Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter IX
Called on mission to England.—Extraordinary communication.—Calls on
families of the Twelve.—In Ohio.—Borrows money.—On board a sailing
yesse!.—In Liverpool.—Writes to his aunt.—Why he is there.—How he
came there.—Crossing the ocean.—Terrific storms.—An ocean storm
scene.—The ealm.—Gratitude.—Arrives in Liverpool.—Manchester.—
EARLY in the spring of 1840, I was appointed to a mission in England, and I started on or about the twentieth of May. I here record a circumstance which occurred a short time previous—one which has been riveted on my memory, never to be erased, so extraordinary was the manifestation. At the time, I was at the house of Elder H. G. Sherwood; he was endeavoring to explain the parable of our Savior, when speaking of the husbandman who hired servants and sent them forth at different hours of the day to labor in his vineyard.
While attentively listening to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me, and explains Father Smith's dark saying to me at a blessing meeting in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism, as previously mentioned in my first interview with the Patriarch.
As man now is, God once was:
As God now is, man may be.
I felt this to be a sacred communication, which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England, when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young, in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation.
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, and others of the Quorum of the Twelve, nine in all, were at this time laboring in England, and before leaving Nauvoo, the home of the Saints, I visited several of their families. I found Sister Young occupying an unfinished log hut, with a loose floor, and no chinking between the logs; consequently the sides and ends of the hut were open, leaving the inmates exposed to wind and storms. When I called, she had just returned from a long, fatiguing and fruitless search for her milch cow, which had strayed the day before, and on which she much depended for sustenance for her little ones. On my asking her what she wished me to say to her husband, she replied, "You see my situation, but tell him not to trouble, or worry in the least about me—I wish him to remain in his field of labor until honorably released." Her apparent poverty-stricken, destitute condition deeply stirred my sympathy. I had but little money—not sufficient to take me one-tenth the distance to my field of labor, with no prospect for obtaining the balance, and was then on the eve of starting. I drew from my pocket a portion of my small pittance, and presented her, but she refused to accept it; while I strenuously insisted on her taking, and she persisting to refuse—partly purposely, and partly accidentally, the money was dropped on the floor, and rattled through the openings between the loose boards, which settled the dispute, and bidding her good bye, I left her to pick it up at her leisure. When I called on the wife of Orson Pratt, she said she wished her husband to return home as soon as possible—she needed his assistance.
On my way to New York, my point of embarkation, I
called on my friends in Ohio, held a few meetings, borrowed
money at a heavy interest, and proceeded on my way, traveling
to New York chiefly on canal boats. I took steerage
passage on board a sailing vessel, having supplied myself with
blanket, buffalo robe, and a supply of provisions. I had
heard tell of deck passage—I had read of deck passage, but
when I experienced deck passage, with its peculiar make-up,
on this voyage, I could truly say, with the Queen of Sheba,
"the half had not been told;" and I felt assured that the
other half never could be told. And, after all, the almost
unbearable discomfort I experienced on the voyage was not
attributable particularly to deck passage, but to the unpleasant
peculiarities of the situation. I was surrounded with a
huddled crowd of rough, uncouth people, very filthy in their
appearance and habits. We had a long passage of about six
weeks, in which we encountered storms and tempests, and
suffered much for want of fresh water, and also a sufficient
supply of food. For further particulars I transcribe the
following letter written to my aunt in Ohio:
My Dear and Highly Respected Aunt:
With pleasure I improve the present opportunity in fulfilling the promise made at our last interview. You see by this heading, I am in the city of London, the great metropolis of the British empire. The thought that I am between four and five thousand miles from the home of my childhood and all of my early, fond associations, very naturally prompts the question, Why am I here? To me, a question of no small magnitude—one, the results of which probably lie far in the future. In answer to the foregoing I would say, I am here because God has spoken, and raised up a Prophet, through whom He has restored the fulness of the everlasting Gospel, with all its gifts, powers, ordinances, and blessings; with a proclamation to all peoples, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In the providence of God, I have been called as an ambassador, to bear this message to the nations of the earth, which I realize devolves on me a great responsibility which I cannot discharge without the aid of the Almighty. And now, another question suggests itself—How came I here? In answer to this, I can truly say, the hand of the Lord has led me, and His power has protected and preserved me in the midst of those perilous scenes to which voyagers are often exposed when on the briny deep in their passage to foreign lands.
I was nearly two weeks on the way from Cleveland, Ohio, to New York—traveled upwards of three hundred miles on the Erie canal. At Albany I took steamboat to New York, and the next day, after having supplied myself with what little necessary articles and comforts I needed on the voyage, went on board a ship just ready to sail, bidding good bye to New York, after a brief introduction and hasty glance at its temptations for sight-seeing; and, for the first time, turned my face from my native land.
I was forty-two days crossing the ocean, and during this time we encountered three terrible storms—storms which those accustomed to the ocean pronounced very dangerous. Unacquainted as I was with the turbulent waves, I was unable to judge comparatively, but, in a number of instances, to say the least of it, the scene was fearfully terrific. I did not feel surprised that men, women and children who had not learned to trust in God, wrung their hands in an agony of fear, and wept. My trust was in Him who created the seas and defined their bounds. I was on His errand—I knew that I was sent on this mission by the authority He recognizes, and, although the elements raged and the ship swayed and trembled amid the heaving billows, He was at the helm, and my life was safe in His keeping.
I think, aunt, that you moved from Massachusetts to Ohio by land, and that you have had no experience in ocean life; now, to realize the answer to "How came I here?" Just look at me in your lively imagination, in one of these terrific storms, seated on a large hogshead of water—holding on, with both hands, to ropes near by, in order to retain my position—the ship reeling and dashing from side to side—now and then a monster wave leaping over the bulwarks, treating all present with a shower bath—see, sitting near me, a man weeping bitterly with terror in his countenance—the next moment a wave shoots over the bulwarks, dashing him from his seat and landing him precipitately against the bulwark on the opposite side, from which he arises with a broken arm and dripping wet; while many others are badly bruised by having been furiously thrown about. So much for the upper deck. Now take a peep into the deck below, where boxes, chests and barrels, having broken loose from their storage, are slipping and tumbling about among the women and children, whose groans and cries for help are in vain, so long as each man has all he can possibly do to take care of himself, for none but sailors and those accustomed to marine life can control their movements in a fierce storm on the mighty deep. No doubt but an imaginative glance at the one storm will suffice. Now, after the storm subsided and the bosom of the great deep settled into calm repose, see the tall masts bow gently before the mildly moving breeze—the white sails unfurl in placid swells, and again the ship moves through the parting waves with stately pride, while joy and gratitude fill every heart.
When we arrived at the Liverpool docks, as the vessel approached within a few feet of the shore, the hand of an Englishman was reached forth to assist me. I immediately seized it and landed upon the island of Great Britain, just three months from the time I left my father's house in Illinois, to which place my father and family had been driven by the ruthless hand of mobocracy. The twenty-second of this month I shall have been four months in England. The pleasure I realized on the termination of a long and tedious voyage on the ocean cannot be expressed. Suffice it to say, my heart was full of the highest gratitude to Him who preserves and sustains those whom He calls and sends forth as ministers of salvation to the nations of the earth.
In Liverpool, I found a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with about one hundred members. I tarried a few days and spoke in an evening meeting, then took the train to Manchester, distant thirty miles. On my arrival, I experienced inexpressible joy in greeting once more my brethren from America. I stopped in Manchester about ten days, during which I preached a number of times and baptized several persons. The population of this city consists of over three hundred thousand inhabitants.
From Manchester I went by coach to Birmingham. There I labored in the ministry about three months, and never enjoyed myself better, nor received kinder treatment. This great city contains about two hundred thousand inhabitants.
On the eleventh of February, in about five hours I proceeded by train to London, from which I write you. I am here, presiding over the Church in London; I also have charge of several branches established in the vicinity. The work of the Lord moves on with rapidity in all parts of Her Majesty's kingdom—in England, Scotland and Wales.
With kind regards to you, dear aunt, and to each member of your family, I subscribe myself,
Your affectionate nephew,