Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/174

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These are the words of "Jacob, the brother of Nephi," and words could hardly be more distinct or emphatic; but theologians can generally manage to explain away inconvenient texts and hard sayings, while in this case it may be held by the Saints that the above injunctions were repealed by the subsequent "Revelation on Celestial Marriage." This tardy revelation, vouchsafed to Joseph Smith shortly before the close of his career, is the sole warrant for plurality of wives—a practice which is general among the Mormon leaders, but not throughout the community at large. With them, as with Mohammedans or Hindoos, polygamy is doubtless very much a question of expense, and I was informed on good authority that probably about one in four of the Saints is the husband of more than one wife. The majority, therefore, adheres in practice to the "Doctrine and Covenants," which book is a recognized authority upon articles of Mormon faith, and declares that "one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." The number of wives ascribed to eminent individuals is usually exaggerated, sixteen being the largest number admittedly married to one man, and six constituting the household of a wealthy and influential elder.

The Mormons compare themselves to the Jews, as well as to the early Christians; they have been a persecuted people, driven forth to wander through trackless deserts, and are now living apart from their neighbors in a theocratic commonwealth of their own. Their precedents on behalf of polygamy are mainly drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures; but they also assert that they have in their favor the example of the primitive Christian Church. Without going into their arguments, it may be at once conceded that polygamy was sanctioned by the ancient Hebrew law; but it is not the less out of date in the new world of America, and is a standing peril to the Church of the Latter-day Saints. By an act of the Utah Legislature, the right of suffrage has been conferred on "all American women, native or naturalized," and it hardly seems possible that polygamy can long survive such legislation. At present the extension of the franchise among persons, few-of whom are "native" Americans, and many of whom. are very imperfectly educated, probably strengthens the hands of the Mormon leaders by swamping entirely the Gentile element. But such an effect is not likely to be permanent, for the rising generation will be educated; in 1871, just after the passing of the act above referred to, sixty per cent, of the girls between four and sixteen years of age were enrolled as scholars throughout Utah Territory, being slightly in excess of the percentage among boys of the same age. Equality between the sexes in education and in electoral privileges must tend to bring about social and religious equality also, and the example of their independent sisters in Wyoming Territory, where women enjoy complete civil rights, will not be thrown away upon the ladies of Salt