Not that that was the only time that he bathed. No, no, I doubt it was. It’s just that this time, there is documentation for it.
If they gave merit badges for significant Mormon service, Rudger Clawson would have a sashful. Born in Salt Lake City in 1857, he served a mission to the Southern States in his early 20s – and on July 21, 1879, he was standing next to his companion, Joseph Standing, when Elder Standing was shot and killed at Varnell Station, Georgia. When the mobbers turned their guns toward Clawson, he folded his arms across his chest and told the men to shoot. They didn’t – his courage in the face of death evidently shamed them and the crowd melted away.
Soon after his return from that mission, Clawson was tried and convicted of unlawful cohabitation and sentenced to 3-1/2 years in the penitentiary by our old friend Judge Charles S. Zane – who also briefly imprisoned Clawson’s wife Lydia for contempt of court in refusing to testify against her husband – examples of the harshness with which that judge treated polygamists. Clawson had served about three years of his term and paid a $1,500 fine (most unlawful cohabitation fines were $300) when he was pardoned by President Grover Cleveland.
Clawson was called as an apostle in 1898, serving in that quorum (with the exception of his four-day calling as a counselor to Lorenzo Snow) until his death in 1943.
His apostolic duties were increased in the years 1910 to 1913 when he served as president of the European Mission. While his base was in England, at a time of unrest and great difficult for Church members and missionaries in England, his duties also took him to the Continent as he toured missions there, meeting with the Saints and supervising the missionaries. In the summer of 1912, such a mission tour took him to Vienna, and then to Budapest. He reported:
The trip down the Danube river in a small steamboat from Vienna to Budapest, a distance of one hundred and seventy-five miles, and covering fourteen hours of time, was an event worthy of record. The weather, the scenery and the river all combined to emphasize the natural beauties of the country. No more impressive sight could well be imagined than that which met the eye as the boat gracefully floated down the river and reached the dock at Budapest at 9:30 p.m. A blaze of electric light, coming from many points along the river banks as well as the hill sides – for the city is built partly on rolling hills – shone round about us. it was dazzling in its intensity, but surprisingly pleasant to the senses. …
Budapest has a population of 900,000. One is struck with the many fine buildings and well-paved streets that may be seen in this inland city. It has a Parliament building, an art gallery, a court house, a statue of George Washington, and many fine residences, but it has an institution which excels anything of the kind we have ever seen, and that is a swimming bath. “Wash and be clean,” is a trite saying. Here this injunction has a complete answer.
One is simply amazed at the elaborate and luxurious appointments of Budapest’s bath-house. There are several swimming pools of varying degrees of temperature, ranging from very hot to very cool – there are a number of shower baths and steam rooms. Connected with the institution is a sun bath on the roof, a barber-shop, a manicuring shop, and a restaurant. The accommodations for the ladies are equally as elaborate and extensive as for the men.
The luxury of a bath in this wonderful institution resolves itself into this: The patron disrobes. He enters the steam room; from thence he goes to the large swimming pool, which is fitted up with every known modern device; after which he enters the warm pool and immediately plunges into the hot pool, from which he emerges with a gasp, which lengthens out into an exclamation when he passes under a cold shower. At this point he is rubbed down and thoroughly manipulated by attendants.
An armless linen robe having been thrown over his shoulders, he steps into a continuous moving elevator and is carried to the roof, where he takes a sun bath, after which he finds his way into the manicuring department and there submits to the very delightful experience of having his finger nails and later his toe nails treated and trimmed by skillful operators. He then passes under the gentle touch of the barber, who cuts his hair, shaves him, gives him a shampoo and puts a final “touch” on his pocket-book. He is now ready for lunch and it is served to him as he sits there in all the abandon of “dishabille.”
If after he goes through all these varied processes he is not a new man, it simply means that he cannot be made over and must remain “unclean still.” The traveler who goes to Budapest and fails to take a bath misses an opportunity that may never come to him again.
Oh, and while he was in Budapest, Clawson also held a conference with eleven Austrian and Hungarian elders.