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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




IT is a luscious country for thrilling evening stories about
assassinations of intractable Gentiles. I cannot easily
conceive of anything more cosy than the night in Salt Lake
which we spent in a Gentile den, smoking pipes and listening
to tales of how Burton galloped in among the pleading and
defenceless “Morisites” and shot them down, men and
women, like so many dogs. And how Bill Hickman, a Destorying
Angel, shot Drown and Arnold dead for bringing suit
against him for a debt. And how Porter Rockwell did this
and that dreadful thing. And how heedless people often come
to Utah and make remarks about Brigham, or polygamy, or
some other sacred matter, and the very next morning at daylight
such parties are sure to be found lying up some back
alley, contentedly waiting for the hearse.

And the next most interesting thing is to sit and listen to
these Gentiles talk about polygamy; and how some portly
old frog of an elder, or a bishop, marries a girl—likes her,
marries her sister—likes her, marries another sister—likes her,
takes another—likes her, marries her mother—likes her, marries
her father, grandfather, great grandfather, and then comes
back hungry and asks for more. And how the pert young
thing of eleven will chance to be the favorite wife and her
own venerable grandmother have to rank away down toward
D 4 in their mutual husband's esteem, and have to sleep in
the kitchen, as like as not. And how this dreadful sort of
thing, this hiving together in one foul nest of mother and


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 120. In-line image of two women. One woman is young and in ballet garb, with a pencil-thin mustache, and the other is an older woman who seems to be scolding.]
daughters, and the making a young daughter superior to her
own mother in rank and authority, are things which Mormon
women submit to because their religion teaches them that
the more wives a man has on earth, and the more children he
rears, the higher the place they will all have in the world to
come—and the warmer, maybe, though they do not seem to
say anything about that.

According to these Gentile friends of ours, Brigham
Young's harem contains twenty or thirty wives. They said
that some of them had grown old and gone out of active service,
but were comfortably housed and cared for in the henery
—or the Lion House, as it is strangely named. Along with
each wife were her children—fifty altogether. The house was
perfectly quiet and orderly, when the children were still.
They all took their meals in one room, and a happy and homelike
sight it was pronounced to be. None of our party got an


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opportunity to take dinner with Mr. Young, but a Gentile by
the name of Johnson professed to have enjoyed a sociable
breakfast in the Lion House. He gave a preposterous account
of the “calling of the roll,” and other preliminaries, and the
carnage that ensued when the buckwheat cakes came in. But
he embellished rather too much. He said that Mr. Young
told him several smart sayings of certain of his “two-year-olds,”
observing with some pride that for many years he had
been the heaviest contributor in that line to one of the Eastern
magazines; and then he wanted to show Mr. Johnson one
of the pets that had said the last good thing, but he could not
find the child. He searched the faces of the children in detail,
but could not decide which one it was. Finally he gave
it up with a sigh and said:

“I thought I would know the little cub again but I
don't.” Mr. Johnson said further, that Mr. Young observed


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that life was a sad, sad thing—“because the joy of every new
marriage a man contracted was so apt to be blighted by the inopportune
funeral of a less recent bride.” And Mr. Johnson
said that while he and Mr. Young were pleasantly conversing
in private, one of the Mrs. Youngs came in and demanded a
breast-pin, remarking that she had found out that he had been
giving a breast-pin to No. 6, and she, for one, did not propose
to let this partiality go on without making a satisfactory
amount of trouble about it. Mr. Young reminded her that
there was a stranger present. Mrs. Young said that if the
state of things inside the house was not agreeable to the
stranger, he could find room outside. Mr. Young promised the
breast-pin, and she went away. But in a minute or two
another Mrs. Young came in and demanded a breast-pin. Mr.
Young began a remonstrance, but Mrs. Young cut him short.
She said No. 6 had got one, and No. 11 was promised one,
and it was “no use for him to try to impose on her—she hoped
she knew her rights.” He gave his promise, and she went.
And presently three Mrs. Youngs entered in a body and opened
on their husband a tempest of tears, abuse, and entreaty.
They had heard all about No. 6, No. 11, and No. 14. Three
more breast-pins were promised. They were hardly gone
when nine more Mrs. Youngs filed into the presence, and a
new tempest burst forth and raged round about the prophet
and his guest. Nine breast-pins were promised, and the
weird sisters filed out again. And in came eleven more,
weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth. Eleven promised
breast-pins purchased peace once more.

“That is a specimen,” said Mr. Young. “You see how it
is. You see what a life I lead. A man can't be wise all the
time. In a heedless moment I gave my darling No. 6—excuse
my calling her thus, as her other name has escaped me for the
moment—a breast-pin. It was only worth twenty-five dollars
—that is, apparently that was its whole cost—but its ultimate
cost was inevitably bound to be a good deal more. You yourself
have seen it climb up to six hundred and fifty dollars—
and alas, even that is not the end! For I have wives all over


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this Territory of Utah. I have dozens of wives whose numbers,
even, I do not know without looking in the family Bible.
They are scattered far and wide among the mountains and
valleys of my realm. And mark you, every solitary one of
them will hear of this wretched breast-pin, and every last one
of them will have one or die. No. 6's breast-pin will cost
me twenty-five hundred dollars before I see the end of it.
And these creatures will compare these pins together, and if
one is a shade finer than the rest, they will all be thrown on
my hands, and I will have to order a new lot to keep peace in
the family. Sir, you probably did not know it, but all the
time you were present with my children your every movement
was watched by vigilant servitors of mine. If you had
offered to give a child a dime, or a stick of candy, or any trifle
of the kind, you would have been snatched out of the house
instantly, provided it could be done before your gift left your
hand. Otherwise it would be absolutely necessary for you to
make an exactly similar gift to all my children—and knowing
by experience the importance of the thing, I would have stood
by and seen to it myself that you did it, and did it thoroughly.
Once a gentleman gave one of my children a tin whistle—a
veritable invention of Satan, sir, and one which I have an unspeakable
horror of, and so would you if you had eighty or
ninety children in your house. But the deed was done—the
man escaped. I knew what the result was going to be, and I
thirsted for vengeance. I ordered out a flock of Destroying
Angels, and they hunted the man far into the fastnesses of the
Nevada mountains. But they never caught him. I am not
cruel, sir—I am not vindictive except when sorely outraged—
but if I had caught him, sir, so help me Joseph Smith, I
would have locked him into the nursery till the brats whistled
him to death! By the slaughtered body of St. Parley Pratt
(whom God assoil!) there was never anything on this earth
like it! I knew who gave the whistle to the child, but I could
not make those jealous mothers believe me. They believed I
did it, and the result was just what any man of reflection
could have foreseen: I had to order a hundred and ten


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 124. In-line image of a man and a woman who are arguing in front of a small child who is wearing a loin cloth.]
whistles—I think we had a hundred and ten children in the
house then, but some of them are off at college now—I had
to order a hundred and ten of those shrieking things, and I
wish I may never speak another word if we didn't have to
talk on our fingers entirely, from that time forth until the
children got tired of the whistles. And if ever another man
gives a whistle to a child of mine and I get my hands on him,
I will hang him higher than Haman! That is the word with
the bark on it! Shade of Nephi! You don't know anything
about married life. I am rich, and everybody knows it.
I am benevolent, and everybody takes advantage of it. I have
a strong fatherly instinct and all the foundlings are foisted on
me. Every time a woman wants to do well by her darling,
she puzzles her brain to cipher out some scheme for getting
it into my hands. Why, sir, a woman came here once with a
child of a curious lifeless sort of complexion (and so had the
woman), and swore that the child was mine and she my wife—


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that I had married her at such-and-such a time in such-and-such
a place, but she had forgotten her number, and of course
I could not remember her name. Well, sir, she called my
attention to the fact that the child looked like me, and really
it did seem to resemble me—a common thing in the Territory—and,
to cut the story short, I put it in my nursery, and
she left. And by the ghost of Orson Hyde, when they came
to wash the paint off that child it was an Injun! Bless my
soul, you don't know anything about married life. It is a
perfect dog's life, sir—a perfect dog's life. You can't economize.
It isn't possible. I have tried keeping one set of bridal
attire for all occasions. But it is of no use. First you'll marry
a combination of calico and consumption that's as thin as a
rail, and next you'll get a creature that's nothing more than
the dropsy in disguise, and then you've got to eke out that
bridal dress with an old balloon. That is the way it goes.
And think of the wash-bill—(excuse these tears)—nine hundred
and eighty-four pieces a week! No, sir, there is no such
a thing as economy in a family like mine. Why, just the one
item of cradles—think of it! And vermifuge! Soothing
syrup! Teething rings! And `papa's watches' for the
babies to play with! And things to scratch the furniture
with! And lucifer matches for them to eat, and
pieces of glass to cut themselves with! The item of glass
alone would support your family, I venture to say, sir. Let
me scrimp and squeeze all I can, I still can't get ahead as fast
as I feel I ought to, with my opportunities. Bless you, sir, at
a time when I had seventy-two wives in this house, I groaned
under the pressure of keeping thousands of dollars tied up in
seventy-two bedsteads when the money ought to have been
out at interest; and I just sold out the whole stock, sir, at a
sacrifice, and built a bedstead seven feet long and ninety-six
feet wide. But it was a failure, sir. I could not sleep. It
appeared to me that the whole seventy-two women snored at
once. The roar was deafening. And then the danger of it!
That was what I was looking at. They would all draw in
their breath at once, and you could actually see the walls of


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 126. In-line image of a polygamist bed. A man is stuck in between 10 or so women who are all wearing their night caps.]
the house suck in—and then they would all exhale their
breath at once, and you
could see the walls swell
out, and strain, and hear
the rafters crack, and the
shingles grind together.
My friend, take an old
man's advice, and don't
encumber yourself with
a large family—mind, I
tell you, don't do it. In
a small family, and in a
small family only, you
will find that comfort
and that peace of mind
which are the best at last
of the blessings this
world is able to afford
us, and for the lack of
which no accumulation
of wealth, and no acquisition
of fame, power, and
greatness can ever compensate
us. Take my
word for it, ten or eleven
wives is all you need—
never go over it.”

Some instinct or other
made me set this Johnson
down as being unreliable.
And yet he was
a very entertaining person,
and I doubt if some
of the information he
gave us could have been
acquired from any other
source. He was a pleasant
contrast to those reticent Mormons.