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Quakers and Ammonites


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Appendix: Cosmology in Mercy Warren's Poetry

Works Cited

Thomas Donofrio's research has pointed out numerous textual parallels between the works of Mercy Otis Warren and both the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon. It is worthwhile to examine some parallels in more detail.

In the Book of Mormon, Ammon and the other sons of Mosiah go on a mission to the land of Nephi and their successful labors there result in the conversion of a particular group of people, whose subsequent history resembles that of the Quakers. And as the following analysis will show, it is likely that Warren's history of the Revolution provided material for this story. We will also note passages from George Fox's Journal, which was first published in 1694, with a preface by William Penn.

The sons of Mosiah, along with Alma, experienced a personal conversion through the appearance of an angel, which led to their missionary labors. As Ammon and his brothers traveled to the land of Nephi, they "prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct" (Alma 17:9). Ammon also tells Lamoni that "a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge" (Alma 18:35). George Fox, the founder of the Quaker sect, also had personal religious experiences, from which he gleaned truths that corrected ecclesiastical beliefs and practices. He traveled about England preaching and making converts and later led missions to Barbados, Jamaica, North America, Holland, and Germany. Quakers rely on the "Inward Light," which is available to everyone and leads to a direct experience of God. Fox wrote in his Journal: "and they turned to the spirit of God in themselves that would lead them unto all truth, and open the Scriptures to them and the tradition and rudiments and ways and doctrines of men were opened to the people that they had been in: and they turned to the light of Christ that with it they might see them and him the way out of them." Fox also says that he "brought them all to the spirit of God in themselves by which they might know God and Christ and the Scriptures…and showed them how everyone that comes into the world was enlightened by Christ the life with light…so with the light of Christ they might see Christ always present with them" (Fox 1998, 120, 204-05). When Lamoni falls down senseless, Ammon knows that "the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness - yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul" (Alma 19:6). Fox wrote: "So this light shined in the darkeness in their hearts .... It gave them the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus their saviour: and so I opened the Scripture largely to them and turned them to the spirit of God in their hearts which would reveal the Scriptures to them and lead them into all the truth of them: and so I turned them to that which would give every one of them the knowledge of their saviour who died for them and was their way to God and made their peace betwixt them and God: and the people generally received it and with hands lifted up, blessed and praised God ...." (Fox 1998, 230-21).

Ammon's brethren did not fare as well as he; they were cast out, smitten, driven from place to place and were placed in prison in Middoni. Quaker itinerant preachers also suffered hostility and imprisonment, and Fox was himself imprisoned eight times. After King Lamoni was converted by Ammon, they both went to Middoni, where they obtained the release of Aaron and some of his brethren, who had been cast into prison. They then went back to Ishmael, where Lamoni declared to his subjects "that they were a free people, that they were free from the oppressions of the king, his father . . . . And he also declared unto them that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God according to their desires, in whatsoever place they were in" (Alma 21:21-22). William Penn, the Quaker leader who obtained a charter for the province of Pennsylvania, returned to England in 1684, where, due to his influence with his friend the Duke of York, who became King James II the following year, he was able to secure the release of hundreds of Quakers from prison. In 1687 James issued the Declaration of Indulgence, which granted religious toleration at the royal pleasure, and this was superseded two years later by the Act of Toleration. After Penn returned to Pennsylvania, a Charter of Privileges was enacted in 1701, which guaranteed the principle of religious toleration.

The missionary labors of Ammon and his brethren resulted in the conversion of a large number of Lamanites, who "became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren" (Alma 23:7). In order to distinguish themselves from their unconverted brethren, these people decided to call themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and "they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them" (Alma 23:18). These passages seem to be filled with allusions to Quakers, since Quakers were known for their pacifism, were called Friends, and George Fox relied to a great extent on correspondence to "publish Truth." The king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, who encourages his people to bury their swords and avoid killing, states, "And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites. And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening this correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed" (Alma 24:8-9). George Fox wrote: "and it was called the light in man and woman which was the true light which had enlightened every man that came into the world: which was a heavenly and divine light which let them see all their evil words and deeds and their sins" (Fox 1998, 230). The word "correspondence" occurs only four times in the Book of Mormon, and three of these occurrences are in Alma 23:18 and 24:8-9, quoted above. The fourth occurrence is at Alma 31:4.

The Amalekites and Amulonites rebelled against the king and stirred up hatred against the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. When they attacked and began killing the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, the people refused to take up arms to defend themselves and over a thousand were slain. Apparently, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were saved by a group of Nephites (the text is very unclear about what happened), who killed many of the attackers. When the Amalekites once again began to destroy the people, Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to the land of Zarahemla, where, in response to a proclamation from the chief judge, the inhabitants gave the Anti-Nephi-Lehies "the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea" (Alma 27:22). The emigrants took possession of Jershon and changed their name to the people of Ammon. Again, there are a number of allusions to Quakers. The chief persecutors of the Quakers were the Puritans. In England, the Puritan Roundheads defeated the supporters of Charles I and a radical faction led by Oliver Cromwell seized control. Thousands of Quakers suffered imprisonment under Cromwell's penal laws and almost 500 died. Quakers in America were also persecuted. Mercy Otis Warren remarks in her history on the unjustified treatment of Quakers, noting that they were excluded from Boston and banned from Massachusetts, while laws in Virginia prohibited associating with Quakers and resulted in their imprisonment and banishment (Warren 1989, 1:9-10). The land of Jershon also seems to parallel New Jersey, which was granted by the Duke of York to John Berkeley and George Carteret. When Berkeley sold his interest in the colony to two Quakers, the territory was divided into East Jersey, controlled by Carteret, and West Jersey, controlled by William Penn and two other trustees. After Carteret died, East Jersey was sold to the Quakers.

In Jershon the people of Ammon began having problems with the neighboring Zoramites in Antionum, south of Jershon. After Alma led a mission to Antionum, those people who believed Alma's preaching were cast out of the city and were taken in and nourished and clothed by the inhabitants of Jershon. When the Zoramites began making preparations for war, the people of Ammon were moved westward to the land of Melek, leaving Jershon in the hands of the Zoramite converts. In the same year that the Quakers bought East Jersey, William Penn received a grant of land (Pennsylvania) from Charles II. East Jersey also included the "lower counties" (Delaware). Eventually, the two Jerseys were reunited in a single royal province, while disharmony between Pennsylvania and Delaware led finally to Delaware forming its own independent government, and Pennsylvania became the primary refuge for Quakers and other persecuted people, such as the German Mennonites, who founded Germantown. Thus Jershon and Melek correspond to East Jersey and Pennsylvania, while Antionum corresponds to Delaware.

It should also be noted that before Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to Zarahmela, the king expressed the willingness of his people to be the slaves of the Nephites, if they were not destroyed by them: "But Ammon said unto him: It is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should be any slaves among them" (Alma 27:9). Although Quakers initially supported slavery, they were criticized by Francis Pastorius, leader of the Mennonites at Germantown. Later Quaker reformers, such as Anthony Benezet and John Woolman, began working for the abolition of slavery and published pamphlets and tracts on the subject. Elias Hicks also worked to end slavery among Quakers (which was accomplished by 1800) and published a book in 1811 advocating abolition.

Under the leadership of Zerahemnah, the combined forces of the Lamanites and Zoramites attacked Jershon. The people of Ammon, however, "had entered into a covenant [to never again take up arms] and they would not break it . . . . And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites" (Alma 43:11, 13). In 1871, American forces led by General Greene battled the British troops of Lord Cornwallis at Guilford, North Carolina. Mercy Warren relates the following:

After the defeat at Guilford, general Greene availed himself of his religious opinions to obtain relief and assistance from the neighbouring country. He had been educated in the Quaker denomination of Christians, but not too scrupulously attached to their tenets to take arms in defence of American liberty. The inhabitants in the vicinity of both armies, generally belonged to that sect: in the distress of the retreating army, he called them out to the exercise of that benevolence and charity, of which they make the highest professions. He wrote and reminded them, that though they could not conscientiously, consistently with the principles they professed, gird on the sword for the usual operations of war, yet nothing could execute [excuse] them from the exercise of compassion and assistance to the sick and wounded; to this they were exhorted by their principles; and an ample field was now displayed to evince their sincerity by every charitable act.

His letters were more influential on this mild and unoffending body of people, than the proclamations of lord Cornwallis. They united to take care of the sick, to dress the wounded, and make collections of provisions for the relief of the flying army. (Warren 1989, 2:434-35)

The Nephites defeated Zerahemnah, but a new war began, after Amalickiah became king of the Lamanites, and continued under Ammoron. When the people of Ammon "saw the danger, and the many afflictions and tribulations which the Nephites bore for them, they were moved with compassion and were desirous to take up arms in the defence of their country" (Alma 53:13). However, Helaman persuaded them that they should not break the covenant to which they had sworn, to never again shed blood, "therefore all those who had entered into this covenant were compelled to behold their brethren wade through their afflictions, in their dangerous circumstances at this time" (Alma 53:15). Their sons, however, had not taken this oath and 2,000 of them took up arms and "entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage" (Alma 53:17). Helaman became the leader of this band of young men, who "were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all - they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him" (Alma 53:20-21). With the aid of Helaman's band, the Nephites succeeded in retaking a number of cities that had been captured by the Lamanites. Mercy Warren's reference to General Greene has already been noted, and at a later point she continues her praise of Greene.

He was a gentleman of moderate fortune, who, previous to the American war, had lived in the plain and sober habits in which he was educated, which were in that simplicity of style that usually marks the manners of those denominated Quakers.

It is well known, that the religious tenets of that sect are averse to all the operations of offensive war. The situation of America was then such, that no man of principle could balance on the line of conduct which duty impelled him to take. The natural and civil rights of man invaded, and all the social enjoyments interrupted, he did not think himself bound to sit a quiet spectator of the impending distractions and distresses of his country. He viewed the opposition to the oppressions of Great Britain, in the light of necessary and defensive war.

On these rational principles, he early girded on the buckler and the helmet; and with the purest intentions in his heart, and the sword in his hand, he came forward; nor did he resheathe it, until he had, without the smallest impeachment of reputation, passed through many of the most active and arduous scenes, as already related, and in conjunction with many others of the same patriotic and heroic feelings, essentially aided in delivering his country from foreign domination.

His valor and magnanimity, humanity and probity, through all his military career, need no other encomium than a just detail of his transactions, to complete the character of a brave and accomplished officer ....

... possessing that amor patriae that bids defiance to danger and death, when contrasted with the public safety; general Greene did not leave the southern department, until the British troops were beaten from post to post, their proud designs of conquest and subjugation extinguished, the whole country recovered .... (Warren 1989, 2:502-03)

Warren also mentions General Mifflin, who was read out of the Quakers because he took up arms: "But Mr. Mifflin's principles led him to consider himself under a moral obligation, to act offensively as well as defensively, and vigorously to oppose the enemies of his country" (Warren 1989, 1:214).

Later in the war, Moroni and Pahoran captured a large number of Lamanites and "caused them to enter into a covenant that they would no more take up their weapons of war against the Nephites. And when they had entered into this covenant they sent them to dwell with the people of Ammon" (Alma 6216-17). William Penn established peaceful relations between Pennsylvania and the Lenni Lenape Indians by means of a treaty that respected their rights. Indeed, it is highly appropriate that the Book of Mormon contains so many allusions to the Quakers, since Penn preached to the Indians and considered them to be the ten lost tribes of Israel.

Warren devotes a large amount of space to a discussion of the "Order of Cincinnati." At first glance there seems to be little resemblance to Nehor in the Book of Mormon, who preached universal salvation in Zarahemla and founded a church. However, subsequent references to the order of Nehor provide closer parallels. As Warren notes, at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War there was uncertainty about what form and direction the new American government would take. There was the problem of disbanding the army, whose officers and soldiers had fought bravely for independence but were now demanding just compensation from Congress. Some unscrupulous individuals tried to take advantage of the army's discontent. They wanted to erect "a government for the United States, in which should be introduced ranks, privileged orders, and arbitrary powers. Several of these were deep, designing instruments of mischief; characters able, artful, and insinuating" (Warren 1989, 2:612). On 20 June 1783 soldiers marched to Philadelphia and surrounded the state house were Congress was assembled. Although the insurrection was quelled peacefully, the plots continued: "the intrigues of some of the officers were deep, ambitious, designing, and pernicious. In the outset of the American revolution, the institution of ranks, the creation of nobles, the rearing a monarchy, or the aggrandizement of a monarch, and the factitious idea of aristocratic birth, had no existence in the minds of a rising republic or their army, organized to oppose the encroachments of kings. These were ideas afterwards suggested by aspiring individuals" (Warren 1989, 2:615). Officers of the army and navy created a hereditary order of knighthood called the Order of Cincinnati. Members of the order wore a gold medal suspended from a blue ribbon. This organization appeared to have the worthy purposes of defending freedom and providing for the relief of any individual who belonged to the order who fell under unfortunate circumstances. Baron de Steuben originally acted as grand master of the order, but he was replaced by George Washington as president of the "Society of the Cincinnati." Many people saw this order as a threat to equality and liberty: "The legislatures of several states . . . declared it an unjustifiable, dangerous, and bold presumption" (Warren 1989, 2:622). Rhode Island declared that members of the order could not hold public office. However, the order continued to grow and became quite wealthy. Warren also alleged that these "dignified ranks" were "to be supported by the labor of the poor, or the taxation of all the conveniences of the more wealthy, for the aggrandizement of a few" (Warren 1989, 2:627). She continued to worry that this order might some day lead to the abandonment of republican principles: "The partiality to military honor, has a tendency to nourish a disposition for arbitrary power; and wherever there is a tyrannic disposition, servility is its concomitant: hence, pride of title and distinction, and an avarice for wealth to support it" (Warren 1989, 2:690).

During the first year of the reign of Alma as chief judge, Nehor began preaching that priests and teachers "ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people." Many people "began to support him and give him money. And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel" (Alma 1:3, 5-6). When Gideon opposed him, Nehor slew Gideon with a sword, and he was brought before Alma, who admonished Nehor for introducing priestcraft among the people and endeavoring "to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction" (Alma 1:12). Alma condemned Nehor to death: "Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor" (Alma 1:16). In the fifth year of the reign of the judges, the followers of Amlici, who was "a very cunning man" and a member of the order of Nehor, became very powerful and wanted to establish Amlici as king. This alarmed many people, because Amlici, "being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church" (Alma 2:4). Although Amlici was rejected by "the voice of the people," his followers consecrated him as their king. Here the Book of Mormon follows the biblical account of Abner, who anointed the son of Saul as king of Israel in opposition to David's kingship over Judah. The two factions met at the pool of Gibeon, where a fierce battle ensued. Abner was defeated and was pursued by Joab and Abishai until the setting of the sun, when they reached the hill Ammah near the wilderness of Gibeon. Alma's men pursued the Amlicites all day from the hill Amnihu, until they reached the valley of Gideon, where they pitched their tents for the night. The Amlicites were subsequently driven into the wilderness of Hermounts, where many of them died. In the eighth year of the reign of the judges, Alma saw that the people of the church "began to wear very costly apparel," and he "saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure" (Alma 4:6, 8). Although they had taken care of the needy, "having no respect to persons," they now turned their backs on those in need. The Book of Mormon tells us further that in the city of Ammonihah there were "many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor" (Alma 14:18). Also at some point, the Amalekites and Amulonites, who lived among the Lamanites, embraced the order of Nehor (Alma 21:4). It was these Amalekites and Amulonites who persecuted and killed many of the followers of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Thus we see that in the Book of Mormon material from Mercy Warren's history concerning the Quakers and the Order of Cincinnati is mixed together throughout the book of Alma. It should also be noted that Quakers considered as sinful such things as wearing costly apparel and loving the vain things of the world. Thomas Elwood, for example, said that some things are not accounted as evil by the world, but "by the light of Christ were made manifest to me to be evils, and as such condemned in me. As particularly those fruits and effects of pride that discover themselves in the vanity and superfluity of apparel; which I took too much delight in. . . . These and many more evil customs which had sprung up in the night of darkness and general apostasy from the truth and true religion were now, by the inshining of this pure ray of divine light in my conscience, gradually discovered to me to be what I ought to cease from, shun, and stand a witness against" (James 1958, 231-32).

The Book of Mormon frequently refers to the rapid spread of the population across the land. For example Jarom says that the Nephites "were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. . . . And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land" (Jarom 1:6, 8). During Mosiah's reign, "the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land" (Mosiah 27:6). Large numbers of people migrated from the land of Zarahemla into the land northward: "And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east" (Helaman 3:8). People in the land of Zarahemla also "began to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east" (Helaman 11:20). Mercy Warren also exaggerates the extent of the population in colonial North America: "From this small beginning [the first colonies] was laid the stable foundations of those extensive settlements, that have since spread over the fairest quarter of the globe" and settlers have "rapidly spread over the face of this new discovered country" (Warren 1989, 1:7, 9). William Penn "reared, with astonishing rapidity, a flourishing, industrious colony" (Warren 1989, 1:10). Warren also refers to "the inhabitants of the whole American continent" and "the people throughout the continent," and states that a zeal to relieve Bostonians "seemed to pervade the whole continent" (Warren 1989, 1:56, 58, 74). Warren also uses north-south terminology similar to the Book of Mormon: "But not withstanding the unhappy derangement of their affairs at the northward, and the successes of general Howe at the southward," "the successes at the northward had indeed given a spring to expectation and action; but the gloomy appearances of affairs at the southward," "the intelligence he received from the southward, filled him with the most serious and alarming apprehensions," "he had immediately repaired to the southward" (Warren 1:226; 2:416, 459, 476).

The Book of Mormon refers to "combinations" that threaten both the Nephites and future Gentiles: "And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever" (2 Nephi 26:22). Warren gives an account of a "combination" headed by "the despot of Russia," an alignment of a number of nations on trade issues: "A general state of danger from foreign combinations seemed to threaten the empire of Great Britain, with a convulsion in almost all its parts; at the same time, discontent and dissatisfaction, particularly in Ireland, seemed to be on the point of rising to an alarming height, and fast approaching to a crisis" (Warren 1989, 1:331). In the Book of Mormon, it is the secret combination known as the Gadianton robbers that foments major convulsions in the Nephite nation. Second Nephi's reference to "a flaxen cord" also has a parallel in Warren: "successful opposition to arbitrary sway, places a civic crown on the head of the hero that resists; when contingencies that defeat confer an hempen cord instead of a wreath of laurel" (Warren 1989, 1:132). (Note: flax is spun into linen thread, while hemp's stronger fiber is used for rope, which may account for 2 Nephi's distinction between "a flaxen cord" and "his strong cords.")

Jarom says that the Lamanites "were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts. And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle" (Jarom 1:6-7). Warren reports that the British General Burgoyne "summoned the numerous tribes of savages to slaughter and bloodshed," and although he did not "taste the goblet of gore by which they bind themselves to every ferocious deed, he made them a speech calculated to excite them to plunder and carnage" (Warren 1989, 1:222-23).

Jacob relates Zenos's allegory of the tame and wild olive trees (Jacob 5). In this allegory, Israel is likened to a tame olive tree, which begins to decay. It is pruned and branches from a wild olive tree are grafted in, while the "natural branches" that were cut off are cultivated "in the nethermost part" of the vineyard. The tree revives and bears good fruit for a time, but it is overrun by the wild branches. More pruning and grafting is needed before the natural branches thrive and bear natural fruit. In this allegory, the mother tree is Israel, which is scattered and replaced by the Gentiles, but eventually Israel must be gathered back to its rightful place. Warren presents her own allegory: "But as a wounded limb, pruned or bent downwards, yet not destroyed by the hand of the rude invader, sometimes revives and flourishes with new vigor, while the parent stock is weakened, and its decay accelerated, by the exuberance of its former luxury and strength, so may some future period behold the United Colonies, notwithstanding their depression, and their energetic struggles for freedom, revivified, and raised to a degree of political consideration, that may convince the parent state of the importance of their loss" (Warren 1989, 2:451). In this allegory, Great Britain is the mother tree, while the pruned branch represents the American colonies.

In addition to writing her history of the Revolution, Mercy Warren also wrote a number of plays and poems. In some of her plays Warren uses the word "snatch" in ways similar to Book of Mormon usage. In The Sack of Rome, Eudocia exclaims, "Oh! some kind seraph snatch my soul away, and shroud my griefs beneath the peaceful tomb" (Warren 1980, 88). In The Ladies of Castile, Louisa pleads, "Revoke thy sentence - snatch me from perdition - or let me die with him my heart adores," while Maria later importunes, "Jehovah stoop, and lend thy potent arm, to snatch the virtuous from so vile a fate" (Warren 1980, 152, 158). In the Book of Mormon, Alma declares, "Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulations, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more" (Mosiah 27:28-29). Ammon also states, "Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state?" (Alma 26:17).

The Sack of Rome provides another interesting parallel with the Book of Mormon. Leo tells Edoxia about the murder of her husband Valentinian, emperor of Rome: "Petronius led the band - the cohorts join'd - Traulista waited at the Campus Martius, 'till Valentinian enter'd. The fierce barbarian struck his helmet off, and, swift as light'ning, fell an hundred blows; his trembling soul escap'd without a groan; the army and the Gothic princes cry'd Long live the emperor, Petronius Maximus" (Warren 1980, 54). In the Book of Mormon, Gadianton, who became the leader of a band of men, persuades Kishkumen to kill Helaman, the chief judge, and place him on the judgment seat. However, Kishkumen's plan is discovered by a servant of Helaman, who "as they were going forth unto the judgment-seat, did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan" (Helaman 2:9). Note that both of these texts describe the victim as dying "without a groan."

Thomas Donofrio has pointed out a number of parallels between Warren's history and the Spalding manuscript, and Warren's plays further reinforce these similarities. In Solomon Spalding's tale, Elseon, prince of Kentuck, falls in love with Lamesa, princess of Sciota. Lamesa is described as fair and beautiful, graceful, modest, and virtuous. When Elseon asks Lamesa if she will be his wife, Lamesa explains that her father, the emperor, has promised her to Sambal, king of Sciota. Elseon asks if she really wants to be Sambal's wife, and Lamesa replies, "No! The King of Sciota for my husband! his pride, his haughtiness - the pomposity of all his movements, excite my perfect disgust. I should as leave be yoked to a porcupine" (Spalding 1910, 58). Although his formal petition is rejected by the emperor, Elseon swears fidelity to Lamesa: "you shall be mine - This heart shall be taken from my bosom & these limbs from my body, nothing else shall prevent our union & compleat enjoyment of happiness. - Can the ancient scribbling of a great Sage or the decree of an Emperor prevent the Streams from uniting with the Ocean - with the same ease & propriety can they prevent the union of our hands since our hearts are united. - with your consent, you shall be mine!" (61). Lamesa is reluctant to disobey her father, but when Elseon points out that the emperor might command her to marry Sambal, she replies that he might as well "command me to plunge a dagger into my heart." When Lamesa receives word from her father that her marriage to Sambal has been arranged, she exclaims, "Ah cruel father - why have you doomed your daughter to a situation the most odious & disgustful . . . .Ah whither shall I fly & escape my barberous destiny." Elseon reassures her: "I am your protector, says Elseon - I am your friend & will conduct you beyond the loving & gigantic grasp of Sambal. - His loathsome arms shall never incircle my dear Lamesa" (62). The lovers then form a plan to elope, and when they cross the river to the land of Kentuck, Elseon rejoices, "Lamesa is mine; She is now beyond the grasp of a pompous Tyrant - & the controul of a father, whose mind is blinded . . . She is mine" (65). After reaching Gamba, the couple are married. Moonrod, Lamesa's brother, informs the emperor, who laments, "O Lamesa . . . was it possible to disobey the command of your indulgent father & bring upon our family such wretchedness & dishonour" (67). When Sambal hears the news, he is enraged, feeling that he has been "disgraced, insulted & injured" by Elseon, who "has robbed me of the fairest orniment of my kingdom Lamesa, who was mine by solemn contract" (69). Elseon maintains that he has "an undoubted right to retain Lamesa for my wife - & no government on earth have any authority from heaven to tear her from my bosom" (72-72). Sambal does not relent: "the indignation & malice of Sambal encreased with time - his dark soul thirsted more ardently for revenge & nothing would satisfy but blood & carnage" (74). The emperor of Sciota issues a declaration of war against Kentuck. Lamesa laments the fact that her father and brother will now be fighting against Elseon and his father, and she asks Elseon, "When these armies meet would you not plunge your sword into the heart of my father & my brother - & would they not do the same by you if in their power? . . .I conjure you if you have any regard for my happiness, not to take their lives if in your power. Their lives says he are safe from my sword - Rather that my hands should be stained with the blood of your dearest friends I will present my bosom to their swords" (88). During the course of the war the Sciotans capture the city of Gamba and Sambal breaks into a fort where he finds Lamesa. He tries to seize Lamesa, but is "prevented by Heliza who steped between them & falling upon her knees implored him to spare the life of Lamesa - Scarce had she spoken when the cruel monster buried his sword in her bosom & she fell lifeless before the eyes of her dearest friend" (107). Lamesa exclaims, "Thou monster of vilany and cruelty, could nothing saciate your revenge but the death of my dear friend - the amiable, the innocent Heliza. Here is my heart - I am prepared for your next victim. Ah no, says Sambal, your life is safe from my sword. I shall conduct you to my palace & you shall be honored with me for your partner. Insult me not, says she, thou malicious bloody villain - either kill me or begone from my sight - my eyes can never indure the man who is guilty of such monstrous crimes" (107). Sambal goes off to battle where he kills Helicon, but he is then slain by Elseon. Spalding's story portrays Helicon and Heliza, who planned to wed, as meeting in "erial form" on the "celestial plain" (112). Elseon returns to Lamesa, who "conjured him to spare the life of her father & brother."

Mercy Warren's play The Sack of Rome is set in Rome in 455, on the eve of the fall of the city to the Vandal king Genseric (Gaiseric). Gaudentius desires to marry Eudocia, the daughter of the Roman emperor Valentinian. However, Valentinian fears that Aetius, Gaudentius's father, will usurp his position and plots to kill Aetius, declaring, "I'll save my daughter for a nobler union." In addition, Valentinian is charmed with Ardelia, the wife of Petronius Maximus. Ardelia is praised for her "modesty, and grace, and decent pride," and for her "innocence and truth, for elegance, true dignity, and grace." Valentinian fears that Maximus "meditates some great revenge. He has a bold, assuming, haughty soul - a daring pride that spurns the least affront" (Warren 1980, 26). After Valentinian kills Aetius and seduces Ardelia, who then dies, Gaudentius and Maximus become allies against the emperor. Gaudentius also learns from Maximus that the Vandal king Genseric plans to seize Rome and give Eudocia to his son Hunneric as a wife. Gaudentius exclaims, "How would my eyeballs from their sockets start to see Eudocia in that monster's arms" (46). Maximus wonders if Gaudentius "will the fond lover act the hero's part, and snatch the princess from a rival's arms" (48). Maximus leads a revolt and Valentinian is killed by Traulista. When Gaudentius meets Eudocia at the palace, he declares that "he guards the fair Eudocia - protects her life from every ruffian hand, nor fate again shall snatch her from mine arms" (50). Eudocia fears that he has killed her father to avenge Aetius's death, but he assures her that "not all the wrongs I suffer'd from thy sire, nor yet the vengeance that my own demand, could urge my arm to aim an impious blow that might a moment interrupt thy peace" (52). Maximus, bereft of a wife, now plans to wed Valentinian's wife: "Edoxia must be mine" (58). But she rejects such an alliance and declares that death would be "more welcome far than thy abhor'd embrace . . . . And must an empress bear this bold outrage - These stings of insult?" (64). Maximus swears that his intentions are virtuous and insists, "Edoxia must be mine" (66). In the meantime, Gaudentius asks Traulista to tell Eudocia that he is not responsible for Valentinian's death: "assure the princess that I did not strike" (71). He then meets with Edoxia and swears that "not all the powers of earth, or hell combin'd, shall rob me of my wife, my lov'd Eudocia" (74). Seeking revenge against Maximus, Edoxia sends a messenger to Genseric, inviting him and his men into the city. Maximus leaves Rome but is killed by a Burgundian chief. Genseric now informs Edoxia that Hunneric will wed Eudocia. Eudocia cries, "To what a hated rival am I doom'd!" (89). To Gaudentius she pleads, "Where can the wretched fly?" (90). Hunneric plots with Traulista to kill Gaudentius, but Traulista is mortally wounded. Gaudentius tells Hunneric, "would angel guards and ministers of fate first snatch Eudocia from thy loath'd embrace" (93). Gaudentius then "rushes forward and engages Hunneric, who mortally wounds him. - Eudocia runs between their swords, and offers her breast to Hunneric." Eudocia declares, "Strike here, most noble Hunneric - end my pain." Hunneric replies, "No, my Eudocia, live - thou art my queen" (93).

The Ladies of Castile contains a similar tragic tale set in Spain in 1521, as the revolutionary forces opposing the Holy Roman emperor Charles V are about to be defeated. Don Velasco, the regent of Spain, and his son Conde Haro are loyal to Charles V, but Don Juan de Padilla and Don Francis are fighting on the side of rebels who want to free Spain from royal oppression. Francis, however, is in love with Louisa, the daughter of Velasco, while Conde Haro loves Donna Maria, wife of Don Juan and Francis's sister. Maria is aware of Francis's love for Louisa and asks, "Canst thou forget the soft Louisa's tears, and chase her brother through the field of blood?" (Warren 1980, 115). Francis declares his love to Louisa, but she reminds him that his success in the war will mean the fall of her family, and she importunes him to "spare De Haro's blood" (121). Francis again professes his love: "Description would but beggar love like mine; measure the earth and mount beyond the stars, there's nought below can bound its full extent; not death itself can blot thee from my heart" (123). De Haro is equally conflicted; he feels that he must obey his father's will, although he would prefer to be on the side of freedom, and he regrets having to fight against Francis, the man his sister loves and the brother of the woman he loves. Louisa is also desired by Don Pedro. Velasco tells Louisa that he plans "to crown thy nuptials with a noble lord, to whom thou art betroth'd - who claims thy hand; thou shalt be his." Louisa pleads with her father to revoke his pledge to Don Pedro, because she "can't this once obey my father's will" (136-37). After Don Juan is captured in battle, Velasco again tells Louisa that she must wed Pedro. Louisa responds, "As much as does my soul abhor his name, if possible, I more despise than hate, the infamous - the cowardly Don Pedro. . . . But ere I yield, I'll bare my filial breast, meet the drawn dagger's point, and kiss the poignard in my father's hand - uplift in wrath, its edge to bury in this spotless breast" (154). Velasco tells Louisa that she has brought "disgrace eternal, on the illustrious name of Don Velasco! - abandon'd girl! - Then take my sword, and use it as ye list" (155). Conde Haro sends Francis to Charles "to sue for pardon from the emperor's hand, and claim my bride" (156). After Don Juan is executed, Conde Haro confesses his love to Maria, who rejects him and declares, "I'm not afraid of Conde Haro's sword - strike here, assassin!" (168). However, Conde Haro sends Maria and her son to Portugal, "beyond the reach of Don Velasco's rage" (170). When Velasco learns of this, he threatens to kill his son. Then Francis appears and declares that he has killed Pedro, "who would have robb'd me of my lovely bride" (175). Velasco realizes that both his son and daughter have helped Francis and his animosity ceases. Francis goes to find Louisa, but is too late to prevent her from stabbing herself, believing that Francis will die and she will have to wed Pedro. Francis falls on his sword, since he can't live without Louisa, and declares, "I'll catch in ether that last balmy breath, and meet her gentle spirit in the skies" (177).

In several of Warren's early plays there is a character named Hazelrod, and in Spalding's story Lamesa's brother is named Moonrod. Warren's two principal plays take place in Rome and Spain; Spalding's story includes a group of Romans, headed by Fabius, but some of the characters also have Spanish-sounding names. The most obvious is "Lamesa," which is equivalent to Spanish "la mesa." "Elseon," also spelled "Elsion," may be derived from Spanish "el Sión," which means "Zion" ("Zion" is also sometimes spelled "Sion" in English). "Lobaska," also spelled "Lobasca" and "Lobasko," is similar to "Tobasco." "Gamba," the name of a city in Spalding's story, means "shrimp" in Spanish.

It is now possible to see how Solomon Spalding's ideas may have evolved. When he began his first tale, he was greatly influenced by Mercy Warren's writings. He envisioned groups of people coming to America from various countries, and he wove together themes of love, patriotism, valor and war, in the manner made popular by Warren's plays. Without finishing his first story, he decided to write a second account, focusing on a group of Jews who traveled from Jerusalem to the New World, and he expanded his sources to include the Bible and histories written by such men as Josephus, Julius Caesar, and Livy, but he also carried some of Warren's material into his new story. Although critics deny that Spalding wrote a second story, there is nothing improbable about this scenario, and it seems to be borne out by the evidence.

Cosmology in Mercy Warren's Poetry

In Joseph Smith's Book of Moses, God declares, "And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. . . . But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them. . . . And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words" (Moses 1:33, 35, 38). In a later passage, Enoch says to the Lord, "And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations." God responds, "Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also" (Moses 7:30, 36).

The Book of Abraham states:

And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees; and I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it; and the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest. And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof . . . . And it is given unto thee to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light, until thou come near unto the throne of God. Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another, and he told me of the works which his hands had made; and he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eye
s, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof" (Abraham 3:1-4, 10-12).
A number of Mercy Warren's poems demonstrate how fascinated people were with contemplating the seemingly infinite cosmos. Here is a selection from Warren's poetry.

From A Political Reverie

Think not this all a visionary scene,
For he who wields the grand, the vast machine;
Who bids the morn from eastern ocean rise,
And paler Cynthia cheer the midnight skies;
Who holds the balance - who stretch'd out the line -
O'er all creation form'd the grand design,
Ten thousand worlds to scatter o'er the plain,
And spread new glories through his wide domain;
Who rules the stars, and taught the rolling spheres
To measure round the quick revolving years;
At awful distance from his radiant throne,
Suspended, this terrestial ball hangs down;
Yet still presides and watches o'er the fates,
Of all the kingdoms that his power creates.

Ere he winds up the closing act of time,
And draws the veil from systems more sublime,
In swift progression, westward throws the bowl,
'Till mighty empire crowns the spacious whole.
(Warren 1980, 192-93)

On a Survey of the Heavens

Does there an infidel exist?
Let him look up - he can't resist,
These proofs of Deity - so clear,
He must the architect revere,
Whene'er to heaven he lifts his eyes,
And there surveys the spangled skies;
The glitt'ring stars, the worlds that shine,
And speak their origin divine,
Bid him adore, and prostrate fall,
And own one Lord, supreme o'er all.

One God this mighty fabrick guides,
Th' etherial circles he divides;
And measures out the distant bound,
Of each revolving planet's round;
Prevents the universal jar,
That might from one eccentric star,
Toss'd in the wide extended space,
At once - a thousand worlds displace.

What else supports the rolling spheres;
Nought but Almighty power appears,
The vast unnumber'd orbs to place,
And scatter o'er the boundless space,
Myriads of worlds of purer light,
Our adoration to excite,
And lead the wandering mind of man,
To contemplate the glorious plan.

Not even Newton's godlike mind,
Nor all the sages of mankind,
Could e'er assign another cause,
Though much they talk of nature's laws;
Of gravity's attractive force,
They own the grand, eternal source,
Who, from the depths of chaos' womb,
Prepar'd the vaulted, spacious dome;
He spake - a vast foundation's laid,
And countless globes thereon display'd.

His active power still sustains
Their weight, amidst the heavenly plains;
Infinite goodness yet protects,
All perfect wisdom still directs
Their revolutions; - knows the hour,
When rapid time's resistless pow'r,
In mighty ruin will involve,
And God - this grand machine dissolve.

Then time and death shall both expire,
And in the universal fire,
These elements shall melt away,
To usher in eternal day.

Amazing thought! - Is it decreed;
New earth and heavens, shall these succeed?
More glorious far - still more august!
In his omnific arm we trust.

But how this system 'twill excel,
Nor Angel's voice, or tongue can tell;
Nor human thought so high can soar;
His works survey, and God adore.
(Warren 1980, 198-99)

From To a Young Lady

May you, swift as the morning lark
That stems her course to heav'n's high arch,
Leave every earthly care, and soar,
Where numerous seraphims adore;
Thy pinions spread and wafted high,
Beyond the blue etherial sky,
May you there chant the glorious lays,
The carols of eternal praise,
To that exhaustless source of light,
Who rules the shadows of the night,
Who lends each orb its splendid ray,
And points the glorious beams of day.

Time and eternity he holds;
Nor all eternity unfolds,
The glories of Jehovah's name;
Nor highest angels can proclaim,
The wonders of his boundless grace,
They bow, and veil before his face.

What then shall mortals of an hour,
But bend submissive to his power;
And learn at wisdom's happy lore,
Nature's great author to adore.
(Warren 1980, 206-07)

From Lines

Oh! thou Supreme Eternal King,
At whose command the tempests rage,
With equal ease can worlds destroy,
Or with a word, the storm assuage.
(Warren 1980, 219)

From On the Death of the Hon. John Winthrop

A seraph shot across the plain,
The lucid form display'd,
The starry round he here explor'd,
and cry'd - "great Winthrop's dead."

Down through the planetary fields,
Where countless systems roll,
A Newton's glorious kindred shade,
Descends to meet his soul.

They through the trackless paths of light
Still wonder, and adore,
And mount towards the central source,
Of all creative power.

* * * * *

He through a galaxy of light
By Newton's eye unseen,
Beyond the telescopic view
Of weak ey'd mortal men,

Treads o'er the pavement of the skies,
And looking down surveys,
A thousand transits gliding through
The vast etherial space.

Venus may pass the nether sun,
And worlds revolving roll;
The great astronomer beholds
The author of the whole.
(Warren 1980, 235, 238)


Works Cited

Fox, George. 1998. The Journal. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Nigel Smith. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

James, William. 1958. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: The New American Library.

Spalding, Solomon. 1910. Manuscript Story. Liverpool, England: Millenial Star.

Warren, Mercy Otis. 1989. History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution, Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations. Edited and annotated by Lester H. Cohen. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.

Warren, Mercy Otis. 1980. The Plays and Poems of Mercy Otis Warren. Compiled by Benjamin Franklin V. Delmar, New York: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints.

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