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Yet from a scene
So awfully sublime, our senses shrink,
And fain would shield them at the solemn base
This is thy building, Architect Divine!
But, lo! the Goth doth waste them, and his herds
Silent, and stedfast, and immutable.
Niagara and the storm-cloud!
To the peal
Of their united thunder, rugged rocks
Amazed reverberate, through depths profound
Within itself,-not undismayed, beholds
Old Ocean meets the tempest and is wroth,
Man finds in thee no emblem of himself;
The wealth of summer-showers inflates his pride,
Garlands of hope, more fragile still than they.
But in one awful voice, that ne'er has known
Thou hast ne'er forgot
Thy lesson, or been weary, day or night,
Nor with its simple, elemental thought
Mixed aught of discord.
Teacher, sent from God,
We bow us to thy message, and are still.
Oh! full of glory, and of majesty,
For 'tis meet
That even the mightiest of our race should stand
"Deep calleth unto deep, at the noise of thy waterspouts." Most appositely did the poet Brainerd, in his beautiful apostrophe to Niagara, quote from the inspired minstrel, "deep calleth unto deep." Simple and significant also, was its Indian appellation, the "Water-thunderer." To the wandering son of the forest,
"whose untutored mind
Saw God in clouds, or heard him in the wind,"
it forcibly suggested the image of that Great Spirit, who in darkness and storm sends forth from the skies a mighty voice.
The immense volume of water which distinguishes Niagara from all other cataracts, is seldom fully realized by the casual visitant. Transfixed by his emotions, he forgets that he sees the surplus waters of those vast inland seas, Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie, arrested in their rushing passage to the Ocean, by a fearful barrier of rock, 160 feet in height. He scarcely recollects that the tributaries to this river, or strait, cover a surface of 150,000 miles. Indeed, how can he bow his mind to aught of arithmetical computation, when in the presence of this monarch of floods.
The view from the boat while crossing the Ferry is unique and impressive. It gives the first strong idea of the greater magnificence that awaits you. You are encompassed by an * That is crossing from the American side.
amphitheatre of towering rocks and hills. Fragments of rainbows and torrents of mist hover around you. A stupendous column rises, whose base is in the fathomless depth, whose head, wrapped in cloud, seems to join earth and heaven. It strikes you as a living personification of His power who poured it "from the hollow of his hand." You tremble at its feet. With a great voice of thunder it warns
you not to approach. The winds spread out their wings, and whelm you in a deluge of spray. You are sensible of the giant force of the tide, bearing up the boat, which like an egg-shell is tossed upon its terrible bosom. You feel like an atom in the great creation of God. You glance at the athletic sinews of the rowers, and wonder if they are equal to their perilous task. But the majesty of the surrounding scene annihilates selfish apprehension; and, ere you are aware, the little boat runs smoothly to her haven, and you stand on the Canadian shore.
Hitherto, all you have seen will convey but an imperfect impression of the grandeur and sublimity that are unfolded on the summit of Table-Rock. This is a precipice nearly 160 feet in height, with flat, smooth, altar-shaped surface. As you approach this unparapeted projection, the unveiled glories of Niagara burst upon the astonished senses. We borrow the graphic delineation of a gentleman,* who nearly forty years since was a visitant of this scene, and thus describes it from the summit of Table-Rock.
"On your right hand, the river comes roaring forward with all the agitation of a tempestuous ocean, recoiling in waves and whirlpools, as if determined to resist the impulse which is forcing it downward to the gulf. When within a few yards, and apparently at the moment of sweeping away, it plunges headlong into what seems a bottomless pit, for the vapour is so thick at the foot of the precipice, that the torrent is completely lost to the view.
"Seen from the Table-Rock, the tumbling green waters of the rapids, which persuade you that an ocean is approaching ;
* Dr. Wadsworth, Esq.
the brilliant colour of the water; the frightful gulf, and headlong torrent at your feet; the white column rising from its centre, and often reaching to the clouds; the black wall of rock frowning from the opposite island; and the long curtain of foam descending from the other shore, interrupted only by one dark shaft, form altogether one of the most beautiful, as well as awful, scenes in nature. The effect of all these objects is much heightened by being seen from a dizzy and fearful pinnacle, upon which you seem suspended over a fathomless abyss of vapour, whence ascends the deafening uproar of the greatest cataract in the world, and by reflecting that this powerful torrent has been rushing down, and this grand scene of stormy magnificence been in the same dreadful tumult for ages, and will continue so for ages to come."
Skirting the base of the Table-Rock, you arrive at the point of entrance, behind the vast sheet of water, which those who desire to traverse, provide themselves with fitting apparel, which is here kept for that purpose. This magnificent cavern is often tenanted by rushing winds, which drive the spray with blinding fury in the face of the approaching pilgrim. Clad in rude garments, and cap of oil-cloth, with coarse shoes-the most unpicturesque of all figures-he approaches, staking his staff among the loose fragments that obstruct his way. The path is slippery and perilous, the round wet stones betray his footing, and sometimes cold, slimy, and wriggling eels coil around his ancles. Respiration is at first difficult, almost to suffocation. But the aiding hand and encouraging voice of the guide are put in requisition, and, almost ere he is aware, he reaches Termination Rock, beyond which all progress is hazardous. This exploit entitles him to a certificate, obtained at the house where his garb was provided, and signed by the guide. But should he fail of attaining this honour, by a too precipitate retreat from this cavern of thunders, he is still sure of a magnificent shower-bath.
The lover of Nature's magnificence will scarcely be satisfied