THE PACIFIC RAILROAD AND MORMON POLYGAMY.
It is stated that the Pacific Railroad will be completed this week; which only means that before Saturday night there will be a continuous track (of some quality or other) of iron rails stretching all the way from Omaha to San Francisco. Some of it, we suppose, is badly built, and considerable time must yet elapse before the road is in such a state of equip-ment as will enable it to do a con-siderable business. But with all abate-ments for imperfection, an unbroken track of rails across the continent is a splendid trophy of successful enterprise; and even though much of it may have to be rebuilt, there will presently begin to roll over it a tide of travel and trade that will never be for any length of time interrupted so long as the Rocky Mountains shall stand upon their bases. It is impossible to overrate the stimulating effect of this great achievement on the development of our national resources, the expansion of our com-merce, and the settlement of our trans-Mississippi domain. For the present, we leave these interesting topics of spec-ulation, to point out the probable ef-fect of the Pacific Railroad in solving a local problem of minor consequence, but still a problem of much interest, which has long enlisted the public curiosity, and has thus far baffled all the efforts of the govern-ment. We refer to the polygamy which has taken such deep root in the thriving Terri-tory of Utah. We never had any faith in attempts to sup-press that institution by legislation. It is probably destined to fall by the silent oper-ation of natural causes, which will be brought into operation by the completion of the Pacific road. The great distance of the Salt Lake Valley from the highways of commerce, has operated as a barrier against the introduc-tion of luxuries, and has kept the inhabitants in a state of primitive sim-plicity in their mode of living. Those of the Mormons whose energy and business capacity have enabled them to amass property, are unable to spend their incomes on such objects as are most valued by the prosperous classes in a civilized and commercial community. A rich Mormon cannot gratify his pride with gorgeous upholstery, splendid equipages, and the usual marks of social distinction. But he can afford expense of some kind, and he courts consideration by outshining his neigh-bors in the size of his rude domestic estab-lishment—in the number of his wives and the multitude of his progeny. They are as much a mark of so-cial distinction as the stud and hounds of an English lord. Now, the opening of a great channel of commerce which will break up the seclusion of the Mormons and bring them into constant connec-tion with the Gentile world, will pro-duce a rapid change in the personal tastes of the prosperous members of the com-munity. It will generate a desire for luxury and display by cheapening those objects of expenditure which are most dear to the van-ity of a civilized people. When the Morman women acquire, as they certainly will, a taste for expensive personal adorn-ment, when they come to covet ele-gant furniture and aspire to pay visits in coaches, it will be found that the income even of the richest men is not ad-equate to support the burden of polygamy. In communities where the taste for luxury and show is highly developed, multitudes of men with fair incomes prefer not to marry at all, considering the expense of one wife and her children, supported in the style which a husband of some social pride would desire, as too heavy a drain upon their resources. The coarseness and vulgarity of the Mormons are no obstacle to their acquiring expensive tastes. The uncultured wives and daughters of our shoddyites and successful speculators during the war, were among the best cus-tomers of the importers of elegant frippery. Having no other claim to social considera-tion than an ostentation of expense, uncul-tivated rich people are often more profuse than anybody else in adorning their abodes and their persons. The Mormons, in the distant and almost inaccessible Salt Lake Valley, are in a state of society somewhat resembling that which prevailed in Europe during the latter part of the Middle Ages, when commerce and man-ufactures had not yet supplied the barons with objects of expense, and they had no other way of maintaining their claim to social distinction than by a rude and bound-less hospitality, and by supporting a vast body of dependents and retainers. This mode of life was quickly and com-pletely subverted by the growth of commerce. As soon as luxuries and the means of personal decoration were accessible, the wealthy landholders cast off their retainers, made their hospitality less profuse and more select, and spent their incomes upon costly fabrics and gewgaws. A rich Mormon in Utah spends his income on an immense household of wives, for the same reason that a baron in the Middle Ages spent his upon a crowd of re-tainers. In Salt Lake City a large household is the chief mark of prosperity and social importance. A Morman values a multitude of wives less for the indulgence of his passions than for the gratification of his pride. When other objects of expense become accessible and cheap, there will be a great revolution in the tastes and mode of life of the Mormon community. When the women imbibe a passion for finery, and the men come to feel more pride in the appearance of their wives than in their number, polygamy will break down under the weight of expense which will then be entailed upon the master of a household. The taste for luxury and social display will soonest invade the wealthier class, and from them it will de-scend rapidly to all orders of society, who will emulate the example of the more opu-lent. Vanity is a much more prevailing im-pulse than sexual passion. There are very few people in any community who will marry to lower their social position. Even that unfortunate class of females who are most under the dominion of sexual appetite, are oftener led astray by their inordinate love of dress, which they are enabled to gratify by the wages of sin, than by the more sordid temptation. There is little hazard in predicting that the polygamy of the Mormons cannot long stand against the revolution of taste which is certain to follow the introduction of cheap goods into their territory in consequence of the completion of the Pacific Railroad.
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