"The Journey Over the Plains," Deseret News, 26 October 1864, 27.
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TO THE EDITOR OF THE DESERET NEWS:
[Where liberty is, there is my country.]
SIR:—Being advised that an account of the Emigrants' journey over the Plains, would be acceptable to many of your intelligent readers, I respectfully submit to their perusal, the following narration of a company's procedure under the supervision of Captain William S. Warren; and as I am a member of the Church of England, the statement by a "Gentile" may on that account be deemed impartial, respecting the judicious arrangements made for the Emigrants' welfare.
The "Agent of the Emigration," at Wyoming, Joseph W. Young, Esq., furnished the Emigrants with excellent provisions. The flour, hams, bacon, rice, sugar, apples, beans, etc., were the very best that money could procure; and the Emigrants generally concur with me in feeling grateful to that gentlemen, for supplying them so well. En passant, it seems not irrelevant to add, for the benefit of future Emigrants, that those who roasted the beans, then ground them into powder, and used it as coffee, were preserved from Diarrhoea, which attacked others, and proved fatal to some; as might naturally be expected among several hundred persons, in a journey of 1100 miles, and occupying upwards of ten weeks. "Tell me," said the Irishman, "the place where people don't die, and I will go and end my days there." The "Commissary" carefully superintended the distribution of the provisions, every alternate week; and saw that "every one had his portion of meat, etc., in due season." With such good provision for the body, the wants of the soul were not neglected. The "Chaplain" called us together, mornings and evenings, for public worship. The Prayers appropriate for the occasion, nullified the latter part of the following statement, which recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune: viz. "the Mormons believe in Joseph Smith, but do not believe in Jesus Christ!" Whether this latter clause proceeded from a penny-a-liner's gross ignorance of their religion; (which a perusal of any of their books, or an attendance upon any one of their services would promptly remove: or from his base pandering to the morbid antipathy against the "Mormons," and was overlooked by the intelligent Editors: it was very reprehensible in a public journal, and discreditable to its respectable conductors. Many of the Hymns sung, being compiled from Wesley, Watts, etc., were familiar to me: and I enjoyed the singing, especially of that fire old Doxology.
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
Which reverberated on the extensive plains of Dacotah: and why not? Divine worship should not be confined to human buildings: the Universe is God's temple; the dome of heaven its lofty roof; the plane of earth, its wide basis; sun, moon, and stars its glittering ornaments; every devout heart, an altar; every upright man, a priest; and prayer and praise, the incense, which arises to heaven with acceptance, and draws down a gracious benediction. "Guards" were regularly set, morning and evening, for the protection of the passengers, Cattle, Wagons, etc.; and thus, like the ancient Israelites under Nehemiah; "we made our prayer unto God, and had a watch set night and day. In describing the various Officials, the "Teamsters" should not be overlooked. Coming, as many of them did, from various parts of Europe, the Teamsters' knowledge of the English language, was remarkable to an experienced Tutor, long accustomed to educate Scholars and train Teachers in English, inter alia. I remember at Bourbon College in France, when I was Professor there, a Parisian studying English, exclaiming, one morning. "Some thieves stole Mr. Durand, last night: they robbed his watch, and other articles:" instead of "some thieves robbed Mr. Durand, last night: they stole his watch, etc." No such error was made by the Teamsters, as was made by that Collegian. Their correct pronunciation too was gratifying. In adjacent wagons, were two young men, each eighteen years old; one was a native of Norway, who had been in Utah six years; the other was a North Briton, who emigrated from Scotland this year. The Norwegian's pronunciation of English was correct and intelligible. The North Briton's was in the broad Scotch dialect; which (like the Irish brogue) is difficult to be understood by the English or Americans. The superiority of the foreigner's pronunciation of English is to be ascribed to his long residence in Utah; for the Americans' orthoepy is remarkably good. Of course, well-educated Englishmen and Americans speak alike; but taking the vast majority of the people of Great Britain and America, the superiority of American's pronunciation is obvious; and forcibly impressed my mind during the last three years that I taught Private Families and Public Schools in Illinois, and held a "first-grade Certificate of Qualification." The Americans have no "patois," (as the French term it;) they never say "I wull" and "you shull:" they never speak of "hogs and happles;" " 'ouses and 'orses;" "wirtue" and "winegar;" "this vicked var," etc; which dialects and provincialisms disfigure the pronunciation of many Britons. The "Captain" ably superintended the whole; and at times seemed almost ubiquitous; and he was "here, there, and everywhere," when his presence was requested; and by wisely tempering authority with benignity, secured for himself general respect.
With such physical and spiritual provision; under such able guardianship; and with the beneficent protection of our heavenly Father, we at length arrived at this far-famed city; and here my expectations were completely surpassed. Much as I had read about Utah and its inhabitants, from the elaborate and masterly work of Captain Stansbury, (one of the earlier and best books on the subject,) to the recent publication of Captain Burton, I was impelled to exclaim with one of old, "the half has not been told me," and was reminded of the inscription on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren, in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and its celebrated Architect. That inscription is, "si monumentum quaeris, circumspice," i. e. "if you seek his monument, look around:" see the cathedral he has erected, &c. So, to any one desirous of knowing what the calumniated "Mormons" really are, I would say, "come hither, and 'look around.'" See the beautiful city, they have built; see the extensive fields they have cultivated; see the rich productions they have raised; see how they have made the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad for them, and the desert to become "DESERET," and to rejoice and blossom as the rose. Surely such a people; so industrious, as surrounding objects indicate; so religious as their crowded Bowery evinces, eminently deserve to have their "Territory" formed into a "STATE." For maintaining this truth in Illinois, I was assailed, defamed, maligned, and as the climax of my opponents' vituperation, I was called a "Mormon;" but the only answer I received was, "perhaps it would be made into a State, but for its peculiar institutions." Irrespective of the declaration, "Congress shall pass no law respecting religion, or the exercise thereof;—(which concerns Americans exclusively, and might be deemed presumptuous for a foreigner to intermeddle with)—I contended for the broad, grand doctrine that with "Institutions," whether "peculiar" or general, which emanate from Christian principles, no Government has any right to interfere. While as an Englishman, I readily concur with Dr. Watts.
As a Christian, I cordially add, with that poet,
J. W. P. STANNARD,
Professor of Languages and Mathematics.
G. S. L. City, Oct. 13th, 1864.