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also for watching the beautiful play of the prismatic colors as they form with the clouds of rising spray and vanish as these burst, and for observing those snow white billows as they are rolled out by the meeting of the waters, and for listening to the mighty roar which is sent up from the deep abyss, and for feeling that trembling, quivering motion, which is imparted to the solid rocks. But here is not the highest sublimity of the scene; to enjoy that, the waters from above must be brought into the view. The dark black aspect of the threatening cloud is more terrific than the thunder's peal and the lightning's flash. Let the beholder, who would feel the full grandeur of this beautiful and sublime spectacle, place himself on the table rock, and direct his eyes far above the fall to the point where the first ripple marks the rapidity of the river, and thence follow it downward as its impetuosity increases and as its waves roll out their crested curls, and then again when they no longer roll, but rush in a loud roar of broken, wild confusion, and next unite in a sheet of pure, transparent emerald green to plunge into the gulf below, and there waste their strength in fretting and foaming, and rise at last in infinitely divided spray, and float on the air as lightly and as gently as gossamer.
But we would not be understood to imply that the view from this spot alone should satisfy any visitor ; we mean only that all which belongs to this magnificent scene is here best grouped in the picture, and here it should be seen by every light and at every hour, and afterwards from the thousand other points along the banks of the river, which present some peculiarity, and novelty, and beautiful variety. Mr Schoolcraft has sketched his picture of this enchanting, this glorious spectacle with great correctness and liveliness, but it is too long for an extract, there is, however, one circumstance which he describes so beautifully, that we must give it in his own language.
• What has been said by Goldsmith and repeated by others, respecting the destructive influence of the rapids above to ducks and other water fowl, is only an effect of the imagination. So far from being the case, the wild duck is often seen to swim down the rapids to the brink of the falls and then fly out, and repeat the descent, seeming to take delight in the exercise. Neither are small land birds affected on flying over the falls, in the manner that has been stated. I observed the blue bird and the wren, which had already made their annual visit to the banks of the Niagara, frequently fly within one or two feet of the brink, apparently delighted with the gift of their wings, which enabled them to sport over such frightful precipices without danger.'
What a beautiful picture this brings to view, and who ever saw the scene from which it is taken, without wishing to share in the sports of these water fowl. There is a refreshing coolness in the very thought,—to be carried with the rapidity of lightning down this crystal stream to the verge of the precipice, and there wet one's limbs in that bright green water, and then rise and skim along its surface, now dipping in the tip of one wing and now that of another. But we are straying from our proper path; we did not set out in search of the picturesque, but of facts and phenomena in natural history. The depth of the chasm through which Niagara river passes, affords a fine opportunity for examining the different strata of its banks. These according to Mr Schoolcraft are limestone, fragile slate, and sand stone. The uppermost and lowest of these strata, limestone and sandstone, compose the great secondary formation of the United States, occupying the whole basin of the Mississippi and extending from it between the lakes and the Alleghany ridge, as far eastward as the Mohawk, between which the slate is often interposed, as here at Niagara, and throughout the western part of New York generally. This formation is almost without a parallel for uniformity, throughout such an extent, preserving every where its hori. zontal direction, or varying only with the slight undulations in the surface of the earth. The stratum of slate which is interposed between the limestone and sandstone of this formation at Niagara is nearly forty feet in thickness and exceedingly fragile, nearly as much so as shale, and having been observed to crumble and let down the superincumbent limestone, an opinion has arisen that the same operation has been going on for ages, and occasioned a retrocession of the falls from some point far below, which is generally considered to be Lewistown. We do not look upon this supposition as unquestionable, not that it is in any way incredible, but that we do not see sufficient proofs to place it beyond a doubt. It is true the three rocks are precisely those which would most readily admit of such an effect, the slate crumbling, the limestone then falling by its weight, and the sandstone disintegrating and washing away. But is it not more probable that such a volume of water should have at once borne away its opposing obstacles when it was first hemmed in, or when it first broke loose, in which ever way the canal between Erie and Ontario may have been formed, than that it should have gone on in the nibbling manner which the supposition takes for granted ? That the precipice is not as it was, nor where it was, at some former time, certainly cannot be questioned by any one who examines the banks above and below it, but we believe also that the outlet of lake Erie was originally somewhere else, and not through Ontario and St Lawrence, and that the deep chasm between the falls and Lewistown was mostly formed when the junction of the two lakes was effected. As to actual testimony of a gradual retrocession since it was known to Europeans, we see none that is satisfactory. Kalm, who is acknowledged by every one to be both honest and exact, visited the falls in 1750, the island was then between eleven and twelve hundred feet long, and we believe it will be found to be still the same. Its lower edge also was then just even with the fall, and so it is now, But it is not necessary or even probable, that the island should keep pace in running backward with the ledge over which the water is precipitated. Supposing this retrocession to be gradual and uniform, and not to have commenced before the creation of the world, as probably will not be contended, the regular annual retiring must be about five feet and a half, which would give three hundred and ninety-six feet for the seventy-two years since Kalm was there. Do the observations of its neighboring inhabitants support this supposition ? Mr M'Causlin, who lived there nine years, in a paper upon the falls, published in the third volume of the transactions of the American philosophical society, bears witness to the contrary, although he is a believer in the general opinion of their having receded. We are foreclosed from citing Hennepin as an authority, or we might get something in the support of the non-retrocession from him. But although we cannot use him as an evidence, we may quote his suggestions, one of which is so striking as to deserve notice. I could not conceive,' says he, how it came to pass, that four great lakes, the least of which is four hundred leagues in compass, should empty themselves into one another, and then all centre and discharge themselves at this great fall, and yet not drown a good part of America.'
Mr Schoolcraft returns to Buffalo May 3d, and finds lake Erie still abstracted with ice, which was then rapidly break
ing up. On the 6th he embarks on board a steam boat for Detroit, where he arrives after a passage of sixty-two hours. This is one of the productions of civilized ingenuity which is said to have triumphed over the wonted savage pride. They have not been able to suppress their astonishment on seeing vessels impelled rapidly through the water without the aid of any moving force, apparent to them. Indeed it could not well be otherwise, for it is hardly possible to conceive of an object more incomprehensible to a person unacquainted with the principles upon which it is constructed, than this strange vehicle, called a steam boat, and Indians are not the only people who have viewed its approach with fear and wonder. The first one which went up the Elbe drove the inhabitants from the banks, as if it had been a sea monster, and it was much the same with the first which appeared on the Rhine. And surely when such was the effect upon those to whom its appearance had been foretold and who knew something of its moving power, the simple Indians need not blush at having been dismayed. Admirable as this ingenious contrivance is upon all waters, there are none to which it is so peculiarly fitted, as to our inland seas and the two great channels, by which they communicate with the Atlantic, -the St Lawrence and the Mississippi. It has already contributed greatly to the late rapid increase of population in the parts of the country bordering on these waters, and will doubtless contribute still more to the same effect hereafter. It matters not what the distance between two points on the earth's surface is, if there be an easy and certain mode of communication from one to the other, and such a communication is now afforded by steain boats, wherever there is water for them to move in; the lover's prayer is half realized, and space annihilated by their aid. Detroit, for example, which was formerly a half year's journey from our own metropolis, is now a mere pleasant excursion. This place, when it was visited by Mr Schoolcraft in May 1820, contained two hundred and fifty houses, and fourteeen hundred and fifteen inhabitants. Its growth has been much less rapid, than would be expected from the great advantages of its situation and the mildness of its climate. But the several checks it has experienced from having been so often the seat of war with the Indians, and latterly of that with the English, have probably counterbalanced the causes, which would otherwise have given it a great increase. It was known in 1620, the woodman and hunter having thus early selected it, as a stopping place in their journeys to the north. It was then the site of an Indian village, and afterwards of a French garrison, and continued such until 1759, when it fell into the hands of the English, and soon afterwards became famous by the long and obstinate siege it sustained against a confederacy of the Miamies, Ottaways, Chippeways, Wyandots, Pottawatamies, Missinagas, Shawnees, Ottagamies, and Winnebagoes, under the command of Pontiac, the greatest perhaps of Indian warriors. The account of this siege and of the English sortie and defeat at the bloody battle of Bloody Bridge is given at length in Carver's travels, and extracted into the work now before us. There are few places in our country, whose history is so rich in incident as Detroit; and were it not for one damned spot,' there would be none in any country, which could boast of a history with fairer and brighter pages.
The party for exploring the upper lakes and the sources of the Mississippi, consisted of Gov. Cass, Dr Wolcott, Mr Schoolcraft, and six other gentlemen, attended by ten Canadians, seven U. S. soldiers, ten Indians, an interpreter and guide, in all thirty eight, who embarked in three canoes at Detroit, May 24th. The entrance of the lake of St Clair, affords the first indication observed by Mr Schoolcraft of a change in the geological formation. Pebbles of granite, hornblende rock, and silicious sand are seen on the edge of the water, washed out from below the alluvion of the banks. This is probably very near the limits where the materials of the primitive formation show themselves from beneath the secondary; nothing of them being seen on the American side of lake Erie; but around St Clair masses of granite, mica slate, and quartz are found in abundance. This little lake is described as being very beautiful, particularly at the point of entrance into the strait which communicates with them. Descending the rapids near Black river, Mr Schoolcraft observed a stratum of blue clay fifteen feet in depth, covered by a layer of sand forty feet deep, and raises thereon some queries about the relative ages of the tree, which we think he might have answered for himself; for we know not how one could see the banks of such a water course, and not be convinced that the alluvion of its banks is continually undergoing changes. Fourteen days were spent by the party between Detroit and Michilimackinac, which shows the difference in despatch
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