The Spalding Authorship Claims in
THE first pieces of fiction about the early Mormons were short satirical items printed
in the columns of western New York newspapers. These were followed in a few years by a more substantial piece,
purportedly relating tales told by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the court room at Chardon, Ohio at the trail of D. P.
Hurlbut. The latter story (whether truly
attributable to Smith or not) was published, along with
illustrations, as "Remarkable Events, in Eber D.
Howe's 1834 anti-Mormon book, Mormonism Unvailed. Other interesting fictional accounts involving the Mormons
appeared in various newspapers during the 1840s, including the Quincy Whig of
Sept. 18, 1841 and
Jan. 11, 1843, as well as in the Warsaw Signal of
Nov. 26, 1845 and the St. Louis
Peoples' Organ during the latter part of 1843.
Parley P. Pratt even got into the act of writing fiction with his "A Dialogue between Joseph Smith and the Devil,"
(in the NY Herald of Aug. 25, 1844),
his 1844 Angel of the Prairies, and other pieces of
The first book containing what can truly be called "Mormon fiction" was Frederick Marryat's 1843 tale, Monsieur Violet... This is also the first known work of fiction that referred to the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship. The Spalding beliefs for Book of Mormon authorship were again taken up by Orvilla S. Belisle in her 1855 book, Mormonism Unveiled, or, a History of Mormonism, printed in the USA under the title "The Prophets..." By the 1850s and 1860s fictional accounts of the Mormons were commonplace reading fare among aficionados of lurid crime and adventure tales, "penny dreadfuls," and "dime novels." One of these, written as a pot-boiler by Percy B. St. John, in 1861, was entitled: Jessie, the Mormon's Daughter. This is the only known piece of 19th century fiction in which Solomon Spalding actually makes an appearance as a character in the story.
Links to short textual excerpts from Marryat's 1843 Monsieur Violet..., as well as from the 1855 Mormonism
Unveiled... and the 1861 Mormon's Daughter are provided on this web-page for interested readers --
(click on the thumb-nail images above for graphics enlargements).
SNAKE INDIANS AND WILD TRIBES OF THE GREAT
C A P T. M A R R Y A T, C. B.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
L O N D O N:
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS,
TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
When we descended from our horses, a
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 115
handsome lady appeared at the portico, with joy and love beaming in her face, as five or six beautiful children, having at last perceived our arrival, left their play to welcome and kiss their father. A lovely vision of youth and beauty also made its appearance -- one of these slender girls of the South, a woman of fifteen years old, with her dark eyelashes and her streaming ebony hair; slaves of all ages -- mulattoes and quadroon girls, old negroes and boy negroes, all calling together -- "Eh! Massa Courtenay, kill plenty bear, dare say; now plenty grease for black family, good Massa Courteny!"
Add to all this, the dogs barking and the horses neighing, and truly the whole tableau was one of unbounded affection and happiness. I doubt if, in all North America, there is another plantation equal to that of Mr. Courtenay.
I soon became an intimate of the family, and for the first time enjoyed the pleasures of
116 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
highly-polished society. Mrs. Courtenay was an admirable performer upon the harp; Miss Emma Courtenay, her neice, was a delightful pianist; and my host himself was no mean amateur upon the flute. Our evenings would pass quickly away, in reading Shakespeare, Corneille, Racine, Metastasio, or the modern writers of English literature; after which we would remain till the night had far advanced, enjoying the beautiful compositions of Beethoven, Gluck, and Mozart, or the brilliant overtures of Donizetti, Bellini and Meyerbeer.
Thus my time passed like a happy dream, and as, from the rainy season having just set in, all travelling was impossible, I remained many weeks with my kind entertainers, the more willingly, that the various trials I had undergone had, at so early an age, convinced me that, upon earth, happiness was too scarce not to be enjoyed when presented to you. Yet in the midst of pleasure I did not forget the duty I owed to my tribe, and I sent letters to
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 117
Joe Smith, the Mormon leader at Nauvoo, that we might at once enter into an arrangement. Notwithstanding the bad season, we had some few days of sunshine, in which pretty Miss Emma and I would take long rambles in the woods; and sometimes, too, my host would invite the hunters of his neighborhood, for a general bayyue against bears, deer, and wild cats. Then we would encamp out under good tents, and during the evening, while smoking near our blazing fires, I would hear stories which taught me more of life in the United States than if I had been residing there for years.
"Dis moi qui tu frequentes, je te dirai qui tu es," is the old French proverb. Mr. Courtenay never chose his campanions but among the more intellectual classes of the society around him, and, of course, these stories were not only well told, but interesting in their subject. Often the conversation would fall upon the Mormons, and perceiving how anxious I
118 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
was to learn any thing anout this new sect, my host introduced me to a very talented gentleman, who had every information connected with their history. From him I learned the particulars which gave rise to Mormonism, undoubtedly the most extraordinary imposition of the nineteenth century.
There existed years ago a Connecticut man, named Solomon Spalding, a relation to the one who invented the wooden nutmegs. By following him through his career, the reader will find him a Yankee of the true stock. He appears at first as a law student; then as a preacher, a merchant, and a bankrupt; afterwards he becomes a blacksmith in a small western village; then a land speculator and a county schoolmaster; later still, he becomes the owner of an iron-foundry; once more a bankrupt; at last, a writer and a dreamer.
As might be expected, he died a beggar somewhere in Pennsylvania, little thinking that, by a singular coincidence, one of his productions (the
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 119
"Manuscript found"), redeemed from oblivion by a few rogues, would prove in their hands a powerful weapon, and be the basis of one of the most anomalous, yet powerful secessions which has ever been experienced by the Established Church.
We find, under the title of the "Manuscript found," an historical romance of the first settlers of America, rendeavuring to shew that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gives a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and by sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which is denominated Nephites, and the other Lamanites.
Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds now so commonly found on the continent of
120 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
America. Their knowledge in the arts and sciences, and their civilization, are dwelt upon in order to account for all the remarkable ruins of cities and other curious antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America.
Solomon Spalding writes in the biblical style, and commences almost every sentence with, "And it came to pass," -- "Now, it came to pass."
Although some powers of imagination and a degree of scientific information are displayed throughout the whole romance, it remained for several years unnoticed, on the shelves of Messrs. Patterson and Lambdin, printers, in Pittsburgh.
Many years passed, when Lambdin the printer, having failed, wished to raise the wind by some book speculation. Looking over the various manuscripts then in his possession, the "Manuscript found," venerable in its dust, was, upon examination, looked upon as a gold
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 121
mine, which would restore to affluence the unfortunate publisher. But death summoned Lambdin away, and put an end to the speculation, as far as his interests were concerned.
Lambdin had intrusted the precious manuscript to his bosom friend, Sidney Rigdon, that he might embellish it and alter it, as he might think expedient. The publisher now dead, Rigdon allowed this chef-d'oeuvre to remain in his desk till, reflecting upon his precarious means, and upon his chances of obtaining a future livlihood, a sudden idea struck him. Rigdon knew well his countrymen and their avidity for the marvellous; he resolved to give to the world the "manuscript found," not as a mere work of imagination or disquisition, as its writer had intended it to be, but as a new code of religion, sent down to man, as of yore, on awful Sinai, the tables were given unto Moses.
For some time, Rigdon worked very hard, studying the Bible, altering his book, and
122 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
preaching every Sunday. As the reader may easily imagine, our Bible student had been as well as Spalding, a Jack of all trades, having successively filled the offices of attorney, bar-keeper, clerk, merchant, waiter, newspaper editor, preacher, and, finally, a hanger-on about printing offices, where he could always pick up some little job in the way of proof correcting and so forth.
To us this variety of occupations may appear very strange, but among the unsettled and ambitious population of the United States, men at the age of fifty have been, or at least have tried to be, every thing, not in gradation, from the lowest up to the highest, but just as it may happen -- doctor yesterday and waiter to-day -- the Yankee philosopher will to-morrow run for a seat in the legislature; if he fails, he may turn a Methodist preacher, a Mormon, a land-speculator, a member of the "Native American Society," or a mason -- that is to say, a journeyman mason.
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 123
Two words more upon Rigdon, before we leave him in his comparative insignificance! He is undoubtedly the father of Mormonism, and the author of the "Golden Book," with the exception of a few subsequent alterations made by Joe Smith. It was easy for him, from the first planning of his intended imposture to publicly discuss, in the pulpit, many strange points of controversy, which were eventually to become the corner-stones of the structure which he wished to raise.
The novelty of the discussions was greedily received by many, and, of course, prepared them for that which was coming. Yet, it seems that Rigdon soon perceived the evils which his wild imposture would generate, and he recoiled from his task, not because there remained lurking in his breast some few sparks of honesty, but because he wanted courage; he was a scoundrel, but a timorous one, and always in dread of the penitentiary. With him, Mormonism was a mere money speculation,
124 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
and he resolved to shelter himself behind some fool who might bear the whole odium, while he would reap a golden harvest, and quietly retire before the coming of a storm. But, as is often the case, he reckoned without his host; for it so happened that, in searching for a tool of this deception, he found in Joe Smith one not precisely what he had calculated upon. He wanted a compound of rogery and folly as his tool and slave; Smith was a rogue and an unlettered man, but he was what Rigdon was not aware of -- a man of bold conception, full of courafe and mental energy, one of those unprincipled, yet lofty, aspiring beings who, centries past, would have succeeded as well as Mahomet, and who has, even in this more enlightened age, accomplished that which is wonderful to contemplate.
When it was too late to retract, Rigdon perceived with dismay that, instead of acquiring a silly bondsman, he had subjected himself.
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 125
to a superior will; he was now himself a slave, bound by fear and interest, his two great guides through life. Smith consequently became, instead of Rigdon, "the elect of God," and is now at the head of thousands, a great religious and political leader.
From the same gentleman, I also learned the history of Joseph Smith; and I will lay before the reader what, from various documents, I hace succeeded in collecting concerning this remarkable impostor, together with a succinct account of the rise and progress of this new sect, as it is a remarkable feature in the history of nations.
TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
The father of Joe was one of a numerous class of people who are termed, in the west, "money-diggers," living a sort of vagrant life, imposing upon the credulous farmers by pretending that they knew of treasures concealed, and occasionally stealing horses and cattle. Joseph Smith was the second son, and a great favourite of his father, who stated everywhere
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 127
that Joe had that species of second sight, which enabled him to discover where treasure was hidden. Joe did certainly turn out very smart, and it was prophesied by the "old ones" that, provided he was not hung, Joe would certainly become a general, if he did not gain the office of president of the United States. But Joe's smartness was so great, that Palmyra, where his father usually resided, became too small for the exercise of his talents.
Some time afterwards Joe was again heard of. In one of his rambles, he had gone to Harmony (Pennsylvania), and there formed an acquaintence with a young woman. In the fall of 1826, being then at Philadelphia, he resolved to go out and get married to her, but, being destitute of means, he now set his wits to work to raise some money and get a recommendation, so as to obtain the fair one of his choice. He went to a man named Lawrence, and stated that he had discovered in Pennsylvania,
128 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
on the bank of the Susquehanna river, a very rich mine of silver, and if he, Lawrence, woul go there with him, he might have a share in the profits; that it was near high-water mark, and that they could put the silver into boats, and take it down the river to Philadelphia, and dispose of it. Lawrence asked Joseph if he was not deceiving him.
"No." replied Joe, "for I have been there and seen it with my own eyes, and if you do not find it so when we get there, I will bind myself to be your servant for three years.
By oaths, asservations, and fair promises, Lawrence was induced to believe in Joe's assertion, and agreed to go with him; and as Joseph was out of money, Lawrence had to defray the whole expenses of the journey. When they arrived at Harmony, Joseph was strongly recommended by Lawrence, who was well known to the parents of the young woman; after which they proceeded on their journey to the silver mine, made a diligent
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 129
search, and of course found nothing. Thus Lawrence had his trouble for his pains, and returned home with his pockets lighter than when he started, whilst honest Joe had not only his expenses paid, but a good recommendation of the father of his fair one.
Joe now proposed to marry the girl, but the parents were opposed to the match. One day, when they happened to be from home, he took advantage of the opportunity, went off with her, and the knot was tied.
Being still destitute of money, he now again set his wits to work, to contrive to get back to Manchester, at that time his place of residence, and he hit upon the following plan, which succeeded. He went to an honest old Dutchman, by the name of Stowel, and told him that he had discovered on the banks of the Black River, in the village of Watertown (Jefferson County, N. Y.), a cave, in which he found a bar of gold as big as his leg, and about three or four feet long; that he could
130 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
not get it out alone on account of its great weight; and if Stowel would frank him and his wife to Manchester (N. Y.), they would then go together to the cave, and Stowel should share the prize with him. The good Dutchman consented.
A short time after their arrival at Manchester, Stowel reminded Joseph of his promise, but he coolly replied that he could not go just then, as his wife was among strangers, and would be very lonesome if he quitted her. Mr. Stowel was, like Mr. Lawrence, obliged to return without any remuneration, and with less money than he came. I mention these two freaks of Joe Smith, as they explain the money-digger's system of fraud.
It would hardly be believed that, especially among the cunning Yankees, such "mines and treasures" stories should be credited; but it is a peculiar feature in the U. S. that the inhabitants, so difficult to overreach in other matters, will greedily take the bait when
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 131
"mines" or "hidden treasure" are spoken of. In Missouri and Wisconsin, immense beds of copper ore and lead have bbeen discovered in every direction. Thousands of poor, ignorant farmers, emigrants from the East, have turned diggers, miners, and smelters. Many have accumulated large fortunes in the space of a few years, and have returned "wealthy gentlemen" to their own native state, much to the astonishment of their neighbours.
Thus has the "mining spirit" been kept alive, and impostors of every variety have reaped their harvest, by speculating upon the well-known avidity of the "people of America!"
It was in the beginning of 1827, that Joe, in a trip to Pittsburg, became acquainted with Rigdon. A great intimacy took place betwixt them, and they paid each other alternate visits -- Joe coming to Pittsburg and Rigdon going to the Susquehannam for pleasure excursions, at a friend's. It was also during the same
132 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
year that the Smith family assumed a new character. In the month of June, Joseph Smith, sen., went to a wealthy, but credulous farmer, and related the following story: --
"That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joe, his son, and, in a vision, informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person who must obtain them, and this he must do in the following manner:-- On the 22nd of September, he must repair to the place where these plates of gols were deposited, dressed in black clothes, riding a black horse, with a switch tail, and demand the plates in a certain name; and, after obtaining them, he must immediately go away, and neither lay them down nor look behind him."
The farmer gave credit to old Smith's communication. He accordingly fitted out Joseph with a suit of black clothes, and borrowed a black horse. Joe (by his own account) repaired to the place of deposit, and
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 133
demand the plates, which were in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the surface of the ground that he could see one end of it; raising the lid up, he took out the plates of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got them, he laid them down, to replace the top stone as he had found it; when, turning round, to his surprise, there were no plates to be seen. He again opened the box, and saw the plates in it; he attempted to take them out, but was not able. He perceived in the box something like a toad, which gradually assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. Not being discouraged at trifles, Joe again stooped down and attempted to take the plates, when the spirit struck him again, knocked him backwards three or four rods, and hurt him very much: recovering from his fright, he inquired of the spirit, why he could not take the plates; to which the spirit made reply, "Because you have not obeyed your orders." He then inquired when he could
134 TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES
have them, and was answered thus: "Come one year from this day, and bring with you your eldest brother; then you shall have them."
"This spirit." said the elder Joseph Smith, "was the spirit of the prophet who wrote this book, and who was sent to Joe Smith, jun., to make known these things to him. Before the expiration of the year, the eldest brother died; which," the old man said, "was a decree of Providence." He also added --
"Joe went one year from that day to demand the plates, and the spirit inquired for his brother, and Joe replied that he was dead. The spirit then commanded him to come again in one year from that day, and bring a man with him. On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would now him when he saw him."
Thus, while Rigdon was concocting his Bible and preaching new doctrines, the Smith family were preparing the minds of the people
OF MONSIEUR VIOLET. 135
The remainder of vol. I of this book has not been transcribed.
A History of Mormonism,
ITS RISE TO THE PRESENT TIME.
CHARLES H. CLARKE, 48, PATERNOSTER ROW.
[ 1855 ]
22 MORMONISM UNVEILED.
equal to that they had accorded to his pretended divinations. The crude elements of some daring feat, no doubt, were even then floating in his mind, but they were crushed or hidden for the time, as he, with his companions, fled before an officer who more thab suspicioned them of putting into circulation certain moneys more than had been authorised by law. While evading his pursuers he became acquainted with Sidney Rigdon, a religious Ishmaelite, who had in turn belonged to, and been excluded from several denominations. Rigdon knew nothing but what he had been taught, while Smith had been taught nothing, and formed his ideas from nature and an unassisted scrutiny of nature's works. His keen perception was more than a match for the Ishmaelite's book-learning, for what he left as beyond the intelligence of mortal mind, Smith grasped and solved with the might of an overpowering perseverance.
(Pages 23-51 of the British edition's text were not transcribed.)
Note: Page 52 of British edition = pages 83-84 in the American reprint)
52 MORMONISM UNVEILED.
if they remained pure, look upon the Word of God, the sight of which was death to those who viewed it unworthily.
Note: Page 53 of British edition = pages 84-85 in the American reprint)
MORMONISM UNVEILED. 53
importance to the infant fast outgrowing its swaddling clothes. He was constituted a preacher of the new doctrine, and to his first sermon, Sermon Rigdon, the confederate in the nefarious imposture, thought it time to throw off the cloak beneath which he had labored for his Master, and strike his colors to Parley Pratt and Mormonism.
Note: Page 54 of British edition = pages 85-86 in the American reprint)
54 MORMONISM UNVEILED.
habits with open arms. The free and easy discipline overlooked all enormities demanding nothing with so much eagerness as numbers, no matter whence they came, nor what were their antecedents, so that they new avowed an implicit belief in the impostures of the self-styled Prophet. The mystery that enveloped their leader's movements, the marvellous and miraculous pretensions inspired them with a devotional awe, and he soon became regarded by his followers with veneration which fell like a balm on his perverted heart, and only added new ardor to the course he was pursuing.
Note: Page 55 of British edition = pages 86-87 in the American reprint)
MORMONISM UNVEILED. 55
gift, and think you, when God comes to rule by His chosen people, he will countenance the elevation to high places of those who had the means to advance the faith, but refused to use it for his service, even when assured it should be returned, together with high worldly honours, a thousandfold?"
(The remainder of the British edition's text was not transcribed.)
RELICS FOUND. 31
to await the unguarded moment when they could in safety sally forth and hurl dire vengeance on the pale faces who had usurped their all. At their feet and rolling away to the north lay Lake Erie, a broad inland sea, majestic and imperious in the storm when its angry billows lashed its rugged shores, but beautiful as a sleeping tiger in its hours of repose.
32 BAFFLED CURIOSITY.
those who have seen different and know better, is simply preposterous."
AUTHOR IN EMBRYO. 33
names of Newton, Franklin, and a host of others, who are long since dead," answered the enthusiastic collegian.
34 AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER.
for the busy, active life among his fellows in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
LITERATURE AND CIGARS. 35
in it; no, no, I cannot consent so to mislead my fellow men."
36 DEATH OF AN AUTHOR.
but which oftener hit the wall beyond, or the files of papers around it.
RIGDON SEEKS EMPLOYMENT. 37
destroyed as waste and worthless papers. Rigdon soon after, left Patterson's employment for other printing offices in the city, occasionally borrowing the copy of Spaulding's manuscript in the possession of Patterson, for the amusement of his fellow workmen. In 1826, Patterson died, leaving the manuscript in the possession of Rigdon, who had borrowed it a few days previously, and who now, that no one demanded it, had not the manliness to return it to its rightful owners. He, however, kept it no secret, and there are many at this hour living in that city, who have seen and heard Rigdon read from the "Manuscript Found." Rigdon in the year after the death of Patterson, wandered away in search of work and a congregation ignorant enough to appreciate his talents. During this tour, which the state of his finances obliged him to perform in the primitive mode so congenial to good digestion, as he was taking the nearest way from one village to another in the eastern part of the State, his path led down a ridge, at whose base murmured a mountain stream thickly shaded by the forest that shut out the noon-day sun. Weary and hungry, he threw himself on its mossy bank, drank from its gurgling depth, then taking a lunch from his bundle commenced his meal. While thus engaged he surveyed the scenery around; but before his eye had wandered far, it fell on a youth on the opposite bank surveying him with looks of distrust. He stood erect with his hat swept back from his forehead, a rifle
38 HE ENCOUNTERS THE PROPHET.
resting in the bend of his left arm, while his right hand played nervously with its hammer. A keen, bold, searching eye surveyed him, with a look not at all comfortable to a man of Rigdon's temperament, and he turned to fly in dismay, when an imperious voice cried in a tone of command, "stop!"
THE ISHMAELITE'S CREDENTIALS. 39
same. Come man, don't make a fool of yourself; out with it, and tell me who you are in search of?"
40 TRAMMELED GENIUS.
"Humph," he growled, as he glanced over its surface, and a feeling of bitterness filled his heart as he surveyed it, for it might as well have been written in the Carib tongue as his own, for all the benefit it was to him, so perfectly untrammeled by art had the sire led his hopeful progeny in his own footsteps. He, in his vagabond careless life, had never felt the want of it; but his sons, whether they had more ideas to communicate, or whether what they had were kept in agitation by a lurking envy and ambition is not very clear, often had. The mood of Rigdon's tormentor, therefore, did not improve as he gazed longingly on the bit of paper covered over with a scrawl, and flinging it passionately from him, he cried:
AN UNEXPECTED MARKSMAN. 41
"Done," cried the rifleman, and placing a piece of paper the size of a dollar eighty yards distant, he gave the rifle into the hands of Rigdon, who examined it closely a moment, then raised it to his shoulder, glanced along its barrel and fired. Handing it to the owner who was eyeing him with a curious look which was gradually displaced by one of admiration, he said:
42 A BOND OF FRIENDSHIP.
superstitious awe which had held him so often heretofore in its fetters, together with the pall of ignorance that hemmed him around, made it appear so like truth that he yielded to it a willing homage, and when told by Rigdon, it was all fiction, it sounded harshly and jarred with the newly awakened cord it had vibrated in his heart
Master and pupil -- Talent and imbecility -- A contrast -- Pupil becomes the master -- Error and truth -- Persecuted genius -- A vision from the higher or lower regions -- A quandary as to which -- Prophet bursts his chrysalis -- The dame's ambition -- A son's reverence -- The sorrowing bride -- A divine mission -- It is disputed by the sturdy neighbors -- The Prophet at a discount -- He is urged to a more dignified demeanor -- Rigdon and the Prophet -- Rigdon delivers over "Manuscript Found" to Joseph Smith..
44 MASTER AND PUPIL.
all the actions of his after life, for here Rigdon taught him to read and write, and all that he had spent a score of years in learning, had been grasped and digested by his pupil, and still he longingly called for more food to satisfy the mental hunger that, for years, had been preying upon all the generous promptings of his soul, and which now, that it had tasted of that for which it had so long cried in vain, it would not be denied or controlled. This mental craving for that which should satisfy the soul which broke forth like a tide of lava, puzzled Rigdon, but when he saw his pupil grasp abstruse themes and solve them by the force of a master intellect, themes he himself had never dared to lay hold of, his wonder was turned to veneration, and he believed in his heart Smith was the most persecuted man, as well as the greatest genius, in America.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FACTS AND FANCY. 45
one whose want of talent was never disputed, their course is found to be as wide as the antipodes asunder. The idiotic individual lives where his father lived; ate what was given him, tried to learn his way to church, but generally brought up in the bar opposite, died and was forgotten; while this man who has had both ignorance and imbecility falsely laid to his charge, never lived at any one place two consecutive months, -- went where no one else would go, -- spurned the old beaten track which so many millions have unmurmuringly trodden, -- beat out a new one, and led thousands after him, -- died, and will never be forgotten; for history's page is blotted by his name, and America's escutcheon bears the shame of his deeds.
46 MINISTERIAL ASPIRATIONS.
commanded him to henceforth be guided in all his doings by the commands which should be given him by the Lord.
THE PROPHET'S VISION. 47
of a family she had surreptitiously abandoned a father's house to enter, every member of which she now despised from the bottom of her heart, not excepting the scapegrace who had lured her from her father's roof.
48 EMMA URGES THE MERITS OF RECTITUDE.
future. We are young and strong, and the world is wide. Here the odium attached to us, how far deserved I know not, precludes our ever becoming respected or respectable; so hedged in are the people by custom that once thrust beyond their pale by overt acts, no life of rectitude can again penetrate the barrier beyond sufferance, and that I would never accept. No, Joseph pride is strong yet in my heart, and I pant to break away from this place, and go where we can make a home for ourselves, and rear a name for integrity and uprightness -- where by the labor of our hands and the blamelessness of our lives, we shall command at once a competence and the respect of our fellows."
PROPHET BURSTS HIS CHRYSALIS. 49
until I rise as far above them as the Father is above me," answered the visionary, and as he concluded he strode proudly out, leaving his family struck dumb by the audacity of his words, and the passionate hauteur of his manner.
50 WITHERED HOPES OF HIS BRIDE.
if our Joe can do anything, that wife of his ought to be made to let him alone, and not to be worrying him," returned the dame.
PROPHET CLAIMS A DIVINE MISSION. 51
listened with open mouth and eyes at the strange occurrence. These latter had the humps of credulity wonderfully developed, so much so that, had Satan appeared before them and asserted he was sent into the world to save lost men, they would have left all to assist him in furthering his mission. Such there are usually in all communities, and that their type was found around Palmyra and Manchester was nothing new nor strange. Those endowed with the full gift of reason chid[ed] the new fledged Prophet for his idle life, and advised him to spend his nights in slumber and his days in labor, instead of concocting fables to amuse and distract the simple and ignorant.
52 TOOL AND HIS MASTER.
servant of the most High -- for I find you are in the very worst possible odor with the people around here. Indeed one farmer to whom I related the tale demanded if I professed to make people believe, who had always known you and your family to be the veriest vagabonds around, that if God wanted to create a new Prophet, he would have chosen a man steeped in crime against all moral and civil law, instead of taking an honorable man, though he was ever so lowly."
DECEPTION TRIUMPHANT. 53
let him into the secret that the plan was concocted between us. Whoever we hereafter associate with us, must do it in the full belief of the divinity of your mission; but shall share after us equally the honors and emoluments the project shall bring them!"
54 SCHEMES MATURED.
I have the 'seer stones,' and I can make them believe I divined it by them, or what is better still, say a "urium and thumin' of which Spaulding speaks, was discovered with it."
BASE MOTIVES. 55
their corrupt hearts, gloated over the consternation one day's work had done at their impious fraud, and could they have looked into the future and seen them fully developed, even they might, startled at their own deeds, have stood aghast, and abandoned their further prosecution. Their only object at that time was to play upon the credulous, earn applause from the debased, and extort money from the simple, under the plea of a divine mission, and thus deceive and rob in a mode of which no law could arraign them for the offense. Pride, ambition and an overweening thirst for power led Smith to concoct the scheme while the most consummate hypocrisy which he had played off on several denominations of Christians, with the hope of rising with the tide, was Rigdon's motive. Honor, integrity and all the nobler passions of the human heart, had been stifled in the breasts of both and naught remained to stem the new-born crime which should drag their own names to the depths of infamy and enslave in vice thousands of their fellows.
Prophet and the people -- They refuse to believe in his mission -- They accuse him of crime -- They gather round his house -- Indications of violence -- The prophet pales before the danger -- He is urged by Rigdon to address them -- He in anger arms himself -- The Prophet on a wood pile -- His first sermon, wherein he relates wonders -- The hosts of heaven and redeemed souls -- The Prince of Darkness and his attendants -- They are routed by the Angel -- The Prophet receives the golden Bible -- Imposture triumphant.
PROPHET AND THE GENTILES. 57
women, in general, and her own in particular, and go promulgating them through the country, in contradistinction to her lord, who now spent his days in proclaiming the visions he averred he had received through the night. Hyrum, McKnight, and Rigdon became as inseparable, and with him, spent their nights in a small cave near where Smith averred the angel had appeared to him. The neighbors became suspicions of the trio, and set the constable on the alert, but when they were questioned as to their doings they meekly replied they were watching and praying; for even then, the angel was hovering in the air around them. The official took his departure with the full belief that they were crazed; but not so the crowd that had gathered around them, and followed them to their abode, constantly increasing in numbers as they went, until when they disappeared beneath the low portal a hundred persons had collected around. They had been drawn together by the exciting rumors which said there had been other visions seen by Smith, and he had been commanded in them to bring to light creeds and revelations buried two thousand years ago by the patriarchs, in the hill of Cumora by the command of God. McKnight, Hyrum, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Sr., acknowledged implicit belief in the modern miracles, but Emma and Samuel treated them with the contempt which they were received by the people who were gathered around the door, calling in no gentle tones for the
58 VIOLENT INDICATIONS.
Prophet to come out and substantiate his assertions or deny them.
THE PROPHET IN DANGER. 59
"You must not undertake to make fine speeches; if you do, they will laugh at you; but speak what you think, what is in your heart -- and as for the windows, that is nothing to what you may expect, if you do not go out and pacify them."
60 PROPHET ON A WOOD PILE.
"Get down, Joe, and go to some honest labour! you can never make a preacher!" shouted a sedate old farmer near [by].
HIS FIRST SERMON. 61
cried Smith passionately, as his chest heaved, and his eye flashed with the volcano of passion ignited by their taunts and bitter sarcasms. "If the great God who sees the hearts of all men, and measures the iniquity he sees therein, not by an erring eye, but meets out justice with a hand that cannot err -- with a decision that cannot be gainsayed, shall frail man raise his feeble hand against his Maker, because he has not been chosen to fulfill the mandates of Jehovah, instead of one he, in his short-sightedness, deemed less holy than himself? If God has forgiven all sin, and purified the soul, so that He deems it worthy to hold converse with him at the foot of his throne, does it become His creatures to turn from him with scorn as if they feared contamination from what their Creator had sanctified. Look into your own hearts and search out -- "
62 AN ANGEL'S MESSAGE.
tone. "Four years ago, while alone, two singularly beautiful personages appeared to me, and announced themselves as messengers from the throne of God, sent to reveal to me that I had been chosen to make known to men the errors of their faith -- a faith which was offensive in the sight of God -- and teach them the truth of the plan of salvation, which had been lost for ages through the stubborn willfulness of man. I had long been troubled in my mind at the sinfulness of my own heart before that hour; but no sooner did these messengers announce to me the mission I was to fulfill, than all doubts ceased, and I felt, my heart, rising in adoration before my Maker. A few days passed, when I began to feel that I was past sinning -- pride entered my heart, and I gloried not at the good I should accomplish, but at the honour and fame my mission would bring me. Then I began to be again miserable, when the angels re-appeared, who chided me for the wickedness of my thoughts, forgave them, and then told me that the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel were buried in the hill of Cumorah, where they were deposited fourteen hundred years ago by Moroni, the son of the Prophet Mormon, having previously engraved them on plates of gold, the Prophet, Mormon assuring his son Moroni that, after the lapse of fourteen hundred years, a Gentile nation should recover them, and, through the truth of their prophecies, be turned to the true worship of God. The angel gave me the directions by which I
UNEARTHING RECORDS. 63
could find the spot indicated, and with joy I hastened to lay bare the holy treasure. On the west side of the hill, where the storms of ages had beaten against it, I dug down by the side of an immense rock, where, below the surface about two feet, I laid bare a square marble box, so firmly cemented that water could not penetrate its interior. At the sight of the box, I knelt in prayer and adoration to the great Jehovah, and my heart was melted by divine love. With reverence, I laid my hand on the lid, when it flew open by an invisible hand, and beneath I saw plates of shining gold, covered over with strange characters, and on the tops of these lay two thick glasses set in a rim of gold. At the sight of the golden plates my heart became steeled by avarice, and I resolved to use the gold; but no sooner was the thought, born in my heart, than an invisible hand struck me to the earth, and the ground gathered over the box and its contents. The air became filled with whispering voices, while cloud-like forms flitted around me. Ever and anon balls of fire hissed above me, while fiery serpents shot athwart the sky, and the sun paled in their fiery light. These died away, when the hosts of heaven with their golden chariots and myriads of purified spirits, led on by the Patriarchs and Prophets, passed before me, among whom, Mormon, the last of the prophets, paused and addressed me thus:
64 CELESTIAL PYROTECHNICS.
be fulfilled; and thou shalt, if thou overcomest the evil in thine own heart, reign among us."
CELESTIAL PROCESSION. 65
years to a day, the angel appeared to me, while in the field at work and said:
66 HUMBUGERY TRIUMPHANT.
glory of His kingdom? He that has the hardihood, let him go up to battle against the host of heaven; as for me, I must do my Lord's bidding."
THE DUPE AND HIS MASTER. 67
your hands, was found by Spaulding as it professes to be, and throws some light on what was shown to me, as have this day proclaimed. It is, however, of little importance to me; yet I propose to retain it yet for a season to compare with the records in my possession."
(Remainder of 1855 U. S. reprint of Belisle's text not transcribed.)
J E S S I E,
JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER. 31.
"Hush!" said the gentleman in black.
"Shut up thar -- thunder! I'm clar here away. I say. der yer think cos I', a coast a Africa coaler," he added with a grin, "I'd kip yar darty money. Stranger, I guess no how. Thar, count yer shin-plasters and gold, and damned to yer."
"It is unnecessary," said Phineas, trembling with joy.
"I guess it ain't," replied the slaver, drily; "and now make tracks, or I'll not be sure of my temper, with such a black-looking scran."
Phineas needed not twice telling, but, his heart beating, with tumultuous emotions, rushed from the hotel.
At the time of which we speak, in the early part of the present century, the whole surface was one forest, haunted by the prowling panther and the no less savage Indian, who lay in wait to take advantage of any unguarded moment to sally forth and deal desolation round upon the whites.
Their opportunities in this neighbourhood were, however, few, as the forest-borders were seldom visited by any but large parties of explorers and hunters, whom it would have been unsafe to attack.
We must now transport our readers thither, on a memorable night, which has much to do with the establishment of what its votaries call the new religion, and which we denominate the Great Imposture.
It was within an hour or two of night, and at the mouth of a dark and gloomy glen so overspread by trees and undergrowth, that in all probability the light of the sun had not penetrated since the Creation.
A party was camped at the mouth, in the primitive fashion of all American hunters.
A triangle had been erected from which depended an iron kettle, and round this four stalwart youths in hunter's garb were stretched, with their rifles between their knees, waiting for the evening meal to be completed.
They were all tall, coarse-featured lads, but not wanting in either intellect or acuteness, while one, whose name was Joseph, added to this the cunning of a fox. The others, Hyrum, John, and William. were less markedly characterized.
All were smoking, while Joseph, in deep contemplation fixed his eyes on the heavens, as if in secret communion with some spirit of the air. This youth was enthusiastic, ambitious, and devoured by every passion known to humanity.
He lusted with all his soul for power, wealth, and woman.
And he was poor, unlettered, and ignorant.
This, to the bold and energetic, is as nothing.
And this youth was both, with the most unbounded self-fufficiency, conceit, and ambition.
Suddenly, Hyrum set up a cry, and all started up.
"What's up?" said Joe, with manly gravity.
"Look!" said Hyrum.
He pointed to the waters of Lake Erie, a broad, inland sea, majestic and imperious in the storm, when its angry billows lashed its rugged shores, but beautiful as a sleeping tiger in its hour of repose.
A small canoe, impelled by a tiny sail, was breaking the waves, with one figure in the stern, while behind, stretching out with all the energy of an eager chase, were four canoes, full of armed Indians, racing as for a prize.
"Joe," said Hyrum, with a queer pucker of his huge face, "if that arn't a gal!"
"Eh!" cried Joe, his sallow face lighting up.
"Them Injine's arter no good," said Hyrum.
Joe rose, clutched his rifle, and with great strides began to make towards that part of the lake where it appeared that the solitary fugitive might be expected to land.
His stalwart brothers followed him at a rapid pace, like fearless hunters as they were.
They had nearly half a mile to go, and necessarily, as they left their elevated position, lost sight of the actors in the scene which so much interested them.
They knew that night would soon fall, and that there was no time to lose.
In a short time they reached the confines of the woods, an open asnd green space sloping down thence to the lake.
The scene was now terribly exciting. The canoes were almost neck and neck, while the fugitive had taken down the small sail, trusting to a paddle. But the case was hopeless. The Indians must reach the small canoe, and ere it came to land.
"Thunder!" said Joe, who was a tall, gaunt lad, of about seventeen, "what's to be done? Its a tarnation fine gal."
And his little grey eyes glistened as he wiped the sweat off his lofty forehead.
"Shute!" said Samuel.
"No," replied William, calmly -- he was a mere hunter, little given to sentiment, but emonently practical, "it is a girl, the Indians won't hurt her. Let's wait till night, track 'em. and then release her."
All bowed to this advice, as the best under the circumstances, and falling on their knees watched the progress of events with intense interest.
The girl, for such the fugitive undoubtedly was, suddenly ceased rowing, and folding her arms, appeared to resign herself to her fate. But still the canoes continued their headlong course, and at last one, slightly lighter than the rest, gained ground, when a warrior, who had stood upright in the bows of the next, made a tremendous headlong plunge, went out of sight, and rising, laid his hand quietly on the girl's shoulder.
The chase immediately ceased.
The girl was a prisoner.
The Indians then held a brief conference, and four of the boats returned slowly the way they came, while that to which the prisoner belonged approached the shore.
The occupants landed. They were ten in number, and well armed
32 JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER.
The brothers glanced at one another.
"Not yet," said William.
The Indians, wholly unsuspicious of the presence of danger, the hunters having made their fire with charred wood, fastened their boat, and without in any way confining her motions, marched in a direction which took them close to the hidden hunters.
Not one even drew a breath.
"By heavens!" said Joe, when they had disappeared in the forest, "a white gal."
"And darned handsome, eh! Joe?" added Hyrum, with a chukle.
Joe made no answer, but leading the way, struck upon the trail of the Indians, which they took no pains to disguise. Their followers, however, kept at a most respectful distance.
Every now and then Joe looked with ecstacy at the mark of a tiny and lovely foot. He was intensely excited. Something seemed to tell him that he had fallen on his fate.
Presently night fell, as it always does in America, without warning, and they found themselves in utter darkness.
But at the same time the faint glimmer of a distant light, proclaimed that the Indians had halted. Extreme caution had now to be used, as the Custalogas were a cunning race, and kept a careful look out over their watch-fires,
It became necessary to crawl step by step, halt, and listen. No ear is so keen as that of the red Indian. In his instincts, and habits, he partakes more of the nature of a wild beast than of any other race.
By dint, however of the utmost patience and caution, they at length succeeded in coming within sight of the camp.
Some wood-coals had been lighted, over which a youthful warrior was brioling a mess of game, The rest reclined around in various attitudes, while one stood facing the girl, slightly bound to a tree.
She was about sixteen, tall, slim, and yet powerfully made. Her face was handsome, and yet masculine, probably from exposure to the open air, but her eyes had a power and rich voluptuous langour, that made the heart of Joe beat wildly.
She was dressed like a half-caste, in a tunic or hunting-shirt, leggings, mocassins, and wore a cap of deerskin.
By her side was a small rifle.
She appeared more intent on examining the fine proportions of the young Indian chief before her, than occupied with her own position.
His speech was long, cunning, and full of Indian flowers of speech, the purport however was as follows: -- Her father was a great warrior, his wigwam was a mighty one, and contained much riches. It was time that the greybeard retired from active life, and went back to his settlements. They knew he loved the singing-bird, his only daughter. If then he would give up his wigwam and all it held, they would restore his daughter; if not she had the very worst to expect, and then, death.
"Well, I declare, young speckletoes," said the Amazonian damsel, "that's plain speaking, and Captain Reardon, my father, is not very likely to convene. I says no; but you can ask him."
The eyes of the Indian rolled significantly.
"I am the Yellow Bear," said the young chief; "the pale faces have robbed me of my inheritance; they are destroying the woods, and taking away the hunting-grounds of my people. I can stand idle no longer. My braves have risen in their might, and the first trophy they must have is your father's wigwam. You must yield it to us, or die."
"I'll die first!" cried the girl, resolutely.
"What says the singing bird -- shall the greybeard die too?"
"Catch 'un," said the girl, with an undaunted mien.
The warriors sprang to their feet in a whirlwind of passion, raised their tomahawks -- at that moment four sheets of flame flashed before their eyes, and as many warriors fell, never to rise again.
Then came a fifth -- it was the girl's.
This was followed by the rush of four huge forms from the brake right upon the camp.
They loaded as they ran.
But the Indians vanished like magic, crying out, in words unintelligible to the girl --
"The money-digger! the money-digger!"
"Well, that's friendly," said the girl, patting Joe on the shoulder as he unfastened her cords, and was indeed an unnecessary long time about it.
It gave him an excuse to clasp her buxom waist, and feast his eyes on a bosom of the fairest proportions, as revealed by her disordered dress.
At length, however, she was free, and Joe would have asked for explanations.
"Make tracks," said William, cooly, "the whul bilin' 'ull be down on us like smoke, if yer don't hook it. Whar do yer live, miss?"
"Follow me," replied the girl, and loading her rifle, she led the way in a direction that took them past their own camp. Here they halted ten minutes to recruit themselves.
The flesh-pots of Egypt were too much for them.
They devoured the stew, but scarcely had finished before they knew that the Philistines were on their track.
A goodly benefit would it have been to society if they had slain the lot.
It was situated where the river took a bend, almost meeting at one point.
Except a narrow strip, guarded by a gate, the block-house was on an island.
Captain Simon Reardon was an inveterate hunter, and at the same time an enthusiast with regard to the history of the ancient Indians.
As the axe of the hardy pioneer cleared, and the ploughshare turned up, the earth of the valley, he
fell constantly upon the remains of America's past history, as connected with her cherished hearthstones and sacred groves, spots hallowed by noble deeds, and the graves of a lost nation.
Numerous skeletons, jars of earthenware, thin sheets of brass, covered with hieroglyphics, turned up, and the delight of the recluse was great,
He collected a perfect museum of curiosities
Then came a pale, anxious, inquiring youth, called Solomon Spaulding, whose whole soul was given to the elucidation of the history of his native country. With him it was a passion which knew no bounds. He examined the old man's museum with care, and then, fired, inspired by all he saw around, himself a religious enthusiast, he began to uncoil, page by page, and leaf by leaf, a wild, visionary romance, intended to explain the advent of the first race of human beings in America.
This book he read evening after evening to the old man and his daughter.
Captain Reardon was delighted, and in the exuberance of his feelings promised his daughter in marriage to the young enthusiast.
34 JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER.
Little did he imagine by what strange means he was laying the foundations of a new religion,
Now, Solomon Spalding was a sedate book-worm, a man in whose eyes a woman was very well as a useful piece of furniture, but not a being to devote your whole soul to -- yes, such, fair readers, was his idea when first he saw her.
But all flesh is weak, and before he had been in the block-house a month, he loved Emma with all the energy of a simple and generous heart.
Alas! Emma was a girl full of health and spirits, far better desposed for a frolic than for study; better suited to a tramp through the woods, a tiger hunt, or a night's salmon spearing, than to mend a scholar's shirts or nurse his children.
Emma was as wild and as free as a colt.
Still, having never seen any other man save him and her father, she had not revelled against the decision which made her the student's wife, and she even submitted to his embrace; allowed him to call her his love; and even was herself a little tender -- in fact, did all kinds of foolish things which lovers will understand without our description, and which no description will convey to the mind of any one else.
Now, Solomon had fallen sick; and in the goodness of her heart Emma had gone up the lake to fetch some simple medicines which his case required.
The captain sat by the fireplace in his huge kitchen, cleaning his rifle, while Solomon, pale, cadaverous, and gaunt, despite his illness was poring over and correcting his wild and singular manuscript.
It was evening, and though the bold Emma had not yet returned, they did not feel in any way uneasy. They were used to her wanderings, and then, nothing had been seen of red skins for some days. Be it remarked, that with all their reverence for the early Americans, they had a most wholesome dread of their descendants.
When the sun had fallen beneath the horizon some two or three hours, the vetern raised his head.
"I say, Solomon, little Em should be here,"
"Yes -- as thou sayest," replied the solemn young man.
Alas! solemnity and virtue, and even seldom solid moral qualities have much influence with the girls.
A blockhead with a smart pair of whiskers will out-weigh the thoughtful man of genius at any time.
The proverb, "That all is not gold that glitters." is little understood by women, who hence are such worshippers of ppwer.
There was a brief pause, during which the two men communed with their own thoughts.
Then a wild shriek was heard, and the words of some one in mortal agony.
"Father! Father! come, or we shall surely be slain."
Vaptain Reardon flew to a terrace on the left side of the gateway, followed by several labourers and hunters attracted by the shriek; they at once understood the state of affairs.
Close to the stockade that instant halted Emma and the four white youths, while twenty yards behind came whooping, howling, and yelling, some fifty or sixty savages thirsting for their blood.
The white youths turned, levelled their rifles, and fired. At the same instant, a heavy volley from the terrace was poured into the Indians.
Then the gate flew open.
"I've been took," said the excited girl, embracing her father, "but these are my saviours."
"Welcome, my sons," cried the old man, warmly, as he closed the heavy gate.
And the serpent entered this new garden of Eden.
As usual, they withdrew after a check, only, however, to plot and devise some means of carrying out a bloody revenge.
Several of their young men had been slain, which would of course rouse within them the very worst passions of their nature.
But an instant attack was not to be expected.
Captain Reardon accordingly, having placed some of his men as sentries, invited his guests to follow him into his vast kitchen to which Solomon had already retreated.
A sturdy handmaid hastened to spread the evening meal, while Emma, in hearty accents related how she had been taken by the Indians, and released through the courage and devotion of the four young men.
The thanks of the father were hearty, and expressed in suitable terms, after which they sat down to a feast, the zest of which was heightened, by their terrible run through the woods.
Solomon, being an invalid, sat by the fire, the veteran occupied one end of the table, surrounded by his dependants, Emma sat at the other. Joe was close to her side.
Before they had been five minutes at table, a keen observer might have remarked that Joe [ate] his food with his left hand, while Emma used the right,
The others were out of sight.
The flushed faces of both, and the downcast eyes of Emma, showed that the hands were not idle, if the lips were.
Captain Reardon and Solomon, apropos of the savage Custalogas raging without, were discussing antiquities. No wonder they could not see an inch before their noses.
The three brothers, Hyrum, John, and William, were very hungry, and looked chiefly at their plates, though now and then they glanced uneasily at the lovely countenance of the girl, upon whom Joe made such audacious advances, that at last she was obliged to take away her hand.
"Don't be silly," she said.
Alas! Joe was learned in the ways of woman, so he took her by the had once more, squeezed it, and whispered something in her ear.
Emma laughed and blushed, had he been a
JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER. 35
timid lover, in all probability she would have frowned.
After supper, the captain proposed a bowl of punch, a proposition which was met with loud applause. Joe, however, modestly offered to take a turn round and visit the sentries.
His offer was accepted, and Emma volunteered to show him the way round the outworks. The blocklodge itself, which was two-storied, occupied the centre.
It was a calm night, a seductive breeze played through the trees, the stars looked down smiling on this naughty earth, and Joe and Emma turned, not towards the stockade, but the orchard.
Had Solomon Spaulding been anywhere within hearing, he would, as they entered the orchard, have heard something very much like that peculiar sound which emanates from a kiss.
Then followed a deeply interesting conference, after which they hastily visited the terrace, and reported all still.
They then re-entered the house, in time to taste of the second bowl of punch. They found Solomon and Reardon in deep argument, and the three brothers drinking deeply, and smoking like furnaces.
Joe filled a bumper for Emma, which after some hesitation, she drank off. Her eyes now sparkled with redoubled brightness. So did those of Joe.
They then again went out unperceived, and scarcely were they out of the house, than Joe caught her in his passionate embrace, and kissed her lips wildly.
"Don't! don't!" said the girl, upon whom the terrible storm of passion swept for the first time. "I am very wrong. You know he is to be my husband -- and I mustn't, it is wicked."
"He," cried Joe, wildly, "never! I love you. I am not what I seem. To others I may be rough, but there is that within me says I shall be great and mighty. My soul is too big for my body. I am young -- my brain whirls with wonderous things. Listen to me Emma, my Emma, give up this slave of the lamp, this mere bookworm, be mine body and soul, my wife, and I shall do wonders. Yours the star to guide me on my way. Refuse me and I become once more the wretched wanderer of the wild forests and woods."
"But my father, -- Solomon, -- no, no, I cannot listen to you," she faltered.
"I have a vast idea germinating in my brain. I have seen, and I have heard. I know that that which is taught as religion, is not true. I," he cried, with the enthusiasm of a fanatic, for he was then half sincere, "will rear a creed that shall be one around which those may gather who would retain the pleasures of life, and yet worship, and reap the benefits of their devotion. A new dispensation is coming but only the inspired must know. Oh, Emma! of my soul I love you; and I say unto you, that the word has gone forth, and it must be obeyed, that you shall be blessed in me as a husband. What saith the law, that ye shall desert all, and cleave unto your husband,"
Joe caught her in his arms, and pressing his lips to hers, the wild, passionate, ignorant girl, forgot all but the tempter and love.
"I will be yours," she said.
Then followed a whispered conference, after which they thoroughly understood one another. There was, however, one proposition against which Emma rebelled a long time, but alas! when once a woman has made a false step, the road downwards is easy enough.
Nothing had been seen of the Indians, and their very silence appeared ominous.
It was agreed that all further potations should cease, and that the whole garrison should at once go into the open air, and taking up such positions as were best calculated for comfort and repose, be ready, in hand, for the first Indian attack, which was sure to take place during the night or at dawn of day.
All readily agreed to this, and clutched their rifles.
Emma yawned, and kept her seat.
"Art tired, child?" said the veteran, smiling.
"Yes, father," faltered Emma, with a faint blush.
"Well, to bed, lazy-one. The Indian war-whoops will soon enough arouse you, when please God we've licked the ryptiles, let us have a jolly breakfast,"
"Very good, father," she continued; "would you like some coffee to keep you awake?"
"Capital idea, gal," he said, laughing, and he went out followed by the whole party.
Every man was left to his own devices as to the selection of his sentry-box. The captain chose the terrace, so did most of the men, a girl being appointed to bring round the coffee. Hyrum, John, and William seated themselves behind a wood-pile.
Joe leaned against a ladder, not twenty yards from the wood-pile. The ladder was exactly under a window with white dimity curtains, behind which burned a light.
It was now very dark, and when the light went out, nothing was to be seen or heard of in the whole stockade but the dark shadows of the trees and buildings, and the whistling of the wind.
But the demon of illicit passion stalks abroad by choice at such times.
Hyrum warched Joe, and wondered at his selection of a position. He had his suspicions, but said nothing. Presently, about one in the morning, a girl brought round hot coffee, which, as the night was very cold, was most welcome.
The girl brought a can for the four brothers.
Hyrum drank his mug, and then walked over to the ladder, to give Joe his. As he expected, no Joe was there. He looked up. The light was out, and the window was shut.
A diabolical idea of hate and jealousy swept over the soul of Hyrum. He had so constantly noticed the good fortune and superiority of Joe, that in his heart he envied him. He had seen
36 JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER.
and noticed the absorbing attraction between the two new lovers.
Tell us not that love at first sight is impossible. Generally in the case of a man it is but simple ebullition of passion, but woman is often subjugated at once when the fated individual comes.
Hyrum had noticed the looks of the two, had seen the electric shocks, the mesmeric kind of attraction which had seized upon them both, and had done so with feelings of extreme bitterness.
A kind of demon seemed to possess him.
He determined to expose the guilty pair.
Creeping into the house, now wholly abandoned by all save Solomon, who had stopped to watch in the kitchen, and the coffee-girl who was outside, he looked around him. All was still as death, and the kitchen was empty. Not even Solomon was there.
Hyrum clutched his rifle, and went up a narrow stairs. At the top was a dark passage. Up and down this could be heard a heavy step, which Hyrum at once guessed to be that of Solomon Spaulding.
The lad hesitated. Had this man suspicions? If so, his brother's life was in danger.
With a slow and cautious step, he retreated, and leaving the house unnoticed, turned round, and sought a position under the window occupied by Emma Reardon.
Hyrum was a solemn thinker; he was in the habit of loading a pipe, placing his back against a wall, and then communing pfofoundly with himself. On this occasion he had much to occupy his mind. The lad had fallen deeply in love with the beautiful wild girl of Ashtabula, and had had serious intentions of proposing.
On the face of the whole wide earth there is nothing more sacred than the love of a genuine and manly youth -- not the mere animal instinct which drives the herd of half-grown boys to follow in the trail of every girl they meet, but the pure unadulterated devotion of a heart which knows no guile.
No; Hyrum, whatever his subsequent faults, on the present occasion was sincere. The bold spirit of the girl, the romantic circumstances under which they had met, the poetry of the landscape which surrounded them, had awakened within him one of those earnest, genuine, and devoted passions which taking root in boyhood, nurtured by circumstances and nature, become in some the undying thought of a life.
What real man but has in some secret corner of his heart a memory of youth, a faded flower, but still fragrant, not a skeleton, but a statue all redolent of beauty, truth, and innocence, which when he thinks of, he feels a smile ineffibly sweet radiate over his hardened countenance, which carries him back on magic and resplendent wings to the days of his youth?
Sophisticate as we may we are better in our youth, then when we grow older. We are less hard, less cruel, less selfish -- more sincere and single-minded.
Hyrum sucked at his pipe, thought and thought again, until Nature, in all probability, asserted her privilege, and he went to sleep.
It must have been so, for the next thing he knew was that a terrific uproar had taken place, guns were exploding, the awful Indian yell filled the air, and a general call to arms took place.
"Thunder!" he cried, as a heavy weight fell on him suddenly, and looking up, he found that his brother had alighted on his shoulder.
But Hyrum had no eyes for him -- what he saw was the form of Emma, in more than deshabille, watching with deep anxiety the progress of her lover.
"Git out," said Joe in no very excellent humour.
"Jist expect I wants to," replied Hyrum. sullenly.
"That you?" continued Joe, with a slight blush.
"Expect it ud better been me than her father," answered Hyrum, who was awfully colloquial when he liked.
"It's the work of the Lord, and I am his humble servant," began his brother.
"You be cussed," cried Hyrum, "it's the devil is up now. Don't yer yare the pop-guns. There's some sport about, enuff to make yer leave off thinking of gals."
And the two young men made for the terrace, where a terrible conflict was taking place between the garrison and the infuriated red skins.
Such was the first of the many amorous exploits so renowned and frequent in a land of virtue and decency, for which became afterwards famous General Joseph, prophet, inventor, and high-priest of the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints.
He had not, however, yet discovered a wholesale system of seduction, nor had he invented his female cattle-market.
This engagement was not, however, without its excitement and its episodes. The Indians rushed madly to the assault, and though continually repelled by the unerring rifles of the whites, returned again and again to the charge.
But the stockade of the old border chieftain was too well built to feel the attacks of the painted savages, who at length beat a sullen retreat, and one hour after sunrise the very last of them had disappeared beneath the leafy arches of the forest.
Captain Reardin, however, was an old soldier, and not easily deceived. He resolved to refresh his men by means of a hearty breakfast, and then to scour the woods, two experienced hunters acting as scouts, lest the red skins should venture on an ambuscade.
Emma Reardon, dressed in most coquettish style, her beautiful eyes evidently suffused with tears, but whether shed at the sight of the dangers endured v=by her friends or from any other cause, we cannot at present decide, had prepared a magnificent breakfast. There was flesh of deer
JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER. 37
and turkey, and goose; there was fish from the lake, Indian corn-cakes, coffee, and whiskey in abundance. All did justice to the fare, and none more so than Joe Smith, whose little grey eyes twinkled with satisfaction at the sight of so much goodly fare.
If ever there was a mere animal nature, it was that of Joe Smith.
After breakfast the intended expedition took place, but by some unaccountable accident, Joe had a great splinter in his foot, which wholly incapacitated him from walking. The unsuspicious captain suggested a poltice and a day's conversation with Solomon Spaulding.
To this Joe was nothing loath.
Cradled in rude and savage hills, whose deep ravines and narrow gullies he had explored inch by inch, his soul had not failed to be slightly touched by that awe which grandeur always inspires. There were strange germs in this man's soul. Like Mahomet and Joan of Arc (to desecrate these great names in connection with one so vile), he had yearnings from his youth upwards to be something, which yearnings properly directed had perhaps made him great in the paths of honour and virtue.
And yet one who could contrive so foul an imposture, who could bring to his aid blasphemy and the most audacious misuse of divine names and things, who could found a sect on the basis of promiscuous sexual intercourse, must have had a natural bias towards evil.
But Joe could do nothing like any one else. When he could have had a pig or a goose for asking, he preferred stealing it; and though he had not the least idea as yet how -- he had come to the resolution to be a mighty leader among men.
He had a deep reverance, like many another spouting and inveterate ranter, for money; and as he had not as yet hit upon the idea of the tabernacle, he took the simplest way to find gold.
Joe had since his infancy been a money-digger.
On every spot where a rumour of hidden treasure was rife, there was Joe. But as yet he had found nothing.
Some other plan must, then, be hit upon.
He knew not why, but the antiquarian researches of Solomon had awakened in his bosom a certain amount of awe; and when the sick student spoke of the early history of America, and asserted that the Indians were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, his excitement became great.
"You seem interested," said the student, with a faint blush; "shall I read you the imaginary history of the early settlers, which I have written during my seclusion here?"
"It would delight me," replied Joe.
With all the delight and ardour of a young author, Spaulding unlocked a heavy desk.
"This is the clean copy for the press," he said, pointing to one sealed up, "but this is the same."
And turning the leaves in a feverish way, he began to read.
It was a wild and extravagant religious novel, in which Mormon and his son Moroni played the principal part. It was written in a biblical style, and professed to detail the arrival of the first settlers in America -- the lost tribes of Israel, who came from Jerusalem by land and sea, and who now are the wild and savage red skins.
Much mention was made of the Lamanites.
Joe listened with awe and rapture. The heavy sweat poured in pearly drops from his brow. As he wiped his head with his rude kerchief, he revolved scheme after scheme, but could come to no conclusion.
A wild inspiration was in the lad's inmost soul, an inspiration at which Lucifer might have smiled, but it took no form as yet.
Joe's sensations of admiration were the greater that he could not read.
The reading was interrupted by the return of the scouts and hunters. The Indians, it was reported, had lost heart, and departed.
Joe and his brothers, who were some distance from home, determined at once to venture through the woods next day, and for this purpose decided on starting at daybreak.
With this view, after a hearty supper, crowned by a huge bowl of punch, of which all partook freely, they retired to rest, and the four brothers thanking Reardon heartily, for his hospitality, while the generous old man declared himself deeply indebted to them for saving his daughter, and begged for an eary visit, when he would be able to fix a day for his daughter's wedding.
Next morning, the four brothers left the stockade, and commenced their march.
They had not gone more than a mile down a deep gully, which the sagacious William had selected, when Joe gravely cried a halt.
"He was not going home with them," he said, "at all events, then."
He could not say, but they might go alone, or wait for him, just as they pleased.
All, except Hyrum, believing in one of his mad treasure-digging expeditions, shrugged their shoulders, and already feeling the effect of his determination and superior talents, yielded to his wishes.
Joe smiled, and lay down to rest.
At dark he left them, nor did he return until late, and then he was not alone.
Under his arms was a parcel sewed in canvas, and by his side was Emma.
She had eloped with Joe from the tender arms of her father, and the affections of her affianced husband.
But the necessities of our narrative compel us to leave General Joe, and follow the tracks of the men whom we left in New York.
We shall find them by introducing certain new characters. Much of the misdeeds of the Mormons must he related in the form of episodes as we proceed,
Though the study be not pleasant, it may not be unporfitable; and if it deters from accepting the abhorent tenets of the great modern imposture, we shall not have striven in vain.
Joseph Smith returned with his young wife -- for he really did marry the girl who had so foolishly eloped from her father -- to the residence of his parents.
The change was one which told at once upon the health and spirits of the young girl. She found herself surrounded by a sordid, grovelling and ignorant set, that forcibly contrasted with her own once happy home.
Father, mother, and children lived in the most squalid misery, arising partly from idleness, partly because their bad character prevented any of the neighbouring farmers from employing them.
Indeed, such was their evil reputation, that they at length removed to an abandoned shanty in the mountains, added a rude log hut or two, and lived almost wholly by hunting, and certain less lawful proceedings.
Joe Smith became intensely thoughtful and abstracted, held himself aloof from his family, rarely even communicating with his wife. No doubt his whole soul was bent upon the imposture which he afterwards so successfully carried out. His absences became numerous, long, and mysterious. He was always going to the forest.
The district in which they lived was wild in the extreme, though at no great distance spread fertile plains, dotted with villages, homesteads, and farms.
Had the elder Joe Smith and his sons followed their trade honestly, they could have gained a most respectable living. They were blacksmiths, gunsmiths, and knew every department of their trade.
One night Joeseph Smith, who was exceedingly erratic in his proceedings, rose suddenly from his chair, and muttering something about the forest, left the house. No one took any notice of his proceedings, so used were they to his manner.
One, however, was less scrupulous. His young wife, upon whom a heavy cloud had fallen, had resolved in her own mind to fathom every mystery of his proceedings. Dark and gloomy thoughts hung upon her soul. Strange suspicions had already crossed her mind. Certain comforts and luxuries to which she had long been a stranger had suddenly appeared in their shanty. Money, too, appeared oddly plentiful. The Smiths wore better clothes every day.
Joe Smith was not unkind ro her, but he was neglectful and abstracted. Though her feelings had much altered, she still clung to him as her husband; and the idea that any other woman was the partial cause of his absence was madness.
When a wife becomes indifferent on this point, her affection is wholly gone.
Under these circumstances Emma Smith, the future prophet's wife, had determined to follow him on his next journey, and, at any risk, arrive at a distant conclusion.
This occasion seemed a remarkably suspicious one. Joe Smith was unusually grave, thoughtful, and abstracted. He had been shut up in his hut alonr all day, and now went forth with a grave and solemn step. Over his shoulder hung his rifle.
The wife had provided herself with stout shoes, a flask of corn-juice or whiskey, a biscuit or two, and a brace of pistols. As she glided forth from a cluster of trees, and followed in the slowly retreating track of her husband, her manner was calm but determined. She had fully made up her mind to the worst, but wished to know it.
Alas! how often has a wife repented such Eve-like curiosity. Better live in ignorance than have the heart scotched and withered with fatal knowledge.
The man trod heavily and deliberately, so that the more tender girl had no difficulty in following him. And then her bringing-up had not been so delicate as to make the forest or mountain any very great obstacle in her eyes.
She saw at once that Joseph was on his way towards a high and rude mountain district, covered by an almost impenetrable forest, that that unless she kept close to him she might easily chance to lose him.
Her forest education now served her in good stead. With all the caution and stealth of an Indian she tracked him
Once or twice he halted, and looking back, as if he suspected that somebody was following. Emma darted behind a tree, but so cautiously and noiselessly, that every time he came to the conclusion that he was deceived.
Once he leveled his gun and fired. But not a sound escaped the lips of the daring wife.
Joseph from that momemt appeared satisfied that his ears had deceived him; and, as if eager to make up for lost time, dashed forward through the undergrowth at a more reckless pace, so that his wife was able to follow him with difficulty.
Presently, on reaching the crest of a hill, a dark and gloomy valley appeared beneath them.
There was not a glimpse of moon or stars. A perfect Cimmerian darkness enveloped all nature. The very trees looked misshapen columns, obelisks, and other monumental blocks of stone, except that the wind made them creak and groan every-while to add to the horrors of the place. The roaring of a torrent did not detract from the effect.
And now Emma Smith knew where she was, and shuttered with awe. Below, in that black darkness, was the Cauldron Lynn.
JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER. 67
Women are never without a taint of superstition. As they are more religious than men, so they have a tendency to exaggerate. She had heard fearful stories whispered of compacts with evil demons; and she knew that from his boyhood Joseph Smith had been said to search for hidden treasure by means of unhallowed practices.
What then was she going to witness. Again she shuddered; but this time because she had lost all sight of her husband. For a moment she felt inclined to shruek lustily, but forbore, lest all her labour should be in vain, to say nothing of the dread she entertained of the anger of her husband. Like all enthusiasts for good or evil, Joe Smith was terribly passionate.
And yet her position was a fearful one. Alone in that terrible place, without the slightest means of finding the back track, what were her chances unless her husband came to her assistance.
Alone! Good heavens! those dense and gloomy forests abounded with the wolf, the panther, and the grizzly bear. A horrible dread came upon her soul, and she shrieked aloud. But nothing by way of answer reached her ears save the gloomy echoes of her own voice in that almost pathless forest.
She kneeled, and sent up a wild and passionate prayer to heaven, for in heaven alone could she hope for assistance, by man she was abandoned. Hark! what comes in answer to her wild and incoherent cries. Despite the roar of the torrent below, her forest ears cannot be deceived. It is the growl of a bear, which is to be heard approaching rapidly.
Dear is life, and only remembering that her husband had disappeared under an archway of trees, close in front of her, Emma Smith rushed headlong in the same direction, and was next minute rolling down a steep hill. Then she became temporarily insensible.
When she came to, she was in utter darkness, while the torrent roared close at her feet. Awful was the shudder that came over her. She knew well the character of the watewrs which swept so near her. A mountain torrent had, by incessantly wearing away a rock upon which it fell, dug a deep excavation, in which the water seethed and boiled unceasingly.
In the course of time, the basin becoming thin, an orifice was perforated, and then another, until the whole of the water rush'd down a precipice in that way. Many had fallen into the Cauldron, and been whilred down until they had been literally dashed to pieces. In the darkness and gloom was it not very easy for the same to happen to her?
Then she listened for the bear, but the din of the waters was so great that she could detect no other sound. Her desolation was fearful. Afraid to move lest she might be plunged into the whirlpool below, she might at any moment be attacked by the fierce beast which had caused her such terror.
In the hope of discovering the nature of the ground, she stretched out her arms. On one side she touched the roots of trees. On the other, horror of horrors! the deep edge of the Cauldron Lynn, the very spray of the fall, now she found wetting her. Her heart appeared to leap to her mouth, for another three of four inches, and all had been over. What should she do?
A bright idea struck her; quick as thought she drew a pistol and fired in the direction of the seething and boiling waters. Who has not felt how much worse the fear of what may be almost always is, to what is the reality. To stand as it were on the brink of doom, with an unknown danger before us, is something truly awful -- while, who has not trembled at the thought of peering into unknown depths of gloom and terror.
Emma felt almost inclined to close her eyes as she fired, but fortunately took courage and awaited the result. The flash of the pistol illuminated the darkness, visible but for a second, but that second contained a life.
She saw close to her feet, and plunging into unknown depths the sweeping, seething waterfall, but she also saw, or fancied so, the terrible grizzly bear of the forest, gazing at her with a strange and puzzled look.
Behind her was an ascent, up which she fled for a few minutes, and then halted, dazzled, astounded, and yet comforted. In the new intensity of her feelings, she forgot everything but the night before her.
At any other moment she might have hesitated, but now she had no compunction. The bear, for a moment dazzled by the pistol flash, would soon follow her. Sooner brave her husband's fearful passion, than to be torn to pieces by the king of the American forest.
With a trembling heart, she adventured on the ledge, but to her great delight found the track neither a difficult nor a dangerous one, and in a few minutes she was landed on the other side, and stood almost in the mouth of a deep excavation, once, no doubt, a channel for the seething waters. The cave was below her, and brilliantly lighted up. At the back was a large charcoal fire, while in the wall, were fixed several flaring pine torches.
68 JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER.
The furniture of the cave was peculiar. On one side was a large table covered with small elongated brass plates, "which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin."
Before these sat Joseph Smith in his shirt sleeves. He was engraving on these plates the most mysterious series of signs. An eye witness says: "It was in fact a singular scroll. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters, disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses, and flourishes. Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns; and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, decked with strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar, given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the sources whence it was derived."
Before the future prophet and impostor, were several grammars and other books, with the alphabet open in all cases.
The man appeared to take a letter from one, a letter from the other, without any order of preconcerted rule. As far as Emma could see, the characters were small and beautifully engraved. Emma could not make it out. She little imagined that her husband was fabricating a Bible on which to found a new religion.
She then perceived that there was another person in the case, a thin, gaunt, little man, with heavy moustache, shaggy hair, and a rude set of habiliments, while his face was cadaverous, and his eyes hollow in the extreme. He was printing from a little hand-press, with great care, some narrow slips of paper. Then Emma Smith knew that she stood in the presence of forgers, driving their unhallowed and illegal trade in the depths of the wilderness.
"Well, how gets on, Joe?" said the printer, who was no less a personage than Simon Rigdon, the future right hand of the prophet. But before we record the answer of General Joe, let us explain how these worthies met.
The first real advantage which accrued to Joseph from his marriage with Emma Reardon, was learning to read. The young man unhesitatingly confessed his ignorance to his wife, and applied himself to supply the deficiency with the most unwearied industry.
Had he used one half the energies he wasted on imposture in a good cause, he might have been a great and good man. The only use he made of his learning was to shut himself up, and learn the manuscript he had stolen from Spaulding by heart.
He also studied hard at the Bible, and easily finding among his neighbours the wild theological works of certain of the more extravagant Puritans, his head became, in three years, a store of biblical knowledge.
Then it was that he resolved to have visions, and found a new religion on the Book of Mormon, which he had contrived to write out in a coarse but legible hand. A difficulty staggered him. His coarse and vulgar penmanship never would be received as inspired.
Dispirited, angry, full of prodigious designs, he went out into the forest. The cave he discovered when in chase of a wolf, but that was not the place of his meditations. He had selected a spot of calm and sequestered beauty, where a grove gave pleasant shade from the sun, and where a murmuring brook that swept past his feet made sweet music, while it also ministered to his wants.
Here on a pleasant bank, where grew fragrant flowers, would sit the nascent impostor, poring over the manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and committing whole pages of it to heart. And the place was called the Hill of Cumoral.
When he had learned whole passages, he would shout them out to the inanimate woods and forests.
One day he was seated, the book before him, ranting, raving, pouring fourth a mixed jargon, extracted partly from the romance, partly from passages of the Bible, twisted to suit his own meaning, when a loud laugh startled him from his employment.
"Thunder!" said a hilarious voice, "if this ar don't beat cockfighting. Preaching to the crows, eh! stranger?
Clutching his rifle, Joseph Smith, pale with rage, started to his feet, to confront the sneering face of a man of middle height and age, also armed with a rifle, and with pistols protruding from his belt.
"What do you mean?" said Joe, fiercely.
"Nuthin," replied the other, "only hearin' you a shoutin, I kim up and listened."
"Who, and what are you?" continued Joe, scarcely able to articulate with rage.
"My name is Simon Rigden, said the other, "printer, engraver, and minister of the Gospel -- and, stranger,I've got a copy of that 'ere book in my pocket."
And he pointed to the manuscript. Joseph felt as if shot. All his hopes, aspirations, were now cast to the ground. At first he determined to end all doubt by shooting the other, but he had sense enough to know that the struggle might be doubtful.
And then the magic words uttered by the other decided him more than anything.
Printer, engraver, and minister of the Gospel.
What a perspective did this not hold out.
"Can you shoot," said Joe, abruptly.
"Can't Im" replied Rigden, with a covert smile.
"Let me see you," continued Joseph, with that air of superiority which so often influenced his dupes.
Rigden looked around. In a rock about eighty yards distant stood a small, strait tree, the stem of which was not much more than a quarter of an inch thick.
I can hit that," said the printer, quietly.
"So can I," replied Joe, and with unerring
JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER. 69
aim, he poured forth his volley, and the spurting bark showed that he had succeeded. The other volley followed, and the same result ensued.
"Drove the pin, by heaven!" said Joe, using a favorite locution of target-shooters. And now sit down and tell me what you mean by saying you've seen that book before. I think, if we can be friends, I can show you a way to fortune."
Simon Rigden then explained that a very short time previously Solomon Spaulding had come to an employer of his, one Patterson, with his manuscript, which he wished published as a romance. But Patterson said that it would only sell if brought out as a true history. This Solomon Spaulding declined to authorise.
A long correspondence ensued. During the time Rigden, then an itinerate Campbellite preacher, thinking it might be useful to him in connection with his sermons, copied the book in secret. Then Solomon Spaulding died, and soon after, Patterson.
The relatives of Spaulding destroyed his copy as worthless.
"Ah!" said Joe Smith, with a deep sigh of relief, "Spaulding dead -- the manuscript destroyed -- all is well."
"What mean you?" cried Rigden.
Joe Smith took him by the button of his coat, and in a long and eloquent discourse displayed all his views. The other listened, first with awe, then with incredulity, and at last with admiration.
"Creation of God," he said, "if it could be, it would be prime."
"It shall be." cried Joseph, "I will teach a new dispenastion. I will earn a name before which that of Mahomet and every other prophet shall pale. I will found a new religion and a new people, who shall gather together from the uttermost ends of the earth. I tell you, stranger, that this book is but a means to an end. Let me breathe into your ears my real secret: I am inspired, but this history of the past will be my Koran. Now, Simon Rigden, are we friends, or shall we stand at ten paces and decide who is the better man?"
"Friend, admirer, disciple," said Rigden with considerable eagerness.
An these two consummate knaves shook hands. They thoroughly understood each other. They put their resources together, and established in the cave, to which they gave the name of Mormon, an atelier where Simon could forge notes, while Joseph Smith fabricated his bible. The border notes in those days were easily imitated and more easily passed with a rude and partly unlettered people.
Joe and Simon therefore reaped a rich crop in this way, raking care, however, to issue them at some distance from home.
+ + + + + + + + +"The plates are nearly finished. In four days they shall be buried on the Hill of Comoral. That will be a task of some labour, Master Simon, and of course we cannot touch them until the turf has grown again: then for fame and fortune."
"Or martyrdom," said Rigden gravely.
"What matters. Look you, Simon, I was brought up in ignorance and vice, but I feel that in me which says that if I had been educated and placed in a more fortunate position, I could have been anything I wished. Since I have read, thoughts burn within me which consume my soul. I am ambitious of fame, and rather than win it no no other way, I will obtain it by death."
"You're a wonder," said Rigden.
"Am I?" cried Joe, listlessly, "but I've done for to-night. Sleep you, while I go forth and pray on the Hill of Comoral."
Rigden looked strangely at him, as if he could not understand so odd an admixture of knavery and credulity. Joe Smith passed out without any further words, and so wrapped was he in his own thoughts that though he almost brushed past his terror-stricken wife, he did not see her.
Away towards the hill and grove of Cumoral stalked the man of busy thoughts, his brain working eternally with his awful schemes and his visions of glory, influence, and unlimited power over the female sex. Foul was the slander upon religion when Joseph Smith dared to found his sect upon the pure creed of Christianity, of which virtue and chastity are as corner-stones.
The polygamy-built religion of Mahomet would have better suited gis real view. But it was necessary to delude his dupes, and he used the name of The Saviour.
The darkness was fading away, and a faint light, that of the moon peering through the open glades of the forest, as they approached the grove, over which lowered the Hill of Curmoral. Crossing the brook, Joseph Smith halted, and appeared for a long time to be kneeling in prayer.
The wife, disgusted, terrified, and alarmed at all she had heard, would willingly have burst upon him and upbraided him with his conduct, but she was alone with him in that dark forest. Kneeling behind a tree, at a distance of about thirty yards, she watched his movements with intense curiosity. Was he not wholly playing a part? Was he partly impostor, partly enthusiast, partly rogue, and partly fool?
Then he rose and set light to a small pile, and again fell upon his knees. Scarcely had he done so, than there glided
70 JESSIE, THE MORMON'S DAUGHTER.
between himself and the fire a figure in white raiment, with a chaplet of flowers round his head, arranged so as to represent a glory. And with the fire throwing out the delicate form, it looked very much like one.
Emma shuttered, and a great fear fell upon her soul, as her husband rose and looked fixedly at the figure, waved his hands several times, and seemed to pass them over his face. The figure stood in an attitude fixed and immovable as that of a statue.
"Who art thou?" he then said.
"An angel of the Lord," said the figure, in accents which went to the heart of Emma Smith.
The remainder of this text has not been transcribed.
The Spalding Authorship Claims in
19th Century Poetical Works
Southwestern Pennsylvania in
Song and Story...
(Greensburg, PA: 1878)
"Book of Mormon" (excerpt):
Solomon Spalding at Amity p. 17
Joseph Smith... a dreamer p. 18
THE BOOK OF MORMON. 17
THE BOOK OF MORMON.
The works of the Mound-builders in Southwestern Pennsylvania are unimportant in comparison with those in the more central portions of the valley of the Mississippi. They consist, principally, of look-out mounds commanding river views, as if to guard against surprises by a savage foe that descended the streams in fleets of canoes. However, there is a peculiar interest attached to the works of these mysterious people in the Little World, from the fact that the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, the reputed author of the Book of Mormon -- the Bible of the Mormons, -- resided here during the greater part of the time that he was engaged in its composition -- a work of fiction that grew out of his study
18 THE BOOK OF MORMON.
of the mounds and other earth-works in Northeastern Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania. The residence of Mr. Spaulding was in the village of Amity, Washington county; and for an account of his life and labor and the falling of his MS. into the hands of Sidney Rigdon, a printer, in Pittsburgh, see Dr. Creigh's History of Washington county, pp. 89-93.
It is the marvel of the age! Here lay
The works of thousands long since dead and buried,
The Mound-builders yclept, in glaring text
Stupendous, that he that ran might read,
And read aright, more readily than wrong.
But -- O thou mockery of wisdom's self!
This second Solomon, Jew-spectacled,
From pouring over ancient Hebrew tomes,
Perceived naught but with perverted vision,
And saw in these same savages, presto!
The long lost tribe of Israel! and wrote
His chronicles accordingly in error!
But what of that, compared to what hath followed --
Behold! a second Joseph * into being came,
A dreamer and interpreter of dreams;
And, in this fiction of the clergyman,
He read the word of God proclaiming him
His vicar henceforth unto all mankind.
And lo! before the boy has shorn his beard,
That was but mullein down when Joseph came,
A nation in the wilderness has risen
That, with the sight vouchsafed with zeal to sinners,
Reads in this book, yclept the Book of Mormon,
That which delights them most of Hell and Heaven!
For, if this story teaches aught, 'tis this:
Man reads not what's without, but what's within,
Not what's before, but what's behind his eyeball,
Writ in the red ink of his blood and being!
* Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, or Church of Latter Day Saints, born at Sharon, Vermont, 23rd Dec, 1805, and killed at Carthage, Illinois, 27th June, 1844.
William H. Phipps
and Other Poems
"Amity Annals" (excerpt):
Whiskey Rebellion p. 3
Solomon Spalding p. 9
Sidney Rigdon p. 12
Joseph Miller p. 13
Old Amity Inn p. 17
Amity, a small but ancient village,
Stands on a hill surrounded by good tillage;
Its scope takes in extensive hills and plains.
Quite fertile with all the various grains:
Pastures will meet the eye wher'er you gaze,
Covered with flocks which in contentm't graze.
And in the evening ev'ry sheep-cot's full.
In shearing time great is the crop of wool
Of finest grade.
Since rebellion, in the state, for whiskey.
Each money-making farmer has been frisky;
Although conscience often made him squirm,
He found profit in the whiskey worm.
'Twas when the preachers took a social glass
The decanter round the room would pass;
Saw English cannon who thought it not a sin
To ask a blessing o'er a bottle of gin,
That shocked us much.
4 AMITY ANNALS.
The perfume was a scent for all the food;
We Americans were not in pious mood;
Never prayed for product of the still;
Had fought it long with a determined will.
'Twas then our farmers, with their corn and rye,
Brought to distillers a full supply.
And when plenty crowned the harvest morn,
The still obtained the Indian corn --
The bane of man.
A faithful record of these hills and vales,
Recalls to mind valued historic tales.
Farms, the abode of comfort and of thrift.
Are seen at every point their grandeur lift.
'Tis long since we coukl recount their staples
Of wool, corn, and sugar from the maples.
More anxious was the farmer for the fleece
Than screeching wagon for the axle grease
On the dry hub.
The ten-mile creek, which wends its crooked way,
'Mid verdant hills, whose mighty crops of hay,
From year to year, adorn their space with stacks,
AMITY ANNALS. 5
For barn-room the thrifty farmer lacks.
The creek quite rich in several kinds of fish,
Its bass and trout oft yield a dainty dish.
Socially the anglers' lips may pucker
Who gets gum-drops, the other a fish-sucker,
The first the best.
Small animals are found upon its banks --
Rabit, squirrel and muskrat swell the ranks.
Beaver, with Indian, passed away.
And others in the creek no longer play.
Let painter stand on bank with easel,
Paint them all, sure of the weasel.
The land and the amphibious tribes.
Nature's work appears, from pencil, free from bribes
That men may give.
If parson sought fleece in by-gone days,
'Twas but the meaner ones that met his gaze.
Unlike Gideon, he had no second test.
With fleece wet or dry, his family were blest.
Sad fact, both earth and fleece were often dry,
And prayer brought no manna from the sky.
Bread and water were always sure;
As good soldiers, harships endure
In camp or field.
6 AMITY ANNALS.
Like poor laborers at hedge or ditch,
Or Goldsmith's village parson, very rich;
With salary of forty pounds a year.
Or larger, only sixty pounds appear.
Family may be four persons and a pony,
Which makes the financial way look stony;
As in the Saviour's day, each got his penny;
It would buy much, but grumblers were many,
Yet all lived well.
High in rank stood the Presbyterian parsonage,
New, like an infant in its early age,
'Twas then occupied by Bro. Harbison,
Pleading all things by the decrees were done;
Nor thought they once to change confession,
Or dare speak of it in church or session.
Those were days of sterling orthodoxy;
Heresy was like Herod, mean and foxy,
To be shunned.
But on our second visit to that charge,
To occupy, came invitation free and large.
And moderate rent -- an offer gladly seized;
Against Methodists all were then appeased.
In that summer company went to war.
And many a social prospect felt the jar;
AMITY ANNALS. 7
A mar to all the plans of cliarch and home;
For freedom's sake o'er southern roads they roam
With stars and stripes.
About that day arrives at parsonage
One to make record in a coming age;
Who now signs checks for a great, ruling firm:
Greatness has fruit -- at first 'tis bud or germ;
The world stands ready any to applaud
Who gain position by valor, industry or fraud:
Earth in loud chorus swells the great well done,
And tempest wafts it high toward the sun,
God may be there.
The minister is not there, but labors on
For God and man, that they may both be one,
In hopeful view of building up the cause,
Yet tempting bribes would still suggest a pause.
True to history is the confession,
Law tempted as lucrative profession;
Yet the ministry held in its embrace.
Men who for gain could not their steps retrace.
Or earthly fame.
8 AMITY ANNALS.
'Tis five and thirty years since our first view
Of Amity, when to a door we drew;
A tall form met us, well advanced in years,
And dissipated all our anxious fears.
There were noble men in those early times,
And none more so than brother Immes;
A friend and counselor in time of need,
For a young minister was apt to plead
For his mistakes.
Soon we saw the fun'ral of a pastor;
The form was thin and looked like alabastor,
A long life -- o'er ninety years -- a ripe age;
His life is worthy of historic page.
For seventy years had borne the shepherd's crook,
Proclaiming truth from God's most sacred book.
A large concourse respects the man of God --
For beloved by all was pastor Dodd
For deeds of love.
The annals of the Presbyterian's search,
Can't find more faithful one in all the church.
The warriors must all lay down their well worn shields.
AMITY ANNALS. 9
And others will soon occupy the fields.
At the sale of his choice, olden books,
We scanned them o'er with critical looks;
Obtained some from near reformation days,
And they've received our study and our praise,
And blessings were.
In his time Spaulding chose a pastime work,
'Twas not to write up the wicked harem of the Turk,
Nor little thought the mischief he would make,
Shaking society with a great earthquake,
By bringing back old patriarchal times,
With all their ignorance and social crimes;
Was lost like Cath'lics, in their breviaries --
Could not see outcome of his reveries
To curse the world.
No, he was innocent in the design;
Ne'er thought faith and morals to undermine,
How different from the truth he taught,
His work of fiction on the world has wrought:
In quiet cemetery he reposes,
While Mormon church the wicked plan discloses,
Proving to men the great calamity
10 AMITY ANNALS.
From literary child of Amity,
A strange novel.
Historians from afar oft seek the tomb;
With vigor write as for the Mormon's doom;
The unfortunate grave received no care,
The flat stone slab has suffered by the wear
Of winter's frosts and summer's constant rains:
It cannot now be read with greatest pains.
When lirst we saw the name, could easily trace
The inscription which time since did erase.
We would restore.
The aphorism that "ignorance is bliss,"
For Spaulding proved not itself in this,
Because it gives to him a doubtful fame,
But innocence defends him from all blame.
At fancy's table offering votive,
Can't condemn him for lack of motive.
The Spaulding house -- that ancient corner frame --
Comes down to us with a romantic fame.
By men of note.
Old Amity Public House: Spaulding's home, 1814-16 (photo added to text)
AMITY ANNALS. 11
There, preacher wrote many a strange vision,
Theories entitled to derision,
That he clothed in olden scripture phrases,
Like tree, Indian or woodman grazes,
To alure travelers in a wrong path,
Were not inspired by their cunning wrath;
They were dictates of fancy's magic spell,
Hoping romance might interest and sell
For his support.
'Twas when the village bore an ancient look --
Since then it has more modern aspect took;
Now seems as it were new created --
Houses built and old ones renovated;
Lost the appearance old and quaint --
'Twas taken from it by repairs and paint.
When we saw it back in fifty-eight.
It was gloomy -- in dilapidated plight.
And houses few.
Nor was there yet a lower Amity. --
Monied men were fearful of calamity;
Offered no loans to build the village,
Lest such should end in fiscal pillage.
When gold and silver came from their chests,
The farmer alone in judgment notes invests;
12 AMITY ANNALS.
Keener than the city barber's razor,
Would take land and cattle from the grazer,
To his last suit.
'Tis not the work of Michel Angelo
On which our thoughts we now bestow;
Travelers may not think upon the cluster;
To compare them may appear but bluster.
Yet there's one house of stone and one of frame --
It was from thence the book of Mormon came;
The latter is entitled to some note,
But Mormon confidence will not promote,
Denied the plates.
There Spaulding lived when he wrote the book,
By Pittsburgh printer taken from the hook;
Rigdon, they say, conceived the scheme.
And made the book a prophet's theme,
And passes it on to the famous prophet --
Better have burnt it in valley of Tophet.
Romance -- reveries of Israel's tribes --
Mormons believe through ignorance or bribes.
Or baser trust.
Solomon Spalding (1761-1816) -- photo added to text
AMITY ANNALS. 13
In blasphemy they called it work of God,
Brigham, successor in his footsteps trod,
Throwing the ignorant into confusion --
Breaking domestic peace by delusion.
Noted robbers in their greatest pillage
Injured not like romance of this village.
For it destroyed chastity and home,
Teaching men in unforbidden paths to roam
Away from God.
They said were found by Smith on copper plates --
God's revelation of most ancient dates.
Mr. Spaulding was in very feeble health;
Wrote book for pleasure -- not for fame or wealth.
Mr. Miller, we've seen, lived to recent date;
He heard the manuscript, he would relate;
Remember'd well its striking features;
Told how God had dealt with erring creatures,
As the lost tribes.
He never claimed it was a book divine,
Like Joseph Smith; a new discovered mine
Of hidden plates, and treasures in the ground;
How Israel's ten tribes at last were found,
14 AMITY ANNALS.
Aborigines of our own continent;
For a delusion he did not invent.
But cunning men saw profit in the theme,
And made a prophet to bear out the scheme
To profit them.
Sentences in book of Mormon, so old,
Fresh in his memory, were often told,
And we expected to enjoy the tale,
But put it off, until he pass'd the vale.
One lesson more upon procrastination --
Work to-day in lawful avocation;
As business men seize ev'ry opening chance
Their personal interests to enhance,
Think how different was the early scene:
Some stand, others 'gainst the old porch lean,
Attentive list'ners to this book of chance,
Of the wandering tribes a queer romance.
Then think of crowd in temple at Salt Lake,
Listening in reverence for the prophet's sake:
Divinely sent they think their Joseph Smith,
When only superstition's sacred myth --
Bane of the age.
AMITY ANNALS. 15
What can we say of this strange combination,
On land of promise and the tribe's salvation;
In blasyhemy, they called it work of God;
Brigham's successor in his footsteps trod,
Throwing the ignorant into confusion,
Breaking domestic peace by their delusion.
Noted robbers, in their great pillage,
Injured not like romance of this village --
A work so bad.
In work, Spaulding was an innocent factor --
Made way for America's great actor;
And Smith soon fell a victim to the mob,
In prison, with his life, gave up the job.
Soon came Young, a man of ruling power --
A Moses to them in their darkest hour,
To lead them through wilderness to rest;
From enemies who on their footsteps press'd,
Because of sin.
But let us now describe this noted house:
'Tis plain, like farmer in his jeans and blouse,
For rain and sun have made it crack and warp;
Winds have played it as an aeolian harp.
The roof has oft received new shingles,
Money supplied from where silver gingles;
16 AMITY ANNALS.
Out of the farmer-broker's chests,
At eight per cent, he willingly invests;
Ten is better.
The only question, "is he a good man?"
Interrogation for many a plan,
A query at the entrance to the church,
Important one that bank officials search.
To know his assets, their breadth and length;
Pastors seek moral character -- its strength;
To turn from paths of sin, so often trod,
And scope for service in the church of God,
All his talent.
The pugilist seeks men to take the ring;
Physically the very best they bring.
Army, by its strong men, alone can thrive,
Under eighteen nor over forty-five.
Goodness may be in character or blood.
All who for God, and humanity have stood?
Yes, the men who in the passing ages
Have blessed society -- the sages --
With precepts true.
Who by their writings show a better life,
Giving force to conquer in the world's strife.
AMITY ANNALS. 17
We forget the house in moralizing,
A fault in preacher not much surprising.
This famous building is two stories high;
No architectual forms to it apply.
'Tis changed in color by the faded paint,
Like weary traveler, is soiled and faint.
And ragged, too.
On the wide front the old style weather-board.
And the rear, clap-board only can afford.
One room, once occupied by secret lodge,
Yes, Odd or not, it's goat we now will dodge.
Another by Crispian, of size and fame,
In the village a well remembered name.
Taking for all a kindly word of news.
Drawing, like wax-end, [in his well made shoes.
Upper and sole.
His mental powers were almost equal
To his size, as you may learn in sequel;
He was not a man renowned for letters,
Yet original, he knew no fetters;
More free than those that occupied the stand,
His flights in exhortation were so grand;
The sentences came free -- he did not mutter --
There was a mighty power with Bro. Clutter,
Sublime and grand.
William H. Phipps
The Hamlet on the Hill
and Other Poems
"Amity Annals" (excerpt):
Solomon Spalding p. 17
Old Amity Inn p. 18
Mormon Blasphemy p. 24
Spalding's Grave p. 25
AMITY ANNALS. 17
Near by him dwelt a preacher, kind neighbor,
Of their church, ready for any labor.
That which was suited to his feeble strength
His active ministry had ran its length.
Feeling he had ended all his missions,
He pleased himself with literary visions
Of Israel's lost tribes where they had gone.
What were the mighty wonders they had done
In their new land!
In his time Spaulding chose a pastime work
Not to write up vile harem of the Turk,
Nor little thought of the mischief he would make,
Shaking society with great earthquake,
By bringing back old patriarchal times,
With their ignorance and social crimes;
Was lost, like Cath'lics in their brevaries --
Could not see outcome of his reveries
To curse the world.
No, he was innocent in his design;
Ne'er thought faith and morals to undermine,
How different 'twas from the truth he taught
His work of fiction on the world has wrought.
In quiet cemetery he reposes,
While Mormon church the wicked plan discloses
Proving to men the great calamity
From literary child of Amity,
A strange novel.
18 VILLAGE SOUVENIR.
But let us now describe this noted house:
'Tis plain, like farmer in his jeans and blouse,
For rain and sun have made it crack and warp,
Winds have played it as an Aeolian harp.
The roof has often received new shingles,
Money supplied from where silver jingles --
Silver out of the farmer-broker's chests,
At eight per cent, he willingly invests;
Ten is better.
The only question, "is he a good man?"
Interrogation for many a plan,
A query at the entrance of the church.
Important one that bank officials search.
To know his full assets, their breadth and length
Pastors seek moral character -- its strength,
To turn from paths of sin' so often trod,
And scope for service in the church of God,
All his talent.
The pugilist seek men to take the ring;
Physically the very best they bring;
Army by its strong men alone can thrive
Above eighteen nor over forty-five.
Goodness may be in character or blood
All who for God and humanity have stood;
All the men who in the passing ages
Have blessed society the sages
With precepts true.
AMITY ANNALS. 19
Think how different was the early scene;
Some stand, others against the old porch lean,
Attentive listeners to this book of chance,
Of the wandering tribes a queer romance.
Then think of crowd in temple at Salt Lake,
Listening in reverence for the prophet's sake;
Divinely sent they think their Joseph Smith,
When only superstition's sacred myth --
Bane of the age.
We would not be in narrative minute,
Nor injure any noble man's repute ;
But there are anecdotes we must relate.
Which are like public property of State,
Flowing down through long tradition.
To gather them up a useful mission,
Avoiding every unkind aspersion,
Casting reflection on no person.
We tell the tales.
We quote from another pastor's diary
Sparks of fun, meteors bright and fiery;
Those that led him to make the gleeful notes
Were strange events which mirth promotes;
Where spirit is willing but flesh is weak,
Of such a worthy brother we now speak.
The more of flesh the harder 'tis to keep
Clear of Morpheus and his chain of sleep,
And one must fail.
18 VILLAGE SOUVENIR.
(pages 18-23 not transcribed)
24 VILLAGE SOUVENIR.
The old man with his goggles green glasses,
He would imitate his hand he passes,
To bring out a pair their true counterpart,
Each act of his was the lad's guiding chart.
When they were adjusted takes up hymn book
Mimicks church officer in word and look,
Seeing his mimickry gave up the task.
For fun he should not wear religious mask.
In any place.
What can be said of strange combination
On land of promise, the tribe's salvation;
In blasphemy they called it work of God,
Brigham successor in his footsteps trod,
Throwing the ignorant in confusion,
Breaking domestic peace by delusion.
Noted robbers, in their great pillage,
Injured not like romance, of this village,
A work so bad.
In work, Spaulding, an innocent factor --
Made way for America's great actor;
And Smith, soon fell a victim to the mob
In prison, with his life gave up the job.
Soon came Young, a man of ruling power --
A Moses to them in their darkest hour,
To lead them through the wilderness to rest,
From enemies, who on their footsteps pressed,
Because of sin.
AMITY ANNALS. 25
Historians, from afar, oft seek the tomb,
With vigor write, as for Mormon's doom;
The unfortunate grave received no care,
The flat stone slab has suffered by the wear
Of winter's frosts and summer's constant rains,
It cannot now be read, with greatest pains.
When first we saw the name, could easily trace
The inscription, which time since did erase,
We would restore.
And no proof can stop the sad delusion,
Minds so ignorant are in confusion;
Were led away to any rising cause,
Leaders defy Divine and human laws.
Impelled by lucre or baser lust,
Yet in God, and righteous law, we trust,
To crush the social venomous snake,
Law soon its poisonous sting will take
From Mormon Church.
We often meet with funny anecdotes
They are wafted on air, like magpie notes;
Some scenes in parsonage we now will tell :
Truths, strange as fiction, may our pages swell.
The revised Souvenir, to double size.
With those queer incidents, the people prize,
In every place the old folk lore.
Points out the bright pebbles, on life's shore.
We can polish. ...
Monsieur Violet, (1843)
According to Michael Austin, "The first work of fiction to feature Mormon characters, Monsieur Violet, was written in 1843 by Frederick Marryat..." Kenneth B. Hunsaker says much the same in his essay, Mormon Novels. Not only was Monsieur Violet the first notable work of fiction to make a place in its plot for the Mormons, the story incorporated more intriguing elements of verisimilitude than did many that later followed in its tracks. When discussing the Solomon Spalding explanation for Book of Mormon origins, for example, the writer included several believeable details from the life of Sidney Rigdon -- details which might cause the careful reader to stop and wonder whether Rigdon had actually been a "bosom friend" or Pittsburgh printer, Jonathan H. Lambdin; whether Rigdon was "a hanger-on about printing offices, where he could always pick up some little job in the way of proof correcting;" and whether Lambdin had "intrusted" to Rigdon a certain "precious manuscript" written by Solomon Spalding. Again, the reader might well wonder if there was any truth in the writer's saying that "in the beginning of 1827" Joseph Smith, Jr. had taken "a trip to Pittsburg" and there become "acquainted with Rigdon."
It it, of course, possible that the writer of Monsieur Violet was acquainted some especially knowledgeable person who knew Sidney Rigdon and was able to supply such seemingly secret details from his early life. There may be another, more reasonable explanation for the appearance of these kinds of details in the book, however.
"Captain" Frederick Marryat (1792 - 1848), was a popular English novelist who had once served his country as a naval captain. "Captain Marryat," in the late 1820s, took to writing adventerous tales about life at sea, beginning with a novel entitled The Naval Officer: or Scenes and Adventures in the Life of Frank Mildmay. Marryat hit upon a formula of weaving bits of biographical and historical information into his fiction which gave his books that entertaining appeal of "real life adventure." In harvesting and utilizing these genuine facts, Marryat was not above lifting entire accounts from non-fictional writers.
According to Josiah Gregg, writing in 1844, Marryat's Monsieur Violet was heavily plagiarized from Gregg's own Commerce of the Prairies (portions of which had seen print earlier as newspaper reports and correspondence). Gregg says: "In Captain Marryat's recent work, entitled "Monsieur Violet," I was not a little annoyed (when I presume I ought to have been flattered) to find large portions of [my published] correspondence copied, much of it verbatim, without the slightest intimation or acknowledgment whatever, of the source from whence they were procured...." Marryat also known to have drawn heavily from G. W. Kendall's Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition in coming up with additional, authentic-sounding verbage for Monsieur Violet.
Given Marryat's proclivity for surreptitiously lifting large blocks of narrative from contemporary newspapers, it is not at all unlikely that he took most of his material on the Mormons from that very source and then interwove it into his 1843 book, while comfortably settled in his London drawing room. Also, Marryat was not totally dependant upon sifting through what few news reports made it into the British papers from sources in America. He spent over two years in Canada and the United States (in 1837-39), and while there took extensive notes, incorporating much of what he experienced into his journal and publishing excerpts as A Diary in America at the end of 1839.
In his 1974 "Mormonism: Views from Without and Within," Leonard J. Arrington characterized Monsieur Violetas "a rambling romance by a former British naval captain... A story of the exploits of a young Frenchman among the Indians of the Great Plains and Southwest... Although the Mormon episode comprises about fifteen percent of the total volume, it is not well integrated and appears to have been an afterthought... almost identical to sections in John C. Bennett's History of the Saints (New York, 1842)..." (BYU StudiesXIV:2, Winter 1974, p. 142).
Thus, it seems likely that Marryat obtained nearly all of his information on the Mormons, Joseph Smith, and Sidney Rigdon from contemporary non-fiction, published in the popular press. If his 1843 book contains any especially trustworthy accounts from the secret life of Smith and Rigdon, such material probably come from something Marryat found published in an American newspaper, and not from a personal confidant who was "a very talented gentleman, who had every information connected with their history."
Mormonism Unveiled, (1855)
In 1970 Leonard Arrington and Jon Haupt published a very interesting article, entitled "The Missouri and Illinois: Mormons in Anti-Bellum Fiction" (Dialogue, a Journal of Mormon Thought V:1, Spring 1970, pp. 36-50). In that article, they say this of Orvilla Belisle's 1855 book: "The Prophets; or, Mormonism Unveiled... is thought to have been written by Orvilla S. Belisle. Miss Belisle seeks verisimilitude with six introductory chapters of "history," but, like her earlier anti-Catholic novel, her anti-Mormon novel is filled with tales of dark doings and immorality."
Rebecca Bartholomew is not particularly kind to Miss Belisle, in writing of her book in Audacious Women: Early British Mormon Immigrants (Salt lake City: Signature Books, Inc., 1995). There she says: "Although her title suggested a factual treatment, neither the setting, characterization, nor plot is remotely accurate. The setting is Wales, the main character a Welsh chieftain, and the villain a Lady MacBethian chieftainess who drives the village to a Mormon doom."
Indeed, Belisle's work betrays precious little evidence of the writer having any acquaintance with the Mormons and their religious lives. Like Marryat before her, the authoress no doubt depended for her information, upon less than trustworthy portrayals of the Saints in the popular literature of her day -- but, unlike Marryat, this British writer apparently never even visited the American homeland of the Mormons. In the case of her rendition of the improbable story elements tying together Solomon Spalding's writings, Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph Smith, Belisle seems to have copied much from Benjamin G. Ferris' 1854 book, Utah and the Mormons.
Jessie, the Mormon's Daughter, (1861)
Like Marryat and Belisle before him, Percy B. St, John was an English writer of adventure novels. According to Arrington and Haupt, "Percy Bolingbrook St. John's Jessie, the Mormon Daughter... [was published] first as a anonymous serial in the London Herald and later as a three-volume novel (1861). Jessie is an ethnocentric, hate-filled work unlike anything else that St. John wrote."
If Marryat's picture of the Mormons is more or less unreliable; and Belisle's word painting is unrestrainedly fanciful; then St. John's story is downright falsehood and deception from cover to cover. The author demonstrates not even a reasonable inkling of who the Mormons are, but goes to work concocting a set of the most outrageous tales imaginable, purporting to tell who they are, where they came from, and why they are a great danger to single young English women unaware of their evil, polygamous designs.
In St. John's "through the looking-glass" yarn, a seventeen year old Joseph Smith, Jr. is a hunter and "money-digger," well known by reputation to even the "Custaloga" Indians of wild and forested Ashtabula county, Ohio. Accompanied by a fictional brother named John, and two equally fictionalized representations of brothers Hyrum and William, Joseph interacts with Solomon Spalding, Emma Reardon [sic, Emma Hale], Simon Rigden [sic, Sidney Rigdon], and other extravagantly misrepresented characters drawn from a most irregular version of Mormon history. Even the most ignorant of readers must soon realize that St. John was not even attempting to create a few shreds of believability when he wrote this poor excuse for pulp fiction, suitable only for adding to the trash-pile of fish and chips scraps cluttering a third-class coach seat after an insomniac's twelve hour train ride from London to Edinburg.
Given St. John's interest in frontier Ohio (as demonstrated in his 1868 Queen of the Woods, or, The Shawnee Captives and his 1869 The Silent Hunter, a novel on the Indians of the Scioto River regions), he was probably capable of producing a half-way believeable story about the real Solomon Spalding and the ancient inhabitants of Spalding's diggings in Ashtabula county. Instead, the British writer churned out a practically unreadable story to hold the dubious honor of being the only novel ever written that features Rev. Spalding among its cast of characters. Today the only known copies of The Mormon's Daughter are safely hidden away in the stacks of the British Museum and the Huntington Library.
Some final remarks
It is interesting -- almost amusing -- to look at how each of these three authors went about bringing Sidney Rigdon, the Spalding manuscript, and Joseph Smith all together in time and space. Marryat follows the more or less ubiquitous story told in the anti-Mormon literature of his day. That is, Rigdon obtains Spalding's manuscript through his early association with a Pittsburgh printer, and Smith meets Rigdon in some unknown encounter in Pennsylvania, long before the Book of Mormon was ever made ready for the press in Palmyra. By obscuring the details of how his Rigdon and Smith characters first met (on Smith's otherwise unknown " trip to Pittsburg"), the author is able to preserve some measure of mystery and plausibility.
Belisle pulls out all the logical stops and has the "preacher" (Rigdon) stumble upon the "rifleman" (Smith) in the wilderness of Pennsylvania or New York, where Rigdon shares with the ruffian the secrets of Spalding's seductive historical romance. The two scoundrels put their heads together and quickly come up with a plan to create a new, phony religion.
Although it is totally improbable and unbelievable, Belisle's tale possesses the redeming element of occasionally readable dialog and a straight forward plot-line. St. John, on the other hand, loves to weave a multitude of episodes and flashbacks into a would-be legend of confusing characters and circumstances. This writer attempts to move along his story's action by throwing in at least one cliff-hanger into every page, along with the constant titillation of amorous affairs, seductions, and impending ravishments which he never quites gets around to describing for his hopeful readers.
It is likely that St. John browsed through Belisle's tale, at least once in passing, for he uses the same, unimaginative wilderness setting in which to introduce "rifleman" Smith to "preacher" Rigdon. And, as in Belisle's account, Rigdon just happens to be carrying the deceased Spalding's wonderous manuscript in his backpack. Again the two rascals join their forces and eventually work together to create a new, sham religion. To this already improbable scenario, St. John adds a second draft of Spalding's manuscript, already in Smith's possession. All of this adds up to something like improbability multiplied by itself, until the results produced are not only beyond literary belief, but beyond comprehension.
To his credit, St. John attempts to give his readers something like a psychology for Joseph Smith and a rationalization for his efforts to build a new religion -- one which incorporates the sensuality of polygamy, the criminality of counterfeiting, and the spirituality of seemingly pious prayer. It is even possible that the author's shallow attempt at psycho-biography was the first ground-breaking in that fertile field, which has since produced a bountiful crop of Princes, Rileys and Brodies.
It is altogether unfortunate that Percy B. St. John did not provide his shallow Spalding character with as vivid a psycho-biography as he attempted to construct for Joseph Smith. As it is, The Mormon's Daughter gives us only a shadow of a ghost -- the same insubstantial Solomon who floats through the phantasms created by dozens of unconvincing anti-Mormon historical reconstructionists.
Joseph Smith would go on to make occasional cameo appearances in various obscure fictional works, most of which are no more memorable than is The Mormon's Daughter. Sidney Rigdon's family would even fill in a few pages of story-line in a twentieth century novel called Country Salt. But poor Solomon Spalding, having been summoned forth from the grave to make a single performance in but a single sorry story, almost immediately died again in its forgettable pages and drifted off to languish forever in literary limbo.