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Letter from William Clayton

Letter from William Clayton

Commerce, Dec 10th 1840

Beloved brethren and sisters, we are at length arriving at our journey's end, and although we are about 1000 miles distant from each other I do not forget you. Many many times have I pondered upon those happy times we spent in each other's company, & often my heart has filled when I have reflected upon those whom I have left behind. There are many names in Manchester which are exceeding dear to me & forever will be. The immense distance which is between us does not even so much as slacken a single cord of love & happy shall I be to see your faces again. I feel as though I had lost something, but I hope I shall not be long before I see you again. It would be a small matter for me, to cross the sea to see you, but I must wait the will of heaven. I pray that you may all be found faithful & steadfast when the Lord comes.

At the time I left you I knew little of the toils and difficulties of traveling neither could I if any one had told me. We have had some hard times, and been exposed to trouble of various kinds. I once could not have believed that it was possible for me to endure the toils I have endured; but to the praise of God be it spoken, all I have endured has never hurt or discouraged me, but done me good. We have sometimes had to change our food entirely & live on food we had not been used to. We have sometimes been almost suffocated with heat in the old ship, sometimes almost froze with cold. We have had to sleep on boards, instead of feathers, and on boxes which was worse. We have [p.477] been crammed together, so that we had scarce room to move about, & 14 of us had to live night and day for several days, in a small cabin (composed of boxes) about 2 yards long, and 4 feet wide. We have had our clothes wet through with no privilege of drying them or changing them, we have had to sleep on a bed of hay out of doors, in very severe weather, and many such things which you can form no idea of. Yet after all this we have been far more healthy & cheerful than when at home; and we have enjoyed ourselves right well. The Lord has preserved us from sickness, not even so much as suffering us to take cold, and we are now at our journey's end, far more healthy and looking better than when we left England. I can assure you brethren and sisters, that if you will be faithful you have nothing to fear from the journey the Lord will take care of his Saints. We had some old people in the company and they are equally as healthy as the young people.

We left England about 6 weeks too late, and this was considerable worse for us. It cost more money and was not so pleasant traveling. We remained at New York, a few days and then took steam boat to West Troy, hence by canal boats to Buffalo, about 460 miles from New York. We remained at Buffalo a few days, and we were obliged to be separated. The fare to Chicago was double the amount we expected (on account of its being late in the season) & we were forced to leave some behind. The Lord sent the presiding Elder from Kirtland to Buffalo just in time to meet us and he immediately offered to take all who were willing to go to Kirtland. We felt it hard to part yet it was all well for there are as many here as can get into houses this winter. Amongst those who went to Kirtland were Bro. [Thomas Green] Greene & family, Sister Alice Whiss [Whipp] and Eliza Prince, Matthew Clayton & wife, Jane Harris, Joseph Jackson & wife [Mary Ann], Samuel. Bateman & family. These from Manchester. Brother [Thomas] Featherstone, Jane Fylds [Field] & Martha Shelmerdine from Stockport, George Naylor & family James Crompton & wife from Bolton. All the Greenhalgh's remained at Buffalo, a little while this being their choice. The brethren & sisters felt much as parting but we expect to see them in spring.

We then proceeded to Chicago which is something above 1000 miles from thence we went to Dixonville about 110 miles. At this place we purchased a boat bottom, and after it was ready we floated down Rock River into the Mississippi, and down the latter river to Commerce. We were about 11 days coming from Dixon to Commerce, and it was in this distance we suffered most from the cold. I shall not state the particulars as you will get them from Penwortham.

We are pleased with the appearance of the country it is exceeding rich and beautiful. There is plenty of food of many kinds.

We have had the privilege of conversing with Joseph Smith Junior. and we are delighted with his company. We have had a privilege of ascertaining in a great measure from whence all the evil reports have arisen and hitherto have every reason to believe him innocent. He is not an idiot, but a man of sound judgment, and possessed of abundance of intelligence and whilst you listen to his conversation you receive intelligence which expands your mind and causes your heart to rejoice. He is very familiar, [p.478] and delights to instruct the poor Saints. I can converse with him just as easy as I can with you, and with regard to being willing to communicate instruction he says "I receive it freely and I will give it freely". He is willing to answer any question I have put to him and is pleased when we ask him questions. He seems exceeding well versed in the scriptures, and whilst conversing upon any subject such light and beauty is revealed I never saw before. If I had come from England purposely to converse with him a few days I should have considered myself well paid for my trouble. He is no friend to iniquity but cuts at it wherever he sees it, & it is in vain to attempt to cloak it before him. He has a great measure of the Spirit of God, and by this means he is preserved from imposition. He says "I am a man of like passions with yourselves," but truly I wish I was such a man. . . . [p.479]

BIB:Allen, James B., ed., To the Saints in England: Impressions of a Mormon Immigrant (The 10 December 1840 William Clayton Letter from Nauvoo to Manchester), BYU Studies 18:3 (Spring 1978) pp. 477-79. (HDL)

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