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mostly been superseded by the quartz mill, which is
fed from the shaft. The true surface mines of Cali-
fornia are its cornfields, gardens, and vineyards. I
have already referred to these, but I do not think that
I mentioned one " garden " which has forty acres of
strawberries. Judicious irrigation, in a climate which
really has no winter, enables this fruit to be provided
the whole year round.

Before I close this chapter I must say something
about the cost of a trip to the Yo Semite. The barest
expenses for the excursion from San Francisco amount
to more than 100 dollars, gold. The charge for
living on the route and in the valley is exorbitant.
"We paid three dollars and a-half each per day for the
sorriest lodging and the simplest fare. We had,
moreover, to pay the same for our guide, in addition
to his own wage. Then extras were charged. The
toll over a rude bridge was one dollar a horse. Alto-
gether the visitor must expect to be squeezed as dry
as possible. Probably competition will change this
before long, but at present all concerned in exhibiting



TO THE FOKEST. 117

the Yo Semite combine to get as much as they can
out of the sight-seer. You are obliged to ride, at
least in the summer and autumn. Dust would make
a walking tour there intolerable. As it is, the inside of
the legs of your trousers become like that of an old
flower-pot. Almost all who live there wear high boots,
with their trousers stuck in them. This is by far the
best foot gear for these parts. But, however shod, no
one walks. You must have a horse for your guide,
for which you pay extra ; and if you have anything
like luggage, you must have a horse for that too.

Of course, if any one were to make a lengthened
tour or sojourn in and about the Sierra, he would
take his tent and camp out, but now ordinary tourists
or travellers have no choice but to submit to extor-
tion or keep clear of the Yo Semite.

I ought to add that we found the people we had to
do with civil ; our guide especially was a very well-
behaved youag fellow. We were charged high for
almost everything, but there was no help for it, and
if one is squeezed, it is as well to be squeezed as
pleasantly as possible.



tie



CHAPTEB EL

THE MORMON CRT.

MY return journey eastward from California was
broken bj a visit to tile Salt Lake City, and ashy
the feilure of the Union Pacific Railway to keep its
time I was obliged to wait at Omaha lor a night, I
took the opportunity of patting down on paper some-
thin,: abo;:: tic- Monies.

I cannot affect to arrange my impressions in a
manner which shall gm yon distinct tabulated in-
formation under such different heads as politics, re-
ligion, agriculture, and the like I can best set down
what comes uppermost in what I saw and heard daring
an eight days* sojourn in the City of the Saints.

The Atlantic and Pacific Bailway, though it skirts
the Groat Salt Lake, nowhere runs within thirty-fire
miles of the Salt Lake City. A coach took yon to it
by an abominable road from Uintah. A branch rail-
way, however, was opened not long after my visit,
and now the seclusion of Biigham Young's famous
town has been impaired for ever. Some Mormons
affected to be pleased with the prospect of this pub-
licity, but I didn't believe them. Certainly, no sign
of a desire* to be visited was then shown by their au-



THE XOBVO* cm. 119

thorities, if we may judge by the state of the road
whkh W to th^ eity from the UinUh SUikm, Bis
more full of deep Boles than any I erer traversed.
Two tage0 ran daily one meeting the eastward and
the other the westward train; but the influx of
strangers by these was inconsiderable in a city of some
20,000 inhabitant*. Since the hraneh railway has heen
opened, hundreds hare heen tempted to hare a pass*
ing look at the City of the Saints, where one submitted
to the long jolting imposed onee upon riidtors. There
seems no reason, moreover, why, baring onee heen in-
vaded by the rail, the Mormons should not see it carried
by the Valley of the Jordan and the Utah Lake throagfc
their country settlements. However their rulers may
wish to remain isolated, the people will see the supe-
riority of a train to the old tedious waggon, and wifl
probably prefer being hanged for a sheep rather than
a lamb. The deed is done. The iron road has bored
its way through the shell of MormomBm,and the Saints
must make the best of it. mnonr says that Brigham
has already made a veiy good thing of it indeed, as he
took the contract for many miles of the Union Pacific*
We left Uintah Station si about noon, the train
steaming off on its single line of rail for its solitary
journey over the wilderness- Having secured two
seats outside the stage, we looked with special interest
on our route and its surroundings. The road tan at
the foot of bills on our left. On our right lay a flat



120 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

country dotted 'with Mormon farms ; beyond it the
beautiful Salt Lake twinkled in the sun ; and across
this, some forty miles off, rose a grand range of snow-
patched mountains.

We met a large number almost a procession of
tilted carts, each driven by an elderly, shaven, sour-
faced man. In the carts were beds, kettles, baskets,
&c., among which sat one or more of the sour-faced
men's wives. Not to mince the matter, I never saw
such a collection of ugly, shrivelled, melancholy-
looking women in my life. They wore long poke
bonnets, like the tilted carts they rode in, from under
the roofs of which they scowled at the stage as their
lords and masters drew on one side to let us pass.
We learnt from our driver, a surly fellow, that they
were leaving the half-yearly conference, which had just
broken up, and that some of them had come 200 or
300 miles to attend it. Hence the beds, kettles, &c.
At first we were sorry to have missed this gathering,
but perhaps it was for the best, as we came upon much
sentiment which the conference had just aroused.

The scene remained the same for several hours.
At last, on reaching the top of a rise in our road, we
saw sloping gently from the hill on our left what
appeared to be a long shrubbery, thick-set with gables,
walls, and chimneys, and in the midst of it a huge
white oval rounded roof, like a monstrous egg. This
was the City of the Saints, and the egg was the Taber-



122 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

nacle. We soon entered the town. Each house, as
a rule, stands in an orchard of small trees. The streets
are very wide, unlighted, unpaved, and skirted on
either side by small streams of water. They are, as
is usual in American towns, at right angles to^each
other, and on three sides the slope of the hills pre-
vents the streets going far on the fourth side stretch
out towards the plain ready for any extension of the city,
and pointing towards the still unoccupied valley flats.
The extreme perspective of these streets is very striking.
Shortly after we were put down at the Townsend House,
a hotel kept by a man of that name and his three
wives, I strolled into the city. As I stood looking
down one of these wide thoroughfares I perceived a
cloud of dust in the distance, and waited to see what it
would bring forth. Presently horsemen became visible,
and before long a tribe of Indians revealed itself. The
chief rode first. Then came a mixed multitude of
warriors and squaws, almost all riding, the latter astride
like the men, with children seated behind, holding on.
It was a picturesque troop, but all were repulsively
ugly. They were moving camp, and had come into
the town to trade by the way. I saw in some shops
stores of glass beads, which the Saints, at a very con-
siderable profit, used as precious coin in their trans-
actions with these people. Among the things sold by
the Indians areimffalo robes, admirably dressed by the
squaws. As I bought one for six dollars and a half, and



THE MORMON CITY.

have no doubt the vendor did not lose hy the sale, the
Indians do not receive a very high price for their work.
But to return to the Mormons. I took every op-
portunity of conversing with them and seeing what was
going on. We had the honour of an interview with
Brigham Young. He sent word that he would be
ready to see us at 10 A.M., two days after our arrival.
Picture a broad, white, dusty road, lined with two rows
of low trees, and a graystone wall on the left-hancl
side. Behind this lay Brigham's two houses, and the
detached schoolroom which he has built for his many
children. One house, the first as you approach, has
the figure of a recumbent lion on the top. This is the
Lion House. The next is crowned by a beehive.
This is the Bee-hive House. The next, approached
by an arch over which stands the large effigy of a bird
with outspread wings, is the " Eagle," or schoolhouse.
We saw him in the Beehive. There are three door-
ways in the wall, from which a few steps lead to three-
separate entrances. One opens into the telegraph
office Saints must send their messages through that ;
another into the reception-room of the President, as
he is called. We entered by this, and found ourselves
in a good- sized apartment, with brown sofas, a table
with stereoscopic slides, &c., upon it, and pictures in
oil of the twelve apostles (Mormon) hung upon the
walls. There were also a few photographs of some
places on the Union Pacific, and a glaring advertise-



124 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

merit of a steam fire-engine. The farther part of the
room was shut off by a low screen with a glass top.
Behind it, at the end, were oil paintings of Joseph
and Hiram Smith, a clock, a few books of reference,
and Brigham's desk, with a number of letters upon it
waiting his arrival. His private secretary took our
cards in, and presently the great man himself entered
by a side door, and, shaking hands, begged us to be
seated on a sofa, while he took a chair in front and
conversed with us. He was dressed in a black frock-
coat and trousers, with a white waistcoat. He is
-about five feet eight inches in height, thick-set, with
whiskers of light-brown hair meeting under his chin.
He has small light-blue eyes, a slightly aquiline nose,
a square business-like head, a tight-set mouth, and a
strong jaw. I was much struck, however, with his
jaded, weary look. They say he has aged much in the
last six months, being now in his seventieth year. He
evidently considered us bores, if not spies. We had
some general conversation about Hepworth Dixon's
book, which he said he didn't like the extension of
the city, the Pacific Union Railway, and the advan-
tages enjoyed by those who had emigrated to the Salt
Lake, concerning which he asked me the names of
some poor people whom I knew formerly in London,
and said if they did right they would fare well. Then
we made our bow, and went away, the President
politely shaking hands with us again at our departure.



THE MORMON CITY. 125

"Whilst there, I may remark that divers of his chil-
dren were running about, and he took one pretty girl
between his knees as he sat receiving us.

We saw him and a bevy of his wives another day
at the theatre, where he has a rocking-chair to him-
self in the middle of the pit. He did not occupy it,
however, on that occasion, but sat in the stage-box,
with a lady who they said was his favourite wife Amelia..
Other wives, with a swarm of his children, sat else-
where. There are twenty-three of the former living,
beside a number to whom he is merely " sealed/' and
I believe about forty of the latter, mostly girls. I
tried hard to get photographs of some of his wives,,
but, though they have been taken, they are forbidden
to be sold. The theatre is large and badly lit. There
is nothing in its arrangements to mark its difference
from any other. It has a pit and three galleries, and
looks very dirty. The pit is apparently appropriated
by resident Mormon families. We saw divers men
coming in with their three, four, or more wives.
Nobody dresses for the performance, and there is a
good deal of talking between whiles. The piece was
" A New Way to Pay Old Debts." It was badly acted,
but the audience laughed on small provocation, and
seemed to enjoy itself. Gentiles and Mormons were
present. Those sitting close by us in front of the lower-
gallery were, I suppose, Gentiles. They seemed to
know each other. A young man next me, levelling his.



126 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

opera-glass at Brigham when lie entered his box, said
to his companions, " Ah ! there is the old devil ; who
has he got with him to-night ? Oh, it's Amelia."

From what I saw and heard, I much douht if
.Brigham' s popularity among a minority of the
Mormons is very strong. Lately Mormon workmen
held mass-meetings to protest against his lowering
their wages, and carried their point. I was credibly
assured that he tried to take half-a-dollar off their
daily pay. Moreover, Mormon labour is not paid
fully in money. I asked divers working Saints what
they got. " Well," they said, " we get so much."
"But do you see the money?"! inquired. "No,
not all," they replied ; " part is paid in orders on the
stores." Thus they are tied by the tooth, and find it
hard to get away, especially as when they receive
notes they are of Salt Lake currency, useless beyond
the territory. These, however, they can change for
greenbacks, at least in small quantities. I am
convinced that many Mormons feel the pressure of
their inquisitorial government more than they like to
admit. They wriggle about under cross-questioning,
and make a poor business of putting a good face on the
matter. The city is divided into I think it is twenty-
one wards. Over each of these a Bishop presides.
Thus a Bishop looks after about 1,000 people. He
is aided by a number of teachers, who call upon each
.family once a month and report on their conduct.



128 TO SAX FRANCISCO AND BACK.

I give a specimen of the sort of conversation I had
with Mormons in one that I held with a young man
whom I knew in London, and who, indeed, with much
expression of surprise at seeing me there, hailed me in
the street. "Now," said I, "tell me what the teacher
does." " Why, he comes in and we all sit round the
room." " What does he do then ? " " Well, he ask
us questions." " Of what kind ? " " Oh, whether we
have attended to our prayers, paid our tithing, and
been to meeting, and such like." " Anything else?''
" Well, he will speak to us if the floor is not clean,
and such like." " Can't you shut him out ?" " Guess
not." " WTiat would happen if you declined to see
him?" "Why, he would report us to the Bishop, and
if we wouldn't let him in we should be cut off from the
Church." "A* man can't call his house his castle
here, then ? " He looked at me and shook his head.

This " cutting off from the Church " is a serious
thing, for it means no work to be had of Mormons,
no help, no charity, no pity. Curiously enough, I
stumbled upon an old man who had been servant in
the family of a great-aunt of mine. He had given up
Mormonism, and found employment with the rector
of the Episcopal mission here. I asked him how he
had fared. He had been a devout Mormon, and was
one of those who in former days had actually crossed
the plains on foot, dragging a hand-truck with his
goods and leading his wife. " Sir," he said, " I got



THE MORMON CITY. 129

on well for some time ; then I left some of my flour
behind me. Many died. I thought I should not mind
lying down to die myself. I was worn out. Then I
stopped at one of the places where the overland stage
changed horses, and hired myself to cook for pas-
sengers. There was very good wages, for the cook
was killed about every five months by the Indians ;
but somehow I got on well with the Indians. I stayed
there till I had saved 800 dollars in gold. Then I
started again for Salt Lake City and bought, as I
thought, a lot of ground ; but there worn't no written
paper about it, so he took my money and I didn't get
my lot. That worn't right, sir, so I guv it up."

Now this is a true story. Such things, of course,
shake the confidence of some Mormons, and I was
not surprised to hear many complaints ; but the chief
source of possible division arises just now from the
two sons of Joseph Smith, David and Alexander, who
are lecturing against polygamy i.e., against Brigham
Young in the Salt Lake City. We heard them both
and had some private conversation with Alexander.
I will allude now, however, only to what occurred in
public. On Sunday afternoon I attended the service in
the Tabernacle, where I heard a violent sermon by Mr.
Smith, Brigham's first councillor, mainly on the ex-
clusiveness, isolation, or peculiar sanctity of the Saints,
and polygamy. First, be praised Brigham Young.
He reminded them of what their President had done,

9



130 TO SAN FRANCI&CO AND BACK.

and the persecutions through which they had passed.
He urged their respect for him. This looked suspi-
cious, for if the congregation had heartily loved him
they would not have wanted such recommendations as
I heard given. They sounded like excuses rather than
praise. Then he went on to urge the necessity of
separation and the danger of Gentile influence. He
rated them soundly for the readiness with which some
of them followed Gentile fashions. Then he pressed
upon the people the holiness of polygamy. I sat facing
hundreds of melancholy-looking women, who occupied
the seats in the middle of the building, and narrowly
watched the array of sad faces to see if I could detect
a responsive glance. But there was none, though, as
I fancied, a look of deeper sadness came upon those
who were nearest to me. He thundered on about
polygamy. He instanced, of course, Abraham, David,
and Solomon Mormons are rather shy of talking
about Adam, w r ho only had one Eve given to him he
assured them that the Fathers were divinely and
specially right in having many wives ; and, , after de-
claring that unless polygamy were of God's appoint-
ment every Bible ought to be burnt, wound up by
dragging in Christ among the supporters of that prac-
tice, and triumphantly concluded his sermon with the
sentence from the Book of Kevelation : "I am the root
and offspring of David, the bright and morning star,"
as a characteristic saying of Jesus, who thus " nobly
boasted of His descent from the great polygamist."



THE MORMON CITY. 131

Full of this deliverance, I rushed off to the
Independence Hall, where David and Alexander
Smith were then holding forth. I found the place
crowded with Mormons, and could not get a seat.
David was preaching, and there was little in his
sermon which differed much from what might he
heard at a highly- spiced Methodist meeting. Then
Alexander began the business of the afternoon. He
showed that polygamy was forbidden by the Book of
Mormon, which they had in their hands. He waxed
warm. He cried, " Shame upon it, and upon the
author (Brigham Young) of this confusion ! " He
called his teaching "foul, false, and corrupt." I had
my note-book, and put down the words at the time.
Nothing could exceed the plainness with which he
denounced polygamy. The audience listened with
the deepest interest. One Mormon standing by me

muttered once, " That is a lie," though the

Saints are specially prohibited from swearing.

I might mention that, in the conversation which
we had afterwards with this Alexander Smith, he
complained that Brigham had refused to lend him the
Tabernacle I didn't wonder at that but had actually
lent it on the same day that he (Smith) had applied
for it to a sectarian minister I think a Methodist.
This shows that Smith thoroughly believes himself,
and expects others to admit his claim, to be a pure
Mormon, And thus, with the prestige which belongs



132 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

to him as a son of the founder of the Mormon faith,
he is a formidable opponent to the President. And,
we may inquire, if polygamy goes, what will become
of Mormonism ? I asked several Mormons, and they
said it would perish. Others said it would not. One
thing I was convinced of many of the married
women detest polygamy. Of course it is the interest
of Brigham and his chiefs to urge men to take more
than one wife. By doing this they are tied up ; for
if polygamy vrere discarded as an essential item in
Mormon practice, the position of men with more
wives than one would be very unpleasant, and the
poor wives would find themselves worse than nowhere.
But I doubt if polygamy grows. I asked divers
Mormons who argued for it, if they practised it
themselves. "No," they said, " but we might if we
chose, and we will if we like." To one or two I
said, " Tut, tut, man ; the reason is simply that you
dare not. Your wife wouldn't let you." In men-
tioning this, I cannot help remarking the freedom
with which Mormons now submit to Gentile criti-
cisms. I ever spoke quite openly, drawing their
attention to the mess into which the community was
getting itself should the United States Government
interfere. Some scowled, some grinned. The
Pacific Eailroad has so impressed them with a sense
that their fortifications have been carried, that, in
the Salt Lake City at least, you may pick up a



THE MORMON CITY. 133

Mormon in the streets and get him theologically,
socially, or politically into a hole, without, I suppose,
much risk. Some time ago you would possibly have
been shot. Now the Mormons are quarrelling among
themselves, and are obliged to allow a certain expres-
sion of difference from strangers. One day while we
were there a large party of Americans, excursionists
by rail, came from Delaware. They stayed at our
hotel. In the evening a zealous Mormon was tempted
to try his tongue on this mass of Gentiles. He had
one of the ante-rooms full to listen to him. A gentle-
man of the Delaware party, apparently a lawyer, sat
down in a chair, and, cocking his legs up, laid a
series of theological and social traps for this zealot,
into which he made a number of dangerous falls.

The situation of the town is lovely. The industry
of the people is commendable, though no better than
that of many settlers, and not so great as that of the
man who has to clear the soil from trees before he
can plough his field. When I came to look into it I
found that the barrenness of the plain is exaggerated.
There is abundance of excellent soil and water. I
had occasion to go into the middle of the valley to
look for flint implements in some old Indian mounds,
and on my way passed through divers farms. The
settler had simply to plough his lot and burn the sage-
grass which grew upon it. Elsewhere I found good
natural herbage, which the cattle were enjoying.



134 TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK.

Thus the Mormon farmer may thrive well, especially
as he may take four or five extra wives, whom he
sends out into the fields to work, and thus gets lahour
at small cost ; but as for any special difficulties which
he encounters in settling himself when once in the
valley, I do not believe in them. The soil grows
everything. Perhaps the chief natural drawback to
farming here arises from the number of insects. The
breaking up of the land, however, and the plantiug
cf trees, will probably bring more small birds, which
will tend to set the balance straight. The valley
produces cotton, sugar-cane I saw them crushing
the canes, silk, besides all kinds of fruit and corn.
This is inconsistent with what we have heard about
the place being naturally a wilderness. It has deep
mould, a glorious sun, and fresh water streams pour-
ing into it from all sides, and is thus a very paradise
for a settler as far as nature is concerned.

But in this paradise is gathered the cream of
European, specially British, fanaticism. None but
those hungering after or weakly open to strongly
sensational religious demands are likely to listen to
Mormonism as a spiritual creed. How many embrace
or adhere to it on carnal grounds it would be difficult
to say. At any rate, the bulk of Mormons, from one
cause or another, find themselves committed to a
policy of seclusion or separatism which is repugnant
to the bulk of Christians, and obviously alien to the



THE MORMON CITY, 185

sentiment of the United States. Either they are
polygamists, or supporters of the despotic inquisitorial
spiritual government of Mormonism, or they are hoth.
Thus, though they may, and do, quarrel bitterly
among themselves, any severe handling of them by
Americans would produce a large party ready to resist
to the death if they would preserve their institutions
at all. They are fanatics by nature and choice, and
would fight with the desperation of fanatics. I


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Online LibraryHarry JonesTo San Francisco and back → online text (page 7 of 12)