This section is from the book "Grand Canyon Of The Colorado River - John L. Stoddard's Lectures", by John L. Stoddard. Also available from Amazon: John L. Stoddard's Lectures 13 Volume Set.
To The Ring Nebula.
O, pallid spectre of the midnight skies!
Whose phantom features in the dome of Night Elude the keenest gaze of wistful eyes
Till amplest lenses aid the failing sight, On heaven's blue sea the farthest isle of fire, From thee, whose glories it would fain admire, Must vision, baffled, in despair retire ! What art thou, ghostly visitant of flame ?
Wouldst thou' neath closer scrutiny dissolve In myriad suns that constellations frame,
Round which life-freighted satellites revolve, Like those unnumbered orbs which nightly creep In dim procession o'er the azure steep, As white-wing'd caravans the desert sweep ?
The San Francisco Volcanoes.
Or, art thou still an incandescent mass,
Acquiring form as hostile forces urge, Through whose vast length a million lightnings pass
As to and fro its fiery billows surge, Whose glowing atoms, whirled in ceaseless strife Where now chaotic anarchy is rife, Shall yet become the fair abodes of life ?
We know not; for the faint, exhausted rays Which hither on Light's winged coursers come
From fires which ages since first lit their blaze, One instant gleam, then perish, spent and dumb!
How strange the thought that, whatsoe'er we learn,
Our tiny globe no answer can return,
Since with but dull, reflected beams we burn!
Yet this we know; yon ring of spectral light, Whose distance thrills the soul with solemn awe,
Can ne'er escape in its majestic might The firm control of omnipresent law.
This mote descending to its bounden place,
Those suns whose radiance we can scarcely trace,
Alike obey the Power pervading space.
One glorious September morning, leaving our train at Flagstaff, we started in stage-coaches for a drive of sixty-five miles to the Grand Caņon. I had looked forward to this drive with some misgiving, dreading the heat of the sun, and the dust and sand which I had supposed we should encounter; but to my astonishment and delight it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It was only eleven hours in duration, and not only was most of the route level, but two-thirds of it lay through a section of beautifully rolling land, diversified with open glades and thousands upon thousands of tall pines and cedars entirely free from undergrowth. It is no exaggeration to say that we drove that day for miles at a time over a road carpeted with pine needles. The truth is, Arizona, though usually considered a treeless and rainless country, possesses some remarkable exceptions; and the region near Flagstaff not only abounds in stately pines, but is at certain seasons visited by rainstorms which keep it fresh and beautiful. During our stay at the Grand Caņon we had a shower every night; the atmosphere was marvelously pure, and aromatic with the odors of a million pines; and so exhilarating was exercise in the open air, that however arduous it might be, we never felt inconvenienced by fatigue, and mere existence gave us joy. Decidedly, then, it will not do to condemn the whole of Arizona because of the heat of its arid, southern plains; for the northern portion of the state is a plateau, with an elevation of from five thousand to seven thousand feet. Hence, as it is not latitude, so much as altitude, that gives us healthful, pleasing temperature, in parts of Arizona the climate is delightful during the entire year.
Starting For The Grand Canon.
The Drive Through.
A portion of this stage-coach journey led us over the flank of the great San Francisco Mountain. The isolated position, striking similarity, and almost uniform altitude of its four peaks, rising nearly thirteen thousand feet above the sea, have long made them famous. Moreover, they are memorable for having cast a lurid light upon the development of this portion of our planet. Cold, calm, and harmless though they now appear, the time has been when they contained a molten mass which needed but a throb of Earth's uneasy heart to light the heavens with an angry glare, and cover the adjoining plains with floods of fire. Lava has often poured from their destructive cones, and can be traced thence over a distance of thirty miles; proving that they once served as vents for the volcanic force which the thin crust of earth was vainly striving to confine. But their activity is apparently ended. The voices with which they formerly shouted to one another in the joy of devastation have been silenced. Conquered at last, their fires smolder now beneath a barrier too firm to yield, and their huge forms appear like funeral monuments reared to the memory of the power buried at their base. Another fascinating sight upon this drive was that of the Painted Desert whose variously colored streaks of sand, succeeding one another to the rim of the horizon, made the vast area seem paved with bands of onyx, agate, and carnelian.