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Chapter 27

  • **IN WHICH PASSEPARTOUT UNDERGOES, AT A SPEED OF TWENTY MILES AN HOUR, _OURSE OF MORMON HISTORY**
  • During the night of the 5th of December, the train ran south-easterly fo_bout fifty miles; then rose an equal distance in a north-easterly direction,
  • towards the Great Salt Lake.
  • Passepartout, about nine o'clock, went out upon the platform to take the air.
  • The weather was cold, the heavens grey, but it was not snowing. The sun'_isc, enlarged by the mist, seemed an enormous ring of gold, and Passepartou_as amusing himself by calculating its value in pounds sterling, when he wa_iverted from this interesting study by a strange-looking personage who mad_is appearance on the platform.
  • This personage, who had taken the train at Elko, was tall and dark, with blac_oustache, black stockings, a black silk hat, a black waistcoat, blac_rousers, a white cravat, and dogskin gloves. He might have been taken for _lergyman. He went from one end of the train to the other, and affixed to th_oor of each car a notice written in manuscript.
  • Passepartout approached and read one of these notices, which stated that Elde_illiam Hitch, Mormon missionary, taking advantage of his presence on trai_o. 48, would deliver a lecture on Mormonism in car No. 117, from eleven t_welve o'clock; and that he invited all who were desirous of being instructe_oncerning the mysteries of the religion of the "Latter Day Saints" to attend.
  • "I'll go," said Passepartout to himself. He knew nothing of Mormonism excep_he custom of polygamy, which is its foundation.
  • The news quickly spread through the train, which contained about one hundre_assengers, thirty of whom, at most, attracted by the notice, ensconce_hemselves in car No. 117. Passepartout took one of the front seats. Neithe_r. Fogg nor Fix cared to attend.
  • At the appointed hour Elder William Hitch rose, and, in an irritated voice, a_f he had already been contradicted, said, "I tell you that Joe Smith is _artyr, that his brother Hiram is a martyr, and that the persecutions of th_nited States Government against the prophets will also make a martyr o_righam Young. Who dares to say the contrary?"
  • No one ventured to gainsay the missionary, whose excited tone contraste_uriously with his naturally calm visage. No doubt his anger arose from th_ardships to which the Mormons were actually subjected. The government ha_ust succeeded, with some difficulty, in reducing these independent fanatic_o its rule. It had made itself master of Utah, and subjected that territor_o the laws of the Union, after imprisoning Brigham Young on a charge o_ebellion and polygamy. The disciples of the prophet had since redoubled thei_fforts, and resisted, by words at least, the authority of Congress. Elde_itch, as is seen, was trying to make proselytes on the very railway trains.
  • Then, emphasising his words with his loud voice and frequent gestures, h_elated the history of the Mormons from Biblical times: how that, in Israel, _ormon prophet of the tribe of Joseph published the annals of the ne_eligion, and bequeathed them to his son Mormon; how, many centuries later, _ranslation of this precious book, which was written in Egyptian, was made b_oseph Smith, junior, a Vermont farmer, who revealed himself as a mystica_rophet in 1825; and how, in short, the celestial messenger appeared to him i_n illuminated forest, and gave him the annals of the Lord.
  • Several of the audience, not being much interested in the missionary'_arrative, here left the car; but Elder Hitch, continuing his lecture, relate_ow Smith, junior, with his father, two brothers, and a few disciples, founde_he church of the "Latter Day Saints," which, adopted not only in America, bu_n England, Norway and Sweden, and Germany, counts many artisans, as well a_en engaged in the liberal professions, among its members; how a colony wa_stablished in Ohio, a temple erected there at a cost of two hundred thousan_ollars, and a town built at Kirkland; how Smith became an enterprisin_anker, and received from a simple mummy showman a papyrus scroll written b_braham and several famous Egyptians.
  • The Elder's story became somewhat wearisome, and his audience grew graduall_ess, until it was reduced to twenty passengers. But this did not disconcer_he enthusiast, who proceeded with the story of Joseph Smith's bankruptcy i_837, and how his ruined creditors gave him a coat of tar and feathers; hi_eappearance some years afterwards, more honourable and honoured than ever, a_ndependence, Missouri, the chief of a flourishing colony of three thousan_isciples, and his pursuit thence by outraged Gentiles, and retirement int_he Far West.
  • Ten hearers only were now left, among them honest Passepartout, who wa_istening with all his ears. Thus he learned that, after long persecutions,
  • Smith reappeared in Illinois, and in 1839 founded a community at Nauvoo, o_he Mississippi, numbering twenty-five thousand souls, of which he becam_ayor, chief justice, and general-in-chief; that he announced himself, i_843, as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States; and tha_inally, being drawn into ambuscade at Carthage, he was thrown into prison,
  • and assassinated by a band of men disguised in masks.
  • Passepartout was now the only person left in the car, and the Elder, lookin_im full in the face, reminded him that, two years after the assassination o_oseph Smith, the inspired prophet, Brigham Young, his successor, left Nauvo_or the banks of the Great Salt Lake, where, in the midst of that fertil_egion, directly on the route of the emigrants who crossed Utah on their wa_o California, the new colony, thanks to the polygamy practised by th_ormons, had flourished beyond expectations.
  • "And this," added Elder William Hitch, "this is why the jealousy of Congres_as been aroused against us! Why have the soldiers of the Union invaded th_oil of Utah? Why has Brigham Young, our chief, been imprisoned, in contemp_f all justice? Shall we yield to force? Never! Driven from Vermont, drive_rom Illinois, driven from Ohio, driven from Missouri, driven from Utah, w_hall yet find some independent territory on which to plant our tents. An_ou, my brother," continued the Elder, fixing his angry eyes upon his singl_uditor, "will you not plant yours there, too, under the shadow of our flag?"
  • "No!" replied Passepartout courageously, in his turn retiring from the car,
  • and leaving the Elder to preach to vacancy.
  • During the lecture the train had been making good progress, and towards half-
  • past twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence th_assengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is als_alled the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan. It is _icturesque expanse, framed in lofty crags in large strata, encrusted wit_hite salt— a superb sheet of water, which was formerly of larger extent tha_ow, its shores having encroached with the lapse of time, and thus at onc_educed its breadth and increased its depth.
  • The Salt Lake, seventy miles long and thirty-five wide, is situated thre_iles eight hundred feet above the sea. Quite different from Lake Asphaltite,
  • whose depression is twelve hundred feet below the sea, it contain_onsiderable salt, and one quarter of the weight of its water is solid matter,
  • its specific weight being 1,170, and, after being distilled, 1,000. Fishe_re, of course, unable to live in it, and those which descend through th_ordan, the Weber, and other streams soon perish.
  • The country around the lake was well cultivated, for the Mormons are mostl_armers; while ranches and pens for domesticated animals, fields of wheat,
  • corn, and other cereals, luxuriant prairies, hedges of wild rose, clumps o_cacias and milk-wort, would have been seen six months later. Now the groun_as covered with a thin powdering of snow.
  • The train reached Ogden at two o'clock, where it rested for six hours, Mr.
  • Fogg and his party had time to pay a visit to Salt Lake City, connected wit_gden by a branch road; and they spent two hours in this strikingly America_own, built on the pattern of other cities of the Union, like a checker-board,
  • "with the sombre sadness of right-angles," as Victor Hugo expresses it. Th_ounder of the City of the Saints could not escape from the taste for symmetr_hich distinguishes the Anglo-Saxons. In this strange country, where th_eople are certainly not up to the level of their institutions, everything i_one "squarely"—cities, houses, and follies.
  • The travellers, then, were promenading, at three o'clock, about the streets o_he town built between the banks of the Jordan and the spurs of the Wahsatc_ange. They saw few or no churches, but the prophet's mansion, the court-
  • house, and the arsenal, blue-brick houses with verandas and porches,
  • surrounded by gardens bordered with acacias, palms, and locusts. A clay an_ebble wall, built in 1853, surrounded the town; and in the principal stree_ere the market and several hotels adorned with pavilions. The place did no_eem thickly populated. The streets were almost deserted, except in th_icinity of the temple, which they only reached after having traversed severa_uarters surrounded by palisades. There were many women, which was easil_ccounted for by the "peculiar institution" of the Mormons; but it must not b_upposed that all the Mormons are polygamists. They are free to marry or not,
  • as they please; but it is worth noting that it is mainly the female citizen_f Utah who are anxious to marry, as, according to the Mormon religion, maide_adies are not admitted to the possession of its highest joys. These poo_reatures seemed to be neither well off nor happy. Some—the more well-to-do,
  • no doubt— wore short, open, black silk dresses, under a hood or modest shawl;
  • others were habited in Indian fashion.
  • Passepartout could not behold without a certain fright these women, charged,
  • in groups, with conferring happiness on a single Mormon. His common sens_itied, above all, the husband. It seemed to him a terrible thing to have t_uide so many wives at once across the vicissitudes of life, and to conduc_hem, as it were, in a body to the Mormon paradise with the prospect of seein_hem in the company of the glorious Smith, who doubtless was the chie_rnament of that delightful place, to all eternity. He felt decidedly repelle_rom such a vocation, and he imagined—perhaps he was mistaken— that the fai_nes of Salt Lake City cast rather alarming glances on his person. Happily,
  • his stay there was but brief. At four the party found themselves again at th_tation, took their places in the train, and the whistle sounded for starting.
  • Just at the moment, however, that the locomotive wheels began to move, crie_f "Stop! stop!" were heard.
  • Trains, like time and tide, stop for no one. The gentleman who uttered th_ries was evidently a belated Mormon. He was breathless with running. Happil_or him, the station had neither gates nor barriers. He rushed along th_rack, jumped on the rear platform of the train, and fell, exhausted, into on_f the seats.
  • Passepartout, who had been anxiously watching this amateur gymnast, approache_im with lively interest, and learned that he had taken flight after a_npleasant domestic scene.
  • When the Mormon had recovered his breath, Passepartout ventured to ask hi_olitely how many wives he had; for, from the manner in which he had decamped,
  • it might be thought that he had twenty at least.
  • "One, sir," replied the Mormon, raising his arms heavenward —"one, and tha_as enough!"