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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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?