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audible. I mention this because during the whole period of my stay, the circumstance was accompanied by serious annoyance. At night it was impossible to enjoy anything which could be called sleep. Whenever I closed my eyes, there was a torrent foaming before them. Amid the darkness of the midnight, I was still gazing on the Horse-Shoe, and the noise of the cataract, mingling with these visions of a perturbed imagination, contributed to keep up the delusion. My dreams were of rapids and waterfalls, and the exhaustion produced by this state of continual fever became so great, that by day I often wandered to the quiet recesses of the forest, where, undisturbed by the din of waters, I might enjoy a comfortable nap. On the day after my arrival, the weather fortunately. became fine, my hours were devoted to the Horse-Shoe, which I viewed from every favourable point. About half a mile below, there is a shantee or log tavern, where brandy is attainable by gentlemen of sluggish temperament, who, surrounded by such objects, still require the stimulus of alcohol! From this tavern there is a circular wooden stair which leads down into the bed of the river, and on descending, I found myself at once immersed in a region of eternal moisture. By dint of scrambling along the debris of the overhanging rocks, I contrived to approach within a short distance of the Fall; and so powerful is the impression here produced, that a considerable time elapses before the spectator can command his faculties in a sufficient degree to examine its details. He stands amid a whirlwind of spray; and the gloom of the abyss, the dark firmament of rock which threatens destruction to the intruder, the terrors of the descending torrent, the deep thunder of its roar, and the fearful convulsion of the waters into which it falls, constitute the features of a scene, the sublimity of which undoubtedly extends to the very verge of horror.
The epithet of "Horse-Shoe" is no longer applicable to the greater Fall. In the progress of those changes which are continually taking place from the attrition of the cataract, it has assumed a form which I should describe as that of a
semi-hexagon. The vast body of water in the centre of this figure, descends in one unbroken sheet of vivid green, and contrasts finely with the awful perturbation of the caldron. But towards either extremity it is different. The water there, at the very commencement of its descent, is shivered into particles inconceivably minute, and assumes a thousand beautiful forms of spires and pinnacles radiant with prismatic colours.
In the vast receptacle beneath, the water is so comminuted, and blended with air carried down by the cascadeprobably to the depth of many hundred feet-that none but substances of the greatest buoyancy could possibly float on it. The appearance of the surface is very remarkable. It is that of finely triturated silver, in which, though the particles are in close proximity, there is no amalgamation. The whole mass is in convulsive and furious agitation, and continues so until, having reached to a considerable distance, the commotion gradually diminishes, and the water reassumes its ordinary appearance.
It is possible to advance a considerable distance behind the cascade, and I determined to accomplish the achievement. Having marshalled my energies for the undertaking, I contrived to advance, but the tempest of dense spray became suddenly so violent as apparently to preclude the possibility of further progress. I was driven back several yards half-suffocated and entirely blinded. But the guide encouraged me to proceed, and accordingly, Teucro duce, I made another and more successful effort. Having penetrated behind the Fall, the only footing was a ledge of rock about two feet broad, which was occasionally narrowed by projections in the face of the cliff. But even under these circumstances the undertaking is one of difficulty, rather than of danger. A great portion of the air carried down by the cataract is immediately disengaged, and the consequence is, that an intruder has to encounter a strong breeze which blows upwards from the caldron, and sometimes even dashes him with unpleasant violence against the rock along which
he is scrambling. As a practical illustration of this, our conductor plunged fearlessly down the precipitous rock to the very edge of the gulf, and was immediately blown back, with little effort of his own, to our narrow pathway. At length, having advanced about fifty yards, the guide informed me that further progress was impossible. I had certainly no objection to retrace my steps, for my lungs played with extreme difficulty, and the hurricane of wind and spray seemed to threaten utter extinction of sight. It was impossible, however, to depart without gazing on the wonder I had visited. Far overhead was a canopy of rock; behind, the perpendicular cliff; in front, the cascade-a glorious curtain-seemed to hang between us and the world. One's feelings were those of a prisoner. But never, surely, was there so magnificent a dungeon!
The noise of the great cataract is certainly far less than might be expected. Even at its very brink, conversation may be carried on without any considerable elevation of the voice. The sound is that of thunder in its greatest intensity, deep, unbroken, and unchanging. There is no hissing nor splashing; nothing which breaks sharply on the ear; nothing which comes in any degree into collision with the sounds of either earth or air. Nothing extrinsic can either add to, or diminish its volume. It mingles with no other voice, and it absorbs none. It would be heard amid the roaring of a volcano, and yet does not drown the chirping of a sparrow.
Visitors generally wish, however, for a greater crash on the tympanum, for something to stun or stupify, and return home complaining that Niagara is less noisy than Trenton, or the Cohoes. This is a mistake. The volume of sound produced by the Horse-Shoe Fall, is far greater than they ever heard before, or probably will ever hear again. When the atmosphere is in a condition favourable to act as a conductor of sound, it may be heard at a distance of fifteen or even twenty miles. A passenger in the coach, who lived six miles beyond Lewiston, assured me, that in particular states of the barometer, the noise was there distinctly perceptible.
But it should be remembered, that the great body of sound is generated in a cavern far below the level of the surrounding country, and fenced in on three sides by walls of perpendicular rock. The noise vibrates from side to side of this sunless cavity, and only a small portion escapes into the upper air, through the dense canopy of spray and vapour by which it is overhung. As an experiment, I employed a man to fire a musket below, while I stood on the Table Rock. The report was certainly audible, but scarcely louder than that of
The grandeur of the rapids is worthy of the cataracts in which they terminate. In the greater branch, the river comes foaming down with prodigious velocity, and presents a surface of agitated billows dashing wildly through the rocks and islands. This scene of commotion continues till within about thirty yards of the Fall. Then the great body of the stream resumes its tranquillity, and in solemn grandeur descends into the cloudy and unfathomable abyss. Never was there a nobler prelude to a sublime catastrophe!
I at length crossed to the American side. If there were no Horse-Shoe Fall, the American would be the wonder of the world. Seen from below, it is very noble. The whole body of the water is at once shattered into foam, and comes down in a thousand feathery and fantastic shapes, which, in a bright sunshine, as I beheld them, were resplendently beautiful.
But the form of the American Fall is unfortunate. straight line is never favourable to beauty, and the cataract descends not into a dark abyss of convulsed and fathomless waters, but amid fragments of rock, from which it again rushes onward to the main bed of the river. In short, a traveller from the Canadian shore has very little disposable admiration to lavish on this splendid object, and generally regards it with a cold and negligent eye.
In the neighbourhood of the Falls, one can think of nothing else. They affect all thoughts and impulses, the waking reverie, and the midnight dream. Every day of my
stay was the same. Scarcely was my breakfast concluded, when, putting a book in my pocket, I sallied down to the river, to lose and neglect the creeping hours of time, in the neighbourhood of the Horse-Shoe. About a quarter of a mile above, the stream had deposited a number of huge trees, and I employed several men to launch them sucessively into the stream, while I stood on the extreme point of the Table Rock to observe their descent. One by one, the vast masses each fit for the mast" of some great ammiral" -came floating down, sometimes engulfed in the foaming eddies, sometimes driven with fury against the rocks, and then rushing onward with increased velocity, till, reaching the smooth water, the forest giants were floated slowly onward to the brink of the precipice, when they were seen
Nothing which enters the awful caldron of the Fall, is ever seen to emerge from it. Of three gun-boats which, some years after the termination of the war, were sent over the Falls, one fragment only, about a foot in length, was ever discovered. It was found near Kingston, about a month after the descent of the vessels. The country around Niagara is picturesque, and in a fine state of cultivation. English habits of agriculture evidently prevail. There is a greater appearance of neatness than I have seen anywhere in the United States. The fences are in excellent order, and the fields are not disfigured by stumps of decaying timber. The farms are in general large; many containing two hundred acres of cleared land, and their owners are reputed wealthy. I dined with one of these gentlemen, and found comfort combined with hospitality.
Before quitting the subject of the Falls, I would willingly say something which may be of use to future visitors. It is usual with these persons to give the first day or two to the American Falls and Goat Island. This strikes me as bad policy. The American Fall is just fine enough to impair the subsequent impression of the Horse-Shoe. By adhering to the former routine, visitors come to the latter with an