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Then when I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one-instant and lasting-of the tremendous spectacle, was-Peace, Peace of Mind: Tranquillity: Calm recollections of the dead: Great Thoughts of Eternal Rest and Happiness: nothing of Gloom or Terror. Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an Image of Beauty; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease to beat for ever.
Oh, how the strife and trouble of our daily life receded from my view, and lessened in the distance, during the ten memorable days we passed on that Enchanted Ground!
What voices spoke from out the thundering water; what faces, faded from the earth, looked out upon me from its gleaming depths; what heavenly promise glistened in those angels' tears, the drops of many hues, that showered around, and twined themselves about the gorgeous arches which the changing rainbows made!
I never stirred in all that time from the Canadian side, whither I had gone at first. I never crossed the river again; for I knew there were people on the other shore, and in such a place it is natural to shun strange company. To wander to and fro all day, and see the cataracts from all points of view: to stand upon the edge of the Great Horse-Shoe Fall, marking the hurried water gathering strength as it approached the verge, yet seeming, too, to pause before it shot into the gulf below; to gaze from the river's level up at the torrent as it came streaming down; to climb the neighbouring heights. and watch it through the trees, and see the wreathing water in the rapids hurrying on to take its fearful plunge; to linger in the shadow of the solemn rocks three miles below; watching the river, as, stirred by no visible cause, it heaved and eddied and awoke the echoes, being troubled yet, far down the surface by its giant leap; to have Niagara before me, lighted by the sun and by the moon, and in the day's decline, and gray as evening slowly fell upon it; to look upon it every day, and wake up in the night, and hear its ceaseless voice! This was enough.
I think, in every quiet season now, still do those waters roll and leap, and roar and tumble, all day long;-still are the rainbows spanning them, a hundred feet below ;—still when the sun is on them do they shine and glow like molten gold; -still when the day is gloomy, do they fall like snow, or seem to crumble away like the front of a great chalk-cliff, or roll down the rock like dense white smoke. But always does the
mighty stream appear to die as it comes down, and always from its unfathomable grave arises that tremendous ghost of spray and mist which is never laid; which has haunted this place with the same dread solemnity since darkness brooded over the deep, and that first flood, before the deluge,—Light, came rushing on Creation at the word of God.
(From her Domestic Manners of the Americans, in 1830.)
Ar length we reached Niagara. It was the brightest day
After one long steadfast gaze, we quitted the gallery, that we might approach still nearer, and in leaving the
house had the good fortune to meet an English gentleman,* who had been introduced to us at New York; he had preceded us but a few days, and knew exactly how and where to lead us. If any man living can describe the scene we looked upon, it is himself, and I trust he will do it. As for myself, I can only say, that wonder, terror, and delight completely overwhelmed me. I wept with a strange mixture of pleasure and of pain, and certainly was for some time too violently affected in the physique to be capable of much pleasure; but when this emotion of the senses subsided, and I had recovered some degree of composure, my enjoyment was very great indeed. To say that I was not disappointed, is but a weak expression to convey the surprise and astonishment which this long-dreamed-of scene produced. It has to me something beyond its vastness; there is a shadowy mystery hangs about it, which neither the eye nor even the imagination can penetrate; but I dare not dwell on this, it is a dangerous subject, and any attempt to describe the sensations produced must lead direct to nonsense.
Exactly at the Fall, it is the Fall and nothing else you have to look upon; there are not, as at Trenton, mighty rocks and towering forests. There is only the waterfall; but it is the fall of an ocean; and were Pelion piled on Ossa, on either side of it, we could not look at them.
The noise is greatly less than I expected; one can hear with perfect distinctness everything said in an ordinary tone, when quite close to the cataract. The cause of this I imagine to be that it does not fall immediately among rocks, like the far noisier Potomac, but direct and unbroken, save by its own rebound. The colour of the water before this rebound hides it in foam and mist, is of the brightest and most delicate green; the violence of the impulse sends it far over the precipice before it falls, and the effect of the ever-varying light, through its transparency is, I think, the loveliest thing I ever looked upon.
We descended to the edge of the gulf which receives the The accomplished author of " Cyril Thornton."
torrent, and thence looked at the Horse-Shoe Fall in profile; it seems like awful daring to stand beside it, and raise one's eyes to its immensity. I think the point most utterly inconceivable to those who have not seen it, is the centre of the Horse-Shoe. The force of the torrent converges there; and as the heavy mass pours in, twisted, wreathed, and curled together, it gives an idea of irresistible power, such as no other object ever conveyed to me. The following anecdote, which I had from good authority, may give some notion of this mighty power.
After the last American war, three of our ships, stationed on Lake Erie, were declared unfit for service, and condemned. Some of their officers obtained permission to send them over Niagara Falls. The first was torn to shivers by the rapids, and went over in fragments; the second filled with water before she reached the Fall; but the third, which was in better condition, took the leap gallantly, and retained her form till it was hid in the cloud of mist below. A reward of ten dollars was offered for the largest fragment of wood that could be found from either wreck, five for the second, and so on. One morsel only was ever seen, and that about a foot in length; it was marked as by a vice, and its edges notched like the teeth of a saw. What had become of the immense quantity of wood which had been precipitated? What unknown whirlpool had ingulfed, so that, contrary to the very laws of nature, no vestige of the floating material could find its way to the surface?
Beyond the Horse-Shoe is Goat Island. and beyond Goat Island the American Fall. bold straight, and chafed to snowy whiteness by the rocks wnicn meet it; but it does not approach in sublimity or awful beauty, to the wondrous crescent on the other shore. There, the form of the mighty caldron, into which the deluge pours, the hundred silvery torrents congregated round its verge, the smooth and solemn movement with which it rolls its massive volume over the rock, the liquid emerald of its long-unbroken waters, the fantastic wreaths which spring to meet it, and then the shadowy
mist that veils the horrors of its crash below, constitute a scene almost too enormous in its features for man to look upon. "Angels might tremble as they gazed," and I should deem the nerves obtuse, rather than strong, which did not quail at first sight of this stupendous cataract. After breakfast we crossed to the American side, and explored Goat Island. The passage across the Niagara, directly in face of the Falls, is one of the most delightful little voyages imaginable; the boat crosses marvellously near them, and within reach of a light shower of spray. Real safety and apparent danger have each their share in the pleasure felt. The river is here two hundred feet deep. The passage up the rock brings you close upon the American cataract; it is a vast sheet, and has all the sublimity which height, and width, and uproar can give; but it has none of the magic of its rival about it. Goat Island has, at all points, a fine view of the rapids; the furious velocity with which they rush onwards to the abyss is terrific; and the throwing a bridge across them was a work of noble daring.
Below the Falls, the river runs between lofty rocks, crowned with unbroken forests; this scene forms a striking contrast to the level shores above the cataract. It appears as if the level of the river had been broken up by some volcanic force. The Niagara flows out of Lake Erie, a broad, deep river; but for several miles its course is tranquil, and its shores perfectly level.
By degrees its bed begins to sink, and the glassy smoothness is disturbed by a slight ripple. The inverted trees, that before lay so softly upon its bosom, become twisted and tortured till they lose their form, and seem madly to mix in the tumult that destroys them. The current becomes more rapid at every step, till rock after rock has chafed the stream to fury; making the green, one white. This lasts for a mile, and then down sink the rocks at once, one hundred and fifty feet, and the enormous flood falls after them, God said, let there be a cataract, and it was so. How utterly futile must