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Thy reign is of the ancient days, thy sceptre from on high,
And from that hour to this, in which I gaze upon thy stream,
For whether on thy forest banks, the Indian of the wood,
Accept then, O Supremrly Great!-O Infinite !- O God!
The humble homage that my soul in gratitude would pay
To Thee! whose shield has guarded me through all my wandering way.
For if the Ocean be as nought in the hollow of thy hand,
And the Stars of the bright firmament, in thy balance grains of sand,
O! Great Creator of the Whole! how passing great art Thou!
Yet though Thy Power is greater than the finite mind can scan,
For him Thou clothed the fertile field with herb, and fruit, and seed,
Around-on high-or far-or near-the Universal Whole
It was with difficulty and reluctance that I tore myself away at last from the spot; and as all the way of our return was in sight of the magnificent Cataract, and the thunder of its fall was heard incessantly, and even felt by the tremulation of the floors, the windows, and slightly of the bed on which we lay, it was hardly to be wondered at that I should dream intensely of what had so powerfully impressed me during my waking hours; and that the view of its falling masses, and
the sound of its rushing torrents, should be as distinctly before my sight, and within my hearing, "in the visions of the night, when deep sleep cometh upon man," as they were during the day, when every faculty of my mind and heart was absorbed in the most profound and silent admiration.
The succeeding morning opened with rain, the only aspect under which we had not seen the Falls; and though it confined us to the hotel during the early part of the day, we were enabled to continue our excursions in the evening, and had not therefore much cause for regret. One effect of the rain was to produce a much greater appearance of mist rising from the bottom of the Fall, the column or cloud exceeding sometimes 100 feet above its ordinary line of height. Another effect, produced by the strong west wind that blew, was to accelerate the speed of the current above the Falls, and consequently to send a much larger volume of water over both. We were assured, by those who constantly reside here, that an easterly wind keeps back the current, and a westerly one accelerates it, to a degree sufficient to make a difference of from 20 to 30 feet in the elevation of the surface in the Strait below. This we could readily believe from the increased fury of the rapids above, whose waves were much more lofty, and their foam a more continuous and unbroken white than yesterday, while the mass of waters rolling over the upper edge of the Falls, seemed to leap farther out from the rock, and plunge with greater force into the stream below, from which, by this increased impetus of descent, and the general moisture of the upper atmosphere combined, the mist rose in clouds so thick, as sometimes to veil the surface of the Cataract, and then become gradually transparent like a thin sheet of the finest muslin. At intervals when the sun shone out, the rainbows at the feet of both the Falls were splendid, sometimes stationary, arched, and of the most vivid and clearly-defined colours; at others, presenting a sort of rainbow clouds, where bodies of mist would have all the prismatic rays marked on them, but in a floating and undulating series of curves, advancing and receding, so as to form a
wavy line, in perpetual motion, as if some colossal serpent of the mist was straining to ascend perpendicularly over the cliff; and waving the folds of his body in that undulating motion called serpentine, reflecting the prismatic rays from every part as it moved; it was altogether an unusual and most brilliant sight, and an ample compensation for the rainy morning in which it was seen.
In the evening as we sat in the balcony of the Clifton Hotel, enjoying the grandeur of both the Falls, amidst the obscurity of an unusally dark night, the white masses of each being just visible, with bright scintillations at one moment, and then the softened haze of the rising mist at another, several rockets and other fireworks were let off on the American side, which, for a moment, illumined the darkness, and as the fragments of the exploded rockets descended with their brilliant stars into the very centre of the Cataracts, the effect was strikingly beautiful.
The longer I gazed upon this sublime scene, the more powerfully I felt the force of that fascination which bound me like a spell to the spot; and I could readily believe that a few hours of silent and uninterrupted feeling, like this, would occasion such a high degree of nervous excitement, as to induce the wish to plunge into the stream, and be floated over on its gorgeous billows. I remember no other sight in the world that ever wrought upon my imagination or my feelings half so powerfully as this, and we were rather glad that we had made our arrangements for returning to the other side by noon, so that we were forced to leave sooner than we should otherwise have done, a scene which will never be obliterated from my memory.
"Colonel Whittlesey, in a geological survey of the Western Reserve of Ohio, or south shore of Lake Erie, states, that the whole of that region forms, to the south, a vast undulating table-land 500 feet high, which, as it approaches to a line within five miles of the lake, breaks off by a sudden precipice parallel with the lake, and forming without doubt, what was once the southern shore of the extended basin of the lake.
This ridge, we have no question, is continuous with a precisely similar formation observed on Niagara river, at Queenstown, and Lewiston, where the table-land, on either side level with Lake Erie above, abruptly falls some 300 feet, and is traceable from Lewiston, on the American side, for more than one hundred miles parallel with, and from five to ten miles from, the shore of Lake Ontario. We have no question that this ridge, known in our state as the beautiful natural turnpike, called the Ridge Road, could be traced to the head of the St. Lawrence, at the Thousand Isles, or commencement of the rapids-perhaps more probably, to the Heights of Abraham and Falls of Montmorency. At this latter, and soon up to the Thousand Isles above, some mighty rupture of the rocky beds beneath seems to have occurred by a convulsion of nature, and thus furnished a passage or drain for the Upper Lakes, into the Atlantic. Hence the reception of the waters of Ontario, which, until then, were continuous with Erie, and extended over the whole level region of the North Canada shore.
"The time when this convulsion occurred, must have been simultaneous with the production of the Falls of Niagara, which until then were a part of the shores of the two lakes, which here silently commingled their waters, until the sudden rupture and draining below, threw the momentum of the mighty flood from the now table-land, and then lakebed, at Queenstown, down the high precipice or naked shore, and thus excavated for themselves the deep channel of Niagara River from this point to the diminished basin of Ontario-leaving the mighty wonder behind, for the admiration of the world. From Queenstown, the Falls in course of time, by gradually, as they now hourly do, breaking off the soft shelving or calcareous rock, worked their way naturally up to their present position, seven miles above, and will ultimately penetrate into Lake Erie, when another draining will take place of Erie, Huron, and Michigan--both which latter are also doubtless diminished basins-up to the Sault St. Marie, or Low Falls, which divides these lower lakes from the
great inland sea of Lake Superior. When that event occurs, another Niagara will in the same way be formed at this passage into Lake Superior. And so the mighty work will proceed, until our lakes, which none of them have great rivers of their own to supply the present constant draining by the St. Lawrence, and by evaporation, will shrink to minor pools, leaving, ultimately, their rich beds bare, to become the seats of civilization, and of a vast population.
"These reflections might be extended to the more ancient period designated by Dr. Mitchell, when the lakes were all one continuous vast sea, bounded on the south-east by the chain of the Alleghannies, and through which the first great ruptures into the Atlantic, and the first drainings, were made by the passages excavated through the mountain-chain at various places, the Highlands of the Hudson, the Gap of the Delaware, the Blue Ridge at the junction of the Shenandoah with the Potomac, the passage of the Tenessee through the Cumberland mountains, &c."
NIAGARA.- BY TYRONE POWER, ESQ.* 1836.
(From his "Impressions of America.")
I FELT interested with Buffalo, and had promised myself much pleasure from a visit to the country occupied by a branch of the Seneca tribes in its neighbourhood; but Niagara was now within a few hours-the great object of the journey was almost in sight. I was for ever fancying that I heard the sound of the "Thunder Water "+ booming on the breeze; so, with a restlessness and anxiety not to be surpassed, I got into the coach on the day after my arrival at the capital of the lakes, and was in a short time set down on the bank of the swift river Niagara, at the ferry, which is
The celebrated delineator of Irish Characters; and who was unfortunately lost in the ship President, on her return voyage from America.
The Indian name Niagara" signifies Thunder-Water.