Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, March 13, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 291

I think of other Niagara Falls connections …
Frances “Fanny” Wright, recall, was the social reformer who met with and tried to convince Mary Shelley to join her at Nashoba, her settlement near Nashville, Tennessee, the settlement where she’d hoped to purchase slaves, train and educate them, release them, prepared for an occupation. Mary declined—though, as we’ve seen—Frances Trollope joined her for a while, then quickly escaped to Cincinnati, where she became a merchant before returning to England to become a popular novelist—though not so popular as her son Anthony would one day become.
But Francis Wright was in America more than once and during her travels visited Niagara Falls. An account of her 1819 visit (fourteen years prior to Trelawny’s) appears in her book Views of Society and Manners in America (1821).[1] She and her party stayed in rooms in a tavern about a half-dozen miles away, and on the first night she told of hearing the rumbling of the Falls in the distance. The next day(s) they approached and explored, and here’s a bit of what she said:
… we saw, on lifting our eyes, a corner of the summit of this graceful division of the cataract hanging above the projecting mass of trees, as it were in mid-air, like the snowy top of a mountain. Above, the dazzling white of the shivered water was thrown into contrast with the deep blue of the unspotted heavens. … From this spot (beneath the Table Rock) you feel, more than from any other, the height of the cataract and the weight of its waters. It seems a tumbling ocean, and you yourself a helpless atom amid these vast and eternal workings of gigantic nature! … Never surely did nature throw together so fantastically so much beauty with such terrific grandeur. … The shivering mortal stands on the brink ….
And yet another visitor—who was there at the same time as Trelawny—was Fanny Kemble, a member of the celebrated acting family, the Kembles, who lit the London stages for decades.

(Pictures from my 1999 visit.)

[1] (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1963). Her account of her time at the Falls appears on pp. 23–28.

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