When I left the train at Ogden, the dawn had touched the mountain snow crests with a delicate rose pink. The valley was still dark; those glowing summits hung like clouds in the sky. Then the pink turned to orange, the orange to chrome, the chrome to pale canary, and that to a crystalline white; and it was day. "What a paradise!" thought I. And with that took up a morning paper, and read in the headlines, “Po1ygamy,” and other things not to be mentioned. Oh it was saddening! The beauty of Utah is tarnished, its alpine atmosphere tainted, its moral trend vile and low. And yet, aside from the curse of plural marriage, you have here the very pearl of the Rockies: a land rich in gold and silver and lead and gleaming precious stones; marvelous in its resources for the breeding of horses and sheep; fertile of soil and varied of climate, so that farms produce wheat and potatoes in one part of the state, and almonds, figs, pomegranates, and cotton in another. Moreover, the Mormons have developed every source of industry that goes to the making of a commercially independent commonwealth. Unlike the other intermontane states, Utah possesses a complete social order, masses as well as classes, the foundations of a people as well as its proud superstructure.
In the beginning of Mormonism, Brigham Young, that extraordinary character, for daring a Cromwell, for intrigue a Machiavelli, for executive force a Moses, and for the utter absence of conscience a Bonaparte, led up his people into the wilderness. It was a veritable pilgrimage, a soultrying "move” across a trackless continent, harassed the while by savages. These wanderers trusted in Brigham Young as in their God. One hundred and fortythree persons, with seventytwo wagons, ninety-three horses, fiftytwo mules, sixtysix oxen, and nineteen cows, marched in the van. Two hundred Saints trod close in their rear. They traversed the wastes of Nebraska and Wyoming, crested the Rockies, and at last looked down upon a treeless, yellow valley. "See! " cried Brigham. "There is another Dead Sea, there another Lake of Gennesaret, and betwixt them another Jordan. This is the holy Canaan. Let us enter and possess the land." Accordingly, the Mormons halted their train, and began to establish themselves for permanent abode, a thousand miles from the borders of civilization, in what was then Mexican territory.
Their first task was the redemption of the desert. Eager hands assailed the sagebrush, and brought clown water in trenches from the mountains. The Mormons became the inventors of American irrigation. Lucern absorbed the alkali from the soil. Crops sprang up; crickets attacked the crops; and then, by a miracle, a vast flock of white sea gulls, never seen before on the lake, fell upon the crickets and devoured them all. The vale became fruitful, and soon turned .a transcontinental halfway house, or caravansary, making possible the development of California, Nevada, and Idaho. To Utah the Saints beckoned all true believers. Some came by ship round the Horn; some dragged handcarts over the prairies and mountain passes; while immense wagon trains rumbled westward, a marvel to bison and marmot.
By 1848 Brigham Young had two thousand subjects. They had named their country Deseret, "the home of the honey bee," and they styled it "a free and independent state."
Then swiftly upgrew the Mormons' intermontane principality. Farms dotted its valleys, tiny hamlets clustered amongst its gulches, roads led from village to village, and all roads led at last to the holy city where centered its theocratic government. And the capital city was Zion in truth, builded by Brigham Young "according to the pattern shown him in the mount." It "lieth foursquare." In the midst of the city, within a vast inclosure girt by stout yellow ramparts, looms the House of the Lord, four gray walls and six gray towers, their slender spires half reminiscent of lovely Peterborough, mysterious, repellent, yet fascinating, a Gregorian chant done in deathless granite. Forty years was the temple in building. Beside the Temple crouches the Tabernacle, a squat brown turtle shell set hard upon countless red pillars. Near by is another inclosure, walled like the first and buttressed with cobblestones, where tithing is taken and coin counted out, and where, in the earlier day, Brigham Young made his home, and incidentally the home of his incalculable wives. There in the highway rises the tall plinth which supports the bronze statue of Brigham himself. To the four points of the compass run the stately broad streets of the Mormon capital, lined with superb shops, adobe cottages, and occasional really magnificent houses, and shaded by never ending rows of tall, shivering Lombardy poplars, "planted by rivers water" drawn in little irrigation ditches from the melting snows of the mountains. And round about the city those naked crags leap into high heaven, blue in the crystalline lustre of the upper atmosphere, caressed by lagging cloud drifts, crested a gleaming white by the same storms that drop rain to the valley to brighten the purple asters. Such, ill a word, is Salt Lake City, the city of uncrowned Caesars and tiaraless popes, the Rome of a new and strange religion.
Go upon the Sabbath to the Tabernacle service. Sit beneath that crude white vault, look about you upon twelve thousand Mormon devotees, listen to the grotesque elucidation of Brighamite doctrine, and you will feel as if you were living five hundred years ago. Ah, but the music! you think of Il Penseros:
There let the pealing organ blow;
To the full voiced choir below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before my eyes.
And that is just the devil of it! The religious instinct is thus yoked with delusion, treason, and crime.
No other instance of social transplantation and metamorphosis in America is in any way comparable with this Mormon migration. Yankee traits persist throughout Greater New England; the sweep of the Pennsylvanian from state to state leaves the Pennsylvanian very little changed; the Southern tide that rolls over lower Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana is salted with the flavor of the old Confederacy; but in Utah ho astounding the transformation! Scarce had the Mormons caught their dupe when they made him over completely, giving him a degrading religion, a novel contentment with abridged liberty, and a perverted conscience which approved of plural marriage.
Let me be understood. I am not attacking Mormonism because I think it a false creed. I do so think it, but I am attacking it because it stands for treason and crime sanctioned by fabricated "revelations." The Mormon theocracy or "theodemocracy” is an utterly un-American conception. With the form of a republic, it is ideally an absolute monarchy; feigning to rest upon the consent of the governed, it exalts its president to supreme power over all believers. Said Brigham Young, “ I am God to them." And as for polygamy, though only six per cent of the married men ever had plural families, the institution was sustained by the entire church, and is so sustained in principle today. Polygamy made Utah. Abnormally increasing its population, it became the basis of imperial ambitions. The Saints would overrun the earth.
Now I gladly admit, on the other hand, one splendid result of Mormonism. Along with its strong men, it has gathered many incompetent, many unfit, some degenerate, from all countries, fired them with religious mania, attached that mania to temporal activities, and bred a spirit of tireless industry. Utah is therefore a social elevator. The penniless immigrant, where else is he half so sure of such helping hands? A bishop allots him his acres, a bishop lends him his implements, a bishop talks wisely of seeds and of harvest. Presently, this serf, or pauper, or Georgia cracker has become selfsupporting and prosperous. Nine tenths of the LatterDay Saints own their homes. Beyond a doubt, the Mormon church is, considered purely as a political economist's scheme, "today nearer to being a successful effort to inaugurate the brotherhood of man than anything ever tried."
Here, then, is a social and political force to be reckoned with. Marvelous in its power over the individual, it is rapidly becoming an actual menace to the nation. Already it numbers a million adherents. It owns Utah. It holds the balance of power in Idaho, in Wyoming, in Colorado, in California, and in Nevada. When Arizona and New Mexico are admitted to the Union, it will controI them also.
I applied for instruction to the heads of the church, who welcomed me with so charming a courtesy that I have never of the church, who welcomed me with so Cohenim of the Salem Street ghetto. Gentle souls are these Mormon patriarchs, —soft-voiced, sunny, and smooth; and many a pleasant evening have I passed, sitting patient at their feet. Thus, little by little, I came to a comprehension of the forces both psychic and civic which go to the making of Mormon success.
The first is the force of objective authority. Trace the whole long path of religious reflection, and you find but four, sanctions for doctrinal tenet: the Roman sanction, which is the church; the Old Evangelical sanction, which is the letter of Scripture; the Progressive Orthodox sanction, which is the teaching of Christ; and the Outer Liberal sanction, which is the individual reason. And now comes the Mormon, seeking adherents. "What!" cries the Catholic "Leave my church for yours, with its divine origin, is venerable history, its gorgeous ritual, its adoration of the blessed Mother of God, for yours with a claim no sterner and a temple worship no lovelier?” Mormon missions fall fruitless in Romish lands. A shame," cries Progressive Orthodoxy, "to exalt the Old Testament to' rank with the New!" Since the beginning of the Progressive Orthodox transition, the Mormon evangelist has appealed solely to the ignorant, unenlightened masses. "Oh, pitiful imbecility! " exclaims the Outer Liberal. "No book authority for us! " You never saw the rationalist taught by Joseph Smith. But with the Old Evangelical how widely different the case! Truly, the Mormon church is the legitimate byproduct of the Calvinistic theology. Make Scripture the seat of religions authority; call the Bible, not a record of spiritual evolution, but an indiscriminate armory of proof texts; adopt an antique interpretation of prophecy; and, bless you, you are out upon the broad highroad to Salt Lake City. "Keep your Bible," says the LatterDay Saint, " believe it from cover to cover; but add the Book of Mormon, which explains its mysteries, reconciles its discrepancies, sustains its doctrines, and exactly fulfills its predictions." No other creed is so literalistic, no other church so immovably based on the letter of Scripture.
How came this so? Not, I think, by the hand of Joseph Smith. It is far more probable that Sidney Rigdon, long an intimate associate of the Rev. Alexander Campbell, framed the fabric of Mormon doctrine. For Campbell and Rigdon had formerly shared the hope of founding a new religion, and Campbell's Biblical erudition has rarely been equaled. The two quarreled. Campbell went one way to establish his "Campbellite" Disciples, Rigdon another to foist upon the world the Book of Mormon and its youthful prophet. Hence the skill which suited Mormon teaching to its purpose. Hence also its vast inclusiveness.
In this lies a further secret. The faith is a huge maw, gulping a dozen denominations. Are you a Baptist? The Mormon believes in immersion. A Methodist? The Mormon obeys his bishop. A Campbellite? The Mormon claims a yet closer return to apostolic ordinance. A Theosophist? The Mormon holds to preexistence. A Spiritualist? The Mormon hears voices from the dead. A Faith Healer? The Mormon heals by the laying on of hands, A Second Adventt? The Mormon awaits the Messiah. A Universalist? The Mormon says all will be saved. Massing his proof, he declares his peerless religion the one immutable, eternal faith, lost in the early age and restored in the latter clays, though glimmering in broken lights through all the creeds of Christendom. "Bring me from Europe or Asia," said Brigham Young, "a truth that is not a part of Mormonism, and I'll give you a thousand errors for it, if you can find them." Said a Mormon at Harvard, "Sunday by Sunday I go to service in the Appleton Chapel, and there I hear nothing but Mormon doctrine." Limited only by the broad bounds of Christianity, this faith is an amalgamated and coordinated Parliament of Religions.
Mormonism wins by breadth also by narrowness. It meets crude thought with a crude anthropomorphism. It preaches a God of bone and of flesh, in his every attribute human. And this Mormon caricature of divinity resorts for Scriptural sanction to the earlier portions of the Old Testament. The God of Joseph Smith and of Brigham Young, Mormons will tell you, is the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. Then, to reconcile so blunt a doctrine with the refinements of historic Christianity, God is made omnipresent through the Holy Spirit, and the mystery of the Trinity is solved by the assumption of three separate Persons united by a common purpose. "Pure polytheism," I said. "Yes," came the answer; "isn't it grand?" Moreover, the Mormonite realizes that the low religious instinct craves tangible evidence of the unseen. Supi Yawlat caresses the feet of her mud-made Buddha; Sister Angelique clasps her crucifix; millions of Protestants worship their Bibles; but here is a gospel declared by a living prophet, mouthpiece of God and "boss of Jehovah's buckler;" here a creed beset on every hand with visible marvels, miracles, healings, prophecies, revelations, and speaking with tongues.
Am I taking the Mormon too gravely? Perhaps. For today the appeal of Mormonism is less doctrinal than material. It dangles loaves and fishes before hungry mouths. It promises fertile lands in fee simple to the peasants of Scandinavia and the miserable crackers of Georgia. It says to the ragged outcasts of Darkest England, "Come with us to happy Utah: you find no want there; there is plentiful work for all, there is wealth for honest labor." And yet, originally, the power of Mormonism was unquestionably the power of doctrine. It entered American life at a period of intense illiberality. The air was full of schism. The sects teemed with recalcitrants. The time was ripe for the establishment of a church so broadly comprehensive as to welcome the malcontents of all Christendom.
Mormonism has from the first depended for its very life and heart throb upon ceaseless campaigns of propagandism. Aside from the lure of its doctrine or the gaudy fascination of its pledges, it triumphs by main strength. Two thousand youthful 14 elders " roam through "the world," seeking whom they may convert. They sprinkle the earth with tracts; they pass from cottage to cottage, teaching and preaching; they travel at their own expense, " without purse or scrip." When they can, they live like. Napoleon's army, "on the country." So, considering their numbers and their zealous labor, the marvel is not that they bring home adherents; the marvel is that they bring so few.
Here, then, are the forces that fetch men to Utah. See now what keeps them there, and keeps them loyal. Missionary service seals the soul for the object of its devotion. Nearly every young Mormon that is, nearly every young man, and now they are sending young women also goes out to toil and to suffer for the faith. And there is in all this world no confirmation of a faith like that of abuse, and contumely endured in its service. Tithing has also its power. Drop, year by year, a tenth of your income into the coffers of your church, and you learn to love it.
Again, enormous strength lies hid in the extraordinary acoustic properties of Mormonism. A pin let fall in a hat can be heard clean across the great Tabernacle; likewise the whisper of the First President is audible in the remotest gulch or canon of the kingdom. What with his two counselors, his twelve apostles, his presidents of the stake, his bishops, his seventies, his elders, and his teachers, the whisper passes down from ear to ear, changing from English to Swedish, from Swedish to German, from German to Danish, a miracle of tongues and interpretation of tongues,—till perchance it comes, harsh and sibilant, through the keyhole of your kitchen door to the maid with her hands in the dough. Or back, up that ladder of listening ears, goes the whisper of the teacher, to be heard in the president's office. The German government is paternal, but an ill parent compared with this; Tammany Hall a superb organization, but lax beside Mormonism. The ward heeler, that dread bogyman of city politics, what now is he? A petty amateur. This Mormon church boasts the grandest ecclesiastical, political, commercial, and industrial machine on earth! Are quarrels brewing? The church will stop them. Is schism afloat? The church will check it. Is wealth to be gained? The church stands behind the counter with Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution. Is Gentile competition becoming alarming? The church bids its people trade with one another. Are the rills of irrigation like to be wasted? The church sets just the hour and minute for the farmer to open the trench. Are votes to be polled? The church gives commands. There have not been forty scratched ballots in forty years. Are there poor to be fed? The church will feed them. Consequently, whoever once enters so complete a freemasonry finds it not only exceedingly difficult to get out, but also exceedingly desirable to stay in..
Besides, in the day when this iron order was welded, the doctrine of blood atonement had its hideous red part to play. Said Brigham Young: "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world or in that which is to come; and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would e perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins, and the smoking incense would atone for their sins; whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them, and remain upon them in the spirit world. I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it a strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them." Now one of these unforgivable sins, from which men might be saved by assassination, was the sin of apostasy from the Mormon church. "Rather than that apostasy should flourish here," bellowed the prophet Brigham in a mighty discourse, "I will unsheathe my bowie knife, and conquer or die!” Such was the temper of the Mormon Bismarck.
But the main cohesive force is polygamy. Here is once more the philosophy of Benjamin Franklin's " We must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately." With an appalling uniformity, it is polygamists who rise to ecclesiastical eminence. Such can be trusted. Such will stay put. This Mormon church binds its adherents with the strongest bonds known under heaven. It is at once a religion, an empire, a fraternity, a trust, and a partnership in crime.
Though the Mormons had built them a nest in the wilderness, they might not remain there at rest. The Mexican war brought the folk of Deseret back into hated American territory. A mad rush to our newly acquired California swept in throngs of strangers. An army post on the bench above Salt Lake City took away its sovereignty. Time railroad, offering swift escape to Gentile proscripts, and as swift inrushing of government troops whenever they might be needed, gave freedom of speech. Schism cleft the church; the Godbeites seceded; they assailed polygamy, and they founded a journalwhich became the Salt Lake Tribune, intensely, ferociously anti-Mormon. With Gentile immigration came the Christian sects, whose missionaries returned East and inflamed national sentiment.
After that it was certain that the Mountain Meadows massacre would not be repeat Wolf and crow might scour the canons to clean the bones of stray miners murdered alone and in secret, but never again would a heap of one hundred and twenty naked corpses lie festering in the sun for such foul repast. The new era had broken in full clay. Cunning took the place of carnage. Henceforward the Americanization of Mormonism would follow the blazed train of governmental imposition and political combinations. The case against was twofold: polygamy must go; so must the union of church and state.
Strange, you say, that a polygamous rout should have crossed America unmolested, and established itself afresh. Yes, but remember. The Mexican affair covered the flight of the quarry. Who chases the fox when the stag happens by? And again in 1862, when the United States government enacted its first anti-polygamy law and abolished the ordinance incorporating the Mormon church, we were fighting a civil war. Later, we bent our best energies mending the disrupted republic. Consequently, the decency laws remained unenforced in Utah, and crime ran riot. What wonder? The courts were the while in the hands of the Mormons, and though you may sagely set sinner to catch sinner, beware how you set Saint to catch Saint. Twenty years passed, and then the government at Washington saw a great light. So did the Mormons.
Open the Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints; read the Mormon version of the story, and fancy, as you read, that the fox looks over his shoulder at your tall hat, pink coat, and riding whip, and talks back: "The enjoyment of peace was short. Days of sore trial were at hand. In the summer of 1881 a crusade was inaugurated against the Saints to suppress their institution of plural marriage. It was begun by sectarian opponents and politicians. Beginning in Utah, the agitation soon spread throughout the whole land. Alarming falsehoods of Mormon disloyalty, vice, and abominations soon stirred the people of the nation and their national representatives to a fever heat against the Saints…The Edmunds law was signed by President Arthur on the 22d of March, 1882. Polygamy was made punishable by disfranchisement; also a find of not more than five hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not more than three years. Cohabitation with more than one woman was punishable by a fine not to exceed three hundred dollars, and imprisonment not to exceed six months. Polygamists and believers in the doctrine of plural marriage were rendered incompetent to act as jurors. No polygamist could hold office or vote. In 887 a supplemental act was passed, known as the Edmunds Tucker law. This gave additional powers to the officers, required certificates of all marriages to be filed in the offices of the probate courts (whose judges were appointed by the President of the United States), disincorporated the church, and ordered the Supreme Court to wind up its affairs and to take possession of its escheatecl property. Twelve thousand persons were disfranchised. A test oath was subscribed to by those Mormons who decided to retain their rights of franchise, the election machinery having been placed in the hands of a commission of five, appointed by the President of the United States. Their political rights thus interdicted, the Mormons were set upon by the judiciary…There followed an unjustifiably cruel legal persecution. Upwards of a thousand men were sent to the penitentiary, because they would not promise to discard their families. Hundreds were driven into retirement or exile, families were broken up. There was untold sorrow and heartsuffering in their midst. Juries obtained by open venire were unanimous in obeying the bidding of overzealous prosecuting attorneys who were determined on conviction. As a rule, to be suspected was equivalent to arrest, arrest to indictment, indictment to conviction, conviction to the full penalty of the law. Unprincipled, some of them very immoral, adventurers dogged the steps or raided the homes of respectable veterans, founders of the commonwealth. Government aided in the enforcement of the law by increasing special appropriations. Paid spotters and spies prowled among the people. . .The Saints were passing through a night of dreary darkness. Bereft of the counsels and presence of their leaders, torn with anguish, they were taught he lessons of self reliance, dependence upon the Lord, faith in God."
A pious fox, was it not? Hunted and harried near to death, it at last ran into its earth in the Temple, and whined piteously to heaven. "President Woodruff sought the Lord" in behalf of his afflicted people, " and in answer to his petitions of anguish received the word of the Lord authorizing the Saints to discontinue their practice of plural marriage."
Then the Gentiles, taking Mormon word in good faith, recognized "changed conditions," and made Utah a sovereign state. And now the fox is out, nerved by his devotions, and leads his pursuers once more a steaming chase. For there are times in the life of every rightminded fox when he is so good that he is sorry afterwards, and the Mormon church has lately come to one of those times. The Saints break their pledge two ways at once. The editor of the Deseret News (the "organ of the Lord") admits new plural marriages since the manifesto of 1890, while no one attempts to cloak or dissemble the survival of numberless plural marriages contracted before that manifesto.
"Let Utah alone," says B. H. Roberts. "Polygamy will die of itself," says the Mormon church. Polygamy, I reply, will die when we kill it, and not sooner. What matter if new polygamous marriages are rare; what matter if they have to be contracted in states other than Utah; what matter if an apostle must enter into a ship and sail out in to the Pacific Ocean, that he may espouse a fifth concubine? The trouble is not the isolated instance of law-breaking; the trouble is the determined attitude of the Mormon church, which permits the crime, covers the crime, and honors the criminal. Only when Zion will cut off a Saint for his breaking the law can we take Mormon declarations as anything but the delicious hoaxes they have hitherto proved to be.
With the survival or rehabilitation of plural marriages contracted before the manifesto we have been altogether too lenient. Mormons say "Sir, suppose that for fifteen years you have had two wives; suppose you tenderly loved them both; and then suppose that Congress should compel you to relinquish one of them. Do you think you would keep the law?" What puling sentimentality! The Mormons took their wives when polygamy was a crime; they perjured themselves, one and all, when they promise to give them up; and now they stand defiant. A thousand polygamous children have been born in Utah since it was made a state. The church smugly grins and approves. Naturally, for its leaders rank chief among the offenders. Mr. C. M. Owen, who is traversing the state to expose polygamists, telegraphed his paper a dispatch which concluded with this interesting summary: “Of the fifteen leaders who pledged their faith and honor for the future compliance with the law by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints, eleven have been actually guilty of the transgression of the law; one is undoubtedly morally so; and three, two of whom are exceedingly old and feeble men, have complied with the pledge given to the people of the United States through their president."
There was also a purely political side of the contest with Mormonism, Salt Lake, a walled city for years, still remained departmentally a close corporation in the hands of the Mormons. For three long decades their opponents, the “Liberal" party, persevered with a patriotic, unselfish patience, awaiting recognition. Their ranks grew, also their power; and 1889, to the surprise of every Gentile, they carried the county election. That night, the chief of police might well have posted a writ (like that of his Helena comrade, when the capital of Montana had been snatched from Anaconda) to the effect that "any man found sober on the streets after midnight would be run in." The next year Gentiles learned a lesson from Mormondom, organized "tens" in room of "seventies," accounted for every vote in every block in every ward, bought drums by the carload and torches by the mile, and fought "the greatest political battle ever pulled off in this country." When the returns lagged in, all good Mormons buried their heads in the sand. Gentiles thronged the streets. The city flamed with bonfires. Bales, crates, boxes, gates, horseblocks, signs, wagons, I n short, every movable and combustible object in sight was gayly tossed into the blaze.
Then followed an era of dazzling reform. The Gentile administration built a milliondollar town hail, established a public library, borrowed $860,000 and spent it on schools, laid out Liberty Park, graded and paved the streets, lighted them with electricity, piped them for eighty miles with water mains, and tunneled some $400,000 worth of deep drains. But alas, their heads reeling with success, the Liberal party lost their balance, and the Mormon church had its way once more. Consequence, compromise. The former factions should vapor away, and there should be thence forward division on Republican and Democratic party lines. And so it goes today, ostensibly. But latterly one hears a note or two of the old plaint. Here is a perfectly conscienceless political machine, absolutely accurate in its every movement, strong as Tammany and twice as treasonable. If it put forth its power from time to time, why, what else are we to expect?
These are the charges against the Mormon, crime and disloyalty. What retort now finds the Mormon? I went to my Mormon friends, and, to borrow a conceit from the Sweet Auburn folk, "I got the story straight from the bear's mouth.”
Unvarying type traits or stigmata mark Gentile and Mormon. Your Gentile will clench fist, grit teeth, and sputter bad words. Your Mormon, with the usual suavity of an under dog, will spread forth his fat palms, smile a bland, sweet, Asiatic smile, and honey his talk with Scriptural quotations. Half an eye sees which is right. Yet noblesse oblige; let us grant this devil his due. Consider, I beg you, the case of the Mormon, who pleads for polygamy, and boasts a bright liege loyalty to country and country's flag.
Heeding the example of the Rev. Laurence Sterne, who sat in his desobligeante and classified travelers, I looked And found that polygamous Mormons were of five sorts—sentimental Mormons, exegetical Mormons, philosophical Mormons, and barnyard Mormons.
Said a sentimental Mormon: "Polygamy with us is as sacred as baptism. It is for children, who are the heritage of God. The more children we have, the richer and move blessed we are; for we can take our children with us into heaven, and be blessed with them forever. I've three wives and twenty-seven children, and I'll die in the penitentiary before I'll give them up." So saying, he opened a drawer of his desk and took out a bulging packet of portraits, which he spread across my lap and across both arms of my chair, while I took the rest in my hand. One caught my fancy, a dainty lass of seventeen, wide-browed and fair, with the look of a Perugino angel. "A dear, sweet girl," said Abou ben Brigham. "Polygamous child. And I tell you, sir, if Congress knew what splendid children are born in polygamy, we’d soon see an end of this cruel persecution." Another oily sentimentalist proudly whipped open his watch, where lurked a composite photograph of his wives. Such call plural marriage "the supreme exaltation of earthly existence, and the sole key to highest heaven." Hence the Mormon definition of happiness: forty feet on a fender.
The exegetical Mormon sleeps with a Holy bible beneath his pillow. Being a logbook of spiritual progress, the Scripture reflects the successive stages of psychical evolution which produced it. Polygamy prevailing in old Israel, you find no condemnation of it in the Pentateuch; polygamy disappearing from the Semitic social order, you find no mention of it in the gospel; neither is monogamy, distinctly commanded there. And this is most unfortunate. For never will you persuade a Brighamite to call Christian marriage a lily sprung out of the mire. He "believes his Bible from cover to cover," and finding no explicit mention of the pale, pure lily, makes himself a filthy mud gospel from the muck and slime at its root. Nothing can exceed the glibness of his Biblical citations. The Book, forsooth, has turned him a pious knave. To break law is to "live his religion." When he tells the wife of his bosom that he is about to fetch home a concubine, he puts on a sweet, smug front, and says, "Deane, I 'in resolved to live closer to my church and my God." She demurs? Not for long. He will open the sacred volume, and read her a thing or two. This is a commentary on the doctrine of an infallible, inerrant, and verbally inspired divine book, every part of which is as good as every other.
The philosophical Mormon prates long and loud of preexistence and the bright world above us. Human souls, he will argue, had a life of their own ere they entered the body. That magnificent welter of white clouds amid the snowcapped mountain crags is crowded with untabernacled spirits longing to enter upon corporeal existence. Merciful, then is plural marriage which provides in roundest number the fleshly coils they crave. Suppose a man take a wife; suppose the wife die; suppose the man marry again. Then, beyond a doubt the man must be wedded to both in paradise; for Mormons are joined together for time and eternity. If polygamy is right in Heaven, it must a fortiori be right on earth. “Quod erat demonstrandum.”
The sociological Mormon would floor you with statistics. There are more women than men. Unspeakably sad, says he, were it not for polygamy. Curse on his hypocrisy! See what polygamy means. Here are four sisters married to one man; yonder mother and daughter share the love of a bishop; while just over the way, a priest of the order of Melchizedek has lately espoused the granddaughter of his second wife. And what, think you, will be he moral possibilities of children bred of such unions and reared in such homes?
Now the barnyard Mormon keeps this to his honor: he owns the truth. He crassly confesses the creed of the mews. But of the barnyard Mormon the less said the better.
Are these, then, five wholly distinct and separate classes of Mormons? Bless you, no! For the last includes each or all of the others. Mormons, like Gentiles, are moved by mingled motives, —one compels, another condones. Sin wears the varied robe of hypocrisy. Yet this applies only to men. And, Heaven save us, what of the women? They reason alike, and they reason thus: Polygamous wives shall be queen in Elysium. Acquiescence in the husband's plural marriage or plural marriages mounts to the very pinnacle of virtues. Besides, once in, there is never a hope of escape. Then it is only to hold a high head, to land this vice, to beat back the shame of it.
Polygamy, remember, is not abolished; it is only suspended. To the holy apostles I said: "Suppose, sirs, the day of relief should come; suppose the federal government should absolve you from your pledge: what then?" "Then," replied the holy apostles, "we'll go straight back to polygamy!" And this in America! I felt for my fez. Yet think! These vile Asiatics brag big of their patriotism. They have filched from heaven a "revelation" which pronounces the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to be inspired documents. On the Fourth of July, they parade a Goddess of Liberty surrounded by polygamous children representing the states of the Union. "The American people," they say, "have killed our prophet, bombarded our cities, burned our Temple, stoned our elders, and hounded us across the continent; but, spite of all that persecution, we love them still. We feel to say, God forgive them; they know not what they do."
Say unto such they lie. Quote in retort the inspired utterance of Apostle Orson Pratt: "The kingdom of God [id est, the Mormon church] is an order of government established by divine authority. It is the only legal government that can exist in any part of the universe. All other governments are illegal and unauthorized. Any people attempting to govern themselves by laws of their own making or by officers of their own appointment are in direct rebellion against the kingdom of God." Look back to 1861. Said Brigham Young: "The people of the North are praying to God to destroy the people of the South. The people of the South are praying to God to destroy the people of the North. I say Amen to both prayers." These Utah patriots refused for two years to recognize the territorial government, and impudently convened their own congress instead. For many a day they took oath of vengeance upon the United States government. They drove out the first territorial officers. They called Lincoln's assassination the justice of God. They refused admission to Johnson's army. The nation's flag has floated at half-mast in Salt Lake City on Independence Day; it has been dragged in the dust by a Mormon mob. By their own confession, the Saints sought statehood because they "could better redress their grievances inside the Union than outside it."
Pierce the trailing fog of Jesuitic falsehood, and you find the Mormon theocracy still awaiting the day of its triumph, still delighting in hallowed sensuality, still lusting for conquest. That is the meaning of the enormous scheme of colonization. State after state falls victim; all will at last be theirs. Then what holds the storm in leash? "It is fear, little hunter, it is fear."
Lord Rosebery has lately remarked that the Mormons are Boers, the Gentiles Uitlanders, and Utah another South Africa. How perfect the parallel! From the very first the Latter Day Saints have been farmers; from the first their foes have been miners. And the problem is precisely the problem of the present day Transvaal: a state laden with inconceivable mineral treasure is crippled, halted, and dwarfed by the tyranny of an unprogressive race. The Mormon, like Oom Paul, is a "thorn in the hand of Destiny."
Now when two peoples fall foul of each other, the quicker they make trial of strength, the better for both. As with Boer, so with Mormon: the Saint must shortly be beaten; and, very fortunately, he keeps a white flag handy, with a convenient doctrinal beanpole to fly it when needed. Hammered hard enough, he will receive a "revelation; " the revelation will bid him submit. Then how pliable, and at last how feeble, this monster! The Mormon was once commanded to take many wives; then commanded to discard all but one. "God gave us that precious privilege," he says, " and afterward took it from us, because we had not sufficiently availed ourselves of it." The gods of Utah are continually changing their minds; they have always their ears to the ground.
Let us make short shrift of polygamy. Let us promptly cease winking at crime and at treason, for there is no mercy in temporizing sentimentality. “He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow." We must immediately frame a constitutional amendment, prohibiting polygamy in every part of the United States. That will throw all such cases squarely upon the federal courts, where they belong. Two things will happen the Gentiles will soon outnumber the Mormons; the Mormon empire will disintegrate.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.