« PředchozíPokračovat »
FALLS OF THE NIAGARA.
4. By universal consent, it has long ago been proclaimed one of the wonders of the world. It is alone in its kind. Though a waterfall, it is not to be compared with other waterfalls. In its majesty, its supremacy, and its influence on the soul of man, its brotherhood is with the living ocean and the eternal hills.
5. I am humbly conscious, that no words of mine can give an adequate description, or convey a satisfactory idea, of Niagara Falls. But, having just returned from a visit to them, with the impression which they made upon my mind fresh and deep, I may hope to impart, at least, a faint image of that impression, to the minds of those who have not seen them, and retouch, perhaps, some fading traces in the minds of those who have. Our journey over, we approached the falls, but turned aside to have a near view of the rapids.
6. Here, all is tumult and impetuous haste. The view is something like that of the sea in a violent gale. Thousands of waves dash eagerly forward, and indicate the interruptions which they meet with from the hidden rocks, by ridges and streaks of foam. Terminating this angry picture, you distinguish the crescent rim of the British Fall, over which the torrent falls and disappears.
7. The wildness and the solitude of the scene are strikingly impressive. Nothing that lives is to be seen in its whole extent. Nothing that values its life ever ventures it there. The waters refuse the burden of man, and of man's works. Of this they give fair and audible warning, of which all take heed. They have one engrossing object before them, and they go to its accomplishment alone.
8. Returning to the road, we ride the last half mile, gradually ascending, till we come to the public house. A foot-path through the garden, at the back of the house, and down a steep and thickly-wooded bank, brings us upon Table Rock, a flat ledge of limestone forming the brink of the precipice, the upper stratum of which is a jagged shelf, no more than about a foot in thickness, jutting out over the gulf below.
9. Here the whole scene breaks upon us. Looking up the river, we face the grand crescent, called the British or Horse-Shoe Fall. Opposite to us is Goat Island, which divides the Falls, and lower down to the left, is the Ameri
can Fall. And what is the first impression made upon the beholder ? Decidedly, I should say, that of beauty; of sovereign beauty, it is true, but still that of beauty, rather than of awful sublimity.
10. Everything is on so large a scale; the height of the cataract is so much exceeded by its breadth, and so much concealed by the volumes of mist which wrap and shroud its feet; you stand so directly on the same level with the falling waters; you see so large a portion of them at a considerable distance from you, and their roar comes up so moderated from the deep abyss, that the loveliness of the scene, at first sight, is permitted to take precedence of its grandeur.
11. Its color alone is of the most exquisite kind. The deep sea-green of the centre of the crescent, where, it is probable, the greatest mass of water falls, lit up with successive flashes of foam, and contrasted with the rich creamy whiteness of the two sides or wings of the same crescent; then the sober gray of the opposite precipice of Goat Island, crowned with the luxuriant foliage of its forest trees, and connected still further on with the pouring snows of the greater and less American Falls; the agitated and foamy surface of the water at the bottom of the falls, followed by the darkness of their hue as they sweep along through the perpendicular gorge beyond ; the mist, floating about and veiling objects with a softening indistinctness; and the bright rainbow which is constant to the sun, altogether form a combination of color, changing, too, with every change of light, every variation of the wind, and every hour of the day, which the painter's art cannot imitate, and which Nature herself, has, perhaps, only effected here.
12. And the motion of these falls, how wonderfully fine it is ! how graceful, how stately, how calm ! There is nothing in it hurried or headlong, as you might have supposed. The eye is so long in measuring the vast, and yet unacknowledged height, that they seem to move over almost slowly; the central and most voluminous portion of the Horse-Shoe even goes down silently.
13. The truth is, that pompous phrases cannot describe these Falls. Calm and deeply-meaning words should alone be used in speaking of them. Anything like hyperbole
FALLS OF THE NIAGARA.
would degrade them, if they could be degraded. But they cannot be. Neither the words nor the deeds of man degrade or disturb them.
14. There they flow ever, in their collected might. And dignified, flowing steadily, constantly, as they always have been pouring since they came from the hollow of His hand, you can add nothing to them, nor can you take anything from them.
15. As I rose, on the morning following my arrival, and went to the window for an early view, a singular fear came over me that the falls might have passed away, though their sound was in my ears. It was, to be sure, rather the shadow of a fear than a fear, and reason dissipated it as soon as it was formed.
16. But the bright things of earth are so apt to be fleeting, and we are so liable to lose what is valued, as soon as it is bestowed, that I believe it was a perfectly natural feeling which suggested to me for an instant, that I had enjoyed quite as much of such a glorious exhibition as I deserved, and that I had no right to expect that it would continue, as long as I might be pleased to behold it.
17. But the Falls were there, with their full, regular, and beautiful flowing. The clouds of spray and mist were now dense and high, and completely concealed the opposite shores ; but as the day advanced, and the beams of the sun increased in power, they were thinned and contracted Presently a thunder shower rose up from the west, and passed directly over us; and soon another came, still heavier than the preceding.
18. And now I was more impressed than ever with the peculiar motion of the Fall, not however because it experienced a change, but because it did not. The lightning gleamed, the thunder pealed, the rain fell in torrents; the storms were grand; but the Fall, if I may give its expression a language, did not heed them at all the rapids poured on with the same quiet solemnity, with the same equable intentness, undisturbed by the lightning and rain, and listening not to the loud thunder.
T'he Bashful Man.
1. I had taken a letter of introduction from a friend to a genteel family at Paris, and, having delivered it, was, after a few days, invited to dinner. After various awkward mishaps, arising from my bashfulness, we were finally seated at table, my place being next a young lady whom I was expected to entertain.
2. The ordinary routine of a French dinner now cominenced; soup and bouilli, fish, and fowl, and flesh; while a regular series of servants appeared each instant at our elbows, inviting.us to partake of a thousand different dishes, and as many different kinds of wines, all under strings of names which I no more understood, than I understood their composition, or than they did my gaucheries. Resolved to avoid all further opportunities for displaying my predominant trait, I sat in the most obstinate silence, saying « Oui,” to every thing that was offered me, and eating with most devoted application.
3. But “let no one call himself happy before' death," said Solon; and he said wisely. The “ides of March”! were not yet over. Before us was set a dish of cauliflower, nicely done in butter. This I naturally enough took for a custard pudding, which it sufficiently resembled. Unfortunately, my vocabulary was not yet extensive enough to embrace all the technicalities of the table; and when my fair neighbor inquired if I were fond of chou-fleur, I'verily took it to be the French for custard pudding, instead of cauliflower; and, so high was my panegyric on it, that my plate was soon bountifully laden with it. Alas! one single mouthful was enough to dispel my illusion.
4. Would to Heaven that the chou-fleur had vanished along with it. But that remained bodily; and, as I gazed des spondingly at the huge mass, that loomed up almost as large and as burning as Vesuvius, my heart died within me. Ashamed to confess my mistake, though I could almost as readily have swallowed an equal quantity of soft soap, I struggled manfully on, against the diabolical compound. I endeavored to sap the mountainous heap at its base ; and, shutting my eyes and opening my mouth, to inhume as large masses as I could, without stopping to taste it. But my
THE BASHFUL MAN.
stomach soon began, intelligibly enough, to intimate its intention to admit no more of this nauseous stranger beneath its roof, if not even of expelling that which had already gained unwelcome admittance.
5. The seriousness of the task I had undertaken, and the resolution necessary to execute it, had given an earnestness and rapidity to my exertions, which appetite would not have inspired; when my plate, having somehow got over the edge of the table, upon my leaning forward, tilted up, and down slid the disgusting mass into my lap. My handkerchief, unable to bear so weighty a load, bent under in its turn; and a great proportion of it was thus safely deposited in my hat. The plate instantly righted itself, as I raised my person ; and as I glanced my eye round the table, and saw that no one had noticed my disaster, I inwardly congratulated myself that the nauseous deception was so happily disposed of. Resolving not be detected, I instantly rolled my handkerchief together, with all its remaining contents, and whipped it into my pocket.
6. The dinner-table was at length deserted for the drawing-room, where coffee and liqueurs were served round. Meantime, I had sought out, what I considered a safe hidingplace for my hat, beneath a chair in the dining-room, for I dared not carry it longer in my hand; having first thrown a morsel of paper into the crown, to hide the cauliflower from view, should any one chance, iu looking for his own hat, to look into mine.
7. On my return to the drawing-room, I chanced to be again seated by the lady, by whom I had sat at dinner. · Our conversation was naturally resumed; and we were in the midst of an animated discussion, when a huge spider was seen running, like a race-horse, up
“.Take it off, take it off! she ejaculated in a terrified tone.
8. I was always afraid of spiders ; so, to avoid touching him with my hand, I caught my handkerchief from my pocket, and clapped it at once upon the miscreant, wno was already mounting over her temple with rapid strides. Gra. cious Heaven ! had forgotten the cauliflower ; which was now plastered over her face, like an emollient poultice, fairly killing the spider, and blinding an eye of the lady ; while little streamlets of soft butter, glided gently down her beautiful neck and bosom.