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And the evening sun, as he leaves the world,
Looks kindly on that spot last.
The Pilgrim spirit has not fled:
It walks in noon's broad light;
With the holy stars, by night.
And shall guard this ice-bound shore,
Shall foam and freeze no more.
THE GOOD GREAT MAN.
Honor or wealth, with all his worth and pains!
Or any merit that which he obtains.
For shame, dear friend ; renounce this canting strain.
*See page 347 for biographical sketch.
ISXIII. — THE FALLS OF NIAGARA.
Howison. From “Sketches of Upper Canada,” by John Howison, published in Edin
burgh, in 1821.] Now that I propose to attempt a description of the Falls of Niagara, I feel myself threatened with a return of those throbs of trembling expectation which agitated me
on my first visit to those stupendous cataracts; and to 5 which every person of the least sensibility is liable, when
he is on the eve of seeing anything that has strongly excited his curiosity, or powerfully affected his imagination.
The form of Niagara Falls is that of an irregular semicircle, about three quarters of a mile in extent. This is di. 10 vided into two distinct cascades by the intervention of Goat
Island, the extremity of which is perpendicular, and in a line with the precipice over which the water is projected. The cataract on the Canada side of the river is called the
Horseshoe or Great Fall, from its peculiar form, and that 15 next the United States, the American Fall.
The Table Rock, from which the Falls of Niagara may be contemplated in all their grandeur, lies on an exact level with the edge of the cataract on the Canada side,
and, indeed, forms a part of the precipice over which the 20 water gushes. It derives its name from the circumstance
of its projecting beyond the cliffs that support it, like the leaf of a table. To gain this position, it is necessary to descend a steep bank, and to follow a path that winds
among shrubbery and trees, which entirely conceal from 25 the eye the scene that awaits him who traverses it.
When near the termination of this road, a few steps carried me beyond all these obstructions, and a magnificent amphitheatre of cataracts burst upon my view with
appalling suddenness and majesty. However, in a mo30 ment the scene was concealed from my eyes by a dense
cloud of spray, which involved me so completely that I did not dare to extricate myself. A mingled rushing and thundering filled my ears. I could see nothing except when the wind made a chasm in the spray, and then tre.
mendous cataracts seemed to encompass me on every side ; 8 while below, a raging and foamy gulf of undiscoverable
extent lasked the rocks with its hissing waves, and swallowed, under a horrible obscurity, the smoking floods that were precipitated into its bosom.
At first the sky was obscured by clouds; but after a 10 few minutes the sun burst forth, and the breeze subsiding
at the same time permitted the spray to ascend perpendicularly. A host of pyramidal clouds rose majestically, one after another, from the abyss at the bottom of the fall;
and each, when it had ascended a little above the edge of 15 the cataract, displayed a beautiful rainbow, which in a
few moments was gradually transferred into the bosom of the cloud that immediately succeeded. The spray of the Great Fall had extended itself through a wide space di
rectly over me, and receiving the full influence of the sun, 20 exhibited a luminous and magnificent rainbow, which con
tinued to overarch and irradiate the spot on which I stood. while I enthusiastically contemplated the indescribable scene.
The body of water which composes the middle part of 25 the Great Fall is so immense that it descends nearly two
thirds of the space without being ruffled or broken ; and the solemn calmness with which it rolls over the edge of the precipice is finely contrasted with the perturbed ap
pearance it assumes after having reached the gulf below. 30 But the water towards each side of the fall is shattered the
moment it drops over the rock, and loses as it descends, in a great measure, the character of a fluid, being divided into pyramidal-shaped fragments, the bases of which are
turned upwards. 35 · The surface of the gulf below the cataract presents a
very singular aspect; seeming, as it were filled with an immense quantity of hoar frost, which is agitated by small and rapid undulations. The particles of water are dazzlingly white, and do not apparently unite together, as
might be supposed, but seem to continue for a time in a 5 state of distinct comminution, and to repel each other with
a thrilling and shivering motion which cannot easily be described.
The noise made by the Horseshoe Fall, though very great, is far less than might be expected, and varies in 10 loudness according to the state of the atmosphere. When
the weather is clear and frosty, it may be distinctly heard at the distance of ten or twelve miles — nay, much farther when there is a steady breeze; but I have frequently
stood upon the declivity of the high bank that overlooks 15 the Table Rock, and distinguished a low thundering only,
which at times was altogether drowned amid the roaring of the rapids above the cataract. In my opinion, the concave shape of the Great Fall explains this circumstance.
The noise vibrates from one side of the rocky recess to the 20 other, and only a little escapes from its confinement; and
even this is less distinctly heard than it would otherwise be, as the profusion of spray renders the air near the cataract a very indifferent conductor of sound.
The road to the bottom of the fall presents many more 25 difficulties than that which leads to the Table Rock. After
leaving the Table Rock, the traveller must proceed down the river nearly half a mile, where he will come to a small chasm in the bank, in which there is a spiral staircase en
closed in a wooden building. By descending this stair, 30 which is seventy or eighty feet in perpendicular height, he
will find himself under the precipice, on the top of which he formerly walked. A high but sloping bank extends from its base to the edge of the river; and on the summit
of this there is a narrow, slippery path, covered with an35 gular fragments of rock, which leads to the Great Fall.
The impending cliffs, hung with a profusion of trees and brushwood, overarch this road, and seem to vibrate with the thunders of the cataract. In some places they rise abruptly to the height of one hundred feet, and dis
play upon their surface fossils, shells, and the organic reý mains of a former world; thus sublimely leading the mind
to contemplate the convulsions which nature has undergone since the creation.
As the traveller advances, he is frightfully stunned by the appalling noise; for clouds of spray sometimes 10 envelop him, and suddenly check his faltering steps;
rattlesnakes start from the cavities of the rocks, and the screams of eagles soaring among the whirlwinds of eddying vapor, which obscure the gulf of the cataract, at
intervals announce that the raging waters have hurled ló some bewildered animal over the precipice.
After scrambling among piles of huge rocks that obstruct his way, the traveller gains the bottom of the fall where the soul can be susceptible of but one emotion,
namely, that of uncontrollable terror. It was not until 20 I had, by frequent excursions to the falls, in some measuro
familiarized my mind with their sublimities, that I ventured to explore the penetralia of the great cataract. Tho precipice over which it rolls is very much arched under
neath ; while the impetus which the water receives in its 20 descent projects it far beyond the cliff, and thus an immense Gothic arch is formed by the rock and the torrent.
Twice I entered this cavern, and twice I was obliged to retrace my steps, lest I should be suffocated by the blasts
of dense spray that whirled around me; however, the 80 third time I succeeded in advancing about twenty-five
yards. Here darkness began to encircle me; on one side the black cliff stretched itself into a gigantic arch far above my head, and on the other the dense and hissing
torrent formed an impenetrable sheet of foam, with which 35 I was drenched in a moment. The rocks were so slippery
that I could hardly keep my feet, or hold securely by them;