The Troubles of Orson Hyde and William Smith—The Book of Abraham—Close of the Year.
Tuesday, December 15.—At home, and, as usual, was blessed with much company. Samuel Barnum is very sick, his arm much inflamed.
Complaints of Orson Hyde.
This afternoon, Elder Orson Hyde handed me a letter, the purport of which was, that he was dissatisfied with the committee 1 in their dealings with him, in temporal affairs, that is, that they did not deal as liberal with him as they did with Elder William Smith; also requested me to reconcile the revelation given to the Twelve since their return from the east. 2 That unless these things and others named in the letter, could be reconciled to his mind, his honor would not stand united with them. This I believe is the amount of the contents of the letter, although much was written.
My feelings on this occasion were much lacerated, knowing that I had dealt in righteousness with him in all things, and endeavored to promote his happiness and well being as much as lay in my power. And I feel that these reflections are ungrateful, and founded in jealousy, and that the adversary is striving with all his subtle devices and influence to destroy him, by causing a division among the Twelve whom God has chosen to open the Gospel kingdom to all nations. But I pray Thee, my heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, that he may be delivered from the power of the destroyer, that his faith fail not in this hour of temptation, and prepare him, and all the Elders, to receive an endowment in Thy house, even according to Thine own order from time to time, as Thou seest them worthy to be called into Thy solemn assembly.
Wednesday, 16.—Weather extremely cold. I went to the Council room today before the Presidency, the letter that I received yesterday from Elder Orson Hyde; but when I arrived, I found that I had lost said letter, but I laid the substance of it, as far as I could recollect it, before the Council; but they had not time to attend to it on account of other business; accordingly adjourned until Monday evening, the 20th inst. Returned home.
Visit of Elders M’Lellin, Young, and Carter With the Prophet.
Elders William E. M’Lellin, Brigham Young, and Jared Carter, called and paid me a visit with which I was much gratified. I exhibited and explained the Egyptian records to them, and explained many things concerning the dealing of God with the ancients, and the formation of the planetary system.
The Prophet Assaulted by Wm. Smith.
This evening, according to adjournment, I went to Brother William Smith’s to take part in the debate that was commenced Saturday evening last. After the debate was concluded, and a decision given in favor of the affirmative of the question, some altercation took place upon the propriety of continuing the school [debate] fearing that it would not result in good. Brother William Smith opposed these measures, and insisted on having another question proposed, and at length became much enraged, particularly at me, and used violence upon my person, and also upon Elder Jared Carter, and some others, for which I am grieved beyond measure, and can only pray God to forgive him, inasmuch as he repents of his wickedness, and humbles himself before the Lord.
Thursday, 17.—At home, quite unwell. Elder Orson Hyde called to see me, and presented me with a copy of the letter he handed me on Tuesday last, which I had lost. The following is the copy—
Orson Hyde’s Letter of Complaint.
December 15th, 1835.
After the committee received their stock of fall and winter goods, I went to Elder Cahoon and told him I was destitute of a cloak, and wanted him to trust me, until spring, for materials to make one. He told me that he would trust me until January, but must then have his pay, as the payment for the goods became due at that time. I told him I knew not from whence the money would come, and I could not promise it so soon. But, in a few weeks after, I unexpectedly obtained the money to buy a cloak, and applied immediately to Elder Cahoon for one, and told him that I had the cash to pay for it; but he said the materials for cloaks were all sold, and that he could not accommodate me; and I will here venture a guess, that he has not realized the cash for one cloak pattern.
A few weeks after this, I called on Elder Cahoon again, and told him that I wanted cloth for some shirts, to the amount of four or five dollars. I told him that I would pay him in the spring, and sooner if I could. He let me have it. Not long after, my school was established, and some of the hands who labored on the house, attended, and wished to pay me at the committee’s store for their tuition. I called at the store to see if any negotiation could be made, and they take me off where I owed them; but no such negotiation could be made. These, with some other circumstances of a like character, called forth the following reflection:
In the first place, I gave the committee $275.00 in cash, besides some more, and during the last season, have traveled through the Middle and Eastern states to support and uphold the store; and in so doing, have reduced myself to nothing, in a pecuniary point. Under these circumstances, this establishment refused to render me that accommodation which a worldling’s establishment gladly would have done; and one, too, which never received a donation from me, or in whose favor I never raised my voice, or exerted my influence. But after all this, thought I, it may be right, and I will be still—until, not long since, I ascertained that Elder William Smith could go to the store and get whatever he pleased, and no one to say, why do ye so? until his account has amounted to seven hundred dollars, or thereabouts, and that be was a silent partner in the concern, but not acknowledged as such, fearing that his creditors would make a haul upon the store.
While we [the Twelve] were abroad this last season, we strained every nerve to obtain a little something for our families, and regularly divided the monies equally for aught I know, not knowing that William had such a fountain at home, from whence he drew his support. I then called to mind the Revelation in which myself, M’Lellin, and Patten were chastened, and also the quotation in that revelation of the parable of the twelve sons, as if the original meaning referred directly to the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Latter-day Saints. I would now ask if each one of the Twelve has not an equal right to the same accommodations from that store, provided they are alike faithful? If not, with such a combination, mine honor be not thou united. If each one has the same right, take the baskets from off our noses, and put one to William’s nose; or if this cannot be done, reconcile the parable of the twelve sons, with the superior privileges that William has. Pardon if I speak in parables or parody.
A certain shepherd had twelve sons, and he sent them out one day to go and gather his flock which was scattered upon the mountains and in the valleys afar off. They were all obedient to their father’s mandate, and at evening they returned with the flock, and one son received wool enough to make him warm and comfortable, and also received of the flesh and milk of the flock, the other eleven received not so much as one kid to make merry with their friends.
These facts, with some others, have disqualified my mind for studying the Hebrew language, at present; and believing as I do, that I must sink or swim, or in other words, take care of myself, I have thought that I should take the most efficient means in my power to get out of debt; and to this end I proposed taking the school; but if I am not thought competent to take the charge of it, or worthy to be placed in that station, I must devise some other means to help myself, although having been ordained to that office under your own hand, with a promise that it should not be taken from me.
The conclusion of the whole matter is: I am willing to continue and do all I can, provided we can share equal benefits, one with the other, and upon no other principle whatever. If one has his support from the “public crib,” let them all have it; but if one is pinched, I am willing to be, provided we are all alike. If the principle of impartiality and equity can be observed by all, I think that I will not peep again. If I am damned, it will be for doing what I think is right. There have been two applications made to me to go into business since I talked of taking the school, but it is in the world, and I had rather remain in Kirtland, if I can consistently. All I ask is right.
I am, sir, with respect,
Your obedient servant,
To President J. Smith, Jun.,
Reconciliation of Orson Hyde with the Prophet.
Elder Orson Hyde read the foregoing copy himself, and I explained the objections he had set forth in it, and satisfied his mind upon every point, perfectly. And he observed, after I got through, that he was more than satisfied, and would attend the Hebrew school, and took the parting hand with me with every expression of friendship that a gentleman and a Christian could manifest; which I felt to reciprocate with cheerfulness, and entertain the best of feeling for him, and most cheerfully forgive him the ingratitude which was manifested in his letter, knowing that it was for want of correct information, that his mind was disturbed, as far as his reflections related to me; but on the part of the committee he was not treated right in all things; however, all things are settled amicably, and no hardness exists between us and them.
Charge to Elder Cahoon to Sustain the Twelve.
I told Elder Cahoon, of the Temple committee, that we must sustain the Twelve, and not let them go down; if we do not, they must go down, for the burden is on them and is coming on them heavier and heavier. If the Twelve go down, we must go down, but we must sustain them.
Sorrow of Father and Mother Smith over William Smith’s Difficulty.
My father and mother called this evening to see me upon the subject of the difficulty that occurred at their house, on Wednesday evening, between me and my brother William. They were sorely afflicted in mind on account of that occurrence. I conversed with them and convinced them that I was not to blame in taking the course I did, but had acted in righteousness in all things on that occasion. I invited them to come and live with me. They consented to do so as soon as it was practicable.
The Sympathy Between the Prophet and his Brother Hyrum.
Friday, 18.—Brother Hyrum Smith called to see me, and read a letter that he received from William, in which he asked forgiveness for the abuse he offered to him (Hyrum) at the debate. He tarried most of the forenoon, and conversed freely with me upon the subject of the difficulty existing between me and Brother William. He said that he was perfectly satisfied with the course I had taken in rebuking William in his wickedness, but he is wounded to the very soul, because of the conduct of William; and although he experiences the tender feelings of a brother towards him, yet he can but look upon his conduct as an abomination in the sight of God. And I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ; and I love him with that love that is stronger than death, for I never had occasion to rebuke him, nor he me, which he declared when he left me to-day.
This day received the following letter from Brother William Smith:
William Smith’s Letter to the Prophet.
Brother Joseph—Though I do not know but I have forfeited all right and title to the word brother, in consequence of what I have done, (for I consider, myself, that I am unworthy to be called one,) after coming to myself, and considering what I have done, I feel as though it was a duty to make a humble confession to you, for what I have done, or what took place the other evening; but leave this part of the subject at present. I was called to an account, by the Twelve, yesterday, for my conduct; or they desired to know my mind or determination, and what I was going to do. I told them that on reflection upon the many difficulties that I had had with the Church, and the much disgrace I had brought upon myself in consequence of these things, and also that my health would not permit me to go to school to make any preparations for the endowment, and that my health was such that I was not able to travel, that it would be better for them to appoint one, in the office, that would be better able to fill it, and by doing this they would throw me into the hands of the Church, and leave me where I was before I was chosen, then I would not be in a situation to bring so much disgrace upon the cause, when I fall into temptation; and perhaps, by this I might obtain salvation. You know my passions and the danger of falling from so high a station; and thus by withdrawing from the office of the Apostleship, while there is salvation for me, and remaining a member of the Church—I feel afraid, if I don’t do this, it will be worse for me some other day.
And again, my health is poor, and I am not able to travel and it is necessary the office should not be idle. And again, I say, you know my passions, and I am afraid it will be the worse for me by and by. Do so, if the Lord will have mercy on me, and let me remain as a member in the Church, and then I can travel and preach when I am able. Do not think I am your enemy for what I have done. Perhaps you may say or ask why I have not remembered the good that you have done to me. When I reflect upon the injury I have done you, I must confess that I do not know what I have been about. I feel sorry for what I have done, and humbly ask your forgiveness. I have not confidence as yet to come and see you, for I feel ashamed of what I have done; and as I feel now, I feel as though all the confessions that I could make, verbally or by writing, would not be sufficient to atone for the transgression. Be this as it may, I am willing to make all the restitution you shall require. If I can stay in the Church as a member, I will try to make all the satisfaction possible.
Yours with respect,
P.S.—Do not cast me off for what I have done, but strive to save me in the Church as a member. I do repent of what I have done to you and ask your forgiveness. I consider the transgression, the other evening, of no small magnitude; but it is done, and I cannot help it now. I know, Brother Joseph, you are always willing to forgive; but I sometimes think, when I reflect upon the many injuries I have done you, I feel as though confession was hardly sufficient. But have mercy on me this once, and I will try to do so no more.
The Twelve called a Council yesterday, and sent over after me, and I went over. This Council, remember, was called together by themselves and not by me. W. S.
To the foregoing I gave the following answer the same day.
Letter of the Prophet to his Brother William.
Brother William—Having received your letter, I now proceed to answer it, and shall first proceed to give a brief narration of my feelings and motives since the night I first came to the knowledge of your having a debating school, which was at the time I happened in with Bishop Whitney, his father and mother, &c.; and from that time I took an interest in it, and was delighted with it, and formed a determination to attend the school, for the purpose of obtaining information, and with the idea of imparting the same, through the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, if by any means I should have faith to do so. And with this intent, I went to the school on last Wednesday night, not with the idea of breaking up the school, neither did it enter into my heart that there was any wrangling or jealousies in your heart against me. Notwithstanding, previous to my leaving home, there were feelings of solemnity rolling across my breast, which were unaccountable to me; and also these feelings continued by spells to depress my spirits, and seemed to manifest that all was not right, even after the school commenced, and during the debate, yet I strove to believe that all would work together for good. I was pleased with the power of the arguments that were used, and did not feel to cast any reflections upon any one that had spoken; but I felt it was the duty of old men that sat as Presidents, to be as grave, at least, as young men, and that it was our duty to smile (not) at solid arguments and sound reasonings; and be impressed with solemnity, which should be manifested in our countenances, when folly which militates against truth and righteousness, rears its head.
Therefore, in the spirit of my calling, and in view of the authority of the Priesthood that has been conferred upon me, it would be my duty to reprove whatever I esteemed to be wrong, fondly hoping in my heart, that all parties would consider it right, and therefore humble themselves, that Satan might not take the advantage of us, and humble the progress of our school.
Now, Brother William, I want you should bear with me, notwithstanding my plainness. I would say to you that my feelings were grieved at the interruption you made upon Elder M’Lellin. I thought you should consider your relationship with him in your Apostleship, and not manifest any division of sentiment between you and him, for a surrounding multitude to take advantage of you; therefore, by way of entreaty, on account of the anxiety I had for your influence and welfare, I said unto you: Do not have any feelings; or something to that amount. Why I am thus particular, is, that if you have misconstrued my feelings towards you, you may be corrected. But to proceed. After the school was closed, Brother Hyrum requested the privilege of speaking; you objected; however, you said if he would not abuse the school, he might speak, and that you would not allow any man to abuse the school in your house. Now, you had no reason to suspect that Hyrum would abuse the school; therefore, my feelings were mortified at these unnecessary observations. I undertook to reason with you, but you manifested an inconsiderate and stubborn spirit. I then despaired of benefitting you, on account of the spirit you manifested, which drew from me the expression that you were as ugly as the devil. Father then commanded silence, and I formed a determination to obey his mandate, and was about to leave the house, with the impression that you was under the influence of a wicked spirit: you replied that you would say what you pleased in your own house. Father said: Say what you please, but let the rest hold their tongues. Then a reflection rushed through my mind, of the anxiety and care I have had for you and your family, in doing what I did in finishing your house, and providing flour for your family, &.; and also, father had possession 3 in the house as well as yourself; and when at any time have I transgressed the commandments of my father, or sold my birthright, that I should not have the privilege of speaking in my father’s house, or in other words, in my father’s family, or in your house, (for so we will call it, and so it shall be,) that I should not have the privilege of reproving a younger brother? Therefore I said, I will speak, for I built the house, and it is as much mine as yours; or something to that effect. I should have said, that I helped to finish the house. I said it merely to show that it could not be the right spirit that would rise up for trifling matters, and undertake to put me to silence. I saw that your indignation was kindled against me, and you made towards me. I was not then to be moved, and I thought to pull off my loose coat, lest it should tangle me, and you be left to hurt me, but not with the intention of hurting you. But you were too quick for me, and having once fallen into the hands of a mob, and been wounded in my side, and now into the hands of a brother, my side gave way. And after having been rescued from your grasp, I left your house with feelings indescribable—the scenery had changed, and all those expectations that I had cherished, when going to your house, and brotherly kindness, charity, forbearance, and natural affection, that in duty bind us not to make each other offenders for a word. But alas! abuse, anger, malice, hatred, and rage, with a lame side, with marks of violence heaped upon me by a brother, were the reflections of my disappointment; and with these I returned home, not able to sit down or rise up without help, but, through the blessing of God, I am now better.
I received your letter and perused it with care. I have not entertained a feeling of malice against you. I am older than you and have endured more suffering, having been marred by mobs. The labors of my calling, a series of persecutions and injuries continually heaped upon me—all serve to debilitate my body; and it may be that I cannot boast of being stronger than you. If I could or could not, would this be an honor or dishonor to me? If I could boast, like David, of slaying a Goliath, who defied the armies of the living God; or, like Paul, of contending with Peter, face to face, with sound arguments, it might be an honor; but to mangle the flesh, or seek revenge upon one who never did you any wrong, cannot be a source of sweet reflection to you nor to me, neither to an honorable father and mother, brothers and sisters. And when we reflect with what care, and with what unremitting diligence our parents have striven to watch over us, and how many hours of sorrow and anxiety they have spent, over our cradles and bed-sides in times of sickness, how careful we ought to be of their feelings in their old age! It cannot be a source of sweet reflection to us, to say or do anything that will bring their gray hairs down with sorrow to the grave.
In your letter you ask my forgiveness, which I readily grant. But it seems to me, that you still retain an idea that I have given you reasons to be angry or disaffected with me. Grant me the privilege of saying then, that however hasty and harsh I may have spoken at any time to you, it has been done for the express purpose of endeavoring to warn exhort, admonish, and rescue you from falling into difficulties and sorrows, which I foresaw you plunging into, by giving way to that wicked spirit, which you call your passions, which you should curb and break down, and put under your feet; which if you do not, you never can be saved, in my view, in the Kingdom of God. God requires the will of His creatures to be swallowed up in His will.
You desire to remain in the Church, but forsake your Apostleship. This is the stratagem of the evil one; when he has gained one advantage, he lays a plan for another. But by maintaining your Apostleship, in rising up and making one tremendous effort, you may overcome come your passions and please God. And by forsaking your Apostleship, is not to be willing to make that sacrifice that God requires at your hands, and is to incur His displeasure; and without pleasing God, we do not think it will he any better for you. When a man falls one step, he must regain that step again, or fall another; he has still more to gain, or eventually all is lost.
I desire, Brother William, that you will humble yourself. I freely forgive you, and you know my unshaken and unchangeable disposition; I know in whom I trust; I stand upon the rock; the floods cannot, no, they shall not, overthrow me. You know the doctrine I teach is true, you know that God has blessed me. I brought salvation to my father’s house, as an instrument in the hands of God when they were in a miserable situation. You know that it is my duty to admonish you, when you do wrong. This liberty I shall always take, and you shall have the same privilege. I take the liberty to admonish you, because of my birthright; and I grant you the privilege, because it is my duty to be humble, and receive rebuke and instruction from a brother, or a friend.
As it regards what course you shall pursue hereafter, I do not pretend to say; I leave you in the hands of God and His Church. Make your own decision; I will do you good, although you mar me, or slay me. By so doing, my garments shall be clear of your sins. And if at any time you should consider me to be an imposter, for heaven’s sake leave me in the hands of God, and not think to take vengeance on me yourself. Tyranny, usurpation, and to take men’s rights, ever has been and ever shall be banished from my heart. David sought not to kill Saul, although he was guilty of crimes that never entered my heart.
And now may God have mercy upon my father’s house; may God take away enmity from between me and thee; and may all blessings be restored, and the past be forgotten forever. May humble repentance bring us both to Thee, O God, and to Thy power and protection, and a crown, to enjoy the society of father, mother, Alvin, Hyrum, Sophronia, Samuel, Catherine, Carlos, Lucy, the Saints, and all the sanctified in peace, forever, is the prayer of your brother,
Joseph Smith, Jun.
To William Smith.
Desire of the Prophet for William’s Salvation.
Saturday, 19.—At home. Sent the above letter to Brother William Smith. I have had many solemn feelings this day concerning my brother William, and have prayed in my heart fervently, that the Lord will not cast him off, but that he may return to the God of Jacob, and magnify his Apostleship and calling. May this be his happy lot, for the Lord of glory’s sake. Amen.
Sundry Prayers of the Prophet for the Welfare of Various Brethren.
Sunday, 20.—At home all day. Took solid comfort with my family. Had many serious reflections. Brothers Palmer and Taylor called to see me. I showed them the sacred records to their joy and satisfaction. O! may God have mercy upon these men, and keep them in the way of everlasting life, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Monday, 21.—Spent this day at home, endeavoring to treasure up knowledge for the benefit of my calling. The day passed off very pleasantly. I thank the Lord for His blessings to my soul, His great mercy over my family in sparing our lives. O continue Thy care over me and mine, for Christ’s sake.
Tuesday, 22.—At home. Continued my studies. O may God give me learning, even language; and endue me with qualifications to magnify His name while I live.
I also delivered an address to the Church, this evening. The Lord blessed my soul. My scribe is unwell. O may God heal him. And for his kindness to me, O my soul, be thou grateful to him, and bless him. And he shall be blessed of God for ever, for I believe him to be a faithful friend to me, therefore my soul delighteth in him. Amen.
Wednesday, 23.—In the forenoon, at home, studying the Greek language. And also waited upon the brethren who came in, and exhibited to them the papyrus. Afternoon, visited Brother Leonard Rich, with the relatives of Brother Oliver Cowdery. Had not a very agreeable visit, for I found them filled with prejudice against the work of the Lord, and their minds blinded with superstition and ignorance.
Thursday, 24.—The forenoon, at home. In the afternoon, I assisted the commissioner appointed by the [county] court, in surveying a road across my farm.
The Prophet’s Christmas at Home.
Friday, 25.—Enjoyed myself at home with my family, all day, it being Christmas, the only time I have had this privilege so satisfactorily for a long period. Brother Jonathan Crosby called this evening.
The Prophet’s Renewal of the Study of Hebrew.
Saturday, 26.—Commenced again studying the Hebrew language, in company with Brothers Parrish and Williams. In the meantime, Brother Lyman Sherman came in, and requested to have the word of the Lord through me; “for,” said he, “I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires, and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty.”
Revelation given to Lyman Sherman, December 26, 1835.
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman, your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed. Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice; and arise up and be more careful henceforth, in observing your vows which you have made, and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings. Wait patiently until the solemn assembly shall be called of my servants, then you shall be remembered with the first of mine Elders, and receive right by ordination with the rest of mine Elders, whom I have chosen. Behold, this is the promise of the Father unto you if you continue faithful; and it shall be fulfilled upon you in that day that you shall have right to preach my Gospel wheresoever I shall send you, from henceforth from that time. Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings; and behold, and lo! I am with you to bless you, and deliver you forever. Amen.
Sunday, 27.—At the usual hour, attending meeting at the school house. President Cowdery delivered a very able and interesting discourse.
In the afternoon, Brother Hyrum Smith and Bishop Partridge delivered each a short and interesting lecture, after which Sacrament was administered.
While chopping wood at my door, on the 25th instant, two gentlemen called, and requested an interview with the heads of the Church, which I agreed to grant them this morning, but they did not come, and I consider they were trifling characters.
Arraignment of Almon W. Babbitt.
Monday, 28.—Having previously preferred a charge against Almon W. Babbitt, for traducing my character, he was this morning called before the High Council, and I attended with my witnesses, and substantiated the charge against him; and he in part acknowledged his fault, but not satisfactorily to the Council; and after parleying with him a long time, and granting him every indulgence that righteousness required, the Council adjourned without obtaining a full confession from him.
First Report of the Seventies.
This day the Council of the Seventy met to render an account of their travels and ministry, since they were ordained to that Apostleship. The meeting was interesting indeed, and my heart was made glad while listening to the relation of those that had been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord, with such marvelous success. And I pray God to bless them with an increase of faith and power, and keep them all, with the endurance of faith in the name of Jesus Christ to the end.
Tuesday, 29.—The following charges were preferred:
To the Honorable Presidency of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, against Elder William Smith.
1st. Unchristianlike conduct in speaking disrespectfully of President Joseph Smith, Jun., and the revelations and commandments given through him.
2nd. For attempting to inflict personal violence on President Joseph Smith, Jun.
Patriarchal Blessing Meeting.
I remained at home until about ten o’clock. I then attended a blessing meeting at Oliver Olney’s, in company with my wife and father and mother, who had come to live with me. Also my scribe went with us. A large company assembled, when Father Smith made some appropriate remarks. A hymn was sung and father opened the meeting by prayer. About fifteen persons then received patriarchal blessings under his hands. The services were concluded as they commenced. A table was crowned with the bounties of nature; and after invoking the benediction of heaven upon the rich repast, we fared sumptuously; and suffice it to say that we had a glorious meeting throughout, and I was much pleased with the harmony that existed among the brethren and sisters. We returned home, and at early candle-light I preached at the school house to a crowded congregation, who listened with attention about three hours. I had liberty in speaking. Some Presbyterians were present, as I afterwards learned; and I expect that some of my sayings sat like a garment that was well fitted, as I exposed their abominations in the language of the scriptures; and I pray God that it may be like a nail in a sure place, driven by the master of assemblies.
Wednesday, 30.—Spent the day reading Hebrew at the council room, in company with my scribe, who is recovering his health, which gives me much satisfaction, for I delight in his company.
Questions of the Twelve Concerning Trial of William Smith.
Thursday, 31,—At home. After attending to the duties of my family, retired to the council room to pursue my studies. The Council of the Twelve convened in the upper room, in the printing office, directly over the room where we assembled in our studies. They sent for me, and the Presidency, or a part of them, to receive counsel from us on the subject of the council which is to be held on Saturday next.
In the afternoon I attended at the chapel to give directions concerning the upper rooms, and more especially the west room, which I intend occupying for a translating room, which will be prepared this week.
An Account of the Book of Abraham.
The public mind has been excited of late, by reports which have been circulated concerning certain Egyptian mummies and ancient records, which were purchased by certain gentlemen of Kirtland, last July. It has been said that the purchasers of these antiquities pretend they have the bodies of Abraham, Abimelech, (the king of the Philistines,) Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, &c., &c., for the purpose of attracting the attention of the multitude, and gulling the unwary; which is utterly false. Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypt were, I do not at present say. Abraham was buried on his own possession “in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohah, the Hittite, which is before Mamre,” which be purchased of the sons of Heth. Abimelech lived in the same country, and for aught we know, died there; and the children of Israel carried Joseph’s bones from Egypt, when they went out under Moses; consequently, these could not have been found in Egypt, in the nineteenth century. The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies—hieroglyphics, etc.; with many characters of letters like the present (though probably not quite so square) form of the Hebrew without points. The records were obtained from one of the catacombs in Egypt, near the place where once stood the renowned city of Thebes, by the celebrated French traveler, Antonio Lebolo, in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, then Viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French Consul, in the year 1828, and employed four hundred and thirty-three men, four months and two days (if I understand correctly)—Egyptian or Turkish soldiers, at from four to six cents per diem, each man. He entered the catacomb June 7, 1831, and obtained eleven mummies. There were several hundred mummies in the same catacomb; about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and placed in niches, and two or three hundred after the second and third orders, and laid upon the floor or bottom of the grand cavity. The two last orders of embalmed were so decayed, that they could not be removed, and only eleven of the first, found in the niches. On his way from Alexandria to Paris, he put in at Trieste, and, after ten days’ illness, expired. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of the whole, to Mr. Michael H. Chandler, (then in Philadelphia, Pa.,) his nephew, whom he supposed to be in Ireland. Accordingly, the whole were sent to Dublin, and Mr. Chandler’s friends ordered them to New York, where they were received at the Custom House, in the winter or spring of 1833. In April, of the same year, Mr. Chandler paid the duties and took possession of his mummies. Up to this time, they had not been taken out of the coffins, nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins, he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, was something rolled up with the same kind of linen, saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned. Two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, &c., were found with others of the mummies. When Mr. Chandler discovered that there was something with the mummies, he supposed or hoped it might be some diamonds or valuable metal, and was no little chagrined when he saw his disappointment. “He was immediately told, while yet in the custom house, that there was no man in that city who could translate his roll: but was referred, by the same gentleman, (a stranger,) to Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., who, continued he, possesses some kind of power or gifts, by which he had previously translated similar characters.” I was then unknown to Mr. Chandler, neither did he know that such a book or work as the record of the Nephites, had been brought before the public. From New York, he took his collection on to Philadelphia, where he obtained the certificate of the learned, 4 and from thence came on to Kirtland, as before related, in July. Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the fathers, Abraham and Joseph, have been preserved, and how I came in possession of the same—a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place.
Tone of the American Press Toward the Prophet.
To show the spirit of the public journals, such as the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, New York Daily Advertiser, Sunday Morning News, and the press generally, the past year, towards me and the cause of God, which I have fearlessly espoused, I quote the following, as a specimen of the whole, from M. M. Noah’s New York Evening Star:
Heathen Temple on Lake Erie.
That bold-faced imposter, Joe Smith, of Gold Bible and Mormon memory, has caused his poor fanatic followers to erect on the shores of Lake Erie, near Painesville, Ohio, a stone building, 58 by 78 feet, with dormer windows, denominating the same “The Temple of the Lord.” We should think this work of iniquity extorted out of the pockets of his dupes, as it reflects its shadows over the blue Lake, would make the waters crimson with shame at the prostitution of its beautiful banks to such unhallowed purposes.
Thus much from M. M. Noah, a Jew, who had used all the influence in his power, to dupe his fellow Jews, and make them believe that the New Jerusalem for them, was to be built on Grand Island, whose banks are surrounded by the waters of the same Lake Erie. The Lord reward him according to his deeds.
1. This committee was the one having in charge the building of the Kirtland Temple. They were also managers of a store in Kirtland, through which much of the business connected with the construction of the temple was accomplished. The committee consisted of Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon and Jared Carter.
2. That is, Elder Hyde desired that the Prophet would reconcile the conduct of the above named committee with some of the revelations which in Elder Hyde’s opinion taught that the Twelve were to be equal in both temporal and spiritual things. See Elder Hyde’s letter, page 335.
4. The account here given of how the Prophet came into possession of the writings of Abraham, and of Joseph, the son of Jacob, was adapted from an article in the Messenger and Advocate, (Volume 2, Number 3, pages 233, 236, bearing date of December, 1835) signed by Oliver Cowdery. The article is addressed to William Frye, Esq.. of Gilead, Calhoun County, Ill. The certificate of the “learned” referred to, is in the body of the article. It seems that Michael H. Chandler, the owner of the Egyptian mummies and the papyrus, exhibited his treasures in Philadelphia, and, while there, obtained the following opinion of several prominent doctors:
“Having examined with considerable attention and deep interest, a number of mummies from the Catacombs, near Thebes, in Egypt, and now exhibiting in the Arcade, we beg leave to recommend them to the observation of the curious inquirer on subjects of a period so long elapsed; probably not less than three thousand years ago. The features of some of these mummies are in perfect expression. The papyrus covered with black or red ink, or paint, in excellent preservation, are very interesting. The undersigned, unsolicited by any person connected by interest with this exhibition, have voluntarily set their names hereunto, for the simple purpose of calling the attention of the public to an interesting collection, not sufficiently know in this city.”
John Redman Coxe, M.D.,
Richard Harlan, M.D.,
J. Pancoast, M. D.,
William P. C. Barton, M. D.,
E. F. Rivinus, M.D.,
Samuel G. Morgan, M.D.,
“I concur in the above sentiments, concerning the collection of mummies in the Philadelphia Arcade, and consider them highly deserving the attention of the curious.
W.E. Horner, M. D.”
Another paragraph in the article explains how it came about that Mr. Chandler gave the Prophet a certificate, concerning his belief in the Prophet’s ability to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics of the papyrus—which certificate will be found at page 235, of this volume, under the date of the purchase of the mummies and papyrus by certain persons in Kirtland. From the paragraph referred to, it appears that on the morning that Mr. Chandler first presented his papyrus to the Prophet Joseph Smith, he was shown by the latter, a number of characters which had been copied from the Nephite plates, and found that there were some points of resemblance between some of the Nephite characters and some of the characters on the Egyptian papyrus. Mr. Chandler then asked the Prophet’s opinion concerning the antiquity of the Egyptian papyrus, and also requested him to give a translation of the characters. The Prophet gave Mr. Chandler a translation of some few of the Egyptian characters, which agreed with the interpretation given by learned men in other cities, where the mummies and papyrus had been exhibited, whereupon Mr. Chandler gave the Prophet a certificate, stating that fact.