Beauty of the Grand Canyon from The Grand Canyon of Arizona By Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Hither, to this point of the chasm whence I am writing, long ago came Thomas Moran, the painter, and painted for the people of the United States that great scene which hangs in the capitol, and which only a few can as yet appreciate—the few who have beheld the wonderful spectacle. All others are bound to regard it as a luxurious lotus-dream of color and mystery.
Moran's great picture tells the truth as one sees the truth, gazing upon the scene with the poet's eyes and feeling its frightful grandeur with a poet's soul. Any other conception of it is worse than nothing—measurements, calculations, note-book loquacity, kodak mementos, all these vulgarize the impression of a thing too stupendous and too completely unique to furnish the mind with any direct and definite expression; and no one, save only Moran—certainly no artist of the pen—has found even approximate expression for the unique splendors, the fascination and the awe of this unparalleled scene.
But for a truth the finest effects here are altogether uncommunicable by brush or pen. They give themselves up only to the personal presence, and no painter or writer can do more than suggest what they are by indicating how they make him feel. You cannot paint a silence, nor a sound, nor an odor, nor an emotion, nor a sob. If you are skillful you may suggest them to the imagination but that is all, and Moran's fine picture does that admirably. It gives one sublime glimpse of that mysterious and abysmal repose, one irresistible suggestion of those vast and sublime silences, one amazing flash of that marvelous scheme of color, suggesting melody and fragrance. And that is all which human skill can convey by brush or pen.
This is certainly no scene to be boggled by your sign-painting blockhead of an artist, with complacent reliance on his compasses and perspective scale, and paint pot and palette. There is a great tragic soul in the scene, which the soul in the artist must clasp or fail utterly.

It is not the matchless immensity of it, I think, that overcomes you, but that your senses cannot quite encompass and analyze its unique and elusive quality. This great impassive thing that frightens you by its appalling immensity, that enthralls your imagination by the magic of its matchless beauty, that bewilders and mystifies your senses by the vague suggestion of fragrance and melody in its gorgeous purples, and by the vast, echoless silences of its Pompeiian reds and yellows, is inexorable and unresponsive to your puny emotions. That is what fills you with a nameless longing, a divine regret. That is what makes you sob unconsciously as you gaze off" into the abysmal, chromatic splendors of the scene. Your soul hungers for a sympathy which the great spectacle is too impassive, too inexorable, to yield. The inexorable always affects us like that in our psychic moods. The generous mind receives always a sensation of diffused pain from any spectacle or any emotion that baffles complete expression, and the divine pathos of this is as undefinable, as inexorable, as resistless as death—and as lovely as the hope of lifceverlasting.