Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

which I saw, are really quite remarkable. It is the intention that all the labor and the art expended on the Temple shall be distinctly indigenous; and the pride which Brigham takes in all home productions tends to the constant development of the very class of abilities needed for this result. The height of the ridge-pole of the Temple will be about 100 feet. The foundation of the building looks more like that of a fort than of a cathedral. Not only do the massive side walls, 16 feet thick below, 8 feet above, contribute to this impression, but the partitions also, of enormous ashlars, by which the basement is separated into a multitude of rooms. In the centre of the area is the baptismal room, 59 feet long by 35 feet wide, separated from the main north and south walls by four rooms, two on each side, each 19 feet long by 12 wide. On the east and west sides of these rooms are four passages, 12 feet wide; and still further east and west four more rooms, two at each end, 28 by 384 feet. These rooms are all 16} feet high, and are to have elegantly ornamented and groined ceilings. From the basement, by stair-ways in the towers, we ascend to courts 16 feet wide, running from tower to tower, and communicating by doors with all parts of the building. Out of the front or east court, a lofty door-way will enter the principal room of the Temple, 120 feet in length, 80 feet in width, and 38 feet in height to the crown of the ceiling. The ceiling is to be groined; its arches, segments of an ellipse, resting upon columns based on the partition-walls below. These arches will meet in Ogive fashion at the centre, and be as profusely ornamented as possible by saintly artificers. The space outside of the columns supporting the arches, between them and the outer walls, will be divided into sixteen compartments, eight on each side, and 14 feet square, with a passage-way 6 feet wide, running along them the entire length of the building —each of these having in the outer wall (here 6 feet thick) a large elliptical window with the major axis perpendicular. The next story is to be precisely similar, except that the width of its large room will be one foot wider than that beneath it. The ornamentation of the building is intended to be symbolical of that employed on the celestial courts above. Its plan is already partially developed to Brigham by revelation through an angel, but will be communicated in all its particulars only as required during the progress of the work. The ungodly understand this arrangement as synonymous among their own uninspired class with waiting to see how things will look; but whatever they may say, I believe that Brother Brigham thinks he receives the plans from an angel. If it be really an angel, we must arrive at the painful conclusion that good taste is not necessarily included in that perfection of human nature which ensues on translation to the celestial state; for such an architectural hotch-potch as that which I have just attempted to describe was certainly never seen on earth, and must render any part of heaven where it existed a very undesirable place of residence to people of cultivation. Among the adornments which are to be executed on the exterior of the barbaric pile are the following, which I quote from the architect's own account of his plan: — “On the two west corner towers, and on the west end, a few feet below the top of battlements, may be seen, in alto-relievo and bold relief, the Great Dipper, or Ursa Major, with the pointers ranging nearly toward the North Star. (Moral: The lost may find themselves by the priesthood.) “The pedestals under all the buttresses project at their base 2 feet; above their base, which is 15 inches by 44 feet wide, on each front is a figure of a globe 3 feet 11 inches across, whose axis corresponds with the axis of the earth. “Above the promenade, close under the second string-course on each of the buttresses, is the moon represented in its different phases. Close under the third string-course or cornice is the face of the sun. Immediately above is Saturn with his rings. “The only difference between the tower buttresses and the one just described is, instead of Saturn being on them, we have clouds and rays of light descending. “All of these symbols are to be chiseled in bass-relief on solid stone. The side walls continue above the string-course or cornice 84 feet, making the walls 96 feet high, and are formed in battlements interspersed with stars. “The whole house covers an area of 21,850 feet.” While this portentous structure is getting ready to surprise, if not to scare, the nations, the Mormons residing in the City of Salt Lake worship in cool or cold weather at “The Tabernacle,” and in the dog-days at “The Bowery.” The Tabernacle is situated on the southwest corner of Temple Block. It is a building of the sun-dried bricks or adobe in such universal use throughout the western half of the Continent, — having its principal entrance in the southern gable, which fronts on the same street as Brigham Young's. Its length is 126 feet, its width 64; and its height so disproportionately small as not only to give it a very squat appearance, which its absence of pretension and temporariness of purpose make a matter of no consequence, but to render it almost stifling when the July sun pours down on it, — a matter which, to the 2,200 people whom it can seat at a pinch, is of very great consequence indeed. With the first extremely hot weather, therefore, Sunday religion moves its quarters to “The Bowery,” a structure like the booths of the ancient Israelites, or, to descend for illustration into an atmosphere more recent and familiar, like the arbors which used to be in vogue at many of our sea-side wateringplaces, and are still to be seen fronting some hotels at Long Branch and at Fire Island — a scaffolding of rough tree trunks the diameter of a telegraph pole set firmly in the ground, ten or twenty feet apart, braced together by equally rough string-pieces at the top, and covered with successive layers of boughs green at first, but dried to parchment by the end of August, felted into each other, so to speak, until they are quite impervious to the sun. Rain in Utah there is but too little need of providing against. The only “fair-weather Christian" must be a coolweather one. The outer line of posts, in the Bowery, includes a nearly equilateral area of about 14,000 square feet, situated due north of the Tabernacle, and like it, on the Temple Block. I should judge it capable, without difficulty, of accommodating somewhere near 4,000 persons. Its seats are rude pine benches, some with backs, others backless, and provided, by the more luxurious members of the congregation, with hair or cornshuck cushions. On the inner posts hang kerosene lamps for use during the second Sunday service, which is held in the evening through the summer months at least, the afternoon being devoted to Sundayschool. A platform in length and breadth equaling the stage of a goodsized theatre, occupies about half of the northern side (the middle of the stage coinciding with the middle of the side), and affords rather more sumptuous seats than those of the auditorium (cane settees and chairs when I attended service) to a score or more of the principal men of Mormondom. The only approach to a pulpit is a plain drawing-room table, on which lie the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Latter-Day Saint's Hymn Book, flanked by a pitcher of water and a tumbler. On visiting the Bowery at the hour of beginning morning service, about half-past ten, as usual in most of our Eastern churches, I found the seats already well filled, but obtained a good position by the politeness of Brigham's son-in-law, Mr. Clawson. A pleasanter place to attend service in could hardly be imagined. The uninterrupted passage through the leafy covering of a delicious mountain breeze, whose edge, acquired by gliding over the hone of the perpetual snow, had been tempered just to a nicety by the sunshine of a cloudless summer sky, made fans entirely unnecessary; and the liberty of the Gospel was broadly enough construed to admit of several bronzed agricultural saints near me sitting in the spotless freshness of snowy shirt-sleeves. The ladies were generally attired in airy muslin dresses without any over garment, except in a few scattered instances, where a black silk mantilla indicated some member of the Mormon aristocracy; and the children, who were present in large number, were, with striking good taste, dressed comfortably rather than ostentatiously — a course worthy of imitation at the East, and likely, if adopted, to increase greatly the number of youthful Christians who can say without hypocrisy, “I have been there, and still would go: 'Tis like a little heaven below.” The stage was occupied by nine or ten dignitaries of the Church, among whom I recognized that stalwart pillar, Brother Heber, Dr. Bernhisel, and a very pleasant-looking man, a bishop, to whom I had been intro

[ocr errors]

duced during the week. His name now escapes me, but I shall always recollect his face as expressing more genuine benevolence of nature, sincerity, and good sense than any I saw in Utah, except Brigham's.

The exercises opened with a hymn given out by Dr. Bernhisel, and sung by the whole congregation with abundant fervor, under the leading of a small choir near the stage, accompanied by a melodeon and a violin. The tune was old familiar Ward, and in the words of the hymn was nothing which could shock the most fastidiously orthodox of Gentiles.

Some of the hymns in the collection are very curious specimens of sacred and secular rapture commingled, as if the altar fire had been lighted with a coal from the kitchen-range of daily life. One, with which I became acquainted on another occasion, beginning “Upper California— O! that's the land for me!” (written in the early days of the Mormon exodus westward, when California included what is now Nevada, and the Mormons had founded several settlements along the Sierra), was sung to an adaptation of the ancient negro favorite, “O Susannah l don't you cry for me,” and contained a vivid description as well as eulogy of the agricultural blessings ensuing to immigrants. It sounded like a melodious prospectus of some new township, with religious and water privileges, the advantage of the Christians and the ten-acre lot treated in the same access of religious spasmody. One jumble particularly entertained me—it went something like this: —

“Where the blessing of Jehovah is poured out on Jacob's line,
And the mountains all are flowing with milk and honey, and saints and wine.”

I am not sure that I quote the couplet precisely, except the last line, but that is correct, and the only part of consequence to the fun of the thing. After the hymn, the bishop of whom I have spoken made an extempore prayer. It was, as I should have expected, a plain, straightforward, honest-hearted appeal to the Divine Being for forgiveness of sins, and thanksgiving for the temporal blessings bestowed on the saintly community. At its conclusion, I was disappointed not to see Brigham rise to address us, but he had come in the week before from making an apostolic tour throughout the southern settlements, where he had averaged one speech a day, sometimes talking in the open air, and had a good excuse for resting his voice to-day. Heber had been out too — accompanying Brother Brigham through his circuit, and playing Silas to his Paul everywhere. But Heber was a perfect Boanerges, as well as a Silas, and his thunderous utterances no more tired him than the work of keeping the small coal lively tires the leathern lungs which tradition makes it a part of his earlier manhood's career to have operated alternately with the sledge and cold chisel. He needed no rest, and accordingly gave us an address. This time it lacked one of those Heberistic characters which make his sermons as popular among the ungodly as Burton was in his best days — and popular after a fashion even still less congruous with Sunday and sanctities than “Forty Winks” or the “Thousand Milliners.” It was not indecent. I confess that I felt my curiosity disappointed while my good taste and ethical sense were relieved, for I had braced myself to stand any amount of deviation from the line usually followed by preachers, whether as regards subject selected or treatment employed. In his private conversation, as I had many occasions of noticing, Heber granted himself the largest latitude of reference to matters which are usually tabooed, or, if mentioned of necessity, only behind the screen of friendship's most intimate privacy; and of substituting for the euphuisms and circumlocutions in which such friendship mentions them, the very baldest and boldest literalities of speech. Without resorting to the old-fashioned pedantry of putting such conversation into a Latin note (as if Juvenal and Apuleius had set moderns the example of using their native speech for a cesspool of baleful immoralities that could not flow exposed to common view down the channels of our sunlit Saxon), I cannot report the second President's habitual style of talking. It is sufficient to say that all subjects which, by the common consent of civilized communities in this age, are wholly withdrawn from the currency of talk, were his most favorite and habitual topics of conversation; indeed, I never saw any man who had known him a day without learning his opinions upon some one of these subjects, or hearing him refer to them in the most unvarnished terms and with a peculiar lickerish relish. He is as audacious on the platform as he is in the parlor. I never should have believed possible the reports I have read and heard of his speeches, had they not been authenticated to me by the consenting testimony of numerous most respectable and unbiased men present on the occasions when they were delivered — still more by my own ear-witness of identical language used in private. Heber's favorite audience is one largely consisting of “the beloved sisters,” and to this he expatiates by the hour after a fashion which would crimson the cheeks of an assembly of Camilles not utterly lost to the memories of a pure home and childhood. No more overwhelming proof can be offered for Mormonism's degradation of the marriage tie and its extinction of man's chivalric feelings of respect and protection toward woman, than the fact that men of refined, gentlemanly, and scholarly antecedents, like Dr. Bernhisel, for instance, can hear one of their own sex talk in public to their sisters, mothers, daughters, and wives, upon the most private subjects in the most blatant way, and not tear him in pieces where he stands. On this particular occasion, Heber disappointed the morbid curiosity of such Gentiles as had gone to the Bowery to hear something improper, unless, indeed, their tastes were so simple that disloyalty satisfied them. Heber took no text, but his address was directed at the California regiments under Colonel (now General) Connor, lying camped on the first rise toward the Wahsatch Cañons, about three miles out of the city, and admirably well posted to command it, either as an army of observation, or

« ZurückWeiter »