Richards, Franklin D., "Discourse," Deseret News [Weekly], 15 Oct. 1856, 252-53.
By Elder Franklin D. Richards, Bowery, Sunday Morning, Oct. 5, 1856.
REPORTED BY G. D. WATT.
. . . . I cannot take the time now to rehearse the varied circumstances and incidents of my mission, for the main thing before us now is to help in the brethren who are on the plains. The subject of immigration by hand-carts is one that will do to talk about; I have learned that by experience in the little I have had to do with them; it will also do to pray about, and it does a great deal better to lay hold of and work at it; and we find it to work admirably.
We have not had much preaching to do to the people in the old countries, to get them started out with hand-carts. There were fifteen or twenty thousand waiting for the next year to roll around, that they may be brought out by the arrangements of the P. E. F. company.—Those who had any objections to this mode of traveling we wanted to wait, and see if the experiment would work well.
The subject is popular in those countries and the hardest part of my talking was to find the means to bring out the many that were urgently teasing me to let them come. When the first hand-cart company came in it was a soul stirring time; banners were flying, bands of music played, and the citizens turned out almost en mass to greet them. But they will yet come with hand-carts by thousands, and when they get here they will be most likely to enjoy 'Mormonism'.
This time we have not been preaching them easy and smooth things, for we had heard of the hard times you have had in the valleys, and we have invited them to come and share with you; and we have given them to understand that in coming here they came to work out their salvation.
The Saints that are now upon the plains, about one thousand with hand-carts, feel that it is late in the season, and they expect to get cold fingers and toes. But they have this faith and confidence towards God that he will over-rule the storms that may come in the season thereof and turn them away, that their path may be free from suffering more than they can bear. They have confidence to believe that this will be an open fall; and I tell you brethren and sisters, that every time we get to talking about the hand-carts in England, and on the way, we could not talk long without prophesying about them. On shipboard, at the points of outfit, and on the plains, every time we spoke we felt to prophecy good concerning them. We started off the rear company from Florence about the first of September, and the gentiles came around with their sympathy, and their nonsense, trying to decoy away the sisters, telling them that it was too late in the season, that the journey would be too much for their consititutions, and if they would wait until next year, themselves would be going to California, and would take them along more comfortably.
When we had a meeting at Florence, we called upon the saints to express their faith to the people, and requested to know of them, even if they knew that they should be swallowed up in storms, whether they would stop or turn back. They voted, with loud acclamations, that they would go on. Such confidence and joyful performance of so arduous labors to accomplish their gathering will bring the choice blessings of God upon them.
I would like to say a word to the sisters here, for they have a tremendous influence sometimes. Let me say to some of those that came out in the earlier years of our settlement in these valleys, you thought the journey quite long enough, and that if it had been a week, a fortnight or a month longer, you did not know how you could have endured it. Many of you came in wagons, bringing the comforts of life with you in abundance.
Sisters think of those fatiguing times, and stir up your good men in behalf of those who are footing it, and pulling hand-carts 13,000 [1,300] miles, instead of riding 1000 as you did. The aged; the infirm and bowed down, and those who have been lame from their birth, are coming along upon their crutches; and they think it is a good job if they can walk the most of the way through the day, and avoid riding all they can.
Indeed persons of nearly all ages and conditions are coming. There are also delicate ladies, those who have been brought up tenderly from their youth, and used to going to school and teaching school, playing music, &c.; but when they received the gospel they had to bid good bye to fathers, and mothers, and were turned out of doors; that taught them the first principles of gathering up to Zion. And the idea that there was a place here that could be truly called home inspired them to go along, to the astonishment of their friends, and kindred and that of the gentiles on the way.
When I think of the devilish doings of those abroad, I feel wroth in my soul to see what the Saints have to put up with. The wicked found, after trying their best, that they could not coax away even the most tender and delicate from their toil of drawing their hand-cart from 15 to 20 miles a day, and the Saints are happy to perform this labor, and make the welkin ring at night, when their day's toil is over, with their songs of praise and rejoicing. I could but think of the way Israel walked in olden times, when the Lord rained down manna for bread, and they were not allowed to keep any till to-morrow, and in that wilderness required of them to build a gorgeous tabernacle and carry it on their shoulders.
I have thought that the gathering of the honest in heart in these latter times is much like that good old mode; and it must be good, because it is in the Bible. The gentiles found that they could not turn away the good and the faithful, who are back in the hills pulling their hand-carts.
Many of those now back are poor, and had not enough to get away from their homes with, and now they have scarcely a change of clothing. If they can have some shoes sent out to them, and a few blankets to make them comfortable at night, and flour enough, with what beef they have along, to make them a good meal in the morning they will make those hand-carts work powerfully. But if they are tender footed through going shoeless, and when they lay down at night if they lay cold, it will tend to retard their progress very much, however good their faith and resolution may be.
I realize in talking to you, and applying to you for help to aid those brethren and sisters, that it is as just and worthy a cause as can be espoused. I pray you, as you regard those on the plains, as you wish them to come and share with you the words of life and the ordinances of the House of the Lord, and as you desire Zion to be strengthened and righteousness to take the place of wickedness on the earth, to arise up and bring those Saints in, for it is late in the season, and ten to one they will have snow storms to encounter; though the Lord will not let them suffer any more than they have grace to bear. It is our highest privilege to do all we can to ameliorate the sufferings of those brethren that are thus trying to work out their emigration.
Prest. Young wrote to me a year ago stating that if I got his letter I should have joy in carrying out his plans; I testify here that I never entered into any measures that filled up my soul with joy, faith and energy so much as this plan for the gathering of the honest poor. It was late when I began the work, but we could not get at it any sooner. We have wrought with our might, and br. Daniel Spencer has been a pillar of strength upon which the hopes of thousands have rested securely. I rejoice exceedingly with him in the excellent feelings that his own conscience and bosom inspires him when he remembers his labors.
Br. Wheelock has been like an angel among the churches in the old countries, and they have been strengthened in the work we are called to do. We did not stop to enquire whether the plan was a feasible one or not, that was none of our business; and when the word said hand-carts, we understand it so.
Brs. Vancott, Grant, Kimball, Webb, and others have labored with us with all their might this season. I assure you it has been by some hard thinking, hard working, and doing the best we could unitedly that we have accomplished what we have. But our souls cannot be satisfied nor rest, until we feel assured that the brethren and sisters now on the plains are brought forward, and made as comfortable as the circumstances of the case will admit of. . . .
Concerning the hand-cart companies this year, it is an experiment. We cannot yet tell you exactly what it costs to come through in that way; but we know that it is going to cost those on the other side of the mountains cold feet and a great deal of affliction and sorrow, unless we help them. The word to-day is, mules, wagons, flour, shoes and clothing. I entreat you, as you value yourselves and the interests of this people, do to those brethren and sisters that are out on the plains as you wish to be done by.
Many of you have been permitted to live at home to enjoy the comforts of life, and you have accumulated to yourselves wagons and teams, and now is a time for you to do good with them. I feel to thank the Lord my God; my heart is full of thanksgiving and praise to him for blessings bestowed upon me and upon his people, while I have been gone. When we were crossing the plains, men, women, and children were destroyed, but the Lord has preserved us and permitted us to arrive in time to attend conference. . . .