Inside View of Mormonism as Seen by a Woman.
REVENGE OF AN OUTRAGED HUSBAND
The Law of Celestial Marriages as Expounded by the Utah Prophets.
ARE POLYGAMOUS WIVES HAPPY?
&c., &c., &c.
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
SALT LAKE CITY, November 9.
Having extended my visit to Salt Lake City sev-eral days beyond the time I had originally designed remaining here, I felt desirous of acquiring all the information I could concerning the inner life of the Mormons, and accordingly requested my “Gentile" friend to introduce me to her female acquintances among the "Latter Days." She replied that she was anxious to oblige me, and would that very after-noon accompany me in a visit to a lady whose his-tory would no doubt interest me. We accordingly set out after dinner, and in a few minutes reached the residence of Mrs. Eleanor McClane Pratt. The house was a ow, one-story concern, built of adobes, and contained one large room used as a schoolroom, a bedroom, and a kitchen at the back. Mrs. Pratt received my friend cordially. I may as well here mention that; the husband of the lady who accompanied me was a favorite with Brigham and the Mormons, as he be-longed to a very limited class of "Gentile" resi-dents of Salt Lake City who could see nothing bad in the peculiar institutions of the Mormons. Hence my friend had the entry of Mormon homes, and was, in fact, a welcome visitor to the houses of the Saints. I could not help remarking that the greet-ing of Mrs. Pratt to myself was cold and distant, while at the same time she appeared to regard me with a suspicious look. It was apparent to me that she did not intend I should gain her confidence if she could help it. After we became seated, and while she was making a few inquiries of my friend, I studied her appearance and manner closely. She is of medium height, thin faced, plainly and even slovenly dressed, with a certain wildness of manner and of the eye at times which denoted a mind dis-eased. I had been previously informed by my friend that she was the Mrs. McClane through whom Parley P. Pratt, a leading Mormon apostle, lost his life. It seems that Pratt, during one of his missionary tours in 1856 or 1857, brought up in Arkansas, where he made the ac-quaintance of Mrs. McClane. Her husband was absent at the time and she remained at home with the children, a boy and two girls, who were quite young. The wily Pratt soon ingratiated himself into the good graces of Mrs. McClane, preached Mormon-ism to her, and finally persuaded her that it was her duty to embrace him and Mormonism, forsake her husband, and with her children accompany him to Zion, there to become one of his polygamous wives. The unexpected return of McClane frustrated their plan for taking the children with them, but Mrs. McClane succeeded in escaping to Salt Lake City, where she was sealed to Pratt. She was, at that time, pretty good looking, although anxiety of mind, and perhaps remorse of conscience has since interfered greatly with her good looks. Although she was, apparently at least, happy in the society of her seducer, yet secretly she pined for the company of the children she had left behind. She accordingly persuaded Pratt to return the next year and attempt their abduction. Pratt went to Brigham for counsel, and Brigham advised him not to go, for if he did McClane would kill him. He therefore re-fused to go, but the constant entreaties of Eleanor at last overcame his resolution, and, procuring a light wagon and span of mules, he started, in com-pany with a Mormon train, taking Mrs. McClane with him. They finally arrived in the neigh-borhood of McClane's house, and, learning that he was absent, the mother sought an interview with her children and tried to persuade them to leave their father and go with her to Salt Lake, but they refused. McClane had anticipated some such move on the part of his faithless wife, and had informed his children of the iniquities practised by the Mor-mons, which made them unwilling to go. McClane had also left a friend to watch for any attempt, upon the part of Pratt and his paramour, to steal the children away, swearing that he would have the heart's blood of any Mormon who attempted it. McClane's friends forwarded a hasty despatch to him informing him of the situation, and he returned very unexpectedly to the would-be abductors. Pratt was informed of McClane's return a few moments be-fore he entered the town, and that he was armed with a bowie-knife and two revolvers, which he purposed using upon Pratt's body. The latter im-mediately mounted his horse and endeavored to escape. He rode out of town at one end as McClane entered at the other. McClane soon found the bird had flown, and the presence of his wife, with the fact of the attempted abduction, added fuel to the flames already raging in his heart. He again mounted his horse, a fleet and powerful one, with the determination to pursue Pratt to Salt Lake City, if he could not sooner overtake him. After a chase of several miles McClane came in sight of Pratt, riding up a long hill. When Pratt gained the top he looked back and saw McClane close behind him, pistol in hand. He immediately put spurs to his horse in the vain hope of escaping, looking back every now and then, with fear depicted upon his countenance, at the near prospect of a speedy ending to his villanous career. But his days were numbered, and a shot from the pistol of McClane passed through his body. He im-mediately fell from his horse, and it is said that Mc-Clane, dismounting, cut his throat from ear to ear. Such was the miserable end of a Mormon apostle, who had broken up the happiness of a man's family by seducing his wife and afterwards attempting the abduction of his children. Mrs. McClane, after she had witnessed the burial of Pratt, returned to Salt Lake City without the children. She was received by the numerous widows of the deceased Pratt with reproaches and contempt, as being the cause and in-direct means of his death. Brigham, however, in-terfered, and assigned her a small portion of Pratt's land, upon which she built a house, and now teaches school for a living. She is crazy upon two subjects, Mormonism and the killing of Pratt by her husband McClane. I determined to draw her out on the lat-ter subject as soon as an opportunity presented. My friend informed her that I was only temporarily stopping in the city, and that I wished to see some few of the Mormon ladies at home before con-tinuing my journey. She immediately turned to me and asked if I was a lecturess. I replied that I was not, neither did I expect to lecture upon any subject, Mormon or otherwise, but simply wished to to see a little of Mormon home life, for my own in-struction.
She replied that she was glad I was not a lec-turess, for since Anna Dickinson had obtained what information she could and then used it in a lecture against the Mormons, she did not care to be com-municative to strangers. She thought my desire to learn the truth was commendable, and if I sought the truth prayerfully, with a wish to do right, the Lord would bless me, and eventually bring me into the true faith.
“Then," said I, “you believe Mormonism to be the only true faith."
"I do," she replied. "I firmly believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, as much as any of those mentioned in the Old Testament. I know it for myself and not for another. Brigham Young is the man upon whom the mantle of the martyred Joseph fell, and is inspired to lead the Lord's chosen people. I have never had a doubt concerning the truth of Mormonism, since I first heard the gospel of life and salvation from the lips of the martyred Par-ley P. Pratt."
“You was present, I understand, during the last moments of Parley P. Pratt ?"
“Yes, I assisted in preparing his body for the grave. The bloodthirsty McClane did his work effectually, and he never spoke after he was shot. I remember the affair as well as though it was but yesterday. Every one in the town where McClane lived knew that he was after Parley to kill him, and all was excitement in the streets. The people ran out to the edge of the town to see him killed; but, when Parley's body was brought in, a solemn stillness succeeded the hubbub of the hour previous. The people spoke with hushed voices and affrighted looks, as though they began to realize that a servant of God had been slain, and to feel that the judgments of the Almighty would fall upon them for the deed."
"Was McClane punished for killing Mr. Pratt?" I asked.
“No," she replied; "but his death has been fear-fully avenged upon the nation which has permitted the blood of the Prophets to be spilt without pun-ishing the murderers."
“Was you divorced from McClane," I asked, “previous to marrying Mr. Pratt."
“No," she replied; "the sectarian priests have no power from God to marry; and, as a so-called marriage ceremony performed by them is no marriage at all, no divorce was needed. The priesthood, with its powers and privileges, can be found nowhere upon the face of the earth but in Utah."
She said this in a positive tone of voice, and with an air of determination which said as plainly as so many words, “gainsay it if you can." As I did not come for argument but for information, I made no reply to her assertions.
Continuing her conversation, which seemed to nave taken the form of a sermon, she said: "I re-gard the law of celestial marriage, or, as the 'Gen-tiles' term it, polygamy, as the keystone of our religion. That is wherein we differ with the sects of the world. They hope for a salvation in a heaven where husbands and wives shall be utter strangers to each other; we expect to reach a heaven where we shall rear families, the same as we do here. We could not do this unless we had a revelation au-thorizing celestial marriage; and we could not be saved in the celestial kingdom without obeying this revelation. It is the great distinctive feature of our religion, and by it must our religion stand or fall."
I began to think by this time that I had heard enough about “celestial marriage," as understood by Mrs. McClane Pratt, and my friend seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion, for she arose and said that we would have to take our leave.
Mrs. Pratt was evidently a woman of education, but deeply imbued with the fanaticism of her re-ligion, which warps her judgment and prejudices her against everything not Mormon.
My friend now proposed to call a few minutes upon Mrs. Orson Pratt, the first wife of the "Apostle," who is a brother of Parley P. Pratt. On my way thither I learned that Mrs. Pratt, although silently acquiescing in the system of the community in which she lived with her husband, was at heart no Mor-mon. She did not believe in the divine mission of either Joe Smith or Brigham Young, nor did she be-lieve in the Mormon doctrines. Her continued resi-dence among the Mormons was due to the fact that she could not, in her old age, leave her husband and go forth alone and destitute into a world of which she had known nothing for the past twenty years. Hence she remained in Mormonism, but not of it. The church authorities accuse her of having taught her children heresy, on account of which they have left the Mormon Church. Her oldest son, Orson, a talented young man and a fine musician, was cut off several years ago for refusing to go on a mission. When asked by Brigham the reason for his refusal, he replied that he was not going to preach things which he believed to be false. His excommu-nication came soon after. The experience of Mrs. Pratt in Mormonism has been bitter in the extreme. In Nauvoo she was the young, cher-ished, and beautiful only wife of Orson Pratt, then a young, talented man, and one of Smith's apostles. The licentious Smith cast his baleful glances upon her and marked her for a victim. He kept Orson preaching so that he could not accumulate any property, and, after he had used up his means, sent him on a mission to Europe, promising that the church would look after his wife. He then laid his plans to attempt the seduction of Mrs. Pratt. He communicated his intentions to John C. Bennet, his counsellor and right hand man, who, being a particular friend of Orson and of his young wife, communicated Smith's design to her. She refused to credit Bennet's story, for she was then a sincere disciple of Smith, and a firm believer in Mormonism. One day Smith called at the wretched abode of Mrs. Pratt, and, under cover of a revelation, endeavored to persuade her to accede to his wishes. She steadily refused, and threatened to call assistance if he did not leave the house. The baffled Smith left to a rage, de-claring he would bring her to terms. Her allow-ance of provisions from the tithing-office was stopped, and Smith tried to starve her into com-pliance. She held out steadily, subsisting as best she could, with the aid of a friend, until the time of Orson's return drew nigh. About this time Smith and Bennet fell out, and the former, fearful of consequences, determined to save his own rotten reputation by charging Mrs. Pratt and Bennet with adultery. When Orson Pratt re-turned to Nauvoo, Smith poured his vile falsehoods into his ears, but his confidence in the integrity of his young wife remained unshaken. When he heard her story, and the statements of Bennet, he saw Smith in his true character and immediately left Nauvoo, refusing to remain a disciple any longer. Smith stormed, swore, and denounced them from his pulpit, calling Mrs. Pratt the vilest names he could think of. He was brought to his senses by ascer-taining that many of his prominent men were on the verge of apostasy, and that, if he did not regain Pratt's influence and services, his church would be broken to pieces. He finally managed to conciliate Pratt and bring him again to Nauvoo, as devoted an adherent as ever; but the veil had been torn from the eyes of Mrs. Pratt, rudely it is true, but effectually, nevertheless, and she saw Smith, not as a righteous prophet, but as a devil, in all his hideousness and deformity. Her faith in him and his religion had departed forever.
After a long walk we reached the abode of Mrs. Pratt, and, entering, found ourselves in the pres-ence of a fine-looking elderly lady, who received us courteously and invited us to be seated. She had evidently been handsome when younger, but care and sorrow had left their traces upon her face in heavier lines than time alone could have done.
Probably the heaviest affliction she had been called upon to endure was her husband's rewarding her youthful devotedness to him by taking several wives after he arrived in Utah.
I feft emboldened by her free, unaffected manner, to ask her if her experience in polygamy had been a happy one.
She replied, "No! neither do I believe that the experience of any first wife can be a happy one, whatever may be that of the plural wives. The first wife cannot easily tear from her heart affections which have been rooted by time and strengthened by the single, undivided love of her husband for years. It would be unnatural to suppose that such a thing could be. It is true that first wives, through lapse of time, become somewhat reconciled to their lot, but only at the cost of heart-rending anguish, and a snapping asunder of all the ties which bind them to their husbands. My testi-mony, like that of many other first wives in poly-gamy, is, that I have suffered greatly, and have only become reconciled when I could bring myself to regard my husband without affection, and as a woman would look upon a husband from whom she had been divorced forever.
At this moment the door opened, and a young lady entered, who was introduced to us as Miss Zina Pratt. She is the daughter of Orson Pratt, by another of his wives, but she is a bitter opponent of Mormonism, and especially polygamy. She ap-peared to be a lively, intelligent girl, possessed of much good sense, and evidently believing in the "Gentile" fashions denounced by Brigham. Two years ago she was engaged to be married to a young "Gentile," but the match was rather forcibly broken up by her father. It appears that she was introduced to a young man named Frank McGovern, by a mutual friend, upon one of the skating ponds near this city, McGovern, an elegant skater, undertook to learn Miss Pratt to skate, and, while thus engaged in gliding over the ice together, it was but natural that they should glide into each other's affections. On account of the prejudice against “Gentiles" entertained by her father, their meetings were clandestine. They finally arranged a marriage, the ceremony to be per-formed by one of the Federal judges. But the Argus eyes of the secret police had kept a close watch, and discovered their plans. On the evening agreed upon for the marriage, they met at the house of a mutual friend. No sooner had they entered the house than the police spies, who were on the watch, informed Orson Pratt of the intended wedding, Pratt repaired immediately to the house, accom-panied by several policemen, and entered as the couple were about starting for the house of the judge. A scene at once ensued, which ended in two po-licemen holding McGovern firmly by the arms, while the meek and venerable "Apostle" beat and kicked him until he was tired. After this valiant performance the policemen informed McGovern that if he did not leave the city in twenty-four hours he would be effectually disposed of. McGovern took the stage for south Pass City the next morning. Miss Pratt returned home with her father, more bitter than ever against the Mormon institution. Our conversation with Mrs. Pratt was an interesting one; but, situated as she is among the Mormons, for reasons which must be apparent, I do not think it advisable to report it. As evening approached, after a pleasant interview, we took leave of Mrs. Pratt with sincere regret. H.
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