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On week-days he sits in the Church office, managing a whole nation's temporalities with such secular astuteness that Talleyrand or Richelieu would find him a match should the morning's game be diplomatic, and the Rothschild family could not get ahead of him if the stake were a financial advantage. On the perilous and untried road to Utah, he was faith, wisdom, energy, patience, expedients, courage, enthusiasm, veritable life and soul to all the fainting Saints; they never would have reached the Rocky Mountain watershed, much less the Great Salt Basin, without him ; he was the grand incarnate will and purpose of the Mormons' fiercely tried fanaticism; and though he naïvely said to me, in speaking of the height of Ensign Peak, “I got Brother Pratt, who had the booklearning, to take the observations, not knowing enough about such things to do it myself,” there was not a “slewed” ox-cart on the way to that peak's base, at whose wheel his was not the first and sturdiest shoulder; and after wrestling with angels or remaining instant in prayer all night, he could yoke up his team, and trudge along by its travel-chafed necks, urging it on with ge-haws as cheerful and getting out of his black-snake cracks as resonant as the lightest-hearted bumpkin in a smock frock. In a new country and an infant civilization, specific gravities take care of such a man's position; he infallibly determines to the top of things, and will though he hide himself, less like Brigham than Saul the son of Kish, among the stuff. He must govern, because he is the only one of his lot who is necessary to everybody; he is not elected, but he is ; not because he is fortunate, an heir of the past, but because among men he is the manliest, and thus what Homer meant, not the king of lands and coffers, but “avač avöpów,” —the king of men / I believe that Brigham Young was brought out by Mormonism; but I believe that if any other cause with which he might have identified himself had taken as strong possession of his nature, it would have developed him as fully, and that with the usual Christian creed and training, he would have made another Beecher in the pulpit, another Webster in the Senate, and a Sherman in the army unsurpassed by Tecumseh. I excused myself from numerous kind invitations by the ball-room committee to be introduced to a partner and join in the dances, because (though I did not give my reason then) I wished to make a circuit of the ball-room for the purpose of thorough physiognomical study of Utah good society. There was very little taste in dressing displayed at the ball, but there was also as little ostentation. Patrician silks and broadcloths were the rare exception, but these cordially associated with the great mass of plebeian tweed and calico. Few ladies wore jewelry, feathers, or artificial flowers; and these adornments, when I saw them, seemed to have been drawn from trunks which had crossed the Plains and the Mountains, perhaps also the Atlantic previously to either— the breast-pins, and ear-rings being of that red gold and slender workmanship which delighted our revolutionary ancestors; the head-gear of an exuberance so ancient that it has just completed its cycle, and become the mode again in this age of top-heavy belles with bushel-baskets of finery dumped on their heads and left to stay there higgledy-piggledy—just as a toy-watch, by standing still forever, once a day tells the time as truly as the sun. There were some
pretty girls, like those who came to Brigham, swimming about in tasteful whip-syllabub of puffed tarlatan. Where saintly gentlemen came with several wives, the oldest generally seemed the most elaborately dressed, and acted much like an Eastern chaperon toward her younger sisters. (Wives of the same man habitually be-sister each other in Utah. This is what Heber Kimball would call another “triumph of grace.”). Among the men, I saw some very strong, capable faces, but the majority had not much character in their looks; indeed, in that regard differed little from any average crowd of men anywhere. To my surprise, I found among the women no really degraded faces, though many stolid ones, many impassive ones; but only a single face expressive of deep dejection, and this belonged to the wife of a hitherto monogamic husband who had left her alone in the dress circle, while he was dancing with a chubby young Mormoness likely to be added to the family in a month or two. Though I saw multitudes of kindly, good-tempered countenances, and at least a score which would be called pretty anywhere, I was obliged, after a most impartial and anxious search, to confess that I had not met a single woman who looked hightoned, first-class, capable of poetic enthusiasm or heroic self-devotion; not a single woman whom an artist would dream of, and ask to sit for a study; not one to whom a finely organized intellectual man could come for companionship in his pursuits or sympathy in his yearnings. Because I knew that such a verdict would be received at the East with a “Just as you might have expected,” I cast aside everything like prejudice, and forgot that I was in Utah, as I threaded that great throng.
THE DEAD SEA. — THE PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY OF ITS BASIN.
WE were distributed into two hacks of an ancient yet comfortable build, and carried a hamper of provisions to provide against the occasional leanness which is found in the larders of the only human dwelling at Black Rock. The day was bright and breezy, the ponies in good spirits, and the road in nice condition.
The nearest point from Salt Lake City at which one may strike the lake by following a straight line, is only about ten miles in a northerly direction from the suburbs. The River Jordan pursues nearly this direction from the city to its mouth; but the shore of the Dead Sea, where it discharges, is low, swampy, and uninteresting. The most favorable place to strike the lake is nearly twenty miles west of the city, the scenery there being beautiful and unique beyond description.
This point is called “Black Rock,” from a weathered boulder of peculiar shape, projecting boldly into the lake at the extremity of a low reach of shingle, and may be regarded as the farthest northern extremity of the Oquirrh Mountains, that lofty ridge to the westward of the city, which, with the loftier snowrange of the Wahsatch running parallel on the east, forms the cradle of the Mormon capital, and the more
or less fertile valley of the Jordan. It would be nearer correct to call Black Rock the most northerly main-land extremity of the Oquirrh ; for Church and Fremont Islands take up the broken line of the range, and carry it nearly across to the great promontory which juts many miles into the lake from the northern shore to form Bear River Bay. Just after leaving the eastern edge of the city, our road crossed the Jordan, here a sluggish stream, eight or ten rods wide, with low fenny shores steaming under the sun, and exhibiting no signs of life or cultivation. From the low wooden bridge straight westward to the Oquirrh, the land is an alluvial flat, boggy and reedy wherever it can be reached by the overflow of the Jordan, covered with a loose soil on the surface of the terraces marking those successive levels of elevation to which I have referred in speaking of the hot springs and their vicinity. On this ascending series of plains, no trees or large shrubs are anywhere visible. The vegetation of the moister portions chiefly consists of various sedges, rushes, and grasses: comprising an Equisetum, or scouring rush; a species of Juncus (the Ballicus, qu. = Bulbosus 2); the blue-eyed, feather, hedgehog, and squirrel-tail grasses (Sisyrinchium, Eriocoma, or Stipa, Elymus, and Hordeum); with a variety of Scirpus, or club-rush, and of the Chara, or feather-bed plant, in the pools and marshes. On the higher levels, our old comrade, the sage, appears again, and a plant somewhat resembling it in fetid pungency, the hemlock geranium (Erodium Cocularium). The yarrow (Achillea Millefolia) exists here, as, indeed, it seems to exist over the whole Continent, having followed us through every change of climate and physical condition over mountain and plain, from