Obrázky stránek





THE western cities of America were now before

where correspondence and personal negotiations had opened the path for my mission. To reach the direct route for the rail, I must retrace my steps, via Ballston to Schenectady. Ballston had its day for spas, and scenes, and fashion, but Saratoga eclipsed it. The mineral waters were here discovered in 1769, and seated upon the stream bearing the Indian name Kayaderosseros, and contiguous to lakes abounding with attractions for the sportsman, Ballston drew its annual concourse in early times. Schenectady lies on the bank of the Mohawk, and where the Union College now stands were, in bygone days, the Council Grounds of the Mohawks. A party of French Canadians and Indians, in 1690, fell upon the place like a midnight storm, killed and made captive the people, and reduced the town to ashes. But now Schenectady contains more than ten thousand people, sustained by industry in machine shops and other branches of manufacture, chiefly connected with mechanical arts. Scotchmen gather here and thrive. Aside from this town, but within a morning's walk, are heights and cliffs with classic names : Mount Ida and Mount Olympus find here a transatlantic home; while Modern Troy lies along the river Hudson for three miles, in depth from east to west more than a mile, and peopled with men who wield powers greater than Grecian heroes




possessed, and perform feats far more useful to mankind than were achieved by Hector or Achilles.

There is a population in it exceeding 40,000, who are busy with manufacturing industry, and who have adorned their city with magnificent churches, public buildings, and family mansions, as well as comfortable cottages for a prosperous community. Troy is also an entrepôt for railway travel in every direction. I had not literary leisure to search for a modern Parnassus. Mine was now an iron way, with its gradients. Still my progress conducted me to places of ancient name. My first resting-station was Utica, thence to Rome, but I could not explore its seven hills, and hastened forward to Syracuse. If there be no Cato to give laws to this Utica there are 22,000 inhabitants subject to the laws of the Republic. This Rome is more supplied with railways than it would have been had the Vatican been the legislature, and the Pontiff been supreme. You may travel thence by the iron road to Potsdam and Montreal, to Niagara or the Mississippi. Syracuse opens its ports to the puffing traveller with prompt hospitality. Twenty-six thousand people here profit from the manufacture of salt for the United States, and while they have salt in themselves, they are not left without Attic salt. This town is oft frequented by political and state conventions, when the tactics of party are matured. My route stretched onward, I had a choice of ways, through Canton, Jordan, Port Byron, Savannah, Clyde, Lyons, Palmyra, and Macedon, or by another course by Camillus, Marcellus, Auburn, Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Geneva, Vienna, Canandaigua, Victor, and Pittsford; all these towns lie between Syracuse and Rochester; but I did not stop to inquire by the way into the condition of any one, though I should have been glad to have examined Auburn state prison, of whose discipline and criminal statistics I have elsewhere read. I had not a day to spare, and basted into Rochester.

Absence from home had prevented the efficient services and mature arrangements of senior brethren. But the Rev. Mr. Boardman, a son, by a former husband of the second Mrs. Judson, his own father, also a missionary in the East, showed me every possible attention, and arranged for a public meeting in his own church. I never saw a place of worship more entirely and systematically filled, and in the most intensely heated atmosphere in which a man could breathe, the audience gave a patient and earnest attention. The New York response was accepted as the sentiment of the ministers present. Many prominent citizens came forward to signify their concurrence, but the indisposition and absence of leading pastors prevented a more organized movement, beyond the shutting up of several churches that the congregations might come to my address. I indulged myself as a hearer in the morning services, and in the street in which I worshipped there were five or six churches, elegant and magnificent structures, two or three of them with school-rooms as wings, giving the building a capacious appearance. I had heard a scriptural and practically evangelical discourse from a Professor Hotchkins (I think that was the name), and as the congregation under him was a little sooner dismissed than some others, I passed in front of other churches, and could look into two or three. The congregations were large, and of the better class. Many country vehicles, with their horses haltered to wayside posts, stood waiting for their owners. Here were Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist Episcopalian, German, and Roman Catholic congregations; all the fruits of voluntary zeal, and the promoters of its principles. There were many other similarly worshipping assemblies in the city. The Genesee and its falls give picturesque beauty and commercial facilities to the place. The Mount Hope Cemetery is in the midst of beauty. The streets pass out to the suburbs in rows of self-contained villas, orna

[blocks in formation]

mented with trees and shrubbery, giving the appearance of solidity and comfort to the community. The sewage in some parts was in process of completion, by which I saw the depth and substantial style of their provision for health and cleanliness. Sixty years ago the whole county of Genesee was bought as an outlying forest region, for which some £800 were paid in purchase of the fee simple, by a calculating land speculator. The city alone contains more than fifty thousand inhabitants now, and the county participates in their prosperity. I think, however, this was the first city in America in which I saw pigs roaming at large, and enjoying the liberty of scavenging the garbage in the lower parts.

Though from Rochester to the Niagara Falls the distance was seventy-six miles, I shall not be charged with extravagant indulgence in turning aside to survey this cataract, and the wonders of nature which surrounded it. My road lay by Adam's Basin, Albion, Gosport, Pekin, and the Suspension Bridge. From the last I first caught a glimpse of the rushing torrent. I went to the International Hotel. It has since been consumed by fire. The situation was good, and the comforts many, and at moderate prices. I had occasion to consult a medical adviser here, and was wisely and economically counselled. I preferred pedestrian exploration, and passed along by the banks of the rushing waters above, and stood at the base of the rocks to admire the falling torrents from their incumbent precipitous ledge. There is a path down by steps, which one may

walk. Carriages also, moved by a rope, await an order for less than sixpence up and down. I walked down, crossed to the Canadian side by boat just on the verge of the boiling pool, climbed the steep ascent toward the “ Clifton," on British soil, and thence proceeded to the Fall on that side. I think the finest point of view is on the British side, facing the rapids in the channel from the Erie, down which


the volumes of the overwhelming current rush with a ceaseless impetuosity, like ten thousand rolling buffaloes, tumbling one over another in mad confusion till all reach the steep place, 165 feet deep, where the final “battle charge of tempestuous waves” seems made into the troubled sky. I mean not to compete in picturesque descriptions with some writers as mad as Sam Patch was when he made a leap over the fall on the west side of Goat Island. I believe this monument of power needs to be seen to be appreciated, and I think it is better to see it first before

any descriptions of it are perused. The great noise or sound of it is not its grandeur. One sentence of the sublime and ridiculous will show what man can do, “The torture of the rapids, the clinging curves with which they embrace the small rocky islands that live amid the surge, the sudden calmness at the brow of the cataract, and the infernal writhe and whiteness with which they reappear, powerless from the depths of the abyss, all seem to the excited imagination of the gazer like the natural effects of impending ruin, desperate resolution and fearful agony on the minds and frames of mortals”!! The points of interest selected for notice are “the Goat Island,” the Rapids, Chapin's Island, the Tollgate, the Cave of the Winds, Luna Island, Sam Patch's Leap, Biddle's Stairs, Prospect Tower, The Horse-Shoe Falls, Gull Island, Grand Island, the Whirlpool, the Devil's Hole, Chasm Tower, the Maid of the Mist, the Great Suspension Bridge, Bendor's Cave, Table Rock, and Termination Rock. Two historical incidents will illustrate better than a volume of description. About the year 1838, the American steamboat Caroline was set on fire, and sent over the Falls by the order of Colonel McNabb. Some fragments of the wreck remained on Goat Island till the following spring. Over the ledges of the Horse Shoe Falls it is computed that fifteen hundred millions of cubic feet of water pass every hour. A lake ship, the “Detroit,” was

« PředchozíPokračovat »