페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

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.

a

a

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 a “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 covdeep 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 resultsame 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 in

a

[ocr errors]

dicated 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- flatness 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

VOL. VIII.-12

inspection. Long lines of handsome streets, with and southwest, that is, toward the distant bouncomfortable and substantial houses or villas, and dary of the United States. In that direction the generally shaded by double rows of trees, lead us eye ranges over a great extent of country rising up to the higher levels, where gardens and shrub- to very distant uplands, and with the intervening beries are pleasantly intermixed. Under the hos- spaces well marked by the perspective of lowpitable guidance of Dr. Campbell, an old and wooded points, knolls, and ridges. To look from hereditary friend, we were driven round “ the the height of some three hundred feet down on mountain," which has been secured by the mu- such an estuary, covered with ships and boats of nicipality as a public park. From the whole of all sorts and sizes, and with such a prospect bethis fine hill the prospect is magnificent. For yond, all bathed in sunlight, shining through the many miles above, and for many miles below, fine, clear air of Canada, must always be exhilathe course of the noble river is to be seen, which rating. But at Quebec this great pleasure is is here more than a mile wide, and which up to heightened by the inseparable associations of the Montreal is navigable for vessels of a large size. place—the memory of Wolfe and of Montcalm. The vast extent of country over which the eye The hollows and recesses of the Laurentian ranges in every direction has the same general Hills in the neighborhood of Quebec are often character as that seen from the heights of Queens- occupied by small lakes. An expedition to one town. It is everywhere richly wooded, and, al- of these—the Lake of Beauport-enabled me to though the mountains which vary this landscape see in detail the character of the range and of are not broken or picturesque in surface, they the forests which clothe it. The drive led us have fine and flowing outlines, with long and through an open country full of comfortable habitable slopes.

farms and villas. As we approached the lower It was with no small pleasure that I made slopes of the hills, I was delighted to see the the acquaintance of that distinguished man, Prin- characteristic rocks of that oldest of all the sedicipal Dawson, of McGill College, with whose mentary deposits of the globe, which from this writings on Canadian geology I had been long range of hills has been called the Laurentian familiar, and over whose most interesting collec- gneiss. The mineral aspect of rocks is by no tions I had time only to cast a very hasty glance. means always a safe guide to their geological po

Of Quebec I need not speak. Its peculiar sition. There are sandstones, and limestones, situation is so well known, and the beauty of the and slates, and quartzites of all ages, and one of view from its citadel has been so often described, these is often so very like another as to be hardly that one's expectations are in very close corre- distinguishable even by a practiced eye. But the spondence with what one finds. The St. Law- mineral aspect of the Laurentian gneiss is an rence, however, at Quebec is no longer a river, aspect which, to those who are familiar with it, but an estuary-a very fine estuary certainly, but can never be mistaken. In the loose blocks in point of picturesqueness by no means so beau- which lay scattered in profusion upon the ground tiful as the estuary of the Clyde, or even of the on either side of the road, and in all the walls Forth. Like all the other fine prospects which and dikes which had been built for fences near I saw in the New World, its loveliness is in the it, I recognized in a moment the fine crystals of vastness of the surfaces over which the view hornblende and of feldspar, with which I was faextends—in its immense vanishing distances of miliar in the Island of Tyree, one of the Hebriwater and of land. The peculiar steeples of the des, and on the west coast of Sutherland. The French-Canadian churches alone remind one of rock, wherever it was visible in situ, presented the Old World. In everything else the view has surfaces rounded and smoothed by the passage all the characteristic features of the American of floating ice. It was pleasant, too, to pass a Continent. The great range of the Laurentian real little burn," a fast-running little stream, Hills, which rise below Quebec on the Canadian making its way in trouty pools and ripples over shore, are by no means impressive. In that im- stones and gravel. Presently we were among mense horizon, and in that clear atmosphere, the woods—such delicious woods of aspen, and they have not the effect of mountains, but of a white birch, and maple, with only just a little series of low, rounded, swelling hills, without any mixture of spruce and balsam fir. The aspen broken outlines or rocky surfaces, and wholly in Canada is very often the exclusive growth covered with wood, very uniform in size and col- which comes up after the pine forests have been or. They fall toward the St. Lawrence in long burned. The bark is of a rich, creamy white, and gentle slopes, dotted with farms and villages, and its leaves have a very soft and tender green. except when in the farthest distance the view is Mosses of great beauty attracted my attention bounded by a somewhat steeper headland. The as handsomer than any of the same family with surface over which one looks is more beautiful which I was acquainted at home. A few grassy on the opposite side of the river, to the south clearings in a rolling country, otherwise entirely

a

covered with thin, shaggy wood, led us gradually rescent white, which it would be very difficult to into a glen with the sound of waterfalls, and this paint, and which it is impossible to describe. glen opened into an amphitheatre of hills, from Any attempt to preserve them was futile. On five hundred to eight hundred feet high, very being handled, they immediately crumbled into steep, and entirely covered with heavier timber, fine powder. But that rocky point was a very both evergreen and deciduous. Pines predomi- paradise of cryptogamic botany. nated toward the top, although even here they I can not pass from the lower St. Lawrence by no means stood alone. But the sides of the and the Saguenay without mentioning one very hills, often so steep as to be almost precipitous, great peculiarity of its scenery, and that is the were covered with elm, and ash, and the black population of white porpoises which inhabit these birch, a very handsome tree, not unlike the wych- waters. These curious creatures are as pure elm in habit of growth. Embosomed in these white as a kid glove, and, when seen opposite to lovely woods and hills lay the little Lake of Beau- the light and against the blue water, they are as port, with its gleaming waters of azure blue, the beautiful as they are peculiar. They seemed to tall forest trees rising from the edges of the lake be very numerous, tumbling about on all sides in every variety of size and foliage. The fish of the vessel, especially toward the mouth of the were shy, and, if we had depended on the suc- Saguenay, where we spent a delicious evening cess of my fly-fishing, our means of refreshment amid the glories of a Canadian sunset in the would have been but scanty. But in the pleasant height of summer. little inn, log-built and verandaed, we found an A fishing excursion to the Restigouche River, excellent supply of the finest trout, and methods which is the boundary stream between the Provof cooking them which left nothing to be de- inces of Canada and New Brunswick, took us by sired.

the Intercolonial line of railway across the broad A very pleasant cruise in the steamer Druid belt of land which lies between the shores of the began with a run for some thirty miles up the St. Lawrence and those of the Bay of Chaleur. Saguenay River. This enabled me still more per- It was in passing through this belt of country, fectly to appreciate the general appearance of between Rivière du Loup, on the southern bank the forests of the Laurentian Hills. The Sague- of the St. Lawrence, and Matapediac, at the head nay is a very remarkable feature in the scenes of the Chaleur Bay, that I first gained what I and in the geology of Canada. It is a deep cleft supposed to be a fairly adequate idea of the prior crack cutting through the range, probably due meval forests of North America. Strictly speakoriginally to some great “fault " in the stratifica- ing, it is not in its primeval condition, because tion, but no doubt subsequently deepened by that throughout the whole, or nearly the whole, of agent of erosion which was at its maximum of this great extent of country the one most valuable power during the glacial period. So profound is pine for purposes of commerce has been “lumthis cleft that for the distance of about fifty or bered out." That pine is the white pine of the sixty miles the soundings are upward of one hun- markets—the Pinus strobus—commonly called in dred fathoms, so that, except in a few bays where England the Weymouth or New England pine. small streams have brought down deposits, and But all the other trees have been allowed to reround the shores of a few islands, there are no main, and, where the white pine did not grow anchorages for vessels. The scenery is undoubt- abundantly, the forests are in a state of nature. edly very peculiar and very pretty, but it is far For some miles from the St. Lawrence the counless impressive than I expected. The hills are try is settled, and clearings which we saw in too uniformly covered with forest, there are very progress show that even soil which is so heavily few fine precipices or rock surfaces exposed to encumbered, and which looked by no means rich, view, there are no peaks rising high above the is nevertheless capable of rewarding agricultural general level, and the outlines are rounded and industry. But the interior is one vast and conmonotonous. There is, however, great beauty tinuous forest, in part of which a great fire was of detail, both in some portions of the forest raging, and in another part of which it had done scenery and in features still more minute. On its work in leaving a large area covered with one of the few bare, rocky points which lay in nothing but the scorched and blackened stems. our way we landed, and I was much struck by Huge volumes of yellow smoke were rolling over the lovely vegetation which was growing among the large Matapediac Lake, the waters of which, the rounded surfaces of stone. Besides a profu- with their islands covered with pine and cedar, sion of bilberry and cranberry plants in full flower, seen through the thick and stilling air, had a there was a perfect garden of the most lovely most weird effect. As the train rushed through lichens and mosses. Some of these presented these forests, I saw only one specimen of the the most exquisite dendritic forms in diverse tints white pine, of great size, to show what the tree of silver-gray, of a delicate green, and of effilo- can be in its native habitat. In England and in

a

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »