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“ And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
Returns in an unceasing shower, which round
“ To the broad column which rolls on, and shows
More like the fountain of an infant sea
Of a new world, [than only thus to be .. Parent of rivers which flow gushingly,
With many windings through the vale:] Look back !
“ Horribly beautiful! but on the verge,
From side to side, beneath the glittering morn,
After having seen Niagara, I cannot but think this an exaggerated description of Terni, though when I visited that beautiful cascade, I recollect reading with the greatest delight these verses of the first of all living poets. But if Terni could inspire such verses what might we not expect if his Lordship should visit Niagara.
It was once an expedition of great trouble and fatigue to arrive at this place, but there are now most excellent inns on both sides of the river.
Those on the Canadian side are much to be preferred, as the other does not command a view of the falls. In Mr. Forsyth’s excellent house, I could look upon them from the window of the billiardroom ; and from some of the higher rooms I could see to the very centre of the horseshoe fall. Every thing has been done to render access to different parts of the scene easy, even to ladies. The Americans have thrown a wooden bridge from the New York side to Goat Island. Several bridges were swept away before one could be fixed; but the present one is now quite safe, and the piers standing in the centre of the terrible rapids, show what the perseverance and enterprise of man can effect. Goat Island could not previously be approached by any animals except birds. There are convenient wooden stairs attached to both of the perpendicular precipices below the falls, so that any one can easily descend and approach as near as he chooses to the foot of the cataracts.
Much has been said about the possibility of going a short distance under the sheet of falling water on the Canadian side. Now the rock below is indeed so much hollowed out, that the water pitches about ten feet beyond it, and at a short distance it appears very possible to go under. Moreover some persons in the neighbourhood told me, that they had advanced
as far as twenty feet under the fall. I determined therefore to imitate their example, a young American gentleman who was staying at Forsyth's of fering to accompany me. Having provided ourselves with staffs, &c. we descended the steps, and approached the falls. Although we were in a few moments completely wet to the skin, the water act tually running down our backs, we nevertheless proceeded to within five or six paces of the falling sheet. Here the air rushing out from the hollow between the rock and the cataract, accompanied by the tremendous roar which almost stunned us, and by a thick spray which beat in our faces like the most violent storm of rain, very much abated our ardour, and obliged us to turn our backs when we wanted to breathe. Trying to push on a few steps, the force of the current of air threw me down among the fragments of rock, which cut my arın. On my getting up again we were both glad to retreat for about forty paces.
Wishing however to succeed, we again ventured forward after a short rest, and advanced several paces further than the first time, even, as I believe, just below the edge of the sheet of water : but breathing only by sobs and with the greatest difficulty, and being blinded by the spray, as well as deafened by the thundering noise, we were again obliged to retreat, and give up the undertaking. Had I stumbled, after I had advanced as far as possible, I should most probably have rolled under the falling water and been torn to atoms. Forsyth told us, that when there is a strong wind blowing up the river, the spray is not by any means so violent, and that then it really is possible to go underneath the cataract; but, I must confess, that I am very sceptical about any one's having proceeded twenty feet under it.
Just below the wooden stairs is a small boat which is made use of for crossing from one side to the other. Those who are courageous enough not to mind a good ducking, and who have sufficiently strong lungs to breathe in an atmosphere so violently agitated and mixed with spray, may venture within twenty paces of the bottom of the cataract; but although there is little or no danger in so near an approach, yet so awful is the scene, that few have courage to venture. The tremendous violence of this “falling sea” appears to beat down the hissing and foaming water, which trie were to boil up again, although seeming to tremble at the leap already taken.
From hence, as far down as Queenstown, the banks of the river are from 200 to 300 feet high, and quite perpendicular. . A few miles below the falls, the stream, which is much contracted, turns off at right angles, and forms what is called “ The Great Whirlpool.” This is a very curious and remarkable place; for the water which rushes into it with great violence, brings down large trees and logs, which to the number of some hundreds keep constantly following one another in a circle.' On coming to the point where the rapids terminate, they are plunged under water, carried a considerable distance, and then re-appear on the surface to continue their mazy course.
On viewing the banks from the falls to Queenstown, a distance of seven miles, nothing can be more evident than that the water once fell at that place. No doubt it has been many hundred centuries in cutting its way to its present site, but as the strata over which the water flows are horizontal, the attrition must of course be slower than it otherwise would be. Slowly indeed, but not less certainly, the cataract recedes towards Lake Erie; and after the lapse of another series of ages, it will partly drain that lake, and produce important changes on those above it. Mr. Forsyth, who had resided on the spot for forty years, told me, that in his recollection the centre of the Horseshoe-fall has receded from ten to fifteen yards: and as some intelligent travellers have placed upright a few large stones in front of the other hotel, which when taken in line point exactly to the present centre of the fall, it will of course be ascertained at the end of a certain number of years, how much this centre recedes annually.
Few places would afford a more agreeable summer's residence than the neighbourhood of the falls. There is plenty of shooting to be had at a short distance, and the fishing is perhaps the best in the