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Howells, William - Letter to Orson Pratt - 26 Aug 1849

St. Malo, August 26, 1849.

Dear Brother Pratt,--Having settled some family affairs which called for my presence in Wales, and having also done some good in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, I left my family on the morning of the 19th instant, but not before I had baptized and confirmed a gentleman, (5 o'clock, a.m.), who resides in the neighbourhood of Aberdare,--a relation also in the family, being my brother-in-law. His wife had been baptized about three weeks before I went home, but her relations being all baptists, had, in a measure, almost stumbled her with their cries and lamentations, particularly her old father endeavouring to persuade her that the Saints wanted nothing but their money. I had the privilege of seeing her at my house just in time, confirmed her faith to such a degree, that I knew the Lord had conquered, and to make sure lest they should persuade her while away by their cries, &c., I baptized her husband, at five o'clock on Sunday morning, on his own property, and confirmed him a member of the church of Jesus Christ. He is a fine intelligent young man, my wife's brother. Whilst in Wales I visited my father and mother, brothers and sisters, and they all promised that I should baptize them the next visit. I pray the Lord to spare their lives; my father is a worthy man, a millennarian, having many interesting ideas in connexion with the restoration of the Jews, the millennial reign of Jesus, the restoration of all things, &c.
I left my family at 7 a.m. with my daughter, who, I doubt not, will be able to help her father in this important mission.
I found the Cardiff branch in good standing. I had to preach at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to good congregations, and like the Saints throughout Wales, appear to be alive in connexion with the extension of the kingdom to France.


At 2 p.m., 21st instant, I entered the dwelling-place of Brother Dunbar, isle of Jersey, both himself, wife, and Saints, whom I found well and happy, received me with sincere respect, and nothing could exceed their kindness. I went with Brother Dunbar to a village close by St. Helier's, after meeting, four were baptized in the sea. Wednesday, the 22nd, I preached with brother Dunbar at St. Alban's, and five were baptized. One, the wife of brother De la Mere, where I slept, (a French brother officer of note). I persuaded her to be baptized the first day, and her husband is continually praising the Lord for his goodness in bringing me to his house. Another in the number of the five baptized, was a sister, who, as it were, accidentally got one of the four hundred French tracts I had given brother Dunbar to be distributed on the island, strange, she was convinced, and converted to the truth by reading my little tract. In another place, another tract caused a French family to open their house for the gospel to be preached in. Thursday, the 23rd instant, I had to preach in the room to a crowded congregation, after the sermon, six gave in their names to be baptized. Brother Dunbar seems to suit the place exceedingly well; both himself, brother officers, and the cholera, are exerting themselves, bringing in a fine harvest of souls to the kingdom. The last, it is true, carries death to such a degree with its power in this island, that one whole street this day was shut up, and it appears that the clothes, bedding, &c., of the poor in the said street are all to be burnt to night. The number of deaths daily, in Jersey, is truly awful.
At 10 a.m., 24th instant, I left my kind Jersey brothers and sisters, for St. Malo. In three hours I reached my destination. Brother Dunbar said that a French brother officer should follow me in about a month. 25th. I visited a few English families. 26th. Sunday morning, went to the episcopalian chapel, small, but well filled with pride and lukewarm religionists, without even the form of godliness. Text, "Because thou art neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm," &c. Text in the afternoon service, "Jesus said unto him, let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the gospel. Since then, I have visited the clergymen and flocks, and received from them generally most insulting abuse, both, they said, my tracts and discourse were blasphemous, yet refusing to inform me what the blasphemy was.


On the morning of the 29th instant, I was told that a gentleman wanted to see me below. I went down, and saw the said gentleman, who looked at me with fiendish looks. He asked me, trembling every limb, with his fist shaking close to my face, "Who gave you leave to bring these accursed tracts to my family," &c. &c. I expected the blow to send me to the other side of the room, a little further from the enraged man. After a volley of abuse he left with dreadful threats. His name is Huddlestone, an American. He circulates the report here that he resided within two miles of the residence of Joseph, and his false assertions, as you may imagine, are many. Since then, some other gentlemen to spite me, returns the tracts by post, so that they may cost the poor Mormon 6d. My landlady and all in the house but the servant joined in calling me "false prophet," a good testimony that I am a true one. In a few moments after the tornado past, you might have seen the said Mormon in the principal street of St. Servan, distributing French and English tracts in every shop, and also to private families. Welsh blook is not to be daunted easily, as the devil shall well know before the end comes; he is daily kicking me here, and also taking my halfpence away, but I expect to master him shortly. The enemy has such a number of faithful servants, in the character of protestant priests and catholics, who join first rate in a general persecution against the blasphemous La Latter-day Saints, with their crews, so that some of my friends, (the Lord has found me few real friends here again), stated that the enemies should endeavour to get the mayor to prosecute me for distributing the tracts. So early on Saturday morning I went to St. Malo, to the English consul for advice. He is a fine gentleeman; he told me not to distribute more for the present, lest they should, whether they had law or not, trouble me. I seized the opportunity, and preached the gospel to him but he actually refused to be baptized for the remission of his sins.


The zeal of the catholics is truly astonishing; their devotion is beyond credit, but to those who are present to see. As an antidote against the cholera, they have in every street set an image of the Virgin, in glass cases, on the side of the furthest house in the street, with two candles, one on each side to be burnt throughout the night, in one street she took fire and was burnt herself, a sad calamity. A physician gave me strange instances of their zeal in getting children to be baptized. Some time ago, a lady died, "en travail d'enfant," the bowels were instantly cut up with a knife, and the two infants not yet dead, taken from the womb to the priest to be baptized. In connexion with himself, a still born child having breathed after having been put in lukewarm water, the moment he turned his back, the nurse being a Catholic, took the said child to the priest to be baptized, and carried him back a corpse. He gave me many strange instances of the most wonderful devotion, on the one hand, and great sins on the other. There is a family of Catholic sisters in this place, where one kneels thoughout twelve hours of the day; and two, the twelve hours of the night before the altar, thoughout the whole year.


Sept. 2, Sunday. Although my persecuting enemies, who circulate all manner of lies, and continue to send tracts back through the post, but I do not take them in, because it will be an excuse to go to them again, (and warn them at the same time), asking for the sixpence to get my tracts from the post. Yet I have spent a glorious day. In the morning I went over to St. Malo, to the French protestant minister, attended the morning service, when he preached a short sermon in French, to half a dozen present. I prevailed on him to come with me for a walk, setting me part of the way home. He did so, and surely I prevailed also in getting the gentleman to promise to spend the evening with me; at three my anxiety was relieved by being told that he had arrived, so I begun pouring Mormon truths, by giving him a pen and paper, to write down some scores of scripture passages I wished to call his attention to. At five went arm in arm to Madame Carthage's, where I had to hold evening service, and preach in the grand parlour the first principles, to an attentive audience. He left, pleased with all, and promised to spend the next Lord's day in the same manner.


September 3. I visited this morning twelve English families, all here; are a sort of gentry living in great state. Some said blasphemous stuff; others, you ought all to be sent to gaol as madmen, &c., &c.; others, we have a Bible, so don't come here again; others we have sent the tracts to the post, &c., &c. I went in the afternoon to St. Malo; received a letter from Wales, stating that my family were well and happy, thanks be to my Heavenly Father for his protection to them, and to me also.

Yours truly,

Wm. HOWELLS.

 

Immigrants:

Howells, William

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