Sketches of a Traveller.–No. 25


Missouri Republican F., E.

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F., E. “Sketches of a Traveller.—No. 25.” Missouri Republican (St. Louis, Missouri) 15, no. 1205 (29 April 1837): 109–12.

All day I continued my journey over hill and dale—creek and ravine—woodland and prarie, until near sunset I reined up my weary animal to rest awhile beneath the shade of a broad boughed oak by the way side, whose refreshing hospitality an emigrant, with a wagon and family, had already availed himself of. The leader of the caravan, rather a young man, was reclining upon the bank, and according to his own account, none the better for an extra dram.

From a few remarks which were elicited from him, I soon discovered, what I had suspected, but which he at first had seemed doggedly intent upon concealing—that he belonged to that singular sect, to which I have before alluded, styling themselves Mormonites, and was even then on his way to Mt. Zion, Jackson County, Missouri! By contriving to throw into my observations a few of those tenets of the sect which, during my wanderings, I had gathered up, the worthy Mormonite was soon persuaded—pardon my hypocrisy, reader—that he had stumbled upon a veritable brother; and without reserve or mental reservation laid open to my cognizance, as we journeyed along, “the reasons of the faith that was in him,” and the ultimate, proximate, and intermediate designs of the party. And such a chaos of nonsense—absurdity, nay madness, may an idle curiosity never again be the means of drawing down upon my devoted head. The most which could be gathered of any possible account from this confused, disconnected, mass of rubbish, was the following—that Joe Smith, or Joe Smith’s father, or the devil, or some other great personage, had somewhere dug up the golden plates, upon which was graven the “Book of Mormon.” That this all mysterious and much to be admired book, embraced the chronicles of the lost kings of Israel. That it derived its cognomen from one Mormon, its principal hero, son of Lot’s daughter, king of the Moabites.* [Footnote says, “See letter to W.L. Stone, recently published.”] That Christ was crucified on the spot where Adam was interred—that the descendants of Cain were all now under the curse, and no one could possibly designate who they were—that the Saviour was about to descend in Jackson Co. Mo.—the millenium was dawning and that all who were not baptized by Joe Smith, or by his compeers, and forthwith repaired to Mt. Zion, Missouri, aforesaid, would assuredly be cut off, and that without remedy. These may, perhaps, serve as a specimen of a host of wild absurdities which fell from the lips of my Mormonite; but the instant argument upon any point was pressed, away was he a thousand miles into the fields of mysticism, or he laid an immediate embargo on farther proceedings, by a bare faced petitio principii on the faith of the golden plates; or, by asserting that the stranger knew more upon the matter than he! At length, coming to the conclusion that the stranger could at least boast as much Mormonism as he, I spurred up, and left him still jogging onward to Mt. Zion.

And yet, reader—with all his nonsense, my Mormonite was by no means an ignorant man. He was a native of Virginia, and for fifteen years had been a pedagogue west of the Blue Ridge, from which edifying profession, he had at length been enticed, by the eloquence of sundry stray preachers, who had held forth in his school house. Thereupon taking to himself a brace of wives, and two or three braces of children, by way of stock in trade for the community at Mt. Zion—and having likewise taken to himself a one-horse wagon, into which were stowed the moveables, not forgetting a certain big bellied bottle which hung ominously dangling in the rear—I say having taken these indispensables, and having, moreover, pressed into service a certain raw-boned, unhappy looking horse, and a certain fat, happy looking cow which was driven along beside the wagon—away started he all agog for the promised land!

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