Catlin, A Crow Village on the Salmon River, 1869
I often landed my skiff, and mounted the green-carpeted bluffs whose soft grassy tops, invited me to recline, where I was at once lost in contemplation. Soul-melting scenery that was about me! A place where the mind could think volumes; but the tongue must be silent that would speak, and the hand palsied that would write. A place where a Divine would confess he never had fancied Paradise—where the painter's palette would lose its beautiful tints—the blood-stirring notes of eloquence would die in their utterance—and even the soft tones of sweet music would scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this sweet delirium. I mean the prairie, whose enameled plains that lie beneath me, in distance soften into sweetness, like an essence; whose thousand velvet covered hills, (surely never formed by chance, but grouped in one of Nature's sportive moods)—tossing and leaping down with steep or graceful declivities to the river's edge, as if to grace its pictured shores, and make it 'a thing to look upon.' I mean the prairie at sun-set; when the green hill-tops are turned into gold—and their long shadows of melancholy are thrown over the valleys—when all the breathings of day are hushed, and nought but the soft notes of the retiring dove can be heard; or the still softer and more plaintive notes of the wolf, who sneaks through these scenes of enchantment, and mournfully how—l—s, as if lonesome, and lost in the too beautiful quiet and stillness about him. I mean this prairie; where Heaven sheds its purest light, and lends its richest tints—this round-topp'd bluff, where the foot treads soft, and light—whose steep sides, and lofty head, rear me to the skies, overlooking yonder pictured vale of beauty.