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Queen Victoria: “A new Sect, which is sprung up, in America”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 03, 2012

Almost simultaneously, David Morris and Yeechang Lee tipped me off that Queen Victoria’s journals have been posted online, as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee (God Save the Queen!), and that Queen Victoria had made an amusing or interesting remark about the Mormons.

And what did Her Majesty have to say?

Thursday, November 1, 1838

Talked of the Court Yard being all broken up, &c. Of Murray’s having gone to Oxford; of his being in a great fright about a new Sect, which is sprung up, in America, called Mormonites, and of which he sent Lord M. a paper; they are followers of an Idiot, Lord M. said; Mormon is Greek for Idiot, he told me; and there are already 7000 followers of this Idiot, and 7, Murray told Lord M., have landed at Liverpool, meaning to preach their doctrine in Lancashire. This idiot, Lord M. continued, had a Revelation, it is said from an Angel, who desired him to lift up an immense Stone; the Idiot replied, he couldn’t, for that it would require many men to do so; the Angel replied he had no faith, upon which the Idiot tried, and the Stone cane up with the greatest ease, underneath which they found this book of their religion. “All these sects tend to getting people’s money”, said Lord M., “the 1st Article of their religion is Community of Goods; and the 2nd is, no marriage, that they might have the Women as they like; these new Sects always tend towards those two” This is like the St. Simonians. Lord M. continued that Hume made such a sensible observation in his History, at the beginning of those troublesome times of Charles I’s reign, when these was a great deal of fanaticism and people were talking of the Millenium coming; Hume said it wasn’t only wild and foolish people who followed these absurd doctrines, but people of good sense and deep thought; which is very true.

Moroni knew what he said when he warned Joseph Smith “that God had a work for me [Joseph] to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” (JS–Hist 33) I hope my voice will always be counted as speaking good of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Thanks, YL and DM, for the lead.



9 Comments »

  1. How funny. Thanks David M. and Yeechang Lee.

    Comment by Steve C. — June 3, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  2. Well, you can’t expect the Queen to get everything right.

    Bwahahahaha!

    Comment by Grant — June 3, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

  3. If I remember correctly (and weren’t too lazy to go upstairs and dig out my OED and find out for certain), moron had not in 1838 made it into the common vernacular. That might explain Lord M’s confusion (or the evils of a hereditary, inbred aristocracy may simply have been made manifest in Lord M). Thankfully, “moron” is now available for ready use–and is particularly helpful when riding a bicycle in New York City, I’ve found.

    By the way, any clue who was hiding behind that “M”?

    Comment by Mark B. — June 3, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  4. Looks like it’s Lord Melbourne.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 3, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  5. One other thing–in 1838, Victoria was only 19 years old. Hardly old enough to have any secrets, to say nothing of sophisticated understanding of new religious movements.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 3, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

  6. Great laugh for today!

    Comment by Chocolate on my Cranium — June 3, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  7. So, has anyone figured out who “Murray” is? The one who is “in a great fright about a new Sect”?

    The looking around I’ve done suggests that “Murray” is “Charles Augustus Murray” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Augustus_Murray) who had spent the previous few years traveling in the U.S. (detailed in his book “Travels in North America”)

    Comment by Kent Larsen — June 5, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  8. Wonderful!

    Comment by Peter fagg — June 13, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  9. Idiot was actually based on a Greek word (idiōtēs), but the Greek word Greek “moros” means “foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid.” This is the word which was used starting in the 20th century to refer to a higher grade of intellectually disabled people–they were said to be morally idiotic, but could blend in quite well so they were thought to be a bit more dangerous to social well-being according to the physicians. It seems to me this fellow was simply drawing on his own knowledge of Greek for the connection.

    Comment by BHodges — January 18, 2013 @ 11:52 am

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