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To Professor Simon Greenleaf.

Clifton House, Canada, Niagara Falls, Aug. 30, 1836.
my dear Mr. Greenleaf,—Here am I in the dominions of ‘Mariner Bill,’ with a new government clasping me, and a new tone of manners, I fancy, about me. I have just established myself on this side of the wonderful cataract, and now would fain stretch the hand of friendship across its vast waters to meet yours. Its thunders shake the building in which I write, and its spray gives an additional dampness to a stormy evening. But now I think of quiet Cambridge and my dear friends there, I almost lose the sense of its awful presence. I hope you are well, and have laughed much, for Chancellor Kent feared that it was otherwise with you, and said that he regarded a laugh as a most healthy operation. A long and most grateful epistle, which I received to-day from Hillard, makes mention of your occasional calls at our office. ‘A visit from Mr. G.,’ says Hillard, ‘does me good for the rest of the day;’ so I trust you will not cease doing what I know is so near your heart.

Since I have been here I have haunted every path and point of observation from which the falls can be seen; I have descended staircases, clambered over rocks, hugged along narrow and precipitous paths, crossed bending bridges, scaled elevated acclivities, penetrated caverns, and finally drenched myself utterly in venturing under the falling sheet of waters. I have seen the cataract in broad sunlight, and again by beautiful moonlight:

If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;

and so I would have an observer look upon Niagara. The bow of Heaven seems almost perpetually to rest on its face, spanning its white foam and emerald green. It is not withdrawn now, even for the night, for the full orb of the moon creates a most beautiful arc, seen a little less distinctly than that of the sun, but full and marked by all the prismatic colors. I have sat for an hour contemplating this delightful object, with the cataract sounding, like the voice of God, in my ears. But there is something oppressive in hearing and contemplating these things. The mind travails with feelings akin to pain, in the endeavor to embrace them. I do not know that it is so with others; but I cannot disguise from myself the sense of weakness, inferiority, and incompetency which I feel. Many there are who play with a dog on the side of the falls, and amuse themselves by all the tricks which thoughtless merriment resorts to. But this tone might well become a sermon, if I were writing one,—and think of my sermonizing for your benefit!

The first two days I passed on the American side, having arrived there Saturday evening; and this afternoon have crossed, bag and baggage, to Canada, intending to spend a day here, previous to taking the steamboat for Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Quebec. Since I left home, which is just a fortnight, I have been constantly occupied with sight-seeing. New York first engaged my attention. There I saw the chancellor, who of course inquired about you, and especially of your laughing propensities, as to which

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George S. Hillard (2)
Simon Greenleaf (2)
William Kent (1)
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August 30th, 1836 AD (1)
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