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“Healthy Bucksom Lassies”: “ Spalding’s “Manuscript Found” Part 2

This is part 2 of my in-depth look into Solomon Spalding’s only known novel, “Manuscript Found.”  I’ve previously discussed the Spalding Theory of Book of Mormon origins, and given an introduction to Spalding’s only known manuscript discovered by LL Rice in Hawaii.  The original manuscript is located at Oberlin College in Ohio.

One of the most striking features to me concerning the document is the extremely poor spelling.  I would hope that Spalding would be a “tolerable schollar” (his spelling on page 43.)  At first, I started circling all the words that he misspelled, but I got tired of it after a while because there were so many.  Here’s a sampling of some.

p 12 – “waters of the Mississippy”
p 14 – “inhabited by Europians”
p 15 – “How be extracated from the insatiable jaws of a watry tomb.” (not only bad spelling, but bad grammar)
p 17 – “Their King then stept forward”
p 17 – “performing many odd jesticulations.”
p 19 – “timber which we hued on two sides”
p 20 – “healthy bucksom lassies” (note-they were from “Brittian”)
p 21 – “to see that propper industry & econimy were practised by all”
p 21 – “After having partook of an elligant dinner & drank a bottle of excellent wine our Spirits were exhilerated & the deep gloom which beclouded our minds evaporated.”
p 21 – “No, no, our voige is on dry land”
p 22 – “human beings, who resemble in manners the Orang outang”p 22 – “Methinks I could pick out a healthy plum Lass from the copper colored tribe that by washing & scrubing her fore & aft & upon the labbord & stabbord sides she would appear a wholesome bedfellow.”
p 23 – They were Tall, weel proportioned, strait limbs, complections of a brownish hue broad cheek bones, black wild roling eyes, & hair black of course.”
p 23 – “hilarity”, “enimies”, “runing”, “cloathing”
p 24 – “weather” (not whether), “incumbered”, “sinues”, “cloathed”, “ornimented”, “injenious”
p 25 – “musquetoes”

Ok, by now you get the point-there are a lot of spelling errors.  Let’s review some of the characters that Spalding used, and see if you think any of these names sound like Book of Mormon names.

P 14 – Fabius, Constantine (yes the emperor of Rome)
p 19 – Lucian, Trojanus
p 20 – Droll Tom
p 23 – Deliwanucks (not Lamanites)

By page 23 of the Book of Mormon, there were more characters in Nephi’s family mentioned than Spaulding mentions so far.  To be fair, Spalding’s fictional manuscript was written in Latin-however the many affidavits of the theory say these names were similar sounding Book of Mormon names.

I’d like to give an outline of the first few chapters I’ve read to let you know what the Spalding Manuscript actually says.

Introduction

This chapter seems to have the most similarity to anything Mormon.  However, it doesn’t show anything similar to the Book of Mormon, but rather to Joseph Smith’s History in describing how he found the plates.  The table below compares the finding of the two ancient histories.

Manuscript Found

Joseph Smith History

Similarities

Differences

JSH1:34 [Angel Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

Angel

[p 11]  “Near the west Bank of the Coneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort.  As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character situation & numbers of those people who had far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and inginuety, I hapned to tread on a flat stone.

SH 1:52  Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.

Stone covering box or entrance

This was at a small distance from the fort, & it lay on the top of a great small mound of Earth exactly horizontal.  The face of it had a singular appearance.  I discovered a number of characters, which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription.  With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone.

52 Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.

Lifted stone with lever

No writing on Joseph’s stone

But you may easily conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends and sides rested on stones & that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave.  I found that its sides were lined with stones built in a conical forms with {illegible} down, & that it was about eight feet deep.

I … descended to the Bottom of the Cave.  Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy.  Here I noticed a big flat stone fixed in the form of a doar.  I immediately tore it down and Lo, a cavity within the wall presented itself about three feet in diamiter from side to side and about two feet high.  Within this cavity I found an earthern Box with a cover which shut it perfectly tite.  The Box was two feet in length one & half in breadth & one & three inches in diameter.

Cave

My mind filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the assendency & the box was taken & raised to open it.  When I had removed the Cover I found that it contained twenty-eight rolls of parchment-&-that when {illegible} appeared to be manuscripts written in elegant hand with Roman Letters & in the Latin Language.

53 I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.

Joseph Forbidden to take plates for 4 years.

The cave is a very interesting difference to me, as well as the lack of an angel showing Spalding where the parchments (not plates) written in Latin, (not Egyptian).  At the end of the Introduction, Spalding further describes the scrolls on page 12,

They were written on a variety of Subjects.  But the Roll which principally attracted my attention contained a history of the author’s life & that part of America which extends along the great Lakes & the waters of the Mississippy.

Chapter 1

This is the part of the story where we learn the author of these parchments, Fabius, is commissioned by Constantine who  [p 14-15]

“had overcome his enimies & was firmly seated on the throne of the Roman empire I was introduced to him as a young Gentleman of genius and learning & as being worthy of the favourable notice of his imperial majesty.  He gave me appointment of one of his secritaries, & such were the gracious intimations which he frequently gave me his high approbation of my conduct that I was happy in my station.

One day he says to me Fabius you must go to Brittian & carry an important {illegible} to the general of our army there {illegible} sail in a vessel & return when she returns.  Preparation was made instantly and we sailed {illegible}”

So here is an interesting difference.  Unlike Nephi and Lehi who were prophets, Fabius is just an army officer on a military mission.  While Constantine was Christian (as was Fabius), neither claimed to be a prophet.  Their mission sounds like Gilligan’s Island’s famous “three hour tour” when the weather starts getting rough.  They had [p 15]

“arrived near the coast of Britain when a tremendous storm arose & drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean.  Soon the whole crew became lost & bewildered.  They knew not the direction for to the rising Sun or polar Star, for the heavens were covered with clouds; & darkness had spread her sable mantle over the face of the raging deep.  Their minds were filled with consternation and despair. & unanimously agree that What could we do?  How be extricated from the insatiable jaws of a watry tomb.  Then it was that we felt our absolute dependence on the Almighty & gracious Being who holds the winds & floods in {illegible} hands.  From him alone could we expect deliverance.  To him our most fervent desires assended.  Prostrate & on bended nees we poured forth incessant Supplication & even Old Ocean appeared to sympathize in our distress by returning the echo of our vociferos Cries & lamentations.  After being driven five days with incridable velocity before the furious wind the storm abated in its violance.  but still the strong wind blew strong in the strong as I now believe in the same direction.

The storm continues, and a mariner (*updated 10/23/2009) feels inspiration.

A voice from on high hath penetrated my soul & the inspiration of the Almighty hath bid me proclaim.  Let your sails be wide spread & the gentle winds will soon waft you into a safe harbor.  a Country where you will find hospitality.  Quick as the lightnings flash joy sparkled in every countenance.  A Hymn of Thanksgiving spontaniously burst forth from their lips.

On the fifth day after this we came in sight of sand, we entered a spacious river & continued sailing up the {illegible} many leagues until we came in view of a town.

Immediately the natives ran with apparent signs of surprize & astonishment to the bank of the River.  After viewing us for some time, & receiving signs of Friendship, they appeared to hold a counsel for a few minutes.  Their King then stept forward to the edge of the bank, & proffered us the hand of friendship, & by significant gestures invited us to Land, promising us protection and hospitality  We now found ourselves once more on terra firma, & were conducted by the king & four chiefs into a town whilst the multitude followed after, shouting & performing many odd jesticulations.”

At this point they eat a meal, then the Indians [p 18],

“fell to dancing, shouting, whooping, & screaming at intervals, then dancing jumping & tumbling with many indescribable distortions in their countanance & indelicate jestures.  In fact, they appear more lik a company of devils than human Beings.

Does this sound at all like the Book or Mormon when Nephi landed in the promised land?  It seems to me the Nephites were very civilized.  While Fabius hasn’t used the term “savages” to describes the natives yet, he will in chapter 2.  I know I went into quite a bit of detail here, but I thought it would be good to see Spalding’s writing style, and see the differences in the style of the BoM and Spaulding.

Chapter 2

Fabius and his crew decide they can’t return home, so they traded with the Indians [p 19] “land on the north part of the town on which was six wigwams” for “fifty yards of scarlet cloth and fifty knives.  With this present they were highly pleased.”  The crew then “chose Trojanus, the mate of the ship, a pious good man to be our minister, to lead our devotions every morning & evening & on the Lords day”

This next part has to be my favorite part of the book so far.  From page 20,

Seven young women we had on board as passenjers to viset certain friends in Brittian.  Three of them were ladies of rank & the rest were healthy bucksom lassies.  Whilst deliberating on this subject a mariner arose whom we called Droll Tom  Hark ye, shipmates says he.  Whilst tossed on the foaming billows what brave son of Neptune had any more regard for a woman than a Sturgeon, but now we are all safely anchored on Terra firma, our sails furled & ship keeled up, I have a huge longing for some of those rosy dames.  But willing to take my chance with my shipmates, I propose that they should make their choice of husbands.  The plan was instantly adopted.  As the choice fell on the young women they had a consultation on the subject, & in a short time made known the result.  Droll Tom was rewarded for his benevolent proposal with one of the most sprightly, rosy dames in the company.  Three other of the most cheerful, resolute mariners were chosen by the other three bucksom Lassies.  The three young Ladies of rank fixed their choice on the Captain the Mate & myself.  Happy indeed in my partner, I had formed an high esteem of the excellent qualities of her mind The young Lady who chose me for a partner was possessed of every attractive charm both of body & mind.  We united heart & hand with the fairest prospect of enjoying every delight & gratification which are attendant on the connubial state.  Thus ended the affair.  You may well conceive our singular situation.  The six poor fellows who were doomed to live in a state of celibacy or accept savage dames, discovered a little chagrin & anxiety.  However they consoled themselves with the idea of living in families, where they would enjoy the company of the fair sex, & be relieved from the work which belongs to the department of women.

Fabius describes a few more things about the Indians, comparing their manners to the “Orang outang”, and “Methinks I could pick out a healthy plum Lass from the copper colored tribe that by washing & scrubing her fore & aft & upon the labbord & stabbord sides she would appear a wholesome bedfellow.”

Finally he ends Chapter 2, [p 23] with

We retired two & two, hand in hand.  Ladies heads a little awri, blushing like the morn & {illegible}  But I forgot to mention that our society passed a resolution to build a church in the in the midst of our village.

I’ll stop here.  The writing here is so different than the Book of Mormon, that proponents of the Spaulding theory think he must have written another manuscript.  There is an Oxford Journals study by three Stanford University professors:  Matthew L. Jockers (English), Daniela M. Witten  (Statistics), Craig S. Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering)claiming that “Our findingssupport the hypothesis that Rigdon was the main architect ofthe Book of Mormon and are consistent with historical evidencesuggesting that he fabricated the book by adding theology tothe unpublished writings of Spalding (then deceased).”

You have to pay to read the actual article ($28 for 1 day access-too steep for me), but FAIR has criticized the methodology of the study.   For one, they didn’t include Joseph Smith’s writings.  (Why isn’t he as likely as Spalding to have written it?)  It appears they decided that the true author of the Book of Mormon was one of only seven possible authors:  Oliver Cowdery, Parley P Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, Solomon Spalding, Isaiah/Malachi, Joel Barlow, and Henry Longfellow.  Here’s 7 possible authors, and it must be one of them.  (Barlow and Longfellow are poets thrown in as controls-big surprise that they didn’t match, so it’s really down to picking one of the other 4, because Isaiah/Malachi are obvious.)

I’m really curious if Jockers/Criddle included Spalding’s Manuscript Found in their analysis.  I wonder how many times wigwams appears in the Book of Mormon (scratch that–I know it is zero.)  Jockers did find and correct a problem.  Let me quote:

His original text-processing script failed toaccount for the possibility that two hyphens (‘- -‘)might be used as a substitute for the em dash. This resultedin a very small number of word types being incorrectly tokenizedand an even smaller number of miscounted words. For example,the ngram ‘age- -and’ was tokenized as a uniqueword type instead of being counted as one instance each of thewords ‘aged’ and ‘and’. Jockers becameaware of this error on January 9, 2009 and immediately correctedthe tokenization script and reprocessed the data. Witten thenreran both the winnowing algorithm and the NSC and Delta procedures.The minor corrections to the data file did not result in anychanges to the winnowed result set of words used by NSC.

Ok, so if the computer doesn’t realize that “wherefore” and “–wherefore” aren’t the same word, how can it figure out that “enemies” and  “enimies” are the same word?  As I mentioned before, Spalding’s spelling is so bad, I think this would be a real problem.  Spalding even spells Britain and Brittian, so he wasn’t even consistent with his spelling.  I know Orang outang isn’t in the Book of Mormon.  And it seems like these probabilities are also a problem.  Jockers says that

With the correcteddata, NSC ranked Rigdon at 0.4626 and Spalding at 0.46525. Thecorrected data file was uploaded to the supplementary materialsURL on January 12.

Ok, so if I am understanding this correctly, Rigdon is the best author at 46.36% of the time, with Spalding coming in second at 46.53%.  So, there is a less than 50% possibility that Rigdon or Spalding is the author.  (I am assuming these probabilites are not independent, meaning that if we add up all 7 authors, the percentage is probably greater than 100%.)  I could flip a coin and come up with better odds than choosing either of these guys based on this wordprint study.  Neither Rigdon or Spaulding even has a 50% chance of being the author.  While they are the top 2 out of this list of 7 authors, that just doesn’t sound very convincing to me.  Would you go to Las Vegas if your chance of winning was 46%.  (OK, silly question–that is probably better odds than Vegas gives, and plenty of people go anyway.)  But if you went for LASIK surgery and you had a 46% chance of seeing better and 54% chance of going blind, would any of you do it?  I think not.

The biggest problem I have is why the group is so small.  What if it’s somebody outside the group (like Joseph) was really the author?  I find it curious that another Book of Mormon authorship theory has Ethan Smith as the true author of the Book of Mormon, yet he was not included in this study.  Ethan, (no relation to Joseph) wrote View of the Hebrews.  Grant Palmer (among others) believes Ethan is the source of the Book of Mormon, and Ethan isn’t part of this study.  The study authors’ do tell why Joseph’s writing wasn’t included.  They claim that since Joseph had so many scribes, it’s hard to tell Joseph’s words from his scribes.  Well, perhaps, but how can you honestly exclude the most likely suspect?  There’s an interesting article at Mormanity which reviews the Jocker/Criddle study.  Let me quote this:

Surely Mr. Criddle and his friends must understand that this work is guaranteed to pick a winner every time from one of the seven candidates, regardless of how close their style actually is to the Book of Mormon, and that great caution must thus be exercised in drawing conclusions about actual authorship just because a dominant winner is found. Rigdon, Spalding, and Cowdery have styles that are closer to the Book of Mormon than, say, the poetry of Joel Barlow or Longfellow — but this says little about the true authorship of the Book of Mormon (though perhaps it helps us rule out Barlow and Longfellow).

But if I understand what has been done, this study does not determine the probability that any of the potential candidates had anything to do with the Book of Mormon. It determines the probability that one candidate is closer to some metrics of Book of Mormon style than another candidate from an extremely limited pool that excludes the most likely modern candidate, Joseph Smith (though adding him might not have made any difference). But saying that Sidney Rigdon is closer to the style of, say, 2 Nephi 10, than Orson Pratt or Henry Longfellow tells us nothing about who wrote 2 Nephi 10. Unwittingly, the nature of this study may make it, in retrospect, inherently rigged for Rigdon/Spaulding/Cowdery. Maybe Ridgon + Spalding would have been the best fit even if hundreds of other possibilities had been tested, but that remains to be seen (actually, the wordprint work of Hilton et al. has already raised serious and highly credible questions challenging Spalding as a potential author of the Book of Mormon).

After reading Spalding’s Manuscript Found, this just doesn’t pass the smell test to me.  I never saw Droll Tom, Fabius, Brittian, healthy bucksom lassies, Deliwanucks, enimies, or Neptune in the Book of Mormon.  I wonder the results if we turned the tables around and asked if the Book of Mormon, Bible, Paradise Lost, the Scarlet Letter, or Gilligan’s Island style was similar to “Manuscript Found?”  How do you think these would fare?  What are your thoughts?

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28 comments on ““Healthy Bucksom Lassies”: “ Spalding’s “Manuscript Found” Part 2

  1. I think there are plenty of places where Mormon could have written “healthy buxom lasses” and for some reason he just didn’t. I’ll have to put some in mine.

  2. Some of these spelling errors – orang-outang, stept, and I think jesticulation – are valid old forms of the words.

  3. >The storm continues, and Fabius feels inspiration.
    >…
    >Does this sound at all like the Book or Mormon?

    Is it Fabius who “feels inspiration;” or does one of the Christians on
    the ship, being driven towards the Americas, receive a revelation
    directly from Almighty God? When these survivors reach the landing
    promised unto them by God, is their establishment of a Christian
    church in ancient America done in thanksgiving for their salvation,
    from “a watery grave,” or is it a mere formality by unbelievers?

    Is this meant to represent the first building of of Christ’s Church
    in the Americas, or did Spalding make references in his story to some
    earlier godly religion in the land promised unto them by God?

    How many other books and stories in circulation during the early years
    of the 19th century gave an account of preColumbian Christianity in
    the Americas? Were Solomon Spalding and Ethan Smith the only American
    writers who had an interest in this possibility, or do we see the same
    theme made use of by other pre-1830 writers?

    Does Spalding’s mention of ancient American Christianity owe its place
    in his story, as an attempt to account for Clavigero’s references to
    ancient crosses and other signs of Christianity in preColumbian times
    in the Americas — or was it just a transitory thought Spalding had,
    in writing his fictional story?

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  4. >I never saw Droll Tom, Fabius, Brittian, healthy bucksom lassies,
    >Deliwanucks, enimies, or Neptune in the Book of Mormon.

    Let’s say I handed you two piles of excerpted pages from two anthologies
    of 19th century literature. In the pages of one pile you find selections
    from Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” Mark Train’s “Huckleberry
    Finn,” along with some other similar pieces of fiction. In the pages of
    the other pile you find selections from Stevenson’s “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde,”
    as well as from Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Authur’s Court.”

    Now, since you KNOW IN ADVANCE who the writers are, you can probably
    point out some examples of how the two Stevenson stories are similar
    and how the two Twain stories are similar — you can perhaps even give
    examples from the piles of pages proving that the same two authors’
    writings are to be found in both of the stacks of excerpts.

    But what if you’d never before read Stevenson and Twain, and their
    names DID NOT appear in those piles of fiction excerpts? —- Are you
    100% certain that you could still recognize unsigned stories from
    the same writers’ pens?

    Rather than talking about how examples from the two hypothetical stacks
    are very different, shouldn’t we begin by looking for parts of the
    texts which show similarities — signs of a possible common authorship?

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  5. David, I suppose that when Nephi talks about how the women gave “plenty of suck” to the babies in the wilderness, these women were “healthy bucksom lassies”, but I wonder why he didn’t use Spalding’s choice of words… 🙂

    DCL, I’ll take your word that some of these spellings are correct, though I’m sure I could replace them with plenty of other obviously wrong spellings. I do find it interesting that the Book of Mormon people “stepped”, though Spalding’s Indian King “stept”. Knowing that the Jocker Wordprint study had a hard time telling that “wherefore” and “–wherefore” were the same word, it seems that Spalding’s inconsistent spelling of Britain and Brittian would have caused some problems with the computer as well.

    Dale, I tried to be fair and show that there was some religion in the Oberlin document (to counter Brodie’s claim that it was devoid of religious material.) But if you’re trying to claim that Fabius’ inspiration makes him the same status of a prophet like Nephi was, I think you’re seeing too many similarities here, and getting a little too Oliver Stone conspiracy here.

    If we’re going to point to similarities between the Oberlin document, then we also need to look at the MULTITUDE of differences. The Nephites were “civilized”, while Fabius referred to the Indians as “savages.” That’s quite a difference. Spalding talks of wigwams–no mention of those in the BoM. So, it’s not enough to compare similarities–heck I can find similarities between Spalding and Gilligan’s Island or between the BoM and Lost in Space if I really try hard enough.

    This Jocker’s study doesn’t seem entirely convincing either. So Rigdon and Spalding have the highest probability of similarity with the BoM, but the probability is less than 50%? That means that if they both have ~ 46% chance of similarity, but a 54% chance of dissimilarity. That’s not convincing to me.

    If I asked you who won the Super Bowl last year, and didn’t even pick a playoff team, that’s the problem with the Jocker study. The Patriots (Spalding) may have been 11-5, and looked like a team to beat, but they didn’t even make the playoffs. Perhaps the Patriots percentage was 46% to win the Super Bowl, but when we leave the Steelers (Joseph Smith) out of the list, none of the choices will give us the correct answer. Of course there might have been other possibilities like the Packers 13-3 (Ethan Smith) that were never even considered. That study seems seriously flawed.

    Using your example, if I have “Treasure Island” and “Huckleberry Finn”, yet leave out both Twain and Stevenson, I’m never going to get the right answer. I don’t care who comes up with 46% probability–it’s going to be wrong, and the 54% seems to indicate it is not a good match, even it I pick Dan Brown.

  6. >Dale, I tried to be fair and show that there was some religion in
    >the Oberlin document (to counter Brodie’s claim that it was devoid
    >of religious material.) But if you’re trying to claim that Fabius’
    >inspiration makes him the same status of a prophet like Nephi was,
    >I think you’re seeing too many similarities here, and getting a
    >little too Oliver Stone conspiracy here.

    No — I was correcting your error, saying it was Fabius who
    received the revelation from God. Fictional writings portraying
    such scenes were rare at the time — and especially rare among
    New England Calvinist writers, who denied post-Apostolic gifts
    of the Spirit. Spalding had obviously evolved away from his early
    Congregationalist roots, but the fact that he would insert such
    a scene in a c. 1812 fictional story is remarkable.

    >If we’re going to point to similarities between the Oberlin document,
    >then we also need to look at the MULTITUDE of differences.

    Yes, and that is where you have begun — it is a beginning. Besides
    pointing out the differences in story theme, you could also count up
    the number of words Spalding shares with the Book of Mormon, and see
    that parts of his Roman story have a relatively low vocabulary overlap
    with the Book of Mormon. You could also go through his text, looking
    for 3-word, 4-word and 5-word phases also found in the BoM. Again the
    parts of his Roman story you point out have a low instance of phrase
    overlap with the Nephite Record. It is no coincidence that the themes,
    vocabulary and phraseology (shared word-strings) are all at “low ebb”
    in the same parts of his story. We might reasonably expects that.

    >The Nephites were “civilized”, while Fabius referred to the Indians
    >as “savages.”….

    Once again, you are pointing out a part of his story where the themes,
    vocabulary and phraseology overlaps with the Book of Mormon occur at
    a relatively low rate. The distribution of those linguistic elements
    is not uniform in the “Roman story,” however. Some pages in its first
    part have a higher correspondence to BoM themes, vocabulary and phrases;
    then there is a great void of similarities throughout his “love story.”
    In the war that follows, the distribution of high correspondence with
    the BoM text increases to a high degree — especially near the end.

    >That’s quite a difference.

    Yes — It is quite a difference. If you compare 2nd Nephi to Spalding’s
    “love story” pages, the thematic, vocabulary, and phraseology overlap
    drops down to very low levels. But, if you compare the latter part of
    Alma to the last few chapters of Spalding’s Roman story, the overlap
    in story themes, shared vocabulary and shared word-strings of three or
    more words takes a dramatic jump. It matters VERY MUCH which parts of
    Spalding we choose to compare with the BoM — and it matters VERY MUCH
    which parts of the BoM we select to compare and contrast with Spalding.

    >This Jocker’s study doesn’t seem entirely convincing either.

    It is a beginning. It points out part of Mosiah, part of Alma and
    part of Ether, as having the highest degree of correspondence with
    Spalding’s Roman story, when it comes to the distribution of such
    “frequently used words” as “but, with, or, if, etc. etc.” Now this
    is a fourth type of textual measurement, not directly related to the
    three methods I summarized above. The mapping out of these short
    words in the Book of Mormon (when compared to Spalding’s use of
    those same short words) produces a distribution pattern very similar
    to the three methods I mentioned. In all four investigations it is
    parts of Mosiah, Alma and Ether which most closely correspond with
    Spalding’s use of language in his “Roman story.”

    >So Rigdon and Spalding have the highest probability of similarity
    >with the BoM, but the probability is less than 50%? That means that
    >if they both have ~ 46% chance of similarity, but a 54% chance of
    >dissimilarity. That’s not convincing to me.

    Let’s what and see what professional statisticians have to say.
    I have not yet seen any peer-reviewed rebuttals to Jockers, et al.

    >Using your example, if I have “Treasure Island” and “Huckleberry Finn”,
    >yet leave out both Twain and Stevenson, I’m never going to get the
    >right answer.

    Possibly so. But I’m told that word-print analysis of my hypothetical
    two stacks of literary excerpts would almost certainly match up the
    two Twain stories with each other, and distinguish them from the two
    Stevenson stories. What you would see in front of you, in the readout
    of such a computerized comparison, would be a page-by-page comparison,
    mapped out to show visually that the writer of what we know to the
    the two Twain stories was very unlikely to be the writer of the two
    Stevenson stories. Here and there a page or two might show an unclear
    statistical result — but the overall pattern, throughout all of the
    pages, would distinguish the two writers.

    And, if we had other samples of those two authors’ stories, with their
    names attached, we would certainly be able to sort their writings out,
    from my two hypothetical stacks of pages. The exact method Jockers
    used may be subject to debate, but the over-all concept of analyzing
    unknown authorship by similar methods is firmly established. The
    journal Jockers published in specializes in that sort of reporting.

    But, I have only mentioned four methods of determining which BoM pages
    most closely match Spalding. There are at least three other methods
    that I’m working on right now. I suspect (but am not yet certain)
    that those methods will also document Spaldingish “hot spots” in the
    same sections of Mosiah, Alma and Ether.

    Perhaps other researchers can eventually explain that pattern of
    textual similarity distribution, in ways that do not support the
    Spalding-Rigdon explanation for BoM origins. I do not know.

    What I do know, is which pages of the Book of Mormon most resemble
    Spalding’s known writings. That knowledge may be of some use in the
    future — if anybody asks how the “theory” originated in the first place.

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  7. Dale, I think I have to take a few issues here.

    Fictional writings portraying such scenes were rare at the time — and especially rare among New England Calvinist writers, who denied post-Apostolic gifts of the Spirit.

    With all the fervor going on in Joseph Smith’s day, I believe the area was known as the “Burned Over District” with all the preachers preaching hell-fire and damnation. The period from 1800-1850 produced several new movements, some of which we would refer to as “charismatic” today, including,

    * The LDS (they were much more charismatic than today)
    * The Fox sisters conducted séances in Hydesville, New York, which led to the movement of Spiritualism.
    * The Millerites. William Miller preached that the literal Second Coming would occur “October 22, 1844.” Millerism was popular in western New York State.
    * The Shakers were very active in the area. (They’re even mentioned in the D&C)

    Now, if they’re having seances in real life, I would imagine fiction writers would employ this technique as well.

    I guess I didn’t understand what you were trying to say about Fabius inspiration. Yes, you are right, on page 16 “a Mariner stept {illegible} the midst and proclaimed….A voice from on high…” I’ll fix the original post so it more accurately reflects what Spalding wrote.

    “Let’s what and see what professional statisticians have to say. I have not yet seen any peer-reviewed rebuttals to Jockers, et al.

    Well, Dale, I may be able to help you here. I am a professional statistician, though I have not had training in wordprint studies, and I’m too cheap to pay $28 for 1 day access to read the actual article. (Perhaps someone would be willing to send me their copy?) 🙂 I think I may have to see if I can find it at the university library so I can review the article more in-depth. Craig Criddle left a comment here a few weeks ago, but then vanished. I don’t know if you know him, but I’d love to have him answer some of the questions I posed about the abstract, though I note he is not a professional statistician either (only one of the author’s was.)

    As I’ve been thinking about it, the 2 poets were thrown in as controls. It’s not surprising they did not match in wordprint, so that cuts us down from 7 to 5. Malachi/Isaiah are obvious matches for sections, so now we’re down to 4. Parley P Pratt wasn’t a scribe, and didn’t learn of the church until after the publication, so I think it’s not surprising that he wasn’t part of it, so now we’re down to 3 possibilities: Oliver, Sidney, and Solomon. I guess I’m a little surprised that Oliver didn’t fare as well as the other two, but as I stated before, why wasn’t Ethan Smith considered? I’m a little sympathetic to the author’s contention that Joseph had scribes write for him, but even still, I think there should have been a better attempt to include him in the study. Emma was a scribe as well. Perhaps now that the “Joseph Smith Papers” have been produced, there might be some better access to Joseph’s actual writing? (Once again, I haven’t read or purchased these–I’m on a budget, but my birthday is coming up!) I’m trying to remember if Martin Harris ever served as a scribe. Suffice it to say, I think the pool needs to be expanded.

    Quoting from the Oxford Website:
    We offer a new approach that employs two classification techniques: ‘delta’ commonly used to determine probable authorship and ‘nearest shrunken centroid’ (NSC), a more generally applicable classifier. We use both methods to determine, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, the probability that each of seven potential authors wrote or contributed to the Book of Mormon.

    With the corrected data, NSC ranked Rigdon at 0.4626 and Spalding at 0.46525.

    It sure sounds like we’re talking probabilities here, and there is less than a 50% probability that Rigdon or Spalding wrote this. Like I said, I haven’t read the article, so I may have some mistaken conclusions. If we were to compare 2 Mark Twain novels, I would expect a much higher probability than 0.46525 that Twain wrote both. Does anybody know probabilities of wordprint tests where the authors are known? I’d be surprised if they were this low.

  8. >I’d be surprised if they were this low.

  9. >why wasn’t Ethan Smith considered?

    Yes, he should have been — since his grandson charged that Ethan
    loaned the story to Spalding at an early date:
    http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/miscoh07.htm#042487

    But, the best answer to your question would be for you, or somebody
    else to re-run the Jockers’ methodology with other authors’ wordprints,
    or re-run the testing using alternative methods. Whatever results
    are thus found can be published in the same journal. If you are a
    statistician I’m sure you can gain the credentials necessary for
    consideration on a publishable article. So far that sort of thing
    has not been done. When the peer-reviewed professional literature
    again takes up the subject, we can discuss the issue again.

    >Does anybody know probabilities of wordprint tests where the authors
    >are known? I’d be surprised if they were this low.

    Daniel C. Peterson says folks at the Maxwell Institute are running
    their own computerized analysis of the texts. Perhaps you’ll feel
    better about whatever results they come up with.

    If they say DIFFERENT parts of the BoM better match the wordprints
    of Spalding and Rigdon, than do the sections Jockers points out,
    I’ll be most happy to examine the BoM pages they point me to. In
    the meanwhile, my guess is that this is the most “Spaldingish”
    page in the BoM:

    http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/BookSol0.htm#374a
    http://www.inephi.com/375.htm

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  10. >I think I may have to see if I can find it at the university library
    >so I can review the article more in-depth

    You can no doubt order it through inter-library loan. Here’s my page:
    http://solomonspalding.com/Lib/Jock2008.htm
    Try this for an e-text of the article:
    http://llc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/23/4/465

  11. Yes, he should have been — since his grandson charged that Ethan
    loaned the story to Spalding at an early date:
    (NEW URL):
    http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/miscoh05.htm#042487

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  12. Dale, you said, ‘I suspect (but am not yet certain) that those methods will also document Spaldingish “hot spots” in the same sections of Mosiah, Alma and Ether.’

    Now, are you saying that Spalding only wrote these (or parts of these) three books in the BoM? I don’t know if you saw Margie Miller’s comment which claims to have recreated the Spalding document, but from what I understood, it seems she uses a different technique and removes all the religious parts of the BoM to come up with an underlying story that means Spalding is laced throughout the BoM. I’m not sure if that hurts or helps this wordprint study if they’re only claiming similarities in 3 books of the BoM.

  13. Dale, I’m also curious to hear your opinions on Ethan Smith’s “View of the Hebrews.” I’ll bet you’ve studied it more than I have. I expect you think the Spalding Theory is better, and I’d like to know what you think of Ethan’s strength’s and weaknesses in comparing this theory to the Spalding theory.

  14. >Now, are you saying that Spalding only wrote these (or parts of these)
    >three books in the BoM? I don’t know if you saw Margie Miller’s comment
    >which claims to have recreated the Spalding document, but from what I
    >understood, it seems she uses a different technique and removes all
    >the religious parts of the BoM to come up with an underlying story
    >that means Spalding is laced throughout the BoM.

    Yes, I’m in contact with Margie. Although I find their approach to the
    text interesting, I do indeed use “a different technique.” My approach
    is to allow the texts to speak for themselves, and not to force too
    many preconditions upon them. Margie and Ron start with the premise
    that Spalding wrote a lost story, much like that described by the first
    “Conneaut” witnesses — one that had little or no “religious” content.
    Perhaps Spalding did write such a story. The Mormon elder Erastus Rudd
    said he did — but it was not much like the Book of Mormon. How am I
    to reconcile such contradictory testimony? I cannot — so I mostly look
    at the texts themselves.

    Most of what we find in the two texts, wherein Spalding’s use of language
    is mirrored in the Book of Mormon, are war narratives, involving leaders,
    stratagems, battles, troop movements, massive slaughters, burial of the
    fallen warriors, etc. etc. But — just because that is what we have on
    hand to compare with the BoM, we need not suppose that Spalding was fully
    incapable of writing religious fiction.

    One account says that he revised one of his manuscripts, while staying in
    the Washington, PA home of Hugh Wilson, an early associate of Alexander
    Campbell and a later acquaintance of Sidney Rigdon. Residing in such a
    religious environment, in 1813-14, I speculate that Spalding could have
    introduced religious themes into his preColumbian American pseudo-history.
    If so, then it would be a mistake to cut out all of the Christianity from
    the Book of Mormon and expect to find Spalding’s story preserved more or
    less as it was originally written.

    In looking at the Jockers-Criddle distribution of Spalding’s “voice” in
    the BoM, I see that they attribute some of the “religious” text to him,
    at least as their second choice writer for some BoM chapters. I am looking
    into this possibility as we speak. If you go back and read one of my
    previous postings, you’ll see that I feel a Solomon Spalding creation of
    King Benjamin seems “absurd.” And yet the Spalding “signal” is to be
    found in the first chapters of Mosiah — but three or four different
    quantitative methods of deconstructing the narrative. That troubles me.
    If Spalding originally wrote a precursor to the Benjamin sermon, I must
    go back and re-think my entire hypothesis for Rigdon’s textual redaction.

    I am uncertain of the results, and am applying some other investigative
    methods (including grammatical analysis) to determine if Mosiah and
    Ether show signs of editing, in such a manner as to preserve traces of
    a Spalding “religious” story.

    >I’m not sure if that hurts or helps this wordprint study if they’re
    >only claiming similarities in 3 books of the BoM.

    No — what you are hearing is their summary of where the strongest and
    most wide-spread instances of a Spalding “signal” are to be found. That
    would be The Zeniff narrative in Mosiah, the Moroni wars in Alma, and
    the Coriantumr period of Jaredite history. But shorter, weaker instances
    of Spalding’s word-print occur in 1st Nephi and Helaman — with minor
    traces in the first part of Alma, Book of Mormon and 1st Nephi.

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  15. >Dale, I’m also curious to hear your opinions on Ethan Smith’s
    >”View of the Hebrews.” I’ll bet you’ve studied it more than I have.
    >I expect you think the Spalding Theory is better, and I’d like to
    >know what you think of Ethan’s strength’s and weaknesses in comparing
    >this theory to the Spalding theory.

    If you go back and look at my previous postings here, you’ll see that
    I included a link to Ethan Smith’s grandson’s allegations — that his
    grandfather and Spalding were assoviates and correspondents. Both men
    evidently studied under Prof. John Smith at Dartmouth College. The
    account attributed to Ethan S. Smith mixes in this Dr. Smith with his
    own grandfather Smith — so the chronology comes out looking strange.
    But I think it is possible that the two Congregational ministers knew
    each other in tiny New England.

    Ethan Smith and Solomon Spalding evidently overlapped in their studies
    at Dartmouth by a semester or two. It was then a small school and they
    might have become acquainted. The grandson says that Ethan Smith lent
    Solomon Spalding a fictionalized account of Israelite Indians, but that
    Spalding never returned it and that it somehow was incorporated into
    the later Book of Mormon. An unpublished Spalding manuscript reportedly
    surfaced at Middleton (within walking distance of Ethan Smith’s church
    at Poultney) Vermont in the 1870s. Perhaps it somehow relates to the
    grandson’s allegations.

    From what we read of Ethan Smith’s non-fictional writings, he was ready
    to attribute preColumbian American religious history to a visit of Moses
    under the guise of Quetzalcoatl. That’s an incredible notion, but maybe
    Ethan Smith also believed that the Apostle Thomas brought Christianity
    to the ancient Americans — I do not know.

    Like the later Mormons, Ethan Smith makes use of numerous “proof-texts”
    in Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. to demonstrate and Israelite origin for Indians.
    Unlike the the later Mormons, Ethan Smith did not see America as the
    latter day Zion. He advised converting the “Hebrew” Indians and sending ‘
    them to Palestine, in anticipation of a gathering of Israel there.

    So — Ethan Smith’suse of the same biblical prophecies, etc., led him to
    a different expectation for an Israelite gathering than the Latter Day
    Saints professed. On this basis alone, I would say that Ethan Smith
    cannot have been the source for several of the key precepts in the BoM.

    Still, based upon his grandson’s account, I’d like to see somebody try
    and match Ethan’s wordprint with the Book of Mormon. According to David
    Persuitte (who published the Ethan S. Smith statement in his book) the
    first place to look for a match would be in Mosiah ch. 28 (LDS ed.)

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  16. So, I take it you’re not impressed with Grant Palmer’s book which ties Ethan Smith to the BoM?

  17. >So, I take it you’re not impressed with Grant Palmer’s book which ties
    >Ethan Smith to the BoM?

    For some reason my reply of three minutes ago did not show up here.

    ???

    I’m not a big Palmer fan. I like Persuitte better.

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  18. Dale:

    An unpublished Spalding manuscript reportedly
    surfaced at Middleton (within walking distance of Ethan Smith’s church
    at Poultney) Vermont in the 1870s. Perhaps it somehow relates to the
    grandson’s allegations.

    I’ve never heard that one before! What became of it?

    Also, what do you think of all the Dartmouth coincidences? Apparently Hyrum attended Moors Academy which I recently found out is connected to Dartmouth. And according to Margie and Ron a student there, while Hyrum was attending, gave an account remarkably similar to Joseph’s first vision account. Coincidence?

  19. Dale, I’m not sure what happened to that post that disappeared. I checked my spam filter, and saw another comment you had posted multiple times for the other post (where you mentioned Cochran), but nothing else. (I released one of those.) As an FYI, if you put more than 1 or 2 links in a single comment, it is often caught by a spam filter.

    Roger, as I said before, all these rumors of unpublished manuscripts seem unconvincing to me. If they are unpublished, it is probably due to their poor quality–the Oberlin document seems to confirm Spalding’s poor writing ability, and I can’t imagine why such a poor writer would be so prolific to write so many bad novels as Spalding advocates seem to think.

  20. >the Oberlin document seems to confirm Spalding’s poor writing ability,
    >and I can’t imagine why such a poor writer would be so prolific to
    >write so many bad novels as Spalding advocates seem to think.

    The writer(s) of the Book of Ether go on and on about their own poor
    writing ability — the awkwardness of their writing hands, etc. In
    My opinion, the Jaredite portion of the Book of Ether represents just
    as bad a “novel” as do the pages on file at Oberlin College.

    The Library of Congress has a manuscript catalogued under Spalding’s
    name (“Romance of Celes”) which is about as poorly writen — all about
    secret combinations for murder and to get gain, angelic visitations,
    a magical device for communication with the heavens, plurality of the
    gods, eternal progression to godhood, celestialization of planets, etc.
    But the “bad novel” at the Library of Congress has its occasional
    interesting points. It is not as bad as the “Roman story,” and at least
    shows a little more polish, in not including crossed-out sections,
    extraneous sheets of paper, gross spelling errors, etc.

    My opinion is that the Library of Congress Spalding story was edited and
    revised by Arvilla Ann Harris after Solomon Spalding of Ashford CT died.

    But, it little matters what you or I might think of Spalding’s poor
    writing abilities — he at least occasionally imagined interesting fiction
    (such as Lobaska’s flying machine, or an ancient seer-stone). If his
    ability to communicate his imagination was poorly developed, at least
    he tried to be an early American author. There were not many of those in
    his day — so I do not judge him too harshly.

    Our opinions of what could or could not have happened are probably less
    important than what historical and textual evidence presents to the
    modern reader. Will the S/R explanation of BoM origins one day reach the
    same level of acceptability among the Gentiles (and apostates like me)?
    That is probably a more important consideration.

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  21. >I’ve never heard that one before! What became of it?

    Last anybody knew, it was filed away in the Town Clerk’s office
    in Middleton. For all I know it may still be there. Middleton was
    founded by the Spalding family and Solomon may have visited there
    at an early date. Ethan Smith did not come to the area until after
    Solomon Spalding died — so perhaps the manuscript was actually
    an Ethan Smith document, that Salmon S. Osborn mistook for a story
    by Spalding. Maybe Spalding’s name was written on its envelope or
    some such thing. I do not know. See Deming’s “Naked Truths” paper
    at my web-site, for the Osborn statement.

    >Also, what do you think of all the Dartmouth coincidences? Apparently
    >Hyrum attended Moors Academy which I recently found out is connected
    >to Dartmouth. And according to Margie and Ron a student there, while
    >Hyrum was attending, gave an account remarkably similar to Joseph’s
    >first vision account. Coincidence?

    The account given by the Dartmouth guy was not really much like
    Smith’s account. I chalk that up to coincidence. Hyrum Smith may
    have had some of the same teachers as did Solomon and Ethan —
    since the Moor’s professors taught both in the College buildings
    and in the Academy building. But, if so, they must have been
    rather old, by the time Hyrum showed up on campus.

    I’m not quite sure how to embed images into this thread. If you
    are able to do that, please make this map show up here:

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  22. After reviewing the Martin Harris incident where he lost the 116 pages, I think he would be another person to include in the wordprint analysis. He did act as a scribe at the beginning of the process. Perhaps Alexander Campbell would be interesting, to see if he influenced some of Sidney Rigdon’s thoughts as well. Are there any other scribes of Joseph I am leaving out? William Clayton would be one, but of course he shouldn’t match due to his later conversion and arrival from England.

  23. Perhaps the entire Smith family should be added: Hyrum, Lucy, Emma, Sam, William, Joseph Sr. All should be likely co-conspirators since they supported Joseph through everything.

  24. >After reviewing the Martin Harris incident where he lost the
    >116 pages, I think he would be another person to include in
    >the wordprint analysis. He did act as a scribe at the beginning
    >of the process.

    I’m not sure that a suitable source text survives from Martin. If I
    understand correctly, several thousand contiguous words, certifiably
    from the identified author are needed, to set up the basic data for
    word-print comparisons against other, unattributed texts.

    >Perhaps Alexander Campbell would be interesting, to see if he
    >influenced some of Sidney Rigdon’s thoughts as well.

    At least we have a large amount of Campbell-authored texts to work from.
    But I think it almost impossible that one writer can influence another
    writer’s use of frequently repeated “non-contextual” words, such as
    “if, but, so, or, it,” etc. etc. What Campbell might have influenced
    was Rigdon’s phraseology. For example, Campbell was a big advocate of
    the “word alone” method of Christian conversion (using the Bible, with
    no expectations of miraculous manifestations). In Mosiah we find Alma
    speaking of conversion by “words alone.” This is in the same section
    that Jockers attributes to Sidney Rigdon. Of course one such phrase
    could occur by sheer coincidence. If somebody pointed out two dozen
    unique Campbellite phrases on a single page of the BoM, attributed to
    Rigdon’s word-print, THEN my interest might be aroused.

    >Are there any other scribes of Joseph I am leaving out?

    W.W. Phelps was not usually a “scribe,” but he wrote a novel-length
    story about very early American history, before 1830. Plenty of his
    writings survive — so his word-print could be tested against the BoM.

    >Perhaps the entire Smith family should be added: Hyrum, Lucy, Emma,
    >Sam, William, Joseph Sr. All should be likely co-conspirators since
    >they supported Joseph through everything.

    There may be enough of William’s writings available to test his
    word-print against the Book of Mormon. I am not entirely convinced
    that Lucy Mack Smith’s original manuscript(s) contain her pure writings,
    without help from some ghost-writer — but enough text survives to
    test Lucy against the BoM. For the other family members, I’d say no.

    If such additional authorship candidates are included in future testing
    and mapping of word-prints, against the BoM, I’d advise using about 90
    contemporary writers, whose words might possibly have somehow been
    injected into the “Nephite record,” along with about 10 writers of that
    era, whom we are absolutely certain could not have contributed.

    I say we need about 100 such authorship candidates for testing, because
    the results of the Jockers-style word-print analysis methods (2 of them)
    only return percentages of word-print matching RELATIVE to the other
    authorship candidates included in the testing.

    Let’s say we test LDS BoM 2Nephi 7, against 100 such authors, among
    whom we include the biblical Isaiah. Perhaps the computerized analysis
    would produce a 97% match with Isaiah, a 2% match with Rigdon and a
    1% match with Alexander Campbell. Such results do NOT mean that there
    is a 1% chance that Campbell wrote 2Nephi 7 —- the results only mean
    that AMONG THOSE WRITERS TESTED, Campbell’s match ranks far, far below
    that of the biblical Isaiah.

    Dale R. Broadhurst

  25. […] of the Mississippy.”  (I have previously documented some of the horrendous spelling errors and humorous stories in this […]

  26. […] of the Mississippy.”  (I have previously documented some of the horrendous spelling errors and humorous stories in this […]

  27. […] a novel by Solomon Spaulding.  I think you should actually read the novel (see part 1 and part 2) to see how badly written the novel is, but some people are still trying to prove the Spaulding […]

  28. […] a novel by Solomon Spaulding.  I think you should actually read the novel (see part 1 and part 2) to see how badly written the novel is, but some people are still trying to prove the Spaulding […]

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