3 January 1857
No tongue, no pen ever could, ever has described Niagara—its beauty, its majesty. I would that I had never heard of Niagara—that I had come upon it unawares, some glorious morning, before those Indian girls had peddled moccasins, or boys had profaned it by selling pictures and crosses. I would have knelt on that lovely island, and seen God's majesty in the ceaseless, roaring torrent; God's smile in the bright rainbow, hung upon the fleecy mist; God's love in making earth so beautiful, for those who forget to thank Him for it. I would lead him there who says there is no God, that he might hear His voice, and see His glory.
No two persons look on Niagara with the same eyes. Some it animates and makes jubilant; others it depresses and terrifies; some hear in it the thunder and lightning of Sinai; others hear in it the voice of Him who stilled the raging waves with "Peace, be still!"
I was glad to see Niagara, but I was not sorry to leave it. Its rushing torrent threw a shadow over my spirit. Its monster jaws seemed hungry for some victim, other than the unconscious leaves, which it whirled so impatiently out of sight. Its never-ceasing roar seemed like the trumpet-challenge to battle, telling of mangled corpses and broken hearts.
No;—dearer to me is the silvery little brook, tripping lightly through green meadows, singing low and sweet to the nodding flowers, bending to see their own sweet beauty mirrored in its face. I like not that all Nature's gentle voices should be tyrannically hushed to silence—drowned by a despot's deafening roar. Give me the low murmur of the trees—the hum of the bee—the flash of the merry little fish. I like the little bird circling, darting, singing, skimming the blue above, dipping his bright wings in the blue below. I like the cricket which chirps the tired farmer to sleep; I like the distant bleat of the lamb, the faint lowing of the cow. I lay my head on Nature's breast, in her gentler moods, and tell her all my hopes and fears, and am not ashamed of my tears. But she drives me from her when she roars and foams, and flashes fierce lightning from her angry eyes: I close my ears to her roaring thunder. But when, clearing the cloud from her brow, she hangs a rainbow on her breast, throws perfume to the pretty flowers, and smiles caressingly through her tears—ah, then I love her; then she is all my own again.
Fanny Fern, "Niagra—A Contrast," The New-York Ledger (3 January 1857): 4
To cite this project:
Fanny Fern, "Niagra—A Contrast," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.