“The Gold Bible Fever”

1831-03-29

Painesville Telegraph

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“The Gold Bible fever . . .” Painesville Telegraph (Painesville, Ohio) (29 March 1831).

The Gold Bible fever seems to be somewhat abating in this vicinity. We have never doubted that reason would in due time resume its empire ove the minds of many, although many may persevere in sustaining the hoax, after they are convinced of the imposition, rather than acknowledge they were duped by so barefaced and contemptible an artifice. Some half a dozen have broken the spell which bound them to the car of their idol, and others being to doubt. One of the imposters, who has been up the Missouri to find the promised land, has returned, after more Mormon books. What must have been his astonishment on finding that Smith and Rigdon had declared Kirtland to be the promised land, while he and others were in ardent pursuit of it near the base of the Rocky Mountains!! It was a “wild goose chase.”

The following is from the last number of the Reflector, published near Smith’s quarry.

“There appears to be a great discrepancy in the stories told by the famous three witnesses to the Gold Bible; and these pious reprobates, individually, frequently gave different versions of the same transaction. In the first place it was roundly asserted that the plates on which Mormon wrote his history, (in the reformed Egyptain language) were of gold, and hence its name— gentlemen in this vicinity were called on to estimate its value from its weight, (something more than 20 lbs.) Smith and Harris gave out that no mortal save Jo could look upon it and live; and Harris declared, that when he acted as amanuenses, and wrote the translation as Smith dictated, such was his fear of the Divine displeasure, that a screen (sheet) was suspended between the prophet and himself.

Whitmar’s description of the Book of Mormon differs entirely from that given by Harris; both of whom it would seem, have been of late permitted, not only to see and handle it, but to examine its contents. Whitmar relates that he was led by Smith into an open field, on his father’s farm near Waterloo, when they found the book lying on the ground; Smith took it up and requested him to examine it, which he did for the space of half an hour or more, when he returned it to Smith, who placed it in its former position, alledging that the book was in the custody of another, intimating that some divine agent would have it in safe keeping. This witness describes the plates as being something like eight inches square, the leaves were plates of metal of a whitish yellow color, and of the thickness of tin plate—the buck was secured with three small rings of the same metal, passing through each leaf in succession; that the leaves were divided equi-distant between the back and edge, by cutting the plates in two parts, and united again with solder, so that the front might be opened, as it were, by a hinge, while the back part remained stationary and immoveable, and in this manner remained to him and the other witnesses a sealed book, which would not be revealed for ages to come, and that even the prophet himself was not as yet permitted to understand. On opening that portion of the book which was not secured by the seals, he discovered inscribed on the aforesaid plates, divers and wonderful characters; some of them large, and some small, but beyond the wisdom of man to understand without supernatural aid.

Some of the other apostles give somewhat similar accounts, but varying in many particulars, according to their various powers of description. Harris, however gives the lie to a very important part of Whitmar’s relation, and declares that the layers of pages of the book are not cut, and a part of them sealed,but that it opens like any, other book, from the edge to the back, the rings operating in the place of common binding.

As these details, under different modifications, (for it must be borne in mind that these Mormonites have given versions of the same particulars,) are pretty well understood in this vicinity, we shall give our distant readers but small portions at a time. We have on hand a new edition of the prophet’s vision, at the time the gold bible was revealed to him by the spirit, and the subsequent instructions, as related by Jo’s father and his older brother;—also several money digging schemes in which the Smiths noted conspicuous parts, all of which will be given to the public in due time.”

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