- part: MY QUEEN;
- CHAPTER IX. A SURPRISE.
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AFTER their arrival at Liverpool, Julian lost no time in making his inquiries concerning the Saints, and their place of meeting. It was a much easier task than he expected,for the "New Jerusalem" and the "Saints" were the prevailing topics. Everyone pretended to know all about them. The number of converts to the new doctrines greatly surprised Julian and Lascelle. They found the meeting-house crowded, not with the mocking curious, but with eager believers. Neither were these as poor and contemptible as our investigators had expected. The well-to-do middle class was well represented, and the congregation appeared quite respectable.
In truth, Mormonism was making rapid progress. | | 44 It suited the period which gave it birth. It coincided with its predominating ideas,--the Rehabilitation of Matter, the Improvement of the Marriage Law, and Migration.
Ideas float in the atmosphere, and are unconsciously inhaled with it.
But, as the air breathed by the majority of mankind is empoisoned by foul effluvia, so the ideas absorbed by them are vitiated by ignorance, passion, and superstition.
Hence, good theories generate baneful practices, and the idealisms of our progressive century made easy the introduction of Mormonism with its material god and earthly heaven, its false revelation of marriage, and its command to migrate.
Besides its array of so-called miracles, prophesies, and its aureole of persecution, there was an absolute positiveness about the dogmas and denunciations of the new creed that subjugated--the timid and wavering, while its promises attracted the ambitious and discontented.
Men like Mr. Delville, who wished to enrich themselves in the service of the Lord, had an eye to apostleships, to goodly herds and lands in the kingdom, insured against the fires of the Last Day. A religion that combined earthly treasures with eternal bliss; a religion whose honors were not all taken by an exclusive nobility--that was the religion for them.
To the pariahs of society, excluded from all pleasure,--those whom the Church overlooks, society oppresses, and the happy forget,--Mormonism promised beautiful homes in a land overflowing with milk and honey, thrones of honor among the chosen ones of | | 45 God; from which elevated position they should see their oppressors swept from the face of the earth. Already they, the poor and the lowly, rejoiced in the title of "Saint," while the rich and powerful were Gentiles, accursed. Ah! what a sweet revenge!
But polygamy! How could civilized men and women accept such degradation?
Polygamy was kept in the background as much as possible. The teachers knew well how to give milk to babes, how to prepare their infant stomachs for stronger food.
Social problems occupied the thoughts of men, the relation of the sexes dissatisfied many; new systems were discussed,--why not, then, polygamy? The Mormon preachers declared that all the miseries afflicting domestic life resulted from monogamy.
They painted the social evil in its most horrible colors; and all women and Christians were entreated to espouse a system that would banish it from the earth.
Polygamy was this system. Polygamy was to bring happiness to man, exaltation to woman, improvement to the race.
The Old Testament approved of it. * The New Testament did not condemn it. The revelations of the Latter Day commended it. To untrained minds, blinded by fanaticism, this was sufficient. But the teachers appealed specially to the charity, the purity of women. By this means were women like Oreana and Mary Lascelle captivated. They had never seen | | 46 its working. Their imagination could not realize a system so foreign to their actual experience.
To them, polygamy was only a theory, and, like all theories appeared beautiful in the distance. Never for a moment did they associate themselves with the idea of plurality.
Husbands promised their wives, as did Robert Delville, to remain monogamists.
But the majority of converts never gave it a thought. The millennium and Zion absorbed them.
In the sermon to which Julian and Lascelle listened, there was no mention made of it. The speaker chose for text,
He spoke out of the fullness of his soul, and his simple, earnest speech touched even Lascelle, who disliked all preaching.
"That is good, I declare," said Julian; "quite refreshing after the high-flown verbiage and hollow sentiments now fashionable in the churches. What say you, Lascelle?"
"That man believes what he preaches, anyway."
"He does certainly; and if that is Mormonism, it is not so bad."
"Pshaw, Julian! That is not Mormonism; that is religion, ethics poetized by the supernatural. All sects are based upon religion, but none of them remain content with the simple structure; they must, forsooth, build a fine temple unlike any other that has ever been. So they call to their aid ambition, prejudice, ignorance, with a host of other evils inherent in human nature, and they rear a meretricious, ugly, shaky affair that they term a church, which effectually hides religion."| | 47
"Lascelle, you are too skeptical."
"Not at all; it is only the truth. There is just that difference between religions and creeds. I do respect the former, but the latter I despise. They do very well to amuse women and children, but some are not even fit for that. Take this one, for instance, with its New Jerusalem and polygamy. Now that man whom we have just heard still clings to religion; he has never yet looked at the creed. I'll wager he has never been to the Mormon city, and knows very little of this prophet Joe Smith, or Brigham Young. Let us go and find out."
Julian readily assented. The preacher received them pleasantly, but with a quiet dignity that seemed natural to him.
He answered their numerous questions without any hesitancy, assuring them he was only too happy to be able to give his testimony for the great and mighty things God had done for His people in the Latter Days, when the Saints should be gathered to the New Jerusalem, and the inheritance of Israel be restored.
"But why must the Saints go so far? Why cannot they worship God here as well as in Zion?"
"If you have read the Bible, my friend, you must have been impressed with the insistency with which God commands his children to separate from the ungodly. Remember what the Psalmist says--"
"My dear sir," exclaimed Lascelle, "you can dispense with texts. As every thing can be proven from the Bible, I do not consider it as any proof. Let us come to something tangible. What is your candid opinion about polygamy?"| | 48
The preacher's face grew troubled; he hesitated for a moment, then replied:
"See, my friends, the evil in this, your monogamic society. Now, God declares that the New Law of Celestial Marriage will stem this wickedness--that it will purify the world--"
"By giving license to men's passions," said Julian.
"Nay, it is not license, my friend; you do not understand the principles."
"That is true, but I understand my sex," replied Julian, smiling sadly.
The preacher sighed, and tried to turn the conversation. "Think," he said, "of the wonders wrought by the New Gospel. The Spirit of God dwells once more with men, causing them to work miracles--to prophesy; the ignorant become wise, the timid brave, the weak strong. This very week hundreds will leave their country, their home, their friends; they will brave the terrors of the sea, they will cross the wild deserts on foot--yes, on foot they will travel to Zion. The pilgrims of old are outdone by weak women and children."
"Have you ever been to this Mormon city?" asked Lascelle of the preacher.
"Not yet, but I hope--"
"Oh! Of course. So you have not been there. Do you know this Brigham Young?"
"Very little. I heard him once. Ah! he is a great patriarch."
"No doubt," answered Lascelle, with a shade of irony in his tone. "Now, have you seen the actual workings of polygamy?"
"I am obliged to answer, no."| | 49
"Just as I thought," continued Lascelle. "You know nothing of polygamy, of Zion, nor of Zion's ruler, and when you do become acquainted with them,--you will, mark my words,--you will abjure Mormonism. Do not be offended; you interest me very much, and I mean no harm, but you will renounce this creed."
There was a general laugh at this, and Julian said, jestingly, "Why, Edward, you are usurping the priviledges of the Saints; have you this gift?" he added, turning to the preacher.
"The gift of prophecy is a glorious gift, and God bestoweth it upon whomsoever He pleases--often upon the most unworthy, the most lowly--to show forth the greatness of His power. Thus, sometimes, the Holy Spirit, has empowered me to see dimly into the future--and thus it is that, now, I see you in Zion; and beware! there is deception, there is danger, before you. I see but dimly, very little is the veil lifted--perhaps I should say I feel, rather than that I see." The preacher stopped as if bewildered.
"This is becoming interesting," said Lascelle, laughing. "Can't you tell me something? I prophesied for you."
"My friend," replied the preacher, "you laugh now, but presently, you will weep. Philosophy may do for prosperity; but in adversity, we want faith, faith and trust in God our Father. If we do not cling fast to the rock of faith we are but toys of our passions. Remember this, my friend, when the dark cloud bursts over your head. Something tells me we | | 50 shall meet in the distant future, and that I shall be of use to you and yours. What is your name?"
"And mine is Menly. God guard you, my friends--"
Julian and Lascelle hurried away in silence. Julian felt troubled, but Lascelle chafed with anger and impatience.
"There, did I not tell you," cried he, at last, "that it was all humbug? However, I did think that fellow Menly was sincere."
"So he is. It appears absurd to us, but he believes it."
"Nonsense! You can't deceive me in that way! I will have nothing more to do with it."
"Let us go to see these emigrant pilgrims."
"You may go if you please, Julian, but I shall not. Any way it will be impossible, for I must be home tomorrow evening, then in two days I go to London. My little wife expects me. So good bye to these Mormons."
Julian did not go again to the meeting-house, but he remembered the departure of the Mormon vessel. On the morning it was to sail he rose with the intention of spending the morning on board the "Eagle," but an unexpected meeting with a friend detained him and it was nearly noon when he reached the vessel.
As he curiously scanned the crowd of emigrant pilgrims, his attention was arrested by the figure of a woman whose stately grace made him think of Oreana.
"What a magnificent creature for such a fate," thought he. He lost all interest in the other pilgrims; he could only see that one. Her dress was neat, yet | | 51 very coarse, and without the slightest attempt at ornament; a short serge dress, a dark shawl, and a huge sun-bonnet which completely concealed her head and features. She stood apart from the rest, erect, motionless, heedless of the confusion around her, all absorbed in her thoughts. Julian felt fascinated; never had the sight of a stranger impressed him so deeply. He must see her face. He threaded his way through the crowd, to the spot where she stood looking away off in to the west. A strange fear crept over him. He dared not speak. If he could but see her face--if she would only look at him. His wish was granted. The sea-breeze came sweeping by,--the bonnet fell back,--then the woman turned towards Julian. It was Oreana.
An item clipped from an English paper.
"An incident which recalls the romance of the olden time, occurred last Wednesday, on board the ship 'Eagle,' as she was preparing to leave the port of Liverpool, for New York.
"There were on board several hundred Mormon emigrants, among whom was a young lady belonging to a family of good standing,--the Brentfords, of Brentford Farm.
"The young lady was on the eve of marriage with Mr. Julian Bellew, of the manor of S--; but she became so infatuated with the Mormon delusion, that she forsook parents, home and lover, for Zion, as the Mormons call their city, situated somewhere in the wilds of America.
"The young lady's family had not the faintest idea | | 52 of her mad determination; however, it happened that her lover, who had gone to Liverpool on business, strolled down to the quay, and, prompted by curiosity, visited the 'Eagle.' There he found Miss Brentford. A touching scene ensued. The lover entreated his affianced wife to return to her family. The lady (who is of age), remained deaf to his prayers; though very much moved, she clung to her resolve to go to Zion.
"Finding that his entreaties were without avail, Mr. Bellew declared he would save his betrothed, he would bring her back to her family, or die in the attempt.
"The vessel was to sail in an hour, but to love there is nothing impossible. Mr. Bellew made all his arrangements for a trip to the deserts of the western hemisphere, and was by the side of his promised bride when the vessel sailed.
"It is to be hoped that the heroic love of Mr. Bellew will be effectual in curing Miss Brentford of her folly, which has destroyed the happiness of two honorable families.
"Mr. Delville, the well-known linen draper of High street, his wife and children, were also among these emigrants, and it is rumored that Mrs. Lascelle, of S--, has forsaken her husband, and, with her child, a girl of four or five years of age, has embarked for the land of the Mormons."
The paper contained one other short announcement:
"Died, Thursday, May 2, Mr. Brentford, of Brentford Farm, of sudden paralysis."
What pathos, what despair do not these items express!
At Bellew Manor and Brentford Farm joy and | | 53 laughter are changed to mourning and the wailing of broken hearts.
But there is a home yet more desolate, a dishonored, deserted hearth, where Edward Lascelle, forsaken, alone struggles with the madness of despair.
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