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pitch of the waters, including the curvatures which the violence of the current has produced in the Horse-Shoe, and in the American Falls, may be estimated at a mile and a quarter, and the altitude of the Table Rock from whence the precipitation commences, is one hundred and fifty feet. Along the boundaries of the river, and behind the Falls, the elevated and rocky banks are everywhere excavated by sulphureous springs, the vitriolic acid uniting with the limestone rock, and forming plaster of paris, which is here and there scattered amid the masses of stone which compose the beach beneath. These excavations extend in many places to a distance of fifty feet underneath the summit of the bank.
Casting the eye from the Table Rock into the basin beneath, the effect is awfully grand, magnificent, and sublime. No object intervening between the spectator and that profound abyss, he appears suspended in the atmosphere.
The lofty banks and immense woods which environ this stupendous scene, the irresistible force, the rapidity of motion displayed by the rolling clouds of foam, the uncommon brilliancy and variety of colours and shades, the ceaseless intumescence, and swift agitation of the dashing waves below -the solemn and tremendous noise, with the volumes of vapour darting upwards into the air, which the simultaneous report and smoke of a thousand cannon could scarcely equal, irresistibly tend to impress the imagination with such a train of sublime sensations, as few other combinations of natural objects are capable of producing, and which a dread lest the treacherous rock should crumble beneath the feet, by no means contributes to diminish.
From a settlement called Birch's Mills, on level ground below the bank, the rapids are displayed to great advantage: they dash from one rocky declivity to another, and hasten with foaming fury to the precipice. The bank along whose summit the carriage road extends, affords many rich, although partial views of the Falls and rapids. They are from hence partly excluded from the eye by trees of different
kinds, such as the oak, the ash, the beech, fir, sassafras, cedar, walnut, and tulip trees.
About two miles further down the side of the river, at a situation called Bender's, an extensive and general prospect of the Falls, with the rapids and islands, is at once developed to the eye of the spectator. On descending the bank, which in several places is precipitous and difficult, and on emerging from the woods at its base, a wonderful display of grand and stupendous objects is at once expanded to the view. From amid immense fragments of rock, and lacerated trees which have descended in the current of the waters, the eye is directed upwards towards the Falls, that of Fort Slauper being on the left, and the Great Horse-Shoe Fall immediately in front. On the right is a lofty bank profusely covered with a diversity of foliage, beyond which the naked excavated rock discloses itself.
As the river here contracts to the breadth of about half a mile, the Fall on the American side becomes nearest to the eye, and its waters tumble over a rock, which appears to be perpendicular, and nearly in a straight line across to the island, the curvatures being, from the point now described, not perceptible. The rock is, however, excavated, and as the pitch has been worn, from continual abrasion by the Fall, into a serrated shape, whence the masses of foam pour down in ridges which retain their figure from the summit to the bottom. Numbers of stones which have been torn away from the precipice, are accumulated throughout the whole extent below, and receive the weighty and effulgent clouds of broken waters, which again dash from thence into the basin.
The Horse-Shoe Fall is distinguished not only by its vastness, but by the variety of its colours. The waters at the edge of the Table Rock are of a brownish cast; further on, of a brilliant white; and in the centre, where the fluid body is greatest, a transparent green appears. Around the projection, which is in the form of a horse-shoe, the water is of a snowy whiteness. A cloud of thick vapour constantly arises
from the centre, part of which becomes dissolved in the higher regions of the atmosphere, and a part spreads itself in dews over the neighbouring fields. This cloud of vapour has frequently, in clear weather, been observed from Lake Ontario, at the distance of ninety miles from the Falls.
The bed of the river is so deep, that it undergoes not such a degree of agitation as the reception of those bodies of water pouring down into it might be supposed to produce. Except at places immediately underneath each of the Falls, there are no broken billows; the stream is comparatively tranquil, but the water continues for a long way down its course to revolve in numerous whirlpools. Its colour is a deep blue; quantities of foam float upon the surface, and almost cover a large bay formed between projecting points, containing
several insulated rocks.
Proceeding along the beach to the basin of the Table Rock, the distance is about two miles, and the way thither is over masses of stone which have been torn from the bank above, and over trees which have been carried down the Falls, and have been deposited in the spring by bodies of ice, in situations above twenty feet in height from the level of the river.
The projection of the Table Rock, it has been remarked, is fifty feet, and between it and the Falls a lofty and irregular arch is formed, which extends under the pitch, almost without interruption, to the island. To enter this cavern, bounded by the waters and rock, and to turn the view towards the Falls, the noise, the motion, and the vast impulse and weight exhibited, seem to cause everything around them to tremble, and at once occupy and astonish the mind. Sudden and frequent squalls, accompanied by torrents of rain, issue from this gloomy cavern; the air drawn down by the waters is in part reverberated by the rock, and thus discharges itself.
At this situation is illustrated the effect of an immense mass of waters thrown from a prodigious height, after being forcibly propelled. The projectile counteracted by the gravitative power, obliges the falling body to describe at first an
ellipse, and then to assume the perpendicular direction in which it is received into the basin.
The salient groups in which, with gradations almost regular, the tumbling waters are precipitated, excite the awe and admiration of the spectator; the eye follows with delight the masses of lustrous foam varied by prismatic hues, and forming a wide and resplendent curtain.
There are in the village of Chippawa some mercantile store-houses, and two or three taverns. The waters of the Chippawa are always of a deep brown colour, and are very unwholesome if used for culinary purposes.
They enter the St. Lawrence about two miles above the Falls, and although they be frequently broken, and rush into many rapids in their course thither, they seem obstinately to resist being mixed with the purer waters of that flood, and retain their colour in passing over the precipice. The foam produced in their precipitation is of a brownish hue, and forms the edge of the sheet which tumbles over the Table Rock. Their weight and the depth of the descent, mingle them effectually with the waters in the basin beneath. The colour of the Chippawa is derived from that river passing over a level country, in many places swampy, and from quantities of decayed trees which tinge it with their bark. It is also impregnated with bituminous matter, which prevents it, until it has suffered the most violent agitation and separation of particles, from incorporating with the more transparent and uncorrupted stream of the St. Lawrence. To those who are admirers of the picturesque beauties of nature, it will be almost unnecessary to apologize for the prolixity of description which I have here given. The subject upon which we have so long dwelt, is at once noble and unique. Let us therefore attempt to pursue it still further, although without the hope of being able to do it justice.
To descend the perpendicular cliff on the eastern bank, is attended with some degree of peril. Few of the roots and vines which formerly hung downwards from the trees, any longer remain. In descending the craggy steep, the adven
turer must cling to the rock with his hands and feet, moving onward with great caution. On his arrival at the base of the cliff, he is struck by a development of scenery yet more awfully stupendous than that which had before been presented to his contemplation. Here nature, agitated by the struggles of contending elements, assumes a majestic and tremendous wildness of form. Here terror seems to hold his habitation. Here brilliancy, profundity, motion, sound, and tumultuous fury, mingle throughout the scene. The waters appear to fall from the sky with such impetuosity, that a portion is thrown back in clouds of vapour. The mind, expanded by the immensity and splendour of the surrounding objects, is disposed to give issue to the sensations of awe and wonder by which she is impressed, in ejaculations similar to that of the Psalmist of Israel, "Great and marvellous are thy works!" The huge fragments of rock which have been thrown from the summit of the precipice by the irresistible strength of the torrent, and which have fallen upon each other in towering heaps beneath, suggest to the imagination an idea of what may take place previous to the general consummation of this terrestrial scene, when ancient monuments of marble, under which princes of the world have for ages slept, shall be burst asunder, and torn up from their foundations.
Can so vast, so rapid, and so continual a waste of water never drain its sources? These are inexhaustible; and the body which throws itself down these cliffs, forms the sole discharge of four immense inland seas. The effect produced by the cold of winter on these sheets of water thus rapidly agitated, is at once singular and splendid. Icicles of great thickness and length are formed along the banks, from the springs which flow over them. The sources, impregnated with sulphur, which drain from the hollow of the rocks, are congealed into transparent blue columns. Caves are formed by the spray, particularly on the American side, which have in several places large fissures disclosing the interior, composed of clusters of icicles, similar to the pipes of an organ.