The Fireside Department
A special correspondent of The Tribune, in a letter from Salt Lake City, furnishes an interesting account of the Mormons of Utah, the substance of which is as follows:
All Gentile visitors see Mormonism in its best gar-ments only. Its shadowed household circles are not open for inspection. But the evidence of fraud and infatuation, of wrong doers and wrong-sufferers, is plainly visible.
The despotism of the church is incomparably more absolute than that of any king or emperor. Brigham Young prescribes the most ordinary daily dealings of his followers, with the threatened penalty of damnation for disobedience. The abject submis-sion yielded is owing in great measure to the fact that most of the Mormon people, being taken from the lowest ranks of European society, had never been accustomed to self government.
Young is a great administrator, and a leader of surpassing attainments. He never sees any stranger alone, for fear of assassination. He converses freely on most topics, but has little to say in regard to the interior workings of Mormonism, or the number and condition of his wives and children. He is sixty-six years old, of medium height, rather corpulent, has light auburn hair, and heavy sandy whiskers, except on his lips. His eyes are light blue, rather expres-sionless, his nose prominent, his lips thick. His whole appearance is that of a man of obstinate will. He is quite graceful in his manners and movements.
He is eminent as a mimic, and often uses this power in his sermons. He is a singularly able, versatile and unscrupulous impostor, who hides his revolting licen-tiousness by deliberate blasphemy.
No two writers estimate alike the number of Young's family, and no Mormon professes to know. Probably he has fifteen or twenty wives in his house-hold, besides others who are simply sealed to him, to share his crown in the future world. Even the dead have been married to him by proxy. His first wife— lawfully wedded before the invention of polygamy— now lives by herself in a pleasant cottage, some dis-tance from the harem. She is said to be a firm be-liever, and to accept her situation as divinely ordain-ed. She seems to be the most intelligent and refined of all. The last taken wife—a niece of the first—is of quite a different spirit, being disorderly and rebel-lious to the last degree. She was tried in the harem, but threatened the subversion of all law and order there, and is now quartered in a house of her own, beyond range of others. No wife is displaced for a successor without keen sorrow and frenzied resist-ance.
Polygamy was no part of Jo. Smith's creed. He denounced it, and his widow and sons have discarded the Salt Lake people on account of it. It is the in-vention of Brigham Young, and is made by him a means of strengthening his power, as it enables him to connect himself by marriage with every family of importance in Zion. The heart-broken wives sup-pose that their crosses here will procure for them brighter crowns above.
Strangers are denied acquaintance with plural wives, and polygamy is never a welcome subject of conversa-tion. When introduced, it is treated as some delicate or painful scandal would be. In no case does the first wife cheerfully consent to her husband's taking a second; yet one-third of the adult male population of Utah live in the practice of this sin. The church de-mands it of all men who can afford more than one wife, and the women are taught to consent on pain of damnation.
Four Mormon sermons were preached in Utah on the 16th of June—two by fools and two by knaves. One of the former said that his conversion was caused by the Lord appearing to him in person. Another was delivering an incoherent and senseless harangue, when Young pulled him down by the coat-tail and took the pulpit himself. He argued that not one per-son in forty knows how to take care of himself—that all need leaders, both in temporal and spiritual affairs. He demanded that gentiles and apostates should be shunned in all dealings, even when it costs more to purchase from a saint, and declared that those who were disobedient to this command should not enter the gate of heaven. Poor infatuated Mormons shud-dered at this denunciation. The fear of Young's male-diction is one of the strongest elements of cohesive-ness with the deluded masses of his followers.
Young is also the supreme temporal head of the church. All its property is in his name, and he toler-ates no inquiry into his use of it. When it is consider-ed that all Mormons are required to give to the church one-tenth of all they raise in kind, and one-tenth of all they make in any business, the magnitude of the sum entrusted to Young without question or check is startling. His annual income now can-not be less than half a million dollars. The hum-ble, deluded followers believe that it is wisely and faithfully expended; the leaders probably know better.
There are signs of dissolution in the church. The Josephites (followers of Smith) pronounce polygamy a sin. Young had to excommunicate several hundred members for this heresy last spring. The Morrisites are another class of dissenters, likewise denouncing polygamy, and having no fellowship with the Salt Lake church. They are constantly receiving addi-tions to their numbers. Every sermon betrays ner-vous fear as to divisions, some appealing, some enforc-ing the duty of obedience. Gentile dealings and as-sociations are forbidden, because Mormonism cannot bear contact with virtue and truth. Thus is Young's church beset by schisms, and perilled by growing in-tercourse with the gentiles. Soon the Pacific railroad will pour population into all the valleys of the west, and in but a few years the distinctiveness of this peo-ple must fade away. Natural causes are fast converg-ing to the overthrow of this foulest blot on the Am-erican name. Secret discontent, positive dissatisfac-tion or open rebellion have each its place about every fireside, and each year developes in bolder tones and more defiant actions the restless cancer that is preying on the vitals of this monstrous vice.
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