« PředchozíPokračovat »
plain the anatomical arrangement by which the elevator still devours and continues to devour, till the corn within its reach has all been swallowed, masticated, and digested. Its long trunk, as seen slanting down from out of the building across the wharf and into the ship, is a mere wooden pipe; but this pipe is divided within. It has two departments; and as the grain-bearing troughs pass up the one on a pliable band, they pass empty down the other. The system therefore is that of an ordinary dredging machine; only that corn, and not mud is taken away, and that the buckets or troughs are hidden from sight. Below, within the stomach of the poor bark, three or four labourers are at work, helping to feed the elevator. They shovel the corn up towards its maw, so that at every swallow he should take in all that he can hold. Thus the troughs, as they ascend, are kept full, and when they reach the upper building they empty themselves into a shoot, over which a porter stands guard, moderating the shoot by a door, which the weight of his finger can open and close. Through this doorway the corn runs into a measure, and is weighed. By measures of forty bushels each, the tale is kept. There stands the apparatus, with the figures plainly marked, over against the porter's eye; and as the sum mounts nearly up to forty bushels he closes the door till the grains run thinly through, hardly a handful at a time, so that the balance is exactly struck. Then the teller standing by marks down his figure, and the record is made. The exact porter touches the string of another door, and the forty bushels of corn run out at the bottom of the measure, disappear down another shoot, slanting also towards the water, and deposit themselves in the canal-boat. The transit of the bushels of corn from the larger vessel to the smaller will have taken less than a minute, and the cost of that transit will have been a farthing.
But I have spoken of the rivers of wheat, and I must explain what are those rivers. In the working of the elevator, which I have just attempted to describe, the two vessels were supposed to be lying at the same wharf, on the same side of the building, in the same water, the smaller vessel inside the larger one. When this is the case the corn runs direct from the weighing measure into the shoot that communicates with the canal boat. But there is not room or time for confining the work to one side of the building. There is water on both sides, and the corn or wheat is elevated on the one side, and re-shipped on the other. To effect this the corn is carried across the breadth of the building; but, nevertheless, it is never handled or moved in its direction on trucks or carriages requiring the use of men's muscles for its motion. Across the floor of the building are two gutters, or channels, and through these small troughs on a pliable band circulate very quickly. They which run one way, in one channel, are laden; they which return by the other channel are empty. The corn pours itself into these, and they again pour it into the shoot which commands the other water. And thus rivers of corn are running through these buildings night and day. The secret of all the motion and arrangement consists of course in the elevation. The corn is lifted up; and when lifted up can move itself and arrange itself, and weigh itself, and load itself.
I should have stated that all this wheat which passes through Buffalo comes loose, in bulk. Nothing is known of sacks or bags. To any spectator at Buffalo this becomes immediately a matter of course; but this should be explained, as we in England are not accustomed to see wheat travelling in this open, unguarded, and plebeian manner. Wheat with us is aristocratic, and travels always in its private carriage.
Over and beyond the elevators there is nothing specially worthy of remark at Buffalo. It is a fine city, like all other American cities of its class. The streets are broad, the “blocks” are high, and cars on tramways run all day, and nearly all night as well.
BUFFALO TO NEW YORK.
We had now before us only two points of interest before we should reach New York,—the Falls of Trenton, and West Point on the Hudson River. We were too late in the year to get up to Lake George, which lies in the State of New York, north of Albany, and is, in fact, the southern continuation of Lake Champlain. Lake George, I know, is very lovely, and I would fain have seen it; but visitors to it must have some hotel accommodation, and the hotel was closed when we were near enough to visit it. I was in its close neighbourhood three years since in June; but then the hotel was not yet opened. A visitor to Lake George must be very exact in his time. July and August are the months, --with perhaps the grace of a week in September.
The hotel at Trenton was also closed, as I was told. But even if there were no hotel at Trenton, it can be visited without difficulty. It is within a carriage drive of Utica, and there is more
over a direct railway from Utica, with a station at the Trenton Falls. Utica is a town on the line of railway from Buffalo to New York viâ Albany, and is like all the other towns we had visited. There are broad streets, and avenues of trees, and large shops, and excellent houses. A general air of fat prosperity pervades them all, and is strong at Utica as elsewhere.
I remember to have been told thirty years ago that a traveller might go far and wide in search of the picturesque, without finding a spot more romantic in its loveliness than Trenton Falls. The name of the river is Canada Creek West; but as that is hardly euphonious, the course of the water which forms the falls has been called after the town or parish. This course is nearly two miles in length, and along the space of these two miles it is impossible to say where the greatest beauty exists. To see Trenton aright one must be careful not to have too much water. A sufficiency is no doubt desirable, and it may be that at the close of summer,
of the autumnal rains have fallen, there may occasionally be an insufficiency. But if there be too much, the passage up the rocks along the river is impossible. The way on which the tourist should walk becomes the bed of the stream, and the great charm of the place cannot be enjoyed. That charm consists in descending into the ravine of the river, down amidst the rocks through which it has cut its channel, and in walking up the bed against the stream, in climbing the sides of the various falls, and sticking close to the river till an envious block is reached, which comes sheer down into the water, and prevents further progress. This is nearly two miles above the steps by which the descent is made; and not a foot of this distance but is wildly beautiful. When the river is very low there is a pathway even beyond that block; but when this is the case there can hardly be enough of water to make the fall satisfactory.
There is no one special cataract at Trenton which is in itself either wonderful or pre-eminently beautiful. It is the position, form, colour, and rapidity of the river which give the charm. It runs through a deep ravine, at the bottom of which the water has cut for itself a channel through the rocks, the sides of which rise sometimes with the sharpness of the walls of a stone sarcophagus. They are rounded too towards the bed, as I have seen the bottom of a sarcophagus. Along the side of the right bank of the river there is a passage, which when the freshets come is altogether covered. This passage is sometimes very narrow, but in the narrowest parts an iron chain is affixed into the rock. It is slippery and wet, and it is well for ladies, when visiting the place to be provided with outside india-rubber shoes, which keep a hold upon the stone. If I remember rightly there are two actual cataracts, one not far above the steps by which the descent is made into the channel, and the other close under a summer-house, near to which the visitors reascend into the wood. But these cataracts, though by no means despicable as cataracts, leave comparatively a slight impression. They tumble down with sufficient violence, and the usual fantastic disposition of their forces; but simply as cataracts, within a day's journey of Niagara, they would be nothing. Up beyond the summer-house the passage along the river can be continued for another mile, but it is rough, and the climbing in some places rather difficult for ladies. Every man, however, who has the use of his legs, should do it, for the succession of rapids, and the twistings of the channels, and the forms of the rocks are as wild and beautiful as the imagination can desire. The banks of the river are closely wooded on each side ; and though this circumstance does not at first seem to add much to the beauty, seeing that the ravine is so deep that the absence of wood above would hardly be noticed, still there are broken clefts ever and anon through which the colours of the foliage show themselves, and straggling boughs and rough roots break through the rocks here and there, and add to the wildness and charm of the whole.
The walk back from the summer-house through the wood is very lovely; but it would be a disappointing walk to visitors who had been prevented by a flood in the river from coming up the channel, for it indicates plainly how requisite it is that the river should be seen from below and not from above. The best view of the larger fall itself is that seen from the wood.
And here again I would point out that any male visitor should walk the channel of the river up and down. The descent is too slippery and difficult for bipeds laden with petticoats. We found a small hotel open at Trenton, at which we got a comfortable dinner, and then in the evening were driven back to Utica.
Albany is the capital of the State of New York, and our road from Trenton to West Point lay through that town; but these political State capitals have no interest in themselves. The State legislature was not sitting, and we went on, merely remarking that the manner in which the railway cars are made to run backward and forward through the crowded streets of the town must cause a frequent loss of human life. One is led to suppose that children in Albany can hardly have a chance of coming to maturity. Such accidents do not become the subject of long-continued and strong comment in the States as they do with us; but, nevertheless, I should have thought that such a state of things as we saw there would have given rise to some remark on the part of the philanthropists. I cannot myself say that I saw anybody killed, and therefore should not be justified in making more than this passing remark on the subject.
When first the Americans of the Northern States began to talk much of their country, their claims as to fine scenery were confined to Niagara and the Hudson River. Of Niagara, I have spoken, and all the world has acknowledged that no claim made on that head can be regarded as exaggerated. As to the Hudson, I am not prepared to say so much generally, though there is one spot upon it which cannot be beaten for sweetness. I have been up and down the Hudson by water, and confess that the entire river is pretty. But there is much of it that is not pre-eminently pretty among rivers. As a whole it cannot be named with the Upper Mississippi, with the Rhine, with the Moselle, or with the Upper Rhone. The palisades just out of New York are pretty, and the whole passage through the mountains from West Point up to Catskill and Hudson is interesting. But the glory of the Hudson is at West Point itself; and thither on this occasion we went direct by railway, and there we remained for two days. The Catskill mountains should be seen by a detour off from the river. We did not visit them because, here again, the hotel was closed. I will leave them therefore for the new handbook which Mr. Murray will soon bring out.
Of West Point there is something to be said independently of its scenery. It is the Sandhurst of the States. Here is their military school, from which officers are drafted to their regiments, and the tuition for military purposes is, I imagine, of a high order. It must, of course, be borne in mind that West Point, even as at present arranged, is fitted to the wants of the old army, and not to that of the army now required. It can go but a little way to supply officers for 500,000 men; but would do much towards supplying them for 40,000. At the time of my visit to West Point the regular army of the northern States had not even then swelled itself to the latter number.
I found that there were 220 students at West Point, that about forty graduate every year, each of whom receives a commission in the army; that about 120 pupils are admitted every year; and that in the course of every year about eighty either resign, or are called upon to leave on account of some deficiency, or fail in their final examination. The result is simply this, that one third of those who enter succeeds, and that two thirds fail. The number