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.
Some Of The Canon Temples.
It is difficult to realize the magnitude of these objects, so deceptive are distances and dimensions in the transparent atmosphere of Arizona. Siva's Temple, for example, stands upon a platform four or five miles square, from which rise domes and pinnacles a thousand feet in height. Some of their summits call to mind immense sarcophagi of jasper or of porphyry, as if they were the burial-places of dead deities, and the Grand Caņon a Necropolis for pagan gods. Yet, though the greater part of the population of the world could be assembled here, one sees no worshipers, save an occasional devotee of Nature, standing on the Caņon's rim, lost in astonishment and hushed in awe. These temples were, however, never intended for a human priesthood. A man beside them is a pygmy. His voice here would be little more effective than the chirping of an insect. The God-appointed celebrant, in the cathedrals of this Caņon, must be Nature. Her voice alone can rouse the echoes of these mountains into deafening peals of thunder. Her metaphors are drawn from an experience of ages. Her prayers are silent, rapturous communings with the Infinite. Her hymns of praise are the glad songs of birds; her requiems are the moanings of the pines; her symphonies the solemn roaring of the winds. "Sermons in stone" abound at every turn; and if, as the poet has affirmed, "An undevoutastronomer is mad," with still more truth can it be said that those are blind who in this wonderful environment look not "through Nature up to Nature's God." These wrecks of Tempest and of Time are fingerposts that point the thoughts of mortals to eternal heights; and we find cause for hope in the fact that, even in a place like this, Man is superior to Nature; for he interprets it, he finds in it the thoughts of God, and reads them after Him.
Near The Temple Of Set.
The color-ing of the Grand Caņon is no less extraordinary than its forms. Nature has saved this chasm from being a terrific scene of desolation by glorifying all that it contains. Wall after wall, turret after turret, and mountain range after mountain range, belted with tinted strata, succeed one another here like billows petrified in glowing colors. These hues are not as brilliant and astonishing in their variety as are the colors of the Yellowstone Caņon, but their subdued and sombre tones are perfectly suited to the awe-inspiring place which they adorn. The prominent tints are yellow, red, maroon, and a dull purple, as if the glory of unnumbered sunsets, fading from these rugged cliffs, had been in part imprisoned here. Yet, somehow, specimens of these colored rocks lose all their brilliancy and beauty when removed from their environment, like sea-shells from the beach; a verification of the sentiment so beautifully expressed in the lines of Emerson :
Hance S Trail, Looking Up.
" I wiped away the weeds and foam, I fetched my sea-born treasures home; But the poor, unsightly, noisome things Had left their beauty on the shore, With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar".
To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy in a moment compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life. When I beheld the scene, a little before daybreak, a lake of soft, white clouds was floating round the summits of the Caņon mountains, hiding the huge crevasse beneath, as a light coverlet of snow conceals a chasm in an Alpine glacier. I looked with awe upon this misty curtain of the morn, for it appeared to me symbolic of the grander curtain of the past which shuts out from our view the awful struggles of the elements enacted here when the grand gulf was being formed. At length, however, as the light increased, this thin, diaphanous covering was mysteriously withdrawn, and when the sun's disk rose above the horizon, the huge facades of the temples which looked eastward grew immediately rosy with the dawn; westward, projecting cliffs sketched on the opposite sides of the ravines, in dark blue silhouettes, the evanescent forms of castles, battlements, and turrets from which some shreds of white mist waved like banners of capitulation; stupendous moats beneath them were still black with shadow; while clouds filled many of the minor Caņons, like vapors rising from enormous caldrons. Gradually, as the solar couriers forced a passage into the narrow gullies, and drove the remnant of night's army from its hiding-places, innumerable shades of purple, yellow, red, and brown appeared, varying according to the composition of the mountains, and the enormous void was gradually filled to the brim with a luminous haze, which one could fancy was the smoke of incense from its countless altars. A similar, and even more impressive, scene is visible here in the late afternoon, when all the western battlements in their turn grow resplendent, while the eastern walls submit to an eclipse; till, finally, a gray pall drops upon the lingering bloom of day, the pageant fades, the huge sarcophagi are mantled in their shrouds, the gorgeous colors which have blazed so sumptuously through the day grow pale and vanish, the altar fires turn to ashes, the mighty temples draw their veils and seem deserted by both gods and men, and the stupendous panorama awaits, beneath the canopy of night, the glory of another dawn.