By S. M. Bartlett.]
Quincy, Illinois, Sat., Sept. 18, 1841.
[Vol. 4 - No. 21.
R. B. THOMPSON, another of the citizens of the "Times and Seasons," died at Nauvoo,
on the 27th utl. He was highly esteamed as a man, and for the sincerity and candor with which he advocated
and defended the religion of the "Latter Day Saints." The Nauvoo paper is now inder the entire control of
Ebenezer Robinson, one of the original proprietors.
From the N. Y. Atlas.
THE BURIAL OF THE MORMON
BY WILLIAM COMSTOCK.
"And lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,"
And o'er her cold ashes upbraid her --
But little she'll reck if they let her sleep on
In the grave where her brethren have laid her."
"To make French Muffins you must [take] three eggs to a pint and a half of milk, with a small piece of butter,
a little yeast, and flour enough to make it as thick as pancakes -- let it rise and then pour it into rings.
Split and butter them as soon as done. It appears to me as if these words would never pass from the table of
my brain, words of small import to me; but which I heard between sleeping and waking -- as they proceeded from
the lips of my hostess, at a time that I was traveling in the west. It was early in the morning. There was but
a board between the apartment in which I slept, and that in which the family cooked their victuals. Loud
talking in the adjoining apartment awakened me, and these words are remembered with the interesting events
of the day.
Having parted with my rude, but hospitable entertainers, I took my carpet bag in my hand, and struck into a
winding path, which carried me into the heart of the forest.
The birds of the wild wood carrolled in every tree, and the green leaves tossed cheerfully in the morning
breeze. The little cataracts murmured, and the pure waters of the brook went joyously on in their gravelly
beds. Beautiful wild flowers, which the far off citizens knew not of, sent up their perfumes. The lizard
slid away among the dry leaves, and the fox drew after him his bushy tail, as I penetrated the sombre depths
of the woods. Here as I was felicitating myself on the solitude that reigned around me, and admiring the
harmony of Nature, I was suddenly interrupted in my contemplations by a human figure moving towards me, as
if desirous of companionship. Smothering my resentment as well as I could, I stopped until the stranger came
up. My first glance at his countenance was very unsatisfactory; Large wall eyes that seemed to seek for an
opportunity to get some advantage over me, a long sharp chin, and thin white lips, afforded a poor
recommendation to my charity. That a man in the midst of so much beauty, should fee; the need of a companion
-- that he should be willing to forefo the reflections which naturally arise where green leaves and wild
flowers, and clamboring vines invite the fancy to try its airy wing, was of itself sufficient to prejudice me
against him. The world was stamped upon his features. As he approached me he spoke.
"Fine day for travelling sir," It was impossible to deny the gentleman's assertion. He next stated that he
was on his way home, and lived but a few miles distant -- that he was tired of walking in the woods, and was
in a hurry to get out upon the highway.
I replied that I preferred the wood to the highway, and pointed out a most romantic sight where a number of
rocks seemed to have been thrown together by some revolution of nature, and a tall pine stood upon the summit,
as if to call upon the passer-by to remark and ponder upon what had been done in ages long since gone by. I
saw his countenance change and I thought he lowered with his white eyebrows. I could not imagine what right
a man had to force himself upon my company, and then find fault with my discourse. He was silent a moment,
and then seemed ready for an effort.
"There are a great many Mormons in this neighborhood," said he.
"Are there, indeed?" returned I.
He pondered another moment, and then demanded very abruptly if I had any dealings with that people.
I was in no hurry to answer a question so impertinently put; and in a moment he continued.
"Perhaps, sir, that you are a Mormon."
"I cannot be one until I know what they are," said I; "but have you a court here to decide upon the creed of
"We don't allow Mormons here," returned he, eying me as if he still doubted whether I was a Mormon or not.
"May I ask why you do not allow people to believe their doctrine, and how you contrive to prevent it?" replied I.
"We don;t want them about here, and we won't have them on our lands," was his answer. "They are against
everybody's religion, and Joe Smith is the greatest villian that ever went unhung. Now, stranger, you may be
a Mormon, for all I know, but if you are I advise you to make tracks out of this State as fast as you can go."
"What are the principal tenents of the Mormon religion?" inquired I.
"A Mormon's a Mormon," cried he in a rage, and his white lip quivered, "and they ought to be hung -- the one
for the sake of the other."
"But, sir, I merely ask for information. I have simply heard that there is such a people, and am aware that
they are every where spoken against. -- I wish to know what are the most objectionable tenets that they hold?"
"You say you are not a Mormon?"
"I need not say it again."
"Very well, I'm glad to hear it. Then I shall not be ashamed to keep your company."
"Then I hope you will tell me all about these Mormons."
"Wgy as to that," said he, "they've got a scape gallows rogue Joe Smith for a prophet, and a golden bible,
while you know we've got one bible already, an' that's more than I could ever find time to read."
"You believe it, however, I presume?"
"Yes, I believe in the bible -- I hope so."
"May I ask if you believe in the whole of it?"
"Certainly. I was always taught to believe it, and so I'll stand up for it; but I've not read it very lately,
not since I was a child."
"Have you read the Mormon bible?"
"No, no, stranger. I wish that they and their bible were crammed into a big cannon, and I had the touching of
This edifying conversation had continued for some time, when I perceived that the wood had become less dense,
and the rays of the sun occasionally fell upon our path. My companion then began to hint that some exhibition
or adventure was about to take place -- that many of his friends would be present at it, and that I should also
be welcome. As he uttered these words, there was a dark and sinister expression on his countenance -- an
unfeeling, hard, and worldly eagerness in the gaze with which he regarded me -- some like that which is
ascribed to the eye of a hawk when he is about to pounce upon his prey. In short, he spoke more plainly, and
acknowledged that he followed the profession of a gambler; and it plainly appeared that he was desirous of
transferring what little loose change I might have, from my pocket to his own. "What horrible creatures these
Mormons must be," thought I, "when even a professed blackleg, and a man who never read the bible since he was
a child, is shocked at their wickedness!"
I looked forth upon the green landscape, and the distant hills, which opened to the view as we emerged from
the forest, and contrasted the heavenly prospect before me with the blackness and deformity of that heart
which was panting at my side for an opportunity to strip me of my little all, and send me forth a despised
and penniless wanderer upon the earth. I thought of the Garden of Eden, which was deemed too sacred for the
abode of fallen man, and asked myself the question, "When shall the poisonous serpent, and the laughing hyena
no longer infest a world which the Almighty promised good on that morning when the stars of heaven sang
together, and the sons of God shouted for joy;" and for a moment I seemed to anticipate a time when wrangling
sectarians should no longer howl for the blood of those who dissented from themselves, or wander among the
tombs, darkened and benighted, in search of the living among the dead.
The creaking of wheels interrupted my reverie, and looking up, I saw a train of wagons just coming over the
brow of a hill, attended by men, women and children. My companion seized my arm, and endeavored to hurry me
back into the forest.
"Come," says he, "and go through the forest a piece -- I will raise a few presently, and you will see some
"I don;t understand you," replied I.
"We will get together about fifty stout men, and make ourselves masters of the horses and wagons," said he.
"What!" cried I, "would you rob women and children of their all!"
"Women and children!" shrieked he, "they are Mormons!" and the spirit of a demon glared in his great
Roused to the highest pitch of indignation, I exclaimed: -- "Mormons they may be; but thank God they are not
Quick as thought the man showed the blade of a bowie knife; and then I drew a pistol from my bosom, and
levelled it at the monster's heart. His countenance grew more white -- his eyes fell 00 he slowly backed off
from me, until he was hidden in the recesses of the wood; and then I remembered the words, "Resist the devil
and he will flee from thee."
I now looked out upon the travellers as their wagons filed by me. The men were generally weather beaten, and
plainly clad; but I did not see an ordinary countenance among them. Their bearing was dignified and manly.
They talked cheerfully together, and their faces were irradiated with all those benign and lofty sentiments
that belong to mortals in whom strong faith has slain the love of earthly objects. There were young women
there; and as the light of their angelic eyes flashed upon me, I seemed to be translated from the earth into
heaven! That uncommon union of high intelligence with perfect innocence -- which is the great characteristic
of angels -- beamed upon their countenances, while their forms which had grown etherial by suffering, needed
nothing but wings to be true representatives of the celestial and radiant hosts who watch over the peaceful
slumbers of infancy. "And these," said I, "are the hunted and outraged martyrs of the present age. Those are
the pilgrims upon the earth who seek a city not yet built. The world loves its own -- why then should it not
hate those who have come out from it? Why should not such worthies as the blackleg -- the bigot -- the
worldly professor -- all join like howling wolves in pursuing a people who have risen and shaken themselves
from the dust of the earth?"
By this time the pilgrim[s] had gained the summit of a wooded hill at some distance from me, and there they
halted. I walked leisurely on, until I arrived at the spot They had formed a circle and were gathered around
some object in their midst. Curiosity prompted me to press forward, until I saw a plain pine box lying upon
the green sward. The cover was off and in that box lay the most delicately beautiful being that I ever beheld.
A deep-wound on the forehead caused me to shudder, for why should such a creature have perished by the hand of
violence? These friendless people gathered around the lovely remains of the young and beautiful martyr; and
they "gazed upon the face of the dead," and looked upward, penetrating with the eye of faith, the veil of the
flesh, and assured that in the moment death was victorious, he had been destroyed. From the words spoken by
some of the younger part of the company, I gathered that she had fallen the day before, a victim to her own
generosity. An attack had been made upon the camp by some of the "friends of good order," several were killed,
and the girl had rushed between the uplifted arm of one of the assailants and an elderly man for whom the
blow was intended. The axe fell upon her own head, and her life's blood flowed through the wound. -- She had
arrived from England a few months before, had left the higheest prospects behind. She had deserted the
pleasant halls of her fathers -- the flatteries of the young and gifted to find a grave in the wilderness,
to procure her virgin blood upon the soil of a country whose constitution declares that none shall be molested
in the free exercise of their religion. But when our fathers drew up the Declaration of Independence, and the
Constitution of the United States, they promised more than their sons have ever performed. It is easy to say
what ought to be done; but the devil is not killed because he is denounced. The cry that "our craft is in
danger!" is as impudently raised now as it was in the day of the apostles; and if it were the high professors
who stimulated Pilate and the common people to murder Jesus Christ; so it is the sanctimonious Pharisees who
are at the bottom of all the religious persecution which has raged against the Latter Day Saints.
I stopped to examine whether the faith of this martyred maiden was correct or not -- my decision would be
fallible, and I had no right to condemn those who differed from me; yet I conceived that it had quite as much
right to do so as any other mortal upon the face of the earth.
As these solitary people stood around the new grave, and spoke of the day when the wilderness should blossom
as the rose; as stern men and frail women lifted up their voices together and hailed from the earth the
expected Redeemer, in the skies -- the scene became sublime. Their strong faith in the literal fulfillment
of the prophecies -- so different from the thousand and one twistfications by which those prophecies are
spiritualized into every thing and nothing -- seemed to give a substantial reality to their religion -- a
freshness and vitality in their hope, which I had never witnessed among the jamgling, Babal-like, blind,
bigoted sectaries of the day -- who declare from the pulpit that one half of the revelations of God mean
nothing at all!
The rude coffin was nailed up, and the body was lowered into the grave. The turf was placed upon to it,
and the pilgrims pursued their way into the wilderness, followed by the dragon of this world who has not
yet ceased to spout water after them, in order that they may be carried away by the flood. Yet it may be
hoped that in the two great wings of the American Eagle -- The Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution -- they will yet arrive at a temporary rest.
Note 1: the Quincy Whig reprinted this same article again in its issue of Sep. 25, 1841. It was also
carried by a few other newspapers during the fall of 1841.
"William Comstock" appears to have been a pseudonym for Parley P. Pratt; though Eliza R. Snow may have also
had a hand in crafting this piece of polemical fiction.