Tuesday, January 21, 2014

To Weigh a Man's Soul

Dan Jones - Welsh Missionary
Long ago when my Portuguese Professor at the Y inquired about my Welsh surname, he also shared with me an excerpt from the diary of his ancestor, the famous riverboat captain and Welsh missionary, Dan Jones. At the time and with my limited knowledge of my family history, I didn't connect to the Welsh stories. All I know is that my family with the Welsh surname had come to the US from northern England and arrived too late on faster steamship and train to be considered pioneers (they would have had to arrive in Utah between 1847 and 1869 before the railroad was completed).

The story was still a powerful one. It helped form the basis of my commitment to follow those ordained of God even with faults - theirs and mine. The story follows, "hics" and all:
"Boat ahoy" "Hallo" Come and help (hic) help me aboard (hic) Captain, for I'm afraid (hic) to fall off that plank (hic) into the river. Will you (hic) then come. Now (hic) hold fast, steady (hic) stop now; go on, (hic) there all safe (hic). Now Captain (hic) you see I'm a leedl boozy (hic) tonight, been drinking a leedl (hic) leedl wine with a friend (hic); but what or that (hic) I'm a Prophet if I am drunk (hic) that I am (hic). Well look here Captain, (hic) you hold my note, (hic) dont you? Well (hic) I have just called to tell you that (hic) that I dont mean to pay you a (hic) a cent (hic) cent of it, that I wont (hic) Now aint I an honest (hic) man to tell you so? (hic) I tell you I never mean to pay you a cent, (hic) there now help yourself.
You may think I am not a Prophet (hic) but I am a Prophet if I am drunk (hic). There (hic) I told you what I come for, (hic) I wont pay a cent (hic) that's all. Now help me ashore again (hic) come, I know I'm a Prophet, (hic) - hold fast - slow - there, (hic) dont push me off now, (hic) off the plank, (hic) or I'll be a fallen Prophet, (hic) if not a drowned (hic) Prophet, Ha, Ha, (hic) there ashore safe (hic) let me go - sue, sue away, I tell you (hic) I don't care, (hic) good night."
Exit the Prophet hickuping and staggering up the river bank, - he stumbles, falls, - up again; crawls on his hands and knees into the street and steers a straight course for home. Meets Dr. Richards shake hands and laugh heartily."Excuse me, Dr. Richards I have played such a joke right now, I am afraid I'll split my sides laughing; I must tell it you. I have acted the drunken man so natural aboard that Boat that I have made the Captain believe I was really drunk, ha, ha, for he looked as sober as a Judge. Suppose you call on him by and bye, and quiz out of him what he thinks of it; he is an honest man I believe, and if I cant shake him off me, I will make a man of him, let me hear again."
"Shall I leave him ignorant of the joke?"
"If he stumbles at it you may, but if not you may let him have the benefit of it too." Exit 
"Good night Captain," "Good night Doctor, step aboard,"  
Enters, puts on a grave face, and draws a long sigh "Have you seen the Prophet about this evening?" 
"He was here about an hour ago." 
"I hear that he has been drinking again! What a pity that such a good man gives way to drink so - great pity. Wonder they let him about the streets to expose himself; was he very drunk Captain?" 
"He had his three sheets in the wind or thereabouts."
"Well what to you think of it?"
"All I think of it is that if he drinks untill doom's day, he can't drown that truth which is in him, nor the little that is in me neither. Tis true that I would rather have a sober Prophet, but then if we can't get a sober one, a drunken Prophet is better than no Prophet at all, so I will hold on to the one we have got, drunken or sober. That what I think to do Doctor."  
"Ha, Ha you will not be driven to that Captain; tis all a joke; the Prophet is as sober as a judge only weighing you."
"So much the better if any difference, although, every body mind his own business is my motto."

For my part, I'd prefer a Prophet that didn't play practical jokes. But even that can't hide all the truth that is in him or the little in me either.

Dan Jones went on to baptize and organize thousands of Saints in Wales and bring them to Zion. We have learned just this past year that some of our Welsh ancestors were well-connected with Captain Dan Jones, some even traveled on the same transatlantic voyage with him. A letter of Brother Jones is the source for the death and burial at sea of an infant relative of ours. We owe him a great debt of gratitude. Brother Joseph even more so in spite of jokes or faults.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!