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SOCIAL HALL, SALT LAKE CITY.—[FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BURR & MOGO.]
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE MORMONS
FROM OUR UTAH CORRESPONDENT.
Great Salt Lake City, Sept. 11, 1858.
I send you herewith representations of the So-cial Hall, Council House, Candland’s Saloon, and the store of Livingston, Kinkead, & Co. The So-cial Hall is used both as a church and theatre. This need not seem strange when it is remembered how theatrical all Mormon religious services are, fro baptism up to the endowment—the most shocking and fiendish of all their institions. No-thing is more erratic than a Mormon church service. It is the post-office, newspaper, legislature, Bible, almanac, temporal, spiritual, and social director of the people. There is no kind of order as to the programme of performances, reading, sing-ing, praying, reading letters, or any thing else may come first; in many respects the service resembles a political meeting—the speakers talk to the people, and the people frequently ques-tion the speakers. But though there is all this absence of form and seeming freedom of expres-sion, nevertheless the harangues of the preachers amount strictly to this: they declare that faith and obedience are the chief of Christian virtues, that Brigham is a prophet, that they know it of
LIVINGSTON, KINKEAD, & CO. CANDLAND’S SALOON. COUNCIL HOUSE
SOCIAL HALL, SALT LAKE CITY.—[FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BURR & MOGO.]
their own absolute and certain knowledge; they testify to the, miracles that he has performed, that they have beheld said miracles, and know of a cer-tain truth that he did perform them. Some of the silliest things in the world are narrated as marvel-ous miracles performed by Brigham. The speak-ers then labor to make the people believe that their present and prospective prosperity, as well as their eternal felicity, depend entirely and absolutely upon their believing and obeying the prophet Brigham.
Young will then get up, and for a time talk love to his "dear brethern;" then in the name of the Lord of Hosts he will command them to do this or to do that, which they will do, of course, under peril of eternal condemnation. This applies both to matters of business and matters of credence or religious faith. Sometimes this command is ad-dressed to a particular part or class of the audi-dience. Thus when Brigham was building his splendid Lion House, which is said to have cost fifty thousand dollars, as it was nearly completed, one day in a sermon he held this language; "I have a mission for you carpenters to perform. Are you willing to do it? Now I want every one of you who is to hold up his right hand." The right hand of every carpenter in the audience was raised. "In the name of the Lord, and by the authority of the holy priesthood, I command you to shingle the Lion House!" roared forth Brigham. The car-penters were fairly caught in a net woven by their own right hands. They complained, but obeyed, so Brigham got his house shingled for nothing.
At almost every meeting will be seen, near by the prophet, writing at a desk, the reporter, George J. Ramsby. He is quite an able man; but I can never look at him without remembering this fact: Ramsby wanted to marry his cousin—he took her to the prophet for him to make of the unhappy twain a happy unit. Brigham looked upon the damsel, who stood before him so delicately fair and blush-ingly modest; his desire went out unto her; where-upon he refused to unite in the holy bonds of mat-rimony the betrothed lovers, but immediately took the beautiful girl to his own bosom as Mrs. Brig-ham Young seventeenth. Disconsolate Ramsby submitted with the best grace he could to having his spouse elevated to the bed of a live prophet; but Brigham, after enjoying a honey-moon of a fort-night, called Ramsby to him one day, and said he had been thinking the matter over, and had finally overcome his scruples as to the marriage of cous-ins, so that Ramsby might now marry his beauti-ful cousin any time he wanted to. Ramsby ac-cepted the proposition, and of Mrs. Brigham Young seventeenth and himself there was instantly “made one flesh." Poor Ramsby! Mayhap, though, he likes it. Brigham's objections to marrying cous-ins were all gammon, for he had previously de-clared in church that the time was shortly coming when his son by one wife could marry his daugh-ter by another wife without giving offense to any one. It is a very common practice here for a man to marry two sisters on the same night.
Brigham, ever since his return from the South to Salt Lake City, has kept secreted in his fortified and guarded house; from his hiding-place he issued an order to have the Gospel locked up for a season, so we have had no preaching since. The only meeting that I know of as being held here took place on a Sunday evening, a few weeks since, in the Social Hall. It continued about half an hour, when word was taken in that some Gentiles were approaching, whereupon the audience was dis-missed in the middle of a speech by somebody.
That which most entitles the Social Hall to pub-lic notoriety, however, is the peculiar kind of meet-ings that have ordinarily been held therein every Saturday afternoon. They are meetings of a kind unprecedented in history. The gross and shocking vulgarity there indulged in, entitle them to abiding and eternal condemnation. Heber C. Kimbal— the vilest mouthed man in all Mormondom, the man who rolls sin and loathsome lust like a sweet morsed under his tongue—presides at those meet-ings.
The Council House is the large square building seen at the right of the next engraving. It is built of stone, and is rather a fine structure. It fronts upon Temple Block, where a million of dollars (in labor and money) have been buried in the sand, for the foundation of the Temple is not yet above the earth. The scene from the top of the Council House is very beautiful. That position gives one a view of the entire city; the valley for a hundred miles north and south; the rough and ragged Wa-sach Mountains on the east, running along parallel to the valley, their summits crowned with eternal snow; the West Mountains on the west, with ridge rising behind ridge, and peak above peak, and rolling away as far as the eye can see, into the blue ethereal sky. It also commands a prospect of the whole of Great Salt Lake, with the vast islands in it, and the great American desert be-yond. That lake is an incomprehensible curiosity. It evidently covered, at one time, the whole valley around for hundreds of miles. It has been, ever since its discovery, and is still, rapidly retiring from the land or drying up, though it has no apparent outlet, and several large rivers of fresh water flow into it. It is certainly a much greater curiosity in nature than Niagara Falls or the Dead Sea: instead of being below the surface of the ocean, like the latter, it is four thousand two hundred feet above it. Three pails of water make one pail of salt. It is the purest and most beautiful salt I ever saw, being white as the driven snow. I have laved in Salt Lake many times. One can not sink in the water by any device, nor is the attempt to do so very pleasant, for the water is so strongly impregnated with salt, that, if it enters the mouth, eyes, or nostrils, it stings and burns like so much fire. When the aquatic luxuriator gets any of this water into his mouth or nose, it is necessary for him to make for fresh water in the quickest possible time or he may be strangled. Persons have been so completely strangled in Great Salt Lake that they have drowned in water not above their arms. Beautiful springs of fresh water bor-der upon the lake, while the adjoining mountains have large quantities of petrefied salt in them. The lake is eighteen miles from Salt Lake City.
There is no spot, in Salt Lake Valley where one enjoys a finer prospect, or more commanding view, than from the top of the Council House. The up-per story of the building is divided into halls, in which some very noted meetings have been held. It was there the United States Commissioners met the Mormon dignitaries and held counsel with them. Curious scenes were then and there enact-ed. How the Mormons swore, and foamed, and boasted, and bragged, and blackguarded, has all been made public. One Snow, a man of high es-tate in the Mormon church, spoke of the President's Message in a way that is not legitimate to be pub-lished in a newspaper. Commissioner Powell gave him a most scathing rebuke for it. But Snow rose again, and began as follows: "I say every word in this Message of the President is a lie—a foul, slanderous, damned lie—"
"Hold on there!," roared out Major M'Culloch, who is but little accustomed to talking before as-semblies, though, when he does speak, he sends his words as directly and pointedly to the mark as he does his rifle-balls, "that ain't proper talk, and I think you better keep cool any way; for you don't gain any thing by getting excited. You say every word in the President's Message is a lie. Very well, then, why are you making all this fuss about it? But just read that last clause in the Message, which says the army shall come in here; now, if that is a lie, there is no necessity of getting mad or excited about it; but, I tell you, that army shall come in here, and all hell can't stop it!" Snow, in the vulgar phrase of the Missourians, "come the calffy." There was that in Major M'Culloch's words that convinced every Mormon present that the army would go in, and nothing could stop it.
When the army entered the city it passed along the street right in front of the Council House. From early morning till late at night the troops, with colors flying and drums beating, hurried along the streets, followed by their vast trains of the munitions of war. Not a man left his post, not an animal strayed; but, step by step, as regularly as the ticking clock, and steadily as the westward-moving sun, the soldiers passed through the city, crossed the Jordan, and, on its further bank, washed the dust from off their feet, as a testimony against the city. The Mormons were much surprised at the perfect order and discipline of the army.
There is no other building in the Territory which will remain impressed so vividly upon the memory of Gentiles who are, or have been, here this year as Candland's Saloon. It is the little building seen between the Council House, on the right, and the store of Livingston and Kinkead, on the left of the accompanying illustration. For a long time that was the only house in all Salt Lake City where a man who was so wicked as to be a Gentile could obtain a mouthful to eat. Brigham has nearly all the money in the Territory, and he always has his eyes open to every opportunity for making money, even though it be in a small way. So, when the Gentiles began to flock in here this spring, he took this saloon, and put a man in it to feed us at exor-bitant prices, at the same time forbidding every one else from giving us food or shelter. That man was one David Candland, a little speck of a fellow, got up in the neatest possible trim, with his eyes eternally twitching, twitching, twitching. And I might here remark that I have never yet seen a Mormon but that something ailed his eyes. They are sunken, or dark, or ghastly, or glaring. There is certainly some mania in all Mormon eyes; none of them can look you straight or steadily in the face. Well, to return to Candland. He is a man of some note among the natives here; he has been a mission-ary, a preacher, a theatre manager, and a barber. He never told me that he had been a barber; but then that is a self-evident fact, for he could never have obtained his manners any where else than in a barber-shop. Well, our ex-host has seven wives (poor creatures! for he don't seem capacitated to more than half-attend to one), but they have never been seen within half a mile of the saloon while the chivalric Gentiles were around; not even so much as one of their skirts was ever seen. Hap-less beings! I guess they have not got many apiece to be seen anywhere. Well, Mr. Candland furnished us good country eating three times a day at ever-varying prices. In order to know what price we were paying for board, we would have to ask him every day, and then we would probably miscalculate how much money we were eating at two meals out of the three. The custom was to pay our bills every Saturday; but no one, when he went to settle his bill, could ever tell what it would amount to. Sometimes we were charged a dollar and a half a day, two dollars a day, and three dollars a day, all in the same week. So no one ever understood mathe-matics enough to make out the bill but the very accommodating and very gentlemanly landlord. Besides this, he had a very smiling way of leav-ing himself indebted to his patrons to the small amount of half a dollar every Saturday, under the plea that "change was so very scarce;" that he "could not make change," etc.; which small debt would be always and persistently forgotten before the ensuing Saturday. But then Candland, it must be remembered, has been the manager of a Mormon theatre in the sacred City of Zion, also an actor; so his little peccadilloes are not to be wondered at; he was merely playing; and I am sure we Gentiles received more than the worth of our money in amusement. Our ex-missionary, ex-barber, ex-actor, ex-theatre manager, and now ex-host, used to practice a little on some of his old professions by occasionally sticking up handbills on his premises for us to read. One of these, I re-member, read as follows:
In consequence of the UNUSUALLY high price of all kinds of Provisions, and the COMBINED SCARCITY of the same, I am compelled to raise the price of my board.
Our pious, theatrical host did not inform us how high or how much he had raised the price of our daily subsistence; but he began early in the day to see how much his guests would bear. Putting on his most accommodating barber-smile, he came along to a "knight of the quill," who was corre-sponding with one of your metropolitan contempo-raries, and, taking him by the arm, walked off a short distance, then said:
"I don't know how it is with you gentlemen of the press (I would not give any offense, you know)—I don't know how it is with you about financial matters (I don't want to give any offense, and I hope you won't take it as such)—I merely wish to say (without giving any offense) that I don't know how you gentlemen of the press are placed as to financial matters (I mean no offense)—but I would add further that I have raised the price of board to three dollars a day; and if you can't afford to pay it (I really don't want to say any thing that will give offense)—if you can't afford to pay it, why I just thought I would tell you now, so you need not be embarrassed or dissatisfied bime-by."
The party to whom this address was so kindly made had been round to several places in the world, and doubtless believed that he was one of the "great props of this mundane spheroid; so he flew into a passion at our obeisant landlord for daring to presume, or even to think, that he had not money enough to pay for his board. Yes, he had money enough to pay three dollars a day for his board, and to buy Candland, with his entire saloon. Instead of getting angry on his part our host seemed much pleased with this outburst of spirit from the "gentleman of the press;" for he felt that it was a satisfactory proof that twenty-one dollars a week for board would be stood. So his surprise and disappointment may be imagined, when, at noon, he found that nearly one side of the table had deserted and commenced keeping bache-lor's hall. Down went his board to two dollars and a half a day instantly, just as if there had been no "combined scarcity" of "unusually high-priced" provisions. Still many a pleasant meal was eaten at Candland's by many a hungry Gen-tile.
It was very amusing to behold the scene that followed the ringing of the first bell for breakfast at Candland's. Gentiles, in every kind of dress or undress, could be seen evolving themselves from every imaginable place—from out of carriages, from under trees, from off the piazza, from under the piazza, from off the sidewalks, and from out of the gardens—all making their way out to the gutter to wash. To wash in the gutter? Yes, to wash in the gutter. If you will notice particularly the accompanying illustration, you will observe a stream of water running along the side of the street, in front of the buildings: it is beautiful clear water from the mountains, which has been diverted from its original course and sent tum-bling along down either side of all the streets that run north and south. The people obtain all their water out of these gutter-brooks, which are like-wise used for irrigating purposes. All the gardens in the city have to be irrigated; for without irri-gation they would be nothing but a barren bed of sand. The same is true of all the arable land in the valley.
Well, when the Gentiles have crawled out from their holes, each takes his soap, towel, comb, tooth-brush, and a small pocket looking-glass, and makes his toilet at the gutter. These little articles are most necessary ones to us voyageurs in these barbaric regions; so, after being used, they are care-fully rolled up and deposited in saddle-bags or trunks. Each person then straps up his blankets or bedding; after which and breakfast, he is ready to travel sixty or eighty miles during the day, or to live lying around loose out doors.
On the Fourth of July, or rather on the fifth, the Mormons in this city got very patriotic; their band serenaded the Gentiles at Candland's saloon, while their national banner waved aloft from their principal buildings. By their national banner I do not mean the Deseret banner, nor yet their re-bellion banner; for it must be remembered that on the 24th of July, 1857, the whole Mormon people declared themselves a nation independent of the United States, rebelled or swore themselves out from under the jurisdiction, control, protection, and government of these United States: nor yet do I mean our national banner; for it differs from ours in having a bee-hive and bees upon it instead of being "star spangled." The Mormons have adopted the bee-hive as emblematical of Utah. It is engraven upon their territorial seal; a model bee-hive surmounts Brigham's mansion-house, while hives are painted upon the tithing-house and other principal buildings in the city. Gentiles would consider the bee-hive particularly inappropriate as an emblem of this Territory, since there is not a bee in all Utah; but the Saints are ever ready to overcome incongruities that would master other people. Thus their prophet, Brigham, has received a revelation direct from God, instructing him where there is a mountain in the Territory full of honey—where millions of bees have been for mill-ions of years (amidst eternal snow) depositing the sweet fruit of their sweaty labor in the exhumed belly of the mountain!
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