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"WE have a vision of a magazine; we conceive that
in it no great thing of human interest would go
Read the March', Number of the American
right ahead in the course of the mighty Zambesi, at Kalai two and a half miles wide.
Behind the veil, the savages told him, a dread god lived. The place was 'holy, cloud-covered, full of thunder, like awful Sinai on which the people might not gaze lest "many of them perish." But Livingstone persevered, drifted lower between the myriad isles, where strange birds called and orchids ran riot. Landing on the island that bears his name, he laid eyes for the first time on the world's greatest wonder. Eons ago volcanic action tore open the black basalt, leaving an abyss 400 feet sheer, over which the mile-wide river drops into a cleft, which instantly turns at right angles and zig-zags for fifty miles, as though it were cut, tortuous and blackwalled, by some Titanic chisel.
Copyright, 1907, by the Technical World Company.
It is a labyrinth of ravines, where black cliffs rise from a chaos of rocks and boiling water. The maze covers hundreds of square miles, bare, Dantesque, uninhabited; desolate as the moon's surface. Livingstone with arms outstretched, parting the ten-foot dripping grass, and peering out between palm and palmyra, purple lianes and gorgeous ferns, watched the mile-long cataract, as the solid rock quivered beneath his feet with the shock of the falling flood.
He describes it as "the crumbling away of a mountain of chalk; the flight of a myriad of training comets, leaving rays of nebula." On the canyon's opposite wall towered a luxuriant forest, with a lower growth, rank and lush, ever green in the eternal rain. Down the black basalt sides ran silvery cataracts from myriad leaves. But all was mystic, uncertain in an unsubstantial sea of whirling mist, quickened into ruby and sapphire and topaz as the African sun poured upon the cloud of luminous pearl. The gorge below has but four "doors," as the natives call them, by which its labyrinth can be entered. Far down the black precipices fragile rainbow-hued blossoms forever shake in the wind and
MR. RALPH D. MERSHON. American Consulting Engineer of the Victoria Falls transmission scheme.
spray of an eternal storm. The returning spray from the "Rain Forest" on the opposite abyss drops in little cascades and then, apparently defying gravity's law, turns and comes back again, mounting vertically. For the spray breaks into smoke, hesitates and falters and then rises. slowly, quickening at last into feathery fountains driven by the fitful gusts.
The Zambesi is one of the world's greatest rivers, yet the black basalt walls of its abyss are in parts not a hundred yards wide. Here the speed, fury and confusion of the monstrous stream, necessarily of depth incalculable, is an awful sight. It is driven back on itself, shaking the cliffs' foundations-boiling, heaving, whirling, sinking into gulfs, leaping in pyramids and spinning globes; throwing up white spiral columns, and roaring with exaggerated thunder multiplied by the echoing cliffs, in places 500 feet high.
In his book, Livingstone admits that on discovering the Victoria Falls he carved his initials "D. L." upon a giant tree—“a vanity I was guilty of for the first time."
Long since his day industrial Africa has awakened, and the desolate red karoo, with Kimberley's "blue dirt," have