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had unusual opportunities to gain experience, knowledge, and valuable and interesting information. Every year hundreds of missionaries are sent out into the nations of the earth. The object of their going is, of course, to preach the Gospel, but in connection with this labor, much experimental knowledge is incidentally received by the individual which in the aggregate should have a tendency to make ours the best informed community in the world. Such knowledge must prove of incalculable benefit to the people as a whole. Many new ideas are thus gathered relating to mechanical, industrial, business, religious, moral and social affairs, and are converted to the best use, in the line of progress, in the building of our mountain commonwealth.
It has occurred to the editors of the IMPROVEMENT ERA that among the returned Elders, as well as among those who are now in the field, in all parts of the world, there must be a rich fund of anecdotal experience, illustrating a variety of topics of interest to the general reader, and especially useful to young men in their daily work of character-building. Placed before the public, would this not make valuable and instructive reading? With such thought in view, we have decided to make an effort to gather a collection of anecdotes.
We ask every reader of the ERA who has one in mind to write it, and forward it to the editor. The collection will appear in chapters, as we find room to print the communications. In order to guide the writers, we give the following anecdotes as examples:
Illustrating the necessity of holding one's self in readiness to grasp the opportunity which is said to come to every man once in a life time: it is told by William Eugene Lewis in the Metropolitan, as having been related to him by “Fighting Bob” Evans of the Navy.
“Dewey at Manila” said Captain Evans, “recalls to my mind an incident that occurred in the war with the South
Farragut and his fleet lay down toward the mouth of the Mississippi, completely preventing the passage of the stream by the enemy. Above were several gunboats and ironclads, reformed tugs and other craft, which we would call auxiliaries now. These were greatly needed at New Orleans. There wasn't an apparent chance in the world for the Confederate boats to make the trip. For a long, weary time the condition remained the same. It looked as if the close of the war would find the fleets in unchanged
relative position. One day it happened that the commanders of Farragut's ships undertook a general rehabilitation and repair. Their fires were banked and there was a sound of scraping, and the smell of paint was on the air. Of all the ships on the blockade but one had fires under her boilers and sufficient steam to start her engines. This was the time the Confederates chose to move their boats. Down the channel they came and rounded the bend, not in line of battle, but Indian file, like ducks returning from an excursion. The Northern fleet was helplessall but the one craft. Officers and men, in their chagrin, alternated cursing with crying.
"What did the commander of the one ship capable of attacking do?
“He had no instructions suitable for the emergency, so he overhauled his chest and presently there fluttered and snapped from his halyards the inquiry: 'Shall I engage the enemy?'
"Naturally Farragut and the officers on his flagship were employed watching the regatta which steamed on down with many marine insults. No answer came to the commander's question, for no one had taken the trouble to read it. At last he ordered his gig and went over to the flagship to confer. He was met on the stage side by Old Ironsides himself. Although the lower Mississippi region is sub-tropical, those who were witnesses assert that the temperature was Alaskan.
“ 'I received no response to my signal—began the commander who had steam but lacked initiative.
“ 'Captain,' interrupted Farragut, 'to every man comes an opportunity once in his lifetime. Yours has passed, down the river.'
"The Admiral cut off discussion by retiring. Dewey's opportunity found him adequate, and so far from asking for directions, he cut the only line of communication. Orders,” concluded Captain Evans with gravity, "are often extremely troublesome, not to say discouraging."
Illustrating a noble revenge, or paying good for evil:
When Madame Sontag began her musical career, she was hissed off the stage at Vienna by the friends of her rival, Amelia Steininger, who had begun to decline through her dissipation. Years passed on and Madame Sontag, at the height of her popularity, was riding through Berlin, when she saw a child leading a blind woman.
“Come here, my child," said Madame Sontag; “who is that you are leading by the hand?" "That's my mother," replied the child; "that's Amelia Steininger. She used to be a great singer, but she lost her voice and she cried so much about it that she lost her eyesight.” “Give my love to her,” said Madame Sontag, "and tell her an old acquaintance will call on her this
afternoon.” The next week, in Berlin, Madame Sontag sang before a vast audience gathered at a benefit for that blind woman. She employed a skilled oculist, but he in vain tried to give eyesight to the blind woman. Until the day of Amelia Steininger's death, Madame Sontag took care of her, and her daughter after her. That was what the queen of song did for her enemy.
Illustrating the courtesy and consideration of George Washington: told by Martha Littlefield Phillips in the Century Magazine in, "Recollection of Washington and his friends." The author is a granddaughter of the youngest daughter of General Nathaniel Greene, and she tells the incident in the words of her grandmother concerning a visit of the latter to Washington at Philadelphia:
One incident which occurred during that visit was so comical in itself, and so characteristic of Washington, that I recall it for your entertainment. Early in a bright December morning a droll-looking old countryman called to see the President. In the midst of their interview breakfast was announced, and the President invited the visitor, as was his hospitable wont on such occasions, to a seat beside him at the table. The visitor drank his coffee from the saucer, but lest any grief should come to the snowy damask, he laboriously scraped the bottom of his cup on the saucer's edge before setting it down on the table-cloth. He did it with such audible vigor that it attracted my attention, and that of several young people present, always on the alert for occasions of laughter. We were so indiscreet as to allow our amusement to become obvious. General Washington took in the situation and immediately adopted his visitor's method of drinking his coffee, making the scrape even more pronounced than the one he reproduced. Our disposition to laugh was quenched at once.
Illustrating the difficulty of translating verbatim from one language to another: told by a traveler from Brooklyn who happened to be in Venice in July, 1898, and received his first intelligence from the Italian newspapers, of the American victory over the Spanish fleet at Santiago.
"With my limited knowledge of Italian,” he says, “I was just able to make out from the morning paper that we had destroyed the Spanish fleet, and that there was great rejoicing on our ships after the fight; and wanting particulars, I took the paper to Professor Rovera who speaks almost perfect 'scholar's English', and asked him to translate it to
me, which he did in excellent style, until he came near the end, when, with a little hesitation, he read, 'And the band played the Flag with the Stars on it, and, It will be Very Warm in the City this Evening.' It was about a minute before I recognized “The Star Spangled Banner,' and, "Ther'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”
THE PARIS CONGRESS OF THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS.
At the instance of M. Victor Charbonnel, who is the chief promoter, the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, in 1893, is to be duplicated with some variations, at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. The general plan has been outlined, the movement being headed by M. Albert Reville, who is the chairman of the forty members of the Committee on Organization. He is the professor of history of religions at the College of France.
This Congress is to differ from the Chicago Parliament in that it is to be composed of a strictly scientific personnel. Its organizers will invite as speakers not the representatives of the various churches, but “independent and disinterested scholars who study the history of religion from the scientific side.” Instead of faith, science will be used as a basis.
As with the Chicago Parliament, so with this, it met strong opposition at first. It was only after matters had been arranged in such a way as "to prevent all dogmatic and confessional controversy from finding a place on its program,” that the Paris Congress of the History of Religions was permitted to organize. The principal opposition, though by no means all, came from the Catholics, who constitute the membership of the dominant religion in France. But all objections were at last overcome, and the organization is working.
A central committee composed of well-known French scholars, have drawn up the regulations. The Congress will have both general and sectional meetings. A circular has been issued explain
ing the whole scope of the undertaking. The following paragraph is found in the official invitation which has been sent to historians, theologians, philosophers, folk-lorists, ethnographists and sociologists, so that the field of the discussion will be broad--broader by far, perhaps, than in Chicago, where, as the readers of the ERA are aware, unpopular faiths were excluded-at least this was the case with the Latter-day Saints:
"The proposed Congress is exclusively of a historical nature. During the nineteenth century the history of religions has been fully developed as an independent science, and should, therefore, be entitled to a prominent position in an international exhibition, the aim of which is to bequeath, as a legacy to the twentieth century the magnificient achievements of the nineteenth. The history of religion has an important mission to perform, in the way of elucidating the past and in shedding its illuminating influence on the moral and social problems of the present and the future. It is desirable that all those who have the progress of the subject at heart should learn how to know one another reciprocally. It is to their interest to consult together concerning the ways and means of giving religious studies a larger place in the curriculum of the universities, and to consider together certain questions of the hour. It will be profitable for all those who are isolated by their individual studies to find themselves united, for a few moments, on this common ground of scientific research."
The Committee on Organization have decided to organize the following departments:
1. The religions of the uncivilized races and the civilizations of America prior to its discovery by Columbus. 2. The religions of the far east-China, Japan, and Indo-China, etc. 3. The Semitic religions - Judaism, Islamism. 4. The religions of Egypt. 5. The religions of India and Iran. 6. The religions of Greece and Rome. 7. The religions of the Celts, Teutons, Slavs, etc. 8. The Christian religion.
Every scientific communication will be received, while disputes or discussions regarding articles of faith, confessional polemmics, only will be excluded. The Congress may thus become a receptacle for, and a dispenser of much valuable dead historical information, but we doubt it will ever result in any immediate living benefit, any more than did its Chicago prototype.