Letter to Samuel W. Richards, dated June 13, 1854, at Merthyr Tydfil. (Vol 16:413,414)
14, Castle Street, Merthyr, June 13, 1854
President S. W. Richards--Dear Brother--Indisposition, which has been increasing of late, has debarred me the privilege of communicating my feelings as often as I have wished, realizing as I do, that from thence emanates my strength and consolation. And although I feel something better to-day, brother Daniels having washed, anointed me, &c., yet I am but measurably relieved, my lungs are so affected. By dint of perseverance and some bed work, I have been enabled to have out in time the 23rd No. of the Udgorn, yet I am far from "giving up the ship," but feel determined to do what I can, and I am comforted inasmuch as the Lord prospers His work in our midst. It is increasing, though gradually, yet generally assuming a healthful and promising aspect, love and union abounding.
I can, with yourself and thousands, truly lament our loss in the decease of our highly-esteemed father in the Lord--President Willard Richards. He needs no help from man, his works, great, heroic, and God-like in the cause of truth, are engraven on the hearts of thousands, and are more stupendous monuments of His greatness than a Pompey's Pillar, or a Cleopatra's Needle, that aspires in the air to proclaim the greatness of mortals.
Many scenes transpired during my acquaintance with him at Nauvoo, over which memory lingers dearly. By him, more than once have I been embosomed in the embrace of the great 'Father of Waters" there, at the sacred spot--the deed more so, the dead revere it. Was he benevolent? From house to house, and tent to tent, as they were scattered among the unhealthy "flats," have I seen him administer aid and consolation to afflicted brethren and sisters, and many, in answer to his prayers, were healed by the power of God.
Subsequently, through the rage of mobs, who thirsted for the blood of innocence, did he, like a magnet true to its pole, defend the cause of the injured. I watched his firm, unflinching course amid the rage of Carthage mobs in that never-to-be-forgotten tragedy. Two days and nights in Carthage prison, assailed by the insults, yells, and curses of assassins, his testimony to the truths of heaven, and to the innocence of the incarcerated Prophet, he bore, in the face of those whose bayonets through the iron bar between would fain have run him through.
I, even now, well remember the scene, the facts, when on the last night that the martyred Prophet slept on this blood-stained earth, some four or five true-hearted brethren side by side with him, lay on the floor, while Willard Richards was left in the dark by the last candle accessible, before he had wearied himself in writing in defence of his much loved Prophet; and ere he fell asleep, the rush of the midnight assassins against our prison door gave each an opportunity to test his strength and integrity.
A few hours before his death, Joseph the Prophet desired me to inform Gov. Ford of the threats of the "guards," to assassinate him "before sun-down," which I did three different times, and demanded protection in vain. The guards, aware, refused to let me re-enter the prison. Joseph, Hyrum, all remonstrated, but in vain. I was requested to seek of Col. Deming, a passport for Dr. Richards, which I secured. Failing to force my way in through the guards, Williard Richards came outside, and in private he replied, when informed of the threats of the mobs--"May the Lord protect your life in their midst. Here is a letter. Go, by request of the Prophet."
In all trying scenes, calm but immovable was his course, beyond a parallel.
More recently still, I remember when aspirants would illegally seize the reins of government in the absence of their legitimate owner, his voice, like the roar of a lion in the forest, reverberated through the devoted "Grove," until the fainting hearts of evil-doers quaked like aspen leaves, and dared not recoil from the effect of his rebuke.
I have partly forgotten self, in view of the past deeds of the departed hero; and though these ideas never before blacked the face of paper, nor have others known them all, yet tis passing sweet to linger o'er the memory of departed worth, and transcribe with pen or paper what the actor has engraven on memory's tablets, reserved for the archives eternal.
But, it is a fact--he has gone--gone to Joseph and Hyrum, who have doubtless longed to welcome him to his new field of labour. Blessed, thrice honoured be his ever great name, and may eternities successively crown him with the fruits of his labours.
My very kind respects to dear brother Franklin. I saw him the night before last. He looked better than when he had the ague here. Also remember me kindly to brother Spencer and brother Little.