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comparatively shallow, but from shore to shore it frets itself into little torrents, and begins to assume the majesty of its power. Looking at it even here, in the expanse which forms itself over the greater fall, one feels sure that no strongest swimmer could have a chance of saving himself, if fate had cast him in even among those petty whirlpools. The waters, though so broken in their descent, are deliciously green. This colour as seen early in the morning, or just as the sun has set, is so bright as to give to the place of its chiefest charms.
This will be best seen from the further end of the island, Goat Island, as it is called, which, as the reader will understand, divides the river immediately above the falls. Indeed the island is a part of that precipitously broken ledge over which the river tumbles; and no doubt in process of time will be worn away and covered with water. The time, however, will be very long. In the meanwhile it is perhaps a mile round, and is covered thickly with timber. At the upper end of the island the waters are divided, and coming down in two courses, each over its own rapids, form two separate falls. The bridge by which the island is entered is a hundred yards or more above the smaller fall. The waters here have been turned by the island, and make their leap into the body of the river below at a right angle with it,-about two hundred yards below the greater fall
. Taken alone this smaller cataract would, I imagine, be the heaviest fall of water known, but taken in conjunction with the other it is terribly shorn of its majesty. The waters here are not green as they are at the larger cataract, and though the ledge has been hollowed and bowed by them so as to form a curve, that curve does not deepen itself into a vast abyss as it does at the horse-shoe up above. This smaller fall is again divided, and the visitor passing down a flight of steps and over a frail wooden bridge finds himself on a smaller island in the midst of it.
But we will go at once on to the glory, and the thunder, and the majesty, and the wrath of that upper hell of waters. We are still, let the reader remember, on Goat Island, still in the States, and on what is called the American side of the main body of the river. Advancing beyond the path leading down to the lesser fall
, we come to that point of the island at which the waters of the main river begin to descend. From hence across to the Canadian side the cataract continues itself in one unabated line. But the line is very far from being direct or straight. After stretching for some little way from the shore, to a point in the river which is reached by a wooden bridge at
the end of which stands a tower upon the rock,-after stretching to this, the line of the ledge bends inwards against the flood, -in, and in, and in, till one is led to think that the depth of that horse-shoe is immeasureable. It has been cut with no stinting hand. A monstrous cantle has been worn back out of the centre of the rock, so that the fury of the waters converges, and the spectator as he gazes into the hollow with wishful eyes fancies that he can hardly trace out the centre of the abyss.
Go down to the end of that wooden bridge, seat yourself on the rail, and there sit till all the outer world is lost to you. There is no grander spot about Niagara than this. The waters are absolutely around you. If you have that power of eye-control which is so necessary to the full enjoyment of scenery you will see nothing but the water. You will certainly hear nothing else; and the sound, I beg you to remember, is not an ear-cracking, agonizing crash and clang of noises; but is melodious, and soft withal, though loud as thunder. It fills your ears, and as it were envelopes them, but at the same time you can speak to your neighbour without an effort. But at this place, and in these moments, the less of speaking I should say the better. There is no grander spot than this. Here, seated on the rail of the bridge, you will not see the whole depth of the fall. In looking at the grandest works of nature, and of art too, I fancy, it is never well to see all
. There should be something left to the imagination, and much should be half concealed in mystery. The greatest charm of a mountain range is the wild feeling that there must be strange unknown desolate worlds in those far-off valleys beyond. And so here, at Niagara, that converging rush of waters may fall down, down at once into a hell of rivers for what the eye can see. It is glorious to watch them in their first curve over the rocks. They come green as a bank of emeralds; but with a fitful flying colour, as though conscious that in one moment more they would be dashed into spray and rise into air, pale as driven snow. The vapour rises high into the air, and is gathered there, visible always as a permanent white cloud over the cataract; but the bulk of the spray which fills the lower hollow of that horse-shoe is like a tumult of snow. This you will not fully see from your seat on the rail. The head of it rises ever and anon out of that caldron below, but the caldron itself will be invisible. It is ever so far down, --far as your own imagination can sink it. But your eyes will rest full upon the curve of the waters. The shape you will be looking at is that of a horse-shoe, but of a horse-sboe miraculously deep from toe to heel;—and this depth becomes greater as you
sit there. That which at first was only great and beautiful, becomes gigantic and sublime till the mind is at loss to find an epithet for its own use. To realize Niagara you must sit there till you see nothing else than that which you have come to see. You will hear nothing else, and think of nothing else. At length you will be at one with the tumbling river before you. You will find yourself among the waters as though you belonged to them. The cool liquid green will run through your veins, and the voice of the cataract will be the expression of your own heart. You will fall as the bright waters fall, rushing down into your new world with no hesitation and with no dismay; and you will rise again as the spray rises, bright, beautiful, and pure. Then you will flow away in your course to the uncompassed, distant, and eternal ocean.
When this state has been reached and has passed away you may get off your rail and mount the tower. I do not quite approve of that tower, seeing that it has about it a gingerbread air, and reminds one of those well-arranged scenes of romance in which one is told that on the left you turn to the lady's bower, price sixpence; and on the right ascend to the knight's bed, price sixpence more, with a view of the hermit's tomb thrown in. But nevertheless the tower is worth mounting, and no money is charged for the use of it. It is not very high, and there is a balcony at the top on which some half dozen persons may stand at ease. Here the mystery is lost, but the whole fall is seen.
It is not even at this spot brought so fully before your eye,-made to show itself in so complete and entire a shape, as it will do when you come to stand near to it on the opposite or Canadian shore. But I think that it shows itself more beautifully. And the form of the cataract is such, that, here in Goat Island, on the American side, no spray will reach you, although you are absolutely over the waters. But on the Canadian side, the road as it approaches the fall is wet and rotten with spray, and you, as you stand close upon the edge, will be wet also. The rainbows as they are seen through the rising cloud-for the sun's rays as seen through these waters show themselves in a bow as they do when seen through rain -are pretty enough, and are greatly loved. For myself I do not care for this prettiness at Niagara. It is there, but I forget it,--and do not mind how soon it is forgotten.
But we are still on the tower; and here I must declare that though I forgive the tower, I cannot forgive the horrid obelisk
I which bas latterly been built opposite to it, on the Canadian side, up above the fall; built apparently,-for I did not go to
it,—with some camera obscura intention for which the projector deserves to be put in Coventry by all good Christian men and women. At such a place as Niagara tasteless buildings, run up in wrong places with a view to money making, are perhaps necessary evils. It may be that they are not evils at all;--that they give more pleasure than pain, seeing that they tend to the enjoyment of the multitude. But there are edifices of this description which cry aloud to the gods by the force of their own ugliness and malposition. As to such it may be said that there should somewhere exist a power capable of crushing them in their birth. This new obelisk or picture-building at Niagara is one of such.
And now we will cross the water, and with this object will return by the bridge out of Goat Island on the main land of the American side. But as we do so let me say that one of the great charms of Niagara consists in this,—that over and above that one great object of wonder and beauty, there is so much little loveliness ;-loveliness especially of water I mean. There are little rivulets running here and there over little falls, with pendent boughs above them, and stones shining under their shallow depths. As the visitor stands and looks through the trees the rapids glitter before him, and then hide themselves behind islands. They glitter and sparkle in far distances under
. the bright foliage till the remembrance is lost, and one knows not which way they run. And then the river below, with its whirlpool;--but we shall come to that by-and-by, and to the mad voyage which was made down the rapids by that mad captain who ran the gauntlet of the waters at the risk of his own life, with fifty to one against him, in order that he might save another man's property from the Sheriff.
The readiest way across to Canada is by the ferry; and on the American side this is very pleasantly done. You go into a little house, pay 20 cents, take a seat on a wooden car of wonderful shape, and on the touch of a spring find yourself travela ling down an inclined plane of terrible declivity and at a very fast rate. You catch a glance of the river below you, and recognize the fact that if the rope by which you are held should break, you would go down at a very fast rate indeed, and find your final resting place in the river. As I have gone down some dozen times and have come to no such grief, I will not presume that you will be less lucky. Below there is a boat generally ready. If it be not there, the place is not chosen amiss for a rest of ten minutes, for the lesser fall is close at band, and the larger one is in full view. Looking at the rapidity of the river you will think that the passage must be dangerous and difficult. But no accidents ever happen, and the lad who takes you over seems to do it with sufficient ease. The walk up the hill on the other side is another thing. It is very steep, and for those who have not good locomotive power of their own, will be found to be disagreeable. In the full season, however, carriages are generally waiting there. In so short a distance I have always been ashamed to trust to other legs than my own, but I have observed that Americans are always dragged up. I have seen single young men of from eighteen to twenty-five, from whose outward appearance no story of idle luxurious life can be read, carried about alone in carriages over distances wbich would be counted as nothing by any healthy English lady of fifty. None but the old and invalids should require the assistance of carriages in seeing Niagara, but the trade in carriages is to all appearance the most brisk trade there.
Having mounted the hill on the Canada side you will walk on towards the falls. As I have said before, you will from this side look directly into the full circle of the upper cataract, while you will have before you at your left hand the whole expanse of the lesser fall. For those who desire to see all at a glance, who wish to comprise the whole with their eyes, and to leave nothing to be guessed, nothing to be surmised, this, no doubt, is the best point of view.
You will be covered with spray as you walk up to the ledge of rocks, but I do not think that the spray
you. man gets wet through going to his daily work, cold, catarrh, cough, and all their attendant evils may be expected; but these maladies usually spare the tourist. Change of air, plenty of air, excellence of air, and increased exercise make these things powerless. I should therefore bid you disregard the spray. If, however, you are yourself of a different opinion, you may hire a suit of oil-cloth clothes, for, I believe, a quarter of a dollar. They are nasty of course, and have this further disadvantage, that you become much more wet having them on than you would be without them.
Here, on this side, you walk on to the very edge of the cataract, and, if your tread be steady and your legs firm, you dip your foot into the water exactly at the spot where the thin outside margin of the current reaches the rocky edge and jumps to join the mass of the fall. The bed of white foam beneath is certainly seen better here than elsewhere, and the green curve of the water is as bright here as when seen from the wooden