[Ezra T. Benson to O. Pratt, 7 Jan. 1857, in Millennial Star, 31 Jan. 1857, 19:5:75–77. Leeds, Bradford, Cheltenham, etc. Daily entries from 17 Dec. 1856–7 Jan. 1857.]
6, Richard Street, Limehouse Fields, London, January 7, 1857.
President O. Pratt.
Dear Brother—As I stated in my communication to you of December 16th, that I intended to leave Sunderland for Leeds, on that day, I left, and arrived at 18 Dock Street, about six o’clock, p.m., where I met Elders W. G. Young and L. D. Rudd.
On the 17th [December 1856], according to previous appointment, Elder Young and myself went to Sheffield, and held a meeting in the “Hall of Science” in the evening, I was so unwell, in consequence of having a cold, that I felt unable to preach, but Elder Young gave us a good discourse. A Scripture Reader was present, who was in the habit of disturbing the Saints in their meetings, and wanted to debate, but he evidently belongs to that class of men who, having very little personal merit, court notoriety by attempting to pull down “Mormonism.”
On the 18th [December 1856] we returned to Leeds, where Elder J. A. Little, from Liverpool, met us in the evening of the 19th [December 1856]. The 20th [December 1856] was spent in visiting with the brethren. In the afternoon we had a prayer meeting in an upper room of Elder Isaac Fox’s house. We enjoyed much of the Spirit and had a profitable time together. In the evening, Elders Young, Hatch, and Rudd went to Bradford to attend a Conference Council.
Sunday, 21st [December 1856], about 8 o’clock in the morning, accompanied by Elder Little, and a number of the Saints of Leeds, I took the train for Bradford, in order to attend a quarterly meeting of that Conference. We arrived in Bradford about 9 o’clock, and took breakfast at sister Walker’s, and soon afterwards went to the “Odd Fellows’ Hall,” where the Saints were collecting together.
The morning meeting was mostly occupied by the business of the Conference. We are sorry to say that we had to cut off from the Church a Travelling Elder for adultery, which was committed under very aggravating circumstances. Pastor Young made some very appropriate and instructive remarks to the congregation on the case, which I trust will be a warning to others.
The afternoon meeting was mostly taken up by remarks from the Elders present. I spoke about an hour, although suffering severely from a cold, and gave such instructions and counsel to the Saints as the circumstances seemed to call for. By my request, Elder Little, preached in the evening to a crowded house. There were about 1000 persons present, one half of whom I think were strangers. They listened with the most profound attention. After the evening meeting we returned to Leeds.
On the 22nd [December 1856], at four o’clock, p.m., I bade farewell to the brethren and took the train for Misson, and arrived at brother Richardson’s about half-past seven in the evening. There is a small Branch of the Church here. I spent the next day in visiting with brother and sister Richardson. In the evening the Saints had a meeting, when I preached to them. I had a very pleasant visit.
On the 24th [December 1856], I left Misson by rail about nine o’clock, a.m., for Nottingham, where I arrived about two p.m. Here I met Elders J. Carrigan, T. King, Isaac Higbee, and G. Taylor from Utah, and a number of others. The next day, being Christmas [December 25, 1856], we held two meetings in the “Saints’ Hall.” Considering that it was a day of feasting, the meetings were well attended, particularly in the afternoon. In the forenoon, several of the Elders gave their testimony, as they were called on to speak, and I preached in the afternoon, on the practical duties of the Elders and Saints. In the evening we had a social party, and the time was most agreeably spent in listening to songs and recitations, and instructions from the Elders.
On the 26th [December 1856], accompanied by Elders Carrigan, King, and others, I went to Derby. Here I met Elders Peter Robinson, from Sheffield, and James Taylor, from Lincolnshire. In the evening the Saints held a social party, and the time was agreeably spent in the usual manner on such occasions. I was much pleased with the excellent spirit and good order which pervaded Pastor Carrigan’s field of labour.
On the 27th [December 1856], I left Derby for Cheltenham, where I arrived at three o’clock, p.m., and was met at the station by Elders D. B. Dille, Jesse Hobson, Henry Hobbs, and some others. I put up at brother Locke’s, 4, Prospect Place, Leckhampton Road. My cold was very severe upon me, producing violent coughing and some fever. During the evening Elder Little arrived from Leeds.
Sunday, 28th [December 1856]. The Saints met in Conference at their hall. Through indisposition, I did not attend the morning meeting. In the afternoon some business was transacted, and several Elders spoke for a short time. Elder Little also gave a short discourse on the principle of the Saints labouring for their own salvation, and making a Zion within and around them by their own good works, and on the principle of obedience to the Priesthood. I followed with a very few remarks. By my request, Elder Little preached in the evening, after which I bore my testimony to the truth of what he had said, and of the Prophets Joseph and Brigham, and the work of God in these days.
On the 29th [December 1856] the Saints had a social party at their hall, which was well attended, the good Spirit was upon us, and we greatly rejoiced together. Here I could most fully realize that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.
On the 30th and 31st [December 1856] I was so unwell that I remained in the house, and used such means for my relief as wisdom seemed to dictate.
January 1, 1857. About nine o’clock, a.m., I left Cheltenham with brother Little for Reading, where we arrived between 11 and 12; Elder Dille accompanied us as far as Gloucester. In Reading, we met Elder John Hyde, President of that Conference. The Reading Branch held a meeting in the evening, which was attended by Elder Little. I felt too unwell to go out. The next day [January 2, 1857] we came to this city [London], and were met about noon at the Paddington station by Elders J. D. Ross and William Budge. We took dinner at 35, Jewin Street, after which I went to Brother George Smith’s, 6, Richard Street, Limehouse Fields, where I have remained through indisposition up to this time [January 7, 1857], with the exception of going to a social party last evening in Westminster. I enjoyed the party much, but was too weak to take an active part in it. Through the blessings of the Lord, and the prayers, faith, and kind attentions of the Saints, I am gradually recovering my health, and in a few days I hope to be able to resume my labours.
The London Conference held its Quarterly meeting on Sunday the 4th instant [January 1857]. Three meetings were held during the day and evening, and I understand were well attended. The morning and afternoon meetings were occupied with the business of the Conference, hearing the reports of the Travelling Elders, and by warm-hearted and cheering remarks from several visiting Elders who were present. In the evening Elder Little preached to a crowded hall, the people probably numbering about 1200.
At the social party, before referred to, brother Little made a stirring appeal to the Saints to make great efforts for the accomplishment of their own deliverance from Babylon. It was accompanied by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and seemed to open the eyes of many who were present to what was required of them for the accomplishment of their salvation.
In justice to Pastor J. D. Ross and Elder William Budge, President of the London Conference, the latter of whom also has the immediate charge of the Office at 35, Jewin Street, I cannot but commend them for the thorough organization of the business of their fields of labour, and the consequent efficient and economical manner in which the affairs of the Church under their direction are conducted.
Praying that the blessings of health, strength, and power in the holy Priesthood may increase upon you,
I remain your affectionate brother in the new Covenant,
Ezra T. Benson.