Canandaigua, Jan. 15, 1831.
Dear Sir -- Yours of the 11th, is before me, but to give you a
satisfactory answer, is out of my power. To be sure, I am acquainted with a
number of the persons concerned in the publication, called the "Book of
Mormon." -- Joseph Smith is a person of very limited abilities in common
learning -- but his knowledge of divine things, since the appearance of
his book, has astonished many. Mr. Harris, whose name is in the book, is a
wealthy farmer, but of small literary acquirements; he is honest, and sincerely
declares upon his soul's salvation that the book is true, and was interpreted by
Joseph Smith, through a pair of silver spectacles, found with the plates.
The places where they dug for the plates, in Manchester, are to be seen. When
the plates were said to have been found, a copy of one or two lines of the
characters, were taken by Mr. Harris to Utica, Albany and New York; at New York,
they were shown to Dr. Mitchell, and he referred to professor Anthon who
translated and declared them to be the ancient shorthand Egyptian. So much is
true. The family of Smiths is poor, and generally ignorant in common learning.
I have read the book, and many others have, but we have nothing by which we can positively detect it as an imposition, nor have we any thing more than what I have stated and the book itself, to show its genuineness. We doubt -- supposing, if it is false, it will fall, and if of God, God will sustain it.
I had ten hours discourse with a man from your state, named Sidney Rigdon, a convert to its doctrines, and he declared it was true, and he knew it by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was again given to man in preparation for the millennium: he appeared to be a man of talents, and sincere in his profession. Should any new light be shed on the subject, I will apprise you.
W. W. PHELPS.
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