first-presidency-member statement on anti-intellectualism

Need some inspiration for school, whether you yourself are just starting out, returning for yet another year, or you are going to be teaching the next group of collegiate hopefuls?

Look no further than Sidney Rigdon’s address to the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute, 1844 (you can read the complete record of the NLLI here in Jones’ edition):

Elder S Rigdon then took the floor and remarked that as it was getting late he did not feel as though he could deliver a Lecture and do justice to the subject without encroaching upon a late hour of the night he would however make some remarks upon the subject for the benefit of the Members.

He then in his usual pleasing style commenced with the early history of his own life showing that his own first studies were commenced in a circulating Library, he then set forth in glowing colors the beauties of and benefits derived from a Library – he showed that his own rise to notoriety were all derived from the previlege of a Library and then set forth the manner in which the members of this Library and especially the Youth of this City may receive the most possible benefits from this Library which is equal to the previlege of a College and often superior (for in the language of Burns men sometimes go to College they go in dunces and they come out asses. they go in dunces and they come out Blockheads after other very appropriate the Institute adjourned until a fortnight from to night J M Cole Secretary.

For good measure, here’s the Robert Burns passage (from Epistle to J. Lapraik, April 1, 1785) that Elder Rigdon was paraphrasing:

A set o’ dull, conceited Hashes,
Confuse their brains in Colledge-classes!
They gang in Stirks, and come out Asses,
Plain truth to speak;
An’ syne they think to climb Parnassus
By dint of Greek!

Gie me ae spark o’ Nature’s fire,
That’s a’ the learning I desire;
Then tho’ I drudge thro’ dub an’ mire
At pleugh or cart,
My Muse, tho’ hamely in attire,
May touch the heart.

Clearly the take away is that if you don’t go to college and learn some Greek, at least the basic pre-med vocab or such critical terms in literary theory as ‘hegemony,’ you just might end up getting excommunicated.

  • Christopher

    Haha. Awesome.

  • http://juvenileinstructor.org Steve Fleming

    Great quote. I’ve been using Christopher’s article quite a bit but hadn’t read that part. I may put that in my introduction to my dissertation.

  • g.wesley

    that would be a grand use of it, steve.

    i should maybe say that i think it possible that the secretary at the particular meeting (cole) or even the compiler of the minute book (robert campbell) is the one who paraphrases burns, not rigdon himself. but that would have ruined my post!


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