I desire to offer a few reflections that are now suggested to me by
the abundant blessings which surround us. I need not say that I have
been delighted with the remarks of our brethren that have spoken
today; but I will say that while we enjoy the multiplicity of
blessings which now surround us, we should remember the poor Saints
that are scattered abroad in distant lands.
It is only a few days since I re ceived a letter from Bishop Jacob G.
Bigler, who is now on a mission in Ireland. He writes that the
brethren and sisters are very kind to him, and feed him a great deal
better than they are able to feed themselves. He says they give him
meat twice a week, while they cannot get it at all; and he feels
thankful for the kindness manifested by the people to him under such
extreme poverty, and wishes me to importune with the brethren here that they may be delivered from the poverty and bondage with
which they are environed.
Not long since, a letter was received in Provo from Elder William
Cluff, who is now laboring in Denmark. He incidentally remarked that
a sister sheared thirty-seven head of sheep to get money to pay the
postage of that letter.
A few days since, I received a letter from my brother John L., who is
laboring in Switzerland. It is rather a hard country to labor in, in
consequence of the oppressive laws and variety of institutions of the
twenty-two cantons composing that Confederation. He says that there
are a great many of the brethren in that country who labor for ten
cents per week and their board, and there is no earthly prospect of
their condition being improved; but every year the oppressive bonds
that grow upon them become tighter and tighter. I merely refer to
these incidents that we may compare the situation of the Saints in the
old world with our own in the fertile vales of Utah. Will we exert
ourselves to relieve those brethren that are scattered abroad? We
believe, ere long, that the vengeance of the Almighty will be poured
out upon the inhabitants of the whole earth. Peace having been taken
from the earth, men thirst for each other's destruction; and in their
conflicts and destructive wars, our brethren and sisters who desire
to emigrate to these peaceful vales may be overwhelmed, and have to
suffer with the multitude of the wicked, unless we stretch forth our
hand and use our means for their deliverance.
We are exhorted this morning by our President to send back teams and
wagons, and to go ourselves to aid in bringing the poor and worthy
Saints home. Are we on hand? Are we fully awake to this important
matter? I recollect, last season, passing through the settlements
south, when I was told repeatedly that the number of teams called for
would paralyze the farming interests. In the same region, only a few
months after, while passing through, they said, "We have more grain
than we can actually harvest and secure: we never had such a crop
before." There are thousands of our brethren abroad who are reduced to
the greatest extremities, and as a wise and provident people it is our
duty to provide for ourselves, and as far as possible to provide an
asylum for the oppressed of all nations.
Great Britain, so famous for political economists and statesmen, has
planned so unwisely, that, through a family quarrel between the
Northern and Southern States of America, five millions of her subjects
are in danger of starvation. Some of them are members of this Church.
We must plan differently, and combine the talent, enterprise, and
ingenuity in our midst to develop the resources of our country, so
that outside complications cannot reduce us to starvation or deprive
us of the comforts of life. "The wisdom of the wise shall perish in
the last days." True wisdom in the rulers of a nation would dictate a
system of political economy that would provide the means of living and
sustaining the nation within itself as one common family. When a
nation fails to do this, it lacks the exercise of that prudent policy
which makes the country self-preserving.
We talk about going to the States to procure a few articles which we
cannot at present produce. But, suppose the people of the States
should become as infuriated as the Jaredites, or the Nephites and
Lamanites of old were, and should fight and slay each other as they
did, whom would you get your supplies from? Who would grow or
manufacture cotton for you, or supply you with mill saws, scythes, axes, cotton or wool cards, steel, or silks and satins? We
should have to supply ourselves or go without. Think of these things,
and realize that the Lord has taken peace from the earth, and is
suffering the wicked to slay the wicked, and that the Prophet Brigham
has this day blown the trumpet and warned us to prepare to supply our
own wants. "But," says a brother, "I want to follow that business I
can make the most at." I would manufacture combs, but I can make more
by raising wheat. Suppose all the tradesmen in the country should do
the same, what would you do? No blacksmiths, carpenters, tanners, or
shoemakers, but all farmers, and farming without ploughs, hoes, and
going barefoot, would soon be the inevitable result of this policy. We
must all act our part, and act it prudently and wisely.
I wished to add my testimony to the things you have listened to. May
the blessings of God rest upon us, and give unto us wisdom and ability
to contribute our aid to make the people of Zion self-sustaining.
- George A. Smith