« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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 angular 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 display upon their surfaces fossil shells, and the organic remains 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; clouds of spray sometimes envelope him, and suddenly check his faltering steps; rattlesnakes start from the cavities of the rocks, and the scream of eagles soaring among the whirlwinds of eddying vapour which obscure the gulf of the cataract, at intervals announce that the raging waters have hurled 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 only of one emotion,that of uncontrollable terror.
A little way below the Great Fall, the river is, comparatively speaking, so tranquil, that a ferry-boat plies between 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 surpassing 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 the gorgeous decorations of this
theatre of wonders, while a dazzling sun shed refulgent glories upon every part of the scene. Surrounded with clouds of vapour, and stunned into a state of confusion and terror by the hideous noise, I looked upwards to the height of one hundred and fifty feet, and saw vast floods, dense, awful, and stupendous, vehemently bursting over the precipice, and rolling down, as if the windows of heaven were opened to pour another deluge upon the earth. Loud sounds, resembling discharges of artillery or volcanic explosions, were now distinguishable 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 succession 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. A gentle breeze ruffled the waters, and beautiful birds fluttered around, as if to welcome its egress from those clouds and thunders and rainbows, which were the heralds of its precipitation into the abyss of the cataract.
Her mighty sails the breezes swell,
And fast she leaves the lessening land;
Is waved by many a snowy hand;
Until its verge she wanders o'er:
That bark was never heard of more!
In her was many a mother's joy,
And love of many a weeping fair; For her was wafted, in its sigh,
The lonely heart's unceasing prayer:
Of ardent youth that vessel bore;
For she was never heard of more!
While on her wide and trackless path
Of desolation, doom'd to flee,
Of racking clouds and rolling sea;
Went drifting on a fatal shore? Vain guesses all—her destiny
Is dark-she ne'er was heard of more!
The moon hath twelve times charged her form
From glowing orb to crescent wan, 'Mid skies of calm, and scowl of storm,
Since from her port that ship hath gone; But ocean keeps its secret well,
And though we know that all is o'er, No eye
hath seen-no tongue can tell Her fatem she ne'er was heard of more!
Oh! were her tale of sorrow known,
'Twere something to the broken heart; The pangs
of doubt would then be gone, And fancy's endless dreams depart. It may not be!-there is no ray
By which her doom we may explore; We only know she sail'd away,
And ne'er was seen nor heard of more!
CURSE OF THE DOGE OF VENICE.
I speak to Time and to Eternity,
up from the abyss of time to be,
in sacrifice! She shall be bought.
Thy sons are in the lowest scale of being,
Slave, do thine office!
THE REGULARITY OF NATURE.
The constancy of Nature is taught by universal experience, and even strikes the popular eye as the most characteristic of those features which have been impressed upon her. It may need the aid of philosophy to learn how unvarying Nature is in all her processes—how even her seeming anomalies can be traced to a law that is inflexible-how what might appear at first to be the caprices of her waywardness, are, in fact, the evolutions of a mechanism that