The Myth Makers Part 3
Scene: It is the usual TV panel. The participants sit behind large placards designating them as:
The Reverend Henry Caswall
Reporter No. 1—Mr. Ecks
Reporter No. 2—Mr. Wye
Reporter No. 3—Mr. Zee
The Caswall credentials
Moderator: This evening we have as our guest the man whose story of Joseph Smith and the Greek Psalter has been voted the most effective single contribution to anti-Mormon literature; it is, to the best of our knowledge, the only story implicating Smith in a fraud that has never been questioned. We shall ask Mr. Caswall’s friend, Mr. W. S. Parrott, to introduce him. Mr. Parrott.
W. S. Parrott: “In our attempt to exhibit Mormonism in its truly diabolical character, it gives us satisfaction to be able to appeal to so high and reliable an authority as the Reverend Henry Caswall, vicar of Figheldean, and Rural Dean of Salisbury.”1 Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the unquestioned, the unchallenged, the undoubted, the one and only Reverend Henry Caswall! (Applause.)
Henry Caswall: Thank you, my friends. “It has come to pass in the course of Divine Providence, that although I am now the pastor of an English congregation, I have become well acquainted with the early history of the ‘Latter-day Saints'; and seen and conversed with their ‘prophet,’ at the head-quarters of their sect in Western America. And, in consequence of the information which I have thus obtained, I do not merely think the religion of the ‘Latter-day Saints’ to be erroneous, but I absolutely know that it is founded upon a base and vile imposture.”2
Reporter 1: You are speaking, then, from firsthand knowledge?
Caswall: Oh, absolutely! I am reporting “what I saw of the ‘prophet’ myself, and heard from his lips.”3
Reporter 1: Speaking of reports, Mr. Caswall, here is the latest: “It was from a Lancashire nonconformist pastor, the Reverend Thomas Dent of Billington, near Whalley, that Henry Caswall got much of the material which enabled him to publish in 1843 his well-known book ‘The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century.’ ” I take it from this, sir, that all of your information was not acquired firsthand.4
Caswall: Of course not. I used the usual sources. But what gives my work unique authority is the part of it that was acquired firsthand.
Reporter 2: Was The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century the only book based on your experience with Joseph Smith?
Caswall: Certainly not. There were others.
Reporter 1: Would you name them for us?
Caswall: Gladly. Let’s see—first in 1842 there was my book The City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo, an enlarged and revised edition of which appeared in the following year; a long report on the same book appeared in the Weekly Visitor in 1842; then in 1843 I published The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, which is probably my best-known work. I gave a full account of my visit to Nauvoo in my book The American Church, published in 1851, and also in a book entitled Mormonism and Its Author, published in the same year. Those were my principal writings.
Parrott: Mr. Caswall is too modest. He forgets that in 1865 he supplied me with a lengthy manuscript on the subject of his visit to Nauvoo, which I printed in my own book, The Veil Uplifted, or The Religious Conspirators of the Latter-day Saints Exposed. Do you remember, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: It was my last major effort.
Moderator: My, that’s quite a record. Six printed accounts, at least, of your dealings with Joseph Smith—and all written by you personally?
Caswall: All but the report in the Weekly Visitor. That was a review.
Reporter 2: Just how well did you know Joseph Smith, Rev. Caswall?
Caswall: Well enough. He was “a low juggler, without character, without education, without common prudence or decency.”5
Reporter 2: Others who visited Nauvoo at the time reported very differently.
Caswall: I can only report what I experienced. “But, besides what I saw of the ‘prophet’ myself, and heard from his lips, I made many inquiries in the neighborhood of Nauvoo, from which I satisfied myself that Joseph Smith was even more wicked than I could have supposed.”6
Reporter 2: By “even more wicked” you mean that you had decided that he was wicked before you ever went to Nauvoo?
Caswall: “It is difficult to imagine a human being more corrupt, or more destitute of redeeming qualities. . . . [There is] little in his character besides unscrupulous audacity, reckless falsehood, low cunning, grovelling vulgarity, daring blasphemy, and grasping selfishness.”7
Moderator: Excuse me, Mr. Caswall, we are not asking for your opinion just yet; what the gentleman asked, and what we would all like to know, is just how intimately you were acquainted with Joseph Smith.
Caswall: “The task of delineating the prophet’s infernal character has been certainly far from agreeable to me.”8
Reporter 2: Yes, sir, we understand that; but let’s put it this way: How many times did you meet Joseph Smith?
Caswall: Once, but that was enough to satisfy myself that he “was even more wicked than I could have supposed.”
Reporter 2: That will come later, if you please. How long did you talk with him? An hour? Two hours?
Caswall: I have recorded our conversation with great care, naturally. At present I cannot recall precisely how long it might have taken.
Reporter 2: But from every one of the accounts you have written, sir, it seems to me that your meeting with Smith could not possibly have taken more than ten minutes at the most. That is why I am asking you now. Your name and fame rest on the much-publicized pronouncement that you “have seen and conversed with the prophet”; you have published no less than five books which derive their high authority from that one conversation. Naturally we want to know how close you were to Smith—no offense.
Caswall: None in the least, sir, though I fail to see how you arrive at your limit of ten minutes.
Reporter 2: Very easily. In all your reports of the affair you were introduced to Smith and without any preliminaries you both sat down; you gave him a book and asked him one question; he asked you a short one in reply to which you answered in a single short sentence; then he gave a speech of some fifty-five words and you changed the subject of conversation and asked Smith a short question to which he did not reply, leaving the room immediately and without explanation. That was the last of your one and only meeting with Joseph Smith. It may have lasted ten minutes, but it could all have been over in three. Even if you dragged it out, it seems from your various accounts that hardly a hundred words could have passed between you. Now what kind of a . . .
Moderator: I am sure the Reverend Caswall will explain all this in the course of our interview. Mr. Zee, we have not heard from you.
Reporter 3: I would like to ask Mr. Caswall where these reports were published.
Caswall: In England, sir.
Reporter 3: All of them?
Caswall: All of them.
Reporter 3: England and America were very far apart indeed in the 1840s. Did the great width of the ocean in those days give you a measure of immunity from criticism by publishing in England?
Moderator: Oh, come now, sir; Mr. Caswall can hardly be asked to take such insinuations seriously. Why do you ask such a question?
Reporter 3: Because the editor of an American journal reviewing Mr. Caswall’s book in 1843 raises the point. The English reviewers described Mr. Caswall as an intrepid hero who had “visited ‘an utmost corner of the habitable globe—or the haunts of a megalotherion,’ ” an impression which Mr. Caswall’s own writings vividly confirm. The American editor feels that our friend’s book has grossly misrepresented things; he writes: “If Professor Caswall has, by his book or otherwise, contributed in any measure to confirm the prejudices of the British press against our country and our institutions; if he joins in with the blind and stupid slang of such publications as the article under consideration [that is, the English review of his book], we would counsel him to remain in ‘sound, enlightened, and Protestant England.’ “9 This man feels strongly that you have an ax to grind, Mr. Caswall.
Caswall: Well, of course the friends of the Mormons could hardly be expected to applaud my exposures.
Reporter 3: This man I have quoted is no friend of the Mormons, I can assure you—he hates them as much as you do, for he is the editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review, from which I have been quoting; he says of the reviewer who praises your work, “By the way, some of the reviewer’s statements savor not a little of ignorance of American affairs in general, and of the facts he undertakes to represent.”10
Moderator: One cannot expect a visitor to a country to be an expert in everything, sir. Perfect knowledge of affairs is too much to hope for.
Reporter 3: But an unprejudiced report of what one actually sees is something else. Our reviewer says that the terms in which Mr. Caswall depicts the American frontier “to an American, sound really ludicrous,” which suggested to me that a book written and published in England about Nauvoo might get away with a good deal, especially since the reviewer observes: “We would advise him [Mr. Caswall], that with such narrow and prejudiced views of America . . . he will not long be allowed to teach the youth of the enlightened, enterprising, and chivalrous west. Even a ‘divinity’ chair cannot long be occupied by such a ‘professor’ in any portion of the republic.”11
Moderator: Obviously the man was wrought up—his patriotism is touched, but he does not object to what Mr. Caswall says about the Mormons, does he?
Reporter 3: He does not accuse him of prejudice towards the Mormons, but only of extreme superficiality in describing their teachings and practices. He specifically takes him to task for presuming to write about the Book of Mormon without having read it. After all, if Mr. Caswall was “narrow and prejudiced” where America in general was concerned and where no religious or moral sentiments were involved, and if he was willing to express his prejudice in distortions that “sound really ludicrous,” what are the chances of his giving a cool, impartial account of his arch enemy, Joseph Smith?
Man with a grievance
Caswall: Arch enemy? I admit, what I have said about Smith has not been very flattering, but what gives you the idea that he was my particular enemy?
Reporter 3: Your dramatic account of your soliloquy on the bank of the Mississippi on your first evening in Montrose. Do you remember? You had just arrived at Montrose, across the river from Nauvoo, which you planned to visit for the first time on the following morning. You walked up and down on the shore and gazed at the city across the river, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. Do you remember the reflections that passed through your mind then?
Caswall: How can I forget them? I said to myself on the eve of my momentous visit to the Mormon headquarters, “Why is Kemper College, the first and only institution of the Church beyond the Mississippi, permitted to languish, while the Mormon temple, and the Mormon university offer their delusive attractions to the rising generation? Why is the venerable Bishop of Illinois permitted to labor almost alone, while the missionaries of Joseph Smith, with a zeal worthy of the true Church, perambulate his diocese and plant their standard in every village?”12
Reporter 1: So you viewed Smith and his missionaries as trespassers on your ecclesiastical domain, perambulating your bishop’s diocese with impunity?
Caswall: It was worse than that. He was stealing our people. It was the sight of “immense numbers of English Mormons, who passed near Kemper College on their way to the prophet and the temple” that induced me to go there myself;13 I was animated by “nothing but a sense of duty of exposing imposture.”14
Reporter 3: Joseph Smith’s success with “your people” disturbed you?
Caswall: As I said then, “Oh! how mournful to look around, as I can at present, and to reflect, how many have been enticed away from their homes, dragged across earth and sea, and brought to this unwholesome spot, where, with the loss of substance and of health, they are too often left to perish in wretched poverty and bitter disappointment.”15
Reporter 1: What is Kemper College, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: You mean you don’t know, sir? I am depressed to hear you ask that. I, sir, was the dean of Kemper College, sent to “these melancholy regions” to establish an institution of higher learning for the training of the clergy.
Reporter 2: Whatever happened to Kemper College?
Caswall: That is a painful question, sir. The promised divinity students never showed up; those students who did come never got around to paying their tuition; the house generously promised by the trustees of the university as a shelter for my family in those remote regions was never built; bickering and mismanagement, for which I was in no way responsible, led from one thing to another. The college came to nothing, while the Mormon university flourished, and I returned to England and the obscurity of a country parish.16
Moderator: Hardly obscurity, sir. From there you rocked the world with your books against Joseph Smith.
Reporter 2: Did you hold Smith responsible for the ruin of your career?
Caswall: I resent that question.
Reporter 2: Excuse me, but you specifically contrasted the declining cause of your church with the zeal and success of the Mormon missionaries, and deplored the languishing, as you called it, of Kemper College in face of the “delusive attractions” of the Mormon university. It was you who suggested a keen sense of rivalry. Did you recommend any steps towards meeting the Mormon threat?
Caswall: Indeed, I suggested that “the appointment of a self-denying missionary to reside in the immediate vicinity of Nauvoo might in some degree check the rising heresy,” and I also pointed out that “the success of Joseph Smith appears to warrant a system of emigration and settlement conducted on religious principles.”17
Reporter 2: Most interesting. You suggested that the best way to further the cause of your own church in the new land and the success of your own assignment would be to copy Joseph Smith’s missionary and emigration policies. You actually reported that Smith’s success warranted an imitation of his methods. Plainly you were competitors in the same business, and he was getting the best of it in everything. If Joseph Smith was not actually responsible for the demise of Kemper College and your own life’s hopes, he was guilty of succeeding at every point where you had failed. We can certainly understand your emotional involvement here, and if, as the Methodist reviewer pointed out, you allow your prejudices to get the best of you in describing everything in western America, we can hardly expect a fair or impartial picture of Joseph Smith.
Caswall: I do not resent the virtues or the successes of the Mormons, but only their crimes. I found the Mormons to be good, devout people, “but I believe that the leaders of the Mormon sect have been, from the very first, people of the worst character; atheists in religion, and utterly corrupt in practice.”18 Smith himself had no virtues; as I said, “It is difficult to imagine a human being more corrupt, or more destitute of redeeming qualities.”19
Reporter 1: Yet you recommended imitating his religious activities, both in sending out missionaries and in conducting migrations “on religious principles.”
Caswall: It was not his religious principles that were objectionable; when the “furious multitude . . . put the false prophet to death,” it was “not on account of his religion, but for his crimes.”20
Reporter 3: And you yourself were a witness to those crimes?
Caswall: What I saw of the prophet himself and heard from his own lips “satisfied me that he was even more wicked than I had supposed.”
Reporter 2: “Even more wicked” means that you approached Smith with the fixed idea that he was very wicked; and you were not dismayed or surprised but “satisfied” to find him so.
Caswall: I have so described him. Even “Sidney Rigdon . . . published a letter in the American papers describing the prophet as one polluted mass of corruption, iniquity, and fraud—a beast and a false prophet.”21
Reporter 2: Indeed. And in what American papers was that sensational letter published?
Caswall: I cannot tell you now. If I had it I would quote it.22
Reporter 1: Why don’t you quote it in your book? As a Christian and a clergyman, how can you say such things of one who did you no harm?
Caswall: “Although it is not in general a Christian duty to speak ill of any one, especially after he has gone to answer for himself before his Judge, yet in the case of a deceiver, whose lying doctrines are perverting thousands from the right way, the ordinary course of duty is reversed.”23
Reporter 2: So in the case of Smith alone the normal rule of Christian charity and “the ordinary course of duty” are not only suspended but reversed, so that to speak ill of him is a duty. And why? Because of his doctrines—you did not say his crimes, but his “doctrines.”
Caswall: I said “lying doctrines” that “have perverted thousands from the right way.”
Reporter 2: But doctrines nonetheless . . .
Caswall: That “have perverted thousands from the right way!”
Reporter 2: From “the right way” as you see it. Smith’s crime is that he has found believers of his doctrines.
Reporter 1: How about his followers? You describe them as “respectable” and sincere Christians. Do you think they suffered deservedly at the hands of the mob?
Caswall: I did not call it a mob but a “furious multitude.” However, “is it not plain that the persecutions of the Mormons were not persecutions ‘for righteousness sake,’ but the direct contrary? And when the wrath of an American community was once roused, and the Mormons were driven out of neighborhoods which loathed them, we can scarcely wonder, however we may regret, that the innocent should often have suffered for the guilty.”24
Reporter 3: Will you not as a minister let God be the judge in these things?
Caswall: “As I am a minister of Christ, bound by my Ordination Vows ‘to be ready to drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines,’ it is of course my duty to guard my parishioners and others against being led astray by the false teachings in question.”25
Reporter 2: There you go again, Mr. Caswall! The real issue is one of “strange doctrines” and “false teachings.” You say, sir, that Smith was not murdered for his religious teachings but for his crimes: yet when we ask you what his crimes were, you can only refer us to his religious teachings. Don’t you believe in charity towards your enemies?
Caswall: “With the knowledge which I possess on the subject, I should be showing a great want of charity to my countrymen, if I willingly suffered them to think well of the ‘Latter-day’ doctrine. Nor have they any right to call me their Enemy, because I tell them the Truth. . . . [Smith was] a mere cheat and delusion, pernicious to man, and hateful to God.”26
Reporter 2: “Doctrine” again. I also notice that you speak to Englishmen as one possessing special and firsthand knowledge. You are obviously out to take the fullest advantage of your position, addressing yourself to a public that is in no position to question your “firsthand” report; you have declared it your policy to show no mercy and no quarter where the Mormons are concerned—to do so, you say, would be “to show great want of charity” to your countrymen. You have voiced frustration and rage, singling out Joseph Smith as the special object of your wrath. A fellow minister and anti-Mormon has protested your obvious prejudice and your lamentable tendency to exaggerate. Now the question is: since you are the only witness to the story you tell about Joseph Smith, how far is that story to be trusted?
Caswall: As I have just told you, no matter how fiercely I attack this monster, no matter how the Mormons may resent my words, they do not have “any right to call me their Enemy, because I tell them the Truth.”
Nothing but the truth?
Reporter 1: Since absolute truth is the vindication of your position, Mr. Caswall, it is very important for you not to indulge in any misrepresentation or exaggeration whatever, though, according to your Methodist reviewer, you are prone to those weaknesses. What did you say was the title of your first original report?
Caswall: My first book about my experiences with Joseph Smith was entitled The City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo.
Reporter 1: Were you three days at Nauvoo?
Moderator: Mr. Ecks, surely nobody questions that part of Mr. Caswall’s story.
Reporter 1: I am not questioning it. I am trying to find out what Mr. Caswall means by “Three Days at Nauvoo.” Could you tell us how you spent your first day in Nauvoo, Professor? How many hours did you pass in the town?
Caswall: That was Sunday, 17 April 1842, I crossed the river just in time to attend the Mormon church service there, which began at about half past ten o’clock and lasted almost until two in the afternoon.
Reporter 1: Then what did you do?
Caswall: I had lunch at an inn and returned immediately to Montrose.
Reporter 1: So allowing a full hour for lunch, you were only five hours in Nauvoo at the most on your first day, and the time was all spent in a public religious meeting and in a public eating house. That would hardly give you the time or opportunity to look into the most dark and secret crimes of the Mormons. When did you cross the river to Nauvoo, the next morning?
Caswall: At ten o’clock. I went straight to Joseph Smith’s house, but he wasn’t home, so I saw some exhibits, conversed with some Mormons, and went back to Montrose again.
Reporter 1: According to one of your accounts you spent the afternoon riding on the prairie around Montrose with an anti-Mormon friend. And what did you do on the third day?
Caswall: That was when I met Joseph Smith. I crossed the river with a Mormon doctor, went directly to Smith’s house, and conversed with him there. Then I had a lively religious discussion with some of his followers. It is all recorded in my writings.
Reporter 1: And then?
Caswall: And then I returned again to Montrose and “during the remainder of the day, I employed myself in obtaining testimony from the persons residing in Iowa in reference to the character and conduct of their Mormon neighbors. I have every reason to believe that this testimony is correct, partly because it agrees with what I myself saw in Nauvoo, and partly because of the character and respectability of the witnesses.”27
Reporter 1: What sort of things did those witnesses report of the Mormons that were so terrible?
Caswall: Well, for one thing, they said that the Mormons preached that they had a right to steal anything they wanted.28
Reporter 1: And this astonishing accusation is borne out by what you yourself saw in Nauvoo?
Caswall: It is.
Reporter 2: Yet you mention no crimes witnessed in any of your books. You report that the Mormons were not only well behaved but kind and hospitable in their treatment of you. How can such behavior “agree” with the atrocity stories you gathered in Iowa?
Moderator: How did we get on this subject?
Reporter 1: We were testing Mr. Caswall’s claim that he used only truth as his weapon, and I pointed out that he entitled his first book Three Days at Nauvoo. Now I have done a little figuring and it turns out that of the seventy-two hours Mr. Caswall is supposed to have spent among the Mormons at Nauvoo, at least sixty hours, or five-sixths of the time was spent among the anti-Mormons of Montrose! It was there that he did his real research, which consisted not in seeing with his own eyes but in gathering gossip. I am wondering if his claim of absolute truth will hold up, in view of such things.
Caswall: I resent that, sir. There was far more to it than that. Right among the Mormons “I met with persons at Nauvoo, who were perfectly acquainted with the wickedness of Smith, and did not even pretend to deny it, who yet professed to believe firmly that he was a true prophet.”29
Reporter 2: That is remarkable indeed, to be “perfectly acquainted” with the man’s incredible wickedness and still believe in him. He was wicked, you said?
Caswall: I assure you, sir, such were his awful profanations “that nothing but a sense of duty in exposing imposture could have induced me to commit them to paper.”30
Reporter 3: That’s putting it strongly enough, and certainly if you found Mormons in Nauvoo who admitted “the wickedness of Smith,” your long trip was worth the trouble. But tell me, Mr. Caswall, why didn’t you mention this all-important fact until your last paper on the subject, in 1865?
Caswall: What do you mean?
Reporter 3: In your various books based on your visit to Nauvoo you milked the situation for all it was worth, yet the presence of loyal followers of Smith in Nauvoo who were “perfectly acquainted” with his “wickedness” you did not report until your parting shot in 1865. It was not until twenty-three years after your first report that you remembered the most damning evidence of all.
Caswall: It must have slipped my mind.
Moderator: Come, gentlemen, let us get to Mr. Caswall’s story. I hope the Reverend Caswall will understand that these gentlemen of the press are quite frank and searching and won’t take offense.
Reporter 2: Before we leave the subject of prejudice I would like to ask Mr. Caswall about one charge he brings against Joseph Smith, or rather three charges; namely, that Smith was an adulterer, a murderer, and a thief. Did you make those accusations, sir?
Caswall: Not three charges, sir, but six.
Reporter 2: These three will do. You said you could prove these things. How do you prove the first one, that Smith was an adulterer?
Caswall: “There is evidence that, early in his career, he was heard to say, that ‘adultery was no crime.’ “31
Reporter 2: You only met Smith at the end of his career, and the same is true of the “neighbors” you interviewed in Iowa, so for all you know the “evidence” from “early in his career” might have been trumped up; even so, you don’t say what the evidence was, or how much “is available,” and what the evidence is supposed to prove. Not that Smith practiced adultery, but simply that “he was heard to say” something about it which any smart-aleck might have said. Have you better “evidence” that Smith was a murderer?
Caswall: I have the best. For on page 218 of Smith’s own book, the Doctrine and Covenants, occurs the expression, “thine enemy is in thine hand.”32
Reporter 2: Well?
Caswall: That proves that Smith was a murderer.
Reporter 1: The expression referred to is, I believe, a biblical one. Doesn’t it occur a number of times in the book of Job? The Lord told Satan that Job was “in his hand”—yet that did not mean that Job was to be killed; quite the opposite, Satan was to be held responsible for what happened, and Job was definitely not to suffer death.
Moderator: Come, gentlemen, let’s not get involved in a theological discussion.
Reporter 1: Not at all. The point is that the passage referred to, taken in or out of context as you will, cannot possibly be construed as evidence of intent to murder, let alone of its commission.
Reporter 2: Come, Mr. Caswall, as you know, what interests us is your personal testimony as to Smith’s doings.
Caswall: And it is on that very personal testimony that I rest my charge that he was a thief. Smith actually “said these words, as I am informed by one who heard him.”
Reporter 3: Just a moment, sir. Did you hear him say the words?
Caswall: The next best thing to it: one of the people I talked with in Montrose, one of Smith’s neighbors, told me. And he was actually there and heard him say it!
Moderator: Very well, and what did he hear him say?
Caswall: “He said, . . . ‘The world owes me a good living: if I cannot get it otherwise, I will steal it; and catch me at it if you can.’ “
Reporter 2: Who told you that?
Caswall: Never mind, it was somebody in Montrose. It makes no difference who said it, since Smith made his remark at a public meeting attended by large numbers of people.
Reporter 1: There were non-Mormons present at the meeting?
Caswall: Of course. My informant was not a Mormon; he was present and heard it.
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, you have said that Smith was remarkably successful in his bold and ambitious plans. To what do you attribute his success?
Caswall: To his “low cunning” and to “a genius . . . fertile in its expedients.”33
Reporter 2: Yet this uncommonly shrewd and cunning man gets up in a big public meeting and, speaking for the record, tells his followers and his enemies alike that he intends to steal. Do you expect us to believe that?
Caswall: But he did steal, “he has not a valid title to a single acre of land around Nauvoo!”34
Reporter 2: Who said so?
Caswall: A man who lived near Nauvoo, in a letter he wrote to me personally.35
Reporter 2: I suppose that makes it personal testimony. But you don’t know, sir, who it is that bestows title to land?
Caswall: Governments do, of course.
Reporter 2: Yes, we will not have to go into that. Now if Smith had no valid title to the land, why did no authorities of county, state, or nation accuse him of trespassing? That is one type of theft that the Mormons could not possibly have gotten away with.
Caswall: Well, actually I did not repeat that charge in my later books. That was in the 1843 edition. In 1851 I wrote that “Smith . . . purchased the site of the new city at a small price (the title being insecure), sold building lots to his followers at a great advance, and realized enormous profits.”36 He was still a thief, you see—he stole from his own followers.
Reporter 2: So you shift your ground from year to year—very convenient. Did Smith make his followers buy lots?
Caswall: The same man who wrote me the letter told how “the history of every dupe reaches Nauvoo in advance, . . . facts being faithfully reported to the Prophet. He knows how to approach the man when he arrives, and make him an easy prey. So that all who join the Mormon community enter upon the the road to beggary and ruin. . . . They desire nothing more of a man than his money, and he is then at the mercy of the leader of the Mormon Banditti.”37
Reporter 2: Yet in the very year you published this letter, you visited Nauvoo and described the people in general as having an “appearance quite respectable, and fully equal to that of the better sort of dissenters . . . in England,” while some of the Mormons who talked with you and entertained you were described as looking very prosperous and respectable. Are you trying to tell us now that these people were all ruined beggars?
Caswall: My basic evidence for Smith’s thievery is a passage in the Book of Covenants: “It is meet that my servant Joseph should have a house built.” That definitely proves that “Smith was a Covetous Man.”38
Reporter 3: But Mr. Caswall, didn’t you expect the trustees of Kemper College to build you a house?
Caswall: We won’t go into that. You must also remember that “Smith was a Profane Swearer.” I can prove that.
Moderator: Go right ahead, sir, prove it.
Caswall: He told some people who had come from England “that he meant to go on as he had begun, and take his own course, and kill and destroy.”39
Reporter 1: Who were the people he said that to?
Caswall: Some of his converts who had just arrived from England.40
Reporter 2: A most tactful introduction, I must say. But even so I fail to see how that makes him “a profane swearer.” Wouldn’t it have been much better to use that as evidence that he was a murderer? Why didn’t you?
Caswall: You have already objected to hearsay evidence.
Reporter 3: People who intend to kill and destroy in civilized or any other society do not go about announcing the fact to their simple and honest followers. For a clever deceiver Smith seems to have used singularly unguarded language. What could have made him so careless?
The drinking stories
Caswall: Drink, no doubt. “Although a married man and the father of a large family, Joseph Smith is notoriously addicted to several kinds of gross debauchery. He has often been intoxicated; and has sometimes justified his inebriation by asserting, with characteristic invention, ‘that it was necessary that he should be seen in that condition to prevent his followers from worshipping him as a God.’ “41
Reporter 2: You say “often intoxicated.” Can you give us a few examples?
Caswall: Certainly. “About the year 1840, at a political meeting in Nauvoo, Joseph became intoxicated, and was led home by his brother Hyrum. On the next Sunday he acknowledged the fact before his assembled congregation.”42
Reporter 2: You got that story from the Mormons?
Caswall: Of course not. It was told me in Iowa—it was there that I gathered the stories of the prophet’s drunkenness.
Reporter 2: In this case your informant was not even sure of the year in which the interesting event took place. Can’t you be more specific?
Caswall: Indeed I can: that is the advantage to doing my research in Montrose, since the Mormons, of course, would not report such things. Let me tell you: “A shop for the sale of ardent spirits having been established at Montrose, a small place opposite Nauvoo, over the river, the ‘prophet’ was often seen intoxicated there by persons who mentioned the fact to me.”43
Reporter 2: So Smith often got drunk in the small anti-Mormon town of Montrose?
Reporter 2: And in that state was often seen by the people there?
Caswall: They told me so personally.
Reporter 2: How would Smith behave on those occasions?
Caswall: “While intoxicated at Montrose, . . . he was heard by several persons saying to himself, ‘I am a P.R.O.F.I.T. I am a P.R.O.F.I.T.’ spelling (or rather misspelling) the word deliberately, and repeating the letters in solemn succession.”44
Reporter 2: So though this clever Smith “with characteristic invention,” as you put it, asserted that he should be seen drunk by his followers lest they think him a God, he preferred to do his drinking among his enemies. Was there perhaps a danger that they might think him a God?
Caswall: Don’t be absurd, sir.
Reporter 2: But what could be more absurd than that a clever man with enormous resources at his disposal, when he gets a taste for liquor, must go to a country store across the river to do his drinking publicly among your anti-Mormon friends? Somehow, Mr. Caswall, your story does not sound too convincing.
Caswall: Actually, sir, it is mild and conservative compared with one eyewitness report.
Reporter 2: Indeed, and what report is that?
Caswall: That of Robert Richards, in The Californian Crusoe. You must have it here.
Moderator: We do. This man was a fellow countryman of yours, Mr. Caswall. His book was published in 1854.
Caswall: He tells much the same story I do, if you will take the trouble to read it.
Moderator: Hmm, let’s see. Here it is. I will read the passage:
Having occasion to cross the river to Montrose [it seems he is passing through on his way to California] . . . I happened . . . on leaving the ferry-boat to take a path which conducted me near a shop which had been established for the sale of whiskey. I heard a voice which sounded like that of the prophet, and looking over a fence I saw Joseph Smith himself lying alone on the grass, with a whiskey bottle by his side, and decidedly far gone in a state of intoxication. He was talking and laughing, and evidently congratulating himself, in a soliloquy, on the success of his devices. “I am a prophet,” he said, “a profitable profit; a profitable prophet indeed I am. Prophetical profits are good profits, very good profits, capital good profits, I’ll be hanged if they ain’t. The saints are a pack of fools; but I am a prophet, a profitable prophet, a prophetical, prophesying, profitable prophet. What was Mahomet compared with me? He was a jackass. What was Napoleon? He was a numbskull. What was Alexander? He was a blockhead. I am a greater man than Moses,—hurrah!—I am a greater man than Moses,—hurrah!—hip, hip, hip, hurrah!”45
Reporter 2: Mr. Richards heard all that—and remembered it?
Moderator: He says here, “I might have heard much more, but I retreated precipitately, full of horror and consternation.”46
Caswall: This experience, some years after mine, shows how often Smith went to Montrose to get drunk.
Reporter 1: Giving his “profit” soliloquy on Tuesdays and Thursdays for tourists.
Reporter 2: One would think that his faithful followers would have discouraged such regular behavior. Dear me! Smith not only goes among his enemies to get drunk and deliver his loud and revealing monologue in public, but chooses a back lot near the ferry for his scheduled demonstrations.
Reporter 3: Mr. Caswall, this is even a better story than yours. Do you believe it? Soliloquies are unconvincing even on the stage, but apparently Joseph Smith, one of the busiest and most conspicuous public figures in American life, had the time and inclination at the height of his career to make repeated trips to Montrose to make a spectacle of himself, lying about in vacant lots and crowded country stores and loudly proclaiming to the world that he was a fraud.
Reporter 2: It seems that both you and Mr. Richards found Smith to be exactly the kind of character you expected, Mr. Caswall, and were both filled with exquisite loathing—Mr. Richards “retreated precipitately, full of horror and consternation” when he was right on the verge of getting a priceless earful, while you passed up every chance to know Smith and the Mormons well, refusing repeated invitations to stay with them free of charge, and cutting off your conversation with Joseph Smith when it had hardly begun.
Caswall: I assure you, sir, “only the duty of exposing imposture could have induced me to commit the awful profanations of the man to paper.”
Reporter 2: Yet you revel in them. You pounce on the most lurid tales with the least possible proof in the way of evidence and milk them for all they are worth.
Caswall: I beg your pardon, sir!
Reporter 2: Didn’t you write this? “We believe that he [Joseph Smith] is constantly sending out emissaries to do deeds of darkness and abomination throughout the land. Many here are afraid to speak out, because they well understand that their lives and property will be in danger.”47
Caswall: I did write it; and you can see from that why there was so little evidence. Even so, I saw plenty with my own eyes.
Reporter 2: You say in your 1843 book that after attending a meeting in Nauvoo on your first day there, you promptly returned to Montrose, and “during the remainder of the day, I employed myself obtaining testimony from persons residing in Iowa in reference to the character and conduct of their Mormon neighbors.”48 These reports you describe as uniformly horrifying and declared of your own personal knowledge that they were true.49
Caswall: Because they agreed “with what I myself saw and heard in Nauvoo.”50
Reporter 2: That is just it. You had spent a few hours of a quiet Sunday in Nauvoo—at meeting, with the general public invited—yet what you managed to see and hear confirmed beyond doubt all the stories of murder and robbery you picked up in Iowa. It is hard to believe that you came to Nauvoo with an open mind.
Caswall: Well, what should I think? Here at that meeting were “numerous groups of English emigrants, together with many little children, who had been removed from the privileges of their mother Church, and led by their besotted parents into this den of heresy, to imbibe the principles of a delusion worse than paganism.”51
Reporter 2: And it was in that state of mind that you entered the meeting. No wonder you found what you wanted to in Montrose. And may I again point out that the specific crime—the only crime you could discover—is “heresy.”
Caswall: I did not make up the stories.
Reporter 1: Of course you didn’t, sir. Such stories were being told everywhere. That has made me rather curious about your informants. Who were the people in Montrose who told you all these things about the Mormons?
Caswall: My principal informant was my kind host in Montrose.
Reporter 1: How did he get on with the Mormons?
Caswall: He hated them with all his soul, while the Mormons on their part “used the most violent language” against my kind entertainer; they “said that he was their bitter enemy and persecutor, that he was as bad as the people in Missouri, and that I should not believe a word that he said.” They most earnestly importuned me not to stay at his house.52
Reporter 1: And it was at his house and under his direction that you picked up all those stories about Smith’s drunkenness and Mormon atrocities?
Caswall: It was.
Reporter 1: So out of the seventy-two hours that made up your famous “Three Days in Nauvoo,” at least sixty of them were spent at Montrose with this man and his friends, whom the Mormons considered their worst enemies and unqualified liars.
Caswall: They were prejudiced, the Mormons, that is.
Moderator: Well, gentlemen, we must be getting on, here. Have we made any progress?
Reporter 2: I think we have. I think Mr. Caswall plainly has the will, motive, and trained capacity to exaggerate when he speaks of Joseph Smith.
Caswall: You did not know Smith as I did, sir!
Reporter 2: By a difference of five (or shall we allow ten?) minutes. I don’t wish to be captious or insulting, Mr. Caswall, but here is this fiendishly clever Smith, successful as you say, in his great enterprises, his followers convinced that he is a man of God—all depends on his skill as a deceiver to keep up the game. So what does he do? He announces at a public meeting attended by those who believe him to be righteous and those who are seeking occasion against him (your friends from Montrose who told you about it), that the world owes him a good living, that he intends to steal it, and that they are invited to “catch me at it if they can.” He tells new converts, just arrived starry-eyed after the long, hard journey from England, “that he meant to go on as he had begun, and take his own course, and kill and destroy.” With unlimited resources at his disposal and an all-important reputation to be preserved, this exceedingly sly fellow cannot get drunk in Nauvoo, but must go to a public tavern a mile away to get stewed time after time so that his friends and enemies can enjoy the sight of his colossal indiscretions. I mention these sordid details as a test of Mr. Caswall’s impartiality and reliability as a witness.
Moderator: I think we are all agreed that the best thing to do is to begin at the beginning and let Professor Caswall tell the story in his own way. Can you take us back to Kemper College and St. Louis, Mr. Caswall?
The 1842 story
Caswall: Well, there I was in Kemper College, with things going badly and all those vast numbers of Mormons pouring through on their way to Nauvoo with its temple and university—from England, mind you! I talked to one group of them in St. Louis, “and suggested to them the importance of not committing themselves and their property to a person who had long been known in that country as a deceiver.” But they would not listen. “From that moment I was determined to visit the stronghold of the new religion, and to obtain, if possible, an interview with the prophet himself.” Accordingly, on Friday, 15 April 1842, I took the boat from St. Louis up the river.53
Reporter 2: When did you arrive at Montrose?
Caswall: I got off the boat about ten o’clock Sunday morning, 17 April 1842. I wanted to cross to Nauvoo immediately, but the ferry was not working. But there were some people in a skiff who were just going over to meeting, and they invited me to go with them. They were Mormons going over to Nauvoo to the Sunday meeting.
Reporter 1: Did you talk with them?
Caswall: I tried to convince them, of course, and one man in particular. But I found him “thoroughly wedded to his delusion.”
Moderator: I don’t believe it will be necessary for Mr. Caswall to describe the Sunday meeting—he has already told us his impression of the respectability of the people he saw there. What we want to hear is of his meeting with Joseph Smith. Was that on the following day, sir?
Caswall: No, sir, it was not. It was on Tuesday, but Monday’s experiences were most enlightening. I talked with Smith’s mother and leaders of the Church.
Moderator: That should be worth hearing. How did you cross the river next morning?
Caswall: With another boatload of immigrants.
Reporter 1: What sort of people were they?
Caswall: As I have said, “they were very decent-looking people, and by no means of the lowest class.”
Reporter 2: Did you argue with them again?
Caswall: I did, but to no avail. “I had laid aside my clerical apparel, and had assumed a dress in which there was little probability of my being recognized as ‘a minister of the Gentiles.’ In order to test the scholarship of the prophet I had further provided myself with an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalter written upon parchment, and probably about six-hundred years old.”54
Reporter 2: Do laymen make a habit of going about arguing religion with ancient Greek parchments under their arm? Your book and your talk were bound to raise questions, with only one possible answer.
Caswall: Oh, they did! The people were curious about me, and they made every effort to discover my identity.
Reporter 2: And you actually think your clever disguise, which consisted of wearing ordinary clothes, while behaving in a most clerical manner, was not penetrated by any of them, even though so many of them had known Church of England ministers all their lives?
Moderator: Please, let Mr. Caswall continue.
Caswall: As soon as I landed I walked up the straggling main street of the town until I came to a respectable-looking store, where I began to converse with the respectable-looking storekeeper. “I mentioned that I had been informed that Mr. Smith possessed some remarkable Egyptian curiosities, which I wished to see. I added that, if Mr. Smith could be induced to show me his treasures, I would show him in return a very wonderful book which had lately come into my possession.”
Reporter 1: So you started right in by pushing your “very wonderful book.” That must have excited their curiosity.
Caswall: Indeed it did. The storekeeper “begged to be permitted to see the wonderful book” and “I produced to view . . . its mysterious characters. Surprise was depicted on the countenances of all present.” They regretted that Smith had gone to Carthage for the day and would not be back until nine o’clock in the evening. They were so excited about the book that they wanted to send a special rider to bring the prophet back to Nauvoo immediately to see it.55
Reporter 2: There were others present in the store?
Caswall: There were “many astonished spectators” when “I unfolded it from the many wrappers in which I had enveloped it.”
Reporter 2: And your book really made a stir among them?
Caswall: “All expressed the utmost anxiety that I should remain in the City until the prophet’s return.” They were determined that he should see that book.56
Reporter 2: What did you say to their offer to go right away and fetch Smith?
Caswall: “This I declined, and told” them “that my stay in Nauvoo must be very limited. They promised to pay all my expenses, if I would remain; and assured me that they would ferry me over the river as often as I desired it, free of charge; besides furnishing me with a carriage and horses to visit the beautiful prairies in the vicinity.”57
Reporter 2: What more could you want, man? Here was your golden opportunity to meet Smith face to face and to see “the stronghold of the new religion” as you called it, from the inside. Those, you said, were the two objects of your expedition—and you refused! You refused a proffered meeting with Smith and you refused to stay in Nauvoo.
Caswall: I told them that I didn’t need Smith to read my book. I said, “I am going to England next week, and doubtless I shall find some learned man in one of the universities who can expound it.”58
Reporter 2: And with that statement you announced to them that you yourself did not know what the book was—please bear that in mind, sir.
Moderator: Come gentlemen, let us get on with the story. What happened next, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: “The store-keeper . . . led me to a room behind his store” and there explained some of Smith’s Egyptian papyri, which he showed me—the place was Smith’s office. After that “a very respectable-looking Mormon asked me to walk over to his house,” where we talked about religion for a while. Then I went back to the store, “where the storekeeper expressed his readiness to show me the mummies. Accordingly, he led the way to a small house, the residence of the prophet’s mother. On entering the dwelling I was introduced to this eminent personage as a traveler from England, desirous of seeing the wonders of Nauvoo.”59
Reporter 2: Plainly you had made quite an impression. What did Mrs. Smith do?
Caswall: First she looked at my “wonderful book. She then directed me up a steep flight of stairs into a chamber,” where “she showed me a wretched cabinet, in which were four naked mummies.”
Reporter 2: What was “wretched” about the cabinet? Was it broken or something?
Caswall: It contained those “most disgusting relics of mortality. One, she said, was a king of Egypt, whom she named.”
Reporter 1: Most interesting. And what was the name of the king?
Caswall: I do not remember. Well, Mrs. Smith explained the relics, and “while the old woman was thus delivering herself, I fixed my eyes steadily upon her. She faltered, and seemed unwilling to meet my glance; but gradually recovered her self-possession. The melancholy thought entered my mind, that this poor old creature was not simply a dupe of her son’s knavery; but that she had taken an active part in the deception.”60
Reporter 3: You already knew Joseph Smith was a knave?
Caswall: My remark hardly allows of any other interpretation.
Reporter 3: Yet it was not until then that “the melancholy thought entered your mind,” as you say, that his mother also might not be strictly honest. Do you, after what you have said, expect us to believe either that you were surprised by the thought or that it made you melancholy?
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, at the time you undertook your investigations in Nauvoo, Mr. Howe’s anti-Mormon classic had been off the press for eight years and run into several editions. Indeed, you cite from it extensively in your 1842 report. Permit me to read to you from that work a quotation from the affidavit of one Abigail Harris. Just like you, Miss Harris had a conversation with Mrs. Smith about her son Joseph while the latter was out of town. In reply for a request for a loan of four or five dollars, to help Joseph out, “I replied,” says Abigail, “he might look in his stone and save time and money. The old lady seemed confused and left the room, and thus ended the visit.”61 You depict the old lady’s strange discomposure in much the same way. Now I wonder, since you had read Howe’s book, whether—
Moderator: Please, gentlemen, let us not engage in personalities and innuendos.
Reporter 3: It would be hard to imagine a more personal remark than that just made by Mr. Caswall about Joseph Smith and his mother. And on what does he base it? His impression that Mrs. Smith “seemed unwilling” to meet his stare. Do you like to be stared at, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: I was not staring.
Reporter 3: You said that while she was explaining things to you, you fixed your eyes steadily upon her. That describes the rudest kind of a stare. You say she seemed unwilling to meet your glance. Do you willingly stare back at people? What did you expect Mrs. Smith to do? To have stared back at you would have been a sure sign (in your book) of unblushing fraud and insolent prevarication. What do you mean when you say the old lady “faltered”? Did she fall down?
Caswall: She hesitated in her speech.
Reporter 3: And because this “poor old creature,” as you call her, hesitates or pauses as she points out to you the various objects on display—and who would not falter before such an ill-mannered audience?—you brazenly proclaim that you have discovered proof of criminal conspiracy.
Moderator: Please, Mr. Zee!
Reporter 3: Shall we read Mr. Caswall’s statement again?
Moderator: What did you do after viewing the mummies, Reverend Caswall?
Caswall: I requested a copy of the Book of Mormon and she sold me one for a dollar. Then I left the cottage and went to the printing office of the Mormons, where my friend the storekeeper “introduced several dignitaries of the ‘Latter-day Church,’ and many other Mormons, to whom he begged to exhibit my wonderful book.”62
Reporter 2: Still the wonderful book. And how did they react to it?
Caswall: “The Mormon authorities . . . formally requested me to sell them the book, for which they were willing to pay a high price.”63
Reporter 2: What was your reply?
Caswall: “This offer I positively refused, and they next importuned me to lend it to them, so that the prophet might translate it. They promised to give bonds to a considerable amount.”
Reporter 1: And you refused even to lend it to them on those conditions?
Caswall: “I was still deaf to their entreaties, and having promised to show the book to their prophet on the ensuing day, I left them and returned to Montrose.”64
Reporter 2: That was the second time that day you promised to show the book to Smith, wasn’t it?
Reporter 3: Really? I missed that. What happened the other time, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: It was back at the store, when I first arrived that morning. The crowd in the store was “very desirous that I should remain at Nauvoo during the night; but as I had my fears that some of the saints might have a revelation, requiring them to take my book while I slept, I very respectfully declined their pressing invitation.”65
Reporter 2: They wanted you to show the book to their prophet?
Caswall: Of course. “At length I yielded to their importunities, and promised, that if they would bring me over from Montrose on the following morning, I would exhibit the book to the prophet.”66
Reporter 2: Isn’t it rather odd that you have to be “importuned” to show the book to Smith when, as you have explained, that was your special purpose in acquiring the book in the first place? Isn’t it strange that since your whole object in coming to Nauvoo was to bring Smith and the book together, you only “yielded at length” to their importunities?
Reporter 1: I am still puzzled, Mr. Caswall, by your refusal of the Mormons’ pressing invitation to stay among them. Here they were offering you complete cooperation in your project of research, and I cannot but ask myself why you didn’t make the best of a golden opportunity. I believe you say somewhere that the Mormons begged you to hear their side of the story.
Caswall: Yes. When “I mentioned the name of my hospitable entertainer” in Montrose, the Mormons declared that he was one of their worst enemies, and “again pressed me most earnestly not to return to Montrose; but I continued firm, and expressed my intention of hearing both sides of the question.”67
Reporter 1: But as you very well know, you can hear the other side of the question at any time and place. You had made a long journey specifically to hear the Mormon side, as you claimed—to visit their headquarters and meet their prophet. Yet you spent five-sixths of your precious time gathering gossip against them.
Caswall: We have already discussed that.
Reporter 2: But it is an issue that comes up again and again in your reports, sir. How about the following day?
Caswall: “The following morning (Tuesday, April 19), a Mormon arrived with his boat, and ferried me over to Nauvoo. A Mormon doctor accompanied me. . . . He argued with me as we were on the passage, and evinced a tolerable share of intelligence and acuteness.”68
Reporter 2: Which means that you must have done the same. Plainly, sir, you were not advertising yourself to these people as a dunce—or a layman. What next?
Caswall: I proceeded with the doctor along the street, and “as I advanced with my book in my hand, numerous Mormons came forth from their dwellings, begging to be allowed to see its mysterious pages; and by the time I arrived at the prophet’s house, they amounted to a perfect crowd. I met Joseph Smith at a short distance from his dwelling, and was regularly introduced to him by the storekeeper.”
Reporter 2: At this point in the story, I believe, comes your famous description of the prophet, which has been much quoted. Can you repeat it for us now?
Caswall: Since we are now speaking in the language of my 1842 reports I will confine the description to them, sir: “He is a coarse, plebeian person in aspect, and his countenance exhibits a curious mixture of the knave and the clown. His hands are large and fat, and on one of his fingers he wears a massive gold ring upon which I saw an inscription. . . . I had not an opportunity of observing his eyes, as he appears deficient in that open, straightforward look which characterizes an honest man.”69
Reporter 2: You stared down the prophet’s mother, as I recall, yet you had, you say, “no opportunity of observing his eyes.” Did Smith keep his back turned to you during your formal introduction?
Caswall: Now, sir, you are being ridiculous.
Reporter 2: But that is the only possible way Smith could have kept you, a close and penetrating observer of eyes (as appears elsewhere in your writings), from observing his own. Did you ever read how Josiah Quincy described Joseph Smith after visiting him at Nauvoo at about the same time you were there?
Caswall: Of course the Mormons would have their own version.
Reporter 2: Quincy was no more a Mormon than you are. This is what he said: “By the door stood a man of commanding appearance, clad in the costume of a journeyman carpenter when about his work. He was a hearty, athletic fellow, with blue eyes standing prominently out upon his light complexion, a long nose, and a retreating forehead. . . . ‘A fine-looking man‘ is what a passerby would instinctively have murmured, . . . and one could not resist the impression that capacity and resource were natural to his stalwart person. . . . That kingly faculty which directs, as by intrinsic insight, the feeble or confused souls who are looking for guidance.”70 Quite a contrast to the miserable knave and clown you met, Mr. Caswall.
Caswall: Everyone is welcome to his opinion.
Reporter 1: This gets more peculiar all the time. Mr. Caswall, I think that you will agree with me that there are three things that one does upon being formally introduced to another person: you grasp his hand, look into his eyes, and exchange a few words. Now, I will grant you that the words on such occasions are usually a mere formality, but here you had taken a special trip just to meet this Joseph Smith, yet though you remember and report verbatim every word he spoke to you after you handed him the Psalter, you fail to mention that he so much as opened his mouth up until that time.
Moderator: Why should Mr. Caswall bother to report what you yourself describe as mere formalities, Mr. Ecks?
Reporter 1: Because nothing Joseph Smith would have said or done on that momentous occasion could have gone unmarked by Caswall. Smith’s followers, according to you, sir, had for two days been in a fever of excitement about the mysterious visitor from England and his wonderful book: they were simply dying to bring you and their prophet together, as you describe it; of course they told him all about you the minute he got to town. But does he ask you the usual questions about yourself, your health, your travels, your impressions of Nauvoo, and the rest, that common curiosity or courtesy demand? Not a bit of it! The prophet is as silent as a clam until he starts his fantastic babbling about your manuscript. That seems strange to me. And to make it even stranger, you say you couldn’t get a good look at the eyes of the man you were being “formally introduced” to. If they were “blue eyes standing out prominently,” as Quincy describes them, you could not have failed to “observe” them, unless Smith actually kept his back turned to you.
Moderator: He couldn’t very well have shaken hands with his back turned!
Reporter 1: Exactly. And that brings us to our third point. Some visitors to Nauvoo from Mr. Caswall’s own St. Louis, men just as hostile to the prophet as he, reported their own impression on being introduced to Smith some time later. Among other things, they noted, as reported in the St. Louis Gazette, that though Smith’s “chest and shoulders are broad and muscular,” his hands “are quite small for his proportions.”71 But Mr. Caswall in a much quoted and paraphrased statement assures us, “his hands are large and fat”—”huge” hands, Mr. Richards calls them, taking his cue from the Professor.72 So I naturally begin to wonder, did this man actually hold the prophet’s hand and look into his eyes and speak to him?
Moderator: Please, sir, let Mr. Caswall continue.
Caswall: Smith “led the way to his house, accompanied by a host of elders, bishops, preachers and common Mormons. On entering the house, chairs were provided for the prophet and myself, while the curious and gaping crowd remained standing. I handed the book to the prophet, and begged him to explain its contents. He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied, that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter; but that I should like to hear his opinion.” ” ‘No,’ he said, ‘it ain’t Greek at all; except, perhaps, a few words. What ain’t Greek, is Egyptian; and what ain’t Egyptian, is Greek. This book is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics.’ Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse he said: ‘Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows, is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates. . . . This book ain’t of no use to you; you don’t understand it.”73
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, fortunately you were not, as we have seen, the only person to visit Nauvoo at this time. As the very active leader of a very active religious movement, Smith, as you know, did a great deal of speaking and writing, and his words have survived in considerable abundance. Nowhere at that time is he found to use the kind of grammar you attribute to him.
Reporter 2: What did you say of his language in 1843?
Caswall: That “the language of the prophet, is gross in the extreme.”74
Reporter 2: Did you ever hear him preach?
Caswall: No, but my friends in Montrose did.
Reporter 2: And that is doubtless where you got your interesting samplings of his fantastic grammar. But would you not agree with your supporter, Mrs. Brodie, that you are here “exaggerating the imperfections of Joseph’s grammar”?75
Caswall: There might be some exaggeration.
Reporter 2: Bear in mind, sir, that this quotation just given is the one and only piece of evidence accepted to this day as sure proof of the practice of fraud by Joseph Smith, and that you are the one and only authority for it. This is no time to be taking liberties! Yet in this crucial sentence you have been guilty not only of exaggeration but of gross and stupid exaggeration: “them which follows,” “them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.” Do you expect anybody who knows anything at all about Joseph Smith to believe that he said those words in 1842? He must have forgotten an awful lot since 1839, when another visitor to Nauvoo reported: “We had supposed . . . to find him a very illiterate, uncouth sort of man; but from a conversation, we acknowledge an agreeable disappointment. In conversation he appears intelligent and candid.”76 And he must have learned an awful lot just after you left Nauvoo, for another visitor from St. Louis reports a short time afterwards: “Far from being clownish [he apparently has your description in mind, Mr. Caswall] . . . in his conversation he is uncommonly shrewd, and exhibits more knowledge of books, sacred and profane, than his personal appearance at first seems to promise.”77 Now, Mr. Caswall, you have heard that Smith was both uncommonly shrewd and well-read, while you found him a complete ignoramus and a fool, babbling about gold plates and reformed Egyptian just as your idea of Joseph Smith, the eyeless one, would be expected to. What happened after he addressed you thus?
Caswall: I replied, “oh, yes . . . “
Reporter 1: Referring to what? Excuse me, I am lost here.
Caswall: Referring to his statement that the book was of no use to me. ” ‘Oh yes,’ I replied, ‘ . . . I could sell it, and obtain, perhaps, enough to live on for a whole year.’ ‘But what will you take for it?’ said the prophet and his elders. . . . I replied, ‘I will not tell you what price I would take: but if you were to offer me this moment nine-hundred dollars in gold for it, you should not have it.’ They then repeated their request that I should lend it to them until the prophet should have time to translate it, and promised me the most ample security; but I declined all their proposals. I placed the book in several envelopes, and as I deliberately tied knot after knot, the countenances of many among them gradually sunk unto an expression of great despondency. Having exhibited the book to the prophet, I requested him in return to show me his papyrus, and to give me his own explanation, . . . hitherto received only at second hand.”78
Reporter 2: So their faces fell in great despondency because you resolutely refused to sell them a book which their prophet had told them was “very valuable.” You wouldn’t sell it even for a fabulous sum, you wouldn’t even lend it to them; nay, you wouldn’t even let them or their prophet look at it another minute. Why wouldn’t you sell it?
Caswall: Why should I?
Reporter 2: Because you and your college were in financial straits and could use the money. Because you had but recently acquired the book, as you explained, for the specific purpose of testing Smith’s scholarship, and it had now fulfilled that purpose as far as you were willing to let it, you had no sentimental attachment to it (it was a recent acquisition), you could not read it (you said you would find a reader in England), you never made any other use of it thereafter—the mere possession of the book by you could not prove the fraud. On the other hand, if you had sold it to Smith as he begged you to, you would have made a handsome profit and put the prophet on a very hot spot.
Caswall: How do you mean?
Reporter 2: Here all these people were standing around waiting for Smith to do his stuff. They begged you to give him “time to translate it,” but you knew and Smith knew that he could never read the book, and that there were people in the world who could read it. Therefore, the moment he committed himself before all those sincere and gullible people, your man had really put his foot into it. You had him where you wanted him, and that was the time for you to press your advantage. But what did you do? Instead of forcing Smith to go on with his indiscretions while his people were begging you to continue the show, you firmly took the book away from your victim and stuffed it into its wrappings; you came to Smith’s rescue just in the nick of time. But if you had sold the book to the prophet in the presence of all those people, he would have to deliver; everybody would know he had it and that he had called it Egyptian; he would have no choice but to exhibit his ignorance before all the world.
Caswall: He had already done so, sir.
Reporter 2: On the contrary, everybody in the room believed him, not you; and your behavior was certainly calculated to confirm their suspicion—for it was you, not Smith, who shied away from any further discussion of the Psalter and changed the subject, firmly and finally, just when everything was supposed to be going your way.
Caswall: Wait for the rest of the story, sir. After I asked to see the papyrus, Smith “proceeded with me to his office, accompanied by the multitude. He produced the glass frames which I had seen on the previous day; but he did not appear very forward to explain the figures. I pointed to a particular hieroglyphic and requested him to expound its meaning. No answer being returned, I looked up, and behold! the prophet had disappeared.”
Reporter 3: A supernatural disappearance?
Caswall: Nothing like that. “The Mormons told me he had just stepped out, and would probably soon return. I waited some time but in vain.”
Reporter 2: So you waited and waited but Smith never showed up again? Incidentally, that is just the way Lucy Smith ran away from Abigail Harris.
Caswall: At length I descended to the street in front of the store. “Here I heard the noise of wheels, and presently I saw the prophet in his wagon, flourishing his whip, and driving away as fast as two fine horses could draw him. As he disappeared from view, enveloped in a cloud of dust, I felt that I had turned over another page in the great book of human nature.”79
Reporter 1: Mr. Caswall, when Smith said the book was of no use to you, you replied that it was because you could sell it. You didn’t say you could read it.
Caswall: That is so.
Reporter 1: Then if you couldn’t read your own book, why should Smith be thrown into a panic when you asked him a question about his book? He knew nobody could read Egyptian at that day.
Caswall: What do you mean?
Reporter 1: I mean that what upsets Smith is not your Psalter—he had clearly won that round—but a question about his own papyrus to which he knew perfectly well that you did not know the answer; after all, you asked him the question. Why should Smith, with his celebrated tact and courtesy, to say nothing of his extreme shrewdness and brazen resourcefulness (“characteristic invention” you call it yourself) which was never at a loss, why should Smith be in mortal terror of a deaf old clergyman, and instead of dissembling his feeling have rushed from the room in a panic (with characteristic cunning) to be seen a good while later lashing his horses wildly as he beats a dramatic retreat from the reverend gentleman who has handled him so brilliantly? This story, if I may or may not be excused for saying so, is pure ham, my friends, with the author in the heroic role of the wise, gentle scholar reading the book of human nature without rancor or guile. Pure ham.
Caswall: But I didn’t say Smith was running away from me.
Reporter 2: Not in 1842 you didn’t. That touch was added in 1843, as were a lot of other things.
Moderator: Before we get to the 1843 accounts, gentlemen, please let Mr. Caswall finish up his 1842 story. You may continue, Mr. Caswall.
Caswall: Well, after Joseph Smith had disappeared in a cloud of dust “the Mormons now surrounded me, and required to know whether I had received satisfaction from the prophet.”
Reporter 1: Showing I was right when I said Smith won the first round. From that he evidently won the fight, too.
Caswall: What do you mean, sir?
Reporter 1: That if you made a monkey of Smith, as you later claimed, nobody at the time was aware of it. From what you just said, the Mormons were quite pleased and satisfied that the prophet had come out on top.
Caswall: I soon corrected that illusion. “I replied that the prophet had given me no satisfaction, and that on the contrary, he had proved his own ignorance most effectively.”
Reporter 3: What did they reply to that?
Caswall: Nothing. We changed the subject and talked about the Church of England.
Reporter 2: You mean you didn’t tell them how Smith had proved his ignorance? You not only passed up the chance to pull your clever “Psalter trick” when you were with Smith and before an audience, but actually failed to mention it when others actually asked you how Smith had performed? Well, never mind; we’ll come back to it. What did you talk about next?
Caswall: I challenged the Mormons to perform a miracle. “You maintain,” said I, “that your prophet is sent to establish a third dispensation. I demand therefore, what signs are given to prove his commission?”80
Reporter 1: Don’t you know that was the worst thing you could have done from the Mormon point of view? In their eyes, by asking for a sign you had given yourself completely away.
Reporter 2: And don’t you know that there never was any Mormon teaching about “a third dispensation”?
Moderator: Let’s save the comments and permit Mr. Caswall to tell his story.
Caswall: An “old man replied, that the healing of the sick, the casting out of devils, and the speaking in unknown tongues, were very frequent in the ‘Latter-day Church.’ I said that signs of that kind were of a very doubtful description, since the imagination possessed great power over the nervous system. I inquired whether Smith had ever walked across the Mississippi, or brought a dead man to life. He replied in the negative.”81
Reporter 2: By the way, Mr. Caswall, do you know in later years the story was widespread among anti-Mormon writers that Smith actually tried to walk on the Mississippi? It is interesting that in this earliest mention of the water-walking business it is you, the non-Mormon, who suggest and favor such a demonstration, while the Mormons reject such practices.
Caswall: As I say, “he replied in the negative; but said, that among them the blind received their sight, the ears of the deaf were opened. I then observed, ‘You perceive that I am rather deaf, and you say that I have no faith. Now can you open my ears so that I may hear your arguments more distinctly?’ “
Reporter 1: You actually called for a miracle after announcing that you had no faith? That’s a good one.
Moderator: I must beg you to be silent, sir, until the Reverend Caswall is finished. What happened then, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: “Immediately the old man stepped forward, and before I was aware of his object, thrust his fingers into my ears, and lifting up his eyes, uttered for about a minute in a loud voice some unintelligible gibberish. ‘There,’ he said finally, ‘the Holy Ghost prompted me to do that, and now you have heard the unknown tongue.’ ‘But my hearing is not improved,’ I said. ‘That,’ he replied, ‘is because you have no faith. If ever you believe the Book of Mormon, you will immediately recover perfect hearing, through the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ I looked at him somewhat severely and said, ‘Take heed, old man, what you say.’ “
Reporter 2: That disconcerting gaze again. Mr. Caswall, before you go any farther, may I point out that your story is full of fatal defects. The Mormons practiced healing, but not that way. Who was the old man?
Caswall: I don’t know. Just an old man.
Reporter 2: But you have said that many of the leading Mormon dignitaries were in the crowd. Do you mean to say they all stood by and let that old man undertake a fantastic ordinance that, while it no doubt represents the kind of nonsense you would expect the Mormons to engage in, is at odds in every particular with what they have always practiced and preached? If there is anything the Mormons have always deplored it is the idea of asking for signs.
Reporter 1: That is what I meant when I said that was the worst thing you could have done. For any Mormon that would have marked you as a nothing less than hopeless.
Reporter 2: To this you add the emphatic announcement that you have no faith, and then challenge them to heal you! And they promptly comply with your request! And how do they comply? With all the high officials standing by, an old man, on his own authority, comes forward alone and “thrusts his fingers in your ears”; and though by your own confession you are “rather deaf” to begin with, even with his fingers thrust in your ears you can tell he is speaking gibberish; and though you soon after give him a rousing sermon on sacrilegious behavior, you patiently put up with that treatment and let him complete the “ordinance,” when he tells you that you have heard “the unknown tongue!” For you and you alone, sir, Smith and his followers seem to have adopted a most peculiar pattern of behavior, never reported by any other visitors, but exactly like the stereotype of Mormons that you fully expected to find.
Moderator: It is not our business to speculate on what Mr. Caswall may have expected to find in Nauvoo. What happened after the healing fiasco, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: Some Mormon made a remark to the effect that Mormon preachers did not need the Bible because they were inspired by the Holy Ghost.
Reporter 1: A thing no Mormon ever claimed. To need the Bible and to need nothing but the Bible are two very different things. It seems that Mr. Caswall reduces every Mormon belief and practice to an absurdity, and then claims to have discovered that absurdity brilliantly demonstrated in his few hours in Nauvoo. It is all so marvelously pat.
Moderator: Will you please let Mr. Caswall tell it his way, sir?
Caswall: ” ‘No,’ I said, ‘it is not inspiration, it is a Satanic delusion. Your prophet himself has committed himself today, and I will make the fact known to the world. Would you believe a man calling himself a prophet, who should say that black is white?’ ‘No,’ they replied. ‘Would you believe him if he said that English is French?’ ‘Certainly not.’ ‘But you heard your prophet declare, that this book of mine is a Dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics, written in characters like those of the original Book of Mormon. I know it most positively to be the Psalm of David, written in ancient Greek. Now what shall I think of your prophet?’ “82
Reporter 2: “Now?” After all that, you finally mention the “Psalter trick.” These people knew you could not read the book, and they believed Smith rather than you. Now in the street you simply repeat what you have said before to these people and to Smith, and this time they suddenly believe. You burst out with a triumphant “Now what do you think?” as if you had introduced some new and sensational proof, yet there is none. You had missed your chance in the upper room. Did the people believe you this time?
Caswall: “They appeared confounded for a while; but at length the Mormon doctor said, ‘Sometimes Mr. Smith speaks as a prophet, and sometimes as a mere man.’ “83
Reporter 2: They weren’t confounded when Smith was consulting the Psalter or when he dashed from the room; they were proud of his performance and asked you if you were duly impressed and were not the least disturbed by your answer. Now you can repeat your old refrain, that the book is a Greek Psalter, and lo! they are confounded. Why? What had changed? You had made it clear that you could not read the book: did they suddenly think you could?
Caswall: But I had also made it far clearer that I knew exactly what my book was. I had repeatedly and emphatically declared before these people and their leaders that the book was a Greek Psalter.
Reporter 2: In that case, how can you possibly expect us to accept your statement that you had “brought along a Greek Psalter to test the prophet’s scholarship”? Before you gave him the test, which was to identify the book, you went around telling everybody the answer—you even told Smith the answer before he had a chance to take the test! Remember, you didn’t ask him to read the book, which you couldn’t read yourself, but simply to tell you what it was—after you had first told him what it was! Would he have any reason to doubt you? Did you expect him to contradict you?
Caswall: His answer was a surprise.84
Reporter 2: Exactly. Yet only if Smith was willing to play into your hands by a completely unpredictable and unforeseeable sequence of perfectly insane statements and actions could there have been any “trick” at all. It was Smith’s incalculable behavior that gave you every advantage, yet you, who were supposed in later years to have devised the “trick,” never take advantage of it. Instead of closing the trap when he walks into it, you deftly extricate him from it by closing your book. Later, in the street you say, “Your prophet has committed himself today, and I will make it known to the world.” Why didn’t you call the attention of those present to the event at the time it occurred? Why didn’t you press your advantage when you had it, so that there could be no doubt of the issue, instead of closing your book before you or anyone else had a chance to ask Smith a single question about its contents? You called the thing off when Smith was definitely on top.
Moderator: Perhaps, Mr. Wye, Caswall didn’t want to embarrass the Mormons.
Reporter 2: He had been damning their leader for two days among them, and according to all his reports they never took offense—isn’t that right, Mr. Caswall, or shall I quote?
Caswall: No need to quote; they took it all in good part.85
Reporter 2: And in your last discussion in the street with them (the one we have been talking about) you even confessed to some fastidiousness about hurting their feelings. Do you recall how they responded to that?
Caswall: ” ‘Speak out,’ said some. ‘Go on,’ said others. ‘If Smith be not a true prophet,’ I said, ‘you must admit that he is a gross imposter.’ ‘We must,’ they replied.”86
Reporter 2: They seem to have been a lot more open-minded than you were, sir. They could conceive of an alternative possibility; you could not. Here they invite you to prove Smith a fraud, making it clear that they will take no offense at whatever you may say—and you have already said plenty! Here was your golden chance to exploit the Psalter trick. You had called them to witness, “Your prophet has committed himself today,” and announced your intention to “make it known to the world.” But they had witnessed nothing. Had you demonstrated to their complete satisfaction that the book was a Greek Psalter? No, you had been saying that all along, but, according to you, you could not make them believe you. Did you demonstrate to their complete satisfaction that Smith could not read the book? You had a golden opportunity to do so, but you resolutely passed it by. And now comes your last chance to score a hit in this farewell speech to the Mormons, when they practically beg you to prove your case against Smith. And what happens? You go into a long theological discussion, with no mention of the Psalter! And thus the 1842 version comes to a close.
The 1843 story
Moderator: I am afraid we must hasten on without further discussion to the 1843 accounts.
Reporter 3: You mean we have to go through all this all over again?
Reporter 2: No. That is just the point: we are about to hear a different story now!
Caswall: Not different, sir, “Revised and Enlarged.” Let me read you the preface to the 1843 edition of The City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo:
The following narrative, the result of a few weeks leisure on shipboard, is again presented to the public with a deep sense, on the Author’s part, of the iniquity of an imposture, which, under the name of religion, is spreading extensively in America and in Great Britain. Mormonism needs but to be seen in its true light to be hated; and if the following pages, consisting almost exclusively of the personal testimony of the Author, should assist in awakening indignation against a cruel delusion and a preposterous heresy, he will consider himself amply rewarded.
Reporter 1: This seems to support a good deal that was said, but not acknowledged, by Mr. Caswall, regarding his earlier effort. Here he frankly admits that he wants to make Mormonism “hated,” to “awaken indignation” against it, that he has been nursing in leisure a “deep sense of iniquity,” and that his claim to belief is that his statements “consist almost exclusively of his own personal testimony”—though I might add that there is hardly a statement in the book that he did not get from somebody else.
Moderator: Since our panel seems to be out for blood, Mr. Caswall, you can expect them to emphasize and probably exploit the details of your subsequent accounts that are not found in the first one. They will probably be very suspicious of these. We will anticipate their zeal, and instead of telling the whole story over again each time, simply examine the salient points in which new elements are introduced. Sometimes the repetitions are significant. Here, for example, in an 1843 version you repeat what you said about “laying aside your clerical apparel,” making it clear that you were going incognito, for you say, “I had . . . assumed a dress in which there was little probability of my being recognized as a ‘minister of the Gentiles’ “—which I think is an important point.87 Then you repeat that you had got yourself the Greek Psalter with definite purposes in view. Do you recall that, as of 1843?
Caswall: Yes, indeed: “In order to test the scholarship of the prophet, I had further provided myself with an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalter written upon parchment, and probably about six-hundred years old.”88
Moderator: Now, would you repeat your story of those interesting little details not found in the earlier versions?
Caswall: Well, I landed in Montrose at 9 o’clock Sunday morning, 17 April, and about an hour later crossed the river in a canoe with thirteen other people, Mormons on their way to meeting. We were just in time for the meeting that began at 10:30. It was held in a grove near the temple. I noted the wholesome nature of the congregation and especially the large number of English people who had come “to listen to the ravings of a false prophet.” “The service [if such it may be called] having continued from half past ten o-clock till two finally concluded.” I then had lunch at a tavern, where I argued with a “decent and probably intelligent Scotchman.”89
Reporter 1: What did you argue about?
Caswall: I pointed out “how greatly deficient [the Mormon services] appeared in dignity and spirituality; and contrasted them with the decorous and solemn worship of the Church of England.”90
Reporter 2: And you thought that by carrying on like that there would be “little probability” of your “being recognized as a ‘minister of the Gentiles’ “? You must have thought all these respectable and probably intelligent people from the Old Country were extremely naive and gullible not to recognize an Anglican minister out of uniform. Did you stay long in Nauvoo after lunch?
Caswall: No. “From the tavern I proceeded to the landing place and engaged the ferryman to take me over to Montrose.”91
Reporter 2: Your real mine of information was in Montrose, I take it.
Caswall: Yes, I hastened back to Montrose, where “after the awful proceedings of the morning, I felt happy to be once more among Christians.”92
Reporter 3: “Awful proceedings”?
Caswall: Yes. During the meeting they had actually asked for money, and “the thought arose in my mind, that these earnest appeals for money were designed mainly for the ears of the three hundred green saints who had just arrived.”93
Reporter 2: So after all, it was the thought in your mind that was awful. Don’t you ever ask for money in the Church of England? In some of your writings you are rather exercised on the subject. So you were happy to be among Christians. What kind of a man was your host in Montrose?
Caswall: He was one who possessed “the independence to resist the encroachments of the Mormons, and the ability to expose their designs.” For that reason “he has been the object of constant persecution since the settlement of these people in his vicinity.”94
Reporter 2: And you stayed at this man’s house but you would not stay with Mormons; you believed everything he told you about them but nothing the Mormons told you about him. Do you call that “hearing both sides of the question”?
Caswall: Oh, I heard the Mormon side. I talked with the ferryman on the way back, and “I afterwards found that his opinion of the characters of his brethren, ‘the saints,’ was by no means flattering to them. He told a person in Montrose, that it was ‘no use to hoist a flag at Nauvoo as a signal to passengers, for it was sure to be stolen.’ “95
Reporter 2: This is an excellent example of the quality and impartiality of your researches in Nauvoo, Mr. Caswall. You talk with the Mormon ferryman, and announce to the world as a result that you are prepared to give a firsthand report. But the ferryman didn’t say that about the flag to you, did he? No. You got it “afterwards” from “a person in Montrose,” who told you the ferryman had said it to somebody else. Yet you have the effrontery to announce that your report “consists almost exclusively of personal testimony of the author,” such personal testimony being almost exclusively bits of gossip picked up in Montrose.
Moderator: Come, gentlemen, let’s not lose our tempers. I notice, Mr. Caswall, you tell almost the same story concerning the second day of your visit in both the 1842 and the “Revised and Enlarged” edition of 1843, except that you insert a long religious discussion with “a very respectable looking Mormon” who invited you to visit his house.96 It is a wonder to me how you can remember these long conversations word for word. You must have taken careful notes.
Reporter 1: It is even more wonderful, sir, that while you are always careful to state the hour of the day, the day of the week, the month, and the year, thus giving your report an air of great detail and accuracy, you never once in the whole course of your Nauvoo story designate anyone by name save Joseph Smith (who as the star of the piece cannot be omitted) and his mother. Not a single person, Mormon or anti-Mormon, is named or in any way individually designated. You are careful to state that a large crowd of witnesses was present at every crucial event of your stay in Nauvoo, but if the presence of witnesses is to bear any weight we must know who they were. Why do you never name them?
Moderator: Perhaps Mr. Caswall didn’t want to get involved in lawsuits.
Reporter 2: He wouldn’t need to if he was telling the truth. Mr. Caswall has often commented on the perfect willingness of the Mormons to acknowledge facts when confronted with them; he has even stated that Mormons frankly admitted to him that Joseph Smith made mistakes and practiced deception—but he won’t tell us who those Mormons were. He won’t even give us the name of his helpful anti-Mormon friends in Montrose! Why not? Since you tell us that many of the high dignitaries of the church were your witnesses, Mr. Caswall, it is certain that many of your witnesses kept journals. Couldn’t you give us some of their names? Don’t you want people to check up on your history?
Moderator: That is a serious accusation, sir, and we shall have to return to it. For the present let us continue with the 1843 narrative. So you went back to Montrose, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: There “after tea my kind host provided me with a horse, and in company with him, I took a delightful ride upon the prairie.”97
Reporter 3: This is interesting. In 1842 you said the Mormons offered you a horse and carriage to take a ride upon the beautiful prairies, but you refused because you said you were in a hurry. In 1843 you do not mention the Mormon offer, but tell of riding with your Montrose friend—an experience not mentioned in the earlier account.
Moderator: Surely you are not suggesting that Mr. Caswall has transferred the kindness of the Mormons to his friend.
Reporter 3: Not at all, but I am calling attention to the fact that almost all the nice things that Mr. Caswall said about the Mormons in 1842 are omitted from the 1843 and subsequent editions—such as this act of hospitality, for example—though the later edition is an “Enlarged and Revised” one. Also his last report, that of 1865, is by far the worst.
Reporter 2: I notice, Mr. Caswall, that this 1843 book is much more anti-Mormon than the earlier one. When you rode out with your host, he told you about the Indians, but when you state that “the Indians have the greatest possible contempt for Joseph Smith, and denominate him a Tshe-wal-lis-ke, which signifies a rascal,”98 you do so as a matter of personal testimony, whereas actually you are merely stating what your Mormon-hating friend had told you. So it goes. But how is it that you can remember a long and difficult Indian name like that, yet don’t remember the name of the Pharaoh whose mummy you saw or the names of the people you met? How is it that you can recite long speeches word for word—whole pages of them—yet do not remember a single word spoken by Joseph Smith until you placed your Psalter in his hands?
Moderator: Perhaps it is not so much a case of remembering, sir, as a judicious selection of material.
Reporter 2: But that makes me even more suspicious. What his Montrose informant said the Indians called Smith is neither here nor there. It is mere gossip. The name of that informant, on the other hand, may be a most useful clue. If Mr. Caswall’s story is true, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by placing in our hands every possible means of checking up on it. Why, then, does he display such skill in leading the reader away from every promising check and control?
Moderator: We must be getting on. Let’s go now to the crucial events of the unforgettable third day. You crossed the river in the morning with a Mormon doctor with whom you discussed religion. According to your account it was you who brought up the subject of the Trinity and displayed great literacy.
Caswall: Yes, the doctor “uttered a horrid blasphemy.”
Reporter 3: And what is your idea of a horrid blasphemy?
Caswall: He said: “We believe that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; that makes three at least who are God, and no doubt there are a great many more.”99
Reporter 2: Don’t you believe the first part of his statement?
Caswall: Of course, it is simply the Creed.
Reporter 2: And the doctor was not, apparently, an Episcopalian or a follower of the School of Alexandria. Is that a crime? Don’t bother to answer, sir. My point is simply that your quarrel with Smith and his people is a doctrinal one.
Moderator: So you landed with the doctor and walked to Smith’s house. As in your 1842 account, the curious people come out to see your wonderful book.
Caswall: Yes. “By the time I arrived at the prophet’s house, they amounted to almost a crowd.”
Reporter 3: Come again? Would you repeat that, sir?
Caswall: I said, “they amounted almost to a crowd.”100
Reporter 3: But in 1842 you said that they “amounted to a perfect crowd”—now it is “almost a crowd.” You are revising downward again. Why?
Reporter 2: If Mr. Caswall has toned down his 1843 account, that can only mean that he went too far in 1842.
Caswall: A very minor change, sir. By a “perfect crowd” one can mean “practically a crowd,” “almost a crowd,” . . .
Reporter 2: Or barely a crowd? I grant you, sir, if this were the only instance of toning down, we could overlook it; but it is only the beginning. In 1842 you said you were “accompanied by a host of elders, bishops, preachers, and common Mormons.” How did you know they were bishops? Did they wear miters?
Moderator: They might have been pointed out to Mr. Caswall as such.
Reporter 2: Then why does he omit that part in 1843, when he says he was “accompanied by many elders, preachers, and other Mormon dignitaries”? The “perfect crowd” has become “almost a crowd,” the colorful “host” has become a colorless “many,” the only specific officials—bishops—have disappeared, but to make up for that the “common Mormons” have vaguely become “dignitaries.” You see how Mr. Caswall is increasingly careful not to mention anything specific. In 1842 you say of Smith “his hands are large and fat,” but in 1843 in your second book you change this to the more plausible and less easily tested remark: “his hands are large and awkward.”101 You may honestly think a man is awkward whether he is or not, but when you say he is fat you have committed yourself. So in The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century you again tone down your earlier report. Then Smith and the Mormons wanted you to name a price for your book. Do you remember what you answered, as of 1843? Smith has said, as you will recall, “That book ain’t of any use to you.”
Caswall: And I replied: “Oh yes, it is of some use; for if I were in want of money, I could sell it for something handsome.”102
Reporter 2: This is certainly a comedown! In 1842 you said you answered (you see, I have been unsportingly taking notes): “Oh yes . . . I could sell it, and obtain, perhaps, enough to live on for a whole year.” Now, I submit that there is a difference between “something handsome” and “enough to live on for a whole year.”
Moderator: I think we can allow some latitude . . .
Reporter 2: Here? Bear in mind, sir, that Mr. Caswall in writing the 1843 edition was making a revised enlargement —he had the earlier text before his eyes: every change he made was deliberate. If he was quoting correctly, from his notes or any other source, in 1842, what need to change a single syllable? Note that he always revises the story in the direction of greater plausibility. But no matter how fantastic a story may sound, if it is true there is no need to tone it down. But to return to the price of the book. I find here that you told the Mormons in your 1842 story: “I will not tell you what price I would take; but if you were to offer me this moment nine hundred dollars in gold for it, you should not have it.” Now, what do you say in 1843? Will you read it?
Caswall: I told them “I would not sell it to them for many hundred dollars.”103 Many hundred, nine hundred—what’s the difference? A slight revision.
Reporter 2: A considerable difference, and a not-so-slight revision, sir. In the first book you name a definite offer as below your price: nine hundred dollars in gold—a fabulous sum for a book you had just acquired, and couldn’t read, and never made any further use of. Why didn’t you take their offers?
Moderator: There’s no point in going over that again.
Reporter 2: Excuse me. This time I merely mean to show that Mr. Caswall himself grasped the absurdity of his story when he thought it over, for nothing is said about nine hundred dollars in gold in the 1843 or later versions.
Moderator: Should he go into all those details in every edition?
Reporter 2: He should most certainly repeat them in the second enlarged edition!
Moderator: Let us hear the 1843 story of the Psalter, sir.
Caswall: When an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalms was exhibited to him as a test of his scholarship, he boldly pronounced it to be a “Dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics.” Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said, “Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.” He afterwards proceeded to show his papyri.104
Reporter 2: Just a minute, please. In this account you have left out the very crucial fact that first of all you told Smith what the book was. You have also omitted his statement “What ain’t Greek is Egyptian; and what ain’t Egyptian is Greek.” In 1842 you said Smith called the Greek capitals Greek, but in 1843 you explicitly state that “pointing to the capital letters, . . . he said, ‘Them figures is in Egyptian hieroglyphics‘ ” and make no mention of his calling anything Greek. These, I submit, are very material alterations in your story. Then further, you also omit his remark, “This book ain’t of no use to you; you don’t understand it.” And all these significant omissions, mind you, in an enlarged edition!
Caswall: I omitted them in The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, but they are all included in The City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo, of the same year.
Reporter 2: But the former is by far your most famous and important book. Can’t you see that in abridging the story as you have you leave out details that offer important hints as to its truthfulness? The shorter version was given in a book that centers completely about the dominant theme of your personal association with the prophet. Your meeting with him was a very brief one. The book is padded with all sorts of fourth- and fifth-hand information, which shows that you were not crowded for space; yet when you chose to delete, you cut out the very heart of your history, the one part of the story that you were qualified to tell at firsthand. Then after Smith’s absurd and ungrammatical declaration you say, “He afterwards proceeded to show his papyri.” Here again you omit the very suspicious and incongruous statement in your other account that it was you who took the damning Psalter away from Smith before he could make another speech about it or before you or anyone else could ask him any questions, and that it was you who changed the subject and asked to see the papyri. Those little omissions are really quite important, sir. They make your story much more plausible.
Moderator: Tell us about the papyri now, if you will.
Caswall: He proceeded, as I said, “to show his papyrus, and to explain the inscriptions; but probably suspecting that the author designed to entrap him, he suddenly left the apartment, leaped into his light wagon, and drove away as fast as possible. The author could not properly avoid expressing his opinion of the prophet to the assembled Mormons; and was engaged for several hours in a sharp controversy with various eminent dignitaries.”105
Reporter 3: I must agree with Mr. Wye, that this is a very different story from the other one, and that the differences are significant. When someone asked you before whether Smith left the room because he was afraid of you, you pointed out that you made no such claim. But now you do make it, albeit cautiously, using such subjective and moot words as “probable,” “suspect,” and “design.”
Reporter 2: In your 1842 story, Mr. Caswall, you do not say that Smith left the room suddenly—which has now become an important part of the story. You did not see him leave, you were absorbed in looking at the papyrus, so you could not have known whether he left suddenly. Do you know Egyptian?
Caswall: Of course not. It is an “unknown tongue,” as Smith’s own mother made clear in describing his use of the Urim and Thummim.
Reporter 2: Then Smith had no reason for suspecting that you knew Egyptian. But look where Smith is seized with panic. You ask him the meaning of a hieroglyphic symbol, and then he suspects that you “design to entrap him.” This is the first mention of any trick or trap anywhere, yet it is not the Greek Psalter at all, but Smith’s own familiar papyrus, of which of course you know nothing, that puts the prophet at your mercy. He is so terrified that the stranger who knows no Greek will catch him on a point of hieroglyphics that he rushes from the room, leaps into a wagon, and drives away “as fast as possible.” Did you see him leap into the wagon? From your first account that is of course out of the question, yet in this case the reader is bound to take it for granted that you did, since your book is based “almost entirely on the personal testimony of the Author.” You said nothing about leaping in the first edition, which paints a very different picture: there you waited long for the prophet’s return, and then finally (“at length,” as you put it), you gave up waiting and went down to the street, and it was not until you got there that you heard the noise of wheels and then the prophet came in sight furiously lashing his splendid steeds in his superbly tactful effort to escape having to explain the meaning of that hieroglyphic symbol to you. Couldn’t he have escaped you by simply stepping into another room or house? Obviously the two stories don’t fit at all. What was Smith doing while you waited so long for his return? Was he leaping into a wagon kept three miles away so that he could drive back at breakneck speed to the store for you to see him twenty minutes later? Was he doing a slow leap? If you didn’t know where he had gone, why did he need to leave town in total panic and with such a hilarious flourish?
Caswall: “He probably suspected an intention on my part to trap him.”
Reporter 2: What a motive for the wily Joe Smith to go completely off his head! You don’t know that he suspected you, he “probably” did; and he knew nothing for sure, he only probably suspected; and he did not probably suspect that you had him, but only that you designed to; and not that you could expose him, but only probably suspected that you designed to entrap him. It is all as vague as that. But there is nothing vague in Smith’s behavior—he puts on a four-star display of utter terror in the presence of you and “various eminent dignitaries.” That is certainly a story worth telling.
Caswall: It is indeed, sir.
Reporter 2: Then why do you leave it out in all subsequent versions of the Nauvoo story? Why do you never mention it again?
Moderator: Please, gentlemen, we shall get to that in good time. Mr. Caswall, will you tell us what happened next?
Caswall: Well, the 1843 story of the argument that followed is a good deal like that of 1842.
Reporter 1: Is the story of the old man and the healing in it?
Caswall: No, that is left out, but I do include a speech I gave them on their manner of worship. “How miserable were your services last Sunday,” I said. “How cold your worship, how unedifying and farcical your preaching. The Holy Ghost was manifestly absent from your assembly, which resembled a Jewish synagogue more than a Christian congregation.”106
Reporter 2: Indeed. I find it strange that while you are trying to expand this one brief episode of a book you omit picturesque and essential details in one account while putting in their place equally picturesque and essential details omitted from another. I can understand Mr. Caswall’s desire for variety in his stories in order to sell as many versions of it as possible; but if his story is to be the testimony that forever damns Joseph Smith, he should be careful to tell just one story. This he does not do.
Moderator: Let us allow Mr. Caswall to proceed. Perhaps those things will explain themselves. Mr. Caswall, did the Mormons ask you in your 1843 version what you thought of Smith’s performance?
Caswall: Oh yes, that is there. “The Mormons now surrounded me.”
Reporter 2: “Now?” Hadn’t they been surrounding you in numbers all the time?
Caswall: ” . . . surrounded me, and requested to know whether I had received satisfaction from the prophet’s explanation. I replied that the prophet had given me no satisfaction, and that, on the contrary, he had proved his own ignorance most effectually. They wished to know my own religious opinions,” and we became involved in a theological discussion.107
Reporter 2: But no mention of the Psalter. Here you missed your second chance.
Reporter 3: Mr. Caswall, you seemed to have spoken to the Mormons very boldly.
Caswall: I told them then and there, “I think it likely that most of you are credulous and ignorant, but well-meaning persons, and that the time at least has been when you desired to do the will of God. A knot of designing persons, of whom Smith is the center, have imposed upon your credulity and ignorance, and you have been most thoroughly hoaxed by their artful devices. . . . And oh! how gladly would I see you delivered from this awful delusion, and returning to the bosom of that Holy Catholic Church, from which many of you have apostatized.”108
Reporter 1: I admire your phenomenal memory, sir.
Reporter 3: And I your phenomenal courage—you certainly gave it to them!
Caswall: “As the City Council had passed an ordinance, under which any stranger in Nauvoo speaking disrespectfully of the prophet might be arrested and imprisoned without process, [I] deemed myself happy in leaving Nauvoo unmolested, after plainly declaring to the Mormons that they were dupes of a base and blaspheming imposter.”109
Reporter 2: Very interesting. Where can I find out about that ordinance?
Caswall: In Mr. John C. Bennett’s book.
Reporter 2: Is that where you found out about it?
Caswall: I quoted it as my authority.
Reporter 2: And where did Mr. Bennett get his authority?
Caswall: As you will see here, he quotes from the Louisville Journal for 3 August 1842.110
Reporter 2: But that news item only appeared four months after your visit to Nauvoo. You aver that it was awareness of that ordinance that made you “happy in leaving Nauvoo unmolested.” But there was no such ordinance when you were there; the only ordinance was a fictitious one invented long after your departure. You learned of it from the sources indicated and worked it into your story of 1843 as a personal experience. This little detail supplies a useful clue, if we needed one, to Mr. Caswall’s methods, gentlemen.
Moderator: Come now, let’s not embarrass our guest.
Reporter 1: Do you remember your parting words to the Mormons of Nauvoo, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: I have them here: “I have been among you three days; I have expressed my sentiments freely respecting your religion and your prophet, and I heartily thank you that you have listened to me with attention, and that although you have had me altogether in your power, you have not put me under the Mississippi and kept me there.”111 “During the remainder of the day, I employed myself in obtaining testimony from persons residing in Iowa in reference to the conduct and character of their Mormon neighbors. . . . This testimony . . . agrees with what I myself saw and heard in Nauvoo.”112
Reporter 2: Those last happen to be the very words with which Mr. Caswall describes his first afternoon in his 1842 versions. Apparently he transposes his own words as freely as he borrows from others.
Reporter 3: It seems a poor return, sir, for the unfailing hospitality you enjoyed in Nauvoo, to hasten back to Montrose to continue gathering your stories against those “credulous and ignorant, but well-meaning persons” who had treated you so kindly. It is also perfectly apparent from your farewell address that the Mormons did not resent your presence among them, no matter how bold and obstreperous you were. Yet nowhere do you so much as hint in any of your accounts that there was ever another Gentile in Nauvoo beside yourself. I find that very odd.
Reporter 1: And isn’t it rather mean of you to tell the world that you considered yourself happy in leaving Nauvoo unmolested, when all you ever found there was a desire to be helpful to you?
Reporter 2: And to return the Mormons’ courtesy by thanking them for not drowning you in the Mississippi, as if that were their custom?
Reporter 3: Didn’t the Mormons want you to stay longer?
Moderator: Please, gentlemen, one at a time!
Caswall: As we ferried back to Montrose for the last time, the Mormon doctor “said that no man could obtain salvation, who devoted so little attention to the truth of God as I had done; and that instead of spending only three days, I ought to have remained at least three weeks at Nauvoo.”113
Reporter 2: Don’t you think he was right, in view of all the books and articles you were going to publish about your famous visit to the Mormons?
Caswall: “I told him that I had seen quite enough to convince any person of ordinary understanding that Smith was an imposter.”114
Reporter 2: And thereby, sir, you gave yourself away. You showed definitely that your real object in coming to Nauvoo was not to study the Mormons and hear both sides of the question, as you claim, but to “get something” on Smith. You didn’t go to convert the Mormons, for you “had laid aside your clerical garb.” You were determined specifically, as you say, to get an interview with Smith, and you reached that decision in a moment of anger and frustration. You couldn’t hope to learn much about the Mormons in three days of brief conducted tours, and a five-minute conversation with a religious leader is hardly adequate to satisfy a real seeker for knowledge; but the three-day visit and the five-minute talk were enough to accomplish your purposes, as you so clearly put it, “quite enough to convince any person of ordinary understanding that Smith was an imposter.” That was the purpose of your mission, and when that was accomplished you had no more interest in staying another hour in Nauvoo.
Caswall: Now you are talking like the doctor. “It was in vain that I attempted to correct the doctor’s false positions; the stream of his heretical eloquence had begun to flow. . . . He said that the truth of Mormonism did not depend on the character of Smith or of any other man.”115
Reporter 2: And you call that heretical talk?
Moderator: We must not judge the Reverend Caswall too harshly. Remember, he found himself in an awkward position. He had come to expose these people, and naturally had to be on his guard.
Reporter 1: In that case, the bold, heroic speeches must have been brave Ciceronian afterthoughts.
Reporter 3: I have been thinking that myself. Here Mr. Caswall was obviously too timid to wear clerical garb—though the Mormons were as kind to clergymen as to anyone else, and that certainly would not have hindered his testing of the prophet’s scholarship but helped it. He was also plainly too timid to spend a night in Nauvoo—says he was afraid they would steal his book, speaks of the risk he was running among the Mormons, and all that. Yet this same Caswall, according to him, gives fiery speeches denouncing Smith and all the Mormon leaders on the streets of Nauvoo and in the presence of those Mormon leaders. You will remember that Cicero used to run away from the opposition and then, at a safe distance, compose the rousing speeches he would have given in their presence. I wonder if Mr. Caswall is not doing the same thing? The fact that he does not hesitate to quote the same speeches differently in different books is irrefutable evidence that he does invent things. The question is, how far does he go?
Moderator: I believe Mr. Caswall wanted to tell us about his exposure of the prophet.
Caswall: Yes. After he had driven away and the old man had tried to heal me, I referred again to the false prophet: “Would you believe him if he should say that English is French?” I asked. And when they replied that they could form their own opinions, I answered, “You heard your prophet declare that this book of mine is a Dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and, farther, that it is written in characters like those of the original Book of Mormon. I know it most positively to be the Psalms of David, written in ancient Greek. Now what shall I think of your prophet?”116
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, why did you italicize the words “like those of the original Book of Mormon”? Was there any possibility that the characters in your book might have been like those on the plates?
Caswall: Don’t be absurd, sir; there were no plates!
Reporter 2: But there were characters. Didn’t you know that? For Joseph Smith to say what you have him say—in italics—he would have to be ignorant, as you apparently are, of the fact that all the “dignitaries and high officials” in attendance at your demonstration knew very well what the characters “of the original Book of Mormon” looked like, for Smith had had them copied and widely circulated. Your fatal blunder is to assume that only Smith knew what the characters looked like—a natural assumption for you to make, but one that no Mormon would be guilty of. Then again, if you had read the Book of Mormon you could have spared yourself an even worse blunder. Had you read the Book of Mormon?
Caswall: While I was at Montrose I grasped the contents and what it mainly consisted of after I had opened it at half-a-dozen places.
Reporter 2: Well, if you had opened it at a few more you would have known that Joseph Smith would never in the world have claimed to recognize Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphic, and Book of Mormon characters in the same document. The Book of Mormon itself makes it very clear that the script of the people who wrote it was strictly a New World invention, known to no other people on earth, and therefore could not possibly turn up in an Old World document containing Greek and hieroglyphic. Though “Reformed Egyptian” was the ultimate origin of the Book of Mormon characters, it had been “altered” beyond recognition by the Nephites. If you had been less eager to incriminate Smith, Mr. Caswall, you might have been more thorough in your researches and avoided falling into your own traps.
Reporter 1: It’s getting late. If it is all right with you, I would just as soon get on to Mr. Caswall’s next batch of dispatches. When do they occur?
The 1851 story
Moderator: In 1851. I don’t think these versions of the Nauvoo story of Mr. Caswall need detain us long. There are a number of points, however, on which our experts of the press might wish to question our celebrated guest. Mr. Ecks?
Reporter 1: I notice that our toning-down process has gone on unabated. For instance the description of Joseph Smith. In 1851 you write: “Smith was a clownish-looking man, but with a decidedly knavish expression. His hands were large and fat, and his manner, though awkward, was energetic; . . . his white hat was enveloped in a piece of black crape.”117 This is the first we have heard of Smith’s energetic manner, and the first mention in your writings of his famous white hat. Now, since this is a very abbreviated account, how does it happen to contain details not found in the much fuller accounts written at or near the time? In the ensuing years a number of writings had appeared telling about Smith’s fabulous white hat. In 1865 you go so far as to refer to Joseph Smith as “Old Holy White Hat Joe.” Yet in your long book accounts of your meeting with Smith published in 1842 and 1843 you make absolutely no mention of the hat, which later becomes Smith’s trademark. Isn’t this another case of working into your eyewitness picture of Smith bits of information picked up later, like the item about the Nauvoo ordinance?
Reporter 3: As you described your meeting originally, sir, Smith met you “at a short distance from his dwelling,” and immediately returned to the house with you. Are we to believe that he put on a hat just to step outside and lead you into the house? I only mention that because you yourself do not mention the hat until 1851.
Moderator: Please, let Mr. Caswall tell his own 1851 story about the interview.
Caswall: Smith “having been previously informed by his people of my wonderful book, now took it in his hands and asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter, but that I would like to hear his opinion.”118
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, you may recall that we pointed out the absurdity in your other versions of having you start out by telling the prophet what your book was, when your object was to test his scholarship by having him identify it. It is instructive to note that you have now taken steps to rectify the mistake.
Reporter 2: By admitting that Smith knew all about the book ahead of time, “having been previously informed by his people” about it. This is a new touch. You had no hesitation in telling him what you thought the book was, because he had already been tipped off “by his people.” But in that case, your “test of scholarship” breaks down. So you do not conduct the test at all, but give the whole initiative to Smith: in 1851 he is on to everything ahead of time and takes the initiative from the first; knowing what you have already said about it, he takes the book into his hands and challenges you to tell him “its meaning.” The initiative is all with him.
Caswall: You are citing my book The American Church of 1851, sir. But if you will only turn to my other book published in the same year, you will find I am true to my original story.
Reporter 1: Then why publish two versions?
Reporter 3: Which is the other 1851 book?
Caswall: Mormonism and Its Author.
Reporter 2: I notice that Smith’s invisible eyes are not mentioned in these later versions. Another absurdity in the original account has thus been covered up. . . . But what is this? If Mr. Caswall has been leaving things out, he has most certainly made up for it by the introduction in his 1851 stories of sensational new material! In both books!
Moderator: What is this sensational new material?
Reporter 2: Listen to this. “In order to test the ‘Prophet’s’ inspiration in regard to the dead languages, I had brought with me an ancient manuscript of the Greek Psalter, which I still retain as a valuable memorial of the event. Taking this in my hand, I crossed over to Nauvoo on Monday morning, and inquired for the ‘Prophet.’ “119
Caswall: What’s wrong with that?
Reporter 2: Heretofore Mr. Caswall has said most explicitly that his purpose in acquiring the Psalter was to test Smith’s scholarship. Now he is out to test his inspiration, a totally different thing. If Smith failed in the 1842 test he would prove himself a poor scholar and an ignoramus; but now if he fails he will demonstrate that he lacks inspiration—that he is a false prophet. Of course the test is silly—inability to read Greek does not prove one a false prophet, yet this is Mr. Caswall’s official position as of 1851. It is also a very risky position for a minister of the Gospel to take.
Caswall: How, “risky?”
Reporter 2: Because the wicked seek for such signs. Remember that you suggested having Smith walk on the water or raise the dead to prove his prophetic calling. No true prophet would comply with such a request. When they challenged Jesus to prove that he was a prophet at his trial, he answered not a word, even though they devised a clever trick to put him to the test (Luke 23:64). Now, let Mr. Caswall tell us how he opens the conversation in the other book, Mormonism and Its Author. If you will remember, Mr. Caswall, you first mentioned that Smith “seemed very coarse and clownish, and certainly had not the open and straight-forward look which we naturally expect to see in an honest man”—though this time you say nothing about having no opportunity to see his eyes, which in my opinion discredits your first account entirely. What did you say to Smith?
Caswall: “On entering his house, chairs were provided for Joseph and myself, while a good many ‘Latter-day Saints’ stood round. . . . I then placed the book in his hands, and said, that as I had been told that he was a prophet of God, gifted with the power of understanding unknown tongues, I hoped he would explain its contents. He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied that I believed it to be the Psalms of David in Greek. ‘No,’ he said, ‘it ain’t Greek at all.’ . . . He then said, that the letters in the book were ‘like the letters that were engraved on the plates of the Golden Book.’ “120
Reporter 2: You put that last statement of Smith’s in quotation marks.
Caswall: Naturally. It was a quotation.
Reporter 2: But in 1842 you quoted Smith as saying: “Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.” Now, in 1851 you had access to your other books, from which you quote at length. So you have deliberately changed the text: that last statement of Smith’s in your 1851 edition is perfectly grammatical. Why did you take the liberty to correct Smith’s grammar after all those years—did you want him to make a better impression? I hardly think so. No, now you are out to prove Smith not an ignoramus, but a false prophet. Of course, the crux of the whole matter is your opening speech to Smith about his being a prophet of God with the power of understanding unknown tongues, etc. That speech establishes the test as a test in inspiration instead of scholarship. But there is no hint of that all-important speech in any of the earlier versions. I don’t think we need to ask Mr. Caswall to explain: it is as plain as day that he has been thinking it over and shifted his point of attack. Without wishing to embarrass Mr. Caswall further, I would like to ask him to continue, as of 1851, that is.
Caswall: “I might go on to mention a further conversation which I had with Joseph Smith.”
Reporter 3: A further conversation? But I thought this was the only one.
Caswall: We conversed further, didn’t we?
Reporter 3: But “a further conversation” is something else. At least it definitely gives the impression that this was not your one and only conversation with Smith.
Caswall: I didn’t say I had another conversation, I simply said, “I might mention a further conversation.”
Reporter 3: “A further conversation” that you might mention certainly implies that there is a good deal that you are not telling here, and that you had other conversations with Smith.
Moderator: Implies it, perhaps, Mr. C., but does not state it.
Reporter 3: Insinuation seems to be a fine art in stories about Joseph Smith. What was this further conversation, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: I do not recount it in my 1851 books. I merely say, “I might go on to mention a further conversation which I had with Joseph Smith; and I might describe how suddenly he took his departure, when he began to suspect that I knew a little more than he at first imagined.”121
Reporter 2: At the last telling you had said that Smith “probably suspected you of a design to entrap him.” Now you have changed that to the certainty that Smith was alarmed by your knowledge. Why should that alarm him? Did he think you knew hieroglyphic—but no, in this story you do not even mention hieroglyphics! Now the Psalter is everything, and nothing must be allowed to detract from its importance. Well then, he “began to suspect” that you knew “a little more than he at first imagined.” How do you know what he at first imagined? Would Smith have any reason to doubt that you knew what was in your own book? But tell us what happens next, please.
Caswall: Well, as I said, Smith took his departure “when he began to suspect that I knew a little more than he at first imagined. I might also state the conversations which I held with some of the Mormons, in Nauvoo, in order to convince them that Smith had proved himself to be a deceiver.”122
Reporter 1: You might have, but you didn’t.
Caswall: In my other book of 1851 I was somewhat more explicit. “The ‘Prophet’ afterwards exhibited to me the same sheets of papyrus which I had seen on the previous day, and began to give his usual explanation.”123
Reporter 3: How do you know it was “usual” if you had never heard it before?
Caswall: I had talked to his mother.
Reporter 3: But you say this was “his usual explanation.”
Reporter 1: And if Smith was on such familiar ground, why should a perfectly natural and routine question from you throw him into a panic?
Reporter 2: Please, gentlemen, let us be fair! Mr. Caswall makes no mention of the prophet’s panic in his 1851 books.
Reporter 1: Indeed, I thought that was the most striking and picturesque part of the story. But what about the team of horses, and dashing down the street in a cloud of dust and all that—simply delightful!
Reporter 2: Alas! Not a word of all that in 1851. Indeed, we never hear of the wagon again after 1843.
Reporter 3: Why not, Mr. Caswall? That was easily the best part of the story. Sheer drama. And in all your later versions you don’t even mention it. If it was true in 1843 and 1842, why do you never tell it again?
Moderator: Perhaps there wasn’t room.
Reporter 3: Oh, come now! Through the years Mr. Caswall tells his story again and again—in book-length accounts. He must borrow from everywhere to fill up pages, yet never has room to tell in full of the one brief conversation he had with Joseph Smith—so he leaves out the most entertaining and colorful episode of the whole thing so that he can quote at length from dull letters received from English clergymen and American gossips. That is too much to take, sir. The total disappearance of the wagon story is a most suspicious circumstance—to my mind full proof that it never happened.
Moderator: Let us leave speculation and let Mr. Caswall tell his story.
Caswall: As I said when so rudely interrupted, Smith “began to give his usual explanation. But his suspicions appeared now to be awakened, and he suddenly departed leaving me in the midst of the credulous and fanatical multitude. I then told the bystanders that the book was certainly nothing but a Greek Psalter, and endeavored to make them understand how thoroughly the prophet had committed himself by positively declaring it to be a dictionary of hieroglyphics.”124
Reporter 2: This, I submit, is a wholly different story from the original one.
Moderator: Is there anything there that Mr. Caswall did not say before?
Reporter 2: The same elements are there, but in a new and marvelous combination. In this story Caswall is out to discredit Smith’s claim to inspiration, and he is going to do it by the Greek Psalter. So it is necessary for him to take full advantage of the opportunity which he let slip completely in the earlier accounts. Now the demonstration must have inspiration as its object and be clearly understood as such—a thing not even mentioned in the first accounts, which are very specific in making scholarship the subject of the test. Now the long argument and discussion must take place not in the street but in the room, and pivot about the Greek Psalter. It will not do to have everyone leave the room, as they did before: Caswall must make his point then and there—he is immediately “left in the midst of the fanatical multitude”; there is no place here for the long, quiet wait for Smith’s return, the descent to the street, the ridiculous wagon scene, the long theological discussions which only touch on the Psalter incidentally. Caswall immediately pounces on one point alone, proof that Smith “had committed himself by positively declaring” the Greek Psalter to be a dictionary of hieroglyphics.
Moderator: What happened after you exposed Smith then and there in the room?
Caswall: I did not say I exposed him then and there in the room.
Reporter 2: How could you have said it more plainly than this? “. . . he suddenly departed, leaving me in the midst of the credulous and fanatical multitude. I then told the bystanders that the book was certainly nothing but a Greek Psalter, . . . ” etc. “Then” means “at that time,” whereas in your earlier accounts you don’t mention the Psalter until later, at another time and place, and you pass up every opportunity to use it in your demonstration.
Reporter 1: You say in 1851 that Smith left the room when “his suspicions appeared to have been awakened,” but you don’t say suspicions of what.
Moderator: Please let Mr. Caswall continue.
Caswall: “After much fruitless argument, which, however, they took in good part.”
Reporter 1: A “credulous and fanatical multitude,” as you call them, took your valiant endeavors to prove their prophet a fraud “in good part”? You call that fanaticism?
Moderator: Please, Mr. Ecks, Mr. Caswall has already explained that the people did not believe him.
Caswall: You heard me say it was “fruitless argument.”
Reporter 2: So you didn’t convince them at all.
Caswall: It was fruitless.
Reporter 2: But in 1842 and 1843 you said that the Mormons were quite crestfallen as a result of your discourse, and even admitted that Smith made mistakes like other men, and had been deceived regarding the Psalter. That does not seem like fruitless argument. It is a brilliant victory—which you never mention after 1843! What happened after the fruitless argument which didn’t offend the Mormons at all?
Caswall: “One of their number, perceiving my partial deafness, endeavored to work a miracle for my complete restoration. But observing that the touch of his finger and the use of the unknown tongue were in this instance without effect, he assured me that the actual cure was deferred until I should receive Joseph as a true prophet.”125
Reporter 2: To save embarrassing questions, may I be permitted simply to compare this with Mr. Caswall’s earlier account? In 1843 it was Caswall himself who called attention to his deafness and challenged the Mormons to cure it, after telling them he had no faith; in 1851 the initiative is all with them. The silly 1843 gesture of thrusting fingers into both ears has in 1851 become a simple “touch of his finger.” We might elaborate on these inventions, but let us hear Mr. Caswall’s parting speech.
Caswall: “I felt really grateful to these people for allowing me, when I was completely in their power, to escape so easily with my book, as well as with my life and liberty. Having expressed myself to this effect, I entered the ferryboat.”126
Reporter 2: Here it is again! Do you forget, sir, that in your 1843 account you did not return to Montrose that last time by the ferry, but in a “small skiff” rowed by the Mormon doctor and two other men using boards, because the oars had been stolen?127 That was a very picturesque detail. Why do you enter the ferryboat this time, and forget that delightful canoe that went around and around in the current?128
The 1865 story
Moderator: Gentlemen, let us remember that we represent the News, and not the Editorial Department. Now let us get on to the final version of Mr. Caswall’s story, that published in 1865.
Reporter 1: I notice that the author, W. S. Parrott, gives himself the title of “Voluntary Missionary.” What is a Voluntary Missionary? Aren’t all missionaries voluntary?
Reporter 2: In this case Mr. Parrott devoted and appointed himself to the profession of traveling about England giving lectures on the Mormons. His mission was to the English, his calling “to exhibit Mormonism in its truly diabolical character.” Mr. Caswall’s report forms the backbone of his book, The Veil Uplifted.
Reporter 1: Would you say that was so, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: The unique value of my contribution in 1865 is that “I have given my own testimony as to what I myself saw of the false prophet, and heard from his own lips, within his own house.”129
Reporter 1: Then naturally that is the most important part of your story.
Caswall: Yes. “This testimony helps to destroy the very foundations on which the ‘Latter Day’ doctrine is built, . . . for if Smith was an imposter, as very plainly appears, then the ‘Book of Mormon’ is an imposition, and the ‘Book of Covenants,’ and other ‘Latter Day’ writings, are a mass of blasphemous rubbish.”130
Reporter 3: Which leaves no doubt that you, in testifying of your personal experiences with Joseph Smith, are the all-time star witness against the whole “Latter Day” movement.
Reporter 2: So perhaps you will forgive us for seeming hypercritical. After all, sir, it is you who have been Smith’s unsparing critic for many long years. Now with an introduction such as Mr. Parrott has given you, we can expect a thoroughly accurate and full account of your brief visit with Smith.
Caswall: Well of course, I can’t tell everything.
Reporter 1: This report is economical and to the point. I see here that you have left out the first two days entirely, Mr. Caswall. Here you concentrate on one episode only—your meeting with Smith. For that reason I think we can expect it to be a particularly full and accurate account. In 1865, how did you describe that momentous meeting?
Caswall: “I met him at a short distance from his own house, in company with a good many of his followers, who were aware that I intended to exhibit a wonderful book to their prophet.”
Reporter 2: Excuse me for interrupting already, but this is not the story you told earlier. In 1842 you said, “As I advanced, with my book in my hand, numerous Mormons came forth from their dwellings, begging to be allowed to see its mysterious pages; and by the time I arrived at the prophet’s house, they amounted to a perfect crowd.” In 1843 this perfect crowd had dwindled to “almost a crowd,” and finally in 1865 it is not around you but around Smith that the crowd gathers, in anticipation of seeing you show the book to him. It is another picture entirely of how the crowd had gathered. You described the prophet as usual?
Caswall: “The appearance of Joseph was very far from saintly; and indeed, conveyed the idea of a knave, much more than of a prophet.”131
Reporter 2: Every man is entitled to his opinions, sir, but what has happened to the objective evidence that makes your testimony so valuable? Where are the eyes you could not see and the huge fat hands? It is those priceless details for which the world is beholden to you. How do you think a prophet should look? Have you ever seen a prophet?
Caswall: Don’t be blasphemous, sir. Have a care! “On entering the house, chairs were provided for Joseph and myself, while a good many ‘Latter-day Saints’ stood around, anxiously expecting to hear their prophet explain the meaning of the book.”
Reporter 1: The first part of your quotation is simply a verbatim repetition of the earlier versions, showing that you used them and cannot plead lapse of memory. But the second part, the anxious expectation, is an added touch. It is apparent, sir, that you are doing everything to play up the one central episode of the Psalter; but it was not always so.
Moderator: Please continue, Mr. Caswall.
Caswall: “I placed the book in his hands, and said, that, as I had been told that he was a prophet of God, gifted with the power of understanding unknown tongues, I hoped he would explain its contents.”
Reporter 1: This is the strangest story yet: now its whole issue pivots on the supernatural. You had repeatedly stated earlier that your object was to test his scholarship; then in 1851 you suddenly announced that it was to test his “inspiration.” Which was it as of 1865?
Caswall: “As he had given out that God had inspired him with an understanding of unknown tongues, I fixed upon what I considered a very fair method of putting him to the proof.”
Reporter 2: So now you are out wholly to test Smith’s prophetic inspiration, and you have deliberately devised a test beforehand which in your opinion will do just that. We see now the “Psalter trick” at last full blown, purged of all the dross, irrelevant, confusing, and contradictory details of the earlier stories. Twenty-three years of fixing have at last brought forth a clear, streamlined account that neatly cooks Smith’s goose. But is this the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? If so, what of your other tales? In 1865 you concentrate your whole attack on the Psalter. What about your conversation with Smith?
Caswall: “He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning.” And then told me that the letters in the book were “like the letters that were engraved on the plates of the Golden Book!”132
Reporter 2: Smith’s answer is still in quotes, but what has happened to his outrageous grammar? And what about your answer to Smith that you believed the book to be a Greek Psalter? That is left out entirely because it would knock in the head your claim that you had “fixed upon a method” of testing his inspiration by asking him to identify the book.
Caswall: The rest of the account is the same as in 1851. “I might go on to mention a further conversation which I had with Joseph Smith; and I might describe how suddenly he took his departure, when he began to suspect that I knew a little more than he at first imagined, . . . etc.”133
Reporter 2: But after mentioning the conversations (as if there were many of them) you come quickly to the point, I believe.
Caswall: Indeed I do: “But the fact which I desire to be particularly noticed is, that the Founder of Mormonism, the Head of the ‘Latter-day Saints,’ boldly and confidently pronounced a part of the Holy Bible to be a Dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics!”134
Reporter 2: As I said—in 1865 you have it all finally worked out. Everything is now subordinated to the Psalter story. In the other versions and as late as 1851 you declared that all your protests to the Mormons on the subject were “fruitless” and that they were convinced that Smith was right. But what do you say in 1865?
Caswall: I told those people, “You heard your prophet declare that this book of mine is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and, farther, that it is written in characters like those of the original Book of Mormon. I know it most positively to be the Psalms of David, written in ancient Greek. Now what shall I think of your prophet?”
Reporter 1: This is the crucial speech, all right, and you have put it in quotation marks. Is that what you said?
Caswall: It is.
Reporter 1: Then why is the first part of the speech, the all-important “you heard your prophet declare,” etc., that sets the problem up so beautifully, entirely missing in all your other versions?
Reporter 2: What follows is even more important. Mr. Caswall, this is the way you described the reaction to your speech in the 1842 version: “They appeared confounded for a while; but at length the Mormon doctor said, ‘Sometimes Mr. Smith speaks as a prophet, and sometimes as a mere man.’ . . . I said, ‘Whether he spoke as a prophet or as a mere man, he has committed himself.’ “135 That was in 1842. Note here that Caswall wins. Suddenly, without any apparent reason, the Mormons surrender, and admit that Smith was mistaken about the Psalter. That is, of course, the key to the whole business. Yet that all-important incident never appears again in any of Mr. Caswall’s other accounts! Why not, if it was true? In 1865, the best Caswall can do is to prove Smith’s falseness by a labored syllogism. What was it you said, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: “Now this certainly goes a great way to prove that Joseph Smith could not have been a prophet of God, nor even a good man. If he really possessed the power which he claimed, of reading books in ancient tongues, he would have been likely to know the true Bible even though written in Greek; and since he said that the letters of the book were like those written on the golden plates, it would have been all the easier for him to understand them, because, by his own account, he had translated the writing on those plates by the help of God. But most surely, if he had been a good man, he would have honestly confessed that he did not know the meaning of the book which I showed him; and would not have positively said to me and to the Mormons who were standing by, that the Psalms of David were an Egyptian dictionary. How foolish, then, it is, for any person who knows this fact, to believe this story about the Angel and the Golden Book!”136
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, this is how you climaxed your demonstration in 1842: “I replied that the prophet had given me no satisfaction, and that on the contrary, he had proved his own ignorance most effectively.” Ignorance is the theme, not prophetic inspiration. Now, having shifted your ground, you must go into this long rigmarole to shore up your new position. But it would be impossible for you to deny that it is all invented in retrospect. Did you suddenly remember this long speech for the first time in 1865? Why was all this laborious argument necessary if the Mormons collapsed like a punctured balloon, as in the 1842 version?
Reporter 3: Mr. Caswall, where were the Gentiles all this time?
Caswall: What do you mean?
Reporter 2: That Nauvoo was an open city where the Gentiles like yourself circulated freely among the Mormons, who resented neither your presence nor your preachments. You say your non-Mormon friends were eager and willing to offer you every assistance in prosecuting your researches. Your host in Montrose could spend the afternoon riding with you in the prairies; why couldn’t a non-Mormon companion have gone with you as a witness for an hour or two when you went to make your carefully prepared test of the prophet’s inspiration?
Caswall: I did not need non-Mormon support. “I met with persons at Nauvoo, who were perfectly acquainted with the wickedness of Smith, and did not pretend to deny it, who yet professed to believe firmly that he was a prophet.”137
Reporter 2: Now that is a most important point. Yet you do not mention it until twenty-three years after your visit to Nauvoo! If these people were perfectly acquainted with Smith’s wickedness, which they did not even pretend to deny, why did you waste five-sixths of your precious three days in Nauvoo gathering testimonies among the anti-Mormons of Iowa? The whole thing seems devised in retrospect.
Caswall: There is no retrospect about the Psalter. In my very first account in 1842 I said that I had provided myself with a Greek Psalter with a specific objective.
Reporter 2: Which was to test the prophet’s scholarship, with not a word about inspiration. Oh, I don’t deny for a moment that you intended to test the man, and what is more, that you had prepared a trap.
Caswall: But you said I did not mention any trap until 1851.
Reporter 2: Correct. You most certainly did “design to entrap him,” as you put it. But you never got the chance—the original plan was never tried.
Moderator: You sound like Nero Wolfe, sir. What original plan?
What was the “Psalter trick”?
Reporter 2: Before I tell you that, it must be understood that the “Psalter trick,” as described in 1851 and after, was not the original plan. It could not possibly have been.
Reporter 3: Why not?
Reporter 2: Because the success of the whole test depended on Smith’s taking everything into his own hands and making a complete fool of himself in a way that could not possibly have been foreseen. In the earlier versions Smith surprises everyone by his unpredictable and unaccountable behavior; the trick is only a trick because he insists on turning the tables against himself and dashing down the street in terror. Now, no one could have “fixed upon a method” of making him do that. Mr. Caswall could not possibly have anticipated by any stretch of the imagination the tactless and utterly senseless way in which Smith played into his hands; he might have imagined all sorts of crazy behavior on his part, but not as a reliable reaction to a carefully laid plan. Did he know Smith had a wagon? Did he count on him to use it?
Moderator: Mr. Caswall never claimed that that was part of the trick.
Reporter 2: But without Smith’s clowning (Mr. Caswall has taught us the word) there would have been no trick at all.
Reporter 1: But in his early versions Mr. Caswall never refers to a trick, but only to a “test”—a test of Smith’s scholarship.
Reporter 2: Exactly. In his first accounts the best he can do is to put Smith to a scholarly test and show him up as an ignoramus. This is what he writes in 1843: “His language is uncouth and ungrammatical, indicating very confused notions respecting syntactical concords. When an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalms was exhibited to him as a test of his scholarship, he boldly pronounced it to be a ‘Dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics!’ “138 You will note that the object of the Psalter here is to show up Smith’s ignorance by testing his scholarship. But in 1865 the talk is all of “unknown tongues.” Am I right, Mr. Caswall?
Caswall: I was testing Smith in the light of his own claims: “As he had given out that God had inspired him with an understanding of unknown tongues,” I said to him “that, as I had been told that he was a prophet of God, gifted with the power of understanding unknown tongues, I hoped he would explain its contents.”139 Now, if he really possessed the power which he claimed . . .
Reporter 2: But Greek was not an unknown tongue—in those days any minister worth his salt was supposed to be able to read it. You, in fact, had told the Mormons (who told it to Smith) that anyone with even a slight acquaintance with Greek could read your book easily. Could such a book test anyone in “the power of understanding unknown tongues?”
Reporter 3: Had it ever been “given out” by Joseph Smith that he could and would read any ancient document on request? You are testing not what he claimed, but what you claimed for him. This is akin to your requesting the Mormons to perform a miracle on your ears: it would have been completely against Smith’s teachings and principles to comply. As I have said before, sir, you are totally unaware of the Mormon concept of spiritual gifts. Smith claimed no such “power” as you assume he did.
Reporter 2: Mr. Caswall, in 1839 you wrote in your book America and the American Church: “The Mormonites . . . consider the study of the Hebrew language to be a religious duty; and at one of their settlements, in Ohio, they recently engaged the son of a Jewish rabbi, a distinguished Hebrew teacher, to instruct the whole community.”140 That, sir, plainly shows that Smith did not count on getting all languages by revelation—and you knew it. As early as 1831 a non-Mormon newspaper reports: “Mr. Smith arrived in Kirtland the next day; and being examined concerning his supernatural gifts by a scholar, who was capable of testing his knowledge, he confessed he knew nothing of any language save the king’s English.”141 So you see, someone had already beaten you to it in putting the prophet’s scholarship to the test, and we know exactly what the man’s answer was to that challenge. He had to translate by the gift and power of God precisely because he himself knew no language but English. . . . But he never made a public display of that gift—he knew that gifts of the Spirit do not operate on such terms. But to return to Nauvoo. You have told us, Mr. Caswall, that you “fixed upon a plan” ahead of time, and as part of that plan brought along a Greek Psalter with the definite object of testing the prophet’s scholarship. But the minute we get a look at that Psalter it becomes apparent that your “plan to test the prophet’s scholarship” was really a trick “designed to entrap him.”
Caswall: What do you mean?
Reporter 2: I mean that after widely announcing that you were going to give the prophet a very easy test by asking him to read a book so simple “that a slight acquaintance with Greek would enable any person to decipher its meaning,” you were going to confront him with a text in a rare and difficult script that nobody in America could read! Let us imagine that a student who has studied Greek all through college comes up for a final examination; a text is placed before him, not in the critical editions that scholars use, but in the odd and illegible script of six hundred years ago, decipherable only to a few experts in paleography. Wouldn’t the student rightly object that it was not an examination in Greek at all, but in Greek paleography?
Caswall: In case he couldn’t read it, all Smith would have to do was to say so. As I pointed out in 1865, the test he failed to pass was the test of showing himself to be an honest man.
Reporter 2: Exactly. You knew Smith couldn’t read the book—if he said he could, he would be trapped; and if he said he could not, then you would have him. You would instantly close your book (as you say you did) and triumphantly announce that Smith “had effectively proven himself an ignoramus” and that you would now “make it known to the world.”
Moderator: But if the book was in an illegible script—if it was a trick manuscript—Joseph Smith would only have to point that out.
Reporter 1: Ah! I begin to see a light! One thing that has been puzzling me all along is why Mr. Caswall was so reluctant to let anybody get a good look at his Psalter, especially since he made such capital of it.
Caswall: But I did give them a good look at it—that first day in the store.
Reporter 1: Yes, that first day in the store, where you could be quite certain that nobody knew any Greek, and so nobody would question your statement that the book was simple, straightforward Greek that anybody with “a slight acquaintance” of the language could read. Even then you didn’t let the book out of your hands. And after that? Not only did you refuse to sell it for a staggering sum but you wouldn’t even let the Mormons take it overnight, though they offered you fabulous security; you refused to stay in Nauvoo overnight, you say, specifically because you feared that the Mormons might get hold of your book. Smith had barely got a look at the book when you took it away from him and hurriedly wrapped and tied it, though the “test” had barely begun, and the Mormons were simply dying to see more of it. You absolutely refused to let the book out of your hands even when there was not the slightest danger of losing it.
Reporter 2: And if you didn’t trust the Mormons with it, Mr. Caswall, why didn’t you at least trust the Gentiles?
Caswall: Trust the Gentiles?
Reporter 2: Yes. You possessed the book to the end of your life “as a memento,” you said, of your visit to Smith. It may have been an interesting memento, but in your hands it was not evidence. Now, if you had sold it to the Mormons, as they begged you to for three days, and got a signed receipt for it from Smith (you say he also wanted to buy it from you), you could have gone back to St. Louis with welcome and much-needed funds for your darling college, plus written evidence of your Psalter trick. You didn’t do any of that: you clung to your unreadable book and took it back to England with you. But why didn’t you exploit it there? It was your Exhibit A, your only exhibit, in fact; why was it never put on public display? Why did you never use it in illustrating any of your books? The anti-Mormon world would have prized this treasure almost as greatly as the Mormons, if only as a rather sensational museum-piece. Yet to the end you kept it by you, and it has never been heard of since. I think the explanation of this may be that any real scrutiny of the book would betray the trick.
Caswall: But I said from the first that it was an old parchment manuscript.
Reporter 2: And you also said it was easy to read for anyone knowing a little Greek. There are such manuscripts, but this plainly was not one of them. As long as the book was in your possession, Mr. Caswall, you could tell your story, but if it ever got out of your hands the thing could easily backfire. I can think of no other reason why you should have guarded it so carefully.
Moderator: You seem to know a great deal about this, Mr. Wye. What do you think actually did happen?
Reporter 2: Ah, there we are on dubious ground. The first thing to remember is that Mr. Caswall, in the retirement of his rural English deanery, makes happen what he wants to happen, as his evolving history shows. In that case we are not bound to accept any claim of his as a statement of what actually did happen.
Moderator: Do you even doubt that he was in Nauvoo?
Reporter 2: Of course not. But what he did there is another thing. He may have seen Smith driving out in a wagon, for on 19 April 1842, he did drive out in a wagon to inspect some lands—but he was not running away from Caswall! The fact that Mr. Caswall himself omits that part of the story in all versions after 1843 admits that: it is much too good to leave out if it is true. Again, Smith actually was in Carthage on April 18, so that Mr. Caswall was very probably told as much, and very probably did not meet him on that day. In fact, what is clearest from all his accounts is what did not happen. I doubt very much that he ever met Smith, in view of his professed inability to see his eyes, the fantastic conversation and lack of conversation that took place between the two men, and his comments on Smith’s oversized hands—deleted from later versions. Such deletions were counter-balanced by the picturesque introduction in 1851 of the Old White Hat—another suspicious circumstance.
Reporter 1: So all we have is negatives?
Reporter 2: Not at all. The negatives belong only to the third day. Now, it is an interesting and very significant thing that Mr. Caswall, in all his various accounts, leaves the story of his first two days in Nauvoo, if we can call them that, unchanged—if variety interests him, why does he not play around freely with those days as he does with the third day? All his manipulations, deletions, additions, and alterations have to do with the story of the third day, his world-famous meeting with Joseph Smith. Here he is not satisfied with the original and carefully works it over through the years to make it hold water. The whole account of the meeting with Smith, from the landing to the departure on that third day, must be put on the dubious list, because Mr. Caswall gives conflicting versions of every episode and speech. And if he was willing to indulge in creative writing after 1842, I see no reason why he should not have done the same in the 1842 version itself. See what damage you have done, Mr. Caswall!
Caswall: Damage? It is not damage to make this monstrous perversion hateful in the eyes of the world. “The reader of the preceding history,” as I said in conclusion, “can have distinguished little in his [Smith’s] character besides unscrupulous audacity, reckless falsehood, low cunning, grovelling vulgarity, daring blasphemy, and grasping selfishness, combined with a genius eccentric in its aims, fertile in its expedients, and mad in its ambition.”142
Mrs. B. carries on
Reporter 2: No, no. I don’t mean that. I mean your own cause. You have exposed to view not only your own eager mendacity, but that of some of our most esteemed writers. Listen to one of the latest repetitions of your story:
One visitor, Henry Caswall, an Episcopalian preacher from a St. Louis college, armed himself with an ancient manuscript psalter written in Greek and, pretending to be ignorant of its contents, offered it to Joseph for scrutiny. Under the prophet’s questioning he finally admitted that he believed the language to be Greek, but this Joseph contradicted. Caswall, exaggerating the imperfections of Joseph’s grammar, later related the story as follows.
At this point the author we are quoting, instead of relating the story, gives the grotesque quotation beginning, “No, it ain’t Greek at all,” etc., followed immediately by the conclusion:
When the prophet left the room, Caswall turned triumphantly to the men present and exposed the trick. “They appeared confounded for a while,” he wrote, “but at length the Mormon doctor said: “Sometimes Mr. Smith speaks as a prophet, and sometimes as a mere man,” etc.143
Now look how you have led this poor soul astray, Mr. Caswall. She gives as her only authority for all this your 1842 City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo, yet obviously it is the later version she is following. Take her story point by point. First, she says you “tricked Joseph Smith” with a Greek Psalter. But in your 1842 account, which she gives as her only source, no trick of any kind was mentioned or implied. She says the trick consisted of arming yourself with an ancient manuscript Psalter written in Greek and “pretending to be ignorant of its contents.” This is a direct contradiction of your own specific declaration of 1842, that far from pretending to be ignorant of the book’s contents, you protested loudly and repeatedly to Smith’s followers that you knew exactly what the book was—you told them what it was, and you also told Smith what it is. He does not have to squeeze this information out of you; you did not “finally admit” the language was Greek “under the prophet’s questioning”: you volunteered the information promptly and immediately—there was no cross-examination. There was no “scrutiny” of the text by Smith before he got your explanation out of you; in fact, there was no scrutiny at all—Smith had hardly looked at the thing before you took it away from him and wrapped it up, to the great chagrin of the Mormons. You did not then “turn triumphantly to the men present.” To make your trick effective, Mrs. Brodie must have it all happen there on the spot; and so she carefully omits the telling details of how you later went down to the street, saw Smith dash by in his wagon, and then got into a long hassle with the Mormons, toward the end of which you mentioned the Psalter without exploiting your “triumph.” Of course there was in 1842 no “triumph,” since it was the Mormons who claimed the victory; and you definitely did not “expose the trick,” you simply repeated what you had been saying all along. Then comes the payoff: you have won—the Mormons are suddenly confounded, and the doctor frankly admits that Smith was wrong. But if it happened that way, why do you always leave that part out after 1843? And why, incidentally, do you never name the doctor who conducted you around Nauvoo? Of course, Mrs. Brodie, whose monument of primary research we have been quoting, conveniently forgets to mention that there is not just one, but at least six primary and contradictory documents all written by you; and such disturbing details as the fact that in your 1842 report it is not the Greek Psalter at all, but a hieroglyphic text that trips up the prophet, are passed by in silence.
Moderator: After all, Mr. Wye, you can hardly blame Mr. Caswall for liberties that others have taken with his writings. Mrs. Brodie has taken it upon herself to improve on the Caswall story: nowhere does Mr. Caswall say that he ever pretended to be ignorant of the contents of his book; at no time does he say or imply that he only admitted that the book was Greek “under the prophet’s questioning”; even in his 1865 version the trick is not anything as neat and foolproof as Mrs. Brodie makes it out to be by having the professor press his advantage on the spot, “turn triumphantly to the men present and expose the trick”—there was no such exposure described by him. Mr. Caswall may have stretched things a good deal, but Mrs. Brodie is responsible for her own performances.
Reporter 2: And this is just one of them, I admit. But the mischief began with Mr. Caswall—others have caught his spirit and carried on in the tradition.
Recapitulation and finale?
Moderator: I think it is about time to sum things up now. It is customary on these programs to ask our guest to leave the studio during the final appraisal. Mr. Caswall, have you anything you would like to tell or ask us before you leave? It has been very instructive and helpful having you here with us, and if our investigators have been a bit brusque at times, we want to ask your forgiveness. Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
Caswall: It has been a privilege and a pleasure to meet with you, gentlemen, though “the task of delineating the prophet’s infernal character has been certainly far from agreeable to the author; . . . Joseph Smith, without his blasphemy and vulgarity, would be a very different being from the ‘Prophet of the Nineteenth Century.’ “144 That is all I have to say. Good day, gentlemen. (Exit Caswall)
Moderator: Now that our guest has been escorted from the studio and taken to lunch in the Byzantine Room of Barchester Towers, we shall ask our panel of experts for their frank appraisal of the Greek Psalter story. It is claimed that Joseph Smith once declared in the presence of witnesses that a Greek Psalter was a dictionary of hieroglyphics. Did he or didn’t he?
Reporter 2: The first thing to notice is that only one witness to the tale has ever been found—and that just happens to be the man who invented the Psalter trick; isn’t it just possible that this ingenious and imaginative soul also invented the Psalter story?
Reporter 1: That is what we want to determine if we can. It is certain that deception has been practiced, either by Smith or by Caswall. Which is it?
Reporter 3: First step: look for the motive! Let’s compare Smith’s possible motives with Caswall’s. What could Smith have gained by declaring a Greek Psalter, which he couldn’t read, to be a dictionary of hieroglyphics—which he knew it was not?
Reporter 1: Maybe he really thought it was—self-deception, you know.
Reporter 3: Really thought it was a mixture of Greek, hieroglyphic, and reformed Egyptian that looked just like the characters on the golden plates? Hardly! He would certainly be making that up if he said it. So what would that get him?
Reporter 1: A chance to show off before his followers.
Reporter 2: But as far as his followers were concerned, Smith was already tops—he didn’t have to impress them! And he knew that he could not impress the owner of the book, who had already told everybody what he thought it was. Moreover, far more than a gesture of omniscience is involved here, for Smith actually offered to buy the book for a great sum of money, knowing that it was not worth it and that once he had bought it before all those witnesses he would be stuck with it and called upon for an exhaustive demonstration—which he could not give! In the capacity of Caswall’s favorite idiot, Smith might have hailed a bundle of illegible parchment as an Egyptian treasure and offered to purchase it on the spot for a fabulous sum, but no rational, let alone cunning, human being would have done it. Notice that everything Smith does in the presence of Caswall is not only foolish but utterly suicidal—he invariably does the worst possible thing from his point of view and the best possible thing from Caswall’s. No, gentlemen, we are more or less stuck for motives where Smith is concerned. But how about Caswall?
Reporter 3: The poor man has spilled the beans all over the place. Even without our Methodist Quarterly Review, my notes scream prejudice on every page. Caswall went to Nauvoo with the fixed idea that Joseph Smith was totally depraved—he preached it on the journey. We do not have to assume a professional jealousy of Smith, since Caswall is good enough to tell us about it himself, specifying that Smith has succeeded where he had failed, and describing him as an unscrupulous competitor but for whose “delusive attractions to the rising generation” his own church and school might have had better success. He declares a policy of no mercy and no quarter to Joseph Smith, to think or speak well of whom could only indicate “great want of charity.” His host and principal informant in Montrose was the bitterest enemy of the Mormons in all the region. In a revealing preface he has shouted his prejudice from the housetops, declaring that the whole purpose of his activity is to make Mormonism hateful in the eyes of the world. He has announced that the purpose of his visit to Nauvoo was to “help destroy the very foundations on which the Latter-day doctrine is built,” and that his lethal weapon is to be the “Psalter trick.” Here Caswall says, “I have given my own testimony as to what I myself saw of the false prophet, and heard from his own lips, within his own house. And this testimony helps to destroy the very foundation on which the ‘Latter-day’ doctrine is built.”145 That is Caswall’s last statement on the subject, and, as Mr. Zee has said, it supplies us with both the motive—Mr. Caswall’s single-minded dedication to one objective—and the means by which he meant to encompass it. Now the question is, did those means include the outright invention of the Psalter story? What do you think, Mr. Ecks?
Reporter 1: Well, first of all I ask myself, would he have gone so far? Would Mr. Caswall actually lie?
Reporter 3: He is certainly willing to exaggerate. Even Mrs. Brodie admits that.
Reporter 1: But Caswall tones things down progressively in his books.
Reporter 3: Which means that he goes beyond exaggeration—which can be an impulsive and emotional thing without intent to deceive—to cool and deliberate invention and manipulation, or, if you will, fabrication.
Reporter 2: And along with the toning down and deletion of certain things we have the equally conspicuous tendency to add and embellish, which, in the nature of anything as brief, direct, and simple as the Psalter story, bears the mark of fabrication. Also, through the years Caswall shows a marked tendency to move from the specific to the general—to shift his ground—a plain indication that he was not standing on sure ground in the beginning. From the point of view of veracity it might not be so bad to omit from all subsequent editions the nice things he said about the Mormons in 1842—that is a mark of prejudice rather than deceit; but it is another matter when he goes on through the years adding long and elaborate speeches which are supposed to be given verbatim but which grow like snowballs: here we are manifestly faced with inventions of the author.
Moderator: Can’t we just call them embellishments?
Reporter 2: We can. But no plea of pardonable exaggeration or embellishment can excuse the complete revamping of the story that takes place in 1851, when everything shifts from a test of scholarship to a test of inspiration, and a whole new introductory speech by Caswall is invented as a prelude to the exhibit. What Caswall wanted was the opportunity to discredit Joseph Smith once and for all, and he determined that his trip to Nauvoo should furnish him with a perfect opportunity.
Reporter 1: How could he count on that?
Reporter 3: By producing the whole thing in retrospect. All Mrs. Eaton needed was a reputation of having actually lived in Palmyra to make her an authority on everything Joseph Smith said and did. All the Reverend Caswall needed was to be able to say truthfully that he had actually spent three days at Nauvoo: from there he was on his own, an unchallenged authority free to invent at will and at leisure. If the Mormons questioned what he said, of course he would brush that aside as prejudiced. He was on pretty safe ground, but still he was taking no chances. It is wonderful to see the precautions the man took against being found out or even questioned.
Reporter 2: Exactly. And if his story were true, he would want to be questioned about it: he would fall all over himself to supply corroborating evidence. Look how eager he is to imply the presence of many witnesses for every episode he reports, yet he never supplies their names or any other information that might be used to check up on his story. Instead of inviting the public to confirm and follow up his adventures, he takes the greatest pains to prevent any possible inquiry about them. He is always careful that he and only he shall tell the story—not even Gentile witnesses are allowed to be present! This man wants no witnesses. You may have noticed that I emphasized the point of his disguise.
Reporter 1: And you always pointed out that it must have been a very flimsy disguise. Why?
Reporter 2: The disguise is an important clue. With all his talk of sacred duty, clerical vows, and the like, Caswall nonetheless lays off the clerical garb that would have got him a warm reception in Nauvoo and in no way interfered with his Psalter trick. I doubt if even his natural timidity would induce the reverend to go about his missionary labors without his cloth unless he had a very special reason—that of making it as hard as possible to check up on him.
Reporter 1: But all along you insisted that the disguise was a very flimsy one; that it wouldn’t fool anybody.
Reporter 2: And I insist again. The “disguise” is a remarkably poor one, and Caswall could not for an hour have concealed his profession from the Mormons. Note the absurdity of having the Mormons completely baffled and wildly curious as to his identity, while at the same time he went around town being formally introduced to everyone: by what name? Most everyone in Nauvoo had been in St. Louis, some of them many times—did he suppose for a moment that none of the Mormon leaders who were always on hand would recall the name of the man who had headed the college there for years? Remember, Caswall complained that some of his own students had been wooed away to Nauvoo.
Reporter 1: So the disguise was no good. Then why did he bother with it?
Reporter 2: Because the disguise is purely for the benefit of the reader. Caswall wants his readers to think that he was successfully disguised. Just as he will never have to name or identify any of those witnesses of whom he is constantly speaking, so no Mormon can ever claim to remember, recognize, or refute the man who so brilliantly tricked Smith—for he was in disguise! A minister in his robes would be easily recalled, but a common traveler could be anybody.
Moderator: But this common traveler is supposed to have created an immense sensation.
Reporter 2: Another reason for believing that it didn’t happen that way. For nobody in Nauvoo, official or unofficial, reports the earth-shaking event. I am not referring to the Psalter, but simply to Mr. Caswall’s sensational visit and street-sermons. Remember how the “perfect crowd” that followed him up the street in the 1842 account dwindles to nothing at all by 1865? So much for the immense sensation. Now, consider Caswall’s reluctance to sell the book.
Moderator: We already have. He refused to sell it for $900 in gold.
Reporter 1: Did he really think it was worth all that? He had recently acquired it, he says, for the specific purpose of testing Smith, but after the test he refuses to sell it. This is another step in covering up his traces: by rejecting every offer for the book he is removing it from the category of evidence. Henceforth its only value is the value he chooses to put upon it “as a memento of his visit to Joseph Smith.”
Reporter 2: If his story is true, his behavior is unaccountable, and so is Smith’s—begging to buy a book that is worthless to him and will only put him in a tight spot. But if he is making the story up, then it all makes perfect sense, for then he would have to produce the certificate or the money and, worse still, there would be a damaging witness to his trickery at large. The Psalter would show at the very least that he had loaded the dice when he went “to test the prophet’s scholarship.” But Caswall is always careful that there shall be no witness and no evidence to testify to his activities in Nauvoo.
Reporter 3: I find the behavior of the Mormons even stranger than that of Caswall.
Moderator: What do you mean?
Reporter 3: Caswall may have had a good reason for not wanting things to go on too long, but consider the amazing apathy of the multitude. Here were all these people who by Mr. Caswall’s clever tactics had been worked up to a fever pitch of excitement about the book. Curiosity has reached the point of hysteria when, to crown everything, the prophet announces not only that the book is in very deed a wonderful one—far more wonderful than its owner had supposed—but that he knows what is in it. Yet no one asks him a single question! No report of this marvel ever spreads abroad, even as gossip. No Mormon or Gentile reports it. No one, including Smith, protests when Caswall brings the examination to an abrupt halt before it has even got started. Caswall favors with italics Smith’s declaration that the characters in the book are like those on the golden plates. What a sensation such an announcement would have created in Nauvoo—the news would spread like wildfire! Why didn’t it? Where is it mentioned anywhere? There in the upper room a hundred questions immediately spring to mind. But there was no questioning period there; Caswall himself must keep up the conversation by asking to see the papyri. Smith is all the things Caswall thought he would be: “Even more wicked than I could have supposed him to be,” is his expression. His unbelievable speech is completely out of keeping with the known manner of Smith at the time, but perfectly in character with the idiotic slob of the Caswall stereotype. The false prophet immediately starts swaggering and boasting, rudely contradicting his distinguished guest—he and he only knows the answers; he uses the three or four minutes at his disposal with devastating economy as he prates of Egyptian hieroglyphics and golden plates and characters in reformed Egyptian and the angel, all in the most preposterously crude language. Of course he must identify the book as “Reformed Egyptian,” though that was a New World invention, not to be found in any Old World document. This is another fatal slip, but Caswall, who had not read the Book of Mormon, didn’t know it: everything must be true to his idea of what the boob Joseph Smith would say.
Reporter 2: Not only is Caswall the sole witness to what is supposed to have happened in Nauvoo—never mentioned in any other writings than his—but what is more, he knows he is!
Reporter 1: What makes you so sure of that?
Reporter 2: The great freedom with which he improvises. He could only take the liberties he does if he were quite sure that no one else would ever tell the story. And why is he so absolutely certain that no one else ever will tell that story or any part of it? Why is he perfectly free to tell it as he chooses? Simply because it is a product of his own imagination. To close the door to inquiry, he has fixed it so that no one will ever identify his Mormons, and they will never identify him.
Moderator: So what is your final opinion, Mr. Wye?
Reporter 2: That the Greek Psalter story is the end product of a long process of revising and reediting in an attempt to provide a story of fraud that would stick. The original plot called for a frame-up and a trap: there was to be an interview with Smith at which he was to fail to recognize a Greek Bible. To make sure that he would fail, a doctored text was used, a text that no scholar in America could read, though Caswall was to announce publicly that the test would be a very simple and elementary one. The moment Smith had admitted or in any way displayed his incapacity to read the book, it was to be taken from him, tied up in many wrappings, and scrupulously kept out of the hands of the Mormons, no matter how much they offered for it. Only then, after the book had been sealed, would Caswall announce that Smith “had effectively demonstrated his ignorance,” since the bearer of the book “knew it positively to be a Greek Psalter.” Then the professor would be free to “make known to the world” how the prophet had exhibited his gross ignorance.
Only the interview never took place, as is clear (a) from the fact that it is nowhere mentioned save in Caswall’s own writings, though Nauvoo was an open city and the interview was supposed to have caused a great sensation; (b) from the intrinsic absurdities with which Mr. Caswall’s account of it abound, e.g., his inability to see Smith’s eyes; (c) from Caswall’s willingness to change his story to suit any later convenience; it is absolutely certain that he composed and altered various episodes in retrospect. That would not be so bad if we had, in the key episode (the identification of the Psalter by Smith), an unchanging nucleus. But (d) that is the very part of the story which has been doctored the most.
Since the interview did not take place, Caswall was free to follow Cicero’s method of reporting “in his leisure time” fully and lovingly all the things that should have happened, had the plan been tried, with Smith the perfect clown and Caswall the Christian hero. It is an old and familiar device. It is clearly and repeatedly stated in the earlier versions that the purpose of the interview was to expose Smith’s ignorance by putting his scholarship to the test. An afterthought or minor embellishment of the original version—that since Smith had declared the Psalter to be what was tantamount to another Book of Mormon, he could not be an honest man, and since he was not honest he could not be a true prophet—is later adopted as the leitmotif of the story, and after 1851 it is pretended that the purpose of the test from the first was not to test Smith’s scholarship but the divinity of his calling. Accordingly, the story is thoroughly revamped to fit the new thesis.
Reporter 3 (with a start): How long have we been off the air? Do you realize what time it is?
Reporter 1: We must have wasted hours with that old fellow.
Reporter 2: Hardly wasted. Here is the most respected, the most scholarly, the most unassailable witness who ever testified to the villainy of Joseph Smith, and it has been our privilege not only to test his veracity but actually to see what makes him tick. A rewarding experience, gentlemen—”another page,” as Mr. Caswall would say, “in the great book of human nature.”
*The Myth Makers was originally published in Salt Lake City by Bookcraft in 1961.
1. W. S. Parrott, The Veil Uplifted, or the Religious Conspirators of the Latter-Day Saints Exposed (Bristol: Taylor and Sons, 1865), 14.
2. Ibid., 14-15.
3. Henry Caswall, Mormonism and Its Author: Or, a Statement of the Doctrines of the ‘Latter-Day Saints’ (London: SPCK, 1851), 2.
4. W. H. G. Armytage, “Liverpool, Gateway to Zion,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 48 (April 1957): 39.
5. Henry Caswall, The Prophet of the 19th Century; or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of Mormons or Latter-Day Saints (London: Rivingtons, 1843), vi.
6. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 19.
7. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 222.
8. Ibid., vii.
9. Daniel P. Kidder, “Mormonism and the Mormons,” Methodist Quarterly Review 25 (January 1843): 127.
10. Ibid., 124.
11. Ibid., 125, 127.
12. Henry Caswall, City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo, in 1842, 2nd ed. (London: Rivingtons, 1843), 59.
13. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 223.
14. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 57.
15. Ibid., 44.
16. Henry Caswall, America, and the American Church, 2nd ed. (London: Mozleys, 1851), 307-10.
17. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 60.
18. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 26.
19. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 222.
20. Caswall, Mormonism and Its Author, 24-25.
21. Anonymous, Is Mormonism True or Not? (London: Religious Tract Society, 1855), 9.
23. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 19-20.
24. Ibid., 23.
25. Caswall, Mormonism and Its Author, 2.
26. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 15 (emphasis added).
27. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 49.
28. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 23.
29. Ibid., 25.
30. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 57.
31. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 23.
32. Ibid., 24.
33. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 222.
34. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 85-86.
35. Ibid., 84-85.
36. Caswall, America, and the American Church, 351.
37. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 85-86.
38. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 21.
39. Ibid., 20-21.
41. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 222.
42. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 22.
43. Ibid., 21 (emphasis added).
44. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 50.
45. Robert Richards, The Californian Crusoe (London: Parker, 1854), 84.
47. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 87.
48. Ibid., preface.
49. Ibid., 49.
51. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 224.
52. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 22.
53. Ibid., 4-5.
54. Ibid., 5.
55. Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons, 1st ed. (London: Rivington, 1942), 20-21. Religious Tract Society, The Visitor: or Monthly Instructor for 1842 (London: Religious Tract Society, 1842), 405-6.
56. Ibid., 21.
59. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 406-7.
60. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 27. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 408.
61. Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed; Or, a Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion (Painesville, OH: the author, 1834), 253-54; Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 406-7.
62. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 408.
65. Ibid., 406.
66. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 21. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 406.
67. Ibid., 22.
68. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 33-34. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 408.
69. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 35. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 408.
70. Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past from the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888), 380-81.
71. John Quincy Adams, The Birth of Mormonism (Boston: Gorham, 1916), 101.
72. Richards, Californian Crusoe, 61.
73. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 35-36. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 408-9.
74. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 50.
75. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Knopf, 1947), 290.
76. Missouri Republican, Daily, 3 May 1839.
77. Henry Brown, History of Illinois (New York: New World, 1844), 403.
78. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 36. Religious Tract Society, Visitor, 409.
79. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 37.
80. Ibid., 41.
82. Ibid., 43.
84. Charles Kelly and Hoffman Birney, Holy Murder: The Story of Porter Rockwell (New York: Minton, Balch, 1934), 7.
85. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 42-49.
86. Ibid., 43-44.
87. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1843 ed.), 5.
89. Ibid., 9, 16, 18; Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 224.
90. Caswall, City of the Mormons,18.
92. Ibid., 19.
93. Ibid., 15.
94. Ibid., 19.
96. Ibid., 23.
97. Ibid., 30.
98. Ibid., 31.
99. Ibid., 35.
101. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 223.
102. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 36.
103. Ibid., 37.
104. Ibid., 36-37.
105. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 223-24.
106. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 43.
107. Ibid., 38.
108. Ibid., 44-45.
109. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 224.
111. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 46.
112. Ibid., 49.
113. Ibid., 47.
116. Ibid., 43-44.
117. Caswall, America, and the American Church, 357-58; Caswall, Mormonism and Its Author, 4-5.
118. Caswall, America, and the American Church, 358.
119. Ibid., 356.
120. Caswall, Mormonism and Its Author, 5.
123. Caswall, America, and the American Church, 358.
124. Ibid., 358-59.
125. Ibid., 359.
127. Caswall, City of the Mormons, 46-47.
128. Ibid., 49.
129. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 19.
131. Ibid., 17.
132. Ibid., 18.
135. Caswall, City of the Mormons (1st ed.), 44.
136. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 18-19.
137. Ibid., 25.
138. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 223.
139. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 17-18, 25.
140. Henry Caswall, America and the American Church (London: Mozley, 1839), 323.
141. Francis Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America: The Book of Mormon, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing, 1942-51), 2:114.
142. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 222.
143. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 290.
144. Caswall, Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, vii-viii.
145. Parrott, Veil Uplifted, 19 (emphasis added).