Thursday, January 10, 2013

William Law

In his final speeches and writings at Nauvoo, the Prophet occasionally mentions William Law, his estranged counselor as someone with a grudge against Joseph. This story helps put those statements in perspective.

Joseph Smith had asked Charles Stoddard, age 14, to serve as a house boy for William Law. William Law was one of the Prophet's enemies, and felt by many to have led the charge on Carthage. Joseph would have Charles keep his eyes and ears open and report back to him what he heard William Law planning.

[The following was recorded by Sarah Woodward Stoddard, mother of Charles Stoddard, in April 1844].

Dear Diary,

Charles had another faith promoting experience last night. Early in the morning, even while the darkness still hemmed out the light of day, Mr. Law, after he had been drinking and planning with his associates throughout the night, got Charles out of bed to clean and oil his gun. He said he was going to shoot the Prophet—only William Law called him "Old Joe Smith." Poor Charles was frightened beyond description, but Mr. Law stood over him and prodded him with his foot when Charles hesitated through fright and anxiety. Finally, when Mr. Law was satisfied with the way the gun was working he put one bullet in. He boasted he could kill the prophet with one shot. He sent Charles to bring the Prophet. He ran as fast as he could and delivered the message, but he begged the Prophet not to go to Mr. Law's as Mr. Law was drunk, and Charles was afraid he would carry through on his threat to shoot the Prophet in cold blood. As they walked the few blocks from the Mansion house to the Law residence, the Prophet assured Charles that no harm would come to him that day. Charles was frightened, and he said that it kept racing through his mind, "I am the one that cleaned the gun that is going to be used to kill the Prophet," until he was sick with fear. The Prophet, in the final attempt to calm my dear son, uttered the fateful words, "Mr. Law may someday kill me, Charles, but it won't be today."

As they approached their destination, Mr. Law came staggering out of the house shouting out what he intended to do. The Prophet said kindly and unafraid, "You sent for me, Mr. Law?" To which Mr. Law replied with oath that now he was going to do the whole world a favor by disposing of the Prophet with one shot. Calmly, the Prophet unbuttoned his shirt and bared his chest, and then said, "I'm ready now, Mr. Law." Charles said at this point he nearly fainted. Sick fear strangled him until he was speechless and paralyzed, unable to move a muscle. Mr. Law paced a few steps, turned, aimed, and pressed the trigger. There was complete silence. Then the air rang with profanity and Mr. Law turned on Charles, accusing him of fixing the gun so it would not go off and threatened to kill even Charles—my innocent, frightened, but faithful son. The Prophet, to divert Mr. Law's blame of Charles, suggested that a can be placed on a fence post for Mr. Law to take a practice shot. Relieved, Charles ran for a can and laid it on its side on a post. Mr. Law paced back, took aim, and fired. His one shot streaked through the exact center of the can. Even Mr. Law was quiet as if stunned. The Prophet buttoned up his shirt, gave Charles a meaningful look, and then said, "If you are finished with me now, Mr. Law, I have other things needing to be done."
(As quoted by Robert H. Daines at BYU-Idaho Devotional, 28 May 2002)


Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

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