[Ezra T. Benson to John Taylor, London, England, 29 Jan. 1857; in The Mormon, New York, vol. 3 no. 1 (21
Feb. 1857), p. 2]
[All-caps represent Cap-Small-Cap style throughout this letter]
[Note that Elder Harrison’s term “Mormon thunder” almost certainly refers to Ezra T. Benson.]
Correspondence of Prest. Ezra T. Benson.
35 Jewin Street, London, Eng., }
29th January, 1857.
PREST. JOHN TAYLOR—Dear Brother: No doubt you will be glad to have a line from Bro. Ezra. As you are doubtless aware, I have found out by experience that the atmosphere of this country and our mountain breezes are two different things; but I am getting a little acclimated, after losing nearly all my voice at one time however in the attempt.
Since I last wrote you, I have been traveling a good deal through the British Conferences, when my health has permitted. I find a good people all round, but room for improvement in some particulars, according to my judgment; but all things in their time, and the time for some things is not far off either.
I am glad to receive THE MORMON from time to time; that paper is a credit to the Church, and especially to the Editor. When your renowned Senators can find time to cease their butting at each other for a while, we shall be glad to learn how their heads sound on the Mormon “sound-board” question, “Utah’s admission;” perhaps the key will be high, and not over musical. I hope, however, that they will take your advice, and bring a little common sense to bear on the matter, and understand that we have inalienable rights that they cannot vote away.
I am glad to learn of the whereabouts of Bros. Parley, George A., and Erastus Snow, also to hear of “Parson Taylor’s” movements. I feel thankful the latter was at New York instead of Utah, and thus escaped being “crippled and near-sighted” with the rest of his brethren. It seems we “Mormons” have a curious House of “Representatives;” for the sake of “poor humanity,” we can only hope that such a company of cripples don’t truly “represent” their constituents.
I don’t know how you stand New York; for my part, I should soon choke in such a fog of political humbug. Figuratively speaking, talk about “cripples” and “near-sighted,” to me it seems you need not go far from your enlightened city of New York to score up a few thousands of such characters, for they have eyes truly, but they see not, lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine in upon them.
I am feeling well in my Mission and full of the spirit of preaching and testimony. Right and left I want to kick away the old guideposts that this generation have had and cling to so tightly, and point them to Zion and the revelations of Jesus Christ for their directory al the time; and the Good Spirit says: Purify! purify! call upon the people to sanctify themselves, that I may reign in their midst, and develop my power through their instrumentality.
By prayer, fasting and much diligence, we are trying to cleanse the British Conferences from every kind of rubbish, and spreading out Tracts by thousands and thousands in every street, alley and lane. In the London Conference alone they will have fifty-six thousand in circulation when the whole of the series now publishing are out. Tract Committees and General Tract Committees are being fixed up in every Branch and Conference, and the Saints are volunteering in every direction as distributors; though we find that nine out of every twelve will not receive more than the first number, yet we feel to persevere, and warn the people and leave them without excuse.
No doubt you have had news of the reformation going on in the valleys of the mountains; by God’s help we wish to spread the same fire through this Mission, until this people are powerful with their God, and live so that they can command the blessings of Eternity to rest upon them night and day.
For the last few weeks I have been laboring here in London among the Branches, in company with Pastor Ross and Henry Lunt, with Elder Budge, and others, attending Priesthood meetings and addressing the Saints, in the largest halls of the London Conference. The meetings are well attended, and there is much inquiry among the people, and there are considerably more baptisms than for a year or two past.
I have read with interest of the social meetings held in New York and elsewhere, but I would like you to understand that we in London are not behind the times in such matters. One party I will mention. It was held at Westminster on the 6th of January 1857. Elder James A. Little and myself were present; but owing to my indisposition, I did not take a very active part in the proceedings. The hall was decorated with flags, mottos, &c.; the most conspicuous were two large banners presented to the Conference by Miss Redding—one symbolizing the Bee Hive State, and the other a representation of the American Eagle standing over a Globe, between two flags, with the stars and stripes, and the words “God’s Kingdom Rules the World” inscribed beneath. A large drawing of the Valley Temple surmounted the platform. Among others, the following toasts were given:
BY C. W. PENROSE:
“Brigham, Heber, and Jedediah”—A blessed Trinity; may they ever be a mighty Unity.
“The Temple”—Beautiful, original, and holy, with God for its author, His Lion for its protector, and an Angel for its architect.
“Anti-Mormon Literature”—A cup of filthiness—the dregs go to the wicked; who’ll have a cupful?
“Apostates”—Rotten Branches, ready for the burning—where’s a Lucifer?
BY E. L. T. HARRISON:
“The First Presidency”—One head under three hats; there are three that bear witness in Utah, and these three are one: Amen, amen, amen.
“The Presidency of the British Mission”—Mormon philosophy, backed up by Mormon thunder. The thunder is hoarse to-night, but the lightning is “live and kicking”—should they be called to lose a Little by the coming emigration, may one of heaven’s Rays shine upon them so brightly as to make up the deficiency.
“Elder Ezra T. Benson”—A “whiper in” among the Lord’s huntsmen—Pottawatomie to witness! May his bow abide in strength, and the arms of his hands be made strong by the mighty God of Jacob.
“Elder J. D. Ross”—A hard hammer for soft nuts.
“The Sisters”—“Flowers of Creation,” but like other flowers, they look best in bunches! who’s for a nosegay?
“The American Editors and THE MORMON”—a litter of pups barking at a hedgehog.
Bro. Little preached a good emigration discourse, and prophesied that unless some of the Saints made more efforts to get out of Babylon, a mob at their heels some of these fine days would teach them how to emigrate without waiting for a “fit out” and a carload of luggage; in fact, it was a first rate practical sermon, and many present seemed to feel its influence.
When I read the manglings and twistings of the pious editors by whom you are surrounded, I feel like saying, “go it[?], ye cripples, wooden legs are cheap.” Hell and the devils may chase “Mormonism;” it’s too far on the road to be caught this “heat.” So sound your trumpets, you poor miserable persecutors, and let the world know we are coming; but to the Saints, I say let us be humble and keep the Good Spirit’s influence, or we shall crumple up like a broken reed, and our influence vanish like morning dew; for nothing but righteousness can stand in the kingdom of our God.
I have just received a letter from President O. Pratt, in which he says, “This morning the Salt Lake mail arrived via California.” “There is a great work of reformation going on in Utah; the President counsels us to commence the work of reformation in this land; commencing at this office and with ourselves, and let it extend down through all the missionaries, and officers, and members, until all the Saints are pruned, reformed, and converted over again, in England, Wales and Scotland;” and I rejoice in it, for I know it will give a new impetus to the work here. I fully believe that all the missionaries from Utah are prepared to co-operate with us in this spirit, as well as the Elders generally and the great body of the Saints. From the experience I have had in these lands, the spirit of obedience is on the increase among the Saints.
Bros. James A. Little and W. O. Yong are expecting to sail about the middle of February for the States, en route for Great Salt Lake City; they will, no doubt, give you a call. Thousands of the honest in these lands will say, may the blessings of the Almighty go with these brethren who have so faithfully labored in the vineyard of the Lord.
Bros. Ross, Lunt, Budge, and Harrison, join in love to yourself, also to those of the Twelve who are with you, and to Bros. Stenhouse and Appleby, and all in the office.
Yours as ever,
Ezra T. Benson.