I. Woodbridge Riley
The Founder of Mormonism
(NYC: Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1903)
[ 177 ]
PROPHET, SEER AND REVELATOR
THE name of author and proprietor of the Book of Mormon was inadvertently assumed and quickly discarded. The title of prophet, seer and revelator was a growth. 1 Joseph's first prophecy, at the age of eighteen, concerned Deacon Jessup and the widow's cow; 2 his last revelation, called the Appendix, concerned the second advent. 3 In their variety Smith's prophetic utterances comprised items on the Ancient of days, Boarding-houses, Celestial glory, the Day of vengeance, Emma Smith, Far West City, -- and so on through the alphabet. As head of the church, Smith once said, 'We never enquire at the hand of God for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case. 4 The acceptance of these allocutions among his followers passes all understanding,
1 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter xxii, April 6th, 1830. -- Thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle, an elder.
2 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 91
3 'Doctrine and Covenants,' § 133.
4 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 753.
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unless their notions and crotchets are taken into account. Among them there was an underlying belief in the predictive and oracular. Thus Daniel Tyler said that his grandfather prophesied that his father would live to see the true church organized; and he himself joined the Latter-day Saints, because it was predicted that he should become a preacher of the gospel. 5 Wilford Woodruff revolts at the assertions of his Presbyterian friends that there are to be no more prophecies and revelations. In his perturbation he walks by the sea and receives 'the sign of the prophet Jonah: a large fish rises near the shore and looks at him with penetrating eye.' 6 He allies himself to Joseph the wonder-worker because of what old prophet Mason had predicted, years before, about the restoration of primitive gifts.
Joseph succeeded in his vaticinations because the ground was prepared; his was a prophetic neighborhood. Jemima Wilkinson, the Sibyl of Crooked Lake, was not disturbed in her mouthings, since she advertised the region opened up by Phelps and Gorham. 7 The Shakers, in Wayne County, were uttering millennial warnings. 8 More rabid Millenarians infested the parts around Rochester, although
5 'Leaves from my Journal,' pp. 1, 44.
6 'Scraps of Biography,' pp. 21, 22.
7 J. M. Parke, 'Rochester,' 1884.
8 'Millennial Church, or United Society of Believers,' Albany, 1823.
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it was not until October 25th, 1844, that the followers of Miller took a red aurora for the final conflagration, and gathered in their ascension robes to meet the last day. 9 But the Mormon prophet did not make the mistake of selecting a date for the end of the world. 10 His eschatology possessed an air of practicality. His millennium was, on the whole, marked by such an indefinite immediateness that there was little to criticize. He gives this confidential statement: --
'I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: --
Apostle Pratt, who derided the Millerites and their dates, asserted that ' Joseph Smith never was mistaken
9 Parke, pp. 251-3.
10 William Miller, 'Evidence of the Second Coming of Christ about the year 1843.' Troy, 1836.
11 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sec. 130.
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taken in his revelations. 12 Unfortunately ten years before this Smith had made his classic blunder in telling Bishop Whitney to go to New York, Albany and Boston, and 'warn the people of those cities that the hour of their judgment is nigh.' 13 But in general as a prophet of woe, Joseph's forebodings were well timed; he had learned when to get on the bear side of the millennial market. Thus, the persecutions of the Latter-day church and the general financial depression were coincident with this announcement: --
'Hearken, O ye people of my church, the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.__________
12 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 655. Smith's followers, at this time, showed less sense than he; thus Martin Harris prophesied: -- 'Within four years from September, 1832, there will not be one wicked person left in the United States; that the righteous will be gathered to Zion (Missouri), and that there will be no President over these United States after that time. Second: I do hereby assert and declare that within four years from the date hereof, every sectarian and religious denomination in the United States shall be broken down, and every Christian shall be gathered unto the Mormonites, and the rest of the human race shall perish. If these things do not take place, I will hereby consent to have my hands separated from my body.'
13 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sec. 84.
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the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: --__________
14 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter I. For the orthodox view of these coincidences, compare 'Joseph the Seer,' p. 191: -- 'The persecutions of 1838, in Missouri, were clearly set forth in a
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The voice of warning to all people was accompanied with promises of comfort to the Saints. In January, 1831, there came this message: 'Behold the enemy is combined, fear not for the kingdom is yours and I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even the land of promise; and that ye might escape the power of the enemy, I gave unto you the commandment, that ye should go to the Ohio.' 15
The spiritual timeliness of the early oracles is in marked contrast to the unedifying definiteness of the later covenants and commandments. One exception should be noted. A month before the founding of the Church 'a commandment, of God and not of man,' was given to Martin Harris. In this it was said: 'Thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon. Pay the printer's debt. Misery thou shalt receive, if thou wilt slight these
prophecy given through Joseph Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, July 23d, 1837, one year and more before the persecution occurred. See 'Doctrine and Covenants,' 105: 9. It reads: I Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face. Behold, vengeance conietli speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth -- a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, of lamentation -- and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my House (the church) shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord.'
15 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 40.
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counsels.' 16 As time went on the personal equation and the dollar mark became more conspicuous. On April 26th, 1832, a month after being tarred and feathered by a mob, Joseph received the message beginning, I the anger of God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth.' On January igth, 1841, at Nauvoo, this advice reached the ears of the prophet:
'And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph, and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.' 17
The Saints have attempted to relieve the bathos of Joseph's revelations, 18 by quoting the so-called
16 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 16.
17 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sec. 124. Compare the last revelation in the 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 45: -- 'I willeth not that my servant Frederick should sell his farm, for I the Lord willeth to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland.'
18 Comare 'Joseph the Seer,' p. 185: -- 'There is an abundance of documentary evidence of the genuineness of the revelation showing that it was in existence -- in print -- as early as 1851, nine years before the rebellion. Mr. Beadle in his work against the Mormons states that he copied it out of The Seer, a work published by O. Pratt, in Washington, D. C., in 1853, seven years before the rebellion. And Mr. John Hyde who wrote a work against the Mormons entitled "Mormonism," which was issued by Fetridge & Co., of New Vork City, in 1857, cites this same revelation on p. 174, and he did it in order to prove that Joseph was a false prophet.'
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'Prophecy of the Rebellion.' 19 It is indeed a remarkable forecast," but its authenticity is dubious. The most specific revelation of this kind written by Joseph, occurred as early as March, 1831, but it is more pertinent to Armageddon than the Civil War:
19 'Revelation and Prophecy on War,' given through 'Joseph the Seer,' December 25th, i832: -- Verily, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls.
The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place.
For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and thus war shall be poured out upon all nations.
And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war:
And it came to pass also, that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation;
And thus, with the sword, and by bloodshed, the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquakes, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed, hath made a full end of all nations;
That the cry of the Saints, and of the blood of the Saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.
Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.'
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-- 'ye hear of wars in foreign lands, but behold I say unto you they are nigh even unto your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.' 20
To turn to Smith's doings as a seer: here was the first of his dabblings with the occult. How far the 'wonderful power' of 'Peep-stone Joe' was fictitious, how far due to unconscious self-suggestion it is hard to decide. The statements of his followers make his actions mystic; the statements of his family suggest the hypnotic; his own description of the Urim and Thummim as 'like unto
20 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 48, copied from art original copy in the Berrian collection. As regards the Prophecy of the Rebellion in both its enlarged and original form, the following dates should be noted. Smith was killed June 27, 1844. In the 'History of Joseph Smith,' in the 'Times and Seasons' of November 1, 1844, a reference to President Jackson's proclamation of 1832, against the South Carolina Nullifiers is inserted between Smith's revelations of December 6, 1832 and December 27, 1832. The alleged revelation of December 25th is significantly omitted. Again, this latter revelation does not occur in the first and only edition of the 'Book of Commandments,' (1833) nor even in the third edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' (1845). The same is true of the shorter revelation of April 2, 1843, as given in 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sec. 140, (later editions than 1845): --
'I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 52th [sic], 1832.'
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crystal' at once suggests that he was an inadvertent crystal gazer. Although his psychoses may be put in terms of present day experiment, his own notions must be traced to his historic setting. His contemporaries were anachronisms belief in divination, -- both through 'second sight' and the 'shew stone' -- was brought over in the Mayflower along with other antique mental furniture. 21 Without harking back to old-world superstitions, 22 it is a fact that divining rods and seer stones were still used to find springs and locate hidden treasures in the rural districts of America. Especially did money diggers from Cape Cod to Lake Erie have their tales and fables. So Joseph's father was a firm believer in
21 Edward Eggleston, 'The Transit of Civilization from England to America in the Seventeenth Century,' New York, 1901, Chapter 1. Mental Outfit of the Early Colonists. Also Joseph Jastrow, 'Fact and Fable in Psychology,' Boston, 1900, p. 224.
22 Albert Moll, 'Hypnotism,' New York, 1901, pp. 1, 2. 'The fact that particular Psychical states can be induced in human beings by certain physical processes has long been known among the Oriental peoples, and was utilized by them for religious purposes. Kiesewetter attributes the early soothsaying by means of precious stones to hypnosis, which was induced by steadily gazing at the stones. This is also true of divination by looking into vessels and crystals, as the Egyptians have long been in the habit of doing, and as has often been done in Europe: by Cagliostro, for example. These hypnotic phenomena are also found to have existed several thousand years ago among the Persian magi (Fischer), as well as up to the present day among Indian yogis and fakirs, who throw themselves into the hypnotic state by means of fixation of the gaze.'
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witchcraft and other supernatural things, and Joseph himself refers to the divining rod as the rod of nature and informs his friend Cowdery 'behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature to work in your hands, for it is the work of God.' 23
The very charges against the Smiths betrayed the credulity of the times. The 'seeing-stone' with which Joseph is alleged to have sought for the Susquehanna silver mine, had previously been used in attempts to trace a lost child. 24 As if it were a
23 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 7.
24 E. C. Blackman, 'History of Susquehanna County, Pa.,' 1873, p. 477: -- Mr. J. B. Buck narrates the following: -- 'Joe Smith was herelumbering soon after my marriage, which was in 1818, some years before he took to 'peeping," and before diggings were commenced under his direction. These were ideas he gained later. The stone which he afterwards used was then in the possession of Jack Belcher, of Gibson, who obtained it while at Salina, New York, engaged in drawing salt. Belcher bought it because it was said to be "a seeing stone." I have often seen it. It was a green stone, with brown, irregular spots on it. It was a little longer than a goose's egg, and about the same thickness. When he brought it home and covered it with a hat, Belcher's little boy was one of the first to look into the hat, and as he did so he said he saw a candle. The second time he looked in he exclaimed, "I've found my hatchet!" -- (it had been lost two years) -- and immediately ran for it to the spot shown him through the stone, and it was There. The boy was soon beset by neighbors far and near to reveal to them hidden things, and he succeeded marvelously. Even the wanderings of a lost child were traced by him -- the distracted parents coming to him three times for directions, and in each case finding signs that the child had been in the places he designated, but at
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recrudescence of fetish worship, stones of strange shape or peculiar markings were highly prized, as well as those of a mysterious origin. An existing Mormon seer stone, from Missouri, is nothing but an Indian slate gorget. 25 Three generations ago there seems to have been only an inkling of the truth, that the 'influence' was to be attributed rather to the person seeing than to the object, to the seer rather than to the stone.
Joseph's own neighbors were particularly in the dark; one Willard Chase sent sixty or seventy miles for a certain conjurer; Chase's sister found a green glass through which she could see very many wonderful things. 26 Whether this was the identical stone which Joseph used is conjectural and immaterial, 27 although there is new information on the point. 28
last it was found starved to death. Joe Smith, conceiving the idea of making a fortune through a similar process of "seeing," bought the stone of Belcher and then began his operations in directing where hidden treasures could be found. His first diggings were near Captain Buck's sawmill, at Red Rock; but, because his followers broke the rule of silence, "the enchantment removed the deposits."'
25 Compare Figure 24, p. 650, 'Handbook of Reference,' United States National Museum, 1888.
26 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 106, 109.
27 Martin Harris in an interview, in January, 1859, said that Joseph's stone was dug from the well of Mason Chase. Tiffany's Monthly, May, 1859.
28 'On the request of the court, he (Joseph, junior) exhibited the stone. It was about the size of a small hen's egg, in the shape of a
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How early he stumbled on the discovery of his gift' is more important. 29 His father testified that, when a lad, 'Joseph heard of a neighboring girl, who could look into a glass and see anything however hidden from others. He looked into this glass which was placed in a hat to exclude the light. He was greatly surprised to see but one thing, which was a small stone, a great way off. It soon became luminous and dazzled his eyes, and after a short time it became as intense as the midday sun.... He often had an opportunity to look in the glass, and with the same result. The luminous stone alone attracted his attention.' 30
By 1825, Joseph's fame as a 'peeper' was widespread. Josiah Stoal came from Chenango County to get Joseph's 'assistance in digging for a silver mine, on account of having heard that he possessed
high instepped shoe. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it.... Joseph Smith, senior, was present, and was sworn as a witness. He confirmed at great length all that his son had said in his examination.... He described very many instances of his finding hidden and stolen goods.' From W. D. Purple, manuscript editorial in Norwich, N. Y. Union, April 28, 1877. Purple took notes at the trial of Joseph Smith, senior, in February, 1826, at South Bainbridge, Pa., before Albert Neeley, J. P.
29 The story that Joseph's 'gift' was 'Scotch second sight' is well found but not true; his ancestry was English.
30 W. D. Purple. Compare also 'Book of Mormon,' p. 328. The stone called Gazelem 'a stone which shineth forth in darkness unto light.'
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certain keys, by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.' 31
So far the youthful seer had been using a translucent quartz pebble such as was to be found in the glacial drift of western New York. In September, 1827, he procured his 'interpreters.' These he himself described as two transparent stones, 32 and his mother as three-cornered diamonds, which he kept constantly about his person. 33 If one may hazard a guess, these 'curious instruments, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim,' 34 were probably a couple of prisms from an old-fashioned chandelier. Whatever the object, the purpose was the same, -- to produce a condition suitable for the 'seeing of visions.' What this condition really was, Joseph knew as little as the Specularii of old. But that many people hypnotize themselves, 35 without knowing it, is as true as that Monsieur Jourdain had been speaking prose all his life, without knowing it.
Since the classic experiments of Braid, the Manchester surgeon, the means of producing hypnosis are too well known to need description: in a likely subject, steady gazing at anything from a teapot to the tip of the nose will induce the primary state of
31 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 92.
32 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 707.
33 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 106.
34 'Joseph Smith the Seer,' p. 19.
35 Moll, p. 389.
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reverie. Of the scientific procedure Joseph, of course, was absolutely ignorant, yet his method of 'glass-looking,' was, in fact, one of the easiest ways of producing slight hypnotization, namely that by sensorial excitement. He did not need strong or luminous rays, but only that slight and prolonged excitement, gained by fixing the eyes on an object, brilliant or otherwise, placed near the eyes. 36 Unlike some of his followers Joseph does not seem to have been especially liable to what they denominated the 'open vision.' 37 His was not the rarer type of person, who
36 Alfred Binet and Charles Fere, 'Animal Magnetism,' New York, 1898, p. 93.
37, Times and Seasons,' 5, 661. Two instances of the 'open vision' with attendant hallucinations, somewhat similar to Joseph's visions of the plates are as follows: 'Faith Promoting Series,' number 12, p. 79. Amasa Potter, in Picton, Australia, in 1856, said, 'At meeting after speaking a few words I became dumb, -- when I thought I saw several lines of large letters printed on the walls of the house, and I commenced to read them and spoke about one hour. When the letters faded from my sight, I then stopped speaking. I could not tell all that I had said; but my companion told me it was an excellent discourse.'... Littlefield, in his 'Reminiscences,' p. 203, gives this account of an experience of July 13, 1848, on the ship 'Forest Monarch,' from New York, in a fierce Atlantic storm: 4 At 12 o'clock A. M.... I was clinging with both arms clasped tightly around a post.... While in this position a panorama of my life passed in review before me. Two or three words, as if shaped in letters of burnished gold or written by flames of fire, were presented. These words were so chosen as to be indicative of some unwise act or sinful deed. They would remain there, undiminished in brightness, until I had earnestly and humbly implored forgiveness....
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can call up the hallucinative image, spontaneously and while awake. His acts, as a seer, required time, preparation and some apparatus. An eyewitness thus describes his methods: 'At times when Brother Joseph would attempt to translate, he would look into the hat in which the stone was placed, he found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his mind dwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with the translation. When in this condition he would go out and pray, and when he became sufficiently humble before God, he could then proceed with the translation. Now we see how very strict the Lord is; and how He requires the heart of man to be just right in His sight, before he can receive revelation from Him. 38
These fluctuations in the psychological moment -- really due to a restless temperament-were interpreted as due to the alternate granting and withdrawal of the 'gift.' 39 For this reason, there is little
When I had duly repented, that set of words would pass away and others take their place, until mental restitution was made as before. These manifestations continued to alternate for a time and then passed away.'
38 David Whitmer, 'Address,' p. 30.
39 Compare 'Book of Commandments,' p. 13. A Revelation, May, 1829, after the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript, you also lost your gift at the same time, nevertheless it has also been restored unto you again.'
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doubt that Joseph, at least at the start, considered his 'transiations'to be inspired. For all that, his mystic writings may be resolved into their elements of Bible knowledge, petty information and every-day experience. It is curious and noteworthy to trace the workings of the seer's imagination in the lather of words given by his devotee: 'I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.' 40
That the Book of Mormon was an imaginative elaboration of presentative material, is corroborated by this account of its mystic genesis. Joseph's process of translating by means of his Urim and
40 Whitmer, p. 12.
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Thummim 41 may be compared with a recent experimental study of visions. 42 Although artificially produced they resolved themselves mainly into natural sources, namely, -- what had been previously seen, heard, read and thought, besides representations and revivals of the experience of the hypnotic personality of which the waking consciousness has never had knowledge.
All this is applicable to Joseph's first act of 'translating.' To those who care to dig below the threshold of consciousness, the mystic after-image, the recrudescence of the subconscious may be an explanation of the alleged Greek and Hebrew letters in the transcription of the gold plates. One glance at a Bible in the original tongues may have been enough to stamp the visual image on the boy's impressionable mind. This objectification of images, which exist unconsciously in the memory, is a fact in dreams and a likely surmise as to the analogous phenomena of semi-hypnosis. Whatever the explanation, the fact is this, -- Joseph the seer was a good visualizer. 43
41 In 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 707, Smith gave this fabulous account: -- 'With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.'
42 Brain, 21, 528.
43 Joseph's case is curiously like that of a present day sceptic,
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Smith's method was so far the commonplace method of the trance-medium. The act of fixing the eyes on one particular point, supplemented by a state of quietude through prayer, prepared the way for the influence of self-suggestion. His external acts are one thing, the subtle and self-deceiving nature of his hallucinations another. He knew no more about the subconscious self and the law of association of ideas, than he did of the fact that his 'Reformed Egyptian' resembled the irregular and spasmodic writings of hypnotic subjects. Now that the transcription of the gold plates is a veritable piece of automatic writing, is evident from a comparison
who was once an esoteric mystic. It was Alfred Le Baron who claimed he could see 'sentences in English characters among a number of ideographs on an Egyptian slab of stone.' 'Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research,' 12, 287. -- This analogy may be taken for what it is worth. One can prove anything from these modern dabblings in the occult. In the same way, care should be taken in the application of the hypnotic principles of the hysterical school of Charcot. As has been said regarding the choice of hysterical patients, 'Take care, or you will find what you are looking for.' If emphasis is laid on the abnormal side of Joseph Smith's case, his states resemble the not uncommon condition found among hystero-epileptics. As the physiology of the subject is admittedly obscure, in this study, the more normal principles of the suggestion school of Nancy are chiefly utilized. Parsimony demands that the hypnotic aspects of the Mormons should be explained as mental, rather than physical reflexes. Yet, as for Smith himself, the subject is complex and demands compromise; on the one hand, his self-induced states of hypnosis were synchronous with his youthful ill health; on the other hand, his suggestive influence over others began soon after his early epileptic seizures ceased.
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of the reproduction of the 'Caractors' with modern experimental scrawlings. An attempt of a patient, in a semi-hypnotic state, through planchette or a pencil held loosely in the hands, will show equally mysterious figures and back-handed signatures. 44
The relation of Joseph's crystal gazing to the composition of the Book of Mormon, brings more important information. It furnishes an explanation of certain peculiarities in the text. The style of the ancient prophet Mormon is the style of the modern spiritualist. The lack of punctuation may be laid to the fact of dictation, but the slips in grammar and the endless repetition of such phrases as 'came to pass,' resemble the painful errors and damnable iteration of messages from the unseen world."
Furthermore, the length and complexity of the Book of Mormon is rendered additionally possible, if one cares to believe the assertion, that hypnotic suggestion arouses into activity the dormant psychic power, -- brings to the subject's fingers' ends all the knowledge that he has ever had, and, finally, inspires
44 Moll, p. 267.
45 At a spiritualistic seance of a Boston medium, in igoo, I noticed a marked difference between the normal and trance states. The set speeches, evidently learned by heart, were johiisonian in their correctness, but the messages from the departed in their grammatical lapses and turns of expression betrayed the rustic origin of the seeress.
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him with an overwhelming confidence in himself. 46
Was it hyperaethesia or hard work that evolved the Record of the Nephites? To those who neither hanker after theories of the subliminal self, 47 nor believe that the Book of Mormon required any quickening of the intellect, 48 the author's crystal gazing may yet have important relations to his writings. At the least, it was a moving cause of the acts of his disciples. Because of their magical guise, his associates believed that they were bound to take down their seer's every utterance; consequently, they gave him abundant help. Emma Smith confessed that she wrote at her husband's dictation day after day; 49 while Christian Whitmer and
46 Compare R. O. Mason, 'Telepathy and the Subliminal Self,' New York, 1896, p. 78,
47 'Harvard Psychological Studies,' September, x896. Experimenters succeeded in reproducing in a walcing state of complete normality, the first three essential elements of the second personality, viz.: -- 1. General tendency to movement without conscious motor impulse; 2. Tendency of an idea in the mind to go over into a movement involuntarily and unconsciously; 3. Tendency of a sensory current to pass over into a motor reaction subconsciously; 4. Unconscious exercise of memory and invention.
48 Moll, p. 268. a The automatic hand writes without concentration of thought on the writer's part.'
49 Wyle, 'Mormon Portraits,' p. 203. Statement of Emma Hale Smith to her son. 'In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat with the stone in it.'
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Oliver Cowdery were his scribes for seven solid months. 50
To Joseph's performances as a seer, the usual clairvoyant and telepathic embellishments were added. Martin Harris said that Joseph proposed to bind his 'directors' on his eyes and run a race with him in the woods. 51 David Whitmer avowed that this was the same stone used by the Jaredites at Babel. He relates that he could see nothing through it, but that Joseph, placing it to his eyes, could read signs one hundred and sixty miles distant, and tell exactly what was transpiring there. He then adds the statement: -- 'When I went to Harmony after him, he told me the name of every hotel at which I had stopped on the road, read the signs, and described various scenes without having ever received any information from me.' 52
The most marvelous occurrence is one that is said to have happened about June, 1829. Joseph's
60 The actual writing of the 'Book of Mormon' appears to have taken about seven months. (December, 1827-February, 1828; April 12-June 14, 1828; April 7-June 11, 1829.) Taking the first edition as 588 printed pages, this gives an average of between two and three pages a day.
61 Tiffany's Monthly, May, 1959. Compare 'Joseph Smith the Seer,' p. 19. -- 'With the records was found a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim. This was in use in ancient times by persons called seers. It was an instrument by the use of which they received revelation of things distant. or of things past or future.'
62 'Address,' p. 11.
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mother recounts that, as he was translating by means of the Urim and Thummim, he received, 'instead of the words of the Book, a commandment to write a letter to a man by the name of David Whitmer, who lived in Waterloo, requesting him to come immediately with his team, and convey himself and Oliver to his own residence, as an evil-designing people were seeking to take away his (Joseph's) life, in order to prevent the work of God from going forth to the world. 53
Of these three occurrences comment is almost superfluous. The running blindfolded is not said to have taken place; if it had, it could be compared to the heightened sense-perception of the hypnotic subject, when he walks about a room with bandaged eyes, or in absolute darkness, without striking against anything. 54 Again Joseph's reading inn-signs, miles away, is no proof of the dubieties of supersensual thought transference. 55 As the added
53 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 135.
54 Moll, p. 115.
55 On the semi-occult aspects of crystal gazing, compare Frank Podinore, 'Apparitions and Thought Transference,' London, 1900, p. 352. Other instances among the Mormons of 'premonitions,' veridical visions' and 'sympathetic clairvoyance,' are as follows: -- (1.) p. p. Pratt, , Autobiography,' p. 368,-- On June 27, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum were killed. I was constrained by the spirit a day or so before to start prematurely for home (Nauvoo) without knowing why or wherefore. As my brother William and I talked, a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell
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details show, the itinerant seer had traveled the same road as his disciple, who took no account of Joseph's naturally retentive memory. Lastly the form of the letter to the Whitmers, and their fulfilling the writer's request implies a previous acquaintance
were let loose. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak. This was June 27tb, in the afternoon, as near as I can judge at the hour Joseph died.'-- (2.) In the Nauvoo Neighbor, March, 1844, Benjamin Andrews reports a vision at the time the Latter-day Saints were driven from Jackson county, Missouri,-- 'I was at the capital of the United States. In the archives of state a man, one of the ancients of the nation, took two or three small boxes and said 'These were the archives of state, but they are turned to blood.' I saw the box turned to blood.'-- (3.) B. Brown, 'Testimonies,' p. 12. -- 'One Sunday morning, while opening the meeting with prayer, the gift of tongues came upon me but I quenched the Spirit. Immediately another broke out in tongues, of which the interpretation was, 'the Lord knew we were anxious to learn of the affairs of our brethren in Missouri, and that if we would humble ourselves, He would reveal unto us.' Missouri was some thousands of miles from Portland. In a fortnight a letter confirmed the message at or about the time of the massacre at Haun's Mill.'-- (4.) The same event in Indiana in 1838, was announced by a variety of the so-called 'simultaneous apparition.' Littlefield, p. 69, quotes the statement of John Hammer: -- 'We were standing there exactly at the time this bloody butchery was committed and of course were all looking eagerly in the direction of the mill. While in this attitude a crimson colored vapor, like a mist or thin cloud, ascended up from the precise place where we knew the mill to be located. This transparent pillar of blood remained.... far into the fatal night. At that hour we had not heard a word of what had taken place at the mill, but as quick as my mother and aunt saw this red, blood-like token, they commenced to wring their hands and moan, declaring they knew that their husbands had been murdered.'
PROPHET, SEER AND REVELATOR 201
with that family. In brief, Joseph's failures are in accord with the modern failures in mental telegraphy, through the medium of crystals. 56 The alleged long-distance messages were simply 'reproduced past experiences without recognition.' Other Mormons may furnish telepathic experiences, but they are more curious than convincing.
Thus far Smith's occult performances meet with psychological negation; this is not the result in their ethical import, if the inference is allowable. It is somewhere in here that the dividing line must be drawn between self-deception and conscious duplicity. From the silence in his own writings, as to these three episodes, it is evident that the prophet and seer did not believe himself an entire success as clairvoyant and mind reader. And more than that as respects the translating of the plates, there is a suspicion that he early recognized that there was something the matter. To his progenitors anything preternatural was supernatural; to the prophet the supernatural was now merging into the merely abnormal, else he would neither have persevered in his methods of obfustication, nor have tried to monopolize
56 'Society for Psychical Research,' 12, 259. Prof J. H. Hyslop in 'Some Experiments in Crystal Visions,' found 'nothing of an apparently telepathic nature or any other kind of supernormal psychological experience.'
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the use of the seer-stone, 57 nor finally have given it up altogether. 58 The various changes in his methods are especially significant. As money digger, he was wont to hide his face in a hat; as translator, he sometimes kept behind a curtain, 59 dictating to his scribe on the other side; finally by May, 1831, he had a special 'translating room' of his own. 60
There was method in this concealment: it was to keep from the sight of his followers the fixed gaze and the blank expression of the auto-hypnotic. There is here implicated no such mystic paradox as that Joseph was conscious of his unconsciousness;
57 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 30: Take thy brother Hiram Page between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that satan deceiveth him: For behold these things have not been appointed unto him, Neither shall anything be appointed to any of this church.' Compare 'Times and Seasons,' 4, 117-119; also 'History of the Church,' p. 123.
58 Whitmer, p. 32: -- 'After the translation of the "Book of Mormon" was finished, early in the spring of 1830, before April 6th, Joseph gave the stone to Oliver Cowdery and told me as well as the rest that he was through with it, and he did not use the stone any more. He said he was through the work that God had given him the gift to perform, except to preach the gospel. He told us that we would all have to depend on the Holy Ghost hereafter to be guided into truth and obtain the will of the Lord. The revelations after this came through Joseph as "mouthpiece;" that is, he would enquire of the Lord, pray and ask concerning a matter, and speak out the revelation.'
59 Whitmer, p. 10.
60 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 784.
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if, at the time, the trance-medium does not know what he has spoken, he yet knows that he has spoken. The light hypnosis is not characterized by entire loss of memory. That the prophet, as early as 1831, was cognizant of the abnormality of the ecstatic condition, is borne out by his disrelish for such excesses as those of the Kirtland convulsionists, their 'wallowing on the ground, their diabolical acts of enthusiasm.' Exactly when the personal discovery was made is a matter of opinion. It may have been with the failure, in October, I825, to find the fabulous silver mine of his father-in-law. It was in October, I825, he relates, that he I prevailed upon the old gentleman to cease digging after it.' 61
61 'Pearl of Great Price,' p. 100. Compare Blackman, 'History of Susquehanna County, Pa.,' p. 578. (I quote the following affidavit only because I am acquainted with this locality and have personal knowledge of the reliability of Charles Dimon. It should be noted that Hale's dates differ from Smith's.) 'Statement of Isaac Hale. Affirmed to and subscribed before Chas. Dimon, J. P., March 20, 1834. The good character of Isaac Hale was attested to the following day by judges Wm. Thomson and D. Dimock: -- 'I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, junior, in November, I825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called Is money-diggers," and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see, by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time was that of a careless young man, not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father. Smith and his father, with several other money-diggers, boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened
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Subjective 'glass looking' was found to be no royal road to objective fortune; but disillusionment of self was not the disillusionment of others. About four years after this, Joseph saw fit to acknowledge, in his own peculiar way, that the power of self-suggestion was not confined to himself. In April, 1829, a revelation came to Oliver Cowdery: 'behold thou hast a gift, if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous.' 62 This'gift'of Oliver's was shortly afterwards explained as a 'key of knowledge concerning the engravings of old records.' These announcements of mutually shared 'gifts' or 'keys' form one of the dividing lines in Joseph's career. With the discovery that suggestion was a rule that worked both ways, he ceased to be a mere self-centred visionary, and became in truth a revelator to others. Once when his high priests wished to
and worked by the Spaniards many years since. Young Smith gave the money-diggers great encouragement at first, but when they had arrived in digging too near the place where be had stated an immense treasure would be found, he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825....' I told them, then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he (Joseph) pretended to read and interpret was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the book of plates was at the same time hid in the woods.'
62 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 5.
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behold 'concourses of angels,' as president of the church, Smith employed the conventional means of inducing the trance vision. There was insistence on faith, fasting and prayer, laying on of hands, fixity of thought, and rigidity of position. 63
The origin of Joseph's functions as a revelator is, like all origins, rudimentary and somewhat obscure. It was, however, natural that the first believers in his visualizing powers should be found among his kith and kin. What he imagined he saw, he got them to imagine they saw. As his mother says of him, during the evening conversations, when 'he Would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, -- I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth -- all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age.' 64
But Joseph's success was not confined to a family of constitutional visionaries; his sphere of influence soon enlarged. Because he asserted he had seen a vision, he was persecuted ' by the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and was under the necessity of leaving Manchester and going to Pennsylvania.' 65 Opposition was what he needed; he
63 Compare 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 738, the events of March 18, 1833.
64 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 84.
65 'Pearl of Great Price,' p. 102.
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was advertised by his enemies, until his fame as a beholder of visions was as wide as his early reputation as a 'discerner of invisible things.' 66 Thus the acts of the prophet and seer paved the way for the acts of the revelator. Of these latter acts the most conspicuous was that of the vision beheld by his scribes. It is embodied in this remarkable document accompanying all editions of the Book of Mormon: --
THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, which came from the tower of which hath been spoken ; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice bath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen__________
64 'Pearl of Great Price,' p. 102: -- 'The excitement, however, still continued, and rumor, with her thousand tongues, was all the time employed in circulating tales about my father's family, and about myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill up volumes. The persecution, however, became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna County, in the State of Pennsylvania.'
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the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an Angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
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THE Testimony of Three Witnesses is commonly quoted by writers in both camps; the Saints take it as proof of divinity, 1 the scoffers as proof of duplicity. 2 Quotation is one thing, explanation another. If it is used as psychological material, the problem is whether the vision was an individual hallucination, generated normally by the subject, or aroused semi-hypnotically by a second person.
The latter form of statement may serve as a tentative hypothesis, but not before the former is examined. According to some authorities, 3 hallucinations can be induced, in a normal state of consciousness, without hypnosis. As there are suggestions in dreams, so are there suggestions in the waking state. But here, from the start, is manifest the chief phenomenon of hypnosis, --
1 Compare 'Joseph the Seer.'
2 Compare anti-Mormon works beginning with Howe.
3 Such as Moll, who attempts to remove hypnotism from the realm of the occult is summed up in the statement, p. 254, that there is 'no new psychical law to be found in hypnosis.'
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namely that a certain accepted idea leads to a mental delusion. More particularly, it is antecedently probable that this was hypnotic hallucination, since there are present the three productive factors: susceptibility to suggestion on the part of the subject, the effect of expectant attention, and previous success, as increasing the principal's influence.
To apply these essentials: all three are found in the case of the first witness, Oliver Cowdery. His suggestibility is evidenced by his excitement over the story of the gold plates, by his belief that it was predetermined that he should be Joseph's scribe, and lastly by his entire absorption in the project. 'Shortly after receiving a sketch of the facts relative to the plates,' says Mother Smith, 'he told Mr. Smith that he was highly delighted with what he had heard, that he had been in a deep study upon the subject all day, and that it was impressed upon his mind, that he should yet have the privilege of writing for Joseph. On coming in on the following day, he said, "The subject upon which we were yesterday conversing seems working in my very bones, and I cannot, for a moment, get it out of my mind; for I have made it a subject of prayer, and firmly believe that it is the will of the Lord that I should go." From this time, Oliver was so completely absorbed in the subject of the Record, that
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it seemed impossible for him to think or converse about anything else. 4
Cowdery's suggestibility was not merely self-induced, the prophet himself increased that state of mind by a long and subtle series of preliminary suggestions. He was ignorant of the formula, but he knew as a fact the effect of expectant attention. Nothing could be more efficient than the cumulative revelations now received. In April, 1829, there came: --
'A Revelation to Oliver, when employed a scribe to Joseph, -- Behold thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Remember it is sacred and cometh from above; and if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous.... Verily, verily I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things; did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? ... Verily, verily I say unto you that there are records which contain much of my gospel.... And now behold I give unto you, and also unto my servant Joseph the keys of this gift.... and in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established.' 5__________
4 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 128-9.
5 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 5.
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How the master was gaining ascendancy over the subject is shown by what follows. Under the mask of divinity, he now seeks to inspire him with a belief in the working of the divining rod, and to direct the very course of his thoughts: --
'Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature to work in your hands, for it is the work of God; and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, that you shall know. 6 ... Behold I say unto you, my son, that, because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, ... Behold you have not understood, you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me;__________
6 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 7.
7 'Book of Commandinents,' Chapter 8.
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In the meanwhile the subject did not realize the degree of his psychic plasticity; this is clear from his own statement. In the first of the Letters of Oliver Cowdery occurs this passage: -- 'Near the time of the setting of the sun, Sabbath evening, April 5th, 1829, my natural eyes, for the first time beheld this brother. He then resided in Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. On Monday, the 6th, I assisted him in arranging some business of a temporal nature, and on Tuesday, the 7th, commenced to write the Book of Mormon. These were days never to be forgotten -- to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom. Day after day I continued, uninterruptedly to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or as the Nephites would have said, "Interpreters," the history, or record, called the Book of Mormon.'
The preparatory manipulation of the first witness was not yet completed. The longest revelation to Oliver opens with the words, -- 'A great and a marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men.' 8 This was the prophet's scriptural formulation of the actual principle of expectant attention. In the same way, he had a practical, though not a technical cognizance of the third factor in the production
8 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 5.
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of hypnosis. His previous success, as increasing his personal influence, is manifest from the following episode. Of the two accounts, the matter-of-fact assumptions of the seer may be well compared with the rhapsody of his follower: --
'We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month, (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, as we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying unto us, 'Upon you, my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.' He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterwards that he should baptize me.
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me and ordained me to the same Priesthood -- for so we were commanded' 9__________
9 'Pearl of Great Price,' pp. 105-6.
10 'Pearl of Great Price,' pp. 105-108.
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Up to his dying day, Cowdery believed there was no 'fiction and deception' either in this manifestation, or in the plate vision. 11 This fact has a twofold significance: the persistence of his belief shows the vividness of the original hallucination, but the conviction of reality points to hypnosis -- in which there is 'an apparently logical connection between the suggested idea and the hypnotic subject's own thoughts.' 12 The final testimony of the second witness is equally illuminating, both as to the seeming external projection of the sensible image, and the condition of mind in which the subject sees but does not reason. In an interview, September, 1878, David Whitmer said: --
'It was in June, i829, the latter part of the month, and the eight witnesses saw them, I think, a day or two after we did. Joseph himself showed the plates to the eight witnesses, but the angel showed them to us, the three witnesses. Martin Harris was not with us this (the first) time, but he obtained a view of them afterwards the same day. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but also the brass plates, and the plates of the Book of Ether, and the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and__________
11 Whitmer, 'Address,' p. 8, says: (On March 3, 1850, I was present at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, "Brother David, be true to your testimony of the 'Book of Mormon.'"'
12 Moll, p. 214.
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also many other plates. We were overshadowed by a light, one not like the light of the sun or of a fire, but one more glorious and beautiful. It extended away around us, and in the midst of the light there appeared, as it were, a table, with many plates or records upon it besides the plates of the Book of Mormon; also the sword of Laban, and the directors (that is the ball which Lehi had), and the interpreter. I saw them just as plainly as I see this bed (striking with his hand the bed by which he sat), and I heard the voice of the Lord as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.' 13
Whitmer's entire faith in the reality of the vision of the plates is perpetuated by the inscription on his tomb. 14 His grandson supplies further information, and, what is more, suggests hypnotism as a cause. 15
13 'Joseph the Seer,' pp. 56-7. Compare Richmond, Missouri, Democrat, February 2, 1881: -- Just before his death, Whitmer is said to have called the family and his doctor to his bedside and to have exclaimed, 'Dr. Buchanan, I want you to say whether or not I am in my right mind, before giving my dying testimony.' The doctor answered, 'yes, you are in your right mind.' Then ...the old man: 'I want to say to you all, the Bible and the record of the Nephites, is true.'
14 'The Record of the Jews and the Record of the Nephites are one. Truth is eternal.' (Schweich, April 6, 1899).
15 George W. Schweich, Richmond, Missouri, wrote September 22d, 1899, 'I have begged him to unfold the fraud in the case and he had all to gain and nothing to lose to but speak the word if he thought so -- but he has described the scene to me many times, of
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Of the credulity of the last of the three witnesses an instance has already been given: it was Martin Harris 'a farmer of respectability' who had already lent money to Joseph 16 and had taken the transcription or 'Caractors' to New York City. In a letter written by him in 1870, he said: -- 'No man ever heard me in any way deny either the Book of Mormon, or the administration of the angel that showed me the plates, or the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under the administration of Joseph Smith, junior, the prophet, whom the Lord raised up for that purpose in these later days, that He might show forth His power and glory. The Lord has shown me these things by His Spirit, and by the administration of angels, and confirmed the same with signs following for the space of forty years. I do say that the angel did show me the plates containing the Book of Mormon, and further that the translation that I carried to Professor Anthon was copied from the plates.' 17
The case of Harris presented greater difficulties than that of the other two. His financial dealings with Smith; his loss of the one hundred and sixteen
his vision about noon time in an open pasture-there is only one explanation barring an actual miracle and that is this -- If that vision was not real it was HYPNOTISM, it was real to grandfather IN FACT.'
16 'Pearl of Great Price,' p. 102.
17 'Joseph the Seer,' pp. 57-8.
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pages of manuscript, and the revelation implying that he was in league with the devil, -- made him, for the time being, less susceptible to the revelators' influence. Yet Harris was by nature a good subject; he had always been a firm believer in dreams, visions, and supernatural appearances, such as apparitions and ghosts. 18 Five years before his death, an attack of vertigo was interpreted by him as 'a snare of the adversary to hinder him from going to Salt Lake City.' 19
With all this in view, it is interesting to watch how Smith approached one whose constitutional susceptibility was biased by a personal grudge. Three months before the vision took place there was 'A Revelation given to Joseph and Martin, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, when Martin desired of the Lord to know whether Joseph had, in his possession, the record of the Nephites.' 20 Not long
18 Clark, 'Gleanings,' p. 223.
19 Deseret Evening News, December 13, 1881. Interview of Edward Stevenson with One of the Three Witnesses. -- 'A very singular incident occurred at this time. While Martin was visiting his friends... his pathway crossed a large pasture, in which lie became bewildered, dizzy, faint, and staggering through the blackberry vines, his clothes torn, bloody and faint, he lay down under a tree to die. After a time be revived, called on the Lord, and finally at twelve midnight, found his friend.... He related this incident as a snare of the adversary to hinder him from going to Salt Lake City.'
20 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 4.
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after this occurred the loss of the manuscript, and the consequent rupture between the translator and his first scribe. But with the completion of the translation there came reconciliation and renewed expectancy. 'As soon as the Book of Mormon was translated,' narrates Mrs. Smith, 'we conveyed this intelligence to Martin Harris, for we loved the man, although his weakness had cost us much trouble. Hearing this, he greatly rejoiced, and determined to go straightway to Waterloo to congratulate Joseph upon his success.... The next morning, after attending to the usual services, namely, reading, singing, and praying, Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, "Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before your God this day, that you may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer."' 21
But with Martin the 'eye of faith' had not yet taken the place of the natural vision. As Whitmer says, 'Martin Harris was not with us this (first) time, but he obtained a view of them (the plates) afterwards, the same day.' 22 It was the going
21 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 138.
22 'Joseph the Seer,' p. 56.
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aside and praying over the third witness that delayed the return to the house until between three and four in the afternoon. Joseph then gave vent to his joy, saying, 'Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself.' 'Upon this,' adds Lucy, 'Martin Harris came in: he seemed almost overcome with joy, and testified boldly to what he had both seen and heard. And so did David and Oliver, adding, that no tongue could express the joy of their hearts, and the greatness of the things which they had both seen and heard.' 23
The final details of the transaction are obtained from the account of the chief actor. Joseph says in his History of the Church: --
'Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four, viz., Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain, by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promise given in the revelation -- that they should have a view of the plates, etc. We accordingly made choice of a piece of__________
23 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 139. For Harris, persistent belief compare Knight, p. 11: 'Martin Harris on his deathbed bore his testimony to the truth and divinity of the 'Book of Mormon,' a short time before be departed, and the last word he uttered when he could not speak the sentence, was, "Book! Book! Book!"'
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woods convenient to Mr. Whitmer's house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith to Almighty God to bestow upon us a realization of these promises. According to previous arrangements I commenced by vocal prayer to our heavenly Father, and was followed by each of the rest in succession. We did not, however, obtain any answer or manifestation of the divine favor in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer, each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation, but with the same result as before. Upon this, our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he should withdraw himself from us, believing, as he expressed himself, that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for; he accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above us in the air, of exceeding brightness: and behold, an angel stood before us; in his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of; he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discover the engravings thereon distinctly. He then addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said, "David, blessed is the Lord and he that keeps his commandments." When,immediately afterwards, we beard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, "These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of
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God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear." I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for, before we had yet finished, the same vision was open to our view, at least it was again to me, and I once more beheld and heard the same things, whilst at the same moment Martin Harris cried out, apparently in ecstasy of joy, "'Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld," and jumping up, he shouted "Hosannah," blessing God, and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly.' 24
Beneath these cryptic accounts, with their legendary accretions, it remains to discover the psychology of the Saints; to find to what degree the manifestations
24 Compare interview with David Whitmer in Kingston, Missouri, Times, December 27, 1887: -- (The plates) 'were shown to us in this way -- Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light more glorious than that of the sun. In the midst of this light, but a few feet from us, appeared a table, upon which were many golden plates.... I saw them as plain as I see you now, and distinctly heard the voice of the Lord declaiming that the records of the plates of the "Book of Mormon" were translated by the gift and the power of God.'
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are explicable on the grounds of subjective hallucination, induced by hypnotic suggestion. A closer scrutiny of the evidence will show how nearly it fills the various conditions demanded. But before that is undertaken, various traditions must be cleared away, especially certain occult assumptions and explanations of a generation ago. It was claimed of Smith that he possessed a 'fascination of glance,' and that he was 'a magnet in a large way.' 25 Brigham Young asserted the former, the electro-biologists the latter. The various upholders of these emanation theories ignored the fact that as spiritual head of his church, the prophet had untold influence over the bodies and souls of his devotees. Given then, such an influence, and sensitive subjects, and mental suggestion could produce anything in the way of illusion. Thus the explanation is subjective, not objective; it was captivation but not fascination; there was leader and led, and the former succeeded in inducing in the latter all the phantasmagoria of religious ardor. In the Kirtland frenzy and the Nauvoo excitement, the Saints had illusive images ranging from bears and wolves and scalping Indians, to concourses of angels and the New Jerusalem.
Again, the vision of the plates may be related in a larger way with what has gone before. Of the
25 New York Herald, May 2, 1842.
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three classes of hallucinations two have already been explicated. Joseph's father had the ordinary hallucination of dream; his grandfatherthatwhich persists into the waking state. The vision of the three witnesses is that form of hallucination which may occur either in the normal state, or be induced in the state of light hypnosis. The former is exemplified in day-dreams; it is largely self-induced and implies some capacity for visualizing. The latter may also occur with the eyes open, but it is induced by the positive suggestion of another.
But integrally connected with all this is the question whether, in the vision of the Records, the three subjects were conscious of an extra-mental impulse. Whitmer was once asked if he was in his usual condition of consciousness while he beheld the plates, and if he was sensible of surrounding objects. He refused to answer the inquiry. 26 This silence might connote a deep state of hypnosis, in which the subject is not aware that he has been hypnotized. But the loss of memory of the initial impulse is not the same as forgetfulness of the hallucination, as such. Amnesia does not occur in the light stages, nor need there be abnormality of memory in its three functions of retention, reproduction, and recognition of its ideas.
If the substantial agreement between the earliest
26 Stenhouse, p. 29.
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and latest testimonies of the witnesses meets the requirements of psychological reproduction, so does the original form of the hallucination. Association of ideas plays its leading part. As the hypnotized soldier will hear the voice of his old commander, or the devout French peasant see his patron Saint, so was it in these manifestations. The ideas and interests which were uppermost in the mind were projected outwards. Harris had received the first 'transcription of the gold plates;' Whitmer had been saturated with notions of ancient engravings; Cowdery, for weeks at a time, had listened to the sound of a voice translating the record of the Nephites. When that voice was again heard in the grove, when the four sought 'by fervent and humble prayer to have a view of the plates,' there is little wonder that there arose a psychic niirage, complete in every detail. Furthermore, the rotation in praying, the failure of the first two attempts, the repeated workings of the prophet over the doubting Harris, but serve to bring out the additional incentives to the hypnotic hallucination. Repetition, steady attention, absence of mistrust, self-surrender to the will of the principal, -- all the requisites are present, not as formulae but as facts. The variations in method were many, the results were one.
In a few days there followed the episode of the
JOSEPH THE OCCULTIST 229
eight witnesses.27 In their testit-nony, they claimed not only to have seen the plates, but to have handled and 'hefted' them. The bucolic phrases, properly interpreted, suggest both visual and tactual sense illusions. But other explanations should be glanced at before the psychological explanation is attempted. To peer into the wilderness of guesses is a waste of time, unless it shows the characteristic tendency to believe things without logical proof. Thus the credulity of the Mormons is evidenced by their irritation at the various surmises of the profane, -- from the no-plate theory repudiated by Mother Smith, 28 to the 'yellow-tin-plate-ventriloquist
27 'AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES. Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith hath translated, we did handle with our hands: and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and known of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen: and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
CHRISTIAN WHITMER, HIRAM PAGE,
JACOB WHITMER, JOSEPH SMITH, SEN.,
PETER WHITMER, JR., HYRUM SMITH,
JOHN WHITMER, SAMUEL H. SMITH.'
28 In the legal prosecution against Joseph in Lyons, N. Y., one witness 'declared that he once inquired of Joseph Smith
230 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
theory' derided by the reorganized Saints. 29 To finish the matter: there is a choice between two things. The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses is a pure fabrication. It is a document due to the affidavit habit. Like the slanderous manifestoes against the Smiths, this has the suspicious uniformity of a patent medicine testimonial.
The other alternative is that the Testimony of the Eight is a record of collective hypnotization. In form it might be either an hallucination or an illusion, -- the perception of an object where in reality there is nothing, or the false interpretation of some existing external object. 30 The possibility of collective hypnosis is shown by the numerous historic instances of contagious psychic epidemics, arising from religious fervor and an overstimulated imagination. 31 Even in modern time these have ranged from the more orderly visionary occurrences at Lourdes, to the Swedish 'preaching disease,' and its attendant hallucinatory mania. Whatever the phase, the eight witnesses formed a close psychic corporation, consisting of two family parties and one outsider.
what he had in that box, and Joseph Smith told him that there was nothing at all in the box, saying that he had made fools of the whole of them, and all he wanted was, to get Martin Harris' money away from him.'-- 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 134.
29 'Joseph the Seer,' p. 105.
30 For examples compare Moll, p. 106.
31 Compare Bernheim, pp. 13, 14; De Boismont, p. 238,
JOSEPH THE OCCULTIST 231
Although little is known of these Whitmers, and nothing of Page, it is certain that the abnormal religious influences of the times had rendered them more or less susceptible to suggestion. Given Joseph Smith, senior, as a nucleus of credulity, there may easily have happened here what happens under modern experimental methods of hypnosis, -- when persons endowed with a vivid power of representation are gathered together, 'by exchanging confidences, or by imparting their respective impressions, they reciprocally hallucinate each other.' 32
Smith's achievements as prophet, seer, and revelator have been explained on the basis of auto-hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion. The use of such terms is of course proleptic. A difficult problem now arises: What historic connection, if any, was there between the founder of Mormonism and those movements of his day which formed the antecedents of hypnotism?" Did he borrow from Swedenborgianism, Animal Magnetism, Spiritualism and other pseudo-scientific cults which swept over the country? To anticipate, -- the answer is negative. At the founding of the church, these movements were as yet below the horizon of the prophet,
32 Binet and Fere, p. 222.
33 Compare Joseph Jastrow, 'Fact and Fable in Psychology,' Boston, 1900, pp. 171-235.
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while his most mature theories were simple in the extreme. The true explanation must be connected with both ancestry and environment. As his progenitors took a prehistoric view of dreams, and his followers held to the savage's animistic conception of evil spirits, so Joseph's mental habit was most primitive. With him hypnosis was of the time-worn sort, the kind which was to be found in the witchcraft at Endor and the priestcraft at Ephesus. Incidentally if any paganism is to be found in Mormonism, it lies in this continuity of heathen thought, on the occult side. As for Smith himself, his case was sporadic, his achievements empirical, and his abnormal performances a resultant of a faith tinged with superstition. To his overwrought imagination, these appeared true apostolic gifts, -- trances, speaking with tongues, anointing with holy oil, and healing by prayer. 34
To bring the latter-day problem to a head: the historic points of attachment may be largely resolved into questions of place and time. This was an occult locality. Rochester, known as the 'Boston of the West,' was confessedly a 'hotbed of isms.' 35 Canandaigua, about ten miles from Joseph's home, was the early stamping ground of the Fox sisters, 36
34 Compare Parley p. Pratt, 'Persecutions,' Chapter v.
35 Parke, 'Rochester,' p. 267.
36 Compare 'Report of the Mysterious Noises at Hydesville, Canandaigua, April, 1848.'
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and the starting point of spiritualism proper. Along the Erie canal there had already spread an American variety of Mesmerism. The place was likely, but not the time. The spirit rappings did not begin until April, 1848; nor electromagnetism until the first workings of the electric telegraph in 1844.
But to take up the various alternate explanations in detail. There was the Supposition that Joseph Smith, like Swedenborg, was a seer-nature. 37 The suggested connection is not impossible. There was a convention of the American New Church, at Philadelphia in 1817. 38 Already a regularly ordained Swedenborgian missionary had traveled to the Western Reserve. 39 In the early thirties a volume of Swedenborg was in the possession of a Mormon convert. 40 Lastly, in the forties Smith himself, as an expert in sectarianism, was doubtless cognizant of the New Jerusalem Church; his Revelation on
37 'American Phrenological journal,' November, 1866, p. 146: -- Joseph like Swedenborg was a seer nature. It is more logical to believe him to have been an earnest religious leader, than to have been a non-believer in his own mission. Men never accomplish much when they have not unbounded faith in themselves and their call.... The fact that the astute mind of Brigham Young and those of many other remarkable and talented men, were fascinated by Joseph Smith is suggestive.... There was an infinite aim and purpose about the man, which was certainly very taking.'
38, Encyclopaedia Brittanica,' article Swedenborgianism.
39 Venable, p. 211.
40 Maria Ward, 'Fifteen Years Among the Mormons,' p. 17.
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Celestial Marriage has a formal likeness to parts of the Arcana Caelestia, while his Address to the Church, of September 6, 1842, enumerates these celestial messages: -- 'A voice of the Lord in the Wilderness of Fayette... the voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna.... the voice of Gabriel and of Raphael and of divers angels.' This reads like the ravings of Swedenborg, but in the Wilderness of Fayette the motley angels of the seer of Stockholm 41 had not yet made their appearance; Smith's celestial visitants were of the orthodox variety.
The second explanation of Smith's occultism was that he was a Mesmerist. This rests on the authority of a female apostate. By her the prophet is said to exclaim, 'I could transform my enemies to lifeless, senseless lumps of clay.... I could deprive them of their senses, or compel them to do my bidding, even to take their own lives.' 42 The force of this testimony is spoiled by exaggeration and also by an acknowledged difficulty of date, -- 'the mystery of it is, how Smith came to possess the knowledge of that magnetic influence, several years before its general circulation throughout the country.' Another untrustworthy female claims to know the exact source of Joseph's 'mysterious
41 Compare Immanuel Kant, 'Traume eines Geistersehers,' 1766.
42 Maria Ward, p. 25.
JOSEPH THE OCCULTIST 235
power.' It was Mrs. Bradish who said, 'Smith obtained his information, and learned all the strokes, and passes, and manipulations from a German peddlar. 43 The story is ingenious, but this was not true Mesmerism, for Mesmer did not use the peculiar, monotonous, long-continued passes. 44
Smith's power of fascination was, in the next place, attributed to a magnetic force, which permeated and radiated from his whole being. 45 A prominent statesman was averred to have held this view, after seeing Smith 'electrify' and cure a paralyzed arm. 46 The theory is interesting, but it over-explains. Joseph had immense influence long before this country was permeated by a distorted mesmerism. How the latter was imported into America is hard to say. After his downfall, Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism was indeed continued, but under another name; Petetins' work on animal electricity was published in 1808, but its historic influence was slight. 47 In France by its own excesses mesmerism had given itself a black eye. In England the efforts of two reputable physicians to introduce magnetism were unavailing. 48
43 Ward, p. 417.
44 Moll, p. 40.
46 G. Q. Cannon, 'Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet,' p. 323.
46 James A. Garfield, mentioned in 'History of the Church,' p. 91.
47 Jastrow, p. 195.
48 Namely Ashburner and Elliotson. Compare Moll, p. 14.
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No regular experimenter seems to have taken hold of the subject until Braid, in 1842, published his Satanic Agency and Mesmerism. 49 What the charlatans were doing in the meanwhile was but subterranean. judging from the scanty literary remains, 50 the movement must have got into America in the dark; at any rate its academic entry into New York State was late. It is said that Dr. Grimes, then a medical student in Buffalo, learned Mesmer's Parisian methods and applied them in a journey along the Erie canal. 51 The Fox sisters were especially susceptible and next year, in Canandaigua the 'Bethlehem of the Dispensation,' there came a message that 'a reformation was going on in the spirit world.' 52 These phenomena in their quasi-scientific form cannot be pushed back of the forties. It was in 1848 that the 'spirit-circles' began to spread over the land, 53 while Grimes' town hall lectures, on what he called electro-biology, were later than Braid's first work.
49 The work of 1852 borrowed the last part of its title from Grimes. Compare Braid, 'Magic, Witchcraft, Animal Magnetism, Hypnotism and Electro-Biology.'
50 In the 'Encyclopaedia Brittanica,' 22, 404, it is said that animal magnetism spread over America in 1848; no details are given as to its introduction. Binet and Fere and also Moll make Grimes independent of Braid.
51 For this suggestion I am indebted to Prof. Charles F. Bristol, of New York University.
52 Parke, p. 267.
53 Johnstone's 'Encyclopedia,' article Spiritualism by Robert Dale Owen.
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Finally attempts have been made to connect Smith with spiritualism of the Yankee variety. The allegations are so curious as to merit quotation. One of the cult says: 'the conclusions to which we have arrived are, that the Book of Mormon is to a very great extent, a spiritual romance, originating in the spiritual world, and that Joseph Smith was the medium, or the principal one, through whom it was given.' 54 A later writer is more eloquent: -- 'The spiritual beings who have originated our system announce a grander spiritual movement, one acting with all the power and the benefit of organization and unity. For this purpose Joseph Smith was raised up, mainly that he might gather an inspirational people, among whom such a system could in due time be founded.... Joseph Smith was raised up to prepare the way for the establishment of a central spiritual power which, when fully developed, shall sweep all that there is valuable in spiritualism within its ample folds, taking its highest order of seers, its prophets, its spiritual healers.' 55 It is true that Joseph, like the spiritualists, had his beliefs in possession and obsession, but they were of the good old ecclesiastical sort, while his revelation of Celestial Marriage in 1844,
54 Tiffany's Monthly, May, 1859.
55 E. L. T. Harrison, 'The Church of Zion; or the Question, Is it Spiritualism?' 1870.
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antedated by a decade the prosaic free-love doctrine of the degenerate 'Rochester rappers.' 56
To sum up: even at the time of Smith's death, official spiritualism was beyond his ken. Yet there were forerunners of the movement, which may have affected the young man. Thus there was a confessed likeness between the spiritualists and the primitive Ouakers, who 'also believed in manifestations through outward voices and appearances, through dreams, and through inward spiritual impressions.' Such a comparison furnishes the real clue in Joseph's case, 57 not because his family had a chance acquaintance with the Friends, 58 but because of the religious primitiveness common to the minor sects. Quakers, Primitive Baptists, Restorationers and Latter-day Saints, all hoped for the return of apostolic gifts. A Mormon elder might speak of being a 'medium of communication and intelligence' 59 but only in the scriptural sense; the prophet himself might receive revelations, but it was as the 'mouth-piece of the Lord.' At first he was far from being an 'exponent of the spiritual philosophy of the
56 Compare Margaretta Fox, 'The Love Life of Dr. Kane.'
57 Compare Eugene Crowell, 'The Identity of Primitive Christianity and Modern Spiritualism.'
58 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 160. Compare also Parke, p. 267, where it is said that the first message of the Fox sisters was in the Quaker Jargon.
59 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 684.
JOSEPH THE OCCULTIST 239
nineteenth century;' 60 in fact he was rather cautious in interpreting messages from the other world. To an anxious seeker after the interpretation of a trance communication, he gave but a general answer. 61 This was in 1833; ten years later, it is true, there is a 'philosophical' passage with some resemblance to the teachings of the spiritualists, but the precise style and the nice distinctions point to another Source. This crass materialism came from Orson Pratt, the 'gauge of philosophy,' father of Mormon metaphysics and author of The Abstirdities of Immaterialism. 62 Joseph's presentation is as follows: --
60 The sub-title of the Spiritualists' organ, The Banner of Light.
61 F. G. Bishop, An Address,' 1851, p. 25. , A certain vision which I saw in a state of trance in 1826. It was on a Saturday evening, anti on the 7th of May, as I was retired in the forest and engaged in solemn prayer to God, that I suddenly became insensible to anything around me on earth, and yet I was fully alive to the scenes before me. I seemed to stand on air and surrounded with spirits, yet none of these seemed plainly visible. There appeared three persons, they fixed their eyes upon me and smiled so that I was in a perfect ecstasy. It seemed as if a power rested upon my head which pervaded my entire person. At the same instant this wonderful personage disappeared, and I again returned to consciousness in the body as before, deeply pondering on this extraordinary vision. When I first saw the three persons, I knew they were angels. This vision was pronounced by Joseph the Prophet in 1833, a holy vision from God, but he said he did not know its meaning. Now I have been instructed this is its signification. The three angels are the three Nephites.'
62 Compare p. 23: -- 'That spiritual bodies are capable of condensation, is evident from the fact of their occupying the small bodies of infants. The spirits of just men, who have departed from
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In tracing the thing to the foundation, and looking at it philosophically we shall find a very material difference between the body and the spirit: -- the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit by many is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ -- and state that spirit is a substance, that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic, and refined matter than the body; -- that it existed before the body, can exist in the body, and will exist seperate from the body.' 63__________
the fleshly tabernacle, have been seen by the inspired writers; and from their description of them, we should not only judge them to be of the same fort)z, but likewise of about the same size as man in this life. These departed spirits, then, which are about the same magnitude as men in the flesh, once occupied infant bodies. There are only two methods by which to account for their increase in magnitude; one is by an additional quantity of spiritual matter, being gradually and continually incorporated in the spiritual body, by which its magnitude is increased in the same way and in the same proportion as the fleshly body is increased. And the other is by its elasticity or expansive properties by which it increases in size, as the tabernacle of flesh and bones increases, until it attains to its natural magnitude, or until its expansive and cohesive properties balance each other, or are in a state of equilibrium.'
63 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 745. Compare E.W. Cox, 'Spiritualism Answered by Science,' New York, 1872, p. 46: -- The theory of the spiritualists: -- 'Man, they say, is composed of body, mind, and spirit. A blow will extinguish the mind, and the body inhabited by the spirit may continue to live. When the body dies, the spirit which occupied it in life passes into a new existence, in which, as it was here, it is surrounded by conditions adapted to its structure as a being which by earthly senses is deemed immaterial because impalpable to them, but which is really very refined matter. Into this new existence it passes precisely as it left the present life,
JOSEPH THE OCCULTIST 241
Only occasionally, did the prophet, seer and revelator essay to be a philosopher; at such times he was a mystic rather than a materialist, and his views savored more of the sects than of the schools. For example, the Irvingites, who claimed to be sacred mediums of cot-nmunication between heaven and earth, once came to express sympathy with the Mormons for their belief in the restoration of primitive gifts. 64 Smith scouted their achievements, and linked with them the strange performances of the two Campbells in Scotland. 65 This was but two years before the prophet's death; his outlook had broadened, but not his way of looking at psychic phenomena. His very language betrayed more of the medieval than the modern. As final proof that he had but the remotest connection with the crude ontologies of his generation, two examples may be taken, one his so-called tests of supernatural messengers, 66 the other his editorial entitled, 'Try
taking with it the mental, but not the bodily, characteristics it had on earth, so far as these are adapted to the altered conditions of that new existence. The intellect is enlarged to the extent only of the increased power of obtaining intelligence necessarily resulting from exemption from the laws of gravitation and the conditions of time and space that limit the powers of the spirit while it is in the flesh."
64 McClintock and Strong, 'Encyclopedia,' article Mormonism.
65 'Times and Seasons,' 2, 746.
66 Cannon, p. 404.
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the Spirits.' 67 The first was meant for his worried devotees. 'If an angel,' he says, 'shakes hands and you can feel his hand, all is well; if he is the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will not move; if he is the devil, as an angel of light, you cannot feel his hand.' 68 This was meant for home consumption;
67 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 744-6.
68 Compare also Smith in Millennial Star, 17, 312: -- 'We are to try the spirits and prove them, for it is often the case that men make a mistake in regard to these things. God has so ordained that when He has communicated, no vision is to be taken but what you see by the seeing of the eye, or what you hear by the hearing of the ear. When you see a vision, pray for the interpretation; if you get not this, shut it up; there must be certainty in this matter. An open vision will manifest that which is more important. Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true. Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances. An angel of God never has wings. Some will say that they have seen a spirit; that he offered them his hand, but they did not touch it. This is a lie. First, it is contrary to the plan of God; a spirit cannot come but in glory; an angel has flesh and bones; we see not their glory. The devil may appear as an angel of light. Ask God to reveal it; if it be of the devil he will flee from you; if of God, he will manifest himself or make it manifest. We may come to Jesus and ask Him; He will know all about it; if He comes to a little child He will adapt Himself to the language and capacity of a little child. Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God. The devil is an orator; be is powerful; be took our Saviour on to a pinnacle of the temple and kept Him in the wilderness for forty days. The gift of discerning of spirits will be given to the Presiding Elder. Pray for him that he may have this gift. Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues; the adversary will come with his work; he can tempt all classes; can speak in English or Dutch. Let no one speak in
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the editorial, of April ist, 1842, was directed to the public: --
'Recent events compel me to say something about the spirits. One great evil is that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government, intelligence, etc., and imagine that when there is anything like power, revelation, or vision manifested that it must be of God: -- hence the Methodists, Presbyterians, and others frequently possess a spirit that will cause them to lay down, and during its operation animation is frequently entirely suspended; they consider it to be the power of God, and a glorious manifestation from God; a manifestation of what? -- is there any intelligence communicated? are the curtains of heaven withdrawn, or the purposes of God developed? -- have they seen and conversed with an angel; or have the glories of futurity burst upon their view? No! but their body has been inanimate, the operation of their spirit suspended, and all the intelligence that can be obtained from them when they arise, is a shout of glory, or hallelujah, or some incoherent expression; but they have had "the power." The Shaker will whirl around on his heel impelled by a supernatural agency, or spirit, and think that he is governed by the spirit of God; and the jumper will jump, and enter into all kinds of extravagancies, a Primitive__________
tongues unless he interpret, except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside; then he may discern or interpret, or another may.'
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Methodist will shout under the influence of that spirit until he will rend the heavens with his cries; while the Quakers, (or Friends) move as they think by the spirit of God, will sit still and say nothing.'
[ 247 ]
Before considering the 'great manifestations of spirits' among the Latter-day Saints, it is desirable to note some of the outward and visible signs of growth, some of the causes of success, and some of the records and documents of the organization.
'We review his career, and behold him from the poor, despised visionary of Manchester, rising in the short space of fifteen years, to the presidency of a church numbering not less than 200,000 Souls.' 1 A gentile visitor at Nauvoo, in 1844, thus eulogized the prophet. His statement was welcomed by the Mormons as proof of their divine origin; for all that their spread was truly remarkable. In the Middle West they had their struggle for existence; the Church was persecuted, its founder killed. Then began the wholesale emigration under Brigham Young. Unusual executive ability was displayed in this flight of the Mormon tribe, and astonishing fortitude in crossing the Rockies and the alkali
1 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 589.
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plains. At last, in the far West there came a chance for unrestricted development. In a secluded valley of Utah the polygamous Saints attached themselves to the soil, and increased with the rapidity of an isolated germ culture. As a bit of historical pathology, the growth of Mormondom is unique and merits thorough investigation. But since a biographical study deals, perforce, with inward causes and individual origins, it is necessary to return to the infant church, as it was affected by the personality of its founder.
Mormonism contained, from the start, the elements of denominational success. In the first place, no other American sect could point to a Bible of its own manufacture. As the Latter-day poet exclaimed: 'embalmed records, plates of gold, glorious things to us unfold. 2 But the acceptance of the Book was due to more than the archaic embellishments of the author. It is the old story of a territory already prepared. The locality, where Joseph brought forth the 'ancient engravings of Nephi,' was the locality where the Cardiff giant hoax was perpetrated. But although first readers of the Book of Mormon were credulous, they had a patriotic streak in their archaeological interests. As Oliver Cowdery said 'a history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered
2 'Times and Seasons,' 2, 421.
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to Europeans by Columbus must be interesting to every man. 3
Another element of success was that no other native sect had revelations in such profusion and in such business-like form. As compiled in the Book of Commandments these form the rarest of all original Mormon sources, 4 and, at the same time, the most valued of their inspired writings. It is the Book of Mormon 'backed up' by this 'other book taken to the Lamanites' that forms the real Mormon Canon. 5 As the prophet queried: 'Take away the Book of Mormon and the Revelations, and where is our religion?' 6 As another
3 Cowdery, p. 28. Compare 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 152. Joseph's young brother Samuel, being 'set apart on a mission to sell the books,' asked his customers if they did not wish to purchase a history of the origin of the Indians.'
4 Sabin, 'Bibliotheca Americana,' 12, 384, says this book was never published. There is a copy in the Berrian Collection. The copy here used is the Salt Lake Tribune reprint of 1884.
5 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 762.
6 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 1060. Compare preface to first edition of 4 Doctrine and Covenants,' 1835: -- 'We deem it to be unnecessary to entertain you with a lengthy preface to the following volume, but merely to say that it contains in short the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe. The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of lectures as delivered before a theological class in this place, and, in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work.... There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving anything purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many creeds now extant; but if men believe a system
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curiosity of Mormon literature the history of this volume may be briefly sketched. Joseph's youthful prophecies have been preserved only in the narrative of his mother; but the vaticinations of the year 1829 proved so successful, that they were thought worth preserving; so on April 6th, 1830, there came this revelation: 'Behold there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt be a seer, a translator, a prophet.' 7 Within a score of weeks the prophet created a monopoly of oracular responses, -- 'no one shalt be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph.' 8
The Book of Commandments comprises fifty-five chapters and runs to September, 1831. The council ordered that three thousand copies be printed in the first edition. David Whitmer says that he warned Smith and Rigdon against this, 'for the world would get hold of the books and it would not do.' He adds that, from the time some of the copies slipped through the hands of the unwise brethren, the ill-feeling against the saints increased. 9 Whether this is true
and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly the more intelligibly they can present it the better.... We have, therefore, endeavored to present, though in few words, our belief, and, when we say this, humbly trust the faith and principles of this society as a body.'
7 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 22.
8 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 30.
9 'Address,' p. 55.
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or not, on July 20th, 1833, the Mormon printing office in Independence, Missouri, was torn down by the mob, but not before the book was completed. 10
The relation of this supplementary brochure to the Book of Mormon has been compared with that of the Talmud to the Old Testament. 11 The comparison is too dignified. The Mormon theocratic code, such as it was, is here presented, but there is besides a welter of undefinable utterances. The Gemara added to the Mishna gives no idea of this curious mixture of religion and business.
The Book of Commandments is, in part, a book of discipline, wherein the 'Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ' are given at length. 12 But the
10 'Handbook of Reference,' p. 42. The Berrian Sale Catalogue makes this contradictory statement: -- 'This book was never published, nor even completed. Only two copies are known. The sheets were destroyed by a Missouri mob, etc. For a lengthy description of this rare book see Chas. L. Woodward's "Bibliography on Mormonism.'
11 McClintock and Strong, article 'Mormonism.'
12 Chapter 24. Compare also chapter 20: -- 'It shall be the duty of the several churches composing the church of Christ, to send one or more of their teachers to attend the several conferences held by the elders of the church. With a list of the names of the several members uniting themselves with the church since the last conference, or send by the hand of some priest, so that a regular list of all the names of the whole church may be kept in the book by one of the elders, whoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time.'
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pamphlet offers not only rules of action, but food for thought; in addition to the duties of the Elders or of the Seventies, there are scattered throughout rare bits of scriptural interpretation. An entire alphabet of mystic exegesis is here set forth, from Aaronic Priesthood, Baptism for the Dead, Celestial glory and the Devil before Adam, down to Questions and Answers on the Apocalypse. Thus in its confusion of contents the work has a general semblance to Joseph's former monument of misplaced energy. Its biographical and personal character is also evident from the author's communings with himself. Yet the book is not merely a private journal, it is a sort of public ledger -as the church increased, the prophet opens up an account with each new member. There were in particular celestial orders upon converts with cash; thus: 'My servant Martin should be an example to the church in laying his moneys before the bishop of the church, and my servant Edward should leave his merchandise and spend all his time in the labors of the church.' 13
The names of the ecclesiastical customers were not given in full in the first instance; it is the change towards particularity that denotes the emended edition of the Book of Commandments. The revamped and enlarged edition is entitled The Doctrine and
13 'Book of Commandments,' Chapters 49 and 43.
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Covenants. 14 It consists, for the most part, of revelations to Joseph Smith, junior, 'for the building up of the Kingdom of God in the last days;' it also contains an account of I the martyrdom of the prophet,' and lastly the 'Word and will of the Lord given through President Brigham Young, January 14th, 1847.' The Commandments and the Covettants together give an external history of the Church, while the material alterations of the former into the latter betray some of the state secrets. As usual, many hundred emendations have been discovered. 13 One instance is enough to disclose the trend of these changes; their mercantile purpose is to be seen from a single italicized word. A revelation was given in July, 1830, to the prophet's wife. The first edition reads: 'Emma thou art an elect lady and thou needest not fear, for thy husband shalt support thee from the Church;' 16 the second edition reads: 'thy husband shalt support thee in the Church.' 17
14 The edition here employed is that I divided into verses, with references,' by Orson Pratt, senior, Salt Lake City, 1883. The revelations from July, 1828, through September, 1831, are, however, quoted from the 'Book of Commandments.'
15 Charles L. Woodward, of New York City, has arranged the two books in the deadly parallel column. Thus the words in italics have been added, in the following revelation to Joseph: 'And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded you that you should pretend to no other gift, until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant Onto you no other gift until it is 'finished.'
16 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 26.
17 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sec. 25.
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So much for the significance of the documents. With the Book of Mormon printed and the Book of Commandments started, Mormonism had both canonical and prophetical elements of success. The further causes of its spread may be regarded in so far as they are common to both founder and follower. The hardest thing to grasp in the entire propaganda is that curiously narrow attitude of mind which regarded this as the ushering in, not of a mere new denomination, but of a new dispensation. Perhaps the first thing to appeal to the dissatisfied religionist was the prophet's announcement of a 'plain and simple gospel.' 18 As previous analysis has shown, complexity and not simplicity was the mark of Joseph's doctrine. But to minds whose distinctions comprised no differences, this very confusion was effective. As a magazine of mixed proof texts the Book of Mormon appealed to all sects. To paraphrase the words of Benjamin Franklin, -- the author's heterodoxy was everybody's orthodoxy. So in spite of all the talk about liberality, 19 this unsectarian society was only another sect in process of formation. Its principles were grand enough, but its beginnings were very small. There were eleven
18 This phrase begins in the 'fore part' of the 'Book of Mormon' and runs throughout Smith's writings.
19 For a general tirade against the sects see 'Book of Mormon' p. 566: 'O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, etc.' Compare also 'Pearl of Great Price,' p. 102.
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witnesses to the Record, but only six charter members of the Church. 20 That 'Church of Christ,' as yet without the full title of Latter-day Saints, was organized, according to law, in Fayette, New York, on April 6th, 1830. From that time, says the prophet, the work 'rolled forth with astonishing rapidity.' 21
Of the mental calibre of Joseph's fellow-workers something more must be said, -- something to explain the paradox of their making puny Mormonism equivalent to a new dispensation. An ethical traveler in America remarked that strong interest in religion was popularly held to mean conversion to a
20 'Handbook of Reference,'p. 39: , Names of members: Joseph Smith, junior, O. Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith and David Whitmer. When the Church was organized, the first public ordinations to the Melchisdek Priesthood took place. Hands were also laid on for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and for the confirmation of members of the Church, and the sacrament was administered for the first time.'
21, Times and Seasons,' 3, 708. Compare Cowdery, p. 40: 'Many of the elders of Christ's church have since been commissioned and sent forth over this vast Republic, from river to river, and from valley to valley, till the vast sunny plains of Missouri, the frozen regions of Canada, and the eastern Maine, with the summer States of the South, have been saluted with the sound of the voice of those who go forth for the last time to say to Israel, Prepare for the coming of thy King. Wonderful to tell! Amid the frowns of bigots, the sneers of hypocrites, the scoffs of the foolish, the calumny of slanderers, the ridicule of the vain and the popular prejudice of a people estranged from God, urged on to deeds of villainy by the priests of Baal, the word has been proclaimed with success, and thousands are now enjoying the benign influence of the love of God shed forth by the Comforter upon the pure in heart.'
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particular creed. 22 Such is only a general explanation of the particular fallacy of taking a part for the whole. More precise reasons are to be found. The leanness of understanding in the first believers was to be expected from the poor food their wits were fed on. The blame was not wholly theirs but lay upon their spiritual guides. The education of the backwoods clergy did not extend beyond the elements of a common English education. 23 The most influential class of preachers, the Methodists, relying on the advice of Wesley, gloried in a 'saddle bags' education." It is unjust to disparage the itinerant missionaries who, for the sake of their religion, forded icy rivers and penetrated dark forests. This was the van of the army, there were also the camp followers, -- the sectarian adventurers whom the settled clergy roundly denounced as 'evangelists destitute of classical and theological furniture, of feeble natural abilities, boisterous, vulgar, irreverent, fanatical.' 24 These were the men behind the revivalistic excesses, and yet the people came miles to hear them, hanging on their words day after day, forgetting the cares of business and the very wants of the body. 25
22 Martineau, 2, 326.
23 Thompson, p. 186.
24 John Atkinson, 'Centennial History of American Methodism,' 1884, p. 143. Compare supplement to Millennial Star, 14, 319.
25 Hotchkin, p. 172.
26 De Tocqueville, 2, 161.
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The eagerness of the people to hear something new and strange was matched by the opposition of the older churches. As Joseph's mother said, even before the Book of Mormon was printed, 'the different denominations are very much opposed to us.' 27 All this fostered the rise of new sects; for the persecution of the larger bodies aroused the spirit of the smaller.
The pride of the sectary, the search for novelty, and mental impoverishment were some of the natural reasons magnifying the importance of the Mormon cult in the eyes of its votaries. In addition there were abnormal forces at work; as Joseph described the matter: --
'Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of revelation, and prophesy, and began to preach as the spirit gave them utterance, and though weak, yet were they strengthened by the power of God, and many were brought to repentance, were immersed in the water, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of bands. They saw visions and prophesied, devils were cast out and the sick healed by the laying on of hands.' 28
It is here that Smith added to his previous claims the function of exorcist. His clever opportunism was shown in the natal month of the church. In April, I830, says the official chronicle, 'the devil
27 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 146.
28 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 708.
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was cast out of Newel Knight through the administration of Joseph Smith, junior, in Colesville, Broom County, New York. This was the first miracle which was done in this Church, or by any member of it, and it was not done by men nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and the power of godliness.' 29
There now begins a series of performances seemingly out of place in nineteenth century America, -- the Salem witchcraft of a century and a half before reappears in the western wilds. There was the same belief in demoniac possession, the same class of neurotic and hysterical sufferers, the same clerical zeal in making capital out of the preternatural. Fortunately Joseph Smith was not a reincarnation of Cotton Mather. The severest mania took place under another's auspices, and, possibly from motives of jealousy, Smith did what he could to suppress this 'work of the Devil.'
The preconditions of the first 'miracle' were like those of the previous abnormalities. Reaction brought belief. As fast as apostolic 'gifts' were denied by the orthodox, the Latter-day Saints affirmed their restoration. Such mental habit was found in the first Mormon demoniac. 'By reading and searching the Bible,' says Newel Knight, 'I found that there would be a great falling away from
29 'Handbook of Reference,' p. 40.
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the gospel, as preached and established by Jesus; that in the last days God would set His hand to restore that which was lost.' 30 Soon after hearing the first public gospel sermon of this dispensation," and while in a state of mental and physical prostration, Knight was attacked by the 'power of Satan' and underwent 'curious actions while thus afflicted.' 31 Smith himself tells how he met the crisis: --
I went, and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner, his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine, and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment and tossed about most fearfully. His situation was soon made known to the neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with very great earnestness required of me that I should cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew that he was in him, and that he also knew I could cast him out. I replied, "If you know that I can, it shall be done," and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him, when immediately Newell spoke out and said that he saw the__________
30 'Journal,' p. 48.
31 'Handbook of Reference,' p. 40.
32 'Journal,' p. 50.
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devil leave him, and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle that was done in this church.'
Of the therapeutic aspect of this case more will be said later. As the history of obsession shows, it is the exorcist's mental suggestion, conscious or unconscious, that effects these 'miraculous cures.' As regards the psychic state of the patient, the presence of an hallucinatory image was afterwards admitted by Knight himself: Being 'cross-examined as to the devil cast out, I said to the lawyer " it will be of no use for me to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight and spiritually discerned, and of course you would not understand if I were to tell you of it."' 33
The highly neurotic condition of the young body of believers was manifest in the first conference of the Church, a month later, -- 'many prophesied, others had the heavens opened to their view.' In the nature of things the prophet did not lose the advantage of the Saints' I unspeakable joy.' As Knight recounts, 'to find ourselves engaged in the very same order of things as were observed and practiced by the holy apostles of old, combined to create within fresh zeal and energy in the cause of truth, and also to confirm our faith in Joseph Smith being the instrument in the hands of God, to restore
33 'Journal,' p. 60.
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the Priesthood again to man on earth and to set up the Kingdom of God.' 34
Six months after this came the Kirtland frenzy, when many were 'strangely handled by the spirits.' It must be said that Smith did what he could to suppress the spasmodic attacks. But the people looking on the ecstasy as a 'sign,'the indirect results were of prime importance in the growth of the Church. A backbone was now put into the flabby embryo. One hundred members were added to the struggling Church and, more than all, there was brought on the scene the Reverend Sidney Rigdon, the so-called brains of Mormonism. 35
34 'Journal,' pp. 52, 53.
35 Compare Appendix III. The following account of Rigdon is compiled from 'Times and Seasons,' 1, 135-6; 2, 429; 5, 6I2, 650-739; 6, 899. Compare also this hitherto unpublished holograph letter, from the Berrian Collection: -- 'Friendship, Alleghany County, New York, May 25, 1873, We are fourscore years old and seriously afflicted with paralysis.... The Lord notified us that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were agoing to be destroyed and for us to leave we did so and the Smiths were killed a few days after we started. Since then I have had no connection with any of the people who staid and built up to themselves churches, and chose to themselves leaders such as they chose and then framed their own religion.
The Church of Latter-day Saints had three books that they acknowledge as Canonical. The Bible the book of Mormon and the commandments. For the existence of that church there had to be a revelator one who received the word of the Lord. A spokesman one inspired of God to expound all revelation so that the church might all be of one faith. Without these two men the Church of Latter-day saints could not exist. This order ceased
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A brief history of the latter is called for. An ex-Campbellite preacher and founder of a communistic body in Ohio, Rigdon was deemed learned in history and literature, and gifted in his flowery eloquence. He was first received with open arms by Smith, but became later 'a millstone on his back,' and was finally shaken off in 1843. If the Mormon accounts are further to be believed, Rigdon was the stormy petrel of the Church; -- where he was, there was trouble. It was a Fourth-of-July oration of his that roused to fury 'the uncircumcised Philistines of Missouri.' As to Rigdon's undue influence over Smith much might be said on both sides. 36 On the
to exist, being overcome by the violence of armed men by whom houses were beat down by cannon which the assalents had furnished themselves with.
Thus ended the , Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it never can move again till the Lord inspires men and women to do it.'
36 Whitmer, p. 35: -- 'In December, 1830, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came from Kirtland, Ohio, to Fayette, New York, to see Brother Joseph, and in the latter part of the winter they returned to Kirtland. In February, 1831, Brother Joseph came to Kirtland where Rigdon was. Rigdon was a thorough Bible scholar, a man of fine education, and a powerful orator. He soon worked himself deep into Brother Joseph's affections, and had more influence over him than any other man living. He was Brother Joseph's private counsellor, and his most intimate friend and brother for some time after they met. Brother Joseph rejoiced, believing that the Lord had sent to him this great and mighty man Sidney Rigdon, to help him in the work. Poor Brother Joseph! He was mistaken about this, and likewise all of the brethren were mistaken; for we thought at that time just as Brother Joseph did
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one hand, Joseph announced that Sidney was the messenger 'sent to prepare the way 'before him, and not long after he ordained him prophet, seer and revelator. On the other hand, in 1841, Rigdon was ordered by revelation, to stay in Nauvoo; while in 1844, in the trial before the council, Smith openly charged him with 'wallowing in filthiness and corruption.' On expulsion from the Church, Rigdon withdrew to Pittsburg and published an anti-Mormon paper, the Messenger and Advocate of the Church of Christ.
In comparing the two men, a friend of both said that Rigdon I did not possess the native intellect of Smith, and lacked his determined Will.' 37 There is, furthermore, reason for believing that Rigdon was mentally unsound. In old age, he writes that he
about it. But alas! in a few years we found out different. Sidney Rigdon was the cause of almost all the errors which were introduced while he was in the church. I believe Rigdon to have been the instigator of the secret organization known as the 'Danites' which was formed in Far West Missouri in June, 1838. In Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831, Rigdon would expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and 'Book of Mormon' (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine and that doctrine, and of course a revelation would always come just as they desired it. Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day. He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires.'
37 Burnett, p. 67.
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was afflicted with paralysis; in boyhood, his brother said that he was injured in the head by falling from a horse; in 1832, long before their ecclesiastical partnership was dissolved, Smith described Rigdon as 'delereous.' On March 25th, the two had been'severely mobbed' in Hiram, Ohio. 'The next morning,'narrates the prophet, 'I went to see Elder Rigdon, and found him crazy, and his head highly inflamed, for they had dragged him by his heels, and those too, so high from the earth he could not raise his head from the rough frozen surface which lascerated it exceedingly.' In 1840 Rigdon wrote 'my attendant physician has forbid my using any exertions, either mental or physical, as it will endanger my life.' Rigdon's erratic tendencies were cast in his teeth by his colleagues. Orson Hyde thus apostrophized him, in 1844: 'Mr. Rigdon, do you not remember how you came into a certain council about the 1st of April or latter part of March last, that had been organized by Joseph Smith; and also how you danced and shouted, and threw your feet so high that you came well nigh falling backwards upon the stove? Certainly you must remember this; for you frothed at the mouth like a mad man, and gave glory to God so long and loud that you became entirely hoarse and exhausted.' Whatever judgment may be passed on Rigdon morally, mentally his character was one of extremes
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and, as such, had an abnormal influence on early Mormondom; as Bishop Whitmer put it: 'He was always either in the bottom of the cellar or up in the garret window. At the time his license was taken in Kirtland he was more sanguine than he is now. The people were excited very much at that time.'
From all sides it is clear that Rigdon was the moving spirit in the Kirtland frenzy; but there were also deeper underlying causes at work; before considering these, a description of the trouble is needful. Rigdon's colleague, Parley Pratt, another influential Mormon convert, gives this account: -- 'As I went forth among the different branches some very strange spiritual operations were manifested, which were disgusting rather than edifying. Some persons would seem to swoon away, and make unseemly gestures, and be drawn or disfigured in their countenances. Others would fall into ecstasies, and would be drawn into contortions, cramps, fits, etc. Others would seem to have visions and revelations, which were not edifying, which were not congenial to the doctrine and spirit of the gospel. In short, a false and lying spirit seemed to be creeping into the Church.' 38
A general reason for these phenomena was the ubiquitous revival. In New York State the condition
38 'Autobiography,' p. 65.
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of the audience at the protracted meetings is described as a condition of panic. 39 In the West about 1800 the movement was more widespread and more severe. ' It was not confined to one denomination,' says the historian, 'even phlegmatic New England Presbyterians of the Reserve were influenced.' 40 Matters went so far that the convulsions were popularly classified into the falling, jerking, rolling and dancing varieties. The commonest state was one of ecstasy, a loss of muscular power and of consciousness of external objects like protracted catalepsy. The most alarming manifestation was the 'jerking exercise' in which several hundred of both sexes were seized with involuntary contortions, while their bodies hurried over fallen trunks or pews and benches. No one restrained them, for restraint was thought to be resisting the Spirit of God. The spasms were involuntary, because 'wicked men would be seized while guarding against them and cursing every jerk.' 41 Such were the more remote causes of the later mania, for, in the same place, the same conditions were aroused by the frenzied preaching of Rigdon.
What occurred in 1830 was stranger than the events of a generation before. An account of an eyewitness presents the whole gamut of abnormal
39 According to Prof. W. H. Brewer of Vale University.
40 Howe, p. 189.
41 Howe, p. 189.
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psychology: 42 --
'On the conversion of Rigdon, a most successful starting point was thought to have been obtained. Cowdery and his associates then began to develop the peculiarities of the new imposition. Scenes of the most wild, frantic and horrible fanaticism ensued. They pretended that the power of miracles was about to be given to all those who embraced the new faith, and commenced communicating the Holy Ghost, by laying their hands upon the heads of the converts, which operation, at first produced an instantaneous prostration of body and mind. Many would fall upon the floor, where they would lie for a long time, apparently lifeless. Thus they continued these enthusiastic exhibitions for several weeks. The fits usually came on, during or after their prayer meetings, which were held nearly every evening.-The young men and women were more particularly subject to this delirium. They would exhibit all the apish actions imaginable, making the most ridiculous grimaces, creeping upon their hands and feet, rolling upon the frozen__________
42 Ezra Booth's Letters to the Rev. Ira Eddy from Nelson, Portage County, Ohio, September, 1831; published in the Ohio Star. These letters were quoted by E. D. Howe whose book I Mormonism Unveiled,' was attacked by Smith in 'Times and Seasons,' Volume III. But the letters, although written by an 'Ex-Mormon' have never been impeached, since this account was corroborated by the prophet himself. Compare 'Biographical Sketchcs,' p. 17', etc.
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ground, go through with all the Indian modes of warfare, such as knocking down, scalping, ripping open and tearing out the bowels. At other times, they would run through the fields, get upon stumps, preach to imaginary congregations, enter the water and perform all the ceremony of baptizing, etc. Many would have fits of speaking all the different Indian dialects, which none could understand. Again, at the dead hour of night, the young men might be seen running over the fields and hills in pursuit, as they said, of the balls of fire, lights, etc., which they saw moving through the atmosphere.' 43
The rest of the account may be condensed, for the subsequent 'spiritual phenomena' -- less violent than these, took place under Smith's own auspices. There was first 'the gift of tongues,' -- unconscious articulations declared by Joseph to be 'the pure Adamic,' 44 but by an old trapper to be snatches of Indian dialects." There was next the 'gift of
43 Booth said these accounts were from his own observations in the Western Reserve or from testimonies of persons who still adhered to Mormonism. - Letter III.
44 Cannon, p. 17.
45 'We will first notice the gifts of tongues, exercised by some when carried away in the spirit. These persons were apparently lost to all surrounding circumstances, and wrapt up in the contemplation of things, and in communication with persons not present. They articulated soiinds, which but few present professed to understand; and those few declared them to be the Indian language. A merchant, who had formerly been a member of the Methodist society, observed be bad formerly traded with the Indians, and he knew it to be their dialect.'
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interpretation,' 46 -- carried away in the spirit the subject would profess to read the Bible in different languages. There was also the 'gift of prophecy,' -- mounted on a stump the ecstatic would fancy themselves haranguing their red brethren, and would imitate the Indian in look and manner. Finally there were alleged acts of clairvoyance, -- young men would pretend to read celestial messages on the palms of their hands and the lids of their Bibles.' 47
46 Booth's Letters: -- 'Being myself present on one of these occasions, a person proffered his services as my interpreter, and translated these sounds to me which were unintelligible, into the English language. One individual could read any chapter of the Old or New Testament, in several different languages. This was known to be the case by a person who professed to understand those languages. In the midst of this delirium they would, at times, fancy themselves addressing a congregation of their red brethren; mounted on a stump, or the fence, or from some elevated situation, would harangue their assembly until they had convinced or converted them. They would then lead them into the water, and baptize them, and pronounce their sins forgiven. In this exercise, some of them actually went into the water; and in the water, performed the ceremony used in baptizing. These actors assumed the visage of the savage, and so nearly imitated him, not only in language, but in gestures and actions, that it seemed the soul and body were completely metamorphosed into the Indian. No doubt was then entertained but that was an extraordinary work of the Lord, designed to prepare these young men for the Indian mission.'
47 Booth's Letters: -- 'Before these scenes fully commenced, however, Cowdery had departed for the country inhabited by the Indians, with the expectation of converting them to Christianity by means of his new Bible, and miracles which he was to perform among them. These pretensions appeared to have
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Another apostate, eight years an elder among the Mormonites, has given an account of similar doings among the Saints in England. 48 He explains 'tongues' as due to ignorance, excitement, and a lack of vocabulary. 49 Physiologically considered, this psychic Volapcik is another case of decentralization: the higher brain centres having temporarily lost their sway, there ensues a loss of rational self-control.
taken possession of the minds of the young men in their aspirations. Three of them pretended to have received commissions to preach, from the skies, after having jumped into the air as high as they could.'
48 Hawthornthwaite, 'Adventures among the Mormons,' 1857, pp. 88-91. 'At a meeting in Manchester an elder shuts his eyes and at the top of his voice exclaims: -- 'Oh, me, sontra von te, par las a te se, ter mon te roy ken; ran passan par du mon te! Kros krassey pron proy praddey, sin von troo ta! O me, sontrote krush kraminon palassate Mount Zion kron cow che and America pa palassate pau pau pu pe! Sontro von teli terattate taw!' This was interpreted as an exhortation to be humble and obedient; so was another 'gift of tongues' where a strange woman came in and spoke in Welsh.'
49 Hawthornthwaite says, 'Those who speak in tongues are generally the most illiterate among the Saints, such as cannot command words as quick as they would wish, and instead of waiting for a suitable word to come to their memories, they break forth in the first sounds their tongues can articulate, no matter what it is. Thus - some person in the meeting has told an interesting story about Zion, then an excitable brother gets up to bear his "testimony," the speed of speech increases with the interest of the subject: "Beloved brethren and sisters, I rejoice, and my heart is glad to overflowing, -- I hope to go to Zion, and to see you all there, and to -- to -- O, me sontro von te, sontro von terre, sontro von te. O me palassate te,"' etc.
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In general the psycho-physical state of the Kirtland convulsionists was that to be found in a collection of religious visionaries. 50 One young man admitted that he knew not what he did for two or three weeks. The general mental state is typified in the narrator's case: 'When I embraced Mormonism,' says Booth, 'I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity into the vortex of delusion. -- At times I was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the greatest stimulants to action.'
To turn to Smith's connection with these matters: if he was the originator of the abnormal performances in New York, he was only the director of events in Ohio. Of the Kirtland branch, he says in his Journal, 'strange notions of false spirits had crept in among them. I soon overcame them with some wisdom.' 51 Despite this superior attitude, there is abundant evidence of the primitiveness of his own notions; he held nearly the animistic view
50 A writer in the North British Review, 77, 112, in explaining the excesses of the Mormonites, draws analogies from Hecker's 'Epidemics of the Middle Ages,' and Wilkinson's, 'Revival in its Physical, Psychical and Religious Aspects,' 1860.
51 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 68.
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of the savage: 52 to him, is to the Indian medicine man, it was not the soul of the sufferer but the soul of a demon, which entered in and caused the havoc. The elements of such belief, as sustained by popular mythology, 53 and reinforced by a literal interpretation of Scripture, are present in Mother Smith's account. Speaking of the Kirtland branch of nearly one hundred members she cites,
'The singular power, which manifested itself among them in strange contortions of the visage, and sudden unnatural exertions of the body. This they supposed to be a display of the power of God. Shortly after Joseph arrived, he called the Church together, in order to show them the difference between the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of the Devil. He said, if a man arose in meeting to speak, and was seized with a kind of paroxysm, that drew his face and limbs, in a violent and unnatural manner, which made him appear to be in pain; and if he gave utterance to strange sounds, which were incomprehensible to his audience, they might rely upon it, that he had the spirit of the devil. But on the contrary, when a man speaks by the Spirit of God, he speaks from the abundance of his heart -- his mind is filled with intelligence, and even should he be excited, it does not cause him to do anything ridiculous or unseemly. He then called upon one of the brethren to speak, who arose and made the attempt, but was immediately seized with a kind of spasm, which drew his face,__________
52 Herbert Spencer, 'Principles of Sociology,' I, 238.
53 Compare Eggleston, pp. 16-23, 'The evils angels... descended from hobgoblins.'
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arms, and fingers in a most astonishing manner. Hyrum, by Joseph's request, laid bands on the man, whereupon he sunk back in a state of complete exhaustion. Joseph then called upon another man to speak, who stood leaning in an open window. This man also attempted to speak, but was thrown forward into the house, prostrate, unable to utter a syllable. He was administered to, and the same effects followed as in the first instance.' 54
Smith the opportunist again stands forth. Out of the morbid anatomy of his followers he drew hicratic authority to himself. He warns the Saints against being 'seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils;' 55 and then goes on to inquire: --
'Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that' no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed.' 56
In the meanwhile, through these signs and wonders in Ohio, and through the exodus of Saints from New York 57 and the surrounding branches, the Church numbered two thousand. The fourth conconference
54 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 171-2.
55 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 49.
56 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 746.
57 Compare 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 40, 'A Revelation to the churches in New York, commanding them to remove to Ohio.'
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was held at Kirtland and several brethren were called by revelation to the office of High Priest. 58 There now occurred further manifestations of the prophet's influence. June 4th, 1831, was set apart for 'mighty works.' The Saints had been prepared by fasting and prayer, and by the prophecy that they would see the Lord face to face. 59 It is not asserted that the theophany came to pass, but other things did. By long speaking Smith and some others became much excited, hands were then laid on Elder Wright who arose and 'presented a pale countenance, a fierce look, with his arms extended, and his hands cramped back, the whole system agitated, and a very unpleasant object to look upon.' 60 Nevertheless, the success in producing the ecstasy was not uniform. Some of the candidates felt the weight of Joseph's hands thrice before the thing was rightly done; finally the work got beyond his control and, as an eyewitness declared, -- 'then ensued a scene, of which you can form no adequate conception; and which, I would forbear relating, did not the truth require it. The elder moved upon the floor, his legs inclining
58 'Handbook of Reference,' p. 40.
59 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 720, 'This is the word of the Lord to us; on condition of our obedience he has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens to honor us with His own presence.'
60 Booth, Letter iv.
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to a bend; one shoulder elevated above the other, upon which the head seemed disposed to recline, his arms partly extended; his hands partly clenched; his mouth partly open, and contracted in the shape of an italic O.'
Without prolonging the agony of quotation it is happily evident that, within two months, Smith had learned how far to go in these matters. On August 3d, at the dedication of the temple, as one of the number relates, I hundreds of Elders spoke in tongues, but many of them, being young in the Church, and never having witnessed the manifestation of this gift before, felt a little alarmed. This caused the Prophet Joseph Smith to pray the Lord to withhold the spirit.' 61
Tracing the inception and development of obsession in the Mormon Church, it may safely be said that, as an exorcist, Smith at last reached the common sense standpoint of repression. It was not so with his followers. From the acts of the Mormon apostles, at home and abroad, a complete popular demonology might be reconstructed. A few examples may be cited to show that, although the prophet had ordained and dispatched his missionaries, 62 he exercised little control over their doings,
61 Benjamin Brown, p. II.
62 Compare 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 54, -- 'Let them go two by two, my servant Lyman (W.) and my servant John (C.)' -- and twenty-six others.
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But it is better worth while to note how all this was preparatory to a wider role, how it all played into the hands of Joseph the faith healer. From the delusions of the patients and the misconceptions of the operators, one can get an idea of the material there was to work upon.
To take certain typical cases, in their order: Parley Pratt narrates that in i836, near Toronto, Canada, he found a woman prostrated by some power and in an agony of distress. She was drawn and twisted in every limb, and, despite repressive measures, would be so drawn out of all shape as to only touch the bed with her heels and head. She often cried out that she could see two devils in human form, who would bruise and pinch her, and she could hear them talk. But as the bystanders could not see them, but only the effects they did not know what to think. I Finally,' says Pratt, 'she runs to me for she said she knew she could be healed if she could but get a sight of the man of God. 63
How the Mormon leaders lugged in an enginery of spirits to explain a group of morbid symptoms is further exemplified in Elder Kimball's letter of 1837, on a 'singular circumstance.' 64 The scene was laid in Lancashire, England; when Kimball
63 Pratt, pp. i67-8.
64 Elders Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1; compare Millenial Star, 16, 31, and also Kimball's Journal, p. 20, -- 'Brother
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attempted to lay hands on a brother afflicted with evil spirits, he began to 'tremble and reel to and fro, and fell on the floor like a dead man.' Then, as another elder explains, 'the devils were exceeding angry because we attempted to cast them out; they made a powerful attempt upon Elder Kimball and struck him senseless. But we laid our hands on him, he recovered his strength in part, and we could very sensibly hear the evil spirits rage and foam out their shame. Br Kimball was quite weak for a day or two after.'
The medieval point of view, the utter ignorance of natural causes, the reading in of preconceived notions are all to be found in the parallel accounts. 65
Russell called on Elder Hyde and me to pray for him, for he was so afflicted with evil spirits that be could not live long until he should obtain relief, we arose and laid bands on him and prayed. While I was thus engaged, I was struck with great force by some invisible power and fell senseless on the floor as if I bad been shot, and the first thing I recollected was, that I was supported by Brothers Hyde and Russell, who were beseeching a throne of grace on my behalf. They then laid me on the bed, but my agony was so great that I could not endure, and I was obliged to get out, and fell on my knees and began to pray. I then sat on the bed and could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth upon us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a hall... I perspired exceedingly, my clothes as wet as if I had been taken out of the river.... Weakness of body, from shock.'
65 Woodruff, 'Journal,' p. 85, gives a third account of the above episode. He says, in 1840: -- 'I had only just lain down, when it seemed as if a legion of devils made war upon us, to destroy us,
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Moreover the operators were but once on the outskirts of the truth, -- that the mental influence of the bystanders has something to do with the matter. Curiously enough the latter instance happened in the year in which a London physician was utilizing in his practice the suggestive side of mesmerism. 66 In 1839, in his mission to England, Elder Woodruff tried to cast a devil from a woman, I but,' he explains, 'the unbelief of the wicked present was so great that we could not cast the devil out of her, and she raged worse than ever; when the room was cleared I succeeded, she was cured and fell asleep.' 67
It was by virtue of 'faith' that Smith affected some alleviations of non-organic troubles; he had
and we were struggling for our lives in the midst of this warfare of evil spirits until we were nearly choked to death.' -- This scene is described a third time, with later embellishments, when Hyde writes to Kimball, May 22d, 1856: -- 'Every circumstance is fresh in my recollection. After you were overcome by them and had fallen, their awful rush upon me with knives, threats, imprecations and hellish grins convinced me that they were no friends of mine, While you were apparently senseless and lifeless on the floor
I stood between you and the devils and fought them and contended against them face to face.... The last imp turned and said, "I never said anything against you" -- I replied -- "Depart" -- and the room was clear.'
66 Dr. Elliotson; compare Moll, p. 36i.
67 'Journal,' p. 76. Brigham Young, Journal,' p. 104, alleges the following as results of these 'miracles': -- 'We landed in 1840, strangers and penniless. When we left, in less than two years, we had baptized between seven and eight thousand souls.'
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learned by experience the prime value of the subject's attitude of trust. It was much less so with his ministers of healing. In 1844, in Virginia, 68 after a Sunday service of baptism and confirmation, six elders had a 'contest with evil spirits.' It was presumably a case of hysterics, which ultimately spread and alternately affected three girls for thirty-six
68 'Early Scenes from Church History,' by H. G. B., pp. 13-15: -- There lay the girl stretched upon a bed apparently lifeless, without breath or motion.... As soon as I opened my mouth, I began to cast a devil out of her, which was farthest from my thoughts before I commenced. I commanded, ... the evil spirit immediately departed from her, she being restored to her normal condition, seemingly as well as ever. Not ten minutes after, the same evil spirit entered another girl Elder Hamilton was mouth with myself in casting it out A third young sister was attacked in the same way 'I'his third one was no sooner rid of the evil spirit, than it returned and took possession, the second time, of the one last before relieved of its power; and when it was cast out from this one, it took possession of the third one again, and so on alternately.... for three or four times. But the spirit never returned the second time to the first sister that was attacked that evening. At the end of two or three hours, we separated the two girls,... as far as we could.... There were six of us in attendance.... While possessed with this evil spirit, the girls would sometimes lay in a trance, motionless, and apparently without breathing, till we were ready to conclude they were dead, then they would come to and speak and sing in tongues, and talk about Priesthood and the endowments. At other times they would choke up, ceasing to breathe until they were black in the face, and we thought they would surely die. Sometimes they would froth at the mouth and act like they were in a fit. If standing upon their feet when taken, they would fall to the floor and act like they were struggling for life with some unseen power. Read Mark 18: 14-29.'
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hours. The narrator, at first, blundered into success, -- without thinking, he commanded the devil to depart, and the girl was restored to her normal condition. When the hysteria became collective, and the imps seemed to play tag from one poor creature to another, the Mormon elders were as helpless as were the Puritan divines before the Salem witches.
One more example will show the aboriginality of the Latter-day Saints' belief. Elder Hill, while a missionary among the Shoshone and Bannock Indians, found eight or nine of them possessed of the evil one. 69 In attempting to bestow upon the 'baptism for the health,' he found that they had been practicing too much witchcraft and black art.
Without entering upon the psychology of the
69 'Faith Promoting Series, No. 2,' pp. 91-2, 'Baptism for the Health':-, There were in this county eight or nine who were possessed of the evil one, or something of that kind. The first of these was a large, strong woman. An Indian is no more afraid of water than a duck is, but when I raised this woman out of the water she wilted and dropped on my arm, as lifeless, to all appearance, as if she had been dead a week.-- The old chief told me that these eight or nine cases bad been practicing their witchcraft and working with their black art so much that be did not expect anything else of them. -- Some of those that were operated upon in this way were men, and when I would raise them out of the water they would bang upon my arm breathless and as limber as a half filled sack of wheat.... The Lamanites are very much like other people: some of them have got faith and will be healed of any sickness, no matter how severe.'
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Lamanites, or citing more of these 'early scenes in church history,' 70 one can understand how a regular Mormon demonology came, after a manner, to be
70 Benjamin Brown, in 'Testimonies for the Truth,' in a later strange account of an exorcism, incidentally touches on the significance of mental suggestion. Speaking of the Pomphret Branch where a 'sister was possessed,' he says: -- 'Directly we entered her room, she called out, 'Take your shoes from off your feet, this is Holy Ground, the Prophet Elijah is here." I saw the spirit by which she was influenced, so I walked up to her and said, "I am a servant of the Lord, I obey no command of the Devil." She became uproarious directly... she arose from the bed, on her feet, without apparently bending a joint in her body, stiff as a rod of iron. (After praying.) The evil spirit then came out full of fury, and as he passed by one of the brethren seized him by both arms, and gripped them violently, and passing towards me, something which by the feel appeared like a man's hand, grasped me by both sides of my face, and attempted to pull me sideways to the ground, but the hold appearing to slip I recovered my balance immediately. My face was sore for some days after this. The other brother that was seized was lame for a week afterwards. As soon as this was done, the sister partially recovered, so much so that she obeyed anything I chose to tell her to do, whereas before she was perfectly ungovernable. Still she seemed to be surrounded by some evil influence. This puzzled us, for we knew the spirit was cast out, but we learned the cause afterwards. just then it was revealed to us that if we went to sleep, the Devil would enter one of the brethren. My nephew, Melvin Brown, neglected the warning, and composed himself to sleep in an armchair, while we were still watching with the sister. Directly he did so, the Devil entered into him, and he became black in the face and nearly suffocated. He awoke immediately, and motioned for us to lay hands on him, for be could not speak. We did so and the evil spirit then left him, and he recovered at once.'
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formulated. Thus Whitmer avowed, 'False spirits, which come as an Angel of Light, are abroad in the world. 71 and Woodruff announced, -- 'after a powerful attack of the enemy, -- I estimate one hundred evil spirits to every person on earth whose whole mission and labor is to lead men to do evil.' 72
71 'Address,' p. 35.
72 'Journal,' p. 84.
[ 285 ]
Mormon demonology led up to Mormon faith healing. If the Saints cast out devils in the name of the Lord, why could they not cast out diseases? They tried the experiment as early as 1834. 'When the cholera first broke out in the camp,' says Kimball, 'John S. Carter was the first who went forward to rebuke it, but himself was immediately slain.... Even brother Joseph, seeing the sufferings of his brethren, stepped forward to rebuke the destroyer, but was immediately seized with the disease himself. 1 This incident is significant, it shows up Smith in a new light. The prophet of the restoration of gifts, 2 was now in the clutches of popular demand; he was a minister of healing, not because he knew any medicine, but because of the expectations of his adherents. However it is not
1 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 839. Compare also Brown, p. 45: -- When one elder ate mushrooms, president Richards 'rebuked the poison.'
2 Compare 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 26: 'Require not miracles, except casting out devils; healing the sick; and against poisonous serpents; and against deadly poisons.'
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entirely fair to make Smith a physician in spite of himself: notwithstanding early failure, through ignorance and overconfidence, he was not always unsuccessful in the curative art.
Circumstances did not always get the better of him; within ten years he had learned how to alleviate considerable suffering, in the sphere of non-organic troubles. It was his later limitation to disorders of this character which goes far to prove that, somehow or other, he had gained a crude but real knowledge of mental healing. What were the sources of his knowledge? At first glance they appear to be borrowed. Like other divine healers, male and female after their kind, the head of this Latter-day Church had his body physician. Dr. John C. Bennett was in good standing among the Saints for at least eight years; if he was not a quack, he was of the old school; he, then, may have given to Joseph a smattering of medical lore, but as to technical suggestive therapeutics he was decades behind the times. 3
The real origin of Joseph's faith healing is attributable
3 Bennett signed himself M. D., and a member of the Medical Convention of Illinois; in 1841 he was said to have been 'favorably known for upwards of eight years by some of the authorities of the Church.' The Warsaw Signal said he came to Missouri 'followed by evil report.' Bennett himself has something to say against the 'empirical prescriptions of charlatan practitioners.' 'Times and Seasons,' 1, 174; 2, 432.
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to the usual mixture of heredity and religion. His father contended for 'the ancient order of things,' but, when his children needed 'doctoring,' sent them to his wife; she in turn, as 'Mother in Israel' threw much physic at the suffering Saints. 4 And, outside the Smith family, Mormon medicine was not one whit ahead of the kitchen-physic of Puritan days; 5 indeed the ancient doctrine of signatures -- the theory of correspondences between drug and disease -- was actually set forth in mystic fashion. 6 Finally an editorial in the Times and Seasons, recommended Indian herbs as more natural remedies than physicians' prescriptions. 7
Again, all these notions appeared in religious guise among Joseph's progenitors. His mother's brother, Jason Mack, was the colonial medical parson redivivus. About 1776 he was called a Seeker and believed that by prayer and faith the gifts of the gospel, enjoyed by the ancient disciples, might be attained; in a letter to his brother, dated 1835, he wrote: -- 'But last, though not least, let me not startle you when I say, that, according to my early
4 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 57, 171.
5 Compare Eggleston, Chapter the Second, -- Concerning Medical Notions at the Period of Settlement.
6 Compare The Star in the East, published in Boston, 1846.
7 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 736.
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adopted principles of the power of faith, the Lord has, in His exceeding kindness, bestowed upon me the gift of healing by the prayer of faith, and the use of such simple means as seem congenial to the human system. The first of my peculiar success in this way was twelve years since, and from that date I have had little rest.... And when the learned infidel has declared with sober face, time and again, that disease had obtained such an ascendancy that death could be resisted no longer, that the victim must wither beneath his potent arm, I have seen the almost lifeless clay slowly but surely resuscitated, and revive, till the pallid monster fled so far that the patient was left in the full bloom of vigorous health.' 8
Smith's uncle practicing faith healing on his semi-communistic farm in 1823, doubtless led his nephew to have a try at the same thing; but with the latter there was greater promise of results. In the first place, the public was looking for wonders of healing. The adjacent Oneida Community of Perfectionists announced, somewhat later, cures by faith; 9 but already western New York was thoroughly impregnated with restorationist views. In fact, the Irvingites sent a deputation to Smith, to express
8 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 21, 53.
9 Compare Charles Nordhoff, 'Communistic Societies of the United States,' New York, 1875.
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sympathy because of his assertion of the perpetuity of miracles in the Church. 10 Furthermore, Joseph was bound to succeed in his new role, because he possessed a credulous clientage. Among his followers the examples of divine healing were as numerous as they were dubious. In particular, the Faith Promoting Series, although hardly to be considered a literary source, is nevertheless a perfect mine of the marvelous, and out of these 'serpentine windings of human life,' -- to use Joseph's phrase, it is possible to extract some pertinent facts.
Behind the apparatus of holy oil, consecrated flannels and the like, there is a dim apprehension of the power of mental suggestion. Thus faith is demanded of both patient and bystander. 'The Lord wants the meek and humble,' says Benjamin Brown, 'many come with their hearts buckled up to the highest point of resistance, bitterly opposed to the truths of the Church, -- and then require a miracle.' 11 Again there is demanded laying on of hands with vocal, or with silent prayer. Expressed technically, this is verbal or unconscious suggestion, which combined with the subject's expectation, produces effects varying with the fancy of the individual. 12 While
10 McClintock and Strong, 6, 630. Compare Orson Pratt, 'The Necessity of Miracles.'
11 'Testimonies,' p. 12.
12 Compare C. Lloyd Tuckey, 'Psycho-Therapeutics or Treatment by Hypnotism,' New York, 1899, p. 747.
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Elder Brown was praying over a man stricken with palsy -- 'a warming influence, such as he had never felt before, extended down his palsied side.' 13 Again Philo Dibble narrates, how when Brother Newell Knight laid his hands on his head, but never spoke. --
'I felt the spirit resting upon me at the crown of my head before his hand touched me, and I knew immediately that I was going to be healed. It seemed to form like a ring under the skin, and followed down my body. When the ring came to the wound, another ring formed around the first bullet hole, also the second and third. Then a ring formed on each shoulder and on each hip, and followed down to the ends of my fingers and toes and left me.' 14
How transitory were these 'cures' is exemplified in the very case of the above operator. When Knight was dying, January 11th, 1847, his wife told how 'the elders came frequently and prayed for him. After each administration he would rally
13 'Testimonies,' p. 34.
14 G. Q. Cannon, 'My First Mission,' p. 32. Compare Philo Dibble's 'Narrative,' p. 84, 'I was wounded by the mob with an ounce ball and two buck shot in the stomach and bled internally. Brother Newell Knight laid his right hand on my head, but never spoke.' Compare also Knight, 'Journal,' p. 81, 'I drew the bed curtain with one hand and laid the other upon his head, praying secretly in his behalf; he told me that as soon as I placed my hand upon his head, the pain and soreness seemed gradually to move as before as a power driving it, until in a few minutes it left his body.'
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and be at ease for a short time and then relapse again into suffering.' 15 That such divine healing presented the usual dangers was to be expected, when one only considers the delicate and elusive reactions of mental suggestion. So Elder Brown, when standing by a 'possessed sister,' asserted 'I knew the answer she was going to give, for I was possessed by a similar spirit.' How the Mormons, despite their 'silent treatment,' slid by the truth of the force of auto-suggestion is shown in their attempts at explanation. Brown himself, raised up from a seeming deathbed by the prophet, asks the sceptical reader: -- 'Was it the power of the imagination over the body that cured me, when I did not even hear Joseph's voice, or know that any operation on my behalf was going on, until I found myself well?' 16
Mormon ignorance of elementary psychic phenomena naturally got them into trouble. The mischief that one man could do is exemplified in the preposterous claims of Brown. Shortly before the time he tried to exorcise the possessed sister, he asserted, 'I cure a man with a skull crushed by a tree; I cure a woman of cancer, she said the cancer worms felt like a thousand gimlets boring into her brain. 17 The deadly tendencies of Mormon faith
15 'Journal,' p. 93.
16 'Journal,' pp. 18, 19.
17 'Journal,' p. 12.
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healing were recognized by their contemporaries. In Batavia, New York, in 1841, 'after healing a deaf and dumb child, the enemies of truth,'says Thompson, 'are doing their utmost to make people believe that no miracle has been wrought.' 18 In 1833, the Western Monitor of Fayette, Missouri, asks: 'What would be the fate of our lives and property, in the hands of jurors and witnesses, who do not blush to declare, and would not upon occasion hesitate to swear that they have wrought miracles, and have been the subjects of miraculous and supernatural cures?' 19 In England the missionaries of healing called out a more legal, if not a more determined opposition. 20 It was Elder Richards who exclaimed, 'How absurd to have no other resource when ill but a physician.' While on the British mission, he advertised 'Bones set through Faith in Christ,' and Elder Phillips made this additional statement: 'While commanding the bones, they came together, making a noise like the crushing of an old basket.' 21 Along with charlatanry among the priesthood, there was fatal credulity among the laity.
18 'Times and Seasons,' 2, 349, 516.
19 Quoted in 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 833, as a 'Proclamation of the Mob.'
20 Compare Manchester Examiner and Times, December 22d, 1856, on the Rochdale Miracle, also the pamphlets: -- 'Warning to His Parishioners by a Country Clergyman;' 'Failure of an Ordained Priest,' etc.
21 Millennial Star, 12, 143.
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Lorenzo Snow, writing from London in 1841, said of Elizabeth Morgan, before her death: I She continually expressed a wish that no doctor should administer her medicines; and particularly requested that no one should cast any reflection upon her dear husband and children because no doctor had been employed, for she wanted no physician but the Lord.' 22
The fatuity of the Mormon i-nissionaries is patent in their official organ; the Millennial Star of Liverpool cites a case of 'cancer in the heart miraculously cured by baptism;' it gives, at the same time, a notice of Elder Hyde's death through the same disease.
Things were different at headquarters in America. Smith was a faith healer, but he recognized
22 Millennial Star, 13, 109; 16, 63, Pratt adds the following telepathic frill: -- 'At the same hour of the night Sister Bates, of this city, had an open vision in which she saw Sister Morgan standing in full view before her, clothed in robes beautiful and white, and around about her head were clouds of glory, surpassing, etc.... It was not a dream but an open vision continuing some time. When the vision closed she immediately informed her husband of it.' Time does not seem to have given the Mormons any more sense. Thus, P. B. Lewis, writing about the smallpox in the Sandwich Islands in 1853, said 'scores have been swept away. We have sought to administer to the brethren through the power of our priesthood, and our administration has almost universally been blessed to those who have taken our counsel. Some who were doing well, have been induced to take medicine, or bathe in cold water, and are now dead.'
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his limitations. He had acquired wisdom through hard knocks. In 1832, two years after the exorcism of Newel Knight, -- 'the first miracle in the church' -- the prophet was poisoned by something he ate and claimed to have been instantly cured through the laying on of hands by Brother Whitney. This was explained, not by the means of relief nature had already taken, but by administration in the name of the Lord. 23 But in 1834, happening to be involved in the cholera epidemic, the prophet was not slow to learn that his powers were circumscribed. Speaking of the attack he said: 'The cholera burst forth among us, even those on guard fell to the earth with their guns in their hands.... At the commencement I attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction upon any people, makes known His determination, man must not attempt to stay His hand.' 24
It is high time to approach the philosophy of Joseph's real accomplishments as faith healer. Back of his not unsuccessful practice he had a theory. In a single word, the potent force with him was faith: without it no cures are possible. This is the substance of the seven Lectures 'originally delivered before
23 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 626.
24 'Times and Seasons,' 6, 1106.
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a Class of the Elders, in the School of the Prophets.' These discourses are vapid yet they have significance, -- they contain adumbrations of the really vital principle in mental healing. This doctrine of faith was an approximation to the subjective attitude of trust demanded in suggestive therapeutics. Smith defines it at the start, both negatively and positively: -- 'without it both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity; ... as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so is it in spiritual;... but faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth.' 25 Like previous magic healers, from Paracelsus to Gassner, 26 Joseph's system was largely mystical; with him, healing was counted a sacerdotal gift. Nevertheless he was wary in regard to his priestly function. When it was asked in 1842 'what signs do Jo Smith give of his divine mission?' the prophet gave this delphic response: -- 'The signs which God is pleased to let him give according as His wisdom thinks best.' 27
To turn from theory to practice, and to examine a half dozen faith cures, ranging from total failure
25 Lecture 1, verses 10, 12, 13.
26 Bernheiin, 'Hypnotism, Suggestion, Psycho-therapie,' Paris, 1891, pp. 14-20.
27 'Evening and Morning Star,' 1, 28.
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to permanent relief, and from a lonesome child to a crowd of adults. In the first case strange reliance was placed on external means; Joseph attempted to 'cure by baptism' Lydia Kimball, age eight, who shortly died of brain fever. 28 This failure discloses two things: that, at this time, Smith was rashly ignorant of the incurable, and also that he was far from knowing one of the general principles of suggestion, namely that children are less susceptible to mental treatment than are adults. 29 Similar ignorance is displayed in the next example, for it is only repeated suggestion and the continuous presence of the operator that can affect the restless mind of a child. 30 Kimball's account is in effect, as follows: When Joseph was in Far West, a child was taken sick, he laid hands on it, and it got better. As soon as Joseph went outside the house, the child was taken sick again. A second time he laid hands on it, and it recovered. 'This transpired several times and Joseph inquired of the Lord what it meant, when he had an open vision and saw the devil in person.' 31
The third episode concerns an adult, but the alleviation is only temporary. So far the two points of
28 Littlefield, 'Reminiscences.'
29 Compare Moll, p. 51: 'Children up to about eight years of age can only be hypnotized with difficulty.'
30 Compare Tuckey, p. 746.
31 'Journal,' p. 80.
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interest are these: that the prophet, with his superior authority, had greater success than two elders who had Thready made the patient 'perfectly whole;' 32 and that the subject, in his attempt at explanation, has no inkling of the fact that suggestion may reach the brain, other than through the sense of hearing. 'While at Commerce,' narrates Brown, 'I was sick of swamp fever for two or three weeks. I was so far gone that I was quite senseless, and all thought I was dying. Joseph Smith laid his hands on me and commanded me to arise and walk in the name of the Lord. The first thing I knew, I found myself walking perfectly well.' 33 The transient character of this cure, and the recurrence of the trouble, agree with the results of suggestive treatment. Suggestion may lower the temperature in fevers, 34 but in those of a cyclic character, it merely diminishes the suffering and tones up the system. 35
The next 'cure' is as ephemeral as it is magical. Like so many of the Saints, living along the Missouri
32 'Testimonies,' p. 10: -- 'My lake fever is cured by two elders; whilst their hands were yet upon my bead, I felt the disease remove from my body, commencing at the pit of my stomach, moving gradually upwards towards the hands of the elders, and I was made perfectly whole.'
33 'Journal,' p. 19.
34 R. O. Mason, 'Hypnotism and Suggestion,' New York, 1901, p. 180.
35 Bernheim, p. 234.
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River, the patient was presumably overcome by fever. It was claimed that he was raised from his deathbed, yet he shortly has a relapse and needs further treatment. As Woodruff inopportunely admits, Fordham faints at the sight of the mob, but revives under Joseph's influence. 36 Two accounts are given of the Fordham case and they agree in two important particulars: on the one hand, the edge is taken off the miracle from the fact of the previous use of remedies; on the other hand, Joseph's operations appear to have brought about a condition resembling artificially induced hypnotic sleep. Kimball tells how 'Joseph stepped to the bedside of brother Fordham, who was insensible and considered by the family to be dying. He looked him in the eye for a minute without speaking, then took him by the hand and commanded him to arise and walk. Fordham did so, threw off all bandages and poultices, ate a bowl of bread and milk, and followed us into the street.' 37
36 'Journal,' p. 65.
37 'Journal,' p. 82. Compare Woodruff, p. 62: -- 'Fordham was dying, his eyes were glazed, he was speechless and unconscious. Joseph asked Fordham if he did not know him. Fordham at first made no reply, but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him; be then answered a low "Yes." Ile bad the appearance of a man waking from sleep. Then Joseph commanded in a loud voice, "I command you to arise and be made whole." Fordham leaped from the bed, the healthy color came to his face, he kicked off the Indian meal poultices on his feet and ate a bowl of bread and milk.'
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The last of the individual cases is that of Mrs, Johnson of Hiram, Ohio. It has a negative interest because the environment was one of psychic hostility. Yet the sceptical narrator himself admits the cure. 38 The prophet being asked if he pretended to the performance of miracles, and answering that he had the ability only through God, Mrs. Johnson was suddenly introduced. Joseph was not taken aback, but with calm assurance he looked intently into the woman's eyes, then taking hold of her arm 'palsied by rheumatism,' he commanded her in a solemn voice to be made whole. The bystanders asserted that the patient at once found her arm under control and that it remained thus, until her death fifteen years after. This cure, being well attested, is of course cited by the Mormons as miraculous, while their enemies put forward the usual half-baked explanation of animal magnetism. 39
A brief scrutiny of these cases will reveal to what degree they may be put in terms of reputable
38 E. D. Howe, 'Mormonism Unveiled,' p. 104.
39 Compare J. H. Kennedy, 'Early Days of Mormonism,' p. 122, who quotes from a sermon preached in Hiram, O., on August 3, 1870, by B. A. Hinsdale, then President of Hiram College: The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact -- electrified the rheumatic arm. Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.'
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psycho-therapeutics. At first it is difficult to decide whether Smith's achievements were due to simple suggestion or hypnotic suggestion, for it is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between the two. 40 Suggestion without hypnosis is probable in the majority of instances, since the states of consciousness, ranging from lethargy to light sleep, were induced pathologically and not artificially, by the disease and not by the operator. Nevertheless real hypnotic suggestion may be postulated, if one accepts the less occult definition of hypnosis as 'the production of a Psychical condition in which the faculty of receiving impressions by suggestion is greatly increased.' 41 This would cover the various cases cited, for in the lightest stages of hypnosis there is no loss of consciousness, while good results are effected even when the patient denies having felt any hypnotic influence. 42 Again, real hypnosis is implied in the Johnson case, not simply because chronic rheumatism has yielded to hypnotic treatment, but because 'the immense power of hypnotic suggestion is shown by the fact that it succeeds in a large number of cases in spite of mistrust.' 43 Still further, the above instances may be brought under hypnotism if suggestion is given its
40 Moll, p. 318.
41 Bernheim's definition, quoted in Tuckey, p. 748.
42 Moll, p. 347.
43 Moll, p. 347.
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full signification; the word does not merely stand for an artful liint or insinuation, which increases the patient's receptivity, it also connotes a reinforcing of the subject's power to perform the suggested act. 44 Lastly, Smith's successes lay in the sphere of hypnotic successes, roughly defined as neuroses, for the alterations were psychic rather than organic. 45
But lest wisdom be attributed where wisdom was lacking, there is need of a final word of qualification. Smith's gift of healing was got by chance, it was magical in theory and sacerdotal in practice, nearer the middle ages than modern science. The prophet insisted on faith, his followers believed in the priesthood, and both priest and people trusted in the efficacy of prayer. As already seen, faith with Joseph was no longer a mere youthful reaction against infidelity and dry scholasticism, but a positive means to gain an unthinking obedience. Moreover as to prayer, Smith directs his 'quorums of three' to pray in succession and in successive
44 Compare Tuckey, p. 748: -- 'Suggestions have all the force of commands, and the patient will stretch every nerve to obey them. If he is told to move a paralyzed Iiinb, or to speak after months of loss of voice, one can see what intense effort he puts into the attempt to comply. A stammerer making such effort will speak fluently, and a deaf person will distinctly hear a whisper.'
45 Compare Thomas Ribot, 'The Diseases of Personality,' 1894, p. 137.
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quorums, -- and then to lay on hands. 46 But this psychic inductive method might easily be spoiled; as Brown said of a moment's inattention on the part of a single elder, -- 'this broke the chain of our union and strength.' 47
It was through the appeal to the emotional and unthinking side of human nature that the Mormons could employ their primitive machinery. Often times the elders would anoint the patient with oil, although it was admitted that this could not reach the root of the disease." Once Joseph descended to the use of the charm or talisman. Woodruff says that after Fordham was revived, -- 'then Joseph sends me with his red silk handkerchief to cure two children of a man of the world. I wipe their faces with it, and they are cured.' 49
The prophet used magic; he also sought the aid of mystery. judging from the local admiration for the architectural abortion of Salt Lake City, the earlier Saints were capable of looking on even the Temple of Zion at Nauvoo as a holy shrine. At any rate, soon after the first log was laid, Smith called for a Recorder of Miracles. 50 Yet uninspiring surroundings were offset by the blind
46 'Fragments of Experience,' p. 43.
47 'Journal,' p. 18.
48 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 603.
49 'Journal,' p. 65.
50 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 439.
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zeal of the persons concerned. It was not material things but psychic processes that helped the most. Hence Joseph's manner of making the healing suggestion, to his disciples at least, was undeniably impressive. It was not in the opinion of Pratt alone that the prophet was 'of an expression peculiar to himself, on which the eye naturally rested with interest, and was never weary of beholding.' 51 It was from the false perspective of emotional excitement that most of his followers looked on the person of their ecclesiastical head with reverence and awe. Indeed, these American sectaries were strangely like those who once sought to be healed of the king's evil; they lived in the nineteenth century, yet the great mass of them believed in the divine right of their ruler. Despite this kindred touch of madness, there were also present among the Mormons the more normal circumstances which favor mental healing, namely: the patient's desire to be cured, his belief in the means, and a sympathetic environment. 52
With the summary statement that the convinced mind works the quickest, it is possible to get at the significance of Smith's wholesale acts of faith healing. In the two accounts of the scenes on the banks
51 'Autobiography,' p. 47.
52 Tuckey, p. 743.
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of the Mississippi, the fabulous drops off of itself, as when, for example, it was alleged that the prevalence of chills and fever was due to the devil. There yet remains a slight residue of facts, which needs explanation, since it cannot be wholly explained away. The annual affair at Lourdes is a far call from the Nauvoo affair of sixty years ago, yet under both there is a thin stratum of truth. It may be expressed in the formula of recent practitioners: that collective hypnosis is possible among the ignorant classes and that, conversely, when the psychic contagion becomes stronger, hypnosis is rendered easier. 53
To turn, in conclusion, to the scene of July 22d, 1839: 'It was a very sickly time,'narrates Woodruff. 54 'Large numbers of the Saints, driven out of Missouri, were flocking from Commerce and were living in wagons, tents and on the ground. Many were sick through exposure. Brother Joseph had waited on the sick until he was worn out and nearly sick himself. After praying, he healed all in his house and door yard; then in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the twelve, he went through among the sick lying on the bank of the river, and he commanded them in a loud voice to come up and be made whole and they were all healed.'
53 Moll, p. 351, quoting Liebault and Schrenck-Notzing.
54 'Journal,' p. 62. Compare Kimball, p. 82.
[ 307 ]
Smith's varied activities during the fifteen years of his public life, 1 give a final notion of the restlessness and instability of his character. It is impossible to gather up these scattered threads in one caption, but there is a common principle which binds together the events of 1830 with those of 1844. The prophet began his career with a revelation on communism, he ended it with what may be termed a revelation on matrimonial collectivism. The latter topic, in the nature of the case, can only be touched upon, but the former is important in showing the hap-hazard mental development of the man. Unlike his occultism, Joseph's socialism may be traced to certain formal movements of his day. 2 Besides this source there was another mind as intermediary.
1 Unless otherwise specified, the references hereafter are to the 'Times and Seasons.'
2 The following works have been consulted on this topic: R. T. Ely, 'French and German Socialism in Modern Times,' New York, 1833; H. A. James, 'Communism in America,' New York, 1879; Meredith Nicholson, 'The Hoosiers,' 1900; Charles Nordhoff, 'The Communistic Societies of the United States,' New York.
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But to consider the historic setting in its general aspects. Of the six communistic societies of the United States, considered worth treatment by the authorities a generation ago, only half could have influenced young Mormonism. The Icarians settled at Nauvoo, but that was after the Mormon exodus. In New York State the Perfectionists had their Oneida community, but this combination of polygamy and polyandry was not started until 1848. Six years before the German Inspirationists had their Amana community near Buffalo. These settlements may have given hints to Brigham Young the usurper, they were too late to influence Joseph Smith the founder.
Turning to the other communistic societies, it should be incidentally noticed that all but those on the Wabash were celibate in their tendencies. As early as 1828, the United Society of Believers claimed sixteen branches in the land, and four years before the publication of the Book of Mormon, their Groveland Society was started on the Genesee. That these rustic doctrinaires gave hints to young Joseph is an open question. In 1842, he spoke of the Shakers with but half-concealed contempt; at
1875; W. L. Sargent, 'Robert Owen and his Social Philosophy,' London, 1860; Albert Shaw, 'Icaria, A Chapter in the History of Communism,' New York, 1884; Warner, 'Cooperation Among the Mormons,' Johns Hopkins University Studies, 6th series, VII and VIII.
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any rate, nine years previous they refused to affiliate with the Latter-day Saints. The remaining semi-socialistic groups were of small size, but of great influence on Mormonism -- and that through the medium of Sidney Rigdon. Near Pittsburg, the scene of his earlier activities, the Rappists founded their New Harmony Society, in 1805; they moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana in 1814, and ten years after, sold out to Robert Dale Owen. Here comes in a most curious link between the father of English socialism and the man who was said to have 'invented' Mormonism. 3 Rigdon was at one time hand in glove with the redoubtable Alexander Campbell, the same who had attacked Owen as an infidel, and had called his New Harmony Gazette, 'the focus of the lights of scepticism. 4 That Owen's free and easy ideas on marriage cropped out in the Mormon spiritual wife system is improbable, but his socialistic notions were already common property. In 1824, he made speeches before Congress; in 1829, he held an eight day debate with Alexander Campbell in Cincinnati, Ohio, at which 1,200 persons were said to be present. How the doctrines of Fourier worked their crooked way into Rigdon's cracked skull is a side issue: yet here, in the Western Reserve, there was a diluted
3 New York Times, Saturday Review of Books, January 11, 1902.
4 Venable, p. 222.
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socialism a decade before the Brook Farm experiment. In view of these things, Smith's claim to socialistic originality is absurd; his followers were no more troubled about the theory of the thing than a hive of bees; but the prophet's appropriation of Rigdon's socialistic ideas is as patent as his grafting of Rigdon's Kirtland branch into his own church.
The way the seer and revelator put a religious veneer on these borrowings is highly characteristic. Like the Separatists, who settled at Zoar, Ohio, in 1819, a score of families in Rigdon's locality had already formed themselves into a common stock company. Smith says that since Rigdon's Church at Kirtland 'had all things in common, the idea arose that this was the case with the Church of Jesus Christ.' He adds that the 'plan of "Common Stock" which had existed in what was called "the family,"... was readily abandoned for the more perfect law of the Lord.' Of what this 'law for the government of the Church ' consisted, is explained in a revelation of February, 1831:
'If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.
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church, after that he has received the properties of my church, that it cannot be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, inasmuch as is sufficient for himself and family; and the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive accordingly as he stands in need; and the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and needy, as shall be appointed by the elders of the church and the bishop; and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed; that my covenant people be gathered in one, in the day that I shall come to my temple; and this I do for the salvation of my people. And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not, shall be cast out, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto me; for it shall come to pass, that which I spoke by the months of my prophets shall be fulfilled, for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles unto my people, which are of the house of Israel. 5
The form which the law of the Lord ultimately took reads like a page from Gulliver's Travels; it is worth quoting, if only to show that the fancy of the Latter-day prophet was as weird as the mad dean's Kingdom of Laputa: --
'Revelation given April 23d, 1834, to Enoch, (Joseph Smith, jun.,), concerning the order of the church for the benefit of the poor. Let my servant Pelagoram (Sidney Rigdon) have appointed unto him the place where he now resides, and the lot of Tahhanes (the tannery) for his stewardship, for his support while he is laboring__________
5 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 44. For the financial side of these revelations compare 'Doctrine and Covenants,' sects. 19, 24, 43, 58, 63, 84.
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in my vineyard, even as I will when I shall command him;
But the prophet's schemes had a serious financial side. The first tithing, in 1834 is said to have been only a 'conditional covenant with the Lord.' This celestial application of the promissory note should be compared with the
'Revelation given at Far West, July 8th, 1838, in answer to the question: O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of the people for a tithing?
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When Smith ridiculed the Millerites for their millennial fears he had forgotten the early financial panic in his own church. In their haste to escape the wrath to come, many of the Saints sold their eastern possessions at a loss, and hastened to Zion as to the ark of safety, -- 'for after much tribulation cometh the blessings' said the prophet. A revelation of August, 1831, gives the details of the coming feast of fat things:' --
'And I give unto my servant, Sidney, a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the Spirit, unto him;
The project on which the leaders slipped up was the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. There are occasionally to be seen the notes of this institution, signed -- 'J. Smith, Jr., Cashier, Sidney Rigdon, President.' Some one has sardonically called attention to the engraving on these bank notes, representing a fleeced sheep. But the fancy does not come up to the fact. In entire conformity to the wild-cat speculations of antebellum days, the
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prophet announced that this bank would 'swallow up all other banks.' How it failed for $1000,000 6 and how Smith took advantage of the bankruptcy laws is not half so illuminating as the way in which the church conference 'moved and seconded that the debts of Kirtland should come up no more.' Joseph's prophetic financeering was one of the reasons why the Mormons were at last driven from Ohio. But even the seer and revelator could not fool all the people, all the time. He opened up a subscription to the 'Nauvoo House, -- a delightful habitation for man, and a resting place for the weary traveller.' But subscriptions came in slowly, for the thrifty Saints were not yet under the paw of Brigham. As Parley Pratt so plaintively remarked, 'a woman comes here and keeps her money sewed up in her stays, instead of entering into business with it.'
These communistic ambitions died hard. Backed up by restorationist expectations, they made an irresistible appeal to Joseph's imagination. Those Utopian schemes, that Josiah Quincy mentioned, had long been fermenting in the prophet's brain, and were now put on paper. If a literary comparison is allowable, Lord Verulam with his New Atlantis, or Campanella with his City of the Sun could not hold a candle to Smith with his new Mormon
6 Millennial Star, 19, 343; 20, 108.
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Zion, soon to arise on the Western Frontiers. By the revelation of June 25, 1833, a square mile of land was to be obtained and on it were to be built 'a house of the Lord for the presidency of the high and most holy priesthood after the order of Melchisedec; the sacred apostolic repository for the use of the bishop; the holy evangelical house, for the high priesthood of the holy order of God; house of the Lord for the elders of Zion; house of the Lord for the presidency of the high priesthood; house of the Lord for the high priesthood after the order of Aaron; house of the Lord for the teachers in Zion; house of the Lord for the deacons in Zion.' 7
7 Compare Bancroft, p. 96: -- A plan and specifications for the new city of Zion were sent out from Kirtland. The plot was one mile square, drawn to a scale of 660 feet to one inch, Each square was to contain ten acres, or 660 feet fronts. Lots were to be laid out alternately in the squares; in one, fronting north or south; in the next east or west; each lot extending to the centre line of its square, with a frontage of sixty-six feet and a depth of 330 feet, or half an acre. By this arrangement in one square the houses would stand on one street, and in the square opposite on another street. Through the middle of the plot ran a range of blocks 66o feet by 990 feet set apart for the public buildings, and in these the lots were all laid off north and south, the greatest length of the blocks being from east to west: thus making all the lots equal in size. The whole plot was supposed to be sufficient for the accommodation of from 15,000 to 20,000 people. All stables, barns, etc., were to be built north or south of the plot, none being permitted in the city among the houses. Sufficient adjoining ground on all sides was to be reserved for supplying the city with vegetables, etc. All streets 'were to be 132 feet (eight perches)
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But the work dragged on; eight years later the prophet, writing from the city of Nauvoo, urged the brethren to come in without delay, for this was the cornerstone of Zion; 'here the Temple must be raised, the University built, and other edifices be erected which are necessary for the great work of the last days.' In the meantime, word was sent to 'the Saints in England who are extremely poor and __________
wide, and a like width was to be laid off between the temple and its surrounding streets. But one house was to be built on a lot, and that must front on a line twenty-five feet from the street, the space in front to be set out with trees, shrubs, etc., according to the builder's taste. All houses to be of either brick or stoiie. The house of the Lord for the presidency was to be sixty-one feet by eighty-seven feet, ten feet of the length for a stairway. The interior was so arranged as to permit its division into four parts by curtains. At the east and west ends were to be pulpits arranged for the several grades of president and council, bishop and council, high priests and elders, at the west; and the lesser priesthood, comprising presidency, priests, teachers, and deacons, at the east. Provision was also made to scat visiting officers according to their grades. The pews were fitted with sliding seats, so that the audience could face either pulpit as required. There was to be no gallery, but the house was to be divided into two stories of fourteen feet each. A bell of very large size was also ordered. Finally, on each public building must be written Holiness to the Lord. When this plot was settled, another was to be laid out, and so on. "Times and Seasons," vi. 785-7, 800. Zion City -- its prototype in Enoch's City. Young's "History of the Seventies," 9-15, No. 10, in "Mormon Pamphlets." It was revealed to Smith that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico covered the site of a prehistoric city, built by and named for Enoch; and that it was translated because its inhabitants had become so far advanced that further earthly residence was unnecessary. Zion, Smith's ideal city, was finally to reach a like state of perfection.'
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not accustomed to the farming business... this place has advantages for manufacturing and commercial purposes, which but very few can boast of; and by establishing cotton factories, foundries, potteries etc., etc., would be the means of bringing in wealth and raising it to a very important elevation.'
At this time, the president of the church complained of being overwhelmed with a multiplicity of business. To run over his Journal, and to extract but one event a year, will give an idea of the number of irons he had in the fire. Besides the United Firm and the Safety Bank, he had already started the Literary Firm and the Mercantile Establishment. In 1833, he dedicated the printing office of the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate. In 1834, he organized the First High Council of the Church of Christ, with himself, Rigdon and Williams as the First Presidency. In 1835, he chose the Twelve Apostles, among whom were Brigham Young, the Lion of the Lord; Parley Pratt, the Archer of Paradise; and Lyman Wight, the Wild Ram of the Mountain. In 1836, Smith organized the several quorums, first the Presidency, then the Twelve, and the Seventy, also the counsellors of Kirtland and Zion. In 1837, he set apart apostles Kimball and Hyde to go to a mission to England, the first foreign mission of the Church. In 1838,
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during the Missouri troubles, he traveled as far away as Monmouth County, New Jersey, to strengthen the new branches. Returning to Missouri, and being confined in Liberty jail, Clay County, he warned his followers against starting any more secret societies. In 1839, the prophet had his hands full in assisting fifteen thousand persecuted saints to escape from Missouri. In 1840, he succeeded in obtaining from the Illinois legislature charters for the City of Nauvoo, the University of Nauvoo, and the Nauvoo Legion. 8
Joseph Smith, junior, now gained a title of which he was immensely proud, -- he became a lieutenant-general. 'Amid loud peals from the artilery,' runs the official account, 'accompanied by his aids-de-camp and conspicuous strangers, he laid the chief corner-stone of the Temple of our God.' Joseph as a military bishop cuts a strange figure. Once when his companions in arms were in dread of the mob, who were disguised as Delaware Indians, 'the prophet came along and said "God and liberty is the watchword. Fear them not, for their hearts are cold as cucumbers."' 9
General Joseph Smith dressed in full uniform standing on the top of a house, brandishing his sword towards heaven, and delivering his last public
8 Compare 'Revised Laws of the Nauvoo Legion,' 1844.
9 Stevenson, 'Reminiscences,' p. 37.
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speech, -- this is Joseph the histrione. 10 But to the rank and file life was not an opera bouffe. Their very enemies acknowledged their terrible sufferings undergone in Missouri, while in 1841 the Chicago Democrat regrets to learn that Illinois is beginning to persecute the saints in the Bounty Tract. 11 Of the way the prophet became involved in politics, only brief notice can begiven. While mayor of Nauvoo, Smith was accused of attempting to found a military church; he replied that the Nauvoo Legion was not got up for sinister or illegal purposes, yet in general orders he invites recruits
10 'The Martyrs,' pp. 59-61.
11 'Joseph the Seer,' p. 191: -- Professor Turner, sometime of Illinois College, an open and bitter opponent of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, in writing of the conduct of Missouri towards the Mormons, says: "Who began the quarrel? Was it the Mormons? Is it not notorious, on the contrary, that they were hunted like wild beasts, from county to county, before they made any desperate resistance? Did they ever, as a body, refuse obedience to the laws, when called upon to do so, until driven to desperation by repeated threats and assaults from the mob? Did the State ever make one decent effort to defend them as fellow citizens in their rights, or to redress their wrongs? Let the conduct of its governors, attorneys, and the fate of their final petitions answer. Have any who plundered and openly massacred the Mormons ever been brought to the punishment due to their crimes? Let the boasting murderers of begging and helpless infancy answer. Has the State ever remunerated, even those known to be innocent, for the loss of either their property or their arms? Did either the pulpit or the press throughout the state raise a note of remonstrance or alarm? Let the clergymen who abetted, and the editors who encouraged the mob answer."'
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from all his friends and adds in italics, -- 'If we desire to avoid insult we must be ready to repel it.'
It was as a political agitator that the prophet took up a role that indirectly led to his death. Nothing could show better the reach of his schemes than the following document: --
'Duty of the Saints in relation to their persecutors, as set forth by Joseph, the Prophet, while in Liberty jail, Clay County, Missouri, March, 1839:-- And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this state;
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To sum up Joseph's manifold worldly activities from his community storehouse in Ohio, to his proposition to establish a territorial government, within the bounds of the State of Illinois, 12 to do this -- is to run upon a paradox: he was jack-of-all trades, yet withal master of his followers. His death was counted a martyrdom; his name was speedily canonized; in his portraits a halo was drawn about his head. How the prophet gained his supremacy, how he met disaffection, how at the last his hold on the faithful became absolute, is a story that needs telling. Smith's relations to his aiders and abettors must here be touched upon. One defender says that Joseph's 'easy good-natured way, allowing every one was honest, drew around him hypocrites, false brethren, apostates; for they having mingled in his greatness, knew where and when to take advantage of his weakness.'
Relying on statements like these, some critics have explained the success of early Mormonism
12 Compare engrossed petition in Berrian collection, in which it is proposed that the Mayor of Nauvoo, (Joseph Smith, junior) shall have the power 4 to call to his aid a sufficient number of United States forces, in connection with the Nauvoo Legion, to repel the invasion of mobs, keep the public peace, and protect the innocent from the unhallowed ravages of lawless banditti that escape justice on the Western Frontier; and also to preserve the power and dignity of the Union. And be it further ordained that the officers of the United States Army are hereby required to obey the requisitions of this ordinance.'
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as due to Smith's luck in the choice of partners. As Harris had supplied the money, so Pratt supplied the eloquence, and Rigdon the brains. The antithesis is too neat to be true. Smith may have been the unwitting tool of the precious pair from Kirtland, yet from the first the author and proprietor of the Book of Mormon stood in the foreground. Again, to make Rigdon the chief actor, speaking through the mask of the prophet, is a self-contradiction. Thus the revelation of August, 1831, says, in part -- 'And now behold I say unto you, I the Lord am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon, he exalted himself in his heart, and received not my counsel, but grieved the Spirit: wherefore his writing is not acceptable unto the Lord.' A little while after this, Smith thus rebuked, in his own name, another of his associates: -- 'William E. McLellin, the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord's, but failed.... The elders and all present, that witnessed this vain attempt, renewed their faith in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the church through my instrumentality. '
But even before Rigdon and Company had appeared in New York State, Smith was asserting his supremacy. In the second conference of the church
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held at Fayette, while as yet only First Elder, Joseph succeeded in suppressing competition in occult activities. When Hyrum Page received revelations through his rival 'stone,' the prophet was 'in great distress of mind and body, and scarcely knew how to meet the exigency.' Newel Knight, who occupied the same room with him, goes on to say that, after considerable investigation and discussion, the prophet induced 'Brother Page, Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers to renounce the bogus stone.' 13 Soon after this, the same narrator proceeds, there was a division of feeling in the Colesville branch, because Sister Peck contradicted one of Joseph's revelations. The brethren and sisters were thereupon told that 'they must repent of what they had done, renew their covenants and uphold the authorities placed over them.'
But to hurry through the tale: In 1833, Smith was accused of seeking after monarchical power and authority; in pantomimic answer he instituted the ceremony of washing feet, 'girding himself with a towel and washing the feet of the elders.' In 1836, a great apostasy took place in the church at Kirtland, and within three years the Three Witnesses
13 'Journal,' pp. 64, 65. Compare 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 30: -- 'And again thou shalt take thy brother Hiram between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him.'
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were cut off. In the excommunication David Whitmer, the anti-polygamist, is compared to Balaam's ass, Martin Harris is called a negro with a white skin, while all the 'disenters,'says the prophet 'are so far beneath my contempt that to notice any of them would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make.' 14
In view of the fact that most Mormon converts were of Anglo-Saxon stock, it is almost inconceivable that Smith retained any influence over them. 15 Yet in the midst of the Missouri troubles,
14 'Elders' Journal,' 1837.
15 Yet compare Bancroft, p. 82: -- 'The earliest clerk service rendered the prophet Joseph, of which there is any account, was by Martin Harris; Joseph's wife, Emma, then Oliver Cowdery, who, as is claimed, wrote the greater portion of the original manuscript of the "Book of Mormon," as he translated it from the gold plates by the urim and thummim which he obtained with the plates. In March, 1831, John Whitmer was appointed to keep the church record and history continually, Oliver having been ap. pointed to other labors. Whitmer was assisted, temporarily, on occasions of absence or illness by Warren Parrish. At a meeting of high council at Kirtland, Sept. 14, 1835, it was decided that "Oliver Cowdery be appointed, and that he act hereafter as recorder for the church," Whitmer having just been called to be editor of the Messenger and Advocate. At a general conference held in Far West, April 6, 1838, John Corrill and Elias Higbee were appointed historians, and George W. Robinson, general church recorder and clerk for the first presidency." On the death of Elder Robert B. Thompson, which occurred at Nauvoo on the twenty-seventh of August, 1841, in his obituary it is stated: "Nearly two years past he bad officiated as scribe to President Joseph Smith and clerk for the church, which important stations
FINAL ACTIVITIES 325
of which the prophet was no small cause, the abnegation of the faithful remnant was well-nigh absolute. Governor Boggs, 'knave, butcher and murderer,' as Joseph called him, had just issued his 'exterminating order,' when the following episode took place, says Elder Stevenson: -- 'In order to show how particular the prophet was regarding the revelations which he received from the Lord, I will relate an incident which occurred in Liberty jail. While the prophet was receiving a revelation, the late Bishop Alexander McRae was writing as Joseph received it. Upon this occasion Brother McRae suggested a slight change in the wording of the revelation, when Joseph sternly asked: "Do you know who you are writing for?" Brother McRae, who at once discovered his mistake, begged the prophet's pardon for undertaking to correct the word of the Lord.' 16
Smith spoke ex-cathedra; he also made assumptions as to temporal power. But theocracy was no sinecure in the far West. From the sentimental point of view, the persecutions of the Saints in
he filled with that dignity and honor befitting a man of God." During the expulsion from Missouri, and the early settlement of Nauvoo, James Mulholland, William Clayton, and perhaps others rendered temporary service in this line until the 13th of December, 1841, when Willard Richards was appointed recorder, general clerk, and private secretary to the prophet.'
16 'Reminiscences,' p. 42.
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Missouri mobs deservedly called out sympathetic mass-meetitigs in the East. 17 As to the political merits of the case, the psychologist is obliged to make a Missouri compromise, -- if some of the Borderers were ruffians, some of the Saints were sinners. But as regards the person of the founder of Mormonism, the conflict between church and state must have had far-reaching effects. As some outsider, who saw the prophet at the time, expressed it, 'Joseph Smith then endured bodily affliction and great mental suffering.' But Joseph's struggles with a cruel world were not confined to one year; they were spread over a dozen. From the time he was tarred and feathered in Ohio by 'a banditti of blacklegs, religious bigots, and cut-throats,' to the time he was 'kidnapped in Missouri through the diabolical rascality of Boggs,' -- he was not only pestered with forty-nine civil suits, but was so harried about that once, when moving to a new place, he spoke of being attacked by 'the first regular mob.'
A final ticklish question now comes up. Considering Joseph Smith's abnormal ancestry, his emotional
17 Knight, p. 83, 'One large party of women and children, protected only by six men, wandered into the prairie south, and their tracks could be followed by the blood stains on the ground; the prairie grass had been burnt, and the sharp stubble lacerated their uncovered feet, cutting and wounding them in a terrible manner; thus they wandered about for several days.'
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environment, and his lifelong instability, was not his mind, at the last, seriously affected?
The prophet's utterances within a few months of his death read like the utterances of a madman, yet political aspirations may have turned his head in only a figurative sense. His references to 'catamount politicians' and the 'imbecility of American statesmen' may have been the mere pleasantries of the stump-speaker, yet his acts during these times betoken more than a restless fancy. Again and again he went far out of his way in pursuit of his visionary aims. He called on President Van Buren, with a claim on the public treasury amounting to $1,381,044.55 1/2, Having failed to obtain redress from Congress, Smith penned a letter of inquiry to Henry Clay, asking: I What will be your rule of action relative to us as a people, should fortune favor your ascension to the chief magistracy?' 18 The reply from Ashland was courteous, but non-committal. Smith thereupon retorted with an abusive letter, called the Whig candidate a black-leg, and-ran for President himself.
The Times and Seasons pushed the Smith-Rigdon ticket, and urged the Saints to vote for 'Joseph Smith, the smartest man in the United States.' On February 7th, 1844, the prophet completed his address entitled, Views of the Powers and Policy of
18 'The Martyrs,' p. 50.
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the Government of the United States, reinforcing his arguments with quotations from various documents, authors and languages, -- among others the Constitution, Addison, French, Webster, Italian, Adams the elder, Thomas Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Hebrew, the Magna Charta, Adams the younger, Jackson, Latin, Chaldean, Dutch and Greek.
Whether Smith was now actually demented is for the alienist to decide. But adding his latest utterances to his earliest visionary seizures, it is not too much to say that psychic coordination had disappeared, and that heredity had passed down those abnormal tendencies which mark the degenerate. 19 One is not obliged to believe that Joseph's 'visions' were due to epilepsy of a masked variety. Heredity, as understood by the alienist, ignores any definite type of disease, yet it makes much of mental stigmata. Chief among these are marked sensuality, and exaggerated traits of vanity and self-conceit. In Smith's case there is abundant evidence of the former in his polygamous practices, but only the latter need here be instanced. The same visitor at Nauvoo, who had given a not unfavorable opinion of the prophet, speaks of him as a great egotist. He touched as usual on his peculiar doctrines,... became much excited, talked incessantly about himself, what he had done
19 Compare Thomas Ribot, 'The Diseases of Personality,' 1894.
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and could do ignore than other mortals, and remarked that he was 'a giant, physically and mentally.' This utterance was reported to have been made about a year before Smith's assassination, which occurred June 27th, 1844.
But the prophet's own written words are the final test of his mental condition. The statement of April, 1844, would be incredible, were it not corroborated by the statement of November, 1843: --
I know more than all the world put together.'
I combat the error of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the Gordian knot of powers, and I solve mathematical problems of universities WITH TRUTH, diamond truth, and GOD IS MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.'
[ 333 ]
First Book of Nephi. Language of the record; Nephi's abridgment; Lehi's dream; Lehi departs into the wilderness; Nephi slayeth Laban; Sariah complains of Lehi's vision; contents of the brass plates; Ishmael goes with Nephi; Nephi's brethren rebel, and bind him; Lehi's dream of the tree, rod, etc.; Messiah and John prophesied of; olive branches broken off; Nephi's vision of Mary; of the crucifixion of Christ; of darkness and earthquake; great abominable church; discovery of the promised land; Bible spoken of; book of Mormon and holy ghost promised; other books come forth; Bible and book of Mormon one; promises to the Gentiles; two churches; the work of the Father to commence; a man in white robes (John); Nephites come to knowledge; rod of iron; the sons of Lehi take wives; director found (ball); Nephi breaks his bow; directors work by faith; Ishmael died; Lehi and Nephi threatened; Nephi commanded to build a ship; Nephi about to be worshipped by his brethren;
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ship finished and entered; dancing in the ship; Nephi bound; ship driven back; arrived on the promised land; plates of ore made; Zenos, Neum, and Zenock; Isaiah's writing- holy one of Israel. 'Second Book of Nephi. Lehi to his sons; opposition in all things; Adam fell that man might be; Joseph saw our day; a choice seer; writings grow together; prophet promised to the Lamanites; Joseph's prophecy on brass plates; Lehi buried; Nephi's life Sought; Nephi separated from Laman; temple built; skin of blackness; priests, etc., consecrated; make other plates; Isaiah's words by Jacob; angels to a devil; spirits and bodies reunited; baptism; no kings upon this land; Isaiah prophesieth; rod of the stem of Jesse; seed of Joseph perisheth not; law of Moses kept; Christ shall shew himself; signs of Christ, birth and death; whisper from the dust; book sealed up; priestcraft forbidden; sealed book to be brought forth; three witnesses behold the book; the words (read this, I pray thee); seal up the book again; their priests shall contend; teach with their learning, and deny the holy ghost; rob the poor; a bible, a bible; men judged of the books; white and a delightsome people; work commences among all people; lamb of God baptized; baptism by water and holy ghost.
'Book of Jacob. Nephi anointeth a king; Nephi dies; Nephites and Lamanites; a righteous branch
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from Joseph; Lamanites shall scourge you; more than one wife forbidden; trees, waves, and mountains obey us; Jews look beyond the mark; tame olive-tree; nethermost part of the vineyard; fruit laid up against the season; another branch; wild fruit had overcome; lord of the vineyard weeps; branches overcome the roots; wild branches plucked off; Sherem, the anti-Christ; a sign, Sherem smitten; Enos takes the plates from his father.
'The Book of Enos. Enos, thy sins are forgiven; records threatened by Lamanites; Lamanites eat raw meat.
'The Book of Jarom. Nephites wax strong; Lamanites drink blood; fortify cities; plates delivered to Omni.
'The Book of Omni. Plates given to Amaron; plates given to Chemish; Mosiah warned to flee; Zarahemla discovered; engravings on a stone; Coriantumr discovered; his parents come from the tower; plates delivered to King Benjamin.
'The words of Mormon. False Christs and prophets.
'Book of Mosiah. Mosiah made king; the plates of brass, sword, and director; King Benjamin teacheth the people; their tent doors toward the temple; coming of Christ foretold; beggars not denied; sons and daughters; Mosiah began to reign; Ammon, etc., bound and imprisoned;
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Limhi's proclamation; twenty-four plates of gold; seer and translator. 'Record of Zeniff. A battle fought King Laman died; Noah made king; Abinadi the prophet; resurrection; Alma believed Abinadi; Abinadi cast into prison and scourged with fagots; waters of Mormon; the daughters of the Lamanites stolen by King Noah's priests; records on plates of ore; last tribute of wine; Lamanites'deep sleep; King Limhi baptized; priests and teachers labor; Alma saw an angel; Alma fell (dumb); King Mosiah's sons preach to the Lanianites; translation of records; plates delivered by Limhi; translated by two stones; people back to the Tower; records given to Alma; judges appointed; King Mosiah died; Alma died; Kings of Nephi ended.
'The Book of Alma. Nehor slew Gideon; Amlici made king; Amlici slain in battle; Amlicites painted red; Alma baptized in Sidon; Alma's preaching; Alma ordained elders; commanded to meet often; Alma saw an angel; Amulek saw an angel; lawyers questioning Amulek; coins named; Zeesrom the lawyer; Zeesrom trembles; election spoken of; Melchizedek priesthood; Zeesrom stoned; records burned; prison rent; Zeesrom healed and baptized; Nehor's desolation; Lamanites converted; flocks scattered at Sebus; Ammon smote off arms; Ammon and King Lamoni; King
CONTENTS OF BOOK OF MORMON 337
Lamoni fell; Ammon and the queen; king and queen prostrate; Aaron, etc., delivered; Jerusalem built; preaching in Jerusalem; Lamoni's father converted; land desolation and bountiful; anti-Nephi-Lehies; general council; swords buried; 1,000 massacred; Lamanites perish by fire; slavery forbidden; anti-Nephi-Lehies removed to Jershon, called Ammonites; tremendous battle; anti-Christ, Korihor; Korihor struck dumb; the devil in the form of an angel; Korihor trodden down; Alma's mission to Zoramites; Rameumptom (holy stand); Alma on hill Onidah; Alma on faith; prophecy of Zenos; prophecy of Zenock; Amulek's knowledge of Christ; charity recommended; same spirit possess your body; believers cast out; Alma to Helaman; plates given to Helaman; twenty-four plates; Gazelem, a stone (secret); Liahona, or compass; Alma to Shiblon; Alma to Corianton; unpardonable sin resurrection; restoration; justice in punishment; if, Adam, took, tree, life; mercy rob justice; Moroni's stratagem; slaughter of Lamanites; Moroni's speech to Zerahemnah; prophecy of a soldier; Lamanites' covenant of peace; Alma's prophecy 400 years after Christ; dwindle in unbelief; Alma's strange departure; Amalickiah leadeth away the people, destroyeth the church; standard of Moroni; Joseph's coat rent; Jacob's prophecy of Joseph's seed; fevers in the land, plants and roots
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for diseases; Amalickiah's plot; the king stabbed; Amalickiah marries the queen, and is acknowledged king; fortifications by Moroni; ditches filled with dead bodies; Amalickiah's oath; Pahoran appointed judge; army against king-men; Amalickiah slain; Ammoron made king; Bountiful fortified; dissensions; 2,000 young men; Moroni's epistle to Ammoron; Ammoron's answer; Lamanites made drunk; Moroni's stratagem; Helaman's epistle to Moroni; Helaman's stratagem; mothers taught faith; Lamanites surrendered; city of Antiparah taken; city of Cumeni taken; 200 of the 2,000 fainted; prisoners rebel, slain; Manti taken by stratagem; Moroni to the governor; governor's answer; King Pachus slain; cords and ladders prepared; Nephihah taken; Teancum's stratagem, slain; peace established; Moronihah made commander; Helaman died; sacred things, ShibIon; Moroni died; 5,400 emigrated north; ships built by Hagoth; sacred things committed to Helaman; Shiblon died.
'The Book of Helaman. Pahoran died; Pahoran appointed judge; Kishkumen slays Pahoran; Pacumeni appointed judge; Zarahemla taken; Pacumeni killed; Coriantumr slain; Lamanites surrendered; Helaman appointed judge; secret signs discovered and Kishkumen stabbed; Gadianton fled; emigration northward; cement houses; many books and records; Helaman died; Nephi made judge; Nephites
CONTENTS OF BOOK OF MORMON 339
become wicked; Nephi gave the judgment-seat to Cezoram; Nephi and Lehi preached to the Lamanites; 8,000 baptized; Alma and Nephi surrounded with fire; angels administer; Cezoram and son murdered; Gadianton robbers; Gadianton robbers destroyed; Nephi's prophecy; Gadianton robbers are judges; chief judge slain; Seantum detected; keys of the kingdom; Nephi taken away by the spirit; famine in the land; Gadianton band destroyed; famine removed; Samuel's prophecy; tools lost; two days and a night, light; sign of the crucifixion; Samuel stoned, etc.; angels appeared.
'Third Book of Nephi. Lachoneus chief judge; Nephi receives the records; Nephi's strange departure; no darkness at night; Lamanites become white; Giddianhi to Lachoneus; Gidgiddoni chief judge; Giddianhi slain; Zemnarihah hanged; robbers surrendered; Mormon abridges the records; church begins to be broken up; government of the land destroyed; chief judge murdered: divided into tribes; Nephi raises the dead; sign of the crucifixion; cities destroyed, earthquakes, darkness, etc.; law of Moses fulfilled; Christ appears to Nephites; print of the nails; Nephi and others called; baptism commanded; doctrine of Christ; Christ the end of the law; other sheep spoken of; blessed are the Gentiles; Gentile wickedness on the land of Joseph; Isaiah's words fulfilled; Jesus heals the sick; Christ
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blesses children; little ones encircled with fire; Christ administers the sacrament; Christ teaches his disciples; names of the twelve; the twelve teach the multitude; baptism, holy ghost, and fire; disciples made white; faith great; Christ breaks bread again; miracle, bread and wine; Gentiles destroyed (Isaiah); Zion established; from Gentiles, to your seed; sign, Father's work commenced; he shall be marred; Gentiles destroyed (Isaiah); New Jerusalem built; work commence[d] among all the tribes; Isaiah's words; saints did arise; Malachi's prophecy; faith tried by the Book of Mormon ; children's tongues loosed; the dead raised; baptism and holy ghost; all things common; Christ appears again; Moses, church; three Nephites tarry; the twelve caught up; change upon their bodies.
'Book of Nephi, son of Nephi. Disciples raise the dead; Zarahemla rebuilt; other disciples are ordained in their stead; Nephi dies; Amos keeps the records in his stead; Amos dies, and his son Amos keeps the records; prisons rent by the three; secret combinations; Ammaron hides the records.
'Book of Mormon. Three disciples taken away; Mormon forbidden to preach; Mormon appointed leader; Samuel's prophecy fulfilled; Mormon makes a record; lands divided; the twelve shall judge; desolation taken; women and children sacrificed; Mormon takes the records hidden in Shim; Mormon
CONTENTS OF BOOK OF MORMON 341
repents of his oath and takes command; coining forth of records; records hid in Cumorah; 230,000 Nephites slain; shall not get gain by the plates; these things shall come forth out of the earth; the state of the world; miracles cease, unbelief; disciples go into all the world and preach; language of the book.
'Book of Ether. Twenty-four plates found; Jared cries unto the Lord; Jared goes down to the valley of Nimrod; Deseret, honey-bee; barges built; decree of God, choice land; free from bondage; four years in tents at Moriancumer; Lord talks three hours; barges like a dish; eight vessels, sixteen stones; Lord touches the stones; finger of the Lord seen; Jared's brother sees the Lord; two stones given; stones sealed up; goes aboard of vessels; furious wind blows; 344 days' passage; Orihah anointed king; King Shule taken captive; Shule's sons slay Noah; Jared carries his father away captive; the daughters of Jared dance; Jared anointed king by the hand of wickedness; Jared murdered and Akish reigns in his stead; names of animals; poisonous serpents; Riplakish's cruel reign; Morianton anointed king; poisonous serpents destroyed; many wicked kings; Moroni on faith; miracles by faith; Moroni sees Jesus; New Jerusalem spoken of; Ether cast out; records finished in the cavity of a rock; secret combinations;
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war in all the land King Gilead murdered by his high priest; the high priest murdered by Lib; Lib slain by Coriantumr; dead bodies cover the land and none to bury them; 2,000,000 men slain; hill Ramah; cries rend the air; sleep on their swords; Coriantumr slays Shiz; Shiz falls to the earth; records hidden by Ether.
'Book of Moroni. Christ's words to the twelve; manner of ordination; order of sacrament; order of baptism; faith, hope and charity; baptism of little children; women fed on their husbands' flesh, daughters murdered and eaten; sufferings of women and children; cannot recommend them to God; Moroni to the Lamanites; 420 years since the sign; records sealed up (Moroni); gifts of the spirits; God's word shall hiss forth.'
[ 345 ]
The diagnosis of an apparent epilepsy in Smith's visionary seizures is difficult for three reasons: -- first, the descriptions come from incompetent observers; second, the paroxysms present great diversity of form; third, there is an absence of definite pathological stigmata. There are no photographs extent from which cranial malformations might be observed; yet all the portraits of Smith show an inferior cranial angle, and an overdeveloped cerebellum.
But the prognosis is assured from the antecedents of the patient. The case is not idiopathic; there are known causes furnishing an almost complete etiology. Foremost is heredity. Joseph's maternal
1 References. 'Archiv for Psychiatrie,' 8, 200 seq; Charcot, Bouchard et Brissaud, 'Traite de Medecine,' Paris, 1894, -- Dutil -- 'Epilepsie;' Hughlings-Jackson, in Brain II, 179, ff.; Kraft-Ebing, 'Lehrbuch de Psychiatric,' Stuttgart, 1897 -- 'Das Epileptische Irresein;' E. D. Starbuck, 'The Psychology of Religion,' New York, 1899; H. von Ziemsen, 'Cyclopoedia of the Practice of Medicine,' New York, 1877, Volume XIV, -- Prof. H. Northnagel, 'Epilepsy.'
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grandfather had 'fits.' The hallucinations of Solomon Mack at the age of seventy-six, have been already traced to temporary causes, such as rheumatism. Of Solomon's many ailments and accidents, three have especial bearing on the problem. Some time before 1757, at about the age of twenty-two, he writes, 'I had a terrible fever sore on my leg, which had well-nigh proved fatal to my life. 2 This is to be noticed only because Joseph had a similar trouble, at a somewhat earlier age. Again Solomon relates that while visiting his son, who was cutting trees, 'A tree fell on me and crushed me almost all to pieces, beat the breath out of my body, my son took me up for dead, I however soon recovered, but have not to this day recovered the use of my limbs, which was thirty-four years ago. ... I lay sixty days on my back and never moved or turned to one side or the other, the skin was worn off my backbone one end to the other. 3 This story is corroborated by the account of an eyewitness at Royalton, Vermont, who portrayed Solomon Mack as 'an infirm old man, who used to ride around on horseback, on a side-saddle.' 4
These two episodes are perhaps immaterial, but the third is not. Solomon again says, ' Soon
2 'Narrative,' p. 5.
3 'Narrative,' p. 10.
4 Historical Magazine, November, 1870.
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after this I was wounded by a limb falling from a tree upon my head, which again nearly deprived me of life. I afterwards was taken with a fit.' 5 The date of this affliction is extremely significant. It happened about a year before the birth of Lucy Mack, Solomon's last child and the mother of the prophet. 6 This fit, attributable to traumatic lesion, is thus described by the patient himself: -- 'I afterwards was taken with a fit, when traveling, with an axe under my arm, on Winchester hills, the face of the land was covered with ice. I was senseless from one, until five p. m. When I came to myself I had my axe still under my arm. I was all covered with blood and much cut and bruised. When I came to my senses I could not tell where I had been nor where I was going... was under the doctor's care all the winter. 7 Alcoholism, as a provocative of epilepsy, cannot be causally connected with these seizures. Solomon had been an army sutler for twenty-seven years, 8 but his acknowledged drunkenness came only after the Tunbridge episode. As a sailor on the Atlantic, he confesses to a chronic intoxication and adds, the devil had got hold on me and I served him well.' 9
5 'Narrative,' p. 12,
6 The date of the 'Narrative' is not later than 1810; Lucy was born in 1776.
7 'Narrative,' p. 12.
8 'Narrative,' Errata.
9 'Narrative,' p. 15.
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Of the other branch of this first generation much less is known. Joseph's paternal grandfather, Asael Smith, nicknamed 'crook-necked' Smith, at the age of eighty-six, is spoken of as 'just recovering from a severe fit'and of 'weak mind.' 10 There is nothing more to be made of this than mental failure due to senility.
Returning to the more significant maternal line, Joseph's grandmother Lydia Gates Mack, at the age of forty-seven, had 'a severe fit of sickness. She was so low that she, as well as her friends, entirely despaired of her recovery.' 11 She was however alive in 1815, aged eighty. Proceeding to the second generation, of Joseph's father, only two slight illnesses are recorded, 12 one of them was, curiously enough, at the time of Joseph's first real seizure. But to leave the ascendants, it is noticeable that the collaterals on the male side were uniformly healthy. Of Joseph's uncles, Jason, Daniel and Solomon (2d) nothing is said; Stephen is described as robust, and as being ill but four days before his death. It is different with the female side. Of Lydia, no pathological details are given, but Lovisa, despite her miraculous recovery' died of consumption within
10 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 154, 155.
11 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 36.
12 The alleged intoxication of Joseph, senior, was charged by his enemies only after the removal to New York State.
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two years, and Lovina succumbed to the same disease after lingering three years. 13
As to the mother of the prophet, her hallucinations have already been described; the coincident sickness is like that of her sisters. At the age of twenty-six, after the birth of Alvin and Hyrum, Lucy 'took a heavy cold, which caused a, severe cough.... A hectic fever set in, which threatened to prove fatal, and the physician pronounced my case to be confirmed consumption.' Of the course of recovery there is no information, but, in middle life, judging from her ability for hard work, Lucy appears to have been in good health. But immediately before the birth of Joseph, in 1805, his mother was in indigence, if not positive want. 14 It was, however, not until 1811, that Joseph, senior's mind 'became much excited upon the Subject of religion'; his seven visions then followed at the rate of one a year. His death, at seventy, was said to be due to the 'eruption of a blood vessel.' 15
13 'Biographical Sketches,' Chapter 3.
14 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 56. In Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, she says, I my husband rented a farm of my father, which he cultivated in the summer, teaching school in the winter. In this way my husband continued laboring for a few years, during which time our circumstance gradually improved, until we found ourselves quite comfortable again. In the meantime we had a son whom we called Joseph.'
15 'Times and Seasons,' 5, 173.
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Before further examination of Joseph's neuropathic antecedents, and in order to complete the tale of the generations, a word may be said concerning his progeny. From sources which cannot here be divulged, comes the significant fact that 'fits' have reappeared, not in the fourth, 16 but in the fifth generation. The atavism in the prophet's case is clear: he stands midway in the series. As to the causes productive of the epileptic tendency, heredity has its acknowledged primacy. If one so pleases, heredity may here be taken in its broader sense of mere 'nervousness' in the ancestors. In many cases, it is asserted, the parents need not be directly responsible, for a neuropathic tendency in the family generally suffices. But this case is more pronounced; the grandsire's first 'fit' took place about the age of forty-one, the first 'vision' of the grandson about fourteen. This fulfils the condition that, 'if epilepsy is hereditary the descendants are attacked at an earlier age than the ascendants.'
Besides an inherited nervous diathesis, diseases furnished foredisposing causes. More is made of Joseph's individual vicissitudes than of all his nine brothers and sisters put together. 17 In 1811 all
16 Joseph Smith, junior's first child, by Emma Hale, died shortly after birth. Compare 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 118. That perjured apostate 'Dr.' Bennett, eight years the prophet's body physician, claims that it was a monster.
17 Of these the following are noticed: Alvin, the first child, at
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the children had 'typhus' (typhoid ?) in Lebanon, N. H. Within a month of recovery, at the age of six, Joseph developed a 'fever sore,' first on the breast, then on the leg; the latter sore being similar to that of his grandfather Mack's. A portion of the 'bone of the leg' was removed by surgeons, without the use of anesthetics At the age of ten, Joseph was still lame; in the forties he escaped regular military duty by pleading lameness as a disability.
If a nervous diathesis, an infectious fever, and an ulceration, may be considered likely predisposing causes, the exciting causes of the seizures are equally marked. Nervous instability, consequent on protracted religious excitement, at the time of puberty, has been elsewhere treated, 18 but the immediate exciting cause of the boy's first seizure may be laid to fright. ' At the age of fourteen... a gun was fired across his pathway... he sprang to the door much frightened. 19
twenty-five was I murdered' by a doctor, through an overdose of collomel; Sophronia recovers of typhus, on the ninetieth day, through prayer;' Samuel died at thirty-two from I fever due to overexertion in escaping a mob;' Ephraim lived but eleven days after his birth; Don Carlos died at twenty-five of consumption. 'Biographical Sketches,' Chapter xx, etc.
18 Above Chapter II. The 'protracted meetings' in Western New York revivals took from eight to thirty days, often from sunrise to 9 p. m. Hotchkin, p. 165.
19 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 73.
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Now the first vision may be explained as a migraine, but the recurrence of this psychic aura, in a more or less stereotyped form, along with otherwise inexplicable injuries and contusions, is to be laid to a real epilepsy. Here alcoholisim was first in the list of provocative causes. Joseph's confession as to the 'weakness of youth, foolish errors, divers temptations and gratifications of appetites offensive in the sight of God,' -- is to be coupled with the confessions of his adherents that he sometimes drank too much liquor. The frequency of his intoxication cannot be determined; along with Joseph, senior, he was charged by his enemies with public drunkenness; the Mormons themselves acknowledge at least two of the counts. There is no truth whatever in the statement that both parents drank; the neuropathic condition of the mother was transmitted. That alcoholism did but little to debilitate Joseph is proved by his general good health after thirty. It was, however, a provocative agent of his second attack at eighteen, for only the slightest stimulation was necessary to bring about a repetition of the first attack.
The two earliest seizures may be now examined in conjunction. As already suggested, the theophanic portion of the visions may be largely explained as an ophthalmic migraine. Whether this is to be associated with a partial sensorial epilepsy, is determinable, in one case, by what precedes, in the
EPILEPSY AND THE VISIONS 353
other by what follows. Collecting the terms there are the following expressions: 'a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.' In the second vision the details are fuller and more exact: 'On a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness burst into the room; indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with a consuming fire.... I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so, until the room was again left dark, except just around him, when instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended up till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.' This manifestation was repeated twice that night, once on the following day, and also throughout the series. As usual the apparent objective manifestations were actually subjective symptoms. Their similarity is due to the fact that in ophthalmic migraine periodical attacks tend to be similar in the same patient. The visual disturbance is ushered in by a dimness or blindness, then a scintillating scotonia occupies the outer portions of the visual field. Patients experiencing this symptom for the first time cannot give
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an exact account of it, more than that it is a dazzling comparable to that observed in looking at the sun. But with repetition there comes a more accurate envisagement, as in the second vision of Joseph. 'The luminous bill of fire enlarges its centre becomes obscure; gradually it passes beyond the limits of the visual field above and below, and the patient sees only a portion of it, in the form of a broken luminous line, which continues to vibrate until it has entirely disappeared. Then follows a phase of exhaustion and sometimes somnolence.'
These sequelx appear in the second vision, but to turn to the prodromata of the first. Joseph says that in this time of great excitement his mind was in a state of 'great uneasiness,' his feelings 'deep and pungent,' and he 'kept himself aloof.' These are the remote premonitory symptoms of an attack, when the patient labors under a singular oppression two or three days beforehand and is irritable, sad and secretive. The real seizure does not follow, unless there are immediate premonitory symptoms. These are not lacking in Joseph's case; the 'thick darkness' may be explained as a migrainous scotoma, but fuller explanation is needed of Joseph's additional statements: 'I was seized upon by some power as to bind my tongue; I was ready to sink into despair, until I found myself delivered from the enemy; I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory
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defy all description, one of whom spake unto me.' Taken in order and with proper terminology these phenomena appear to constitute the real epileptic aura. After the gradually increasing melancholic depression, the patient manifests: first, a sudden terror; second, violent palpitations of the heart, accompanied by a difficulty in breathing and a constriction of the larynx; third, along with these symptoms are complex visual and auditory hallucinations of corporeal figures, such as of fantastic personages who carry on a conversation or deliver a message. More marked, psychic, sensitive and sensory prodromata are manifest in the second vision. Whether this first psychic paroxysm was followed by a real seizure, is undeterminable. It is not, at any rate, the classic major attack. There is loss of consciousness -- 'when I came to myself' -- but nothing from which general convulsions can be inferred. Nevertheless the sensorial migraine is an equivalent for convulsive paroxysms. Again, in the major attacks, there is often lacking the initial cry, tongue biting, and evacuations. The character of Joseph's seizures, whether they are the mild type, the transitional form, or merely epileptoid, is to be gathered only from the whole series, for in individual cases, manifold diversities are found, even in the features of the full epileptic attack.
Turning to the second seizure, it represents the
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more essential features of mental and motor disturbance, -- a verbal deafness and feebleness of the limbs, followed by exhaustion and somnolence. The vision proper took place the night before the real seizure. As there was no apparent loss of consciousness, it may be considered merely as the immediate premonition. Moreover, this vision, like the first, was preceded by anxiety and disquietude -- 'I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections.' As an immediate prodroma, it is marked by more exact details. The parallel account gives these extra data. The celestial messenger's appearance was like 'fire,' and 'produced a shock which affected the whole body.' These may be explained as the sensory aura of red color (rothen flammenschein) and the sensitive aura of numbness (engourdissement).
It is now in order to examine alternative explanations. Joseph's second vision is not to be explained as a vertigo, in which either the patient feels himself turning, or external objects seem to move to one side. This night vision resembles a particular variety of epilepsy denominated intellectual aura.' It begins with color projections, followed by 'seeing faces;' the auditory sensation-warnings being, in turn, succeeded by 'hearing voices' (Hughlings-Jackson). There is not always loss of consciousness but a state of semi-consciousness
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with reminiscent dreams. (Compare: -- 'I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, when I discovered the same heavenly messenger again.') The manifestation occurred thrice that night. Such hyperideation was a precursory sign of the real seizure which occurred on the following day. The lad's mother says, 'Joseph stopped quite suddenly; seemed to be in a very deep study.' Being hurried by his brother he 'went to work again and after laboring a short time, he stopped just as he had done before. This being quite unusual and strange, his father discovered that Joseph was very pale.'
Thus far the case appears to be one of those attenuated epileptic attacks, designated vacuity, which is limited to a loss of consciousness with temporary pallor, but the patient does not fall or utter a cry. 'Immovable, with his eyes fixed, and a strange air, he remains as if unconscious, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, in a sort of ecstasy. Perhaps he executes certain automatic movements. It all lasts only several seconds. The patient shortly returns to himself, takes up the conversation at the point where he had left off or returns to his work' (Dutil). Joseph's version of this episode is as follows: Arising 'shortly after' the night vision, he found his 'strength so exhausted' as rendered him I entirely unable' to work; his father told him to go home, but in attempting to cross the fence his
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'strength entirely failed'; he fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.' The previous night's hallucination of the messenger and the message is then repeated. This reproduction of the seizure under the apple-tree was followed by restlessness and exhaustion. Joseph says, 'I left the field and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited.' His mother adds, 'The ensuing evening Joseph made known what passed between him and the angel while he was at the place where the plates were deposited. Sitting up late that evening, together with overexertion of mind had much fatigued Joseph.' Thus the after effects of the attack of September 24th, 1823, took the usual form of nervous exhaustion, a veritable nervous discharge leaving behind a state of collapse corresponding to the intensity of this discharge. In fact these are the prominent sequelae of all the fully recorded visions. After the fifth, he was 'much exhausted and very tired;' after the sixth, 'he returned to the house, weeping for grief and disappointment;' after the seventh, he was 'altogether speechless from fright and the fatigue of running,' and 'threw himself upon the bed.'
In the same manner the state of coma in the series is uniform in occurrence, though varying in degree. In the first, it was expressed by the words -- 'when
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I came to myself;' in the second, --'I was quite unconscious of anything;' in the third, he I was overcome by the powers of darkness and when he recovered, the angel was gone;' in the sixth, 'he did not get home till the night was far spent;' in the seventh, 'he dislocated his thumb, which, however, he did not notice until he came within sight of the house.'
Loss of consciousness, as a chief criterion of epilepsy, has been here emphasized. Yet the classic convulsive symptoms are by no means lacking, hence it is largely from their effects and after marks that they are to be inferred. There must, however, be taken into account the lack of clinical data, for, with the exception of the episode in the field which 'attracted the attention of his father,' the seizures took place away from observers. Now if the fact that the most elaborate of the hallucinations was nocturnal excites suspicion of epilepsy, the fact that most of the attacks were ambulatory attacks, away from home, furnishes cumulative evidence of true epileptic convulsions.
To anticipate the answer to an important question: Were any of these true major attacks? The second main seizure and the immediate falling 'helpless to the ground' bespeak a spasmodic innervation of the limbs. Furthermore the dislocation of the boy's thumb in the last attack points to that common
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epileptic symptom of the thumb being forcibly flexed into the hand. If there were any instances of grand mal, the tonic and clonic spasms cannot be distinguished. The former, as sometimes occurs, are here wanting, unless such be the dislocation of the thumb. But the more rapid and violent convulsions, with consequent wounds and excoriations of the skin, are to be gathered from collateral information. The form of the hallucination varies, but these accounts agree as to the after affects. One reads, 'When Joseph got the plates, on his way home, he was met by what appeared to be a man, who struck him with a club on his side, which was all black and blue. 20 The other states, 'As he returned and was getting over the fence, one of the devils struck him a blow on his side, where a black and blue spot remained three or four days.' 21 These ecchymoses are symptomatic of rather severe convulsions. The variety in the terms of explanation -- 'devils struck, angels chastised, assassins assaulted' him -- as in the case of his grandfather, shows the inability of the patient to explain his self-inflicted injuries. Again in the grand mal the prodromata are lacking in half the cases, as here, but unconsciousness outlasts the
21 Tiffany's Monthly, May, 1859. Interview with Martin Harris.
22 Historical Magazine, May, 1870, p. 305. Fayette Lapham in an interview with Joseph Smith, senior, in 1830.
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spasm. Joseph on the other hand appears to have been conscious of a series of shocks' over the whole body. In the third seizure, according to his mother, 'he was hurled back on the ground with great violence;' again, according to a reported statement of his father, 'he felt something strike him on the breast, which was repeated a third time, always with increased force, the last such as to lay him on his back.'
The evidence in Joseph's case is now in. It remains, if possible, to locate it among the various forms of epilepsy: -- 1. grand mal; 2. petit mal; 3. transitional; 4. irregular; 5. epileptoid and epileptiform (Northnagel). The classic form of the epileptic attack is not immutable, yet it would be pressing the argument from silence, to identify the omissions in the text, with the occasional omissions in the grand attack. There is the lack, not only of those symptoms already mentioned, but also of the cry, which is more often absent than present; and in particular of consciousness, which is rarely completely retained. Joseph's case is not in the first category, grand mal, for 'the major convulsive attack, with loss of consciousness, presents this constant characteristic, -- that it leaves no trace in the memory of the patient.' This amnesia varies in duration. 'Many patients remember the remote premonitory phenomena and even the sensations of
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the aura. Some retain the memory of the first convulsive movements' (Fere). At the same time, it should be allowed that the epileptic attack does not always occur in the same manner; in the same patient it may vary infinitely in aspect, intensity and duration; moreover incomplete attacks may alternate with grand attacks. For all that, there is no single experience of Joseph's which completely fulfils the classic formula: -- premonitory symptoms remote and immediate, with both mental and motor disturbances; the attack proper, with its two periods of tonic and clonic convulsions; the after-stage of gradual return to consciousness, with abnormally deep sleep; and the sequelae -- of wounds, bruises, excoriations.
If Joseph's case is not grand mal, it is also not petit mal. He had in the first half of the series premonitions, and in the last half spasms. Again, to anticipate, the depth of his exhaustion and of his unnerved and bruised state militate against the penultimate class, -- the so-called irregular forms, in which the epileptic delirium is mild; and in greater degree against the last class, -- the epileptoid and epileptiform seizures. These are slight and incomplete and do not comprise violent acts of ambulatory automatism in which the patient senselessly wounds himself. Possibly Joseph's last recorded seizure, with the long flight from home, may be one of
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those irregular forms, in which convulsions are replaced by running.
On the whole, out of the five given varieties, the third, from its inclusive character, best describes Joseph's case. Of course different forms of attack occur jointly, and, like the undefined visions of 1825 and 1826, mental disturbances may arise in place of the whole attack. But if any exactness of definition is required, Northnagel's transitional form of epilepsy fairly includes the variant forms of Joseph's seizures. In general, in the transition-forms, there is loss of consciousness with local spasms. Unlike the rarer petit mal this may occur without any visible outward spasims. The above mentioned variety in Joseph's terms of explanation -- he was 'struck, chastised, assaulted' -- is in accord with the transitional type of spasmodic phenomena, for the locality, intensity and nature of these are subject to the greatest variation. As to further permutations, it happens but seldom that tonic and clonic spasms appear together, or in succession, as in the major attacks; as a rule there is in this form only one or the other kind. Thus it may happen that certain fingers are rigidly bent or stretched -- as Joseph's dislocation of thumb in the last seizure, -- or a slight tremor runs over the whole body -- as Joseph's 'a shock that affected the whole body.' This latter detail, for fear of mutiplying the number
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of real seizures, has been already considered a mere premonitory symptom. Further discussion of the transitional attack proper is unnecessary, for, as has been said, 'it is quite unprofitable to undertake to enumerate here all the possible multifarious varieties of the picture; the reality surpasses any description.'
As to the immediate consequences of the epileptic attack, besides the nervous collapse already indicated, there is to be incidentally noted the slight aphasia after the longest ambulatory seizure -- 'Joseph made no answer.' The more marked psychic after effects have been described in the text.
In connection with the psychiatric criteria, such as the hallucination of persecution, Joseph's inter-paroxysmal condition should be studied. The only pertinent statement is, that, previous to the seizure of January, 1827, which took place within a week or so of his marriage, Joseph was 'in good health and fine spirits.' Now this is not opposed to the general constitutional relations, 'as the constitution may be perfectly normal, so in the case of certain epileptics may all pathological appearances on the part of the nervous system be absent; i. e., many epileptics appear to be ailing only at the time of the paroxysms, exhibiting in the intervals the appearance of thoroughly aiiti completely healthy
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persons' (Northnagel). As to the remoter consequences again but one definite fact is obtainable. About six months after the last recorded seizure, Joseph was 'nearly worn out, of gloomy appearance, constitution evidently not strong, and he would fall asleep as he was walking along.' 22 Joseph's mother attributes this exhaustion to his grief over the loss of his first child, and anxiety as to the stolen portion of the Book of Mormon. 23 Did this bring on other attacks? Within two months the 'angel visited Joseph'; this was soon after followed by a 'revelation.' Again on September 22, 1828, just a year after the last fully recorded vision, he received a message that 'the servants of Satan have sought to destroy you.' Whether these visitations are to be identified with epileptic seizures is immaterial; 24 the point here is that, as regards mental manifestations, 'it is undoubtedly possible for an absolutely healthy state of mind to coexist with epilepsy.' Historical tradition tells of numerous highly gifted
22 'Biographical Sketches,' pp. 119-20.
23 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 118. In July, 1828, Joseph had a revelation concerning certain manuscripts taken from the possessions of Martin Harris' ("Book of Commandments," chapter 3) but this 'revelation' was I soon after the angel visited him.' 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 125.
24 'Book of Commandments,' Chapter 4, following. Further revelations followed on February, March and April, 1829, but the series beginning then concerns business affairs and are not theophanic visions.
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men who suffer from epilepsy, and whose deeds do not allow the recognition of any mental deterioration.
Finally, as to Joseph's relief from these seizures: there seems to have been a spontaneous cure in his twenty-third year. This recovery was facilitated positively by the infrequency of his attacks, negatively by the fact that the seizures were of the non-vertiginous variety. Whether these youthful experiences seriously affected his mind is to be determined only from a view of his whole public life, from the time he was tarred and feathered by a mob to his last days of colossal egotism. The prophet's mental soundness is a question for the alienist to decide. Nevertheless parsimony demands a cautious judgment, for in decided reaction against the opinion formerly maintained, it has been proved by statistics, that alienation occurs only if the epileptic seizures follow in unusually rapid succession.
[ 369 ]
1 References: -- H. H. Bancroft, 'History of Utah,' 1890; 'Handbook of Reference,' 1884; E. D. Howe, 'Mormonism Unvailed,' 1834; J. H. Kennedy, 'Early Days of Mormonism,' 1888; 'The Manuscript Found'... From a Verbatim Copy of the Original... including correspondence,' 1885; R. Patterson, 'Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?' 1882; A. T. Schroeder, 'The Origin of the Book of Mormon,' 1901; 'Times and Seasons,' 4, 179 ff.; B. Winchester, 'The Origin of the Spaulding Story,' 1840.
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which the famous Golden Bible was brought before the world. To which are added, inquiries into the probability that the historical part of the said Bible was written by one Solomon Spaulding, more than twenty years ago, and by him intended to have been published as a romance.'
According to the account of his widow, 2 Solomon Spaulding was born in Connecticut in 1761, and was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785. Becoming a Congregational minister, in 1809 he removed to New Salem, now Conneaut, Ohio. Being of a lively imagination and with a great fondness for history, he became interested in the numerous mounds and forts of Ohio, supposed to be the works of an extinct race. To beguile his invalidism he took three years in writing a historical sketch of this long lost race. Their extreme antiquity led him to write in the most ancient style, his sole object being to amuse himself and his neighbors. The book claimed to have been written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the earth. It assumed the title of the 'Manuscript Found.' Its date was 1812, about the time of Hull's surrender of Detroit. In that year Mr. Spaulding removed to Pittsburg and offered the manuscript to the printer Patterson, in whose office it was copied by an employee, Sidney Rigdon. At length the
2 Boston Recorder, May [sic, Apr. 19] 1839.
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manuscript was returned to its author.... In 1834, at New Salem, Ohio, a Mormon preacher read copious extracts from the Book of Mormon. The historical part was recognized by the older inhabitants as the identical work of Mr. Spaulding. 'Thus an historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred scripture, has been construed into a new Bible.'
Of the ultimate fate of this manuscript, nothing is said by Spaulding's widow, but Howe claimed to have found, among Spaulding's literary remains, -- 'a single manuscript book, containing about one quire of paper. It was a romance purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found in twenty- four rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of Conneaut Creek, but written in modern style, and giving a fabulous account of a ship being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era; this country being then inhabited by Indians. This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing by going further back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'
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It should here be noted that, as early as 1834 there appear to enter into the problem two distinct Spaulding manuscripts, -- one primary, which may be called the 'Latin version' (L), the other subsequent and secondary, the 'Hebraic version' (H). These, and possibly other manuscripts, are also referred to in the testimonies of the 'older inhabitants,' which Howe cites, and which will be scrutinized later. Howe's book, with its double form of the Spaulding theory, was of course criticised in the Mormon Church organ. 3 It was answered at length, in 1840, by B. Winchester's, 'The origin of the Spaulding story concerning the 'Manuscript Found'; with a short biography of Dr. p. Hulbert, the originator of the same; and some testimony adduced, showing it to be a sheer fabrication so far as its connection with the 'Book of Mormon' is concerned.'
The hypothesis of the agency of Hulbert (or Hurlburt) rests chiefly on the testimony of one Jackson, who, having read both the Book of Mormon and Spaulding's manuscript, said that there was no agreement between them, for 'Mr. Spaulding's manuscript was a very small work, in the form of a novel, saying not one word about the children of Israel, but professed to give an account of a race of people who originated from the
3 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 906.
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Romans, which Mr. Spaulding said he had translated from a Latin parchment that he had found.' 4
For almost fifty years the treatises of Howe and Winchester contained the most valuable first-hand information. Other works, on both sides, simply rehashed the old arguments. A possible exception is the pamphlet, in 1882, of Robert Patterson, son of the Pittsburg printer. In attempting to prove that Rigdon was the connecting link between Spaulding and Smith, he acknowledged that he could find only five witnesses who could testify to Rigdon's residence in Pittsburg before 1816, and that none of these could speak from personal knowledge of Rigdon's possible employment in Patterson's printing office. Patterson yet asserts 'that Rigdon as early as 1823 had possession of Spaulding's manuscript. How he obtained it is unimportant; that during his career as a minister of the Disciples' Church in Ohio, he devoted an absorbed attention to it; that he was aware of the forthcoming Book of Mormon and its contents long before its appearance; that the said contents were largely Spaulding's romance, and partly such modifications as Rigdon had introduced, and that during the preparation of the Book of Mormon, Rigdon had repeated and long interviews with Smith, thus
4 Compare Scribner's Magazine, October, 1881, p. 946.
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easily supplying him with fresh installments of the pretended revelation.'
In 1885 came an apparent settlement of the question, by the discovery of the alleged original of Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found' in Honolulu. Despite its acceptance by Latter-day Saints and their critics alike it appears a dubious production for a graduate of Dartmouth. It does not seem to have occurred to either side that this may be like McPherson's Ossianic poems -- after-thoughts made to order; that the 'Conneaut' story which purports to have been translated from parchment in 'Roman Letters in the Latin Language' may be only another example of the literature of disguise; that with Howe's classic description of this Latin version (L) before them, the Mormon missionaries in the Sandwich Islands -- such as W. F. Cluff and G. Q. Cannon -- may have forged this document to fit the case, and to divert attention from the complexity of the problem. However that may be, the characteristics of both form and matter may be learned from a few excerpts and also from the correspondence relative to its discovery: -- 5
'Near the west bank of the Coneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and
5 Words and sentences underlined were stricken out in the manuscript. Places marked thus... the copy was illegible.
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forming various conjectures respecting the character situation & numbers of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and inginuety, I hapned to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, & it lay on the top of a great small mound of Earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters, which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription.
AN EPITOME OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE & OF HIS ARIVAL IN AMERICA.
As it is possible that in some future age this part of the Earth will be inhabited by Europians & a history of its present inhabitants would be a valuable acquisition I proceed to write one & deposit it in a box secured.... so that the ravages of time will have no effect upon it that you may know the author I will give a succint account of his life and of the cause of his arrival which I have extracted from a manuscript which will be deposited with this history.
* * * * *
Not far behind appeared Ramack, the King of Geneseo.
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move. At the head of ten Thousand bold & robust wariors, he appeared at the place of general rendezvoz, within one day after the King of Cataraugus had arrived. He bosted of the rapidity of his movements & tho he commanded the smallest division of the grand army, yet he anticipated distinguished laurels of glory, not less than what would be obtained by their first commanders.
When these kings with their forces had all arived at Tolanga, the Emperor Rambock ordered them to parade on a great plain. They obeyed
'Brave warriors. It is with the greatest satisfaction & joy, that I now behold you assembled to revenge
Ex-President J. H. Fairchild, of Oberlin College, in the library of which this document now rests. has compared the manuscript with the Book of Mormon and sees no reason to doubt this is the long
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 377
lost story and yet can detect no resemblance between the two in general and in detail except that each professes to set forth the history of lost tribes. 6 A letter of the finder, dated Honolulu, March 28th, 1885, to Mr. Joseph Smith, president of the Reorganized Church of L. D. S., gives further details: --
'The Spaulding Manuscript in my possession came into my hands in this wise. In 1839-40 my partner and myself bought of E. D. Howe the Painesville Telegraph, published at Painesville, Ohio. The transfer of the printing department, types, press, &c., was accompanied with a large collection of books, manuscripts, &c., this manuscript of Spaulding among the rest. So, you see, it has been in my possession over forty years. But I never examined it, or knew the character of it, until some six or eight months since. The wrapper was marked, 'Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek.' The wonder is, that in some of my movements, I did not destroy or burn it with a large amount of rubbish that had accumulated from time to time.
It happened that Pres't Fairchild was here on a visit, at the time I discovered the contents of it, and it was examined by him and others with much curiosity. Since Pres't Fairchild published the fact of its existence in my possession, I have had applications for it from half a dozen sources, each applicant seeming to think that he or she was entitled to it. Mr. Howe says when he was getting up a book to expose Mormonism as a fraud at an early day, when the Mormons had their headquarters at Kirtland, he obtained it from some source, and it was inadvertently
6 'Bibliotheca Sacra,' January, 1885, p. 173 ff.
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transferred with the other effects of the printing office. A. B. Deming, of Painesville, who is also getting up some kind of a book I believe on Mormonism, wants me to send it to him.
This Manuscript does not purport to be 'a story of the Indians formerly occupying this continent;' but is a history of the wars between the Indians of Ohio and Kentucky, and their progress in civilization, &c. It is certain that this Manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible, whatever some other manuscript may have been. The only similarity between them, is, in the manner in which each purports to have been found -- one in a cave on Conneaut Creek -- the other in a hill in Ontario County, New York. There is no identity of names, of persons, or places; and there is no similarity of style between them. As I told Mr. Deming, I should as soon think the Book of Revelations was written by the author of Don Quixotte, as that the writer of this Manuscript was the author of the Book of Mormon. Deming says Spaulding made three copies of 'Manuscript Found,' one of which Sidney Rigdon stole from a printing office in Pittsburg. You can probably tell better than I can, what ground there is for such an allegation. In a postscript Mr. Rice says he found the following endorsement on the Manuscript:
'The writings of Solomon Spaulding proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession,
(Signed) D. p. HURLBUT.'
Rice's subsequent conclusion that his find was 'the only writing of Spaulding,' is contradicted by
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the testimony of the 'living witnesses' of 1833, quoted by Howe. The affidavits of the three endorsers of the Honolulu document are as follows: Aaron Wright said Spaulding possessed beside 'many other manuscripts, a history of the lost tribes of Israel... their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter.' Oliver Smith said Spaulding 'was writing an historical novel founded upon the first settlers of this country,... their journey from Jerusalem till their arrival in America. No religious matter was introduced.' John N. Miller said, 'In 1811 Spaulding had two or three books or pamphlets on different subjects... one called the "Manuscript Found," -- a history of the settlement of America... from Jerusalem. I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spaulding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the "Manuscript Found." Many of the passages in the Mormon book are verbatim from Spaulding, and others in part.' These three witnesses identify the Book of Mormon with the Hebrew version (H). Of the other witnesses only one would seem to refer to (L). He said 'I have lately read the Book of Mormon, and believe it to be the same as Spaulding
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wrote, except the religious part.' Now Howe's witnesses later contradict themselves. When the Latin version (L) was subsequently shown to 'several of the foregoing witnesses' they said that it 'bears no resemblance to the "Manuscript Found" in the old scripture style.' In other words the 'original autographs' of Spaulding were at least two, which of these, if either furnished matter to Smith for the Book of Mormon, it is now impossible to discover.
In like manner it appears impossible to show how, when or through whom, Smith obtained a Spaulding document which became the 'source, root and inspiration' of the Book of Mormon. The general formula for the anti-Mormon theory is that through Patterson, Rigdon obtained a copy of a Spaulding document, and transmitted the contents to Smith, before the publication of the Book of Mormon. As the question of date is all important, the statements of the parties concerned should first be given and a chronological table compiled therefrom. Howe having had recourse to the firm of Patterson & Lambdin, Pittsburg, 'Mr. Patterson said he had no recollection of any such manuscript being brought there for publication. Now, as Spaulding's book can nowhere be found, or anything heard of it being carried to this establishment, there is the strongest presumption
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that it remained there in seclusion, till about the year 1823, or 1824, at which time Sidney Rigdon located himself in that city. [In] about three years he left there, and came into Geauga County, Ohio... and commenced preaching some new points of doctrine, which were afterwards found to be inculcated in the Mormon Bible. He resided in this vicinity (as a minister of the Disciples' Church) about four years previous to the appearance of the book, during which time he made several long visits to Pittsburg, and perhaps to the Susquehanna, where Smith was then digging for money, or pretending to be translating plates.... About the time Rigdon left Pittsburg, the Smith family began to tell about finding a book that would contain a history of the first inhabitants of America, and that two years elapsed before they finally got possession of it.'
Robert Patterson, the son of the Pittsburg printer says: -- 'The theory hitherto most widely published... has been that Rigdon was a printer in Patterson's printing office when the Spaulding manuscript was brought there in 1812-14, and that he either copied or purloined it. Having it thus in his possession, the use made of it was an afterthought suggested by circumstances many years later. More recently another theory has been advanced, that Rigdon obtained possession of the Spaulding manuscript
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during his pastorate of the First Baptist Church or soon thereafter, 1822-4,... the friends of Rigdon, in response to the first charge, deny that he ever resided in Pittsburg previous to 1822, or that he ever was a printer, and in general answer to both charges affirm that he never at any time had access to Spaulding's manuscript.'
In the Boston Journal, May 27, 1839, Rigdon says: 'There was no man by the name of Patterson during my residence at Pittsburg who had a printing office; what might have been before I lived there, I know not. Mr. Robert Patterson, I was told, had owned a printing office before I lived in that city.... This Mr. Patterson, who was a Presbyterian preacher, I had a very slight acquaintance with during my residence in Pittsburg. He was then acting under an agency in the book and stationery business, and was the owner of no property of any kind, printing office or anything else, during the time I resided in the city.'
The date of Rigdon's Pittsburg residence, is not given specifically here or elsewhere in his writings, 7
7 Compare holograph letter, Berrian collection. There is also no Pittsburg Directory for 1823-24, but compare the seventy-fifth anniversary of the First Baptist church, now the Fourth Baptist church, Pittsburg, 1812-87: -- Sydney Rigdon was born in Allegheny County, Pa. and was reared on a farm about twelve miles from the city of Pittsburg. He learned the printer's trade, When quite a young man he was
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 383
According to one who knew him late in life, as an ex-Mormon, Rigdon was extremely reticent as to his early movements. 8 Joseph Smith in his Autobiography, inserted a life of Rigdon and prefaced it with the following remarks: 9
'As there has been a great rumor, and many false statements have been given to the world respecting Elder Rigdon's connection with the Church of Jesus Christ, it is necessary that a correct account of the same be given, so that the public mind may be disabused on the subject. I shall therefore proceed to give a brief history of his life down, from authentic
baptized into the fellowship of the Peter's Creek Baptist church by Elder David Phillips. He afterwards moved to Warren, Ohio, "from which," says Rev. S. Williams, in his pamphlet, "Mormonism Exposed," "he came to this city, and connected himself with the first regular Baptist church, then in its infancy, on the 18th day of January, 1822. He took the pastoral charge of the church, but before the close of one short year he began to advance sentiments not in accordance with divine truth." He held to "baptismal regeneration."... For this, "and many other abominable errors, he was condemned by a council of ministers and messengers from neighboring churches, which convened in Pittsburg on the 11th of October, 1823."... "By this decision he was excluded from the Baptist denomination." He died at Friendship, a village in Allegheny County, N. Y., July 14th, 1876.'
8 'Times and Seasons,' 4, 172 ff. April, 1843, to end of Vol. iv.
9 Compare manuscript editorial by Dill, Aug. 5, 1876. The writer merely adds confusion to the chronology. He says that the Spaulding manuscript was within the reach of Rigdon between 1811 and I819, and of Smith between 1819-1826. He adds that Rigdon preached at Mentor, Lake County, Ohio, 1821-1829; and at Palmyra, New York, 1830.
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sources, as also an account of his connection with the Church of Christ.'
Joseph Smith, in 1843, also said of Rigdon that he was pastor of the First Baptist church in Pittsburg from Feb., 1822, to August, 1824. In 1826 he went to Bainbridge, Ohio, preaching there and at Mantua his own and Alexander Campbell's doctrines of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. In 1827 he went to Mentor, thirty miles from Bainbridge, and near Lake Erie. The doctrines he there advanced were new, especially the Biblical prophecies concerning the Literal Restoration of Israel. The eight months he was there he baptized many. In the Fall of 1830, Parley Pratt, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer baptized and ordained Rigdon as a Mormon Elder. Previous to this Pratt had been a preacher in the same church with Rigdon in Amherst, Lorain County, Ohio, and had been sent to New York State where he met Joseph Smith, junior. Rigdon's prevailing characteristic was his entire freedom from any sectarian bias. After a fortnight's reading of the Book of Mormon he was converted. In December, 1830, came the first revelation to Joseph and Sidney at Fayette, New York, saying that Sidney had prepared the way, and in the same month, the second, saying that 'it is not expedient that ye should translate any more, until ye shall go to the
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 385
Ohio.' In January, 1831, Joseph went with Sidney to the branch of the church in Kirtland, Ohio.
10 P = Patterson; H = Howe.
11 Kennedy, p. 66.
12 Compare 'Times and Seasons,' 'Handbook of Reference,' 'Book of Commandments,' 'Biographical Sketches,' 'Pearl of Great Price.'
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By comparing the above tables, it is seen that the Mormon sources do not account for Rigdon's movements from about September, 1827, to October, 1830, during which time Howe supposes the visits were made to Smith at Harmony, Pennsylvania. Another supposition is that if Rigdon had no direct connection himself, it may have been through this Ohio associate Pratt. According to Smith's account, 'Elder Parley Pratt had been a preacher in the same church with Elder Rigdon, and resided in the town of Amherst, Lorain County, in that state, and had been sent into the State of New York, on a mission, where he had become acquainted with the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and was introduced to Joseph Smith, junior, and others of the Church of Latter-day Saints. After listening to the testimonies of the "witnesses," and reading the
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 387
"Book," he became convinced ... and was baptized.
Now the witnesses 'viewed' the plates some time in June, 1829, while the Book of Mormon was copyrighted the 11th instant. From the approximation of dates, it is difficult to see how Pratt could have had time to be the go-between. Thus, judging from the time of Pratt's mission, the period of Rigdon's direct collusion is likewise narrowed. If he had personal intercourse with Smith, it must have been between September, 1827, and June, 1829, but these are the dates, respectively, of the obtaining of the plates and the copyright of the book. In other words the period of manufacture of the Book of Mormon coincides with the period in which Rigdon's movements are unaccounted for.
The gap in the Mormon sources is significant and much has been made of it by the opposition. For example, it was 'afterwards discovered that Rigdon's occasional business calls from Kirtland and Mentor tallied with the visits of the mysterious stranger at the Smith residence.' To uphold this double assumption, no dates are given except that, in March, 1828, Rigdon was at Warren, Ohio, and this was over two hundred miles from Smith's itinerary. In fine, Rigdon is a doubtful connecting link; the presumption of collusion is only negative; the argument from silence is strong, but the
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case falls, if an alibi can be proved for Rigdon, -- if he was not at Harmony, Pennsylvania, or Fayette, New York, during the six actual months of translating, Smith is justly entitled to the authorship of the Book of Mormon.
The external evidence leaves the battle drawn; it is not so with the internal evidence. Judging from the characteristics of the book, the proof of authenticity is decisive. In form it has no resemblance to the Honolulu manuscript; in matter it needs neither Rigdon's personality nor Spaulding's romances to account for itself. Take the four marks of the book, and compare them with what is known of Rigdon. In old age his style was redundant, 13 while in 1821 Alexander Campbell called him 'the great orator of the Mahoning Association,' 14 and, as a minister of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, he was described as fluent in utterance and copious in language. 15
If Rigdon's style, at this time, was better, so with his twelve years of seniority over Smith, his knowledge was wider. 16 In particular, in the Western Reserve,
13 Rigdon's holograph letter (Berrian collection).
14 Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 523.
15 A.S. Hayden, 'Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve,' 1876, p. 191.
16 Compare Overland Monthly, December, 1890. Charlotte Haven's letter, March 5th and 6th, 1843: 'Sidney Rigdon, the most learned man among the Latter-day Saints.... He has an
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 389
he was counted learned in the history of the world. Moreover as to archaeology, he seems to have taken no interest in Americana; the only point of resemblance is in his unsystematic theology. His frequent sectarian changes were unique even for that day. In 1819, he was an old school Baptist; in 1821, he came under the influence of Alexander Campbell the 'new light'; with him he ultimately differed on communistic ideas, which he had meanwhile absorbed, from a leader of the Disciple church in Ohio. The so-called Campbellite baptism for the remission of sins does not occur in the Book of Mormon, while the insistence on faith 17 is partly plagiarized from Scripture, partly due to Smith's dabbling with the occult. Smith's creed of 1844 18
intelligent countenance, a courteous manner, and speaks grammatically. He talks very pleasantly about his travels in this country and Europe, but is very reticent about his religion. I have heard it stated that he was Smith's chief aid in getting up the "Book of Mormon" and creed. He is so far above Smith in intellect, education, and secretiveness, that there is scarcely a doubt that he is at the head in compiling it. I looked over his library -- it was a very good student's collection, -- Hebrew, Greek, and Latin lexicons and readers, stray volumes of Shakespeare, Scott, Irving's works, and a number of other valuable books ... ['The Book of Mormon"] we find no creed in it, no article on which to found a religion. It might have been written by a much less intelligent man than Sidney Rigdon.'
17 'Book of Mormon,' pp. 246, 329, 332, 333, 597-9, 614; compare also the 'Seven Lectures on Faith,' in 'Doctrine and Covenants.'
18 'Times and Seasons,' 3, 709.
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promulgates these among his five ordinances: faith; repentance; baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Again, in 1832, Alexander Campbell sharply attacked the Book of Mormon and its contents. 19 The alleged Discipleism inherent in Mormonism is still denied by the more orthodox apologists. 20
19 'Delusions; an Analysis of the "Book of Mormon," with an Examination of its Internal and External Evidences, and a Refutation of its Pretense to Divine Authority,' Boston, 1832.
20 F. McDowell, 'Discipleism, or the Claims of Alexander Campbell to a Restored Primitive Christianity Examined,' 191, p. 12: 'We have therefore weighed this church in the balance of God's word and found it wanting, rendering the following count of indictments against it:
1. They have no apostles.
2. They have no prophets.
3. No seventies.
4. No priests.
5. No bishops.
6. No teachers.
7. The signs or gifts of Mark 16: 17, 18, do not follow them.
8. They do not lay on hands, after baptism, for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
9. They do not call the elders for the sick, as directed in James 5: 14, 15.
10. They do not teach the resurrection of the dead as taught in the Bible.
11. They do not teach the Bible doctrine of eternal judgment.
12. They claim to teach baptism for remission of sins, but contradict themselves by taking people into their fellowship from other churches who have not been so baptized, without rebaptism.
13. They do not lay on hands for the blessing of little children.
14. They teach that the church existed for the first time on the day of Pentecost.
15. They believe and teach that the gospel was never taught, in fact, until the day of Pentecost.
16. They do not teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
We will now let the reader decide how far Mr. Campbell and
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 391
But the question of the injection of these doctrines into the Book of Mormon, through the agency of Rigdon, is again a question of date. The Declaration of the two Campbells against 'the divided and disturbed condition of the religious community,' came out in 1809, 21 but before Rigdon came over from Ohio, Campbell's teachings were spread broadcast over the country, 22 and Discipleism had spread northeast into New York. 23 Already in the days of Joseph's money digging there existed these Disciples of Christ near Ithaca, through which ran the State road from Binghampton to the Susquehanna. Yet there are three special doctrines which Rigdon is said to have taught among the Disciples in Ohio, and then put into the Book of Mormon.
his successors have been successful in restoring primitive, original Christianity. The Bible does teach the probability and possibility of a restoration of the gospel and kingdom of God in the latter days, as foreshadowed in Matthew 24:14; Malachi 3: 1-3; Revelation 14: 6, 7; and that after the restoration had occurred some would depart from the faith, as note 1 Timothy 4: 1. The words "the faith," evidently have reference to the entire gospel scheme, as implied by Paul in Ephesians 4: 5.'
21 Rupp, p. 209. 'The Disciples of Christ,' 'Analysis of the Great Salvation,' 'the sole principle is faith and the prime meant baptism by immersion.'
22 Venable, p. 220. Between 1823 and 180, A. Campbell issued 46,000 'volumes' of his works. Bethany, Ohio, near Wheeling, was made a post-office on account of the extensive mail he received and dispatched.
23 It was at Enfield, that these Christians, a variety of 'New Lights,' flourished. Also, Lorenzo Young speaks of a Campbellite revival in Schuyler County,
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The first of these, Communism, is not mentioned in the text, while new revelations and miracles and gifts of the Spirit are not unusual recrudescences due to a literal interpretation of scripture. 24
Without penetrating further into the wilderness of minor sects, 25 it is the historic background of western New York, in the third decade, more than any 'mysterious stranger' from the West, that acts for the Book of Mormon and its doctrinal contents. The proof of authenticity is cumulative: especially do the minor movements, reflected in the narrative, show that the book is in accordance with its supposed historical position, as to time, place and circumstances. Thus the Morgan excitement by fixing the lower limit of date as 1826, excludes the Spaulding theory in its crudest form of entire incorporation. Even if any Spaulding manuscript were used as a mere basis and slight framework, it would not invalidate
24 Private Bible reading brought out these ideas. Compare 'Biographical Sketches,' p. 21. Joseph's uncle, Jason Mack, as a Seeker, believed 'that my prayer and faith, the gifts of the gospel, which were enjoyed by the ancient disciples, might be attained.' Also compare p. Pratt, 'Autobiography,' p. 31, who said of Rigdon's preaching, 'here was the ancient gospel in due form; his views were mine, -- baptism for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost.' Finally compare A. Campbell, 1824, 'We neither advocate Calvinism, Arminianism, Socinianism, Arianism, Trinitarianism, Unitarianism, Deism, nor Sectarianism, but New Testamentism.'
25 Compare 'Book of Mormon,' 56, 124, 235, 327, 369, 370, 379, 468-470, 503, 566.
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 393
the essential integrity of the work. Although this purported series of plates 26 cannot be called the product of one mind 'as an organic whole,' 27 yet the integrity of the Book of Mormon is not thereby impaired; the discrete parts are bound
26 Viz.: 1. of Laban; 2. of Lehi; 3. do. abridged by Nephi; 4. do. containing 'more history part'; 5. do. 'more ministry part'; 6. do. 'mine own prophecies'; 7. of Zarahemla; 8. of Mormon abridging 5; 9. from Jacob to King Benjamin; 10. of Zeniff; 11. of Ether; I2. of Alma and his afflictions; 13. of Jared; 14. Copies of 'Scriptures'; 15. Records of emigrants to North; 16. Epistles of twelve prophets at various times.
27 The alleged Cowdery interpolations seem impossible when compared with this Johnsonese passage of his, describing the scene of Joseph's money digging. 'Letters,' p. 38: -- 'Some forty miles south, or down the river, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, is said to be a cave or subterraneous recess, whether entirely formed by art or not I am uninformed, neither does this matter; but such is said to be the case, -- where a company of Spaniards, a long time since, when the country was uninhabited by white settlers, excavated from the bowels of the earth ore, and coined a large quantity of money; after which they secured the cavity and evacuated, leaving a part still in the cave, purposing to return at some distant period. Along time elapsed and this account came from one of the individuals who was first engaged in this mining business. The country was pointed out and the spot minutely described. This, I believe, is the substance, so far as my memory serves, though I shall not pledge my veracity for the correctness of the account as I have given. Enough, however, was credited of the Spaniard's story to excite the belief of many that there was a fine sum of the precious metal lying coined in this subterraneous vault, among whom was our employer; and accordingly our brother was required to spend a few months with some others in excavating the earth, in pursuit of this treasure.'
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together, as it were, by a single cord. It is the line of life, the thread of autobiography, that discloses the real origin of the book. The various experiences of the various American prophets, could almost be said to form a 'Biographical Sketch of Joseph Smith the Prophet and his Progenitors, for many Generations.' If the discovery of the gold plates was suggested by the paternal dream of the Magic Box, and the beginning of the Book of Mormon incorporates the dream of the Fruit Tree, so the cord of Joseph junior's experience runs unbroken from 1 Nephi to Moroni. Without the aid of the commentator to explain the prophecies of the 'coming laborer in the vineyard' as Joseph Smith, one can read between the lines the meanings of the frequent visions, of the stones for interpreting, of the visits of the angels which strike the beholder 'dumb, weak and helpless.' 28
To sum up: These marks of the book are not the marks of the man Rigdon. Negatively, -- there is but slight coincidence in career with that of the visionary, crystal-gazing youth, and there is as little resemblance in temperament; positively, -- the similarity of style is exact between the 'Account written by the hand of Mormon' and Joseph's synchronous
28 'Book of Mormon,' 144, 228, 346, 225, 349. For other biographical hints compare 15, 20, 21, 34, 38, 44, 45, 114, 115, 180, 181, 291, 292, 324, 559, 570, 576, 581, 574, 598, 603, 613.
THE SPAULDING-RIGDON THEORY 395
writings contained in the Book of Commandments; finally on the title page of the first edition of the Book of Mormon is that inadvertent admission of authorship.
[ 399 ]
The aim of this appendix is fourfold:-to show that Joseph Smith was, to some degree, implicated in polygamous practices; to trace the effects on his public career; to present his crass metaphysical theory of polygamy, finally to show that some of his illicit purposes were effected through hypnotic influence.
It has been claimed that the doctrine of 'spiritual wifery' was introduced by the older men and not by Smith. There were three chief scapegoats. In June, 1833, Dr. P. Hurlbut, before a conference of high-priests at Kirtland, 'was accused of unchristian conduct with the women.' In 1843 the'spiritual wife system' was fathered upon Dr. Bennett, and affidavits were issued against his statement that Smith allowed adultery. Lastly in September, 1844, Rigdon was made to bear the brunt of odium. In his trial at Nauvoo, the following allegations were made: -- that he talked of exposing the secrets and iniquity of the Saints; that he came here with a spirit as corrupt as hell and charged the Twelve
400 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
with being adulterers; that he himself had been wallowing in filth and corruption for four or five years past; that Brother Joseph shook him off at the conference a year ago; that Sister Emma had a good many feelings against Elder Rigdon; that Brigham Young finally said that enough was brought forward at the conference, but that Brother Hyrum plead so hard that it was kept back.
Now for the other side of the case, and the counter charges against the prophet. If the evidence against Rigdon is ex parts, the evidence against Smith is circumstantial. The prophet's testimony as to his opponent's actions was declared unprintable, yet, at the same time, Smith urged that there should be kept a record of 'spiritual' marriages. But to go back and trace the beginnings of the matter: in the early days of Mormonism there appear to have been certain underground practices which were first scorned but finally embraced. In January, 1833, Smith tells Brother Gilbert that 'low insinuations God hates, but He rejoices in an honest heart and knows better who is guilty than he does.' The next month the prophet said he received revelations 'to unfold the mysteries of the Kingdom' and also that 'my handmaid, Vienne Jaques, should receive money to bear her expenses, and go up into the land of Zion.' On the verge of the unprintable testimony of the Rigdon trial there is an incidental
POLYGAMY AND HYPNOTISM 401
reference to this 'handmaid,' as 'that French-woman.' In July, 1833, Smith wrote to the brethren in Zion to 'guard against evils which may arise from accounts given of women.' On December 10th, Gilbert again wrote a letter which the prophet declared contained 'low, dark and blind insinuations'; for this the brother was threatened with excommunication. As regards the first point there is no proof positive of Smith's early implication in polygamy, but the suspicion of participation in illicit private practices is strengthened by the vicissitudes of his later public career.
'The pages of General Smith's history,' says an editorial in the Times and Seasons, though his enemies never ceased to persecute him and hunt for offenses against him, are as unsullied as virgin snow.' But the passages already cited are from Smith's History; if they do not allow of loose construction, it is possible to turn to the words and writings of other Saints. The Mormons themselves have furnished an answer to what William Smith called 'the unaccountable problem' why Mormons are 'numbered with Indians, Hottentots, Arabs, Turks, Wolverines and horned cattle.' In October, 1843, an adherent of Brigham Young said, It is true that our city is open for all who wish to come, but we wish to have the privilege of enjoying our religion and "peculiarities" unmolested.' 'Those
402 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
who tell lies about "mysteries" to injure the Saints,' it was added later, 'forget the Mormon creed "Mind your own business."' In April, 1844, Hyrum Smith proclaimed that 'Every Elder that goes from Nauvoo to preach the gospel, if he preach anything else, we will silence him through the public prints.' A month after this, Elder Dykes, preaching in Pittsburg, said, I the audience had never heard a Saint before; they had many and awful conjectures about the truth.' At a church conference in Michigan, ten days later, I the elders were strictly charged to keep within the limits of the first principles and let the mysteries alone.' One week afterwards, in Illinois, the first number of the Nauvoo Expositor was published. It contained affidavits from several women alleging illicit invitation from high church dignitaries. The official repudiation runs, 'Its columns teemed with vituperative abuse of Joseph and his friends. That it was the fixed purpose of its managers to continue that defamatory course, was evident from the matter contained in its columns and in their private admissions. They aimed to attack the characters of many respectable citizens of both sexes. The tone of the sheet was vulgar, scurrilous, and untruthful. The people felt themselves outraged.'
In the meanwhile the Times and Seasons saw fit to publish an 'extract from a letter from
POLYGAMY AND HYPNOTISM 403
the vicinity of Nauvoo,' which says, 'The excitement on both sides of the river against the Mormons is increasing very fast. The conduct of Joseph Smith and the other leaders, is such that no community of white men can tolerate.' On June 18th, General Smith, Mayor of Nauvoo, declared the city under martial law, and ordered the city marshal to see that 'no persons pass in or out of the city without due orders.' Nine days after this, the prophet was shot down by state militia in Carthage jail, having first emptied two barrels of his six-shooter into the crowd of his assailants. To touch on the political issues of this I martyrdom' is to summarize the evidence for the second count: that it was not merely territorial aspirations, tampering with slaves and other alleged charges that checked Smith's public career, but also the neglect to suppress the more or less subterranean practice of polygamy.
In the third place, to turn to the theory of the thing, and to seek to determine Smith's share in the metaphysics of Mormonism, -- if one may so term their crude materialism. The early documents should first be looked at. Orson Pratt as commentator of the Book of Mormon deduces an inherent doctrine of polygamy from the large size of the Nephite families. This is practically inconsistent with the anti-polygamy passage, previously quoted,
404 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
but not theoretically inconsistent with the later Mormon canonical writings. Revelation being continuous is retroactive. In this way the monogamous Book of Commandments is modified and superseded by the polygamous book of Doctrine and Covenants. In the former the seventh commandment is emphasized, but the successive editions of the latter gradually approach the full fledged Revelation on the Plurality of Wives.
As early as October, 1831, a revelation was addressed through the seer to William E. McLellin: 'Commit not adultery, a temptation with which thou hast been troubled.' By 1835, the trouble in the camp of Zion called out this public disavowal: 'Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.' 1
In 1839, Parley Pratt issued his Persecutions of the Latter-day Saints; in chapter ten of this pamphlet the author insisted that there was no polygamy among the Mormons. One year later Orson Pratt published his Treatise on the Regeneration and
1 'Doctrine and Covenants,' first edition, sec. 101.
POLYGAMY AND HYPNOTISM 405
Eternal Duration of Matter. This contained, in germ, those teachings on the 'Preexistence of Man' and 'Celestial Marriage' which now form part of the Creed of the Utah Saints. In 1841, in answer to numerous questioners Joseph Smith issued his Articles of Faith, 2 the last of which runs:
2 'We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
We believe that, through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
We believe that these ordinances are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Second, Repentance; Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz.: Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, etc.
We believe in the gifts of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the 'Book of Mormon' to be the Word of God.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaic glory.
We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according
406 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
'We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous.'
Thus far polygamy was esoteric; it was not till after Smith's death that the doctrine was publicly avowed in such brochures as Orson Spencer's Patriarchal Order, or Plurality of Wives. In the meantime the prophet had written for the elect his notorious Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including Plurality of Wives. 3 His son Joseph Smith 3d, founder of the ' Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,' has attempted to disprove the authenticity of this revelation of July 12th, 1843. 4 It is true that the 1845 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants does not contain this revelation, while the last volume of the Times and Seasons of 1846, contains the prophet's History only through August 11th, 1834. The external evidence
to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and ii, doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. JOSEPH SMITH.'
3 See end of this Appendix.
4 Compare 'Reply to Orson Pratt,' also 'One Wife or Many?' and 'Was Joseph Smith a Polygamist?'
POLYGAMY AND HYPNOTISM 407
may be negative, but the internal is not. The publication was posthumous, but the sentiments were anything but postmortem. The passages commanding Emma Smith to be virtuous, while her husband may do as he pleases, are borne out by the extracts already quoted and especially by Mrs. Kimball's testimony, as given below.
But to present briefly the Mormon theory whereby these practices are justified, and then to determine Smith's share in them. 'Celestial' marriage, according to the orthodox Saints, opens the way for all women who wish to marry to fill the measure of their creation.... It shows how the innumerable creations of God (i. e., this world and other planets) may be peopled with intelligences.... Woman without man and man without woman cannot be saved. The larger the progeny a man has, the greater will be the fulness of his eternal glory.... God was once a man, but He has so advanced in intelligence and power that He may now be called, comparatively speaking, perfect, infinite etc., but He has still the form and figure of a man. This anthopomorphism was thus presented by Orson Pratt in his Absurdities of Immaterialism as early as 1849: -- 'The resemblance between man and God has reference, as we have already observed, to the shape or figure; other qualities may or may not resemble each
408 THE FOUNDER OF MORMONISM
other. Man has legs, so has God, as is evident from His appearance to Abraham. Man walks with his legs, so does God sometimes, as is evident from His going with Abraham towards Sodom. God cannot only walk, but He can move up or down through the air without using His legs as in the process of walking. (See Gen. 17: 22; also 11: 5; also 35: 13. -- "A man wrestled with Jacob until the breaking of day;" after which, Jacob says -- "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." -- Gen. 32: 24-30. That this person had legs is evident from his wrestling with Jacob. His image and likeness was so much like man's, that Jacob at first supposed him to be a man. -- (See 24th verse.) God, though in the figure of a man, has many powers that man has not got. He can go upwards through the air. He can waft Himself from world to world by His own self-moving powers. These are powers not possessed by man only through faith, as in the instances of Enoch and Elijah. Therefore, though in the figure or a man, He has powers far superior to man.... The Godhead may be further illustrated by a council, consisting of three men -- all possessing equal wisdom, knowledge, and truth, together with equal qualifications in every other respect. Each person would be a separate distinct person or substance from the other two, and yet the three would
POLYGAMY AND HYPNOTISM 409
form but One Council. Each alone possesses, by supposition, the same wisdom and truth that the three united or the ONE council possesses.' 5
Two months before his death the prophet taught practically the same doctrines as Pratt. The following are extracts from his conference speech of April, 1844: --
'First, God Himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret.... The first Hebrew word in the Bible reads, the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods in the Grand Council.... The word create means to organize.... Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos.... Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle, there is no creation about it. All the spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement... have a privilege to advance like Himself.... These things were given me by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.... I can enter into the mysteries; I can enter largely into the eternal worlds.'
If Smith may be said to have had any metaphysical theory of polygamy, it may be found in these distorted borrowings; but, at the least, these preachments
5 Compare 'Handbook of Reference,' The Religion of the Latter-day Saints; p. p. Pratt. 'Key to the Science of Theology'; Orson Spencer, 'Patriarchal Order, or Plurality of Wives;' The Seer, pp. 30, 38, 103.
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had corresponding practices, as is shown by certain social bye-products of the system.
The materialism of the Latter-day Saints has been compared to fourth century Gnosticism, 6 and attempts have actually been made to connect Mormon mysteries with Eleusinian mysteries. 7 The connection is absurdly impossible, yet there appears to have been a dash of ethnic occultism in the practices of the Saints. To get at this, one is forced to notice the subterranean, to explore the cloaca maxima of Mormon literature, -- the various 'exposures' of renegades and apostates. The descriptions of 'endowment' rites as reported by Hyde, Van Dusen and other 'Ex-Mormons' are in themselves untrustworthy; they nevertheless present this common feature -- a resemblance to certain scenes which took place in France two generations before. The alleged doings in the Nauvoo temple are like the real doings around Mesmer's baquets magngtiques, practices which, in their hysteric excesses, called forth the secret report of the royal commissioners on the dangers of magnetism in respect to morality. 8
There is here indeed, an analogy as to abnormal psychoses, but in addition to the general inference
6 McClintock and Strong, article 'Mormonism.'
7 T. W. P. Taylder, 'The Mormon's own Book,' Chapter 4.
8 Binet and Fere, p. i8.
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there are more specific statements. The arch-apostate Maria Ward, author of Female Life Among the Mormons, asserts that she was mesmerized into marrying, some time after Parley Pratt had taught Mr. Ward the secrets of magnetism. Finally an anonymous pamphlet entitled Anna Little, the Mesmeric Seeress of Nauvoo, tells how this clairvoyant wonder had so completely mastered the science of animal magnetism that Joseph Smith knew the value of such an auxiliary and kept her in the sanctuary of the Communicant Sisters. All these statements are disallowed by the Saints and are, in truth, of secondary evidential value; they yet resemble one another in containing the everlasting charge brought against dabblers in the occult, from the Neoplatonists to the Spiritualists, -- the charge that over-indulgence in abnormal psychic practices tends to looseness in moral standards.
There remains evidence of primary value that the Mormons, in some instances, exercised over their adherents undue influence of a quasi-hypnotic character. The legal side of the case may serve as a standpoint, for the courts early took cognizance of the matter. In 1844 a Tennessee lawyer declared that the Mormon methods were unlawful; in 1848, in Ohio, there was recorded a 'Law Case, exhibiting the most extraordinary developments peculiar to modern times, arising from an implicit obedience to
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the dictates of Mesmeric clairvoyance as related by a Mormon prophet. 9
Turning to Joseph Smith and his apparent hypnotic influence over people, his early suggestive successes must be kept in mind before taking up the case of Mrs. Kimball. But the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and Newel Knight the demoniac, and those 'cured by faith' were not the only subjects. Like the present day Kentucky exhorter, who calls out the revivalistic 'jerks,' the prophet seems to have been the means of inducing a real collective hypnosis. 'His eloquence,' says Parley Pratt, 'was not polished and studied, not smoothed and softened by education. I have even known him to retain a congregation of willing and anxious listeners for many hours together while they were laughing one moment and weeping the next.' 10
But finally besides influencing crowds by his speech and his presence, Smith appears to have learned that mental suggestion may be efficacious not only at the instant, but some time after. 11 How
9 Compare Sabin, 'Bibliotheca Americana,' Volume ix, No. 39, 340. This pamphlet was published at Cincinnati, where the city ordinances early prohibited public mesmeric exhibitions, and where there was some complaint of the difficulty of keeping female servants out of the clutches of the Mormons.
10 'Journal,' p. 47.
11 Of deferred suggestion, Moll says, p. 157, 'any suggestion that takes effect in hypnosis, will also take place post-hypnotically.'
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far the chief of the Saints utilized the principle of suggestibility, immediate or deferred, in the subjugation of neurotic women is indeterminable. The allegations of ruined and perjured apostates are as little to be believed as, for example, the statement of the interested Brigham Young that Emily and Eliza Patridge were 'sealed' to the prophet, Emma Smith being present and giving her 'full and free consent for them to be the wives of Joseph.' 12 If such things were done, they were done on the sly. In September, 1843, a sister of a Mormon convert, who had noticed that Elder Adams had brought an extra wife from England, wrote home that she could not believe that Joseph would ever sanction the doctrine of patriarchal plurality. 13 Yet four months before this, a practical sanction had been given. Littlefield asserts, on the best authority, that beside the two women already mentioned Maria and Sarah Laurence were declared to have been 'sealed' to the prophet. 14 But of all the cases, that of Mrs. Lucy Walter [sic - Walker?] Kimball is the most authentic, and bears internally as mark of genuineness -- the moral struggle of the subject. In its criminal aspects, 15 it is fit to rank with the case of
12 'Life,' p. 23.
13 'Reminiscences,' p. 52.
14 Overland Monthly, December, 1890.
15 Compare George Trumbull Ladd, 'The Legal Aspects of Hypnotism,' 1902, p. 22: -- 'That the person who deliberately sets
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Gabrielle Bompard or l'affaire Chambige. 16 It is here offered as a matter of post-hypnotic suggestion, with deferred hallucination: --
'In 1845 I married President Heber C. Kimball.... May 1st, 1843, I consented to become the prophet's wife. In [the year] 1842 President Joseph Smith sought an interview with me, and said: "I have a message for you. I have been commanded of God to take another wife and you are the woman." My astonishment knew no bounds.[This announcement was indeed a thunderbolt to me. He asked me if I believed him to be a prophet of God. "Most assuredly I do," I replied. He fully explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage. He said this principle was again to be restored for the benefit of the human family, that it would prove an everlasting blessing to my father's house, and form a chain that could never be broken, worlds without end. "What have you to say?" he asked. "Nothing." How could I speak, or what could I say? He said, "If you will pray sincerely for light and understanding in relation thereto, you shall receive a testimony of the correctness of this principle. I thought I prayed sincerely, but was so unwilling to consider the matter favorably that I fear I did not ask in faith for light. Gross darkness instead of light took possession of my mind. I was tempted and tortured beyond endurance until life was not desirable. Oh that the grave would kindly receive me, that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear mother. Why should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father, I am only a child in years and experience, no mother to counsel; no father near to tell me what to do in this trying hour. Oh, let this bitter cup pass. And thus I prayed in the agony of my soul.] The prophet discerned my sorrow. He saw how unhappy I was [The Prophet discerned my sorrow. He saw how unhappy I was, and sought an opportunity of again speaking to me on this subject,] and said: "Although I cannot, under existing circumstances, acknowledge you as my wife, the time is near when we will go beyond the Rocky Mountains and then you will be acknowledged and honored as my wife.[He also said, "This principle will yet be believed in and practiced by the righteous. I have no flattering words to offer. It is a command of God to you.] I will give you until to-morrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you." This aroused every drop of Scotch in my veins. I felt at this moment that I was called to place myself upon the altar a living sacrifice -- perhaps to brook the world in disgrace and__________
about subjugating another by repeated hypnotizing in order to make that other his unwilling tool for the commission of crime, is himself a criminal of the worst and most dangerous order, and deserves, if detected and convicted, the severest punishment which the law allows, I do not need to argue.'
16 Compare Bernheim, chapter viii.
[Transcriber's note: Maroon text was deleted by Riley; it is here restored from Lucy Walker's reminiscences.]
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incur the displeasure and contempt of my youthful companions [all my dreams of happiness blown to the four winds.] This was too much, for as yet no shadow had crossed my path, [aside from the death of my dear mother. The future to me had been one bright, cloudless day. I had been speechless, but at last found utterance and] said: "Although you are a prophet of God you could not induce me to take a step of so great importance, unless I knew that God approved my course. I would rather die. I have tried to pray but received no comfort, no light," [and emphatically forbid him speaking again to me on this subject. Every feeling of my soul revolted against it. Said I, "The same God who has sent this message is the Being I have worshipped from my early childhood and He must manifest His will to me."] He walked across the room, returned [and stood before me with the most beautiful expression of countenance,] and said: ["God Almighty bless you.] You shall have a manifestation of the will of God concerning you; a testimony that you can never deny. I will tell you what it shall be. It shall be that joy and peace that you never knew."
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Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand, to know wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines:
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unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time, on whom this power and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred) are of no efficacy, virtue, or force, in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have an end when men are dead.
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therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world;
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thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths -- then it shall be written in the Lamb's Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant had put upon them, in time, and through all eternity, and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the Gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
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they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.
POLYGANY AND HYPNOTISM 421
innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore, ye could not number them.
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others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin, save in those things which they received not of me.
POLYGANY AND HYPNOTISM 423
For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the Priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.
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it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice;
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him; for Satan seeketh to destroy; for I am the Lord thy God, and he is my servant; and behold! and lo, I am with him, as I was with Abraham, thy father, even unto his exaltation and glory.
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for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that He may be glorified.
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Confronted with the task of making a final estimate of the personality of the founder of Mormonism it may not be amiss to review some details of his life and times, to show what his followers thought of him and to note his influence on the later development of the church.
The 'dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy,' 1 with an ancestry morbid, superstitious, diseased, was bound to exhibit erratic tendencies varying with the abnormal conditions of physique, temperament and environment. Living in a village provincial to a degree, where as yet there was no foreign element to influence the civilization, the mental activities of the unlettered country lad found their chief outlet in religious matters. When a farmer might gather together his neighbors for a circuit of thirty miles and talk about the deadness and unworthiness of all churches; when an itinerant preacher might point to a November fall of meteors as a sign of the speedy ending of the world it was not strange that a local prophet should try to start a
1 Tucker, p. 16.
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millennial movement of his own. As an acquaintance of Smith's said, 'I never knew so ignorant a man as Joe was to have such a fertile imagination. He never could tell a common occurrence in his daily life without embellishing the story with his imagination.' 2
Since Joseph's most intelligent neighbors knew nothing of the influence of crystal gazing in quickening the flights of fancy, it is almost impossible to draw the line between real delusion and artful design in the concoction of the Book of Mormon. That the peek stone became in turn a seer stone and the Urim and Thummim, that there were different accounts of the revelation of a bible and changing descriptions of the gold plates may point to the collusion of an older accomplice like Sidney Rigdon. Yet this 'Record of the American Indians' may be more simply traced to the boy's imaginative gifts and his life on the western frontier. As to the contents of the Golden Bible there is likewise room for a variety of opinion: there is an element of fraudulent pretension, there is also the unthinking reproduction of current notions. On the one hand the book was alleged to be 'revealed by the spirit of one of the Saints who was on this continent previous to its being discovered by Columbus.' On
2 St. Louis Globe-Democrat quoting a letter of D. L. Hendrix, February 2, 1897.
the other hand there are parts of the book which are not deliberate fabrications but mere reflections of the topics of the time. Thus the total abstinence sentiments of the Lamanites were borrowed from the so-called Washingtonian temperance movement. Finally the style of Joseph's sacred book is but another sign of the imitative and uncritical mind of its author. Its pomposity is like that of another work of the day on the aborigines of America with its 'copious description of their stupendous works now in existence.' 3 Assuredly it is a vain thing to attempt to elevate the Mormon bible to a higher source than the mind of Joe Smith. 4 There may be quotations from Shakespeare and Pope but their triteness points to the rustic copy book. 5
The reception of the Book of Mormon as an 'historical record of an ancient people' has been compared to that of the American glyphs of Rafinisque who claimed that the so-called Tablet of the Cross, found at Palenque, Mexico, was written in a Lybian alphabet. In the same way the abnormal mentality
3 Priest's 'American Antiquities,' sub-title.
4 In Jackson's 'Concise Dictionary of Religious Knowledge,' New York, 1891, Professor Whitsitt presents his theory of Rigdon's various redactions of the 'Book of Mormon.'
5 Compare 'Book of Mormon,' p. 61, 'Hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveller can return.' The phrase 'From Nature up to Nature's God' has been attributed to the 'Essay on Man.'
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of the Mormon leader has been recently described 6 as similar to the case of the revelator of 'From India to the Planet Mars' so carefully detailed by Professor Flournoy:
'In both cases we have the same fantastic explorations of the imagination; the same assumptions of narrative, incidents and style apparently foreign to the subject's normal intelligence; the same invention of fictitious names, persons, places and things; the same possibility of tracing many of the incidents and details of the document to authentic experiences of the subject, but experiences which may have been subconsciously realized and are certainly recorded while in an abnormal state of dissociation; the same periods of incubation preliminary to the further development of a new stage in the automatic revelations; the same participation of the suggestions of others and of the clever adaptation to actual circumstances and incidents, in the subsequent revelations; and soon. The striking differences between the two cases are external and not psychological. In the one case, the revelations are given out as real and inspired, find a congenial soil in which to flourish, and so attain practical significance. In the other case they remain the purely personal expression of a luxurious imagination.'
The performances of Joseph the occultist exhibit the credulous materials he had to work upon and the means he took to become the sole oracle of the church. Before the prophet's arrival at Kirtland the
6 Joseph Jastrow in the Psychological Review, January, 1903, p. 70.
followers of Rigdon had been receiving commssions directly from heaven, one claiming to see mystic writings upon the palm of his hand, another upon the lid of his Bible. The visionary also imagined he saw the city of the New Jerusalem. Heavenly visitants also made their appearance to certain individuals who seldom made any communications but presented themselves as spectacles to be gazed upon in silent admiration. In the Spring of 1833, tongues again reappeared and Smith wound up the day's performance with this specimen of automatic utterance:
'Ah man ob son ob man ab ne commene en holle goste en esac niilkea, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Nephi, Lehi, St. John.' 7
The Mormon exorcist and faith healer stands out against a background of human gullibility similar to that of another American wonder worker.' Andrew Jackson Davis, the 'Poughkeepsie Seer,' tells how he had received an impression in his interior state that he would be the instrument of communicating a work to the world entitled The Principles of Nature, her Divine Revelations and a Voice to
7 Booth's third letter.
8 Compare Alfred Lehmann 'Aberglaube und Zauberei,' Stuttgart, 1898, and Frank Podmore 'Modern Spiritualism,' London, 1902, I, 158-176.
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Mankind. In a fatuous betrayal of his morbid self-deception Davis adds that, at the age of sixteen,
'I had a tendency to spontaneous somnambulism, an ear for what I then called imaginary voices, a memory defective as to dates, a mind nearly barren of ordinary education, a heart very sympathetic in cases of trial and suffering, and lastly I was disposed to meditation and the freedom of solitude.' 9
This supernormal condition, continues the author of the Philosophy of Spiritual Intercourse, leads to independent clairvoyance and intuitional wisdom. Meanwhile the new fangled doctrines of animal magnetism had come in from New England 10 and in 1843 Dr. Grimes lectured on phrenology and mesmerism in Poughkeepsie. Davis, it was asserted, proved susceptible to magnetism, was put at once into the clairvoyant state and began to see through his forehead without the use of his natural eyes. His newly developed powers took a medical turn and after a few weeks of experimenting, to satisfy the curiosity of himself and his friends, he conmmenced practising as a clairvoyant physician. 'His descriptions of various ailments and his prescriptions
9 'The Magic Staff,' New York, 1857.
10 Charles Poyen, in his 'Progress of Animal Magnetism in New England,' Boston, 1837, claims that he learned animal magnetism in Paris in 1832, becauSe it alleviated a complicated nervous disorder of his.
for cure,' concludes the account in the Magic Staff, 'were truly wonderful and astonishing to all who knew him.' If these preposterous claims of the 'Swedenborg of the New World' were received in the more settled parts of the country, there is little wonder that the Mormons in the far west were staunch believers in faith cure and accepted the advice of Smith to 'trust in God when sick, and live by faith and not by medicine or poison.'
To get an idea of what outsiders thought of the prophet one is tempted to quote a phrenological chart taken three years before his death. In this curious document there was offered what purported to be an explanation of the 'development of his much-talked-of brain.' 11 It runs thus: --
'Amativeness. -- Extreme susceptibility; passionately fond of the company of the other sex. Adhesiveness. -- Solicitous for the happiness of friends, and ardent attachments to the other sex. Secretiveness. -- Great propensity and ability to conceal feelings, plans, etc. Acquisitiveness. -- Strong love of riches; desire to make and save money. Veneration. -- Religion without great awe. Marvellousness. -- Wonder; credulity, belief in the supernatural. Ideality. -- Lively imagination.'
The phrenologist knew his business when he gave this half-suggestive, half-flattering picture of
11 The Nauvoo Wasp of July 2, 1842, prints this chart taken in June, 1841.
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Smith. That there was an easy going, jovial streak in the prophet of the Lord he himself was perfectly willing to acknowledge. Once when he was taken in by a swindler he said before a church conference, 'I am not so much of a "Christian" as many suppose I am. When a man undertakes to ride me for a horse I feel disposed to kick up, and throw him off and ride him.' At another time, when a disciple asked him what was to be done in case the Church was overthrown, he replied that they would all go to hell together and convert it into a heaven by casting the devil out, for, he added, 'hell is by no means the place this world of fools supposes it to be but, on the contrary, it is quite an agreeable place.' 12
It may appear that when Smith dealt with the su- blime he was ridiculous, when he addressed the world he was a vulgar braggart. But thus to pass judgment by calling names is as superficial as the attempt of the phrenologist to explain the prophet's character by feeling of his bumps. Unfortunately there is nothing material left by which to learn whether his physiognomy was abnormal in the modern sense. 13 In the determination of Smith's real mental
12 Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844.
13 A death mask of the martyr Joseph was taken by order of John Taylor. If it is still in existence it is not to be touched by profane hands. The only portrait which betrays a lack of symmetry
condition the Latter-day Saints of course give no help. The mere idea of a naturalistic explanation is scouted by them. As one of their papers has said, the theory of the epilepsy of the prophet 'is a new one and will be received with a smile of amused unbelief by those who knew Joseph Smith, the Martyr, as a man in robust manhood's health and never had a fit in his life.' 15 Again the Mormons repudiate the report that the prophet's wife asserted that she never believed in what her husband called his apparitions or revelations, as she thought him laboring under a diseased mind. 15
Direct evidence is lacking, indirect is not. The words and deeds of Joseph Smith in his last days offer ground for the belief that he was, at times, actually demented. If the case be brought into harmony with his previous pathological experiences -- color sensations, dizziness, vacuity, coma and bodily bruises -- the prophet's final activities suggest epileptic insanity. In general such a patient shows marked narrowness of mental horizon, with limited ideation and imperfect association of ideas. In conversation and writing there is a strong tendency to detail and circumstantiality. The vocabulary __________
of the skull is a line engraving of a daguerrotype. The apparent malformation of the right jaw may here be due to the engraver.
14 Saints' Herald, March 13, 1903.
15 New York Sun, December 30, 1845.
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consists largely of set phrases, platitudes and passages from the Bible.16 These symptoms may be deemed too inclusive to be conclusive. There are to be added more particular marks suggesting a tendency to pronounced mental aberration. Such are the facts that the epileptic insane betray an abnormal prominence of the self; that the most senseless and fantastic schemes are devised in which the patients do not fully recognize the incongruity between their grandiose plans and their limited ability; finally, that the judgment is impaired in proportion to the amount of mental deterioration. How far such deterioration extended in the case of Joseph Smith the reader must decide for himself. As a basis for the decision may be given these last acts and utterances of the prophet. As an example of Smith's judgment he proclaimed at Nauvoo, 'I therefore warn the lawless not to be precipitate in any interference in our affairs, for as sure as there is a God in Israel we shall ride triumphant over all oppression.' As an example of Smith's fantastic
16 A. Ross Defendorf, 'Clinical Psychiatry,' 1902, p. 329 ff. In the Revue Philosophique, April, 1903, p. 448, it is suggested that Smith's case may be explained under the hypothesis of hysteria. But in hysterical insanity, says Defendorf, p. 345, consciousness is less deeply disturbed in the seizures and almost never are there sudden involuntary falls and serious injuries. There may be contractions of the entire body and rolling on the ground, but consciousness is never abolished. Compare W. Bevan Lewis, 'A Text Book of Mental Diseases,' p. 272.
schemes he asserted, during the Missouri troubles, that the Saints, if they but tried, could annihilate the bands of the enemy in succession, march across the state and capture St. Louis. As an example of Smith's egomania, during his final legal difficulties he boasted, 'I am a big lawyer, I comprehend heaven, earth and hell.'
What the followers of Joseph thought of him in the face of all this is anomalous. 'Every Mormon,' it has been said, 'if true to his faith believed as freely in his holy character as they did that God existed.' 17 Such an opinion makes it difficult for one who knows the faults and failings of Smith to give a fair estimate of his practical influence on later Mormonism. If a comparison is made with his successor the decision is not in favor of the first head of the church. As a prophet Smith once urged the Saints to betake themselves to the Rockies 'where the devil cannot dig us out.' It was the 'hard-working' Brigham Young who organized the expeditions which took them there. As a seer Smith believed in publicity and averred that Mormondom would some day rule the world. Young opposed the building of the Union Pacific into Utah on the policy that 'railway communications corrupt good Mormons.' As a revelator Smith produced a new American bible which
11 Lee, 'Mormonism Unveiled,' p. 76.
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few read. Young published but a single revelation, yet established a city which was outwardly a model of thrift and industry. Mormonism might never have started without a visionary founder such as Joseph Smith, but Young had more public influence when he usurped the headship of the church and disregarded its mystic functions. Smith may have seen visions of gold plates, but Young, without dabbling in the occult, amassed a fortune estimated at four million dollars. He did not attempt to exorcise evil spirits but he knew the value of a shot-gun in keeping out the invading Gentiles. If Smith was a faith healer, Young was a financier; if the former suggested the tithing of the faithful, the latter developed it with such success that even federal legislation against polygamy was blocked. If Smith boasted that he would 'become the second Mohammed to this generation,' it was Young who was the real founder of a 'despotic and religious empire.' But the development of Mormonism is beyond the scope of this study, for another has at last told with thoroughness and impartiality the strange story of the Mormons, 18 -- how Young received the mantle of the prophet and a number of his wives, how he put down all rivals, including Joseph Smith the third, how he prepared for the long march
18 William Alexander Linn, I The Story of the Mormons,' New York, 1902. -.
across the plains, how he founded the state of Deseret, deficd the national government, taught blood atonement, instigated the Mountain Meadows massacre and left behind him a hierarchy with a power as yet unbroken, a theocracy with ambitions to political dominance, a theology with polygamy as a still living doctrine.
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