Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XXXIII
Polysophical Association. Lorenzo no one-idea man. Character of the Association. Called to write. Responded. Speeches from ten to fifteen minutes. Time fully occupied. How it was accomplished. Everything high-toned. The effect captivating. Anxiety to become members. Note by the Editor. Nationality. Where is the place of my nativity? Where is my home? Not in any European country. Not even in America. Not on earth. Here I am a stranger. My home, my nationality in the courts of immortality. Address to parents. Our mutual aim. Respon- sibilities. Necessity of cultivating children. What they should be pre- pared for. What they are to become.
1 ORENZO SNOW'S rich inventive genius has not been confined to any one particular routine. He has never earned the reputation of "one-idea man." The Poly- sophical Association, one of the most interesting and extraor- dinary productions, was the offspring of his fertile brain. It
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was in the form of a series of evening entertainments, con- sisting of a most remarkable combination of physical, moral, mental and spiritual exercises, all blended in one harmonious whole.
The association met once in two weeks, in my brother's hall, which was decorated in a manner to correspond with the occasion. The first intimation I had of this singularly bene- ficial and enjoyable project, Lorenzo called at my residence and requested me to write an article, either prope or poetry, and read it on the first opening of the contemplated series, which he briefly explained. Of course I was obedient, wrote a poem, was punctual to time and place, and was amply rewarded with pure, unsophisticated enjoyment.
The grand aim in getting up the programme for each meeting was to awaken an unflagging
interest, by riveting the
attention from the opening of the exercises to the close. To secure this effect, the parts allotted to each were full of point and vigor, and no one was allowed more than fifteen minutes. The speeches, songs, readings, recitations, instrumental music on guitar, organ, piano and bagpipe were all previously arranged and assigned to their respective speakers and players, giving them sufficient time for preparation.
During the exercises the attention of all was so firmly riveted that apparently no one in the audience felt 'any incli- nation to leave a seat, speak or whisper, but an all absorbing heed was directed to each contributed portion of the mag- nificent moral, intellectual and spiritual picnic.
In order to preserve quietude and profound silence, and that each member, as his or her turn came, might be ready, so that not one moment should pass unoccupied to slacken the interest or cool the awakened enthusiasm, the one who was appointed "master of ceremonies," being seated beside a small table in the centre of the hall, penciled notes on small slips of paper, informing each officiate when the precise time for his or her part would arrive. Thus the name of the indi-
vidual was not called. A small lad, wearing an appropriate badge indicative of his office, moved quietly around and pre- sented the notes as addressed, and a light touch on a small bell gave the signal of the moment.
Extempore speeches were judiciously interspersed with exercises, and a careful consideration was observed in all of these arrangements, to relieve the grave with the gay, the sad with the joyful, etc. All were strictly enjoined to present nothing that would have the least tendency to corrode or in any possible manner annoy the feelings of any; and again, nothing was permitted that was bordering on low witticisms or vulgarity, anything that could possibly offend the most refined sensibility.
A sacred, elevating, refining influence at all times per- vaded the whole assembly, inspiring pure and lofty senti- ments, and, at times during the exercises, the entire audience seemed perfectly enrapt, with the Spirit and power of God. On one occasion "Mother Whitney" was so inspired and filled with the Holy Spirit in the midst of those soul- stirring exer- cises that she arose from her seat, and, while her face glowed with supernatural brightness, she sang with heavenly sweet- ness, in the gift of tongues, a song of Zion, in the pure language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The effect of these varied exercises on invited guests was captivating. Throughout the city quite a sensation was created, insomuch that after he had admitted as members all that could reasonably be accommodated, many came to my brother and with persistent earnestness begged admittance.
In order to give a more definite idea of the character of our poly soph ical entertainments, my brother requests speci- mens, either in prose or poetry, or both, inserted in connection with the foregoing sketch. In compliance, I select the follow- ing poems from my own copies which I had preserved:
254 BIOGRAPHY AND
WRITTEN FOB, AND READ BEFORE AN ASSEMBLY OF THE " POLYSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION," IN L. SNOW'S HALL, SALT LAKE CITY, 1855.
Most courteously, this evening, I'll present Before this audience, a sentiment
At least a hint on nationality,
A love, or rather a partiality
For birthplace, country, and the people, where
Our lungs at first inhaled the vital air.
One might as well my thoughts exterminate My place in pedigree annihilate, Or the warm pulse of life eradicate, As to efface, or to remove from me The sentiment of Nationality. It, of my nature, constitutes a part Unites with all the life-hlood of my heart; And if no trait, or portion of my spirit, 'Tis something I eternally inhertt. Not all the charms surrounding scenes impart, Can chase the high-toned feelings from my heart; For oft full oft, so tenderly they 3'earn, A kindling impulse prompts a fond return Unto the land of my nativity My native home my native scenery. But where 0, where the land so choice so dear? U'hich is the nation I so much revere?
I do not languish for the lakes and rills, The rugged heights of Europe's Alpine hills, The verdant vales which smilingly repose 'Neath their bold summits of eternal snows; Nor would I boast a proud nativity On the luxuriant plains of Italy, With glowing, sunny landscapes, rich and fair, Tall city spires, and grand cathedrals there; Where the salubrious climate's genial heat Gives to the pulse a soft and ardent beat; Where nature, with accelerated force, With less of time, completes her wonted course.
Nor yet in Germany, where laws are made To fit like tenons for the joiner's trade Where every code of civil policy, Mocks the precision of geometry. Where case and luxury are smiling 'round, And merry glee and cheerfulness abound; Where summer vineyards and the harvest field To man and beast a joyous plenty yield.
Not Britain, with its mountains, hills and dales, Including England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales; With inland products, and ship-crested coast Comprising much that wealth and honor boast; With far-famed cities, towns and villas too, Where genius flourished and where valor grew; With all varieties of grade and sphere, Of ' 'Home, sweet home, ' ' most lovely and most dear, The honored home of noble thousands, where Are executed with judicious care, Those legal powers, created to bestow Protection's banner on the high and low; And where religious toleration, now, Above all elsewhere lifts its manly brow.
Not Sweden, Denmark, Norway, nor in France, Where revolution's onward strides advance, And then recede, as tides that ebb and flow As moons that waxing, waning, onward go; While soft refinement, with its graceful air, Displays a master-stroke of polish there; Where vinous foliage native fruits and flowers, Vie with exotics, in luxuriant bowers.
Neither America's much favored land, Where Lehi, guided by Jehovah's hand, Obtained a place for him and his, to be Through generations of posterity; Where those choice records, where the truth was found, As said Isaiah, "speaking from the ground."
Nor coasts, nor capes, nor islands of the sea; For none I cherish fond partiality.
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I say, with Brother Eddington, I'm not Italian, Hindoo, English, German, Scot; Neither American, Swiss, Welsh or Dane, Nor yet an Islander from ocean's main, Nor Spanish, French, Norwegian, nor Swede I claim no country, nation, kingdom, creed, Excepting Zion; that I proudly name Home of all homes, that home I fondly claim. Were I to boast of nationality, I'd look beyond this frail mortality.
The noblest spirits scattered o'er the earth, By truth's etern il influence gathered forth From Babylon to earthly Zion, here, Are on their way to heaven's celestial sphere. Our inns, our stopping places, which, or where, Don't matter, when we've paid our bills of fare.
One God, one faith, one baptism we are now
All in one kingdom, at one altar bow.
The union of the Father and the Son,
Is heaven's true pattern; we must all be one.
All local feelings must be laid aside, .
And former differences no more divide.
The time approaches; soon will Zion be
The pride of earthly nationality;
When 'twill the histories of those adorn
Of whom 'tis said, "they were in Zion born."
The Holy Spirit every Saint receives, Is one sense added to what nature gives, And forms a powerful telescope, whereby We look beyond the stretch of mortal eye. Its keen perceptive vision takes a view Of origin and destination too. Through this superior spirit-sense, we learn What our inferior senses ne'er discern, That we're not natives of this fallen earth. We lived before we had an earlier birth, A clime and habitations highly pure Beyond what these gross senses can endure.
There is the charm, the nationality, The spring of impulse actuating me; That is the point to which I would attain The country home I fondly would regain ; From whence, for noble purposes, we all, To gain experience through our Parents' fall, To gain the zenith of perfected worth, Have come on pilgrimage, through mortal birth; As foreign trav'lers, each a camping ground On different portions of the earth has found. The force of habit gives to each a grace A special charm to each and every place; And yet, with all the adoration felt, As at their shrines devotedly we knelt, Not one not all, possessed sufficient worth, To make us feel quite naturalized to earth.
Our hearts beat upward, and our feelings move
In homeward currents up to those we love,
Where uncorrupted nature's beauties glow
Where life's pure streams from endless fountains flow.
And there the sixth, the spirit sense will lead,
If to its dictates we give earnest heed;
And its refining process will prepare
Us for a full and free reception there;
And there we'll talk of nationality
With the celestials of eternity.
ADDRESS TO PARENTS.
WRITTEN FOR, AND READ BEFORE A POLYSOPHICAL ASSEMBLY IN L. SNOW'S HALL, IN THE WINTER OF 1854-5.
With much respect, fathers and mothers too, The muse, this evening, humbly unto you, In Zion's name, would proffer an appeal Upon a theme involving Zion's weal. As Zion's welfare is our mutual aim, And our united interest I will claim,
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Not the indulgence of the listening ear, Nor flattering plaudits sycophants would hear, But your attention thoughtful, calm and grave Your sober judgment earnestly I crave.
You all are stewards of what you possess, And may abuse,' or use in righteousness; And thus the
children you most dearly love,
Either a blessing or a curse may prove.
The infant mind is like an empty cell, Where good and evil find a place to dwell; And may, by culture, be enlarged and filled, And truth and error, one or both, instilled.
Let healthy, vigorous limbs inactive lie, How soon they wither, and how soon they die. And without exercise, the mental powers, Weak, unsupplied with proper, useful stores, Will not attain to their diplomaed worth, Nor shed their own inherent lustre forth.
We cannot powers and faculties create,
But 'tis our province both to cultivate;
And while life's busy scenes are hurrying through,
The most important is the Jirst to do.
You want your sons prepared to carry on
The work you have commenced, when you are gone;
In high important offices to act
As Zion's judges, business to transact,
In things momentous, for all Israel's sake,
With the salvation of the world at stake.
Inspire their hearts to earnestly pursue
Improvement; and inspire your daughters too.
Prompt both to mental labor, while the mind,
Like pliant boughs, is easily inclined;
While they with readiness and pleasure take
Impressions which the sculptor's chisels make.
Your sons, as heralds, soon may go abroad, To face the world and teach the truths of God;
The wise, the erudite of earth to meet,
Knowledge with knowledge, mind with mind compete;
All their attainments criticised and tried
Before tribunals of ungodly pride,
Where no apologies will be received,
And no mistakes and errors be retrieved.
'Tis true the Lord His Spirit does bestow,
And through that medium streams of knowledge flow;
But when the opportunities are given,
Through the overruling providence of heaven,
For cultivation, no one need expect
That God, with smiles, will sanction our neglect.
Would not your hearts with deep compassion yearn
To think your child in stranger lands must learn,
By force of cruel circumstances, what
He should have been, at home, in kindness taught?
And very soon your blooming daughters will
Their destined spheres of wives and mothers, fill:
The best, the noblest boon they can receive
The richest fortune you have power to give
The best of patrimonies under heaven,
Is education, timely, wisely given.
Not erudition's superficial gloss,
Its glitt'ring tinsel and its flimsy dross.
Instead of fabled, sentimental glare,
Teach them what was, what will be, and what are:
Teach them the principles of life and health,
And store their minds with intellectual wealth;
For what they treasure here, of real worth,
They'll carry with them when they leave the earth.
The power of method students gain in school, Forms a credential constitutes a tool An operative instrument whereby Their own resources they can self-supply.
Let Zion's children all be taught in youth, Upon the basis of Eternal Truth
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Self-cultivated too, as well as taught,
Trained to reflection, and inured to thought;
And here in time, and in eternity,
The sons as pillars in the Church will he;
The daughters, too, as "polished stones" will shine,
And ornament their true ancestral line,
And be prepared, in beauty clad, to move
With grace and dignity in courts above.