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MISSIONARY LABOURS AMONG THE INDIANS.-RETURN. 153
Attached to the tribe of the Tuscaroras was the church in which the council was held, a neat little building, capable of containing about 200 persons, and a small schoolhouse for the education of the children. These were superintended by an American missionary from New-England, appointed and paid by the American Home Missionary Society. As we had taken nothing since our breakfast at eight o'clock, and the council had lasted till sunset, we repaired, by invitation, to the missionary's humble dwelling, to take a cup of tea, and were very cheerfully and hospitably supplied. In our way to his house we passed a large party of the Indians, who, not being chiefs, had taken no part in the affairs of the council, but were engaged in their favourite game of ball, in which they evinced great energy and dexterity.
We learned from the missionary that there was no great objection among the Indians to consent to the nominal profession of Christianity, but that there was great difficulty in getting them to understand its doctrines, and still more to practise its precepts, though some few among their number, among whom was the venerable chief, Nicholas Cusik, were decidedly good Christians and pious men. The women, retaining more of Indian manners and Indian superstitions, were more inaccessible to religion than the men; and the great difficulty, both with them and the children, arose from their not knowing the English language, and from its being almost impossible to teach it to them; for, though they received their regular lessons in the school, yet, as they invariably talked only the Tuscarora language when they went home to their mothers, they made no progress whatever in acquiring or speaking English.
It was near sunset when we left the settlement to return home; but, as we had four good horses and a careful driver, we made good progress. On our return-route we enjoyed some of the finest views, for extent and beauty, that could well be conceived. Beyond us, to the north, in the direction of Lake Ontario, was a perfect sea of wood, in an immense level forest, which extended 40 or 50 miles in length and 20 or 30 in breadth, the tops of the trees forming so complete a level, yet so dense a mass, that it was like an impenetrable jungle; the blue line of the surface of Lake Ontario forming the distant horizon. As we approached the banks of the Niagara Strait, and came along its western edge towards the Falls, we had commanding and beautiful views of this romantic stream. Looking downward towards Lake Ontario, the positions of Queenston on the British, and Lewiston on the American side, were apparent, with the romantic windings of the Niagara, and the capes and curves by which it passes till its final issue into the lake.
Immediately opposite to us, on the Canada Heights, was the lofty pillar erected as a monument to the memory of General Sir Isaac Brock, the brother of my venerable and esteemed friend, Daniel de Lisle Brock, the present bailiff or chief magistrate of the
Island of Guernsey, and of Mr. Irving Brock, the accomplished translator of Bernier's Travels in India, who died recently at Bath. The monument which is erected over the remains of the general, near the spot where he received his mortal wound, when defending the post against an attack of the Americans on the 13th of October, 1812, is a white column of 126 feet in height, erected on a hill 270 feet above the level of the Niagara stream below it, so that it is seen conspicuously from all parts of the surrounding country.
A little beyond this, to the south, and close to the high road, the coach-wheels running within a few feet of its very edge, is a deep rent or chasm in the eastern bank of the Niagara, caused by some convulsion of nature, and called “The Devil's Hole.” A fearful narrative, too, is connected with this spot, which, while you hear it told, as we did, on the very brink of the precipice itself, makes the place and all its associations only the more terrible. It appears that, during the French war, a detachment of the British army were retreating from Schlosser, on the American side, farther down towards the Lake Ontario, where they were pursued by the French and their Indian allies; and these attacking them at this spot, and having a great superiority of force, drove all the Bristish—men, women, and children, officers, horses, wagons, baggage, and allover this precipitous cliff, leaving no hope of escape for a single being of all the number, as those who were not dashed to pieces in their fall were carried off by the impetuous torrent and drowned. Such are the relentless cruelties of barbarous and savage war, even when practised by nations priding themselves on their Christianity, civilization, and humanity. Oh, when will the world outgrow this madness or repent this folly, and determine to sheath the sword forever, and decide all national questions of dispute by regularly organized tribunals and a code of international law! No nation, indeed, ought to be considered as truly Christian or humane that has not done its utmost to bring about a consummation so devoutly to be wished.
Still farther on, at the distance of about a mile to the south of this, is a singularly turbulent rapid of the Niagara, called " The Whirlpool.” The appearance of this spot is very striking. The strait is so narrow here, and the banks so precipitous and lofty, that the stream appears to be compressed into a narrow current of not more than one hundred yards in breadth; and one is astonished to find that all the drainage of the great upper lakes, in the millions of tons of water precipitated every hour over the Falls of Niag. ara, should be thus pent up within such narrow bounds; a consideration which impressed me more and more with the belief that there exist deep cavernous hollows at the foot of the Falls, through which a large portion of the waters find their way, by subterranean channels, to the lower lake, and thus lessen the subsequent bulk and subsequent agitation of the stream below. This very
MAGNIFICENT VIEW OF THE FALLS.
“whirlpool,” indeed, appears to be formed by one of such cavernous hollows in the bed of the stream ; for, on the waters reaching it, they are whirled round in circular eddies, and boil up with foam like a caldron, the waters of the centre being elevated several feet above the level of the edge; and trees and other large substances that are drawn into it in their passage down the stream, are whirled around with the circular motion of the water till they often stand on end, or upright, the upper portion half out of the water, and the lower perpendicularly beneath it, till, on a sudden, the whole mass will disappear and never more be seen, being either ingulfed in the carernous hollow supposed, and carried thence by subterranean channels to the lake or sea, or else kept below by the pressure of the current till it rises at some distance lower down.
It is but a short distance from this that one of the finest views of the great cataract occurs, at a point about four miles from the Falls. For a first view, indeed, of this sublime picture, I should say this was the most desirable spot to see it from. The rising clouds of spray, which in a clear day can be seen at a distance of fifty miles from the place of their ascent, in opposite directions, so that persons one hundred miles from each other might yet each see the spray of Niagara at the same time, are here beheld ascending, like clouds of white smoke or incense from some great sacrifice on the altar of Nature below; the sounds are also distinctly heard, neither like thunder, nor like the ocean, nor like the winds, but a deep diapason, that falls softly at this distance on the ear, though still, in the contemplation of that distance, giving the idea of a majestic sound.
Except that this is more steady and more continuous, it resembles most the approach of a vast multitude, whom you can hear but not see. It reminded me strongly of two beautiful expressions : the one of Homer, “the many-sounding sea," and the other of the book of Revelations, “ the sound of many waters;" the even and musical smoothness of the murmurs produced by placing a large conch-shell to the ear, and pressing it closely, is the nearest approach to it in its nature, though far inferior to it in degree. It is, in short, unique ; and the clouds of mysterious incense, and the noise of the yet unseen torrent, falling upon the eye and ear at once, well prepare the spectator for the sight that suddenly bursts upon his enchanted view, when, after a few steps of elevation, he sees the whole sweep of the mighty cataract spread before him at once. For myself
, I enjoyed this view intensely, even after having seen the Falls in all their details before. But I can imagine nothing finer than taking this as a first view, and then examining the object more closely afterward.
As it was growing late, we could not afford to halt so long as I wished to enjoy this scene to the full ; and though we hastened on
with all practicable speed, having to cross the ferry to the Canada side to sleep, we learned to our deep regret, on reaching the ferrybank, that the hour was past at which boats were allowed to pass over, and that no boat could put off from this side to take us across, without being seized for breach of orders. It was in vain to urge anything in reply to this, and we were on the point of giving up the matter in despair, when suddenly my eye caught the sight of a boat just approaching this side from the other, though, in the darkness which now reigned, but just barely visible.
We hastened down the long flight of steps, therefore, with the utmost rapidity that the faint light would allow, and got to the foot of the rocks just at the instant that the boat was about to push off for the other side. The ferryman was as much surprised at his unexpected fare as we were delighted at our unexpected good fortune, and we enjoyed the passage across exceedingly, notwithstanding the turbulent agitation of the waters and the darkness of the night, as it gave us new views of the mighty cataract, which, amid the dimness of all surrounding objects, seemed to come out with a greater prominence of grandeur than ever, and to look more imposing and more sublime from the loneliness in which it was beheld. We reached the opposite shore in safety, after a day of great interest and pleasure.
On the following morning, August 16, we went to take a last look of the Falls before quitting them perhaps forever, and we all agreed that our sensations at the last view were as powerful as at the first. For my own part, I do not think it would be possible for any number of repetitions in the view to take away, or even abate, the first impression produced by the richness, splendour, magnificence, and sublimity of this great and glorious object of nature. To the many who visit this spot without a taste for the grand or beautiful—and to the extent of their numbers the register at the Table Rock produces painful evidence- I can understand its becoming tiresome; but to those whose feelings harmonize with the sublime objects that are here combined and presented to the wondering view, I cannot comprehend how they should be otherwise than enchanted from first to last, and impressed with all the sensations of pleasure, adiniration, triumph, and devotion in succession.
The sunlights were more varied to-day than we had observed them to be on any preceding visit
, and this is a powerful cause of variety in the appearance of the Falls. There were passing clouds that occasionally obscured the sun, when deep shadows overbung the waters. Suddenly the bright orb would burst forth from his hiding-place, and in an instant the whole mass was lighted up with luminous and transparent brilliancy. Occasional showers of rain also fell, and the rainbows of the spray seemed to look more than usually vivid and glowing. The smooth deep current between the
IMPRESSIONS CREATED BY THE FALLS.
turbulent rapids of the upper strait and the immediate edge of
“Throne of royal state, which far
Showers on her kings barbaric pearls and gold."
Leave Niagara for the Village of Chippewa.-Embark in the Steamboat for Buffalo.
Passage by Schlosser.-Wreck of the Caroline.- Difficulty of Ships going over the Falls.--Descent of an Indian over the Cataract.--Passage by Navy Island. - Canadian Rebellion.-Escaped Prisoner one of our Passengers.-Landing at Whitehaven on Grand Island.--Splendid Forests of Oak and other Timber.-Saw-mills and Frames of Ships here.- Proposed City of Refuge to be built here for the Jews.--Monument of Major Noah recording this Project. ---Passage along the Canada Shore.-Waterloo and Fort Erie. - Second Arrival in the Harbour of Buffalo.
It was an hour past noon when we left Clinton House for the village of Chippewa, where we were to embark in the steamer for Buffalo. On our way we passed through the British encampment on the heights, and reached Chippewa, on the Canada side, about