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But do not suppose that we grew peevish at the sight of the blots upon the landscape to which I have alluded, and departed in wrath and disgust. We soon found that there. is that in and about Niagara which was not to be marred by busy man and all his petty schemes for convenience and aggrandisement; and I may truly say, with regard to both our first and second visit, and stay within its precincts, that we were under the influence of its spell. While within the sound of its waters, I will not say that you become part and parcel of the cataract, but you find it difficult to think, speak, or dream of anything else. Its vibrations pervade, not only the air you breathe, the bank on which you sit, the paper on which you write, but thrill through your whole frame, and act upon your nervous system in a remarkable, and it may almost be said unpleasant, manner. You may have heard of individuals coming back from the contemplation of these Falls with dissatisfied feelings. To me this is perfectly incomprehensible, and I do not know whether to envy the splendid fancies and expectations of that class of travellers, to whom the sight of Niagara would bring disappointment, or to feel justified in doubting whether they have any imagination or eye for natural scenery at all. How blank the world must be, to them, of objects of natural interest! What can they expect to see?
As to expectations, ours were excited and warm, and I shall never forget the real anxiety with which we looked out, on our ascent from Lewiston, for the first appearance or the object of our visit. The broad fathomless blue river, streaked with foam, which, deeply sunk in a colossal channel, hurried to our rencontre, and appeared at every glimpse as we advanced swifter and in greater commotion, was to us a guarantee that the scene of its descent from the upper country could be no common one. When about three miles from the village on the American side, you gain your first view of the Falls, together with the river, both above and below-the island which divides them-and greater part of the basin at their feet.
I will not say but that the impression of that first glance was heightened afterwards by our nearer and reiterated survey of every portion of the cataract in detail; yet we all agreed that we could even then grasp the idea of its magnitude, and that all we had seen elsewhere, and all we had expected, was far surpassed by what was then shown to us. And when, the following year, two of us turned aside by common consent to pay a second visit to Niagara, after having, in the interval, visited many of the great Falls of Lower Canada,-cataracts in comparison to which all European Falls are puerile-and we felt our curiosity excited to divine what impression a second visit would make; far from being disappointed, we felt that before Niagara, in spite of its inferiority of elevation, all shrunk to playthings. It is not the mere weight and volume of water that should give this far-famed cataract the first rank. Every surrounding object seems to be on a corresponding scale of magnificence. The wide liquid surface of the river above, with its swelling banks, contrasted by the deep blue floods below, as boiling up from their plunge into the unfathomed basin, then shock against one another, and race down towards the distant lake; the extreme beauty of the forested defile, with its precipices and slope; the colouring of the waters, which in the upper part of its descent is that of the emerald; the mystery and thick gloom which hide the foot of the Falls, and add to their apparent height, and the floating clouds of vapour, now hurried over the face of the landscape, as though urged by the breath of a hurricane, and then slowly ascending, and hovering like a cloud in the blue sky, all combine to form a scene in which sublimity and picturesque beauty are enchantingly blended. There is here none of that stiffness, either in the scenery, or the form and appearance of the particular object of interest, which engravings too frequently give you the idea of.
Among the innumerable points of view, that from the precipitous shore of the river, about the distance I have alluded to, is the most satisfactory, if not the most striking.
In the immediate vicinity of the Falls, the points of interest are so various, that if you would require a sketch, I should not know which to select. The grandest, doubtless, is from the Canadian shore, near the Horse-Shoe Fall; but you pass from one to the other, and everywhere the picture presented has no compeer or rival in nature.
Many things combined to make us prefer choosing the village on the American shore for our halting-place, in preference to the garish hotel on the opposite site. The greater monotony of the right-hand division of the cataract, was counterbalanced by the grand distant view of its neighbour, and by the practicability of a near approach to both from Goat Island, to which an easy access is afforded by a boldly constructed bridge over the rapids. Besides, we agreed that the position of the village and its inns was not only more rural and secluded, but that better taste was exhibited in its details.
What a glorious scene! to sit upon the summit of the impending precipice of the island, and see, as we did the morning after our first arrival, the summer mist begin to rise and disengage itself from the heavy white cloud of spray which rose from the depth of the boiling basin of the great Fall beneath us. By degrees, the curtain was partially removed, revealing the wall of slowly-descending water behind, now dimly descried,-as confounded with the floating sheets of foam and spray which the wind of the mighty cataract drove backward and forward over it like innumerable clouds of thin floating gauze,—it mocked us with its constantly varying shape and position; and then appearing unveiled with its sea - green tints brilliantly illuminated by the passing sunbeam. An hour after, and the mist had disappeared; the Falls were sparkling in the bright sunshine; and a brilliant iris was resting on the body of vapour which the wind carried away from the face of the descending columns. The scene at sunset, day after day, was no way less majestic, when the sun, glancing from the Canadian shore, lit up the precipices and woods of Goat Island, and the broad face of the American
Fall, which then glowed like a wall of gold; while half the Fall of the Horse-Shoe, and the deep recesses of the curve, were wrapped in shade. Morning, noon, and night found us strolling about the shore, and on the island, which is an earthly paradise.
I remember the quiet hours spent there, when fatigued with the glare of the hot bright sun, and the din of the Falls, with peculiar delight. We loved, too, to escape from all those signs of man's presence and busy-bodying, to which I have alluded, and, burying ourselves in the fresh dark scarce-trodden forest still covering a great part of its area, to listen to the deadened roar of the vast cataracts on either hand, swelling on the air distinct from every other sound.
There, seated in comparative solitude, you catch a peep across a long vista of stems of the white vapour and foam. You listen to the sharp cry of the blue jay, the tap of the redheaded woodpecker, and the playful bark of the squirrel; you scan the smooth white boles of the beech or birch, chequered with broad patches of dark-green moss, the stately elm and oak, the broad-leaved maple, the silvery-white and exquisitely chiselled trunk of the cedar, or the decaying trunk of the huge chesnut, garlanded with creepers; but you will hardly ever lose the consciousness of the locality. The spell of Niagara is still upon and around you. You glance again and again at the white veil which thickens or grows dim beyond the leafy forest: the rush of the nearer rapids, the din of falling waters, the murmur of the echoes answering the pulsations of the descending mass, fill your ears, and pervade all nature.
Everything around and about you appears to reply to the cataract, and to partake of it, none more so than the evergreen forest, which is bathed from year to year in the dew of the river. These noble trees, as they tower aloft on the soil, are sustained from youth to age by the invigorating spray of the mighty Falls. Their leaves are steeped, summer after summer, in the heavy dew; their trunks echo the falling waters, from the day they rise from the sod, to that in which
they are shaken to the ground; and the fibres of the huge moss-grown trunk on which you sit, prostrate and mouldering on the rich soil beneath, bedded in the fresh grass and leaves, still vibrates to the sound of its thunders, and crumbles gradually to dust. But all this proves nothingas a matter-of-fact man might say-but that I am Niagaramad. We have much before us, and many sublime scenes, though none may vie with that, before which we have been lingering:-allons!
NIAGARA. BY MRS. L. H. SIGOURNEY.
Up to the Table-Rock, where the great flood
Which from the hour that Chaos heard the voice
"Let there be light," hath known nor pause nor rest,
Communeth through its misty cloud with Him
Who breaks it on the wheel of pitiless rock,
Yet heals it every moment. Bending near,
With perfect orb full-rounded. Dost thou cling