The time and audience (England) of this publication indicates that it was likely written in response to Martha Brothton’s claims about her proposal from Brigham Young which (allegedly endorsed in person by Joseph Smith). For example, see Richard and Pamela Price’s interpretation here.
Apostacy.—The spirit of apostacy has been quite prevalent of late, principally among those who have emigrated from England to America. They are first seized with a murmuring and fault-finding spirit towards those who have suffered perils and privations, by sea and land, for them and for the cause of truth. These they seek to injure by all manner of evil speaking and railing accusation. Next they find fault with their sea voyage and the provisions and sea stores, as being either too scarce or not suited to their appetite. Next they find fault with the country; because it does not produce furnished houses and paved streets, and all manner of riches and luxuries spontaneously, withouth their labour or their pains; and, last of all, they find fault with the servants of God, who have spent a dozen or twenty years in the service of the people, and suffered the loss of all things, time and again, for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, because they have a house, a home, a farm, a horse and carriage, or suit of clothes, and will not give it to them, or lay it aside to workd and build them houses and feed them. These they pronounce the wickedest men in the world, and they write back to this country all manner of evil concerning them.
Among the most conspicuous of these apostates, we would notice a young female who emigrated from Manchester in September last, and who, after conducting herself in a manner unworthy the character of one professing godliness, at length conceived the plan of gaining friendship and extraordinary notoriety with the world, or rather with the enemies of truth, by striking a blow at the character of some of its worthiest champions. She well knew that this would be received as a sweet morsel by her old friends, the Methodists, and other enemies of the Saints. She accordingly selected president J. [Joseph] Smith, and elder B. [Brigham] Young for her victims, and wrote to England that these men had been trying to seduce her, by making her believe that God had given a revelation that men might have two wives; by these disreputable means she thought to overthrow the Saints here, or at least to bring a storm of persecution on them, and prevent others from joining them; but in this thing she was completely deceived by Satan.
However, we will do her the justice to say, that her letters have had some effect upon several of her relatives and three or four persons have left the church, perhaps, partly through the influence of these and other reports from apostates and murmerers; and if any such thing can turn any others from the faith, we shall be very happy to part with them, as
" We want no cowards in our band, That will their colours fly; We call for valiant-hearted men, Who're not afraid to die."
But, for the information of those who may be assailed by those foolish tales about the two wives, we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter-day Saints, and never will; this is well known to all who are acquainted with our books and actions, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants; and also all our periodicals are very strict and explicit on that subject, indeed far more so than the bible.
“Dear—, We arrived here three weeks ago; I thought I would not write until I had seen the prophet, and attended the meetings in Nauvoo. I have now been at the meetings three sabbaths, and have had the pleasure of attending the conference which continued for three days; and I have had the pleasure of hearing brother Joseph speak [this was the conference where Joseph and Hyrum refuted the stories Martha circulated]…. I suppose, by this time, you will have heard that my parents and sister have apostatized. I know not what they have written to England, as they would not let me see their letters, but I can prove that my sister has told some of the greatest lies that ever were circulated…. My parents have turned their backs upon me, because I would not leave the Saints, and have told my elder sister not to own them until she abandoned “Mormonism”; but with all this she is unmoved, and is still contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints, for she and many other of the English Saints have proved that the statements made by my sister are falsehoods of the basest kind.”