From Across the Continent:
A Summer's Journey to the Rocky Mountains, the Mormons and the Pacific States
By Samuel Bowles [Editor of the Springfield (Mass.) Republican]
New York: Hurd & Houghton, 1866

From Letter IX.

We have been taken on an excursion to the Great Salt Lake, bathed in its wonderful waters, on which you float like a cork, sailed on its surface, and picnicked by its shore,--if picnic can be without women for sentiment and to spread table-cloth, and to be helped up and over rocks. Can you New Englanders fancy a "stag" picnic? We have been turned loose in the big strawberry patch of one of the saints--very worldy strawberries and more worldly appetites met and mingled; and we have had a peep into a moderate Mormon harem, but being introduced to two different women of the same name, one after another, was more than I could stand without blushing. [pages 85-86]

From Letter X

Salt Lake City, Saturday, June 17.

In the "great and glorious future" of our Fourth of July orations, when polygamy is extinct, the Pacific Railroad built, and the mines developed, Salt Lake City will be not only the chief commercial city of the mountains, the equal of St. Louis and Chicago, but one of the most beautiful residence cities and most attractive watering-places on the Continent. Its admirable location and early development secure the one; its agreeable climate for eight months in the year, at least, and the surpassing beauty of its location, with its ample supply of water, its fruits and vegetables, will add the second; and joining to all these circumstances, its snow-capped mountains, its hot sulphur springs, and its Great Salt Lake, and we have the elements of the third fact. There are two principal sulphur springs, one hot enough (one hundred and twenty degrees) to boil an egg, which is four miles from the center of the city, and the other just the right temperature for a hot bath, (ninety degrees,) which is close to the city, and is already brought into a large enclosure for free bathing purposes. Both these streams are large enough for illimitable bathing; the water is as highly sulphurized and as clear as that of the celebrated Sharon Springs; and its use, either for drinking or for baths, most effective in purifying the blood and toning up the system. Other and smaller springs of the same character have been found in the neighborhood.

Then the Lake opens another field of attractions; it is a miniature ocean, about fifteen miles from the city, fifty miles wide by one hundred long, -- the briniest sheet of water known on the Continent, -- so salt that no fish can live in it, and that three quarts of it will boil down to one quart of fine, pure salt, -- but most delicious and refreshing for bathing, floating the body as a cork on the surface, -- only the brine must be kept from mouth and eyes under the penalty of a severe smarting; -- with its high rocky islands and crestfull waves and its superb sunsets, picturesque and enchanting to look upon; while its broad expanse offers wide space for sailing, and every chance for sea-sickness. Count up all these features for a watering-place; and where will you find a Newport, a Saratoga or a Sharon that has the half of them? So, ye votaries of fashion, ye rheumatic cripples, ye victims of scrofula and ennui, prepare to pack your trunks at the sound of the first whistle of the train for the Rocky Mountains, for a season at Salt Lake City.

[One paragraph omitted.]

The result of the whole experience has been to increase my appreciation of the value of [the Mormons'] material progress and development to the nation; to evoke congratulations to them and to the country for the wealth they have created and the order, frugality, morality and industry that have been organized in this remote spot in our Continent; to excite wonder at the perfection and power of their church system, the extent of its ramifications, the sweep of its influence; and to enlarge my respect for the personal sincerity and character of many of the leaders in the organization; -- also, and on the other hand, to deepen my disgust at their polygamy, and strengthen my convictions of its barbaric and degrading influences. They have tried it and practised it under the most favorable circumstances, perhaps under the mildest form possible; but, now as before, here as elsewehre, it tends to and means only the degradation of woman. By it and under it, she becomes simply the servant and serf, not the companion and equal of man; and the inevitable influence of this upon all society need not be depicted.

But I find that Mormonism is not necessarily polygamy; that the one began and existed for many years without the other; that not all the Mormons accept the doctrine, and not one-fourth, perhaps not one-eighth practise it; and that the Nation and its government may oppose it and punish it, without at all interfering with the existence of the Mormon church, or justly being held as interfering with the religious liberty that is the basis of all our institutions. This distinction has not been sufficienty understood heretofore, and it has not been consistently acted upon by either the government or the public of the East. Here, by the people, who are coming in to enjoy the opportunities of the country for trade and mining, and there, by our rulers at Washington and by the great public, this single issue of polygamy should be pressed home upon the Mormon church, -- discreetly and with tact, with law and with argument and appeal, but with firmness and power.

Ultimately, of course, before the influences of emigration, civilization and our democratic habits, an organization so aristocratic and autocratic as the Mormon church now is must modify its rule; it must compete with other sects, and take its chance with them. And its most aristocratic and uncivilized incident or feature of plurality of wives must fall first and completely before contact with the rest of the world, -- marshalled with mails, daily papers, railroads and telegraphs, -- ciphering out the fact that the men and women of the world are about equally divided, and applying to the Mormon patriarchs the democratic principle of equal and exact justice. Nothing can save this feature of Mormonism but new flight and a more complete isolation. A kingdom in the sea, entirely its own, could only perpetuate it; and thither even, commerce and democracy would ultimately follow it. The click of the telegraph and the roll of the overland stages are its death-rattle now; the first whistle of the locomotive will sound its requiem; and the pick-ax of the miner will dig its grave. Squatter sovereignty will speedily settle the question, even if the government continues to coquette with it and humor it, as it has done.

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