THE MORMON PROBLEM.
From Grace Greenwood's Letter.
The hardest consequences of the sudden and forcible breaking up of the system of polygamy would be visited on the ones who suffer most everywhere, in social convulsions and overturnings, and are every-where the least guilty- the women and children. It would take from hundreds of Mormon wives the little title to the world's tolerance they now possess, destroy their self-re-respect, and drive them from their-from the places they call home.-They have mostly entered on the relation in good faith, in a blind be-lief that it was of Divine appointment. Even when convinced of their error, dishonor and want have barred their way of escape, and children's arms have held them back. Aside from their own interests or belief, they oppose a measure which wrould scatter and bastardise their children.-For these reasons the women of Utah, though in full possession of the ballot, have failed to fulfil the prophecy of Miss Dickinson, to "vote themselves free and virtuous." You are struck by the great number of children everywhere here.- Some houses absolutely overflow with them ; some tables are embowered in "olive branches." The different sets get along very well together generally, but that is little wonder, after the miracle of agreement between the mothers. Polygamy does not seem to spare women the cares of maternity. I know a Mormon household in which two middle-aged wives count about two dozen children between them. I took two little fair haired girls for twins, and they were a sort of polygamic twins, born almost at the same time in the same house, of different mothers. It seems co me that the children here do not look as happy and bright as in our towns. I fancy that the little girls at least have something of the subdued, repressed look of their mothers. But some few of them are pretty, and nearly all neatly and comfortably dressed. I hear that they have very good schools, and are under good discipline at home, answering to the roll-call at night, and duly honoring their father and mothers.
Many Mormon wives are sisters, and it is said they get along quite quite harmoniously. The very nature of women seems to be changed here, and turned upside down and inside out. An intelligent "first wife" told a Gentile neighbor that the only wicked feelings she had about her husband taking a second wife was that he did not take her sis-ter, who wanted him, or rather a share in him. She would have liked to have the property kept in the fam-ily. I saw, the other day, a pair of young wives, sisters, walking hand-in-hand, dressed alike in every particular, of the same height and complexion, and of the same apparent age-indeed, looking so exactly alike that it was almost a case of mitigated bigamy. It must seem queer, even to them, to say "our husband," as they used to say "our piano" or "our pony."
The most singular and unnatural marriages here are those of men with their wives' mothers. These are not unfrequent. It strikes me this is a seditious plot against immemorial domestic authority, the most ancient court of feminine appeal- that it is an attempt to do away with mother-in- law. When, young wives are taken, the three or five do not always become one flesh, there is sometimes rebellion and even hostility on the part of the old wife. Occasionally a husband objects to having even a second wife imposed on him. I heard of one the other who, though he finally submitted to the command of the imperial Brigham that he should take and provide for a certain poor woman-"a lone, lorn cretur"-declared he couldn't "a bear her," and at once put her way on a ranch forty miles from town-pensioned and pastured her out. This sytem has its serious and perplexing aspect-it is a fearful problem, which, like the riddle of the sphynx, may prove the destruction of those who attempt rash-ly to solve it and fail, but it has also its ludicrous, its grotesque aspects, and they always strike me first, though the laugh they provoke is quickly succeeded b y a sad realiza-tion, sweeping over me like a great bitter wave, of all there is in it of error, of suffering, and of peril.
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