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about thirty cabin passengers, and about one hundred steerage passengers; and the crew consisted of about twentyfive men. On the 19th of August we cleared out of St. Catharine's Dock; a steam-tug having got the end of one of our hawsers; the wind was very fresh at the time from the south-west, and we passed Gravesend at a good speed, and stopped a little below for some passengers, who had great difficulty in getting on board. We reached the Nore; then anchored for the night; and arrived at Portsmouth on the 23rd. Some of the passengers, with myself, went ashore, for a few hours. I here purchased a small stock of tobacco, which, although some of my readers may not admire, will be found by many a great resource in a long voyage. I certainly felt rather depressed in spirits on leaving Portsmouth, as I had never been far from England before. The Victoria is a remarkably fine ship, about 1,100 tons burden, and was very well manned. She cleared the Channel in the usual time, or in three or four days. Her powerful sails were soon propelling
her over the waves of the broad Atlantic. There have been so many amusing accounts of voyages to New York that I shall not detain the reader in this waste of waters. Though I had been several coasting trips before, I had never had an opportunity of seeing the ocean lashed with fury by the angry tempest. To be brief, after a passage of thirty-five days from London, in which we encountered several gales of wind from the west, we arrived without accident at New York.
I was not at all sorry to arrive at this fine city; tired as we all were of the voyage. As we came off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we fell in with an English brig of about 500 tons : she had been beating about in the same gales which we had experienced; but not being built of such good materials as our American ship, she had carried away all her principal sails; and, when we got within about a mile of her, she sent her mate, with four men, in a boat, to borrow some twine of us to mend the sails; so that I felt convinced (let the sailors say what they would) that we had seen some rather boisterous
weather. I was much charmed with the general appearance and situation of New York, which is undeniably one of the finest cities in the world. The character of the streets and buildings resemble in some respects those of London; while parts of the town put me in mind of Paris. I staid for two days at a private boarding-house, where the dinners, and the mode of serving them up, reminded me very strongly of the tables d'hôte of the French: the style of dress too, though not peculiar, savoured of Parisian life.
On the third morning of my stay here, I rose, filled with visions of the mighty Falls, and embarked at about six o'clock in the morning, in a new river-boat called Niagara, more than 300 feet long! and most splendidly furnished. We proceeded up the river Hudson, at the rate of about fifteen miles an hour. I have never had an opportunity of witnessing the scenery of the Rhine; but my impression is that the Hudson from New York to Albany, 150 miles, is in no way inferior in beauty and variety. We reached Albany early in the evening. This town is the seat of government for the State of New York, but is very small compared with that city. The next evening I paid my fare by railway to Buffalo, 332 miles. This is a single line nearly all the way, except at certain places, where it is double, so as to allow trains to pass each other. I arrived at Buffalo, a large town on lake Erie, the next night; and having had a few hours' sleep, proceeded to the Falls by the Niagara and Buffalo railway. The train was drawn by an engine named after the Falls, which we reached in about an hour, the distance being twenty-five miles. On Saturday, then, at about ten o'clock, the 27th of September, I found myself in the village of Niagara, which is quite adjacent to the cataract, and was greeted by the thunder of its mighty waters. After leaving the train, I proceeded to the American Fall. There is a small balcony, built of timber, which projects over the commencement of this Fall. It was here that I obtained my first glimpse of Niagara. I found that I had just sufficient nerve to venture to the end of this balcony, and then I cast my eyes into the
gulf below. I felt bewildered and astonished, and a slight feeling of desire to jump over the rail into the abyss below, came over my mind. A magnificent rainbow extended its brilliant hues from the top of the Fall, until they were intermingled with the foam which always conceals its base. I was particularly fortunate in the day, which was fine and warm, the sun being only occasionally obscured by some passing clouds. Not far from this spot there is a cutting through the upper part of the cliff, by which means a railway at an angle of 45° has been constructed from the top of the cliff, right down to the beach below the Falls; this is intended for the conveyance of luggage belonging to those who wish to cross the river. There is a long flight of steps by the side of this railway, down which I descended; and, clambering over the rocks at the foot of the Fall, obtained a very imposing view from this position; the amazing mass of deepgreen waters, seeming to fall direct from the bright blue sky, which formed the lofty horizon.
I then proceeded to cross the ferry, which to my surprise was almost close to the American Fall. A black rowed us over this sea of troubled waters in about eight minutes; and after partaking of some refreshment, and a walk of half a mile, I stood on the Table Rock. The dream of years was realized; the awful floods of eternity swept past me with an overwhelming force, that, augmenting the farther they descended, seemed to set all calculation at defiance; till, plunging into the abyss below with a fearful crash, they sent up far over my head an enormous volume of foam and mist, which if the wind is from the American shore, will drench you to the skin in a few seconds Some transatlantic mathematicians have calculated that the power of Niagara is twenty times greater than all the steam-engines of Great Britain, or sufficient to set in motion all the artificial machinery on the face of the globe!
I then descended by means of a spiral staircase, and stood below the Table Rock. This view is singularly awful and terrific; and, combined with the recommendation of the
guide to enter the cavern which extends 180 feet behind the Fall, filled me with a degree of indescribable horror. I reascended to the Table Rock, and remained there for about two hours; during which time the sun effectually dried my clothes. I soon after re-crossed the ferry, and then went to the St. Lawrence Hotel in the village. Having left my carpet-bag there, I crossed the bridge, reached Goat Island, wrote my name in a book kept for the purpose of receiving the names of visitors, and spent the afternoon in visiting the principal points of view from this romantic spot. The views from the craggy beach below Goat Island are peculiarly beautiful. I should recommend those who may visit this lovely island, to cross the Terrapin Bridge, and also to mount the tower at its extremity, which is about 45 feet high. I have heard of persons being disappointed with Niagara : to me it appears, that if bad taste may be considered a species of insanity, such persons ought to be regarded as maniacs.
I spent the early part of the Sunday in viewing the whirlpool, three miles below the Falls, which in point of real interest cannot be at all compared with Niagara. The same day I returned to Buffalo, and proceeded on to Boston; which I reached on the first of October, only an hour before the Britannia mail-steamer slipped her cable. This fine vessel, commanded by Captain Hewitt, whose gentlemanly conduct seemed to give great satisfaction to all the passengers, had a narrow escape; as she nearly run on an iceberg about 200 feet high. The absorption of caloric by a large iceberg may be perceived at half a mile distant, and on a dark night this increase of cold will give warning of danger: but guarded by a good Providence, she eventually arrived in safety a Liverpool.
Gentle Reader! fully impressed as I was during a stay of not more than thirty hours at Niagara with its surpassing grandeur, I feel my own inability to convey in words a just idea of this the most stupendous cataract on the face of the globe. I shall therefore borrow assistance from the best descriptions which I have been able to collect.
THE RAPIDS.-GOAT ISLAND.
I MUST here apprize the reader, that it were vain to attempt a graphic description of the Falls and surrounding scenery; for they so immeasurably exceed everything of the kind elsewhere seen or even imagined, that no power of language can give any adequate idea of them to those who have not been present to hear and see for themselves. Captain Basil Hall remarks, "All parts of Niagara are on a scale which baffles every attempt of the imagination, and it were ridiculous therefore, to think of describing it; the ordinary means of description, I mean analogy, and direct comparison, with things which are more accessible, fail entirely in the case of that amazing cataract, which is altogether unique."
"All the pictures you may see," says J. J. Audubon, "all the descriptions you may read, of these mighty Falls, can only produce in your mind the faint glimmer of the glow-worm, compared with the overpowering glory of the meridian sun.
Those scenes, which are sketched in the following pages, may be considered, therefore, only as a very faint outline, or shadow, of the reality.
Below the termination of Grand and Navy Islands, the river is compressed to the width of two and a half miles; and pressing forward with accelerated motion, it commences, about three-fourths of a mile above the Falls, a rapid descent making within that distance a slope or succession of chutes, amounting to fifty-two feet on the American side, and fiftyseven on the other. The tremendous and beautiful rapids thus formed, constitute a very important part of the grand and unparalleled curiosities of this river. Were they in any other place, they would of themselves be considered as a scene of great beauty and sublimity, equalled only by the ocean when lashed into foam and fury by the angry tempest. Many visitors express themselves more delighted, and unexpectedly filled with wonder, at seeing the rapids than the Falls themselves.