Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

6

ball with prayer, asking the blessing of God upon their amusements, as well as upon any other engagement; and then will follow the most sprightly dancing, in which all join with hearty good-will, from the highest dignitary to the humblest individual; and this exercise is to become part of the temple-worship, to “praise God in songs and dances. These private balls and soirées are frequently extended beyond the time of cock-crowing by the younger members; and the remains of the evening repast furnish the breakfast" for the jovial guests. The cheerful happy faces, the self-satisfied countenances, the cordial salutation of brother or sister on all occasions of address, the lively strains of music pouring forth from merry hearts in every domicile, as women and children sing their songs of Zion," while plying the domestic tasks, give an impression of a happy society in the vales of Deseret.'

In only one respect can the Mormons be said to outrage the ordinary morality of mankind—and that is in what has been styled

their peculiar institution of polygamy.'. " That many have a large number of wives in Deseret, says Gunnison, ‘is perfectly manifest to any one residing long among them; and, indeed, the subject begins to be more openly discussed than formerly; and it is announced that a treatise is in preparation, to prove by the Scriptures the right of plurality by all Christians, if not to declare their own practice of the same. This we must regard as a serious and debasing blemish in their patriarchal’ form of life, tending, as it manifestly does, to the inevitable dishonouring of women, and the desecration of the holy ties of family. It seems probable, however, that among a people so generally earnest and sincere, there is natural health and virtue enough to lead them back eventually to a nobler and purer relation of the sexes—to that sacred and only natural relation which from the first has been ordained to man and woman.

There are some other disturbing elements in Mormonism, which are most likely destined to be cast out or modified, if their peculiar social polity is ever to be anything but a temporary experiment. Right as they may be, theoretically, in holding that just and proper human government rests upon a true interpretation of the divine will, their practical exemplification of the principle is nothing more than a product of the human will—the will, namely, of the seersupported and directed by such judgment, intelligence, and other mere natural ability which he may happen to possess. If the voice of the seer were, in fact, the voice of God, all would indeed be well

, and their theocratical pretensions might seem to be sufficiently established. But so long as we have only the seer's word, and the assertions of his disciples in support of the assumption, the claim of a divine right to govern must be tested by its results; and whether these be admirable or the contrary, the power of a ruler acting by so indefinite a right, resolves itself into a manifestation of pure despotism. While the despotism is just, and the people comparatively incompetent to take part in the management of their political affairs, such a system of government may be productive of advantages, and in most respects answer the needs and ends of the society; but as education spreads, and the perennial inspiration of the seer comes to be doubted or denied, a pretension so arrogant and preposterous will inevitably produce rebellions, and must finally go the way of all the shams that have been annihilated. This the present president, Brigham Young, apparently perceives, for we hear that, with praiseworthy caution, he is wary of giving revelations, and seems to be waiting for the time when they may be quietly dispensed with. He tells the people that the prophet has left more work carved out, than several years of faithful diligence will accomplish; and until all the duties thus entailed have been fulfilled, he does not consider it needful to ask for any more light from Heaven!

own.

In drawing what we have written to a close, our own conclusion is, that the Mormon doctrines are for the most part nonsense, but that what the Mormons do is in many ways commendable. The world may very well permit them to indulge in their millennial fancies and patriarchal crotchets, so long as they live peaceably and honestly among themselves, and make no intolerant aggressions on the beliefs and religious systems that differ from their

Their steadfast and honourable industry, the unity of aim and sentiment that subsists among them, their zealous devotion to a central idea, their reverent, if perverted, recognition of a Supreme Power over them, the pleasant fellowship that results from their social regulations, and the robust and sterling independence by which they are distinguished as a community; these, and other highly creditable qualities and characteristics, assuredly entitle them to the honest respect of all candid and discriminating persons, and must sooner or later secure for them an extensive and deserva ing admiration. Nothing but good-will and an indulgent charity are due to these earnest, stalwart children of the desert—these rough and intrepid backwoodsmen of the universe—who, called by a voice which they but imperfectly understand, have nevertheless gone forth to subdue and cultivate a remote and barren region, so that, instead of the heath and the brushwood, it may bear grain for the food of man, and become a blossoming and fruitful garden for his habitation and delight. Not inaptly have they been likened to the Puritans of New England; for although their professing faith is different, they resemble them thoroughly in their hardy isolation and exclusiveness, and are endowed with the like invincibility of purpose; they are as energetic and as enduring; they have sustained persecutions more fiery and desolating, have toiled against all imaginable obstructions for liberty to work and live, contended bravely with wild Indians and the hordes of pestilent outlaws that lurk about the frontiers of civilisation; they have passed through many and enormous perils in roadless prairies and primeval forests, in rocky fastnesses and on the waves of bridgeless rivers; and after the severest struggles and endurance, they have at lasť made for

themselves a prosperous and peaceful home in the bosom of the wilderness. These people are not to be despised, nor too much taunted with the impositions or irregularities of their founders; for whatever may have been the moral state of Mormon society in times past, according to all reliable testimony, great improvement has been for a long while steadily going on, and is sufficient to justify us in the belief, that in regard to the few peculiarities of conduct which demand our reprehension, there will eventually be a decided and permanent reformation. Their successful exemplification of a great social principle—the principle of concert in employments, and in the distribution of the products of their industry, along with the many solid and generous virtues which are daily manifested by their common lives and conversationmay be fairly considered proof of a large preponderance of worth, sufficient to overbalance the few admitted sins they may be guilty of; and considering that there is no society in which there is so little habitual crime and misery, and so large an amount of general comfort and wellbeing, the Mormon polity may be said to be admirably suited to the people living under it, and to answer all the ends for which it has been constituted. As a plan for sobtaining the aggregate result of single efforts, it is the best social and industrial experiment that has yet been tried on any considerable scale. Summed up in the words of one of the Mormon writers, a man of no indifferent learning and ability - it is a polity intended to enable and induce each person to operate at what and where he can do best, and with all his might; being subject to the counsel of those above him.' In an enterprise so nobly philosophical and judicious, no unprejudiced or discerning mind can wish them anything but a continued and prolonged success.

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[graphic]

OME of the most remarkable and curious pages in history escape the attention even of the serious student, because they perhaps refer to some obscure part of the world, or other events

occur at the same time with those they record which weigh so heavy in the balance of human

progress, that things in themselves deeply interesting are scarcely known beyond the locality where they occur. Local chronicles frequently contain records of actions which, had they simply taken place on a larger scale, would have excited the universal attention of mankind.

Rienzi had Rome for his theatre; Masaniello, Naples : hence they live on the perpetual tablets of world-memory. Another hero,

No. 54.

another thinker, whose history is even perhaps more striking, whose actions excited the wonder, admiration, and love of his fellow-countrymen, and who performed a real prodigy in a time of remarkable men, is now forgotten, his name doubtful, and his acts buried in the archives of his native land, or mentioned in the reports of an antiquarian society.*

Somewhere about the sixth century, there was built in Gaul a city called Aleth; or rather, we first hear of it at that date. It was on the sea-shore, and well fortified. Near at hand was a rocky island, known as Aaron’s Isle, for there a holy man, Aaron by name, built a monastery and a church. The dwellers in Aleth paid no attention for some time to this island, because it wanted water; but by and by the Norman pirates came and twice pillaged their city, making of the island their place of shelter : upon this, in 1140, the inhabitants removed to the island, and built a city upon it, which they fortified, and called it St Malo, after a bishop of that name, much venerated by them. An indomitable and energetic race, a nest of sailors, adventurers, merchants, corsairs, the Malouines were known in the days of the Crusaders as the light troops of the sea. From the time of Clovis, the kings of France and the Dukes of Brittany struggled for possession of the city, but always in vain. It continued to maintain its independence, supporting the prince which pleased the people best. They were governed by a bishop elected by popular vote; he was called Lord of St Malo.

But although he and the chapter had much power, the citizens made the laws and elected all officers; they had the duty of guarding the town, and chose their own chiefs. All foreigners who came to reside there were obliged to become citizens, and no king or prince had ever a fugitive given up to him. Even the pope recognised the independence of the Malouines, and took care to be respectful in all his briefs, lest they might haughtily

deny his authority. At one time entering into an alliance with Jean de Montfort, they narrowly escaped falling into English hands; and being in difficulties, they gave themselves to the pope, who handed them over to the king: but this remained not long. The Malouines fell under the gentle rule of the Duke of Brittany, and remained so for some time; but presently, when Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII., their ten centuries of independence ended. The Duchess Anne obtained possession of the place, and took all power out of the hands of the maritime republic, making the bishop, chapter, and commonalty together bow to her. She built a formidable citadel, and when the people murmured, ordered an inscription to be stuck up, which at once demonstrated her insolence and the subjection of the people—

QUIC-EN-GROGNE

AINSY SERA
C'EST MON PLAISIR.

GROWL AS YOU MAY

SO IT SHALL BE
SUCH IS MY PLEASURE.

* To the patient research of M. Auguste Billiard is owing our extended knowledge of certain facts here recounted.

« НазадПродовжити »