1829

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Lucy Mack Smith-Account of the Witness to the Book of Mormon

CHAPTER 31

As soon as the Book of Mormon was translated, Joseph despatched a messenger to Mr. Smith, bearing intelligence of the completion of the work, and a request that Mr. Smith and myself should come immediately to Waterloo.

The same evening, we conveyed this intelligence to Martin Harris, for we loved the man, although his weakness had cost us much trouble. Hearing this, he greatly rejoiced, and determined to go straightway to Waterloo to congratulate Joseph upon his success. Accordingly, the next morning, we all set off together, and before sunset met Joseph and Oliver at Mr. Whitmer's.

The evening was spent in reading the manuscript, and it would be superfluous for me to say, to one who has read the foregoing pages, that we rejoiced exceedingly. It then appeared to those of us who did not realize the magnitude of the work, as if the greatest difficulty was then surmounted; but Joseph better understood the nature of the dispensation of the Gospel which was committed unto him.

The next morning, after attending to the usual services, namely, reading, singing and praying, Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, "Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before God this day, that you may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer."

In a few minutes after this, Joseph, Martin, Oliver and David, repaired to a grove, a short distance from the house, where they commenced calling upon the Lord, and continued in earnest supplication, until he permitted an angel to come down from his presence, and declare to them, that all which Joseph had testified of concerning the plates was true.

When they returned to the house it was between three and four o'clock p. m. Mrs. Whitmer, Mr. Smith and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, "Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world." Upon this, Martin Harris came in: he seemed almost overcome with joy, and testified boldly to what he had both seen and heard. And so did David and Oliver, adding that no tongue could express the joy of their hearts, and the greatness of the things which they had both seen and heard.

Their written testimony, which is contained in the Book of Mormon, is as follows:

THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this Record, which is a Record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare, with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes, nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen."

OLIVER COWDERY,

DAVID WHITMER,

MARTIN HARRIS.

The following day, we returned, a cheerful, happy company. In a few days, we were followed by Joseph, Oliver and the Whitmers, who came to make us a visit, and make some arrangements about getting the book printed. 2 Soon after they came, all the male part of the company, with my husband, Samuel and Hyrum, retired to a place where the family were in the habit of offering up their secret devotions to God. They went to this place, because it had been revealed to Joseph that the plates would be carried thither by one of the ancient Nephites. Here it was, that those eight witnesses, whose names are recorded in the Book of Mormon, looked upon them and handled them. Of which they bear record in the following words:

THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing witness of it."

CHRISTIAN WHITMER,

JACOB WHITMER,

PETER WHITMER, JUN.,

JOHN WHITMER,

HIRAM PAGE,

JOSEPH SMITH, SEN.,

HYRUM SMITH,

SAMUEL H. SMITH.

After these witnesses returned to the house, the angel again made his appearance to Joseph, at which time Joseph delivered up the plates into the angel's hands. That evening, we held a meeting, in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts, as stated above; and all of our family, even to Don Carlos, who was but fourteen years of age, testified of the truth of the Latter-day Dispensation—that it was then ushered in. In a few days, the whole company from Waterloo, went to Palmyra to make arrangements for getting the book printed; and they succeeded in making a contract with one E. B. Grandin, but did not draw the writings at that time. The next day, the company from Waterloo returned home, excepting Joseph, and Peter Whitmer, Joseph remaining to draw writings in regard to the printing of the manuscript, which was to be done on the day following.

When Joseph was about starting for Palmyra, where the writings were to be executed, Dr. McIntyre came in and informed us, that forty men were collected in the capacity of a mob, with the view of waylaying Joseph on his way thither; that they requested him (Dr. McIntyre) as they had done once before, to take command of the company, and, that upon his refusing to do so, one Mr. Huzzy, a hatter of Palmyra, proffered his services, and was chosen as their leader.

On hearing this, I besought Joseph not to go; but he smiled at my fears, saying, "Never mind, mother, just put your trust in God, and nothing will hurt me today." In a short time he set out for Palmyra. On his way thither, lay a heavy strip of timber, about half a mile in width, and, beyond it, on the right side of the road, lay a field belonging to David Jacaway. When he came to this field, he found the mob seated on the string fence running along the road. Coming to Mr. Huzzy first, he took off his hat, and good-naturedly saying, "Good morning, Mr. Huzzy," passed on to the next, whom he saluted in like manner, and the next, and so on till he came to the last.

This struck them with confusion, and while they were pondering in amazement, he passed on, leaving them perched upon the fence, like so many roosting chickens, and arrived at Palmyra without being molested. Here he met Mr. Grandin, and writings were drawn up between them to this effect: That half of the price for printing was to be paid by Martin Harris, and the residue by my two sons, Joseph and Hyrum. These writings were afterwards signed by all the parties concerned.

When Joseph returned from Palmyra he said, "Well, mother, the Lord has been on my side today, the devil has not overpowered me in any of my proceedings. Did I not tell you that I should be delivered from the hands of all my enemies! They thought they were going to perform great feats; they have done wonders to prevent me from getting the book printed; they mustered themselves together, and got upon the fence, made me a low bow, and went home, and I'll warrant you they wish they had stayed there in the first place. Mother, there is a God in heaven, and I know it."

Soon after this, Joseph secured the copyright; and before he returned to Pennsylvania, where he had left his wife, he received a commandment, which was in substance as follows:

First, that Oliver Cowdery should transcribe the whole manuscript. Second, that he should take but one copy at a time to the office, so that if one copy should get destroyed, there would still be a copy remaining. Third, that in going to and from the office, he should always have a guard to attend him, for the purpose of protecting the manuscript. Fourth, that a guard should be kept constantly on the watch, both night and day, about the house, to protect the manuscript from malicious persons, who would infest the house for the purpose of destroying the manuscript. All these things were strictly attended to, as the Lord commanded Joseph. After giving these instructions, Joseph returned to Pennsylvania.

pp. 138-143

CHAPTER 32

OLIVER COWDERY commenced the work immediately after Joseph left, and the printing went on very well for a season, but the clouds of persecution again began to gather. The rabble, and a party of restless religionists, began to counsel together, as to the most efficient means of putting a stop to our proceedings.

About the first council of this kind was held in a room adjoining that in which Oliver and a young man by the name of Robinson were printing. Mr. Robinson being curious to know what they were doing in the next room, applied his ear to a hole in the partition wall, and by this means overheard several persons expressing their fears in reference to the Book of Mormon. One said, it was "destined to break down everything before it, if not put a stop to," and, that it was "likely to injure the prospects of their ministers," and then inquired, whether they should endure it. "No, no," was the unanimous reply. It was then asked "How shall we prevent the printing of this book?" Upon which it was resolved by the meeting, that three of their company should be appointed to go to the house of Mr. Smith, on the following Tuesday or Wednesday, while the men were gone to their work, and request Mrs. Smith to read the manuscript to them; that, after she had done reading it, two of the company should endeavor to divert her attention from it to some other object, while the third, seizing the opportunity, should snatch it from the drawer, or where-ever it should be kept, and commit it immediately to the flames.

"Again," said the speaker, "suppose we fail in this, and the book be printed in defiance of all that we can do to the contrary, what means shall we then adopt? Shall we buy their books and allow our families to read them?" They all responded, "No." They then entered into a solemn covenant, never to purchase even a single copy of the work, or permit one member of their families to buy or read one, that they might thus avert the awful calamity which threatened them.

Oliver Cowdery came home that evening, and, after relating the whole affair with much solemnity, he said, "Mother, what shall I do with the manuscript? where shall I put it to keep it away from them?"

"Oliver," said I, "do not think the matter so serious after all, for there is a watch kept constantly about the house, and I need not take out the manuscript to read it to them unless I choose, and for its present safety I can have it depositied in a chest, under the head of my bed, in such a way that it never will be disturbed." I then placed it in a chest, which was so high that when placed under the bed, the whole weight of the bedstead rested upon the lid. Having made this arrangement, we felt quite at rest, and that night, the family retired to rest at the usual hour, all save Peter Whitmer, who spent the night on guard. But as for myself, soon after I went to bed I fell into a train of reflections which occupied my mind, and which caused sleep to forsake my eyelids till the day dawned, for, when I mediated upon the days of toil, and nights of anxiety, through which we had all passed for years previous, in order to obtain the treasure that then lay beneath my head; when I thought upon the hours of fearful apprehensions which we had all suffered on the same account, and that the object was at last accomplished, I could truly say that my soul did magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior. I felt that the heavens were moved in our behalf, and that the angels who had power to put down the mighty from their seats, and to exalt those who were of low degree, were watching over us; that those would be filled who hungered and thirsted after righteousness, when the rich would be sent empty away; that God had helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his promised mercy, and bringing forth a Record, by which is made known the seed of Abraham, our father. Therefore, we could safely put our trust in him, as he was able to help in every time of need.

On the fourth day subsequent to the aforementioned council, soon after my husband left the house to go to his work, those three delegates appointed by the council, came to accomplish the work assigned to them. Soon after they entered, one of them began thus:

"Mrs. Smith, we hear that you have a gold bible; we have come to see if you will be so kind as to show it to us?"

"No, gentlemen," said I, "we have no gold bible, but we have a translation of some gold plates, which have been brought forth for the purpose of making known to the world the plainness of the gospel, and also to give a history of the people which formerly inhabited this continent." I then proceeded to relate the substance of what is contained in the Book of Mormon, dwelling particularly upon the principles of religion therein contained. I endeavored to show them the similarity between these principles, and the simplicity of the gospel taught by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. "Notwithstanding all this," said I, "the different denominations are very much opposed to us. The Universalists are alarmed lest their religion should suffer loss, the Presbyterians tremble for their salaries, the Methodists also come, and they rage, for they worship a God without body or parts, and they know that our faith comes in contact with this principle."

After hearing me through, the gentlemen said, "Can we see the manuscript, then?"

"No, sir," replied I, "you cannot see it. I have told you what it contains, and that must suffice."

He made no reply to this, but said, "Mrs. Smith, you and the most of your children have belonged to our church for some length of time, and we respect you very highly. You say a good deal about the Book of Mormon, which your son has found, and you believe much of what he tells you, yet we cannot bear the thoughts of losing you, and they do wish—I wish, that if you do believe those things, you would not say anything more upon the subject—I do wish you would not."

"Deacon Beckwith," said I, "if you should stick my flesh full of faggots, and even burn me at the stake, I would declare, as long as God should give me breath, that Joseph has got that Record, and that I know it to be true."

At this, he observed to his companions, "You see it is of no use to say anything more to her, for we cannot change her mind." Then, turning to me, he said, "Mrs. Smith, I see that it is not possible to persuade you out of your belief, therefore I deem it unnecessary to say anything more upon the subject."

"No, sir," said I, "it is not worth your while."

He then bade me farewell, and went out to see Hyrum, when the following conversation took place between them:

Deacon Beckwith: "Mr. Smith, do you not think that you may be deceived about that Record, which your brother pretends to have found?"

Hyrum: "No, sir, I do not."

Deacon Beckwith: "Well, now, Mr. Smith, if you find that you are deceived, and that he has not got the Record, will you confess the fact to me?"

Hyrum: "Will you, Deacon Beckwith, take one of the books, when they are printed, and read it, asking God to give you an evidence that you may know whether it is true?"

Deacon Beckwith: "I think it beneath me to take so much trouble, however, if you will promise that you will confess to me that Joseph never had the plates, I will ask for a witness whether the book is true."

Hyrum: "I will tell you what I will do, Mr. Beckwith, if you do get a testimony from God, that the book is not true, I will confess to you that it is not true."

Upon this they parted, and the Deacon next went to Samuel, who quoted to him, Isaiah, lvi: 9-11:"All ye beasts of the field, come to devour; yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber; yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."

Here Samuel ended the quotation, and the three gentlemen left without ceremony.

pp. 143-147

CHAPTER 33

THE WORK of printing still continued with little or no interruption, until one Sunday afternoon, when Hyrum became very uneasy as to the security of the work left at the printing office, and requested Oliver to accompany him thither, to see if all was right. Oliver hesitated for a moment, as to the propriety of going on Sunday, but finally consented, and they set off together.

On arriving at the printing establishment, they found it occupied by an individual by the name of Cole, an ex-justice of the peace, who was busily employed in printing a newspaper. Hyrum was much surprised at finding him there, and remarked, "How is it, Mr. Cole, that you are so hard at work on Sunday?"

Mr. Cole replied, that he could not have the press, in the day time during the week, and was obliged to do his printing at night and on Sundays.

Upon reading the prospectus of his paper, they found that he had agreed with his subscribers to publish one form of "Joe Smith's Gold Bible" each week, and thereby furnish them with the principal portion of the book in such a way that they would not be obliged to pay the Smiths for it. His paper was entitled, Dogberry Paper on Winter Hill. In this, he had thrown together a parcel of the most vulgar, disgusting prose, and the meanest, and most low-lived doggerel, in juxtaposition with a portion of the Book of Mormon, which he had pilfered. At this perversion of common sense and moral feeling, Hyrum was shocked, as well as indignant at the dishonest course which Mr. Cole had taken, in order to possess himself of the work.

"Mr. Cole," said he, "what right have you to print the Book of Mormon in this manner? Do you not know that we have secured the copyright?"

"It is none of your business," answered Cole, "I have hired the press, and will print what I please, so help yourself."

"Mr. Cole, rejoined Hyrum, "that manuscript is sacred, and I forbid your printing any more of it."

"Smith," exclaimed Cole, in a tone of anger, "I don't care a d—n for you: that d—d gold bible is going into my paper, in spite of all you can do."

Hyrum endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, but finding him inexorable, left him to issue his paper, as he had hitherto done; for when they found him at work, he had already issued six or eight numbers, and had managed to keep them out of our sight.

On returning from the office, they asked my husband what course was best for them to pursue, relative to Mr. Cole. He told them that he considered it a matter with which Joseph ought to be made acquainted. Accordingly, he set out himself for Pennsylvania, and returned with Joseph the ensuing Sunday. The weather was so extremely cold, that they came near perishing before they arrived at home, nevertheless, as soon as Joseph made himself partially comfortable, he went to the printing office, where he found Cole employed, as on the Sunday previous. "How do you do, Mr. Cole," said Joseph, "you seem hard at work."

"How do you do, Mr. Smith," answered Cole, dryly.

Joseph examined his Dogberry Paper, and then said firmly, "Mr. Cole, that book [the Book of Mormon], and the right of publishing it, belongs to me, and I forbid you meddling with it any further."

At this Mr. Cole threw off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and came towards Joseph, smacking his fists together with vengeance, and roaring out, "Do you want to fight, sir? do you want to fight? I will publish just what I please. Now, if you want to fight just come on."

Joseph could not help smiling at his grotesque appearance, for his behavior was too ridiculous to excite indignation. "Now, Mr. Cole," said he, "you had better keep your coat on—it is cold, and I am not going to fight you, nevertheless, I assure you, sir, that you have got to stop printing my book, for I know my rights, and shall maintain them."

"Sir," bawled out the wrathy gentleman, "if you think you are the best man, just pull off your coat and try it."

"Mr. Cole," said Joseph, in a low, significant tone, "there is law, and you will find that out, if you do not understand it, but I shall not fight you, sir."

At this, the ex-justice began to cool off a little, and finally concluded to submit to an arbitration, which decided that he should stop his proceedings forthwith, so that he made us no further trouble.

Joseph, after disposing of this affair, returned to Pennsylvania, but not for long to remain there, for when the inhabitants of the surrounding country perceived that the work still progressed, they became uneasy, and again called a large meeting. At this time, they gathered their forces together, far and near, and organizing themselves into a committee of the whole, they resolved, as before, never to purchase one of our books, when they should be printed. They then appointed a committee to wait upon E. B. Grandin, and inform him of the resolutions which they had passed, and also to explain to him the evil consequences which would result to him therefrom. The men who were appointed to do this errand, fulfilled their mission to the letter, and urged upon Mr. Grandin the necessity of his putting a stop to the printing, as the Smiths had lost all their property, and consequently would be unable to pay him for his work, except by the sale of the books. And this they would never be able to do, for the people would not purchase them. This information caused Mr. Grandin to stop printing, and we were again compelled to send for Joseph. These trips, back and forth, exhausted nearly all our means, yet they seemed unavoidable.

When Joseph came, he went immediately with Martin Harris to Grandin, and succeeded in removing his fears, so that he went on with the work, until the books were printed, which was in the spring of eighteen hundred and thirty.

pp.148-151