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In Her Own Words: Rose Harriet Cook, 1904

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 05, 2012

Rose Harriet Cook, born in 1878, in London, England, was not quite 17 when she was baptized a member of the Church in 1895. She became a school teacher. The events she tells of in this account occurred in the early summer of 1904 as she was preparing for emigration:

Nearly two months ago, I attended a meeting of teachers and masters in connection with the Teachers’ Association of Leyton, Leytonstone and Wanstead. This meeting had been announced as customary, by note of hand; and,contrary to my general rule, I decided to go, being prompted chiefly by the thought that perhaps this would be my last opportunity of attending such a meeting in this, my own country. Now I realize that I was directed by my Heavenly Father and that He was desirous of me attending for a purpose, which He alone had in view, and for which I now feel thankful.

The business part of the program having been transacted, the Rev. Manning, a learned and respected man, who was invited to give a lecture, chose for his subject “The Religion of Tennyson and Browning,” as shown by their works. In his remarks upon Robert Browning, he mentioned his faith in God’s love and rule; the great hope he had for the future, and dwelt upon his conceptions of religion as being growth and progression, the advancement depending upon the degree and manner with which each individual performs his part and duty through life. Hence he argued the need of a religion which is both practicable and comprehensible. Passing on he applied these conceptions to the many existing religions to-day, mentioning Mormonism, which he deemed to be false and base, not depicting religion in its true, pure and intelligible light. This strange religion, he said, taught strange doctrines, rousing its faithful followers to unattainable aerial beliefs, but then leaving them to grovel below: thus destroying all practicability. His idea of “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” roused me, for I was sure that the purport of such was so unlike what he had depicted. I prayed silently and earnestly that I might with wisdom be able to remove such erroneous ideas of “Mormonism,” although this seemed quite impossible at the time.

The lecture being at an end, one of the number thanked Rev. Manning, in behalf of all present for the able and interesting manner he had delivered the same. After the speaker had resumed his seat I felt impelled to stand and speak in defence of my religion, and to testify of the truthfulness and purity of the Gospel, irrespective of those around me. There were many present who knew me in my early childhood, my old governess, teachers and friends, my present mistress and companions being among them. Quite naturally they were greatly surprised to hear me speak; but no more than I myself. Having begged leave to speak, I forgot my self – lost self-consciousness, being carried away by the Holy Spirit, and gave my humble testimony of the Gospel. I told them of the beauties of the “Mormon” religion, as I had found them; showed them the sacrifices its followers make for the religion they have embraced; referred them to the false and biased articles they had read concerning our people; and disproved the non-practicability of “Mormonism” as suggested by Rev. Manning, by reference to myself. They who knew me before I had accepted the Truth, could certainly see that I had made some advancement, which is certainly the result of our practical religion. I explained that this is what our despised, dreaded and rejected religion does for all its faithful adherents. I also informed them of the importance we attach to growth and progression as portrayed by Browning. Then I was bound to refute the false statements made by Rev. Manning, for our Gospel is simple, not an aerial, unpracticable religion. It does not consist of theology which we in our religious zeal could not live, but engenders all that is good and true, giving hope for the future, trust, faith, love, etc., helping us ever to look onward and upward to the goal of perfection. This is the knowledge we have concerning the “Mormons.” I referred them to their false conceptions of “Mormonism”; also mentioned the way they had sought for their information and the way we had justly gained our knowledge; spoke of the ridicule and shame on their side and the persecution, honor and thankfulness on our part. I cannot now remember more; yet this I know that I had that strength and fortitude given me which carried me to the end of my remarks and which gave me joy and satisfaction at the close, for which the praise and honor must be given to Him who so gladly gave it.

When I had finished, Rev. Manning arose and expressed his surprise in meeting a “Mormon” teacher. He thanked me for the information I had given one and all, and apologised for anything that he might have said to hurt my feelings, although he could not hold with the “Mormon” principles.

At the close of the meeting he, with many others, congratulated me upon the way I had spoken. Had I prepared such a speech, I know I could not have spoken so, but as I told them, it was the Spirit of God that gave me thoughts and utterance.

There was a time when I feared these same people knowing that I was a “Mormon,” but now I feel proud to be called one, and will do my best henceforth to testify of the Gospel.

Rose emigrated to Utah in the summer of 1905 and continued her work as a public school teacher there. In 1914, she married George Washington Vance; they raised two daughters, Rose and Grace. Rose Cook Vance died in Salt Lake in December 1974.



2 Comments »

  1. That’s lovely. I just checked and yes, she has a rose on her gravestone. (Two, actually.)

    Interesting comments on Browning. I’ll add this post to his wife’s Eminent Women file.

    Comment by Amy T — November 5, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  2. I really enjoyed this. I wish I could have been there to witness this stirring exchange.

    Comment by David Y. — November 5, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

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