THE MORMON DELUSION
The Story of a Mormon Woman—An Elder’s First Wife Reveals Her Ex-perience—Horrors of Polygamy Un-veiled.
Mrs. T. B. H. Stenhouse, whose husband has been widely known for the past twenty years as a Mormon "Elder" and missionary, has just written a book exposing the secrets of the Mormon delusion. "A Lady's Life Among the Mormons; A Record of Personal Experience as One of the Wives of a Mormon Elder During a Period of More than Twenty Years," and is published by the American News Company, of New York. Mrs. Sten-house writes vigorously, sometimes almost coarsely, of her life in polygamy, and is not at all tender of her husband's feelings; but she frankly confesses that her faith in Mor-monism enabled her to consent to the poly-gamic practices, and that she shared for many years in the deluaions of the so-called "Saints." Her book is the natural result of the quarrel between Brigham Young and the Stenhouse Godbe party, and it is announced that another volume is in preparation by this lady's husband, which is intended to expose the political, social and theological preten-sions of Brigham and his followers. Mrs. Stenhouse devotes her little volume exclu-sively to the consideration of the polygamic feature of Mormon life and its debasing effect upon character. A few extracts from her story will show the nature of her revelations, and the bitterness of her resentment toward the leaders of the Mormon Church.
Mrs. Stenhouse describes at great length the methods employed by the Mormons to force the first wives to consent to the intro-duction of other wives into the household, and adds:
"When a woman's 'consent' is asked she knows very well that she will have to give it, if she is not prepared to live in open warfare with her husband. She knows, too, that he will take that other wife independently of her, and she is powerless to prevent it. She may as well consent. But some brave wo-men have never given their consent, and have never allowed the second wife to enter their homes. Some refined ladies, with ex-cellent families, have had the happiest of homes destroyed by withholding their con-sent, and where peace and warm affection were proverbial the bitterest strife ensued.
"The men who have acted in this way are not the gross and ignorant brethren, but more often the particularly 'pious' men, who make long prayers in their families, who preach in the ward meetings and in the Tabernacle; men of smooth words, with the name of the Lord always upon their lips.—These are the men who have mercilessly wrung the hearts of the wives of Utah What to such men are the wife's tears and sorrows ? Nothing.
"If the wife shows 'temper,' it makes it only worse. He wants peace, so he says; and if he cannot find it there, it furnishes him with the better excuse for going back again to his younger wife—just where he wants to go!"
Many women, it appears, become insane under this treatment. Mr. Stenhouse says:
LUNACY AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE.
"Some wives have gone crazy, and died in this condition, all through their sad exper-ience in polygamy. Not long since the fifth or sixth wife of one of the leading men of Salt Lake City died bereft of reason. Her husband was about marrying a young girl at the same time, and refused to go and see his dying wife. That man’s name would astonish my readers, did I publish it, for he is universally respected as one of the best men in Mormondon, and I can account for his inhumanity by considering the poverty and debasement into which polygamy had plunged him.
"Several cases of lunacy have come under my own personal notice, and two young women, of very respectable families, with whom I am acquainted, narrowly escaped from the effects of poison, which, in their misery, they had taken as a last resource. I have heard of many more cases of desperate attempts at suicide."
MRS. STENHOUSE'S PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
* * * "When I had more experience in the ways of men, I have discovered several never failing signs by which one might know when a man wishes to take another wife. He would suddenly awaken to the sense of his duties, and would have great fears that 'the Lord' would not pardon him for any neglect. He would become very religious, attend to his 'meeting'—testimony meetings—singing meetings, and various other meetings! In fact, he would show a great determination to leave nothing undone which ought to be done. My husband being a good and conscientious Mormon, experienced all these feelings. Of course he did; and his kind brethren, know-ing just how he felt, sympathized, urged, and even aided him in his noble efforts to carry out 'the command of God.'
"The young lady was at last selected. She was very pretty and very youthful. The last qualification is very necessary in a Mormon's wife, for then it is expected that she will have more time to live for the glory of the king-dom. It must not be supposed that any other consideration influences a Mormon mind. O, dear! no. They are such very pure-minded men.
"Then commenced the task, the painful task of paying his addresses to her. It is a 'painful task' I know for my husband told me it was, and of course I, as a dutiful wife, believed him. He seemed, however, to bear it remarkably well, and went at it with a zeal that was perfectly astonishing to me, who knew, from what he had said, how painful it was to him. I had really restrained him a little for the benefit of his health; for when the duties of the day were over, and evening came, he would scarcely take time to eat his supper, so anxious was he to continue this labor of love. But deeply as I sympathized with my husband in the 'painful duty' which he had to perform, there were times when I felt that my real sorrow way greater than his fancied difficulties I was in fact now truly overwhelmed with trouble. It seemed to me as if affliction was right at my door. I would sometimes almost rave with anger. Then I would pray, then cry.
* * * "I knew the very hours that my husband was with her. Mentally I was my-self with him, and saw all. Oh the anguish that I felt in those times! No tongue can describe it; no one is capable of imagining it but a woman who truly loves her husband and has endured the same anguish as that which I then felt. Had my husband been in any sense a bad man, I dare say, like many other women, I would have hardened my heart, and have tried to forget that I ever cared for him. But this was not the case. He was a really good man in every respect. I knew how fondly he had once loved me, and in my heart I believed that he would even now be unchanged but for the influence of his religion, which he still believed was 'the way, the truth, and the life.'
"If I had for one moment supposed what he did was from any other than the purest motives I should have cast his love from me; but even up to that time I feared, and almost believed that all this might be right, although I saw so much wrong connected with it."
MRS. STENHOUSE GIVES HER HUSBAND A SECOND WIFE.
"The time at length arrived for us to go to the 'Endowment House,' and there at the altar the first wife is expected to give proof of her faith in her religion by placing the hand of the new wife in that of her husband. She is asked the question by Brigham Young, 'Are you willing to give this woman to your husband, to be his lawful and weeded wife for time and all eternity? If you are, you will manifest it by placing her right hand within the right hand of your husband.' I did so. But what words can describe my feelings? The anguish of a whole lifetime was crowded into that one single moment * * * I remember well that when I re-turned home—that 'home' which was now to become hateful to me, for his young wife was to live there—my husband said to me, ‘You have been very brave; but it is not so hard to do after all, is it?' He had not seen me bear it so well, that he even supposed that I was indifferent. So much for the penetration of men! During the remainder of that day, how I watched their looks and noted their every word! To me, their tender tones were like daggers, piercing me to the heart. One moment I yearned for my hus-band's undivided love; the next moment I hated even the very sight of him, and vowed that he never again should have a place in my heart. Then I would feel that there was no justice in Heaven, or this great sorrow would not have come upon me."
THE THIRD MRS. STENHOUSE.
"I had lived in polygamy about three years when Mr. S. thought it was about time that he should add another jewel to his crown. I raised no objection to this; for I felt that he might just as well have twenty more as the one already too many, particularly as we had been taught to believe, the more wives the; more glory He told me who the favored damsel was and I had no objection to her—The only promise I tried to exact from him was that there should be no long courtship. This he did not object to But I was doomed to disappointment, although there seemed to be no obstacle in the way this time: for her mother declared to me soon after 'that no man had ever moved daughter's heart to love,' but my husband; 'he was her first and only love'—pleasant communication to make to a wife. Her daughter confirmed this; and I myself had little doubt that she spoke the truth, when I saw letters constantly coming to my house, brought by parsons who I knew came from her, and I perceived how much care was taken that they should not fall into my hand.
"It had always been represented to me, as to every woman, that I was a partner in the affair, and I thought that it was nothing but right and just that I should see and under-stand for myself how the courtship was pro-gressing I did not wish to be guilty of any-thing mean; but as my partner in the busi-ness did not seem inclined to show me those letters, I thought that I would just take a glance at them without leave. Accordingly while he was sweetly and unconsciously slumbering, night after night I extracted those charming epistles from his pocket. When I opened them, I feared that one glance at them only gave me a taste for more, and I was not satisfied till I had read them through.
The advent of the third wife in the Sten-house household ended the first wife's belief in Mormonism. The remainder of her re-velation describes the successive stages through which she passed until she became emancipated.
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