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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 offering 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 actually 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. 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 tries as it 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
world. Thousands of salmon trout of a great size, together with white fish, &c. are caught immediately below the falls; and the numbers of large sturgeon that come up to the same place, afford excellent sport to those who are at all dexterous in throwing a fish spear. Above the falls also, a great quantity of very large fish is to be caught, either with nets or with the hook and line. While I was at Niagara the weather was uncommonly fine and warm, and the river, at a mile or two above the rapids, was spotted over every night in the most picturesque manner, with canoes carrying lighted torches of pitch-pine. Out of these boats the settlers and Indians transfix with their spears a great number of very large fish which are attracted by the light.
Along the whole of the Niagara frontier, several sharp little battles were fought between the British and Americans, during the last war.
Some of the information with regard to the environs of the Falls is extracted from Mr. Darby's interesting work, from which also is taken the very accurate map which is annexed.
LEAVING the Falls, I proceeded on an excursion to the small town of Buffalo, on Lake Erie. The road, on the Canadian side, runs close to the broad, deep, and rapid stream of the Niagara River, and passes through a cleared and well-cultivated country; while the views, presented as one drives along, are extremely beautiful. The Canadian bank is divided into well-cultivated fields, while that on the New York side remains covered with thick forest. But in consequence of the stimulus given by the neighbourhood of the Great Canal, the New York side is beginning to be settled, and will doubtless soon be as well cultivated as its Canadian rival.
After crossing the river at the little village of Blackrock, three miles of very bad road brought me to Buffalo, a small town, but which is rising to eminence with wonderful rapidity, from the circumstance of its being the place where the Grand Canal enters Lake Erie. Many of the Indians of the Six Nations were assembled here to receive payment from the United States for some lands purchased of them. Their number, in the town and its immediate neighbourhood, was about 1200, being a large portion of all that remains of these once powerful tribes.