Having read thus far, the student is now prepared to give serious thought to a few general rules observed by all successful writers in this fascinating and lucrative field. The rules are best exemplified in the works we have been studying. They are as follows.
RULE 1: Don't be modest! Your first concern should be to make it clear that You are the man for the job, that amidst a "mass of lies and contradictions" you are uniquely fitted to pass judgment: "I emerged from my researches . . . with my objectivity unblurred," writes Mr. Wallace. "If I enjoyed or suffered any deviations from neutral observer, they were slight." "During close to three years of intensive research on Ann Eliza, and on her Church, I became neither anti-Mormon nor pro-Mormon."1 The ingenuous reader might suppose that the only way to avoid either accepting or rejecting the claim to modern-day revelation is to leave it strictly alone, not to write a book about it. That is all the more reason for you to get in there and stake your claim; make it clear that here at last is one capable of preserving perfect objectivity where all others have failed. That is high tribute indeed to be paying to one's self, but don't hesitate to bestow it; to leave it to others to judge of your qualification is sheer suicide. No successful anti-Mormon writer could be guilty of such negligence.
RULE 2: A benign criticism of your predecessors will go far towards confirming your own preeminence in the field. Refer gently but firmly to the bias, prejudice, and inadequate research, however unconscious or understandable, of other books on the subject. The student would do well to study Mr. Wallace's technique here; how skillfully he reprimands Ann Eliza Young without jeopardizing her value as a source when he chides: "The prose was marred by unremitting hysteria"!2 The ordinary reader might get the impression that a work of unremitting hysteria is hardly to be recommended as an unimpeachable historical source, but since Mr. Wallace depends on Ann Eliza for nearly all of his history, he sagely limits the damage of her unremitting hysteria to its effect on the lady's prose—a secondary consideration by all counts.
RULE 3: Curtsies and bouquets to everyone can be delivered in a profuse and unctuous appendix or introduction and go a long way toward establishing the image of the writer as a really good fellow who admires and respects everybody and is therefore the last man in the world to distort or exaggerate. What could be more magnanimous and disarming than Mr. Wallace's master stroke, a favorite device of anti-Mormon writers: "I want to acknowledge, also, my thanks to a number of high-ranking Mormon Church officials whose objective cooperation might be misunderstood and whose names I am not at present at liberty to reveal."3 A master stroke because it has the manifold advantage of resting the author's case on the highest possible authority while insuring him against the risk of ever having to produce evidence; at the same time it makes him appear not only conscientious and well informed, but a very noble fellow to the bargain. If he is challenged to give specific information, the writer merely enhances his prestige by refusing to name anybody.
A Word of Caution! Don't overdo your own buildup! The worst mistake J. C. Bennett ever made was to preface his book against Joseph Smith (an invaluable gold mine of information for all anti-Mormon writers) with a large number of character references and a portrait of himself in the attitude of Napoleon. Does an honest man need fifteen pages of testimonial to his honesty? One might well wonder if Mr. Wallace's appendix with its fervid protestations of goodness, truth, and nobility might not raise a few eyebrows, or whether the portrait of the great-man-in-repose on the back dust cover of his book, surpassing even that of Bennett for sheer grandeur, might not inspire more wonder than awe in irreverent breasts.
RULE 4: Proclaim the purity of your motives, especially your freedom from mercenary considerations. But again, don't overdo it! Mrs. Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning has only shocked incredulity for those who could even hint that she should write for money.4 But is it a crime to write for money? Does Mr. Wallace need to go so far as to assure us that he gave three years of his life and a sizeable outlay of cash in the disinterested cause of "preser[ving] a remarkable woman for history"? It is hard to keep a dry eye as we read of how a large staff "gave so selflessly of their time and energies to collaborate with me"5 in the cause of truth. Granted that Wallace was "fascinated by the woman herself,"6 the captious reader might nonetheless ask: Was the woman really that remarkable? Is there anything in her book that is not in Mrs. Stenhouse's book? Does she ever display the slightest sign of originality or the feeblest spark of humor? And as for heroism, did she ever take a step or say a word without having first assured herself of perfect immunity? Is there a sentence in her whole book that is not trite, hackneyed, and stereotyped? True, the lady is not without an element of interest—a more gaudy case for the psychiatrist would be hard to imagine—but Wallace will not touch that part of the story. Is he really so very interested in the woman? The student should avoid such a Simon-pure posture; the merchant who keeps reminding us what a wonderful bargain we are getting can arouse our suspicions.
Still, within bounds, a gracious and appealing protestation of pure goodness can be effective. "I . . . have tried to adhere to the two-sided facts as I found them. I tried to interpret these facts and recounted her story, with all its contradictions, as truly as I could tell it."7 Doesn't that sound good? What does it mean? one may ask. Read it again. It means nothing. What is a two-sided fact? What fact cannot be interpreted two ways? This simple, open-hearted avowal of integrity would be equally valid if applied to the writer's rendering of a Sogdian text: "I have tried," he could write with perfect truth, "to interpret this text, with all its obscurity and mystery, as well as I possibly could." What more could any reader ask? Mr. Wallace will now entertain us with a cello solo, and no laughs, please, in case he has never handled a cello in his life—after all, he is doing the best he honestly can under the circumstances. Where is the evidence that Joseph Smith "swore, . . . drank, and whored"?8 Never mind; Mr. Wallace, detached and impartial, is doing his best for all of us.
RULE 5: Proclaim your love for the Mormon people. Even Ann Eliza does this touchingly and often: "I feel that I must pay this tribute to the Mormon people. Naturally, they were a law-abiding, peace-loving, intensely religious people";9 "humble, spiritual-minded, God-fearing, law-abiding";10 "their faith was sublime in its exaltation,"11 etc. All this is very well, but even the beginner should see the impasse into which this can lead us, as when Mrs. Young says that Joseph Smith never "ceased his injunctions" to these good people to commit rape and rapine—and that they always obeyed him without hesitation!12 On the same page on which she declares her undying love for the Mormon people, Mrs. Young issues the call: "Mormonism is entitled to no mercy; it invites fire and the sword. The American people must therefore continue their holy crusade against this antichristian system."13 But who could possibly be the victims of the fire and sword if not her beloved Mormon people? Mr. Wallace avoids this glaring inconsistency by dimming the glare: his praises and damnings are both fainter: on the bad side he makes the Mormons appear more ridiculous than monstrous, and on the good side he sees far less to admire in them than even Ann Eliza or Stenhouse do. The student will recognize here the touch of Life-Time-Fortune journalism, enhancing the writer's own superiority at the expense of all he describes. If you can't love the Mormons, at least (and this is our next rule):
RULE 6: Allow the Mormons a few normal human failings. That will make your story more plausible, establish you as a fair-minded and tolerant reporter, and so render your verdict all the more damning when you choose to lower the beam. Observe how candid Mr. Wallace can be when he writes, "I am certain that polygamy had its good points, too—but then I am a male."14 That is both cute and disarming, and at the same time a very effective bit of slander, branding polygamy as nothing but a form of sexual indulgence.
The image of yourself as a person of boundless charity and perfect integrity will be wasted, however, unless you also establish your scholarly qualifications.
RULE 7: Furnish documents! "Nowadays," writes H. R. Trevor-Roper, "to carry conviction, a historian must document, or appear to document, his formal narrative."15 In former times documentation was largely the work of imaginative engravings: thus in Mrs. Young's book we behold serried ranks of finely uniformed dragoons in flawless drill formation, their banners proudly flying, advancing on the huddled victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre; or we see the huge victory parade celebrating the murder of the widow Jones in Payson; Mr. Beadle shows us actual drawings of "Hickman killing Yates, by order of Brigham Young,—Hosea Stout holding the lantern,"16 of "Hickman delivering the murdered man Yates' money to Brigham Young,"17 etc. These drawings are, however, no longer acceptable as evidence. In fact, viewed with a critical eye, they tend rather to discredit than corroborate the tales they illustrate. Therefore modern scholars like Wallace, while telling the identical stories, consciously or otherwise omit illustrations that show only too plainly how little the original tellers bothered themselves about the truth.
In their place photographs are a must. An actual photograph of Brigham Young, of the Lion House, of the Beehive House, "a reproduction of the title page of Ann Eliza's sensational exposé of polygamy"18—Wallace has them all, and what could get nearer to the source than that? It makes no difference that the librarian in any public library could come up with a number of such photographs in ten minutes—nobody is going to ask where you got them as long as they are the real thing. The subject of your reproductions is not important: cartoons lampooning Brigham Young, portraits of anybody connected in any way with the history or even with the place or time of its occurrence, scenic views, locomotives, patented machines, famous catastrophes, theater placards, menus, photographs of buildings—anything will do to show that you, so to speak, were there. Anti-Mormon writers long ago discovered the wisdom of inserting neutral, stuffy little items amid all the lurid engravings—dull picture-postcard views of the Great Salt Lake, the Tabernacle, Main Street, Salt Lake City, the Wasatch Mountains, etc., reassure the reader that all this is very sober and correct, giving substance to what would otherwise appear much too imaginative. The student will notice that nearly all of Mr. Wallace's illustrations are of this dull, factual sort—showing that Mr. Wallace is leaning over backwards to be plain, matter-of-fact, and unsensational. No one can accuse him of embellishing a story!
RULE 8: Avoid footnotes! This is not only the easiest but also the safest rule to follow. The student who compares Mrs. Brodie's footnotes with the actual sources indicated by them will quickly appreciate the wisdom of Wallace in simply lumping his sources together in an appendix. Seeing them in that form, the reader assumes that the author has read with equal care all the books and articles named and made proper and proportionate use of each, never suspecting that in reality, roughly ninety percent of Mr. Wallace's information comes right from Ann Eliza herself. So remember—an appendix instead of footnotes! And here is the primary rule for that:
RULE 9: Be lavish in your appendix! Pour it on! Name everybody and everything: Mr. Wallace speaks his gratitude to people who are quite unaware of having been accessory to his performance and by no means pleased at finding themselves among his valued informants. Never mind: nobody is going to protest having nice things said about him—who but a heel would protest? Thank one and all for valuable assistance and express regrets at having to pass hundreds more by in silence. Name every library at which you or your assistants have thumbed through a card catalogue or inquired at the desk as having rendered eager and invaluable assistance. Make it appear that your project was something of a national crusade in which not only your assistants "gave so selflessly of their time and energies to collaborate with me," but even "several hundred organizations of every description co-operated in answering inquiries."19 Who would not accept such a book at face value if only to show a decent respect for those hundreds of high-minded organizations?
RULE 10: Be a name dropper! The average reviewer is the last person in the world to be seriously critical of sources (why should he seek for trouble?) and will be only too glad to go along with a writer who is good enough to include real names from time to time among the usual harvest of "it is said," "it was reported," "it was believed," etc. These handy devices are employed as eagerly and as effectively by Mr. Wallace (usually to conceal the fact that his source is just more Ann Eliza) as by the ladies he follows. Note how impressively Mr. Wallace refers to the "magnificent Ann Eliza, Major Pond, and James Redpath correspondence"20—without ever bothering to quote from it. When he tells us that he learned about Ann Eliza's elder brother from a living witness, "Joe T. Place, of Duncan, Arizona," who had known Gilbert well, what reader is going to ask how well Mr. Place would have known the middle-aged Gilbert seventy years before? When he assures us that he has learned about Ann Eliza's world from "old settlers" in Salt Lake City,21 who is going to stop and ask how well they could have known the lady who had left town eighty-five years before? As A. E. Housman reminds us, the public is only too eager not to ask such questions if a writer will only follow its rules.
RULE 11: Control your sources! When, for example, Ann Eliza brings a particularly damning and patently false charge of murder against Brigham Young, Mr. Wallace dismisses it with a good-natured chuckle: "But it must be remembered that at this time Ann Eliza was an angry wife."22 With even greater skill he brushes off a very serious matter of ghostwriters. After parading Bill Hickman as his star witness against the Danites, he casually mentions, two hundred pages later, that Hickman's story was ghostwritten by J. R. Beadle, "a frequently impoverished editor and hack,"23 and of course makes no mention of Beadle's statement that he was given a free hand to "fix up" the Hickman story—well, did anybody ask? Even more gingerly does he mention in a single sentence the extremely significant fact that Beadle was Ann Eliza's own ghostwriter. Just how far does this go? Mr. Wallace spares us such irksome details. What does it mean when he tells us, "Almost all of the material supporting Ann Eliza's point of view against Brigham Young or the church was obtained from non-church sources"?24 Examine that statement. Until the day she fled the Mormons, Ann Eliza (so she emphatically insists) knew nothing whatever about Gentiles, and they knew even less about her—what "non-church sources" then could there possibly be for her history? Ah, that is just the point! Look again. It is not her history, but her "point of view" that Mr. Wallace is able to document, and come to think of it—any anti-Mormon book ever written will "support" Ann Eliza's point of view "against the church."
RULE 12: Wave your credentials! Remind the reader from time to time of your "years of intensive research." If you need high authorities you can always promote your helpers to meet the demand. Note with what easy dominion Mr. Wallace not only bestows the doctorate on one Wilford Poulson, M.A., for his welcome gossip, but with it the title of "Foremost living authority on Mormonism," heading the parade of the "host of scholars" (unnamed) who instructed Mr. Wallace "on various aspects of the Mormon past." Only a cavilling pedant and relative of Mr. Poulson, such as the writer, would ask how one who had never contributed a page to the immense scholarly and pseudoscholarly literature of Mormonism could be classed as the foremost authority in the field.
RULE 13: Establish immediate intellectual ascendancy by opening your book, as is the fashion, with a tremendous blast of meticulous erudition to intimidate the reader and discourage any smart-aleck questions. Set the scene by telling about the century in which your characters lived: "This was the time when stout, stuffy little Victoria might be seen bustling with fifty trunks [have assistant look up exact number—it was usually reported in the newspapers] between Balmoral [be sure to spell it right!] and wherever it was, . . . when the lights would be burning late in whatever street it was on which Pasteur had his laboratory [don't mention Paris—flatter the reader's erudition], . . . when Daniel Home the wizard was electrifying whatever crowned heads he was electrifying with his magic feats, . . . when Walter Pater with a white rose was discoursing to, . . . " etc., etc. There is no end to this sort of thing; you can look up all the details or have somebody else do it; and when you have gathered a fat handful of note cards, throw them smartly in the reader's face before he gets to page twenty: that will cut him down to size if he is the kind who asks questions. Beat the critical reader to the punch; show him that you are up to his tricks and will thank him to trust your scholarship from here out. Mr. Wallace informs us by page two that "almost all Americans knew" that "a similar polygamy" to that of the Court of Siam was practiced in Utah, and "that the Vermont-born leader of this colony had twenty-seven wives and fifty-six children."25 Dear me, did "almost all Americans" really know that? But before we can even ask, Mr. Wallace in the next sentence has changed the subject: " 'Modern Mohammedanism,' Francis E. Willard, the temperance crusader, would write in Chicago, 'has its Mecca at Salt Lake.' "26 When "would" he write it? Why Willard? What has Chicago to do with it? Never mind, the next sentence changes the subject as we are swept along breathless, exhilarated, and somewhat abashed by the man's sheer erudition.
RULE 14: Have something new to sell. Every anti-Mormon writer is selling what has already been sold again and again, like Mr. Wallace, peddling old clothes in a shiny new pushcart. See to it that your pushcart looks shiny and new! To do this you must add some ingredient of your own. Mr. Wallace begins his book by noting that "it is a curious fact of history" that in the year 1873 Ann Eliza Young divorced Brigham Young and in the same year Mrs. Anna H. Leonowens published her book on life in a Siamese harem.27 It is true that Mr. Wallace, having pointed out this amazing coincidence, never refers to it again, but it has served its purpose—his book can now be recommended as an original contribution and he can proceed to sell Wife No. 19 all over again with a free conscience.
RULE 15: Get an inside track! Aside from your personal qualifications and zeal, you must enjoy the position of a privileged observer. No one, but no one, according to Mrs. Stenhouse, has any business writing on Mormonism except a "woman who really was a Mormon and lived in Polygamy," i.e., Mrs. Stenhouse. Mrs. A.E.W.D.Y. Denning agrees. But where does that leave us? All the other anti-Mormon books, according to Stenhouse, "with but one exception," were books whose fraudulence could "in a moment be detected by any intelligent Saint who took the trouble to peruse them."28 But how can one become intimate with the Mormons and still avoid the dangerous proximity of any intelligent Saint? The answer is simple and obvious: follow Mr. Wallace's example and take as your informant one "who had once been an orthodox Mormon and had then become a bitter anti-Mormon"!29 The whole corpus of anti-Mormon literature rests foursquare on the testimony of people who claim they were once good Mormons. To get an inside track you have simply to latch on to one of these, and they are not hard to find. The fact that any intelligent Saint would recognize in a moment that Ann Eliza Young was never anything remotely resembling an orthodox Mormon should be a warning to keep one's distance from informants who are still Mormons.
RULE 16: Don't answer questions! Remember the useful phrase "But as this comes from a Mormon source it must be discounted." When skilled and experienced newspapermen put some of Ann Eliza's claims to the test and found Brigham Young and the Mormons very different from the way she described them, she simply replied, "It is not true, not one word of it!"30 If the Mormons "deny all Bennett's statements," made before she was born, the lady can still counter directly: "They knew perfectly well that the greater portion of them was true."31 Which portion? How does she know? Well, Mr. Smarty, if you must know, she was born a Mormon. Being a Lutheran or Catholic or Episcopalian has never been held to mark one an authority on those religions, but from the days of Nancy Towle to those of Irving Wallace, merely to have talked to a Mormon face to face somehow qualifies one as an expert on the subject.
Actually nothing is easier than to avoid questions. Remember the words of A. E. Housman:
The average reader knows hardly anything about textual criticism, and therefore cannot exercise vigilant control over the writer: the addle-pate is at liberty to maunder and the impostor is at liberty to lie. And, what is worse, the reader often shares the writer's prejudices and is far too well pleased with his conclusions to examine either his premises or his reasoning.32
Bear in mind that you are in complete control: that the Mormons can say only what you choose to let them say. Who would guess from a perusal of Mr. Wallace's or Mrs. Brodie's pages that Joseph Smith or Brigham Young ever had anything significant to say for themselves, let alone that they were the most articulate and lucid of men?
RULE 17: In place of evidence use Rhetoric! When one is making grave criminal charges, either directly or by broad implication as all anti-Mormon writers do, questions of evidence can be very bothersome unless one has the wisdom and foresight to avoid all such questions. Surprisingly enough, this can be done rather easily. As Housman has just reminded us, the writer who is telling the public what it wants to hear will never have to answer embarrassing questions about evidence. The ancients discovered that any public prefers rhetoric to evidence, and the modern historian will soon learn the truth of the time-tested and timeworn maxim of the Doctors of old, that rhetoric and not truth is the key to success in this world. The basic principles of the classical rhetorical method are two: (1) eikos, that is, the building up of a case not on facts but on probabilities, and (2) the use of loci communes, standard responses to standard situations (hence our word "commonplace"), the appeal to familiar stock phrases to avoid thought and the use of emotive words of tested reliability to avoid evidence. We can illustrate how these two principles work together in a situation which we shall call "The House That Jack Built":
1. It is common knowledge that Jack built a house. It is that house which we are now discussing.
2. There are rumors that a good deal of malt—very probably stolen—was stored in the house. What lends plausibility to the report is the building of the house itself—by Jack. Why a house, if not to store the stolen malt?
3. It is said that the malt was eaten by rats, and in view of the high nutriment content of malt (see Appendix A for references to scholarly and scientific studies proving beyond a doubt that malt is nutritious), there is no good reason for doubting this report.
4. The rats may very possibly have been killed by a cat, as some believe, and there is certainly nothing intrinsically improbable in the event. On the contrary, studies made at the Rodent Institute of the University of So and So, etc. . . . The report that only one rat ate the malt is of course erroneous, since the consumption of such a large quantity of malt would require many years and probably a large number of rats.
5. That the cat was chased by a dog is only to be expected. Only a fanatic would question it.
6. The same applies to the dog's being tossed by a cow, though that is admittedly a less common event.
7. "At any rate" (a very useful expression) we can be reasonably certain that the cow was milked by a milkmaid—what other kind of maid could it have been?—and also (since there is no good reason to doubt it) that the milkmaid, whose name may have been Bertha, was wooed by a man all tattered and torn. There are unmistakable references in the newspapers of the time (or at most a generation later) to poorly dressed men known as "tramps" roaming parts of the country. There can therefore be little doubt that Bertha was engaged in a passionate public wooing.
8. The exact date of Bertha's marriage to her tatterdemalion lover is not known, though it may have been some time late in January 1858. Certainly the court records of the time are silent on any earlier or later marriage.
9. Though there is no direct evidence that Bertha was mistreated by the man who wooed her so passionately, there is every evidence of cruel neglect both in the proven fact that Bertha apparently had no house to live in (at least there is no record of her having a house in the county archives) and in the character of the man who married and abused her.
It will hardly be necessary to point out to the student the solid advantage of such little touches as "the exact date . . . " in No. 8. Since no date at all is known, it is perfectly true to say that the exact date is not known, implying that an approximate date is known: "it may have been in January 1858"—true again, perfectly true—it may also have been in September 1902 or May 1320. Again, if there is no evidence whatever that Bertha was mistreated (or even that she existed), it is both shrewd and correct to say that there is no direct evidence, implying, while not saying, that there is plenty of indirect evidence. Let the student check the above nine points for evidence. There is none! We have given the world a suffering Bertha and her brutal spouse without having to prove a thing; it is all eikos—we have created a little world of our own, and got the reader so emotionally involved that he is ready to lynch the man-all-tattered-and-torn or any of his followers without bothering to ask whether he even existed or not.
This brings up another important point: if one can only show that the man did exist, that he was a real flesh-and-blood person, then everything we have said about him is somehow proven true. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young really lived—who then can doubt the truth of Mrs. A.E.W.D.Y. Denning's history or of Mr. Wallace's repetition of it? Let us see how Mr. Wallace reconstructs the sex lives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to make the cornerstone of his whole history. First Smith:
The Prophet had been intrigued by the polygamic practices of Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, and David. There is little doubt that he sincerely believed that the plural-wife system . . . was the God-favored system of marriage. Beyond this there may have been decisive personal factors that influenced him. Quite possibly his juiceless and forbidding wife. . . . Evidently Smith had a roving eye. . . . Yet his stern puritanical upbringing did not give him the easy conscience of a rake. He could not allow himself mistresses. And so, possibly, to have his cake and eat it, too, he allowed himself a plurality of wives. However . . . Smith realized that he could only make it acceptable for himself if he made it acceptable to his wide following. . . . Or perhaps, as the Mormons insist, none of this elaborate intrigue was necessary, for Smith did receive an order from on high. At any rate . . . Smith began to devote himself to premature polygamy.33
Note that every sentence here is speculative, every word which we have put into italics is an escape hatch in case one should ask Mr. Wallace for evidence; notice how the artist constantly shifts his ground, appearing by the use of the right transitional word to be adding evidence when he is really changing the subject: thus his final "however" turns a whopping contradiction into an apparent confirmation, and his closing "at any rate," which simply admits that none of the above is proven, seems to be summing up a rigorous presentation of evidence. But the master stroke is the sentence in which Wallace himself employs the italics: "Or perhaps, as the Mormons insist . . . Smith did receive an order from on high." This is the well-known rhetorical trick of generously presenting one's hearers with an alternative, but an alternative so ridiculous and fantastic that they have no choice but to accept one's own explanation and stop asking questions: "So what if there isn't any evidence? Just look at the alternative!"
Mr. Wallace employs the same technique on Brigham Young:
Because Chauncey [Ann Eliza's father] had risen in the community, Brigham Young considered him a valuable Mormon. As such, Chauncey was ordered to serve a tour of duty as a missionary in Sheffield, England. Tied closer to the Church than ever by polygamy, . . . Chauncey was forced to comply. [On his mission, he] decided (without too much pain, it may be assumed) [that an English wife] might be more decorative than the home-grown product.34
The whole story is built up on the simple fact that Webb went on a mission: all the motives and the mind reading are supplied by Wallace himself with his busy word shuffling—"Because . . . considered . . . as such . . . ordered . . . tied closer . . . forced to comply . . . decided . . . it may be assumed . . . " It is all the purest House-That-Jack-Built.
RULE 18: Use lack of evidence as evidence! No knack is more useful than that of turning one's lack of information into a definite asset in dealing with the Mormons. For example, the involvement of the Church in the Mountain Meadows massacre raises a number of quite unanswerable questions; note, then, how cleverly Mrs. Stenhouse admits that fact while turning it to a new incrimination against the Mormons: "No answer can be returned to these questions without disclosing secret scenes of sin and shameful iniquity at the mention of which even the souls of fiends might stand aghast."35 Does that answer your question? Remember, the worst crimes are those for which there is no evidence even that a crime was committed: "There were crimes then perpetrated in secret which will never be known until the Day of Doom."36 "I say nothing of those of whose fate nothing—not even a whisper—was ever heard."37 Two nothings make a wonderful story. What can be safer or more convenient than to rest one's case on charges of which one admittedly knows nothing and is determined to say nothing? The argument of silence is useful, as when Ann Eliza demonstrates Brigham Young's culpability in one crime by the "significant fact that no one has preserved more utter silence on the subject than the 'Revelator,' Brigham Young."38 The argument of absence is even more significant: So-and-so must have been murdered by Brigham Young, "All sorts of rumors were afloat respecting his disappearance. . . . At all events, he has never appeared to interfere."39 Baptiste the grave-robber belongs to the floating riff-raff of the frontier: "Some said that he was put on a little island in the lake, and left to perish. Others said that Porter Rockwell looked after his interests. But certain it is that he 'disappeared,' and was never seen again."40 Baptiste didn't just disappear, he "disappeared," just as nobody is killed by Indians but only by "Indians" in Mr. Wallace's book. We should point out that Mr. Wallace himself spent a good deal of time and money trying to find out whatever became of his heroine Ann Eliza, a figure of national importance—well, if you must know, she disappeared. People sometimes do, but when they disappear from the Mormon scene it is silly to waste such valuable and incriminating evidence.
Take the case of the missing $3,000 a year. Brigham Young, "a year before her marriage," verbally and privately promised Ann Eliza an allowance of three thousand a year, "but at no time," says Wallace, "did she see a penny of this money."41 Let us pass by the fact that there were no witnesses to the offer and that Ann Eliza flatly turned it down and (according to her) continued fiercely repelling the man's advances for another year—i.e., that there was no contract or agreement whatever. To consider a parallel case: I dreamed that Mr. Wallace promised to give me $100,000, but look how the man has tricked me: I can prove that "at no time have I seen so much as a penny of this money!" Of what money? Why, the money Wallace has failed to pay me—this money! Thus Mr. Wallace accepts the mythical contract so that the unscrupulous Brigham can break it, and the money he offered and she indignantly refused becomes "this money" which he basely denies her.42
RULE 19: Use the unfulfilled condition to make out a case against the Mormons where there is neither evidence nor absence of evidence, i.e., where nothing at all has happened. "The spirit of assassination still remains," writes Ann Eliza, "and were it unchecked hundreds would be . . . sent into eternity without a moment's warning, for no crime at all except daring to differ, if ever so slightly, from those in authority."43 A parallel statement will reveal the anatomy of this argument to the student: "Were it not that something restrained him, Mr. Wallace would by now have murdered thousands of people by stabbing them in the back with a long, silver, velvet-handled ice pick for no crime at all except chewing gum in public." That sentence, with all its embroidery, is strictly true—and it does Mr. Wallace no good at all. Mr. Wallace employs this device with skill and experience: "Her enemies might abuse her in print, curse her in the Tabernacle, consign her to hell, but they would not dare to murder her."44 Another illustrative parallel: "Mr. Wallace might kick and abuse his wife at home, but he would not dare strangle her at a cocktail party." Again the statement is quite true and quite damning. "If he had not been afraid of final vengeance," says Judge Brocchus of Brigham Young, "he would have pointed his finger at me, and I should in an instant have been a dead man."45 In the next sentence we read that Brigham Young did point his finger at the Judge, who did not become a dead man; which proves, of course, that Young was afraid of final vengeance. When official investigation fails to bear out Ann Eliza's charges against Brigham Young she has only to say, "there is little doubt that the confession would have . . . implicated the whole of the First Presidency" if the same had not "worked upon Lee's feelings to such an extent that they evidently induced him to withhold his original statement. . . . I am certain that this is the case."46 With such license to interpret, the student can pretty well write his own ticket.
RULE 20: Be generous with hints—they are very effective and you never have to prove anything. When Ann Eliza writes, "It is no wonder that suicides have been so common among the Mormon women,"47 who is going to stop the train to ask for an explanation: are suicides common? They must be because it is no wonder. Be virtuous about your hinting as you announce the things you refuse to talk about: "There are events of daily occurrence which decency and womanly modesty forbid my even hinting at."48 Isn't that a clever bit of hinting? Isn't that nicer than trying to tell a story which cannot possibly be as bad as the story you don't have to tell, running the risk of disappointing your reader and getting yourself involved in that nasty business of evidence? When Mrs. Stenhouse announces, "I have nothing to say of those of whose fate nothing—not even a whisper—was ever heard,"49 she has already said plenty, whereas if she had tried to be specific instead of dropping hints, she could, by her own confession, have said nothing. "If such words were spoken in the pulpit and published by the Church, what may we not suspect to have been said and done in secret?"50 This is Mr. Beadle's blank check on the Mormons—and he is Ann Eliza's ghostwriter: if we know one thing really bad about the Mormons, that leaves us free to suspect and to publish anything else we please. Mr. Wallace has his own blank check and does not hesitate to cash it; here is his proof for the existence of Ann Eliza's "Danites" in the hotel: "nothing was utterly impossible on that still rough and paranoiac frontier."51 If nothing was impossible, that leaves Mr. Wallace in the clear. But let us be charitable; let us say nothing, not one word, of those crimes of Mr. Wallace of which, great as they may be, we know nothing; suffice it to say that but for certain restraining influences those crimes would be even greater, for nothing is impossible in paranoiac New York.
RULE 21: Use quotation marks without sources—the most effective hinting device, and the most popular with anti-Mormon writers. "From an ignorant, superstitious farmer's boy, he became 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,' founder of a new religion . . . made by 'Divine appointment' 'God's Viceregent upon the earth, and Religious Dictator to the whole world.' "52 Having put the familiar title "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator" in quotes, Mrs. A. E. Young follows it up with purely fictitious titles, and the two quotations appearing in conjunction look equally valid. "The stern old Mosaic law . . . is . . . insisted upon by them. Indeed, they have added to its severity, until now it stands, 'A life for an offen[s]e, real or suspected, of any kind.' "53 From what source can the woman possibly be quoting? Herself, but the uninformed reader has no means of knowing that, and if taken to task the lady can look with wide-eyed innocence and exclaim with perfect truth, "But I never said that was a Mormon quotation!" The implication of these sourceless tags, which all anti-Mormon writers favor, is that they are either such well-known Mormon expressions as to need no documentation or so intimately a part of the writer's vocabulary as to come out quite spontaneously.
RULE 22: Discuss motives; read minds! This is a must in dealing with Mormon history. Here we have people claiming divine revelation and as a result doing all sorts of unusual things; since there is no such thing as divine revelation, how do we explain the unusual doings? Only by reading the minds of the actors. The anti-Mormon writer cannot afford to share D. S. Freeman's contempt "for the popular, novelized biography full of glib insights into the inner man."54 Without such insights where would Brodie and Wallace be? They both know just why Smith changed the name of Commerce, Illinois, to Nauvoo. Mrs. Brodie says "the name sprang fresh out of his fancy," and "had the melancholy music of a mourning dove's call";55 while Wallace, faithfully following Ann Eliza, tells us that "the appelation Commerce had distressed the Mormon leader."56 Both our philologists take delight in announcing that there is no such Hebrew word as Nauvoo; but Eduard Meyer thought there was,57 and in M. Jastrow's new dictionary58 we learn that the root means both "pleasing, handsome," and "marked-off place, . . . dwelling," and that in the one instance in which it is used as a place name it is spelled with a double waw, with the sound of aw or oo.
When Ann Eliza's brother was acquitted by an Arizona court on a charge of highway robbery but excommunicated by the Church, Mr. Wallace can assure us that the acquittal came because "the jury was predominantly Mormon," and the excommunication because the accused gave financial assistance to Ann Eliza59—in both cases a dirty Mormon trick. What a convenient tool this is! All the apparently wise and generous things Brigham Young ever did are nothing but cheap villainy once you know the man's motives for doing them, as Ann Eliza does. If he displayed miraculous skill and energy in the rescue of the stranded handcart company, it was only because "he was nearly beside himself with fear of the consequence . . . when this crowning act of selfish cupidity and egotistical vanity and presumption should be known."60 We have seen how Wallace's penetration into the mind of Joseph Smith discovered the motive for introducing the disastrous practice of polygamy—"perhaps he had a roving eye," explains everything; but well might he ask, "What on earth had impelled Brigham Young to make the sensational announcement?"61 Four solid pages of mind reading follow, without one reference to Brigham Young's own full explicit statements on the subject. Wallace bestows his clairvoyant talent on all, attributing motives right and left as he tells us of "Male reformers, perhaps jealous of the 'sexual variationism afforded' " by polygamy, and of "Clergymen [who] saw the appeal of the practice as a threat to the older, established religions."62 Did they? Did they really think polygamy would prove popular instead of being the perfect club to beat the Mormons with? Even the devious and elusive mind of Richard Burton is Wallace's oyster: "He believed in polygamy, perhaps because it was bizarre and exotic."63 Observe, however, the cautious authentication of statements by noncommittal quotation marks and that very useful little "perhaps." That permits you to say anything you please without being responsible for it.
RULE 23: Be cute! Lytton Strachey has amusingly described the quixotic General Gordon with "his fatalism, his brandy-bottle and his Bible." The brandy bottle, Trevor-Roper informs us, is Strachey's own invention: "The real object had been not a brandy-bottle but a prayerbook. Unfortunately, 'brandy-bottle' is funnier than 'prayer book'; Strachey could not resist that final touch of absurdity."64 In the same spirit Wallace has Joseph Smith squinting through the Urim and Thummim,65 and the Nauvoo Legion parading "comic-opera uniforms."66 Morally obligated to justify the title of his book, he evades the responsibility with appealing cuteness: "Actually Ann Eliza was Brigham Young's twenty-seventh wife, give or take a few";67 and a hundred pages later, still unable to come up with an accurate count, he proceeds to "support the elusiveness of a correct count" by telling one of many versions of the old story of how Brigham Young (a man with a fabulous memory for names and faces) failed to recognize a member of his family.68 Wallace does not maintain that the story is true, but it settles the vexing problem once and for all with a merry laugh.
Anti-Mormon humor is especially effective when it is the gentle irony of a man of the world. Of a full and detailed account of a top secret affair in the family of Joseph Smith of which Ann Eliza could know nothing but for which she is our only informant, Mr. Wallace shrewdly observes, "The forest of exclamation marks did not hide the trees."69 What does that mean? Exclamation marks are not meant to hide anything, but to call attention to "the trees"; still Wallace's gently ironic comment sounds both significant and sinister. What in all the eloquence of Stenhouse and Young is half so devastating as the copydesk urbanity of Wallace's remark: "Leaving the Meadows, the Mormons enjoyed a hearty breakfast, then returned to the scene of the crime"? Heber C. Kimball in the eyes of "a young visiting author," we are told, resembled "an Italian mountebank-physician of the seventeenth century."70 We are not told the name of the young author or how well he knew either mountebank; it is just one of those things that is too good to leave out—like General Gordon's whiskey bottle. Wallace's account of Joseph Smith can teach the pupil how a superior and detached amusement can take the place of no end of research: It was "on a summer's day" (actually it was in May) that Smith "was wandering out into the grove" (he didn't wander but went with a purpose); there "perhaps he was not surprised when a brilliant light appeared before him. . . . With remarkable aplomb, young Smith asked which religious sect he might best join. He was advised firmly and at length, to join none, since none were worthy of him."71 There is only one source for all this, Joseph Smith's own story, which has been available to the public free of charge in pamphlet form for many years. But to this day no anti-Mormon writer has let Smith tell the story his way; there is always the gentle irony, the knowing wink, the nudge in the ribs: "Perhaps he was not surprised . . . with remarkable aplomb . . . firmly and at length . . . none were worthy of him,"—those are Mr. Wallace's original contributions, to which he adds as he continues to tell how Smith "began to recount his adventure to one and all."72 This is a direct refutation of Mrs. Brodie's momentous thesis that nobody heard a peep about the vision for at least eighteen years; and yet Mr. Wallace has just pronounced "Fawn M. Brodie, his [Smith's] best biographer."73 Which illustrates the literary rule that all things, including evidence, must give way to a good story.
RULE 24: Make atmosphere your objective. "Nowadays," writes Trevor-Roper, "to carry conviction, a historian must document, or appear to document, his formal narrative, but his background, his generalizations, allusions, comparisons remain happily free from this inconvenience. This freedom is very useful: against an imaginary background even correctly stated facts can be wonderfully transformed."74 It is this all-important background to which we would now call the student's attention. Once we can establish in a reader's mind the suspicion that Lincoln or Columbus was a mountebank, anything we say about him will weigh against him. The whole life history of one merely accused of being subversive takes on sinister colors—and nothing is easier than to plant such a suspicion: all you have to do is mention it! So get in there and fix that first impression—after that everything will be smooth sailing. Study how Mr. Wallace goes about it.
First the paper cover of the book, on which an artist has painted an imaginary scene that fairly throbs with a mood of evil brooding. Then at the head of the second chapter the first words that catch the eye in sharp italics: "Whenever I see a pretty woman I have to pray for grace."75 Never mind who invented that one, the accusing finger points without pause to "Joseph Smith, first Prophet and founder of the Mormon Church." Then the inner covers of the book proper, in deep ochre, displaying solemn and dingy photographs of twenty-one wives with a particularly sour portrait of Brigham Young himself; then a quotation from Mrs. Leonowen's book describing the harem of the King of Siam; then a quotation from Richard Burton: "I am conscious that my narrative savours of incredibility; the fault is in the subject, not in the narrator"; then a shotgun blast of promiscuous erudition: "It is a curious fact of history [is it?] that 1873—the year during which Ulysses S. Grant began his second term as President of the United States, financial panic bankrupted five thousand businesses, yellow fever decimated the South, William 'Boss' Tweed was convicted of fraud, and the cable car was introduced to San Francisco"; then a scholarly discourse on Anna and the King of Siam, an epochal historical parallel which is never referred to again. It is all atmosphere.76 Note how the engravings in the older books run to moonlight scenes: "Brigham 'Takes Care' of the People's Cattle!" (moonlight cattle raid), "The First Plural Marriage" (moonlight rites), "Scene after the Massacre" (moonlight). Since Ann Eliza, who lived in the Lion House, has nothing to report of mysterious hidden passages beneath the building, one wonders why Wallace should bother to discuss the "lurid rumor," as he calls it. Well, to prove there is something to it, he pointedly notes that the rumor was being denied "as late as 1940."77 That brings it up to date and somehow confirms it—another of those hints that go far toward building up an atmosphere. Feel free to admit that dirty stories about your subject are baseless, but be sure to tell them! Remember, what you are doing is not proving anything—you are simply establishing an atmosphere that will be all the proof you ever need against the Mormons. Mr. Wallace is frank to admit that John Hyde's picture of temple ordinances is quite false, but he is careful to report it just the same and to designate his informant as "Elder John Hyde," though Hyde when he told his lies was anything but an Elder.
RULE 25: Attack not the thing but the Image! For your readers Mormonism is what you say it is: it is to establish that thesis that you have been at such pains with your personal buildup. Once entrenched as an official guide, you can take your readers where you please; it is not the thing you are showing them from then on, but your interpretation of the thing. It has been the practice of religious polemic in every age to attack not what the opposition practice and preach but our impression of what they practice and preach. "Blasphemy!" was the heading of the first published report on the Book of Mormon, and Alexander Campbell sincerely believed it was blasphemy. The early anti-Christian writers were just as sincere: Blasphemy had been from the beginning the stock charge against Jesus and the Apostles, just as it is the favorite word of anti-Mormon writers. Didn't Jesus recommend publicly that those who "offended" should be glad to have a millstone hung about their necks and be cast into the sea? Blood Atonement! Didn't he instruct his followers to hate—yes, hate—their own mothers and fathers and children? Horrible, horrible! To hate even their own lives? A cult of suicide, no less! And then to have innocent babes and venerable ancients damned eternally for no other sin than not having had the ridiculous dunking that so shocked Ann Eliza; and to proclaim that an offender should cut off his own hand or pluck out his own eye—a cult of self-mutilation! And didn't the founder spend his time in private "conversations" with women, including women of ill-repute? And weren't his followers the dregs of society, who admitted that respectable people avoided them? Didn't they preach the shocking doctrine of a physical resurrection?—even Doctors of the Church like Origen and Jerome squirm uncomfortably. Their notorious "love-feasts"—too indecent to write about—show that they meant it literally when they called each other "brother" and "sister" and then proceeded to intermarry in a cult of incest.
Just as our ladies can react volcanically to whatever the Mormons do, no matter how tame and ordinary, there is no limit to the interpretations they can put on what they teach. Never mind the externals: "Joseph Smith, whatever he said and did in private, always denied it in public, and after his death the leaders of the Church followed his example."78 Hence anything you might learn about the Mormons from the record must be discounted—the record means nothing. Joseph Smith, for Ann Eliza—who never saw him—"either must have been a polygamist or something infinitely worse,"79 so that it doesn't make any difference what you say about him, just so it is bad. For Mr. Wallace and the rest of the world, Ann Eliza's zany ideas about the Mormon doctrines of deity, atonement, marriage, and the rest are the real thing. Brigham Young, the zealous throat-cutter, preached "a 'blood-atonement'—in other words, the duty of assassination,"80 as he openly and emphatically urged from the stand "the cutting of every Gentile and apostate throat" as "a public expression of the mysteries of the Endowment oaths."81 That's how it looks to the ladies, and Mr. Wallace is more than willing to have us believe that Brigham had a real, not a figurative, broadsword for the "cutting-off of members"—not the Church's member but theirs!
The key to Mrs. Stenhouse's atrocity story above is the useful phrase "in other words"; i.e., that is how she chooses to interpret it. When Brigham Young says, "Five minutes of revelation would teach me more than all . . . that I should have packed in my unlucky brains from books," he is simply making a statement of fact to which any Christian scholar will enthusiastically agree, yet there are many professors of our acquaintance who would interpret the passage exactly as Ann Eliza and Fanny Stenhouse do, as a slashing attack on all education, and sure proof that Brigham Young loathed learning.82 Again, in the days before every church and synagogue had its Social Hall attached, the Mormon association of recreation and religion was uniformly and sincerely held up as evidence of total depravity.83 By putting one's own interpretation on Brigham Young's concept of revelation, one can point to every failure, every exploration, every experiment of this practical man as proof of fraud: "Most of Brigham's 'revelations' [such as the] wild scheme of producing sugar from beet-roots, were gigantic failures, although he will not acknowledge it."84 Real prophets don't need to explore or experiment—and they never fail. Why didn't he simply make bread from stones? Why didn't Jesus?
RULE 26: Enjoy the prerogatives of "unequal scholarship," i.e., "the scrupulous straining at small historical gnats which diverts attention from the silent digestion of large and inconvenient camels. How choosily," Trevor-Roper continues, the historians of unequal scholarship "nibble when the matter is of no great significance [thus winning tributes to their scholarship from lay reviewers], and yet what enormous gulps they take when no one—they think—is looking!"85 Note with what exquisite accuracy Mr. Wallace reminds his readers more than once that the train on which Ann Eliza made her thrilling escape went at a top speed of exactly twenty-two—not twenty-three or twenty-one, but twenty-two—miles an hour.86 In the face of such meticulous and exhaustive attention to detail, who would not overlook the fact that Mr. Wallace has here mistaken the average speed of the train for its top speed (in 1830 trains were doing better than that!), or excuse the long chain of absurdities that make up the rest of the story of the great escape?
The nice thing about the principle of unequal scholarship is that it allows you, when you have no evidence for your main theme, to talk about something else for which you do have evidence. Such a dodge needs no apology, for as any writer knows, it takes very little skill to establish some sort of connection between any two subjects on earth. When Mr. Wallace says of his heroine that "the life path she trod lay trackless, almost untouched by other literary spades,"87 he is simply reporting that she is his only source; this he calls a "challenge" which he meets easily enough—by writing about something else, specializing in those "non-Church sources" which "[support] Ann Eliza's point of view against Brigham Young or the Church."88 So he proceeds to fill whole pages with stuff that Artemus Ward has already sold at top prices, and which Ward never expected to be taken as anything but the broadest ribbing of the Mormons, and he converts it to sound evidence by the scholarly observation that "Artemus Ward was only partially accurate."89 Which is no help at all unless we know which part is accurate and which is not; but who cares? The impression is what counts, and that is what you get from Artemus Ward. Unable to produce any good inside information on polygamy, after promising a lot of it, Mr. Irving Wallace pacifies us with a rather obscene remark by the Bey of Morocco, which, though it has nothing whatever to do with the Mormons, becomes significant by the impressive assurance that the story comes from "Dr. Edward Westermarck, a scholar on marital evolution."90 Let the student note in passing that Wallace is at pains to name his eminent informants when his material is safely irrelevant, but omits mentioning sources to the atrocity stories and the murder charges.
A stunning example of unequal scholarship is the way in which Mr. Wallace shifts his nearly "three years of intensive research"91 from his subject, Ann Eliza Young, to far more imposing and enigmatic fields and figures of study. As the man who knows just how fast Ann Eliza's train went he is surely qualified to toss off an authoritative study of Joseph Smith without leaving his typewriter. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the Mormons, "the great globe itself, and all that it inherit[s]," are but appendages to the epic history of Ann Eliza. Merely by knowing a few facts about that little lady, we place ourselves in the unfathomable mines of recondite research. For it should be obvious to anybody that the scholar who can tell us about even the most trivial things must be the master of great ones.
RULE 27: Be literary! As a creative writer you should feel free to say whatever you please without having to answer to anybody. No one can call you to account for what is put down as pure fiction. Consider the opening words of Mr. Richard Wormser's prefatory note to his recent book: "Battalion of Saints follows history fairly closely, but it is a novel."92 What could be neater? Mr. Wormser is now in the clear—he can write what he jolly well pleases about the Mormons, and forget about the evidence. And the beauty of it all is that whatever he may say about his imaginary Mormons is going to stick, more or less, to the real ones. For where can you draw the line between them? How close is "fairly closely"? By designating make-believe Mormons and real Mormons with the same labels, the literary gentry have always managed not so much to confuse as to identify the two species of being in their own and their readers' minds. The Mormon image is very largely a literary production.
Here is one of Zane Grey's great works, revived in paperback as of 1961; on the front cover in bold yellow letters the publisher promises a tale of "How a determined tenderfoot risks his life to save a woman from a Mormon village of 'sealed' wives!"; and on the back in bright red capitals the caption "I won't be a Mormon's extra wife any longer!" The book first came out in 1915, and is as phony as any western Mr. Grey ever spawned; but today it is available in drugstores and bus depots as an authentic contribution to American letters—and a nice dig at the Mormons, who have no comeback, of course, since this is only fiction after all.
The Saturday Review hit the nail on the head when it praised Mrs. Brodie's now classic libel of Joseph Smith for the "originality of its research" and the "suppleness of its prose" (the review is quoted in a blurb on the jacket of the present edition of Mrs. B's book). Originality and suppleness, highly desirable in a work of literature, can make a travesty of history. Mrs. Brodie is nothing if not supple: she always has the adroit phrase or loaded word to implicate the Mormons and extricate herself, interweaving fact and fancy, insinuation and documentation, until her pages squirm like a nest of garter snakes. But it is Mr. Bernard De Voto's verdict, appearing on the same cover, that is most revealing. Ecstatically he hails the author as "a detached, modern intelligence, grounded in naturalism, rejecting the supernatural," and hence peculiarly fitted to write "the best book about the Mormons so far published."
Had Mr. De Voto been Mrs. Brodie's worst enemy he could not have proclaimed more clearly or succinctly that lady's total incapacity for dealing with her subject. What he is telling us is that she is supremely qualified to write about a religion because she rejects all religion! By the same token a "practical, modern mechanic, grounded in the solid realities of running a garage, rejecting everything artistic," would be preeminently suited to write a detached and impartial book on music or art. Mr. De Voto tells us in no uncertain terms that we have here a woman whose mind is made up, whose viewpoint is settled, and whose opinions are fixed for all time so far as religion is concerned. Before she ever touches a key of her typewriter, Mrs. Brodie has rejected out of hand the whole premise on which the words and actions of Smith and his followers are predicated. For a "modern intelligence, grounded in naturalism, rejecting the supernatural" even to consider the proposition that Joseph Smith might have been telling the truth is simply unthinkable; to take such a position would be to abdicate the throne of reason, betray the foundations of mind itself, renounce the faith, stamp on the altar, and wreck one's own career. Mrs. Brodie knows that. How, then, can her critics applaud her rocklike and unflinching dedication to the party line and in the same breath hail her objectivity and detachment? For the literary mind this presents no problem at all. All things are possible for those who know how to use the right clichés.
Actually, for anyone who is not a Mormon the question of whether the "Mormon version" of things is to be taken seriously never arises, and Mr. Wallace's unctuous assurance that he emerged from his researches "neither anti-Mormon nor pro-Mormon"93 would be exquisite nonsense were it not just another cliché. There is no neutral ground between Smith and Young as impostors and Smith and Young as honest men. That is why we must refer to the whole corpus of writings about the Mormons as either Mormon or anti-Mormon. The proposition that Mormonism is fraudulent is the cornerstone of all anti-Mormon studies, and the question of Joseph Smith's veracity never becomes an issue at all. Hence, your business as a writer is not to consider whether or not Smith and Young deceived, but only to show the world how they did it. If you can give any explanation except the Mormon explanation, even if it be as feeble as Mrs. Brodie's "plastic" and "magnetic" Joseph, the world will hail you as "a detached, modern intelligence" and a light to the Gentiles.
It is your prerogative as a creative writer to claim your poetic license. Literature should be superior to the mean quibbling and meticulous hairsplitting of philology or history—does a great painting have to have the accuracy of a photograph? Anti-Mormon literature is the creation of a society of scalds who share a common material and a common goal, who freely borrow from each other and freely refashion what they borrow. The facts of the Mormon story are as well known to these bards as the corpus of classic mythology once was to the poets—since the main tales and images are never in doubt, the individual artist is free to do with any one of them pretty much what he will. If Mrs. Brodie wishes to deflate a supernatural experience by inserting a roguish, earthy detail of her own—"somewhere a bird chirped"—who is going to object? They were in the woods, and birds do chirp. Who is going to take Mr. Wallace to task for having Moroni announce himself as "a messenger from the Maker," or having the gold plates engraved in "Egyptian hieroglyphics," containing a history of migrants "from Babylon and Jerusalem to America"?94 What if it is all incorrect?—you get the general idea.
Let us illustrate how an artistic brotherhood can create and cherish its own values. Mrs. Brodie had written: "Many in the church shared the attitude of Brigham Young who had a healthy understanding of human frailty." Then she quotes Young as saying: "If he [Joseph Smith] acts like a devil, he has brought forth a doctrine that will save us, if we abide by it. He may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor's wife every night, run horses and gamble. . . . But the doctrine he has produced will save you and me and the whole world." This passage, quoted by Time Magazine (wouldn't you know it?), was quoted neatly out of context by Mrs. Brodie, who in the process converted a hypothetical condition into a damning statement of fact.95 Actually the charges were made against Joseph Smith not by Brigham Young but by a sectarian minister; Young at the time had never met Smith, but replied that even if Smith was as bad as you could imagine him, his doctrine was still wonderful. But Wallace takes up Brodie's chorus and improves on it: "Mormon colleagues did not deny Smith's prophetless habits and manners. In fact, Brigham Young was once said to have remarked, 'That the Prophet was of mean birth, that he was wild, intemperate, even dishonest and tricky in his youth, is nothing against his mission.' "96 Vaguer and nastier, you will notice; Brodie has been paraphrased as Wallace's contribution to original research, and the rest is what Young was once said to have remarked. Such a charge screams for complete and accurate documentation, and the student will readily appreciate Mr. Wallace's wisdom in avoiding footnotes. In their place he has cunningly inserted that telling little "in fact." Go back and read it again. What is the fact reported? That somebody is said to have said at some time that Brigham Young once said, . . . Never mind that, the point is that Mr. Wallace is speaking facts!
RULE 28: Develop a special vocabulary of loaded and emotive words. As a literary artist, you have this prerogative. Mrs. Brodie does wonders with such sure-fire psychic terms as plastic, intuitive, and magnetic, which sound important enough but can't be pinned down. Mr. Wallace favors a more popular jargon: Brigham Young never asks—he commands; his family is always the "harem," even though Mr. Wallace admits that nothing less like an Oriental harem could be imagined;97 instead of being told how the Church is organized or operates, we are referred darkly and vaguely to a mysterious "hierarchy," whose officers are of course "Brigham's underlings." Wallace does not even bother to paraphrase Ann Eliza's description of Amelia "forcing the out-of-town wives . . . to serve her."98 Forcing them—how? To serve her—how? It turns out that these ladies helped serve their guests when they gave dinner parties—as hostesses usually do—instead of letting the guests prepare the meal. But doesn't it sound simply too thrilling the way Annie and Wallace put it? When we read that Brigham Young painted a picture of "a Mormon heaven as brilliant as the Mohammedan heaven,"99 we are not supposed to reflect that Dante did the same, that all people who believe in heaven think of it as a brilliant place, and that the Moslem and sectarian ideas of heaven and hell are far closer to each other than either is to the Mormon concept; Mr. Wallace's phrase was not designed to promote theological speculation but merely to bring those two loaded words "Mormon" and "Mohammedan" together in the same context. When he says, "Smith made himself the lieutenant general of this legion,"100 who would not assume that Smith bestowed the rank on himself? He did not; Congress did. When he says, "As Nauvoo grew, Joseph Smith looked for foreign conquests,"101 who would not think of a little Caesar or Alexander, instead of a church sending out missionaries to new fields of labor?
RULE 29: Study the techniques of gossip. To the discerning reader of the Sisterhood of Mormon Bondage the word that comes most often to mind is bound to be "gossip." For that very reason the student should follow Mr. Wallace's example and scrupulously avoid ever using the word, which would be sure to let the cat out of the bag. Let us admit that our anti-Mormon classics are clearinghouses of gossip. What else are those swarming quotations without sources, or the constantly recurring "it is said," "it was reported," "I know one woman who . . . "? Take the story about Brigham Young failing to recognize this or that member of his family: "A very amusing story was told me of Brigham, by a lady who vouches for its truth; and although I cannot, of course, corroborate it, I am quite ready to give it credence enough to publish it."102 A related story is told of Joseph Smith: "Some of these women have since said they did not know who was the father of their children: this is not to be wondered at, for after Joseph's declaration annulling all Gentile marriages, the greatest promiscuity was practiced."103 Note in this last instance how the first proposition leans on the second for support, while the second receives all its corroboration from the first. Take another example: "I have been informed that Joseph taught his followers that it was right . . . to take anything they could find which belonged to their enemies. . . . I can the more easily believe this to be true, because the spirit of the Mormon Church has always been that of retaliation. The stern old Mosaic law . . . stands, 'A life for an offence, real or suspected, of any kind.' "104
Note also in these examples how careful the gossip has been to protect herself: she won't vouch for anything, but she will tell it. Mr. Wallace displays unequalled skill and caution in this direction; his unfailing "perhaps," and "possibly," and "it may be assumed" are models for the student who wants to have his cake and eat it: "I am conscious that my narrative savours of incredibility; the fault is in the subject, not in the narrator."105 How clever of Mr. Wallace! He cannot even be held responsible for the remark that frees him of all other responsibility, for it is Richard Burton speaking; and he is really not a narrator narrating a narrative at all, but a gossip purveying gossip. According to his informant, it "is always the case when two Mormon women meet, and are together for any length of time, the talk turn[s] onto polygamy";106 "when any two women meet, it is the chief topic of their conversation."107 Always? Any two women? Well, if one of them is Ann Eliza—and away she goes, with little Mr. Wallace tightly clutching her skirts: At Nauvoo, Joseph Smith had a " 'Revelation,' giving the most unbridled license to all the worst passions of their nature."108 That should be some revelation, if we only knew where to find it. Then "when the church was located in Utah . . . every man was compelled to enter it [polygamy], under pain of Brigham's displeasure,"109 i.e., swift and certain death. "It soon became very unpopular for a man to have but one wife, and he [every man] quickly found himself looking out for another."110 Of course "the pecuniary condition of a man is never taken into consideration,"111 and so "if a man attended a party with only one wife, he felt ashamed and humiliated, and would instantly select some unappropriated young woman, and . . . talk matrimony."112 And so on. Ann Eliza's real talent is gossip, the one art that requires no originality, no creativity, no imagination, no discipline, no restraint, no integrity. This eager communication of minds demands of the hearer, as of the speaker, only the pleasant surrender of the critical faculty, which is a killjoy anyway.
Conscience is satisfied in this sordid business by that air of modest reserve which every practiced gossip assumes with unpremeditated art: "Modesty and decency forbid my throwing too strong a light"—on Mormon domestic life, that is—and so the lady writes a book about it.113 "I feel myself utterly inadequate to tell the story of the Mountain Meadows Massacre," says Mrs. Stenhouse "—it is so shocking, so fiendish. And yet [sigh] it must be told."114 Mrs. Ann Eliza Young goes her one better; she too hates to tell it, "but it cannot be told too often."115 Brigham Young is responsible for "such disgusting atrocities and such impure statements that for the sake of decency and propriety I dared not even mention them."116
Inspired by the example of these Victorian ladies who protest themselves much too proper to mention the things they mention, Mr. Wallace with downcast eyes and maidenly reserve excuses himself for something Brigham Young once said "in almost unprintable language," and then proceeds to print it—the only lengthy quotation from Brigham Young in his whole book.117 In the same spirit Horace Greeley protests: "I deeply regret the necessity of believing this; but the facts are incontestable."118 It turns out that the "facts" he reports have no substantiation whatever, but Mr. Greeley's becoming hesitation almost convinces us. The history of Emmeline Young "I cannot give again to the world. I think the dead eyes would haunt me forever,"119 says Ann Eliza who, of course, proceeds to tell the story of Emmeline. "There was also one wife who . . . was said to have 'run away to California' . . . but it was whispered among wicked Gentiles that she paid the full penalty of the Endowment-Oaths. . . . I simply give it in common with much else for what it is worth."120 What is it worth?—the whispering, the quotation marks, the sarcasm, the disavowal? Cold cash to a publisher, but Mrs. Stenhouse will not be responsible for it. "I simply mention these facts without any comment of my own. Let the reader form his own conclusion."121 Isn't that disarming? Actually the lady, instead of supplying facts without comment, has done just the opposite. What are we to think when she tells us that every man, woman, and child in the Tabernacle knew that Brigham Young was lying when he said that soldiers or gamblers had killed Dr. Robinson: "which statements, however, were known by everyone present to be utterly false."122 That's the fact, and now you can draw your own conclusions—I wouldn't influence you for the world!
Of the child survivors of Mountain Meadows, "Mrs. Cooke says they used often, in their childish prattle, to tell events of the massacre, which showed that they knew perfectly what part Lee and his confederates had in the affair." One of these babes "said one day, very quietly, but very determinedly, . . . I will kill Lee myself. I saw him shoot my sister, and I shall not die happy unless I kill him."123 Never mind how the kids recognized Lee in disguise or knew him by sight and name—their ghoulish prattle makes wonderful gossip. But just listen to Ann Eliza: "To this day , jewelry is worn in Salt Lake City, and teams are seen in the streets, that are known to have belonged to the fatal immigrant train."124 It was the very jewelry "torn from the mangled bodies." Doesn't that do things to you? Only a schlemiel would ask who would recognize the jewelry or why the women would be wearing it during a three-day Indian battle, or stoop so low as to point out that fifteen years is an unusually long working life for a horse and ask how come that teams that were fully grown, had traveled thousands of miles, and were so exhausted at the time of the massacre that (according to Mrs. Stenhouse) they could barely make ten miles a day, could escape a three-day hail of bullets and artillery to turn up parading about the streets of Salt Lake City twenty years later.
Memory plays strange tricks with gossips. Ann Eliza reports that "one of the bright spots in my childhood, to which I am especially fond of looking back," was her home life of the winter of 1846-47, which she describes in intimate detail—though at the time she had just turned two.125 Or take a sampling of a conversation which the lady overheard at the age of four: " 'Oh, I don't know,' said Ann Eliza's mother miserably, 'but I can't endure this life.' 'And yet you entered it voluntarily,' said Chauncey relentlessly. 'I don't understand you. You are strangely inconsistent.' "126
If that sort of thing sounds a bit steep, it is only fair to point out that the "relentlessly" and "miserably" were supplied by Mr. Wallace. And why not? He has just as much right to report how it must have been as Ann Eliza herself does, and once a gossip has this basic premise, the rest is easy. Imagined conversations such as the above are a specialty with anti-Mormon writers; Ann Eliza can report verbatim conversations that took place between Joseph Smith and his wife in their most secret sessions;127 between Smith and Brigham Young; between Young and Kimball, cooking up a murder; Young and his son Joseph (secret),128 Young and Hyde (supersecret);129 she can tell us the very words with which Smith proposed to various young ladies,130 and with which Young proposed to Amelia Folsom or wheedled a future wife out of her property. She even reports that many of Smith's fair victims "made affidavits . . . and their statements were published in many of the leading newspapers all over the country."131 True, no such affidavits have been found in any newspaper, but we must remember that the public of 1876 had not been educated by the modern crime novel, and never thought of questioning such obvious and forthright statements. Mr. Wallace wisely forbears to repeat the lady's indiscretions, while unhesitatingly accepting her picture of Mormon shenanigans. Because of Ann Eliza, according to him, the Lion House was shaken to its foundations, all its members seized by a panic of insecurity. The evidence for that? Mr. Wallace's knowledge of human nature. Again, Brigham Young meets daughter Alice on the street: " 'Good heavens, Alice! What are you rigged out in that style for? You look like a prostitute.' She faced him with an expression so like his own that it was absolutely startling, and, with terrible intensity, replied,—'Well, what else am I? And whose teachings have made me so?' "132 Absolutely startling to whom? The graphic illustration in the book shows that the two met alone—no other person present. Did Alice know how startling her expression was, or was it Brigham Young himself who told the story? We also fail to see how Brigham Young's fanatical insistence that everybody get married and have children would make his daughter a prostitute, or cause her to dress like one. In Mr. Wallace's book we find: "Whenever I see a pretty woman I have to pray for grace."133 What reader would ever guess that that quotation can be traced back no further than one W. Wyl, published in 1886 in a rabidly anti-Mormon newspaper? And where did Wyl get it? From a woman; at least he said that "someone had told him that someone had said that Joseph Smith had made that remark to an unnamed friend."134 That is enough for Mrs. Brodie, Time Magazine, and Irving Wallace. In the same way Ann Eliza tells a tale of fiendish murder about Bishop Wells, admits it is apocryphal, but makes it stick by appending a full and lengthy list of all the man's titles and offices. And when Wallace brings equally terrible charges against Porter Rockwell, he is always careful to refer to the man by the full name of Orrin Porter Rockwell to show that even if Hickman and Beadle were thundering liars, our scholar has done his homework.
RULE 30: Preserve a gap between your readers and the Mormons. At a passage where even the most obtuse reader might boggle at the sheer excess and enormity of your tale, do not hesitate to remind him that he is in no position to know about things happening in the far away Tibet of the Rockies. "No one outside of Utah and Mormonism can understand it in the least," says Ann Eliza, "because nowhere else is there a possibility of such wretchedness to exist."135 The Reverend Henry Caswall, by publishing only in England, was able to build a career on the single fact that he had actually been in Nauvoo; even the most rabid anti-Mormon reviewers in America were disgusted by the absurdities of his account, but he was on safe ground, speaking to a public thousands of miles removed from the scene he described.
When the Mormons moved to Utah they obligingly widened the gap between themselves and the nation—at the present time there are still unexplored areas in the state. An almost complete geographical gap between the Mormons and the world has made possible a booming traffic in atrocity stories of the Zane Grey variety. Whenever the gap has been closed, the atrocity stories have disappeared, so that we can follow the retreat of the pulps from Salt Lake City to San Pete to the Four Corners to Short Creek. A number of recent magazine articles on the Short Creek "Mormons" are careful to describe with the mystery and drama of a science fiction thriller the utter inaccessibility of that community in its desert fastness, which happens to be just six miles by a good road (I have walked it) from the highway between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
Ann Eliza herself led the retreat into the wilderness to preserve that all-important gap; when increasing numbers of Gentiles visited Salt Lake City and liked what they saw, she fell back on the hinterland, explaining that since "the Gentiles do not go into our country places much, only Salt Lake City," they are of course not aware of what the Mormons are really up to.136 Today when the curious can follow six-lane freeways from the Gate of the Angels right into the Mormon lair, it is necessary to look for other gaps—the social gap and the time gap.
Recall Mrs. Young's statement that "No one outside of Utah and Mormonism can understand it in the least."137 Mrs. Stenhouse is furiously insistent that being in Utah is not enough; one must also be or have been a Mormon. But even that is not enough—one must know the inner circle. Remember, whatever the Mormon leaders said and did privately they denied publicly,138 so that only an Ann Eliza or a Stenhouse can possibly have the remotest inkling of the real thing, and they, of course, are beyond question or criticism. "Newspaper correspondents visit Salt Lake City, and when they arrive they are brimming over with disgust," writes Ann Eliza Young, "but, by-and-by a change comes over them," and they send back glowing reports to their papers. It is Brigham who closes the gap; he "manages to get hold of them . . . [and] they soon see things as he intends they shall see them. I suppose his manner of influencing them differs, but I think it will be readily understood."139 This passage deserves repetition if only because it is a foundation stone of Mr. Wallace's book that Brigham Young attacked Ann Eliza through the Gentile press, and she is his authority for saying so; here we can see just how much she knows about it—she is "supposing" everything, and as to Young's methods being "readily understood," it would be hard to imagine anything less readily understandable than how tough, seasoned correspondents brimming with disgust and on their guard from the first should be so easily taken in by a cheap trickster. But the gap must be preserved at any cost: "The truth is simply this: the Mormon people are absolutely afraid to have the outside world come too close to them; they let them see just so much, but not one bit more."140 Hence even a Richard Burton is completely fooled: "The mass of the people are but a cunningly manipulated lot of marionettes, who perform certain antics for a curious public, while the shrewd wire-puller sits behind, and orders every movement, and makes every speech."141 If you think the little lady's pen might be running away with her to describe the man who is always up front, stealing the show and making every speech, as the mysterious plotter who "sits behind," shrewdly and cunningly concealing his operations, you have failed to reckon with the public's unlimited vulnerability to dramatic clichés and the thrill of unknown evil.
As the geographical gap between the Mormons and the world has narrowed, the time gap has been steadily widening to take its place. If a trip to Utah in the early days could change one's mind about everything, few enough people were ever in a position to take such a trip; and if today a brief journey into the records of a hundred years ago will convince anyone how flimsy are the charges against Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who is going to take the trouble to make such a tedious time-journey? The Wallaces and Brodies are on as safe grounds as the Ann Eliza Youngs and Fanny Stenhouses—they know there is a broad and safe gap between them and the vast inertia of the public. But the time gap is not new; Ann Eliza herself must always go back to a vague and distant time for her atrocity tales: "It was a terrible time, indeed, and one fairly shudders to recall the blood-curdling atrocities that were committed at that period."142 But though she tells us that " 'Altars of sacrifice' were loudly recommended," and that whenever victims "would not become willing sacrifices . . . 'somebody' took the matter in hand," she remains splendidly impersonal and lets those sinister quotation marks cary the whole burden of proof. Though at one place she narrows the time gap to ten years, it is always there; "even ten years ago, an Apostate's or Gentile's life was worth absolutely nothing. . . . It was enough that he should be merely suspected, and his fate was just as certain, coming swift and sure."143 This reaching back into the bad old times of the Reformation and beyond ("the time is forever past when the 'unsheathing of his bowie-knife,' or the 'crooking of his little finger,' pronounced sentence upon offenders")144 entails a minor contradiction which the student should avoid, since both Stenhouse and Ann Eliza insist that back in those old times the Mormons "were then simply an earnest religious people,"145 and that (as we have seen) Brigham Young was honest and upright, and even Joseph Smith "an earnest but ignorant Christian preacher."146
The greater the distance in time (as in space) from his subject, the freer the anti-Mormon writer is to invent. Thus the story of the Jarviss family, told in 1876 by simply quoting a letter written by a woman Mrs. Young had never seen, is retold thirty-five years later as a personal experience of Ann Eliza, without any mention of the letter.147 The Mormons were charged, as a matter of course, with the murders of Governor Boggs and President Garfield, and though there is no evidence whatever for either charge, Mr. Wallace can only dismiss the Garfield libel as "significant" (whatever that means, it's bad for the Mormons), while he makes a stab at making the Boggs' accusation stick (though even Ann Eliza denies it) because it is fifty years older.
RULE 31: Learn when to be silent. Nothing you say about the Mormons can be more damning than what you fail to say. The really competent anti-Mormon writer does not only exploit gaps—he creates them, by omitting relevant information. Note how daintily Mr. Wallace picks his way through the evidence: Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are never invited to take the witness stand, while J. C. Bennett, J. H. Beadle, the Police Gazette, the mysterious Fanny Brewer, the writer of an anonymous letter to a newspaper, to say nothing of Ann Eliza and Mary Burton, etc., are given close and sympathetic hearing; the Book of Mormon is brushed aside with a glib Menckenism of the youthful Bernard De Voto about "the cheap story of the golden plates"—why should Mr. Wallace jeopardize such chaste economy by bothering to mention that the mature De Voto recanted and admitted that he was "brash" and "irresponsible" when he wrote those things?148 Having quoted Josiah Quincy as reporting that Joseph Smith was wearing a "linen jacket, which had not lately seen the washtub," when he met him, Wallace shrewdly leaves it at that, discreetly omitting Quincy's glowing tribute to the prophet.149 It is also wisdom in Mr. Wallace to omit from his heavily padded bibliography the name of Mr. Sam Taylor, the one writer who really knows something about Mormon polygamy. Following Ann Eliza's example, Wallace tells of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon leaving the Church, but omits the really remarkable ending of the story—how two of them came back into the Church and none of the three ever denied his testimony of seeing the plates: why should he spoil the effect? In the same spirit Ann Eliza glories to report that her father and mother have at last seen the light and left the Mormons150—without, of course, bothering to mention that her father returned to the Church and her mother threw the Bible into the stove along with her Mormon faith and declared Gentile marriage to be as bad as polygamy.
It is not only by skillful addition but no less discreet subtraction that Mr. Wallace is able to improve on some of Ann Eliza's own stories. When she reports the rumored implication of the Mormons in the murder of Boggs, she is honest or careless enough to report also that Porter Rockwell was proven to be elsewhere at the time of the crime, and Joseph Smith "escaped by a legal technicality" (i.e., no evidence), but even this grudging concession of innocence is too much for Wallace, who is content to mention the Mormons and the crime together, clinch the implication by casually referring to Orrin Porter Rockwell (what precision!) as a "paid assassin," and let it go at that. He takes pains to mention Brigham Young's private opinion of the character of the defunct Zachary Taylor as proof of treason151—though there are plenty of good Americans who have identical opinions of other former presidents, living and dead—but nowhere in his book does he mention the great patriotic sacrifice of the Mormon Battalion, even though Ann Eliza counts it among her personal experiences. Nothing could be more trivial than the Zachary Taylor story or more fundamental than the history of the Battalion, but by going out of his way to dramatize the one and suppress the other, Mr. Wallace is making history. On the other hand he does mention that Parley P. Pratt was acquitted by a hostile and reluctant court in Arkansas, a point that Stenhouse and Young omit: for them Pratt is simply "the guilty wretch" and that settles it.152 But having made this dangerous concession, Wallace snatches victory from defeat by a simple House-That-Jack-Built maneuver: "Stung by this lechery, Hector McClean once pulled a pistol in court."153 What lechery? Why, the lechery that McClean imagined, the lechery that the court packaged with "an unruly Arkansas mob," could not prove—this lechery—Pratt's of course. He "was honorably discharged" by the reluctant court,154 but not by Mr. Wallace. Admittedly that was a close call—the student is not advised to take such chances; a safe rule to follow is simply to overlook anything that might give aid or comfort to the Mormons or discredit their enemies. The student who compares Mrs. Ann Eliza's 1876 book with her 1908 rewrite will readily recognize that every good thing said about the Mormons in the early work is carefully deleted in the later one. Thus while the part about Brigham Young once being a good and honest man155 is deleted in 1908 so that Brigham can be all bad,156 the part about van Buren's being a stuffed shirt with his "impressiveness which expressed so much and meant so little"157 is politely omitted in 1908158 to make him a Christian hero.
But the most effective use of the discreet omission is that by which Wallace builds up his story of what he calls the "handcart fiasco." The mere title as he puts it effectively screens the fact that there were eleven handcart crossings, all but one highly successful—Wallace never mentions that facts or even hints that there were other handcart expeditions; for him and for us it is simply the handcart migration scheme. He begins by telescoping a helpfully explanatory letter from Brigham Young into a short, cynical, and brutal note, omitting the little dots which indicate that one is making deletions in a quotation, so that the reader assumes that he has Brigham Young's own statement before his eyes.159 This, we should warn the student, is a bit drastic; it is in fact libelous—but what are the chances of its being discovered? Never does Wallace indicate that Ann Eliza's supposed intimate firsthand knowledge of the handcart fiasco comes right out of Stenhouse, who in turn gets it all from Mary Burton's letter. Didn't Ann Eliza's father actually help to make the carts? Yes, and he thought the company had a good chance of getting through, as he passed them by on the road "with the other elders, . . . intending to return, if they found it necessary."160 Just one thing made trouble—an early "more than ordinary winter" that caught everyone by surprise: "In fact," writes Mary Burton, "it came on earlier and more severely last year than at any time before."161 So what if there was a freak storm—doesn't that show that Brigham Young was a false prophet? As a prophet he should have known, according to Mary Burton.162 Well, he did give emphatic orders against traveling that late in the year, but his orders were not heeded. And right here is where our principle of silence proves so useful—our Wallaces, Stenhouses, and Ann Elizas simple leave such disturbing details out. But having proven Brigham a false prophet though his drastic lack of foresight, Mrs. Stenhouse is free to turn right around and prove him a criminal because he knew all along what would happen! The Church leaders, she says, "must have fully known the dangers and difficulties of the way."163 Therefore the whole thing was deliberately set up, a criminal conspiracy, with John Taylor promoting himself in New York even "if all the poor Saints . . . should die of starvation and exposure,"164 which Ann Eliza converts into Daniel Spencer having fun at the expense of untold sufferings: "What were a thousand or more human lives in comparison to his enjoyment? Less than nothing, it would seem, in his estimation."165 Thus Ann Eliza picks up the story from Stenhouse, and substituting her own father for Levi Savage, the one man who "dared tell the truth,"166 lights into Brigham, who planned the whole "heartless and mercenary" scheme just to make money. It was he who after the arrival of the second company walked about among the miserable wrecks of humanity, ruined for life, gleefully rubbing his hands "with overflowing complacency."167
Even Ann Eliza has some admiration for the phenomenal speed and efficiency with which Young got relief to the stranded party, and though she explains it as an act of cowardice, Brigham being "beside himself with fear" lest his crime be discovered, still it may have been better to have passed that impressive episode by in silence, as Wallace does. For remember, if you say anything good about Brigham Young you place yourself in the awkward position of having to explain it away. For example, Captain Hunt, overtaking the ill-fated company with his wagon train, "had been expressly forbidden to pass the handcarts," thereby being on hand with needed assistance—a wise precaution to say the least. Ann Eliza is able to convert this into evidence of criminality, it is true, but not without straining a point: "which shows conclusively enough that those very persons who sent the emigrants off at that unfavorable season feared for the results."168 Do parents who pack their children off to summer camp with first-aid kits "show conclusively" thereby that they know what the little nippers are in for? Now if Hunt had been ordered to drive on, that would really be something to pin on the leaders. Either way the Mormons can't win if you know your business; but it is better to avoid too elaborate sophistries by omitting such details altogether, as Mr. Wallace does. See how he builds up his handcart fiasco by a series of skillful omissions: he makes no mention of the success or even the existence of the other handcart companies; of Brigham Young's warnings and orders; of the insistence of the party itself on starting out against orders; of the unprecedented nature of the storm; of the unparalleled skill and speed with which the party was rescued, of the general confidence, well justified by all previous experience, that the party could get through. It is only by omitting such far from minor details that the handcart fiasco becomes what Mr. Wallace makes it, a clumsy, foolish, ill-advised, criminal, and tragic and thoroughly typical example of Mormon insanity.
RULE 32: Be bloody, bold, and resolute! What the public wants in an atrocity story is straight horror, not namby-pamby explanations: the propaganda artists of World War I proved that once for all. As the murder mystery demonstrates so often, the emotionally involved reader is a functionally blind reader who will not see the evidence that is staring him in the face. Wallace's most vivid, factual, and convincing atrocity story is Ann Eliza's firsthand account of the Payson murders; yet even as she tells it the evidence screams the absurdity of her interpretaton. Wallace's solution, of course, is to ignore the evidence.
Wherever you can, paint your picture in black and white. Ann Eliza does not shilly-shally: During the "Reformation" time, "bloodshed and murder were the order of the day. If any person or family were supposed to be lacking in the faith . . . that person or family was sure to be visited by some disaster."169 All Mormons "have been taught that the Lord commanded them to hate all persons not of their belief, and that it was an act pleasing to Him whenever a Gentile was put out of the way. Without being murderers at heart, they have been taught that murder is a part of their religion, a vital portion of their worship."170 "Its leaders always have been . . . disloyal to the government under which they live, treacherous to their friends, . . . believing nothing which they teach, and tyrannical and grasping in the extreme."171 "The Saints were taught openly that it was their duty to 'destroy in the flesh' all upon whom the leaders of the church frowned."172 For the leaders "believe most implicitly in vicarious suffering, and it is with them always the innocent and helpless who are punished."173 D. Wells "has ever been Brigham's righthand man in iniquity, fearlessly disposing of life and property in the name of the Lord, counselling his superior to deeds of blood without number."174 "A strict surveillance was kept over the movements of any stranger in the city, and if his words or actions displeased the Mormon spies, he never got far beyond city limits."175 Among the Mormons themselves, "if no other charge could be brought against a person, he was called a 'spy,' and this, of course, gave sufficient reason for putting him out of the way very summarily."176 "Everything, even the most trifling, that a person did, which was at all offensive to any member of the priesthood, was accounted apostasy, and punishment administered as speedily as possible. . . . Some of the most revolting and heartsickening crimes were committed. . . . So common were they that . . . nothing was thought of them."177 "If anyone became tired of Mormonism, or impatient of the increasing despotism of the leader, and returned to the East, or started to do so, he invariably was met by the Indians and killed before he had gone very far. The effect was to discourage apostasy."178
Is it necessary for us to go on and on like this? Yes, it is, to show the student that the more incredible an atrocity story is, the less proof it requires: all this is but a tiny sampling of the writing of Ann Eliza Young which Mr. Irving Wallace in 1961 embraced as the most reliable single handbook on Mormonism. If a scholar like Wallace doesn't boggle at these outrageous absurdities, why should anyone else?
But if a good atrocity story paralyzes the critical faculties, it would certainly be a waste of talent were it not spiced by a delicious sense of possibility. As a mere novel, the wildest anti-Mormon classics would fall flat; what sold A Study in Scarlet was the grizzly awareness that there actually were people called Mormons and a place called Utah. Therefore instead of talking sense or supplying evidence, let the writer satisfy the public by an occasional reminder that the reality is infinitely worse than anything he might describe: "Exaggeration . . . is simply impossible, I could not exaggerate. Not a word of all my story is exaggerated or embellished. The difficulty has been rather to suppress and tone down. Language is inadequate to even half unveil the horrors."179 So Wallace: "I am conscious that my narrative savours of incredibility,"180 etc. Once we have firmly established the principle that one cannot exaggerate, then it becomes a mere quibble whether what we say is true or not—it is all sober understatement: Smith "either must have been a polygamist or something infinitely worse."181
RULE 33: Uphold the tradition! Correct and improve the legends! By the time Joseph Smith was twenty-five years old, everything bad that could be said about a man had been said about him, publicly, loudly, and often. This left his critics with no new heights to scale in the art of vituperation and small room for advancement in the invention of new atrocities. From Bennett to Brodie a century of pawing over the old trash pile produced astonishingly little that was new: the anti-Mormon researcher must be content to retell and resell the old horrors all over again.
The problem is not therefore to find out what really happened but to devise ways of making the old stories believable; progress in anti-Mormon studies is necessarily in the fields of technique—the very techniques we have been discussing. It is the business of each new generation to improve upon the stories of the preceding one while retelling them—plugging up old loopholes, correcting or expunging disastrous boo-boos, deleting absurdities that can no longer stand examination, touching up the stories where they are weak, toning them down where they are overdone, quietly removing contradictory statements, and above all casting about for anything that might be taken for new evidence. The discovery of one new document, or even a new slant given to an old familiar document, is enough to justify the reprinting of six hundred pages of old stuff. Let us view a few examples of progressive cooperation among practitioners in this vital field.
Mrs. Stenhouse sees in Joseph Smith "a man of ten times the intellect" of Brigham Young: "a man ignorant and deluded, it is true, but at the same time, a man in whom was the material for one of those natural giants."182 Mrs. Young, however dependent on Stenhouse for everything else, can correct her astigmatism to present Smith as nothing but a "singular combination of the pretentious demagogue and the lecherous hypocrite, persistent violator of the laws of God and man," whose "wicked, blasphemous spirit abides in the community he organized . . . and threatens . . . to destroy the peace and prosperity of the American people."183 In her turn she has gone too far over on the other side, so it is Mr. Wallace's prerogative to salvage not Joseph Smith's reputation but Mrs. Young's credibility by toning down her overdrawn portrait to the more believable dimensions of J. Smith the frontier bully-boy who "wrestled, gambled, swore, . . . drank, and whored."184 Not proven, indeed, but plausible.
The Mountain Meadows story has been subject to constant revision. Take this, for example:
There is legal proof [Mrs. Stenhouse talks a lot about legal proof and "conclusive evidence" without ever supplying any] that the clothing stripped from the corpses was placed in the cellar of the tithing office, where it lay about three weeks, when it was privately sold. The cellar is said to have smelt of it for years. Long after this time, jewelry torn from the mangled bodies of the unfortunate women was publicly worn in Salt Lake City, and every one knew whence it came.185
Now see what Ann Eliza does with this:
It is told by a man, who then was a mere boy, that . . . the cellars were filled with everything that had been taken from the emigrants, and the bloody garments, stripped from the dead bodies, were thrown down on the floor. . . . Suddenly . . . the cellar . . . resounded with cries, groans, sobs, and the most piercing, agonized shrieks. It is not the first time, by any means, nor the last, that a Mormon public building has been haunted. The property of the emigrants was sold at public auction. To this day, jewelry is worn in Salt Lake City, and teams are seen in the streets, that are known to have belonged to the fatal emigrant train. A lady in Salt Lake City was one day showing a silk dress and some jewelry to some friends, in the presence of one of the children who had been saved from the massacre. The little one, on catching sight of the dress, burst out into a frantic fit of weeping, and between the sobs cried out, "O, my dear mama! That is her dress; she used to wear it." It is said that other children identified clothing and trinkets which they had seen worn by members of the party.186
Observe that Ann Eliza treats the items in the same order as Mrs. Stenhouse, but what a production! The lingering odor (for years?) becomes a more romantic haunting by spirits; the private sale becomes a public auction; the statement that everyone in Salt Lake City recognized the jewelry "torn from the mangled bodies" being patently absurd (did the women wear their jewelry during the trek across the plains and a three-day Indian battle? Had everyone in Salt Lake City seen the jewels worn?), it is changed to recognition by the children of the slain, with a fine touch of melodrama. As usual, however, Ann Eliza goes overboard in having the teams of the victims parading the streets of Salt Lake City—twenty years after. Yet she introduces that item less as a touch of drama than a piece of evidence—the horses can be seen to this very day, if you must know! And how does Mr. Wallace treat this? While accepting Ann Eliza's story of Mountain Meadows implicitly, he gallantly forbears making an issue of these irrelevant details, especially when they show his informant to be a free-wheeling liar.
Concerning the child survivors of Mountain Meadows, Mrs. Stenhouse reports that "two of them are said to have uttered some words from which it was presumed that their intelligence was in advance of their years. They were taken quietly and—buried!"187 That is grizzly enough, but Ann Eliza cannot leave it there: "It is said—on how good authority I do not know—that Daniel H. Wells, mayor of Salt Lake City, one of the First Presidency, Second Counsellor to Brigham, Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion, killed one of these babes with his own official hand. As I said before, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this rumor, but those who know the man best are the most ready to believe it. He is certainly capable of an act like this."188 It is a question of which is the more remarkable in this statement, the gossipy virtue with which the accuser clears herself of any responsibility for the ghastly indictment or the crushing weight of official protocol with which she tries to make it sick. Just so Wallace on the cover of his book appends to a banal and disgusting quotation for whose authenticity he cannot vouch, the resounding and accusing words, "Joseph Smith, first Prophet and Founder of the Mormon Church." Mrs. Young does not repeat the charge against Wells in her 1908 book, nor does Wallace mention it.
But if the 1908 opus, out for Mormon blood as never before, contains far less specific information than the earlier work, it makes up for the defect by an impressive wealth of text and editorial comment.
For example, in 1875 Ann Eliza tells of a case in which sisters married the same man and concludes: "All this is sanctioned by the President."189 In 1908 the passage is improved to read: "All this incest and consanguineous intermarriage was sanctioned by President Young."190 Of course the marriage of sisters to one man is not consanguineous mariage nor incest, but Mr. Wallace is good enough to take Ann Eliza's word for it and even touch it up a little, leaving his readers properly stunned: Brigham Young "believed that incest was not a crime."191 To the name Utah in her 1876 text,192 she appends the 1908 comment, "or Deseret as it was then called by the Mormons. The word 'Deseret' was said to mean 'the Land of the honey-bee.' Yet strange to say, there were no native bees in that desert region."193 Though the Mormons never said there were native bees in the valley, or gave that definition to the word, it does make them look rather ridiculous. Plain Devil's Gate in the early book194 becomes "Devil's Gate" (ominous name!) in 1908,195 and "The Apostle Orson Pratt"196 becomes "The Apostle Orson Pratt, grim-bearded monster."197 In 1876 we read, "The Indians have become convenient scapegoats,"198 but in 1908 the same passage has become "The Indians were always convenient scapegoats,"199 a proposition to which Mr. Wallace loyally adheres. The "hand-cart fiasco" was bad enough in 1876, but in 1908 we are told, "Never in the history of any civilized people has there been a recorded case of such gross mismanagement."200
And this is the emotional padding by which Mrs. Young keeps her promise to tell us more and worse than ever. Many of her best stories are missing from the later work, and no new ones are added, so that Mr. Wallace is obliged to draw almost exclusively on the earlier, discredited volume. Discredited? Of course. Would she have omitted her best stories, including almost all of her personal life with Brigham Young, if there was not something wrong with them? Wallace does his best to make her look good: "Now," he cries, "she was able to tell the whole story of the Mountain Meadows massacre and of Lee's eventual execution."201 Because anybody could tell it in 1908; but what has that to do with her story? Actually she simply repeats the old 1876 version with her own priceless personal touches of intuition and anguish deleted; she makes no mention of the childish instincts on which her whole original story is based; the masked batteries of the original version202 have disappeared;203 the crucial letter that tells the whole story has vanished;204 the homey and convincing but utterly preposterous story of how Lee, "like the Ancient Mariner, . . . went up and down compelling every person whom he met to listen to his story" is of course deleted in 1908;205 the assurance that "the value of their wagons, horses, and stock alone was said to be $300,000"206 is discreetly cut down to $30,000 in 1908,207 etc. In 1876 Brigham Young's evil plot against the emigrants is proven by his absolute ban on the sale of any food to them—it was death to sell them a loaf of bread;208 in 1908 the sure proof of Mormon guilt is their sale of grain to the emigrants, showing only too clearly that they knew they would get it all back again.209
On the positive side, Ann Eliza by 1908 has become quite an authority on strategy and tactics and knows all about Brigham Young's military policies and operations;210 she can now even explain the great mystery of Mountain Meadows as part of a Mormon War against the States. In 1908 she can tell us all about the Bank of Kirtland,211 or exactly what went on between Brigham Young and John D. Lee,212 because by then anybody could buy Lee's book. In her big autobiography of 1876, the Mormon Battalion is mentioned only as "another illustration" of Brigham Young's "cruelty and greed"; but in 1908, after the Battalion had a secure place in American history, its departure is numbered among Ann Eliza's personal reminiscenses of Winter Quarters;213 Wallace, as we have seen, never mentions it at all.
As Ann Eliza improves first on Stenhouse and then on herself, so Wallace improves on both. When Mrs. Young quietly drops a discredited story, Wallace, at the safe distance of time, can revive it. She has her reasons and they are good ones for dropping the stories of Amelia at the ball,214 the "very amusing story" of how Brigham failed to recognize his own wife,215 the Badley and Moon Story,216 the tales of Baptiste the grave-robber,217 etc. But Wallace has equally good reason for resurecting them, for without them, his image of Brigham and the Mormons would bear no conviction. The Baptiste story, for all its grizzly atmosphere, is irrelevant, but Wallace salvages it boldly by converting the clothing and jewels which the grave-robber understandably coveted into Mormon temple clothing, which nobody could possibly want. Note how neatly he converts the well-known Gentile superstition that Mormons have horns into a Mormon superstition that Gentiles have horns: "At a social gathering . . . she met an infidel named Howard Sawyer, and she was pleasantly surprised to find that he did not have horns."218 Thus he preserves Gentile nonsense by transmuting it with disarming tolerance and good humor into Mormon nonsense. On those rare occasions on which Ann Eliza corrects and tones down Stenhouse, Wallace defers to the older and more lurid version. Thus where Ann Eliza admits with reluctance that she has never heard Brigham Young use profanity (a thing he abhorred above all else), Mr. Wallace calls upon Stenhouse to correct her: he did swear, and in the Tabernacle. Ann Eliza hedges on Stenhouse's story of "one terrible meeting" at which four-fifths of the congregation confessed to adultery—an inconceivable oversight if the story had any foundation whatever—so Wallace must tell it as the fruit of his own valuable researches,219 though it comes right out of Stenhouse.220 Ann Eliza describes the crossing of the plains as a jolly adventure (and so my own grandfather always described it); but that is not the proper atmosphere for an anti-Mormon book: Stenhouse quotes Mary Burton: "What weary days we spent!"221—and this, apparently, is enough to authorize Mr. Wallace to describe not Burton's but Ann Eliza's own journey as "a nightmare of monotony."222 Ann Eliza is content to report that the members of the Tobin party were ambushed at the Santa Clara River, a favorite ground for Indian attacks; but Wallace cannot let it go at that: "It may have been a coincidence" is his biting editorial comment.223
An easy and pleasant way of contributing to the anti-Mormon corpus is to supply the gestures where others have supplied the conversation. As we have seen, Mrs. Young's history is full of imagined, stilted, and artificial conversations; by a few deft touches Wallace makes them come to life. Ann Eliza herself shows how this is done, i.e., in her own retelling of a conversation in which Brigham Young secretly instructs an aged wife not to blab about his dirty business deals: " 'They would not understand, you know,' murmured he in his most drivellingly sweet accents."224 Since it is hard to believe that Mrs. Lewis, who loved Brigham Young and hated Ann Eliza, actually told her about those drivellingly sweet accents, it is safe to attribute them to Ann Eliza herself. But how they bring the story to life! Thus speaks Joseph Smith: " 'It is your privilege to have all the wives you want,' he said cooly." It is inconceivable that he ever said anything of the sort, but if he had it would have been cool, all right, and so we have caught him red-handed. Again, "Smith smiled wanly." Who said he smiled? Who said wanly? Mr. Wallace both times,225 with telling effect. "Brigham did not so much as blink,"226 he stared with fascination at Ann Eliza,227 he stared hard with a "steady, unflinching gaze,"228 his "face flushed with rage"229—it is little touches like this that make a story real and convincing, and if you, like Mr. Wallace, are convinced of the story—well, go agead and make them!
But in so doing seek not to scale the heights that Wallace ascends in his story of the cow! Here surely is a rewriting feat of heroic proportions. In 1876 Ann Eliza told how Mary Angell, Brigham Young's first wife, lives in "the old schoolhouse behind the Bee-Hive, a dilapidated, cheerless place, not nearly so good as the house she has left."230 Using the commonest of all expressions to describe big houses, the fastidious Ann Eliza continues, "It is indeed, little better than a barn, and is furnished very scantily."231 With those key words, barn and old school-house, Wallace performs a minor miracle:
Mary Ann Angell . . . had the right to claim one-third of his enormous estate under the law. Instead, a constant invalid, she kept to the privacy of her own quarters, the abandoned school-house behind the Lion House, which she shared with a cow who lived in a partitioned stall. On June 27, 1882, at the age of seventy-nine, she died.232
Could anything be more withering than that ominous procession of loaded words—right, enormous estate, law, invalid, abandoned schoolhouse, cow, stall, died? Is there a word in the grim passage that is not loaded? It is all there, the dirt, the cold (for cow stalls were unheated in those days), the smells, the loneliness, and the sad patient animal, old age, cruel poverty, sickness and pain, rights meanly denied by a cynical libertine, property basely stolen, and then finally death and merciful deliverance! And all that, apparently, out of Ann Eliza's gossipy "school-house" and "big-as-a-barn." Who is going to remember amidst choking indignation at such injustice that Mr. Wallace has noted that "Actually Mary Ann Angell, widely respected in Utah, had become a recluse in The White House on the hill."233
And what was "The White House on the hill"? One of the finest mansions in the Territory, which Brigham Young had built just for Mary Ann Angell. It served many years as a headquarters of the Elks Lodge, and was not torn down (for the inevitable parking lot) until 1958. While it was being built, Mrs. Young shared the even more magnificent Gardo House with Amelia. Actually there was a large barn right behind the Lion House. It was never used as a school, Preston Nibley informs me, and nobody ever lived in it. Directly across the street to the east of the Lion House and the barn was Brigham Young's schoolhouse, now immortalized by a bronze plaque, an elegant little building which never served as anything but a schoolhouse. A block further east stood the splendid "White House on the hill," where Mrs. Young spent the last years of her life, known to all "as 'Mother Young' and was much esteemed as the 'Mother' of the family,"234 and there she died.235 A member of the First Presidency "had visited the deceased during her illness," and spoke at her funeral, which was attended by a "large body of mourners."236 Her two eldest sons were Joseph A. and Brigham Jr., the very Brigham Jr. who, according to Wallace, took his father to task more than once for his neglect of Ann Eliza.237 And these, Brigham Young's most influential offspring, would allow their adored mother to suffer the refined tortures of Brigham's criminal neglect?
Slips and oversights are inevitable in any historical writing and cannot be held as major crimes. But since Mr. Wallace has found in the last years of Mrs. Young a demonstration of the depths of depravity to whcih Brigham Young descends, one wonders if he has not gone a bit too far.
RULE 34: Be patriotic. Anti-Mormon classics tend to be of a strong patriotic tone. Ann Eliza's 1908 volume is a perfect demonstration of how patriotism can be exploited to make Mormon-baiting pay. In her earlier writing she had expressed a fastidious and ladylike disdain for voting and all that goes with it; but she had learned in the meantime that to be a champion of the downtrodden womanhood, she would have to wrap herself in the flag. Her message of 1875 is that the Government is criminally soft on Mormonism: "When it was shown me that I might . . . open people's eyes to the enormity of the religious system which was tolerated by the Government, I hesitated no longer."238 "People of America," she shouts, "are these incarnate fiends . . . still to be objects of worship and reverence to thousands of our countrymen? . . . I warn my fellow-countrymen against their false pretenses, their adulterous practices, their murderous oaths, their uncharitable animosity towards the American Government and People."239 The desire of Utah for statehood certainly proved treasonable intent: "The Mormons . . . sought to be freed from Federal restrictions by securing the full rights of Statehood, so that they could make their own laws without interference. After years of wily political manoeuvering they gained their objective in 1896. . . . Calmly and carelessly Congress conferred independent Statehood upon an unorganized band of unscrupulous traitors."240 Whatever the Mormons were, they could hardly be accused of being unorganized; but traitors? Well, didn't Brigham Young say Zachary Taylor was in hell? If you don't think that is treason, just ask Mr. Wallace.241 Ann Eliza has even better proof: "The foundation of Americanism is absolute security for the life and honor of women. . . . That man is a traitor to his country who makes light of the honor of women. Mormonism is . . . horrible treason to the fundamental ideal of American institutions."242 Why does the Constitution allow it? Only because the Founding Fathers "could not conceive of a deranged, visionary mountebank, calling himself a prophet, seer and revelator, and counseling his followers to debauch young women under the pretense of religion."243 Such fervid syllogisms spring as readily to the mind as the big resounding adjectives do to the mouth of the practicing patriot. The reader will readily appreciate the advantage of placing himself in the position where to question him is to be against the America he stands for. it is an old and favorite trick of professional patriots.
RULE 35: Join the ladies. Any anti-Mormon writer does well to follow Mr. Wallace's example and take his stand with the ladies or behind their skirts. All the most effective anti-Mormon books have been written by women—Nancy Towle, Orvilla Belisle, Ettie V. Smith, Maria Ward, Fanny Stenhouse, Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning, Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton, Emily Austin, Ellen Dickinson, Lily Dougal, Winifred Graham, Fawn M. Brodie—to name a few, because we can think of no others just now. Women have always worked with the clergy, who through the years have been the principal promoters of anti-Mormon literature; women are the fragile and helpless victims of male brutality, commanding sympathy and attention; women cannot be questioned too closely in delicate matters; the natural modesty of the sex exonerates them from the task of telling shocking stories or giving any proof for them while at the same time the humanity and idealism of the same sex requires them to be sure to mention the stories and tell about them; to be emotional rather than explicit is woman's prerogative, which no one with a spark of chivalry would question. Small wonder, then, that the feminine touch is the hallmark of anti-Mormon creativity. Naturally any of the above authoresses can supply us with abundant illustrations, but we remain true as ever to Ann Eliza (especially since that saves us a lot of work) and glory in her femininity.
Being a woman enables her, in the first place, to speak for all other women. It is like being a Jew—"Does he know Hebrew?" cried my friend with passion. "Does he know Hebrew!? Man, he is a Jew!" The wives of Brigham Young don't need to speak for themselves; Ann Eliza can speak for them: "I have no hesitation in saying, from my own experience with and knowledge of them, that more unhappy and wretched women do not exist in the world, than the more cultured and delicate wives of Brigham Young."244 If one of them should venture a word of protest, Ann Eliza can slap her down as no man would dare: "what blindness, what madness, what folly!" "There is nothing for any Mormon woman to do but to submit, and let her heart break in the meanwhile."245 "In her heart of hearts, no woman of them all believes it to be right."246 "What Mormon mother ever gets the tender care . . . that other happier mothers get?"247 "I often wonder if there is a child in Mormondom, born under the blight of polygamy, who knows what it is to have a happy, joyous childhood."248 " 'You are mine, body and soul, but you have no right to claim anything from me more than what I choose to give you,' is the attitude of every man in polygamy towards his wives."249
And what men! "Their . . . spiritual natures deadened; their animal natures quickened; they lose manliness and descend to the level of brutes; and these dull-witted, intellectually-dwarfed moral corpses, the women are told, are their only saviors,"250 so they "discuss women, with reference to your 'points,' as jockeys would talk of horses, or importers of fine stock."251 "Happiness and contentment are utterly unknown to Mormon women."252 "Who wonders at the immovable mouths, expressionless eyes, and gray, hopeless faces, which tourists mark always as the characteristics of the Mormon women?"253 Mormonism had "made the faces grow repulsive and grim, and taken from them all the softness, and the tenderness, and grace which glorify a happy woman's face. . . . It is no wonder that the women of Utah are not beautiful."254 Worst of all, the hymn-singing, bigoted women of Utah had no children: childlessness was the universal curse, and when a child was born, "maternity brings no such joy, and added love, and tender care" as it does to women outside of Utah.255 It is almost more than a reader can stand: "I have felt my heart throb and ache with jealous anguish for the little ones in Utah, and above all for their weary-hearted mothers."256 Those not born in polygamy are born "under the blight of polygamy," and long after leaving Utah, Ann Eliza would shed hot tears and palpitate with explosive rage at the thought of how her own two little ones had been denied a father's love "by a fiendish system,"257 in which their father never had any part. So don't think that Ann Eliza didn't suffer.
As a brave little woman, Ann Eliza doesn't have to put up with any nonsense from great strapping men who question her story. When the official findings of the Mountain Meadows failed to match her own, she had only to declare them "a sarcasm upon justice, a gross, hideous burlesque from beginning to end," which merely showed "the utter futility of expecting anything like justice in a court where this man's followers are allowed to sit on a jury."258 She has no patience with a government and a constitution that allow religious liberty to such people; isn't the first object of government "absolute security for the life and honor of woman"? If a president of the United States failed to respond as U.S. Grant did (he was a pushover) to her heroics, she roundly berates him in public press and reminds him of his duty.259
Well instructed, Mr. Wallaces gives the "last word" on polgyamy to a woman, "a daughter-in-law of Birgham Young."260 Why the last word? the reader may wonder. Does being a daughter-in-law of a man with many daughters-in-law make one an authority on anything? Well, "as Edith Young Booth, a granddaughter of Brigham Young, informed this writer: 'Men had a wonderful time under polygamy.' "261 What particularly qualifies this woman to speak for the other sex of a generation she never knew is that she said it directly to Wallace. What more could you want in the way of proof. Would you question a lady?
RULE 36: Your target is Mormonism! Anti-Mormon books are not written to describe or discuss the human foibles of any group or individual but to discredit a doctrine. Every episode, however trivial, irrelevant, or fictitious must be made to serve as the text for a single sermon—the monstrousness of believing in revelation. The bad thing about the "heartless and mercenary" handcart fiasco is "that all this should be done 'in the name of the Lord.' . . . Take this home to yourself, and you will be able to appreciate as never before the horrors of Mormonism." Therein resides the horror: "A better people—aside from their religion . . . it would be difficult to find. Their fault was in their faith."262 "To have deceived a credulous people by wanton misrepresentation is wicked enough, but to do it 'in the name of the Lord' is a sin that can never be atoned for to God or man. It is the height of blasphemy, and I fairly shudder as I endeavor to comprehend in some slight degree, the magnitude of such an offence."263 Every anti-Mormon book is a sermon, and the most effective of sermons is the one, as Augustine long ago observed, that excites to action by running away with the emotions and leaving reason and judgment far behind. Here is how Ann Eliza sums up her Thousand and One Nights: "Yet all these incredible distortions of reckless fancy have become veritable facts. They have been crystallized into a monstrous system of wickedness, guarded by a band of loathsome ogres, who feast upon the spoils of their victims and . . . take delight in their misery. . . . The American people therefore must continue their holy crusade against this antichristian system."264
Mr. Wallace is not so direct and forthright, but he is just as determined and dedicated; for old-fashioned, editorial rhetoric he substitutes modern sophisticated techniques of news-slanting. Particularly effective is the insertion of numerous little asides, mendacious tidbits too trivial to challenge, fleeting subliminal impressions that build up the same cumulative force as the repetitious old breast-thumping. It is not true that the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment "still did not open the Mormon Church to Negroes,"265 or that the Archives Room of the Genealogical Society is "open only to Mormons,"266 but who is going to quibble about it? But whether you choose the hysterical or the suave treatment, it all adds up to the same thing—the miasmic atmosphere of Mormonim, stifling, foul, and always at least a little bit disgusting. The real villain of every anti-Mormon book is Mormonism. And this is true today as in 1830. Not human greed and viciousness but Mormonism was responsible for Mountain Meadows; Smith, Young, Kimball, "the hierarchy" and "the underlings" go through their grotesque paces for Mr. Wallace not as human beings but as Mormons; nobody ever commits a crime in spite of being a Mormon, but because of it—that should have a familiar ring to any perceptive Jew. The concluding sentence of Ann Eliza's first book proclaims, "It is my life-mission . . . to see the foul curse removed, and Utah—my beloved Utah— free from the unholy rule of the religious tyrant,—Brigham Young."267 But when Young was dead and gone she easily transferred all her loathing to his successor, "a tall, benevolent-looking man . . . the smooth-tongued hypocrite . . . a cold, heartless, unfeeling master and a reckless falsifier of facts";268 and then to his successor, "the hoary criminal," Lorenzo Snow;269 and then to his—Joseph F. Smith, "a thorough-paced despotic Mormon . . . glorifying in his shame. . . . He lives in regal splendor, . . . a monarch among his subjects, . . . an autocrat equal in power . . . to Brigham Young in his palmiest days. . . . His rapacity is felt in the manufactures and other industries of Utah, which are all compelled to pay tithes to his storehouse."270 Obviously, the Mormons can't win.
It is helpful to remember that the Mormons have only themselves to thank for this sort of treatment, which they invite when they accept the supernatural. How can a "detached, modern intelligence, grounded in naturalism, rejecting the supernatural,"271 make any compromise with gold plates and angels? What C. S. Lewis says about Jesus Christ applies to any prophet: you cannot simply write him off as a well-meaning oaf; he was not just a good-hearted ignoramus who went about claiming to be the Son of God—good-hearted ignoramuses do not go about making such claims. That is why Mr. Wallace has no choice but to damn Brigham Young, and why his claim to be neither for nor against the Mormon position is patently absurd. To say "I became neither anti-Mormon nor pro-Mormon"272 is to say that one neither accepts nor rejects modern-day revelation, the impossibility of which proposition would, to quote Stenhouse, "in a moment be detected by any intelligent Saint."273
Special Bulletin: They Were All Such Good Mormons
It is understandable that nearly all the standard exposés of Mormonism have been written by women. The Mormon woman, quietly standing on the sidelines or moving inconspicuously through the community on her round of simple duties, is in a uniquely advantageous position to see and hear all. But only if she is a good Mormon. Until Mrs. Stenhouse came along, according to Mrs. Stenhouse, "with but one exception—that of a lady who . . . so mixed up fiction with what was true, that it was difficult to determine where the one ended and the other began—no woman who really was a Mormon . . . ever wrote the history of her own personal experience."274 It is she who underlines that really, recognizing it as the key to the whole problem. Though the extensive literature "purporting to be written by Mormon wives," Mrs. Stenhouse continues, ". . . may be imposed upon the Gentile world as genuine, that they were written by persons outside the Mormon faith would in a moment be detected by any intelligent Saint who took the trouble to peruse them."275
It is to establish their unique ascendency in a competitive market that our female Mormonologists must insist that they were not only Mormons but very good Mormons, and through family ties directly or indirectly connected with the highest authorities. Granted that such connections are a misleading standard, since it is no great thing in such a small community to be related to everybody, and since the higher brackets in the Church have always furnished the highest percentage of apostates, still it goes over with the general public and many Mormons. The only ones who are not fooled are, as Mrs. Stenhouse rightly observes, any intelligent Saints if such there be.
And the first thing any intelligent Saint notices about our tale-tellers is that one and all they never were the good Mormons they claim to have been. As Milton R. Hunter points out, any ten-year-old Mormon who went to Sunday School could correct Mrs. Brodie on a number of things.276 No one who had been a good Mormon could possibly make the slips she does, barring, of course, the feebleminded. It is the reviewers in the journals who give Mrs. Brodie her authority—but what do they know about Joseph Smith? Only what she tells them. So they hail her as their licensed guide while she proudly waves their reviews as her license, and everybody is happy.
What justifies Mr. Wallace in placing his hand trustingly in Ann Eliza's and bidding her lead the way is the profession that his guide "had once been an orthodox Mormon and had then become a bitter anti-Mormon." Her greatest affliction was the "trauma of having abandoned, within herself, her lifelong faith."277 "I dared not question," she tells us. "The system must be right, and my doubts, when doubts arose, must be wrong."278 She begins her book by telling how people always ask one question before all others—"Why I ever became a Mormon?" How did a lady of her lofty moral standards ever come to marry Brigham Young? The answer had to be good. Ann Eliza herself has no sympathy for "an Eastern born and educated girl," who "entered polygamy with her eyes open," but only for "those poor girls who are educated in Mormonism, and know nothing else"—including, of course, herself.279 It was, she insisted, her deep religious convictions that drove her to it: "I did not know but that I was fighting the will of the Lord as well as the will of the Prophet. . . . The thought struck me, in a sudden terror, 'What if God should take my children, to punish my rebellious spirit?' It was agony. 'Not my will, but thine,' was my heart-broken cry. . . . I would become the wife of Brigham Young!"280
Bible? What Bible?
That is her story, and "any intelligent Saint" can see that it is a fraud. If only her absurd protestations of extreme ignorance and naiveté are considered, they are enough to discredit it. At thirty she still believes that Gentiles have horns, if we trust Mr. Wallace; or if we believe her, at that same age she "could not understand this religion [non-Mormon] which regarded woman as an independent soul, with a free will, and capability of judgment."281 Yet years before this she had been scandalized and amused at the Mormon idea of letting women vote. When after leaving Utah she saw an aged couple walking side by side, "I could scarcely believe my own senses. . . . I could only wonder and weep."282 With Mrs. Stenhouse she bleeds for the women of Utah, "those hymn-singing, devotional women, who childless and husbandless here, dream of the glories of the world to come, while they never knew the duties, the obligations, the sweet and hallowed sympathies of the world in which they live."283 We submit that the picture of the women of Utah in general doomed to a state of childlessness is overdoing it a bit. Ann Eliza was amazed to learn from a minister's wife that "her husband's God was her God as well."284
Some time after leaving the Mormons, Mrs. Young confessed to a preacher as follows, quote: "No, I never read a Gospel in my life. . . . I know nothing about Jesus Christ; I am a perfect child."285 That is quite enough to show what kind of a Mormon she had been, and what kind of an upbringing she had received. No minister ever quoted the Bible more frequently or more aptly than Brigham Young or urged the reading of it more importunately on one and all. The Bible was his book. If Ann Eliza had even so much as peeked into the Book of Mormon she should know that its whole substance is the mission of Jesus Christ. She continues her confession to the reverend: "nor have I heard more than two sermons since my escape from that false religion."286 A professional lecturer on the evils of false religion, making "blasphemy" her stock in trade, this little lady evinces not the slightest interest in any other religion. Her religious interest stops with Mormonism, and her program is simple: "I . . . expect to loathe it more and more while I live."287
But since the ministry are her agents and the churches her auditoriums, Mrs. Young cannot well continue as an infidel: "I had drifted blindly on, with no belief in anything, no faith in any system; sometimes, even, doubting the existence of God."288 And is this the reaction to her "providential escape" from torture and enslavement? She duly joins the largest and most respectable and most reliable of her customers, and her "conversion to the Methodist Episcopal faith was printed far and wide."289 "Tossed all my life on a stormy sea of superstition," she announced, "I was at last anchored in the sheltered haven of Christian belief."290 Which sheltered haven she presently deserted, true to form, to find another in Christian Science.
It is only her indifference to religion in general that explains Ann Eliza's remarkable ignorance of Mormonism. When did the Mormons ever teach that confirmation places one "beyond the possibility of falling from grace or missing the celestial gate"?291 When had Joseph Smith ever "announced himself as another Messiah"?292 Since when were marriages "performed in the Gentile form . . . not binding"?293 When did any Mormon ever preach that "the 'First Presidency' . . . is supposed to be the earthly representative of the Trinity, 'the Eternal Godhead, Three in One' "? To this last she adds, "It is needless to say, which rank Brigham assigns himself"294 (laughter). For such obvious things proof is needless. Since practicing physicians were among the first leaders of the Church, it is enlightening to read that "no Mormon in good standing would ever entertain the suggestion [of consulting a doctor] for a moment."295 When did Brigham Young declare in the Tabernacle "that they [doctors] should never enter heaven, but that he would himself close the doors against them"?296
According to Ann Eliza, "the God of the Mormon belief was . . . a jealous God, a cruel, avenging Spirit. . . . Retribution, and justice untempered by mercy, were all He had for His subjects, not children."297 Yet it was to that God that Ann Eliza's own good, Christian parents became converts? In the Endowment House, she says, "We swore also to entertain an everlasting enmity to the United States Government, and to disregard its laws so far as possible, . . . and to teach our children to foster this spirit of revenge also." That explains why "the cutting of every Gentile and apostate throat . . . so openly and emphatically urged from the stand by Brigham Young and others, is only a public expression of the mysteries of the Endowment oaths."298 "We swore" to all that? Ann Eliza and her "strictest of Mormon households" went along with it all, though they knew that "the whole system of Mormon religion was a mass of revolting crime and wickedness. . . . The very thought of it brings a shudder. The most horrible things were taught from the pulpit, and decency was outraged every time a Mormon leader opened his mouth to speak."299 Sunday after Sunday the intelligent and independently minded Webb family sat drinking in the words of the leaders (nay, if we believe Mr. Wallace, Ann Eliza knew many of them by heart!): "There was not a pure character in all the Bible history which their dirty hands did not besmear, and their foul tongues blacken."300 What sermons! And the good Familie Webb were converts, remember, who knew very well what was preached in good Christian churches: she cannot claim for her parents as she does for herself, the innocence of never having known any better. So to save their reputation, she develops the thesis that Mama and Papa, like herself, never really believed in Mormonism, but had certain reservations.
The Skeptical Fanatics
But in that case, what happens to her fervid claims of orthodoxy? Here Mrs. A.E.W.D.Y.D. has to walk a tightrope; she must have us believe that she was the most devout and unquestioning of believers, but at the same time was much too smart and noble to be taken in by all that nonsense. Thus she brands as either liars or fools those women who speak well of the endowment ceremony and assures us that "such absurdities may have weight with some women, but they did not affect my mother."301 Then she goes on to tell how that same mother "was overjoyed" at the prospect of her daughter's endowments, while "as a matter of course, I shared her feelings most fully."302 With respect to polygamy, when we read of Mrs. Webb's cool appraisal and damning indictment of the whole "ridiculous farce," it is something of a surprise to learn that "it never occurred to her that the system was false and horrible in the extreme; she only felt that she was lacking in grace."303 Mrs. Stenhouse shows what we are up against when she reports: "To face opposition or to give my all for my religion, I was willing indeed; but to depend upon others for my daily bread was utterly repugnant to my feelings, although, of course . . . it was only right that the members of that Church should undertake the responsibility," i.e., to support her while her husband was away on a mission.304 So having professed her willingness to suffer and give all for the Church, she bitterly complains that the Church is not giving her enough. To "any intelligent Saint," to quote the same lady, this is a dead giveaway; it means that she can never have been the good Mormon she says she was. Always she wants to have it both ways; she is both a Mormon and not a Mormon: "Let him [the reader] remember that, although my faith was shaken, it was not wholly destroyed."305 Like her friend Mary Burton, she criticized everything right from the first, eagerly grasping at anything that looked like a contradiction in doctrine or inconsistency in practice, always alert for any gossip that might discredit the authorities, ever nursing a sense of personal offense. As for Ann Eliza, it was during those deliriously happy days at South Cottonwood in the bosom of her devoted mother that she was "getting all these peeps into the inside experiences of polygamy."306 She may never have looked into the Bible or the Book of Mormon, but these stories she learned literally at her mother's knee.
As a child, Ann Eliza saw through the Mormon fraud and suspected the worst when even her elders did not. At the age of twelve she knew the story of Pratt not in the "Mormon version" but "as the anti-Mormon press featured it."307 She knew all about the crimes of John D. Lee long before Mountain Meadows, and she "sensed" long before anybody else in the family that he was the real instigator of the atrocity. Before her marriage to Brigham Young she knew of all his crimes, including those against her own family, and "had lost," as she puts it, "at that time, much of my faith in my religion."308 And then just after marrying Brigham Young she roundly seconds a speech of Emmeline: "Well, I've lost faith in the whole thing. I consider Mormonism a stupendous humbug, and all the people who have been made to believe it terrible dupes," etc.309 Though Emmeline was long dead when Ann Eliza reported this stirring peroration, she can say of herself at the time, "I had begun to think things out for myself, and I had arrived at very much the same conclusion that Emmeline had."
This is the lady whose separation from her "lifelong faith" was to inflict such a spiritual trauma. As a child, "though I was duly advised by teachers and catechists to marry into polygamy, . . . I gave very little heed to the advice, and set about making my own romance . . . in my imagination."310 This is our good, obedient, trusting Eliza, giving "very little heed" to her Mormon teachers and full rein to her romantic imagination. For her, baptism meant "so great was the nervous shock that I could not think of it without a shudder for years after."311 Her girlhood was spent eagerly gossiping about the horrid old man. The endowments brutalized her as cruelly as baptism.312 She was saddened and "disappointed" when the ordinances did not come up to her expectations of "something solemn and awful."313 Her sublime faith collapses at a touch, just as her hopes and dreams do every time she opens the box: Nothing is ever good enough for our Eliza.
Towards all the teachings of the Church she is heedless, resentful, openly contemptuous; everything nauseates, hurts, offends, abuses, disappoints, frightens, sickens, and shocks her and Mr. Wallace. All she ever got from the teachings of Brigham Young was a headache; she reports "with exaggerated disgust," as Mr. Wallace puts it: "The only good counsel I ever received from him was to practice the strictest economy."314 When the President tells her that it is her duty to marry, she replies: "It can't be, I should not recognize a duty of that kind. I consider myself old enough . . . to judge of my duties without any assistance."315 Yet it was nothing less than her religious sense of duty, she insists, that later drove her to marry that same much-married man! We have seen how she behaved toward him, wearing the longest possible train because he spoke his strong disapproval of the silly fashion. Brigham Young laid great stress upon the basic Mormon institution of family prayer, but Ann Eliza "used to go whenever I felt inclined, which was very seldom; and the longer I was a member of the family, the more infrequent became my attendance."316 Talking with the wives who would listen to her, she never tired of railing against polygamy, and "expressed myself strongly and bitterly against it."317 Nobody forced her to go to prayers or to suppress her opinions; while still married to Brigham Young she intrigued busily against him with his enemies, with whom she "spoke very freely on the subject of Mormonism,"318 nay "I talked to them unreservedly. . . . I told them . . . all the occurrences of my marriage to Brigham Young."319
But what gives Ann Eliza away most completely to any intelligent or unintelligent Saint is the very obvious fact that she was never active in the Church in any capacity. Now this is a singular circumstance, not only because the Mormons have always called upon all to do their share, and in those days were terribly short-handed, but because the lady herself insists that she is a born slave to duty, the guiding star of her life.320 Why then during her thirty years of iron orthodoxy were the Mormons at no time able to appeal to that exquisite sense of duty? Why is she with her energy and her crusading spirit completely passive during those great years on the frontier? Is it for the same reason that her great crusade in the East came to an abrupt end the moment she married the rich Mr. Denning? But we are being unfair. Ann Eliza did carry on her own little crusade from her first childish denunciations of the priesthood—against the Church. This can be best understood if we consider the wonderful ways of her devoted mother.
The Burning Faith of Mrs. Webb
It is mother who carries the family along by her faith and her strength. It is also mother who supplies Ann Eliza with her arsenal of anti-Mormon atrocity stories during the long happy days at Cottonwood. It is through Mama's eyes that Ann Eliza views the horrors of polygamy. And there was that mission call for her son. While other mothers rejoiced in such an event, "an added sorrow to my mother came, when . . . my eldest brother was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. She mourned his departure deeply, and even I could not comfort her."321 What kind of a Mormon mother was that? On the subject of polygamy she pulled out all the stops: "My mother has often said that the 'Revelation' was the most hateful thing in the world to her, and she dreaded and abhorred it."322 She would protest "with unutterable anguish against the life that she felt was false and in direct contradiction to every law of moral right."323 As to arguments in its favor, religious or not, "such absurdities may have weight with some women, but they did not affect my mother."324
Why did she accept it then? Because "she was afraid to oppose it, lest she should be found 'fighting against the Lord.' "325 This false and hateful thing, opposed to "every law of moral right," nevertheless came from God. She knew that Brigham Young was a criminal: "my mother and other Mormons . . . would have disapproved of the proceedings, and even called them dishonest, had they dared."326 Why didn't she dare? Didn't she roundly denounce him as a crook in her own kitchen? Well, she wasn't afraid of him, it was her conscience that kept her in line: "It never occurred to her that the system was false and horrible in the extreme: she only felt that she was lacking in grace."327 "Conscience . . . made her cling to her religion long after reason taught her that it was a delusion, and made her accept as a sole means of salvation a practice which her whole soul revolted against."328 Read that over again: While her whole soul revolted, the conscience part of her soul told her it was the only means of salvation. And this even though "her religion . . . brought her not one ray of comfort, but in after years blighted her domestic life."329 So we have Mama sticking to a religion that offered not one ray of comfort, and which she knew was false and utterly immoral, because her conscience told her—what?
In a pioneer community where everyone did his share, Mrs. Webb, "considered a person of superior attainments by the Saints," was naturally asked to help out as a teacher, her sons being grown and her husband away on a mission. As her daughter puts it, "In Utah she had often been solicited to resume her profession. She had always hitherto refused," but finally "she decided to accept the situation, which was fairly thrust upon her."330 When under Ann Eliza's constant prodding, both her parents left the Church, her mother, now married to a good non-Mormon, promptly divorced him. Not a word of this in Ann Eliza, who reports that Mama is now "happy in a home safe from the intrusion of polygamy, every shade of bigotry blotted out, her reason unfettered, her will free, I am happier than I ever can say."331 At the same time Mrs. Webb says of her daughter: "I do not see much of Ann Eliza; she comes about once in six weeks and stays not more than two days." Then she lowers the beam: "There is quite as much bigotry, superstition, and fanaticism in the east as in the west, and more trouble in monogamic marriage than I had supposed."332 Well, well, "every shade of bigotry blotted out"! Now she was free to read the Bible without Brigham Young looking over her shoulder, and when someone recommends the Old Testament and the New to her, "I told him I was in favor of both going into the stove together."333 Such was her burning faith.
Mrs. Webb holds the key to Ann Eliza's story. Through the years, mother and daughter were as close together as two human beings could be. Nothing escaped Mama's keen eye, an eye single to the glory of her idolized daughter, who could not have experienced and suffered what she did without her mother's awareness of it. Yet her mother was unaware of the true history of Ann Eliza! Not until it was all over did our heroine let her mother know of her childhood insights into the true nature of Mormon atrocities; not until she had suffered the brutal assaults of Dee for two years did Mama suspect anything was wrong—and she living right in the same house with them all that time! The titanic two-year struggle against the crude and unfeeling advances of Brigham Young was carefully concealed from her mother—who had no reason to guess that all was not well; and then finally all those years of married life, with Mama never suspecting a thing, but crushed and bereaved only when she learned to her immense surprise that Ann Eliza had left her husband—and she had been living right with her daughter all those years, too. Why was Mama never let in on any of Ann Eliza's real life? It was because, we are told, the considerate daughter kept her devoted mother in the dark in order to spare her religious sensibilities.
Even to save herself from "the contaminating clutches of Brigham Young" she would not point out the falseness of his position to her mother: "I dared not enter into religious discussion with her, for I felt so bitterly that I should be sure to say something to shock her."334 After all she had heard from Mama about Brigham! And then as the wife of Young, "I could not tell my feelings to my mother, for . . . she could never separate him from her religion."335 Even after the old lady had worked herself to death on the farm, "although she was losing confidence in Brigham Young, she still clung to her religion."336 Thus Mrs. Webb's religious fanaticism is a conveniently flexible covering for the glaring inconsistencies in Ann Eliza's history. Which makes one more inconsistency, since Mrs. Webb was anything but a fanatical Mormon. Fanatic she was, on that one theme which rivals religion alone as the commonest object of fanaticism—the quest for position and status. And if she had religious feelings, they were certainly divided between her Church and that other object of her worship, Ann Eliza.
Papa was a good Mormon too. From the earliest days of the Church, according to his daughter, he had almost completely distrusted Joseph Smith: "My father . . . distrusted [him] almost entirely."337 And after Brigham Young took over, and especially since 1857, he "had no faith" at all in Mormonism.338 The only reason he joined the Church was to satisfy Mrs. Webb, and he firmly believed that Joseph Smith was responsible for all the misfortune of his family and of the Church in general "by his, to say the least, unwise teachings."339 When Ann Eliza convinced the old man that Brigham Young was to blame for all the newspaper gossip about her and her handsome agent, he denounced Young publicly as "a corrupt leader," and was cut off from the Church—a cruel blow, as Ann Eliza describes it. But why a cruel blow? He had always known Brigham for what he was and yet insisted on making his darling daughter marry the monster. Ann Eliza's brothers and sons likewise ended up as apostates, and none of the family ever seems to have held any office in the Church. Since it is virtually impossible to be an "orthodox Mormon" for long, let alone a Mormon in intimate contact with the leaders of the Church as the Webbs were, without being called to some position of responsibility, Ann Eliza's claim to have been raised in "the strictest of Mormon households" calls for drastic amendment.
In nothing are the marks of distortion, conscious or unconscious, more apparent than in the study of the time scale of anti-Mormon works. Mr. Wallace labors idealistically to construct a scheme by which his heroine in a long series of agonized and convulsive fits tears herself away by degrees from a deeply rooted faith. There was, as we have seen, no such faith—it is a necessary fiction to explain her playing the game with Brigham Young for all those years. She may have detested the man, but if she really believed in his religion, as she perpetually protests, her behavior would have been totally different: at the very least she would have gone to prayers, kept the Word of Wisdom, and paid tithing—none of which she did.
Likewise, the dramatic series of crises—unknown even to her mother—is another invention in retrospect. Consider, at seventeen she puts the horrid old man in his place; at twenty-one she gives him a lecture on authority, telling him that she can do very nicely without any of his brand, thank you; at twenty-two she seconds Emmeline in denouncing her husband and his religion as total frauds; on the farm she says, "I had not one spark of faith in it remaining."340 Soon after, she told the Strattons "that she had not been a Mormon in heart for a number of years."341 Yet at the end of her life of total disillusionment as the wife of Brigham Young, she (and Wallace) can announce with full tremolo, "In addition to the dread and dislike which had grown up [!] in my heart toward my husband, I was beginning [!] to lose faith in the religion which he represented."342 So what does she do? She has herself baptized again, though she assures us that the whole thing was a "farce," that her attempts to take it seriously were "I assure you" entirely unavailing, and that she "was thoroughly disgusted, and made no further effort to believe in Mormonism."343 This episode is an enlightening one; she describes the business as the last effort on her part to believe, and is at great pains to assure us that of course she had not the slightest intention of believing. To such a clumsy device she must resort by way of explaining why she got herself baptized again—obviously in a last desperate bid for Brigham's favor. She says she didn't believe and couldn't—and then makes great parade of her religious motivation, while Mr. Wallace is inspired by this to turn out some of his finest cliché-work: "a time of doubt and vacillation, of struggle and agony, and finally of triumph."344 It was four and a half years after Brigham Young had perpetrated his last and cruellest swindle on the Webb family that Ann Eliza decided that she "could no longer look upon him as a spiritual guide and director." 345 Yet six years before, she had given him that stirring lecture in which she told him that she was quite able to do her own spiritual guiding. Spiritual director, indeed!
But enough of this. By now the reader should have a pretty fair idea of the quality of Ann Eliza's personal belief. We have her word for it that her own romantic imaginings took precedence over the teachings of the prophets. Well, that's her business. Even in the Lion House she didn't have to go to prayers if she didn't want to, and we are not going to make her. Her literary sisters have been as free as she was, and in some cases we know just as rebellious against the Church, just as spoiled by their mamas, just as invincibly snobbish as she was. It is an old Mormon heritage, and one against which Brigham Young fought almost single-handedly and in vain. The Mormons have paid a heavy price for indulging in that acquisitiveness and snobbery which so appalled Brigham Young. It is still with them, and one of its results is to make rebels of some who feel robbed of their full meed of glory.
* Sounding Brass was originally published in Salt Lake City by Bookcraft in 1963. It carried the subtitle, "Informal Studies in the Lucrative Art of Telling Stories about Brigham Young and the Mormons."
1. Irving Wallace, The Twenty-Seventh Wife (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961), 429.
2. Ibid., 358.
3. Ibid., 433.
4. Ann Eliza (Webb) Young, Wife No. 19; Or, The Story of a Life of Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, CT: Dustin, Gilman, 1875), 568; Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 307, 278, etc.
5. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 432.
6. Ibid., 429.
7. Ibid., 430.
8. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 38.
9. Young, Wife No. 19, 58.
10. Ibid., 34.
11. Ibid., 204.
12. Ibid., 54-55.
13. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 512.
14. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 430.
15. H. R. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), 116.
16. John H. Beadle, Brigham's Destroying Angel: Being the Life, Confessions, and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, the Danite Chief of Utah. Written by Himself, with explanatory notes by J. H. Beadle (New York: Crafott, 1872), 109.
17. Ibid., 119.
18. Photos in Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 32-33.
19. Ibid., 432.
20. Ibid., 433.
21. Ibid., 432, 434.
22. Ibid., 30.
23. Ibid., 360.
24. Ibid., 433.
25. Ibid., 12.
27. Ibid., 11.
28. Mrs. T. B. H. (Fanny) Stenhouse, Tell It All: The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Hartford, CT: Worthington, 1874), 618.
29. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 429.
30. Ibid., 394.
31. Ibid., 74.
32. A. E. Housman, Selected Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 136.
33. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 51-52 (emphasis added).
34. Ibid., 98-99.
35. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 329.
36. Ibid., 337-38.
37. Ibid., 320 (emphasis added).
38. Young, Wife No. 19, 227.
39. Ibid., 485.
40. Ibid., 372 (emphasis added).
41. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 179.
43. Young, Wife No. 19, 263 (emphasis added).
44. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 336.
45. Ibid., 79 (emphasis added).
46. Young, Wife No. 19, 257 (emphasis added).
47. Ibid., 310.
48. Ibid., 591.
49. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 320.
50. Beadle, Brigham's Destroying Angel, 15.
51. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 28.
52. Young, Wife No. 19, 63-64.
53. Ibid., 46-47.
54. "The Virginians," Time Magazine 52 (1948): 108.
55. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Knopf, 1946), 256.
56. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 46.
57. Eduard Meyer, Ursprung und Geschichte der Mormonen (Halle: Neimeyer, 1912), 142, n. 2; English translation by Heinz F. Rahde and Eugene Seaich, in The Origin and History of the Mormons (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1961), 102, n. 3.
58. Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrash Literature, 2 vols. (New York: Pardes, 1950), 2:334, 887.
59. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 410.
60. Young, Wife No. 19, 212.
61. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 77.
62. Ibid., 14.
63. Ibid., 91.
64. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events, 283.
65. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 35.
66. Ibid., 47.
67. Ibid., 240.
68. Ibid., 356.
69. Ibid., 52.
70. Ibid., 13.
71. Ibid., 33.
72. Ibid., 34.
73. Ibid., 52.
74. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events, 116.
75. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 32.
76. Ibid., 11-12.
77. Ibid., 182.
78. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 103.
79. Young, Wife No. 19, 140.
80. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 273.
81. Young, Wife No. 19, 368-69.
82. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 387.
83. Young, Wife No. 19, 378-81.
84. Ibid., 586.
85. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events, 117.
86. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 279.
87. Ibid., 430.
88. Ibid., 433 (emphasis added).
89. Ibid., 131-38 (especially 138).
90. Ibid., 13-14.
91. Ibid., 429.
92. Richard Wormser, Battalion of Saints (New York: McKay, 1961), [iii].
93. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 429.
94. Ibid., 34-35.
95. Milton R. Hunter, Review of Fawn M. Brodie's, No Man Knows My History, in Pacific Historical Review 15 (June 1946): 227.
96. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 39.
97. Ibid., 180-81.
98. Ibid., 207.
99. Ibid., 47-48.
100. Ibid., 47.
102. Young, Wife No. 19, 155.
103. Ibid., 71.
104. Ibid., 46-47.
105. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, n.p. (quote by Richard F. Burton in the front pages).
106. Young, Wife No. 19, 156.
107. Ibid., 413.
108. Ibid., 62.
109. Ibid., 138.
110. Ibid., 136.
111. Ibid., 150.
112. Ibid., 136.
113. Ibid., 137.
114. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 324.
115. Young, Wife No. 19, 232.
116. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 620.
117. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 156.
118. Ibid., 30.
119. Young, Wife No. 19, 509.
120. Ibid., 515.
121. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 339.
123. Young, Wife No. 19, 251 (emphasis added).
124. Ibid., 250.
125. Ibid., 113.
126. Young, Wife No. 19, 106.
127. Ibid., 68-69.
128. Ibid., 153-54.
129. Ibid., 326.
130. Ibid., 153-54.
131. Ibid., 70.
132. Ibid., 482.
133. Wallace, Twenty Seventh Wife, 32.
134. W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits: Or the Truth about the Mormon Leaders from 1830 to 1886 (Salt Lake City: Tribune, 1886), 55.
135. Young, Wife No. 19, 308.
136. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 325.
137. Ibid., 308 (emphasis added).
138. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 103.
139. Young, Wife No. 19, 394.
142. Ibid., 267-68.
143. Ibid., 268; cf. 264.
144. Ibid., 520.
145. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 47; cf. Young, Wife No. 19, 34.
146. Ann Eliza Young, Life in Mormon Bondage (Philadelphia: Aldine, 1908), 4.
147. Young, Wife No. 19, 190-94.
148. Bernard De Voto, "A Revaluation," Improvement Era 49 (March 1946): 154.
149. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 38-39.
150. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 453.
151. Ibid., 78-79.
152. Young, Wife No. 19, 236.
153. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 112.
154. Young, Wife No. 19, 236.
155. Ibid., 166-67.
156. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 132.
157. Young, Wife No. 19, 55.
158. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 49.
159. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 104-7; Gustive O. Larson, Prelude to the Kingdom (Francestown, NH: Jones, 1947), 194-215; also printed in Gustive O. Larson, "The Handcarts of '56," Improvement Era 59 (1956): 500-502, 525-27, 569-70, 589-91; the same in LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion (Glendale, CA: Clark, 1960).
160. Young, Wife No. 19, 209 (emphasis added).
161. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 221 (emphasis added).
163. Ibid., 212.
164. Young, Wife No. 19, 206.
165. Ibid., 204.
166. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 212.
167. Young, Wife No. 19, 214.
168. Ibid., 219.
169. Ibid., 189-90 (emphasis added).
170. Ibid., 59 (emphasis added).
171. Ibid., 59-60 (emphasis added).
172. Ibid., 81 (emphasis added).
173. Ibid., 75 (emphasis added).
174. Ibid., 578 (emphasis added).
175. Ibid., 264 (emphasis added).
176. Ibid., 278.
177. Ibid., 279 (emphasis added).
178. Ibid., 161 (emphasis added).
179. Ibid., 591.
180. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, n.p. (quoting Richard F. Burton on the front pages).
181. Ibid., 140.
182. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 265.
183. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 56.
184. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 38.
185. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 337.
186. Young, Wife No. 19, 249-51.
187. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 337.
188. Young, Wife No. 19, 248.
189. Ibid., 311.
190. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 242.
191. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 218.
192. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 102.
194. Young, Wife No. 19, 227.
195. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 173.
196. Young, Wife No. 19, 150.
197. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 120.
198. Young, Wife No. 19, 161.
199. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 129.
200. Ibid., 154.
201. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 419.
202. Young, Wife No. 19, 240.
203. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 182.
204. Cf. Young, Wife No. 19, 243; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 184.
205. Young, Wife No. 19, 251; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 189-90.
206. Young, Wife No. 19, 234.
207. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 176.
208. Young, Wife No. 19, 232-33.
209. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 175-76.
210. Cf. Young, Wife No. 19, 341 with Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 261-64, 267.
211. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 34-35.
212. Ibid., 189.
213. Young, Wife No. 19, 113; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 92-94.
214. Young, Wife No. 19, 326-27; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 251-52.
215. Young, Wife No. 19, 155; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 124.
216. Young, Wife No. 19, 174-75; Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 136-37.
217. Young, Wife No. 19, 372.
218. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 18.
219. Ibid., 387.
220. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 315.
221. Ibid., 208.
222. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 68.
223. Young, Wife No. 19, 481; Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 249 (emphasis added).
224. Young, Wife No. 19, 283.
225. Ibid., 53-54.
226. Ibid., 89.
227. Ibid., 157.
228. Ibid. 433.
229. Ibid., 267.
230. Young, Wife No. 19, 470.
232. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 372.
233. Ibid., 189.
234. Susa Young Gates and Mabel Young Sanborn, "Brigham Young Geneology," Utah Genealogical Magazine 11 (April 1920): 52; Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 189.
235. "In Memoriam: Death of Mary Ann Angell Young," Deseret News, 5 July 1882, 369.
236. "Funeral Services: The Last Rites over the Remains of Mrs. Mary Angell Young," Deseret News, 5 July 1882, 380.
237. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 237.
238. Young, Wife No. 19, 567.
239. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 5.
240. Ibid., 2.
241. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 78-79.
242. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 510.
244. Young, Wife No. 19, 464.
245. Ibid., 505 (emphasis added).
246. Ibid., 597.
247. Ibid., 404.
248. Ibid., 98.
249. Ibid., 393.
250. Ibid., 591.
251. Ibid., 400.
252. Ibid., 592.
253. Ibid., 591 (emphasis added).
254. Ibid., 395.
255. Young Wife No. 19, 99; Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 236.
256. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 99.
257. Young, Wife No. 19, 406.
258. Ibid., 253.
259. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 385-88.
260. Ibid., 15.
261. Ibid., 124.
262. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 274 (emphasis added).
263. Young, Wife No. 19, 204-5.
264. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 511-12.
265. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 198.
266. Ibid., 356.
267. Young, Wife No. 19, 605.
268. Young, Life in Mormon Bondage, 479-80.
269. Ibid., 491.
270. Ibid., 493-95.
271. Bernard De Voto, New York Herald Tribune (see the dust cover of Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History [New York: Knopf, 1983]).
272. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 429.
273. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 618.
276. Hunter, "Review of Brodie," 228.
277. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 22.
278. Ibid., 323.
279. Young, Wife No. 19, 476.
280. Ibid., 453-54.
281. Ibid., 541.
282. Ibid., 323.
283. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 236.
284. Young, Wife No. 19, 590.
285. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 334.
287. Ibid., 324.
288. Young, Wife No. 19, 575.
289. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 335.
290. Young, Wife No. 19, 576.
291. Ibid., 354.
292. Ibid., 33.
293. Ibid., 103.
294. Ibid., 577.
295. Ibid., 350.
297. Ibid., 101-2.
298. Ibid., 368-69.
299. Ibid., 306-7.
301. Ibid., 104.
302. Ibid., 351 (emphasis added).
303. Ibid., 145-46 (lifted from Stenhouse; emphasis added).
304. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 101 (emphasis added).
305. Ibid., 159.
306. Young, Wife No. 19, 422.
307. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 111.
308. Young, Wife No. 19, 405.
309. Ibid., 507.
310. Ibid., 323.
311. Ibid., 180.
312. Ibid., 359-61.
313. Ibid., 356.
314. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 288.
315. Young, Wife No. 19, 436.
316. Ibid., 529.
317. Ibid., 503.
318. Ibid., 539.
319. Ibid., 540.
320. Ibid., 568.
321. Ibid., 337.
322. Ibid., 101.
323. Ibid., 106.
324. Ibid., 104.
325. Ibid., 101.
326. Ibid., 162.
327. Ibid., 145-46.
328. Ibid., 396.
329. Ibid., 41.
330. Ibid., 181-82 (emphasis added).
331. Ibid., 601.
332. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 346-47.
334. Young, Wife No. 19, 443.
335. Ibid., 535.
336. Ibid., 544.
337. Ibid., 41-42.
338. Young, Wife No. 19, 211.
339. Ibid., 52.
340. Ibid., 544 (emphasis added).
341. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 251.
342. Young, Wife No. 19, 538 (emphasis added).
343. Ibid., 545.
344. Wallace, Twenty-Seventh Wife, 32.
345. Young, Wife No. 19, 538.