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ful diligence, the length and the breadth, the height and the depth, the angles and the curves thereof, they have erected machines with wheels and irons in similitude like to the sithe armed chariots of the Babylonian cavalry, and so garnished the same with heads of gorgons, and claws of dragons, and eagles and tigers, and so spread out plants and yoknown vegetables, looking poisonous and deadly, that no prudent man could adventure to put his life in peril by approaching where so many fearful forms yawned for his destruction.
But, alas ! how we digress as we grow old—now that this tearful reminiscence has departed, I will depose with great brevity concerning the affairs, which are to follow herein afterward. The interior of the portly article, according to the common course of nature, was filled with papers, tied with that eternal red tape, or ligament, well suited to the records of the Law. An inquisitive vermin of a Rat, had goawed his way through the solid plank, and after perusing the gigantic files, from the kind greeting that went forth in the case of Abdulyguz vs Agruttullimox, to the return isdorsed on the writ Zimmillioken vs Zapstoffer, had expressed bis contempt for the beautiful fictions and grave formalities of judicial proceedings, by rending the whole in piteous fragments, and therefrom had formed a nest, or lair, whence had issued out whole generations of young juris-consults bred among the mysteries of pleading, to porsue the pilfering subtleties of their profession, and frolic round their merry republic, in defiance of that vigilant sheriff, the Cat: saying and excepting, however, some unlucky delinquent who had paid the penalty of his little wit to justice. Undiscouraged by the horrible mutilation, I plunged among the ruins, and after drawing forth bundle after bundle, labelled with the disheartening words, “Writs” “Executions" “ Briefs" &c. all ominous of long stories of insults received, wrongs suffered, injuries unredressed, and sufferings heaped on certain worthy wretches, in the peace of the Commonwealth, I arrived at at a thick volume whose substantial envelopes had defended, even as an armor, against the attacks of depredators, and containing the thoughts on matters and things generally and specially of my departed friend.
One remark more deserves express mention; to wit; that these have been transcribed by more expert hands than mine own; inasmuch as my own chirography is wholly illegible, even to myself, who am best acquainted therewith ; whereby, and by reason thereof, it has come to pass that the venerable rust has been word away,
and divers long passages which lead to nothing have been added and interpolated.
Thus much I have considered it fit to say. He who will not be convinced, but still doubts, may touch with his own Enger the revered relick wherein these meditations were set in order and preserved, which I have established at my own fireside, notwithstand. ing the remonstrances of my beloved wife and dutiful daughters : and have sent into banishment the brazen handirons and gilded whipsticks which were located thereat, and I do invite all who may be scrupulous to be seated thereon, that every difficulty may be removed which obstructs their full credence to the narrative before expressed.
THE CAVERN OF NIAGARA.
Charming the eye with dread.". TWENTY two miles below Lake Erie, and fourteen above Ontario, the waters rolling from the inland seas suddenly drop from the brow of a lofty precipice stretching across the Niagara River. There is situated that matchless cataract, unrivalled among the stupendous creations of nature, with nothiog to equal its wild grandeur. Since the first planting of North America, the falls have attracted the curiosity and received the visits of countless multitudes ; they have commanded the admiration and awakened the enthusiasm of the traveller, from the time of the good old French priest, who declared the height was six hundred feet, down to the days of the sweet little belle, who stands upon the rock overhanging the mingled mass of foam and rainbows, and expresses her astonishment in the energetic affirmation, “ la! it is pretty.”
The visitants of the wonderful scene, have entirely forgotten the sage truism, that what is impossible, cannot be done ; and, therefore, have wearied themselves in attempts to form pictures of objects beyond description. They have indulged in extravagant and fanciful exaggerations, to convey to their readers some idea of that surpassing magnificence and majestic power, which press so heavily on the mind of the spectator. Hence results the disappointment almost invariably felt by him who views the foaming torrent for the first time. He is told that the thunder of its commotion is heard at the distance of fifty miles; that the wild birds are drawn within its influence from their airy height; that the earth quivers from the shock of that tumbling world of waters; and
that a column of spray rises to the clouds. As he approaches, he listens for the appalling roar; and when the first murmur of the voice of many waters does not come on his car till he has arrived to less than half a mile; when he stands unsbaken on the mighty rock above the gulf, and sees the blue bird and the wren fluttering over the falling sheet, as if proud of the rapid wings which carry them so easily away from danger, he feels the full amount of the deception practised on his credulity. The effect of the stupendous height is diminished by the great width of the torrent, and his eye, in measuring the descent of one hundred and seventy feet, reduces the space to forty or fifty. But his first impressions are corrected as he lingers about the spot, and before he tears himself away, he becomes persuaded, that the earth does not possess another scene so noble, so majestic, and so stupendous.
Doubts have been frequently expressed, and, (although thousands annually perform a pilgrimage to the cataract) still continue to exist, whether it be possible to go beneath the mighty sheet poured down from the brow of the rock. Reserving for a future occasion the right to present an outline of the general appearance of Niagara, we propose to furnish our readers with a brief description of the objects which meet the view of those who veature to explore the gloomy caverns beneath the eternal food.
The first preparation to be made is, the exchange of our common dress for a suit of canvass, the only attire fit for those wbo approach the palace of the spirit of the floods. Descending the precipice, on the northern bank, by a spiral staircase, inclosed in a wooden tower, we arrive on the margin of the gulf, where the waters boil and whirl in fury, after their leap from the height above. Turning to the right, we proceed along the shore, strewed with enormous masses and broken fragments of rock. The upper strata of the cliff.project above, and the water, springing from their crevices, falls in large drops upon the passer. The ruins around, once parts of the mighty wall, which time has detached from their hold, or accident tumbled below, show bim how insecure is his position. A few years since, a portion of the table rock, a favorite point. whence to view the scene, was precipitated down with great noise. The possibility of the disruption of another block from the crumbling mass furnishes no pleasant subject of contemplation for him who treads beneath the overhanging roof. After proceeding about fifty rods, a sudden turn round a jutting angle brings us to the mouth of the cavern, and involves us in the rolling cloud of vapor
The entrance is by a lofty arch, rising on one side with the ir-regular bending of the massive rock, and falling on the other with the sweeping curve of the descending torrent. Passing onward through the gloomy portal, the visitor is placed behind the sheet, in a situation where the reality exceeds the most vivid anticipation, and he feels that earth has no scene of more awful grandeur. He stands on the slippery and shelving margin of the fathomless abyss, where one mis-step would pass the barrier separating the things of time from the drearl uncertainties of eternity. The water from the. falliog mass above, is dashed upon him in torrents: the spray, bursting up from below like a dense cloud, rolls round the cavero and is driven down in a shower of heavy rain. The wind rushes out in tremendous gusts, almost taking away the breath, and producing a horrible feeling of suffocation. The ceaseless storm rages with all the violence of a hurricane. The thunder of the cataract, reverberated among the caverns and recesses, is deafening. The human voice, in its loudest tone, is scarcely heard, and the direction to torn away the head from the sudden and violent blasts, and to draw the band downward over the face, sounds like a whisper, even when shouted in the ear. The explorer, deafened by the studning roar, blinded by the dashing showers, and gasping for breath, would gladly retreat, if he were not hurried on by the guide, who grasps his hand firmly, until these oppressive sensations become less painful than at first.
The bottom of the rock beneath the fall, like the cliff without, has been crumbled by the wasting hand of time, worn away. by the constant rushing of the flood, or separated by some convul. sion do eye witnessed. The upper portion projects far over the lower, and from its edge the river drops down in flashing splendor. The way is not over a smooth paved loor, level with the chasm which receives the tumbling current, nor along its brink. It runs upon the top of a bank, always wet and slippery, sloping down to the deep and dark abyss. The path is elevated more than twenty feet above the spot where the falling waters plunge into the fallen waves, and is more than twice that distance backward from the gushing sheet. Innumerable multitudes of eels cluster upon the shelves, or nestle in the crevices, and twine and fold around the naked feet; or, disturbed by the tread, roll down into the foam below : peither the pleasure or safety of the passage, is increased by the necessity of stepping over their black and ugly forms, or on their cold and slimy backs. As we proceed, the only supports, in many places, are
the broken edges, or splintery flakes of the slaty stone: sometimes we climb a projecting crag, and again descend from the summit by little steps. We are frequently forced to pause and draw breath with a painful struggle against the violence of the wind and the choaking rain blown upon us in beavy quantities. li is dificult to catch a single view of the objects in the dim twilight wbich reigns in the cavern.
At length, we arrive to a crag, standing out from the precipice, beyond wbich no foot can tread. Here we paused, and here for the first time, caught a glimpse of the morning sun, two hours high in the heavens, diminished to a pale circle, but silvering the sheet, where it is most thin, with splendid brightness. The roof of this majestic hall is more than an hundred feet above: bebind is the naked precipice : before us, the waste of waters gushing down from on high with inconceivable swiftness, yet less changing than the ruinous rock; ever moving onward, yet ever permanent. Beneath, is the foaming gulf wbere life is not: on the right, the cayern stretches away into its unknown recesses, the surge rolling and whirling in its fury on the boundary man may never cross.
On the left, is the rugged road conducting to the spot where we stood. All things round quiver with a tremulous motion, and the solid mass above seems ready to sink beneath the measureless weight that presses on its height, and crush the intruder who has approached upinvited.
Let the proudest of human kind stand on such a spot and his spirit will bow down before the mighty miracle, and shrink into its native insignificance. The solemn pleasure of present danger, and the mysterious awe of giant power, come heavily upon the mind, and the firmest nerves yield to their pressure. Let but one frag. ment of the time wasted precipices be shaken from its attachments, and none can save, but Him,
" Who poured the cataract from his hollow hand,
And notch the centuries in the eternal rocks.” Memorial or tale, there would be none, save that told by the maggled corpse when thrown on the shore below.
The distance from the entrance to the impassible barrier of the cavern is estimated at little less than four rods. The return is more easy than the advance, as we do not encounter the violence of the rushing storm.
The danger of the adventure is said to be more imaginary than real. Yet, all who look on the crumbling wall sustaining the over