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V I S I T O R,


M O N T H L Y   I N S T R U C T O R.

Vol. ?                                     London, U. K., February, 1841.                                    No. 2. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



No. I.

It is a lamentable fact that a considerable number of the people of this country are now led astray by a sect called Mormonites, or latter-day saints. The seeds of this wretched imposture were imported from America about four years ago. The book from which the deluded derive their name contains more than six hundred pages of closely printed matter. Its title is as follows: -- " The Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jews and Gentiles, written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and revelation." To it is appended the testimony of three witnesses that they "have seen the plates that contain the record;" and know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, and that they "declare that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates and engravings thereon." There is also the testimony of eight witnesses, "that the plates of which Joseph Smith, jun., hath spoken have the appearance of gold."

A correspondent of the "Episcopal Recorder," published in Philadelphia, describes one agent of this superstition as named Harris, and a visit which the writer received from him in Palmyra in 1827. The following is an extract from his statement, which is now given with a view to prepare any of our readers, who have "Mormonites" around them, for the exposure of their error. He says, --

Harris remarked that he reposed great confidence in me as a minister of Jesus Christ, and that what he had now to communicate he wished me to regard as strictly confidential. He said he verily believed that an important epoch had arrived, that a great flood of light

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was about to burst upon the world, and that the scene of Divine manifestation was to be immediately around us. In explanation of what he meant, he then proceeded to remark that a golden Bible had recently been dug from the earth, where it had been deposited for thousands of years, and that this would be found to contain such disclosures as would settle all religious controversies, and speedily bring on the glorious millennium. That this mysterious book, which no human eye of the present generation had yet seen, was in the possession of Joseph Smith, jun., ordinarily known in the neighbourhood under the more familiar designation of Joe Smith; that there had been a revelation made to him by which he had discovered this sacred deposit, and two transparent stones, through which, as a sort of spectacles, he could read the Bible, although the box or ark that contained it, had not yet been opened; and that by looking through those mysterious stones, he had transcribed from one of the leaves of this book, the characters which Harris had so carefully wrapped in the package which he was drawing from his pocket. The whole thing appeared to me so ludicrous and puerile, that I could not refrain from telling Mr. Harris, that I believed it a mere hoax got up to practise upon his credulity, or an artifice to extort from him money; for I had already, in the course of the conversation, learned that he had advanced some twenty-five dollars to Joe Smith as a sort of premium for sharing with him in the glories and profits of this new revelation. For, at this time, his mind seemed to be quite as intent upon the pecuniary advantage that would arise from the possession of the plates of solid gold of which this book was composed, as upon the spiritual light it would diffuse over the world. My intimations to him, in reference to the possible imposition that was being practised upon him, however, were indignantly repelled.

Before I proceed to Martin's narrative, however, I would remark in passing, that Smith, who has since been the chief prophet of the Mormons, and was one of the most prominent ostensible actors in the first scenes of this drama, belonged to a very shiftless family near Palmyra. They lived a sort of vagrant life, and were principally known as money diggers. Joe from a boy appeared dull and utterly destitute of genius; but his father claimed for him a sort of second sight, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hid. Consequently, long before the idea of a golden Bible entered their minds, in their excursions for money digging, which I believe usually occurred in the night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place where they struck upon treasures, Joe was usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig.

According to Martin Harris, it was after one of these night excursions, that Joe, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendour. This Divine messenger assured him, that he, Joseph Smith, was chosen of the Lord to be a prophet of the most high God, and to bring to light hidden things, that would prove of unspeakable benefit to the world. He then disclosed to him the existence of this golden Bible, and the place where it was deposited; but at the same time told him that he must follow implicitly the Divine direction, or he would draw down upon him the wrath of Heaven. This book, which was contained in a chest or ark, and which consisted of metallic plates covered with characters embossed in gold, he must not presume to look into, under three years. He must first go on a journey into Pennsylvania, and there among the mountains, he would meet with a very lovely woman, belonging to a highly respectable and pious family, whom he was to take for his wife. As a proof that he was sent on this mission by Jehovah, as soon as he saw this designated person, he would be smitten with her beauty; and though he was a stranger to her, and she was far above him in the walks of life, she would at once be willing to marry him and go with him to the ends of the earth. After their marriage, he was to return to his former home, and remain quietly there until the birth of his first child. When this child had completed his second year, he might then proceed to the hill beneath which the mysterious chest was deposited, and draw it thence, and publish the truths it contained to the world. Smith awoke

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from his dream, and, according to Harris, started off towards Pennsylvania, not knowing to what point he should go. But the Lord directed him, and gained him favour in the eyes of just such a person as was described to him. He was married, and had returned. His first child had been born, and was now about six months old. But Joe had not been altogether obedient to the heavenly vision. After his marriage and return from Pennsylvania, he became so awfully impressed with the high destiny that awaited him, that he communicated the secret to his father and family. The money-digging propensity of the old man operated so powerfully, that he insisted upon it that they should go and dig and see if the chest was there -- not with any view to remove it till the appointed time, but merely to satisfy themselves. Accordingly, they went forth in the stillness of night with their spades and mattocks to the spot where slumbered this sacred deposit. They had proceeded but a little while in the work of excavation, when the mysterious chest appeared; but lo! instantly it moved and glided along out of their sight. Directed, however, by the clairvoyance of Joe, they again penetrated to the spot where it stood, and succeeded in gaining a partial view of its dimensions. But while they were pressing forward to gaze at it, the thunders of the Almighty shook the spot, and made the earth to tremble; a sheet of vivid lightning swept along over the side of the hill, and burnt terribly around the spot where the excavation was going on, and again with a rumbling noise the chest moved off out of their sight. They were all terrified, and tied towards their home. Joe took his course silently along by himself. On his way homeward, being alone, and in the woods, the angel of the Lord met him clad in terror and wrath. He spoke in a voice of thunder, and forked lightning shot through the trees and ran along upon the ground. The terror of the Divine messenger's appearance instantly struck Smith to the earth, and he felt his whole frame convulsed with agony, as though he was stamped upon by the iron hoofs of death himself. In language most terrific did the angel upbraid bim for his disobedience, and then disappeared. Smith went home trembling and full of terror. Soon, however, his mind became more composed. Another Divine communication was made to him, authorizing him to go alone and bring the chest and deposit it secretly under the hearth of his dwelling, but by no means to attempt to look into it. The reason assigned by the angel for this removal, was, that some report in relation to the place where his sacred book was deposited had gone forth, and there was danger of its being disturbed. According to Harris, Smith now scrupulously followed the Divine directions. He was already in possession of the two transparent stones laid up with the golden Bible, by looking through which he was enabled to read the golden letters on the plates in the box. How he obtained these spectacles without opening the chest, Harris could not tell. But still he had them; and by means of them he could read all the book contained. The book itself was not to be disclosed until Smith's child had attained a certain age. Then it might be published to the world. In the interim, Smith was to prepare the way for the conversion of the world to a new system of faith, by transcribing the characters from the plates and giving translations of the same. This was the substance of Martin Harris's communication to me upon our first interview. He then carefully unfolded a slip of paper, which contained three or four lines of characters, as unlike letters or hieroglyphics of any sort, as well could be produced, were one to shut up his eyes and play off the most antic movements with his pen upon paper. The only thing that bore the slightest resemblance to the letter of any language that I had ever seen, was two upright marks joined by a horizontal line, that might have been taken for the Hebrew character n. My ignorance of the characters in which this pretended ancient record was written, was to Martin Harris new proof that Smith's whole account of the Divine revelation made to him was entirely to be relied on.

The way that Smith made his transcripts and translations for Harris was the following: -- Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith, concealed behind the blanket, pretended to look through his spectacles, or transparent stones, and would then write down or repeat what he saw, which, when repeated aloud, was written down by Harris, who sat on the other side

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of the suspended blanket. Harris was told that it would arouse the most terrible Divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while engaged in the work of deciphering the mysterious characters. This was Harris's own account of the matter to me. What other measures they afterwards took to transcribe or translate from these metallic plates, I cannot say, as I very soon after this removed to another field of labour where I heard no more of this matter till I learned the book of Mormon was about being published. It was not till after the discovery of the manuscript of Spaulding, of which I shall subsequently give some account, that the actors in this imposture thought of calling this pretended revelation the book of Mormon. This book, which professed to be a translation of the golden Bible brought to light by Joseph Smith, was published in 1830, to accomplish which Martin Harris actually mortgaged his farm. We must return to the details of this gross and wicked superstition.

April, 1841.

[ 153 ]

No. II.

We now resume our extracts from the "Episcopal Recorder" of Philadelphia, to expose still further the gross superstition, by which an increasing number of our ignorant countrymen are enthralled, earnestly praying that they may speedily be delivered from the snares of Satan.

In developing the history of this imposture, and showing the several steps by which it has won its way to the regard, and gained the confidence of thousands, it becomes necessary to account for the existence of what is denominated the book of Mormon, a volume containing five hundred and eighty-eight duodecimo pages, consisting of fifteen different books, purporting to be written at different times, and by different authors, whose names they respectively bear. The period of time which these historical records profess to cover, is about a thousand years, commencing with the time of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and terminating with the year of our Lord 420.

This volume has exerted a most important influence in giving some plausibility to the claims set up by the originators of the Mormon imposture. I am quite confident there never would have been any permanent converts to Mormonism, had not this volume been ushered into existence. The story of the golden Bible, like a thousand previous and no less marvellous tales told by Joe Smith, would have long since sunk into oblivion but for the publication of this book. The origin of this volume, how it came into being, is a grave question. It is quite certain, that neither Joe Smith nor Martin Harris had intelligence or literary qualification adequate to the production of a work of this sort. Who then was its author? The Mormons say that it is a revelation from God. They claim for it a Divine character. They say that the successive narratives spread upon the pages of this volume, are the identical records engraven upon the metallic plates to which we have already referred, and which, like the leaves of a book, were deposited in a box, and hid in the earth; that the writing on these plates was in the reformed Egyptian language; that Joseph Smith was directed by an angel to the spot where this sacred deposit lay, and subsequently inspired to interpret the writing, by putting two smooth flat stones, which he found in the box, into a hat, and then putting his face therein. This is the claim set up for the book of Mormon, and which has seduced many unstable souls.

Had the originator of this fabulous history, called the book of Mormon, kept entirely behind the scenes up to the present period, and had there been no clue by which the authorship of this figment of the imagination could be traced, it would still have been abundantly evident to every intelligent person, that it was the product of some shrewd and designing mind, who calculated to find his advantage in gulling the credulous and superstitious. The people of Palmyra, at the commencement of the printing of this book, only laughed at the ridiculousness of the thing, and wondered at the credulity of Harris. As the publication progressed, and the contents of the book began to be known, the conviction became general that there was an actor behind the scene, moving the machinery, of far higher intellectual qualification than Smith or Harris. Suspicion, in some degree, rested upon a man by the name of Cowdery, who had been a school teacher, if I mistake not, and was now known to be in some way connected with Smith in preparing this volume for the press.

I will here insert a document which I have in my hands, and which may tend to throw some light upon the origin and authorship of the book of Mormon, which I found in a little work, entitled "Religious Creeds and Statistics." The author gives a brief sketch of Mormonism, and among other things inserts a letter or statement written by Isaac Hale, the father-in-law of Joe Smith, giving some account of his first acquaintance with him. While at Palmyra, I met with a respectable clergyman of the Episcopal Church, who had formerly belonged to the Methodist connexion, that was acquainted with Mr. Hale. He represented him as a distinguished hunter, living near the Great Bend in Pennsylvania. He was professedly a religious man and a very zealous member of the Methodist Church. The letter to which I have i referred, is accompanied with a statement, declaring that Mr. Hale resides

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in Harmony, Penn.; appended to the letter also is Mr. Hale's affirmation or affidavit of the truth of the statement there made, taken before Charles Dimon, justice of the peace; and there is also subjoined the certificate of William Thompson and Davis Dimock, associate judges of the Court of Common Pleas in the county of Susquehanna, declaring that "they have for many years been personally acquainted with Isaac Hale of Harmony Township, who has attested the foregoing statement, or letter, and that he is a man of excellent moral character, and of undoubted veracity."

The letter or statement above referred to, is as follows: --
I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, jun., in November 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see, by means of a stone placed in his hat, a'nd his hat closed over his face. In this way, he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time was that of a careless young man, not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father. Smith and his father, with several other money diggers, boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the money diggers great encouragement at first; but when they had arrived, in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found, he said the enchantment was so powerful, that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed.

After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to marry my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave him my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve. He then left the place. Not long after this, he returned; and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent. After they had arrived at Palmyra, New York, Emma wrote to me, inquiring whether she could have her property, consisting of clothing, etc. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In a short time, they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersol, and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and reside upon a place near my residence.

Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called ''glass looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them. I was shown a box, in which it is said they were contained, which had, to all appearance, been used as a glass box, of the common sized window glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box; into which, however, I was not allowed to look. I inquired of Joseph Smith, jun., who was to be the first that would be allowed to see the book of plates. He said it was a young child.

After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him, that if there was any thing in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not, I was determined to see it. After that, the plates were said to be hid in the woods.

About this time, Martin Harris made his appearance upon the stage; and Smith began to interpret the characters or hieroglyphics, which he said were engraven upon the plates, while Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said that Harris wrote down one hundred and sixteen pages, and lost them. Soon after this happened, Martin Harris informed me that he must have a greater witness, and said that he had talked with Joseph about it; Joseph informed him that he could not or durst not show him the plates, but that he (Joseph) would go into the woods where the book of plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me afterwards, that he followed Smith's directions, and could not find the plates, and was still dissatisfied.

The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith, jun.

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lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were -- "My servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given to him." There was also something said about "three that were to see the thing," (meaning, I supposed, the book of plates;) and that, "if the three did not go exactly according to orders, the thing would be taken from them." I inquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former,) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the book of plates was at the same time hid in the woods!

After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted, as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowdery whose name may be found in the book of Mormon. Cowdery continued a scribe for Smith, until the book of Mormon was completed, as I supposed, and understood.

Joseph Smith, jun. resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates. And I conscientiously believe, from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole book of Mormon, (so called,) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary, and in order that its fabricators might live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the deception. -- ISAAC HALE.
I shall have occasion hereafter to refer to the loss of the one hundred and sixteen pages spoken of by Harris, and to the manner in which they were lost; as this fact will not only tend to illustrate Harris's character, but to throw some farther light upon the sinuous track which was pursued to palm off the book of Mormon as a Divine revelation. Whether Smith and Cowdery were acting alone at the time referred to by Mr. Hale, or were then deriving their illumination from Rigdon, I have no means of determining. It is highly probable, however, that they then had access to a copy of the manuscript written by Mr. Spaulding, of which we shall soon speak, and this copy was undoubtedly obtained through the agency of Rigdon. The true authorship of what constitutes the basis of the book of Mormon, unquestionably belongs to Mr. Spaulding. I do not, however, believe that the book of Mormon is an exact copy of Mr. Spaulding's "Historical Romance," as Mrs. Davidson very properly denominates it. No intelligent or well-educated man would have been guilty of so many anachronisms and gross grammatical errors as characterize every part of the book of Mormon. While Mr. Spaulding's Historical Romance is unquestionably the groundwork of this volume, the christianized character of the work, the hortatory clauses about salvation through the blood of Christ, and the adaptation of the whole to meet the peculiar religious views of Martin Harris, and to tally with the pretended discovery of Joe Smith, are evidently parts of the work added to Mr. Spaulding's manuscript. In farther corroboration of this idea, I will just advert to two facts. First, in this record, some portions of which were professedly written six hundred years before the appearance of our Saviour, the various dramatis personal seem as familiar with the events of the New Testament, and all the doctrines of the gospel, as any preacher of the present day. Now no intelligent and well educated man would be guilty of such a solecism as that of putting into the mouth of a Jew, who lived four hundred years before the birth of Christ, a flippant discourse about things, as though they were then familiarly known, when they did not occur till some five hundred years afterwards. Hence I infer that these parts were added to the original document of Mr. Spaulding, by Joe Smith, Cowdery, Rigdon, or some of the fraternity. Another reason, leading me to the opinion that considerable alterations were made in the document referred to, stands in connexion with the fact to which I have already adverted --

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the loss of the one hundred and sixteen pages, which were never replaced. These pages were lost in the following way. Harris brought home the manuscript pages, and locked them up in his house, thinking them quite safe. But his wife, who was not then, nor ever afterwards became a convert to Mormonism, took the opportunity, when he was out, to seize the manuscript, and put it into the hands of one of her neighbours for safer keeping. When the manuscript was discovered to be missing, suspicion immediately fastened upon Mrs. Harris: she, however, refused to give any information in relation to the matter, but simply replied: "If this be a Divine communication, the same being who revealed it to you can easily replace it." Mrs. H. believed the whole thing to be a gross deception, and she had formed a plan to expose the deception in the following manner. Taking it for granted that they would attempt to reproduce the part she had concealed, and that they could not possibly do it verbatim, she intended to keep the manuscript until the book was published, and then put these one hundred and sixteen pages into the hands of some one who would publish them, and show how they varied from those published in the book of Mormon. But she had to deal with persons standing behind the scene, and moving the machinery that were too wily thus to be caught. Harris was indignant at his wife beyond measure; he raved most violently, and it is said actually beat Mrs. H. with a rod; but she remained firm, and would not give up the manuscript. The authors of this imposture did not dare to attempt to reproduce this part of the work; but Joe Smith immediately had a revelation about it, which is inserted in the preface of the Book of Mormon as follows: "As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me and also the work, I would inform you, that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plate of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again; and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold, ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work: yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil."

This was the expedient to which they resorted in order to avoid replacing the lost pages. Had those pages, however, been transcribed verbatim from Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, they would undoubtedly have reproduced them, and urged the fact of their being able to do so, as a still further proof of their Divine inspiration. But on the supposition that there was considerable new matter mingled up with Mr. Spaulding's sketches, it would be impossible for them to produce the one hundred and sixteen pages, just as they were before, and they would therefore naturally devise some expedient to relieve themselves from the necessity of reproducing those pages. In all probability, Cowdery, and Smith, and Rigdon, had all more or less to do in combining these additional parts with Mr. Spaulding's work.

June, 1841.

[ 237 ]

No. III.

We now conclude our quotations relating to a system of deception, so gross that its success may well excite surprise as well as lamentation. The origin of the work of Mr. Spaulding, says the writer referred to in former numbers, and which unquestionably forms the entire groundwork of the book of Mormon, is thus described by Mrs. Davidson, formerly the wife of Mr. Spaulding. This statement of Mrs. Davidson was published some time last winter in the "Boston Recorder," to the editors of which it was sent by the Rev. John Storrs, the Congregational minister in Hollistown, accompanied with a certificate from two highly respectable clergymen, the Rev. Mr. Austin and the Rev. A. Ely, D.D., residing in Monson, Mass., the present place of residence of Mrs. Davidson, stating that 'Mrs. Davidson, the narrator of the following history, was formerly the wife of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, and that since his decease she had been married to a second husband by the name of Davidson, and that she was a woman of irreproachable character, and a humble Christian, and that her testimony was worthy of implicit confidence.
"As the 'book of Mormon,' or 'golden Bible,' has excited much attention, and has been put by a certain new sect in the place of the sacred Scriptures, I deem it a duty which I owe to the public, to state what I know touching its origin. That its claims to a Divine origin are wholly unfounded, needs no proof to a mind unperverted by the grossest delusions. That any sane person should rank it higher than any other merely human composition, is a matter of the greatest astonishment; yet it is received as Divine by some who dwell in enlightened New England, and even by those who have sustained the character of devoted Christians. Learning recently that Mormonism had found its way into a church in Massachusetts, and has impregnated some with its gross delusions, so that excommunication has been necessary, I am determined to delay no longer in doing what I can to strip the mask from this mother of sin, and to lay open this pit of abominations.

"Rev. Solomon Spaulding, to whom I was united in marriage in early life, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was distinguished for a lively imagination and a great fondness for history. At the time of our marriage, he resided in Cherry Valley, New York. From this place, we removed to New Salem, Ashtabula county, Ohio, sometimes called Conneaut, as it is situated on Conneaut Creek. Shortly after our removal to this place, his health sunk, and he was laid aside from active labours. In the town of New Salem, there are numerous mounds and forts, supposed by many to be the dilapidated dwellings and fortifications of a race now extinct. These ancient relics arrest the attention of the new settlers, and become objects of research for the curious. Numerous implements were found, and other articles evincing great skill in the arts. Mr. Spaulding being an educated man, and passionately fond of history, took a lively interest in these developments of antiquity; and in order to beguile the hours of retirement, and furnish employment for his lively imagination, he conceived the idea of giving an historical sketch of this long lost race. Their extreme antiquity of course would lead him to write in the most ancient style, and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book in the world, he imitated its style as nearly as possible. His sole object in writing this historical romance was to amuse himself and his neighbours. This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same time, and I recollect the date well from that circumstance. As he progressed in his narrative, the neighbours would come in from time to time to hear portions read, and a great interest in the work was excited amongst them. It claimed to have been written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the earth, and assumed the title of 'Manuscript Found.' The neighbours would often inquire how Mr. Spaulding progressed in deciphering the manuscript; and when he had a sufficient portion prepared, he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear it read. He was enabled from his acquaintance with the classics and ancient history, to introduce many singular names, which were particularly noticed by the people, and could be easily recognized by them. Mr. Solomon Spaulding had a brother, Mr. John Spaulding,

238                             MODERN  SUPERSTITION -- THE  MORMONITES.                            

residing in the place at the time, who was perfectly familiar with this work and repeatedly heard the whole of it read.

"From New Salem we removed to Pittsburgh, Pa. Here Mr. S. found an acquaintance and friend, in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. P. who was very much pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it a long time and informed Mr. S. that if he would make out a title page and preface, he would publish it and it might be a source of profit. This Mr. S. refused to do for reasons which I cannot now state. -- Sidney Rigdon, who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons, was at this time connected with the printing office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated. Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and to copy it if he chose. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all who were connected with the printing establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to its author, and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington county, Pa., where Mr. S. deceased in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands and was carefully preserved. It has frequently been examined by my daughter, Mrs. McKenstry, of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends. -- After the "Book of Mormon" came out, a copy of it was taken to New Salem, the place of Mr. Spaulding's former residence and the very place where the "Manuscript Found" was written. A woman preacher appointed a meeting there, and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the "Book of Mormon." The historical part was immediately recognized by all the older inhabitants, as the identical work of Mr. S., in which they had been so deeply interested years before. Mr. John Spaulding was present, who is an eminently pious man, and recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted, that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he arose on the spot, and expressed to the meeting his deep sorrow and regret, that the writings of his sainted brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem became so great, that the inhabitants had a meeting and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlbut, one of their number to repair to this place and to obtain from me the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding, for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible, to satisfy their own minds, and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive. This was in the year 1834. Dr. Hurlbut brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript, signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright and others, with all whom I was acquainted, as they were my neighbors when I resided in New Salem. I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has been made of his work. The air of antiquity which was thrown about the composition, doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to the purposes of delusion. Thus an historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred Scriptures, has been construed into a new Bible and palmed off upon a company of poor deluded fanatics, as divine. I have given the previous brief narration, that this work of deep deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation, and its author exposed to the contempt and execration he so justly deserves. MATILDA DAVISON."

The whole mystery of the origin of this book seems to be cleared up by this statement, and I have seen no attempt made to gainsay or deny its truth. The farther, however, Martin Harris went into this delusion, the more he seemed to become infatuated. He had already embarked a large portion of his property in bringing out the publication of the book of Mormon, and though many things had occurred that we should think would have convinced any rational man that he had been made the subject of a deep laid scheme of deception, he still seems to have shut his eyes and gone on in the dark. As I have already mentioned, at first Martin Harris was assured that the golden plates on which this record was engraven, would be his, and that it would be perfectly lawful to subject them to public inspection; but as the managers of this

                            MODERN  SUPERSTITION -- THE  MORMONITES.                             239

imposture proceeded, they found it necessary to advance with more caution, lest they should put into the hands of others the very elements which would contribute to their own utter explosion. Hence it was revealed to Joe Smith, that he would be authorized to show them only to three individuals who should assist in bringing forward this work. This was a lure to secure the continued co-operation of Harris. To convince Harris that he would be highly privileged, it was foretold in the book of Ether, written by Moroni (book of Mormon, p. 548) that he that should find the plates should have the privilege of showing them to three persons.

To know how much the testimony of the persons appealed to is worth, I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity, told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly, -- "Did you see those plates?" Harris replied, he did. "Did you see the plates and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?" Harris replied, "Yes, I saw them with my eyes, they were shown unto me by the power of God, and not of man." "But did you see them with your natural, your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil case in my hand? Now say No or Yes to this." Harris replied, "Why I did not see them as I do that pencil case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me, though at the time they were covered over with a cloth."

Statements like these require no comment. We shall be happy if the circulation we give them should assist our friends, who have dupes of this wretched delusion around them, in its exposure.

Littell's Living Age
(Boston & NYC: E. Littell)

  • 1846: Aug. 22
      "The Mormon Camp"

  • 1847: July 17
      "The Mormon Battalion"

  • 1847: Dec. 4
      "A Mormon Conventicle"

  • 1848: Jan. 1
      "The Mormon Colony"

  • 1848: March 4
      "Fugutive Mormons"

  • 1849: Nov. 3
      "From Great Salt Lake"   Transcriber's Comments


    More Mormonism articles in The Living Age:1850s articles

    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 119. - 22 Aug, 1846.

    [p. 386]


    THE Hancock Eagle of the 10th July notices the arrival there of' Mr. S. Chamberlain, who left the most distant camp of the Mormons at Council Bluffs on the 26th ultimo, and on his route passed the whole line of Mormon emigrants. He says that the advance company of the Mormons, with whom were the Twelve, had a train of one thousand wagons, and were encamped on the east bank of the Missouri river, in the neighborhood of the Council Bluffs. They were employed in the construction of boats for the purpose of crossing the river.

    The second company had encamped temporarily at station No. 2, which has been christened Mount Pisgah. They mustered about three thousand strong, and were recruiting their cattle preparatory to a fresh start. A third company had halted for a similar purpose at Garden Grove, on the head waters of Grand River, where they have put in about two thousand acres of corn for the benefit of the people in general. Between Garden Grove and the Mississippi river Mr. Chamberlain counted over one thousand wagons en route to join the main bodies in advance.

    The whole number of teams attached to the Mormon expedition is about three thousand seven hundred, and it is estimated that each team will average at least three persons, and perhaps four. The whole number of souls now on the road may be set down in round numbers at twelve thousand. From two to three thousand have disappeared from Nauvoo in various directions. Many have left for Council Bluffs by the way of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers; others have dispersed to parts unknown; and about eight hundred or less still remain in Illinois. This comprises the entire Mormon population that once flourished in Hancock county. In their palmy days they probably numbered between fifteen and sixteen thousand souls, most of whom are now scattered upon the prairies, bound for the Pacific slope of the American continent.

    Mr. Chamberlain reports that previously to his leaving, four United States military officers had arrived at the Mount Pisgah camp, for the purpose of enlisting five hundred Mormons for the Santa Fe campaign. They were referred to head-quarters at Council Bluffs, for which place they immediately set out. It was supposed that the force would be enrolled without delay. If so, it will furnish Col. Kearney with a regiment of well-disciplined soldiers, who are already prepared to march. Mr. Chamberlain represents the health of the traveling Mormons as good, considering the exposure to which they have been subjected. They are carrying on a small trade in provisions with the settlers in the country, with whom they mingle on the most friendly terms.


    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 166. - 17 July, 1847.

    [p. 136]


    WE have not yet had a detailed account of the march of Col. Cook, and his command, to California, and the following letter, from an officer in the pay department, now with the battalion, will be found very interesting. -- St. Louis Reveille.

    Feb. 1, 1847.        

    DEAR BROTHER: I wrote you last from a point on the Rio Grande, about two hundred and fifty miles south of Santa Fe, designated on Mitchell's map Fra Cristobal. About forty miles south of this place, we left the river, and directed our course toward the setting sun. As we rose upon the most prominent point of our course in the neighborhood of the river, we saw spreading from our feet an extended plain, and on the remote horizon, chains of blue mountains lifting formidable barriers to our further march.

    The battalion had been reduced, the day previous, to half rations. Knapsacks, containing a scanty supply of clothing and bedding, were secured to their shoulders, and in addition, heavy muskets, with the usual accompaniment of bayonets, cartridge-boxes, belts, &c., constituted the equipments for this arduous undertaking.

    Our animals were hardly fit for service; many of them had been taken out of the harness about ten days before, after crossing the prairies and plains from Fort Leavenworth. The provision wagons were heavy and unwieldy, too many in proportion to the animals, yet insufficient for the amount of provisions called for, even at the "half ration rate."

    Thus was commenced our march through a wilderness, known only to the wandering tribes of the Sierra de Acha, or the daring and adventurous pioneers of Sonora; and thus commenced a scene of privation and hardships, that, I am persuaded, remains without a parallel.

    I saw athletic and vigorous men reduced, by thirst and fatigue, to the imbecility of children; their bodies attenuated and feeble; their faces bloated: their eyes sunken; their feet lacerated and bruised; mechanically moving forward, without a murmur, and without an object; the latter having been lost sight of in the gloomy contemplation of their present helpless condition.

    I remember, on one occasion, after having marched two days without water, while leisurely riding about a mile in the rear of the troops, to have espied, a short distance in advance, a soldier of the battalion. My attention was not attracted by his slow and uneasy step, for it was a time of general suffering, and such a thing was to be looked for; but when, in passing, he turned upon me his ghastly visage, I involuntarily checked my mule, shuddering at this horrid picture of human misery. I was about to pass him, but my heart reproved me, and I offered him my mule. The poor fellow lifted his eyes to mine, and dropped them as suddenly; he was a Mormon and had been unused to favors. He made no further reply, but continued on his weary tramp, apparently careless whether each succeeding step was leading him to destruction or safety.

    But the old proverb, that all things must have a termination, was realized in the case of our sufferings; and we. may date that happy period at our arrival in the valley of San Barnadin, although we afterwards had many long marches without water, before reaching our ultimate destination.

    San Barnadin is the name of what once was an extensive "ranch," embracing several leagues of land and stocked with seventy or eighty thousand cattle.

    The owners of this ranch paid an annual stipend, in cattle, to the tribe of Apaches, in whose territory it was situated; but they shared the common fate of all ranches attempted to be established in this part of Sonora. A want of punctuality in furnishing the stipulated supplies afforded to the Indians, who were desirous of such an excuse, an opportunity for making themselves masters of the herd. Such of the Mexicans as were fortunate enough to escape the merciless scalping knife made their way into the garrison towns of the frontier, preferring poverty and peace to fortune and the midnight serenade of the Apache bands.

    This valley of San Barnadin is about thirty miles in width, and blocked in on either side by ridges of lofty mountains.

    When we arrived at this place, and the broad plain of waving grass, watered by refreshing streams and dotted with numerous herds of wild cattle, opened before us, man and beast in that weary and dispirited company, by words and looks, acknowledged the auspicious prospect; it promised a prodigal abundance and a welcome rest.

    We remained in the valley several days, recruiting our animals and providing ourselves with meat. During our stay we were attended by deputations from the neighboring tribe, and entered into terms of amity with them. When they learned the object of our march and the great number of our warriors, they appeared much rejoiced and expressed a hope that we would take many scalps. These Indians are expert horsemen and well skilled in the use of the lance, which together with the bow and arrow constitutes their only implement of war.

    At the valley of San Barnadin, and for twelve days after leaving it, we had an abundant supply of fine fresh beef.

    A few dilapidated houses and the immense herds, now scattered over an area of more than two hundred square miles, are all that remain of the once rich San Barnadin. Killing these wild animals afforded us an amusement at once exciting and dangerous, and in the pursuit of this sport, several men were severely wounded and five mules killed. It becomes a matter of remark that these "horned heroes" of San Barnadin made a more formidable resistance to our march through their territory that did the soldiers of Sonora, who had at stake their" altars and their homes."


    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 186. - 4 Dec., 1847.

    [p. 461]



    PASSING up Merrimack-street, the other day, my attention was arrested by a loud earnest voice, apparently engaged in preaching, or rather "holding forth," in the second story of the building opposite. I was in the mood to welcome anything of a novel character, and following the sound, I passed up a flight of steps leading to a long, narrow and somewhat shabby room, dignified by the appellation of Classic hall.

    Seating myself, I looked about me. There were from fifty to one hundred persons in the audience, in which nearly all classes of this heterogeneous community seemed pretty fairly represented, all listening with more or less attention to the speaker.

    He was a young man with dark enthusiastic complexion, black eyes and hair; with his collar thrown hack, and his coat cuffs turned over, revealing a somewhat undue quantity of" fine linen," bending over his coarse board pulpit, and gesticulating with the vehemence of Hamlet's player, "tearing his passion to rags." A band of mourning crape, fluttering with the spasmodic action of his left arm, and an allusion to "our late beloved brother JOSEPH SMITH," sufficiently indicated the sect of the speaker. He was a Mormon -- a saint of the latter days.

    His theme was the power of faith. Although evidently unlearned and innocent enough of dealing in such "abominable matters as a verb or a noun, which no Christian ear can endure," to have satisfied Jack Cade himself, there was a straight-forward vehemence and intense earnestness in his manner, which at once disarmed my criticism. He spoke of Adam, in Paradise, as the lord of this lower world -- "For," said he, "water couldn't drown him, fire couldn't burn him, cold couldn't freeze him -- nothing could harm him, for he had all the elements under his feet. And what, my hearers, was the secret of this power? His faith in God: that was it. Well, the devil wanted this power. He behaved in a mean, ungentlemanly way, and deceived Eve, and lied to her, he did. And so Adam lost his faith. And all this power over the elements that Adam had, the devil got, and has it now. He is the prince and power of the air, consequently, he is master of the elements and lord of this world. He has filled it with unbelief, and robbed man of his birthright, and will do so until the hour of the power of darkness is ended, and the mighty angel comes down with the chain in his hand to bind the old serpent and dragon."

    Another speaker, a stout black-browed "son of thunder," gave an interesting account of his experience. He had been one of the apostles of the Mormon Evangel, and had visited Europe. He went in faith. He had "but three cents in his pocket" when he reached England. He went to the high professors of all sects, and they would not receive him; they pronounced him "damned already." He was reduced to great poverty and hunger: alone in a strange land; with no one to bid him welcome. He was on the very verge of starvation. "Then," said he, "I knelt down and I prayed in earnest faith, 'Lord, give me this day my daily bread.' O, I tell ye, I prayed with a good appetite; and I rose up, and was moved to go to a house at hand. I knocked at the door, and when the owner came, I said to him, 'I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, from America. I am starving -- will you give me some food?' 'Why, bless you, yes,' said the man, 'sit down and eat as much as you please.' And I did sit down at his table, blessed be God: but my hearers, he was not a professor; he was not a Christian, but one of Robert Owen's infidels. The Lord reward him for his kindness."

    In listening to these modern prophets, I discovered, as I think, the great secret of their success in making converts. They speak to a common feeling; they minister to a universal want. They contrast strongly the miraculous power of the gospel in the apostolic time with the present state of our nominal Christianity. They ask for the signs of divine power; the faith, overcoming all things., which opened the prison doors of the apostles, gave them power over the elements, which rebuked disease and death itself, and made visible to all the presence of the living God. They ask for any declaration in the Scriptures that this miraculous power of faith was to be confined to the first confessors of Christianity. They speak a language of hope and promise to weak, weary hearts, tossed and troubled, who have wandered from sect to sect, seeking in vain for the primal manifestations of the divine power.

    In speaking of Mormonism as a delusion, I refer more particularly to the apocryphal book of Mormon. That the great majority of the "Latter Day Saints" are honest and sincere fanatics, I have no reason to doubt. They have made great sacrifices and endured severe and protracted persecution for their faith. The reports circulated against them by their unprincipled enemies in the west are in the main destitute of foundation. I place no dependence upon charges made against them by the ruffian mob of the Mississippi valley, and the reckless slave-drivers, who, at the point of the bayonet and bowie-knife, expelled them from Missouri, and signalized their Christian crusade against unbelievers by murdering old men, and violating their innocent wives and daughters. It is natural that the wrong-doers should hate those whom they have so foully injured.

    The Prophet himself, the master-spirit of this extraordinary religious movement is no more. He died by the hands of wicked and barbarous men, a martyr -- unwilling doubtless, but still a martyr -- of his faith. For after all, Joe Smith could not have been wholly insincere. Or, if so in the outset, it is more than probable that his extraordinary success, his wonderful power over the minds of men caused him to seem a miracle and a marvel to himself; and, like Mohammed and Napoleon, to consider himself a chosen instrument of the eternal power.

    462                            A  MORMON  CONVENTICLE..                           

    In the "Narrative of an Eye-witness of the Mormon Massacre," published in a Western paper, I was a good deal impressed by the writer's account of the departure of the prophet from "the holy city" to deliver himself up to the state authorities at Warsaw. It was well understood, that in so doing, he was about to subject himself to extreme hazard. The whole country round about was swarming with armed men, eager to imbrue their hands in his blood. The city was in a fearful state of alarm and excitement. The great Nauvoo legion, with its two thousand strong of armed fanatics, was drawn up in the principal square. A word from the prophet would have converted that dark silent mass into desperate and unsparing defenders of their leader, and the holy places of their faith. Mounted on his favorite black horse, he rode through the glittering files, and with words of cheer and encouragement, exhorted them to obey the laws of the state, and give their enemies no excuse for persecution and outrage. "Well," said he, as he left them, "they are good boys, if I never see them again." Taking leave of his family, and his more intimate friends, he turned his horse, and rode up in front of the great temple, as if to take a final look at the proudest trophy of his power. After contemplating it for a while in silence, he put spurs to his horse, in company with his brother, who, it will be recollected, shared his fate in the prison, dashed away towards Warsaw, and the prairie horizon shut down between him and the city of the saints for the last time.

    Once in the world's history we were to have a Yankee prophet, and we have had him in Joe Smith. For good or for evil, he has left his track on the great pathway of life; or, to use the words of Home, "knocked out for himself a window in the wall of the nineteenth century," whence his rude, bold, good-humored face will peer out upon the generations to come. But the prophet has not trusted his fame merely to the keeping of the spiritual. He has incorporated himself with the enduring stone of the great Nauvoo temple, which, when completed, will be the most splendid and imposing architectural monument in the new world. With its huge walls of hewn stone -- its thirty gigantic pillars, loftier than those of Baalbec -- their massive caps carved into the likeness of enormous human faces, themselves resting upon crescent moons, with a giant profile of a face within the curve -- it stands upon the highest elevation of the most beautiful city site of the west, overlooking the "Father of Waters;" -- a temple unique and wonderful as the faith of its builder, embodying in its singular and mysterious architecture, the Titan idea of the Pyramids, and the solemn and awe-inspiring thought which speaks from the Gothic piles of the middle ages. -- Howitt's Journal.


    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 190. - 1 Jan., 1848.

    [p. 29]


    THE St. Louis Republican of the 1st, contains some information concerning the progress of the Mormon colony which is to be located at the "Great Salt Lake City" in California, derived from a Mr. Little who has just arrived from that place, which he left in August. The Republican says: --

    We learn from him that the country selected for the habitation of the Mormons is about twenty miles east from the Great Salt Lake. In company with others, he explored the valley, and he represents that they found a range of some eighty miles in length, and perhaps ten to twenty miles in width. The preparations for the reception of the advancing company of Mormons, were not, we should infer, very extensive. A field of about one hundred acres ground had been planted with corn, potatoes, turnips, and other edibles, but as the rain seldom fell there, they had to resort to the uncertain and laborious process of irrigation. They had engaged in the erection of a stockade, to protect the colony from the attacks of the Indians, covering some ten acres of ground, within which from a hundred and sixty to two hundred dwellings were to he erected. Some parts of the valley have a very fertile appearance, but others, again, are exceedingly poor, and cannot he made to produce anything.

    On his return route, Mr. Little, who holds, we believe, some high office in the Mormon church, met the Mormon emigrants in detached parties. He does not speak very flatteringly of their condition, though with some sanguine hopes, they were still moving on to their destination. Many of the heads of the families were, it will he remembered, taken to fill up the California battalion and are still in California, and the women and children were left to get along as they best could. In many cases, little boys were found driving the teams, barefoot, and the advanced parties were reduced to some extremity for the want of food. Two hundred of the oxen used in their teams had died after leaving Independence Rock. from eating some poisonous substance and exhaustion, and they were compelled to get along by using cows in their stead. All were, it is feared, stinted for provisions, and even after their arrival, unless game could be procured by their hunters, there is room to apprehend suffering from starvation -- Mr. Little representing, at the same time, that in and around the Salt Lake valley, very little game was to be found. On the whole, we are fearful that most distressing accounts will be received from this people, by the first arrivals next spring.

    The following order, illustrating some of the difficulties which the California Battalion had to encounter, has been placed at our disposal: --

                           "HEADQUARTERS MORMON BATTALION,
                            Mission of San Diego, 30th January, 1847.

    "ORDER No. 1.
    "The lieut. colonel commanding, congratulates the battalion on their safe arrival on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and the conclusion of its march of over two thousand miles. History may he searched in vain for an equal march of infantry; nine tenths of it has been through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found; or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living creature.

    30                             THE  MORMON  COLONY..                            

    There, with almost hopeless labor, we have dug deep wells, which the future traveller will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them, we have ventured into trackless prairies, where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pickaxe in hand, we have worked our way over mountains, which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat; and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rock, more narrow than our wagons. To bring these first wagons to the Pacific, we have preserved the strength of the mules, by herding them over large tracts which you have laboriously guarded, without loss.

    "The garrisons of four Presidios of Sonora, concentrated within the walls of Tucson, gave us no pause; we drove them out with their artillery; but our intercourse with the citizens was not marked by a single act of injustice. Thus marching, half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country.

    "Arrived at the first settlement of California, after a single day's rest, you cheerfully turned off from the route to this point of promised repose, to enter upon a campaign, and meet, as we believed, the approach of the enemy; and this, too, without even salt to season your sole subsistence of fresh meat.

    "Lieuts. A. J. Smith and Geo. Stoneman, of the 1st dragoons, have shared and given valuable aid in all these labors.

    "Thus, volunteers, you have exhibited some high and essential qualities of veterans. But much remains undone; soon you will turn your strict attention to the drill, to system and order, to forms also, which are all necessary to the 'soldier.

        "By order of Lt. Col. P. ST. GEO. COOKE.     "[Signed] P. C. MERRIEL, Adjutant."


    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 199. - 4 March, 1848.

    [p. 470]


    [A letter to Josiah Quincy, Esq., Mayor of Boston, from
    Col. Thomas L. Kane, of Philadelphia, dated 14 Feb. 1848.]

    IN our conversation, I had the pleasure of giving to you in full the views I derived from personal observation and experience with regard to the Mormons, during my recent journey to the far west. I mentioned to you what I saw of their highly upright and excellent moral character while in the Indian territory, and stated my often repeated opinion of the gratuitous injustice of their persecution. If I judge rightly, however, what is desired in my present letter is a simple, uncolored narrative, for the consideration of the charitable rather then the curious, of the position, numbers and condition of the chief sufferers of the sect. To this I will confine myself, as closely as I can, in the limited amount of time at my disposal.

    Emigrating Mormons, to the number of nearly 20,000, are to be found west of the Missouri, from the country of the Platte, belonging to the Omaha and Otto Indians, to that beyond the notable Bear River Valley across the Rocky Mountains; but the condition of the majority of these persons, though undoubtedly forlorn, does not invite philanthropic investigation, since they are generally beyond the reach of timely help. The Mormons who can be counted as appealing to the immediate generosity of your townspeople, are certain stragglers in the rear of the main body in march, and whose camps are on this, the eastern side of the Missouri river, or immediately along its course. Of such the unhappy destitution is very great. It is, in part, the issue of circumstances in which their history differs from that of the emigrants further advanced; and which I think I cannot do better than detail.

    They composed, originally, the refuse, lame, aged, sick, and pauper members of the church, who were found unable to attempt the great California pilgrimage of 1846. On this account, their friends who started at that date concluded, it seems, an especial treaty or armistice, for their benefit, with the anti-Mormon mob, and left them behind in Illinois under its protection. This treaty covenanted, with the most solemn formalities, that they were in no wise to be molested until another asylum could be prepared for their reception beyond the Rocky Mountains. Just so soon, however, as the Mormon host had made a progress of some months upon its travels, and could safely be considered out of the way, the instrument -- oaths, seals, and ribbons -- was broken by the anti-Mormons without ceremony or excuse, and the cripples who relied upon it, were ordered to take up their beds and walk. Upon this, the helpless beings, driven to desperation, made a remarkably resolute defence of their Holy City, which, being hardly more than a large hospital of incurables, could meritoriously have claimed of any other barbarians its privilege of sanctuary. It was bombarded, however, by an overwhelming force, and notwithstanding the beleaguered for two days supposed, as I am informed, they were replying to the fire upon them with three guns of their own of large muzzle they had forged out of a broken steamboat shaft; at last, after losing some of their soundest men in fight, they were glad to flee forth with their lives, that is to say, with little or nothing else.

    I saw most of these poor folks while they were yet on the right bank of the Mississippi, opposite Nauvoo. It was just after the cannonade, and I think they had been there a matter of two or three days. Some of them had fled over before the assault to escape the balls that battered in their houses; the remainder had waited till ousted by direct force of arms.

    Few had food enough to satisfy their hunger. Exposure and fatigue had combined to visit many of the nominally robust of them with the ague, and the bilious remittent fever, known as favorite

                          FUGUTIVE,  PERISHING  MORMONS..                       471

    indulgences of the system in the western country; but, sick and well, conscientious yellow souls, they all lay down alike among the reeds and spatter-docks of the low river shore; the favored ones huddled together under tattered sheets, counterpanes or bed-spreads stretched gypsy-tent-wise over a tripod of sticks; others lodging outside of these shelters, and going to sleep with their pinched faces to the sky. I have not the satisfaction of a doubt that among those I looked upon thus shivering in the sharp night of autumn, many whom the screening of a roof might have saved, died looking across the stream upon their comfortable homes, in which the orthodox bullies of the mob were celebrating their triumph in obscene and drunken riot.

    At the epoch of which I speak, they were bent on moving westward to overtake, as they hoped, the rearguard of their column in the advances, but were pitiably unprovided with adequate means for doing so. One had a cow, may be, which he could yoke to the crazy cart of his fellow. Another, by disclosing to the cupidity of the Iowa squatters his possession of his watch or other paltry treasure he had secreted, was able to hire a lift in a farm wagon. Several, they were few, appeared to own among them a mixed horse and ox team; the rest had no other means of transportation than their own bodily frames, though it may be observed that, by a natural Providence to whose effect I have already adverted, these were nearly everything they had to carry.

    Thus jury rigged, unprovisioned, and almost unclothed, they started on their voyage -- an overland voyage that they intended to measure over one fourth the diameter of the world. It is little wonder then, that, being unsuccessful in overtaking their brethren, they have since literally fallen by the wayside in the wilderness, and there having eaten up the beasts of burden that helped them along so far upon their weary stage, now find themselves equally unable to push forward or to return. At sundry crossing places of the larger streams that have impeded their progress, in wooded clefts and sheltered copses of the prairie, in abandoned Indian villages -- wherever, in short, they have found life most easily sustained, or as some of them have said, and as their fate has proved in many instances, death most easily borne, they have halted and gone to work to strive to keep body and soul together till relief, either in the way of alms or of a propitious decease, should coma up and overtake them. With the aid of a quantity of Indian corn and garden roots they have raised for food, and of great fires of cottonwood brush -- these as a substitute for sufficient shelter and clothing -- many lived through the last winter, and so many will doubtless survive this one, though it presses upon the whole people with cold and famine in its train. But the return of spring is to bring them no better fortunes. The emaciated and pining survivors, if unaided by us, must still continue to be without the power of replenishing their stock of necessaries, or of changing their place to go to seek it; while it should be noted that their general health is already so impaired that they are becoming with every day less capable of vigorous effort for their own assistance.

    I have limited my remarks to apply to individuals, concerning whose plight I am possessed of accurate information. I ought to add that there are still others whose numbers would with difficulty be correctly ascertained. Somewhere beyond the head waters of the Des Moines, and on the tributaries of the upper Missouri from the Nishnabotna to L'Eau qui Coule river, say from 800 to 1100 miles above St. Louis, there are, I suppose, some 3000 other dejected human beings, who are probably without any means to wave in our eyes their signals of distress. Yet many of these, I know, are dying of chill and hunger, without metaphor or exaggeration. They are dying while we are talking about them.


    LITTELL'S  LIVING  AGE. - No. 285. - 3 Nov., 1849.

    [p. 215]

                                      Correspondence of the Tribune.


                     Great Salt Lake City, July 8, 1849.

    PERHAPS a few lines from a stranger in this strange land, and among a still more strange people, will be judged sufficiently interesting to find a place in your columns.

    The company of gold-diggers which I have the honor to command, arrived here on the 3d inst., and judge our feelings when, after some twelve hundred miles of travel through an uncultivated desert, and the last one hundred miles of the distance through and among lofty mountains and narrow and difficult ravines, we found ourselves suddenly and almost unexpectedly in a comparative Paradise.

    We descended the last mountain by a passage excessively steep and abrupt, and continued our gradual descent through a narrow canon for five or six miles, when, suddenly emerging from the pass, an extensive and cultivated valley opened before us, at the same instant that we caught a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake, which lay expanded before us, to the westward, at the distance of some twenty miles.

    Descending the table-land which bordered the valley, extensive herds of cattle, horses, and sheep were grazing in every direction, reminding us of that home and civilization from which we had so widely departed -- for as yet the fields and houses were in the distance. Passing over some miles of pasture-land, we at length found ourselves in a broad and fenced street, extending westward in a straight line for several miles. Houses of wood or sun-dried brick were thickly clustered in the vale before us, some thousands in number, and occupying a spot about as large as the city of New

    216                     FROM,  THE  GREAT  SALT  LAKE...                    

    York. They were mostly small, one story high, and, perhaps, not more than one occupying an acre of land. The whole space for miles, excepting the streets and houses, was in a high state of cultivation. Fields of yellow wheat stood waiting for the harvest, and Indian corn, potatoes, oats, flax, and all kinds of garden vegetables, were growing in profusion, and seemed about in the same state of forwardness as in the same latitude in the States.

    At first sight of all these signs of cultivation in the wilderness we were transported with wonder and pleasure. Some wept, some gave three cheers, some laughed, and some ran and fairly danced for joy, while all felt inexpressibly happy to find themselves once more amid scenes which mark the progress of advancing civilization. We passed on amid scenes like these, expecting every moment to come to some commercial centre, some business point in this Great Metropolis of the Mountains; but we were disappointed. No hotel, sign-post, cake and beer shop, barber-pole, market-house, grocery, provision, dry goods or hardware store distinguished one part of the town from another, not even a bakery or mechanic's sign was anywhere discernible.

    Here, then, was something new; an entire people reduced to a level, and all living by their labor -- all cultivating the earth, or following some branch of physical industry. At first I thought it was an experiment -- an order of things established purposely to carry out the principles of Socialism," or "Mormonism." In short, I thought it very much like Owenism personified. However, on inquiry, I found that a combination of seemingly unavoidable circumstances had produced this singular state of affairs. There were no hotels, because there had been no travel; no barbers' shops, because every one chose to shave himself, and no one had time to shave his neighbor; no stores, because they had no goods to sell nor time to traffic; no centre of business, because all were too busy to make a centre.

    There was an abundance of mechanic shops, of dress-makers, milliners, and tailors, etc. -- but they needed no sign, nor had they time to paint or erect one, for they were crowded with business. Beside their several trades, all must cultivate the land or die; for the country was new, and no cultivation but their own within a thousand miles. Every one had his lot, and built on it; every one cultivated it, and perhaps a small farm in the distance.

    And the strangest of all was that this great city, extending over several square miles, had been erected, and every house and fence made, within nine or ten months of the time of our arrival -- while at the same time good bridges were erected over the principal streams, and the country settlements extended nearly 100 miles up and down the Valley.

    This territory, state, or, as some term it, "Mormon Empire," may justly be considered one of the greatest prodigies of the age, and, in comparison with its age, the most gigantic of all republics in existence -- being only in its second year since the first seed of cultivation was planted, or the first civilized habitation commenced. If these people were such thieves and robbers as their enemies represented them in the States, I must think they have greatly reformed in point of industry since coming to the mountains.

    I this day attended worship with them -- in the open air. Some thousands of well-dressed, intelligent-looking people assembled; some on foot, some in carriages, and on horseback. Many were neatly and even fashionably clad. The beauty and neatness of the ladies reminded me of some of our best congregations in New York. They had a choir of both sexes, who performed extremely well, accompanied by a band who played well on almost every instrument of modern invention. Peals of the most sweet, sacred, and solemn music filled the air, after which a solemn prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Grant, of Philadelphia. Then followed various business advertisements, read by the clerk. Among these I remember a Call of the Seventeenth Ward, by its presiding bishop, to some business meeting -- a Call for a Meeting of the 32d Quorum of the Seventy, and a Meeting of the Officers of the 2d Cohort of the Military Legion, &c. &c.

    After this came a lengthy discourse from Mr. Brigham Young, president of the society -- partaking somewhat of politics, much of religion and philosophy, and a little on the subject of gold -- showing the wealth, strength, and glory of England, growing out of her coal mines, iron, and industry -- and the weakness, corruption, and degradation of Spanish America, Spain, etc., growing out of her gold, silver, etc., and her idle habits.

    Every one seemed interested and pleased with his remarks, and all appeared to be contented to stay at home and pursue a persevering industry, although mountains of gold were near them. The able speaker painted in lively colors the ruin which would be brought upon the United States by gold, and boldly predicted that they would be overthrown because they had killed the prophets, stoned and rejected those who were sent to call them to repentance, and, finally, plundered and driven the Church of the Saints from their midst, and burned and desolated the city and temple. He said God had a reckoning with that people, and gold would be the instrument of their overthrow. The constitutions and laws were good, in fact the best in the world, but the administrators were corrupt, and the laws and constitutions were not carried out. Therefore, they must fall. He further observed, that the people here would petition to be organized into a territory under that same government -- notwithstanding its abuses -- and that if granted they would stand by the constitution and laws of the United States; while at the same time he denounced their corruption and abuses.

    But, said the speaker, we ask no odds of them, whether they grant us our petition or not! We never will ask any odds of a nation who has driven

                        FROM,  THE  GREAT  SALT  LAKE...                     217

    us from our homes. If they grant us our rights, well -- if not, well; they can do no more than they have done. They, and ourselves, and all men, are in the hands of the great God, who will govern all things for good, and all will be right and work together for good to them that serve God.

    Such, in part, was the discourse to which we listened in the strongholds of the mountains. The Mormons are not dead, nor is their spirit broken. And, if I mistake not, there is a noble, daring, stern, and democratic spirit swelling in their bosoms, which will people these mountains with a race of independent men, and influence the destiny of our country and the world for a hundred generations. In their religion they seem charitable, devoted, and sincere -- in their politics, bold, daring, and determined -- in their domestic circle, quiet, affectionate, and happy -- while in industry, skill, and intelligence, they have few equals, and no superiors, on the earth.

    I had many strange feelings while contemplating this new civilization, growing up so suddenly in the wilderness. I almost wished I could awake from my golden dream, and find it but a dream; while I pursued my domestic duties as quiet, as happy, and contented as this strange people.

                                      Sunday, P. M.

    Since writing the foregoing, I have obtained a copy of one of the Mormon songs, which impressed me deeply this morning, being sung to a lively tune, accompanied by the band.

    Lo, the Gentile chain is broken!
      Freedom's banner waves on high;
    List! ye nations: by this token,
      Know that your redemption's nigh!

    See, on yonder distant mountain,
      Zion's standard wide unfurled;
    Far above Missouri's fountain --
      Lo, it waves for all the world!

    Freedom, peace, and full salvation,
      Are the blessings guaranteed;
    Liberty to every nation,
      Every sect, and every creed.

    Come! ye Christian sects, and Pagan,
      Pope, and Protestant, and priest;
    Worshippers of God and Dagan --
      Come ye to fair Freedom's feast.

    Come! ye sons of doubt and wonder,
      Indian, Moslem, Greek, or Jew --
    All your shackles burst asunder;
      Freedom's banner waves for you.

    Cease to butcher one another,
      Join the Covenant of Peace
    Be to all a friend and brother --
      This will bring the world's release.

    Lo! our King, the great Messiah,
      Prince of Peace, shall come to reign;
    Sound again, ye Heavenly Choir:
      Peace on earth, good will to men."

    Please excuse these hasty and imperfect lines, written while seated on a trunk of goods, with the paper spread in the sun on a parcel of clothing, and the wind blowing sufficiently to carry away the sheets before they are signed.

                                    A STRANGER IN QUEST OF GOLD.


    Museum of Foreign Literature
    (Philadelphia: E. Littell & Co.)

  • 1841: May-Aug (NS. Vol. XIV)
      "Book of Mormon and the Mormonites"

  •    The article is reprinted from the Athenaeum,
       a popular British periodical of the 1840s. The
       1843 article in Dublin University Magazine also
       copied from the piece in the Athenaeum.


    NS. Vol. XIV.                   Philadelphia: E. Littell & Co.,  July, 1841.                  Whole No. 42.

    [pg. 370]
                                                  From the Athenaeum.



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

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

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

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

    HERE is a bitter satire on the much talked of "march of mind," and the self-laudation of "this nineteenth century!" Here is a pretended revelation, so absurd, so puerile, that it would seem unlikely to impede on the most ignorant and uncivilized, which has found thousands of followers in England -- has been adopted by a party sufficiently numerous and wealthy to support a monthly periodical called the Millenial Star -- and has so far advanced in organisation as to possess synodical conferences, local councils, and a general assembly!

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

    We have nothing to do with the religious tenets of the Mormonites; it is enough to say that they are nearly identical with those of the German Anabaptists in the days of Luther, and that there are grounds for suspecting the coincidences to have been intentional; but the audacious forgery before us belongs to literary history, and, if for no better reason than its novelty, deserves to be investigated: indeed, in boldness of assertion and nullity of evidence, it is without a parallel in the annals of imposture. We shall first state the account which the Mormonites themselves give of their pretended revelation, and then from external and internal evidence show what was the origin of the forgery, and some of the circumstances which have contributed to give it currency both in America and in England.

    Joseph Smith, jun., the apostle of the Mormonites, declares that reflecting upon the many hundred denominations into which the Christian world is divided, he went into a grove, at a short distance from his father's house, and there besought Divine aid to show him which of all the rival claimants was the true Church. "While thus pouring out his soul," says the narrative published by the Mormonite church, "anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner." Into this cloud of glory Smith, says the narrative, was received, and he met within it two angelic personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features; they informed him that all his sins were forgiven, that all the religious denominations then existing were believing in erroneous doctrines, and consequently, "that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom." At the same time he received a promise, "that the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time be made known to him."

    It is worth pausing to observe the similarity between this story and the account Mahommed gave of the first revelation he received; the coming of the angel Gabriel to his cave; the purification from original sin, and the promise of a future revelation to be given when he made the night-journey to heaven.

    Joseph Smith, like Mahommed according to some traditions, did not pay much attention to the first revelation; but a second was vouchsafed to him in his bed-room, on the night of the 21st of September, 1823. A single personage appeared by his bedside, and notwithstanding the brightness of the light which previously illuminated the room, "there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenance was as lightning, yet, it was of a pleasing, innocent, and glorious appearance; so much so, that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul. The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men of this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam." This celestial being informed Smith that the American Indians were "a remnant of Israel," who had anciently prophets and inspired writers amongst them, and that some of their records, "by commandment of God, to one of the last of the prophets" had been deposited in a safe and sacred place, to keep them from the hands of the wicked who sought to destroy them.

    The third revelation, which was vouchsafed on the following morning, informed Joseph Smith of the place where these relics were deposited; it was "in a large hill in the east side of the mail-road from Palmyra, Wayne county, to Canandaigua, Ontario


                                        THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.                                     371

    county, state of New York, about four miles from Palmyra, and within one of the little village of Manchester." Here Joseph Smith found a square stone chest, containing plates like gold, "about seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite so thick as common tin." The Devil made his appearance while the box was being opened, but the purpose for which he came is not explained in the narrative.

    The angel did not allow Smith to take these golden plates until he had been instructed in the Egyptian language, for it was in "the modern Egyptian" characters and language that these plates were graven. On the 22d of September, 1827, the angel delivered the record to Joseph Smith, Jun., and in the course of the following year he transcribed his translation of "the unsealed" portion of the records, under the name of 'The Book of Mormon,' which, as the narrative with truth declares, "contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament." The work was, however, not published until the year 1830, and on the 6th of April, in that year, the Mormonites formed themselves into a sect, under the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" -- that is, about the time that the Unknown Tongues began to make a noise in England. The first burst of this enthusiasm was terrific; in the words of the narrative, "Devils were cast out, and the sick were healed by the prayer of faith and laying on of hands." An impostor named Matthews, or as he called himself, Matthias, proclaimed himself the Supreme Being, and might have become the head of the sect, had not the death of one of his votaries under suspicious circumstances placed him as a criminal at the bar of justice, where his cowardice and his stupidity united to disenchant the female portion of his flock, which was both the larger and the more lucrative to the impostor. The disclosures made at the trial, of the influence of this man, were scarcely credible.

    The Book of Mormon, included in a substantial structure of 634 pages, consists of two histories or romances very inartfully connected. The history of the Nephites, a portion of the tribe of Joseph, occupies the first portion. They are described as having emigrated from Jerusalem under the guidance of the prophet Nephi, and having been miraculously led to America, where they became the progenitors of the Indian race. Many years after their settlement they are supposed to discover the records of the Jaredites, an extinct nation, which came to America about the time of the building of Babel. The specimens we shall extract from this strange production will both serve as examples of its style, and also help us to trace the origin of the forgery. We shall first extract a portion of the vision of Nephi, in which he was foreshown the discovery of America by Europeans.

    "And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me saying, look! And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms. And the angel saith unto me, what beholdest thou? And I said I behold many nations and kingdoms, and he saith unto me, these are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.

    "And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles, the foundation of a great church. And the angel said unto me, Behold the foundation of a church, which is most abominable above all churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil, that he was the foundation of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church: and also for the praise of the world, do they destroy the Saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.

    "And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And it came to pass that the angel said unto me, behold, the wrath of God is upon the seed of my brethren! And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, which were in the promised land.

    "And it came to pass that I beheld the spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

    "And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles, upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles, and they were smitten. And I beheld the spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles; that they did prosper, and obtain the land of their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceeding fair and beautiful, like unto my people, before they were slain.

    The allusion to the Church of Rome in this part of the vision is so obvious a manifestation of forgery, that it may appear strange how an impostor could have been guilty of such a blunder; but from 1825 to 1832 there was a strong current of popular prejudice against the Roman Catholics in the state of New York, which was considerably strengthened by the publication of Maria Monk's pretended confession; some converts and chapels were destroyed by fanatical mobs, and these circumstances, no doubt, induced the author to court popular prejudice, to which, when at its full height, in America, no appeal can be too gross.

    A still more palpable blunder occurs in a subsequent page. After the emigrants have sailed, they are described as mutinying against Nephi, as the Spanish crews did against Columbus, but they released him when a tempest came on, as he was the only person capable of working the ship. He is then represented as saying:

    "And it came to pass that after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after that I had prayed, the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."


    372                                     THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.                                    

    The impostor was not aware that he was antedating the discovery of the needle's polarity by several centuries, and he speaks of the compass in such a way as to show that he was utterly ignorant of the nature of the implement. A Mormonite elder has unwittingly explained the probable source of this error; when pressed with this palpable mark of forgery, he unhesitatingly replied that the compass was mentioned in Scripture, quoting from the account of St. Paul's voyage, "We fetched a compass, (that is, took a circuitous course) and came to Rhegium." It would be fortunate if the misapprehensions of the sacred text, by such ignorant readers, were confined to a blunder so innocent as this whole whimsical misapprehension.

    The history of the settlements of the emigrants in North and South America contains some romantic and some very puerile incidents; but passing these by, we turn to the prophecies of Nephi, to show how cunningly they are framed to support the imposture. The prophet is represented as predicting not merely the long concealment and future discovery of the sacred books or plates, but also that the language in which they were written should be unintelligible to the learned, and should be interpreted by one whose only learning was derived from inspiration:

    " But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book, take these words which are not sealed, and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying, read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, bring hither the book, and I will read them: and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain, will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof, to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned, shall say, I am not learned; then shall the Lord say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. Touch not the things which sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men, that I am able to do mine own work."

    In a similar strain the prophet enters into an anticipatory argument with those who shall declare the Bible is the sole revelation of the Deity:

    "Thou fool, that shall say a bible, we have got a bible, and we need no more bible. Have ye obtained a bible, save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember they which are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many, that I am the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be, until the end of man; neither from that time henceforth and forever."

    The history of the pretended Israelites is continued in the books of Enos, Jarom, Zeniff, &c., and through them all, we find one signal proof not merely of imposture, but of the ignorance of the impostor, repeated with singular pertinacity. Every successive prophet predicts to the Nephites the future coming of Christ; the writer has fallen into the vulgar error of mistaking an epithet for a name; the word "Christ," as all educated persons know, is not a name, but a Greek title of office, signifying "The Anointed," being in fact a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah; it is true that in modern times, and by a corruption which is now become inveterate, the term is used by western Christians, as if it were a proper name, or at least an untranslatable designation, but this is a modern error, and it has been avoided by most of the oriental churches. Now, the use of a Greek term, at an age when the Greek language was unformed, and by a people with whom it was impossible for Greeks to have intercourse, and moreover, whose native language was of such peculiar construction as not to be susceptible of foreign admixture, is a mark of forgery so obvious and decisive that it ought long since to have exposed the delusion. Unhappily, however, we are forced to conclude from the pamphlets before us, that the American Methodists, who first undertook to expose the Mormonites, were scarcely less ignorant than themselves.

    A second Nephi takes up the history at a period contemporary with the events recorded in the New Testament. It avers that our Lord exhibited himself to the Nephites after his resurrection, and the words attributed to him bear still more conclusive evidence of the ignorance of the impostors:

    "Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the Sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."

    In addition to the former blunder respecting the name "Christ," we have the name "Jesus" in its Greek form, and not as the Hebrews would have called it, "Joshua;" but we have furthermore the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet given as a metaphorical description of continued existence to a nation that had never heard of the


                                        THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.                                     373

    Greek language. It is quite clear that the writer mistook Alpha and Omega for some sacred and mystical sounds, to which particular sanctity was attached, -- a blunder by no means confined to the Mormonites, -- and wrote them down without perceiving that they were an evidence of forgery, so palpable as to be manifest to school-boys.

    The change of colour in the descendants of the emigrants is stated to have been a punishment for their sins, and the final sealing up of the sacred records before the arrival of the Europeans is attributed to the increasing wickedness of the people. The rules, principally relating to the necessity of total immersion in the sacrament of baptism.

    Enough has now been said to show the nature and character of this extraordinary forgery. Had the success of the imposture been confined to America, we might have noticed its history briefly, as a strange example of the aberrations of the human mind; but it is making rapid progress in England, particularly in the manufacturing districts; and it is also spreading in Wales. Furthermore, its contents are not made from the lowest ranks; those sought and obtained by the Mormonite apostles are mechanics and tradesmen who have saved a little money, who are remarkable for their moral character, but who are exposed to delusion from having, as Archbishop Sharpe expressed it, "studied the Bible with an ill-balanced mind." We feel it therefore a duty to expose the origin of the imposture and to give some particulars respecting its authors, which we trust will be of service in preventing the spread of the delusion.

    From the testimony of eighty different persons residing in Wayne and Ontario counties, New York, it appears that Joseph Smith, junior, was originally a "Money-digger." It is a common belief in America that large sums of money were buried in the earth by the buccaneers, and by persons compelled to fly from their homes during the Revolutionary war. Of this belief many impostors have taken advantage, declaring that they can discover the treasure by spells and incantations. The success with which Smith practiced these arts, pointed him out as a fit associate to Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery, who had by accident become possessed of the manuscripts which were made the foundation of the 'Book of Mormon.' It is of some importance to observe that there were two sets of impostors, originally distinct, -- the pretended discovery of the metallic plates, devised by Smith and Martin Harris, and the pretended translation of these plates, published as the 'Book of Mormon,' which appears to have been suggested by Sidney Rigdon.

    Smith, Harris, and some others, were known as the "Gold Bible Company," before the pretended discovery of the plates, and for some time after that event seem to have had no notion of founding a new religion. In the authentication of the pretended discovery, signed by seven witnesses only, which Smith published, the witnesses only testify, "We have seen and hefted (lifted), and know of a surety that the said Smith hath got the plates of which we have spoken." Hence the original fraud appears to have been a scheme of pretended treasures and forged antiquities.

    We shall soon see how this fraud was connected with the 'Book of Mormon.' A clergyman named Solomon Spaulding left the ministry and entered into business in Cherry Vale, New York, where he failed in the year 1809. The discoveries of the antiquities of the "Mounds" occurred about the same time; and when he removed after his failure into the state of Ohio, he found much curiosity excited by these relics of extinct civilization.

    Long previous it had been a popular theory with certain speculative writers, that the aboriginal Americans were the descendants of the Ten Tribes; indeed the theory has still many advocates in the United States. Spaulding hoped by combining this theory with recent discoveries to produce a novel, the sale of which would enable him to pay his debts. He resolved to call it 'Manuscript Found,' and to present it to the world as an historical record of the first inhabitants of America. As he was a vain man, he frequently read portions of the work to his friends and neighbors. His brother, his partner, his wife, and six of his friends testify. "That they well remember many of the names and incidents mentioned in Spaulding's manuscript, and that they know them to be the same as those found in the 'Book of Mormon.'"

    The manuscript was prepared for press, and in 1812 Spaulding took it to a printer named Lambdin, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: before any arrangements could be concluded, the author died; and as the MS. was of great extent, Lambdin was unwilling to risk his money on the speculation. He lent the MS. to Sidney Rigdon, who, on the death of Lambdin in 1826, joined with Smith in palming it on the world as a new revelation. The worthy associates re-wrote and greatly altered the work; their additions to it can indeed be often traced by the clumsiness with which they are introduced, and among these additions we find prominent the promise, that the New Jerusalem should be founded in America, the command that the saints should have a community of goods, and the rule, that all admitted into the body should receive baptism by total immersion.

    The history of the fraud is a proper introduction to the purposes for which it was designed. In addition to the 'Book of Mormon' the impostors have produced another work, called 'The Book of Doctrines and Covenants,' which they allow to be seen only by the initiated, and to be put into the hands only of those on whom they can depend. No copy of this work is to be procured in England, but we have been able to obtain some extracts taken by gentlemen in America. In this work the demand for money meets us everywhere. The following language is put into the mouth of the Supreme Being: --

    "Let all the monies which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive.... Let all those who have not families, who receive money, send it up unto the bishop in Zion, or unto the bishop in Ohio, that it may be consecrated for the bringing forth of the revelations, and the printing thereof, and for establishing Zion." sec. 17. "He that sendeth up treasures unto the land of Zion shall receive an inheritance in this world. And his work shall follow him. And also a reward in the world to come.... It is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, jun., should have a house built in which to live and translate. And again it is meet that my servent, Sidney Rigdon, should live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments," sec. 64.

    The following reveals some particulars respecting Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the supernatural origin of the 'Book of Mormon:' --

    "Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God, for my servant Oliver Cowdery's sake. It is not wisdom in me that he should be intrusted with the commandments and the monies, which he shall carry up unto the land of Zion, except one go with him who is true and faithful. Wherefore I, the Lord, willeth that my servant John Whitmer shall go with my servant Oliver Cowdery," sec. 44.

    In August 1831, the Mormonites, or "Latter-day saints," commenced their settlements in Missouri. In about two years their numbers had considerably increased, when the other inhabitants of the State took up arms against them, and a sanguinary civil war raged for nearly five years. We have no inclination to enter into the details of the lawless outrages committed on both sides, or the frightful picture they give of American life in the frontier provinces. It will be sufficient to say that true bills for murder were found against the Mormonite leaders, and that many of them contrived to escape from prison. Among the fugitives we find the names of several of the Mormonites in England, particularly Parley P. Pratt, the editor of the Millenial Star at Manchester. In the Mormonite appeal it is recorded:

    "A bill was found against Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, and Luman Gibbs for murder, and also a man by the name of King Follett for robbery.... In the evening when the jailer brought in their suppers, they walked out at the door: that is, Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, and King Follett; Luman Gibbs continued; the others were closely pursued and Follett was retaken and carried back; but the other two effected their escape to the State of Illinois."

    Since their expulsion from Missouri, the Mormonites have settled in Illinois, and founded three towns, the chief of which they call Nauvoo -- a name from which they have the hardihood to assert is derived from the Hebrew, and signifies Beautiful. They have sent missionaries into various parts of England to collect recruits; the deluded victims are persuaded to deposit their little stocks in the treasury of the sect, and are then sent over to the settlements on the Mississippi. They have been most successful in Preston, from whence no less than forty-four respectable persons, respectable at least in their class, have emigrated to the Mormonite colony within the last three weeks. This success may, in some degree, be attributed to the art by which the Mormonite leaders have connected themselves with the Temperance movement, In the 80th section of the 'Book of Doctrine,' the Temperance rules are strongly enjoined on the Mormonites, and hence they can present themselves to zealots in the cause as the only sect in which total abstinence is a matter of religious obligation. We find also that they are endeavouring to gain the Irvingites and Campbellites; for in a communication from Clithero it is stated, -- "As soon as the converts were baptized and confirmed, they spoke with unknown tongues." The last reports of the Mormonite Elders boast of increasing success, particularly in Staffordshire, Herefordshire, and Wales; and we have reason to fear that the boast is not wholly destitute of foundation.

    Before closing this statement it is necessary to say a few words respecting the Mormonite hymns, for which they make a claim to divine inspiration, and which have really proved very efficient agents in their success. Greater balderdash than these productions can scarcely be conceived; they are devoid of grammar, sense, or rhyme; and yet they are compared by the deluded Mormonites to the Psalms of David. One specimen will suffice. It forms part of a contrast between the first and second advent of the Messiah: --

    The first was persecuted
      And into Egypt fled, --
    A pilgrim and a stranger
      Not where to lay his head.

    The second at his temple
      Will suddenly appear,
    And all his saints come with him
      To reign a thousand year.

    The first a man of sorrows
      Rejected by his own;
    And Israel left in blindness
      To wander forth forlorn.

    The second brings deliverance,
      They crown him as their king,
    The own him as their Saviour
      And join his praise to sing.

    Human patience can copy no more. Before concluding, however, we must call the attention of those who are engaged in resisting the progress of this heresy, to plain internal evidences of forgery which we have shown in the 'Book of Mormon.' The imposture is artfully framed to catch those who are familiar with the language and style of our authorised version, but know nothing of the original; we see that its authors have adopted the most vulgar errors, but we may also see that they would not have adopted them. had not such errors been common. A very little general instruction would have saved most of the victims of this delusion; and assuredly nothing but a vast extent of popular ignorance can account for a success of such an imposture here, at the time when it had notoriously begun to fail in America.


    Vol. I.                                           Columbia, S.C., April, 1842.                                           No. 2. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

       [ 398 ]

    Art. V. -- Mormonism Exposed: being a Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Latter Day Saints. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1841.
    We take the occasion presented by the appearance of this work, to proclaim open war against imposture in every shape, -- in literature, in art, in science, in politics, and in morals. It does positively seem that human gullibility, like a lover's appetite,' grows with what it feeds on,' until all healthy taste is extinguished, and nothing left in its place, but never-ceasing, gnawing hunger after imposition. From trifles, it has gradually assumed a controlling influence over the graver and more important matters of social and political government. Common sense and common judgment, frightened by the noise and clamor of king humbug and his train, hide their diminished heads, and are no more allowed a place in the counsels which direct men's actions. He is the general idol. We run after him, we bow down before him, we worship him. We ask of him concerning our business, -- our moral and social duties; we invoke his aid in the education of our children; we conjure his presence to the couch of the sick and the dying. If we be elated with some great public excitement, nine times in ten imposition is at the bottom of it. If we weep with commiseration at the woes of our fellow creatures, imposture is even there; and a high-sounding society, or something which catches and fills the ear, receives the outpourings of sensibilities, which plain, unvarnished misery would fail to excite.

    Although we be no great believers in human perfectibility, and the steady progress of intelligence, yet we had believed that that horrible monster, superstition, with its multitudinous heads and horns, which has glutted itsslf with human victims, from age to age, and from generation to generation, had, at length, fallen before the march of civilization, to rise no more. We had fondly deemed, that burning men at the stake, because they could not see how two and two made five, -- or roasting them before a green-wood fire, for opinion's sake, -- or imprisoning them in loathsome dungeons, for daring to make new discoveries in science, -- or burning for witches miserable old women who


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               399

    had lost their beauty, -- or hanging sober, well-informed citizens, because they persisted in wearing shad-bellied coats, were practices never more to be indulged in. We hoped, -- and as we thought with reason, -- that the demoniac trait in man's character, which originated these things, had been long since obliterated, and that, henceforth, whatever else might come to pass, the world never again would bleed and groan beneath the iron rod of superstition.

    We confess, however, that our confidence in the humanizing influences of modern civilization has been, within a few brief years, greatly shaken. Let us look at the social history of this country, as written in the memories of all, as recorded in our newspapers, and as it is developing itself day after day, under our own observation, and we shall find much to startle and alarm.

    All remember and shudder at the infamous doctrines and preachings of the knot of free-thinkers and moral freebooters, under the direction of Owen and Wright, and which, festering and gendering in the filthy purlieus of London, sent its swarms of young vipers across the Atlantic, to poison simple minds in the new world; until, what with the force of preaching and lecturing, and printed appeals to the basest passions, urged on and assisted, withal, by some trifling show of persecution, adroitly got up for the purpose, a large and "respectable" (!) society of men and women was formed, in which the rights of property and the relations of parent and child were declared to be extinguished, and promiscuous prostitution proclaimed, as a fundamental bond of union!

    But this infamous abomination passed away, and then came Father Matthias, -- the weakest and most shallow of impostors, -- but who had, notwithstanding, his dupes and disciples among the wealthy and respectable; and had he been possessed of ordinary judgment, he might have pushed his villainy to an unimagined extent. He too is gone.

    Then comes Joe Smith, -- the hero of the brazen plates, -- with his pretended revelations from the Almighty Father of the universe! Twelve years ago, we laughed at this imposture; but now we are more inclined to weep. Already has Mormonism taken deep root in this country, and in christian and enlightened England! Already more than one hundred thousand persons, reared in a christian land,


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    and within the sound, at each returning sabbath, of "the church going bell," have become converts to this species of delusion. Already do cities, populous with the deluded and wretched dupes of this gigantic imposture, rise, in the face of day, as if to mock Heaven's long-delaying vengeance; increasing each month by hundreds, and acknowledging obedience to no law but the mandate of their leader! Who can tell where this is to stop? Who can say, that in the future there may not lie concealed a bloody sceptre for the hand of the chief of these miserable and knavish fanatics? Who can say, that in the lapse of time it may not be deemed heresy, to disbelieve in the doctrines of Mormonism, or be punished as blasphemy, to speak lightly of them? or that, in time to come, the gallows will not be raised and the faggot lighted at the stake, to punish the revilers of the brazen bible, and the scoffers of this impostor, or his hereditary descendants! The deed, wild, scathing ferocity of fanaticism lives and swells in the hearts of those who manage this imposition, and if ever sufficient power fall into their hands, the records of the sanguinary past may be eclipsed by the more vivid atrocities of the present.

    We would fain hope that our apprehensions are groundless, but still a brief history of the rise and progress of this sect, must leave a sad train of reflections.

    What is Mormonism? It is a new species of religion, which sprang up upon the extinction of the fanaticism of "Matthias," and contemporaneously with the enthusiasm of the "Holy Rollers."

    It seems that one Joe Smith, or some of his relations, while digging for something else, turned up from the earth a most wonderful book, upon which was carved the "Book of Mormon." As in olden time, "the gift of tongues" had not been unheard of, -- he was, instantly upon the discovery, endowed with a power to translate its contents. Among other matters of serious import, it contained a concluding clause, whereby its sole possession was to be put into his hands, and by virtue whereof, he was forthwith to be constituted the high priest of the religion it had been written some thousands of years before to teach, and to him, exclusively, the gift of its solemn interpretation was to be confided. To the infinite joy of the antiquarian, and the glory of our literature, this work of accidental exhumation


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               401

    is found to contain the lost chronicles of several kings of Israel, -- for the original loss of which, the muse of history has been held responsible until now, and therefore not unto her, but to the finder is to be rendered all the praise for the unseasonable but certain redemption of these biographies. The book purports to derive its authentic name from some ancient character, nowhere else mentioned, and called Mormon, -- who, in the patent genealogical tables thereto attached, can be very satisfactorily identified in the absence of anything to the contrary, or as touching the matter at all, as a son of Lot's wife. This veritable book, is, of course, wisely arranged without the aid of either printing or paper, for the discoverer had sufficient sagacity to know, that publishing in this style, was of rather more modern date, than the proposed age of the book would warrant, and that an oversight in this respect, would either have suggested incredulity as to the authenticity of the work, or else have compelled the future believers in it to conclude, that printing was not such a late affair after all, as has been supposed. So, by way of a safe substitution, brass plates, about as thin as the doctrines they have perpetuated, are inserted between a couple of covers of the same material, and curiously carved over with mysterious hieroglyphics, to which the inscriptions of Thebes and Gaza are quite readable literature. By a happy analogy to the movements on a chess-board, these brazen pages can be read by the no less brazen inventor, with equal facility, either forwards or backwards, or by beginning in the middle and reading either or both ways.

    In the explanation of its doctrines, he is always particular not to give so marked an interpretation as would at all interfere with the consistency of giving the direct reverse afterwards, in case he should forget the former construction; -- while in his lucid commentaries upon the several passages, which are forbidden to be copied, he is equally careful not to be so explicit, as to preclude contradictory explanations, in case they should be needed. However unfounded the truth of this revelation may appear to the newly initiated upon a first hearing, they soon become reconciled to its verity, from that constant repetition which, in all matters, renders things less incredible than originally they may have seemed. The adroitness of Smith, in


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    ringing the doctrines in their ears, upon all convenient occasions, has rendered their faith quite easy, and his liability to mistake less probable. One of the considerable conveniences in facilitating immediate belief among the stupid and incredulous is, that every thing is required to be taken for granted, either as regards its precepts, tenets, illustrations, parables or prophecies. The author regards this as one of the beauties of his system, for the mind can thus be relieved of its doubts at once, and be saved the infliction of those troublesome modes of settling matters, by the a priori and a posteriori methods, so foolishly incorporated by hairsplitting logicians into the more modern systems of popular ethics. Hence, should an hour's argument be proposed to a believer in the faith, regarding the matter of its inspiration, the question is instantly disposed of, on his part, by thrusting into the face of the ill-timed proposition, that most accommodating carnal weapon of the anti-belligerent disputant, known in Mormon polemics, as a petitio principii, as to the absolute infallibility of the brazen bible. By that unaccountable accident, the original loss of the book, the faith has been deprived of a powerful argument, which most unquestionably would have contributed to the establishment of its truth, independent of any other, and none seem to regret this deprivation more than its founder and apostle. It is, that the several prophecies recorded in the book, have all been punctiliously fulfilled, not in the spirit, but even to the letter. Had the book not been lucklessly lost, the world would have read its prophetic auguries at the time they were made, and kept an eye upon the coming occurrence, and thus forever have settled with favor the now roughly bandied question of its truth. But the mind can at once be relieved of the mingled doubt and sadness caused by this untoward circumstance, if it will only admit the proposed antiquity of the book, believe its author to be inspired, as well as the work, repose implicit confidence in the correctness of his interpretations regarding the mention of any prophecies, and withal, take for granted, as the time for fulfilment has gone by, that, as a matter of course, the events must all have happened. This plan of compromise between regret and faith has been deemed so reasonable among the Mormons, that no difficulty has been experienced in producing entire satisfaction.


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               403

    Some short time after this newly-discovered bible was extricated from the soil of a land where it was lost, before the land had been discovered, numbers began to flock slowly to the faith, upon the first promulgation thereof by its vicegerent. A certain number of priests, of a more reduced order than himself, were duly commissioned, at such points as were deemed expedient and safe for the operation. Their tenures of office, however, were only temporary, and so abridged in their power as to deduct but little from the founder's prerogatives; the appeal from all sorts of actual and conceivable grievances being up to him. As a dim promise of bounty was offered to all new converts, in the trapping shape of rations from a prospective fund, the increase of piety was almost alarming in the vicinities where it was supposed the treasuries would be located. As the amount for distribution increased, by a singular coincidence converts did also, and a gratifying symptom of the spread of the cause was noticed in the remarkable fact, that many were impressed with a full conviction of the truth of the doctrines, before they had ever heard what they were. This latter, fact was a movement in morals entirely unprecedented, and, to whatever cause it may be referred, could have no possible connection with the suggestions as touching the expected distribution of the funds. However, the distribution was duly made, and as the stock, which was not particularly overgrown, soon gave out, so did the faith and zeal of such as had been wrongly impressed as to the amount of the funds, and after giving due warning, that they had discovered certain errors in the system, which they had vainly attempted to reconcile to their consciences, they returned again to the world.

    After this revulsion in morals, the apostle of this new faith discovered, that banking was indispensable to the furtherance of the cause, and forthwith commenced operations in finance at a new town, which a part of his followers had founded, called Kirtland, Ohio. As a specie basis might be troublesome and take up too much room, or be feloniously abstracted, it was deemed most safe, as against fire and robbery, to dispense with it altogether. The- amount of bills issued being looked upon as rather an unimportant matter, an almost indefinite quantity was got out, and all kinds of deposits were loudly solicited for the better safety


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    of their owner. Matters beginning to shape to a crisis, it was found most convenient to suspend, before the creditors of the concern imposed upon it any further, and Smith was advised, by a simultaneous revelation, to travel for the benefit of his failing health and the spiritual good of his scattered people, beyond the jurisdiction of the courts of that State, as fast as possible. His health improved wonderfully after crossing the line, and was quite restored by the time he reached the western boundary of Missouri. Finding none of the tents of his followers pitched in that region, and, under present circumstances, deeming it scarce worth while to return, for several important reasons, he was fortunately visited, it seems, by an angel. The angel told him, that a certain town called Dewitt, in Jackson County, must forthwith be named Mount Zion, and, that before long, "streets of gold and gates of jasper" would entirely supersede all its muddy lanes, and chinked huts. He had this revelation duly announced and required all the faithful to direct their course for Mount Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, as fast as horses and wagons could carry them there, and those who refused to go were to be cut off, and that without remedy. To hurry matters, he laid an embargo on all argument about the probability of the truth of the revelation. Each man was to bring a gun and a certain number of rounds of powder and shot, thus, in the very start of the millenium, setting at defiance the declaration, that " the sword should be beaten into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook." After the arrival of a goodly number of disciples, he commenced his inspired operations by announcing, that, on the coming Sunday, an angel would be seen on the opposite side of the creek from where the initiatory performances were to come off. The anticipation of this sight brought down not only the latter day saints, but all the jews and gentiles in the surrounding region. As soon as they had all arrived, he turned aside from the waiting congregation, to pray, as he said, in secret, -- taking especial care to utter certain injunctions, hieroglyphically enforced by sundry terrible gyrations of the finger, that none should leave their seats, or watch his steps over their shoulders, and by way of securing conformity to these very reasonable instructions, hinted the case of Lot's wife in presuming


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               405

    to look behind her. As the people all felt a disposition to be preserved, -- though not like this scriptural personage, in the capacity of salt, -- they obeyed to the letter, and Smith retired to his devotions. In a few minutes, sure enough, some angel or other, of just about his shape and gait, with a white garment on, loomed up from the woods, on the other side of the creek. The sight was vouchsafed to the amazement of their eyes but a minute, and the angel went back to heaven, or somewhere else; at any rate, wherever it went, it was by way of the woods. Shortly after this vision, he returned from his prayer, much refresed, as he announced, by his devotions, and had only to regret, that his private exercises unfortunately interfered with his desire to see the angel too; however, said he, "Heaven's will be done." As the business had been accomplished so well, and the faith of many confirmed, it was announced that the meeting would stand adjourned, and the visit of the angel be repeated, on the next Sunday, at the same time and place. The next week was a pretty long one for some, who were away from home, and otherwise detained from the first visitation. At length,-Sunday arrived, and so did the people. When the hour was come, Smith retired, as in the former instance, to perform his devotions, with a due notice of the old injunctions, coupled with divers allusions to Lot's wife. Just about the time the angel was approaching the creek, a couple of skeptics in the Mormon faith pitched out a piece of timber in the rear, and, seizing the angelic figure, launched him, head foremost, into the creek, stripped of wings and other celestial appendages, and forbade any landing being made on that side, at the peril of even returning to heaven, or wherever else he belonged. The unexpected result was, that Smith, in proper person, and blubbering like a schoolboy, anchored on a sand-bar, in his prayer clothes, directly in front of his half-converted unbelievers. Since that time angels have been exceedingly scarce in that neighborhood. This affair came well nigh making an end of the Mormon religion, but Smith, shortly after, had another revelation, which explained the matter, to the entire satisfaction of many who were hanging around Mount Zion just then, without any particular credit or funds. By way of redeeming his impeached infallibility, the miracle of walking upon


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    water was afterwards attempted, but failed, because some fellows were profane enough to take from under the water the benches that Smith had fixed for the better success of the performance. Pronouncing a very divinely authorized, and somewhat serious malediction against the old locality, he moved further up the creek, for the exhibitions yet in reserve. So, by way of testing the virtues of the new location, he gave exclusive invitations to a few, to see water turned into wine, and vice versa, but somehow or other, the jugs were accidentally changed, and the remaining miracles were postponed, to a more convenient season, so that he could have some definite understanding in the course of his next revelation, as to how such things were to be done. He has finally concluded, that the power to work miracles is a non-essential as far as regards the truth of the brazen bible, and the Mormon faith in general.

    Soon after these proceedings had taken place, several difficulties arose between the Mormons and other citizens of the State, which, in the end, became so serious, that the militia were marched up to settle the growing mischief. Some shots were exchanged without much serious damage, and the "Latter Day Saints," as they now term themselves, were routed "horse, foot, and dragoons." Whereupon our afflicted and accidentally spared apostle, without the chance of establishing a bank, shook the dust of the State of Missouri from his feet, which led the retreat at the engagement, and ordered Missouri and all her people to be cursed, not even reserving Mount Zion in Jackson County from its rateable share in the rigors of the anathema. With his valiant followers, nervous with wrath, he moved into Illinois, and built up another town, with the more modest and more original name of Nauvoo, -- the precise derivation of which, and the reason for the particular application of it, in the present instance, he deems not politic to disclose, in the existing heretical state of the world. The faith is recruiting again, and weekly adding to its numbers; and, in view of the want of means among many in that region, it would be strange indeed if the fact were not so, -- for the principle of right and possession among them is, that all property, real and personal, is to be held in common, and the united proceeds of their barter and labor is to be divided periodically, and in equal dividends, among the whole, whether all originally


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               407

    brought any capital into the concern or not. None can fail to see the finger of policy in a system so well calculated to procure an increase of membership. But to prevent the elopement of some sly brother when the yearly dividends are declared, Smith has wisely managed to require that the funds be not handed over to the people, but that they become a deposit to their credit in the treasury house, -- parts of which can be drawn out by a correct statement of the particular purposes for which it is needed, but in quantities so exceedingly small, as to offer less inducement to abscond with the pittance, and forfeit the remainder, than to stay and secure it. All articles of merchandise are required to be bought from the regularly licensed dealers, and the system of license, being one altogether of favoritism, it might be supposed that a large profit would be made by the salesmen, -- but it must be remembered, that the resulting profits are thrown into the common fund, and the original capital again employed in the purchase of a new stock in trade; while favoritism is only shown and sought after, because the post of a merchant is deemed one of honor, and relieves those who are fortunate enough to secure it from the drudgery of the field and workshop.

    The church government is under just such a management as one would naturally expect from the cunning character of the inspired founder. All power from above coming through him, as a channel of mediation and forgiveness to a certain extent, as well as of exclusive official appointment, he bestows his ministerial and judicial offices, -- which are not subject to the ordeal of confirmation, -- as he may deem proper for his purposes. As he is the highest visible authority in the matter, there can be no appeal from such appointments, decisions, orders and prohibitions between persons, as he may make from time to time, -- neither from such convenient interpretations as he may put, at pleasure, upon the passages and requirements of the brazen bible. If his assertion upon any point be questioned, (for he never stoops to vulgar argument), he can quickly set the matter at rest, by whispering an allusion to some recent revelation that he has had upon that very subject, and after this is hinted, all doubt must necessarily cease, for if yet harbored by the continued obstinacy of the rebellious declaimer, his


    408                                History of Mormonism.                               [April

    excommunication from the grace of the church, and the droppings of that better sanctuary, the treasury, is as sure as his existence. As this act of excommunication is a very solemn one, and performed by Smith himself, in propria persona, who is supposed in all respects infallible, no hope of re-admission can ever dawn upon the excluded saint, for this would admit the occasional fallibility of the excommunicating party, the high priest. Of the prerogative of exclusion, and the summary reasons of its exercise, they are all fully aware, and if the founder is known to have any fixed opinions upon any possible subject, an universal acquiescence upon the part of the people is dictated for the security of a continued communion. From time to time, new additions are made to the doctrines of the brazen bible, although the system was declared complete when the book was first found; yet accumulation is safe, even to infinity, inasmuch as no prohibitory curse is denounced in it, against adding any thing thereto. Certain doctrines, recently revealed, were foretold by our prophet in advance, but one of the peculiar beauties of this system, pertaining to no other, is, that not unfrequently the fulfilment precedes the prophecy. Its author certainly possesses miraculous power in the affairs of divination, in all those cases, in which the first intimation of the augury is subsequent to the fulfilment, instead of the more consecutive plan of record first and occurrence afterwards. When discharging the duties of the prophetic office, he frequently announces that such and such things will come to pass, and he is almost invariably right, for the events could not well happen otherwise, unless something went wrong in the ordinary course of nature, -- and yet, in these cases, he argues divine interference, -- probably upon the ground that nothing under heaven could happen at all without it. In the event of the failure of any prophecy, (which, by the by, is not unusual, when he leaps beyond the rules of natural philosophy) and some one watchful of the prediction reminds him of the short-coming, he has an ample refuge in suggesting the high probability of a misunderstanding either between himself and the angel, or else between himself and the people. And yet the occurrence of any thing, however usual, if only foretold, is regarded with a degree of amazement commensurate with the imposing forms and ceremonies of prediction.


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               409

    Every new applicant for admission, is subjected to prescribed initiation, attended with an ample share of attractive formality, instigated by a shrewd knowledge of the value of first impressions. To avail themselves of all applications, nothing is said or done, but what might invite the assent of the subject applying. None were ever known to be rejected, as each applicant has the privilege of recommending himself, and should he, unfortunately, have any compunctions upon that point, he is privileged to keep silent; and if any of the saints are aware of his failings, the mention of them would be entirely superfluous, in as much as the fact of the application is construed as the result of a satisfactory penitence. This accommodating arrangement, renders the approach of all applicants smooth and easy, the whole of them protesting that nothing but a thorough and heartfelt conviction of the entire truth of Mormonism ever prompted them to apply, and among the questions of faith, propounded to the disinterested converts, fortunately for the conscience, none are broached, as touching their faith in regard to the present state of the treasury. The most popular time for applications appears to be, just anterior to the period adopted, by established custom, for the distribution of the annual dividends.

    Some short time since, the governor of Missouri made a requisition upon the executive of Illinois, for the surrender of Smith, to answer for some of his unatoned old scores, but, from some informality in the process of requisition, the matter was delayed, until the error could be adjusted. In the mean time, Smith got news of the affair, and, thinking a compliance with the demand highly probable, received, about the same time, a divine intimation that he must depart immediately for Iowa, to receive a new revelation from an angel, there in patient waiting. Without delaying for the return mail from Missouri, he started, and, by a happy coincidence, the revelation was concluded simultaneously with a hint from some one in Iowa, that the affair of the requisition would be dropped for the present. No doubt, an adjourned meeting between himself and the angel will be held in Iowa, about the time the governor renews his application.

    Smith is in bad repute all over that region. Like the Arab, "his hand is against every man, and every man's


    410                                History of Mormonism.                               [April

    against him." From the beginning until now, the only object he has had in view, has been, to secure, by his present station, that prominence, regard and authority, which he has not sufficient force of character or talent to secure, under any other circumstances. Nature has endowed him well with art and cunning, which years of duplicity and experience have strengthened, in the prosecution of his ends and purposes. His natural bent of mind is ambitious; though his spirit is timid, and yet he never deserts a favorite point or adventure, unless the opposition is likely to prove serious. Wherever he has been located before, for the furtherance of his designs, some untoward circumstance has intervened for his temporary failure. The germs of disruption are budding among his people now. The numbers are becoming so great, that, from the necessities of the case, new offices must be created, the respective powers of which must abridge and conflict with his own. This cannot occur without instant danger, and when difficulty once commences, anarchy must finish the work. Of this, he is already aware; and the only remedy for prevention, is to close the door upon a further increase of his followers. Yet this he dares not do, for he has declared that his religion will one day be universal, and the act would defeat the hopes of his ambitious spirit

    That his efforts can establish a faith so foolish, none but his interested enthusiasts believe; that another relapse is near, is known from the nature of the work. Ambition has drawn some to its adoption, who may have calculated too indiscreetly on its spread; novelty has given it many followers, who hoped to find, in its shifting forms, that food for the wonderful, furnished by no other church; selfishness has sent up its votaries, to feed and fatten on the hard-earned means that others may have brought, and which, by an act of legalized robbery, have become part and parcel of a common stock. Fanaticism like this, if indeed, any of its followers be sincere, can only be excused by the rebuking appeal it carries to the enthusiasm and folly of every age. Greece had her mythology and Pantheon, the islands, the shrines of Neptune; Arabia worshipped the voices that were fancied in the wind; and Persia fell down to the chariot of the sun. But religion had not dawned in those days of false worship and folly. If to the


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               411

    faith we have delineated its followers are false, and carry their pretence where they would be less safe in sincerity, then, indeed, is a beautiful commentary furnished for the humility, simplicity and truth of the religion of Bethlehem: "hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue."

    In addition to these facts, we learn, that in England, to which benighted and heathenish country Mormon missionaries were despatched about two years ago, the spread of the doctrines of the brazen bible has been little less than miraculous, -- the inhabitants of almost one entire shire having become Latter Day Saints, as the Mormons call themselves; many wealthy and long-established families selling out their farms and homesteads, crossing the Atlantic, and threading the Mississippi for more than fifteen hundred miles, to lay their services and their fortunes, at the feet of this impostor! One hundred and thirty of these misguided men passed through New Orleans and St. Louis last summer, on a single steam-boat, on their way to Nauvoo, the "Holy City." At the latter place, we went on board, and looked in vain at the countenances of these victims of so miserable a delusion for some signs of lunacy, or, at least, idiocy. No! In nothing that we could discover, were they different from the mass of Christian emigrants who crowd our steam-boats; and we turned with disgust, as the conviction forced itself upon us, that it was, after all, scarcely even an exaggerated exhibition of human credulity.

    But we have already lingered too long over this topic, which, in the estimation of our readers, is not, perhaps, worthy of such serious notice. We think differently. We solemnly believe that the tendency of the age is towards credulity. Our readers may smile at this, and may deem it absurd to forbode such results, from the intelligence of the present century. We have the Press, they will say. True; and so have the apostles of imposture: and, as Satan is said sometimes to disguise himself in the garb of an angel of light, so is there not one of all the long list of impositions, which now thrive and flourish on the face of the earth, which has not its advocate in the press. The Mormons have newspapers of their own; and right plausibly and ingeniously do they advocate their cause, until, in the eyes of many careless and weak-minded individuals, they "make the worse appear the better reason." They


    412                                History of Mormonism.                               [April

    make stirring appeals to the sympathy of the world; they cry out "persecution!" they assume a humble and modest demeanor, until they obtain the power to strike another blow for their permanent advancement; while, to the ignorant, who are selected for their proselytes and dupes, the most magnificent prospects of temporal and spiritual rewards are held out, if they will embrace the true faith. The superstitious are frightened by denunciation; the licentious purchased by the promise of indulgence; the avaricious tempted by the allurement of wealth, and the ambitious by glowing prospects of power and honor. There is no imposture so absurd or ridiculous, but those very qualities furnish the foundation for a sophistry, which, to the weak-minded, looks like reason, and for appeals, which, to the soft-hearted, seem to demand sympathy and protection. The much-vaunted universality of education furnishes but a feeble barrier to the march of imposition. In fact, what is that which, amongst the masses of our population, is termed "education?" Is it a capacity to reason, and to discriminate between true and false logic? Is it the faculty of analysing subjects of great and overwhelming interest, connected with the sources of moral, political, and social well-being? Is it the power of examining important questions, upon enlarged and comprehensive views of the powers, duties, attributes, and final destinies of our race? Or is it not rather a meagre familiarity with a few arbitrary forms of speech and writing, to which no higher power is ever attributed, than that they are the means of ordinary communication in the concerns of every day existence? How few of all the thousands, nay millions, of "enlightened men," who live under the influence of this boasted era of intelligence, have power to think, act or judge, from the independent, unaided promptings of their own intellect! In our day, men spend their profitless lives in going about among water-fretted rocks, which stand hundreds of feet above what is now the river's surface, crawling, like earth-worms, into poisonous caves, in search of parti-colored rocks, or burrowing, like short-sighted moles, into the bowels of the earth, after fossil-remains, -- to prove, what? Why, that the section of the earth's surface, upon which they vegetate, was not always what it is; that, perhaps, vast inland seas once flowed above now verdure-crowned and life-resounding fields


    1842.]                                History of Mormonism.                               413

    and cities; that a race of animals, and, perhaps, men, now extinct, once trod the boundless wilderness around them; in short, that change, in its eternal course, has swept over the earth, and that they, in their wisdom, have been able to discover a few straggling proofs of this self-evident proposition!

    Let the empiric in knowledge, who uses these dainty colorings of expression, stand before the pyramids upon the banks of the Nile, and ask where, in the whole range of modern science, he can find even the mechanical power sufficient to erect those mysterious and awe inspiring monuments of a forgotten race. Let him gaze upon the living and immortal beauty, leaping, like rays of light, from the marble of Praxitiles and the canvass of Titian; let him contemplate the grandeur, blending with most exquisite beauty, of those temples which have furnished models to all succeeding time; let him thrill beneath the majestic verse of Homer, or melt under the delicious influences of Sappho's wondrous song,- -- and then, if he can, turn to the present, and find cause for gratulation and vain-glorious self-applause.




    M I S C E L L A N Y.


    (1847 Edinburgh Edition)

    [ 14:26 ]

    M O R M O N I S M.

    The sect of the Mormonites, or Latter-Day Saints, has of late years become familiar by these names in Great Britain. They derive their first and standing appellation from a work called the Book of Mormon, assumed by them to be the fruit of inspiration and revelation, and taken as the text-book and bible of the sect. The Book of Mormon, published two or three times in North America, and once in Britain in 1841, had the following origin: --

    A number of years since, a young man named Joseph Smith, the founder, apostle, and prophet of the Mormonites, followed the profession of a money-digger in the United States. It is a common belief in some of the maritime districts of that republic, that large sums of money and masses of bullion were there buried in the earth by the buccaneers, as well as, more recently, by persons concerned in the revolution. The pretence of discovering these treasures by incantations was an artifice to which needy and cunning men frequently resorted, and Joseph Smith, according to the best testimony, distinguished himself peculiarly in this line. While he was engaged in these and similar pursuits, he received, as his own story runs, several revelations from heaven relative to the religious sects of the day. On the first occasion when he was thus favoured, he had gone into a grove, and there besought divine aid to show him which, of all the denominations of the Christian church then existing, he ought to reverence and follow as the tree one. A bright light, he said, appeared above his head; he was received up into the midst of it; and he there saw two angelic personages, who told him that all his sins were forgiven, that the whole world was in error on religious points, and that the truth should be made known to him in due time. A second revelation of a similar description informed Smith that the American Indians were a remnant of the children of Israel, and that prophets and inspired men had once existed among them, by whom divine records had been deposited in a secure place, to save them from the hands of the wicked. A third communication, made on the morning of September 22, 1823, informed Smith that these relics were to be found in a cavern on a large hill to the east of the mail-road from Palmyra, Wayne county, state of New York. Here, accordingly, Joseph made search, and, as he says, found a stone-chest containing plates like gold, about seven by eight inches in width and length, and not quite so thick as common tin. On these plates was graven the Book or Bible of Mormon, so called from the name given to the party supposed to have written and concealed it. Smith was not allowed to take away these golden plates until he had learned


    [ 14:27 ]

    the Egyptian language, in which tongue, or a modern dialect of it, the graven book was composed. At length, in September 1827, Smith was deemed qualified to receive the golden plates, and he transcribed an English version of the characters, which was published in the year 1830. The work made a considerable impression on the poorer classes of the United States, and a sect was formed soon afterwards, calling themselves "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." From their text-book they were more familiarly called the "Mormonites."

    In the preparation, or at least promulgation of these pretended revelations, Smith was assisted by his father, and by persons called Rigdon, Harris, and others. At first little attention was paid to the imposture; but when it appeared to be undermining the religious belief and habits of the less instructed portion of the community, the respectable citizens of Palmyra and Manchester, where the Smiths formerly resided, felt it their duty to expose the real character of the Smiths. An affidavit was accordingly made by about fifty gentlemen, of various professions, and of diverse religious sentiments. The following is a copy of this document: --
    "Palmyra, N. Y., Dec. 4, 1833. -- We, the undersigned, having been "acquainted with the Smith family for a number of years, while they resided near this place, have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly infamous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money, which they pretended was laid in the earth; and to this day large excavations may be seen in the earth not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits. Martin Harris had acquired a considerable property, and in matters of business his word was considered good; but on moral and religious subjects he was perfectly visionary; sometimes advocating one sentiment, sometimes another. In reference to all with whom we are acquainted that have embraced Mormonism from this neighbourhood, we are compelled to say that they were visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without influence in the community. This is the reason why they were permitted to go on with their imposition undisturbed. It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments; and we know not a single individual in this vicinity who puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations." (Here follow the signatures of fifty-one persons.) *
    * Rise, Progress, and Causes of Mormonism, by Professor J. B. Turner. New York: 1844.


    [ 14:28 ]

    A similar testimony is recorded against the Smiths from respectable citizens in Manchester; and with respect to an assistant in the fraud, named Oliver Cowdery, in an affidavit presented by the authority before us, he is shown to be "a worthless fellow, and not to be trusted or believed." Whitmer, another member of this impious confederacy, is spoken of with equal disrespect.

    The religion which these wretched impostors proposed to disseminate, appears to be a mixture of Christianity, drawn from garbled portions of the common English translation of the Scriptures, and the fancies of an irregular and ill-educated mind. The Book of Mormon, on which the deceitful doctrines of the sect are founded, is nearly of the same extent as the Old Testament, and contains, properly speaking, two distinct stories or histories. The history of the Nephites, a portion of the tribe of Joseph, supposed to have emigrated from Jerusalem under a prophet named Nephi, and to have been miraculously led to America, occupies the first part of the work. The Nephites founded, says the story, the Indian race. Many years after their settlement, they are also stated to have discovered the records of the Jaredites, an extinct nation which came to America about the time of the building of Babel. The revelations of various prophets to these Jaredites and Nephites, and direct divine communications respecting "my servant, Joseph Smith," the apostle of the present day, compose the staple matter of the Book of Mormon.

    One main, if not the only object of the imposture, has been to exalt Joseph Smith as a grand head and director of the church; the other offices being filled by creatures subordinate to his will, and sharers in the plunder of the dupes. There are two distinct orders of church dignitaries -- 1. The Melchizedec, or High Priesthood, consisting of high priests and elders; 2. The Aaronic, or Lesser Priesthood, consisting of bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. The former preside over the spiritual interests of the church; the latter administer its ordinances, and manage its temporal concerns. Three of the Melchizedec, or High Priests, are appointed presidents, to preside over all the churches in the world, and are called the First Presidency. There are also subordinate presidencies, ruling over towns or districts, called Stakes; and the appointment of these stakes in new regions in North America affords Mr Smith a favourable opportunity, as it has been observed, for speculating in "town lots."

    The harangues of the Mormon preachers, abounding in allusions to the Christian doctrines, are well calculated to confuse and deceive the minds of unlearned hearers; but when investigated, the pretensions on which the whole fabric is reared appear eminently absurd and impious. From beginning to end the Book of Mormon is filled with evidences of forgery and


    [ 14:29 ]

    imposture. The peculiar style of holy writ is borrowed throughout, and, as regards words and names, many separate languages are drawn upon, proving the assumed writer of early ages to have all the information of our day before him. The difficulty arising from the red colour of the Indian skin, so different from that of the Jews, is overcome by the arbitrary and easy medium of a miracle. Their colour is said to have been changed as a punishment for their sins. Things are spoken of which, it is well known, were not invented till late times. For example, it is said by the prophet Nephi, in allusion to a mutiny that took place on his voyage to America, "And it came to pass, after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it." Besides antedating the discovery of the needle's polarity by several centuries, the writer here evidently misunderstands the use of the compass altogether. A Mormonite elder, being pressed on the subject of this blunder, pointed to the account of St. Paul's voyage, which has this sentence in the English version: "We fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium." The misapprehension of this sentence, the first words of which mean merely, "We made a circuit," had obviously led to the blunder of the composer of the Book of Mormon. According to a paper in the Athenaeum: "The history of the pretended Israelites is continued in the Books of Enos, Jarom, Zeniff, &c. and through them all we find one signal proof not merely of imposture, but of the ignorance of the impostor, repeated with singular pertinacity. Every successive prophet predicts to the Nephites the future coming of Christ: the writer has fallen into the vulgar error of mistaking an epithet for a name; the word 'Christ,' as all educated persons know, is not a name, but a Greek title of office, signifying 'The Anointed,' being in fact a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. It is true that in modern times, and by a corruption which is now become inveterate, the term is used by western Christians as if it were a proper name, or at least an untranslatable designation; but this is a modern error, and it has been avoided by most of the Oriental churches. Now, the use of a Greek term, in an age when the Greek language was unformed, and by a people with whom it is impossible for Greeks to have intercourse, and, moreover, whose native language was of such peculiar construction as not to be susceptible of foreign admixture, is a mark of forgery so obvious and decisive, that it ought long since to have exjoosed the delusion. Unhappily, however, we are forced to conclude, from the pamphlets before us, that the American Methodists, who first undertook to expose the Mormonites, were scarcely less ignorant than themselves.

    A second Nephi takes up the history at a period contemporary with the events recorded in the New Testament. It avers that our Lord exhibited himself to the Nephites after his resurrection,


    [ 14:30 ]

    and the words attributed to him bear still more conclusive evidence of the ignorance of the impostors: --

    'Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.' And again, 'I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.'

    In addition to the former blunder respecting the name 'Christ,' we have the name ' Jesus ' in its Greek form, and not, as the Hebrews would have called it, 'Joshua;' but we have, furthermore, the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet given as a metaphorical description of continued existence to a nation that had never heard of the Greek language. It is quite clear that the writer mistook Alpha and Omega for some sacred and mystic sounds, to which particular sanctity was attached -- a blunder by no means confined to the Mormonites -- and wrote them down without perceiving that they were an evidence of forgery so palpable as to be manifest to schoolboys."

    The same authority which we have now quoted gives a hint of the probable origin of this whole imposture; for, as we shall show, Joseph Smith is a man scarcely capable of inventing or writing even the ravings of the Book of Mormon. A clergyman named Solomon Spaulding had left his ministry, and entered into business in Cherry Vale, New York, where he failed in the year 1809. The sepulchral mounds of North America were then exciting some interest, and it struck Spaulding that he might relieve himself from his distresses by composing a novel, connecting these mounds with the lost ten tribes of Israel, supposed by some to have peopled America. Intending to name his work "The Manuscript Found," he wrote it in the old style of the Hebrew compositions. In 1812 the work was taken to a printer named Lamdin, residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; but the author died ere any arrangement could be made for its publication. Lamdin also died in 1826. He had previously lent the manuscript to a person named Sidney Rigdon, and this person it seems to have been who, in connection with his friend Joseph Smith, formed the idea of palming it on the world as a new revelation. The manuscript was well suited to their purposes, and of course they would make such changes as appeared requisite. That this was the true source of the Book of Mormon, is borne out by the testimony of the wife, brother, partner, and several friends of Spaulding, who had heard him read portions of the manuscript, and who recognised many of the names and incidents in the Book of Mormon to be the same with those occurring in Spaulding's novel. The difficulty of supposing paper of any kind to have been so long preserved, appears to have suggested the additional and characteristic device of the "plates of gold" to the money-digger, Mr Joseph Smith. Sidney Rigdon is now the "prophet's" secretary. He, by the way, and a few other persons, have alone been honoured with a sight of the said plates,


    [ 14:31 ]

    It might be deemed superfluous to say so much on this subject, were it not that the Mormon delusion has spread widely in North America, and even in Great Britain. Joseph Smith and his colleagnes settled in 1831 on the Missouri, whence they were soon after expelled on account of their lawless conduct. They then went to Illinois, and founded a town or city, called Nauvoo, near the Mississippi, said now to contain 1700 able-bodied men, exclusive of women and children. To this place too many emigrants are directing' their course even from Great Britain. What sort of people they will find in the persons of the prophet and his associates, appears very clearly from a little work by Mr. Caswall, who visited the city of the Mormons in the year 1842. The following is his picture of Joseph Smith: --
    "I met Joseph Smith at a short distance from his dwelling, and was introduced to him. I had the honour of an interview with him who is a prophet, a seer, a merchant, a 'revelator,' a president, an elder, an editor, and the general of the 'Nauvoo Legion.' He is a coarse plebeian person in aspect, and his countenance exhibits a curious mixture of the knave and the clown. His hands are large and fat, and on one of his fingers he wears a massive gold ring, upon which I saw an inscription. His dress was of coarse country manufacture, and his white hat was enveloped by a piece of black crape as a sign of mourning for his deceased brother Don Carlos Smith, the late editor of the 'Times and Seasons.' His age is about thirty-five. I had not an opportunity of observing his eyes, as he appears deficient in that open straightforward look which characterises an honest man. He led the way to his house, accompanied by a host of elders, bishops, preachers, and common Mormons. On entering the house, chairs were provided for the prophet and myself, while the curious and gaping crowd remained standing. I handed a book to the prophet and begged him to explain its contents. He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter, but that I should like to hear his opinion. 'No,' he said; 'it aint Greek at all, except, perhaps, a few words. What aint Greek is Egyptian, and what aint Egyptian is Greek. This book is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics.' Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said, 'Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics, and them which follows is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.' Upon this the Mormons around began to congratulate me on the information I was receiving. 'There,' they said, 'we told you so -- we told you that our prophet would give you satisfaction. None but our prophet can explain these mysteries.'" The error of taking a Greek Psalter for a specimen of Egyptian hieroglyphics, sufficiently proves the slender pretensions of Mr Joseph Smith to be a mystery-expounder.


    [ 14:32 ]

    In another part of the book Mr. Caswell relates a few personal anecdotes of this worthy, mentioned to him by credible witnesses; but they refer to such scenes of drunkenness and profanity, that we should not feel justified in transcribing them. Enough, we think, has been said to expose the character of a dangerous impostor, and to prevent individuals amongst our working population from expending their little all on the faith of such a man's promises. We have before us a letter from an unfortunate cotton-spinner of Lancashire, which shows how necessary such a caution is. The Mormon preachers in England had described Nauvoo to him as a land overflowing with milk and honey, and a place where the Divine Being had commanded a temple to be built, that might be a refuge to all mankind. Joseph Smith, at least, had certainly commanded this, as the following very unequivocal passages from his writings will show: -- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, let all my saints come from afar, and send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messeng'ers, and say unto them, 'Come ye with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and all who have knowledge of antiquities that will come may come; and bring the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth; and with iron, and with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth, and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein; for there is not a place found upon earth that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.'"

    By such blasphemous and deceitful stuif as this the poor cotton-spinner, like too many others, was induced to go to Nauvoo, where, like other victims of delusion, he was wretchedly used. It is needless to carry our notice of this matter further. Every shadow of evidence yet obtained tends to prove Mormonism to be a gross imposture, and one unworthy of notice, save on account of the dangers which have here been described and exposed.

    Since writing the above, intelligence has arrived in England that Joseph Smith, the leader of the Mormons, was killed by a lawless mob on the 27th of June at Carthage, state of Illinois. This event is to be deplored, not only on account of its being a barbarous murder, but because it will be considered in the light of a martyrdom by the infatuated followers of the deceased, and no way tend to abate the Mormon delusion.


    - 1848 -

    Blackwood's Magazine.

    Vol. 64.                                     London, U. K. November, 1848.                                     No. ?




    No sooner was it known that Los Americanos had arrived, than nearly all the householders of Fernandez presented themselves to offer the use of their "salas" for the fandango which invariably celebrated their arrival. This was always a profitable event; for as the mountaineers were generally pretty well "flush" of cash when on their "spree," and as open-handed as an Indian could wish, the sale of whisky, with which they regaled all comers, produced a handsome return to the fortunate individual whose room was selected for the fandango....


    ... From him they learned also that a large band of Mormons were wintering on the Arkansa, en route to the Great Salt Lake and Upper California; and as our hunters had before fallen in with the advanced guard of these fanatic emigrants, and felt no little wonder that such helpless people shonld undertake so long a journey through the wilderness, the stranger narrated to them the history of the sect, which we will also shortly transcribe for the benefit of the reader.

    The Mormons were originally of the sect known as "Latter-day Saints," which sect flourishes wherever Anglo-Saxon gulls are found in sufficient numbers to swallow the egregious nonsense of fanatic humbugs who fatten upon their credulity. In the United States they especially abounded; but, the creed becoming "slow," one Joe Smith, a smart man, arose from its ranks, and instilled a little life into the decaying sect.

    Joe, better known as the "Prophet Joe," was taking his siesta one fine day, upon a hill in one of the New England States, when an angel suddenly appeared to him, and made known the locality of a new Bible or Testament, which contained The history of the lost tribes of Israel; that these tribes were no other than the Indian nations which possessed the continent of America at the time of its discovery, and the remains of which still existed in their savage state; that, through the agency of Joe, these were to be reclaimed, collected into the bosom of a church to be there established, according to principles which would be found in the wonderful book and which church was gradually to receive into its bosom all other churches, sects, and persuasions, with "unanimity of belief and perfect brotherhood."

    After a certain probation, Joe was led in body and spirit to the mountain by the angel who first appeared to him, was pointed out the position of the wonderful book, which was covered by a flat stone, on which would be found two round pebbles, called Urim and Thummim, and through the agency of which the mystic characters inscribed on the pages of the book were to be deciphered and translated. Joe found the spot indicated without any difficulty, cleared away the earth, and discovered a hollow place formed by four flat stones; on removing the topmost one of which sundry plates of brass presented themselves, covered with quaint and antique carving; on the top lay Urim and Thummim, (commonly known to the Mormons as Mummum and Thummum, the pebbles of wonderful virtue,) through which the miracle of reading the plates of brass was to be performed.

    Joe Smith, on whom the mantle of Moses had so suddenly fallen, carefully removed the plates and hid them, burying himself in woods and mountains whilst engaged in the work of translation. However, he made no secret of the important task imposed upon him, nor of the great work to which he had been called. Numbers at once believed him, but not a few were deaf to belief, and openly derided him. Being persecuted, (as the sect declares, at the instigation of the authorities,) and many attempts being made to steal his precious treasure, Joe, one fine night, packed his plates in a sack of beans, bundled them into a Jersey waggon, and made tracks for the West. Here he completed the great work of translation, and not long after gave to the world the "Book of Mormon," a work as bulky as the Bible, and called "of Mormon," for so was the prophet named by whose hand the history of the lost tribes had been handed down in the plates of brass thus miraculously preserved for thousands of years, and brought to light through the agency of Joseph Smith.

    The fame of the Book of Mormon spread over all America, and even to Great Britain and Ireland. Hundreds of proselytes flocked to Joe, to hear from his lips the doctrine of Mormonism; and in a very brief period the Mormons became a numerous and recognized sect, and Joe was at once, and by universal acclamation, installed as the head of the Mormon church, and was ever known by the name of the "Prophet Joseph."

    However, from certain peculiarities in their social system, the Mormons became rather unpopular in the settled


    States, and at length moved bodily into Missouri, where they purchased several tracts of land in the neighbourhood of Independence. Here they erected a large building, which they called the Lord's Store, where goods were collected on the common account, and retailed to members of the church at moderate prices. All this time their numbers increased in a wonderful manner, and immigrants from all parts of the States, as well as Europe, continually joined them. As they became stronger, they grew bolder and more arrogant in their projects. They had hitherto been considered as bad neighbours, on account of their pilfering propensities, and their utter disregard of the conventional decencies of society -- exhibiting the greatest immorality, and endeavoring to establish amongst their society a universal concubinage. This was sufficient to produce an ill feeling against them on the part of their neighbours, the honest Missourians; but they still tolerated their presence amongst them, until the Saints openly proclaimed their intention of seizing upon the country, and expelling by force the present occupants -- giving, as their reason, that it had been revealed to their prophets that the "Land of Zion" was to be possessed by themselves alone.

    The sturdy Missourians began to think this was a little too strong, and that, if they permitted such aggressions any longer, they would be in a fair way of being despoiled of their lands by the Mormon interlopers. At length matters came to a crisis, and the Saints, emboldened by the impunity with which they had hitherto carried out their plans, issued a proclamation to the effect that all in that part of the country, who did not belong to the Mormon persuasion, must "clear out," and give up possession of their lands and houses. The Missourians collected in a body, burned the printing-press from which the proclamation had emanated, seized several of the Mormon leaders, and, after inflicting a summary chastisement, "tarred and feathered" them, and let them go.

    To revenge this insult, the Mormons marshalled an army of Saints, and marched upon Independence, threatening vengeance against the town and people. Here they met, however, a band of sturdy backwoodsmen, armed with rifles, determined to defend the town against the fanatic mob, who, not relishing their appearance, refused the encounter, and surrendered their leaders at the first demand. The prisoners were afterwards released, on condition that the Mormons left that part of the country without delay.

    Accordingly, they once more "took up their beds and walked," crossing the Missouri to Clay County, where they established themselves, and would Anally have formed a thriving settlement but for their own acts of wilful dishonesty. At this time their blasphemous mummery knew no bounds. Joe Smith, and other prophets who had lately arisen, were declared to be chosen of God; and it was the general creed that, on the day of judgment, the former would take his stand on the right hand of the judgment-seat, and that none would pass into the kingdom of heaven without his seal and touch. One of their tenets was the faith in "spiritual matrimony." No woman, it appeared, would be admitted into heaven unless "passed" by a saint. To qualify them for this, it was necessary that the woman should first be received by the guaranteeing Mormon as an "earthly wife," in order that he did not pass in any of whom he had no knowledge. The consequence of this state of things may be imagined. The most debasing immorality was a precept of the order, and an almost universal concubinage existed amongst the sect, which at this time numbered at least forty thousand. Their disregard to the laws of decency and morality was such as could not be tolerated in any class of civilised society.

    Again did the honest Missourians set their faces against this pernicious example, and when the county to which the Mormons had removed became more thickly settled, they rose to a man against the modern Gomorrah. The Mormons, by this time, having on their part gained considerable accession to their strength, thought to set the laws at defiance, organised and armed large bodies


    of men, in order to maintain the ascendency over the legitimate settlers, and bid fair to constitute an "imperium in imperio" in the State, and become the sole possessors of the public lands. This, of course, could not be tolerated. Governor Boggs at once ordered out a large force of State militia to put down this formidable demonstration, marched against the Mormons, and suppressed the insurrectionary movement without bloodshed. From Clay County they moved still farther into the wilds, and settled at last in Caldwell County, where they built the town of "Far West," and here they remained for the space of three years.

    During this time they were continually receiving converts to the faith, and many of the more ignorant country people were disposed to join them, being only deterred by the fear of incurring ridicule from the stronger minded. The body of the Mormons seeing this, called upon their prophet, Joe Smith, to perform a miracle in public before all comers, which was to prove to those of their own people who still doubted the doctrine, the truth of what it advanced -- (the power of performing miracles was steadfastly declared to be in their hands by the prophets) -- and to enlist those who wavered in the Mormon cause.

    The prophet instantly agreed, and declared that, upon a certain day, he would walk across the broad waters of the Missouri without wetting the soles of his feet. On the appointed day, the river banks were thronged by an expectant crowd. The Mormons sang hymns of praise in honour of their prophet, and were proud of the forthcoming miracle, which was to set finally at rest all doubt as to his power and sanctity.

    This power of performing miracles, and effecting miraculous cures of the sick, was so generally believed by the Mormons, that physic was never used amongst them. The, prophets visited the beds of the sick, and laid hands upon them, and if, as of course was almost invariably the case, the patient died, it was attributed to his or her want of faith; but if, on the contrary, the patient recovered, there was universal glorification on the miraculous cure.

    Joe Smith was a tall, fine-looking man, of most plausible address, and possessed the gift of the gab in great perfection. At the time appointed for the performance of the walking-water miracle, he duly attended on the river banks, and descended barefoot to the edge of the water.

    "My brethren!" he exclaimed in a loud voice, "this day is a happy one to me, to us all, who venerate the great and only faith. The truth of our great and blessed doctrine will now be proved before the thousands I see around me. You have asked me to prove by a miracle that the power of the prophets of old has been given to me. I say unto you, not only to me, but to all who have faith. I have faith, and can perform miracles -- that faith empowers me to walk across the broad surface of that mighty river without wetting the soles of my unworthy feet; but if ye are to see this miracle performed, it is necessary that ye have faith also, not only in yourselves, but in me. Have ye this faith in yourselves?"

    "We have, we have!" roared the crowd.

    "Have ye the faith in me, that ye believe I can perform this miracle?"

    "We have, we have!" roared the crowd.

    "Then," said Joe Smith, coolly walking away, "with such faith do ye know well that I could, but it boots not that I should, do it; therefore, my brethren, doubt no more" -- and Joe put on his boots and disappeared.

    Being again compelled to emigrate, the Mormons proceeded into the state of Illinois, where, in a beautiful situation, they founded the new Jerusalem, which, it had been declared by the prophet Mormon, should rise out of the wilderness of the west, and where the chosen people should be collected under one church, and governed by the ciders after a "spiritual fashion."

    The city of Nauvoo soon became a large and imposing settlement. An enormous building, called the Temple of Zion, was erected, half church, half hotel, in which Joe Smith and the other prophets resided -- and large storehouses were connected with it, in which the goods and chattels belonging to the community were kept for the common good.


    However, here, as every wlrere else, they were continually quarrelling with their neighbours; and as their numbers increased, so did their audacity. A regular Mormon militia was again organised and armed, under the command of experienced officers, who had joined the sect; and now the authority of the state government was openly defied. In consequence, the executive took measures to put down the nuisance, and a regular war commenced, and was carried on for some time, with no little bloodshed on both sides; and this armed movement is known in the United States as the Mormon war. The Mormons, however, who, it seemed, were much better skilled in the use of the tongue than the rifle, succumbed: the city of Nanvoo was taken, Joe Smith and other ringleading prophets captured; and the former, in an attempt to escape from his place of confinement was seized and shot. The Mormons declare he had long foretold his own fate, and that when the rifles of the firing party who were his executioners were levelled at the prophet's breast, a flash of lightning struck the weapons from their hands, and blinded for a time the eyes of the sacrilegious soldiers.

    With the death of Joe Smith the prestige of the Mormon cause declined; but still thousands of proselytes joined them annually, and at last the state took measures to remove them altogether, as a body, from the country.

    Once again they fled, as they themselves term it, before the persecutions of the ungodly! But this time their migration was far beyond the reach of their enemies, and their intention was to place between them the impassable barrier of the Rocky Mountains, and to seek a home and resting-place in the remote regions of the Far West.

    This, the most extraordinary migration of modern times, commenced in the year 1845; but it was not till the following year that the great body of the Mormons turned their backs upon the settlements of the United States, and launched boldly out into tho vast and barren prairies, without any fixed destination as a goal to their endless journey. For many months, long strings of Pittsburg and Conostaga waggons, with herds of horses and domestic cattle, wound their way towards the Indian frontier, with the intention of rendezvousing at Council Bluffs on the Upper Missouri. Here thousands of waggons were congregated, with their tens of thousands of men, women, and children, anxiously waiting the route from the elders of the church, who on their parts scarcely knew whither to direct the steps of the vast crowd they had set in motion. At length the indefinite destination of Oregon and California was proclaimed, and the long train of emigrants took up the line of march. It was believed the Indian tribes would immediately fraternise with the Mormons, on their approaching their country; but the Pawnees quickly undeceived them by running off with their stock on every opportunity. Besides these losses, at every camp, horses, sheep, and oxen strayed away and were not recovered, and numbers died from fatigue and want of provender; so that, before they had been many weeks on their journey, nearly all their cattle, which they had brought to stock their new country, were dead or missing, and those that were left were in most miserable condition.

    They had started so late in the season, that the greater part were compelled to winter on the Platte, on Grand Island, and in the vicinity, where they endured the greatest privations and suffering from cold and hunger. Many who had lost their stock lived upon roots and pig-nuts; and scurvy, in a most malignant form, and other disorders, carried off numbers of the wretched fanatics.

    Amongst them were many substantial farmers from all parts of the United States, who had given up their valuable farms, sold off all their property, and were dragging their irresponsible and unfortunate families into the wilderness -- carried away by then -- blind and fanatic zeal in this absurd and incredible faith. There were also many poor wretches from different parts of England, mostly of the farm-labouring class, with wives and families, crawling along with helpless and almost idiotic despair, but urged forward by the fanatic leaders of the movement, who promised them a land flowing with milk and honey to reward them for all their hardships and privations.

    Their numbers were soon reduced


    by want and disease. When too late, they often wished themselves back in the old country, and sighed many a time for the beer and bacon of former days, now preferable to the dry buffalo meat (but seldom obtainable) of the Far West.

    Evil fortune pursued the Mormons, and dogged their steps. The year following, some struggled on towards the promised land, and of these a few reached Oregon and California. Many were killed by hostile Indians; many perished of hunger, cold, and thirst, in passing the great wilderness; and many returned to the States, penniless and crestfallen, and heartily cursing the moment in which they had listened to the counsels of the Mormon prophet. The numbers who reached their destination of Oregon, California, and the Great Salt Lake, are computed at 20,000, of whom the United States had an unregretted riddance.

    One party had followed the troops of the American government intended for the conquest of New Mexico and the Californias. Of these a battalion was formed, and part of it proceeded to Upper California; but the way being impracticable for waggons, some seventy families proceeded up the Arkansas, and wintered near the mountains, intending to cross to the Platte the ensuing spring, and join the main body of emigrants on their way by the south pass of the Rocky Mountains.

    In the wide and well-timbered bottom of the Arkansas, the Mormons had erected a street of log shanties, inwhich to pass the inclement winter. These were built of rough logs of cotton-wood, laid one above the other, the interstices filled with mud, and rendered impervious to wind or wet. At one end of the row of shanties was built the "church" or temple -- a long building of huge logs, in which the prayer-meetings and holdings-forth took place. The band wintering on the Arkansas were a far better class than the generality of Mormons, and comprised many wealthy and respectable farmers from the western states, most of whom were accustomed to the life of woodmen, and were good hunters. Thus they were enabled to support their families upon the produce of their rifles, frequently sallying out to the nearest point of the mountains with a waggon, which they would bring back loaded with buffalo, deer, and elk meat, thereby saving the necessity of killing any of their stock of cattle, of which but few remained.

    The mountain hunters found this camp a profitable market for their meat and deer-skins, with which the Mormons were now compelled to clothe themselves, and resorted there for that purpose -- to say nothing of the attraction of the many really beautiful Missourian girls who sported their tall graceful figures at the frequent fandangoes. Dancing and preaching go hand in hand in Mormon doctrine, and the "temple" was generally cleared for a hop two or three times during the week, a couple of fiddles doing the duty of orchestra. A party of mountaineers came in one day, bringing some buffalo meat and dressed deer-skins, and were invited to be present at one of these festivals.

    Arrived at the temple, they were rather taken aback by finding themselves in for a sermon, which one of the elders delivered preparatory to the "physical exercises." The preacher was one Brown -- called, by reason of his commanding a company of Mormon volunteers, "Cap'en Brown," -- a hard-featured, black-coated man of five-and-forty, correctly got up in black continuations and white handkerchief round his neck, a costume seldom seen at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The Cap'en, rising, cleared his voice, and thus commenced, first turning to an elder (with whom there was a little rivalry in the way of preaching,) "Brother Dowdle!" (brother Dowdle blushed and nodded -- he was a long tallow-faced man, with black hair combed over his face,) "I feel like holding forth a little this afternoon, before we glorify the Lord, -a -a -in the -a -holy dance. As there are a many strange gentlemen now -a, -present, it's about right to tell 'em -a -what our doctrine just is, and so I tells 'em right off what the Mormons is. They are the chosen of the Lord; they are the children of glory, persecuted by the hand of man: they flies here to the wilderness, and, amongst the Injine and the buffler, they lifts up their heads, and cries with a loud voice, Susannah, and hurray for the promised land! Do you believe it? I know it.

    "They wants to know whar we're going. Whar the church goes -- thar we goes. Yes, to hell, and pull the devil off his throne -- that's what we'll do. Do you believe it? I know it...


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