Page images

A gentleman, who has lived in this neighbourhood thirty years, informed Mr. B-that since his residence here the cataract had receded one hundred rods. I will suppose, that Mr. B- - misunderstood this gentleman, and that he said yards instead of rods. If it be admitted, that an intelligent man, with ample opportunity to observe, supposed the cataract to have receded one hundred yards within this period, it must also be admitted, that the recession has at least been very perceptible. As an illustration of this truth it may be observed, that in the year, following the date of this journey, a large part of this precipice on the British side, and near the Table Rock, fell at once. This, probably, is one out of many hundreds of instances of the same nature; and is a part of that retrogression, by which the river is gradually forcing this deep channel round the Goat islands. If we suppose the progress diminished from one hundred rods to one hundred yards in thirty years, the degree of recession will be more than sufficient to have proceeded through the whole distance since the deluge, even if we should compute according to the commonly received chronology.

At the same time no regular calculation can be applied to the subject, as there are no principles which can be resorted to for a basis of such a calculation. The mouldering state of the stone, at the bottom of the precipice, is ample proof of its tendency to decay. The waste of the inferior parts is everywhere so much more rapid than that of the superior, as to occasion a wide shelf to project from the surface over all that is beneath. There is direct evidence, that the continual sprinkling has no small influence in effectuating this decay. The attrition of such an immense mass of water must be powerfully operative. Limestone, particularly of this quality, is easily and extensively broken by alternations of heat and cold. That these causes have operated extensively cannot be doubted; but how rapidly, and how differently at different seasons, it is impossible to determine.

An inquisitive man, considering the subject, will naturally ask, what will be the final result of this recession? The first answer to this question is, that by a regular progress it will ultimately reach the waters of Lake Erie; and, by depressing the outlet to the common level of the channel below the falls will empty the waters of this lake, perhaps suddenly, into Lake Ontario. Such, it is rationally concluded, must be the event, whenever the last, or southernmost, part of the great mound, by which the waters of Lake Erie are kept at their present level, shall give way. The surface of Lake Erie is not far from four hundred and fifty feet perpendicular above the surface of Lake Ontario. It is probable, that in most places the bottom of Lake Erie is much above this level. Should this mound, then, be broken down, its waters chiefly would be emptied into Lake Ontario; and all the flat country surrounding this lake, together with that which extends from it along the St. Lawrence to the ocean, would be buried in the deluge. If we may credit the best remaining historical records, such an event took place, when, by the breaking down of a similar mound in the Bosphorus, the Euxine emptied an immense mass of water into the Mediterranean; and, raising that sea above its usual height, forced a passage through the isthmus, which antecedently had connected Europe and Africa, between the pillars of Hercules.

On this subject, however, there is no reason for apprehension. Before the waters of Lake Erie can be sensibly affected by this recession, it must have passed through a distance at least three, probably four times as great, as that between Queenstown and Niagara*. Should all the causes of decay, then, operate with equal efficacy as in times past, it would be more than 16,000 years before this event would take place.

I have remarked, that this stratum is horizontal. The level, however, two miles above, is at least sixty feet higher than at the precipice. The river, also, is everywhere wider above and below, upon an average at least threefold. By both these causes the retrogressive progress of the falls will be retarded. The attrition will be less, the dissolution slower, and the mass of stone to be destroyed will be greater. It is to be acknowledged, however, that many uncertainties accompany this inquiry; and that the result of it must be dubious, for a variety of reasons.

Notwithstanding the interruption, which this mass of lime

The Hon. Timothy Pickering informed me, that the captain of a vessel, with whom he crossed this lake, told him, that he had often cast anchor several miles westward of Buffaloe, and had invariably found this stratum of limestone at the bottom.

stone presents to the navigation of the St. Lawrence, it is a source of immeasurable benefit to that inland world, which surrounds the great lakes lying westward in so magnificent a succession. The elevation of land above the ocean, and the distance of it from the shore, may, together, be assumed as a scale, by which the temperature of any spot within a given climate may be measured. The countries, which border these lakes, are in the heart of a great continent, and remote from every part of the ocean; and, like all other central regions, are considerably elevated above its surface. Were the lakes then to disappear, these countries would be subject to intense cold in the winter, and to intense heat in the summer. In all probability, also, they would suffer, like the central parts of Asia and Africa, the severest evils of drought. In all these important particulars their situation is now the reverse. The whole of this vast region is rather wet than dry, moderately heated, and very little if at all distressed by frost. Snow falls in the tract east of Lake Erie, and south of Lake Ontario, less than at Albany, and as little as in the south of New England.

I am, Sir, &c.

[ocr errors]


Severe Storm. General Observations upon the western part of New-York.

Excessive Value placed upon Lands covered with Vegetable Mould. Climate and prevalent Winds of this Region. Western district of New-York unhealthy. Diseases. Fever and Ague. Goitres. Pulmonary Affections rare.


A LITTLE before it was dark, we mounted our horses, and rode to Chippeway. In the country where we now were, there was no public worship, and in the inn every tendency towards religion had apparently been long since forgotten. The sabbath here, and in the neighbourhood, was not visibly distinguished, even as a day of relaxation. At Queenstown, or Newark, our situation would have been the same. So far as we could learn, either by observation or inquiry, religion is as truly to be originated here as among the Six Nations. About nine o'clock there came on a violent storm from the north-east, accompanied by a heavy rain, which continued with but little intermission until ten o'clock the next day.

We proceeded without any accident to Buffaloe, whence, after having waited three hours for our dinner, we rode to Munger's: thirty-two miles. Here our former misfortunes befel us again. The house contained neither bread nor flour, and we were obliged to sup upon sipawn*. In the morning, however, we were furnished with biscuit for our breakfast, by the fortunate arrival of a boy from the mill at a late hour of the night.

The next day we rode to Bemis's: thirty-seven miles.

* Hasty pudding, made of maizo.

Here we were arrested again by a storm from the north-east, accompanied with heavy rain, and a considerable flight of snow, which, however, dissolved as it fell. This tempest commenced at Bemis's about nine o'clock in the evening, and continued until one the next day. In the eastern parts of the United States it continued until the morning of the 10th. Throughout most of New-England it did more mischief than


other which is remembered. In Vermont the snow fell on the Green Mountains two feet deep; at Charlestown, in NewHampshire, and at Goshen, in Connecticut, twelve inches; on Taghkannuc, and on the Kaatskill Mountains, eighteen inches. The quantity of timber blown down was probably never equalled.

Even in this vicinity, at the distance of more than four hundred miles from Boston, the wind was so violent, that it blew down eleven trees across the road, between Bemis's and Bloomfield.

We mounted our horses at two o'clock, made the best of our way to Genesee river, and fared very comfortably at Hosmer's, half a mile east of the bridge.

The next morning we returned to our hospitable friends at Bloomfield, and continued with them until the next day. Then we proceeded to Canandagua, and spent the afternoon and evening very pleasantly in an intelligent circle of gentlemen.

On the succeeding day, October 12th, we rode to Geneva before dinner in a heavy rain, and lodged the following night at Cayuga bridge.

Sunday we attended public worship at Manlius, with a considerable and very decent assembly.

Monday morning, my horse having been wounded by the saddle, I sent him forward with my companions, and set out in a waggon for Stanniford's, five miles ahead, intending to wait the arrival of the stage. The waggoner's horses were miserably poor, and were exhausted by the fatigue of a laborious journey. The driver was a young Dutchman, whose mind had hardly begun to think, and who was therefore not a very amusing companion. The waggon was heavily loaded, and it soon began to rain. Our progress resembled not a little that of my uncle Toby, for we could hardly be said to

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »