History, 1838–1856, volume F-1 [1 May 1844–8 August 1844]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 93
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<​June 12​> own, and must be known henceforth and forever I suppose as the ‘Mormon order!’ The external layer of stone is dressed with considerable neatness, and each of the <​range of​> pilasters by which it is ornamented, bears upon it a sculptural representation of the crescent, with the profile of a man’s face in strong relief— much in the style of that edifying picture of the moon you may have been wont to admire as well as myself in the Primer when a boy! The effect of this image is semi-solemn, semi-laughable, and certainly more than semi-singular. In the workshop beside the structure, in which a large number of stone cutters are employed, may be seen divers other carvings on stone, designed for the holy edifice, still more novel than that I have named. Among them are suns, full moons, and half the constellations of the firmament, to say nothing of the human faces of expression weird enough for an Egyptian Obelisk. There are 75 or 100 of the fraternity zealously at work at the present time hewing stone or laying it for the , all other <​public​> improvements being in perfect abeyance that this greatest and holiest of all may advance.
“The walls of the structure are about two feet in depth, and the solidity of the buttresses and the port-hole aspect of the basement apertures for windows, lend the pile more the appearance of a fortalice than a sanctuary. It has three entrances all on the West front. On each side of the main entrance is an apartment perfectly circular without window or loop-hole, or division of any kind, designed for some vestibular purpose, which none of our party could divine. At the eastern extremity is a large arched window, and here no doubt is to stand the altar. The basement story, as you look down into it, reminds you more of a wine cellar, with its dozen apartments or crypts, each divided from the other by ponderous masonry. In the center of the basement, resting upon the backs of eight white oxen carved from wood with passable skill, stands the Baptismal font, a rectangular box of some twelve feet square, and half as many in depth.
“From each side of this box appear the heads and shoulders of two oxen up to their knees in brick work, with most inexpressive eyes, most extensive ears, a remarkable longitude of face, and a protrusion of horns perfectly prodigious with a single exception, one horn of one unhappy ox having been torn off by some more than usually rude grasp, at the ‘altar!’ The effect of all this is of a character somewhat mixed. It is certainly a little startling in the dim religious duskiness of the spot, to stumble upon these eight white oxen, standing so still, and stiff, and stark, and solemn, with their great strong eyes staring sternly at you for the intrusion; and yet, the first inclination, after recovering from your surprise is to laugh and that most heartily. The idea of this font seems to have been revealed to the prophet directly by the plan of the molten sea of Solomon’s Temple, which we are told in the old scriptures, stood upon twelve oxen, three looking to the north, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west; all their hinder parts inward.
“This Mormon , should it ever be complete— and it has been three years reaching its second floor, will certainly present one of the most extraordinary architectural structures since the era of the erection of the massive sanctuaries of the Nile— of descriptions of the ruins of which the spectator is by this reminded! Its interior structure and arrangement, we were informed by the prophet, had not been decided on— (he did not tell me ‘had not yet been revealed to him’, as he did to many others)— and indeed he was by no means certain he should erect the edifice externally in accordance with the plan proposed and published.
“The view of the roofs and streets of the beneath, the farms and fields away to the north and east, the winding its dark and serpentine course in front, the long and low wooded island lying midway of the stream, the little village of , [p. 93]
June 12 own, and must be known henceforth and forever I suppose as the ‘Mormon order!’ The external layer of stone is dressed with considerable neatness, and each of the range of pilasters by which it is ornamented, bears upon it a sculptural representation of the crescent, with the profile of a man’s face in strong relief— much in the style of that edifying picture of the moon you may have been wont to admire as well as myself in the Primer when a boy! The effect of this image is semi-solemn, semi-laughable, and certainly more than semi-singular. In the workshop beside the structure, in which a large number of stone cutters are employed, may be seen divers other carvings on stone, designed for the holy edifice, still more novel than that I have named. Among them are suns, full moons, and half the constellations of the firmament, to say nothing of the human faces of expression weird enough for an Egyptian Obelisk. There are 75 or 100 of the fraternity zealously at work at the present time hewing stone or laying it for the , all other public improvements being in perfect abeyance that this greatest and holiest of all may advance.
“The walls of the structure are about two feet in depth, and the solidity of the buttresses and the port-hole aspect of the basement apertures for windows, lend the pile more the appearance of a fortalice than a sanctuary. It has three entrances all on the West front. On each side of the main entrance is an apartment perfectly circular without window or loop-hole, or division of any kind, designed for some vestibular purpose, which none of our party could divine. At the eastern extremity is a large arched window, and here no doubt is to stand the altar. The basement story, as you look down into it, reminds you more of a wine cellar, with its dozen apartments or crypts, each divided from the other by ponderous masonry. In the center of the basement, resting upon the backs of eight white oxen carved from wood with passable skill, stands the Baptismal font, a rectangular box of some twelve feet square, and half as many in depth.
“From each side of this box appear the heads and shoulders of two oxen up to their knees in brick work, with most inexpressive eyes, most extensive ears, a remarkable longitude of face, and a protrusion of horns perfectly prodigious with a single exception, one horn of one unhappy ox having been torn off by some more than usually rude grasp, at the ‘altar!’ The effect of all this is of a character somewhat mixed. It is certainly a little startling in the dim religious duskiness of the spot, to stumble upon these eight white oxen, standing so still, and stiff, and stark, and solemn, with their great strong eyes staring sternly at you for the intrusion; and yet, the first inclination, after recovering from your surprise is to laugh and that most heartily. The idea of this font seems to have been revealed to the prophet directly by the plan of the molten sea of Solomon’s Temple, which we are told in the old scriptures, stood upon twelve oxen, three looking to the north, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west; all their hinder parts inward.
“This Mormon , should it ever be complete— and it has been three years reaching its second floor, will certainly present one of the most extraordinary architectural structures since the era of the erection of the massive sanctuaries of the Nile— of descriptions of the ruins of which the spectator is by this reminded! Its interior structure and arrangement, we were informed by the prophet, had not been decided on— (he did not tell me ‘had not yet been revealed to him’, as he did to many others)— and indeed he was by no means certain he should erect the edifice externally in accordance with the plan proposed and published.
“The view of the roofs and streets of the beneath, the farms and fields away to the north and east, the winding its dark and serpentine course in front, the long and low wooded island lying midway of the stream, the little village of , [p. 93]
Page 93