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we now see it was forcibly impressed upon me thusiastic admiration of the picturesque in Inby an accidental circumstance. On entering the dian life and character, there can be no doubt harbor of New York I was very kindly presented, that there was a substantial foundation for this by General Wilson, of that city, with a copy of a representation of them. On the assumption that new edition of the work already quoted, the the law of development has always worked in “ Memoirs of an American Lady," by Mrs. Grant one direction, it is hard, indeed, to account for of Laggan. Mrs. Grant was my mother's friend the total decay of races who had advanced so and teacher, and few names were more familiar far; but, if that assumption be a false one—if to me in early years. She did not die till 1838; the development of evil is as certain and even yet her girlhood was spent in Albany when that more rapid in its work than the development of city was one of the advanced posts of European good—then the phenomenon is not incapable of settlement in America, and when it was still so explanation. It is now well ascertained that the weak that it was not altogether indifferent to the disappearance of the North American tribes is friendship and protection of the Indians of the not a result of contact and collision with the Mohawk. In the long and bitter contest for su- higher civilization of the European settlers. premacy in North America between France and Even if it had been due to this contact, the reEngland both nations had need of native allies. sult would not have been the less one requiring It was mainly by Indian auxiliaries that only three explanation. The uncivilized races of India and years before Mrs. Grant's arrival in America a of Africa do not wither or melt away in the small body of Frenchmen had defeated and de- "fierce light” of European culture. In general stroyed a well-appointed British army command- they not only survive but multiply and flourish. ed by a veteran in the wars of Europe. The Something else must have been at work in the tribes of the great Algonquin family were those case of the aboriginal population of North Amerwhose friendship was cultivated by the French ; ica. The truth is, that their decay is only the while the Iroquois, or Five Nations, were the spe- consummation of a process which had begun cial allies of the English colonists. In this di- long before Europeans had come into contact vision we had the best of it, for the Iroquois, of with them, and that it has been consummated whom the Mohawks were the most powerful from the operation of causes purely internal. tribe, were the great warriors of that portion of And one of these causes is inseparably connected the American Continent. It is curious to ob- with the very name of the Mohawks. In them serve the very different estimate formed of those there was a wonderful development of the paspeople by scientific writers of the present day, sion and the power of fighting. It became an and by such writers as Mrs. Grant, who repre- insatiable thirst for blood. Their very name was sents the feeling of the colonists in immediate a terror in all the vast and fair regions of Amercontact with the Mohawks. “In regard to their ica which stretch between the ocean and the internal condition and progress in the arts,” says Great Lakes. Whole tracts of country, in which Mr. Dawson, “notwithstanding the gloss with the first Jesuit missionaries had seen flourishing which time may to some extent cover these abo- villages with a settled population, and a prosperrigines, we can not disguise from ourselves that ous agricultural industry, were devastated by the they were for the most part the veriest savages." * fierce Mohawks. The population was extirpated,
the few survivors driven into the marshes and Were they savages (on the other hand, asks Mrs. the forests, to live thenceforward solely by the Grant] who had fixed habitations, who cultivated chase, and to be quoted thenceforward by modrich fields, who built castles (for so they called their not incommodious houses surrounded with palisades), The evolution of savagery has thus, on an ex
ern anthropologists as the type of primeval man. who planted maize, beans, and showed considerable tended scale, been seen and described by eyeingenuity in constructing and adoming their canoes, witnesses, not only in historic but in very recent arms, and clothing? They who had wise though unwritten laws, and conducted their wars, treaties, and times. And then the conquerors themselves bealliances with deep and sound policy; they whose
came the victims of the vices and of the unnatueloquence was bold, nervous, and animated, whose ral habits which had been developed along with language was sonorous, musical, and expressive; their sole addiction to war and with their thirst who possessed generous and elevated sentiments, of blood. One of these vices was the cruel heroic fortitude, and unstained probity—were these, treatment of women, on whom the whole burindeed, savages?
den of work was laid, and whose wretched con
dition has been described by many writers. Was Making every allowance for a woman's en- this primeval? If so, man was born into the # "Sketches of the Past and Present Condition of
world with lower habits and poorer instincts the Indians of Canada.” By George M. Dawson. Re- than the brutes. All the analogies of nature printed from “The Canadian Naturalist.”
and all the presumptions of reason are in favor of the conclusion that these destructive and sui- grown up in thickets, and are then left to stand cidal habits and vices are the results of develop- in the open. ment, the end of small beginnings of evil, and of This is the aspect of country of which I had departures, at first slight, from the order of na- expected to see a great deal—and no doubt in ture. The American Continent is covered with many districts large tracts must be in this condithe remains of an ancient civilization which has tion. But it is the condition only of the country passed away, and which for the most part had where the processes of settlement are in their already passed away long before it suffered any first stage. In few years the soil, pregnant violence from external enemies. The history of with seeds of all kinds, soon sends up a rich and its destruction is to a great extent unknown. tangled arboreal vegetation on every spot which But such indications of that history as can be is not kept in continual cultivation. derived from what we know of the aboriginal The shades of night had blotted out the landraces point directly to American savagery as the scape long before we reached Niagara. The result of vices evolving their own natural conse- northwestern horizon, however, had been for quences through a long lapse of time.
some time illuminated by summer lightning, As we passed, in the course of a few hours, which soon became forked and very brilliant. through an extent of country which it took Mrs. As we crossed the suspension-bridge, seeing Grant, with her father's detachment of the Fifty- nothing but a dim whiteness in the distance, a fifth Regiment, nearly three weeks to traverse, it flash unusually long and vivid lit up the whole was difficult to realize the change which had been splendor of the Falls with its pallid and ghastly brought about during an interval of time so short light. in the life of nations. The peaceful homesteads There is perhaps no natural object in any part of the Mohawk Valley, and its thriving towns, of the world which, when seen, answers so acpresented a contrast with its past even more ab- curately to expectation as the Falls of Niagara. solute than that which is presented by the scenes Pictures and photographs without end have made of our own old Border warfare ; and the beauti- them familiar in every aspect in which they can ful lines in which this contrast has been presented be represented. Those in what they can not be by the great Border Minstrel come involuntarily represented are the last to be seen and the last to to one's mind :
be appreciated. The first approach to them is
perhaps the least imposing view of all. They are “Sweet Teviot, on thy silver tide
seen at the distance of about a mile. They are The flaring bale-fires blaze no more ;
seen, too, from an elevation above the level of No longer steel-clad warriors ride
the top of the Falls, and the great breadth of the Along thy wild and willowed shore: Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill,
river, as compared with the height of the preciAll, all is peaceful, all is still,
pice, makes that height look comparatively small. As if thy waves since Time was born,
Nevertheless, the effect of the whole, with the Since first they rolled upon the Tweed,
two great columns of spray from the “HorseHad only heard the shepherd's reed,
shoe,” suddenly revealed by a flash of lightning, Nor started at the bugle horn.” *
is an effect which can never be forgotten. The
power and beauty of Niagara are best seen from As we emerged from the valley of the Mohawk the point on the Canadian bank whence the into the open rolling country whose streams fall“Table-Rock" once projected. This arises from into Lake Ontario, I was struck with the vast ex- the fact that the deepest convexity of the “Horsetent of pasture-land, apparently of the finest shoe" is only well seen from that point, and it is quality. The number of cattle visible on its sur- along the edges of that convexity that the greatface seemed strangely below its capabilities of est mass of water falls, with an unbroken rush, feeding. It gave me the impression of a country which is only to be seen here, and in the heaviest very much understocked, and cultivated, when billows of the Atlantic when their crests rise cultivated at all, in the most careless manner. It transparent against the light. The greens and was here I first saw an American forest-clearing blues of that rush are among the most exquisite -and nothing more dreary can well be imagined. colors in nature, and the lines upon it, which exThe stumps of the trees, some eight or ten feet press irresistible weight and force, are as impreshigh, are left in the ground; some charred quite sive as they are delicate and indefinable. The black, others bleached quite white—all looking awfulness of the scene is much increased when the picture of decay. The edges of the surround- the wind carries the spray-cloud over the specing woods are of course ragged—the trees shab- tator and envelops him in its mists ; because, by and unhealthy, as trees always are which have while these are often thick enough wholly to con
ceal the foaming water at the bottom of the * “ Lay of the Last Minstrel," canto iv. Falls, they are rarely thick enough to conceal the
mighty leap of the torrent at the top. The con- edges which are easily attacked or undermined, sequence is, that the water seems to be tumbling even a gentle stream may cut rapidly for itself a into a bottomless abyss—with a deafening roar, deeper bed. On the other hand, when the rocks, intensified by the same currents of air which carry do not expose any surfaces which are easily asthe drenching spray.
sailable, a very large body of water may be powI am inclined to think, however, that the most erless to attack them, and may run over them impressive of all the scenes at Niagara is one for ages without being able to scoop out more of which comparatively little is said. The river than a few feet or even a few inches. AccordNiagara above the Falls runs in a channel very ingly, such is actually the case of the Niagara broad, and very little depressed below the gen- River in the upper part of its course from Lake eral level of the country. But there is a steep Erie to Lake Ontario. In all the ages during declivity in the bed of the stream for a consider- which it has run in that course for fifteen miles, able distance above the precipice, and this con- it has not been able to remove more than a few stitutes what are called the Rapids. The conse- feet of soil or rock. The country is level and the quence is, that when we stand at any point near banks are very low, so low that in looking up the the edge of the Falls, and look up the course of bed of the river the more distant trees on either the stream, the foaming waters of the Rapids bank seem to rise out of the water. But suddenconstitute the sky-line. No indication of land is ly, in the middle of the comparatively level counvisible-nothing to express the fact that we are try, the river encounters a precipice of one hunlooking at a river. The crests of the breakers, dred and sixty-five feet deep, and thenceforward the leaping and the rushing of the waters, are all for seven miles runs through a profound cleft or seen against the clouds, as they are seen in the ravine, the bottom of which is not less than three ocean when the ship from which we look is in hundred feet below the general level of the counthe “trough of the sea." It is impossible to re- try. Now the question arises how that precipice sist the effect on the imagination. It is as if the came to be there? This would be no puzzle at fountains of the great deep were being broken all if the precipice were coincident with a sudden up, and as if a new deluge were coming on the declivity in the general level of the country on world. The impression is rather increased than either side of the river. And there is such a dediminished by the perspective of the low, wooded clivity — but it is not at Niagara. It is seven banks on either shore, running down to a vanish- miles, farther on. At the Falls there is no deing-point and seeming to be lost in the advancing pression in the general level of the banks. Inwaters. An apparently shoreless sea tumbling deed, on the Canadian shore the land rises toward one is a very grand and a very awful very considerably just above the Falls. On sight. Forgetting there what one knows, and the American shore it continues at the same giving one's self up to what one only sees, I do elevation. The whole country here, however, is not know that there is anything in nature more a table-land, and that table-land has a terminamajestic than the view of the Rapids above the tion—an edge-over which the river must fall Falls of Niagara.
before it can reach Lake Ontario. But that edge A very curious question, and one of great does not run across the country at Niagara, but scientific interest, arises out of this great differ- along a line much nearer to Lake Ontario, where ence between the course of the Niagara River it is a conspicuous feature in the landscape, and above and below the Falls. It has, in my opin- is called the Queenstown Heights. The natural ion, been much too readily assumed by geologists place, therefore, so to speak, for the Falls would that rivers have excavated the valleys in which have been where the river came to that edge, they run. In innumerable cases the work thus and from that point the river has all the appearattributed to rivers is a work wholly beyond their ance of having cut its way backward in the power. Under certain conditions, no doubt, the course of time. The process is still going on, cutting power of running water is very great. and arises from a cause which fully explains the When the declivity is steep, and when the stream powerful action of the river in its lower course is liable to floods carrying stones and gravel along and its very feeble action in its upper course. with it, the work of excavation may be rapid. The bed of rock over which the water flows from On the other hand, when the declivity is gentle, Lake Erie is a hard limestone, and it lies nearly when the quantity of water is not liable to sud- flat. This is precisely the kind and the position den increase, and when it carries little foreign of rock in which water acts most slowly. But matter, it may run for unnumbered ages without underneath this bed of limestone there is anproducing more than the most insignificant ef- other bed of a soft, incoherent shale. At the fect. Much also depends on the disposition of edge of the table-land, of course, this bed bethe rocks over which a river runs. If these, from comes exposed when the vegetation of the detheir texture or from their stratification, present clivity is washed away by a river falling over it. In a climate so severe as that of Canada, even in been occupied in some of the most recent operaour own time, the annual freezing of the spray, tions of geological time. and of the dripping water, and the annual thaw- If the Cataract of Niagara had continued to ing of it again in spring, have the effect of mak- be where it once was, it would have given addiing the bed of shale crumble away very rapid- tional splendor to one of the most beautiful landly; consequently the upper bed of limestone be- scapes of the world. Instead of falling, as it comes constantly more or less undermined. Its does now, into a narrow chasm, where it can not own hardness and tenacity enable it to stand a be seen a few yards from either bank, it would good deal of this undermining, and it stands out have poured its magnificent torrent over a higher and projects as ' table-rock.” But at last too range of cliff, and would have shone for hunmuch of its support is eaten away, the weight of dreds of miles over land and sea. Of this landwater passing over it exerts a leverage upon its scape I confess I had never heard, and I saw it outer edge: it tumbles down, and the edge of by the merest accident. In the War of 1812 the the waterfall thus retreats to the point where the Americans invaded Canada at Queenstown and underlying shale is still able to support the lime- seized the steep line of heights above that town, stone ledges. The rate at which this cutting which form the termination or escarpment of the back of the Falls of Niagara is still going on is comparatively high table-land of the upper lakes. sufficiently rapid to be observable in the memory The American forces were attacked and speedily of man; and it is obvious that, assuming this dislodged by the British troops under the comrate to have been constant, it is possible to calcu- mand of General Brock. This brave officer, late the number of years which have elapsed however, fell early in the action, and a very handsince the river began to tumble over the preci- some monument, consisting of a lofty column, pice at Queenstown. Sir Charles Lyell came to has been erected to his memory on the summit the conclusion that the rate of cutting back is of the ridge. Being told at the hotel that about one foot in each year. At that rate the “ Brock's Monument " was an object of interest, river would have taken thirty-five thousand years and that from it there was a "good view," we to effect its retreat from Queenstown to the pres-. drove there from Niagara. We found a "good ent position of the Falls. This is a very short view,” indeed. No scene we met with in Amerfathom-line to throw out into the abysmal depths ica has left such an impression on my mind. It of geological time. But it is one of the very few is altogether peculiar, unlike anything in the Old cases in which something like a solid datum can World, and such as few spots so accessible can be got for calculating even approximately the command even in the New. One great glory of date at which the present configuration of the the American Continent is its lakes and rivers. terrestrial surface was determined, and the time But they are generally too large to make much occupied in effecting one of the very last, and impression on the eye. The rivers are often so one of the very least, of the changes which that broad as to look like lakes without their pictusurface has undergone. Of course, it is quite resqueness, and the lakes are so large as to look possible that the rate of cutting may not have like the sea without its grandeur. Another great been at all uniform, that a greater severity of glory of America is its vast breadth of habitable climate, some ten thousand or twenty thousand surface. But these again are so vast that there years ago, may have produced as much effect in are few spots indeed whence they can be seen one of those years as is produced in ten or twenty and estimated. But from the heights of Queensyears under existing conditions. But, making town both these great features are spread out every allowance for this possibility, the principle before the eye after a manner in which they can of the calculation seems to be a sound one. The be taken in. The steep bank below us is cordeep groove in which the Niagara River runs ered with fine specimens of the Thuja occidenfrom the Falls to the Queenstown Heights does talis, commonly called the cedar in America. seem to be a clear case of a ravine produced by Looking to the northeast, the horizon is occua known cause which can be seen now in actual pied by the blue waters of Lake Ontario, which operation. As far as I could see, there is nothing form the sky-line. But on either side the shores to indicate that the ravine is due to a “fault” or can be seen bending round the lake to an illimita crack arising from subterranean disturbance. able distance, and losing themselves in fading And, even if some such cause did commence the tints of blue. To the left, turning toward the hollow, it seems nearly certain that by far the northwest, the fair Province of Ontario stretches greater part of the work has been done by the in immense plains and in escarpments of the process which has been described. The result same table-land. The whole of this immense as to years is, after all, by no means a very star- extent of country has the aspect of a land comtling one. Thirty-five thousand years is an insig-fortably settled, widely cultivated, and beautifully nificant fraction of the time which has certainly clothed with trees. Towns and villages are indicated by little spots of gleaming white, by the houses visible upon them are too often like smoke, and a few spires. To the left, on the wooden boxes; and it is only at a few spots that Canadian shore, and seen over a deep bay, the the trees exhibit any effective masses of foliage. A city of Toronto is distinctly visible when the at- labyrinth of little rocky islets, rising out of tranmosphere is clear. At our feet the magnificent quil water, and divided from each other by intririver of the Niagara emerges from its ravine into cate channels and creeks and bays, with changthe open sunlight of the plains, and winds slow- ing vistas of lights and shadows and reflections, ly in long reaches of a lovely green, and round a must always be beautiful in its own way. But succession of low-wooded capes, into the vast the famous “ thousand islands” of the St. Lawwaters of Ontario. The contrast is very striking rence can not be compared with the analogous between the perfect restfulness of its current scenery in many of the lakes of Europe, and eshere and the tormented violence of its course at pecially of Scotland. The general uniformity of the Falls, at the Rapids, and at the Whirlpool. elevation in the islands themselves, and the utter
The six or seven miles of road between Ni- fatness of the banks on either side, give a tameagara and the heights of Queenstown afforded ness and monotony to the scene which contrasts me my first opportunity of seeing a bit of Cana- unfavorably indeed with the lovely islets which dian country in detail. The farms seemed to be break the surfaces of Loch Lomond and Loch of very considerable size—the cultivation care- Awe. But, on the other hand, wherever the St. less, so far as neatness is concerned, and mani- Lawrence reveals itself to the eye, not as a series festing that complete contempt of economy of of lakes, but as a rushing river-then, indeed, surface which is conspicuous over the whole of its course becomes wonderfully impressive. It is North America. Straggling fences, wide spaces worth crossing the Atlantic to see the Rapids of of land along the roads left unappropriated, ir- the St. Lawrence. Such volumes of water rushregular clumps, and masses of natural wood— ing and foaming in billows of glorious green and odd corners left rough and wild-all these fea- white can be seen nowhere in the Old World. tures proclaimed a country where economy in They speak to the eye of the distances from culture was wholly needless and never attended which they come : of the Rocky Mountains to. The vast landscape from Brock's monument, which are their far-off watershed in the west ; along both shores of Lake Ontario, as far as the of the vast intervening continent which they eye could reach, exhibited the same character- have drained; of the great inland seas in which istic features. They are features eminently pic- they have been stored and gathered. These turesque, combining the aspects of wildness with rapids are the final leaps and bounds by which the impression of exuberant fertility and of bound- they gain at last the level of the ocean, and the less wealth.
history of their triumphant course seems as if it Of the country between Niagara and Kings- were written on their face. ton—that is to say, of the whole northern shores Few cities in the world are more finely situof Lake Ontario - I saw nothing except what ated than Montreal. For many miles above it could be seen from a railway-train. It had evi- the monotony of the banks of the St. Lawrence dently a great uniformity of character, except at is relieved by distant views of the Adirondack the northwestern corner of the lake, round the Hills—a remarkable isolated group rising out of head of the deep bay, between Hamilton and to the great plains which stretch far southward into ronto. Here one gets a glimpse of a consider- the State of New York. In front also, that is, able extent of land which is still “uncleared,” in the direction of the river, but also on its right and covered with a forest vegetation which is bank, a long mountain-range appears. These predominantly pine — with margins, however, are the mountains in the hollows of which lie the everywhere, and with watery creeks occasionally, Lakes Champlain and George. The Canadian rich in the lovely foliage of tangled birch and shore likewise presents distant elevations which oak and aspen. In striking contrast with these break the horizon and give it interest. As we indications of a land not yet redeemed from a approach Montreal the steep hill from which it state of nature, we dashed past, near Toronto, derives its name rises finely above the river, which the most elaborate and admirable preparations rushes swiftly round pleasant islands and past for a great agricultural exhibition on the most the handsome quays and public buildings of the advanced type of European civilization.
city. Built along the slope of the hill, and rising Of the scenery of the St. Lawrence between along that slope to a very considerable elevation, Kingston and Montreal, I can only say that its the houses much mixed with trees, and the top sole attraction is in the majesty of the river, and of the hill richly clothed with wood, full of the that, where that majesty is lost by the river be- towers and spires of handsome churches, the city coming merely a series of lakes, the view is irre- of Montreal occupies a position of conspicuous deemably monotonous. The banks are very low; beauty; nor do its attractions diminish on a closer