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“What noise is that?” we ask, with anxious miei.
A dull salt driver passing with his team,
“Noise ! noise ! - why nothing, that I hear or see ;
But Nagra Falls.- Pray, whereabouts live ye?”
All look'd amaz’d; yet not untouch'd with fear,
Like those who first the battle's thunders hear,
Till Duncan thus, with grave, satirie glee-
“ Lord, what a monstrous mill-dam that must be !"
Leech blush'd assent; while, as we nearer drew,
The loudening roar more harsh and heavy grew.
Awe-struck sensations now all speech represt,
And expectation throbb'd in every breast.
Now from the woods, emerging into day,
Before us fields, and farms, and orchards lay,
The sloping hilis a hollow vale disclose,
Whence hurrying clouds of boiling smoke arose,
Till in one congregated column thrown,
On whose bright side a glorious rainbow shone,
High in the heavens it rear'd its towering head,
And o'er the day its train gigantic led.
Beyond its base, there like a wall of foam,
Here in a circling gulf unbroken thrown,
With uproar hideous, first the Falls appear,
The stunning tumult thundering on the ear.
Above, below, where'er the astonish’d eye,
Turns to behold, new opening wonders lie,
Till to a steep's high brow unconscious brought,
Lost to all other care of sense or thought,
There the broad river, like a lake outspread,
The islands, rapids, falls, in grandeur dread,
The heaps of boiling foam, th' ascending spray,
The gulf profound, where dazzling rainbows play,
This great, o'erwhelming work of awful Time,
In all its dread magnificence sublime,
Rose on our view, amid a crashing roar
That bade us kneel, and Time's great God adore.
As when o'er tracks immense of deserts drear,
Through dangerous nations, and midst toils severe,
Day after day condemn’d a war to wage
With thirst and hunger, men and lions' rage,
+ This train of black clouds extends 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 appearance,
Noon's burning heat, and night's distressing cold,
Arabian pilgrims Mecca's walls behold;
Those holy walls, whose sacred roof contains
Mahomet's tomb—their prophet's blest remains,
Past sufferings vanish ; every sigh's supprest,
A flood of rapture rises in each breast,
All hearts confess an awful joy serene,
And, humbly, bow before the glorious scene.
Such were our raptures, such the holy awe
That swell’d our hearts, at all we heard and saw;
Fix'd to the rock, like monuments we stood,
On its flat face, above th' outrageous flood,
There, while our eyes th' amazing whole explor'd,
The deep loud roar our loudest voice devour'd.
High o'er the watry uproar, silent seen,
Sailing sedate, in majesty serene,
Now midst the pillar'd spray sublimely lost,
And now, emerging, down the rapids tost,
Swept the gray eagles ; gazing calm and slow,
On all the horrors of the gulf below;
Intent, alone, to sate themselves with blood,
From the torn victims of the raging flood.
Whate'er the weather, or where'er the gale,
Here ceaseless haze and flying rains prevail ;
Down bend the boughs, with weight of moisture borne,
Each bush, each tree, the dazzling drops adorn;
Save when deep winter's fiercest rigors blow,
Then falls the whirling spray in silent snow;
While the dew-drops to icicles are chang'd,
In glittering pendant parallels arrang'd.
Then, too, amid the Falls, stupendous rise
Bright icy pillars of prodigious size!
As if some pile, immense, of Greece or Rome,
Were deep engulf'd within their hideous womb.
Drench'd to the skin, our baggage down we throw,
Fix'd to descend into the gulf below,
Amid whose wreck, and from whose depth profound,
Some new resource for wonder might be found;
Along the dreadful verge we cautious steer'd,
Till the tall ladder's tottering top appear'd ;!
A tree's projecting root its weight sustains,
The dread abyss wheels round our giddy brains;
Leech, like a bird, with the whole gulf in view,
Down its slight slippery bars regardless flew;
The bard came after, not devoid of fear,
And Duncan, gay and laughing, clos’d the rear;
The cumb'rous weight its bending sides assails,
It yields! it cracks! its whole foundation fails !
Fear, swift as light, the rocks grim pavement stains
With mangled limbs, and blood, and spatter'd brains;
But firm above the roots remain’d; though rude,
And safe below on Chaos' shores we stood.
Genius of song! Great source of light and day!
How shall the Muse this dreadful place portray!
Where all around, tremendous rocks were spread,
That from our feet in headlong fury fled ;S
Rocks that great Ajax, with his hundreds more,
Could scarce have mov'd one hairbreadth from the shore.
Where logs, and boards, and trees of reverend age,
Beat to a pulp amid the torrent's rage,
Fragments of boats, oars, carcasses unclean,
Of what had bears, deer, fowls and fishes been,
Lay in such uproar, midst such clamor drown'd, *
That death and ruin seem'd to reign around !
High in our front th' outrageous river roar’d,
And in three separate falls stupendous pour’d;
First, slow Fort Slusher's|| down was seen to roam,
In one vast living sheet of glittering foam;
$ 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 gun log, into which the body was thrust, and the entrance burricadoed 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 up 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. VOL. III.
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 Horseshoe 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 objectt 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 falls are twelve or fourteen feet lower than those of Fort Slusher on the American side ; and the inain body of the river rushes over at this place with indescribable violence and uproar.
+ The Great 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 find it altogether impossible for me to give any adequate conception,
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 gloem they grope this dreary space, Midst rushing winds, descending 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 to day.
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 scald, While night's grim darkness deep around prevaild; 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 iength, with watching and with toil opprest, Tie thundering tumult rock'd us into rest.