A GLIMPSE AT THE MORMONS.
MR, ALBERT D. RICHARDSON, widely known through the accounts which he has given of his remarkable experiences as a War Correspondent and an inmate of rebel prisons, and not less widely esteemed for integrity and candor, is now journeying toward the Pacific, in company with Speak-er Colfax and other distinguished gentle-men. His latest letter to the Tribune is from Salt Lake City, and in it he gives us this glimpse of the Mormons and their mode of worship:
"In the afternoon we attended Mormon service at the Bowery—a great arbor, with seats of rough pine boards, and a low flat roof of branches, with withered leaves, supported by upright poles. For the warm season it is far pleasanter than any building—a good artificial substitute for the groves which were 'God's first temples.' The congregation numbered fully 3,000, in which women largely predominated. They were neatly but very plainly dressed; kid gloves were few, silks and satins were far between. Hoops abounded in all their amplitude. At first, as I am told, the preachers denounced them very bitterly from the pulpit. But female persistency triumphed, as it general-ly does, and crinoline proved more potent than the thunderbolts of the church.
"Among the apostles, elders, and bishops on the platform were Heber Kimball, sixty-four years old, tall and stout, with bald, massive head and ruddy, sensuous face, and Dr. Bernheisel, former Delegate to Con-gress, slender, venerable-looking, with mild countenance, bald crown, and thin, silvered locks. The sermon was by Elder Samuel Richards, a native of Massachusetts, who at present rejoices in six wives, and has propa-gated the Mormon doctrines in nearly every quarter of the globe. It was a rambling conversational discourse of three-quarters of an hour, claiming incidentally that his church is the church, because its organiza-tion and mode of working are biblical, and its teachers directly inspired by the Al-mighty. With these exceptions, his remarks were on life and duty, such as form the staple of orthodox discourses in New England. While he spoke the sacrament was administered to the entire assembly, bread being distributed upon metallic plates, and water, instead of wine, from porcelain pitchers. Many infants at the breast were present, and all permitted to quaff the water freely. The poor babies were thirsty enough, but it detracted a little from the solemnity of the ceremony. After a prayer by Elder George D. Watt, the choir sang 'Daughters of Zion,' without any instru-mental accompaniment, but with more beauty and impressiveness than any music which I ever heard at religious worship. Then, with the benediction, the company dispersed.
"My chief interest was in the faces of the congregation. I saw only two women who could be called comely; both sat in the choir, and one was a daughter of Brig-ham Young, recently married. Few, if any, countenances impressed me as vicious. All were plain, many extremely so. As one might expect of humble people gathered from every nation of the earth, they bear the indelible impress of poverty, hard la-bor, and stinted living. In those faces I could read little breadth, thought, or self-reliant reasoning; but much narrowness, grave sincerity, and unreflecting earnest-ness.
"In the evening we attended the service of the Rev. Norman McLeod. He is a Con-gregationalist; but all the anti-Mormons worship at his church. The congregation was small, but one of unusual intelligence, embracing citizens, officers from Camp Douglas, and 20 or 30 ladies. The 'Gentile' population of this city, exclusive of the sol-diers, numbers from two hundred to three hundred. This includes the merchants of Abrahamic descent; for it is one of the anomalies of this anomalous community that all the Jews are Gentiles."
Mr. Colfax and his companions had an interview with Brigham Young, and a long, frank, and free conversation on the subject of polygamy. Mr. Colfax did not hesitate to express his condemnation of that "peculiar institution" of Mormonism, and to say that it was under the ban of the entire civilized world, and that, in his opin-ion, the nation would not admit Utah to the Union until it should be wiped out, and the prohibitory law of Congress obeyed. One of the party, writing to the Chicago Tri-bune, says that, in view of the facts gathered on the spot, their convictions in regard to the demoralizing effects of the practice were, if possible, more decided than ever before. As at the South slavery was practiced chiefly by the wealthy and influential, so in Utah only the leaders are practical polyg-amists, while the great majority have only one Wife. The writer in the Chicago Tri-bune says:
"While the men who have "two or more wives pretend to be thoroughly convinced that they are doing right, we are assured that there is not an intelligent Mormon wo-man in the territory who, when her real sen-timents can be known, approves of polyg-amy. Whatever opinions we may form of the men, all who know anything of the misery they suffer must pity the Mormon women. To us they appear dejected and many of them heart-broken, and, as time rolls on, the essential evils of the system must become the more apparent and revolt-ing. To degrade woman from being the companion and the crown of her husband to a life of mere serfdom, ministering to the lusts of men, and merely giving birth to other human animals, is the inevitable tendency and sure result of polygamy—an unclean, abominable thing, which must not and can not be permanently tolerated in this civilized, Christian republic. The sooner this determination is understood by those who practice it, the better; for, like all festering sores, the longer it is endured, the more difficult of removal and the more dangerous it becomes. Our conversation with Brigham Young and his leading men leads us to believe that they begin to under-stand their position, and in parting all of us expressed the hope that, as they claimed polygamy was permitted, and in some cases commanded, by a new revelation, their high priest might have another, peremptorily for-bidding the system. This would certainly be a peaceful and most happy way to re-move the last foul blot upon the national character."
Mr. Colfax, by invitation, delivered a public address at Salt Lake City, and there-in took occasion to tell the people "that he had no disguise to make of his sentiments or his principles; that he didn't or he wouldn't stand before them with a forked tongue, that, while a friend to their indus-trial, general, and mining interests, and ad-vocating the rights that the general govern-ment owed to them, he wished to tell them frankly what this government had a right to demand of them, to wit—allegiance to the Constitution, obedience to the laws, and devotion to the Union and the govern-ment!"
Mr. Bowles, of the Springfield Republican, one of Mr. Colfax's traveling companions, in a letter to his own journal, expresses the opinion that the government should no longer hold a doubtful or divided position toward the great crime of the Mormon church. At present he says, one-half or two-thirds of the Federal officers in Utah are polygamists, and others bear no testi-mony against it. This, certainly, is a disgrace to the country, and should not be tolerated for an hour. Mr. Bowles thinks that, if the government, dis-claiming any intention of interfering at all with the Mormon church organization as such, and assuring and guaranteeing to it all the liberty that other sects hold and en-joy, should still as clearly and distinctly declare that this feature of polygamy—not properly or necessarily a part of the relig-ion of the Mormons—is a crime by the common law of all civilization, and by the statute law of the nation, and that any cases of its extension will be prosecuted and pun-ished as such, the probability is that the leaders of the church would receive new light on the subject themselves—perhaps have a fresh revelation, and abandon the objectionable feature in their polity.
We observe that Charles Durkee, late United States Senator from Wisconsin, has just been appointed Governor of Utah, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Gov. James D. Doty. Mr. Durkee is an earnest anti-slavery man, and we have no doubt that his influence, personal and offi-cial, will be wisely directed against polyg-amy.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.