A Study in Scarlet … Dispelling Ignorance: Mormons, Massacre, and the Modern Mind

It has been distressing to see the now-all-too
typically-characteristic derision borne of Ignorance,
in those who express their distaste for Doyle’s
first adventure with Mr Sherlock Holmes:

Their “complaint” ?

… the Inexplicable “Wild West Story”
that comprises roughly the second half of the novel.

As a boy reading Holmes, whenever we,
as schoolchildren, encountered an unfamiliar word

or did not know to what some historical reference referred,
we … laid aside the book we were reading
and opened up the household OXFORD Dictionary,
or went to the local library.

We Made the Effort to Learn.

It was NEVER a hardship, for us in the 1960’s, to
educate ourselves – raise ourselves to a higher standard
than that which we had just ten minutes earlier.

Today – with precious rare exception,
anything that requires minimal personal effort
and the humility to learn,
is immediately dismissed as ‘too difficult’.

The refusal to pause … and discern between
Vacuous Opinion – (which should be kept private
… to conceal one’s foolishness);

and Apathetic or Intentional Error – (which should be
exposed and withstood … to defend honourable folk
from malignant bullies),

has all but vanished from the world that deifies “Me”
and is insulted that anyone should care enough to
make the effort to correct their error.

I was often asked by students, as a schoolteacher
in Italy, if I could recommend the best thing
for my Italian students to read in order to become
proficient in proper, grammatical English.

Without hesitation, my reply was always …

“find an unabridged, un-modernised, unedited copy of
“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”.

“There”, I would point out, “you will see how English
was – and should be – spoken and written;
spelled and punctuated.”

Familiarise yourself with Holmes’ English
of a century ago,
and you will immediately be able to detect
the difference between properly spoken English,
and the barely-literate grunting of the
21st century.

Conan Doyle’s 1887 introduction of Holmes
was the very same introduction that I read
to Italian schoolchildren 120 years later.

And I cannot recall there ever being any difficulty
for 14-year old Italian students,
in understanding the Victorian narrative.

What woeful tragedy then, in modern-day minds
who claim English to be their ‘native tongue’,

but require their books, ‘bibles’, and ‘English’
to be dumbed down, modernised, or edited.


It is in this 1887 novel, A Study in Scarlet,
that Edinburgh native and physician,
Arthur Conan Doyle recounted the meeting of
Holmes and Watson,

and provided the reader with a glimpse
into the background of both literary figures.

Having changed his character’s name
from “Sherrinford” to “Sherlock”;

and replacing “Ormond Sacker”
with “John Watson”,

Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes
to the world at large in the one shilling edition
of Beeton’s Christmas Annual.

Written within living memory of the 1857 Mountain
Meadows Massacre in America – wherein 120 men, women,
and children were butchered by Mormons in Utah –
Conan Doyle drew upon the outrage for this, his first novel –

“A Study in Scarlet”.

A summary of history will enable the reader today to
understand the outrage that existed at the time – and should
exist today – over the savagery of which men are capable,

when they place the proclamations of self-appointed,
pseudo-religious ‘leaders’ over and above the old Bible
– while pretending to the world that they have something
(however tenuous) to do with “Christianity”.

1. Some sadistic tyrant claims to follow the Bible.
2. Said tyrant rapes/brutalises/massacres peaceful people.
3. Mindless humanity therefore blame the Bible
which the perverted tyrant used as a cover for his depravity.

If infantile multitudes had the maturity to control themselves
at any mere mention of the word “Bible” – WITHOUT the
knee-jerk vomiting of obscenities as though they were
starring in the 1973 film, “The Exorcist”,

they might be able to exercise that once-commonplace adult
quality that used to be known as “discernment”.

If people had the maturity to control themselves at any
mere mention of the word “Bible”, without the knee-jerk
vomiting of obscenities as though they were starring
in the 1973 film, “The Exorcist”, they might be able to
exercise what used to be called “discernment” …

It might also help them to understand why Conan Doyle
evidently felt compelled to centre his first novel
around an incident involving what was touted as some
supposedly Christian-esque sect in America.

It seems wholly unknown in the 21st century that a (genuine)
Christian is one whose life – conduct and conversation – at all times,
is characterised by the doctrine and example of Christ … and NOT
the “special revelation” proclamations of
Popes, Pastors, Faith-“healers”, or Evangelical Showmen.

The mature will have the intelligence to discriminate
the true from the false; and realise that those who are
… truly … godly people WILL conduct themselves
in accordance with the old Bible –

which makes no allowance for mass murder,
emotional hysteria, or fleecing the gullible.

What outraged the consciences of Victorian society
had nothing to do with any biblical account of
an Old Testament war against sadistic nations

who held parties where they placed their babies
on to the red-hot ‘arms’ of bronze statues of Molech,
and then beat drums and danced while the tiny babes
died screaming in agony …

… this massacre involved the butchery of peaceful settlers
in America – women and children included.

THAT is why the “Wild West” story appears.

In appalling perversion of biblical writ, it was maintained
by Joseph Smith

– whose claim to angelic visitation and Extra-Biblical
revelations (a feature of EVERY sect, cult, and Charlatan)
became Mormonism, in April of 1830 –

that the blood of Christ was insufficient to atone for
some sins … and that the only way for redemption
was for “sinners” to have their Own blood spilled.

This blasphemy against the Christ (kindly note:)
of the Bible, permitted murder on any “sinner”
over the age of eight.

For Smith’s successor Young, to murder certain people
… was to “love” them enough to shed their blood.

Such was the Mormon notion of “Blood Atonement”.

And at Mountain Meadows, Utah … that principle
was certainly carried out – children and all.

A Utah settler from Denmark, named Anderson
– for the sin of adultery – was held over an open grave,
whereupon his throat was sliced open from ear to ear.

They held him poised over the grave as the blood drained
into it; dressed his corpse in fresh clothing,
and dropped him into the grave.

This was the mentality immediately before
the massacre at Mountain Meadow.


A party of settlers going under the name of
“The Fancher Party” was attacked by a band of Mormons
and “Indians” (which, many strongly suspected)
might not have been ‘Indians’.

Successfully holding the attackers at bay,
the company noticed one of their potential killers
approaching under a White Flag.

Accepting the White Flag of peace, the Fancher Party
let down their defences, spoke with the representative,
and agreed to the Mormon proposal of safe passage
out of the area.

Having surrendered their weapons, the emigrants
began to trek in the direction that their Mormon
escorts led them.

The men – at the front of the convoy – were
butchered first.

The women … and children judged to be over
the age of 7 years … were slaughtered next.

Younger children, presumably, became “Mormons”
whether they wanted to or not.

In the wake of this historical atrocity, a man named
Lee was the only one of the Mormon killers to be executed
(by firing squad under the command of a certain Marshal Nelson)
for his blind allegiance to Brigham Young, Governor
of the Utah Territory.

Lee’s final words before execution included:

“I do not believe everything that is now being taught
and practiced by Brigham Young. I do not care
who hears it. It is my last word – it is so.

I believe he is leading the people astray, downward
to destruction … I studied to make this man’s will
my pleasure for thirty years.
See, now, what I have come to this day!”

It is firmly asserted – by its present adherents, that
modern Mormonism no longer practices
“Blood Atonement”

… yet, IF the mind-set has indeed been removed,

it is puzzling to note that Mormons have repeatedly
pushed blame elsewhere; and tried to bring about
the wholesale banning of Conan Doyle’s
“Study in Scarlet”.

I am a British Citizen.

And I understand that Great Britain became “Great”
in the 18th century … because it butchered people
who could not fight back … made slaves of multitudes
… and terrorized, invaded, and occupied the lands of
those who did not acquiesce –

much as another nation took over the reins
a century later, and now boasts freely and loudly
of its “greatness” and “might”.

Yet I – as a British man – do not seek to ban
the truth of British tyranny in the 17- and 1800’s.

I had nothing to do with it …

despise those who did …

and believe that political corruption and murder
should be open to historical criticism and loathing.

And that the citizens – of any country – should be capable
of summoning enough integrity and maturity
to stop living in a fantasy world of ego, apathy,
and the fanatical pagan religion of nationalism.

It strikes me as strange then, that certain Mormons
in the American state of Virginia, should seek to ban
“A Study in Scarlet” as being “anti Mormon”
[ The Guardian, 16 August 2011 ] …

… rather than acknowledge the incident
upon which it was based,
and have the maturity and integrity to reassure
the world that nothing like it could ever happen again
at their hands.

Conscience, in the most of humanity,
has observably been a thing of the past
for the last thirty years.

The massacre at Mountain Meadows
most definitely did occur:

Conan Doyle based this novel upon it,
and I forward the title now
for your consideration.

P Livingstone

Tom Crean: Tragic Epilogue of a Childhood Hero

Following a peaceful stroll around the deserted harbour,
we walked the ten minutes distance
to our favourite second hand bookshop
for a bit of a root around.

There, in my regular haunt – the shelf of the European
History section, was the incredibly clean-looking spine
of a hardcover volume, whose title I recognised instantly.

Gently sliding it from the shelf, I even imagined that
I heard the slight crack of binding as I opened the cover
and looked at the frontispiece …

there, in the centre of the typescript, two words
that I would never have thought to see in any book
that would interest me, greeted my eyes.

First. Edition.

If the book had ever been read, it must
have been read only once. It was pristine.

The author being an American, this particular title
had been the only account of Shackleton
(or, rather, featuring a boyhood hero, Tom Crean)
that I had not read growing up in Northern Ireland.

For me, as a boy in the 1960’s, Shackleton’s escape
from Antarctica was legendary.

from County Kildare, Ernest Shackleton

Moderns can prate on all they care to about
“technological advances” …
in a world where human beings worship machines,
cannot exist for thirty minutes without being
somehow connected to one;
and enthuses about time-wasting, mind-liquefying toys:

we were adamantly assured, in the Royal Navy,

– apart from the exceptional 3500+ nm voyage
forced upon William Bligh as a result of the mutiny
on HMS Bounty –

Shackleton’s voyage in the James Caird rates
as the single greatest exhibition of seamanship
in historical record – not merely as relating to
pure nautical mileage, but for its appallingly
extreme conditions of endurance for human beings.

The perseverance-in-adversity of those men
filled me with admiration.

But it was the Aftermath – the return to ‘daily life’
of Tom Crean, that affected me deeply.

It was a dreadful atrocity, I always thought,
to have realised that – after all his heroic efforts
with Scott, and later, Shackleton;

and upon his retirement in Ireland
as the landlord of his own ‘public house’,
The South Pole Inn, in Annascaul, County Kerry,

Tom Crean could never speak openly about his
life and adventures in the Antarctic.

Tom had, of course – during those adventures,
been with the Royal Navy: any reference
to that would be deemed to be admiration
of Britain by the type of stupid, sectarian mind
that blindly worships My Country and everything
to do with it.

Upon on his return to Ireland, Tom met with
this same brutal, mindless fervour from the low-grade,
scurrilous thugs of the Irish Republican movement.

In April, 1920, Tom’s beloved brother,
a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary,
had been ambushed and killed – shot four times –

by the same type of useless, vicious dregs of humanity
that run in ‘gangs’ because they are, in themselves
incapable of anything noble, heroic, or honourable.

And now, he was forbidden to speak
of his adventures and ‘daring do’,
by the same organisation of cut-throat thugs
who had murdered his brother.

The account of his death read,

“A three man RIC party based at Innishannon,
was ambushed while on patrol at Ballinspittal,
a village mid-way between Kinsale and Bandon,
by members of the Third West Cork Brigade
under the leadership of battalion adjutant Jim O’Mahony.

Sergeant Cornelius Crean
and Constable Patrick McGoldrick were killed outright,
while the other RIC man escaped uninjured.

Forty-eight year old Sergeant Crean, from Annascaul, Co. Kerry,
had twenty eight years police service,
having been a farmer before joining the RIC.

He was a brother of the famous explorer Tom Crean,
who had accompanied Ernest Shackleton
on his voyage to the South Pole in 1909.”

Obliged by sectarian thugs to ‘keep a low profile’,
Tom would outlive his brother by eighteen years.

Tom Crean died in July of 1938.

Tom with Roger, Toby, Nell, and Nelson

P Livingstone

A Lifetime … Contained Within a Children’s Book

In 2004, I gave away my entire library to people
whom I was certain would appreciate the books,
and who, I knew, did not have the means
to acquire copies of their own.

A few remaining volumes that I kept
could be carried easily in both hands.
They would, I thought, be the last books that I would own.

I could never have imagined that – ten years later –
I would find a book that I would never have thought to see
during whatever was left of my lifetime.

Desperately missing the conscientious humanity
amidst whom I was raised,
I never thought that there could be anything
that would allow me to escape:

to so fully ‘return’ to those days
of the early 1960’s –

the gentility of ladies;
the manners of men;
the respect that we as children gave to adults

– but entering one antiquarian bookshop
allowed me to do just that — Escape.

I remember seeing the book as soon
as I turned the corner; a moment when
there seemed to be a delay:

My mind was racing. But time seemed to slow.
I just could not accept what I was seeing.

It was, I suppose, like travelling on the
other side of the world, and turning a corner
to ‘see’ someone that you know from home –

you Know that it can’t possibly be! … But it is !!!
And you need to search for an explanation.

( I remember, on my second day in British Columbia –
seeing a woman I knew from Scotland – standing in a
shopping mall, here on the other side of the world
… where I had only just arrived.

I actually started towards her with a beaming smile
on my face, until Reason tapped loudly
on the inside of my head. )

Then the old brain sets everything in order,
and you realise that it is someone who (incredibly!!! )
looks exactly like the person you know.

I saw the book.

I knew what it was – instantly.

But I just could not ‘take in’ that I was actually seeing
The Exact Same cover … the exact same edition,
after fifty years.


I would have been about five when my grandma
and grandpa would ask to hear me read to them
from the old Bible. I liked to read – but I liked it
a lot more whenever I could make other people
happy just by reading to them.

The first certain memories I have of reading books
are of the (then widely varied) “Ladybird’ books
that I used to receive as birthday presents:
a page of text on one side,
with a wonderful full page drawing on the other.

I had a fair sized library, grouped by subject – and all
lined precisely a ruler width from the edge of the shelf:

The Ladybird Book of … Horses, Stamp Collecting,
British Birds, and, What to Look for in Spring/Summer
/Autumn/Winter – accompanied several dozen other titles
including, of course, David Livingstone – who was a
not too distant relative.

Ned the Lonely Donkey made me cry:
not the book for a child with a tender heart.

But the book that is forever ingrained in my memory –
the one that I read three times in succession –
was Enid Blyton’s “Valley of Adventure”.

The first chapter was absolutely terrifying – and enthralling –
I could not put it down (until my mum appeared at the bedroom
door … “Put that book down and go out and play!”)

It was not merely a story … it WAS an Adventure!

Four children going for an aeroplane ride
with their mother’s friend, Bill …

… being directed to the ‘plane on the tarmac,
climbing on-board, and sitting quietly in the back –

even when Bill returned,
in heated discussion with another man;

only to realise after take-off
that these gruff men were strangers,
and that the children had boarded the wrong plane.

As always, when reading, I immediately put myself
in the character’s place.

I remember making certain that my bedroom door
was wide open … and finally falling asleep with the blankets
held tightly up to my ears.

It was, for me, high excitement.

Now, 50 years later, ALL those memories
came rushing back, and my hands shook a little,
as I looked at the book  … stared at it

… and opened the cover:

It had belonged, once, to another little boy, or girl,
who lived a child’s lifetime before I was born;

and who was given this book,
in the very same year that it was released.

Looking down at the book in my hands,
I could suddenly ‘smell’ the heavy woollen blanket
on my bed;

see the sloping roof of my attic bedroom;
and hear the sheep from the field across the road.

In an instant, my life had vanished:
I was six years old once again –

thoroughly lost in this Valley of Adventure.

Finding this book has taken me back to a time
when the postman, the milkman, and the
‘lollipop man’ who saw us safely across the road,
always had a big smile and a friendly wave;

when you felt safe as long as there were people around;

And where one obnoxious little brat –
(once, as we were all walking home from school) –
told a little girl to “go to hell” …

only to have ‘old’ Mrs Johnson (she must have been 40!)
reach over her garden gate,
grab the top of his ear, and tell the malignant creature
to never use language like that again, anywhere near her house
– never releasing her grip on the wretch until he apologised –
to her, and to the little girl.

We learned common sense; self control; manners;
and knew right from wrong,
from the example of the adults around us.

And now, in an instant … this dear old children’s book
brought all those memories back to life –
after all these years.

Then again, I am not so sure that the joy
of those by-gone memories is entirely a good thing:

once the book is closed,
the grim reality of the 21st century still remains.

But for one blissful moment, I was back in my bedroom:
The feeling of excitement … turning the next page
with a euphoria of wonder:

‘What would happen next?’

Such is the power of a well-written book,
upon an industrious human mind.

Now, all these years later, one thing I do know
about this simple children’s book, is that

– every now and again … whenever I want,

I can again lie down on the soft, green moss
In the cave behind the waterfall …

… and peer out safely through the lush curtain
of fern fronds that screen the cave from view,
and hide me from the threat of evil men.

I have the chance to experience – with the same book
in my hand – the thrill, the fear, and the adventure
that I felt in that little attic bedroom,
a lifetime ago.

And that,

for me …

is truly wonderful.

P Livingstone