« 上一頁繼續 »
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 tremendous cataracts seemed to encompass me on every side; 5 while below, a raging and foamy gulf of undiscoverahle extent lashed 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 directly over me, and receiving the full influence of the sun, 20 exhibited a luminous and magnificent rainbow, which continued 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 appearance 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 fonffifrost. 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 enclosed 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 an
35 gular fragments of rock, which leads to the Great Fall. The impending cliffs, hung with a profusion ef tree? 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 display upon their surface fossils, shells, and the organic re5 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
15 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 measure 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 underneath; while the impetus which the water receives in its
2ft 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
30 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 thera; while the horrid din made me think the precipices above were tumbling down in colossal fragments upon my head.
It is not easy to determine how far an individual might advance between the sheet of water and the rock; but were 5 it even possible to explore the recess to its utmost extremity, scarcely any one, I believe, would have courage to attempt an expedition of the kind.
A little way below the Great Fall the river is, comparatively speaking, tranquil, so that a ferry boat plies be- 10 tween the Canada and American shores for the convenience of travellers. When I first crossed, the heaving flood tossed about the skiff with a violence that seemed very alarming; but as soon as we gained the middle of the river, my attention was altogether engaged by the surpass- 15 ing grandeur of the scene before me. I was now within the area of a semicircle of cataracts, more than three thousand feet in extent, and floated on the surface of a gulf raging,fathomless,and interminable. Majestic cliffs, splendid rainbows, lofty trees, and columns of spray were
Wj the gorgeous decorations of this theatre of wonders, while a dazzling sun shed refulgent glories upon the scene.
Surrounded with clouds of vapor, and stunned into a state of confusion and terror by the hideous noise. 1 looked upwards to the height of one hundred and fifty feet, and 25 saw vast floods, dense, awful, and stupendous, vehemently bursting over the precipice, and rolling down, as if the windows of heaven were open to pour another deluge upon the earth. Loud sounds, resembling discharges of artillery or volcanic explosions, were now distinguishable 30 amidst the watery tumult, and added terrors to the abyss from which they issued. The sun, looking majestically through the ascending spray, was encircled by a radiant halo, whilst fragments of rainbows floated on every side, and momentarily vanished, only to give place to a succes- 35 sion of others more brilliant. Looking backwards I saw the Niagara River,again become calm and tranquil, rolling magnificently between the towering cliffs that rose on either side, and receiving showers of orient dew-drops from the trees that gracefully overarched its transparent bosom. There have been instances of people being carried over 5 the falls, but I believe none of the bodies ever were found. The rapidity of the river, before it tumbles down the precipice, is so great, that a human body would certainly be whirled along without sinking; therefore some of those individuals, to whom I allude, probably retained their senses
10 till they reached the edge of the cataract, and even looked down upon the gulf into which they were the next moment precipitated.
Many years ago, an Indian, while attempting to cross the river above the falls in a canoe, had his paddle struck
15 from his hands by the rapidity of the currents. He was immediately hurried toward the cataract, and, seeing that death was inevitable, he covered his head with his cloak, and resigned himself to destruction. However, when he approached the edge of the cataract, shuddering nature,re
20 volted so strongly that he was seen to start up and stretch out his arms; but the canoe upset, and he was instantly ingulfed amidst the fury of the boiling surge.
XXXIV. —THE MISERIES OF WAR
[robert Hall wa8 born in Arnsby, Leicestershire, England, May 2,1784. and died in Bristol, February 21, 1831. He was educated at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, became a clergyman of the Baptist persuasion, and was settled first at Bristol, next at Cambridge, then at Leicester, and lastly at Bristol again. He was a very eloquent and popular preacher, and hardly less remarkable for conversational power. He was of robust figure, but of feeble health, with a countenance expressive of self-reliance and intellectual strength. His works, edited, with a memoir, by Olinthus Gregory, and witli an estimate of his character as a preacher, by John Foster, have been published in Kngland and America. They consist of sermons, occasional productions, and contributions to periodical literature. Their style is rich, animated, aud pure.]