Samuel Manning.

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and read: "The River Niagara (signifying in the Iroquois language, Thunder
of Waters) takes its rise in the western extremity of Lake Erie, and after
flowing thirty-three and a half miles, enters Lake Ontario, which is three
hundred and thirty-four feet below Lake Erie. The waters for which the
Niagara is the outlet, cover an area' of one hundred and fifty thousand
square miles ; floods so grand and inexhaustible ', as to be utterly unconscious
of the loss of the hundred million of tons which they pour every hoiir, through
succeeding centuries over these stupendous precipices?

"Were you disappointed in the first view of Niagara?" is the question
commonly addressed to the visitor, and as commonly answered in the affirma
tive. I cannot say that I was so. It was exactly what I expected neither
more nor less. Having read scores of descriptions, and seen hundreds of
pictures of the falls, the whole scene was perfectly familiar. Of course, the
sense of grandeur and immensity grew upon me as I gazed hour after hour
at the wonderful spectacle. This is the effect of all grand natural scenery.
But it is especially true of waterfalls. Sit down before a cascade of only
moderate size. At first it seems nothing very remarkable, but gaze and listen
long enough, and the ceaseless rush and roar, the sublime monotony of sound
and motion, acquire a mysterious charm. At Niagara, the grandest cataract in
the world, the impression becomes absolutely overpowering and fascinating.

Let us take our stand at the edge of the great Horseshoe Fall on the
Canadian side. To the right the river is rushing toward us in a furious
torrent. The rapids, as they approach the abyss, seem conscious of their im
pending fate, and writhe and struggle as though vainly endeavouring to escape
from it. As they reach the edge of the fall the agitation ceases, and gives
place to " the torrent's smoothness ere it dash below." A mass of water,


twenty feet in thickness,* bright as a mirror, clear as crystal, green as an
emerald, curves over the wall of rock, and plunges down the ravine at our
feet with an awful roar. In the clouds of spray which rise from the "hell
of waters," swallows are seen darting to and fro, now emerging into the
sunlight, and then lost to sight in the dense masses of vapour. Innumerable
rainbows are formed amongst the shifting clouds as the wind rolls them
hither and thither. The river below the falls is white with foam, but the
agitation is less than might have been expected. Indeed, it is smooth enough
to allow a ferry boat to ply upon it. The truth is, that the force of the

descending tor
rent is so great,
that it is carried
down for a con
siderable dis
tance under the
mass of water,
and only comes
up to the sur
face at the dis
tance of a mile or two.
The rocky walls of the
ravine through which the
river rushes are of a ruddy
tint. Trees and shrubs and flowers grow
out of the crevices of rock, and by their
exquisite verdure add a new beauty to
the scene. About two miles lower down
the gorge is spanned by a graceful sus
pension bridge, the admirable proportions
of which make it an ornament rather
than an eyesore.

Looking right across the glassy curve
which forms the top of the fall, the eye
rests upon a cluster of islands covered
with the richest verdure Goat Island and the
Three Sisters. They stand boldly out into the

torrent which roars and rages round them as though endeavouring to sweep
them away. Failing in this, it rushes past them and plunges over the
American Fall, which, though smaller than the Horseshoe or Canadian Fall,

* It is, of course, impossible to test by actual measurement the depth of water either in the rapids or on
the edge of the fall itself. But in the year 1829 a ship, the Detroit, drawing eighteen feet of water, was sent over the
fall, and it was seen to pass without touching the rock, leaving a clear space beneath its keel and the edge of the



is a very


and impressive

The deafen
ing roar of the
cataract is said to
have been heard
in some conditions
of the atmosphere,
at Toronto, forty-
four miles away.
It is constantly
heard at a distance
of eighteen miles.
The late Colonel
Kelson told me
that in the war
of 1812, being in
command of a
small detachment
of British troops,
to which some
Indian allies were
attached, he was
aroused at night
by a sentry who
said that he could
hear cannon at a
distance, showing
that an engage
ment was in pro
gress. As he
listened, he heard
distinctly the long
roll of heavy artil
lery rising and
sinking on the
wind, and at once
ordered the alarm
to be sounded,
and the men to
be got under arms
with the least



possible delay, that they might
march to the scene of action.
But an old Indian chief lying
down, put his ear to the ground,
and then with a grunt of con
tempt at his white friends, told
them that it was Niagara they
heard. This proved to be the
fact, though they were seven
teen miles distant.

It is only by passing right
under the falls that any ade
quate sense of the force and
volume of the cataract can be
gained. Enveloped in a suit
of oilskin, we descend a rough
staircase, inclosed in a wooden
shaft, which is fixed with iron
clamps to the rock. Our fragile
foothold shakes and trembles
with the wild turmoil around
it. Blasts of cold clammy air
densely laden with vapour rush
in through all the openings of
the shaft. As we step out from
it, having reached the bottom,
it is difficult to breathe, not
merely from the spray which
fills eyes, and mouth, and nos
trils, but from the density of
the air, which seems to be forced
in upon the lungs like a solid
mass such at least was the
sensation which I experienced.
Few visitors penetrate beyond
this point, but I persevered and
made my way over the slimy
boulders as far as it was possible
to go. I found myself under
an overarching canopy of rock,
whilst the great mass of Niagara
came pouring down in front of
me from some mysterious height


overhead. The blasts of cold wind, the blinding showers of spray, the
deafening uproar, the oppression on the lungs, all combined to prevent any
accurate observation of the marvellous scene. I have only a general remem
brance of a dense mass of water falling with awful force and velocity, through
which a dim green light made its way, whilst myriads of jets of water
separated themselves from the body of the fall, and projecting themselves
like descending rockets into the air, were caught by gusts of wind and
dispersed into showers of foam.


Little, if at all, inferior in impressiveness to the falls themselves is
the whirlpool. It has just been said that the vast mass of water plunges
down to the bottom of the river-bed, and forming a subaqueous torrent only
emerges to the surface at a distance of two or three miles. The channel at
this point narrows considerably, and then turns round sharply at right angles
to its former course. The result is a furious maelstrom, in which the centre
of the current rises to a height of ten feet above the sides, whilst waves of
prodigious size are flung upward to a yet greater height.

The first European to visit Niagara was Jacques Cartier, in 1535 ; the


first to give a pictorial representation was Father Hennepin, a Franciscan
missionary, who, in the latter half of the seventeenth century undertook a
journey of discovery in the region of the great lakes. His sketch is curious
as illustrating and confirming the conclusion arrived at by geologists, that
the form of the cataract is constantly changing.* Even the hardest and
most homogeneous rocks must be slowly worn away by the torrent which
pours over them, and by the boulders which are borne down by it. But
the geological formation here is partly shale, partly limestone. The former
yields readily to the action of the water, and the latter is torn away in huge
fragments and carried into the gulf below. The falls are thus receding surely
and ceaselessly. The rate of recession has been calculated. Year by year
the length of the rapids is being imperceptibly diminished as the wall of rock
is eaten away, and at some distant day the river will have disappeared,
and the lake will empty itself directly into the lower channel.

In the attempt to describe Niagara, one's words convey the idea of rage,
fury, wild and passionate turmoil. Yet, strange to say, this is not the im
pression made upon the mind by the scene as a whole. It is rather that of
majestic calm, of awful and irresistible might, guided and controlled by a silent,
mysterious law. Whilst all the details suggest violent agitation, the serene
beauty of nature asserts itself as the dominant sentiment. I felt this most
impressively when, one afternoon in early summer, I sat hour after hour
by the edge of the great Horseshoe Fall. The sun went down ; the calm,
pensive shades of evening settled over the landscape ; the distant woods and
fields grew dim ; the stars came out in the pure azure ; innumerable fireflies
were weaving their intricate mazes around me, and still the thunderous roar
went on ceaselessly, and the rush of waters continued as it had done from
the creation of the world. It was as though the harsh discords and hoarse
cries, and angry turmoil of life, had been hushed and harmonised into a
Divine peace. This I have always felt to be the deepest and most abiding
impression left upon my mind by Niagara.

Often when giving expression to this feeling I have been laughed at,
as indulging in paradox, or as affecting singularity. It was therefore with
some surprise and pleasure that I found the same sentiments expressed by
Dickens in his American Notes: "Then when I felt how near to my Creator
I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one instant and lasting
of the tremendous spectacle, was peace. Peace of mind, tranquillity, calm
recollections of the Dead, great thoughts of eternal rest and happiness ; nothing
of gloom or terror. Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an Image
of Beauty ; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease
to beat for ever."

* For an admirable discussion of the geological conditions of Niagara, see Sir Charles Lyell's Visit to //<
United States.

*S^^ji,*HC^ ***



SOME years ago, wandering through the
silent, picturesque, grass-grown streets
of old Leyden, I came upon a house
bearing the inscription :



My companion burst into a fit of un
controllable laughter at having discovered,
as he said, " the abode of the mythical
Jack Robinson." I was at first tempted
to join him in his mirth, till I remem
bered that this was the birth-place of the
Puritan settlement of America. The exiles,
R i- LICS BROUGHT OVER IN THE 'MAYFLOWER.' driven from England by persecution, had
found a temporary refuge at Leyden, and formed there a Church, carrying
out their own ideas of doctrine and discipline, under the pastorate of


Robinson. But, though grateful for the toleration they enjoyed, the refugees
never looked upon Holland as their home, and determined to seek a
settlement across the ocean, on what were then the inhospitable, savage
shores of North America. Their pastor led the pioneers in this movement
to the neighbouring port of Delft, and, commending them to God in prayer,
dismissed them upon their perilous enterprise. His parting words have been
preserved by one of the party, as they well deserve to be. "He told us,"
says \Vinslow, "that we were ere long to part asunder; and whether ever
he should see our faces again, was known to the Lord. But whether the
Lord had appointed it or not, he charged us, before God and His blessed
angels, to follow him no farther than he followed Christ ; and if God should
reveal anything to us by any other instrument of His, to be as ready to
receive it as ever we were to receive any truth by his ministry ; for he was
very confident the Lord had more truth and light to break forth out of His
Holy Word. . . . Here also he put us in mind of our Church covenant, or,
at least, that part of it whereby we promise and covenant with God and one
another to receive whatever light or truth shall be made known to us from
His written Word. But withal, he exhorted us to take heed what we received
for truth, and well to compare and examine it, and weigh it with other
Scripture of truth before we received it. For (saith he) it is not possible
the Christian world should have come forth so lately out of thick anti-
Christian darkness, and full perfection of knowledge break forth at once. . . .
Another thing he commended to us was, that we should use all means
to avoid and shake off the name of Brownist. And so he advised us to
close with the godly party of the kingdom of England, and rather to study
union than division, viz., how near we might possibly, without sin, close with
them, rather than in the least measure affect division or separation from

The Speedwell, in which the Pilgrims first embarked, belied its name,
and had to return with the emigrants on board. Some were dismayed
by the perils and hardships they encountered, but a hundred persevered and
sailed from Plymouth in the Mayflower, a vessel of only 180 tons, on the 6th
of September, 1620. They had intended to make the mouth of the Hudson
River. But, by the ignorance or the treachery of their captain, they were carried
out of their course to the north of Cape Cod, and on the 2ist of November
landed on Plymouth Rock, so called by them in loving remembrance of the
port from which they sailed in the land which had cast them forth. Their
provisions were scanty, the winter severe, the soil barren, the Indians hostile.
Half the settlers died before spring. Those who survived were so weak as
to be scarcely able to minister to the sick and dying. Yet, amidst all these
dangers and sufferings, they bore up bravely. When the chief of the Narra-
gansett Indians sent them a bundle of arrows tied up with a rattlesnake
skin, in token of defiance, Bradford, their governor, with grim humour,



returned the skin filled with gunpowder, as his acceptance of the challenge.
Joined by other bands of pilgrims, they had in a couple of years built a
church, and placed six cannon upon its roof, as a protection against their
savage enemies. Two years later, the settlement consisted of thirty-four
houses, inclosed by a wall with fortified gates. The hostile Indians were


cowed by the resolute bearing of the

colonists, and treaties were made

with such of the tribes as were friendly.

Lands were bought from those who would sell, and formed the prize of war

from those who would not.

A quaint record of the hardships endured, and of the cheerful spirit in
which they were borne, has come down to us in some rude verses, written
about 1630, ten years after the first settlement. The anonymous bard who
thus first attempted English poetry on the American Continent, says :

New England's annoyances you that would know them,
Pray ponder these verses which briefly do show them.

The place where we live is a wilderness wood,
Where grass is much wanting that's fruitful and good ;
Our mountains, and hills, and our valleys below,
Being commonly covered with ice and with snow;
And when the north-west wind with violence blows,
Then every man pulls his cap over his nose ;
But if any's so hardy and will it withstand,
He forfeits a finger, a foot, or a hand.


And when the spring opens we then take the hoe,
And make the ground ready to plant and to sow;
Our corn being planted, and seed being sown,
The worms destroy much before it is grown.
And when it is growing, much spoil there is made
By birds, and by squirrels, that pluck up the blade ;
And when it is come to full corn in the ear,
It is often destroyed by racoon and by deer.

And now do our garments begin to grow thin,
And wool is much wanted to card and to spin ;
If we can get a garment to cover without,
Our other in-garments are clout upon clout.
Our clothes we brought with us are apt to be torn,
They need to be clouted soon after they're worn
But clouting our garments they hinder us nothing,
Clouts double are warmer than single whole clothing.

If fresh meat be wanting to fill up our dish,

We have carrots, and pumpkins, and turnips, and fish ;

And is there a mind for a delicate dish,

We repair to the clam banks, and there we catch fish.

Instead of pottage, and puddings, and custards, and pies,

Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies ;

We have pumpkins at morning, and pumpkins at noon ;

If it was not for pumpkins we should soon be undone.

If barley be wanting to make into malt,

We must be contented and think it no fault;

For we can make liquor to sweeten our lips

Of pumpkins, and parsnips, and walnut-tree chips. * * *

Now, while some are going, let other be coming,

For while liquor's boiling it must have a scumming ;

But I will not blame them, for birds of a feather,

By seeking their fellows, are flocking together.

But you whom the Lord intends hither to bring,

Forsake not the honey for fear of the sting;

But bring both a quiet and contented mind,

And all needful blessings you surely will find.*

It docs not fall within the scope of these slight sketches of American
scenery to narrate at length the subsequent fortunes of the Puritan settle
ment of New England. It must suffice to say, that the character of the
first settlers has remained indelibly stamped upon their descendants. Even
in the large cities into which the tide of emigration from every part of
Europe has poured, we are constantly reminded of the men who, two centuries
ago, left their homes and sought on these barren shores the liberty to
worship God after the dictates of their own consciences. In every age of
American history the men of New England have been conspicuous for a

* Published by the Massachusetts Historical Society.



stubborn adherence to principle at all costs and all hazards. This has given
them an influence in the national councils out of proportion to their numbers
or their wealth. In the Revolutionary War they were the leaders in the
revolt against the mother country. If Plymouth Rock was the birth-place
of the nation, Bunker's Hill was the birth-place of National Independence.
In the Civil War, they were not only the first to assert the rights of the
slave, but when the central states wavered in their opposition to the military
power of the south, Massachusetts never flinched nor faltered. It may be true,
as their fellow-countrymen allege, and as visitors often feel, that the Yankee
type of character is marked by somewhat of opinionativeness, hardness,
and self-conceit, but it is impossible to deny to them the inestimable qualities
of fidelity to conscience, and the fearless assertion of convictions.

If Chicago be taken as the typical city
of Young America, Boston stands out as the
representative of New England. It claims
to be the intellectual metropolis of the New
World. And the claim is allowed, though


not without many a jest at those who
make it. Americans, who have a nick
name for every state, and city, and public
man in the union, call it " the Hub," the pivot,
that is, round which the universe is supposed
to move. "Boston," says one writer, "is a
city of two hundred and fifty thousand in
habitants, at a mean distance from the sun
of ninety-two million miles, with a rotation on
its axis of twenty-three hours, fifty-six minutes
and four seconds, and a revolution in its
orbit of three hundred and sixty-five days
five hours forty-eight minutes and fifty
seconds." " Bostonians," says another writer, with a side-glance at the
Unitarianism which prevails amongst them, " are so proud of their birth-place
that they seldom wish to be born again." The characteristics of the three
great Eastern cities are hit off by the proverb : " At New York the
question is what a man has, in Philadelphia who he is, in Boston what he

The original Indian name of Boston was Shawmut. The first colonists
called it Trimountaine abbreviated into Tremont from the three hills which
formed a marked feature in the landscape. Its present name was given by
the emigrants from the Lincolnshire coast, who, with the pathetic love for
the mother country which characterised them, transferred the old familiar
name to their new home.

There are few cities In America where the English visitor finds himself




1748, and was long used by the
year 1770, the square in front was
of the Republic as the " Boston
Massacre." The feelings of an
tagonism between the colonists
and the mother country had
been growing- more and more
embittered, and in an acci
dental collision between the
townspeople and the British
mainguard, the latter fired upon
the crowd, killing four and
wounding many others. The
result was to increase the irri
tation which already existed, and
thus to accelerate the revolution,
which could not have been long
delayed. Faneuil Hall, " the
cradle of liberty," as it is fami
liarly called, was built by Peter
Faneuil, an old Huguenot mer
chant, in 1/42. Having been
destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt

so soon at home. The streets
are not laid out in straight lines,
running at right angles to each
other, but are crooked and de
vious, like those of our own
towns hence the joke that " they
were laid out by the cows going
to pasture." To myself, wearied
with the mathematical regularity
and spic-and-span newness of
other cities, it was positively
refreshing to be able to lose
one's way amongst old rambling
streets with picturesque court
yards and projecting gables.
Boston, unlike most American
cities, can boast of buildings of
real historical interest, such as
the Old State House and Faneuil
Hall. The former was built in
State Legislature for its sittings. In the

o o

the scene of what is known in the annals



in 1761, and, soon afterwards, served as a barrack for the British troops
until 1776, when they had to evacuate the city, and Washington triumphantly
entered it. Ever since, it has been the great meeting-place for the citizens
of Boston. On occasions of great public excitement its unbenched floor is
densely packed by the crowds who flock together to listen to stirring harangues,

to invoke the memory of their ancestors,
and to pass resolutions denouncing tyranny
and oppression in every form. The hall,
being public property, is never let for money-
payment, but is thrown open for meetings
by the authorities, on receiving a requisition
for that purpose. The charter of the city
contains a clause forbidding the sale or lease
of this historic edifice under any circum

Of few things are the Bostonians
more proud than of their Common, and
deservedly so, for few things are more characteristic of the city. It
cannot compare either for extent or splendour with the public gardens we
find elsewhere. In American phrase, " It is not a circumstance " to the
Central Park of New York, or Fairmount at Philadelphia. Its tiny lake is
derisively called the " Frog-pond :" yet its avenues of stately elms, its smooth
green sward, its plain, unostentatious, homely beauty, give it a charm which
is not found in the magnificent parks of other cities. And it has a history



which they have not. A venerable elm, known as " Liberty Tree," went
back almost to the Puritan settlement, and was the centre for patriotic
gatherings till its fall a year or two ago.

Those who deride the Puritans as ignorant and uncouth fanatics, and
claim for the Cavaliers a monopoly of culture and refinement, would do well


to study the history of public education in the New England States. Shortly
after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers common schools were established ;
and in the year 1647, it was enacted "that all the brethren shall teach their
children and apprentices to read, and that every township of fifty house-


holders shall appoint one to teach all the children." 1 Nor was higher
education forgotten. It was only six years after the settlement of Boston

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Online LibrarySamuel ManningAmerican pictures drawn with pen and pencil → online text (page 9 of 12)