the manufacturer’s wheel. It is not a very rare thing in Colorado to be able to trace the spiral and measure the diameter of the auger by rocks of fifty pounds' weight and tree-trunks half as thick as an average man's waist, torn up from their sites, and sent revolving overhead for miles before the windy turbine loses its impetus. The efficiency of an instrument like this I need not dwell upon. After some protracted examination and study of many of the most interesting architectural and sculpturesque structures of the Rocky-Mountain system, I am convinced that they are mainly explicable on the hypothesis of the wind and silex instrument operating upon material in the earthy condition, which petrified after receiving its form. Indeed, this same instrument is at present nowise restricted by that condition in Colorado, and is not only, year by year, altering the conformation of all sand and clay bluffs on the Plains, but is tearing down, rebuilding, and fashioning, on its facile lathe many rock strata of the solidity of the more friable grits, wherever exposed to its action. Water at the East does hardly more than wind at the West.
Before we enter the City of the Saints let me briefly describe the greatest, not merely of the architectural curiosities, but in my opinion, the greatest natural curiosity of any kind which I have ever seen or heard of. Mind, too, that I remember Niagara, the Cedar Creek, and the Mammoth Cave, when speak thus of the Church Buttes.
They are situated a short distance from Fort Bridger; the overland road passes by their side. They consist of a sand stone bluff, reddish brown in color, rising with the abruptness of a pile of masonry from the perfectly level plain, carved along its perpendicular face into a series of partially connected religious edifices, the most remarkable of which is a cathedral as colossal as St. Peter's, and completely relieved from the bluff on all sides save the rear, where a portico joins it with the main precipice. The perfect symmetry of this marvellous structure would ravish Michel Angelo. So far from requiring an effort of imagination to recognize the propriety of its name, this church almost staggers belief in the unassisted. It belongs to a style entirely its own main arid lower portion is not divided into nave and transept, but seems like a system of huge semi-cylinders erected on their bases, and united with reentrant angles, their convex surfaces toward us, so that the ground plan might be called a species of quatrefoil. In each of the convex faces is an admirably proportioned doorway, a Gothic arch with deep carved and elaborately fretted mouldings, so wonderfully perfect in its imitation that you almost feel like knocking for admittance, secure of an entrance, did you only know the "Open sesame." Between and behind the doors, alternating with flying-buttresses, are a series of deep-niched windows, set with grotesque statues, varying from the pigmy to the colossal size, representing demons rather than saints, though some of the figures are costumed in the style of religious art, with flowing sacerdotal garments.
The structure terminates above in a double dome, whose figure may be imagined by supposing a small acorn set on the truncated top of a large one, (the horizontal diameter of both being considerably longer in proportion to the perpendicular than is common with that fruit,) and each of these domes is surrounded by a row of prism-shaped pillars, half column, half buttress in their effect, somewhat similar to the exquisite columnar entourage of the central cylinder of the leaning tower of Pisa. The result of this arrangement is a massive beauty, without parallel in the architecture of the world. I have not
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conveyed to any mind an idea of the grandeur of this pile, nor could I, even with the assistance of a diagram. I can only say, that the Cathedral Buttes are a lesson for the architects of all Christendom, a purely novel and original creation, of such marvellous beauty that Bierstadt and I simultaneously exclaimed, "Oh that the master builders of the world could come here even for a single day! The result would be an entirely new style of architecture, an American school, as distinct from all the rest as the Ionic from the Gothic or Byzantine." If they could come, the art of building would have a regeneration. "Amazing" is the only word for this glorious work of Nature. I could have bowed down with awe and prayed at one of its vast, inimitable doorways, but that the mystery of its creation, and the grotesqueness of even its most glorious statues, made one half dread lest it were some temple built by demon hands for the worship of the Lord of Hell, and sealed in the stone dream of petrifaction, with its priests struck dumb within it, by the hand of God, to wait the judgment of Eblis and the earthquakes of the Last Day.
After leaving Church Buttes and passing Fort Bridger, our attention slept upon what it had seen until we entered the region of the canyons. These are defiles, channeled across the whole breadth of the Wahsatch Mountains almost to the level of their base, walled by precipices of red sandstone or sugarloaf granite, compared with which the Palisades of the Hudson become insignificant as a garden fence. The last poetical man who traverses these giant fissures cannot help feeling their fitness as the avenues to a paradoxical region, an anomalous civilization and a people whose psychological problem is the most unsolvable of the nineteenth century. During the Mormon War, Brigham Young made some rude attempts at a fortification of the great cayoon half a day's journey from his city, and this work still remains intact. He need not have done it; a hundred men, ambushed among the ledges at the top of the canyon walls, and well provided with loose rocks and Minierifles, could convert the defile into a new Thermopylae, without exposure to themselves. In an older and more superstitious age, the unassisted horrors of Nature herself would have repelled an invading 'host from the passage of this grizzly canyon, as the profane might have been driven from the galleries of Isis or Eleusis.
About forty miles from Salt Lake City we began to find Nature's barrenness succumbing to the truly marvellous industry of the Mormon people. To understand the exquisite beauty of simple green grass, you must travel through eight hundred miles of sage-brush and grama, the former, the homely gray- leaved plant of our Eastern goose stuffing, grown into a dwarf tree six feet high, with a twisted trunk sometimes as thick as a man's body; the latter, a stunted species of herbage, growing in ash tinted spirals, only two inches from the ground, and giving the Plains an appearance of being matted with curled hair or gray corkscrews. Its other name is "buffalo grass;" and in spite of its dinginess, with the assistance of the sage, converting all the Plains west of Fort Kearney into a model Quaker landscape, it is one of the most nutritious varieties of cattle fodder, and for hundreds of miles the emigrant drover's only dependence.
By incredible labor, bringing down rivulets from the snow peaks of the Wahsatch range and distributing them over the levels by every ingenious device known to artificial irrigation, the Mormon farmers have converted the bottoms of the canons through which we approached Salt Lake into fertile fields and pasturelands, whose emerald sweep soothed our eyes wearied with so many leagues of ashen monotony, as an old home strain mollifies the ear irritated by the protracted rhythmic clash or the dull, steady buzz of iron machinery. Contrasting the Mormon settlements with their surrounding desolation, we could not wonder that their success has fortified this people their delusion. The superficial student of rewards
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and punishments might well believe that none but God's chosen people could cause this horrible desert, after such triumphant fashion, to blossom like the rose.
The close observer soon notices a painful deficiency in these green and smiling Mormon settlements. Everything has been done for the farm, nothing for the home. That blessed old Anglo Saxon idea seems everywhere quite extinct. The fields are billowing over with dense, golden grain, the cattle are wallowing in emerald lakes of juicy grass, the barns are substantial, the family-windmill buzzes merrily on its well oiled pivot, drawing water or grinding feed, the fruit trees are thrifty, but the house is desolate. Even where its owner is particularly well off, and its architecture somewhat more ambitions than the average, (though, as yet, this superiority is measured by little more than the difference between logs and clapboards,) there is still no air about it of being the abode of happy people, fond of each other, and longing after it in absence. It looks like a mere inclosure to eat and sleep in. Nobody seems to have taken any pride in it, to feel any ambition for it. Woman's tender little final touches, which make a dear refuge out of a mud cabin, and without which palatial brownstone is only a home in the moulding clay, those dexterous ornamentations which make so little mean so much, the brier- rose-slip by the doorstep, growing into the fragrant welcome of many Juries, the trellised Madeira- vines, the sunny spot of chrysanthemums, charming summer on to the very brink of frost, all these things are utterly and everywhere lacking to the Mormon inclosure. Sometimes we passed a fence which guarded three houses instead of one. Abundant progeny played at their doors, or rolled in their yard, watched by several unkempt, bedraggled mothers. Owning a common husband, -- and of these should feel much interest in the looks of a demesne held by then in such unhappy partnership. The humblest New England cottage has its climbing flowers at the door-post, or its garden-bed in front; but how quickly would these wither, if the neat brisk house-mistress owned her husband in common with Mrs. Deacon Pratt next door!
The first Mormon household I ever visited belonged to a son of the famous Heber Kimball, Brigham Young's most devoted follower, and next to him in the Presidency. It was the last stage-station but one before we entered Salt Lake, situated at the bottom of a green valley in Parley's Canyon (named after the celebrated Elder, Parley Pratt); and as it looked like the residence of a well to do farmer, I went in, and asked for a bowl of bread and milk the greatest possible luxury after a life of bacon and salt spring water, such as we had been leading in the mountains. A fine looking, motherly woman, with a face full of character, gray-haired, and about sixty years old, rose promptly to grant my request, and while the horses were changing I had ample time to make the acquaintance of two pretty young girls, hardly over twenty, holding two infants, of ages not more than three months apart. Green as I was to saintly manners, I supposed that one of these two young mothers had run in from a neighbor's to compare babies with the mistress of the house, after our Eastern fashion, universal with the owners phenomena. When the old lady came back with the bread and milk, and both of the young girls addressed her as "mother," I was emboldened to tell her that her daughters had a pretty pair of children.
"They are pretty," said the old lady, demurely; "but they are the children of my son;" then, as if resolved to duck a Gentile head and heels into Mormon realities at once, she added," Those young ladies are the wives of my son, who is now gone on a mission to Liverpool, young Mr. Kimball, the son of Heber Kimball; and I am Heber Kimball's wife."
A cosmopolitan, especially one knowing beforehand that Utah was not distinguished for monogamy, might well be
484 Among the Mormons. [April.
ashamed to be so taken off his feet as I was by my first view of Mormonism in its practical workings. I stared, I believe I blushed a little, I tried to stutter a reply; and the one dreadful thought which persistently kept uppermost, so that I felt they must read it in my face, was, "How can these young women sit looking at each other's babies without flying into each other's faces with their fingernails, and tearing out each other's hair?" Heber Kimball afterwards solved the question for me, by saying that it was a triumph of grace.
Such another triumph was Mrs. Heber Kimball herself. She was a woman of remarkable presence, in youth must have been very handsome, would have been the oracle of tea fights, the ruling spirit of donation visits, in any Eastern village where she might have lived, and, had her home been New York, would have fallen by her own gravity into the Chief Directress's chair of half a dozen Woman's Aid Societies and Associations for Moral Reform. Yet here was this strong minded woman, as her husband afterward acknowledged to me, his best counsellor and right-hand helper through a married life reaching into middle age, witnessing her property in that husband's affections subdivided and parcelled out until she owned but a one-thirtieth share, not only without a pang, but with the acquiescence of her conscience and the approbation of her intellect. Though few first wives in Utah had learned to look concubinage in the face so late in life as this emphatic and vigorous natured woman, I certainly met none whose partisanship of polygamy was so unquestioning and eloquent. She was one of the strangest psychological problems I ever met. Indeed, I am half inclined to think that she embraced Mormonism earlier than her husband, and, by taking the initiative, secured for herself the only true wifely place in the harem, the marital after thoughts of Brother Heber being her servants rather than her sisters. She was most unmistakably his favorite.
One day in the Opera-House at Salt Lake, when the carpenters were laying the floor for the Fourth-of-July-Eve Ball, Heber and I got talking of the pot-pourri of nationalities assembled in Utah. Heber waxed unctuously benevolent, and expressed his affection for each succeeding race as fast as mentioned.
"I love the Danes dearly! I've got a Danish wife." Then turning to a rough-looking carpenter, hammering near him, -- You know Christiny, -- eh, Brother Spudge?"
"Oh, yes! know her very well!"
A moment after, -- The Irish are a dear people. My Irish wife is among the best I’ve got."
Again, -- I love the Germans! Got a Dutch wife, too! Know Katrine, Brother Spudge? Remember she couldn't scarcely talk a word o' English when she come, -- eh, Brother Spudge?"
Brother Spudge remembered, and Brother Heber continued to trot out the members of his marital stud for discussion of their points with his more humble fellow polygamist of the hammer; but when I happened to touch upon the earliest Mrs. Heber, whom I naturally thought he would by this time regard as a forgotten fossil in the Lower Silurian strata of his connubial life, and referred to the interview I had enjoyed with her on the afternoon before entering the city, his whole manner changed to a proper husbandly dignity, and, without seeking corroboration from the carpenter, he replied, gravely,
"Yes! that is my first wife, and the best woman God ever made!"
The ball to which I have referred was such an opportunity for studying Mormon sociology as three months' ordinary stay in Salt Lake might not have give me. Though Mormondom is disloyal to the core, it still patronizes time Fourth of July, at least in its phase of festivity, omitting the patriotism, but keeping the fireworks of our Eastern celebration, substituting "Utah" for "Union" in the Buncombe speeches, and having a ball instead of the Declaration of Independence. All the saints within half a day's ride of the
1864.] Among the Mormons. 485
city come flocking into it, to spend the Fourth. A well-to-do Mormon at the head of his wives and children, all of whom are probably eating candy as they march through the metropolitan streets in solid column, looks to the uninitiated like the principal of a female seminary, weak in its deportment, taking out his charge for an airing.
Last Fourth of July, it may be remembered, fell on a Saturday. In their ambition to reproduce ancient Judaism (and this ambition is the key to their whole puzzle) the Mormons are Sabbatarians of a strictness, which would delight Lord Shaftesbury. Accordingly, in order that their festivities might not encroach on the early hours of the Sabbath, they had the ball on Fourth-of-July eve, instead of the night of the Fourth. I could not realize the risk of such an encroachment when I read the following sentence printed on my billet of invitation: --
"Dancing to commence at 4 P.M."
Bierstadt, myself, and three gentlemen of our party were the only Gentiles whom I found invited by President Young to meet in the neighborhood of three thousand saints. Under these circumstances I felt like the three-thousandth homeopathic dilution of monogamy. Morality in this world is so mainly a matter of convention that I dreaded to appear in decent polygamic society, lest respectable women, owning their orthodox tenth of a husband, should shrink from the pollution of my presence, whispering, with a shudder, "Ugh! Well, I never! How that one-wifed reprobate can dare to show his face!" But they were very polite, and received me with as skilfully veiled disapprobation as is shown by fashionable Eastern belles to brilliant seducers immoral in our sense. Had I been a woman, I suppose there would have been no mercy for me.
I sought out our entertainer, Brigham Young, to thank him for the flattering exception made in our Gentile favor. He was standing in the dress circle of the theatre, looking down on the dancers with an air of mingled hearty kindness and feudal ownership. I could excuse the latter, for Utah belongs to him of right. He may justly say of it, "Is not this great Babylon which I have built?" His sole executive tact and personal fascination are the key-stone of the entire arch of Mormon society. While he remains, eighty thousand (and increasing) of the most heterogeneous souls that could be swept together from the byways of Christendom will continue builded up into a coherent nationality. The instant he crumbles, Mormondom and Mormonism will fall to pieces at once, irreparably.' His individual magnetism, his executive tact, his native benevolence, are all immense; I regard him as Louis Napoleon, plus a heart; but these advantages would avail him little with the dead-in-earnest fanatics who rule Utah under him, and the entirely persuaded fanatics whom they rule, were not his qualities all coordinated in this one -- absolute sincerity of belief and motive. Brigham Young is the farthest remove on earth from a hypocrite; he is that grand, yet awful sight in human nature, a man who has brought the loftiest Christian self-devotion to the altar of the Devil, -- who is ready to suffer crucifixion for Barabbas, supposing him Christ. Be sure, that, were he a hypocrite, the Union would have nothing to fear from Utah. When he dies, at least four hostile factions, which find their only common ground in deification of his person, will snatch his mantle at opposite corners. Then will come such a rending as the world has not seen since the Macedonian generals fought over the coffin of Alexander, -- and then Mormonism will go out of Geography into the History of Popular Delusions. There is not a single chief, apostle, or bishop, except Brigham, who possesses any catholicity of influence. I found this tacitly acknowledged in every quarter. The people seem like citizens of a beleaguered town, who know they have but a definite amount of bread, yet have made up their minds to act while it lasts as if there were no such thing as starvation. The greatest comfort you
486 Among the Mormons. [April.
can afford a Mormon is to tell him how young Brigham looks; for the quick, unconscious sequence is, "Then Brigham may last out my time." Those who think at all have no conjecture of any Mormon future beyond him, and I know that many Mormons (Heber Kimball included) would gladly die to-day rather than survive him and encounter that judgment day and final perdition of their faith which must dawn on his new-made grave.
Well, we may give them this comfort without any insincerity. Let us return to where he stands gazing down on the parquet. Like any Eastern party-goer, he is habited in the "customary suit of solemn black," and looks very distinguished in this dress, though his daily homespun detracts nothing from the feeling, when in his presence, that you are beholding a most remarkable man. He is nearly seventy years old, but appears very little over forty. His height is about five feet ten inches; his figure very well made and slightly inclining to portliness. His hair is a rich curly chestnut, formerly worn long, in supposed imitation of the apostolic coiffure, but now cut in our practical Eastern fashion, as accords with the man of business, whose métier he has added to apostleship with the growing temporal prosperity of Zion. Indeed, he is the greatest business-man on the continent, -- the cashier of a firm of eighty thousand silent partners, and the only auditor of that cashier, besides. If I today signified my conversion to Mormondom, tomorrow I should be baptized by Brigham’s hands. The next day I should be invited to appear at the Church Office (Brigham’s) and exhibit to the Church (Brigham) a faithful inventory of my entire estate. I am a cabinet-maker, let us say, and have brought to Salt Lake the entire earnings of my New-York shop, -- twenty thousand dollars. The Church (Brigham sole and simple) examines and approves my inventory. It (Brigham alone) has the absolute decision of the question whether any more cabinet-makers are needed in Utah. If the Church (Brigham) says, "No," it (Brigham again) has the right to tell me where labor is wanted, and set me going in my new occupation. If the Church (Brigham) says, "Yes," it further goes on to inform me, without appeal, exactly what proportion of the twenty thousand dollars on my inventory can be properly turned into the channels of the new cabinet shop. I am making no extraordinary or disproportionate supposition when I say that the Church (Brigham) permits me to retain just one-half of my property. The remaining ten thousand dollars goes into the Church Fund, (Brigham's Herring-safe,) and from that portion of my life's savings I never hear again, in the form either of capital, interest, bequeath. able estate, or dower to my widow. Except for the purposes of the Church, (Brigham's unquestionable will,) my ten thousand dollars is as though it had not been. I am a sincere believer, however, and go home light-hearted, with a certified check written by the Recording Angel on my conscience for that amount, passed to my credit in the bank where thieves break not through nor steal, -- it being no more accessible to them than to the depositor, which is a comfort to the latter. The first year I net from my chairs and tables two thousand dollars. The Church (Brigham) sends me another invitation to visit it, make a solemn averment of the sum, and pay over to that ecclesiastical edifice, the Herring safe, two hundred dollars. Or suppose I have not sold any of my wares as yet, but have only imported, to be sold by-and-by, five hundred Boston rockers. On learning this fact, the Church (Brigham) graciously accepts fifty for its own purposes. -- Being founded upon a rock, it does not care, in its collective capacity, to sit upon rockers, but has an immense series of warehouses, omnivorous and eupeptic, which swallow all manner of tithes, from grain and horseshoes to the less stable commodities of fresh fish and melons, assimilating them by admirable processes into coin of the realm. These warehouses are in the Church (Brigham’s own private) inclosure. -- If success in my
1864.] Among the Mormons. 487
cabinet-making has moved me to give a feast, and I thereat drink more healths than are consistent with my own, the Church surely knows that fact the very next day; and as Utah recognizes no impunitive "getting drunk in the bosom of one's family," I am again sent for, on this occasion to pay a fine, probably exceeding the expenses of my feast. A second offence is punished with imprison It as well as fine; for no imprisonment avoids fine, -- this comes in every case. The hand of the Church holds the souls of the saints by inevitable purse strings. But I cannot waste time by enumerating the multitudinous lapses and offences which all bring revenue to the Herring-safe.
Over all these matters Brigham has supreme control. His power is the most despotic known to mankind. Here, by the way, is the constitutionally vulnerable point of Mormonism. If fear of establishing a bad precedent hinder the United States at any time from breaking up that nest of all disloyalty, because of its licentious marriage institutions, Utah is still open to grave punishment, and the Administration inflicting it would have duty as well as vested right upon its side, on the ground that it stands pledged to secure to each of the nation's constituent sections a republican form of government, -- something which Utah has never enjoyed any more than Timbuctoo. I once asked Brigham if Dr. Bernhisel would be likely to get to Congress again. "No," he replied, with perfect certainty; "we shall send _____ as our Delegate." (I think he mentioned Colonel Kinney, but do not remember absolutely.) Whoever it was, when the time came, Brigham would send in his name to the "Deseret News," -- whose office, like everything else valuable and powerful, is in his inclosure. It would be printed as a matter of course; a counter-nomination is utterly unheard of; and on election day --- would be Delegate as surely as the sun rose. The mountain-stream that irrigates the city, flowing to all the gardens through open ditches on each side of the street, passes through Brigham's inclosure: if the saints needed drought to humble them, he could set back the waters to their source. The road to the only canyon where firewood is attainable runs through the same close, and is barred by a gate of which he holds the sole key. A family man, wishing to cut fuel, must ask his leave, which is generally granted on condition that every third or fourth load is deposited in the inclosure, for Church-purposes. Thus everything vital, save the air he breathes, reaches the Mormon only through Brigham’s sieve. What more absolute despotism is conceivable? Here lies the pou-sto for the lever of Governmental interference. The mere fact of such power resting in one man's irresponsible hands is a crime against the Constitution. At the same time, this power, wonderful as it may seem, is practically wielded for the common good. I never heard Brigham’s worst enemies accuse him of peculation, though such immense interests are controlled by his one pair of hands. His life is all one great theoretical mistake, yet he makes fewer practical mistakes than any other man, so situated, whom the world ever saw. Those he does snake are not on the side of self. He merges his whole personality in the Church, with a self-abnegation which would establish in business a whole century of martyrs having a worthy cause.
The cut of Brigham's hair led me away from his personal description. To return to it: his eyes are a clear blue-gray, frank and straightforward in their look; his nose a finely chiselled aquiline; his mouth exceedingly firm, and fortified in that expression by a chin almost as protrusive beyond the rest of the profile as Charlotte Cushman's, though less noticeably so, being longer than hers; and he wears a narrow ribbon of brown beard, meeting under the chin. I think I have heard Captain Burton say that he had irregular teeth, which made his smile unpleasant. Since the Captain's visit, our always benevolent President, Mr. Lincoln, has altered all that, sending out as Territorial Secretary a Mr. Fuller,
488 Among the Mormons. [April.
who, besides being a successful politician, was an excellent dentist. He secured Brigham's everlasting gratitude by making him a very handsome false set, and performing the same service for all of his favorite, but edentate wives. Several other apostles of the Lord owe to Mr. Fuller their ability to gnash their teeth against the Gentiles. The result was that be became the most popular Federal officer (who didn't turn Mormon) ever sent to Utah. The man who obtains ascendency over the mouths of the authorities cannot fail ere-long to get their ears.
Brigham's manners astonish any one who knows that his only education was a few quarters of such common-school experience as could be had in Ontario County, Central New York, during the early part of the century. There are few courtlier men living. His address is a fine combination of dignity with the desire to confer happiness, -- of perfect deference to the feelings of others with absolute certainty of himself and his own opinions. He is a remarkable example of the educating influence of tactful perception, combined with entire singleness of aim, considered quite apart from its moral character. His early life was passed among the uncouth and illiterate; his daily associations, since he embraced Mormonism, have been with the least cultivated grades of human society, -- a heterogeneous peasant- horde, looking to him for erection into a nation yet he has so clearly seen what is requisite in the man who would be respected in the Presidency, and has so unreservedly devoted his life to its attainment, that in protracted conversations with him I heard only a single solecism, ("a'n't you" for are n't you,") and saw not one instance of breeding which would be inconsistent with noble lineage.
I say all this good of him frankly, disregarding any slur that may be cast on me as his defender by those broad-effect artists who always paint the Devil black, -- for I think it high time that the Mormon enemies of our American Idea should be plainly understood as far more dangerous antagonists than hypocrites or idiots can ever hope to be. Let us not twice commit the blunder of underrating our foes.
Brigham began our conversation at the theatre by telling me I was late, -- it was after nine o'clock. I replied, that this was the time we usually set about dressing for an evening party in Boston or New York.
"Yes," said he, "you find us an old-fashioned people; we are trying to return to the healthy habits of patriarchal times."
"Need you go back so far as that for your parallel?" suggested I. "It strikes me that we might have found four-o'clock balls among the early Christians."
He smiled, without that offensive affectation of some great men, the air of taking another's joke under their gracious patronage, and went on to remark that there were, unfortunately, multitudinous differences between the Mormons and Americans at the East, besides the hours they kept.
"You find us," said he, "trying to live peaceably. A sojourn with people thus minded must be a great relief to you who come from a land where brother hath lifted hand against brother, and, you hear the confused noise of the warrior perpetually ringing in your ears."
Despite the courtly deference and Scriptural dignity of this speech, I detected in it a latent crow over that "perished Union" which was the favorite theme of every saint I met in Utah, and hastened to assure the President that I had no desire for relief from sympathy with my country's struggle for honor and existence.
"Ah!" he replied, in a voice slightly tinged with sarcasm. "You differ greatly, then, from multitudes of your countrymen, who, since the draft began to be talked of, have passed through Salt Lake, flying westward from the crime of their brothers' blood."
"I do indeed."
"Still, they are excellent men. Brother
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Heber Kimball and myself are every week invited to address a train of them down at Emigrant Square. They are honest, peaceful people. You call them 'Copperheads' I believe. But they are real, true, good men. We find them very truth-seeking, remarkably open to conviction. Many of them have stayed with us. Thus the Lord makes the wrath of man to praise Him. The Abolitionists -- the same people who interfered with our institutions, and drove us out into the wilderness -- interfered with the Southern institutions till they broke up the Union. But it’s all coining out right, -- a great deal better than we could have arranged it for ourselves. The men who flee from Abolitionist oppression come out here to our ark of refuge, and people the asylum of God's chosen. You'll all be out here before long. Your Union's gone forever. Fighting only makes matters worse. When your country has become a desolation, we, the saints whom you east out, will forget all your sins against us, and give you a home."
There was something so preposterous in the idea of a mighty and prosperous people abandoning, through abject terror of a desperate set of Southern conspirators, the fertile soil and grand commercial avenues of the United States, to populate a green strip in the heart of an inaccessible desert, that, until I saw Brigham young's face clowning with what he deemed prophetic enthusiasm, I could not imagine him in earnest. Before I left Utah, I discovered, that, without a single exception, all the saints were inoculated with a prodigious craze, to the effect that the United States was to become a blighted chaos, and its inhabitants Mormon proselytes and citizens of Utah within the next two years, -- the more sanguine said, "next summer."
At first sight, one point puzzled me. Where were they to get the orthodox number of wives or this sudden accession of converts? My gentlemen-readers will feel highly flattered by a solution of this problem which I received from no lesser light of the Latter-Day Church than that jolly apostle, Heber Kimball.
"Why," said the old man, twinkling his little black eyes like a godly Silenus, and nursing one of his fat legs with a lickerish smile, "isn't the Lord Almighty providing for His beloved heritage jist as fast as He anyways kin? This war's a-goin' on till the biggest part o' you male Gentiles hez killed each other off then the leetle handful that 's left and comes a fleein' t' our asylum'll bring all the women o' the nation along with 'em, so we shall hev women enough to give every one on 'em all they want, and hev a large balance left over to distribute round among God’s saints that hez been here from the beginnin' o' the tribulation."
The sweet taste which this diabolical reflection seemed to leave in Heber Kimball's mouth made me long to knock him down worse than I had ever felt regarding either saint or sinner. But it is costly to smite an apostle of the Lord in Salt Lake City; and I merely retaliated by telling him. I wished I could hear him say that in a lecture-room full of Sanitary-Commission ladies scraping lint for their husbands, sweethearts, and brothers in the Union army. I didn't know whether saints made good lint, but I thought I knew one who 'd get scraped a little.
To resume Brigham for the last time. After a conversation about the Indians, in which he denounced the military policy of the Government, averring that one bale of blankets and ten pounds of beads would go farther to protect the mails from stoppage and emigrants from massacre than a regiment of soldiers, he discovered that we crossed swords on every war question, and tactfully changed the subject to the beauty of the Opera-House.
As to the Indians, let me remark by the by, I did not tell him that I understood the reason of his dislike to severe measures in that direction. Infernally bestial and cruel as are the Goshoots, Pi-Uttes, and other Desert tribes, still they have never planned any extensive raid since the Mormons entered Utah. In
490 Among the Mormons. [April.
every settlement of the saints you will find from two to a dozen young men who wear their black hair cut in the Indian fashion, and speak all the surrounding dialects with native fluency. Whenever a fatly provided wagon-train is to be attacked, a flue herd of emigrants' beeves stampeded, the mail to be stopped, or the Gentiles in any way harassed, these desperadoes stain their skin, exchange their clothes for a breech-clout, and rally a horde of the savages, whose favor they have, always propitiated, for the ambush and massacre, which in all but the element of brute force is their work in plan, leadership, and execution. I have multitudes of most interesting facts to back this assertion, but am already in danger of overrunning my allowed limits.
The Opera-House was a subject we could agree upon. I was greatly astonished to find in the desert heart of the continent a place of public amusement which for capacity, beauty, and comfort has no superior in America, except the opera houses of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. It is internally constructed somewhat like the first of these, seats twenty-five hundred people, and commodiously receives five hundred more, when, as in the present instance, the stage is thrown into the parquet, and the latter boarded up to the level of the former for dancing. Externally the building is a plain, but not ungraceful structure, of stone, brick, and stucco. My greatest surprise was excited by the really exquisite artistic beauty of the gilt and painted decorations of the great arch over the stage, the cornices, and the moulding about the proscenium-boxes. President Young, with a proper pride, assured me that every particle of the ornamental work was by indigenous and saintly hands.
But you don't know yet," he added, "how independent we are of you at the East. Where do you think we got that central chandelier, and what d' ye suppose we paid for it?"
It was a piece of workmanship which would have been creditable to any New York firm, -- apparently a richly carved circle, twined with gilt vines, leaves, anti tendrils, blossoming all over with flaming wax- lights, and suspended by a massive chain of golden lustre. So I replied that he probably paid a thousand dollars for it in New York.
"Capital!" exclaimed Brigham. "I made it myself! That circle is a cart-wheel which I washed and gilded; it hangs by a pair of gilt ox-chains; and the ornaments of the candlesticks were all cut after my patterns out of sheet-tin!"
I talked with the President till a party of young girls, who seemed to regard him with idolatry, and whom, in return, he treated with a sage mixture of gallantry and fatherliness, came to him with an invitation to join in some old-fashioned contra-dance long forgotten at the East. I was curious to see how he would acquit himself in this supreme ordeal of dignity; so I descended to the parquet, and was much impressed by the aristocratic grace with which he went through his figures.
After that I excused myself from numerous kind invitations by the ball committee to be introduced to a partner and join in the dances. The fact was that I greatly wished to make a thorough physiognomical study of the ball-room, and I know that my readers will applaud my self-denial in not dancing, since it enables me to tell them how Utah good society looks.
After spending an hour in a circuit and survey of the room as minute as was compatible with decency, I arrived at the following results.
There was very little ostentation in dress at the ball, but there was also very little taste in dressing. Patrician broadcloth and silk were the rare exceptions, generally ill-made and ill-worn, but they cordially associated with the great malls of plebeian tweed and calico. Pew ladies wore jewelry or feathers. There were some pretty girls swimming about in tasteful whip-syllabub of puffed tarlatan. Where saintly gentlemen came with several wives, the oldest generally seemed the most elaborately dressed, and
1864.] Among the Mormons. 491
acted much like an Eastern chaperon toward her younger sisters. (Wives of the same man habitually besister each other in Utah. Another triumph of grace!) Among the men I saw some very strong and capable faces; but the majority had not much character in their looks, -- indeed, differed little in that regard from any average crowd of men anywhere. Among the women, to my surprise, I found no really degraded faces, though many stolid ones, -- only one deeply dejected, (this belonged to the wife of a hitherto monogamic husband, who had left her along in the dress-circle, while he was dancing with a chubby young Mormoness, likely to be added to the family in a month or two,) but many impassive on and though I saw multitudes of kindly, good-tempered countenances, and a score which would have been called pretty anywhere, I was obliged to confess, after a most impartial and anxious search, that I had not met a single woman who looked high-toned, first class, capable of poetic enthusiasm or heroic self-devotion, -- not a single woman whom an artist would dream of and ask to sit for a study, not one to whom a finely constituted intellectual man could come for companionship in his pursuits or sympathy in his yearnings. Because 1 knew that this verdict would be received at the East with a "Just as you might have expected!" I cast aside everything like prejudice, and forgot that I was in Utah, as I threaded the great throng.
I must condense greatly what I have to say about two other typical men besides Brigham Young, or I shall have no room to speak of the Lake and the Desert. Heber Kimball, second President, (proximus longo intervallo!) Brigham's most devoted worshipper, and in all respects the next most important man, although utterly incapable of keeping coherent the vast tissue of discordant Mormon elements, in case he should survive Brigham, is the latter's equal in years, but in all things else his antipodes. His height is over six feet, his form of alder-manic rotundity, his face large, plethoric, and lustrous with the stable red of stewed cranberries, while his small, twinkling black beads of eyes and a Satyric sensualism about the mouth would indicate a temperament fatally in the way apostleship save that of polygamy, even without the aid of an induction from his favorite topics of discourse and his patriarchally unvarnished style of handling them. Men, everywhere, unfortunately, tend little toward the error of bashfulness in their chat among each other, but most of us at the East would feel that we were insulting the lowest member of the demi-monde, if we uttered before her a single sentence of the talk which forms the habitual staple of all Heber Kimball's public sermons to the wives and daughters who throng the Sunday Tabernacle.
Heber, took a vivid interest in Bierstadt's and my own eternal welfare. He quite laid himself out for our conversion, coming to sit with us at breakfast in our Mormon hotel, dressed in a black swallow-tail, buff vest, and a stupendous truncate cone of Leghorn, which made him look like an Italian mountebank-physician of the seventeenth century. I have heard men who could misquote Scripture for their own ends, and talk a long while without saying anything; but he, so far surpassed in these particulars the loftiest efforts within my former experience, that I could think of no comparison for him but Jack Bunsby taken to exhorting. Witness a sample: --
"Seven women shall take a hold o' one man! There!" (with a slap on the back of the nearest subject for conversion). "What d' ye think o' that? Shall! Shall take a hold on him! That don't mean they sha'n't, does it? No! God's word means what it says. And therefore means no otherwise, -- not in no way, shape, nor manner. Not in no way, for He saith, 'I am the way -- and the truth and the life.' Not in no shape, for a man beholdeth his nat'ral shape in a glass; nor in no manner, for he straightway forgetteth what manner o' man he was. Seven women shall catch a hold
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on him. And ef they shall, then they will! For everything shall come to pass, and not one good word shall fall to the ground. You who try to explain away the Scriptur' would make it fig'rative. But don't come to ME with none o' your spiritooalizers! Not one good word shall fall. Therefore seven shall not fall. And of seven shall catch a bold on him, -- and, as I jist proved, seven will catch a hold on him, -- then seven ought, -- and in the Latter-Day Glory, seven, yea, as our Lord said un-tew Peter, 'Verily I say un-tew you, not seven, but seventy times seven,' these seventy times seven shall catch a hold and cleave. Blessed day! For the end shall be even as the beginnin,' and seventy-fold more abundantly. Come over into my garden."
This invitation would wind up the homily. We gladly accepted it and I must confess, that, if there ever could be any hope of our conversion, it was just about the time we stood in Brother Heber's fine orchard, eating apples and apricots between exhortations, and having sound doctrine poked down our throats with gooseberries as big as plums, to take the taste out of our mouths, like jam after castor-oil.
Porter Rockwell is a man whom my readers must have heard of in every account of fearlessly executed massacre committed in Utah during the last thirteen years. He is the chief of the Danites, -- a band of saints who possess the monopoly of vengeance upon Gentiles and apostates. If a Mormon tries to sneak off to California by night, after converting his property into cash, their knives have the inevitable duty of changing his destination to another state, and bringing back his goods into the Lord's treasury. Their bullets are the ones which find their unerring way through the brains of external enemies. They are the heaven-elected assassins of Mormonism, -- the butchers by divine right. Porter Rockwell has slain his forty men. This is historical. His probable private victims amount to as many more. He wears his hair braided behind, and done up in a knot with a back-comb, like a woman's. He has a face full of bull-dog courage, -- but vastly good-natured, and without a bad trait in it. I went out riding with him on the Fourth of July, and enjoyed his society greatly, -- though I knew that at a word from Brigham he would cut my throat in as matter-of-fact a style as if I had been a calf instead of an author, he would have felt no unkindness tow me on that account. I understood his anomaly perfectly, and found him one of the pleasantest murderers I ever met.) He was mere executive force, from which the lever, conscience, had suffered entire disjunction, being in the hand of Brigham. He was everywhere known as the destroying Angel, but he seemed to have little disagreement with his toddy, and took his meals regularly. He has two very comely pleasant wives. Brigham has about seventy, Heber about thirty. The seventy of Brigham do not include those spiritually married, or "sealed" to him, who may never see him again after the ceremony is performed in his back office. These often have temporal husbands, and marry Brigham only for the sake of belonging to his lordly establishment in heaven.
Salt Lake City, Brigham told me, he believed to contain sixteen thousand inhabitants. Its houses are built generally of adobe or wood, -- a few of stone, -- and though none of them are architecturally ambitious, almost all have delightful gardens. Both fruit- and shade-trees are plenty and thrifty. Indeed, from the roof of the Opera-House the city looks fairly embowered in green. It lies very picturesquely on a plain quite embasined among mountains, and the beauty of its appearance is much heightened by the streams which run on both sides or all the broad streets, brought down from the snow-peaks for purposes of irrigation. The Mormons worship at present in a plain, low building, -- I think, of adobe, -- called the Tabernacle, save during the intensely hot weather, when an immense booth of green branches, filled with benches, accommodates them more comfortably.
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Brigham is erecting a Temple of magnificent granite, (much like the Quincy,) about two hundred feet long by one hundred and twenty-five feet wide. If this edifice be ever finished, it will rank among the most capacious religious structures of the continent.
The lake from which the city takes its name is about twenty miles distant from the latter, by a good road across the level valley-bottom. Artistically viewed, it is one of the loveliest sheets of water I ever saw, -- bluer than the intensest blue of the ocean, and practically as impressive, since, looking from the southern shore, you see only a water-horizon. This view, however, is broken by a magnificent mountainous island, rising, I should think, seven or eight hundred feet from the water, half a dozen miles from shore, and apparently as many miles in circuit. The density of the lake-brine has been under- instead of over-stated. I swam out into it for a considerable distance, then lay upon my back on, rather than in, the water, and suffered the breeze to wail me landward again. I was blown to a spot where the lake was only four inches deep, without grazing my back, and did not know I had got within my depth again until I depressed my hand a trifle and touched bottom It is a mistake to call this lake azoic. It has no fish, but breeds myriads of strange little maggots, which presently turn into troublesome gnats. The rocks near the lake are grandly castellated and cavernous crags of limestone, some of it finely crystalline, but most of it like our coarser Trenton and Black-River groups. There is a large cave in this formation, ten minutes' climb from the shore.
I must abruptly leap to the overland stage again.
From Salt Lake City to Washoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the road lies through the most horrible desert conceivable by the mind of man. For the sand of the Sahara we find substituted an impalpable powder of alkali, white as the driven snow, stretching for ninety miles at a time in one uninterrupted dazzling sheet, which supports not even that last obstinate vidette of vegetation, the wild-sage brush. Its springs are far between, and, without a single exception, mere receptacles of a salt, potash, and sulphur hell-broth, which no man would drink, save in extremis. A few days of this beverage within, and of wind-drifted alkali invading every pore of the body without, often serve to cover the, miserable passenger with an eryipelatous eruption which presently becomes confluent and irritates him to madness. Meanwhile he jolts through alkali-ruts; unable to sleep for six days and nights together, until frenzy sets in, or actual delirium conies to his relief. I look back on that desert as the most frightful nightmare of my existence.
As if Nature had not done her worst, we were doomed, on the second day out from Salt Lake, to hear, at one station where we stopped, horrid rumors of Goshoots on the warpath, and, ore the day reached its noon, to find their proofs irrefragable. Every now and then we saw in the potash-dust moccasin-tracks, with the toes turned in, and presently my field-glass revealed a hideous devil skulking in the mile-off ledges, who was none other than a Goshoot spy. How far off were the scalpers and burners?
The first afternoon-stage that day was a long and terrible one. The poor horses could hardly drag our crazy wagon, up to its hubs in potash; and yet we knew our only safety, in case of attack, was a running fight. We must fire from our windows as the horses flew.
About four o'clock we entered a terrible defile, which seemed planned by Nature for treachery and ambush. The great, black, barren rocks of porphyry and trachyte rose three hundred feet above our beads, their lower and nearer ledges being all so many natural parapets to fire over, loop-holed with chinks to fire through. There were ten rifles in our party. We ran them out, five on a side, ready to send the first red villain who peeped over the breastworks to quick
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perdition. Our six shooters lay across our laps, our bowie-knives were at our sides, our cartouch-boxes, crammed with ready vengeance, swung open on our breast-straps. We sat with tight-shut teeth, only muttering now and then to each other, in a glum undertone, "Don't get nervous, -- don't throw a single shot away, -- take aim, remember it’s for home!" Something of that sort, or a silent squeeze of the hand, was all that passed, as we sat with one eye glued to the ledges and our guns unswerving. None of us, I think, were cowards; but the agony of sitting there, tugging along two miles an hour, expecting to hear a volley of yells and musketry ring over the next ledge, drinking the cup of thought to its microscopic dregs, -- that was worse than fear!
Only one consolation was left us. In the middle of the defile stood an overland station, where we were to get fresh. horses. The next stage was twenty miles long. If we were attacked in force, we might manage to run it, almost the whole way, unless the Indians succeeded in shooting one of our team, -- the coup they always attempt.
I have no doubt we were ambushed at several points in that defile, but our perfect preparation intimidated our foes. The Indian is cruel as the grave, but be is an arrant coward. He will not risk being the first man shot, though his hand may overpower the enemy afterward.
At last we turned the corner around which the station-house should come in view.
A thick, nauseous smoke was curling up from the site of the buildings. We came nearer. Barn, stables, station-house, -- all were a smouldering pile of rafters. We came still nearer. The whole stud of horses, -- a dozen or fifteen, -- lay roasting on the embers. We came close to the spot. There, inextricably mixed with the carcasses of the beasts, lay six men, their brains dashed out, their faces mutilated beyond recognition, their limbs hewn off, -- a frightful holocaust steaming up into our faces. I must not dwell on that horror of all senses. It comes me now at high noonday with a grisly shudder.
* * * * * *After that, we toiled on twenty miles farther with our nearly dying horses; a hundred miles more of torturing suspense on top of that sight branded into our brains before we gained Ruby Valley, at the foot of the Humboldt Mountains, and left the last Goshoot behind us.
The remainder of our journey was horrible by Nature only, without the atrocious aid of man. But the past had done its work. We reached Washoe with our very marrows almost burnt out by sleeplessness, sickness, and agony of mind. The morning before we came to the silver-mining metropolis, Virginia City, a stout, young Illinois farmer, whom we had regarded as the stanchest of all our fellow passengers, became delirious, and had to be held in the stage by main force. (A few weeks afterward, when the stage was changing horses near the Sink of Carson, another traveller became suddenly insane, and blew his brains out.) As for myself, the moment that I entered a warm bath, in Virginia City, I swooned entirely away, and was resuscitated with great difficulty after an hour and a half's unconsciousness.
We stopped at Virginia for three days, -- saw the California of '49 reenacted in a feverish, gambling, mining town, -- descended to the bottom of the exhaustlessly rich "Ophir" shaft, -- came up again, and resumed our way across the Sierra. By the mere act of crossing that ridge and stepping over the California line, we came into glorious forests of ever-living green, a rainbow-affluence of flowers, an air like a draught from windows left open in heaven.
Just across the boundary, we sat down on the brink of glorious Lake Tahoe, (once "Bigler," till the ex-Governor of that name became a Copperhead, and the loyal Californians kicked him out of their geography, as he had already been thrust out of their politics,) -- a crystal sheet of water fresh-distilled from the snow-peaks,
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its granite bottom visible at the depth of a hundred feet, its banks a celestial garden, lying in a basin thirty-five miles long by ten wide, and nearly seven thousand feet above the Pacific level. Geography has no superior to this glorious sea, this chalice of divine cloud-wine held sublimely up against the very press whence to was wrung. Here, virtually at the end of our overland journey, since our feet pressed the green borders of the Golden State, we sat down to rest, feeling that one short hour, one little league, had translated us out of the infernal world into heaven.