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Descriptive of a Pedestrian Journey to the Falls of Niagara,
In the Autumn of 1804.
By the Author of American Ornithology.
With two plates.
(Concluded from page 168.)
O’ER these lone swamps the Muse impatient flies,
Where mightier scenes and nobler prospects rise,
Nor stoops, in dull rehearsal to detail
Each roaring rapid and each adverse gale,
What vagrant tribes, what islands met our view;
How down Oswego's foaming Falls we flew,
Now plunging in our sinking bark to save,
Now headlong hurried down th' outrageous wave;
How through the clear still flood, with sounding oars,
We swept, and hail'd with songs the echoing shores.
These had their pleasures, and perhaps their fears;
But terrors fly when daring courage steers.
A thousand toils, a thousand dangers past,
The long-expected Lake appears at last,
Seen through the trees, like Ocean's boundless blue,
Huzza! huzza! ONTARIO is in view!
With flying hats we hail the glorious spot,
And every care and every fear's forgot.
So, when of old, we cross'd th’ Atlantic waves,
And left a land of despots and of slaves,
With equal joy COLUMBIA's shores we spy'd,
And gave our cares and sorrows to the tide.
Here, ere we lanch the boundless deep along,
Surrounding scenes demand their share of song.
Mark yon bleak hill, where rolling billows break,
Just where the river joins the spacious lake,
High on its brow, deserted and forlorn,
Its bastions levelled, and its buildings torn,
Stands Fort Oswego;* there the winds that blow
Howl to the restless surge that groans below;
There the lone sentry walk'd his round; or stood,
To view the sea-fowl coursing o'er the flood;
Midst night's deep gloom shrunk at the panther's howl
And heard a foe in every whooping owl.
Blest times for soldiers ! times, alas, not near,
When foes like these are all they have to fear;
When man to man will mutual justice yield,
And wolves and panthers only stain the field.
Those straggling huts that on the left appear,
Where boats and ships their crowded masts uprear,
Where fence, or field, or cultured garden green,
Or blessed plough, or spade were never seen,
Is old Oswego; once renowned in trade,
Where numerous tribes their annual visits paid;
From distant wilds, the beaver's rich retreat,
For one whole moon they trudg'd with weary feet;
Pild their rich furs within the crowded store,
Replaced their packs, and plodded back for more.
But time and war have banish'd all their trains,
And nought but potash, salt, and rum remains.
The boistrous boatman, drunk but twice a day,
Begs of the landlord; but forgets to pay;
Pledges his salt, a cask for every quart,
Pleas'd thus for poison with his pay to part.
From morn to night here noise and riot reign;
From night to morn 'tis noise and roar again.
. This post was finally abandoned on the 28th of October, 1804, about a week before out visit there.
Around us now Ontario's ocean lay,
Rough rose its billows, crown'd with foaming spray,
The grim north-east in roaring fury blew,
And our frail bark, deep dashing, labour'd through;
Our blanket sail, and feeble sapling mast
Drank the rough waves, and quivered in the blast;
A friendly sloop for Queenstown* harbour bound,
While night's foul hurricanes were gathering round,
Beheld our danger, saw our numbers few,
And, for our boat, received its willing crew;
Both safe on board, they trim their thundering sail,
The boom and main-sheet bending to the gale,
Hard by the helm th' experienced master stood,
And, far to windward, eyed the whitening flood;
Saw in the east the coming tempest lour,
On night's black wings impetuous to devour.t .
Her roaring bow the boiling spray divides,
Two foaming torrents sweep along the sides,
Reef after reef retrench the straining sail,
And the rack'd vessel staggers in the gale;
Now up th' outrageous wave's high steep we go,
Now plunge down headlong in the gulf below,
Slow rising, shivering through tempestuous clouds,
That howl'd like demons in the whizzing shrouds.
Down in the cabin, by the uproar driven,
Heedless of all the warring winds of heaven,
Sick, groaning, speechless, and unfit to pray,
Our three pale furesters inglorious lay;
Groan answered groan; while, at each desperate throe,
The deep bilgewater churn'd and roar'd below.
Sad night of sickness, tumult, fears, and hopes,
Of roaring surges, and of rattling ropes,
Heart-rending reachings, tossings to and fro,
And all the horrors land-born lubbers know.
At length the morn arose—the storm withdrew,
And fair the breeze with steady vigor blew.
• This place lies on the Canada side of Niagara river, seven miles below the falls.
+ These storins are very frequent on this lake ; and from their soddeness, and the want of sufficient sea-room are also dangerous. A few days previous to our arrival at Oswego, a British packet called the Speedy, with the judge advocate on board, the judges, witnesses, and an Indian prisoner, and others, to the amount of twenty or thirty persons, foundered in a violent gale, and every soul perished. No part of the vessel was afterwards found except the pump, which we picked up, and carried to Queenstown.