Leaving on a Jet Plane is Easier than Sailing the North Atlantic

 

A nineteenth-century British emigrant ship

 

We said goodbye to almost all of the remainder of our tour group this morning at Heathrow Airport, near London.  I’m always amazed at how quickly these trips come to  an end, and at how sad it is to bid farewell to people whom, in many cases, we’ve only just begun to come to know.  But I remember something quoted by the Ensign, back in the early 1970s, from a cast member at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, with respect to the melancholy feelings that come when the cast of that pageant breaks up at the end of its summer run:  “Friends in the Gospel,” this person remarked, “never meet for the last time.”  I’ve loved that statement for forty years now; it strikes me as profoundly true.

 

I hope that, by this point, our friends are safely and comfortably back on North American soil.  I also hope that they feel that they’ve been well taken care of.

 

Here’s a comment — I thought it interesting, and it may perhaps even be obliquely relevant, sort of — that I came across the other day in Peter Fagg’s copy of Charles Mackay’s book The Mormons: or Latter-day Saints.  With Memoirs of the Life and Death of Joseph Smith, the “American Mahomet” (London: Office of the National Illustrated Library, 1851), 254.  He’s been describing the remarkably well organized Mormon “gathering” or immigration system:

 

“From my knowledge of the emigration now going on from Liverpool, I can truly say that it would, indeed, be not only conducive to the comfort and health, but would absolutely save the lives of many who now die on shipboard, could the same values for cleanliness, order, &c, be introduced amongst the general class of emigrants who leave this port for America.”

 

The late Mr. Christopher Hitchens used to repeat, as a mantra, the claim that “religion poisons everything.”  Other than it’s being flatly and demonstrably false, there’s little to criticize in his comment.

 

Posted from York, England

 

 

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  • hthalljr

    This brings to mind the fascinating, detailed observations by Charles Dickens of the preparations of the Mormon-chartered ship, the Amazon:

    “I afterwards learned that a Despatch was sent home by the captain before he struck out into the wide Atlantic, highly extolling the behaviour of these Emigrants, and the perfect order and propriety of all their social arrangements. What is in store for the poor people on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, what happy delusions they are labouring under now, on what miserable blindness their eyes may be opened then, I do not pretend to say. But I went on board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it; and my predispositions and tendencies must not affect me as an honest witness. I went over the Amazon’s side, feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known influences have often missed.”

    “The Select Committee of the House of Commons on emigrant ships for 1854 summoned the Mormon agent and passenger-broker before it, and came to the conclusion that no ships under the provisions of the “Passengers Act” could be depended upon for comfort and security in the same degree as those under his administration. The Mormon ship is a Family under strong and accepted discipline, with every provision for comfort, decorum and internal peace.”

    http://www.literaturepage.com/read/dickens-the-uncommercial-traveller-228.html

    • Dan Peterson

      Indeed it does. He was very positively impressed, against his own inclinations (as he himself expressly says).


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