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- The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 6 - 3/9 -
twice at the end of each verse--making--as you will at once see--the appalling number of 22,000 "tural lural dural, ri fol days"--and the man still lives.
(Picture of) Virginia City--in the bright new State of Nevada. (Virginia City itself is built on a ledge cut out of the side of Mount Davidson, which rises some 9000 feet above the sea level--the city being about half way up its side. To Artemus Ward the wild character of the scenery, the strange manners of the red-shirted citizens, and the odd developments of the life met with in that uncouth mountain-town were all replete with interest. We stayed there about a week. During the time of our stay he explored every part of the place, met many old friends from the Eastern States, and formed many new acquaintances, with some of whom acquaintance ripened into warm friendship. Among the latter was Mr. Samuel L. Clemens, now well known as "Mark Twain." He was then sub-editing one of the three papers published daily in Virginia--"The Territorial Enterprise." Artemus detected in the writings of Mark Twain the indications of great humorous power, and strongly advised the writer to seek a better field for his talents. Since then he has become a well-known lecturer and author. With Mark Twain, Artemus made a descent into the Gould and Curry Silver Mine at Virginia, the largest mine of the kind, I believe in the world. The account of the descent formed a long and very amusing article in the next morning's "Enterprise." To wander about the town and note its strange developments occupied Artemus incessantly. I was sitting writing letters at the hotel when he came in hurriedly, and requested me to go out with him. "Come and see some joking much better than mine," said he. He led me to where one of Wells, Fargo & Co's express wagons was being rapidly filled with silver bricks. Ingots of the precious metal, each almost as large as an ordinary brick, were being thrown from one man to another to load the wagon, just as bricks or cheeses are transferred from hand to hand by carters in England. "Good old jokes those, Hingston. Good, solid Babes in the Wood," observed Artemus. Yet that evening he lectured in "Maguire's Opera House," Virginia City, to an audience composed chiefly of miners, and the receipts were not far short of eight hundred dollars.)
A wonderful little city--right in the heart of the famous Washoe silver regions--the mines of which annually produce over twenty-five millions of solid silver. This silver is melted into solid bricks--about the size of ordinary house-bricks--and carted off to San Francisco with mules. The roads often swarm with these silver wagons.
One hundred and seventy-five miles to the east of this place are the Reese River Silver Mines--which are supposed to be the richest in the world.
(Pointing to Panorama) The great American Desert in winter time--the desert which is so frightfully gloomy always. No trees--no houses--no people--save the miserable beings who live in wretched huts and have charge of the horses and mules of the Overland Mail Company.
(Picture of) Plains Between Virginia City and Salt Lake, (showing a carcass attended by various scavengers, with a building and mountains in the distance.)
This picture is a great work of art.--It is an oil painting --done in petroleum. It is by the Old Masters. It was the last thing they did before dying. They did this and then they expired.
The most celebrated artists of London are so delighted with this picture that they come to the Hall every day to gaze at it. I wish you were nearer to it--so you could see it better. I wish I could take it to your residences and let you see it by daylight. Some of the greatest artists in London come here every morning before daylight with lanterns to look at it. They say they never saw anything like it before--and they hope they never shall again.
When I first showed this picture in New York, the audience were so enthusiastic in their admiration of this picture that they called for the Artist--and when he appeared they threw brickbats at him. (This portion of the panorama was very badly painted. When the idea of having a panorama was first entertained by Artemus, he wished to have one of great artistic merit. Finding considerable difficulty in procuring one, and also discovering that the expense of a real work of art would be beyond his means, he resolved on having a very bad one or one so bad in parts that its very badness would give him scope for jest. In the small towns of the Western States, it passed very well for a first-class picture, but what it was really worth in an artistic point of view its owner was very well aware.)
(Next picture.) A bird's-eye view of Great Salt Lake City-- the strange city in the Desert about which so much has been heard--the city of the people who call themselves Saints.
I know there is much interest taken in these remarkable people--ladies and gentlemen--and I have thought it better to make the purely descriptive part of my Entertainment entirely serious.--I will not--then--for the next ten minutes--confine myself to my subject.
Some seventeen years ago a small band of Mormons--headed by Brigham Young--commenced in the present thrifty metropolis of Utah. The population of the territory of Utah is over 100,000--chiefly Mormons--and they are increasing at the rate of from five to ten thousand annually. The converts to Mormonism now are almost exclusively confined to English and Germans--Wales and Cornwall have contributed largely to the population of Utah during the last few years. The population of Great Salt Lake City is 20,000.--The streets are eight rods wide--and are neither flagged nor paved. A stream of pure mountain spring water courses through each street--and is conducted into the Gardens of the Mormons. The houses are mostly of adobe--or sun-dried brick--and present a neat and comfortable appearance.--They are usually a story and a half high. Now and then you see a fine modern house in Salt Lake City--but no house that is dirty, shabby, and dilapidated--because there are no absolutely poor people in Utah. Every Mormon has a nice garden--and every Mormon has a tidy dooryard.--Neatness is a great characteristic of the Mormons.
The Mormons profess to believe that they are the chosen people of God--they call themselves Latter-day Saints--and they call us people of the outer world Gentiles. They say that Mr. Brigham Young is a prophet--the legitimate successor of Joseph Smith--who founded the Mormon religion. They also say they are authorized--by special revelation from Heaven--to marry as many wives as they can comfortably support.
This wife-system they call plurality--the world calls it polygamy. That at its best it is an accursed thing--I need not of course inform you--but you will bear in mind that I am here as a rather cheerful reporter of what I saw in Utah --and I fancy it isn't at all necessary for me to grow virtuously indignant over something we all know is hideously wrong.
You will be surprised to hear--I was amazed to see--that among the Mormon women there are some few persons of education--of positive cultivation. As a class the Mormons are not educated people--but they are by no means the community of ignoramuses so many writers have told us they were.
The valley in which they live is splendidly favored. They raise immense crops. They have mills of all kinds. They have coal--lead--and silver mines. All they eat--all they drink--all they wear they can produce themselves--and still have a great abundance to sell to the gold regions of Idaho on the one hand--and the silver regions of Nevada on the other.
The President of this remarkable community--the head of the Mormon Church--is Brigham Young.--He is called President Young--and Brother Brigham. He is about 54 years old-- altho' he doesn't look to be over 45. He has sandy hair and whiskers--is of medium height--and is a little inclined to corpulency. He was born in the State of Vermont. His power is more absolute than that of any living sovereign--yet he uses it with such consummate discretion that his people are almost madly devoted to him--and that they would cheerfully die for him if they thought the sacrifice were demanded--I cannot doubt.
He is a man of enormous wealth.--One-tenth of everything sold in the territory of Utah goes to the Church--and Mr. Brigham Young is the Church. It is supposed that he speculates with these funds--at all events--he is one of the wealthiest men now living--worth several millions--without doubt.--He is a bold--bad man--but that he is also a man of extraordinary administrative ability no one can doubt who has watched his astounding career for the past ten years. It is only fair for me to add that he treated me with marked kindness during my sojourn in Utah.
(Picture of) West Side of Main Street, Salt Lake City. (A wagon and team stand outside the "City Bathing House" and a pennant flies over the "temperance hotel.")
The West Side of Main Street--Salt Lake City--including a view of the Salt Lake Hotel. It is a temperance hotel. (At the date of our visit, there was only one place in Salt Lake City where strong drink was allowed to be sold. Brigham Young himself owned the property, and vended the liquor by wholesale, not permitting any of it to be drunk on the premises. It was a coarse, inferior kind of whisky, known in Salt Lake as "Valley Tan." Throughout the city there was no drinking-bar nor billiard room, so far as I am aware. But a drink on the sly could always be had at one of the hard-goods stores, in the back office behind the pile of metal saucepans; or at one of the dry-goods stores, in the little parlor in the rear of the bales of calico. At the present time I believe that there are two or three open bars in Salt Lake, Brigham Young having recognized the right of the "Saints" to "liquor up" occasionally. But whatever
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