Proverbs, between circa 11 August and circa 4 September 1842
JS, Proverbs, [, IL, or , Iowa Territory, between ca. 11 Aug. and ca. 4 Sept. 1842]; handwriting of ; two pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes notation and dockets.
Single leaf, measuring 9⅞ × 7⅞ inches (25 × 20 cm). The leaf is ruled with twenty-nine horizontal lines printed in blue ink. The document was inscribed in blue ink and was folded twice horizontally. The leaf was once a part of a bifolium, as indicated by two small, folded remnants of a formerly attached leaf on the left side of the recto. The surviving leaf appears to have been chewed by a rodent on the lower right side of the recto, but the damage obscures only one letter of text.
The document was docketed by , who served as JS’s scribe from 1843 to 1844 and as clerk to the church historian and recorder from 1845 to 1865. It was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office (later Church Historical Department) circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s docket and its inclusion in the circa 1904 inventory and in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
In late summer 1842, JS dictated five proverbs to . The predominant themes of these proverbs are loyalty to friends, honesty, and patience amid afflictions. The proverbs also include admonitions for debtors and their lenders. Like the date, the circumstances under which JS dictated these proverbs are unclear. later added a notation to the top of the document stating that the document consisted of “Proverbs of Joseph dictated by Joseph to Erastus H. Derby in 1843.” It is more likely, however, that Derby recorded these proverbs sometime between 11 August and 4 September 1842, since he did not work closely with JS in 1843 but did serve as his scribe for this three-week period in 1842. For a portion of that time, JS, who had been charged as an accessory before the fact to the attempted assassination of former governor , was in hiding in various locations near , Illinois, as well as across the in eastern , Iowa Territory. Derby was his near-constant companion during much of that time; JS remarked in a letter to , “I have been kept from melancholy and dumps, by the kind-heartedness of brother Derby, and his interesting chit-chat from time to time, which has called my mind from the more strong contemplations of things, and subjects that would have preyed more earnestly upon my feelings.” The themes of the proverbs were clearly relevant to JS’s circumstances at a time when he was relying on friends to protect him from the ongoing attempts to arrest him and extradite him to Missouri. All these circumstances suggest the proverbs were most likely dictated sometime between 11 August and 4 September.
There is no record of these proverbs being read or otherwise shared with a public or private audience either at the time recorded them or thereafter.
In a separate instance in early 1843, JS dictated a proverb to scribe Willard Richards, who was assigned to keep JS’s journal. Richards recorded the proverb in JS’s journal. (JS, Journal, 10 Mar. 1843; see also JS, Proverb, ca. early 1843, in Richards, “Scriptural Items,” .)
Richards, Franklin D. Scriptural Items, ca. 1841–1844. CHL. MS 4409.
1st Never exact of a friend in adversity what you would requirre in prosperity
2d If a man prove himsellfe to be honest in his deal, & an ememy come upon him wickedly, through fraud or false pretences and because he is Stronger than he maketh him his prisener and Spoil him with his Goods never Say unto that man in the day of his adversity pay him what thou owest, for if though [thou] doest it though [thou] addest a deeper wound and condemnation Shall come upon the[e]. and the richus [riches] shall be Justifyed in the days of thine adversity if they mock at the[e]
3rd Never afflict thy Soul for what an Enemy hath put it out of thy power to do, if thy Desieres are ever so Just
4th. Let thy hand never fale to hand out that that though [thou] owest which it is yet within thy Grasp to do So, but when thy Stock fails say to thy heart— be Strong and to thine anxieties cease. for Man what is he, he is but dong [dung] upon the Earth and all though he demand of the the cattle of an thousan[d] [p. ]