Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lyndon W. Cook on William Law's Correspondences


  • Cook points out (p.65 Fn 1) that Isaac Russel, who had been converted to Mormonism in Toronto by Parley P. Pratt in 1836, had joined the Saints at Far West Missouri but became convinced that Joseph Smith Jr was a fallen prophet; he led a small exodus of Canadian and British Saints out of the church (HC 2:494).
Law -> Russell 1837-11-10: William Law, November 10 1837, Churchville, Ontario, to Isaac Russell, Cumberland, England, makes it sound as if Russell's wife was staying in Kirtland (p.68) while he was on mission in England. William (p.68f) mentions the trip of Joseph Smith Jr & Sidney Rigdon to strengthen the Canadian branches (cf. HC 2:508) in August of 1837. Law remarks, "Bro. Joseph is truly a wonderful man he is all we could wish a prophet to be---and Bro. Sidney what Eloquence is his, and think how he has sacrificed for the Truth." (p.69) Law views the house cleaning at Kirtland to be done with.

The difficulties at Kirtland are settled and the high minded ones have become humble. (p.69)
an observation that Cook glosses with
This is a reference to the excommunication of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, members of the Twelve Apostles, and to members of the High Council in Ohio. (p.69 Fn 30)
Cook interprets the "high-minded ones" to mean Jacob Scott (p.69 Fn 31). Law was also concerned about the 1837 revolts in upper and lower Canada and mentioned one brother, Turly, as having sold and planning to move off Spring 1838 (p.70).

Law -> Russell, 1838-01-17: William Law, Georgetown, Mercer Cty, PA, to Isaac Russell, January 17th 1839, comments on what they have heard about the trouble in Missouri and tries to read this theologically.
...---the Missourians are determined to drive our people all out of state but I trust the Lord will not suffer it to be so, I fear there has been wickedness in the Camp, but I have this chastisement will be for the good of all. (p.71) 
To Law, this is still embedded in a notion of direct revelation.
I wish very much to hear what the latest revelations say about || these things, for if the Church will ask the Lord no doubt he will make known his will to them and tell them how to act &c &c. (pp.71-72)
Wilson and William appear to have been discussing a relief column for Missouri, for the Spring of 1839, at this point (p.73):
One of my brothers [i.e. Wilson, RCK] thought of going up with me in the spring and taking a store of goods, I wish you would let me know how it would answer, he is a strong advocate for our doctrines and will I hope eventually be a member of the Church .... (p.73)

Law -> Mulholland, 1839-03-27: William Law to James Mulholland (p.74), March 27th 1839, Georgetown, Mercer County PA, discusses the situation in Missouri.
I judge you have stood the trial pretty well, it is wisdom in the Almighty that these things should be, that the Church might be purged and made clean, that the pure in heart alone remain (p.74).
Law describes his recent communications with Isaac Russell, who at that point may have already contemplated leaving, in a circumscribed fashion:
I had a Letter from Bro. Russel[l] some time ago---I could not say that there was any thing in it out of the way, he said nothing against Joseph. --- he said there was much pride and avariceousness [sic!] in the Church, said they had broken commandments as to obtaining an inheritance in Zion, which should be by purchase, See page 143 Doctrine and Covenants [i.e. D&C 63:27-31]. I have no doubt but there has been transgression || in the Church or the Lord would not scourge them, but all things will work together for [the] good of those who love and fear God. (pp.74-75)
[[RCK: Law is misquoting, the D&C 63:31 specifically leaves "by blood" as an option of obtaining the inheritance.]]

Law glosses the Kirtland banking project as follows:
And as to Joseph building a Bank at Kirtland, I look on it as like unto the affair of David being moved by God to number the people when [he was?] displeased with Israel.---See 2d Samuel 24 Chap, 1st verse----So the Lord was angry with the Saints and suffered them to have the Bank as a snare that he might punish them for their love of riches and speculation etc. (p.75)
It may be possible that Law saw his job as a bystander from Pennsylvania to send supportive missives to Missouri, or to provide theological contextualization.
Dear Bro. we do not live in the right generation for temporal happiness, but then the happiness and glory of that City which we seek beyond the sufferings of mortality is such as to enable us to bear the ills of this present life with some degree of fortitude, we should be very careful to observe the commandments and to walk humbly before the Lord, and to have our whole trust placed in him, and not to trust to our own wisdom for the Devil seeketh to destroy us that Zion should not be built up but it shall be built up by the pure in heart, yea it shell yet be glorious and terible [sic!] to the praise of the Lordd, and to the safety of his people. (p.75) 
Law -> Thompson 1839-03-29: William Law to Robert B. Thompson, March 27th-29th, 1839, Georgetown, Mercer County PA, gives the clearest statements of his mercantile interests for Nauvoo, as Cook has pointed out (p.20), writing:
As to the Mercantile business I wish you would give me, all the information you can on that subject as early as possible as my brother [i.e. Wilson Law, RCK] wishes to go to the West this season, let me know how the people pay, what kind of goods is most suitable, how much capital would be needed whether there are many stores there and where the best situation would be for doing business in that line---give me a description of the country, climate &c &c and tell where the Saints are going to settle if you know, would a first rate new horsepower for grinding and sawing be useful there is a new invention come out that is excellent. (p.77)
Law had also heard about the incarceration of the Mormon leadership.
I hope our brethren in prison will soon get out to the joy of the Church. (p.77)
Cook reminds us that the "brethren in prison" were:
Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae in Liberty Jail, and Parley P. Pratt, King Follett, Morris Phelps, and Luman Gibbs in Boone County Jail, Columbia, Missouri. (p.77 Fn 64)
Law -> Russell 1840-11-29: William Law, Nauvoo (IL), 1840-11-29, to Isaac Russell (Far West, MS), is contextualized by Law's worry about his long time friend's continuous estrangement from the Church.
It is needless for me to express my regret that you remain so long from the Body of the Church, you who have been so very zealous for the cause of Christ, you who have been willing to Sacrifice all things for the building up of the Kingdom in the last days (p.78)
Law then tries to address the direct worry, namely that Joseph is but a fallen prophet---cf. Cook's assessment (p.65 Fn 1).
read the Book of Mormon and you will find that Joseph has not fallen, he has not done his work yet, and if he sins is there no room for repentance, can not God forgive him, and can not we forgive him very often in a day (p.78)
Law then provides his own assessment of his interactions with the Prophet:
I have carefully watched his [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr's] movements since I have been here [i.e. in Nauvoo since November 1839, RCK], and I assure you I have found him honest and honourable in all our transactions which have been very considerable. I believe he is an honest upright man, and as to his follies let him who ever is guiltless throw the first stone at him. I shant do it. (p.78)
Law is still with the program of learning new mysteries about the divine plan from the Prophet.
he [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr, RCK] continues to bring forth the deep mysteries of the Kingdom, and we feast upon them til [sic!] our souls are made fat, and our hearts rejoice exceedingly. I wish you lived here you || would soon change your views of matters and become reconciled. (pp.78-79)
Law then (p.79) paints the Church as alone accepted by God, "a Church which God acknowledges by revelations and the gift of his holy spirit" (p.79), and he reminds of the wide net that the Church casts, i.e. some members will not be up to snuff. "There was never a time when the Church prospered as much as at present, throughout the world" Law enthuses [though that is a pretty strong claim giving the reach of Mormon missionary activity at the time, RCK] (p.79).

Law switches to try to bring Isaac back by reminding him of the contributions to God's plans and to the need to submit to these.
... why do you keep away from the work of the Lord. You can do nothing where ou are, you cannot advance the work of the Lord there, come forth then and submit to the order that God has established, ... you were once a mighty man, why then be rebellious because of offences, or from any other cause (p.79) [highlights are underlines in original, RCK]
Law then casts the current situation as not in the interest of the other members of the Church hierarchy either.
Joseph [Smith Jr, the Prophet, RCK] disapproved of it [i.e. Russell's being cut off from the Church, RCK] with much warmth and wishes you and the rest to appeal at the general assembly of the Church, you would be received here with open arms were you to come back (p.79)
It would be fascinating to know how Law felt about these words when he was undergoing the separation from Joseph Smith Jr and the Church.

  • When Robert B. Thompson, Law's friend, died at age 30 in 1841 in Nauvoo, Law wrote a letter to the editor of the Times & Season as an homage to his dead friend (pp.80-82). Thompson had been a scribe to Joseph Smith Jr, had recorded D&C 124 (p.81 Fn 71), and gave testimony for these revelations on his deathbed (p.82).
Law Editorial Times and Seasons July 1842, Nauvoo: was Law's voice in the uproar with Missouri in the summer of 1842. Law takes his departure from first pointing out that crimes require laws to be violated (p.82), and that laws have the power through the administrators to discharge their duties (p.83). He then argues that a check with the various administrators would reveal that the Mormons have committed no crimes in Illinois.
We have been three years in this state, and have not asked for any county, or state officer; laws have been administered by those not of our persuasion; administered rigorously, even against the appearance of crime, and yet there has been no conviction of which I have heard. (p.83)
Law believes that this undermines the other claims to "treason!! murder!! bigamy!! burglary!!! arson!!!" (p.83) that the mobs issue. Thus, the affront must be in growing large in numbers (p.83), in bringing thousands from foreign lands to Illinois (p.84), not in their actual behavior. Law then points to the morally superior ordinances the Mormons have passed in their city, "an ordinance against fornicators", or "forbid the vending of spirituous liquors within your city"; the sending of representatives to the legislature is nothing that "we the good mobocrats and Anti-Mormons politicians (and some priests as well) are willing to bear" (p.84). But Law points to the monetary gains that will accrue to the state from the additional taxes, and the hope of "establish[ing] the greatest manufactoring city || in America (which Nauvoo will be in a few years), and to create the best produce market in the west" (pp.84-85).

William Law Affidavit: given to the Times & Seasons, August 1st 1842, was written against John Cook Bennett, who had begun writing a series of letters to the Sangamo Journal, published in Springfield, IL, in July of 1842 (p.85). Law points out that Bennett to him explicitly stated that he had never used Smith's name "for his illicit intercourse with females" (p.86). Law also relates how Bennett made numerous promises of betterment and pleaded not to be exposed, for the sake of his poor sick old mother (p.86). Law sums it up wryly:
From such promises, and oaths, I was induced to bear with him longer than I should have done. (p.86)
Law closes with pointing out that Bennett should have just gone to Texas for a while, as they had suggested; but his refusal condemns him equally (p.87)

  • The Letter exchange with Edward Hunter, September 4th 1843, Nauvoo, IL, as a letter of introduction for Charles Blancher Thompson, shows that Law and Hunter had dealings at the level were recommendations were plausible (p.88).
  • The letter from William Law to Isaac Hill, from July 20th, 1844, indicates that after the death of Joseph Smith Jr, Law had considerable problem pursuing normal business relationships with the Mormons. Law insists vis-a-vis on his interpretation of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith as "the hand of a blasphemed God stretched out in judgement" (p.89), which cannot have been an easy word to hear for those Mormons such as Hill who went on to Utah with Brigham Young.
In his letter to Upper Mississippian from September 7th, 1844, William Law tries to inject some additional facts into the ongoing debate about Mormonism in Illinois. Law takes the apologetic stance that the Mormons are in support of all law, order and government, and have suffered grievously to defend these rights, having "jeopardized our lives and sacrificed some fifty thousand dollars worth of property in endeavoring to break the yoke of tyranny from off the necks of our fellow beings" (p.90). Law then draws a drastic distinction between the original LDS and the church existing in Nauvoo "modern Mormonism is a complete apostacy from the original doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (p.91)
The gospel of Jesus Christ, as we find it recorded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in which we most firmly believe, and upon which we base our hopes of eternal salvation, does not admit of murder, false swearing, lying, stealing, robbing, defrauding, polygamy, adultery, fornication and blasphemy. And yet those evils have been introduced into the Church at Nauvoo, by Joseph Smith and others, for the purpose of accomplishing their base designs. We have always disapproved such things, and opposed them both privately and publicly; and for our opposition to them, we were driven from our homes in Nauvoo. (p.91)
Law then turns to the question of why now this reaction had come to the fore.
It may be asked, why did you stay so long in Nauvoo? To this we would answer that, until the last year, we had no conception of the depths of iniquity that existed there. We knew there were some evils, but thought they might be remedied. (p.91)
Law relates how he and his friends had wished to expose Joseph Smith and his collaborators through their Nauvoo Expositor (p.91), but had been frustrated in their plans first by the mobocracy in Nauvoo that took the press and then the mobocracy in Carthage, which killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith before the full investigation had been achieved (p.92).

Law then argues that he, his brother, and Dr. Foster were not involved in the lynching (p.92), as they had been in Fort Madison, Iowa Territory, for which he cites Dr. Bostwick, General Brown, and other witnesses (p.93).

In closing, Law points out that he still continues the religion of the Latter Day Saints as good:
We verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the old and new Testaments, book of Covenants, and book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books are the immutable and eternal principles of heaven. ---Expositor, June 7th, 1844. (p.94)
In his Letter to the editors of the Upper Mississippian from September 24th, 1844, Law reacts against being called a "modern Mormon", because Law and his friends are precisely not modern Mormons, which is rather what they see Joseph Smith to be (p.95).
... when I became a member of the [Mormon, RCK] church, || I did so upon the strength of Scripture, evidence and reason. The same Scripture, the same evidence, the same power of truth are still before me. (pp.95-95)
Law then compares Smith Jr to Salomon, who did well in building the Temple but then became wicked in his turning from God (p.96). Law insists that it was perfectly possible to live in Nauvoo, be virtuous  and not notice a fraction of the iniquities committed there.
... for it was part of Smith's policy to keep as much as possible those things from the knowledge of the influential around him, that he might be able to [use] them and use their testimony and influence in his favor, in case of any difficulty. (p.96)
In late 1844, the Law brothers wrote to Edward Hunter, to settle accounts with him, esp. respecting their farm animals that had been slaughtered after their departure, for which they were willing to accept $200 compensation, as well as the Nauvoo Expositor's press and type, which they estimated at $1,000.

In the William Law July 17th 1885 Affidavit to Charles A Shook attempts to narrate the origin of polygamy (p.98), and commences with receiving the revelation from Hyrum Smith in 1843 for reading. Law claims that he then confronted Joseph Smith about it, who deemed it good. When pointed to the contradiction with D&C, Smith evaded that these were for the Church in its infancy, and that the time had come to substitute meat for milk (p.99).
He [i.e. the Prophet] seemed much disappointed in my not receiving the revelation. He was very anxious that I would accept the doctrine and sustain him in it. He used many arguments at various times afterwards in its favor. (p.99)
Law then recounts the various tacks that the Prophet used to get Law to come around.
Joseph told me that he had several wives sealed to him, and that they afforded him a great deal of pleasure. He kept some of them in his own house. He said his wife Emma had annoyed him very much about it, but he thought the revelation would cause her to submit peaceably, as it threatened her removal if she did not. (p.99)
Law also then recounts having discussed the issue with Emma Smith.
Mrs. Smith complained to me about Joseph keeping his young wives in her house and elsewhere, and his neglect of her. She spoke freely about the revelation and its threat against her life, etc. She seemed to have no faith in it whatever. (p.99)
Law then voices his suspicions that this could not have started with the revelation.
From what she [Emma Smith, RCK] said to me and from what I learned from other sources I ahve good reason to believe that Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others in the Church had been practicing polygamy for a long time before the revelation came forth, although it was vehemently denied from the public stand, .... (p.99)
But here Law runs into his own limitations, for while Joseph clearly had been working out the doctrine since Kirtland, possibly as early as with Fanny Alger, it was clear that for Hyrum the process had been extremely complicated, and the revelation had been as much for Hyrum as it had been for Emma.

Law then recounts how he experienced the developing theocracy in Nauvoo.
Joseph Smith required every man and woman to believe in him, believe in all his revelations, believe in all his teachings, and uphold and sustain him in every thing right or wrong, without any regard for teachings of Christ and His Apostles, as recorded in the Scriptures (p.100). 
At this point Law brings out the story with Governor Boggs and Smith's hand in that attempt on Bogg's life.
I do not say that Joseph Smith murdered any one with his own hand, but I say this, that Joseph told me that he sent a man to kill Governor Boggs of Missouri. The fellow shot the Governor in his own house, shot him through a window, wounding him severely, but failed to kill him. (p.100)
It is that discrepancy between the teachings that Law believed in and the behavior of the Smith family clan---for Law never really distinguishes there---that caused him to leave, to the point of revoking his positive statements about the "original" Church from his letter to the editors of the Upper Mississippian, dated September 7th, 1844 (p.94).
In looking over the whole field at that time, the past and the then present of the Church, I could see no God in it, but a great deal of Satan. Consequently, I withdrew from it forever. And now after more than forty years, I am thoroughly convinced that I was right, that it never was a Church of Christ, but a most wicked blasphemous humbug, gotten up for the purpose of making money (p.100)
In the 40 years that he had been outside the Church, Law sees no contribution of the Mormons to either Christianity or morality.
It [the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints] must be a bad tree to bear such evil fruit, evil all the way from the Kirtland Bank swindle down to the || present time, and yet I have no doubt thousands of honest, virtuous people joined the Church not knowing (at the time) anything of the wicked workings of the leaders, and thousands (probably in ignorance) still cling to the delusion. (pp.100-101)
Law then briefly summarizes his failed stance against the "Smiths" and their supporters, the "Smithies", and how the Nauvoo Expositor had been destroyed upon the order of Joseph Smith as Mayor, and how that "unlawful destruction of private property and infringement on the Sacred Freedom of the Press sealed their doom. It was more than the people would bear" (p.101). This is also a whitewash of the mobocracy that Law had denounced back in 1844.

Starting in 1887, William Law corresponded with Dr William Wyl, a German correspondent who had just finished publishing Mormon Portraits or the Truth about the Mormons Leaders from 1830-1886 in Salt Lake City (see Volume I here). Wyl had interviewed some eighty people during a visit to Utah in February-May of 1885, and that testimony formed the backbone of his writing (p.102 Fn 94).

In William Law to Wilhelm Wyl, dated January 17th 1887, from Shullsburg, Wisconsin, to Salt Lake City, Utah, acknowledges the receipt of Wyl's book (p.102). Law states that Wyl must know ten time more about Mormonism than Law ever did, esp. with respect to the family history of Smith and Rigdon. Law minimizes how much he knew about the happenings in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Missouri, and having attributed these to religious persecution.
I went from my home in Canada to Nauvoo and found a very poor, but industrious people;  they appeared to be moral and religiously disposed; the Smiths and others preached morality and brotherly kindness every Sunday. (p.103)
This of course simplifies the role that Law played as a branch leader in Churchville. Law then relates the revelation of what was actually going on.
I saw nothing wrong until after the city charter was obtained. A change was soon apparent; the laws of the country were set at defiance and although outwardly everything was smooth, the under current was most vile and obnoxious. Time revealed to me and many others much that we had not even suspected. (p.103)
Law, after generally praising Wyl's history, notes that not all his sources can have treated him truthfully, and speaks some words of warning:
Where testimony conflicts it is sometimes very difficult to from conclusions. Mormon history is rather a mixed up affair. (p.103)
Law then fixes a few misconceptions of Wyl's, such as Law being a general in the Nauvoo legion (p.103), though he hides the real title he had; and he claims that his brother was not a Mormon, which as Cook correctly points out (p.104 fn 95), is retro-active white-washing supported by edits in the diary. Law also proposes an origin for the myth of the wife-swapping:
The story may have grown out of the fact that Joseph offered to furnish his wife, Emma, with a substitute for him, by way of compensation for his neglect of her, on condition that she would forever stop her opposition to polygamy and permit him to enjoy his young wives in peace and keep some of them in her house and to be well treated, etc [= D&C 132:51-52].
And then Law summarizes his core problem:
The great mistake of my life was my having anything to do with Mormonism. I feel it to be a deep disgrace and never speak of it when I can avoid it; .... (p.104)
In William Law to Wilhelm Wyl, January 20th, 1887, from Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Law points out again how the book, though knowledgeable and helpful for the world, "brings humiliation, deep mortification and pain" to Law. Law appreciates that Wyl portraits him and his brother as "pretty good kind of men" who "would not be forced to prostitute their wives and daughters" (p.105). But Law points out that the mere association already condemns one in the eyes of the world:
Associated with, residing with and doing business among such fiends; no matter how we endeavored to redeem ourselves, how we risked our lives and sacrificed our property, the world will only se the dark side that is given, for somehow it is natural for most people to see the faults and errors of their fellow beings, rather than the good that may be in them. (p.105)
Law then turns to protect the legacy of his wife, who was already dead at the time of this correspondence (p.106).
... that Smith admired and lusted after many men's wives and daughters, is a fact, no doubt; but they could not help that. They or most of them considered his admiration an insult, and treated him with scorn. In return for this scorn, he generally managed to blacken their reputations---see the case of your friend, Mrs Pratt, a good, virtuous woman. (p.106)
Law then returns once again to the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor as the straw that broke the camel's back.
When I spoke of its [the Nauvoo Expositor, RCK] work continuing, I meant that its destruction gave it a new life and power to destroy its destroyers. For it was the chief factor in bringing about the death of the Smiths, and the expulsion of the Mormons from the State of Illinois. (p.107)
That seems somewhat overrating the event, as if the mobocracy had stormed Carthage Jail for the defense of the Freedom of the Press. Law then once again turns against Emma Smith, whom he saw as part and parcel of the whole clan.
As to Emma's deathbed declaration, it was like her life, false. If she ever had any good in her, Smith so demoralized her, that she had none left. Anything for money and power and gratification while she lived, and the same to her sons after her. She and the Smiths, as may as I knew, were infidels, if not atheists, at least I believe so. (p.107)
Law, probably in his attempt to give Wyl enough information not to have to be interviewed---which he had rejected and was continuing to reject (p.109)---then speaks about his impressions of Joseph and the key Mormons.

  • Joseph Smith: "One trait was his jealousy of his friends, lest an of them should be esteemed before him in the eyes of the Church or of the public. He would destroy his best friend for the sake of a few hundred dollars. It was his policy to get away with a man's money, first, because he wanted it, || and second, because he believed that in getting a man's money he deprived him of power and position, and left him in a measure helpless and dependent. He was a tyrant: self-exaltation and gratification of his grosser passions with an entire disregard for others' rights and of all morality, let to his destruction at last." (pp.107-108) "Joseph had a wonderful memory." (p.108)
  • Hyrum Smith: "Hyrum Smith was as evil as Joseph, but with less ability; he had, I think a little more caution. ... Hyrum was short in that [i.e. a wonderful memory, RCK]; was a very poor public talker, but a pretty good secret worker." (p.108)
  • Sidney Rigdon: "Sidney Rigdn was very close, I could never fairly understand him. While I knew him he appeared like a disappointed man, very retired in his ways. He professed to be a great Biblical historian; he was an eloquent preacher. I hardly think he intended to be a bad man; would be leader if he could." (p.108)
  • John C. Bennett: "Bennet was a scoundrel, but very smart. ... Joseph thought he was using him, and he was using Joseph. They were a bad pair. Bennett wrote out the Nauvoo charter and was perhaps the one who got it granted. It was a wonderful charter; gave too much power; it was a curse to the Mormons." (p.108)
    • Cook points to James L. Kimball Jr's observation in The Nauvoo Charter: A Reinterpretation, in: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Spring 1971), that the charter was not that different from other charters of the time (p.108 fn 100); nevertheless, from Law's concern about proper law and order, it stands that Smith Jr used it as a card blanche to form his own safe heaven.
  • Francis Marion Higbee & Chancey Lawson Higbee: "The Higbee boys (or young men) were strong supporters of the Smiths until the death of their father; ... it was whispered that their father had been foully dealt with by, the Smiths being the cause; ...." (p.108)
  • Orson Pratt: "I never knew much of ORson Pratt, as he was off on missions most of the time that I was in Nauvoo." (p.109)
  • Brigham Young: "Brigham Young was a deep, quiet, wicked man; kept his thoughts mostly to himself; I never understood him." (p.109)
  • John D. Lee: "John D. Lee was a leader in the Danite band; I knew but little of him."
With all this information, Law now makes a stand against being interviewed:
I do not wish to be discourteous; but I cannot be interviewed. I have denied many others and I must deny you. I trust you will not be offended, I am now in my 78th year and these things annoy me very much. (p.109)
As Cook notes (p.109 fn 105), Wyl did succeed in getting Law to agree to an interview. But at this point, Law still makes his stand against the interview:
I will say now, that were you here I could not give you any more information than I have already given. We will therefore drop the matter just here. (p.110).

But on January 27th, 1887, William Law to Wihelm Wyl, from Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Law found himself once again trying to dissuade Wyl from the interview plan.
Years ago ... I was annoyed very frequently by receiving letters from parties asking for interviews and items about Nauvoo and the Mormons. I got tired of it all and said that no man or woman should ever interview me on that subject, and non ever shall. I am heartily sick of it all. ... you must admit that I have done pretty well by you .... (p.110)
As if a parting shot, Law throws out a couple more tidbits that might get Wyl of his track.
Will mention one item in relation to the Book of Mormon. You will find in the Book of Jacob (I think) a strong condemnation of polygamy. Read a little further and you will find: "I I the Lord will raise up a pure seed to myself, I will command my people," or words to that effect [= Jacob 2:27-30]. This last passage opened a door for Joseph to || command the priesthood to get all the wives they could and raise a pure seed to the Lord (I say to the Devil). (pp.110-111)
Law then returns to quick pokes at other famous Mormons.

  • Joseph Smith III, President of the RLDS: "Young Joe Smith, President of the "Reorganized", is a "chip off the old block" and would be just as bad as his father if he had the ability." (p.111)
  • The Witnesses: "David Whitmer is a crank and always was, and so was Martin Harris." (p.111)
Law then closes the letter with the rather unprophetic words
I shall say no more. (p.111)

Bibliographical Record

Lyndon W. Cook, William Law: Biographical Essay -- Nauvoo Diary -- Correspondence -- Interview, Orem, UT (Grandin Book Company), 1994.

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