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stage, informed me, that it was not unfrequently heard there. The distance is fifty miles.

The note, or tone, if I may call it such, is the same with the hoarse roar of the ocean; being much more grave, or less shrill, than that which proceeds from other objects of the same nature. It is not only louder, but seems as if it were expanded to a singular extent; as if it filled the atmosphere, and spread over all the surrounding country. The only variety, which attends it, is a continual undulation; resembling that of long musical chords, when struck with a forcible impulse. These undulations succeed each other with great rapidity. When two persons stand very near to each other, they can mutually hear their ordinary conversation. When removed to a small distance, they are obliged to balloo; and, when removed a little farther, cannot be heard at all. Every other sound is drowned in the tempest of noise, made by the water; and all else in the regions of nature appears to be dumb. This noise is a vast thunder, filling the heavens, shaking the earth, and leaving the mind, although perfectly conscious of safety, and affected with a sense of grandeur only, lost and astonished, swelling with emotions which engross all its faculties, and mock the power of utterance.

The strength of this sound may be illustrated in the following manner. The roar of the ocean on the beach, south of Long-Island, is sometimes heard in New Haven, at the distance of forty miles. The cataract of Niagara is heard ten miles farther.

All cataracts produce greater or less quantities of mist, a proof to the common eye, that vapour may rise by mere agitation. The mist, raised here, is proportion to the greatness of the cause. A large majestic cloud, visible from an advantageous position for a great number of miles, rises without intermission from the whole breadth of the river below; and, ascending with a slow, solemn progress, partly spreads itself down the stream by an arching, and wonderfully magnificent motion; and partly mounts towards Heaven, blown into every wild and fantastical form ; when, separating into smaller clouds, it successively floats away through the atmosphere.

Nearest to the shore a considerable quantity of this vapour impinges against the rock; and, continually accumulating, de

scends in a constant shower of drops and little streams. A person, standing under the shelving part of these rocks, would in a short time be wet to the skin.

In the mist, produced by all cataracts, rainbows are ordinarily seen in a proper position, when the sun shines; always, indeed, unless when the vapour is too rare. Twice, while we were here, the sun broke through the clouds, and lighted up in a moment the most lucid rainbow which I ever beheld. In each instance the phenomenon continued a long time, and left us in perfect leisure to enjoy its splendours. It commenced near the precipice, and extended, so far as I was able to judge, at least a mile down the river. In the latter instance, the sun was near the horizon; and the cusps of the bow were depressed as much beneath the horizontal level as the sun was above it. It was therefore a semicircle, and the vertex was half a mile above the base. In the former instance, the dimensions were somewhat smaller. Both were however interrupted. The southern part of that, here principally insisted on, or the division next to the precipice, was continued from the base to the vertex, and was therefore a full quadrant. The northern part, commencing at the base, did not exceed one quarter of the other.

In one respect both these rainbows differed widely from all others, which I had seen; and, so far as I remember, from those of which I have read. The red, orange, and yellow, were so vivid, as to excite in our whole company strong emotions of surprise and pleasure; while the green blue, indigo, and violet, were certainly not more brilliant than in those, which are usually seen on the bosom of a shower. I thought them less bright, possibly because they were so faint, compared with the other colours. The cause of this peculiarity I have not attempted to investigate. The fact was certain, and the phenomenon more glorious than any of the kind, which I had ever seen, or than I am able to describe*.

* Exactly three years from this day, viz. October 6th, 1807, as I was riding between Newburyport and Ipswich, in Massachusetts, with Messrs. D and G-, in returning from Maine, we saw a rainbow of the same remarkable appearance. The three glowing colours were eminently brilliant, like those mentioned in the text. This also was formed in a body of vapour, or an uniformly diffused cloud. From these facts taken together

VOL. IV.

When the eye was fixed upon any spot, commencing a few rods above the precipice, that is, where the cataract begins to be formed, the descending water assumes everywhere a circular figure, from the place where it begins to descend to that where it falls perpendicularly. The motion here remarkably resembles that of a wheel, rolling towards the spectator. The section is about one-fifth or one-sixth part of a circle, perhaps twelve rods in diameter. The effect of this motion of so vast a body water, equally novel and singular, was exquisitely delightful. It was an object of inexpressible grandeur, united with intense beauty of figure; a beauty, greatly heightened by the brilliant and most elegant sea-green of the waters, fading imperceptibly into a perfect white at the brow of the precipice.

The emotions, excited by the view of this stupendous scene, are unutterable. When the spectator casts his eye over the long ranges of ragged cliffs, which form the shores of this great river below the cataract; cliffs one hundred and fifty feet in height, bordering it with lonely gloom and grandeur, and shrouded everywhere by shaggy forests; when he surveys the precipice above, stretching with so great an amplitude, rising to so great a height, and presenting in a single view its awful brow, with an impression not a little enhanced by the division, which the island forms between the two great branches of the river; when he contemplates the enormous mass of water, pouring from this astonishing height in sheets so vast, and with a force so amazing; when, turning his eye to the flood beneath, he beholds the immense convulsion of the mighty mass; and listens to the majestic sound which fills the heavens; his mind is overwhelmed by thoughts too great, and by impressions too powerful, to permit the current of the intellect to flow with serenity. The disturbance of his mind resembles that of the waters beneath him. His bosom swells with emotions never felt; his thoughts labour in a manner never known before. The pleasure is exquisite but violent. The conceptions are clear and strong, but rapid and tumultuous. The struggle within is discovered by the fixedit seems evident, that vapour is more favourable than drops of rain to the exhibition of these three colours; or, in other words, refracts them with a perfection nearer to that of a prism.

ness of his position, the deep solemnity of his aspect, and the intense gaze of his eye. When he moves, his motions appear uncontrived. When he is spoken to, he is silent; or, if he speaks, his answers are short, wandering from the subject, and indicating that absence of mind, which is the result of labouring contemplation.

All these impressions are heightened to a degree, which cannot be conjectured, by the slowly ascending volumes of mist, rolled and tossed into a thousand forms by the varying blast; and by the splendour of the rainbow, successively illuminating their bosom. At the same time the spectator cannot but reflect, that he is surveying the most remarkable object on the globe. Nor will he fail to remember, that he stands upon a river, in most respects equal, and in several of high distinction superior, to every other; or that the inland seas which it empties, the mass of water which it conveys, the commercial advantages which it furnishes, and the grandeur of its disruption in the spring, are all suitable accompaniments of so sublime and glorious a scene.

I am, Sir, &c.

LETTER VI.

A Passage behind the Sheet of Water of the Cataract

practicable at some times, and not at others. Explanation of this Phenomenon. Retrogression of the Cataract considered.

DEAR SIR;

From Mr. B-, an English gentleman who was occasionally our companion during a part of this tour, I received the following information; that the day on which we left him at Chippeway, October 7th, he visited the falls; descended the ladder, which reaches from the summit of the bank to the river; and went up the stream so far, as to go

behind the sheet of descending water. That three or four days afterward he visited the falls again, and found the river so much higher, as to render it impracticable for him to repeat this attempt with success.

The second night after we left Chippeway we lodged at Bemis's. While we were conversing upon this subject, Mr. Bemis declared, that he himself had visited them, and gone behind the sheet. My companions had all descended the ladder, and had made every effort to reach the cataract; but found it impossible, the water spreading quite to the bank, where it was too steep to permit any passing. They firmly denied, therefore, the practicability of succeeding in any attempt of this nature. Mr. Bemis, however, persisted in his declaration. Being questioned concerning the manner and circumstances of his procedure, he replied, that he went into the river to bathe ; and that he went partly in the water, and partly on the shore. This explanation satisfied them.

I received this information from Mr. B- on the evening of Monday, October 15th, at Staniford's in Manlius; and the next morning committed it to my note-book. The same contradictory accounts had been given by others, whose repu

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