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character of a fluid, being divided into pyramidalshaped fragments, the bases of which are turned upwards. The surface of the gulf below the cataract presents a very singular aspect, seeming, as it were, filled with an immense quantity of hoar frost, which is agitated by small and rapid undulations. The particles of water are dazzlingly white, and do not apparently unite together, as might be supposed, but seem to continue for a time in a state of distinct comminution, and to repel each other with a thrilling and shivering motion which cannot easily be described.
The noise made by the Horse-shoe Fall, though very great, is infinitely less than might be expected, and varies in loudness according to the state of the atmosphere. When the weather is clear and frosty, it may be distinctly heard at the distance of ten or twelve miles—nay, much further when there is a steady breeze ; but I have frequently stood upon the declivity of the high bank that overlooks the Table Rock, and distinguished a low thundering only, which at times was altogether drowned amidst the roaring of the rapids above the cataract. In my opinion, the concave shape of the Great Fall explains this circumstance. The noise vibrates from one side of the rocky recess to the other, and a little only escapes from its confinement; and even this is less distinctly heard than it would otherwise be, as the profusion of spray renders the air near the cataract a very indifferent conductor of sound.
The road to the bottom of the Fall presents many more difficulties than that which leads to the Table Rock. After leaving the Table Rock, the traveller must proceed down the river nearly half a mile, where he will come to a small chasm in the bank, in which there is a spiral staircase enclosed in a wooden building. By descending this stair, which is seventy or eighty feet, perpendicular height, he will find himself under the precipice, on the top of which he formerly walked. A high but sloping bank extends from its base to the edge of the river; and on the summit of this there is a narrow slippery path, covered with angular fragments of rock, which leads to the Great Fall. The impending cliffs, hung with a profusion of trees and brushwood, overarch this road, and seem to vibrate with the thunders of the cataract. In some places they rise abruptly to the height of one hundred feet, and display upon their surfaces fossil shells and the organic remains of a former world; thus sublimely leading the mind to contemplate the convulsions which nature has undergone since the creation. As the traveller advances, he is frightfully stunned by the appalling noise; for clouds of spray sometimes envelope him, and suddenly check his faltering steps. Rattlesnakes start from the cavities of the rocks, and the scream of eagles, soaring among the whirlwinds of eddying vapour, which obscure the gulf of the cataract, at intervals announce that the raging waters have hurled some bewildered animal over the precipice. After scrambling among piles of huge rocks that obstruct his way, the traveller gains the bottom of the Fall, where the soul can be susceptible only of one emotion, viz. that of uncontrollable terror.
It was not until I had, by frequent excursions to the Falls, in some measure familiarized my mind with their sublimities, that I ventured to explore the penetralia of the Great Cataract. The precipice over which it rolls is very much arched underneath; while the impetus which the water receives in its descent, projects it far beyond the cliff; and thus an immense Gothic arch is formed by the rock and the torrent. Twice I entered this cavern, and twice I was obliged to retrace my steps, lest I should be suffocated by the blasts of dense spray that whirled round me: however, the third time I succeeded in advancing about twenty-five yards. Here darkness began to encircle me; on one side the black cliff stretched itself into a gigantic arch far above my head, and on the other the dense and hissing torrent formed an impenetrable sheet of foam, with which I was drenched in a moment. The rocks were so slippery, that I could hardly keep my feet, or hold securely by them; while the horrid din made me think the precipices above were tumbling down in colossal fragments upon my head.
It is not easy to determine how far an individual might advance between the sheet of water and the rock: but were it even possible to explore the recess to its utmost extremity, scarcely any one, I believe, would have courage to attempt an expedition of the kind.
A little way below the Great Fall the river is, comparatively speaking, so tranquil, that a ferryboat plies between the Canada and American shores, for the convenience of travellers. When I first crossed, the heaving flood tossed about the Bluff with a violence that seemed very alarming; but as soon as we gained the middle of the river, my attention was altogether engaged by the surprising grandeur of the scene before me. I was now within the area of a semicircle of cataracts, more than three thousand feet in extent, and floated on the surface of a gulf, raging, fathomless, and interminable. Majestic cliffs, splendid rainbows, lofty trees, and columns of spray, were the gorgeous decorations of this theatre of wonders, while a dazzling sun shed refulgent glories upon every part of the scene. Surrounded with clouds of vapour, and stunned into a state of confusion and terror by the hideous noise, I looked upwards to the height of one hundred and fifty feet, and saw vast floods, dense, awful, and stupendous, vehemently bursting over the precipice, and rolling down as if the windows of heaven were opened to pour another deluge upon the earth. Loud sounds, resembling discharges of artillery or volcanic explosions, were now distinguishable amidst the watery tumult, and added terrors to the abyss from which they issued. The sun, looking majestically through the ascending spray, was encircled by a radiant halo; whilst fragments of rainbows floated on every side, and momentarily vanished only to give place to a succession of others more brilliant. Looking backwards, I saw the Niagara river, again become calm and tranquil, rolling magnificently between the towering cliffs that rose on either side, and receiving showers of orient dewdrops from the trees that gracefully overarched its transparent bosom. A gentle breeze ruffled the waters, and beautiful birds fluttered around, as if to welcome its egress from those clouds of spray, accompanied by thunders and rainbows, which were the heralds of its precipitation into the abyss of the cataract. Howison.
THE AURORA BOREALIS.
About midnight, on the twenty-seventh of January, this phenomenon broke out in a single compact mass of brilliant yellow light, situated about a S. E. bearing, and appearing only a short distance above the land. This mass of light, notwithstanding its general continuity, sometimes appeared to be evidently composed of numerous pencils of rays, compressed, as it were, laterally into one, its limits both to the right and left being well defined and nearly vertical. The light, though very bright at all times, varied almost constantly in intensity, and this had the appearance (not an uncommon one in the aurora) of being produced by one volume of light overlaying another, just as we see the darkness and density of smoke increased by cloud rolling over cloud. While Lieutenants Sherer and Ross, and myself, were admiring the extreme beauty of this phenomenon from the observatory, we all simultaneously uttered an exclamation of surprise at seeing a bright ray of the Aurora shoot suddenly downward from the general mass of light, and between us and the land, which was then distant only three thousand yards. Had I witnessed this