AMONG THE MORMONS.
The following is taken from an interesting sketch by FITZ HUGH LUDLOW, which appears in the April number of The Atlantic Monthly:
The first Mormon household I ever visited belonged to a son of the famous Heber Kim-ball, Brigham Young's most devoted follower, and next to him in the Presidency. It was the last stage station but one before we entered Salt Lake, situated at the bottom of a green valley in Parley's Canon (named after the cel-ebrated Elder, Parley Pratt); and as it looked like the residence of a well-to-do farmer, I went in, and asked for a bowl of bread and milk,—the greatest possible luxury after a life of ba-con and salt-spring water, such as we had been leading in the mountains. A fine-looking moth-erly woman, with a face full of character, gray-haired, and about sixty years old, rose promptly to grant my request, and while the horses were changing I had ample time to make the ac-quaintance of two pretty young girls, hardly over twenty, holding two infants, of ages not more than three months apart. Green as I was to saintly manners, I supposed that one of these two young mothers had run in from a neighbor's to compare babies with the mistress of the house, after our Eastern fashion, univer-sal with the owners of juvenile phenomena. When the old lady came back with the bread and milk, and both the young girls addressed her as "mother," I was emboldened to tell her that her daughters had a pretty pair of chil-dren.
"They are pretty," said the old lady, demurely, "but they are the children of my son;" then, as if resolved to duck a Gentile head and heels into Mormon realities at once, she added,—"Those young ladies are the wives of my son, who is now gone on a mission to Liverpool,—young Mr. Kimball, the son of Heber Kimball; and I am Heber Kimball's wife."
A cosmopolitan, especially one knowing be-forehand that was not distinguished for monog-amy, might well be ashamed to be so taken off his feet as I was by my first view of Mormon-ism in its practical workings. I stared,—I be-lieve I blushed a little,—I tried to stutter a re-ply; and the one dreadful thought which per-sistently kept uppermost, so that I felt they must read it in my face, was, "How can these young women sit looking at each other's babies without flying into each other's faces with their finger-nails, and tearing out each other's hair?" Heber Kimball afterwards solved the question for me, by saying that it was a triumph of grace.
Such another triumph was Mrs. Heber Kim-ball herself. She was a woman of remarkable presence, in youth must have been very hand-some, would have been the oracle of tea-fights, the ruling spirit of donation visits, in any East-ern village where she might have lived, and, had her home been New York, would have fal-len by her own gravity into the Chief Direc-tress's chair of half a dozen Woman's Aid Soci-eties and Associations for Moral Reform. Yet here was this strong-minded woman, as her husband afterward acknowledged to me, his best counsellor and right-hand helper through a married life reaching into middle age, wit-nessing her property in that husband's affec-tions subdivided and parcelled out until she owned but a one-thirtieth share, not only with-out a pang, but with the acquiescence of her conscience and the approbation of her intellect. Though few first wives in Utah had learned to look concubinage in the face so late in life as this emphatic and vigorous-natured woman, I certainly met none whose partisanship of polyg- questioning and eloquent. She was one of the strangest pscychological prob-lems I ever met, Indeed, I am half inclined to think that she embraced Mormonism earlier than her husband, and, by taking the initiative, secured for herself the only true wifely place in the harem,—the marital afterthoughts of Bro-ther Heber being her servants rather than her sisters. She was most unmistakably his favor-ite.
One day in the Opera-House at Salt Lake, when the carpenters were laying the floor for the Fourth-of-July-Eve Ball, Heber and I got talking of the pot-pourri of nationalities assem-bled in Utah. Heber waxed unctuously benev-olent, and expressed his affection for each suc-ceeding race as fast as mentioned.
"I love the Danes dearly! I've got a Danish wife." Then turning to a rough looking car-penter, hammering near him,—"You know Christiny,—eh, Brother Spudge?"
"Oh, yes! I know her very well!"
A moment after,—"The Irish are a dear peo-ple. My Irish wife is among the best that I've got."
Again,—"I love the Germans! Got a Dutch wife, too! Know Katrine, Brother Spudge? Remember she couldn't scarcely talk a word o' English when she come,—eh, Brother Spudge?"
Brother Spudge remembered,—and Brother Heber continued to trot out the members of his maritai stud for discussion of their points with his more humble fellow-polygamist of the ham-mer; but when I happened to touch upon the earliest Mrs. Heber, whom I naturally thought he would by this time regard as a forgotten fossil in the Lower Silurian strata of his con-nubial life, and referred to the interview I had enjoyed with her on the afternoon before enter-ing the city, his whole manner changed to a proper husbandly dignity, and, without seeking corroboration from the carpenter, he replied, gravely—
"Yes! that is my first wife, and the best wo-man God ever made!"
The ball to which I have referred was such an opportunity for studying Mormon sociology as three months' ordinary stay in Salt Lake might not have given me. Though Mormon-dom is disloyal to the core, it still patronizes the Fourth of July, at least in its phase of fes-tivity, omitting the patriotism, but keeping the fireworks of our Eastern celebration, substitu-ting "Utah" for "Union" in the Buncombe speeches, and having a ball instead of the Dec-laration of Independence. All the saints within a half a day's ride of the city come flocking into it to spend the Fourth. A well-to-do Mor-mon at the head of his wives and children, all of whom are probably eating candy as they march through the metropolitan streets in solid column, looks to the uninitiated like the princi-pal of a female seminary, weak in its deport-ment, taking out his charge for an airing.
Last Fourth of July, it may be remembered, fell on Saturday. In their ambition to repro-duce ancient Judaism (and this ambition is the key to their whole puzzle) the Mormons are Sabbatarians of a strictness which would de-light Lord Shaftesbury. Accordingly, in order that their festivities might not encroach on the early hours of the Sabbath, they had the ball on Fourth-of-July eve, instead of the night of the Fourth. I could not realize the risk of such an encroachment when I read the following sentence printed on my billet of invitation:
"Dancing to commence at 4 P. M."
Bierstadt, myself, and three gentlemen of our party were the only Gentiles whom I found in-vited by President Young to meet in the neigh-borhood of three thousand saints. Under these circumstances I felt like the three-thousandth homoeapathic dilution of monogamy. Morality in this world is so mainly a matter of conven-tion that I dreaded to appear in decent polyga-mic society, lest respectable women, owning their orthodox tenth of a husband, should shrink from the pollution of my presence, whis-pering, with a shudder, "Ugh! Well, I never! How that one-wifed reprobate can dare to show his face!" But they were very polite, and re ceived me with as skillfully veiled disapproba-tion as is shown by fashionable Eastern belles to brilliant seducers immoral in our sense. Had I been a woman, I suppose there would have been no mercy for me.
I sought out our entertainer, Brigham Young, to thank him for the flattering exception made in our Gentile favor. He was standing in the dress-circle of the theatre, looking down on the dancers with an air of mingled hearty kind-ness and feudal ownership. I could excuse the latter, for Utah belonged to him of right. He may justly say of it, "Is not this great Babylon which I have built?" His sole execu-tive tact and personal fascination are the key-stone of the entire arch of Mormon society. While he remains, eighty thousand (and in-creasing) of the most heterogenous souls that could be swept together from the by-ways of Christendom will continue builded up into a coherent nationality. The instant he crumbles, Mormondom and Mormonism will fall to pieces at once, irreparably. His individual magne-tism, his executive tact, his native benevolence, are all immense; I regard him as Louis Napo-leon, plus a heart; but these advantages would avail him little with the dead-in-earnest fanat-ics who rule Utah under him, and entirely per-suaded fanatics whom they rule, were not his qualities all co-ordinated in this one,—absolute sincerity of belief and motive. Brigham Young is the farthest remove on earth from a hypo-crite; he is that grand, yet awful sight in hu-man nature, a man who has brought the lofti-est Christian self-devotion to the altar of the Devil—who is ready to suffer erucifixion for Barabbas, supposing him Christ. Be sure, that, were he a hypocrite, the Union would have nothing to fear from Utah. When he dies, at least four hostile factions, which find their only common ground in the deification of his person, will snatch his mantle at opposite corners. Then will come such a rending as the world has not seen since the Macedonian generals fought over the coffin of Alexander, and then Mormonism will go out of Geogra-phy into the History of Popular delusions. There is not a single chief, apostle, or bishop, except Brigham, who possesses any catholicity of influence. I found this tacitly acknowl-edged in every quarter. The people seem like citizens of a beleaguered town, who know they have but a definite amount of bread, yet have made up their minds to act while it lasts as if there were no such thing as starvation. The greatest comfort you can afford a Mormon is to tell him how young Brigham looks; for the quick, unconscious sequence is, "Then Brig-ham may last out my time." Those who think at all have no conjecture of any Mormon future beyond him, and I know that many Mormons (Heber Kimball included) would gladly die to-day rather than survive him and encounter that judgment-day and final perdition of their faith which must dawn on his new-made grave.
Continued next week.
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