When Charles Lambert, in the early part of 1844, arrived in Nauvoo, fresh from his native land, England, he was full of zeal for his newly found religion, and willing to devote his life to the service of the Lord. He applied for work upon the temple, showing credentials from master workmen, under whom he had served in England, that testified to his superiority as a mechanic. He was informed that there was plenty of work for him to do but no pay. The means that had been subscribed for the building of the temple had been exhausted. He said he had come to Nauvoo with a determination to help build the temple, and he proposed to do so if he never received any pay. He was accordingly set to work. He had been a master workman or contractor for a long time before leaving England, and consequently wore only good clothes; in fact, he had none suitable to wear while working as a tradesman. He therefore appeared for work wearing a good suit of clothes and a high silk-finished hat. He hung his hat up in the workshop, donned an improvised cap and apron, and commenced work.
Many of those employed upon the temple were Americans who seemed to have a contempt for foreign mechanics, and especially for dandies in that line, and to show their contempt, or else in a spirit of fun or mischief, they threw spalls [stone chips] at the "stove pipe" hat as it hung in the shop until they cut it to pieces.
Charles Lambert wisely saw the folly of quarreling with his fellows over this act of vandalism, so he ignored it, and treated the perpetrators of it as if it had not occurred. His courteous and dignified conduct and lack of ostentation, combined with his superiority as a workman soon overcame the prejudice arrayed against him and won the respect if not the admiration of his fellow workmen, and he got along agreeably with them.
So many of the mechanics quit work from sheer necessity and went elsewhere to seek employment that the question of how and when the temple was ever to be completed became more of a problem every day.
Charles Lambert and one of his fellow mechanics (W. W. Player) who was also an Englishman, and a man of faith, discussed this problem between themselves, and voluntarily pledged themselves to continue at work until the temple was built whether they were paid for their services or not. It is one thing, however, for a man to deny himself and quite another to deny a dependent wife and children the comforts or necessaries of life.
Charles Lambert had married during the first year of his residence in Nauvoo and undertaken the support of the brothers and sisters of his wife, who had recently been orphaned and were helpless. He felt keenly his responsibility, and wished for money as he never had done before. While feeling thus he was passing along the street in Nauvoo one day when he met a well-dressed genteel stranger who inquired if his name was Charles Lambert. On being told that it was, he said his name was Higgins, and that his home was in Missouri. With an ingratiating smile he said, "I have heard of your skill as a workman, and want you to go to Missouri and work for me. You are not appreciated or properly paid here. If you will quit the temple and go and work for me, you can name your own price and you will be sure of your pay. You see I have plenty of money with which to pay you." Suiting the action to the word, he thrust his hand into his pocket, and drew it out full of $10.00 and $20.00 gold pieces, which he displayed in a tempting manner, and urged him to accept his offer, and not to submit any longer to the unfair treatment accorded him at the temple. With a gesture of impatience called forth by the intimation of unfairness, Father Lambert thanked the stranger for his offer, but said he couldn't think of accepting it. He said he had no complaint to make of his treatment at the temple, and the price others would pay for work they wished done would not influence him in the matter, as he intended to continue on at the temple from principle. Bidding the stranger "Good-day" he turned to continue his walk along the street, but almost immediately the query arose in his mind as to how the stranger knew his name, and where he got his information from about his skill as a mechanic, and turned to take a final look at the stranger, when lo! he was nowhere to be seen. He had disappeared as completely as if the ground had opened and swallowed him, and yet he had not had time by any ordinary means of locomotion to get out of sight. His opinion then was, and remained so up to the day of his death, that he had been talking with no other than Satan, the prince of tempters, and though he had not yielded to his tempting offer, he was vexed with himself for listening to him at all, and especially to his insinuations about the temple management.
(_Faith-Promoting Series_, BYU Collection, books 13-17)
Copyright 1998, David Kenison and LDS-Gems, email@example.com
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