FROM THE NARROWS TO THE GOLDEN GATE.
BY EDNA DEAN PROCTOR.
SALT LAKE CITY, June 12th, 1869.
APPROACHING Jerusalem by the Damas-cus road, one evening at sunset, the gold- en light fell full upon the long ridge of the Mountains of Moab. In the clear air the intervening distance was lost, and they seemed to rise just behind the city, with the dark dome of the Mosque of Omar resting upon their tawny wall. So, as we neared this Mormon capital, over which hangs the sky of Asia, the great, gleaming, silvery roof of the Tabernacle shone against the snow of the Wahsatch Mountains.
Aside from this atmospheric effect, the "City of the Saints" has no resemblance to Mount Zion; but to Damascus, although lying much higher above the sea, it is strikingly similar in situation and appear-ance. For Mount Hermon there is here the snowy Wahsatch Range; for the Barada, with its rills and fountains, there are the mountain streams diverted from their channels and carried through every street, the largest, called City Creek, hav-ing a paved bed, and running with a clear, strong current to the Jordan; the poplars and sycamores and mimosas of the ancient city are represented by the locusts and cotton-woods of the new; for the fig and orange and pomegranate groves there are the gardens, filled with peach and apricot and apple trees; over both is the same transparent and through much of the year rainless sky; the adobe houses are not unlike the mud walls of Syria; the Great Mosque, with its towering dome, is imaged here by the vast Tabernacle; and the Mormon faith it-self is a bare, meager, nineteenth century Mohammedanism. But you look in vain among the plain, prosaic "latter-day saints" for the dignified, picturesque groups of the East; and the few tales of emigrants and Indians which these mountains and valleys could tell would ill compare with the associations which every feature of the Syrian city recalls, and which are blended with the poetry and religion of the race.
From the Townsend House, the principal hotel in Salt Lake City, views of almost unrivaled beauty are obtained. Mountains from three to ten thousand feet high enclose the valley, and to the east their dazzling snow-peaks appear to rise just beyond the green line of the cotton-woods in the street. Westward the plain stretches many a mile—a broad level, whose grada-tions of color and peculiar atmosphere give it often the semblance of a sea—bounded by a range with snowy crest that seems to melt into the pure, embracing air. Further north rise the bold moun-tains of the Salt Lake Islands, con-verted by the Mormons, wherever possible, into pasture-grounds, to which the cattle are driven at the season when the water is low, and where they fatten by thousands, to the immense gain of the church. Near at hand the city, with its twenty-five thousand inhabitants, has the air of a large village; for, except in one or two business localities, the blocks con-tain ten acres. The streets are wide, with rills of water on either hand; and the small dwellings are almost buried in fruit-trees, nearly every house having its gar-den, so that the market is supplied with fruit and vegetables from within the city limits. Then the inhabitants are usually very plain in manners and attire, while the whole place swarms with rustic-look-ing children, as if a country school had just been dismissed at every corner. All day the hum of their voices is in the air, and you cannot look out without seeing nests of them in the street and near gar-dens, often eight or ten together, and not one apparently over six years of age.
When you remember that it is but little more than twenty years since the site of the city was a desolate plain, covered with sage-brush; and that the wolf and the raven were its principal occupants, save when the wandering Indian set up his lodge in the valley; and then recall the thousand tedious miles that stretched be-tween Utah and the Missouri, you are amazed at the change, and can but admire the energy and industry of the people who have literally made the desert blos-som as the rose. Now, instead of the raven's croak, there are the songs of the lark and the robin; the prowling wolf has given place to the shepherd dog, guarding the flocks; for the roving lodges there are thousands of settled homes; the sage-brush is yielding to the constant advance of the grass and grain-fields; and at no distant day the whole broad valley will be turned into a garden.
The long, dry summers make irrigation a necessity. Ten dollars an acre is the average cost of preparing the land for it, and water from the common stream is sup-plied weekly to each cultivator. With this treatment fruit and vegetables grow here in rare perfection and abundance, and there are excellent crops of wheat, oats, and barley. One great drawback to progress is the limited supply of wood for both timber and fuel. Aspens and gnarled cedars and pines grow in the canyons and on the mountain sides; but the slopes are too pre-cipitous for wheels, and the trees are dragged to the bottom, leaving paths which are a marked feature of the foot-hills, as seen from the city. This miserable wood, ob-tained at such trouble, is sold for twenty-five dollars a cord; and we were told that during the winter season there is often much suffering for want of it among the the poorer families. The recent discovery of coal in the territory and the railway may perhaps remedy the evil.
Every visitor to Salt Lake desires to see the head and front of this Mormon offend-ing, Brigham Young. Hon. N. W. Hooper, delegate to Congress from Utah, and a res-ident of the city, politely accompanied us to call upon him. The sun was intensely hot on the wide, dusty streets; and it was refreshing to hear the rippling water, and catch glimpses of the mountain snow. The establishment of the "President" oc-cupies a block, enclosed by a towered wall of pebble stones set in mud or plaster—a conglomerate at once unique and substan-tial. Within are the Beehive and the Lion House, so named from the devices over the doors, and both pertaining to his numerous family. Adjoining the two is a kind of office, and audience-hall where he receives visitors, We entered, and the head of the church rose from his seat near the door to greet us—a tall, stout man, fair and florid as a North Briton, with reddish curling hair and whiskers just sprinkled with gray, very youthful in his looks and movements for his sixty-eight years, and dressed like a plain country gentleman. His head is high rather than broad, his gray eyes ret-icent and watchful. The most striking characteristic of his face is the closely-shut mouth above the massive chin. He looks shrewd, kindly, but, above all, determined—as if nothing but death would ever come between him and his aims. Without ele-gance, but with the ease of an accom-plished man of society, he bade us good morning; and, offering us seats, resumed his own, saying, as he did so:
"These chairs are not as nice as you have in New York; but you will find them comfortable. We have been so isolated here that we have had to depend mainly on articles of our own manufacture."
In answer to some inquiries, he then spoke of their mode of agriculture, of the peculiarities of the climate, of cotton rais-ing in Southern Utah, of the growth of the community, and of the fact, upon which he dwelt with unction, that their mission-aries went forth into all the world, with-out scrip or purse, to preach the new faith. In regard to his own career, he said that the exigences of his life had made him what he is, and that he was not conscious of possessing much self-reliance or ability till after his fortieth year. His speech was not always grammatical; but it was fluent, pithy, entertaining. He has the dig-nity and in large measure the self-com-placency of a person used to authority; but there is no fire of feeling about him, he does not stir you to emotion, and, while you might admire his executive talent and his practical wisdom, you would scarcely be moved to sympathy with him as a man.
Who should divine the tastes and fan-cies of women, if not this husband of half a hundred wives? At a pause in the con-versation, he called across the low door of an inner office:
"Joseph, bring some flowers for the ladies."
A moment after the door opened, and ad-mitted Mr. Joseph Young, the second son of his father and the husband of three wives, the youngest the daughter of Mr. Stenhouse, the editor of the Ogden news-paper—a gay, pretty girl, with whom he had just returned from a tour to the Atlantic States. A handsome man, a little over thirty years of age, he came forward attired in a fashionable suit of white linen, with a rosebud in his button-hole and fresh full-blown roses in his hands, which he presented with smiles and becoming grace to "the ladies." Alas! it is even now whispered that he has a new attraction; and, if so, the merry days of the young wife are over, and she will fall back into comparative neglect and obscurity, as her predecessors have done before her.
Well, life offers as many problems now as ever; and who shall solve them? As we bade adieu, in the open door, to the "President" and his son, the roses exhaled as sweet a perfume as if they had grown in the most Puritan of New England gar-dens; and the snowy peaks soared above the valley, fair as the Delectable Mountains by the land of Beulah!
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