Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XII
Brother Snow's Mission terminates.—Reports four hundred Members in the London Conference.—Is appointed to take charge of two hundred and fifty Saints en route to Nauvoo.—Embarks on the "Swanton."—The Steward's sickness.—Grows worse and worse.—Is given up, and nearly dead.—Sister Martin insists with the Captain.—Is repulsed, and again asks that Elder Snow may administer to the Steward.—She obtains consent.—The man is healed.—Baptisms in New Orleans.—The Company reaches Nauvoo.—Great Reception.—Waving of Handkerchiefs.—The Prophet present.—Reminiscences.—My joy in meeting Lorenzo.—How we associated.—Appeal to my Husband.—Their Interview.—The Result.
In April, 1842, at the Conference in Manchester, President P. P. Pratt presiding, Lorenzo Snow represented the London Conference, consisting of four hundred members, fourteen Elders, thirty-two Priests, seven Teachers, eight Deacons, including ten branches. During his presidency he visited and preached to congregations in many places, bearing testimony to the truths of the Gospel of the Son of God, having, at the time of embarking for his native country, traveled in England four thousand miles.
At the close of his mission, he was appointed to take charge of a company of Saints, consisting of about two hundred and fifty souls, en route for Nauvoo; and in January, 1843, embarked on the ship "Swanton." The commander, Captain Davenport, and officers of the crew were kind and courteous, which contributed much to ameliorate the discomfort incident to life on the ocean.
The steward, a German by birth, was a young man, very affable in manner, and gentlemanly in deportment—a general favorite and highly respected by all. During the latter part of the voyage he took sick, and continued growing worse and worse, until death seemed inevitable. All means proved una vailing, and the captain, by whom he was much beloved, gave up all hope of his recovery, and requested the officers and crew to go in, one by one, and take a farewell look of their dying friend, which they did silently and solemnly, as he lay unconscious and almost breathless on his dying couch.
Immediately after this sad ceremony closed, one of our sisters, by the name of Martin, without my brother's knowledge, went to the captain and requested him to allow my brother to lay hands on the steward, according to our faith and practice under such circumstances, saying that she believed that the steward would be restored. The captain shook his head, and told her that the steward was now breathing his last, and it would be useless to trouble Mr. Snow. But Sister Martin was not to be defeated; she not only importuned, but earnestly declared her faith in the result of the proposed administration, and he finally yielded and gave consent.
As soon as the foregoing circumstance was communicated to my brother, he started toward the cabin where the steward lay, and in passing through the door met the captain, who was in tears. He said, "Mr. Snow, it is too late; he is expiring, he is breathing his last!" My brother made no reply, but took a seat beside the dying man. After devoting a few moments to secret prayer, he laid his hands on the head of the young man, prayed, and in the name of Jesus Christ rebuked the disease and commanded him to be made whole. Very soon after, to the joy and astonishment of all, he was seen walking the deck, praising and glorifying God for his restoration. The officers and sailors acknowledged the miraculous power of God, and on landing at New Orleans several of them w r ere baptized, also the first mate, February 26, 1843.
At New Orleans the Saints left the "Swanton," and, on board the "Amaranth," wended their way up the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to the city of Nauvoo. Descriptive of their arrival, I clip the following paragraph from the "History of Joseph Smith," under date of April 12, 1843:
"Before the Elders' Conference closed, the steamer 'Amaranth' appeared in sight of the Temple, coming up the river, and about noon landed her passengers at the wharf opposite the old Post Office building, consisting of about two hundred and forty Saints from England, under the charge of Elder Lorenzo Snow, who left Liverpool last January, after a mission of nearly three years. This is the first boat up this season."
The time of the arrival had been announced, and many hearts (mine not excepted) were anxiously and expectantly beating, and when the steamer came in sight, every eye was turned in the direction, and as it neared the landing, white handkerchiefs were waving along the shore, up and down, for a great distance. President Joseph Smith, with a large number of brothers and sisters, was present to greet our friends, and he gave notice to the new comers to meet at the Temple on the next day at ten o'clock, to receive instructions.
It should be borne in mind that time and progress have wrought great changes since that event—at that time steamers were not navigating the ocean with the astonishing rapidity they are doing forty years later—crossing in a few days; and, at that time, letter communication was very tardy in comparison with the present fast age, and cablegram nonexistent. In consideration of these circumstances, it will be readily understood that a mission to England now differs very considerably from a mission to England then—saying nothing about the aid and facilities of the railroads of the present day. In view of all these improvements, it is easy to comprehend that the arrival of a company of Saints from Europe was hailed as an important event. To me, personally, the one alluded to above was particularly so.
The appearance of the "Amaranth," as it came in sight, attracted the gaze of many eyes, but I then thought, and still think, that of all the crowd that watched its progress up the Mississippi, as it approached the wharf, no one felt a deeper interest than myself. Knowing that the steamer held a dear brother with whom, three years before, I parted for an indefinite period, I watched it coming, and the white handkerchiefs waving from its deck—perhaps one is his, and in a few moments I shall clasp the hand that waves it! Although I determined to appear to the bystanders undemonstrative, I have not forgotten how my heart beat when the steamer reached the wharf. It may seem trivial to others, but that is one of the incidents in my life that has fastened indelibly on my memory.
While my brother was absent on this, his first mission to Europe, changes had taken place with me, one of eternal import, of which I supposed him to be entirely ignorant. The Prophet Joseph had taught me the principle of plural, or Celestial Marriage, and I was married to him for time and eternity. In consequence of the ignorance of most of the Saints, as well as people of the world, on this subject, it was not mentioned only privately between the few whose minds were enlightened on the subject.
Not knowing how my brother would receive it, I did not feel at liberty, and did not wish to assume the responsibility of instructing him in the principle of plural marriage, and either maintained silence, or, to his indirect questioning, gave evasive answers, until I was forced, by his cool and distant manner, to feel that he was growing jealous of my sisterly confidence—that I could not confide in his brotherly integrity. I could not endure this—something must be done. I informed my husband of the situation, and requested him to open the subject to my brother. A favorable opportunity soon presented, and, seated together on the lone bank of the Mississippi river, they had a most interesting conversation. The Prophet afterwards told me that he found that my brother's mind had been previously enlightened on the subject in question, and was ready to receive whatever the spirit of revelation from God should impart. That Comforter which Jesus said should "lead into all truth," had penetrated his understanding, and while in England had given him an intimation of what at that time was, to many, a secret. This was the result of living near the Lord, and holding communion with Him.