« AnteriorContinuar »
"What noise is that?" w^e ask, with anxious mien,
All look'd amaz'd; yet not untouch'd with fear,
Now from the woods, emerging into day,
As when o'er tracks immense of deserts drear,
+ This train of black clouds extendi along the face of the heavens in the direction in which the wind blows, as far as the eye can reach, forming a very striking and majestic ap■
's burning heat, and night's distressing cold,
High o'er the watry uproar, silent seen,
Whate'er the weather, or where'er the gale,
Drench'd to the skin, our baggage down we throw,
X Tim ladder was placed in an almost perpendicular position, not leaning on the brink; but fastened to a projecting root, in such a manner that, on descending, the steep was on our right hand, and a tremendous abyss,of a hundred and fifty feet deep, presented itself before us.
A tree's projecting root its weight sustains,
Genius of song! Great source of light and day!
High in our front th' outrageous river roar'd,
$ These rocks, being worn smooth, by the perpetual action of the water, and lying upon a steep declivity, composed of loose masses of smaller ones, were displaced at every pressure of the foot, so that masses larger than millstones were easily lanched down with a single kick, rendering it highly dangerous for more than one person to pass abreast.
• A few days before our arrival the body of a man, who had been drowned above the falls, was found below them, among these rocks. Finding•it impossible, from the state of the body, and I may add the ladder, to raise it to the brink of the precipice, and there not being a particle of earth in the gulf to cover it, the people were at a loss how to dispose of it, until one of the company discovered a hollow gum log, into which the body was thrust, and the entrance barricadoed with large stones.
| The height of this fall is said to be a hundred and fifty-four feet. The current above is much slower than in any other part of the river near the falls, and the water drops here almost perpendicularly, presenting the appearance of an immense white curtain of foam. In the general view of the falls, which accompanies this part of the poem, the eye is directed ■p the river, with the Horseshoe falls on the right, the perpendicular front of Goat island concealing that part of it which extends up the river.
On its south side a little islet towers,
There one small pitch o'er broken fragments pours;
Goat Island next, with oaks and cedars crown'd,
Its shelving base with dwarfish shrubbery bound,
Along the brink a rocky front extends
Four hundred yards, and at the Hortethoe ends.*
There the main forces of the river pour;
There, fierce above, the rushing rapids roar!
The mighty wat'ry mass, resistless grown,
Green down the impending brink unbroken thrown, .
Whelm'd amidst dazzling hills of boiling spray,
In raging, deafening torrents, roars away!
One last grand objectf yet remain'd unview'd, Thither we crawl, o'er monstrous fragments rude, Struggling through caverns deep; now prostrate thrown, Now up wet slippery masses clambering on; Below, in foam, the raging rapids sweep, Above, dark, hollowed, hangs th' enormous steep, Scoop'd out immense; resounding, gloomy, bare, Its giddy verge projected high in air; There such a scene of rage and uproar new, In awful grandeur burst upon our view, As seiz'd, at once, all power of speech away, And fill'd our souls with terror and dismay.
Great God of nature! whose blest sun and showers Call'd into action these tremendous powers, Where shall my tongue fit force of language find To speak the dread sensations of the mind, When o'er the impending brink, in bounding sweep, The eye pursued this deluge to the deep, Saw its white torrents undulating pour From heaven to earth with deafening crashing roar, Dash'd in the wild and torn abyss below Midst dazzling foam and whirling storms of snow, While the whole monstrous mass, and country round, Shook, as with horror, at the o'erwhelming sound \%
'These falli are twelve or fourteen feet lower than those of Fort Slusher on the American side; and the main body of the river rashes over at this place with indescribable violence and uproar.
t The Creot Pitch, Of the general appearance of this tremendous scene the view in the plate will give a pretty correct idea; but of the full effect of its whole combined horrors on the senses, I 6nd it altogether impossible for me to give any adequate conception.
t This is literally true. In the house where we lodged, which is more than half a mile from the falls, the vibrations of a fork, stuck in the board partition, were plainly observable across the room.
Within this concave vast, dark, frowning, deep, Eternal rains and howling whirlwinds sweep;The slippery rocks, at every faithless tread, Threaten to whelm us headlong to the dead;Our bard and pilot, curious to survey, Behind this sheet what unknown wonders lay, Resolv'd the dangers of th' attempt to share, And all its terrors and its storms to dare;So, hand in hand, with firm yet cautious pace, Along the gloom they grope this dreary space, Midst rushing winds, descendmg deep, they gain Behind th' o'erhanging horrors of the scene, There dark, tempestuous, howling regions lie, And whirling floods of dashing waters fly, At once of sight depriv'd, of sense and breath, Staggering amidst this cavern'd porch of death, One moment more had swept them in the waves To the most horrible of human graves; But danger, here, to desperate force gave way, And drove them, drench'd and gasping out today.
The glooms of evening now began to close, O'er heaps of rocks our homeward steps we chose; And, one by one, th' infernal ladder scal'd, While night's grim darkness deep around prevail'd; Safe on the fearful brink, we search around, And, glimmering near, a light and lodgings found; There, full of all the wonders of the day, In vain on bed our weary heads we lay;Still loud without a mighty tempest heaves;Still the calm air our terror undeceives. And when some short and broken slumbers came, Still round us roaring swept th' outrageous stream; Whelm'd in the deep we sunk, engulf'd, forlorn;Or down the dreadful Rapids helpless borne;Groaning we start! and, at the loudening war, Ask our bewilder'd senses where we are. At length, with watching and with toil opprest, The thundering tumult rock'd us into rest.