Times and Seasons, 1 March 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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Editorial Note
In the third editorial passage, JS commented on an article originally printed in the London Dispatch in late 1841 related to the death of English member Elizabeth Morgan. Morgan and her husband, Benjamin Morgan, were among the earliest Londoners to join the church during the ’s second mission to , which went from 1839 to 1841. The Morgan family resided in St. Luke’s parish, , and boarded several church missionaries, including , who was living with them when Elizabeth Morgan passed away on 28 October 1841. According to the Dispatch, local authorities investigated the circumstances surrounding her death because she had declined professional medical treatment, a choice that the paper’s editors and others directly attributed to her religious beliefs.
While JS and other church members believed that they could be healed through various religious rituals, in this editorial the editor emphatically stated that the church did not prohibit its members from receiving medical aid. Preferences for healing treatments varied from person to person, but Latter-day Saints employed contemporary medical techniques, as well as traditional folk remedies, that were influenced by the medical knowledge and practices of American society during the antebellum era. In the early 1840s modern medical practices were still in their infancy. While a few elite American doctors received medical training in Europe or at select universities on the East Coast, most medical practitioners in the received little formal education aside from a short period of apprenticeship. Little was understood about the vectors of disease, and many practitioners of conventional, or “heroic,” medicine continued to treat illnesses in patients’ homes through archaic and often harmful medical practices such as bloodletting or calomel purges. In response to the methods of heroic physicians, in the 1820s and 1830s Samuel Thomson, a self-taught herbalist, popularized an alternative system of treating patients referred to as botanic medicine. Thomson’s methods were embraced by some physicians in the United States and , including by some Latter-day Saint doctors, such as , , and , although Latter-day Saints in and relied on both heroic and botanic medicine.
Like many other editorial pieces, this editorial tried to counter perceived falsehoods about Latter-day Saint belief and practice that were circulating in public discourse. Commenting on the Dispatch’s report, JS criticized the underlying assumption that Morgan’s religious beliefs, as well as “improper treatment by unqualified persons,” were somehow responsible for her death. JS also defended Morgan’s right to refuse medical aid and the church’s belief in divine healing.

THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
extract from the “london despatch.”
On Wednesday an investigation was gone into before Mr. Baker, the coroner, at the Royal Oak, Galway-street, St. Luke’s, on the body of Elizabeth Morgan, aged 55 years, whose death was alleged to have been caused through improper treatment by unqualified persons. Maria Watkins, of 31, Cross-street, Islington, said she had known the deceased about 12 months. For some time past she had suffered from a spasmodic affection, and on Tuesday week last witness was sent for to attend her. Witness found her very ill, but no medical gentleman was called in, it being against the religious tenets of the sect to which the deceased belonged to do so. The sect to which she belonged styled themselves “,” their place of meeting being in Castle-street, Cow-cross. They dated their origin from the Apostles, and treated their sick according to the following text, taken from the last chapter of the Epistle of St. James: “If there be any illness amongst you ye shall call for the of the Church, and annoint yourselves with oil in the name of the Lord.” She (witness) had known cases of healing under such circumstances, but the deceased sank and died on Saturday last. Mary Ann Albin, Spencer-place, Goswell-road, wife of one of the elders of this foolish sect, said she was called to see the deceased on Tuesday morning, and from her appearance thought she was suffering from inflammation of the bowels. No surgeon was sent for. Witness administered some “sage tea with Cayenne pepper” in it; leeches and other remedies were also applied. Every thing was prayed over before it was given. The Coroner said the remedy appeared to him to be worse than the disease, and he hardly knew how to deal with the case, as he had his doubts whether it was not one of manslaughter. In his opinion the case was not strong enough to warrant a verdict of manslaughter being returned, but he trusted the publication of it in the papers would act as a caution to the members of this strange sect, and that they would see the necessity of calling in medical aid. The jury, after some deliberation returned a verdict of “Natural death,” with a hope that the present inquiry would act as a caution to that body how they acted in such cases for the future.
If we were not somewhat conversant with the follies and absurdity of men who profess to regulate religious affairs, and to give tone and energy to the multifarious creeds that are now extant, we could scarcely have believed that any men professing any degree of intelligence, or holding any office of importance, could be found to give birth unto, be connected with, or bear witness of such a bundle of nonsense; such sheer ignorance, and profound folly, as is manifested in the above article. But as it is published by the ‘London Despatch,’ a journal that professes to rank among the foremost of the British Empire, and in other papers of importance in the professed metropolis of the world, as it has emanated from the emporium of learning, science, and divinity; the professed fountain of all true intelligence, the seat of bible societies, missionary societies, and tract societies; the place where nobles are instructed and kings learn wisdom, we of course must notice it. What then is the important thing that has attracted the attention of nearly all editors in the city of ? that has excited the deep interest, and careful investigation of a learned jury, and a more profoundly learned coroner? something solemn, deep, and awful, something that must be published in the public journals of the day, and be heralded to all the world. Therefore listen ye nations and give ear ye kings of the earth, let all the world attend with respectful deference, for be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that “ELIZABETH MORGAN, AGED 55 YEARS,” IS DEAD. Oh, Tempore!!! Oh Mores!!!! Yes the solemn fact is announced by the “London Despatch”—she is dead—but what gives deep interest to the fact and adds solemnity to the scene is that she died a “natural death!!!!![”] she was not murdered in cold blood; she was not poisoned, nor drowned, nor burned to death, she did not die in a mad-house, nor cut her throat; neither had she the privilege of being killed throught the administration of the learned medical faculty, not through the nostrums of the more learned, but less popular Thompson; it was her fate to die a natural death! and therefore the learned coroner “trusted the publication of it in the papers would act as a caution to the members of this strange sect, and that they would see the necessity of calling in medical aid.” Therefore ye pay attention and live forever; for it would seem by this that the inhabitants of the city of never die, because they have abundance of “medical aid” or if they do die [p. 711]
 
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Editorial Note
In the third editorial passage, JS commented on an article originally printed in the London Dispatch in late 1841 related to the death of English member Elizabeth Morgan. Morgan and her husband, Benjamin Morgan, were among the earliest Londoners to join the church during the ’s second mission to , which went from 1839 to 1841. The Morgan family resided in St. Luke’s parish, , and boarded several church missionaries, including , who was living with them when Elizabeth Morgan passed away on 28 October 1841. According to the Dispatch, local authorities investigated the circumstances surrounding her death because she had declined professional medical treatment, a choice that the paper’s editors and others directly attributed to her religious beliefs.
While JS and other church members believed that they could be healed through various religious rituals, in this editorial the editor emphatically stated that the church did not prohibit its members from receiving medical aid. Preferences for healing treatments varied from person to person, but Latter-day Saints employed contemporary medical techniques, as well as traditional folk remedies, that were influenced by the medical knowledge and practices of American society during the antebellum era. In the early 1840s modern medical practices were still in their infancy. While a few elite American doctors received medical training in Europe or at select universities on the East Coast, most medical practitioners in the received little formal education aside from a short period of apprenticeship. Little was understood about the vectors of disease, and many practitioners of conventional, or “heroic,” medicine continued to treat illnesses in patients’ homes through archaic and often harmful medical practices such as bloodletting or calomel purges. In response to the methods of heroic physicians, in the 1820s and 1830s Samuel Thomson, a self-taught herbalist, popularized an alternative system of treating patients referred to as botanic medicine. Thomson’s methods were embraced by some physicians in the United States and , including by some Latter-day Saint doctors, such as , , and , although Latter-day Saints in and relied on both heroic and botanic medicine.
Like many other editorial pieces, this editorial tried to counter perceived falsehoods about Latter-day Saint belief and practice that were circulating in public discourse. Commenting on the Dispatch’s report, JS criticized the underlying assumption that Morgan’s religious beliefs, as well as “improper treatment by unqualified persons,” were somehow responsible for her death. JS also defended Morgan’s right to refuse medical aid and the church’s belief in divine healing.

THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
extract from the “london despatch.”
On Wednesday an investigation was gone into before Mr. Baker, the coroner, at the Royal Oak, Galway-street, St. Luke’s, on the body of Elizabeth Morgan, aged 55 years, whose death was alleged to have been caused through improper treatment by unqualified persons. Maria Watkins, of 31, Cross-street, Islington, said she had known the deceased about 12 months. For some time past she had suffered from a spasmodic affection, and on Tuesday week last witness was sent for to attend her. Witness found her very ill, but no medical gentleman was called in, it being against the religious tenets of the sect to which the deceased belonged to do so. The sect to which she belonged styled themselves “,” their place of meeting being in Castle-street, Cow-cross. They dated their origin from the Apostles, and treated their sick according to the following text, taken from the last chapter of the Epistle of St. James: “If there be any illness amongst you ye shall call for the of the Church, and annoint yourselves with oil in the name of the Lord.” She (witness) had known cases of healing under such circumstances, but the deceased sank and died on Saturday last. Mary Ann Albin, Spencer-place, Goswell-road, wife of one of the elders of this foolish sect, said she was called to see the deceased on Tuesday morning, and from her appearance thought she was suffering from inflammation of the bowels. No surgeon was sent for. Witness administered some “sage tea with Cayenne pepper” in it; leeches and other remedies were also applied. Every thing was prayed over before it was given. The Coroner said the remedy appeared to him to be worse than the disease, and he hardly knew how to deal with the case, as he had his doubts whether it was not one of manslaughter. In his opinion the case was not strong enough to warrant a verdict of manslaughter being returned, but he trusted the publication of it in the papers would act as a caution to the members of this strange sect, and that they would see the necessity of calling in medical aid. The jury, after some deliberation returned a verdict of “Natural death,” with a hope that the present inquiry would act as a caution to that body how they acted in such cases for the future.
If we were not somewhat conversant with the follies and absurdity of men who profess to regulate religious affairs, and to give tone and energy to the multifarious creeds that are now extant, we could scarcely have believed that any men professing any degree of intelligence, or holding any office of importance, could be found to give birth unto, be connected with, or bear witness of such a bundle of nonsense; such sheer ignorance, and profound folly, as is manifested in the above article. But as it is published by the ‘London Despatch,’ a journal that professes to rank among the foremost of the British Empire, and in other papers of importance in the professed metropolis of the world, as it has emanated from the emporium of learning, science, and divinity; the professed fountain of all true intelligence, the seat of bible societies, missionary societies, and tract societies; the place where nobles are instructed and kings learn wisdom, we of course must notice it. What then is the important thing that has attracted the attention of nearly all editors in the city of ? that has excited the deep interest, and careful investigation of a learned jury, and a more profoundly learned coroner? something solemn, deep, and awful, something that must be published in the public journals of the day, and be heralded to all the world. Therefore listen ye nations and give ear ye kings of the earth, let all the world attend with respectful deference, for be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that “ELIZABETH MORGAN, AGED 55 YEARS,” IS DEAD. Oh, Tempore!!! Oh Mores!!!! Yes the solemn fact is announced by the “London Despatch”—she is dead—but what gives deep interest to the fact and adds solemnity to the scene is that she died a “natural death!!!!!” she was not murdered in cold blood; she was not poisoned, nor drowned, nor burned to death, she did not die in a mad-house, nor cut her throat; neither had she the privilege of being killed throught the administration of the learned medical faculty, not through the nostrums of the more learned, but less popular Thompson; it was her fate to die a natural death! and therefore the learned coroner “trusted the publication of it in the papers would act as a caution to the members of this strange sect, and that they would see the necessity of calling in medical aid.” Therefore ye pay attention and live forever; for it would seem by this that the inhabitants of the city of never die, because they have abundance of “medical aid” or if they do die [p. 711]
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