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appetite partially sated, and the effect of the first burst of this sublime object is diminished. I would advise all travellers, therefore, to proceed first to the Table Rock, and thus receive his first impression of the cataract. With regard to the time which a traveller should give to the Falls, it is impossible to fix on any definite period. The imagination requires some time to expand itself, in order to take in the vastness of the objects. At first, the agitation of nerve is too great a spectator can only gaze-he cannot contemplate. For some days the impression of their glory and magnitude will increase; and so long as this is the case, let him remain. His time could not be better spent: he is hoarding up a store of sublime memories for his whole future life. But intimacy—such is our nature-soon degenerates into familiarity. He will at length begin to gaze on the scene around him with a listless eye. His imagination, in short, is palled with excitement. Let him watch for this crisis, and whenever he perceives it, pack up his portmanteau and depart. Niagara can do nothing more for him, and it should be his object to bear with him the deepest and most intense impression of its glories. Let him dream of them, but return to them no more. A second visit could only tend to unsettle and efface the impression of the first. Were I within a mile of Niagara, I should turn my steps in the opposite direction. Every passing year diminishes our susceptibility; and who would voluntarily bring to such objects a cold heart, and a faded imagination?
REMARKS ON NIAGARA.--BY T. R. PRESTON, IN 1842.
BUT a work of nature's hand, immeasurably surpassing in its marvels the enchanting Lake of the Thousand Islands, and baffling alike adequate description or correct analysis of feeling, in regard to the impression it creates, yet remains to be spoken of. Need I say, that I allude to the mighty
cataract of Niagara; or, as it is termed, par excellence, “The Falls."
It is far from my intention to attempt the delineation of an object which pens, far more able and practised than my own, have, at best, imperfectly succeeded in portraying; but it would evince such signal disrespect to the monarch of cataracts, and, moreover, constitute so marked a defect in a work having Canada for its theme, not to make incidental mention of this most striking feature of the country's aspect, that I feel it incumbent on me to say something on the matter. I have twice visited the Falls, and, like most other persons who have expressed an opinion on the subject, have found them to improve very much upon acquaintance, cultivated through the medium of close solitary studying, if I may use such a term in the sense in which I wish it to be understood. But I am unable to comprehend how, as is frequently averred, anything like disappointment can be felt, even by the most superficial observer, at a first view of them.
The wildest revellings of the imagination could by no possibility conjure up any object serving in the least degree as a standard of comparison whereby they might be measured, and, therefore, the reality surpassing, as in effect it does, all possible conception, one is positively debarred the right to contrast present enjoyment with past anticipation. Were persons who complain of the Falls not realizing their expectations, required to answer the interrogation, "what did you expect to see?" by a minute description of the object they had mentally created, they would be sadly bewildered for an answer and this is the only effectual means by which their inconsistency could be made apparent to themselves.
The way in which I found that I could best comprehend the magnitude and character of this stupendous cataract, was by lying flat upon the ground in its near vicinity, mentally dissecting it whilst so recumbent, and forming combinations of the particles ad infinitum. I know not if this suggestion be a novel one: but in my own case, its adoption was the result of accident, as I found that when close upon them,
I could not regard the Falls for many minutes together in an erect posture, without succumbing to an attracting influence, which I can compare only to the fascination exercised by the loadstone or the eye of the rattlesnake. I therefore adopted the alternative of prostrating myself (which answered the twofold purpose of reverence and convenience), and was in suchwise enabled to contemplate, for hours together, without apprehension for my personal safety, the stupendous monument of ages that stood reared before me.
Another means of arriving at a right appreciation of the magnitude of the Falls, is to perch yourself on the summit of the tower which stands upon a ledge of rock below Goat Island, and to look down from thence, not upon the Falls, but upon the centre of the rapids, and thus, following with your eye the maddened waters, as they converge, seemingly grasped by the out-stretched fingers (gathering from all points) of a concealed giant's hand, towards the middle of the Chute, trace them until they are finally precipitated into the troubled vortex below.
All immediately above, as also immediately beneath the sheet of water projected over, appears to be hurry, turmoil, wrath, and wild confusion; in the midst of which the propelled body, as if tacitly chiding the struggling waters in its rear for the display of so much petulant impatience, assumes to itself a calm, placid dignity and business-like air, implying that there exists no necessity for haste, and drops by means of its dense cubic weight, in close compact solidity to the bottom. It appeared to me that in thus contemplating the Falls, there are many valuable moral lessons to be learned; not the least prominent of which are-arrangement, design, and the preservation of order in the midst of seeming confusion.
As regards the realization of grand scenic effect in the appearance of the Falls, I fully concur in the opinion I have seen expressed, that the best means of inducing it consist in crossing the river at the ferry, to within about one-fourth of the distance from the American shore, and in so directing
your gaze from such point of view (never heeding the tossing, nor the saturation consequent on remaining in such a position,) as to take in the American and British Falls together, Goat Island, which lies between them, being shut in by the oblique line of vision.
The imaginary fabric you thus raise, is the complete side and the half-elliptic end of an immense crystalline hall; and you have only to people it with corresponding inhabitants, supposed to be dimly visible through the mist, to complete the delusion. On the occasion of my first visit to the Falls, which chanced to be just after the opening of the navigation, they still retained some portion of their wintry dress. On the second, on the contrary, their environing adornments were green trees and foliage; but it is to my mind doubtful even now, if these, after all, were so much in unison with the peculiar character of the main object, as the previous accumulated snow and clustering icicles.
The mingled feelings of awe, wonder, and admiration, which one experiences at sight of the Falls, how often soever they may be visited, is speedily succeeded (at least I, in common with many others, have found it so), by a wish to be alone with them, in order to ponder over, without the fear of interruption, their varied claims to attention, as well as to revel in the peculiar train of meditation which they have a tendency to awaken.
A sad accident had happened at the Falls just before my arrival there last summer, in an avalanche of rocks from Goat Island having crushed to death an American gentleman (a Dr. Hungerford, if I remember rightly), who chanced unfortunately to be beneath them.
The guide informed me with a dolorous accent, that this occurrence had also operated prejudicially to his interests, as people were deterred in consequence (and not unnaturally), from venturing as fearlessly as formerly within the space of the Horse-Shoe Fall curtained by the sheet of water.
To facilitate the means of progress over the precarious causeway of the narrow pass, he informed me that it was
intended to affix to the wall of the rock, iron cramps, supporting a railing, whereby the visitor might hold on; and certainly much praise would be due to those whose ingenuity and daring should succeed in perfecting such a peculiar piece of smithery. It is only surprising that a greater number of accidents does not happen at the Falls beyond such as actually take place, since the rocks on every side are gradually detaching themselves from their old positions, while the famed Table Rock itself, judging by the wide fissures it exhibits, appears about to follow the general example.
The poetry of the Cataract is unquestionably seriously impaired by the prose of every-day life pervading its vicinity; but how much soever this innovation may be a cause for lamentation to the admirer of nature in her wildest solitude, it is at least conducive to his individual comfort and convenience.
REMARKS OF HENNEPIN, TONTI, HONTAN, ETC.-1678.*
FATHER HENNEPIN, who visited this place in December, 1678, thus describes the Falls:-"Betwixt the Lakes Ontario and Erie, there is a vast and prodigious cadence of water, which falls down after a surprising and astonishing manner, insomuch that the universe does not afford its parallel. 'Tis true, Italy and Suedeland boast of some such things, but we may well say that they are but sorry patterns, when compared with this of which we now speak. At the foot of this horrible precipice, we meet with the river Niagara, which is not above a quarter of a league broad, but is wonderfully deep in some places. It is so rapid above this descent, that it violently hurries down the wild beasts while endeavouring to pass it to feed on the other side, they not being able to withstand the force of its current, which inevitably casts them headlong above six hundred feet high.
* These remarks on Niagara are considered the earliest on record.