The Newly-opened Temple of the Mormons
NOTES OF A VISIT TO THE CITY OF ZION, ON THE GREAT
THE great Mormon Temple recently completed and opened is probably the most singular structure in the world devoted to religious purposes, and is supposed to represent the architect's idea of what the Temple of Solomon was like. Brigham Young, under whose rule, as president and prophet of the Mormons, the temple was begun about forty years ago, always declared that the design had been miraculously communicated to him in a dream, just as he alleged that the direction to adopt polygamy was also so commu-nicated from on high.
Seen from a distance, the lofty building reminds one of the Tower of London, greatly magnified. The temple was originally esti-mated to cost ten million dollars, but it is said that this large sum has been much exceeded.
It is built of large blocks of crystalline grey granite, finely wrought, and banded with mouldings of chiselled, drab-coloured magnesian limestone. The "clasping-hands," the distinct emblem of Mormonism, appear carved on the key-stones of the arches over all the principal doorways.
All the stonework was worked at a distance, at the quarries in
the Wasatch mountains; for, as in the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, "no sound of axe or hammer was permitted to be heard."
When the writer visited Salt Lake City in the autumn of the year 1888 the works were suspended, and the building was in the hands of the United States Marshal.
The guns of Fort Douglas, where a large detachment of artillery was then quartered, were turned on the temple, which at one time was threatened with total destruction if the Mormons persisted in their open defiance of the law. Polygamy was then almost uni-versal amongst them, and is still secretly practised; but when brought to light by the detectives employed by the Government vigorous measures were, and are yet often, taken to punish the offenders.
Public worship was, and is still, carried on under the dome of the great wooden tabernacle close by, wherein Madame Patti once sang, and which, it is said, can seat ten thousand persons. To this build-ing all curious strangers are freely admitted at all times. The new temple did not appear to be designed for the purpose of worship on a large scale, but for the conduct of the vast general and private affairs of the community, including the special meetings of the Elders in Council, the control of the extensive "tithing" business, and the practice of the secret rites of "endowment" and "marriage," as described in the well-known work of Mrs. Stenhouse, who abandoned Mormonism and escaped from the city.
Over forty thousand Mormons recently attended the opening
ceremony, many coming from great distances, as there are large
detached colonies of the so-called "saints" in Southern California and elsewhere, and one has been recently formed in Canada. The fresh proselytes chiefly come from Scandinavia and Wales, and, as regards the latter country, nearly always from amongst the Methodists—indeed, the public worship in the huge tabernacle closely resembles that of the Methodist and Baptist Churches, except that there are no regular ministers. A number of grim-looking elders sit on a raised platform in their ordinary attire, and each one takes his turn at praying or exhorting. When the writer attended on three successive Sundays the usual stock theme was the desecration of the adjacent temple by the United States officials, then in possession.
The building must have been subsequently restored to the "saints" on their promises of better behaviour in future, which, like the promises of the Irish Home Rulers, are probably only meant to be kept until the promisers are strong enough as a body to defiantly set them at naught. The Mormons are increasing in numbers, despite of the restrictive legislation levelled against their peculiar institution. They are, as a rule, sober and industrious; but the men look furtive and sullen, and the women (who are generally very ugly) wear a look of wretched sadness and depression. Mormonism, as Professor Huxley has remarked, "is the great social enigma of this age."
The residence erected by Brigham Young for his favourite wife, "Eliza"—whom he married late in life, and who, it is said, ruled over him with great firmness, for his good—is built of wood and painted to resemble Portland stone. Eliza is the only wife buried near the Prophet in a corner of his large private enclosed cemetery, which he originally intended should accommodate the whole of the ladies of his harem and their numerous progeny. For some occult reason—probably based on sad ex-perience—he finally deemed it best that they should be buried at a distance from his last resting-place.
Salt Lake is situated about fifteen miles from the extensive city called "Zion," and is approached by a short line of railway running for some distance along the margin of the lake, on which several magnificent bathing-establishments have been erected, with long rows of closed dressing-rooms, containing fresh-water shower-baths to remove the crystallised salt adhering to the cuticle of those who venture into the strongly satu-rated brine of the lake, which is the last remnant of a vast sea once ex-tending from the Rocky Mountains to California, where now the "Great American Desert" exists.
The Mormons and Mormonesses bathe together, dressed in costume, with great decorum and propriety, and later on the younger members indulge in the pastime of dancing on the wide platforms of the large timber jetties erected in the shallow lake, often until a late hour at night. The gay scene is lit up by numerous powerful arc-lamps, and there are good bands of local musicians in uniform.
The young Mormonesses are often pretty, with dark eyes, clear complexions, and white teeth, and are always ready to con-verse amiably with visitors, excepting on religious subjects, which they say "they are forbidden to speak about." They dress neatly, but inexpensively; indeed, one rarely sees a poorly dressed or intoxicated person in Zion City. Those young girls, who have good voices, sing together in open air concerts at the bathing-establishments, with pretty effect, and are ap-parently modest and gentle in manners. Many of them have told the writer "that they would be glad to leave Utah, but that they would find it very difficult to do so." The girls, who are now taught in the schools under State supervision, are said to detest polygamy, and try to marry "Gentiles" when they can. Mormonism is chiefly supplied with victims, in the shape of wives and concu-bines—who are really only white slaves—from two foreign countries, where the travelling emissaries of the sect are always secretly busy "leading away silly women." It is stated that there are no Irish girls amongst them, and but few English or Scotch. One-third of the population of Salt Lake City, or "Zion," is said to be "Gentile," amongst whom are many who have abandoned Mor-monism in disgust; yet the cry is, "Still they come," and increase and multiply.—Our illustrations are from photographs sent us by Mr. J. Fogerty, M. Inst.C.E.
THE GREAT MORMON TEMPLE Recently opened after having been forty years in building
THE BATHING-ESTABLISHMENT AT GARFIELD BEACH ON THE SALT LAKE
THE RESIDENCE BUILT BY BRIGHAM YOUNG, FOR HIS FAVOURITE WIFE, ELIZA
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