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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Visit to Brigham Young

By Charles Farrar Browne (1834–1867)

[From Artemus Ward: His Works, Complete. 1875.]

IT is now goin on 2 (too) yeres, as I very well remember, since I crossed the Planes for Kaliforny, the Brite land of Jold. While crossin the Planes all so bold I fell in with sum noble red men of the forest (N. B. This is rote Sarcasticul. Injins is Pizin, whar ever found,) which thay Sed I was their Brother, & wanted for to smoke the Calomel of Peace with me. Thay then stole my jerkt beef, blankits, etsettery, skalpt my orgin grinder & scooted with a Wild Hoop. Durin the Cheaf’s techin speech he sed he shood meet me in the Happy Huntin Grounds. If he duz thare will be a fite. But enuff of this ere. Reven Noose Muttons, as our skoolmaster, who has got Talent into him, cussy-cally obsarve.

I arrove at Salt Lake in doo time. At Camp Scott there was a lot of U. S. sogers, hosstensibly sent out thare to smash the mormons, but really to eat Salt vittles & play poker & other beautiful but sumwhat onsartin games. I got acquainted with sum of the officers. They lookt putty scrumpshus in their Bloo coats with brass buttings onto um & ware very talented drinkers, but so fur as fitin is consarned I’d willingly put my wax figgers agin the hull party.

My desire was to exhibit my grate show in Salt Lake City, so I called on Brigham Yung, the grate mogull amung the mormins, and axed his permishun to pitch my tent and onfurl my banner to the jentle breezis. He lookt at me in a austeer manner for a few minits, and sed:

“Do you bleeve in Solomon, Saint Paul, the immaculateness of the Mormin Church and the Latter-day Revelashuns?”

Sez I, “I’m on it!” I make it a pint to git along plesunt, tho I didn’t know what under the Son the old feller was drivin at. He sed I mite show.

“You air a marrid man, Mister Yung, I bleeve?” sez I, preparin to rite him sum free parsis.

“I hev eighty wives, Mister Ward. I sertinly am marrid.”

“How do you like it as far as you hev got?” sed I.

He sed “middlin,” and axed me wouldn’t I like to see his famerly, to which I replide that I wouldn’t mind minglin with the fair Seck & Barskin in the winnin smiles of his interestin wives. He accordingly tuk me to his Scareum. The house is powerful big & in a exceedin large room was his wives & children, which larst was squawkin and hollerin enuff to take the roof rite orf the house. The wimin was of all sizes and ages. Sum was pretty & sum was Plane—sum was helthy and sum was on the Wayne—which is verses, tho sich was not my intentions, as I don’t ’prove of puttin verses in Proze rittins, tho ef occashun requires I can Jerk a Poim ekal to any of them Atlantic Munthly fellers.

“My wives, Mister Ward,” sed Yung.

“Your sarvant, marms,” sed I, as I sot down in a cheer which a red-heded female brawt me.

“Besides these wives you see here, Mister Ward,” sed Yung, “I hav eighty more in varis parts of this consecrated land which air Sealed to me.”

“Which?” sez I, gittin up & starin at him.

“Sealed, Sir! sealed.”

“Whare bowts?” sez I.

“I sed, Sir, that they was sealed!” He spoke in a traggerdy voice.

“Will they probly continner on in that stile to any grate extent, Sir?” I axed.

“Sir,” sed he, turnin as red as a biled beet, “don’t you know that the rules of our Church is that I, the Profit, may hev as meny wives as I wants?”

“Jes so,” I sed. “You are old pie, ain’t you?”

“Them as is Sealed to me—that is to say, to be mine when I wants um—air at present my sperretooul wives,” sed Mister Yung.

“Long may thay wave!” sez I, seein I shood git into a scrape ef I didn’t look out.

In a privit conversashun with Brigham I learnt the follerin fax: It takes him six weeks to kiss his wives. He don’t do it only onct a yere & sez it is wuss nor cleanin house. He don’t pretend to know his children, thare is so many of um, tho they all know him. He sez about every child he meats call him Par, & he takes it for grantid it is so. His wives air very expensiv. They allers want suthin & ef he don’t buy it for um thay set the house in a uproar. He sez he don’t have a minit’s peace. His wives fite amung theirselves so much that he has bilt a fitin room for thare speshul benefit, & when too of ’em get into a row he has em turnd loose into that place, whare the dispoot is settled accordin to the rules of the London prize ring. Sumtimes thay abooz hisself individooally. Thay hev pulled the most of his hair out at the roots & he wares meny a horrible scar upon his body, inflicted with mop-handles, broom-sticks, and sich. Occashunly they git mad & scald him with bilin hot water. When he got eny waze cranky thay’d shnt him up in a dark closit, previsly whippin him arter the stile of muthers when thare orfsprings git onruly. Sumtimes when he went in swimmin thay’d go to the banks of the Lake & steal all his close, thereby compellin him to sneek home by a sircootius rowt, drest in the Skanderlus stile of the Greek Slaiv. “I find that the keers of a marrid life way hevy onto me,” sed the Profit, “& sumtimes I wish I’d remaned singel.” I left the Profit and startid for the tavern whare I put up to. On my way I was overtuk by a lurge krowd of Mormons, which they surroundid me & statid that they were goin into the Show free.

“Wall,” sez I, “ef I find a individooal who is goin round lettin folks into his show free, I’ll let you know.”

“We’ve had a Revelashun biddin us go into A. Ward’s Show without payin nothin!” thay showtid.

“Yes,” hollered a lot of femaile Mormonesses, ceasin me by the cote tales & swingin me round very rapid, “we’re all goin in free! So sez the Revelashun!”

“What’s Old Revelashun got to do with my show?” sez I, gittin putty rily. “Tell Mister Revelashun,” sed I, drawin myself up to my full hite and lookin round upon the ornery krowd with a prowd & defiant mean, “tell Mister Revelashun to mind his own bizness, subject only to the Konstitushun of the United States!”

“Oh now let us in, that’s a sweet man,” sed several femails, puttin thare arms round me in luvin style. “Become 1 of us. Becum a Preest & hav wives Sealed to you.”

“Not a Seal!” sez I, startin back in horror at the idee.

“Oh stay, Sir, stay,” sed a tall, gawnt femaile, ore whoos hed 37 summirs must hev parsd, “stay, & I’ll be your Jentle Gazelle.”

“Not ef I know it, you won’t,” sez I. “Awa you skanderlus femaile, awa! Go & be a Nunnery!” That’s what I sed, JES SO.

“& I,” sed a fat chunky femaile, who must hev wade more than too hundred lbs., “I will be your sweet gidin Star!”

Sez I, “Ile bet two dollers and a half you won’t!” Whare ear I may Rome Ile still be troo 2 thee, Oh Betsy Jane! (N. B. Betsy Jane is my wife’s Sir naime.)

“Wiltist thou not tarry here in the promist Land?” sed several of the miserabil critters.

“Ile see you all essenshally cussed be 4 I wiltist!” roared I, as mad as I cood be at thare infernul noncents. I girded up my Lions & fled the Seen. I packt up my duds & Left Salt Lake, which is a 2nd Soddum & Germorrer, inhabitid by as theavin & onprincipled a set of retchis as ever drew Breth in eny spot on the Globe.