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.unimtii mtmiuwiimiinmi

UDIES OF

THE

j

NIACjARA FRONTIER |

j

FRANK 1

n n >

H.

MHMMannmnMi

SEVERANCE

HAROLD

B.

LEE LIBRARY

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY PROVO,

UTAH

Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2017 with funding from

Brigham Young University

http://archive.org/details/publicationsofbu15seve

BUFFALO

HISTORICAL SOCIETY PUBLICATIONS

VOLUME FIFTEEN Edited by Frank H. Severance

Kniint and Staura fJrra« ®u£fal®

f •

e.g

STUDIES OF

THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

By

frank

h.

severance

BUFFALO, NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY THE

BUFFALO HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1911

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library

o U N G U N VER S IT PROVO, UTAH

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CONTENTS PAGE

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD EARLY LITERATURE OF THE NIAGARA REGION ... 9 NINETEENTH CENTURY VISITORS WHO WROTE BOOKS 25 THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION 77 A DREAMER AT NIAGARA: CHATEAUBRIAND IN AMERICA 97 THE NIAGARA IN ART n JOHN VANDERLYN’S VISIT TO NIAGARA IN 1802 159 THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE 175 TWO EARLY VISITORS 217 HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO 237 FROM INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE 253 261 SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU .277 HISTORY THAT ISN’T SO 291 NARRATIVES OF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VISITORS TO NIAGARA 313 i

.

From the “Four Kings of Canada/’

The “Borassaw” Narration Pierre F. X. de Charlevoix,

1710

of 1721 S. J., 1721

Father Bonnecamps’ Description, 1749 Peter Kalm’s Account, 1750 The Abbe Piquet in 1751 Adventures of M. Bonnefons, 1753 Diary of Ralph Izard, 1765 Jonathan Carver, 1766 St. John de Crevecoeur, 1785 Capt. Enys’ Visit in 1787 James Sharan in 787 Andrew Ellicott, 1789 s

.

.

.

.

316 318 319 323

324 334

334 339 346

346 363

378

384

CONTENTS.

PAGE

Patrick Campbell, 1791

Duncan Ingraham,

386

1792

Benjamin Smith Barton,

387 1798

393 309

Charles Williamson, 1799

APPENDIX OFFICERS OF THE SOCIETY

THE SOCIETY PROCEEDINGS, FORTY-NINTH ANNUAL MEETING IN MEMORIAM, WILLIAM PRYOR LETCHWORTH

403

LIST OF PRESIDENTS OF

404 .

.

INDEX

MAPS AND DIAGRAMS DIAGRAM OF NINETEENTH CENTURY TRAVEL ... CREVECOEUR’S MAP OF THE NIAGARA CAPT. ENYS’ SKETCH OF THE FALLS

405 423

425

70

360 365

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD TT

is

now

a good

many

on the river bank

years since

at

I sat,

one summer day,

Niagara-on- the-Lake, and looked

across at Fort Niagara on the opposite shore.

been there, and knew nothing about “It’s

I

had never

it.

worth seeing,” said a friend

at

my

“Queer

side.

They say Louis the Fourteenth built it.” was skeptical. It struck me as absurd that the French monarch should be concerned with anything away in the interior of America. I had everything to learn. But that chance remark of an idle hour gave spur to my curiosity. I soon found my way to Parkman, and his pages opened the

old place. I

door to many other sources of

He

light.

gave

general story of the French in America, and I

longer skeptical as to the building of

Louis XIV.

me

the

was no

Fort Niagara by

But neither Parkman nor any other printed

source afforded the details

I

sought to

early history of our Niagara region.

know regarding the Parkman was

Indeed,

always an aggravation with his innumerable footnote references to manuscript authorities and sources.

read the documents he cited;

student of our history learns, that

what has happened hereabouts been the moving to

know what

has been

spirits

I

wanted to

and soon learned, as any if

—seeks

one seeks to know to

know who have

on the Niagara since

its

discovery,

they did and when, and what their influence

—one must go to the manuscript sources.

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD.

2

Old manuscripts are not

but they afford the

infallible,

nearest approach to a true record that

though they present many also offer

page.

have.

Althey

him many pleasures impossible to the printed with somewhat the feeling of an explorer that

It is

one opens, lain

let

us say, a bundle of old documents that have

many

hidden away and forgotten for

learns to detect the grain of worth in a

gained

has

If the student

less.

we can

difficulties to the student,

years.

access

archives, he can pursue his especial

He

soon

mass of the worth-

Government

to

theme as a hunter pur-

sues his game, through mazes of correspondence, memoirs

and

official reports.

Presently he finds that by putting this

and that isolated fact together, with regard to other data of time, place and men, the seeks to is

know

is

little page of history which he somewhat brightened, the always dim past

made by his research Thus it comes about

a

little

clearer.

that in trying to ascertain the facts

books

documents,

to

from

depositories

and

I

Fort Niagara continued to be the inspiration of

archives.

my

Government

to

was

led

of the early history of the Niagara region,

quest;

for

it

is

soon apparent to any student of the

region, that the somnolent, half-forgotten old fort at the

mouth of

the Niagara

is,

historically, the

spot in this part of the world.

occasion

I

found myself

had opened the way;

Official

and

I

was

certain office in the old Pavilion side of the Louvre.

It

it

came

one paramount to pass that

on

Paris, hunting for the early

in

history of Fort Niagara.

So

letters

of introduction

cordially received at a

du Flores on the Seine ,

was with uncommon

satisfaction

that here, one morning, as I turned over the contents of a

carton of old papers,

map

I

came upon an

ancient, well-preserved

of the mouth of the Niagara river, “at the foot of Lake

Ontario, on which

is

shown the machicolated house and the

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD.

3

proposed fort (Niagara),” drawn at Niagara by Chausse-

Of even

gros de Lery, June 21, 1726.

De

own

Lery’s

greater interest were

drawings, the original elevations and floor

plans of the fort, signed by him and dated at Quebec,

January

The

19, 1727.

were the

plans,

least to settle

fort

was being

by the man who

some

built then,

built

it.

and here

These ought

at

away some misinfor-

questions, to clear

mation long current regarding the age and original appearance of Fort Niagara.

made by a French

That these old drawings and

military engineer in

reports,

America almost two

hundred years ago, should have escaped the vicissitudes of Paris

—the

Revolution, the

palaces and

all

Commune,

the destruction of

they contained, the rage of mobs and the

perpetual obliteration of old things,

is

matter for marvel.

But here they were; and since the originals could not be carried off to the banks of the Niagara, the securing of

copies

was a simple

detail in the

work of

collecting our

regional records, for the Buffalo Historical Society. I

may

as well confess that

hunter, and have pursued

my

I

have long been a book-

obscure game, as opportunity

offered, in divers queer corners of the world.

I

have tasted

the pleasure of loitering, in quest of Niagarana, on the Quai

Voltaire and

As

among

the stalls of St. Paul’s Churchyard.

— forget —who long ago declared that nothing was be

for the Paris quais I agree with the expert

which one found

in

Something Voltaire;

I

to

their else,

boxes

but

Voltaire’s

“Charles Douse/'

of course, even less to be desired than

but as for Americana, the collector wastes his

time on the Paris quais.

I

suspect that they are regularly

gleaned in the interests of dealers, whose shops in the

near-by Quarter are apt to have except a few

—offered for

all

the

all

the rarities there are

money

The always dreamed-of achievement,

there is!

a book of great



A FAMILIAR FOREWORD.

4

value for an inconsiderable price,

when

the said book

Only once or twice has

it

is

of course never possible

hands of a very wise

in the

is

me

fallen to

to be able to

Years ago

usual book-hunter’s boast.

I

with the original map, but with no covers.

know

I

into letting

me

Louisiane

was a curious

It

not what power hypnotized the dealer

carry

off

it

desirable treasure of

A

two pounds!

for

binding added by a London expert

for perhaps $150.

the

did find, in Bristol, “

England, a perfect, clean copy of Hennepin’s

discovery.

dealer.

make

made an

suitable

altogether

such as a dealer would offer today

it,

All of which

is

related with

due apology,

merely by way of assuring the student and would-be

col-

discouragingly wise as to values, bargains in

grown Americana

may

is

lector

that although the booksellers have of late

Even without them,

be found.

still

there

pleasure

in the pursuit.

For the source books

London

is,

the

I think,

relating to the

best

Niagara region

hunting-ground, though the

continental dealers are sometimes eccentric in their valuation,

and occasionally

offer rare

the leading dealers of

New York

market

works

at

lower prices than

London would consider

always the book-auction

is

Several of the earliest authors

in his first

who mention

Le Clercq, work, are among the

the field of Americana.

In twenty years

collection of

Niagara

is

was

come

in the

the Niagara,

great rarities in

have had but

I

Champlain’s

really the beginning

literature,

is

The only copy

to sale in recent years, so far as I

Robert

Hoe

library,

book of a

one of the rarest of

books, but five perfect copies being known. that has

and

Lescarbot and

one opportunity to buy an original Le Clercq.

“Des Sauvages” which

The

the collector’s opportunity.

such as Champlain, Sagard,

Hennepin

just.

at times good, but never cheap;

is

am

aware,

sold at auction in

New

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD. York

on which

in April, 1911;

it

brought

collector of

Niagara

historic occasion

The

the considerable figure of $3825.

need not grieve, however, either

literature costliness.

Although

the Niagara,

it is

tells

it

the

first

us very

book

at its rarity or its

in the literature of

and the price of

little;

would buy nearly

judiciously expended,

5

it,

that has been

all

published since Champlain's day, of essential value relating to the Niagara.

am

I

discoursing on these things because

they are aspects of our regional

length in pages

—our home—history worthy

am minded to discourse at some following, on what may be called the literary

of some record;

and

I

from time

aspects of our local history, regarding which time,

numerous

Historical

making many

intelligent inquiries

have much history!”

from Boston, after

about the Niagara region,

“But you’re so new here, you

Massachusetts coast; I

thought of

as

it

does on the

but she had gone back to Boston

it.

It is just as

challenged the statement; take their

Norumbega very

well

some of these seriously

;

—she might have New

though

Englanders

if it

matter of conjecture and plausible theory, there side Etienne Brule, forerunner

of

Champlain,

be a mere is

many

and the Susquehanna

other places between Lake

But leaving

river.

figure out of consideration,

not

Chau-

Huron

shadowy

there remains a century of

history hereabouts, under the French, written,

that

on our

and

unlikely the white discoverer of Niagara Falls and

tauqua Lake and

can’t

might have replied that white man’s

I

on the Niagara runs back as far

history

to

recent visitor at the

Building, a school-teacher

observed reflectively:

before

A

inquiries reach me.

from the documents;

still

waiting to be

followed by a third of a

century of British domination on both sides of the Niagara; also as yet for the

American

side,

most part unwritten

considerably

more than

;

and

finally,

for the

a century of events

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD.

6

—of war and peace and progress.

Surely

all this

does not

leave us of the present generation exactly impoverished as to local history.

In two or three papers following, I shall try to make some review of the literature of the Niagara region, and especially of what has been said of it by travelers, the forgotten pages of whose books, if brought together, would afford us glimpses of our region and our city of Buffalo, year by year from the days of the beginnings hereabouts.

Something may be said of the Niagara region Science, even in Art; that there

something

is

in Fiction, in

by way of demonstration, possibly, in

our

local

history

(I

am now

replying to another critic) besides the Burning of Buffalo

and the Hanging of the Three Thayers. I

should like to include, too, in this volume, along with

miscellaneous papers of local bearing, a few of the

many

addresses which have been given of late years before the Historical Society or other organizations, especially at the

four o’clock Sunday afternoon “Talks” which for a time

were a feature of the

when given by

Society’s activities.

These

talks,

the Secretary, were usually on historical

subjects, often suggested

by a passing anniversary or

local

event.

Many

women

of Buffalo, and an occasional celebrity from abroad,

speakers, including the most talented

addressed these meetings.

As

a rule these addresses were

not written, and are not preserved; the papers which

I

men and

but two or three of

propose to include in the present volume

have been elaborated from notes made for these Talks,

it

being deemed well to preserve in the Society’s Publications

some record of

As

this

this feature of its

volume

is

work.

destined primarily for

members of

Buffalo Historical Society, and for other students and tutions with

which

I

the

insti-

have been brought into some measure

A FAMILIAR FOREWORD. of pleasant acquaintance, arity of discourse,

value of what friends.

is

which

offered.

7

venture upon a certain famili-

I

it

I

is

hoped

feel that I

will

am

not lessen the addressing

my



EARLY LITERATURE OF THE NIAGARA REGION POME

^

time ago

gaged

was asked to point out, to a club enwhat was the essential litera-

I

in literary study,

Possibly my notes, made in remay here be of service. By “Niagara region” we mean not merely the immediate

ture of the Niagara region.

sponse to that request,

whole mid-lake

vicinity of the Falls, or of the river, but the

region, through

which the Niagara runs.

an excep-

It is

tionally important region, in several ways.

The

great cataract has

made

two and a half It

a point of pilgrimage for

it

nature lovers and travelers of

the earth, for

all

more than

centuries.

has been the scene of important events, of trade, of

strategy and of war, in the history of three nations.

And a

it

has been,

now

for

more than a century, a

boundary between two great powers, not always These, and other aspects of

modern

especially the

our regional history review of student.

it,

in

And

industrial

By way

to the student.

is,

as to

that might be

—give

it

I

its

named

exceptional interest

of reminder, of showing

how

rich

propose here something of a

some aspects

first,

it

frontier, at peace.

that

may prove

helpful to the

written records.

by “literature of the Niagara region” we mean what has been written about it, we are confronted by a vast mass If

of material; to the present

for

day

remember

that

this frontier

from the era of discovery

has played an important part

EARLY LITERATURE OF

10

and that for 150 years at least it has been a Mecca of travelers who have thronged, pencil in hand, to in history;

gaze and to record their emotions.

—both

writing

need not detain

All of this descriptive

subjective



is

undoubtedly

Niagara region; but happily much of

literature of the

At

and

objective

it

us.

we must

the outset of our survey,

consider the narra-

work, of exploration, and those wilderness

tives of mission

campaigns inspired by the ministers of Louis XIV., the record of which

American

perhaps the most romantic page in

is

history.

I

find

difficult,

it

as I study this early

from the

period, to dissociate the history of our region literature of that history.

All

we know

of what took place

here, say prior to the middle of the Eighteenth century,

Much more

glean from very few books.

is

still

gleaned from manuscript records, which abound; printed sources are few.

where we have

all

It is

nesses, participants in events described

But the

La

Salle,

—a

field;

many

wit-

vast array of

student

Franciscan and Jesuit missions in this tory expeditions of

but the

not so with recent history,

the corroborative evidence of

contemporary chronicle.

we

to be

of

the

early

of the explora-

and of de Celoron; even of

the early military campaigns hereabouts, can

draw

his infor-

mation from but a very few printed sources.

Our Niagara

literature begins with

Champlain.

In his

very rare book, “Des Sauvages” (1604), there are allusions statements based on to the Great Lakes and a cataract



reports

made by

the Indians to

ments are virtually repeated Nouvelle France,” published

The next

him

in 1603.

These

state-

in Lescarbot’s “Histoire

de

la

in 1609.

references to our region are in the narratives

of the Franciscan missionaries

among

1626 one of these missionaries, Joseph de

the la

Hurons.

Roche

In

Dallion,



THE NIAGARA REGION

11

.

appears to have reached the Niagara, though that

The record

not occur in the narrative.

found

in Sagard’s “Histoire

in chronological

Foy

order are the

These are reported

1640-41.

The

reprint. little

now made

to be

in the

(1690).

visits of the Jesuit

missionaries Brebeuf and Chaumonot,

of the order,

is

du Canada” (1636) and Le

Clercq’s “Premier Ftablissement de la

Next

name does

of that visit

in

the

winter

of

very rare “Relations”

readily accessible in a well-edited

Jesuit Relations as a whole offer surprisingly

regarding our region.

Le Jeune’s

narrative of 1635

and Father Jerome Lalemant’s relation of 1641 has the first mention of our river by name. Writing from the mission at St. Mary’s in the Huron to

relates

country,

the

May

Neutrals;

19, 1641, to the

Rev. Father Jacques Dinet,

Provincial of the Society of Jesus in France, he gives the

following account:

“From finds

the

first village

of the Neutral Nation which one this place, and continuing to

on arriving there from

it is about four days’ journey to the mouth of the celebrated river of that nation into the Ontario or lake of St. Louys. On this side of that

travel to the south or southeast,

river,

and not beyond

it,

as a certain

map shows

— are

greater part of the villages of the Neuter Nation.

the

There

are three or four beyond, ranging from east to west, towards the Nation of the Cat, or Erieehronons. “This river or stream is that by which our great Lake of it flows the Hurons, or fresh-water sea, discharges itself first into the lake of Erie, or of the nation of the Cat; and there it enters into the lands of the Neuter Nation, and ;

takes the

name of Onguiaahra,

until

it

the Ontario or lake of Saint Louys,

discharges

itself into

from which

finally

flows the river that passes before Quebec, called the St. Lawrence. So that, if once we were master of the seacoast nearest to the dwelling of the Iroquois, we could ascend by the river St. Lawrence without danger, as far as the Neuter

:



:

EARLY LITERATURE OF

12

nation,

and a good deal beyond

that,

with

much

saving of

trouble and time.”

There name.

is

no known

earlier reference to the Niagara,

Half a dozen years

later another Jesuit

by

makes an

interesting allusion to the cataract, without using the name.

This

is

Father Paul Ragueneau,

who

writes in the “Rela-

tion” of 1647-48

“Almost due south from the country of the same Neutral Nation, we find a great lake nearly two hundred leagues in circumference, called Erie; it is formed by the discharge of the fresh-water sea, and throws itself over a waterfall of frightful height, into a third lake, named Ontario, which

we

call

Lake Saint Louys.”

The next

reference to Niagara that

I

am

able to note

is

contained in Galinee’s narrative.

Three famous men came to the Niagara 1669:

the Sulpitian missionaries,

Rene

in

de

Galinee and Dollier de Casson; and with them,

September,

Brehant de

La

Salle

but this was not the latter’s great adventure; that awaited

him nine years later. The narrative of this visit of 1669 Galinee’s. Here is what he says regarding our river

is

“We discovered a river one eighth of a league wide and extremely rapid, which is the outlet or communication from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The depth of this stream (for it is properly the River St. Lawrence) is prodigious at this spot; for at the very shore there are fifteen or sixteen fathoms of water, which fact we proved by dropping our line. This outlet may be forty leagues in length, and contains, at a distance of ten or twelve leagues from its mouth in Lake Ontario, one of the finest cataracts or waterfalls in the world; for all the Indians to whom I have spoken about it said the river fell in that place from a rock higher than the tallest pine trees that is, about two hundred In fact, we heard it from where we were. But this feet. ;

THE NIAGARA REGION-

13

fall gives such an impulse to the water that, although we were ten or twelve leagues away, the water is so rapid that one can with great difficulty row up against it. At a quarter of a league from the mouth, where we were, it begins to contract and to continue its channel between two steep and very high rocks, which makes me think it would be navigable with difficulty as far as the neighborhood of the falls. As to the part above the falls, the water draws from a considerable distance into that precipice, and very often stags and hinds, elks and roebucks, suffer themselves

to be

drawn along so

far in crossing this river that they

and to see themswallowed up in that horrible gulf. “Our desire to go on to our little village called Ganastogue Sonontoua Outinaouatoua prevented our going to see that wonder, which I regarded as so much the greater, as the River St. Lawrence is one of the largest in the world. I leave you to imagine if it is not a beautiful cascade, to see all the water in this great river, which at its mouth is find themselves compelled to take the leap

selves

from a height of two hundred feet with a roar that is heard not only from the place where we were, ten or twelve leagues distant, but actually from the other side of Lake Ontario, opposite this mouth, from which M. Trouve told me he had heard it. We passed this river, accordingly, and at last, after five days’ voyage, arrived at the end of Lake Ontario.”

three leagues in width, precipitate itself

Incurious man, to have come within sound of the Falls,

and not go

them

to see

travel so exacting

!

Were

the conditions of wilderness

and peremptory, that one might not turn

aside to behold the greatest

wonder

in the

world?

Was

it

eagerness to be on his missionary way, or fear of the

from being the discoverer of our cataract? His hearsay account is good. Although his distances on the river are wrong, his report of the height Iroquois, that kept Galinee

of the

fall is

much

came nine years

nearer right than that of Hennepin,

later.

who

EARLY LITERATURE OF

14

Galinee’s narrative, by the way, has only recently first

complete publication in English

map and

had

its

(with French text,

notes), thanks to the scholarship of

Mr. James H.

Coyne, and the enterprise of the Ontario Historical Society,

whose “Papers and Records” for 1903 it is to be found. From the date of this visit to the coming of Hennepin there is no literature of the Niagara region. With the in

exception of the passing of Galinee there was none for more

This was due

than forty years.

in part to the interruption

of missionary work, for reasons which need not be entered

upon here

but

;

it

missionary priests

York

may be noted that the work of the French among the Indians in what is now New

State covers only the years 1655 to 1658, and a second

1667 to 1685

brief period,

There were a few

was no missionary

there



in

visits outside

about

all,

The

early

years.

Father Milet,

in this State save

and he had just been carried captive Frontenac.

twenty

of those dates, but by 1690

Oneida from Fort

to

knowledge of our region was given

to the world, not by missionaries who pushed their way westward through Western New York, for they did not do that,

but by those

When

missions.

resumed

its

who came

south and east from the

Huron

those missions ceased, literary darkness

sway over the Niagara.

In 1664 the Jesuit

historian, Father Francisco Creuxio, published his ponder-

ous Latin “Historiae Canadensis is

catarractes.” his data It

The map

in this

work

dated 1660, and indicates the Niagara Falls as “Ongiara

The author was never

from the missionary

relations

in

America, and got

and from Champlain.

added nothing to the world’s knowledge of our region;

nor was anything added, that year 1683, of the

Father

when

Widow

there

I

know

of, until

one day

in the

was issued from the printing- shop first and most valuable of

Hure, in Paris, the

Hennepin’s

books,

entitled

“Description

de

la



THE NIAGARA REGION Louisiane



first

Hennepin, more or

less

had

little

believe that he

work bearing

his

we have

trustworthy

other works by

—there

reason to

is

or nothing to do with the latest

name, entitled ‘Nouveau Voyage,”

his “Louisiane”

etc.

and a second book, the “Nouvelle

many

Decouverte,” there were

The

Salle’s

detailed description of the

in literature.

In the years that followed

But of

La

This contained an account of

etc.

expedition of 1678, and the

Niagara

15

.

narrative of the building

Griffon, above the Falls,

editions in

La

of

many

languages.

Salle’s vessel,

the

and of the voyage up the Lakes

and down the Mississippi, was probably more widely read if

we may judge from

the

many

editions of

Hennepin

than anything else relating to America that had appeared

up

to that time.

Next

to

Hennepin, chronologically,

La Hontan, an came

to the

the Baron;

Niagara

is I

think the Baron

expedition of Denonville, that

officer in the

A

in 1687.

very unpriestly

man was

evidently a devil-may-care sort of fellow;

an

adventurous soldier, an easy and voluminous writer, whose pages, even thus long after, provoke satire

and cleverness.

He was

to write of the Niagara, license

the

many

a smile for their

first visitor,

and he did

it

not a priest,

with a degree of

which might well make him the patron

certain sort of

had an eye

to a

modern newspaper reporter. As was usually

“good story.”

the early visitors, a

Hontan’s

visit to the

saint of a

La Hontan the case with

good many years elapsed between La Niagara, in 1687, and the publication

of his “Voyages dans I’Amerique Septentrionale,” first

edition of

well nigh as

which bears date 1703, and

many

others, as

Belonging to the great

La

is

is

etc.,

the

followed by

the case with Hennepin.

Salle episode are the narratives

of Tonty, and Joutel, and the documents of

La

Salle him-

EARLY LITERATURE OF

16

which as published by Margry are source material,

self,

although modern in date of printing. this class

—material relating

issuance.

This

not

is

the

There

literature

especially to designate, but rather the

much

that

little list

now

seek

I

of books, the

the Jesuit “Relations,” and to the narratives of

La

Hennepin, Tonty and Joutel, we might add the

Canadian

histories

a later period, all

else of

issues of the first narratives relating to our region.

first

To

is

to the early days, but of recent

these

the

— Champlain,

La

Lescarbot, Sagard, and of

Potherie and Charlevoix.

know,

should

student

Salle,

earliest

Something of

who would

claim

familiarity with the literature of our region say prior to the

middle of the eighteenth century. It is

a great pleasure, to one

background of I

his

home

who would know

the historic

region, to read these old books.

confess a fondness for the original editions;

information, in

make

the

modern printing and fresh

same appeal

like the tough,

;

and presently, out of the yellow

pages, there step forth a procession

holy

I

hand-made paper of the ancient books, I and I like to and parchment bindings quaint old French. These things bring one

nearer to the old days;

men and

same

to the mind, to the imagination.

like their leather

pore over their

the

binding, does not

men

;

of

worthies

—brave

priests with their portable altars

their backs, strange-clad soldiers, explorers, voyageurs

coureurs-de-bois, even the red Indian himself. their varied parts, in this early

on and

They play

Niagara drama, and pass

each to his place, along the horizon of the imagination.

They and their deeds are our early history, and we come to know them only through these rare and ancient volumes.

A

well-defined period in the history of our region

of the Old French War, which ended frontier, with the surrender of Fort

in 1760, or

Niagara

in 1759*

is

that

on our

There

THE NIAGARA REGION is

17

.

an abundance of contemporary and of modern literature

Park-

relating thereto, but usually a lack of local detail.

man, who

is easily first

reviews

in

ken

it

historians of that subject,

His

due proportion to his general narrative.

continental,

is

among

whereas we are particularly concerned

Two

with events on or relating to the Niagara.

or three

of the earlier books, by participants in the conflict, the

For the British side, there is the war published in 1772 by Thomas Mante;

student should know. history of the

there

is

Knox’s “Journal”

William Johnson,

;

Pouchot,

last

who

handed

finally

la

derniere guerre de

La France

entre

trionale

fortified

Switzerland,

is

find,

translation

that

is

French

of

He was

dominion

on

to

was published

I

am

buy when found.

in this

the the

1781 at Yverdon in

in

most of the books

and costly

the

by Francois

one of our most precious “sources.”

original edition, like

hard to

f

over to Sir William Johnson.

it

we have

TAmerique septen-

TAngleterre/

et

His narrative, published

Niagara.

and achieved the side,

and defended Fort Niagara, and

representative

official

the journal of Sir

is

the siege

For the French

capture of Fort Niagara.

“Memoires sur

and there

who conducted

The

mentioning,

An

is

excellent

country in 1866, but even

not easy to procure.

Unique as a record of

travel for

mere

sight-seeing, in

the early years of British occupancy of this region, and a vivid narrative of genuine adventure in the Niagara gorge, is

a rare old journal, printed in

ago,

entitled

“An Account

Montreal and Quebec, This

is

said

to

New York

of

in 1765;

a or,

sixty-five years

Journey ’tis

to

Niagara,

eighty years since.”

be the diary of Ralph Izard of South

Carolina, Representative and later United States Senator,

1789-1795.

The

grand-daughter,

journal

Anna

was published anonymously by

Izard Deal.

his

EARLY LITERATURE OF

18

The

relates to the Niagara,

One

War, so

literature of the Revolutionary

far as

it

largely incidental and fragmentary.

is

of the books which ought to be written and no doubt

will be,

some day,

Niagara region,

will give the history of the

Lower Lakes, under the British, say from 1760 when the frontier posts were relinquished to the

or of the to 1796,

Americans.

Much

more remains,

in

Much

has been written of this time.

documents, in Government archives, wait-

ing the coming of

some student with

construct a narrative

William Johnson was

for

the

in a sense the

and

taste

general

leisure to

As

reader.

Sir

most important per-

sonage hereabouts, or exercising authority here, from 1759 till his death in 1774, so everything relating to his official conduct and especially William L. Stone’s “Life” of him, belongs to our literature of that period,

as, for later periods,

do Stone’s books about Brant and Red Jacket. The many works relating to the Indians of Western New York need not detain us for specification. Most of them are of general scope; others are narratives of

embassies, or of missionary ministrations.

several narratives of early

in the historic sense, are the

philanthropic visits by

The

members

of the Society of Friends.

reader has no doubt observed, in his

that every phase of life in the region since

may have

its literature.

This

is

effect, that

it is

thought,

discovery,

true that

causes are so far-

quite impossible to differentiate

the literature of one region, however well illustrate:

own its

It is also

true.

events so overlap and run together;

reaching in

Government

Especially good,

defined.

To

the student of the Revolutionary period on the

Niagara soon finds his interest drawn to the migration of Loyalists

Niagara class.

from the United States

district of

what

is

now

into

Canada.

Ontario,

was

Canada may well be proud of them,

Much settled

of the

by

this

as they, today,

THE NIAGARA REGION proud

are

of

The “First Families of The books that record

ancestors.

their

19

.

Virginia” are not a truer aristocracy. their history,

and the whole Loyalist or “United Empire”

movement, may well have a place subject in

many

Niagara.

So

we

its

again,

one of

find

have been

of

in

our review, yet

we

if

War

consider the Civil

its

The

literature

literature of the

to

with the “Underground Railroad”

An

and the helping of runaway slaves into Canada.

it

period,

most important antecedent phases

in connection

and romantic

this

from the

relations takes us far afield

on that subject awaits the

War

ample

inquirer.

of 1812, even of that part of

which belongs to the Niagara, runs into hundreds of

So too of the Canadian

volumes. 1837-38 “Patriot

outbreak of

political

known as Mackenzie’s Rebellion, or better, as the War.” The catalogue of the library of the Buffalo

Historical

Society

—an

nearly four hundred

unpretentious

titles

collection

—contains

of books or parts of books and

Even

other references relating to this particular subject.

of the

little

1866,

there

comic opera war known as the Fenian Raid of is

a

some

considerable literature, including

and some history so belligerently serious that

fiction,

it

is

be

it

vastly amusing.

So

I

might go on, specifying every phase of

military, political or economic, literature for every phase.

on the

life,

and finding a considerable

The development of commerce

lakes, the evolution of the canals

and

railroads, the

very recent industrial development based on the utilization of Niagara power a literature. large



all

of these and other subjects have each

Especially the last-mentioned subject has a

and constantly-growing

be found in the reports of

literature, but

it

scientific societies

is

chiefly to

and

in the

pages of electrical, chemical, railway and other trade or technical journals.

EARLY LITERATURE OF

20

The

earlier years of the eighteenth century

brought few

professional writers to the banks of the Niagara.

The

be found in the reports or

letters

earlier descriptions are to

of French

officers

who came

to Fort Niagara, or passed

Of this sort was Baron de Longueuil and other officers in 1721. Two of his companions, the Marquis de la Cavagnal and Captain de Senneville “had undertaken that voyage through the Lakes in the course of duty. the visit of the

only out of curiosity of seeing the

of the water at

fall

The The Rev. Father

Niagara/’ according to the report of Chaplain Durant.

began

tourist procession

with

them.

Bonnecamps, of De Celoron’s expedition of 1749, has left a short description; and Peter Kalm, a Swedish botanist

who

reached the Niagara in 1750, has

Kalm,

I

know

impressions until soldier serving

when

1753,

long one. After

left a

of no visitor to our region

who

came

there

to

recorded his

Niagara a

under Pouchot who had the enterprise to This was

keep a journal.

J.

C. Bonnefons.

Many

years

which he served had passed into came to light and was published in

after the campaign in history,

Paris.

his journal It

contains details of value.

He

records incidents

of his sojourn at Fort Niagara in April of the year named,

and gives a picturesque account of his adventures Falls,

at the

describing at length how, alone, he descended by

means of

roots

and

trees to the

bottom of the chasm and

after hours of fatigue climbed out again.

So

far as

am

I

aware, Bonnefons’ account of Niagara has never been published in English.

During the years of British control of

this region

through the Revolutionary war, there was a growing ture of our region, but

it

the narratives of soldiers in

and

litera-

was almost wholly embodied

who

in

shared in the campaigns or

the journals or official reports of

men who,

like

Sir

THE NIAGARA REGION. William Johnson, bore a large part

A

region at that period.

To

of General Izard.

Jean Hector

without dates but the in July

Toward

the journal

is

this period belongs the narrative of

he gives a pleasant narrative of a

was

in the history of the

notable exception

John de Crevecoeur, French consul at New ,} In his “Voyage dans la Haute Pensylvanie

St.

York, 1783*93.

son,

21

1,

visit,

as

we

visit to

learn

Niagara.

from a

It is

letter to his

1785.

the close of the century

we

find

numerous works

offering to the reading public better information regarding

the Niagara than

had hitherto been

English, but in other

Not only

available.

in

European languages appear general

compilations of travel in which the Niagara region received

more and more attention. A notable work of this character, was a three-volume account of America, both descriptive and

historical,

by Christof Daniel Ebelings, professor of

history and Greek in the

gymnasium of Hamburg.

This

work, prepared with characteristic German thoroughness, appeared in 1793, antedating by a year or so the far more valuable accounts of enterprising travellers

who

are of real

importance in the annals of our region.

Before noting them, however, mention should be made little book, entitled “Tour through Upper and Lower Canada by a Citizen of the United States.” This was the Rev. John Cosens Ogden, who came in 1794 by schooner across Lake Ontario to Fort Niagara. He makes

of a rare

a good report of what he saw, paying especial attention to the transportation of merchandise over the Niagara portage.

In a

list

of books which includes

of the rarest.

The author was

many

rarities, his is

one

a son-in-law of General

David Wooster of Colonial and Revolutionary fame; he resided in

New

Haven, 1771-1785, and was afterwards an His long account

Episcopal minister at Portsmouth, N. Y.

EARLY LITERATURE OF

22

Upper Canada shows

of

marked Loyalist sym-

rather

pathies.

Nearly a year after Ogden, de

June, 1795, came the

in

Due

His elaborate “Travels

Rochefoucault Liancourt.

la

through the United States of North America, the Country

Upper Canada/’

of the Iroquois and

known books

best

probably one of the

relating to the close of the eighteenth

In spite of

century.

is

many

errors,

some of which, no doubt,

in the English editions, are attributable to the translator,

work

this

one of the most valuable that we have for

is

details of conditions hereabouts as they

were

at the close

of the eighteenth century.

A

year

later,

is

September, 1796, came Isaac Weld,

Jr.,

a

whose handsome quarto volume prized not merely for its record of early American con-

British writer

and

artist,

He

is,

I think, the first

Fort Niagara after cans.

He

writer of

passed into the control of the Ameri-

it

writes at some length of the conditions of the

garrison and of visit

own drawings. books who sojourned at

engravings from Weld’s

ditions, but for its

all

that he

on the Niagara.

saw and experienced Subsequent

visitors

in a leisurely

found some

things to criticise and to correct in Weld’s pages, but on the whole he has given us a picture of conditions which

not surpassed in value in

In this same year

all

is

our records of that period.

we have

the visit to Niagara of a

French savant, Charles F. Volney, member of the National Institute of

France and of many learned

societies.

days of our grandfathers Volney’s work was

though looked upon doubt

if

He came

his

to

in his

still

day as an eminent

In the

read.

Al-

scientist,

I

work could be rated to-day as worthy of study. America in 1795 and in October of the follow-

ing year visited the Niagara.

He

travelled indeed for a

time with Weld, but they do not appear to have been to-

THE NIAGARA REGION

His work, “Tableau du Climat

gether in our region. sol

23

.

d’ Amerique,” is chiefly

des Etats-Unis

et

du

concerned with

the geological or rather physical aspects of the lower lake

Of

region. is

popular description, his pages contain

worth noting that Volney’s memory

his

own

Dying

country.

in Paris, in

is

still

It

little.

cherished in

1820, he left an en-

dowment, so that there still is an annual Volney prize given by the French Institute for proficiency in camparative philology.

Alexander Henry

in

Jonathan Carver

1764,

James Sharan in 1787, and Niagara and wrote of it

in

1766,

P. Campbell in 1793, visited the in

their

books;

all

now

rare,

especially so in the case of Campbell’s ‘‘Travels in the Interior

inhabited

parts

North America,” one of the

of

scarcest of books relating to the Niagara.

tures of

“The Adven-

James Sharan, compiled from the Journal written

during his Voyages and Travels,”

etc.,

was published

Baltimore in 1808, and contains an account of his

Niagara Falls

in

visit to

in 1787.

In the last year of the 18th century, came an English artist,

John Maude, whose

1800, published in value.

London

Its illustrations

visit to the Falls

in 1826, is a

from the

artist’s

of Niagara in

book of undoubted drawings are among

the most interesting of our early views of Niagara.

journal records

many

It is from such pages some measure the conditions

Buffalo and the Niagara frontier. as his that

we come

to

His

matters of local interest relating to

know

in

of our region at that remote time.

CENTURY VISITORS WHO

19TH

WROTE BOOKS HE

19th century opened appropriately with the visit to

the Niagara region of a British

Deputy Postmaster-General of

official,

British

George Heriot,

North America.

quarto volume, “Travels through the Canadas,” lished in

London

six years later,

is

etc.,

a matter-of-fact, sensible

account of conditions at the opening of the century. tician

though he was,

came a

sentimentalist:

His pub-

Statis-

contemplation of Niagara he be-

in

“The

Falls of Niagara surpass in

sublimity every description which the powers of language

can afford of that celebrated scene, the most wonderful and

aweful which the habitable world presents.” a statement to-day the world

and

Heriot’s time. first

its

we know

better than they did in

His exuberant description of Niagara was

London Sun in 1801 Le Moniteur of Paris, it had

throughout Europe. spread of

So unqualified

challenge, but

published in the

published in

the

would provoke wonders now

Few

;

translated and

a wide currency

writers have contributed

more

to

information regarding Niagara than this

British official.

Three years after him came to his

Tom

Moore, whose

letters

mother from Niagara, and whose poems written there

have been much copied.

As

I

have written elsewhere of the

poets, in relation to Niagara, I

present review.

Of more

am

ignoring them in the

value to the student of local con-

ditions are the grave, precise observations of Dr.

Timothy

NINETEENTH CENTURY

26

Dwight, President of Yale College, whose “Travels

England and

New

York,” published

what he saw on the Niagara rate

among

in

in four

October, 1804.

the best of our early authorities.

tion of his account of Buffalo as he

saw

it

in

New

volumes, record

Dwight must Here is a por-

in 1804:

“Buff aloe Creek, otherwise called New- Amsterdam, is on the north-eastern border of a considerable millstream, which bears the same name. A bar, at the mouth, prevents all vessels larger than boats, from ascending its waters. For boats it is navigable about eight miles. Its appearance is more sprightly than that of some others in this region. The south-western bank is, here, a peninsula, covered with a handsome grove. Through it several vistas might be cut with advantage as they would open fine views of the lake; a beautiful object. The prospect, which they would furnish towards the west and south-west, would built

;

be boundless.

“The

village is built half a mile from the mouth of the and consists of about twenty indifferent houses. The Holland company owns the soil. Hitherto they have

creek;

declined to sell it; and, until very lately, to lease it. Most of the settlers have, therefore, taken up their ground without any title. The terms, on which it is leased, are, that the

months build a house, thirty feet in and two stories in height and shall pay, if I mistake not, two dollars, annually, for each lot of half an acre. The streets are straight, and cross each other at right angles, but are only forty feet wide. What could have induced this wretched limitation in a mere wilderness I am unable to conceive. The spot is unhealthy, though of sufficient elevation, and, so far as I have been informed, free from the vicinity of any stagnant waters. The diseases prevailing here, are those, which are common to all this

lessee shall within nine front,

country.

;

The

inhabitants are a casual collection of adven-

and have the usual character of such adventurers, thus collected, when remote from regular society retaining but little sense of Government, or Religion. We saw about turers;

;

VISITORS

WHO WROTE

BOOKS.

27

many Indians in this village as white people The superintendent of Indian affairs for the Six Nations resides here.” as

The next year came Timothy Bigelow, whose “Journal,” privately printed many years afterward, is hard to find nowadays. In 1805 also came Robert Sutcliff, the first of several members of the Society of Friends who, visiting this region on missions of philanthropy and devotion to the In-

exceedingly interesting narratives of what

dian,

have

they

saw and experienced hereabouts.

left

“Travels in

Some

Sutcliff’s

book,

Parts of North America,” was not pub-

lished until 1812, but

it

was

in

November, 1805,

that he

reached Buffalo on horseback and put up at Crow’s tavern.

Later he was a guest of Joseph Ellicott and his valuable narrative

many names

records

of

settlers,

taverns,

etc.,

which, perhaps, would be sought for without finding in other records.

The

first

decade of the century brought hither at least

one other book-writing

whose “Travels,”

etc., in

traveller,

Christian

wanderings of some six thousand miles.

Niagara

in

He came

throughout the length of the Niagara. at the foot of

Lake

all

to Fort

that he

Coming

Jr.,

American

August, 1807, by boat on Lake Ontario.

writes at length of the cataract and of

town

Schultz,

the years 1807-8, record

He saw

to the little

Erie, he rested here for a time

and

recorded his impressions as follows: “Buffaloe is a small village situated on Buffaloe Creek about three miles after you pass the outlet of Lake Erie, on your left hand side. I was present at the annual distribu-

most of There were

tion of the presents to the six nations of Indians,

whom now

live within the British territories.

five hundred assembled together on this occasion, some of whom were painted and feathered off fine enough. They had likewise a council meeting, for the purpose of

about

;

NINETEENTH CENTURY

28

receiving and considering certain overtures that had been

made hawk

to

them by some

hostile Indians, ‘to take

against the United States’

mined to remain neuter America and England.

in

“After their business was

up the toma-

but they wisely detercase of hostilities between ;

they formed themand running races for

settled,

selves into parties at ball-playing,

by the State. Their manner of ball-playing is very similar to what you have seen by the name of hurley but, instead of the curved hickory used on that occasion, they have a long curved racket, strung with deer sinews, with which they can strike the ball to an astonishing distance. Whenever the ball lodged among the crowd of players, you would have supposed there was a bloody battle going on, as every one struck pell-mell together with their rackets not in the least heeding whom he knocked on the head but, whenever a lucky stroke drove the ball near to the goal, you would have thought hell itself had broke loose, for such a hideous yell and screaming was instantly set up as baffles all my attempts at a description. prizes given

;

“I was much amused by the pride and gallantry displayed by one of the victors on receiving, as a prize, a light calico shirt. As soon as he received it he put it on, and, after viewing himself for a moment, strutted through the crowd In a few minutes he returned to a to display his finery. circle of women, when he pulled off his prize and put it upon one of the lady squaws, who soon experienced the value of this mark of distinction, by attracting the admiration of some, and exciting the envy of more, among the crowd of females around her.”

The succeeding decade, i 8 ii-’ 20 brought into our region thrice as many book-writing travelers as had the first ten years. They included British tourists, missionaries, one ,

French

artist,

one or two wandering Americans, and the

President of the United States.

In 1811 our literary visitor was John Melish, whose portly

volume of “Travels through the United States of

WHO WROTE

VISITORS America,” published

London

in

BOOKS.

in 1818,

a standard and authoritative work.

was

He

29

for

many

years

reached Buffalo in

October of the year named and reported that the village

was “now computed

at 500.”

His pages are very good for

miscellaneous data, especially in regard to the Indians conditions

We

up and down the

now come

river.

to the period of warfare, during

there were practically no

and

which

One

tourist visitors to the region.

devoted missionary, the Rev. Charles Giles, came in 1812, although

was

it

was not

Beardsley’s visit

man

1844 that the record of his visit should the narrative of Levi

until

By no means

published.

of note in



visits,

—be overlooked.

rather

New York

State in his day, a

Senate for eight years, and

its

President in 1838.

visit to

Buffalo and Niagara was in 1815.

scarcely

begun

On Chippewa

to build

up

;

battle-field

.

.

.

in fact

He was

member

His

first

Buffalo “had it

was nothing.”

he was sickened by the stench

He

from mounds where the dead had been deposited. wrote well of the

Falls,

Grand Island where lands.

in

but with particular interest of

made

1825 he

large purchase of

His “Reminiscences,” published

1852 contain

much

a

of the

in

New York

in

of history, description and anecdote re

lating to our region.

Omitting the war literature

who wrote books

until

1816,

I

discover no other traveler in

which year Lieutenant

Francis Hall of the 14th Light Dragoons, visited Niagara Falls

He

and Buffalo.

him an agreeable, sensible writer. name of the Horseshoe, hitherto given

I find

notes that “the

no longer applicable

has become an

to the larger fall,

is

acute angle.”

undoubtedly had been angular for

It

years before Hall, though long after him

unable to see

it

that way.

:

it

many

visitors

many were

Buffalo he found “not merely a

flourishing village, but a considerable town, with shops and

NINETEENTH CENTURY

30

which might anywhere be called handsome, and

hotels

this part of the country, astonishing.”

This,

in

will be re-

it

marked, was but three years after the destruction of the town.

A

was Joseph Sanson, a distinguished member of the American Philosophical Society who toured through the region and wrote his “Sketches of Lower Canada,” etc., dedicated to DeWitt Clinton. visiting author of 1817

A roe,

more notable

who

visitor in that year

was President Mon-

arrived at Fort Niagara early in August and pro-

ceeded up the river to Buffalo in the course of an extended tour through the country, the record of which

by

Putnam Waldo,

S.

his secretary.

There

was written

is

nothing in

the record of President Monroe’s visit to the Niagara re-

gion that need detain us.

deputation of citizens, to

speech

is

He was received in Buffalo by a whom he made a speech but that ;

not preserved in Waldo’s pages.

This same year,

too,

brought hither a wandering French-

man, Monsieur E. Montule, whose narrative published in 1821, under the

America and the West

title

Indies.”

It

in

English was

of “Journey to North contains a

letter,

dated

“Buffaloe 31st July, 1817,” in which the author sets forth his experiences in visiting the nearby Indians with a resi-

dent Frenchman

named “Despares.”

This

I

take

it

was

John Despard, whose name is usually recorded as that of Buffalo’s pioneer baker; he was by no means an unknown character in the early years of Buffalo.

Montule adds a

graphic account of his adventures at Niagara Falls.

A

far

more valuable work

is

the “Sketches of

Upper

etc., by John Howison, a British subject resident some years in Canada. His visit was in 1818. Traces of warfare were still fresh on the banks of the Niagara and he naturally devotes a portion of his pages to them. Note

Canada,” for

VISITORS

made of

should be

WHO WROTE

BOOKS.

summer

in a carriage in the

cupying some two months. cords

New York and

of this year, the tour oc-

Mrs. Howland’s journal

regarding our region which

little

who

the “Journal” of Sarah Howland,

with her husband drove to the Niagara from

back

31

is

re-

of consequence.

A singular book is the “Pedestrious Tour of 4000 Miles,” etc.,

by Estwick Evans.

New

Englander walked from Concord, N. H., to Niagara

and so on over a long ten,

His narrative

route.

clumsily writ-

is

with some evidence of conceit and occasional display of

ignorance especially

and

This eccentric but enterprising

but he was a fair observer and saw

;

among

entitled to a place

is

many

among

the authors of 1818.

In marked contrast with the unlettered Evans

Darby, an accomplished member of the

who,

torical Society,

from

New York we have

in this

to Detroit,

cn the Niagara. counts

is

His “Tour,”

Still

M. Duncan,

;

etc.,

is

one of the best ac-

falo,

a Scotchman, author of “Travels through part

He

in

Glasgow

seems to have made

in

at least

which he reports as a “busy

little

1823

two

is

His twostill

visits to

town of 600

good Buf-

inhabi-

His pages on Niagara, the Indians and the mission

work among them are very The year 1819 brought

full

Frances Wright,

is

well

and valuable.

to the

authors of considerable note

cial

in visitors

another author of this same year was John

volume work published

tants.”

At

the tourist procession had fairly begun

of the United States and Canada in 1818-19.”

reading.

His-

same year of 1818, journeyed making a considerable sojourn

of Buffalo and vicinity at that time.

to be observed”

in 1818.

William

New York

Niagara he notes that a “marked annual increase is

things

the Indians which could not be seen later,

in

banks of our river two their

day.

known even now by

One, Miss

students of so-

reform for her devotion to what she regarded as human

NINETEENTH CENTURY betterment

Manners

in

Her book, “Views of

her day.

Society and

America,” was long the subject of heated

in

cism and discussion on both sides of the Atlantic.

one of the

earliest of

many

member

year was a

who

home

She has

the Genesee Valley.

of the left

The other

of Niagara and vicinity.

She was

who were Wadsworth fam-

distinguished travelers

entertained at the hospitable ily in

criti-

us a graphic picture

literary visitor of this

of the Society of Friends, E. Howitt,

toured into the region to

visit the

Indians and to report

on the work which was being done among them by the Quakers.

In a letter dated “Buffalo, 8th month, 9th, 1819,”

he records

many

things

now

of interest to the student of

history regarding our region.

In

May,

1819,

came

William Tell Harris, author of a “Tour” published In 1820, came

Adam

also

in 1821.

Hodgson, author of “Letters from

North America,” published

in

two volumes, 1824.

He was

a good, sensible observer; and in a chapter, dated Niagara,

2d August, 1820, he has given us one of the best early acWilliam Dalton’s

counts of conditions at the great cataract.

“Travels,” and James Flint’s “Letters from America,” both Flint came to Buffalo from the West on the pioneer steamboat, “Walk-in-the-

record visits to the Niagara in 1820.

Water,”

more

Still

literary visitors

came

in the

decade ending

1830, but most of them fortunately need not detain us.

In

1821 P. Stansbury, in the course of a walk of 2300 miles,

reached Niagara Falls. at

any

rate,

He

was, perhaps, willing to rest;

he lingered in the vicinity long enough to make

minute record of many things now of book,

“A

devotes

ure of

His

little

Pedestrian Tour of 2300 Miles in North America,”

fifty it

interest.

pages to the Niagara region, not the least feat-

being the crude woodcuts, one of Niagara fort by

A. Anderson, said to be the

first

American wood engraver—

:

VISITORS a claim also

made

on wood,

tures,

Catherine

is

WHO WROTE BOOKS

for Peter Maverick,

33

.

among whose

pic-

a Niagara Falls.

M. Sedgwick, who made

1821, wrote graphically

the “grand tour” in

from Buffalo, June

29th,

on what

New

she discerned as the homesickness of settlers from

In a long Niagara letter she reports her interview

England.

with a Yorkshireman, a Niagara

settler,

who had

a real

complaint

“When he laid in his bed he could never tell when it rained nor when it thundered, for there was always a dripping from the dampness, and the deafening roar of the fall ; and then his poor cattle, in winter, were always covered with icicles. It was a mighty fine thing to come and see, but we should be sick enough of it if we had as much of it 1822, as he had. *11 n’y a rien de beau qae T utile/ ”

An anonymous

work,

“A Summer Month,

tions of a visit to the Falls of ” is understood to

He had

thews.

Niagara and the Lakes

in

have been written by a Mr. Mat-

scholarly accomplishments and a poetic

temperament; adorns tions in

or Recollec-

his account of

Niagara with quota-

Greek and from the Scriptures; and on the whole

other

Ananonymous work, “Excursion through the United

States

and Canada,” by “An English Gentleman,” also

has given us a fine and useful picture of what he saw.

re-

cords a visit to Buffalo and Niagara in this same year. Its

author was Captain William

Newnham

Blaney.

The

“Memoirs of William Forster,” published in two volumes in London in 1865, contain the narrative of this Quaker’s visit to

Niagara

Residence

in

1823.

in the

Edward Allen

Canadas,”

etc.,

Talbot’s “Five Years’

has a long Niagara chapter,

of date 1823.

An

English naturalist and traveler whose works were

esteemed, was Charles Waterton.

His name would hardly

be associated with the Niagara to judge from the

title

of

NINETEENTH CENTURY

34 his book,

“Wanderings

South America,”

him here

derings brought

wide experience as a

in 1824.

traveler,

says,

yet his

etc.,

Perhaps because of his

interested in people.

“can hardly do justice to the unaffected

ease and elegance of the

American

ladies

of Niagara,” and he laments with some a sore toe prevented

who

visit the Falls

humor

the fact that

him from dancing with them.

must be content with merely mentioning an

I little

volume published

Amerika’s

in

wan-

he did not take his scenery

He was much more

very seriously.

“Words,” he

in

in

Sommer

attractive

Aarau, entitled “Mein Besuch

1824

.

.

.

ein

Flug

.

.

.

zum

Niagarcifall,” in

which the practically anonymous author,

“Von

tells

C. v. R.,”

Another German the next year.

of his visit to the Niagara in 1824.

tourist,

by no means anonymous, came

This was Bernhard, Duke of Saxe- Weimar

The

German edition of his book of Weimar in 1828; there are several editions in German and English. The author came by canal to Black Rock in 1825, and proceeded thence by stage to Buffalo. At the Falls, of which he gives elaborate description, he took special note of the phenomenon of the Eisenach.

American

original

travels appeared at

burning spring.

He was

entertained with his suite by Sir

Perigrine Maitland at his once famous country seat at Stamford, near the Whirlpool.

We

now come

our region

to an important year in the chronology of

— 1825.

Throughout the years of the construc-

tion of the Erie Canal public attention

more

directed towards

and opportunities. this

new highway of

ara, Buffalo,

flock to the

It

Western

New

was natural

had been more and York,

its

attractions

that with the opening of

travel visitors should flock to see Niag-

and the West, much no doubt as

Panama Canal

to take note of that

traordinary highway of travel.

visitors will

new and

ex-



VISITORS

The most

WHO WROTE BOOKS

distinguished visitor to our region in this year

The record of

of travel was Lafayette.

by his secretary, A. Lavasseur, “Lafayette en Amerique

we have

chapters

35

.

is

in

his visit

was made

whose volumes,

to be

entitled

found one of the best

for intimate detail of conditions in Buf-

During

falo at the time.

his sojourn at Niagara, Lafayette

was the guest of General Porter, and received hereabouts, as everywhere on his tour, many testimonials of the great affection

which America had for him.

tions of Lavasseur’s narrative

At

two

edi-

have been published:

the

least

original one in Paris, in 1829, with an English translation

published in Philadelphia in the same year. distinguished visitor in 1825.

I

note one other

This was Joseph Story, As-

Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law at Plarvard, etc. Story came to the Niagara in July of 1825. He was entertained by General Porter, who escorted him to Fort Erie and to other battle-

sociate Justice of the

fields

of the vicinity.

In the excellent “Life and Letters of

Joseph Story,” edited by his son, published 1851, the student will find this early visit to

The year 1826

many

in

London

in

graphic pages setting forth

our region. gives us the visit of an officer of the Royal

Navy, the Honorable Fitzgerald de Roos, whose

British

“Personal Narrative of Travels in the United States and

Canada

in 1826,”

was dedicated

and ran through several this

author

felt called

editions.

upon

contemplating the cataract.

to the

Duke

of Clarence

Like most other

visitors,

to analyze his emotions

He

when

records that he experienced

a depression of spirits by the magic influence of this stu-

pendous tion.

fall.

Others,

it

will

be noted, experienced exhilara-

Indeed, these book-writing visitors have run the

gamut of emotional experience. De Roos was also a guest of Sir Perigrine Maitland. Another visitor of 1826 was



NINETEENTH CENTURY

36

Carl August Gosselman, in whose two-volume work, “Resa i

Norra Amerika

published at Nykoping in

1835, the

reader of Scandinavian will rejoice to find a long Niagara chapter.

Comparatively few of our British visitors have taken the trouble to preserve their anonymity, but in 1827 there

came

to us a vigorous writer content to style himself merely

British Subject,”

“A

whose book, ‘‘Tour through United States in London, in 1828, is well worth

and Canada,” published reading today.

As

other British writers have done, he

found many opportunities to

ridicule the

Americans, and

professed to be shocked at finding an hotel at Niagara con-

ducted by a General. pleased him

:

long and truly

Frontier conditions of travel dis-

“The 23 miles from thence to Buffalo is a infamous road, made of trunks of trees and

not in sight of the river, but through a thick wilderness in

which black bears, wolves and rattlesnakes are not infrequent.”

Of

Buffalo, however, as he

saw

good word, predicting that the place one of the most important towns too,

in 1827,

he had a

become At Niagara,

“will certainly

America.”

he struck the right reflection when he perceived that the

“grandeur of the scene before to

in

it

my

senses the longer

known Basil

I

am

me becomes more acquainted with

perceptible

it.”

A

better

writer visiting us in the same year,

was Captain Hall of the Royal Navy, author of “Travels in North

America,”

in three

day subject to much

volumes.

Captain Hall, though

in his

was a thoroughly good writer, frank, full, honest in statement, clear-sighted, a good observer, and, I should judge from a careful reading of his pages, a thoroughly sensible and honest man. I count his book one of the most valuable as a record of that time. In

1828,

James

criticism,

Stuart,

Scotchman, came to Buffalo

a

conscientious,

in the

scrupulous

course of a three-years'

:

VISITORS

WHO WROTE

37

His three- volume work, pub-

sojourn in North America. lished in

BOOKS.

was one °f the most full and of American conditions in the early

Edinburgh

in 1833,

trustworthy reports years of the century.

The year 1830 each of

whom

sent to us at least three English authors,

published a more or less readable account of

American wanderings.

his

One

of these was C. Colton,

who

wrote a long Niagara chapter and a most remarkable one on

Another was S. A. Farrall, author of “A Ramble of 6000 Miles through the United States and Canada,” and a third was John Fowler, a specialist on agriculture, whose “Journal of a Tour in the State of New York” in 1830, brought him to Buffalo, where he says the Whirlpool.

‘T

was diverted

in passing along Main-street at observing

names over the shop doors, a circumstance, indeed, I have often noticed elsewhere; and, in addition, you will mostly see portrayed

the extreme singularity of the &c.

;

upon a sign suspended over, or at the side of the door, some touch of the profession practised within for instance, at a doctor’s, I saw a mortar and pestle; at a bookseller’s, two large folio volumes; at a Miss Jeremiah’s, a most and at a fancy dyer’s, a board, exquisitely trimmed bonnet upon which was announced the character of their establishment, had every letter painted with different coloured paint; so much for customs.” ;

;



A

thought must be given to Nathaniel Hawthorne,

was one of the

earliest

Americans of genius

and with insight of the 30’s,

when

His

Falls.

the tourist approach

visit

who

to write sedately

was

in the early

was by stage via Lewiston.

“Never,” he says, “did a pilgrim approach Niagara with deeper enthusiasm than mine. “I had lingered

comprising

all

away from

and wandered

to other enjoyments, the wonders of the world, had nothing else

scenes, because

my

treasury

it,

of

anticipated

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

38

so magnificent, and I was loth to exchange the pleasures of hope for those of memory so soon. At length the day came. The stage-coach, with a Frenchman and myself on the back seat, had already left Lewiston, and in less than an hour would set us down in Manchester [Niagara Falls village] I began to listen for the roar of the cataract, and trembled with a sensation like dread, as the moment drew nigh when its voice of ages must roll, for the first time, on my ear. The French gentleman stretched himself from the window, and expressed loud admiration, while, by a sudden impulse, I threw myself back and closed my eyes.” .

He

tells at

length

how he

smoked, loitered over illogically

scene.

this

postponing the

arrived at the hotel, dined,

and that inconsequential

moment

Finally he strolls about Goat Island, comes

great spectacle, views

asking himself,

it

from

“Were my long

thing,

of actually beholding the

different points,

upon the

and then,

desires fulfilled?” analyzes

his emotions as follows

“Oh, that I had never heard of Niagara till I beheld it! Blessed were the wanderers of old, who heard its deep roar sounding through the woods, as the summons to an unknown wonder, and approached its awful brink, in all the freshness of native feeling. Had its own mysterious voice been the first to warn me of its existence then indeed I might have knelt down and worshiped. But I had come thither, haunted with a vision of foam and fury, and dizzy cliffs, and an ocean tumbling down out of the sky a scene, in short, which Nature had too much good taste and calm simplicity to realize. My mind had struggled to adapt these false conceptions to the reality, and finding the effort vain, a wretched sense of disappointment weighed me down. I climbed the precipice, and threw myself on the earth, feeling that I was unworthy to look at the Great Falls, and careless about beholding them again.”



He to

did,

however, behold them again and studied them

good purpose.

Besides his essay,

“My

Visit to Niagara,”

:

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

39

he weaves Niagara episodes into the “Journal of a Solitary

Man,” and perhaps

found

into other sketches, to be

in his

collected works.

One

of the earliest Spanish tourists to visit our region

was Don Lorenzo de Zavala, whose “Viage a los Estados” Unidos del Norte de America published in Paris in 1834, records the author’s impressions of Buffalo he was here Black Rock, Waterloo (Fort Erie), Chipin July, 1830





pewa, Niagara

We

Falls, etc.,

now come

to the

down

to Fort Niagara.

decade which produced more books

From

about Niagara than any other of the century. to 1840 I note forty-three

works of American

ing our region, thirty-one of which were

published in

first

London.

Could anything more forcibly

trast, the

paucity of American literary production

rate of the descriptive sort

at that period!

I

includes several extraordinary productions

view

by con-

illustrate,



any

at

could dwell

and with pleasure on many of these books, for the

at length list



1831

travel, touch-

;

but

my

re-

shall be of the briefest.

Mrs. Frances Trollope came to see us

“Domestic Manners of the Americans” the ears for

more than one decade.

in

1831.

set this

Her

country by

Although the dear lady

was a very shrew in her treatment of Americans, at Niagara she was for the most part sweetly feminine and appreciative. I know of no more striking proof of the majesty of Niagara than that it tamed Mrs. Trollope. In Buffalo she was more her usual

self

“Of all the thousand and one towns I saw in America, think Buffalo is the queerest looking; it is not quite so wild as Lockport, but all the buildings have the appearance of having been run up in a hurry, though everything has an air of great pretension there are porticos, columns, domes, and colonnades, but all in wood. Everybody tells you there, I

;

as in

all

their

new-born towns, and everybody

believes, that

;

NINETEENTH CENTURY

40

their

improvement, and their progression are more rapid,

more wonderful, than

the earth ever before witnessed while to me, the only wonder is, how so many thousands, nay millions of persons, can be found, in the nineteenth century, who can be content so to live. Surely this country may be said to spread rather than to rise. “The Eagle Hotel, an immense wooden fabric, has all the pretension of a splendid establishment, but its monstrous corridors, low ceilings, and intricate chambers, gave me the feeling of a catacomb rather than a house. arrived after the table d'hote tea-drinking was over, and supped comfortably enough with a gentleman, who accompanied us from the Falls ; but the next morning we breakfasted in a long, narrow room, with a hundred persons, and any thing less like comfort can hardly be imagined.”

We

There

no better book for a bumptious American

is

read, even today, than Mrs. Trollope’s.

and keep a serene temper, he

is

fit

If

he can peruse

for the

to it

kingdom of

Mrs. Trollope gave us a dose of bad medicine, but

heaven.

was good for us. Her fame rather overshadows that of Captain J. E. Alexander of the 42d Royal Highlanders, F. R. G. S., and much else besides, whose “Trans- Atlantic Sketches” (London, it

1833) belongs to Niagara letters. He gives a long, graphic account of Francis Abbott, the hermit of Niagara; as also

does F.

W.

P.

Greenwood, D.

D., in

whose “Miscellaneous

Writings” (Boston, 1846) will be found a long account of a visit to Niagara in July, 1831. In 1832,

I

note the following visitors to our region,

wrote books about us:

Rev. Isaac Fidler (“Observations,”

etc.), a missionary, resident for a

Street, near

who

time at “Thornhill, Yonge

Toronto”; Godfrey T. Vigne (“Six months

in

America”), who contributes his quota to the cheerful nonsense of Niagara, with a really fine frontispiece of the Falls,

from

his

own drawing;

E. T. Coke

(“A

Subaltern’s Fur-

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS..

lough”), a lieutenant of the 45th Regiment

41

who came

to

Buffalo in August of this year by canal, and studied the

Indian reservations, battlefields,

‘bustling” town,

several excellent chapters; Joseph Bouchette

Dominions

in

etc.,

(“The

in

British

North America”), whose two- volume quarto

work, dedicated to William IV., contains a careful topo-

whose

graphical description of the region; and John Eyre,

“Beauties of American Travel,” are strongly evangelical.

Of

about this period was the

visit

of Prince Maximilien von

Wied-Neuwied, whose elaborate “Voyage” contains a Niagara chapter;

it

is,

in the original edition, a

very scarce

book.

In the next year

— 1833—

at least eight

Arfwedson (“The United

C. D.

rived:

bookwriters ar-

and Can-

States

ada”) came by canal to Buffalo; experienced the pleasures of stage travel on the Niagara frontier, and wrote at length

of what he saw server;

so,

visited General

widow on

— fortunately

in a

Wadsworth

wooden bridge and a directly over is

I

falls.

Porter”

ica,” that the epithet of

the Niagara cataracts,



Geneseo and Red Jacket’s ;

and who,

at the Falls, built

.

is

.

.

The name of

Van-

this

Captain Hamilton, author of

!

“Men and Manners

in

Amer-

“Horseshoe” as applied to one of no longer applicable, as

it is

yet other people have persisted in seeing

the student of anti-Masonry in

bright chapter on Niagara

a semiit

is

Western

New

York.

A

contained in the “Impressions

of America” of Tyrone Power, a gifted, popular actor, in Buffalo

as a

Hamilton’s pages are useful to

horseshoe, for years after!

found himself

“a

circular building, like a shot tower,

one of the

believe,

who

(“Journal”)

work of one who had

“Cyril Thornton,” notes in his

hexagon

Abdy

S.

the Buffalo Reservation

objected strongly to the

dal

at

was a good ob-

for he

so,

way, was E.

on the Fourth of

July, 1833,

who

when

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

42

the streets were full of tipsy Indians.

In this year N. P.

Willis paid one of his visits to Niagara in the interests of

American scenery; and Patrick Sherriff, a literary farmer, making his “Tour through North America/’ wrote that “the banks of the Niagara from the Ferry to the Pavilion is the and most interesting portion of the globe”!

loveliest

Neal, a poet of the Niagara,

tells in his

John “Wandering Recol-

lections” of his Niagara experiences in 1833.

— —

The “Journal” of Frances Anne Butler the lovely Fanny Kemble, adored by an earlier generation is by no means least among the books of this year, 1833. Approaching Buffalo in July, by canal, she port, “I

tells

ing with a man's saddle on his back. irresistible,

and the desire too

for so long.

woman’s

So

fashion,

infinite risk

Her

us how, near Lock-

saw a meek-eyed, yellowish-white

I

got



I

cart-horse, stand-

The opportunity was

had not backed a horse

up upon the amazed quadruped,

and took a gallop through the

of falling

off,

and proportionate

fields,

with

satisfaction.”

journal continues

“We

reached

Lewistown

enquiries were instituted as to

about noon, and anxious how our luggage was to be

forwarded, when on the other side for we were exclusive and for creatures so above common fellowship there is no accommodation in this levelling land. A ferry and a ferry-boat, however, it appeared, there were, and thither we made our way. While we were waiting for the boat, I climbed out on the branches of a huge oak, which grew over the banks of the river, which here rise nearly a hundred feet high. Thus comfortably perched, like a bird, ‘twixt heaven and earth,’ I copied off some verses which I had scrawled just before leaving Lockport. The ferryboat being at length procured, we got into it. The day was sultry; the heat intolerable. The water of this said river Niagara is of a most peculiar colour, like a turquoise when it turns green. It was like a thick stream of verdigris, full ;

extras;

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

43

of pale, milky streaks, whirls, eddies, and counter-currents, and looked as if it were running up by one bank, and down

by the other.

my

I

sat in the sun,

on the

floor of the boat,

Arrived on the other side, i. e., Canada, there was a second pause, as to how we were to get conveyed to the Falls. An uneasy-looking, rickety cart without springs was the sole conveyance we could obtain, and into this we packed ourselves. The sound of the cataract is, they say, heard within fifteen miles when the wind sets favourably; today, however, there was no wind; the whole air was breathless with the heat of midsummer, and, though we stopped our waggon once or twice to listen as we approached, all was profound silence. There was no motion in the leaves of the trees, not a cloud sailing in the sky; everything was as though When we were within about in a bright, warm death. revising

verses.

.

.

.

...

.

.

.

three miles of the Falls, just before entering the village of

stopped the waggon; and then we heard though far off, the voice of the mighty cataract. Looking over the woods, which appeared to overhang the course of the river, we beheld one silver cloud rising slowly Niagara,

distinctly,

into the sky,

—the

everlasting incense of the waters.

upon me and run the whole way; and when

A

could have at length the set off carriage stopped at the door of the Niagara house, waiting I rushed nor neither for my father, through the hall, and the garden, down the steep footpath perfect frenzy of impatience seized

D

,

:

I

,

was I heard steps behind me; down, down I sprang, and along the narrow footpath, divided only by a thicket from the tumultuous rapids. I saw through the boughs the white glimmer of that sea of foam. ‘Go on, go on; don’t stop,’ shouted and in another minute the thicket was passed; I stood upon Table Rock. seized me by the arm, and, without speaking a word, dragged me to the edge of the Oh, rapids, to the brink of the abyss. I saw Niagara. cut in the rocks.

following

me

;

;

God! who can

describe that sight?”

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

44

And

thus, breathless as

the dramatic

Fanny

it

were, at the brink of the chasm,

leaves us

—and drops the

subject.

Dr. Walter Henry, a British military surgeon, his

in

most readable volumes (“Events of a Military Life”)

something of his experiences

few

tells

lines to

show

at

Niagara

in 1834.

I

quote a

his estimate of the emotional effect of the

scene “I have visited the Falls of Niagara four times;

three of these occasions in

company with

ladies

and on

— for

the

view of any thing grand or sublime in nature or art is not worth two pence in selfish solitude, or rude male companionship, unembellished by the sex and I have noticed that the predominant feeling at first is the inadequacy of language ;

One of the ladies of a refined mind and ingenuous nature, after gazing for the first time, with a long and fixed expression, on the sublime object before her, looked for an instant in my face and burst into tears. There are others so constituted as to be fascinated by the spectacle to such a dangerous and overpowering extent, as to feel a strong desire to throw themselves into the abyss. lady of good sense and mature age assured me, that as she stood on the edge of the Table Rock, this impulse became so strong and overmastering, that she was obliged to recede rapidly from the brink, for fear of the consequences. Here the mind must have been momentarily deranged by the awful grandeur of the scene. I am now of a calm and subdued temperament, the result of long effort and much reflection on the silliness of giving rein to strong feelings and emotions. But when, on my first visit, I proceeded through the Pavilion garden towards the Table Rock, and beheld an ocean to express the strength of the emotion.

alluded

to,

A

moving over the precipice, and flashing and gliding into the enormous milk-white pool below, without any apparent effort, and with all the ease of a quiet rivulet stealing through a meadow, all mental restraint gave way, and my inmost spirit burst out in loud and enthusiastic admiration.”

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

46

The year 1834 brought several other book- writing travamong them two Doctors of Divinity, the Rev. Andrew Reed and the Rev. James Matheson, who collaborated elers,

visit to the American churches from the Congregational Union of England and Wales.” Their studied, precise volumes contain conscientious de-

on a “Narrative of the

scriptions of the

.

Niagara scene

intensity of feeling.

—written,

too,

.

.

with genuine

These clergymen were among the

first

of our visitors to protest against the ruin of Niagara by

vandal money-seekers

:

“Niagara does not belong to them.

Such spots

Niagara does not belong to Canada or America.

should be deemed the property of civilized mankind; and

nothing should be allowed to weaken their efficacy on the tastes, the

morals and the enjoyments of

all

men.”

The Hon. Charles Augustus Murray, whose “Travels in North America,” were dedicated to Queen Victoria and the ;

somewhat

scholarly and too pedantic Francis Lieber, author

of “Letters to a Gentleman in Germany, written after a trip

from Philadelphia

to Niagara,” visited

Greece he compares to a great

powerful ode, a rhapsody

in

epic,

our region

is

a

which Nature herself has seized

the mighty harp and plays a rapturous tune. is

in 1834.

“while Niagara

.

.

.

There

not once, in Dante’s whole poem, even an allusion to

watery torment and horror, and yet

how would he have

upon the sight [of Niagara] and wrought it into A more eminent visitor of that year was Harriet Martineau, who found much to comment on in “lawless” Buffalo, where women were subject to insult. She gives us seized

poetry.”

a long chapter on Fort Erie, and records the impressions of

two I

visits at the Falls.

must be content with mere mention of these writers of

the next year:

Michel Chevalier (“ Lettres sur TAmerique du Nord ”), who writes a chapter dated “Buffalo, 9 July,

NINETEENTH CENTURY

46

1835,” and affords us not merely description, but some study

of economic conditions

the Rev. F. A. Cox, and the Rev.

:

Hoby, two “D. D.’s” who attended a camp-meeting near Falls, as described in their “Baptists in America”; and Don Ramon de la Sagra, author of “Cinco Meses en los

J.

Niagara

Estados-Unidos” There also came

in that year Dr.

Fleming, whose “Four Days

the

at

privately printed at Manchester, attractive

book,

little

There are

plates.

at least

The year 1836 Biittner,

who

illustrated

two

is

with

exquisite

editions of

much about

two-volume “Brief e aus und

his

Eng.,

sent hither a learned

discourses

William

Falls of Niagara,”

a

and

dainty

copper-

it.

German, Dr.

J.

G.

the Seneca Indians in

iiber

N ordamerika.” A

Bond Head, lieutenant Upper Canada, who was sent out to Canada to

notable Englishman, Sir Francis

governor of

struggle with the Mackenzie upheaval, found his pleasure in

and

letters;

“The Emigrant,”

Two to

literary

Niagara

in

several of his books, his “Narrative,” offers his quota of

etc.,

—rare

Americans

Niagara

Willis Gaylord Clark,

this year:

literature.

birds at that day

—came

whose “Liter-

ary Remains” contain an anecdotal account of his journey

by stage through Western Buffalo and the Falls

our region at length

;

in

New

York, and experiences at

and Caroline Gilman, who writes of her “Poetry of Traveling.”

Pretty

nearly forgotten now, those long-gone devotees of belleslettres;

yet

it

is

not unprofitable to peruse their pages,

if

only to realize the improvement in our standards of taste

and

literary expression.

The year litical

1837,

marked by business disturbance and po-

excitement, sent at least five British book-writers to

the banks of the long-suffering Niagara.

records in his “Sketches of a

and the Canadas,”

D. Wilkie, a Scot,

Summer Trip

his experiences

by canal

to

New York

to Buffalo.

At

:

VISITORS Niagara he indulges

in a

BOOKS.

47

romance, with some matter-of-fact

T. R. Preston, a Government office-holder at

reporting.

Toronto,

WHO WROTE

tells

how Niagara

in his

“Three Years’ Residence

in

Canada”

should properly be studied

“The way

in which I found that I could best compremagnitude and character of the stupendous cataract, was by lying flat upon the ground in its near vicinity, mentally dissecting as it were while so recumbent, and then forming combinations of the particles ad infinitum. I know not if this suggestion be, or not, a novel one; but

hend

in I

the

my own found

case, its adoption

was the

result of accident, as

when close upon them, I could not regard the many minutes together in an erect posture, with-

that,

Falls for

out succumbing to an attracting influence, which I can compare only to the fascination exercised by the loadstone or the eye of the rattlesnake. I, therefore, adopted the alternative of prostrating myself (which answered the twofold purpose of reverence and convenience), and was in such wise enabled to contemplate, for hours together, without apprehension for my personal safety, the stupendous monument of ages that stood reared before me.”

No

advice of this kind

is

found

in the interesting pages

of Mrs. Jameson’s “Winter Studies and

Summer Rambles,”

but her Niagara chapters are important for the history of the period.

Useful, too, are the scientific observations of

Charles Daubeny, istry

and botany

Tour,”

etc.,

M.

at

how he

D., F. R. S., etc., professor of

Oxford, who

tells in his

chem-

“Journal of a

studied mineral springs two miles below

the cataract, and the burning spring above. the geology of the Falls region

is

His report on

contained in the Transac-

Ashmolean Society of Oxford. were the pages of Captain Marryat, whose three-volume “Diary in America” is to be found in various editions, English and American. Captain Marryat thought that “perhaps the wisest if not the best

tions of the

More

to the popular taste

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

48

description of the Falls of Niagara

in the simple ejacula-

is

tion of Mrs. Butler,” but he indulged in

writing, of

which the following

is

much whimsical

an amusing sample

“As I stood on the brink above the falls, continuing for a considerable time to watch the great mass of water tumbling, dancing, capering, and rushing wildly along, as if in a hurry to take the leap and delighted in it, I could not help wishing that I too had been made of such stuff as would have enabled me to have joined it; with it to have

rushed innocuously down the precipice; to have rolled uninjured into the deep unfathomable gulf below, or to have gamboled in the atmosphere of spray, which rose in a dense cloud from its recesses. For about half an hour more I continued to watch the rolling waters, and then I felt a slight dizziness and a creeping sensation come over me that sensation arising from strong excitement, and the same, probably, that occasions the bird to fall into the jaws of the snake. This is a feeling, which, if too long indulged in, becomes irresistible, and occasions a craving desire to leap into the flood of rushing waters. It increased upon me every minute; and retreating from the brink, I turned my eyes to the surrounding foliage, until the effect of the excitement had passed away. I looked upon the waters a second time, and then my thoughts were directed in a very different channel. I wished myself a magician, that I might transport the falls to Italy, and pour their whole volume of waters into the crater of Mount Vesuvius; witness the terrible conflict between the contending ele-



ments, and create the largest steam-boiler that ever entered into the imagination of man.” In

1838

I

America described

in familiar letters to

Joseph John Gurney, a Quaker,

“we were Friend’s

“A Journey

note but one book:

who

in

North

Amelia Opie,” by

writes that in Buffalo

received in the hospitable house of the only

family resident there.”

In

1839 came George

Combe, one-time phrenological expert, whose two-volume

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

49

account of his American travels devotes the usual pages to

our region, with more than the usual errors of description.

He

found Navy Island the largest

here helped a doctor dissect a brain. phrenologists were so

would experience

numerous and

little

was de-

in the river;

lighted to find a phrenological society in Buffalo,

“I

was

and while

told that the

influential, that

they

phrenology

difficulty in getting

in-

troduced into the public schools as a philosophy of mind, they had a work suitable for the purpose.

one

zealous

opponent,

a

Presbyterian

preached against the science.” book, in

its local

near Buffalo.

aspect,

With

is

The

found

study of the Indians

the briefest mention of

ham’s comprehensive “Eastern and

who Combed

clergyman

chief value of

in his

if

They have only

Bucking-

J. S.

Western

States

of

America,” which gives an especially good account of Buffalo, hotels, steamboats, etc.,

phizing, poetizing pages

Maxwell’s

“Run through

autumn of 1840,”

I

end

and which has several philoso-

on Niagara, and Lt. Col. A. M.

my

the United States during the

notes on this most prolific of

decades.

Why

so

many

authors should have visited the Niagara

region in the decade of the 30’s, and why, in succeeding

decades they came in diminishing numbers,

I

leave

(

for the

moment) to the discerning reader. Although there were fewer, from ’40 to ’50, there were several of distinction. There was Sir Richard H. Bonnycastle, Lieutenant Colonel of Royal Engineers, and of the Militia of Upper Canada, who was long in the Niagara district as engineer and roadmaker, and whose two volumes (“The Canadas in 1841”) are pleasant reading. There was Joseph Sturge, Quaker of Birmingham, whose “Visit to the United States in 1841,” though largely devoted to problems of international peace, emancipation of the negro, and kindred matters, has some

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

50

There was the Earl of Car-

appreciative pages on Niagara. lisle,

Mr. Van Buren and other eminent tive

His imagina-

citizens.

temperament found expression not merely

in discourse of

which the following

ing at Niagara

was not

like

is

ordinary

but constant solemn roar, has is

was of

a guest of the hospitable Wadsworths, as he

in verse, but

characteristic Its

life.

“Liv-

:

not overloud

a mysterious sound:

in itself

not the highest voice to which the Universe can ever

compared by inspiration

to the

listen,

sound of many waters?

The

whole of existence there has a dreamy but not a frivolous impress; you feel that you are not in the

common

world,

but in the sublimest temple.”

“A Summer Journey

Mrs. Eliza A. Steele’s

(New York,

in the

West”

1841), contains a short chapter on Buffalo and

a long one on Niagara Falls.

Very many

visitors at

Niagara have been put into a

ous, often a deeply devotional tion of

Not

the cataract.

seri-

frame of mind, by contemplaso

Augustus E. Silliman (a

brother of the distinguished Benjamin D. Silliman), whose

“Gallop



among American Scenery”

is

a marvel of bad style

inter jectional, exclamatory, a literary curio.

visited,

The author

apparently in 1842, Fort Erie, Lundy’s Lane and

Niagara, of which he writes at length.

In that year

came

John Robert Godley, whose two volumes of “Letters from America” are by no means free from the superior, condescending tone often employed by British writers on America.

Most notable of

all

Niagara writers

most quoted of them

all

after

— perhaps —was Charles

at this period

Hennepin

Dickens, whose sojourn in Buffalo and at the Falls

theme of many pages

in the

“American Notes.”

A

is

the

much-

admired description of the cataract includes the following paragraphs

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

51

“Between five and six next morning, we arrived at where we breakfasted; and being too near the Great Falls to wait patiently anywhere else, we set off by train, the same morning at nine o’clock, to Niagara. “It was a miserable day; chilly and raw; a damp mist falling; and the trees in that northern region quite bare and wintry. Whenever the train halted, I listened for the roar and was constantly straining my eyes in the direction where I knew the Falls must be, from seeing the river rolling on towards them every moment expecting to behold Within a few minutes of our stopping, not the spray. before, I saw two great white clouds rising up slowly and That was all. majestically from the depths of the earth. At length we alighted and then for the first time, I heard the mighty rush of water, and felt the ground tremble Buffalo,

;

;

:

underneath

my

“The bank

feet.

very steep, and was slippery with rain, and I hardly know how I got down, but I was soon at the bottom, and climbing, with two English officers who were crossing and had joined me, over some broken rocks, deafened by the noise, half-blinded by the spray, and wet to the skin. We were at the foot of the American Fall. I could see an immense torrent of water tearing headlong down from some great height, but had no idea of shape, or situation, or anything but vague immensity. half-melted

is

ice.

“When we were

seated in the

little

ferry-boat,

and were

crossing the swoln river immediately before both cataracts,

began to feel what it was but I was in a manner stunned, and unable to comprehend the vastness of the scene. It was not until I came on Table Rock, and looked Great Heaven, on what a fall of bright-green water! that it came upon me in its full might and majesty. “Then, when I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one instant and Peace lasting of the tremendous spectacle, was Peace. of Mind: Tranquility: Calm recollections of the Dead: Great Thoughts of Eternal Rest and Happiness: nothing of Gloom or Terror. Niagara was at once stamped upon I

;

— —





!

NINETEENTH CENTURY

52

my

heart, an Image of Beauty; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease to beat, for ever. “Oh, how the strife and trouble of our daily life receded from my view, and lessened in the distance, during the ten memorable days we passed on that Enchanted Ground! What voices spoke from out the thundering water; what faces, faded from the earth, looked out upon me from its gleaming depths what Heavenly promise glistened in those angels’ tears, the drops of many hues, that showered around, and twined themselves about the gorgeous arches which the changing rainbows made “I never stirred in all that time from the Canadian side, whither I had gone at first. I never crossed the river again; for I knew there were people on the other shore, and in such a place it is natural to shun strange company. To wander to and fro all day, and see the cataracts from all points of view; to stand upon the edge of the Great Horse Shoe Fall, marking the hurried water gathering strength as it approached the verge, yet seeming, too, to pause before it shot into the gulf below to gaze from the river’s level up at the torrent as it came streaming down; to climb the neighbouring heights and watch it through the trees, and see the wreathing water in the rapids hurrying on to take its fearful plunge to linger in the shadow of the watching the river as, solemn rocks three miles below stirred by no visible cause, it heaved and eddied and awoke ;

;

;

;

the echoes, being troubled

yet,

far

down beneath

the

have Niagara before me, lighted by the sun and by the moon, red in the day’s decline, and grey as evening .slowly fell upon it; to look upon it every day, and wake up in the night and hear its ceaseless surface, by

voice

:

this

its

giant leap;

to

was enough.

“I think in every quiet season now, still do those waters roll and leap, and roar and tumble, all day long; still are the rainbows spanning them, a hundred feet below.

when

Still,

on them, do they shine and glow like molten gold. Still, when the day is gloomy, do they fall like snow, or seem to crumble away like the front of a the sun

is

VISITORS great chalk

or

cliff,

WHO WROTE

roll

adown

BOOKS.

53

the rock like dense white

But always does the mighty stream appear to die as it comes down, and always from its unfathomable grave arises that tremendous ghost of spray and mist which is never laid: which has haunted this place with the same dread solemnity since Darkness brooded on the deep, and Light came rushing on that first flood before the Deluge Creation at the word of God.” smoke.





Susan Margaret Fuller’s “Summer on the Lakes” begins at “Niagara,

June

io, 1843,”

but this gifted

woman

A

tributed but slightly to our local literature.

has con-

visitor of

1844 was Eliot Warburton, author of numerous works,

among them “Hochelaga, or England

New

in the

World,”

which he dismisses Niagara with this summing up “See from Table Rock, gaze thence upon it for hours days if you like and then go home. As for the Rapids, Cave of the Winds, Burning Spring, etc., you might as well enter in

:



it



into

an examination of the

on the picture-frame,

gilt figures

as waste your time on them.”

Contrast with this the careful study 1845 by Francis

Parkman

to

;

made

what good

of our river in

use, every reader

of his histories knows.

George Moore’s “Journal ada and the United States eral pages to Buffalo

.

.

...

and the

with Notes on Can-

.

in

Falls,

1844” devotes sev-

which he

visited in

October, 1843. I n the next year came Frederick Von Raumer, whose work I know only in Turner’s translation, “America and the American People” (New York, 1846).

The was

author, professor of history in the University of Berlin, at

Niagara Falls in July, 1844.

Waylen’s States”

“Ecclesiastical

The Rev. Edward

Reminiscences

of

the

United

(London, 1846) has a Niagara chapter of about

this date.

,

;

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

54

Something of our region, will be

found

in the

varying quantity and quality,

in

Rev. G. Lewis’ “Impressions of America

and the American Churches” (1844)

;

“Journal” of that year

the useful records by

—another of

in

William Savery’s

members of the Society of Friends; in Alexander Mackay’s “The Western World” (1846) in three volumes, dedicated to

Richard Cobden; and

in

William Cullen Bryant’s “Let-

named

ters of a Traveler,” the poet’s visit being in the last

have not noted anything for 1847, but in 1848 there came at least two writers: the Rev. James Dixon, D. D.,

year.

I

whose “Personal Narrative of a Tour,” etc., is chiefly an exposition of the state of Methodism in America at that time and Archibald Prentice, editor of the Manchester (Eng.)

Times member of

literary

He

clear, sensible writer. falo,

and philosophical

and a

societies,

found himself interested

in

Buf-

then with 35,000 inhabitants; and of Niagara, he ex-

pressed himself as follows

“A

on the railway brought us from Buffalo Niagara and the Cataract Hotel, close to the back of which are the great falls. I was soon on the point of rock on the American side, where they are in full view. It takes some boldness to avow that I was less aweshort ride

to the village of

struck than tourists generally profess to be; but delighted with the exceeding beauty of the scene.

I

was

Close at hand the falling river was broken into millions of resplendent diamonds farther off it was a perpendicular fall of snow in the middle it was the rush of the green ocean wave into a chasm opened in the great deep; and all illuminagain in the distance was the gentle snow-fall There ated by a brilliant sun, and all gentle and lovely. was no rage, no discord, no tumultuous chafings of the immense flood. There was the quietness as of the con;

;

;

scious

perfect harmony of power saw no death of the stream as it fell

possession

;

beauty.

I

mendous

‘ghost of spray and mist.’

No

;

perfect

—no

voices spoke to

tre-

me

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

55

from out the thundering water. There was the majestic, calm, gentle, tranquil, exceedsoftened by the beautiful ing loveliness.” ;

A



1849 was Major John Thornton,

literary visitor of

author of a “Diary of a Tour through the Northern States

What

of the Union and Canada.”

Buffalonian today can

“Buffalo has a

recognize his city in the following picture:

most imposing appearance as viewed from the practice of roofing the

bright

tin,

cupolas,

has a most dazzling effect

are reflected

from them”

when

The

lake.

domes, roofs,

with

etc.,

the sun’s rays

Robert Baird’s “Impressions

!

and Experiences of the West Indies and North America” is

The author

not without local interest.

spent a

week

at

the Falls in 1849, an d although he records that the distance to Buffalo

is

and gives a

eleven miles, he gets most of his facts straight full,

Much

reflections.

leisurely account of his experiences

relating to Buffalo

and Niagara

is

and

to be

“Minnen fran en sjuttonarig vistelse i Nordvestra Amerika ” by the Rev. Gustav Unonius his book, published found

in

;

Sweden,

at Upsala,

in

1862, records events of a tour in

1849.

A

gifted

English

woman, Mrs. Houston, author of

“Hesperos, or Travels

in

the West/’ thought Buffalo in

At Niagara she resented

1849 “showy” but not substantial. the presence of the town,

September, 1849, James F.

as

too

W.

near

the

In

scenery.

Johnston looked us over.

His two-volume work, “Notes on North America,”

dis-

cusses the causes of Buffalo’s growth, and the regional geology. I

note but one foreign visitor in 1850, but that one most

welcome.

Then

believe with

she

it

was

that

Frederika Bremer came,

James Russell Lowell and his wife. was asked “ ‘Does Buffalo look according :

I

In Buffalo to your ex-



NINETEENTH CENTURY

56

pectations?’

To which

I replied that I

thing from Buffalo.”

She wrote

had not expected any-

delightfully of Niagara,

as the reader will find, who, if not able to enjoy Miss

Bremer

Swedish, can not

in the

Howitt’s admirable translation of “The

Were

World.”

I

writing a book on

instead of trying to compress

it

do so

to

fail

Homes

in

Mary

New

of the

my

present subject

as

few pages as

into

on the poetic prose of

possible, I should dwell at length

this

gifted writer.

George Francis Train gives us a Niagara incident unique, as

might be expected, and altogether romantic.

when an ardent a stranger.

In 1850,

youth, he saw at Syracuse a beautiful

girl,

Train gazed, and vowed to a friend: “I never

saw her before but she shall be my wife.” With supreme impudence, and in the spirit that perhaps wins battles, he follows the maiden and her elderly escort.

They take

he does the same, heedless of destination.

He

near the goddess; a refractory window (herein reason

why

The

At Oswego,

the

so

lie

a

we

ice

is

broken, introductions

young lady embarks for Niagara. Let him continue:

Train takes the same boat.

“And

may

they always are refractory) furnishes an excuse

for gallant assistance. follow.

train,

seats himself

arrived at Niagara together.

was kind enough

to permit

the Falls, and

was

I

me

foolish

Dr. Wallace

to escort his charge about

enough

to

do several risky

things in a sort of half-conscious desire to appear brave the last infirmity of the Falls

mind of a

and clambered about

lover.

in all sorts of

I went under the dangerous places,

an intoxication of love. It was the same old story, only with the difference that our love was mutually discovered and confessed amid the roaring accompaniment of the great cataract. We were at the Falls forty-eight hours, and before in

we

left

we were

betrothed.”

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

When

they were married, the next year,

we may

well believe

His experience (“My Life

Lands”)

is

it

wife,” says

in

many

States

and

in

Foreign

unique so far as the chronicles of literature

record, but nothing that

“my

57

She was very beautiful,” as from her published portraits.

Train, “was only seventeen.

indeed

BOOKS.

clearer in the history of Niagara than

is

has always been a favored resort of

well as the shrine of

The decade

as

Hymen.

of the

us a score and

Dan Cupid

’5o’s, like

more of

that just reviewed, brought

authors.

In 1851,

we have

J.

J.

Ampere of the French Academy, whose “Promenade en Amerique” devotes poetical pages to Niagara, with some graphic paragraphs on Buffalo; and Moritz Busch, author ” pubof “Wander ungen zwischen Hudson und Mississippi lished

some years

later in Stuttgart.

George William Curtis visited Niagara

in the

summer

of 1851, writing from there a series of letters to the

New

York Sun which afterwards were embodied in his delightful volume, “Lotus Eating.” The clearness of his perception may be shown by one brief quotation: “Disappointment in Niagara must be affected, or childish.” The next year came Alexander Marjoribanks, gathering material for his “Travels in South and North America.” While at Niagara he marvels as much at the suspension bridge as at the Falls. The “Autobiography” of the Rev. Abel C. ,

Thomas, printed

in

Boston

in 1852,

has an account of the

author’s preaching on Table Rock.

Another world-wide

tourist,

William Parish Robertson,

author of a “Visit to Mexico and the United States,” in

two volumes, records at Niagara: “I came too late to say anything which could be new or interesting, *T out est dit, et Von vient trop tard / as La Bruyere pathetically complains

when he commences

his

‘Caracteres.’



Still

another

NINETEENTH CENTURY

58

summer

visitor of this

of 1852

was Edmund

Patten, author

And

not to be over-

of “Glimpse at the United States,”

looked

Mrs. Susanna Moodie’s “Life

is

(London, 1853), with

etc.

etc.

its

in the Clearings,”

good account of the Niagara

neighborhood.

The year

of 1853 brought to our shores William H. H.

Kingston, in whose “Western Wanderings,” in two volumes,

may

be found abundant and good writing descriptive of our

region.

W.

Member

E. Baxter,

made one

of Parliament,

of his numerous tours through the United States in this

same

A

year.

Americans.”

by him on his return

series of lectures given

England was published under the

to

He

title

“America and the

has pleasant things to say of Buffalo, and

of Niagara one very good thing: “Niagara must be visited in

silence

and alone.”

“Things as they are in the

summer

in

William

Chambers,

author

of

America,” was especially interested

of ’53 in the geology of the Niagara region.

His analytical mind experienced a sentiment of disappoint-

ment which “I

think,” he says,

“may be mainly

traced to

the ranting and exaggerated descriptions which have de-

ceived the imagination and led to undue expectations.” is

interesting to note that in this year there

came

Charles Weld, a half-brother of the Isaac years before had been

The younger

describe our region. his

American tour

Society, writes with

one of the

vice president

to

Weld who to

earliest

It

Niagara

visit

55

and

brother, at the time of

of

Royal

the

much discernment and

Dublin

intelligence of

phenomena of Niagara. About the time of his visit came also two other notable Britons the Hon. Amelia M. Murray, who, in her “Letters from the United States, Cuba the

:

and Canada,”

tells

of her visit to Niagara in

though her pages are

American

chiefly devoted

social customs.

to

an

October,

analysis

of

In this year also came the Rev.

WHO WROTE

VISITORS John

Sinclair,

BOOKS.

59

much

Vicar of Kensington and

his

else;

“Sketches of Old Times and Distant Places,” printed in

London

as late as 1875, has a readable account of a Niagara

sojourn in 1853.

The Rev. Robert

Everest, chaplain to the East India

Company, records in his “Journey through the United States and part of Canada” that as he was on the street in Buffalo, then a town of 60,000, “a plain man passed alone with an umbrella in his hand Millard Fillmore.” I note three wandering authors in 1855, whose works



relate to this region

William Ferguson,

:

“America by River and Rail,” of sight-seeing on board the

will be

Maid

first

sage reflection regarding the cataract describe

it,

then do very well”

whose “Stars and

object of

the next year,

was

pursuing a wrong

of the Mist and his

“Many

correction

London

that the United States are

and morals.”

in their politics

declare

to

say you can’t

and Ivan Golovin, the

;

reforming Russian paused long enough national

whose big book,

Stripes,” published in

show

“to

way

:

in

found his description

that

the

in his

period

spent

at

life.

A

Niagara embraced the most happy moments of his third traveller of this year

was

G. Kohl, whose impres-

J.

sions are to be found in his “Reisen in

Staaten von

A

New

trifling

York

&

is

Henry Deedes, is

visit

Tallack,

also of this year.

volume of

the

who

still

writes

durch die

hereabout being in 1859.

the “Sketches of the South and

West, or Ten Months Residence tion

u.

was Thomas Wilson, author of

reporter

importance

slight

Canada

Pensylvanien.”

“Trans-Atlantic Sketches,” his

Of

This

career of

in the

United States,” by

Far worthier our

atten-

another traveling Quaker, William

pleasantly

“Friendly Sketches of America.”

of

the

Niagara

Here, too,

may

in

his

be men-

tioned John White’s “Sketches from America,” the visit

:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

60

being about this time, though the book was published in

London in 1870. The one most notable visit of the decade ending with i860, was that of the young Prince of Wales. Several books record his American

Among

travels.

worthy the attention of the curious reader

is

those most

“The Prince

of Wales in Canada and the United States,” by Nicholas

Augustus Woods,

special

correspondent of the London

This work contains a long, picturesque account of

Times.

the Prince’s visit to Niagara, the exhibitions of Blondin,

A

etc.

briefer account of the royal tour, by Gardner D.

Engleheart, private secretary to the

was

Duke

of Newcastle,

few exquisite

privately printed in i860, with a

illustra-

from the author’s drawings.

tions

The Earl of Southesk (K.

R. G. S.), in his

F.

T.,

“Saskatchewan” (Edinburgh, 1875), makes record of his visit to Niagara in May, 1859. He was little pleased with the scene.

“It

is

too huge,” he says, “and the disgustingly

obtrusive civilization that crawls over

very

heart

would

sick.

... A

more sharply on the mental

strike

statured, wide-spreading Niagara. side

is

.

sides turns

its

higher

narrower,

.

my

cataract

vision, than low-

The Canadian

.

not strikingly offensive, but the American side teems

with glaring wooden structures hanging over the very precipice.

on a

more

A 1861

.

.

.

Some wretched person

has built a

mock

little

island that actually overhangs the Fall”

in the

same

strain.

war-time visitor was Anthony Trollope,

made

ruin

—and

several stops at Niagara.

The

who

in 1858-

last visit, thirty

years after his mother’s famous sojourn, gave us a very in his “North America.” The shown by the following excerpt

good chapter

mind

is

attitude of his

I

:

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

“Of

all

61

the sights on this earth of ours which tourists at least of all those which I have seen,

travel to see,

am

BOOKS.





inclined to give the

palm to the Falls of Niagara.

In

the catalogue of such sights I intend to include all buildings, pictures, statues and wonders of art made by men’s hands,

and

also all beauties of nature prepared

the delight of His creatures. far as

my

taste

This

and judgment go,

is

it is

by the Creator for

a long

word

justified.

I

;

but as

know no

other one thing so beautiful, so glorious and so powerful.”

One of our

was a truly remarkable traveler, the Viennese scholar, Ida Meyer Pfeiffer, who spent most of her life in roaming the world. She had been visitors,

twice around the globe



in

1854,

—not the

trifling

jaunt then that

now when she came to the Niagara Though she had seen so much she seems superlative emotions

for these

in

August, 1854.

to

have saved her

August

falls.

it is

10th

she

writes

“This was a day never to be forgotten in the annals of life one of those which brilliantly rewarded me for all the toils and hardships by which they were purchased; for on this day I beheld one of the most sublime and wonderful scenes of God’s beautiful world the falls of Niagara! What the eye sees, what the soul feels, at this spectacle, can never be described: painter and poet would despair of success in such an attempt. Did a man meet his mortal enemy on this spot, he must at once forgive him; and should one who has doubted of the existence of God come to this, one of the noblest of His altars, he must, I think, return converted and tranquilized. Oh that I could have shared with all my friends, with all mankind, the emotions awakened by this wonder of creation.”

my





!

Another great traveler who year was Bayard Taylor.

Abroad,”

tells

of his

first

saw Niagara

His volume

visits, especially

entitled

in that

“Home and

of one in i860;

touches well upon an affectation of tourists:

and

“I read last



NINETEENTH CENTURY

62

winter in one of the papers a most admirable description of

Not dewas describing it.” Samuel Phillips Day

the falling of the water, entitled ‘Niagara, but

The

scribed.’

In

writer

knew

all

the time he

1862 our Niagara author

(“English America”).

is

The next year apparently brought “A travers V Amerique” French Academy and has had several

but one, Lucien Biart, whose book,

was “crowned” by the editions. in winter.

The author writes lightly and brightly of Niagara The next year came another Frenchman, Auguste

Laugel, author of “Les Etats-Unis pendant la Guerre

The French never Laugel

is

fail to

no exception, though he declares that he has never

seen a good picture of

Marcou, made ber, 1863,

write attractively of Niagara, and

Another French author, Jules

it.

five visits to

Niagara, i848-’5o.

In Septem-

he came again, and wrote agreeably of his experi-

title “Le Niagara quinze ans apres.” Late war 1865 a distinguished English writer who had been war correspondent in America, W. Howard Russell,

ences under the



in the



visited Niagara,

of

in the preparation

his

“Canada,

its

He was an enter“My Diary North and

Defences, Condition and Resources.” taining writer.

In an earlier book,

South” (1863), he devotes a whole chapter to Niagara, first visited in 1862. With him I close the meagre

which he list

of author travelers in our region during the Civil War.

The

reasons for this meagreness are too obvious to

comment.

Nor

is

richer in production.

We

have Oscar Comettant’s

Pittoresque et Anecdotique,”

etc.

;



F. Butler

was

at

Voyage

tells

he was snowbound at Niagara in the winter of

W.

for

and F. Barham Zincke’s

“Last Winter in the United States,” in which he

Captain

call

the rest of the decade of the ’6o’s any

Niagara

in

how

’67~’8.

September, 1867.

In his “Great Lone Land” he writes that “Niagara was a place to be instinctively shunned,” and unfolds an enter-

— ;

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

prising Yankee’s plan for drying

BOOKS.

up the

63

Falls!

French

F.

Townshend’s “Ten Thousand Miles of Travel, Sport and Adventure” (London, 1869), contains an account of visit to Niagara in 1868.

his

Belonging by association and American interest to the Civil

of

War

Rugby

period

—who came

and saw Niagara it

in his

Thomas Hughes

is

“V acation

in

to

America for the

Rambles,”



chattiest,

some four

a slice

you get

One

“We

:

you have a

;

feet

is

and tear

ging as

if it

at you,

which

would carry

in the middle.

You

rush

allowed to rush

back water, and then take hold

cf a short rope fixed close above the rush, and seize

in the

room through which

wide of the water

in at the side, in the

Niagara rec-

had a bath

little

reads of

most genial of books.

at least his principal

—was of the current baths

just above the Falls

“Tom”

time in 1870,

first

September of that year.

His principal impression ord

—the beloved

it

off

let

the water

does with a vengeance, tug-

your legs and pull you

can get out of

it

in a

slewing yourself round, and the sensation

in

two

moment by

just

is

marvelously

delicious.”

In the decade of the 70’s



came Henry James; not then master

(as he

I

think as early as 1871

so distinguished as now, but

does not always clearly demonstrate)

an incomparable

style.

Of

all

the

seriously addressed themselves to the task of

Niagara first.

it

describing

Henry James is, in my judgment, easily among writers what Church is among painters

Falls,

He

is

thoroughly poetic and thoroughly sincere.

when

of

who have

writers

was

He saw

yet in the hands of the Philistines,

orated sentences he called for “the importunities from

its

rescue.

Niagara

and

in elab-

Then, goaded by

hackmen and photographers and

vendors of jim-cracks,” he passes into a holy rage, declares

them

all

“simply hideous and infamous,” and

calls

on the

;

NINETEENTH CENTURY

64

Few voices were raised for this his. And when he does gain soli-

State to buy the landscape.

redemption, earlier than

how he

tude and silence,

goes like the great a

little at

adores

artist, at

it

once to

Always an

!

his phrases, with just a hint of bestowing approval

on the Creator as well as on His works of

it is

strous

the great characteristic.

;

We may smile

heart.

its

analyst, he

it is

thoroughly

“The perfect

:

artistic and, as the

phrase

is,

taste

mon-

not in the least

It is

thought

The more he approves, and presently he cannot conceal it the poet-soul of him is in love with it: “Nothing was ever more successfully executed” this he

out.

In the matter of line

more he

it

beats Michael Angelo.”



studies, the





says, of the crest of the fall

;

“it is as gentle as the

pouring



of wine from a flagon of melody from the lips of a singer. ... If the line of beauty had vanished from the earth elsewhere,

it

date of his

He

would survive on the brow of Niagara.”

even approved of the Terrapin tower, visit,

and which

but this critic thought for he had set

Henry James

up a

its

little

to

many

still

visitors

standing at the

was an offense

builder “deserves a compliment,”

but useful standard for comparison.

Niagara was as far from the hysterical

at

panegyrist as a Tyndall,

let

us say,

far

is

from the welling

emotions of a Mrs. Sigourney, or the emotional attitudinizing of a Dickens traits

;

but his study of

it

(to be

of Places”) sets the high-water mark,

found I

in

“Por-

think, in

all

the flood of descriptive writing on this subject.

Speaking generally, from the Civil

War

to the

end of the

century, the literature of travel touching our region

nigh negligible in value.

Some

some pleasant pages have been written there

is

In 1872,

is

well-

notable visitors have come, ;

but more and more

a disposition to treat Niagara as a twice-told tale. I

note the visit of

pleasant record in

“My

Lady

Dufferin,

who

has

Canadian Journal” of her

left

a

visit to

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

65

Niagara with General Sir C. Hastings Doyle, Lieutenant

Governor of Nova

and Sir Edward Thornton, then

Scotia,

With Colonel

British Minister at Washington. S.

Gzowski

Bridge

Sir Cassimir

—the distinguished engineer of the International

—Lady

Dufferin visited Buffalo, where, she writes,

“one gets such an impression of wealth and comfort that

one

is

Another

astonished.”

visitor of that year

was

Julius

George Medley, Lieutenant Colonel of Royal Engineers, Fellow of the University of Calcutta,

tumn Tour

in the

etc.,

from whose “Au-

United States and Canada” one gets the

impression that he thought

it

something of a bore to write

of Niagara and hardly worth while to trouble either himself

or his readers with serious description.

A

picturesque wanderer of 1874 was Henri Rochefort,

returning to France from his political exile

—he had escaped

from the penal colony of New Caledonia. No livelier book was ever written than his “Story of My Life,” in which he tells characteristically of his brief sojourn at Niagara in

May

“All around the Falls,”

of the year named.

he says, “which are really majestic, though one to believe that they

have been put there to attract foreigners

of every nationality

The banks on lars

and even

bracelets of



is

a perpetual sort of St. Cloud fete.

crowded with ped-

the sides of the rapids are fair-stalls.

German

Everything

lapis-lazuli

to say, the products of

its

my

!

sale, especially

... A

wild-beast

I

had done

in

mine

Rochefort viewed “the grand

cascade” from the middle of the suspension bridge; ishes,

is

purchasing a bear, which

cage just as

only a few months earlier”

on

industries that have noth-

its Falls.

absolutely insisted on

turned sadly about in

is

and Vesuvian lava; that

numerous

ing to do with Niagara and

showman

feels inclined

it

fin-

he says, “by giving you the impression of being an

immense

stick of

marsh mallow or barley sugar twisting



NINETEENTH CENTURY

66

round a bobbin of an Algerian

stall at

a suburban fair”

about the most extraordinary impression in our whole cate-

He

gory.

lodged at the Clifton House, and

when

man-

the

ager brought the visitors’ book, “I contented myself with tracing this burlesque phrase:

my own

is still

‘This fall

profound, but

The Shadow

(Signed)

greater!

in: ” The “Western Wanderings”

is

of Napo-

leon

though touching our region,

of

is

W. Bodham-Whetham,

J.

of no special value;

nor

is

Home” by William “France and the French,” etc.). Muauthors, but Jacques Offenbach, who

the jaunty and journalistic “Letters sent

Morris (author of sicians

came

to

tically,

A

are seldom

Niagara

in

1875, wrote lightly,

poetical

ecsta-

gentleman of Spanish blood, Guillermo Prieto,

wrote poetically of us

in 1877, his book,

dos-Unidos,” being published also

somewhat

of what he saw, in “America and the Americans.”

“Viaje d los Esta-

Mexico.

in

came

In that year

William Saunders (“Through the Light Continent”),

and H. Hussey Vivian, M.

Tour

in

America”

I

am

“It (the fall) impressed

G.

P., F.

S., in

whose “Notes of a

struck by the following passage:

me

with a sense of

its

own

more than anything

deur, and the impotence of man,

granI

ever

saw, more than the eruption of Vesuvius, the crashings of a continental thunder-storm, or an ocean gale.” that,

And

he was disappointed in the Great Lakes.

should

be

included

Charles

Dominion,” and Willis Morris’s “Letters sent

on Niagara as seen

Walt Whitman, first visit to

I

Nash’s

Home,”

“Oregon,”

all

list

“The Canadian and William

of which have chapters

in the ’70’s. in his

Niagara

Niagara chapter

Marshall’s

after all

In our

“November Boughs”

in 1848.

It is just

have come upon:

tells

of his

about the tersest



VISITORS

WHO WROTE

“Got in the cars and went saw the whirlpool and

Falls



Many

BOOKS.

Went under

to Niagara. all

67

the

the other sights.”

years after, in June, 1880, he saw Niagara again

and wrote of

it

in characteristic fashion:

“For really seizing a great picture or book, or piece of music, or architecture, or grand scenery or perhaps for the first time even the common sunshine, or landscape, or may-be even the mystery of identity, most curious mystery of all there comes some lucky five minutes of a man’s life,





set

amid a fortuitous concurrence of circumstances, and

bringing in a brief flash the culmination of years of reading and travel and thought. The present case about two o’clock this afternoon gave me Niagara, its superb severity of action and color cribable show.

pension bridge

and majestic grouping, in one short, indesWe were very slowly crossing the Sus-

—not a

anywhere, but next to

full stop

—and

it

out on the platform. The falls were in plain view about a mile off, but very distinct, and no roar hardly a murmur. The river tumbling green and white, far below me the dark high banks, the plentiful the day clear, sunny,

still

I



;

umbrage, many bronze cedars, in shadow; and tempering and arching all the immense materiality, a clear sky overhead, with a few white clouds, limpid, spiritual, silent. Brief, and as quiet as brief, that picture a remembrance always afterwards.”



Mere mention may

suffice for

W.

G. Marshall’s hand-

somely illustrated “Through America” (1878) Lady Duffus Hardy’s “Through Cities and Prairie Lands” and “Be;

tween

Two

Oceans”

—her Niagara

visit

being about 1880

;

David Pidgeon’s “An Engineer’s Holiday,” of the same year; T. S. Hudson’s “Scamper through America” (1882)

Alberto Lombardo’s “Los Estados-Unidos” (1882); the

work of

still

another Mexican,

Campuzano, secretary of legation his

“Del Atlantico

;

and

Don Juan Bustamante y at Washington, who in

al Pacifico,” tells

of his

visit to

Niagara

””

NINETEENTH CENTURY

68

August, 1882. In 1883 came Thomas Greenwood (“A Tour in the States and Canada Out and Home in Six Weeks”) in 1884, the Marquis of Lome (“Memories of Canada and Scotland”) in 1885, Alberto G. Bianchi, who in “Los Estados-Unidos describes the tour of a party of in



;

;

Mexicans; and

“De

whose little book, has the good French gift of pic-

in 1886, Charles Bigot,

Paris au Niagara

At Niagara the author

turesqueness.

a word painter like Zola or Loti.

regrets that he

a Niagara page or two worth while.

“Impressions of America”

is

not

Loti indeed would give us

(1884),

Sir

Henry

Irving’s

by

Joseph

written

Hatton, has a pleasant Niagara chapter.

Frederic Daly’s

“Irving” also touches our region.

Most of these recent books in

Sir

Edwin Arnold

1889, and in “Seas

of value, especially

and Lands” writes of

“An

Artist’s

Niagara to complain of excessive

votes but a few paragraphs to curate.

Dean

A

who

in poetical vein.

content

is

C. L. Johnstone’s

fees.

in

was

in his “Little

discursive and

it

autumn of

Canada” (1894) deour region, and those not ac-

notable visitor of 1894

of Rochester,

clerically

earlier decades.

Tour” (1890),

“Winter and Summer Excursions

is

little

tarried at Niagara in the

B. Kroupa, author of at

offer

comparison with the elaborate chapters of

anecdotal,

S.

Reynolds Hole,

Tour and

in calls

America” Niagara

Most matter-offact was Lady Theodora Guest, whose “Round Trip in North America” brought her to Niagara in 1894; she wrote that it was “a marvelous mass of water, but that it has no “the most wonderful place in the world.”

—no

other advantage flowers.”

The

close, so far as

Van

last

no weather and no

fine

decade of the Nineteenth Century

may

fine scenery,

our review

is

concerned, with Airs. Schuyler

Rensselaer, whose study of Niagara

is

found

in the

Century Magazine, June, 1899; with Dr. Auguste Lutaud

VISITORS (“Aux Etats-Unis”)

WHO WROTE

BOOKS.

69

and with Rudyard Kipling, who

;

in

“American Notes” (1899) takes no heed of Niagara, but pays his respects to Buffalo in a for him most grahis





cious fashion.

The foregoing perhaps tedious record takes on an aspect of interest when considered as a whole. Let us consider for a moment these travel-books, relating in part to the Niagara. The list could be extended, but we lose little by shortening

it.

Ignoring a few of the least value,

we have

about 190 books of travel, written in the Nineteenth Century,

which record, often

at great length, the writers’

im-

pressions of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and the adjacent region.

By

far the largest part of these books are by English

and women.

There

is

men

a fair sprinkling of Scots, a few

French, Germans, Mexicans; but probably 90 per cent, of the lot were English. Most of the descriptive literature of Niagara, in the Nineteenth Century, was published in Lon-

Some

don.

were

of the authors were

officials in

Canada, some

specially interested in emigration, or slavery, or other

phase of American British journals;

life;

some were correspondents for

and some were

tourists

—early specimens

of the genus globe-trotter, with the book-writing habit.

Good and

bad, take

them through the century,

their pages

give us data not elsewhere recorded, from which fuller

we

get a

knowledge and a clearer idea of conditions here-

abouts, during the century, than

The production of

travelers’

from any other source. books relating to the Niag-

ara during the Nineteenth Century could be very simply

shown

in diagram, after the edifying fashion of the zigzag

dotted line which in Government weather charts expresses the variation of temperature, or which

is

dicate the fluctuation of the stock market.

say of ten inches represent the century

often used to in-

Let a base line

—a

decade to an

NINETEENTH CENTURY

70

with

Starting

inch.

one

author

in

1800,

ascending line indicates the half dozen or so

peared by 1810.

By

1820, with 17

reaches twice as high.

but from 1830 to 1840 a veritable falls it

it

jumps

it

almost to the point of 1830; and with some variations

Diagram

illustrating the distribution

wrote of Niagara at the top the

Falls, 1800 to 1900.

number

we have no more

by decades of

The bottom

187 authors

who

litera-

visited

figures indicate the decade

of visiting authors for each decade.

effect of increased facilities of travel, in the ’3o’s,

It strikingly

;

and

those

shows the

and the restrictive effect of the

War.

ture descriptive of Niagara in the

we had are

former height;

In the next ten years

gradually declines, until, at 1900,

Civil

its

apline

prior to 1830;

little,

to twice

alp of literature.

little

gradually

more books, the

climbs but

It

a

who had

still

Briton

new books

in the first ten years of the century.

being written;

but

the

tourist

—no longer makes the Niagara

America.

Nowadays he

tinent to the far

is

Travel books

—especially

the

his chief objective in

usually hurrying across the con-

Northwest or Japan, and

Niagara from a car window, or ignore

The

of travel than

literature of travel affords not

it

is

content to see

altogether.

merely an array of

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

BOOKS.

71

facts,

but illustrates the singular behavior of the

mind

in contemplating the superlative in Nature.

human About

one-half of the literary visitors at Niagara record that at first sight

they were deeply disappointed.

came up

declare that the falls quite

many

This It

Very

to expectations.

is

studiedly

strikingly true of writers

from say

was not merely

the

women, whose natures

lead us to expect emotional expression, but often the as well,

who

men

indulged in apostrophe and exclamation, in

posing and phrasing, as

silly

as anything in the literature of

After a time affectation ceased to be good

our language.

form and

in-

They become

dulge in affectedly fine writing.

1830 to i860.

other half

under obligations to the occasion, and

visitors feel

sentimental.

The

went out of fashion.

literary hysteria

I

have

sometimes wondered whether the experiences of the Civil

War

did not have a chastening and elevating effect on our

national literature.

But the simpler, sincerer expression

which present

prefers

American

taste

is

by no means confined to

writers, although in our present study

it

is

most

evident in American books, because from about i860 there

was a marked

falling off in

by foreign authors written about

it

;

is

books descriptive of

this region,

whereas much of the best that had been

by Americans of our own generation.

When we

recall that the Niagara panorama, scenic and human, has employed the pens of James Fenimore Cooper, of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bayard Taylor, George William Curtis, Charles Dudley Warner, Henry James, and William Dean Howells (I am not forgetting many others of varying

quality,

from N. P. Willis

to

Mark Twain),

it

becomes

plain that although probably the greater bulk of descriptive literature has

been furnished by British commentators, yet

the essential and worthiest literature of the region has of late years

been penned by Americans.



!

NINETEENTH CENTURY

72

The memoirs

or biographies of celebrities contain

an interesting allusion

to

or

account

of

their

many

visits

to

Buffalo and Niagara Falls, which are not to be found in their books, published during their life-time.

Fitz-Greene

Halleck in 1820, Catherine M. Sedgwick in 1821, John Neal in 1833, Flarriet

1849 or

came

5

Beecher in 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson in Charles A. Dana

an d so on down the decades.

°

to Buffalo, a

little

Here he learned to biographer, James H. Wilson,

boy, in 1812.

speak the Seneca;

and

his

when he

first

saw Niagara

says that

Falls he

was

so im-

pressed by them that “he composed an ode on their grandeur

which had considerable merit but as this statement

must be taken on

has long been lost

it

Annie

faith.”

Fields, in

her “Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe,” gives “Hattie” Beecher’s impressions visited in 1834:

the waters

;

it

“I felt as

if

I

of

Niagara,

which

she

could have gone over with

would have been so beautiful a death, there

would be no fear

in it,” etc.

This was two years before she

married Professor Stowe, and eighteen years before “Uncle

Tom’s Cabin” made her the most

women

authors.

and again

in

famous of American

George Ticknor was

1845,

when he wrote

Niagara

at

in 1827

a long description to

G. T. Curtis in Boston:

thing we have seen yet, and one of the ever saw, was a thunder-storm among the waters, as it seemed to be, the other night, which lighted up the two cascades, as seen from our piazzas, with most magnificent effect. They had a spectral look, as they came out of the

“The

finest

grandest

I

darkness, and were again swallowed up in all

description and

all

it,

that defies

imagination.”

Theodore Winthrop

visited

Niagara

in

August,

and wrote (to friends) amusingly of his experiences. lost his

luggage and had to borrow a shirt

1851,

He

WHO WROTE

VISITORS

Henry David Thoreau was 1

at

86 1, on his way to Minnesota. I

have overlooked

than a year after this health

was

Edmund mer of

Niagara

in the spring of

it.

if

He

he did

the letter

died in less

and only tour to the West.

first

failing before

73

It is incredible that

he probably did, but

not write of the Falls;

has been published

BOOKS.

he saw

His

this region.

Clarence Stedman came to Niagara in the sum-

1865,

and while there wrote characteristic

and to

his mother,

his close friend,

letters to

Bayard Taylor.

The

following extract from a letter to Taylor shows that even poets, if in

poor health and “out of sorts,”

may

find even

Niagara tiresome and tame:

Cataract House, Niagara, July

1865.

16,

Well, here we are, on our way to Sault Ste. Marie, for which we start tomorrow, and go, as it seems to a sick man, in his “moods,” out of sight and sound of humanity. These Falls of Niagara improve on .

.

.

.

.

.

still, I feel nothing of the awe in their presence which greater minds profess to have felt. The fact is, one can pour over a so much loftier and louder-

acquaintance, but

sounding torrent in his soul, that these seem rather lathery and tame. I catch myself wondering whether all these rascally hackmen and publicans, who talk so loudly of them, don’t, in their heart of hearts, think them a humbug a sort of springe to catch woodcocks. If this is the largest thing of the sort in the world, what a little Peddlington sort of a ball this world is, anyhow! Probably, though, I see them too late in life (saw them some years ago, for an hour only). When quite young, the first sight of the ocean impressed me beyond measure. For years I dreamed of that white surf the infinite laughters the unended gloom behind. Even now I am lost, and lifted by the seashore. There is nothing like it. Niagara is measurable. The roar of the cataract is that of a great mill-dam. But the ocean makes you think it has no limit.









,

.

.

.



:

NINETEENTH CENTURY

74

Here

Niagara the best thing in my mind is you might have written

at

mother’s quatrain to the eagle

Where Its

is

Heaven

spraying incense of perpetual cloud, wings in twain the sacred bow have riven,

Thy And onward

There



the great Cataract sends up to

my it

a fine

sailed, irreverently

swoop and curve

proud!

to that last line.

.

.

.

Temperament accounts for much, in the impressions made by Niagara upon visitors. Goldwin Smith, who must often have viewed the Falls, says nothing of them in his

“Reminiscences,”

save to quote

(twice,

varying lan-

in

guage) a remark by Richard Cobden to a friend about to visit

America, and

special

who

asked

Niagara was worth a

if

“There are two

Cobden’s reply was:

journey.

sublimities in Nature:

one of

the sublimity in rest

the distant Alps, the sublimity of

motion visit,

is

Niagara.”

is

quoted from

account of

his

in

rest,

the other of motion;

Cobden’s journal of his

American

Morley’s “Life of Cobden,” has a long to Niagara in June, 1835.

visit

God,” he exclaims, “that has bestowed on

and means for reaching

this spot,

me!”

the spectacle before

turb his judgment,

first

and the

me

“Thank

health, time

spirit to kindle at

His enthusiasm does not

and he

is

nicely

dis-

critical in a rather

amusing fashion “

.

.

.

The view from the platform overhanging when you look right down into the

the Horseshoe Fall,

abyss, and are standing immediately over the descending

water,

is

horrible.

do not think people would take any

I

pleasure in being placed

in

this

fearful

position, unless

others were looking on, or unless for the vain gratification it. We crossed to the American and took a bath, for there is not one on the Canada The ferryman told us of a gentleman who swam

of talking about side side.

over three times.

.

.

.

I felt less

disposed than ever to quit this

WHO WROTE

VISITORS spot,

so

I

dence.

.

.

ever-increasing

of

full

American,

would here

BOOKS.

Were I an summer resi-

attraction.

strive to build

me

75

a

.

Timothy Flint, pioneer, missionary, author and editor, wrote at some length of Niagara Falls before he had seen them, in his “Geography and History,” etc., and at length His in various of his works after his visit in 1828. biographer, John E. Kirkpatrick, says of that visit:

“He arrived at Niagara Falls at half past one at night. Instead of going to bed as his fellow passengers did, he spent the remainder of the clear moon-lit night viewing the Falls, a spectacle which it had been almost the first remembered wish of his heart to see. He saw it ‘in a temperament, at a time and under circumstances just such’ as he would have chosen. He says: “ ‘He must have been obtuse of brain and of heart who could have thus contemplated this spectacle alone in this repose of nature, under the light of the moon, and the blue stars twinkling in the cloudless dome of the firmament, and not have thoughts which the poverty of language can never clothe in words/ ” .

as

.

.

The reader who seeks a detailed account of our region it was in 1828, can hardly do better than to consult “Tour,”

Flint’s account of his visit, contained in his

printed in the Western of which he

James T. Buffalo

was

Monthly Review

editor.

Fields, in

—where,

1875, lectured in St.

by the way, Dickens read

winter view of Niagara in a gale.

was here again. “The scene at the never more impressive.” On this ankle

in

Buffalo,

Bowles, for

first

(Cincinnati, 1828),

many

and

James

—and

Hall,

had a

In October, 1876, he Falls,”

he writes, “was

visit,

he sprained his

lectured sitting down.

Samuel

years editor of the Springfield (Mass.)

Republican, visited the Falls in 1854; the descriptive letters

,

VISITORS

76

WHO WROTE

BOOKS.

which he then wrote are to be

found

Times,” by George

Chancellor James Kent

S.

Merriam.

visited the Falls as early as 1802;

his

in his

“Life and

“Memoirs and Let-

by his great-grandson, William Kent, contains

ters,” edited

William Dean

the great jurist’s impressions of Niagara.

Howells has written much of Niagara, nowhere better than

“Niagara Revisited,” first published in the Atlantic Monthly May, 1883. It was reissued in Chicago the next year as an illustrated book, but owing to business compliin

work was suppressed, very few

cations the

copies ever

getting into circulation, the result being that this is

book

not only one of the rarest of Mr. Howells’ works, but one

of the rarest

Notes of 1

little

—and best—of Niagarana.

this sort could

Our review

forbear.

is

no doubt be much extended, but far

from exhaustive, and therein

the observation that nothing bibliographical

illustrates

My

ever was or ever will be, complete.

show what authors

attention the Niagara region has received

who have

visited

Numerous

it.

leave for mention in considering

is,

object has been to

other

from

other authors aspects

of

I

our

subject. It

should be noted, however, that our best modern writers

of Niagara are no longer content merely to describe the scenery.

That

is

used as the background against which are

studied the fashions and foibles

young man and woman. tion of our

home

writers of fiction.

And

region and

—the

spirit

this brings

its

—of the passing

me

to a considera-

literature as utilized

by the

THE NIAGARA REGION

IN

FICTION T HAVE

sometimes thought

profitable to

make

American

always so of

its

may

literature,

called,

but

1

the earliest development

we have had

still

manifold forms.

might not be wholly un-

From

in its relation to history.

of

it

a study of the fiction of our country,

the historical novel

;

not

a thing easily recognized, in spite

Cooper’s

tales,

whatever

else they

be as literature, are indubitably historical novels, for

they present a fabric of fiction along with an attempt to

some degree of

portray, with

fidelity,

conditions and types

which somewhere existed, and which characterized some period of American history.

Once, under a rash impulse, list

of

all

I

undertook to compile a

novels that could be grouped according to definite

My

periods in American history.

found, not only that the task, in

zeal soon abated, for I

its

main

outlines,

had

ready been accomplished by expert library-workers, better than I could hope to

do

but

it;

serious difficulties in assigning certain

that

there

al-

far

were

works to any particu-

In the hands of the romancer, history ceases to

lar period.

be history.

My

slight study of the subject discovered,

things, that there tellers to pick lists

may

be

is

out the

made

among

other

a tendency on the part of the story-

war periods

for their fiction.

Long

of novels dealing with the French and 77

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION.

78

Indian wars, the Revolution, the

War; and

in

have their quota of in

War

of 1812, the Civil

between these great epochs, fiction;

lesser periods

for example, Shea’s Rebellion

Massachusetts, the Patriot war on the

New York

and

Canada border; the Fenian invasion, and many another episode. Every armed conflict in our history is made to figure in some work of fiction; for the story-teller the

man

soft-handed

of the pen



—dearly loves

(at his desk) the

The

clash of steel and the smell of powder.

peace have

made

little

In a few instances,

appeal to him.

notably in the fiction of recent years,

periods of

we have

political strife

substituted for warfare, or the strain and rivalry of athletic contest. There is significance, too, in the fact that many modern novels deal with attempts to get rich quickly, with financial and speculative adventures. Even the trashiest of

these tales

is historical in

the sense that

characteristic of the present day;

drops

all

and

The Niagara correspondingly strange indeed

region, rich in rich if

in

its

own

is

devising.

history, is

historical

if

story-teller gener-

attempt at an avowed historical setting, and

wholly occupied with a romance of his

river

reflects a taste

but speaking broadly,

must be peaceful, the

the mise-en-scene ally

it

fiction.

by no means It

would be

the romantic actualities of this unique

had not appealed

to those

who

invent romance;

but

the inadequacy of the fiction, in proportion to the fact, be-

comes more and more apparent of

fiction, as

of poetry, that

its

as

one studies

quality

is

it.

It is

independent of the

sublimity or beauty of natural scenery, or of the

which

crisis,

show

may have

inspired

it.

As

I

true

human

have attempted to

another study (“Niagara and the Poets”)

is

in

the nature of things that a nameless brook should have

its

in

Tennyson, and a Niagara go unsung. fiction,

its

As long

it

as fiction

is

highest quality must depend on the subjective

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION. treatment

of

human

The

character.

79

physical setting

is

secondary.

Regarding as “Niagara region” the territory through which our

river runs,

and the adjacent regions which under

historical or present conditions it,

we

How

ask,

have become associated with

have the writers of romance enriched

its

literature ?

The

first

period in our history

—that of the occupancy of sway of the Iroquois,

these lands by aborigines prior to the

has been utilized by George Alfred Stringer in his tale “The

King and the Cross,” wherein conflicts between peoples more or less legendary the so-called Eries or Neuters or Kah-quahs of whom history really knows nothing are set





down with the circumstantiality of yesterday’s ball game. The Indian and the missionary figure in countless tales. The earliest published romance of which I have knowledge relating to the

Niagara region, deals with the period of

French occupancy and may therefore stand next to “The

King and the Cross” tures du Sieur C.

curieux

et

am

our chronology.

This

is

the “Aven-

Le Beau avocat en parlement, ou voyage les Sauvages de TAmerique Seppublished in Amsterdam in 1738. So far ,

nouveau, parmi

tentrionale,” etc., as I

in

aware, this curious book has never been published

Under the guise of his own adventures, Le Beau indulges in extraordinary romancing. According to in

his

English.

own

testimony this youth, a native of Rochelle, went to

Paris in 1729, and in the same year legal studies into a St.

Lawrence, he reached Quebec

1729. his

Finding employment

home with

was tempted from

voyage to Canada. in the

Shipwrecked

in sad plight,

his

in the

June

18,

bureau du castor he made

the Recollect Fathers for

more than

a year,

then ran away from sober pursuits, and with two Indians took to the woods.

His narrative

puts

the

time of his

80

THE NIAGARA REGION IN

arrival at

Niagara

tastic conditions.

Abenaki maiden,

FICTION.

June, 1731, and under sufficiently fan-

in

He was accompanied by his mistress, an with whom he had exchanged clothes,

resorting to this and other disguise to avoid arrest as a

He makes

deserter by the French.

a long story of his en-

counter with soldiers at Fort Niagara,

and

of

his

final

Le Beau’s book, despite its veracious air and accuracy on some points, is not history. It is therefore fiction. The author apparently came to Canada and had some experience among the Indians and when he wrote his book, chose so to enlarge upon what he sanctuary in Seneca villages.

;

had

really seen

and experienced,

fact, that the result

has

whatever as history.

little

still

holding to a thread of

interest as fiction,

who

Travelers

and no value

will write

doing the same thing, from Le Beau’s day to

have been

this.

There are many romances that deal with La Salle wretchedly cheap and tawdry

romance of

his

is

but

;

And how

we can

—or

They seek

Salle

is

all that.

Salle

as a successful one.

it

incompetent

—the

story-writers

a picturesque, striking, gallant figure.

They invent

La

scenes and incidents utterly

And

out of keeping with his character.

seem oblivious

La

attempt to utilize

latest

hardly rate

ignorant

are!

all

William Dana Orcutt’s book, “Robert

life.

perhaps the

Cavelier,” in fiction



comparison with the actual

in

to the extraordinary

they one and

fact,

which

all

history

shows, that for some four years, in the very midst of his ardent and brilliant exploits,

whereabouts and his deeds is

known.

La

Salle disappears,

in that

In September, 1669,

and of

time practically nothing

La

from

Salle parted

companions, between the head of Lake Ontario

Hamilton that he

of

it

is

—and the Grand

river.

would return to Montreal. known.

He

disappears;

his



his

present

Their understanding was,

But

if

he

did,

no record

nor does he reappear, so

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION. far as trustworthy records show, until the

when we

find

autumn of

To

him reembarking for France.

Perrot’s “Journal” says he

81

1674,

be sure,

was met, with a company of

Indians, hunting far up the Ottawa.

Others claim that he

descended the Ohio, that he discovered the Mississippi, thus forestalling the claims of Joliet flicting claims,

and Marquette.

These con-

unsupported by credible documents, leave

For

the matter wholly a mystery.

at least

two of the four

years which form a so strange hiatus in an otherwise glar-

ingly-conspicuous career, there

the romancer

!

Can

it

—what

a challenge to

be that the story-tellers acknowledge

La

their inability to invent a career for

which

What

a complete blank.

is

a splendid opportunity for invention

shall be consistent

ing with his character?

Salle in

with the probabilities, and

1670-71 in

keep-

For the present we must leave American fiction.

it

as one of the neglected opportunities in

A

rather recent book (1901), dealing cleverly with an

early period, tenac.”

It

is

Samuel Merwin’s

weaves a romance

tale,

into the

“The Road to Fronknown history of the

Lake Ontario region in the time of Denonville, and touches upon that soldier’s exploits among the Senecas and on the Niagara in 1687. But the interest centers at the other end of the lake, at old Fort Frontenac,

of

Of like character is Wm. R. A. Wilson’s story, “A Rose Normandy” (1903), in which he strives, not very suc-

cessfully, to

La

now Kingston.

Salle,

add to the romance with which history endows

Tonty, and their comrades.

France,” by

Mary

“A Daughter

of

New

Crowley (1901), deals chiefly with Cadillac and the founding of Detroit, but relates somewhat

to our region, and

is

C.

written with most admirable knowledge

Here perhaps may be menMary Hartwell Catherwood’s “The Story of Tonty,” and William O. Stoddard’s “On the Old Frontier.”

of the history of the period. tioned

THE NIAGARA REGION IN

82

A

FICTION.

maid, a rough soldier, a few bloody deeds and

fair

tense adventures, and the inevitable outcome of a much-dis-



turbed wooing

told with singular affectation of sup-

all

posed archaic speech

—these are the

essential

materials from which this kind of fiction

and unvarying

concocted.

is

James Fenimore Cooper must have recognition in our local fiction. “The Pathfinder,” the sub-title of which is “The Inland Sea,” is a tale of Lake Ontario during the old French war, with Niagara episodes. which was written

at Lewiston,

“The Spy,”

a part of

a tale of the Revolution,

is

the scene of action being principally in Westchester county,

but

it

includes an episode of

Niagara.

In

much

the

the

War

same way a very

Niagara episode during the

War

of 1812

1812 on the

of

different sort of is

introduced in

Harry

Lor-

Major John Richardson

relate

Charles Lever’s rollicking “Confessions

of

requer.”

The

historical novels of

chiefly to the region of the Lakes, the Detroit, and, in less

degree, to the Niagara.

Born

at

Queenston

in 1796,

Rich-

ardson was truly a son of the Niagara region, though most life was spent away from it. In his “Eight Years in Canada” he gives us a touching account of his experiences and emotions on revisiting his old home on the Niagara, in

of his

His most famous novel, “Wacousta,”

1838.

Pontiac’s

The Niagara

War.

Canadian Brothers,”

One ton,

episode in and,

this

region figures

more

in

“The

published in Montreal in 1840.

gives us the story of the battle of Queens-

naturally

British arms. lished

it

first

a tale of

is

enough,

there

is

a

of

glorification

Seeking a wider market, Richardson repub-

story

in

New

York,

changing the

title

to

“Matilda Montgomerie,” and leaving out the Queenston episode

—a

pitiable subversion of the dignity of authorship

to the needs of the author.

The theory

of course

was

that

:

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION. citizens of the

83

United States would not buy a story that

sympathized with the triumph of the British at Queenston.

We

are

all

some of our “theories” and

quite as absurd in

prejudices, today.

In “Matilda Montgomerie” a chapter or so

adventures

in the vicinity of Buffalo

devoted to

Sambo, one Although Rich-

of the characters, calls “Bubbalo town.”

ardson

is

—which

praised for the excellence of his style, no one not

is

imbued with the antiquarian

taste, is likely to

be attracted

to his pages.

Our

region has not been wholly overlooked by the dra-

matists.

The

Niagara

Falls.

old

French tragedy of “ Hirza” opens

regret that I cannot

I

name

with precision, the date of production. stately verse of Racine,

it

at

the author, nor,

Written

in

the

belongs alike to the fiction and

the poetry of our region

“ Triste Niagara, sejour craint de nos Dieux Rocs menagants, et vous, 6 torrents furieux, Qui, des monts inegaux couvrant les vastes cimes, Tombez en mugissant d’abimes en abimes, Devant vous fut brise le calumet, de paix”; etc. ;

It deals

with the wars of the Iroquois and the

and with the armed encroachments of English; and in far as possible

its

the

heroics and grandiloquence

Illinois,

French and is

about as

from a true depiction of the American

aborigine.

More than one drama has been

written

—and acted—the

scene of which was at least in part at Niagara. class

was “The

Battle of

“A

William

New

Trip to Niagara,”

written in 1830 for the

Dunlap,

this

Chippewa,” which a traveling

Buffalonian saw enacted at another,

Of

Orleans in 1822.

etc.,

a three-act farce,

Still

was

Bowery Theater, New York, by

dramatist,

lecturer,

historian,

portrait



THE NIAGARA REGION IN

84

painter and founder of the National

“A

Trip to Niagara” brings

the

FICTION.

Academy

of Design.

characters to Buffalo,

where one of them, an Englishman, exclaims: “So,

And

Buffalo!

do

I

see after

all

:

A

town

like other

water, and people like other people

democracy.

came

I

this is

And what

I’m on the shores of Lake Erie!

towns, water like other

—only

made worse by

man

have not seen a well-behaved

since I

There

into the country, only a wild half Indian.”

is

a scene at a Buffalo hotel, and another at the Falls, where

Cooper’s Leather-Stocking soliloquizes:

used to do, they can’t spoil

from the printed

play,

entertainment, even

“A

this, yet

“This looks as

To

a while.”

it

judge

Trip to Niagara,” was a tame

when helped

out, as

it

no doubt was,

with as effective a display of scenery as the artist-author could devise.

Here, too, should have mention “La Catarata del Ni-

Palacio, perhaps in collaboration with It is

Don Vicente Riva Don Juan A. Mateos.

a three-act drama, in verse, by

agara

contained in the joint publication of their dramatic

works, issued in Mexico City, 1871. acts are set in

Mexico,

in the

The

first

and second

house of one Dona Rosa; the

third act shifts to Niagara, the time being 1847.

A filled

considerable shelf, perhaps five feet long, could be

with

stories

of

the

War

of 1812.

My

American history have well nigh convinced

war was fought, not

studies of

me

that that

to maintain our rights on the high seas,

but to stimulate the development of American letters by

supplying picturesque material for budding romancers. only drawback to that theory

unadorned record of the old sea stitution

is

that the straightforward

duels, like that of the

and the Guerriere, has more

romancers can invent.

The

thrills in it

Con-

than the

But for well-nigh a century, the

novelists have hovered about this period, like bumble-bees

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION. in

a

The war on

of clover.

field

the Lakes and the Niagara

frontier has had a share of their attention.

books with Perry for hero

more or

of things

85

—always

There are boys’

with the introduction

The much used by

impossible to the character.

less

events of 1812-T4 on the Niagara have been

Canadian story-writers.

There

Sellars (Montreal, 1890),

which follows many of the events

of the war in our because

its

and

none

is

the

work of

greater merit

is

worthy

“Neville Trueman,

the Pioneer Preacher, a Tale of 1812,” by

published

less

point of view and sympathies are so notably

A

Canadian.

district,

“Hemlock,” by Robert

is

in

Toronto

mingle with the

in

real, at

The

1886.

W. H. Withrow,

fictitious

characters

Queenston Heights, Fort George,

Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. It and it makes a record have of high character and worthy

the burning of Niagara, is

a simple tale, with no affectations

which we are glad to

There were true

impulses.

and

it

is

wholesome

;

Canada

patriots in

in those days,

no matter on which

to read of them,

may live. In this class belongs Amy E. Blanchard’s tale, “A Loyal Lass, a Story of the Niagara Campaign of 1814.” The list might be much extended. side of the river

There

is

one

a considerable group of books, mostly by British

which should have place

writers,

in

our review.

In the

guise of fiction, they chronicle the condition of things in

Upper Canada and years of settlement.

ume

the Niagara District, during the early

Such a work

John

is

Galt’s three-vol-

novel, “Bogle Corbet, or the Emigrants,” published in

London

in 1831.

I

believe too that “Laurie

most famous novel, touches more or

less

Todd,” Galt’s the

Niagara

neighborhood.

The

exploits of the Patriot

by most

War

on

historians, certainly contain

two chroniclers agree.

I

recall

this border, as told

much

fiction,

for

no

however but one avowed

THE NIAGARA REGION IN

86

romance with that

affair as its

theme

FICTION.

—“The Prisoner of the

Border, a Tale of 1838,” by P. Hamilton Myers. century ago,

when

was published, Myers had

story

this

Half a

great vogue and his stories were popular.

There are many novels which touch

H. A. Stanley’s

degree.

man,”

is

stirring tale,

men who

Judge Tourof the old Chautauqua portage.

is

a tale

Edwards’ “Story of Niagara,” published nearly forty

some of the fronsmuggling experiences; and “Where Waters Beckon,”

years ago, tier

and deals with Indians and

belong to our local history.

gee’s “Button’s Inn”

C. R.

“The BackwoodsNew York

a pretty successful treatment of the old

frontier during the Revolution,

white

some

this region in

is

by Joanna E.

an attempt to put into

Wood

(1902),

is

fiction

a sickly sentimental offering,

dealing with so-called love, soul-affinities, a retreat in the

woods of Foster’s suicides.

we

can

boast on that.

Abbott, a recluse Falls,

who

Niagara Glen, and a few

Buffalo as well as of Niagara, but

It is a story of

make no

above the

Plats, otherwise

The

tragic story of Francis

lived for a time

and was drowned

on one of the

in 1829, has

islands

been written,

not only by James Bird, in a trustworthy narrative, but also

by “the author of ‘Mettallak,’ as a work of

fiction

on

Hermit of Ni-

fact,” entitled “Francis Abbott, or the

founded

Old and New World.” (Boston, 1846.) Even the Erie Canal has its romances. If I remember aright, some of J. T. Trowbridge’s juvenile tales deal with his own youthful experiences on the canal in Western New York. But the classic in this field is perhaps “Marco Paul’s agara, a Tale of the

voyages and travels on the Erie Canal”

(New York,

1852),

one of Jacob Abbott’s once popular series of juveniles, of a sort long out of favor

;

yet

it

would be hard to

find a

more

vivid account of packet-boat travel on the Erie canal than

given in this quaint

little

volume.

is

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION.

A

noteworthy romance of our region

Niagara

is

87

“La Virgen

del



by Jose Rivera y Rio, published, an octavo of Well known are Mrs. 592 pages! in Mexico in 1871. Julia Ditto Young’s tale, “Adrift, a story of Niagara,” pub-



and Mrs. Linda de K. Fulton’s “Nadia, the

lished in 1889;

Maid

of the Mist,” also a story of Niagara published in Israel

1901.

“They

that

Zangwill’s volume

Walk

in

“Ghetto Tragedies,”

of

Darkness,” contains “Noah’s Ark”

published in Lippincott’s )

,

(first

a story into which are woven,

for the most part with a fair degree of accuracy, the principal facts regarding

Major Mordecai Manuel Noah’s pro-

posed City of Refuge for Jews on Grand Island.

Thomson’s “John

Bedell,

the scene being laid

Of

U. E. Loyalist,”

W.

a slight story,

is

on the Niagara.

juveniles which touch our region, or have their scenes

many.

largely laid hereabouts, there are

and Clara’s Trip to Niagara Youth's Casket 1864.

E.



Falls,”

There

is

“Emily

by the editor of “The

the story being published in Buffalo in

Of wider fame was “The Rapids

of Niagara,” a

duodecimo of 436 pages, by Susan Warner, author of “The Wide Wide World,” a famous old story in its day. “The Rapids of Niagara,” of the goody-goody variety, six in

Miss Warner’s “Say and

Do

series.”

is

volume

She brings her

characters to Niagara, and embellishes the highly moral tale

with a full-page view of the

Of years.

a

more I

note

falls.

virile sort are several boys’

Edward

agara, or the Soldier

books of recent

Stratemeyer’s “Marching on Ni-

Boys of the Old Frontier”; several of

the books in Everett T. Tomlinson’s

“War

“Oliver Optic’s” “Out West, or Roughing

of 1812” series; it

on the Great

Young Engineer of Some of the old-time

Lakes,” “Through by Daylight, or the the

Lake Shore Railroad,”

“yellow-covered literature”

etc., etc.

—the

dime novels of our boy-

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION.

88

hood

— were of

In later years the limit was per-

this class.

haps reached in “The Adventures of Uncle Jeremiah and

Family

at the

Pan-American Exposition,” by “Paul Pry,

which delectable creation of the

Jr.,”

me

the cheerful slogan, “Put

Of Lake

opens with

off at Buffalo!”

short stories, with the scene laid at the Falls or on Erie, there are so

enumerate them.

I

many

I

make no attempt

thought the great

them

place for “legends,” and have concocted

fit

to

legends,” mostly invented by

who have

writers of Caucasian blood, cataract a

that

must, too, ignore in this review the con-

number of “Indian

siderable

to

literary art

One

meet the supposed demand.

productions of this character

is

of the latest and best

a dainty

little

volume by

Paul Carus: “The Chief’s Daughter, a legend of Niagara” (Chicago, 1901).

One

of the most extraordinary works of fiction

ever seen,

“The Canadian

have

I

Lakes,

Girl, or the Pirate of the

a Story of the Affections, by the Authoress of ‘The Jew’s

Daughter,’ ”

was published

engravings, in 1838.

emotions, ties

and

all

In

in

its

London,

pages

may

the virtues, and especially

atrocities of evil,

known

to

all

man.

with

steel-plate

be found

the

all

the vices, iniqui-

The

Pirate

was

a bad man, as no doubt a good pirate should be, but he

always talked



I

mean, conversed

of Pope and Addison. plot, short of

I

call

“The Canadian It is

in the polished

English

despair of giving any idea of the

quoting the whole book, and as

pages, that might disturb

can merely



my own

has 716

it

book-making

plans.

attention to certain passages which

I

make

Girl” a part of our local literature.

edifying to read, of the Niagara, that “the country

more populous, and in a than any other part of North

through which the river flows higher state of cultivation,

America.

Its

is

wild fruits are abundant, and of the rarest

THE NIAGARA REGION IN and is

is

89

and the salubrious nature of the climate

finest sorts,

of

seen in the healthy countenances

This

FICTION.

the

inhabitants/'

truly gratifying to local pride, though

we remember

Audubon thought sallow.” Some pages

that

hereabouts

people

the

of

scenic

“lank

and

description are offered,

punctuated with the emotions of the characters in the story.

Of Lady Niagara

Hester,

“her eye scarce

The

for

example,

we

are

assured that at

Falls,

knew where

beautiful!’



its

—she

was astounded.

and of

silver, ‘horribly

to rest

gigantic liquid sheet of emerald

semicircular front, nearly three-quarters of

a mile broad, grandly shrouded by revolving columns of mist that rose perpetually from the thundering gulf inspired her with sublime admiration.”



Lady Hester spreads her several pages

;

surprise and admiration over

while Letitia, the fair and tender Letitia,

had a little subwas eminently pleased with the sight of thousands of water-fowl, who, coming from northern lands in search of a milder climate, swam, or flew on

“after the

first

surprise and enchantment

sided in her youthful breast,

whistling wings a

little

over, the Niagara river to the brink

of the Falls, there advancing in the air about the mists fronting the stupendous sheet of water, and lingering in the

neighborhood with evident joy and wonder; ducks of many species, the teal, the widgeon, the shallard, and the swan, were among these migratory birds. Frequently were some of the interesting creatures borne down by the glassy current into the gulf and drowned. Letitia particularly grieved for two noble swans, which came on boldly past Goat Island, then became entangled in the confused and dashing waves of the rapids, and were presently precipitated together over the precipice. She was in tears, but a fresh succession of novel objects rendered her regret no more than momentary.” .

.

.

—a

,

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION.

90

“The Earl who had little relish for the sublimities of nature, had chiefly interested himself with calculating the altitude of the two cataracts and their curvilinear length, and coming to the conclusion that these great

many

so large as

falls

were not

others in different parts of the world, he

decided that they had no particular claim to praise”

shown by our author

is full



The geographical knowledge

highly original conclusion.

For

of surprising revelations.

example, note this passage:

“The strong steamer,

which were the pursuers of the time beating about Lake Erie, it having been supposed that he was hiding about some of the promontories on the coast, which indeed was really the The Fearless [the pirate craft] moved only by night case. on the lake. But now the hunted vessel had been driven near the mouth of the lake, where the American beach was extremely wild, presenting a dark and gloomy picture; huge black rocks, like the shattered ruins of a sterile world, lay scattered in naked majesty many successive miles along the side of the lake, whose waters rushed in between them, and lashed their barren sides with furious and unceasing roar. Behind, was spread a country Pirate,

had been

.

no

less

.

in

this

all

.

wild and stern.”

This, the reader

is

reminded,

a description of the

is

shore in the vicinity of Buffalo; dost recognize the portrait?

Not long what

I

fiction

size

1

am

—a

—just

leather,

ago, on a book-hunting excursion,

inclined to hold as the

trim

the

for

and printed

at

A

an American.”

tale,

Soon

pocket

coat



Exeter

in 1831, with this title:

of America.

of

all

I

lighted on

Niagara region

book of the old-fashioned demi-octavo

little

right

gem

I

don’t

—bound

in

shabby

know what Exeter

“Tonnewonte, or The Adopted Son

containing scenes from Real Life, by after, I

ran across an

likely the original, edition, printed at

earlier,

Watertown, N.

very

Y., in



THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION. Here

1825.

for

many

is

91

one of the very rare local Americana, which,

had never so much

years, I

as heard of

;

then, in

widely different places, within a few months of each other,

two

I find

different editions!

So

goes in this sport of

it

book-hunting.

Would I

knew

that I

“An American,”

the identity of

might hang a lasting wreath on her

The English

tombstone.

is

of the dear old

under

converse

the characters

all

—I’m

sure

style, in

that

her

it’s

which

circumstances in

all

In these pages the

finished phrases of perfect propriety.

but frequently “the fiery luminary sinks

sun never sets;

A

beneath the western horizon.”

character

is

introduced,

not after drinking tea, but “after partaking the refreshing

beverage imported through such perils from the East, that herb so famous

There you have

The

annals of American independence.”

in the

way of saying tea. York New City in the autumn

a fine literary

story opens

in

of

1776 with an incident of the yellow fever scourge of that

A

year.

French

child, bereft

and abandoned, becomes the

protege of an American family who, after various domestic

adventures of no consequence, migrate valley of the

Tonawanda

something of worth

in

in

Western

in

New

1807

York.

into

the

There

the story of this migration

;

is

the

author evidently follows in some essentials the actual experiences of families

known

indeed! side of

first

pedlar

her.

It was cut through the wilderness, while on each them arose in sombre majesty the immense trees of

the forest, the

him —or Beyond Utica —“the road began to grow wild

to

“an inconsiderable village”

some of which had probably been growing

subsiding of the deluge.”



or,

to be

more

They

fall in

since

with an Irish

faithful to our author’s style, “a

pedlar whose brogue declared him a native of Hibernia”

who

being on his

way

to Buffalo, undertakes to help

them

THE NIAGARA REGION IN

92

on

their road to

frontier conditions

Tonnewante.

FICTION.

new home, crude The hero, the

In the

become well nigh

idyllic.

French foundling of early years, Theodore de Clermont

Tonawanda name

(there’s a

for you!) just naturally falls

in love with the forest flower, Evelina.

Although the au-

thor does not speak of her as a young

woman, but as an

amiable female or lovely being, she was,

all

whom

“Sweet Evelina” for

fide

declared, in

more or

less mellifluous

would never-never-die. But alas Theodore and Evelina seeems about

love

bona-

I think, the

in youthful

days

we have

accents, that our

just as the love of

!

to be

consummated,

Theo’s long-lost father arrives, en tour to Niagara, and the

young man

taken back to France.

is

through a hundred pages

all

There he struggles on

cluttered up with marquises,

counts and viscounts, estates lost and regained, and especially tangled with the ensnaring wiles of Mademoiselle Sophia

des Abbayes. this lovely

It

does look for a few chapters as though

make a Tonawanda old maid out knew all along that the noble

female would

of Evelina;

but the author

Theodore de Clermont would renounce lands and

ladies,

and returning to Tonawanda, after a few adventures, say to Evelina, as he takes her

of possessing

this,

hand

indulgent father, earth,

He

same pure Tonawanda

dialect,

The

but be assured

thee,

all

more

and Evelina melts romance

thou in the

into his is

main-

by the statement that “the execu-

proposed canal has greatly enhanced the value of

their property,

happiest

I

says a page or two

historical character of the

tained, in the last chapter, tion of the

“Could

would not envy

I

hadst else to bestow.”

embrace.

:

with the approbation and blessing of our

men

and Mr. de Clermont

in the State of

New

is

not only one of the

York, but bids

fair also

to be one of the wealthiest landholders in the Union.”

beautiful touch appears on the last page,

A

where we read that



!

THE NIAGARA REGION IN Ki

Clermont

Col. de

is

93

thought of as a candidate for Con-

Could anything,

gress.”

FICTION.

in

or

history

fiction,

more

be

American

was Frank Norris, you may remember, who

It

in the

opening paragraph of his story, “The House with the Blinds,” wrote that

could

— happen

some

cities

“cities that

were places where things

have come to be picturesque

that offer opportunities in the matter of local color.”

the United States that are story cities” course,

New

background and

In his view, “there are just three big

Orleans, and, best of the

—New

lot,

cities in

York, of

San Francisco.

“Fancy a novel,” he adds, “about Chicago, or Buffalo, let us say, or Nashville, Tennessee.” And do you remember

how “O. Henry,”

modern short

happiest of

story-writers,

“took him up,” and wrote a splendid story of Nashville, exclaiming at the end of

it,

or a Frank Norris, to later

wrote

Chicago,

may

is

a

very

way

as by

of challenge:

“Has

Oh, for an “O. Henry,”

anything happened at Buffalo?”

make them happen. That Norris famous novel “The Pit” about





ground for encouragement that even Buffalo

yet inspire the

—or

romancer

rather, let us say,

may

furnish the not wholly unromantic setting for the storyteller

who

This

brings his inspiration to bear upon Buffalo.

city is

remember

indeed not wholly barren

in

romance.

If I

Hubbard made it the scene of his “The Man,” and made Police Justice King,

rightly, Elbert

early story,

under thin disguise, a character

in

it.

Robert Barr’s story

of the Fenian invasion of Canada in 1866, “In the Midst of

Alarms,” opens “in the marble-floored vestibule of the Metropolitan

Grand Hotel

in Buffalo.”

An

early novel on the

same theme, and one of some historical value, is “Ridgway,” ” by “Scian Dnbh the nom-de-plume I believe of a Buffalo Irishman named McCarroll.

“Ridgway,” which was pub-



:

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION.

94

lished in this city in 1868,

genuinely a Buffalo book; and

is

although no high quality can be claimed for it

has the great excellence of

of the time with which

Were fiction

I

it is

it

as a romance,

fidelity to the spirit

and temper

concerned.

asked to give precedence to any one work of

dealing with the Niagara region

of Chateaubriand’s “Atala”

I

should think

first

Artificial to the last degree,

opposed to every tenet of the

realistic

school,

resembling fact than moonlight resembles the day,

no more it is

none

But with “Atala” aside, modern days, and hesitate between “Their Pilgrimage,” by Charles Dudley Warner, and “Their Wedding Journey,” by William Dean Howells.

the less a vivid poetic masterpiece. I

should

come down

to very

Mark Twain’s remarkable

contribution to Niagara litera-

—the “First Authentic Mention of Niagara extracts from Adam’s Diary— am not forgetting,

Falls,” being

ture

I

am

willing

to.

But both Warner and Howells are a

Both employ the same method ting as a background

—they use And

characteristics of everyday people.

ground for the romance of

all

I

delight.

the Niagara set-

upon which they study the

vividly pictures the scene, but

but

see

foibles

and

how Warner

incidentally, as a back-

his lovers

“When they returned the moon was coming up, rising and struggling and making its way slowly through ragged masses of colored clouds. The river could be plainly seen now, smooth, deep, treacherous the falls on the American side showed fitfully like patches of light and foam; the Horseshoe, mostly hidden by a cold silver mist, occasionThey stood for ally loomed up a white and ghostly mass. a long time looking down at the foot of the American Fall, the moon now showing clearly the plunge of the heavy column a column as stiff as if it were melted silver hushed and frightened by the weird and appalling scene. They did not know at that moment that there where their ;



;

THE NIAGARA REGION IN FICTION

95

.

eyes were riveted, there at the base of the fall, a man’s body was churning about, plunged down and cast up, and beaten and whirled, imprisoned in the refluent eddy. But a body was there. In the morning a man’s overcoat was found on the parapet at the angle of the fall. Some of them re-

membered

that in the evening, just before the park gate

had seen a man approach the angle of the wall where the overcoat was found. The man was never seen Night first, and then the hungry water, swalafter that. lowed him. One pictures the fearful leap into the dark, closed, he

the

midway

repentance, perhaps, the despair of the plunge.

A body cast in here is likely to tarry and round, and tossed chance current ejects

for days, eddying round

in that terrible

it,

and sends

it

maelstrom, before a

down

the fierce rapids

below.

“The walk around Goat Island is probably unsurpassed world for wonder and beauty. The Americans have

in the

every reason to be satisfied with their share of the fall they get nowhere one single grand view like that from the Canada side, but infinitely the deepest impression of

majesty and power

is obtained on Goat Island. There the midst of the war of nature. From the point over the Horseshoe Fall our friends, speaking not much, but more and more deeply moved, strolled along in

spectator

is

in the

the lovely forest, in a rural solemnity, in a local calm,

almost a seclusion, except for the ever-present shuddering roar in the air. On the shore above the Horseshoe they first comprehended the breadth, the great sweep, of the rapids. The white crests of the waves in the west were coming out from under a black, lowering sky; all the fore-

ground was

in bright sunlight, dancing, sparkling, leaping,

hurrying on, converging to the angle where the water becomes a deep emerald at the break and plunge. The rapids above are a series of shelves, bristling with jutting rocks and lodged trunks of trees, and the wildness of the scene is intensified by the ragged fringe of evergreens on the

Over the whole island the mist, rising from the caldron, drifts in spray when the wind is favorable but opposite shore.

;

;

THE NIAGARA REGION IN

96

FICTION.

day the forest was bright and cheerful, and as the went farther away from the Great Fall, the beauty of the scene began to steal away its terror. The roar was still dominant, but far off and softened, and did not crush the ear. The triple islands, the Three Sisters, in their picturesque wildness appeared like playful freaks of nature in a momentary relaxation of the savage mood. Here is the finest view of the river; to one standing on the outermost island the great flood seems tumbling out of the sky. They continued along the bank of the river. The shallow stream races by headlong, but close to the edge are numerous eddies, and places where one might step in and not be swept away. At length they reached the point where the river divides, and the water stands for an instant almost still, hesitating whether to take the Canadian or American plunge. Out a little way from the shore the waves leap and tumble, and the two currents are like race-horses parted on two ways to the goal. Just at this point the water swirls and lingers, having lost all its fierceness and haste, and on

this

strollers

out placidly, dimpling in the sun. It may be may be as cruel as that which rages below and exults in catching a boat or a man and bounding with the victim over the cataract; but the calm was very grateful to the stunned and buffeted visitors upon their jarred nerves it was like the peace of God.”

spreads

itself

a treacherous pause, this water

In the work of both Howells and Warner, the poet, the

and the humorist always contend, and the outcome is not merely vivid word-painting, but a just and genial artist

philosophy. region.

I

find nothing worthier in the fiction of

our

;

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA TN

Frenchman landed at Baltimore, hastened newly-made road to Philadelphia, and sojourned a week at an inn, awaiting the return to the capital of General Washington. The President returned. 1791 a young

by stage over a bad,

“I

saw him go past

drawn by four prancing Washington, according to my

in a carriage

horses, driven four-in-hand.

then ideas, was necessarily Cincinnatus Cincinnatus in a chariot somewhat upset my republic of 296 B. C. Could Washington the Dictator be anything save a boor, driving his oxen with a goad, and holding the tail of his plough? But when I went to carry my letter of recommendation to him, I found once more the simplicity of the ancient Roman. “A small house, resembling the neighboring houses, was the palace of the President of the United States ; no sentries, no footmen even. I knocked, and a young maidI asked if the general was at servant opened the door. home; she replied that he was in. The servant asked my name, which is difficult to pronounce in English, and which she could not remember. She then said softly, ‘Walk in, sir/ and led the way down one of those narrow passages which serve as an entrance hall to English houses; she ;

showed me

into a parlor

where she asked me

to wait until

the general came. “I felt

no agitation greatness of mind or fortune in no I admire the first without being crushed ;

way overawe me;

by it the second calls forth my pity rather than my respect no man’s countenance will ever disconcert me. “After a few minutes the general entered the room tall in stature, of a calm and cold rather than a noble bearing, ;

;

97

:

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA

98

.

he resembled his engraved portraits. I handed him my he opened it and glanced at the signature which he read aloud, exclaiming: letter in silence;



‘Colonel

Armand

!’

“This was the name by which he knew the Marquis de La Rouerie and by which the latter had signed himself.

“We

explained to him as best I could the He replied in monosyllables in English and French, and listened to me with a sort of astonishment. I remarked this, and said to him, with some little animation “ ‘But it is less difficult to discover the Northwest Passage than to create a people, as you have done.’ “‘Well, well, young man!’ he exclaimed, giving me his hand. sat

object of

“He

down.

my

invited

I

journey.

me

to

dinner for the next day, and

we

parted.”

This youth was Franqois Auguste, vicomte de Chateaubriand, scion of an old family in decadence.

The French

Revolution completed the wreck.

Chateaubriand,

held a commission in the French

army

since

who had

1788, found

himself in the spring of 1791, ready for any adventure that

would take him out of France.

Being of a poetic mind, he

decided to discover the Northwest Passage. be

more

Nothing could

delightful than the naivete with which he planned

to accomplish the impossible:

“I proposed to travel west-

ward, so as to strike the northwest coast of America above the Gulf of California;

from

there, following the outline

of the continent, and always keeping the sea in sight,

I

intended to explore Behring’s Straits, double the northern-

most cape of America, descend on the

east along the shores

of the Arctic Ocean, and return to the United States by way of Hudson’s Bay, Labrador and Canada.’’

Dreamers, but

still

From

this

it

was not only the Prince of very young. What wonder that Wash-

will be seen that Chateaubriand

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA. remembering

ington,

his

own

frontier

99

campaigns of forty

years before, should have looked upon this youth of 21, innocent of any knowledge

whatever of

America,

with

amazement.

Our hero dent

ate his dinner, as appointed, with the Presi-

and a few days

;

later

journeyed up to Albany,

he afterwards wrote, “to carry out

None

nation?

at

all.

been isolated men, is

still

“What means had

thinking of the Northwest Passage.

prodigious peregri-

this

Most of the French

left entirely to their

but rarely that the Government

or

I,”

travellers

own

have

resources;

it

any company has

Mackenzie and many others after him

employed them.

have to the profit of the United States and Great Britain,

made conquests upon which

I

the immensity

of

had dreamed of aggrandizing

my

case of success,

I

America,

with In

native land.

should have had the honor of bestowing

French names upon unknown regions, of endowing

my

country with a colony upon the Pacific Ocean, of taking

away

the rich fur-trade

from

a rival

Power, and of pre-

venting that Power from opening out a shorter road to the Indies,

by placing France herself

in

possession

of

that

road.”

He was

still

dreaming of the Northwest Passage when

the Hudson-river packet finally set

him down

at

Albany.

There he hunted up a veteran fur-trader, Swift by name; to

whom,

as to Washington, the scheme of conquest

explained.

was

Mr. Swift, as gently as a trader could, mean-

while thinking no doubt that the youth was a crazy fool,

made what Chateaubriand calls “some very reasonable objections.” “He told me that I could not undertake a journey of

this

importance at

first

sight alone, without assist-

ance, without support, without letters of to the English,

American and Spanish

recommendation

stations

by which

I

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

100

should be obliged to pass

many

cross so

I

me

should

I

guages, and live

among

1

perish

He

hunger.

of

Esquimaux

and

Iroquois

lan-

the coureurs and the agents of the

Having gained

Hudson’s Bay Company. I

had the good fortune to

by acclimatizing myself, suggested that

to begin

should learn the Sioux,

experience,

if I

solitary tracts of country, I should arrive at

frozen regions where

advised

that

;

might then,

this preliminary

four or five years, with the

in

my

assistance of the French Government, proceed on

haz-

ardous mission.” This advice, which

we must admit seems sound, Cha“Had I trusted to my own

teaubriand says annoyed him.

judgment,

I

should have set out then and there to go to the

Pole, as I might

He

go from Paris to Pointoise.”

con-

cealed his vexation, hired a Dutch guide and two horses,

and

nursing a secret purpose to arrive at the Pole and

still

amaze the world, he

set out for

of

In a general survey region,

and of the

Niagara

the

who have made

travellers

yielded to the temptation to linger a

of Chateaubriand.

He saw

have they been recorded

Falls.

tourist literature of our

little

things none

since.

In the

it,

I

have

over this journey

saw before, nor

Onondaga country

he saw “false ebony-trees” and heard the “cuckoo of the Carolinas”

him

that

—this was

perhaps the catbird.

It is related

of

on one occasion he landed from a boat on Lake

Ontario, and ran into the woods to enjoy the luxury of the

wild unstinted freedom of Nature in

and flowers; and

in

hugging the

he

trees,

all

ecstacy of

the

tells us,

her glory of forest

excitement, he

when he heard

was

a loud and

rumbling roar, which alarmed and brought his mind back to earth

from elysium, and caused him to run to

rades in the boat to see what was the matter

he

said,

had been causeless

;

“it

was only

;

his

com-

but the alarm,

the tide

coming in!”



:

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

101

In his romance of “Atala” Chateaubriand introduces an episode at the Falls of Niagara, in which one reads

:

“Pines,

wild walnut trees, rocks of the most fantastic shapes, adorn the scene

;

eagles, borne

away by

the current of

whirling round to the bottom of the gulf

suspended by their long

;

air,

descend

and carcajous,

from the extremities of the

tails

declining branches, watch to seize on the bodies of elks and

bears floating in the abyss.”

carcajou

—elsewhere we learn

hanging by his

The whole

among

tail

Who among it is

us has seen the

the “spotted carcajou”

the other wonders of Niagara?

of his narrative of the visit to Niagara

long to introduce here.

The following

is

too

extracts will afford

some idea of his adventures, of the poesy with which his mind endowed even commonplace things, and of the rhythmic charm of his diction, which survives a translation into English

“We

rode towards Niagara.

When we had come

tance of eight or nine leagues of our destination,

a dis-

we

per-

an oak grove, the camp-fire of some savages, who had settled down on the bank of a stream where we ourselves were thinking of bivouacking. We took advantage of their preparations after grooming our horses and dressceived, in

:

ing ourselves for the night,

we

we

sat

legs

crossed tailor-wise,

around the blazing

and began to roast our maize cakes. two women, two infants at the and three braves. The conversation became general, to say, interspersed with a few words on my side,

“The family breast,

that

is

accosted the band. With down among the Indians

pile,

consisted of

and many gestures after that, each fell asleep in the place where he sat. I alone remained awake, and went to sit by myself on a root trailing by the bank of the stream. “The moon showed above the tops of the trees a balmy breeze, which the Queen of the Night brought with her from the East, seemed to go before her through the forests, as though it were her cool breath. The solitary luminary ;

;

;

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

102

climbed higher and higher in the sky, now pursuing her even way, again surmounting clusters of clouds, which resembled All would the summits of a snow-clad mountain chain. have been silence and repose, but for the fall of a few leaves, the passing of a sudden gust of wind, the hooting of the wood-owl in the distance was heard the dull roar ;

of the Falls of Niagara, which, in the calm of night, extended from waste to waste and expired in the lonely It was during those nights that an unknown muse forests. appeared to me I gathered some of her accents I marked them on my tables, by the light of the stars, as a vulgar musician might write down the notes dictated to him by some great master of harmony. “The next day, the Indians armed themselves, the women ;

;

collected the baggage.

vermillion

among my

heads and breasts

heads to look

distributed a

We

little

gunpowder and

parted, touching our fore-

the braves shouted the order to march,

;

and walked in front children, who, slung their

I

hosts.

;

the

women went

in furs

at us.

I

behind, carrying the

on their mothers’ backs, turned followed this progress with

eyes until the whole band had disappeared of the forest.

among

my

the trees

“The savages of the Falls of Niagara in the English dominion were entrusted with the police service of the frontier on that side. This outlandish constabulary, armed with bows and arrows, prevented our passage. I was obliged to send the Dutchman to the fort of Niagara for a permit to enter the territory of the British government. This saddened my heart a little, for I remembered that formerly France had ruled in both Upper and Lower Canada. My guide returned with the permit I still have it :

it

is

signed, ‘Captain Gordan.’

.

.

.

“I stayed two days in the Indian village. The Indian women busied themselves with different occupations their nurslings were slung in nets from the branches of a tall purple beech. The grass was covered with dew, the wind issued all perfumed from the woods, and the cottonplants of the country, throwing back their capsules, looked .

.

.



A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

103

The breeze rocked the cradles in white rose-trees. the with an almost imperceptible movement mothers stood up from time to time to see if their children were asleep and had not been awakened by the birds. like

mid-air

“From

;

the Indian village to the cataract

or four leagues

reach

it.

:

it

Already

took

my

guide and

me

at six miles distance, a

was some three

as

many hours

to

column of vapour

My

heart indicated the situation of the weir to my eyes. beat with joy mingled with terror, as I entered the wood that concealed from my view one of the grandest spectacles

which nature has offered to mankind. “We dismounted. Leading our horses by the bridle, we passed through heaths and thickets until we came to the bank of the Niagara river, seven or eight hundred paces above the falls. As I never ceased going forward, the guide caught me by the arm; he stopped me on the very edge of the water, which passed with the swiftness of an arrow. It did not seethe, but glided in one sole mass to the .

slope of the rock

;

its

.

.

silence before its fall contrasted with

The

Scriptures often compare here it was a dying people which, deprived of its voice by the agony of death, went to hurl itself into the abyss of eternity. “The guide continued to hold me back, for I felt, so to speak, drawn on by the stream, and I had an involuntary longing to fling myself in. At one time, I would turn my eyes up the river, to the banks; at another, down to the island which divided the waters. Here the waters suddenly the uproar of the fall

itself.

a people to the mighty waters

;

though cut off in the sky. “After a quarter of an hour of vague and perplexed admiration, I went on to the falls. The reader will find in ' the ‘Essai snr les revolutions' and in Atala the two descriptions which I have written of the scene. Today, high-roads run to the cataract; there are inns on the American side, and mills and factories overhang the chasm. “I was unable to utter the thoughts that stirred me at the sight of so sublime a disorder. In the desert of my early life, I was obliged to invent persons to adorn it; I drew failed, as

!

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

104

from my own substance beings whom I did not find elsewhere, and whom I carried within myself. In the same way, I have placed memories of Atala and Rene on the edge of the cataract of Niagara, as the expression of its sadness. What meaning has a cascade which falls eternally in the unfeeling sight of heaven and earth, if human nature be not there, with its destinies and its misfortunes? To be steeped in this solitude of water and mountains and not to know with whom to speak of that great spectacle! To have the waves, the rocks, the woods, the torrents to one’s self alone Give the soul a companion, and the smiling verdure of the hill-slopes, the cool breath of the water, will all turn into charm the journey by day, the sweetest repose at the end of the day’s march, the gliding over the billows, the sleeping upon the moss, will call forth from the heart its deepest tenI have seated Velleda upon the shores of Arderness. morica, Cymodocea beneath the porticos of Athens, Blanca in the halls of the Alhambra. Alexander created towns wherever he hastened I have left dreams behind me wherever I have dragged my life. “I have seen the cascades of the Alps with their chamois and those of the Pyrenees with their lizards; I did not go sufficiently high up the Nile to meet its cataracts, which are reduced to rapids; I will not speak of the azure zones of Terni or of Tivoli, graceful fragments of ruins or subjects for the poet’s song: :

:



Et praeceps Anio ac Tiburni

lucus.’

I gazed upon the cataract was revealed to the old world, not by puny travelers like myself, but by missionaries who, seeking solitude for the love of God, flung themselves upon their knees at the sight of some marvel of nature and received martyrdom while completing their hymn of admiration. Our priests greeted the fine sights of America and consecrated them with their blood; our soldiers clapped their hands at the ruins of Thebes and presented arms to Andalusia: the whole genius of France lies in the double army of our camps and our altars.

“Niagara eclipses everything.

the existence of which

;

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

105

was holding my horse’s bridle twisted round my arm came and rustled in the bushes. The startled horse reared and backed towards the falls. I was unable the horse, still more to release my arm from the reins Already its fore-feet it. me after terrified, was dragging of the abyss, the edge cowering over ground were off the strength of its loins. only the position by its maintained it It was all up with me, when the animal, itself astonished at its fresh peril, gave a sudden turn and vaulted inwards. Had my soul left my body amidst the Canadian woods, would it have carried to the Supreme Tribunal the sacrifices, the good works, the virtues of the Peres Jogues and Lallemant, or empty days and wretched idle fancies? “This was not the only danger I encountered at Niagara. A ladder of creepers was used by the savages to climb down to the lower basin Wishing to it was at that time broken. see the falls from below, I ventured, in the face of my “I

a rattlesnake

;

;

;

down the side of an almost perpendicular rock. In spite of the roar of the water which seethed below me, I kept my head and climbed down to within forty feet of the bottom. When I had reached so far, the bare and vertical rock gave me nothing to lay hold of ; I was left hanging by one hand to the last root, feeling guide’s representations,

my

fingers open beneath the weight of my body; few men have spent two such minutes, as I counted them. My tired hand let go; I fell. By an unparalleled stroke of good fortune, I found myself upon the pointed back of a rock upon which I ought to have been smashed into a thousand pieces, and yet I felt no great hurt; I was at half a foot from the abyss and had not rolled into it; but when the cold and the damp began to penetrate me, I saw that I had not come off so cheaply my left arm was broken above the elbow. The guide, who was watching me from above and ;

my

saw

They

me

carried

two

signals of distress, ran off to fetch

bandage and a sling were enough to effect my stayed twelve days with my surgeons, the Niagara

splints, a

cure.

I

some savages.

me

with ropes along an otter’s path, and to their village. I had only a simple fracture:

hoisted

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

106

I saw tribes pass which had come down from Indians. Detroit or from the districts lying south and east of Lake I enquired into their usages. Erie. I wished to

...

hear

my

A little

Indian girl of fourteen, called Mila, and very pretty (the Indian women are pretty only at that age), sang something very pleasant. “The tribe of the little girl with the bead departed; my guide, the Dutchman, refused to accompany me beyond the cataract I paid him and joined a party of traders who were leaving to go down the Ohio before setting out, I took a glance at the Canadian lakes.” hosts’ songs.

.

.

.

;

;

It

is

my

not

present purpose to touch upon Chateau-

According to

briand’s subsequent adventures in America.

—repeated —he traveled

own account

his

various works

thence went

down

with more or

Ohio and Mississippi to Natchez, vague wanderings into Florida. Return-

less

way

ing north by

the

now

“What

ask:

he

of Knoxville,

December, arriving again

Do you

with some variation in his from Niagara to Pittsburgh,

in

Merely

of it?”

the

ioth

of

2, 1792.

this:

That there

has come along one of these mousing, burrowing, in-

sistent

literary gentlemen,

mapped

briand’s dates,

his

who

has

finally

scheduled Chateau-

alleged route, hunted out the

circumstances of his interviews and

and

sailed

France January

visits

and adventures,

through the respectable medium of the Revue

d’Histoire litteraire de la France, declares with convincing circumstantiality that the distinguished author of “Atala”

and “Rene” and



Memoir es d'Outre-Tombe” and above

of the “Voyage en Amerique



all

could not by any possibility

have made the American travels he claims to have made. This merciless searcher after

shows that

it

is

facts,.

extremely doubtful

was received by Washington, and that he did not

make

M. Joseph

Bedier,

Chateaubriand ever

if

that

it

is

quite certain

the travels in the South which he has

;

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

107

M. Bedier does indeed leave us the is much troubled to make

so poetically described.

though he

Niagara episode;

Chateaubriand’s description agree with the facts.

The

undoubtedly are, that Chateaubriand came to

facts

He may

America, and to Niagara.

have visited Pittsburgh,

but he certainly did not travel as widely as he claims to have

He

done.

supplemented his own observations and experi-

M. Bedier

ences by drawing on the writings of others.

devotes

many pages

to parallel publication of passages

Chateaubriand and from in

whom

America on

many

authors and early travellers

He

he drew.

seldom appropriated

their language, but he stole their ideas,

more

beautifully,

more

from

poetically,

and

set

than the

them forth

first

writers

could.

After

Chateaubriand the poet that

all, it is

we

are thank-

ful for, for he has endowed the literature descriptive of American scenery and aborigines with a charm and grace which no other writer gives.

In after years, he loved to identify himself with America, in

whimsical,

Soon

fashion.

poet’s

after

his

return

to

France, serving under arms with his brother, the latter was asked, “

‘Where does your brother the chevalier come from ?’

“I

he

was

bronzed by the American sun and sea

still

tells us.

wore

“I

my

hair uncurled and

and to the question which had been put to poet replied, “

was

cataract!’

silent.

‘Monsieur



unpowdered”

his brother, the

“From Niagara.”

‘From the

“I “

air,”

is

‘Where there

The days



going is

?’

fighting.’

that followed

poet’s relatives

went



were

evil

to the guillotine

;

ones.

Many

of the

four of them, includ-

:

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

108 ir.g his

brother, were “all immolated together, on the

day, at the I

same hour, on the same

same

scaffold.”

have referred to “Atala,” which he

tells

us was written

wholly in America, “in the huts of the savages,” and for which, by the way, Gustave Dore has drawn the most impressive

picture

Niagara

of

Falls

How

never having seen them!

artist

mance escaped “Memoires”

destruction,

in

existence

—the

narrowly that ro-

Chateaubriand records in the

my musket, among the knapsack the manuscript of my travels in America; I arranged the separate sheets on the grass around me; I read over and corrected a description of a forest, a passage of ‘Atala,’ in the fragments of a Roman amphitheatre, preparing in this way to make the conquest of France. Then I put away my treasure, the weight of which, combined with that of my shirts, my cloak, my tin can, my wicker bottle, and my little Homer, made me throw up blood. “I tried to stuff ‘Atala’ into my cartridge-box with my useless ammunition; my comrades made fun of me, and pulled at the sheets which stuck out on either side of the leather cover. Providence came to my rescue; one night, after sleeping in a hayloft, I found when I awoke, that my shirts were no longer in my sack; the thieves had left the papers. I praised God; that accident assured my fame and saved my life, for the sixty pounds that pressed upon my shoulders would have driven me into a consumption.” At Treves,

ruins

;

I

“I sat down, with

took from

my

Returning to France siege of Thouinville.

We

he passed several years

by his

literary labors.

essay on Revolutions.

allowed to

live

in

1792, he

next find

in exile,

During

was wounded at the him in London, where

supporting himself wholly

this

time he wrote his famous

After the 18th Brumaire, he was

again in Paris, where, in conjunction with

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA. LaHarpe and

109

Mercure de France

others, he established the

and the Journal des Debats.

He was

at this time a Bonapartist,

and declared

in

one

Emperor was one of those men whom God, when He is weary of punishing, sends upon the world in token of expiation. The “Genius of Christianity,” of his applications that the

beyond doubt the most celebrated and generally read of

all

his reflective works, appeared in 1802, in London, at a

period admirably adapted to to

restore the

its

Bonaparte wished

success.

Church, and a book which twenty years

before would have found few to defend

The

immense popularity. pervades

it,

mounting

poetry, found

its

way

it,

now

attained an

sincere religious

feeling which

at times into the lofty

atmosphere of

to the heart of the public, then recov-

ering from the fatal extreme to which

it

had been hurried.

The next year, during his residence in Rome as Secretary of the Embassy under Cardinal Fesch, he wrote “The Martyrs,” and in the same year was appointed on a mission to the Valais,

which station he resigned after the death

Due d’Enghien. In 1806 he traveled to Jerusalem, by way of Cyprus and Rhodes, returning through Egypt, of the

Tunis and Spain.

His ^Itineraire^

is

one of the

finest

specimens of descriptive writing in the French language.

At

fame of Chateaubriand had become Eurowas recognized as one of the first living

this date the

pean, and he

authors of France.

In 1811 he was elected a in place

of Chenier.

member

of the French Institute,

After the banishment of Napoleon, he

published a pamphlet entitled “Bonaparte and the Bourbons,” which Louis

XVIII was accustomed

worth more to him than an army.

to

say was

This decided his position

as a royalist, which political view he held during the re-

mainder of

his life.

He

remained

in

Ghent during Napo-

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA.

110

Louis XVIII, and

Icon’s second brief reign, as Minister to

after the final restoration of this

monarch was made a

From

count and a peer of France.

this

vis-

time until 1829, he

held various important positions under the Government; beside serving as Minister to Berlin, Extraordinary

Am-

bassador to London, and to the Congress of Verona, and

The most important

Minister to Rome.

of

his

literary

productions, in addition to his editorials in the Journal des

Debats, were his “Notes on Greece,” and a very popular essay on the abolition

of

Censorship,

the

in

which

he

affirmed that without freedom of the press a representative

His complete works were

government was worth nothing.

1829, the publishers L’Avocat and

published in

LeFevre

having offered him the enormous sum of 550,000 francs for the copyright.

When

the July Revolution took place, he advocated the

claims of the

Duke

of Bordeaux, and refused to give the

oath of loyalty to Louis Philippe, which obligated him to resign his

title

of Peer.

For

the last years of his life he

devoted himself largely to the compositions of his delightful

Memoirs.

There

is

a fine pen-picture of

him

in his declin-

ing days, leonine in aspect, seated in a chair as on a throne,

reading from his “Memoires” in the salon of his dearest

Mme.

friend,

Anything

Recamier. like a

would lead us too says,

“With me,” he somewhere

far afield.

“began the so-called romantic school, a revolution

French

Hugo

has admirably

with his all

Nothing could be more

literature.”

says, “stood

are

survey of his literary work and place

summed

it

on the threshold of

seal.

The

his children.

up.

this

true.

in

Victor

“Chateaubriand,” he century and stamped

literary generations that

1

it

have followed

Gustave Flaubert, the De Goncours,

Alphonse Daudet, studied and formed

their

style

on the

A DREAMER AT NIAGARA. inimitable

prose of his

‘Memoires

d’ Outre

most exquisite work, perhaps,

in all the

The works

Hugo

of Chateaubriand,”

adds, “are as dead as

book-making of our day, and

as the French tongue

is

Tombe,’ the

French language.

the readers they charmed, but his influence factor in the

Ill

spoken or read.”

is

a

leading

will last as long

THE NIAGARA TF

IN

ART

one were asked to say what has been the most pictured subject in

the world, he might perhaps pause for

all

reflection.

If this rather

broad query were narrowed to the one

subject of natural scenery, clare

whether

still

one might hesitate to de-

mountain or that

this

valley, or

what wonder

of rushing stream, pouring cataract, or mountain height,

had received most attention from the

artists of

brush and

pencil.

The

quest

answer must

which no

is

no doubt an

rest

upon

statistics,

statistics exist.

have for the

The

first

time put

out suggestiveness.

As one

I

idle one, since the

it



only precise

in regard to a matter

question, however,

making, and day, in

all

all

on

that

fairly to myself, is not with-

attempts to survey in thought

what mankind has done by way of picture-making, first rude scratches with stick or stone or coal, on hide, or bark or clay,

now

he soon eliminates

all

practice of pictorial art,

since the stone, or

primitive picture-

down

to this very

lands of Islam, of Buddha, of Confucius, of

all

the .

With

all

forbidden gol,

.

lesser breeds without the

the millions of



at least a

Malay, African

Mohamedans, picture-making

disapproved

—no

law.”

red,

has ever cultivated art for

—occupation.

is

a

No Mon-

brown, black or yellow race

art’s

sake or any other reason.

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

114

The Aryan

is

and of

the world’s picture-maker;

all

the

Aryans, the pictorial art has flourished widest and highest in Christian lands.

may we

If these statements appear reasonable,

once to the end of

this train of thought,

not go at

and declare that

the Christ figure and Christianity’s great symbol of the

more drawn and painted than any mind of man? True, in Christianity is not old. But if the peoples of

Cross, have been and are

other subjects which appeal to the

world history,

earlier epochs practiced picture-making,

knowledge of

work, for the most part, has not survived. ings of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and

of the past, are, so far as as indeed

is

fine art

through

all

in

and Japan.

the centuries in which painting as a

was developing, the

Rome works and how

Greece and

their

them, few and negligible,

concur in these deductions he will perhaps

greatest painters found their

greatest inspiration in the Christ. in

the civilizations

the picture-making of China, Corea

If the reader reflect that

we know

all

their

All the pictur-

Great painters there were

before the Christian era

but

;

how few

limited their distribution and influence

comparison with the works of the great masters whose

canvases of the Christ personality, albeit presented in a

myriad ways, have not been latter

lost to the

world

;

but in these

days are perpetually being multiplied by copyists and

engravers, by painters and photographers,

many

million

fold.

we may safely maintain some such deductive reaThe same course of thought brings me to conclude that of all human subjects the Buddha is the most sculpImages of Buddha exist by the thousand thousand, tured. where you will scarcely find one Buddha picture. If we eliminate subjects of divine attributes, and seek to I

think

soning.

determine what individual in

all

the world has been most



THE NIAGARA IN ART. portrayed in pictures, there

is

115

again a wide range for choice,

with perhaps equally good arguments in several directions.

many great men to live too Modern newspapers afford early to be much portrayed. proof that the frequency with which one’s portrait is made It

has been the perverse

public

is

of

lot

not of itself a sufficient guarantee of greatness.

Julius Caesar might be rated greater than

William



J.

portraits of the latter Public Character,

of the former

we

shall

Bryan; yet the world rejoices

where

say

thousand

in a it

has one

—and that one dubious.

Considering then, the modern processes of picture-multi-

we

what a disadvantage were the great of the earth before the days of the press the modern prolific Thus it comes about that your press and the camera. Member of Congress or your Alderman may be far more plication,

see at





abundantly portrayed than Alexander the Great.

mous moderns, toria,

I

Of

fa-

should hazard that Napoleon, Queen Vic-

Washington and Lincoln have been among the most

pictured.

Indeed,

when one

calls to

mind the wide realm

of Great Britain and the fine loyalty that animates the typical subject

of that crown, whether in India, Australia or

other ends of the earth

;

when one remembers

especially

the

long reign of their most beloved sovereign, reaching well

down

into the days of vast multiplication of portraits

conclusion

is

inevitable

that

more

painted, engraved, photographed

than any other person

The

my

reader

subject,

is

who

portraits

;

the

have been

and printed of Victoria

ever lived.

who wonders what

all

this

has to do with

reminded that one of the greatest histories

ever written, Diedrich Knickerbocker’s

though now fallen into neglect.

“New

York,” begins

The method

with the creation of the world. I

is

useful,

can not aspire to such

thoroughness, and will come at once to the point which

all

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

116

that has gone before

is

intended to establish, namely: that

no other place on earth has been so much pictured as Niagara Falls.

We prove

it

by elimination of

all

other places.

No

other

scenic point in America, which can be called a wonder, has

been so long known to the public or so much resorted

to.

Europe abounds in scenes of beauty or grandeur, often with the added attraction of human associations yet there never ;

has been such abundant picturing of alp or valley, of Col-

iseum or Parthenon, as our Niagara has known for two centuries.

We

He was

begin, of course, with Hennepin.

man who saw

first

white

first

who wrote

not the

the Niagara Falls, but he

at length of

is

the

them, and in connection with

whose writings a picture appeared. The so-called Hennepin view, reproduced in modern prints without number, is wellnigh as familiar as yesterday’s photograph. to speak of is

it

with great respect,

if

It is

customary

not admiration ; and

it

accepted, I think, as pretty good evidence of a former

condition of the cataract, before the deep recession ap-

peared

in the

Horseshoe, and while yet there was a third

fall.

I

have great respect for

historical evidence,

and great ad-

miration for Father Hennepin, whose gifts as romancer

have never been half appreciated. I

contemplate this

tical I

first

grow regarding

it.

Niagara

river,

December

of LaSalle’s men, whose names sent

on

in advance,

I

more more skepremember that

confess, the

falls,

The reader

Hennepin and the main body of La into the

But

picture of the

will

the

Salle’s expedition sailed 6,

1678.

we do

A

small party

not know, had been

and although there were other routes

the west, probably passed pin’s activities in the

up the Niagara.

to

Father Henne-

neighborhood continued

until

August,

.

THE NIAGARA IN ART when

1679,

Three years



In that

his first book.

there

told,

is

later, in Paris,

the “Louisiane”

view

is

is

it.

consider that picture, as a sketch.

very high.

The

described, but

nor was any published until 1697,

it,

eighteen years after he had seen

Now

he published

—the story of the

and the great cataract

no picture of

is

passed eastward, by the

Easter week, 1681, in which year he re-

in

turned to Europe.

expedition

He

the Griffon sailed.

Niagara route,

117

down on

artist looked

The the

point of

falls.

He

was so high that he saw the Niagara river all the way to Lake Erie, and he saw the lake, and mountains on either side of

Any one who

it.

could see

all this,

was seeing

in

memory

at

imagination and in memory, and not very good It is plain, I think,

that.

that the

first

picture of Niagara

was not engraved from any sketch or drawing “made on the spot.” It couldn’t be, and be so wrong. But it is just about what one who was not an artist might produce from recollection of scenes he had been through a score of years before; especially if he were not trying to make a true picture a work of art but merely to give a bird’s-eye Falls





view of the Niagara “streight,” as the old chronicles have

from the

Falls to

Lake

think Father Hennepin

for the

first

Beyond some such purpose, I from responsibility

Erie. is

it,

to be absolved

Niagara picture.

It

was no doubt drawn for

the engraver, and engraved on the copper, by French or

Flemish tails

artists

who had never been

are theirs, not Hennepin’s.

in

America.

They may,

The

de-

indeed, have

constructed this and the other illustrations which appeared at the

same time

in the

“New

Discovery” wholly from the

data given in Hennepin’s text.

any particular resemblance they

all

rectly

None

of the pictures has

to anything that existed;

show how impossible

from some other man’s

it

is

to

draw an object

description.

and cor-

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

118

Much

made

has been

in this primitive sketch

the existence of a separate fall at that point, overlook

it

Hennepin’s falls?

own

statement that Niagara consisted of two

Probably the portion that appears to descend cross-

wise of the great

fall,

The

badly drawn.

;

was but the extreme

river

and the recession of the V-shaped

it,

very

picture, but

it

spicuous as now, in a picture

Hennepin’s was published.

is

no hint of

it

in

shown, well-nigh as con-

is

made

We

made an elbow of now deep in the

cleft,

There

Horseshoe, had probably begun. the Hennepin

right of

no doubt ran higher and stronger

than now; the rocks

at that point then it

;

shown but do not those who argue from

of the third or western fall

only seventy years after

will presently consider that

picture.

The Hennepin

was for many years the world’s It was much

picture

only pictorial presentment of the cataract.

copied, especially for use in the ponderous folio compilations of voyages stantial

and travels which now often form a sub-

foundation for accumulations of old books in anti-

As was

quarian shops. parted a

little

For 150 years

to be expected each engraver de-

more from the original and from the truth. after Hennepin there continued to be pub-

lished views of Niagara, inspired not by the cataract itself,

but by this grotesque old copperplate of 1697.

There was

thus evolved a certain typical view of Niagara, resembling

Niagara not

at all,

showing two straight downfalls of water

foam; with Goat Island of rock, and this rock, like the

into a basin of surf-like flouncy

reduced to a huge

pillar

drawn in a built-up box-like form of cleaveage and fracture suggestive possibly of granitic or igneous formation, but as far as possible from the smooth sedimentary and practically horizontal strata of the abutting shores, elaborately

Niagara region.

The

surface of shores and island, in this



THE NIAGARA IN ART. type of view,

adorned with wonderful trees

is

curved stem

slightly

119

set

from

tip to base

—each a long

with recurrent

boughs, the unique effect being that of a long dart or javelin

with

many

lake,

and

barbs.

Beyond are

the usual mountains and

the foreground are stalwart naked savages

in

pointing out the wonders of the scene to a group of amazed

Frenchmen, some

On

robes.

in military

the brink a small

uniform, others in priestly

dog vociferously barks.

I

have

been unduly concerned about this dog, for he appears, then disappears, in these old engravings with singular uncer-

On

tainty.

the Canadian side a path

is

shown, with natives

carrying burdens on their heads up and

down

the steep

portage.

This whole group of seventeenth and eighteenth century engravings, often identical in in small details, is

The most

many

respects while varying

a curious illustration of dull imitation.

curious thing about

it is

that this species of Ni-

agara picture continued to be published long after truer and in

some cases splendid studies of Niagara had been drawn

and published. There Falls,

of

exist

art.

Among

two or more

A

numerous very early engravings of Niagara

which are now matters of curiosity rather than works the most curious are plates engraved with

subjects, the

large vignette

shows the Falls

Niagara cataracts among them.

on some of Herman Moll’s famous maps

—the

conventionalized Hennepin picture

with a colony of busy beavers

down

trees

from the

Of

in the

and building dams.

picture that Niagara Falls

this sort, too,

is

foreground, gnawing

One might

almost infer

were a beavers’ dam.

the picture of Niagara Falls that orna-

ments the map which accompanies the American travels of Prince Maximilien Wied-Neuwied (1832-34). In front of the cataract,

on a low riverside

plateau,

mounted Indians



THE NIAGARA IN ART.

120

Most

are pursuing a herd of bison.

striking,

most

artistic,

and perhaps most rare of these combination engravings,

was from 1637

life if

anything

is

to

I

Here we have a Niagara which Out

7 1 4-

straighter

and higher than Hennepin’s.

of a cloud above the left of the

fall

At

a

chariot of

gin

:

fire.

least, so declares

emerges Elijah

title at

un char de feu ”

“Elie enleve dans

is

whose span of

a copperplate signed S. LeClerc, an artist

in a

the lower mar-

—but the

has

artist

given Elijah not merely a glorious burst of flame but a fine pair of steeds

which are prancing above the yawning abyss

of the cataract.

The upper margin

of the picture bears the

The

" Chute de la riviere de Niagara

legend:

provokes speculation as to whether the

artist

picture

sought to com-

bine the two greatest marvels, one of earth, the other of

from earth

translation

the locality

to

heaven

;

whether he sought to

from which Elijah made

fix

his ascent; or indeed,

whether Le Clerc were responsible for the whole engraving.

A

variation of touch, of stroke

may have worked on

hands

LeClerc’s

its

and it.

tone, suggests that

work

the

If

is

two

wholly

production must have been after 1697, the

year in which the Hennepin picture appeared, and before 1714, the year of his death.

Of

this sort, too, is

rate the death of

an aquatint, published to commemo-

Washington.

stands the Goddess of Liberty; figure, apparently a negro,

and above the cataract stripes Still

and thirteen

In front of Niagara Falls at her

side a grotesque

weeps over a memorial

flies

an American

tablet;

flag of thirteen

stars.

another extraordinary Niagara

is

an exquisite

little

plate forming a frontispiece of the old. French tragedy of





Here an impossible Niagara we could not know was Niagara except that the text says so forms a background for a rocky tomb and a display of heroic aborigines

“ Hirza it



THE NIAGARA IN ART.



all

No

utterly impossible.

ous old engravings

in

121

doubt one can find other curi-

which our

falls

are used as a back-

ground, a mere setting, a stage property, for whatever sub-

verisimilitude to nature

is

make no very

lofty flight in the

—without

realm of

“Niagaras” ever painted

effective

To

not looked for, or desired.

copy nature without imagination

most

In such compositions,

was engaged upon.

ject the artist

is

ideality

art.



One

is

to

of the

the weird, sugges-

glimpsed through a very nightmare of gloomy

tive cataract,

was drawn by Gustave Dore to illusChateaubriand’s “Atala” Dore never saw the Falls,

pines and cedars, which trate

nor did he need

to.

His fancy could supply just the sort of

Niagara required to harmonize with and express the

spirit

of “Atala.”

Early

in the eighteenth

— Popple,

century certain map-publishers

Homanno

of Nuremberg and perhaps others, maps of North America with engravings of Niagara Falls, but these, like Le Clerc’s picture, were

embellished their

obviously based on Hennepin’s original. I

do not find any picture of the

be ascribed to one

who had

falls,

After Hennepin,

that can in

any measure

seen them, until 1751.

In Feb-

ruary of that year the Gentlemen’s Magazine published

“A

view of the Fall of Niagara,” designed to accompany Peter

Kalm’s 1750,

about the Falls, written at Albany, Sept.

letter

and

published

English.

the

first

account of Niagara originally written in

Hennepin’s and La Hontan’s descriptions had

been translated into English before

though he was a Swede, English,

to

a

friend

this

in

Niagara

Kalm letter

Philadelphia

English literature on the subject! to

2,

Gentlemen’s Magazine of

Kalm’s description, by the way, appears to

January, 1751.

have been the

in

He

wrote, but

was written

—the

al-

in

beginning of

probably had nothing

do with the making of the picture which appeared

in the

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

122 3

Gentlemen s Magazine a month after ever engraved

it

Like the Hennepin picture

data.

shows the

it is

a birdseye view, and

and Lake Erie

river above the falls,

The surrounding mountains

tance.

but who-

his letter;

evidently referred to his description for

are

in the dis-

there, but the

still

which the Hennepin picture shows on the

ship,

lake, has

So have the great rock and the “third fall” the extreme right. Several islets appear in the Canadian

disappeared. at

channel, opposite Goat Island;

men

river;

Island

are climbing

and two other

;

great birds hover over the

up a ladder on the face of Goat men, as the legend states, are These changes

“passing over ye east stream with staves.”

from

Hennepin picture are

the

all

suggested by Kalm’s

report.

After Kalm, engravings multiplied, but for many years

were

all

more or

ing Pierie.

An

Hennepin type

less of the

early

German

—always exceptvon

copperplate, “Wasserfall

Niagara,” has the whole scene reversed, with the third or

(now

New York) &

cross-fall

on the

Ellicott’s

drawing, engraved by Thackara

left

the

side!

Kalm and

although a great advance toward truth, over the

Hennepin views,

is still

Andrew

Vallance, 1790,

vastly inferior to the Pierie picture

many years before. The world had no idea of what the Niagara really looked like until 1774, when there was published in London a splendidly executed copperplate from a drawing made in 1768 of

by Lieutenant William Pierie of the Royal British

whom

This

soldier-artist, of

ther,

was probably stationed

his leisure

by studying the

I

at

regret

I

Artillery.

know nothing

fur-

Fort Niagara and improved

cataract.

Several of the most interesting early engravings of the falls are

from drawings by British

them, the work of Captain

soldiers.

Thomas Davies

To one

of

—the engraving

THE NIAGARA IN ART. being dedicated to General Amherst

was

far

ing,

with a rainbow

from being an

to depicting the

artist;

and



ascribed the date

is

work of

1760, antedating by a few years the

123

Pierie.

yet his bad, crude

like half of a cartwheel,

Niagara scene than

Davies

draw-

comes nearer

the Hennepin-sug-

all

gested pictures that have gone before.

We

may

say, in a sense, that

Hennepin; but

Hennepin nor Davies, but with is

Niagara art began with it

began neither with

Pierie.

His point of view

in its higher sense,

on the high land back of the present Queen Victoria park. scene embraces both falls. The distant shores, flat and

The

The Horseshoe

true to nature, close in the horizon.

shown not

is

as a straight curtain of water, nor yet, as in

Davies’, by a great semi-circular sweep, but approximately as

it is

today, with a wedge-shaped cleft tending up-stream.

almost a century and a half since this study was made. The wedge has extended a little and is, perhaps, sharper. The flood of water is less, so that now we have bare rocks

It is

at either side of the greater fall

mately what I

where formerly the flood

Yet the contour of the cataract

swept.

am

it

was

is

today approxi-

in 1768.

free to confess that I do not care particularly for

the Niagara Falls as

we know them

my

the cataract appeals to

today.

The

vicinage of

imagination less and less with

each succeeding year of protection and improvement. Here is

no note of

criticism

upon the

governmental guardians.

intelligent

Far from

it.

work of Niagara’s

Much

of the beauty

of the environment has been preserved, and some of

now

vanished, will perhaps be restored

panies cease from troubling; but

Niagara ness.

is

if

it,

when power com-

preserved and guarded,

not and never can be the Niagara of the wilder-

We tend

inevitably in our care of such a place to curb

and pave, and smooth

out, to bridge

and trim and to

wall,

THE NIAGARA IN ART

124

improve

to

roadway and that

this

while protecting

works are necessary to places which once

—back,

now and

lawn;

bit of

for the use and delight of the

fit it

let

recall

scores of

must have been the very heart of wild us say, in the days of Caesar,

many

for

in short,

be from vandalism, these

Whoever knows Europe, can

multitude.

beauty

may

so far as

it

.

years

hemmed

about with

all

—but

are

the devices

of protection, perhaps gates of admission, with hotels at

nicely-groomed points

of

and paths and permits

in perfect propriety.

Keenly as

I

feel the

sweep of green waters,

with

view,

beauty and serenity of the great

I find less

and

in

was

less in the

which Pierie saw.

that

at his

height, or sitting at his side

on rock or

would

How

looking

log,

one

down

and over the great cedar swamp where now are the

lawns and paths and playgrounds of the park

poured the green flood of the great

river,

the Niagara Salle

known

and

all

to the red

;

while beyond

fed by thousands

This of a truth was

of miles of wilderness-rimmed lakes.

La

I

elbow upon that sightly

would have enjoyed standing into

prim and

The Niagara

parked environs that appeals to me.

have delighted

refreshment booths

man and

to the missionary, to

the gallant train of the remote adventurous

days. I

have no doubt that as Lieutenant Pierie worked over

his sketches he

was the

comrades who could

butt of joke and jibe of soldier

find better sport in the wilderness than

the tame drawing of pictures.

Who

they were or what

we do not know. Forgotten every one of them. we remember with gratitude, and prize the work

their worth,

But Pierie into

which he put not only

skill

which he gave that admirable

as a draughtsman, but to

fidelity

which marks him as a

lover of beauty and of truth.

When

Lieutenant

Pierie

wrought,

Niagara

belonged

THE NIAGARA IN ART Almost a century

wholly to his King. Livingston cataract it,

with

125

.

later the missionary

w as to discover in the heart of Africa the only r

on earth which

rivals

Niagara, and was to christen

Today

after England’s Queen.

loyalty,

fine

the

Victoria Falls, on the Zambesi, are drawing enterprising travelers to the British possession of Rhodesia, as Niagara

was

the attraction for far-wandering Britons of a century

before.

In another study

and

his

Niagara

I

visit

have made note of Isaac Weld,

a landscape painter by profession, but not a great

Among

the

Jr.,

Weld was an Englishman,

of 1796.

numerous copperplate engravings from

artist.

his

own

sketches which embellish his volume of travels, are three

of Niagara.

These appear

to

much

better advantage in the

original quarto edition of 1799 than in later octavo issues.

They

are not beautiful or technically striking, these studies

of the

Weld was very

falls.

modern phrase idealist.

None

is,

was a

realist,

and nothing

as the

at all of

an

of his drawings quite gives adequate height

to the cataract, nor have they

impressiveness.

matter-of-fact, or,

None

any quality of suggestion or

the less they are a useful pictorial

record of Niagara aspects at the end of the 18th century.

In a rather apologetic note regarding his the artist says

:

own

drawings,

“Those who are desirous of becoming more

intimately acquainted with the

stupendous cataract, will

soon be gratified,” at least so he has been given to understand by the artist in whose hands they at present are,

“with a set of views from the masterly pencil of Captain Fisher of the Royal British Artillery, which are allowed by all

who have

visited the Falls of

Niagara to convey a more

perfect idea of that wonderful natural curiosity than any

paintings or engravings that are extant.”

wonderful pictures are not known to me.

I

regret that these

!

THE NIAGARA IN ART

126 Still

another English

artist

to the Falls of Niagara in

.

was John Maude, whose 1800 was not published

visit

until

somewhat sought after by collectors of Americana, not more for the value of his narrative than for the attractive copperplate engravings from His book

1826.

own

his

think,

I

is,

There are occasionally offered by

paintings.

dealers, at pretty stiff prices, copies of

Maude

with colored

inserted manuscripts, and other souvenirs of per-

plates,

sonal association, supposed to

make

peculiar appeal to the

collector.

Maude’s narrative has a certain value, but

cannot say

much

the Falls

for his pictures.

I

His “General View of

from the United States side” absurdly minimizes His beautifully engraved “Horseshoe” shows

their height.

smooth unbroken curve, which

that cataract with a rim in

we know

has not been

days of Pierie.

condition at any rate since the

its

It is incredible that

any sober-minded

could so prevaricate with brush or pencil.

have looked

Some

at

it

and drawn

it

How

man

could he

as he did

of the early engravings, of various dates, are

exceedingly curious.

I

have seen one, of unknown age,

“drawn by Heath, engraved by Metz.”

Henne-

It is of the

pin type, with mountains in the distance, palm-like trees,

and wagon-tracks on the American exceedingly attenuated several

hundred



it

feet high

and a few

wonderful engraving the American Canadian, and there in either.

ing

its

is



is

A

feet wide.

fall

is

—more

so,

as

In this

wide as the

indeed, consider-

a view of Niagara by

engraved by T. Wallis. like a

is

no hint of “horseshoe” or any curve

Equally marvelous

later date

Goat Island

side.

looks to be a fragile rock pillar

The

river

is

W. M.

Craig,

seen above the

Scotch loch, surrounded with close, high, sullen

fall,

hills.

barren rock stands for Goat Island, and the face of the

fall is

mostly hidden by a vast cloud that drifts across the

THE NIAGARA IN ART. picture, starting

from the base of the

127

fall

on the extreme

and suggesting the smoke from a bon-fire of damp A few aborigines appear in the leaves on a windy day.

left

with

foreground, looking like negroes,

white loin-cloths. the imprint

two Goat

Still

black

and

skins

another amusing “Niagara,” bearing

“Rawdon, Clark &

Co.,”

shows three

and

falls

Islands, with Indians in canoes cheerfully being

carried over!

A

singular picture, with

some

artistic merit,

was “painted by Wall, engraved by Archer.” It is a view of the Falls from below, and either the painter or the engraver has managed to make the whole face of the fall look frozen, although

it

is

not a winter picture.

but one more of these curios, there

is

To

note

a birdseye view of the

Niagara river from Erie to Ontario, “showing the situation

and extent of Navy Island and the towns and villages on the banks of the river,”

drawn by W. R.

etc.,

Callington, a

Boston engineer, “from an actual survey made in 1837.”

The

picture

was no doubt occasioned by the Mackenzie

Rebellion, which accounts for the prominence given to

The whole

Island.

least curious

outlet of

thing

is

feature being

Lake Erie

—a

Navy

bad and inaccurate, not the

two good-sized

islands at the

pictorial reminder, but not a true

one, of vanished Bird Island.

The

old

books of American

written by Englishmen, contain

travel,

especially

many views

those

of Niagara,

often pretty bad, sometimes merely curious, but occasionally

engraved from drawings or paintings of manifest worth.

The

large folding drawings of Niagara and other subjects, by George Heriot, Deputy Postmaster General of British

North America, which accompany “Travels through the Canadas,”

have

chiefly, perhaps,

author must be rated

his

etc.,

an antiquarian

among

the artists.

quarto

work

published in interest,

Of

of

1807,

though the

greater interest



THE NIAGARA IN ART.

128

are the sketches the

made

Niagara by Alexander Wilson,

at

who walked from

Scotch-American poet-naturalist,

Philadelphia to Oswego, coming thence by boat to Niagara Falls,

and back again, and told the story of

all in

verse.

His Niagara drawings were engraved and published

in the

The Niagara drawings

Portfolio of 1810.

which are to be found

in

Hector

“ Voyage dans la

Haute Pensylvanie our

list

;

signed “Bonfils,”

John de Crevecoeur’s

St.

may have

place in

it

etc.

(Paris,

1801),

as perhaps should A. Hervieu’s

etching of Indians at Niagara, with the falls as a back-

ground, which accompanies Tyrone Power’s “Impressions of America.”

The

field

of book illustration

boundless, yet here one sometimes

Niagara

art.

finds

The numerous Niagara

is

real

practically

gems

of

paintings of Mrs.

John Graves Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, have lately been published in Canada, on the

with her diary, covering her residence 1792-93.

While they have a considerable

Niagara,

historical value,

their art quality does not call for consideration.

The

early woodcuts of Niagara are for the

negligible, except as curios;

one of them was by Peter the

first

most part

may be noted that Maverick, who is regarded as though

American wood engraver.

it

A

woodcut

in Prior’s

(London, 1823), has the Canadian A modern woodon the American side of Goat Island

“Universal Traveler” fall

!

cut that should have mention

was a two-page

picture in

9, 1873, showing “How different viewing them with the eye of the

Harper's Weekly, Aug. people see the Falls,” artist,

Of in

the poet, the business-man, etc.

exceptional character are the Niagara drawings

1827 by

Captain Basil Hall of the British

Navy.

made

He

used a “camera lucida,” which gave him an image of the object to be

drawn;

all

he had to do was to limn the

THE NIAGARA IN ART. and

outlines as the sun

was not great graphs then

The and old

first

at

it

was useful

it

with the

as a record.

artist of distinction to visit the Falls

them was,

John Vanderlyn, whose

I believe,

Kingston on the Hudson

artist,

this

—there being no photo-

still

stands, an object

of interest to visitors, not merely because of

ton’s

While

his lens set the copy.

was ingenious

American

to paint

home

art

—and

129

but because of

famous old stone houses,

its

age.

built

It is

its

association

one of Kings-

by Dutch

settlers early

in the eighteenth century, its walls

withstanding the burning

of the town by the British in 1777.

Young Vanderlyn came

to

Niagara

numerous

That he studied the cataract and

in 1802.

vicinity seriously

and to good purpose

Two

paintings.

sketches in

Kingston.

House

in in

oil,

are preserved in the old Senate

shows the

it

scarcely

owned by one

the line of

down

its

point of

side, opposite

is

the

fall is shown in the shown of the face of the Canadian river from this point, one sees only

The

crest.

rapids, the islands, indeed, the

topography of much of the surrounding country, ably represented.

of the

The American

rapids.

looking

The

cataracts.

high up on the bank of the Canadian

distance but nothing fall;

is

a most curious picture of the

It is

Falls, in that

the upper

its

by his

Another, a canvas of some eight feet or so

old Kingston families.

is

attested

of these, evidently the original

length by four and a half in height,

view

is

is

admir-

In the foreground runs the Canadian

portage road, along which

toils

the ox-team of a pioneer.

Several buildings are shown; Indians rest at the roadside;

and athwart the landscape thrusts a great dead tree, on a limb of which sits an eagle, overlooking the scene. It is a singular composition ligence, artistic.

its

chief

;

although painted with

interest today

is

skill

historical

and

intel-

rather than

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

130

Vanderlyn

is

known by

other views of Niagara which

he painted, and of which he published

London

in

One

1804.

“A

of these,

fine

aquatints, in

view of the Western

Branch of the Falls of Niagara, taken from Table Rock,” etc., is

about 30 by 21 inches in

F. C. Lewis,

New

size.

It

was engraved by

and inscribed “to the Society of Fine Arts

York.”

shows the angle of the Horseshoe,

It

Of

deeply worn than now.

like size is a

companion

in

less

picture,

“Distant view of the Falls, including both branches, with the islands and adjacent shores, taken

from the

vicinity of

the Indian Ladder.”

This picture, engraved by Merigot,

was

London

also published in

in

1804 by Mr. Vanderlyn

himself.

Of

a later period are the paintings of

F.

Richardt,

engraved by A. H. Payne, and the drawings of LieutenantColonel Cockburn, engraved by C. Hunt.

J.

Edge, or in aquatint by

These and numerous other now rare views of the

Niagara were published by Ackermann, of London, from 1830 to the middle of the century. of

Ackermann

did

much

Falls

from the Canada

enterprising house

to spread abroad a true

There

of the great cataract.

The

is

knowledge

one general view of Niagara

side, or, as the

engraved inscription

“from above the English ferry,” which is sometimes to be found delicately colored, and is indeed a work of art worth the several pounds sure to be asked for it. has

it,

Other excellent

plates,

“plain or colored,’” were pub-

lished in the first half of the 19th century

the Haymarket,

Henry Davis of

London,

from

the

the 52d Light Infantry.

soldier-artist’s visit to in the 30’s or 40’s.

A

Niagara

is

by McLean of

paintings of

The

Major

date of this

not clear, but apparently

copy of his “Great Horseshoe Fall,”

a most realistic picture, bears date 1818; but this I take to

be an error, perhaps for 1848.

THE NIAGARA IN ART. Among of Goupil

131

the early publications of the distinguished house is

a finely colored “Rapids of Niagara,”

drawn

from nature by August Kollner.

More than English

artist

Washington Friend, an

half a century ago

panorama

of merit, whose

of studies of Niagara which were

Some of

period.

famous works are two large falls,

a series

the best of the

Perhaps Friend’s most

paintings,

one a general view

the other showing the Canadian

owned by Some years ago, when

believe are

on view

made

these have been reproduced in colors by

English publishers of guide books.

of the

among

American

of

scenery was exhibited throughout England,

fall,

which

I

the royal family of Great Britain.

was placed

a notable art collection

Burlington House, these Niagara pictures by

at

Washington Friend were conspicuously hung with an announcement that they were loaned for public inspection by



Wales the late Edward Vllth. Judging from the photogravure reproductions made of them at the

the Prince of

time, they are well-painted studies of

Niagara, depicting

the scene with useful fidelity.

Among

Friend’s Niagara views which have been pub-

lished not the least interesting at this date are pictures of

the whirlpool and Queenston

Heights,

places

of

great

former beauty but now much changed by the intrusion of

modern “improvements.”

My

reference to

Edward Vllth reminds me

Royal Highness, the Princess

Horseshoe of her

Hatton

Fall, evidently

Louise,

with no

has

little skill.

that

Her

painted

the

An

engraving

work accompanies an article on “Niagara” by Joseph in the London Art Journal of 1885.

Pictures of Niagara Falls were vastly multiplied by the

development

of

chromo-lithography.

The

processes

of

engraving upon stone were well adapted to such a subject,

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

132

either in colors or in single tint.

Prior, say, to 1825 or

thereabouts, the published views of our natural

were almost steel,

either

entirely

named down

but from the date

scenery

copperplate or engraved on to the

development of

photo-engraving there has been a great production of litho-

among them some

graphs,

of the worst as well as some of

the best pictures of the Falls which

we

have.

Notable

among

the earlier lithographs are the Niagara views painted

W.

Vivian and drawn on the stone by T. M. Baynes;

by

and the Paris lithographs drawings of Blouet.

Niagara

studies, their

—a

fine

Niagara

Both of the above

series

artists

work being published

in

— from the

made many London and

Paris in the 30’s.

Of

about that period, perhaps, are the colored views

“painted and engraved upon stone by

W.

J.

Bennett.”

If

the collector finds old colored lithographs of Niagara with large

and vari-colored goats

in the

foreground

—the

artist’s

ingenious method of indicating that his point of view was

Goat Island

—he may be pretty

Lieutenant

De

trated his

book with

graphed.

Another British

made

his

own

stone by T.

sure that

it

is

a “Bennett.”

who traveled here in 1826, his own very good drawings,

Roos,

officer,

for

“A

litho-

Lieutenant E. T. Coke,

sketches at Niagara, which were

M. Baynes,

illus-

drawn on

Subaltern’s Furlough.”

Of American artists whose Niagara studies were lithographed, may be mentioned A. Vaudricourt, whose interesting lithographic views of the cataract (1845-46) occur in

various forms, sometimes small, but best about 30 by 14 inches.

Vaudricourt

is

said to have utilized for his draw-

ings the daguerreotypes of

F.

Langheim.

Is

there any

other instance of the employment of the daguerreotype in

landscape work?

Woodcuts made from Langheim’s daguer-

reotypes of Niagara are to be found in Appleton’s Guide

THE NIAGARA IN ART. Book (of

133

the United States) published in 1846;

and pos-

sibly elsewhere.

If

may judge from

one

existing prints of the Niagara

subject, the lithographic art gained high excellence in Paris

London and American productions were still mediocre or worse. I cannot speak of German or Italian while yet the

works of

this period

—say prior to 1840—with much knowlSuch early pictures of Niagara

edge or any enthusiasm.

as I have seen produced in those countries are too crude

and

insignificant to include in

overlooking real works of

lithographs of Niagara are by I



if

But certain

pleasure of discovery.

and among them

our review.

art

all

it

Possibly I

may

so,

am

have the

I

the early French

is

odds the most pleasing;

should rank as of chief importance the

pictures of Jacques-Girard

He

Milbert.

of

is

sufficient

importance in the art story of Niagara to warrant us in dwelling briefly upon his career.

He was

artist,

nition,

Born

author, and naturalist.

He had won

1766, he died there in 1840.

in Paris in

gratifying recog-

—had

and held numerous posts of distinction

been

professor of design in the National School of Mines; had

accompanied, as chief draughtsman, a Government expedition to the antipodes;

and had sojourned two years

remote

now Mauritius, studying its physical when in 1815 he came to America

and

Isle of

France,

social conditions,

in the



in the official train of the

French consul

to

New

York. For

eight years he traveled through this country, engaged in scientific research

him

to

and

Niagara Falls

later there

American interest of

in sketching,

travels, in

summer of

in the

was published

which pursuits brought

in

Paris

the

1818.

years

two handsome quarto volumes; the

which was vastly augmented by a

of his drawings.

Ten

narrative of his

The work

is

folio

volume

entitled “Itineraire pittoresque

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

134

du deuve Hudson SNord!

}

know

I

des parties laterales de V Amerique du

et

of no translation or other edition.

Milbert’s

drawings were transferred to the stone by many

some of them of bois,

The names

reputation.

Adam,

of

artists,

Biche-

Deroy, Dupressoir, Jacottet, Joly, Sabatier, Tirpenne

and Villeneuve, are given

as art-collaborators for the pro-

—an

item of Niagara art and history

work

duction of this

which now for many years has been rather hard to come though stray pictures from the collection occasion-

across,

ally are to

There

is

be found in the hands of London or Paris dealers.

never any

difficulty in

His

recognizing a Milbert.

Niagara studies are not only well drawn, but have a delicacy

which makes them pleasing and historical value

drew them

!

gave to the



The work

Paris publishers, Henri Gaugain a worthy typographic setting;

drawings are printed are in French,

Milbert early art

from

attractive, apart

soon be a century since the

will

it

in tint,

and the

titles

German, English and Latin. collector

&

the folio

A

fine

in

copy of field

purchase value, the “Voyage,”

etc.,

Prince Maximilien von Wied-Neuwied of a later date.

American

publication of his

travels

tion,

falls

we

were

work was

panying royal folio of our

of

rivalling in

scarcity, if not in

Prince’s

Co.,

of the subjects

for the of Americana — the —a rather choice possession, well nigh

is

their artist

atlas of

a decade later.

some 80

himself,

among

Niagara

in

if

;

As

The

the Paris

the accom-

plates includes studies

by M. Charles Bodmer, the

should include him,

his general

in the early 30’s

of

artist of the

expedi-

not the enterprising prince

the artists of Niagara.

The Prince was at Bodmer took

June, 1834, when, he says, “Mr.

view of

have yet met with

this

in

sublime scene, which

is

the best I

every respect perfectly faithful to

nature.”

The Niagara drawings

of

W. H.

Bartlett are

worthy of

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

135

They form an important

notice for several reasons.

part

of one of the most notable art works ever issued devoted in part to the scenery of the

Niagara region

London by Virtue

Scenery,” handsomely published in

many

1840, though Bartlett

years,

artist,

who,

in his later

great popularity for his illustrations of Egypt,

Jerusalem, and other regions of picturesque

His Niagara studies were made

interest.

in

of the engravings bear an earlier date.

was a young English

won

—the “American

of the decade of the rich both in the art

30’s, a period,

and

and

storied

in the latter part

by the way, peculiarly

literature of the

Niagara region, due

no doubt, to the fact that the opening of the Erie

in part,

Canal and the building of railroads for the

time had

first

made travel to the banks of the Niagara comparatively easy. The London publishers who directed Bartlett’s work engaged for the

whose place then than

it

in

literary part of the venture

American

would be now.

and commonplace.

N. P. Willis,

was perhaps rated higher Willis’ work is by turns clever

letters

But the chief value of the volumes

from

Bartlett’s drawings.

lies

His

in the

120 engravings,

studies

were engraved by many different hands, so that the

artist’s

work received

the metal.

and

all

attractive

work,

do

Niagara, with perhaps as etc.,

many more

have a

outlet of

of

scenes

on

the

studies of the Lakes,

of local interest.

Several of Bartlett’s drawings, quality,

in

beautiful

justice to the original picture.

includes eight engravings

the Erie canal,

still

impossible to say that any one of

it is

the engravers failed to

The work

somewhat varying presentation

a

Yet, as one turns the pages of this

aside

from

definite value as historical records

Niagara river with Lake Ontario

their ;

art

thus the

in the distance is

one of the very few pictures that show the lower gorge and the original

monument

to

General Brock.

But one other

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

136

contemporary drawing known to

own

me shows

better,

it

and

study of Queenston Heights and the

that

is

first

Brock monument, made from the old Lewiston landing.

Bartlett’s

That picture

some of

in

way

The drawing

tions of that time.

charm

peculiar

in that

worth whole chapters

its detail is

of reminiscences and record by

it

of the lower gorge has a

preserves for us the wildness of

that beautiful reach of river before

by the works of man.

of recalling the condi-

It

is

was encroached upon

it

true that the artist, or the

engraver, or the two in wicked collusion, have given us a lovely sunset fair and square in the north; but one cannot

be too

perhaps the sun did set north of Toronto

critical;

and

in the late 30’s;

at

any

rate, artists

have a perpetual

license to take liberties with the celestial bodies.

Genuinely edifying to the inquirer as to early conditions at Niagara, side.

It

view of the landing on the American

Bartlett’s

is

shows the rowboat, small but staunch, which served

as ferry for

many

years

;

and

it

shows the log runways, the

windlass, and the rough zigzag steps up the

For these and

long ago disappeared. picture

is

the best source of information

he does give us a glimpse of the

from the

And

which

I

know

coming

of,

like

even

if

an ocean

sky.

this brings

cal artist.

falls

cliffs,

like data Bartlett’s

He

is

a

me

to Bartlett’s chief fault as

little

an

histori-

prone to impose upon us by a subtle

magnifying of his subject.

It

is

very easy to draw the

Niagara, as for instance his marvelous “View from Table

Rock,” and then by introducing human figures drawn say to

one-half or one-quarter

scale,

vastly to

height and grandeur of the scene.

open to

this suspicion, or to a general

—which

ness

fault,

steel plate itself

if

it

But

if

charge of over-pretti-

be a fault, perhaps

—they must

magnify the

his studies are

lies

with the

also be credited with genuine

THE NIAGARA IN ART. merit as works of art and in

many

137

instances with definite

value as historical records. It

the

“American Scenery,” work of the sort that had been underfairly made known to the world the chief

these beautiful volumes on

was

creditable

first

taken, that

first

and northern United

scenic features of the eastern

What

States.

has since developed as the greatest scenic portion of

our country was then practically unknown.

In the seventy

and more years that have elapsed since these drawings were published, there have been

many works on

similar lines, of

varying merit, some of them enlisting the talent of genuine but

artists;

know

I

of none which

a better Niagara

is

record or a more pleasing one than these old-time drawings of

W. H.

Bartlett.

More than one Meyer,

appears

artist

A New

Bartlett’s pictures.

York

1854 issued a Niagara series

in

most of the pictures were suspiciously far inferior to the originals.

run across a beautiful

by

J.

C. Buttre

plate,

the water

In the

is

same

wholly different

if

in

sort of

landmark

He

experience:

in the earlier

name

though

It suggests

Bartlett.

Thomas Cole has Though born in

of

America and is a development of American life in

Niagara in 1829.

Louis L. Noble,

“He was

York.

not preeminent.

first visited

his biographer,

New

—and better than

England, Cole spent most of his

painting.

like Bartlett,

subject, yet in the treatment of

of Niagara art the

roll

long been eminent,

re-engraved

Hermann J. with German text;

The collector will sometimes “Under the Horseshoe,” drawn

and published

Bartlett’s study of the

have

to

publisher,

records

disappointed.

a

Of not

that visit

unusual

Lifted by no rapture,

burdened by no sense of overpowering grandeur, he gazed

upon

it

almost without an emotion above that of surprise

at himself.

...

Its failure to affect

him

at

once lay

in

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

138

its

very greatness.

own

.

.

Niagara to Cole was, by his

.

They were

declaration, far less than the mountains.

symbols of the eternal majesty, immutability and repose,

which no cataract could ever

be.

.

Niagara was

.

.

loneliness.” How much of this expresses Cole’s how much the mind of the Reverend Mr. Noble, one cannot say. Many a man has been lost to posterity

great in

its

mind, and

through the philosophizing of his biographer. It is

recorded that Cole

at this time

made many drawings of Niagara

—the spring of 1829.

He

sketched

it

“at various

from below, and upon Table Rock, and from a projection on the eastern brink, where the eye com-

points, particularly

mands,

at a glance, the entire

the rugged

cliffs

under

especially

sweep of the cataract with

For the study of water,

of Goat Island. all

its

circumstances connected with tor-

rent-motion, Niagara far exceeded, in his opinion,

A

places.

favorite study

fully breaking

was

back upon

ward, he pointed

it

in

itself,

bridge crossing to the island.

rapid below the

the

Well nigh twenty years

out to a

same

friend, the

beauty’ which he had studied with

after-

‘thing of

more pleasure and

than almost any other single object at the

down

other

all

a singularly fine swell, beauti-

effect

Footing

falls.

it

the river with sketch-book in hand, the Whirlpool

afforded

fine

opportunities

for

water-studies,

and

the

heights of Queenston opened to his view an expanse of forest-tops,

then unbroken but by the mighty river, and

bounded by the

distant Ontario,

which he did not

fail to

secure for future purposes.”

When is

or where he painted his great picture of the Falls

Writing from London,

not clear.

“I hope to arrive in

shall bring several pictures,

Niagara.”

I

find

May

America November and most

no record of

1,

1831, he says:

next.

With me

I

likely the Falls of

his painting

Niagara

at a

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

139

Cole was but 28 years old when he

later period.

Sixteen years

studied the cataract.

later,

first

when he had won

high rank in the art world, he again visited Niagara Falls,

The following page from

with his wife.

appropriate here, as

it

his journal

shews the attitude of an

artist

is

mind

towards the Niagara subject:

“September

1847.

4,

—On

Tuesday

Maria and I Niagara I have mind was perhaps as great last,

returned from an excursion to Niagara.

on my But I am convinced that, sublime and beautiful as it is, it would soon cease to excite much emotion. The truth is, that the mind dwells not long with delight on objects whose main quality is motion, unless that motion is varied. Niagara, stupendous and unceasing as it visited before.

as

is,

when

is

I first

Its effect

saw

it.

nevertheless comparatively

The resources and duration. fountain head of all its waters of

its

sinking to decay.

man comprehendeth

not.

sees not the other.

Not

limited,

—limited

in

its

mind quickly runs to the the eye marks the process The highest sublime the mind of He stands upon one shore, but ;

in action, but in

deep repose,

is

the loftiest element of the sublime.

“With ciated. is

action waste and ultimate exhaustion are asso-

In the pure blue sky

the illimitable.

When

is

the highest sublime.

the soul essays to

into that awful profound,

it

returns

wing

There

its flight

tremblingly to



deep, unbroken repose

its

up there voiceless, motionless, without the colors, lights and shadows, and ever-changing draperies of the lower earth. There we look into the uncurtained, solemn serene into the eternal, the infinite toward the throne of the Almighty. “The beauty of Niagara is truly wonderful, and of great variety. Morning and evening, noon and midnight, in storm and calm, summer and winter, it has a splendour all its own. In its green glancing depths there is beauty and also in its white misty showers. In its snow-like drifts of foam earthly rest.



All

is



;

below, beauty writhes in torment. Iris, at the presence of the sun, at the meek presence of the moon, wreathes its feet

THE NIAGARA IN ART

140

.

with brighter glories than she hangs around the temples of Yet all is limited. It cannot bear comparison with that which haunts the upper abysses of the air. There is infinity in the cloud-scenery of a sunset. Men see it, though, so commonly, that it ceases to make an impression upon them. Niagara they see but once or so, and then only for a little while; hence the power it exerts over their minds. Were there Niagaras around us daily, they would not only cease in most cases to be objects of pleasure, but would, very likely, become sources of annoyance. “But great, glorious, and sublime Niagara wonder to the eye of man I do not wish to disparage thee. Thou hast a power to stir the deep soul. Thy mighty and majestic cadence echoes in my heart, and moves my spirit to many thoughts and feelings. Thy bright misty towers, meeting the vault on high, and based upon the shooting spray beneath, are images of purity. Thy voice deep calling unto deep, with a might that makes the hoary cliffs to tremble, leads back the soul to Him, speaking upon Sinai’s smoking summit. Thy steep-down craggy precipices are the triumphal gate through which, in grand procession, pass the cloud.









the royal lakes and captive rivers.

The

soul

is full

of thee.

man who treads thy brink. Thankful should he be to God for the display of one of His most wonderful works. But they are blessed who see thee not, if they will accept the gift which God vouchsafes to all Favoured

is

the

men, which, in beauty and sublimity, does far surpass Niagara the sky. O that men would turn from their sordid pursuits, and lift their eyes with reverential wonder



there.”

Cole’s picture, in

now

its

day acclaimed a masterpiece, has

a two-fold interest in the historic sense

;

it is

a beauti-

ful record of a pristine forest Niagara that has long ago

vanished;

and

it

is

manner of painting



no longer favored,

artists.

I

an example of a method and

in itself

—one might almost

say, of seeing

Nature

perhaps not attainable by modern

should add, that

I

only

know

Cole’s “Niagara”

:

THE NIAGARA IN ART. through engravings.

I

141

have made considerable inquiry,

especially of the directors of the principal art collections in

me

America, but none of them has been able to inform

whose hands the

owned by Joshua

original painting

S.

In 1831

is.

it

was

Engravings of Cole’s “Niagara”

Bates.

were published by Walker, engraved by T.

now

in

in Boston, in 1832.

Woodcock and

It

was

also

published in Baltimore by

Robert Reid.

Lord Morpeth, afterwards the Earl of

Carlisle, visited

He

Niagara Falls and wrote poetry about them.

many

also

friends in America, one of the best being Carlisle appears to

Prescott, the historian.

have asked him

to procure a painting of the cataract, with

shown by

the following extract

made

W. H.

what

from one of Mr.

result

is

Prescott’s

letters

Boston, U.

My

Dear Carlisle

S.,

January

27, 1851.

I wrote you from the country that, returned to town, I should lose no time in endeavoring to look up a good painting of the Falls of Niagara. I have not neglected this but though I found it easy enough to get paintings of the grand cataract, I have not till lately been able to meet with what I wanted. I will tell you how this came about. When Bulwer, your Minister, was here, I asked him, as he has a good taste in the arts, to see if he could meet with any good picture of Niagara while he was in New York. Some time after, he wrote me that he

when

:

I

;

had met with “a very beautiful picture of the Falls, by a Frenchman.” It so happened, that I had seen this same picture much commended in the New York papers, and I found that the artist’s name was Lebron, a person of whom I happened to know something, as a letter from the Viscount Santarem, in Paris, commended him to me as a “very distinguished artist,” but the note arriving last summer, while I was absent, I had never seen Mr. Lebron. I requested my friend, Mr. of New York, on whose ,

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

142

judgment

I

connoisseur

place

more

whom

reliance than on that of any other know, and who has himself a very

I

pretty collection of pictures, to write

He

me

his opinion of the

and I accordwhich is now in my own house. It is about five feet by three and a half, and exhibits, which is the most difficult thing, an entire view of the Falls, both on the Canada and American side. The great difficulty to overcome is the milky shallowness of the waters, where work.

fully confirmed Bulwer’s report;

ingly bought the picture,

the

foam diminishes

cataract.

I

so

much

the apparent height of the

think you will agree that the artist has

managed

In the distance a black thunderstorm is very well. A bursting over Goat Island and the American Falls. steamboat, the “Maid of the Mist,” which has been plying for some years on the river below, forms an object by which the eye can measure, in some degree, the stupendous proportions of the cataract. On the edge of the Horseshoe Fall is the fragment of a ferry-boat which, more than a year since, was washed down to the brink of the precipice, and has been there detained until within a week, when, I see by the papers, it has been carried over into the abyss. I mention these little incidents that you may understand them, being somewhat different from what you saw when you were at Niagara and perhaps you may recognize some change in the form of the Table Rock itself, some tons of which, carrying away a carriage and horses standing on it at the time, slipped into the gulf a year or more since. this

;

send the painting out by the “Canada,” February being the first steamer which leaves this port for Liverpool, and as I have been rather unlucky in some of I shall

1

2th,

my

consignments,

I

think

it

will be as safe to address the

box at once to you, and it will await your order at Liverpool, where it will probably arrive the latter part of February. I shall be much disappointed if it does not please you well enough to hang upon your walls as a faithful representation of the great cataract; and I trust you will gratify me by accepting it as a souvenir of your friend across the water. I assure you it pleases me much to think there is

THE NIAGARA IN ART. anything

which

I

can send you from this quarter of the world

will give

And

143

you pleasure.

.

.

.

believe me, dearest Carlisle,

Ever

faithfully yours,

W. H. It

may

be well to remind the reader that the historian

Prescott was nearly blind;

and, incidentally, to correct his

The

statement about the horses and carriage.

Table Rock occurred

midday

feed,

great

fall

who had

and was washing

his vehicle,

felt

preliminary cracking, and escaped, with the horses

empty omnibus being carried Lebron, or his work,

I find

now more than

It is

into

the

New York

;

below.

gulf

the the

Of

no record.

half a century since Frederic

Church painted Niagara

of

The noonday, June 25, 1850. taken off his horses for

at

driver of an omnibus, their

Prescott.

Falls.

When

his picture

Edward was

first

was declared to be the greatest Niagara painting ever made. That appeared to express the consensus of the most capable critical opinion of the day. In the half century and more that has passed exhibited, in

in 1857,

it

since,

countless canvases have undertaken to express the

spirit

of the Niagara scene;

picture, recently, in the I

but as

could but echo the verdict of 1857.

that surpasses

Church It is

it,

in the ranks of

not a vast canvas

but long after he

studied Church’s

I

—seven

at

Washington,

know

nothing that ranks with

is still first

three and a half.

I

Corcoran Gallery

Niagara

it.

of nothing

Frederic E.

artists.

or eight feet or so, by

One rather forgets just what it shows; may find his mind dwelling in quiet delight

on the vision of a sublime onward movement of emerald water, which falls majestically into an impenetrable abyss.

Something of the greatness of plicity, in its

this picture lies in its sim-

freedom from distracting and

belittling acces-



THE NIAGARA IN ART.

144

One draws from

sories.

uplift of

it

something of the

and

thrill

comes to the rightly-attuned soul

spirit that

contemplation of any great expression of nature

—a

in

sweep

of ocean billows, or a night full of stars.

The

genius of Church, as expressed in this picture, had

due recognition

Ten years

in his time.

after the “Niagara”

was painted, it won a prize at the Paris Exposition of 1867. It was widely exhibited in Europe and returning to America found a fit and fortunate abiding place in the ;

The

Corcoran Gallery.

an appro-

capital of the nation is

priate place for the greatest painting of Niagara Falls. It is related

at

of Church that during the

Niagara, he painted very

“He

little.

summer he spent many days

passed

there, not busily sketching all the time, but

wandering about

with his eyes and his heart brooding on the cataract, sitting

sometimes for hours, studying the shifting splendors of the

and having made

spectacle;

his sketches,

came home, and

two months of devotion produced this picture.” His method is commended to artists who are under the cloud of in

realism.

Church’s picture, ignoring

everything

heart and soul and essence of the scene,

and the most poetic Fortunately, as

They

is

not always

the

case

with

a

great

chromo-engravings of Church’s

are hard to find, nowadays, and have to

be well paid for; after the picture

the

—picture of Niagara ever painted.

picture, there exist excellent

“Niagara.”

but

the most real

is

but the original engraving,

was

worth paying well

painted, for.

is, if

There

made soon

in

good condition, a prize

is

also,

in

the National

Gallery of Scotland, at Edinburgh, another “Niagara” by

Church.

The

half century

and more that has elapsed since Church

achieved his masterpiece, has not, so far as

I

am

aware,

produced anything on the Niagara theme that eclipses

it

in

THE NIAGARA IN ART. Niagara has been

merit.

the studies of

works of

it

—and

is

still

145

—much

painted, but

command wide attention as Many of America’s

that could

are surprisingly few.

art,

best art galleries

—most

of them, in fact

—contain

no Ni-

agara. It is

pleasant to be able to record that on at least one oc-

Commonwealth of New York has taken

casion the

cognizance of Niagara as an art subject.

official

Prior to the Co-

lumbian Exposition, the State commissioned P. C. Flynne, then resident at Niagara Falls, to paint a picture of the cataract for exhibition in the

The completed work

cago.

of the Niagara paintings eight by fifteen feet.

Canadian it is

at

any rate

the artist presented that time

it

if it

it

now

exhibited, the canvas being

reveals

and

skilfully

Building at Chi-

probably one of the largest

embraces both the American and

It

and

falls;

New York

is

no particular

inspiration,

intelligently painted.

to the State of

New

In 1894

York, and since

has held a conspicuous place in the Senate lobby

of the Capitol.

It

may

be noted that the unfinished mural

work of William M. Hunt, in the Capitol at Albany, was have included some treatment of the Niagara theme. Louis R. Mignot, a

New York

artist,

to

exhibited at the

Columbian Exposition a study of Niagara which long since probably found

its

way

though the “Niagaras”

to

some private

collection.

Al-

in public galleries are few, there are

beyond question many, often of great excellence, cherished in private

A

hands. reflection

little

suggests that the real Niagara

—not

the wearisome depiction of detail, but the poetic soul of the

green flood

—should appeal with peculiar force to the

of marines.

I incline to

the belief that of

all

artist

the myriad

of Niagara studies the very few which have superlative art excellence find their merit purely in the study of the

move-

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

146

ment, color and mass effects of the water.

Niagara

akin to the ocean and

is

though a matter of

is

it

This phase of

no great surprise,

one of the greatest of

satisfaction, that

marine painters found his way to the banks of the Niagara, not to draw the detail of the scenery, but to paint a master-

This was Mauritz Frederick

moving waters.

piece of the

Hans de Haas. in the art annals

The name de Haas has an honored both of America and Europe. At

three artists of distinction have borne

Anglicize his

His

name, was born

first

in

least

Maurice, to

it.

Rotterdam

in 1832.

and study were in that city and the Hague. was painting water-colors in London. Becom-

earlier life

In 1851 he

ing a pupil of Louis Meyer,

—then recognized as the great—he developed a of

marine painter of Europe

est

place

marked character and only the

artists,

always marines

but the public, and his pictures

—were

hibitions of Europe.

ment of

style

His work pleased not

excellence.

artist to the

welcomed for the

—nearly

principal art ex-

He was given the curious appointDutch Navy; and royalty in the per-

son of Queen Sophia of Holland bought one of his best

known

paintings

upon the

(“Dutch Fishing Boats” ), and bestowed

artist special

after his marriage, he thereto,

From

it is

said,

marks of her

came

medals.

On

study of

its

in the

Academy coming

American

falls.

to Niagara,

attractions;

There may

having seen

In 1859, soon

York, being induced

was a conspicuous

art world, a

member of many

of Design and the winner of

he spent some time

in a

but, ignoring the great cataract,

found a subject worthy of

m

favor.

that date until his death in 1895, he

the National

call

New

by his friend and patron, August Belmont.

and honored figure

the

to

his genius in the rapids

be readers of this page

at the International

who

above

can

re-

Exposition in Paris,

1878, de Haas’ superb picture of these rapids.

It

was



THE NIAGARA IN ART. the subject of

much comment and

the art press, and greatest

works of

was a

It

it is

this

reflective

147

criticism, especially in

entitled to rank, I think,

French

visitor at

the

—M.

Au-

Niagara

guste Laugel, author of “Les Etats-Unis pendant (Paris, 1864)

among

master of marine painting.

—who thought that the only

artist

la

Guerre'

who

could

have painted the scene, the only one capable of rendering ((

was Ruysdael. “He would doubtless have chosen a day when the waters were darkest, when great sweeping clouds throw heavy and threatening shadows, when the pines bend under a cold and I do not agree with M. Laugel in this. furious wind.” Ruysdael’s penchant was for the melancholy moods of Nala terrible

majeste de ce spectacle

whereas

ture;

Niagara

is

in

my

thought the characteristic aspect of

bright and peaceful.

Countless modern artists

amateurs

—have

painted

Fenn’s masterpiece

made

is

—those

or

of

it.

J.

as

Niagara.

well

as

Harry

Joseph Pennell has

his “Niagara.”

excellent studies of

note

engraved

Henry

Hill,

about 1889,

etched a large plate of the Canadian Fall, producing a

Two

beautiful, genuinely artistic picture.

studies in

oil,

one a summer, the other a winter view of the cataracts, by

W.

C. Bauer, are to be included

modern work on in the

this subject.

hands of a

Niagara paintings

among

the thoroughly good

These canvases were recently

New York dealer. of F. V. Du Mond,

Notable, too, are the

reproduced in photo-

to illustrate William Trumbull’s poem, “The Legend of the White Canoe.” So are J. Hamilton’s engraving on steel from T. Taylor’s drawing, and the steel

gravure

plate

This

engraved last,

by Jones,

published

many

from

Frankenstein’s painting.

years ago in Philadelphia, gives

a good general view of the Falls, from Hennepin’s Point.

An

earlier painting,

showing the rapids above the American

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

148 Fall,

and Judge Porter’s

published in all

London

the published pictures

John Bornet’s

But

all

the

work

Many

—even

was engraved and

of the most striking of

a large colored lithograph, after

is

published by

falls,

obviously impossible to enumerate

it is

all

bridge,

One

showing both

original,

Goupil in 1855.

first

in 1831.

the good

—on

work

this subject.

pictures of the Niagara Falls have been published

few of them are of a character

in Buffalo, but

cluded in these notes.

American

ings of F. Holloway, showing the

A

published in this city about i860.

by Hall

Falls views, lithographed

Steele’s Press in 1844,

has

these were

portfolio of Niagara

& Mooney little

and published

art merit,

the views being badly redrawn from Bartlett.

Beard painted the old Lewiston bridge, lithographed in 1850; but

pioneer

artist,

Several

I

most of

William H.

his picture being

do not find that he or Buffalo’s

James H. Beard, ever painted the

artists,

from the

fall

Ferry and the Horseshoe from Table Rock;

from

to be in-

Mention may be made of the draw-

whose work

is

Falls.

particularly well

known

in

the Niagara region, have in recent years produced pictures

of the Falls which should have mention in our interview.

In the Historical Building at Buffalo hang Reginald C.

Coxe’s study of the Rapids, and his large and very lovely canvas of the Luna

Here

also

general scene from Cole’s.

Fall.

Raphael Beck’s

is

much

the

fine painting of the Falls, a

same point of view as Thomas

Like Cole, Mr. Beck has painted a primitive Niag-

ara with no buildings, bridges or other signs of the white

man’s intrusion.

Among

the

many

interesting pictures, old

good and bad, preserved

at

Niagara

and modern,

Falls, the visitor is sure

to study the fanciful, clever paintings depicting

Man’s Fact”

“The Red

—an Indian maid being swept over the

fall in

-

THE NIAGARA IN ART

149

.

a sacrificial canoe;

and “The White Man’s Fancy,”

which the personified

Spirit of the Cataract

These

mist.

in

beckons in the

made widely

familiar by process James Francis Brown, resiNiagara Falls and at Buffalo.

paintings,

reproduction, were painted by

dent for some years at

Of

all

who have

the artists

studied Niagara none ap-

Amos

proaches in comprehensive thoroughness the work of

W.

Sangster.

In the local annals of the region Mr. Sang-

ster

may

be styled the

fairly

artist

of the Niagara.

A

life-

long resident of Buffalo, he gave his productive years to

Lake

painting and etching, usually of nearby subjects. Erie,

I

think,

common

was

skill, its

his chief delight.

He

painted, with un-

His

shores and waters, in storm and calm.

marines, harbor views and kindred subjects, have long been

deservedly popular.

It

was

in the early 8o’s or thereabouts

that he conceived the laborious project of illustrating the

Niagara river from lake to

lake.

overcome, and the work was issued date 1886, though

was dedicated

its

Many

difficulties

in folio parts,

completion was a year or so

to the artist’s personal friend,

land, then President.

The work

were

bearing

later.

It

Grover Cleve-

includes an ample descrip-

and was well printed. The great feature of it is Mr. Sangster’s art one hundred and fifty-three etchings on copper, from his own drawings, many of them being

tive text,



full-page plates. is

The

illustration of the river

and the

falls

thorough and in the main satisfactory; and some of the

large plates rank

Numerous ited the Falls,

among

artists,

the best

some of

we have

of the cataract.

established repute, have vis-

and painted them,

in recent years, but of the

ultimate destination of their canvases I can only write, in

some

on newspaper authority. I well recall, a few years ago, a sojourn at Niagara of Gilbert Munger, who years before had been there and painted Niagara Falls by cases,

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

150

commission from Emperor William this picture,

is

it

I. of Germany. For was decorated by his Em-

recorded, he

peror.

Then first

was

sold to

P. Calderon

Cameron, a Scotch

one, after exhibition in this country and Europe,

finally

The

fire.

picture,

H. H. Warner of Rochester



met

make

its

artist

it

was

fate in

London, where

it

of patent

The huge

can-

was ruined

in a

had created some sensation

way down

in painting this

the precipice, so that he might

After the destruction of his

Mr. Cameron came again

—and

set

up

his easel

below the cataract.

to

on the

The second

pleted, in a specially-built studio at

Brunswick, N. long.

—and

stated, $30,000.

his studies in mid-air.

picture,

1890

for,

by having himself suspended by means of a tackle

reaching half

It

J.,

was ten

Niagara ice



I

think about

bridge in the gorge

painting, as finally

com-

“River Rest,” near

and twenty-one

feet high

was described by a newspaper writer

completion as “a study in greys.”

its

artist,

painted two vast pictures of Niagara Falls in winter.

medicine fame, vas

was

there

who The

at the

New feet

time of

present where-

Its

abouts, or ultimate fate, I do not know.

Another very large painting of the Falls was made about 1889 by M. Hottes, a Virginian,

who

claimed to be the

first

West Point after the Civil of war to gentler pursuits, he

cadet sent from that State to

War.

Turning from the

arts

studied painting in Munich, being a fellow-student of Will-

iam M. Chase.

I

confess ignorance of his

regard to his great Niagara for

it



work except

in

great at least in dimensions,

covered 190 square feet of canvas, and was com-

pleted in the spring of 1890, in a large hall in Rochester.

Mr. Hottes had begun

his masterpiece in the old

building on the Canadian side of the Falls

;

Museum

but after some

months of work he concluded that the mist and dampness

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

151

He

of that place were detrimental to his picture.

moved

it

to Rochester,

where

it

thereupon

was completed.

general view of the cataract on a bright

It

summer

was a and

day,

according to contemporary criticism in the Rochester press

was “a great work, and would do day.” What has become of it?

It

artist

would seem as

of the

if

such

and Cameron’s could hardly be

large paintings as this if

any

credit to

lost

they have real artistic worth.

These notes on Niagara

in art

would be sadly incomplete

The

without some mention of the Niagara panoramas.

younger generation knows nothing of tainment.

remember

enter-

In fact, one has to be older than he likes to be, to it

at all

patriarch, he will

—and even know

little

he be a veritable

at that, unless

of the panorama except in

its

The genuine old-fashioned panorama was

years.

last

form of

this

a

popular form of edifying entertainment more than a century ago.

It

period

;

continued, in this country,

to the Civil

perhaps, in rural and remote towns,

The

longer.

down

writer’s earliest recollections,

it

War

lingered yet

which hazily em-

brace such events as the siege of Vicksburg and the death cf Lincoln, also include, as of about that time, a wonderful

evening spent in contemplation of a panorama of “The Streets of Still

New

vivid in

York,” as shown

memory

is

the

stood on the edge of the

in a certain village hall.

row of smoking

little

oil

lamps which

and

stage as footlights,

cast

beams on the thoroughfares of the metropthey unrolled from a great cylinder of canvas planted

their uncertain olis as

upright at the left of the stage, and as slowly were rolled

up again on the

right.

There was much creaking and an oc-

casional hitch, as the deus ex

Most of what vivid

is

that

machina wearied

panorama showed

is

at the crank.

forgotten

;

but

still

a picture of a fallen horse, probably on Broadway,

with the crowd characteristic of such an incident.

What

the



THE NIAGARA IN ART.

152

lecturer

may have

said of the splendors of

wholly faded; but very distinctly this scene,

which was declared

terpieces of this

American

to be

was.

it

Midway

in

marvelous entertainment the curtain went down, while

the cylinders of canvas were changed and

much

as pressmen

melodeon

now handle

new ones

set

up

their rolls of printing paper

—relieved the tedium



a young woman of the wait with mu-

meanwhile the orchestra

for the press; at a

has

“one of the great mas-

perhaps

art,” as

New York

recalled his praise of

is

sacred and patriotic. The climax came toward the close, when the canvas, creaking on its rollers, showed a regiment of blue-coated soldiers marching past the old Astor House and the girl at the wheezy melodeon played with all her soul and both hands and feet, “When Johnny comes marching Home Again,” and the crowded audience of perhaps two hundred village people joined in chorusing the “Hurrah!” Oh, yes, the old panorama was sical “pieces,”

;

not such a bad entertainment after a

little

boy with

all

times since has offered

much

Long before “The

first

Indeed

if cne were Grand opera some-

especially

less entertainment.

Streets of

New York”

toured the

rolls,

there were panoramas of Ni-

I suspect that

Niagara panoramas were the

country in great canvas agara.

all,

the world yet to see.

ones seen in America, although in Europe, in the eigh-

teenth century, there were

shown panoramas of

battles

and

But before our Great West was known, Niagara was America’s greatest wonder, and it was of religious subjects.

early painted, not so

much

for exhibition abroad. find

for

Thus,

American contemplation

as

autumn of

we

in the

Robert Burford, an English

faithfully sketching the Falls

and

1832,

artist of speculative bent,

vicinity.

He

returned to

London, where a panorama of Niagara was painted from his drawings

and exhibited

at a building called the

Pano-

THE NIAGARA IN ART. The canvas probably was

in Leicester Square.

rama,

we

great in extent, since (as

at the

learn

same

probably long ago dust or ashes

shows

its

main

torical value.

features,

is

The

time.

painting itself

is

but a folding sketch, which

;

preserved and

is

of no slight his-

the location of buildings long

It indicates

since gone if not forgotten,

not

from a surviving pam-

show) the “Siege of Antwerp”

phlet which advertised the

was exhibited there

153

among them

old stairway, the guide’s house,

etc.,

Forsyth’s hotel, the

on the Canadian

and Whitney’s hotel on the American. What as Luna Fall is here named Montmorency!

is

side;

now known

Burford’s panorama was apparently used to promote public interest in a projected City of the Falls,

which

it

was

proposed to build on the Canadian Heights above the catar-

The prospectus of this city which was offered to the London investor of 1832 was in a literary way as great a work of art as the panorama. It was pictured as the prosact.

pective rival of the the

most famous European

most secluded privacy can be enjoyed

most refined ation

resorts,

in the

“where

midst of the

Economy, Recrewhere the well-dressed and

society, yet so regulated, that



and Pleasure are united

well-conducted, without reference to rank or wealth, may,

and

Grandees and Princes.”

do, mingle with Lords,

Al-

though the Canadian City of the Falls has not developed quite

on the

lines

emphasized

in the prospectus of 1832,

it

has grown into a comfortable community with a national pleasure-ground of surpassing beauty and industrial features which would vastly have surprised the promoters in the days of Burford’s panorama.

Other panoramas of which

shown

in

American

cities in

I

have record were Brewer’s,

the ’50’s,

made

up, apparently,

of canvases of “Niagara River and Falls in winter,” the

Mammoth Cave and

summer and

the Prairies;

and the

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

154

Baker-street Bazaar in London, where in this decade of the

was exhibited the “Grand Moving Mirror of Ameri-

’5o’s,

can Scenery, painted on 25,000 feet of canvas, comprising

Mammoth Cave

the Falls of Niagara, the

of Kentucky,”

Possibly those two art-expositions were identical.

etc.

The name

of G. N. Frankenstein

place on the roll of

corded of him.

American

in the realms of art in

not hold a familiar

Little

Cincinnati claimed him,

why

ihe Press can be believed (and

complishment

may

art.

I

seems to be

re-

and,

believe;

not?), his achievements

were of the most

His one ac-

notable.

which we are interested was the making

of one hundred original paintings of Niagara Falls, studies for his

York c!id

if

as

panorama of the great cataract. The New I find some mention of him, praise. His genius was regarded as beyond

press of 1853, in which

not lack in

We

question.

can only judge

work, by what was said of

it

now

of the quality of his

at the time.

At any

had the high virtue of industry, for he was often

rate,

he

ac Niagara,

from about 1840 to 1852. In Harper’s Monthly of 1853, be found some account of his work, with many wood-

may cuts in

from

and a picture of the

his paintings,

artist himself,

winter garb, standing in the snow before his easel,

“The

gently painting the winter scene.

we have

artist

whose labors

so largely borrowed,” writes the editor, “has

it.

He

has painted

made

He

the study of the great cataract a labor of love.

summered and wintered by

dili-

it

has

by night

and by day; by sunlight and by moonlight; under a sum-

mer

sun,

and amid the rigors of a Canadian winter, when

the grey rocks into icicles

upon

wore an

icy robe

and the spray congealed

his stiffened garments.

The

sketches from

which we have selected have grown up under a half score of years.” ing, Frankenstein’s

If

one

may judge by

panorama was

a real

his

hands for

all this

work of

herald-

art;

but

THE NIAGARA IN ART. whatever

merit,

its

155

no doubt long ago passed into the

it

limbo of the forgotten.

There may have been yet other panoramas of our cataract;

but

it

must

not the

suffice to notice the latest, if

last,

which was for a time famous as the Cyclorama of Niagara. It

was an

enterprise chiefly

of Buffalo,

who

promoted by several gentlemen

put a generous amount of

and for a time enjoyed the prospect of

money

into

it,

That

rich returns.

these were not realized has nothing to do with the art side

of the affair, which tion here.

It

the only side suitable for considera-

is

came about

that Paul Philippoteaux, a very

more eminent

clever French artist, son of a yet

was commissioned

Philippoteaux,

He was

an

artist

to paint

of established reputation

Cabanel and Leon Cogniet, the winner of the Bcoles des

Beaux Arts and of

He had

titions.

medals

already painted several cycloramas,

Of

at

Rome compe-

them the long-popular Battle of Gettysburg, when

who

Falls.

the pupil of

;

first

the Prix de

he was engaged for the “Niagara.”

Felix

sire,

Niagara

among

in 1886,

several assistants

shared with him the making of the gigantic picture,

Adrien Shulz,

any

at

He was

rate, is entitled to notice.

Parisian, pupil of Dardoize

and Hanoteau, and

a

his pictures

had for many years been features of the Salon. In the spring of 1888 the Cyclorama of Niagara was

London

York

opened

to the

As was

to be expected, considering the artists,

inely a

work of

art.

ner of exhibition

public, in

The

—the

it

time the

formed

London

was

—was

it

with

pleasing and effective;

public flocked to see

it.

—or rather, when

in

was genumanall

from the midst of the great

four hundred feet long

dred feet

it

delightful, the

spectators viewing

able accessories of light,

which

painting

Street, Westminster.

circumference

;

and

favorcircle

and for a

The canvas was set up,

fifty feet high.

four hun-

Here were

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

156

twenty thousand square feet of Niagara beauty, majesty and

power made

even to the stay-at-home British public,

visible

at a shilling a head.

M. Philippoteaux to

So

successful

was

it,

for a time, that

This was sold

painted a second Niagara.

an English company, with a view to exhibition on the

Whatever was the fate of that painting, the knows not. Many and vexatious busi-

continent.

present chronicler

ness troubles arising, the original painting

America,

and

Chicago.

I

with

exhibited,

have not traced

was brought

discouraging

returns,

subsequent fortunes.

its

not been exhibited for some years, and

It

to at

has

probably in the

is

oblivion of storage.

The

principal public art collections of

few paintings of the Niagara cataract or

America contain

The Cor-

rapids.

coran Gallery at Washington easily leads the

with

list

The Pennsylvania Academy

incomparable Church.

its

of Fine

Arts at Philadelphia has an interesting miniature of Niagara Falls, from the capable brush of William Russel Birch,

George Loring Brown painted a “Niagara by Moonlight,”

which sketches of that Mass.

;

and

in

state

artist

is

owned

Malden,

in

Museum hangs Mortimer

the Detroit

L.

Smith’s “Niagara Falls in Winter.”

The Carnegie

Institute,

Boston

Museum

Worcester, Mass. cinnati

Niagara

;

Museum

Arts

;

the

the Albright Art

of St. Louis; the

Art

Museum

the Art Institute of Chicago the Metropolitan

;

of

the Cin-

Museum

City, contain in their collections

of Art,

no paintings of

Falls.

That they do not

may

Fine

of

Museum; and

New York

Pittsburgh;

the City Art

Gallery, Buffalo;

is

hardly matter of surprise.

What

be termed the great passages in Nature, do not neces-

sarily inspire great art.

Our

art galleries probably

would

be searched in vain for pictures of the Mississippi or the

I

:

THE NIAGARA IN ART. Amazon, the

we

Falls of the Zambesi,

157

Mount Everest

—Mount Blanc or Washington.

say

no particular appeal to the artist, because of the which give them preeminence in geography. It

used to be said of Niagara



or

shall

These things make

Falls, as

qualities

no doubt of other

unusual phases of Nature, that “they cannot be painted.”

This attitude of mind

from C.

F.

is

illustrated

by the following passage

Arfwedson, who toured hereabouts three-quar-

ters of a century

“Long before

ago I

arrived at Niagara,

repeatedly been told that

it

is

I

had often and

not in the power of

describe and paint these falls in true colors.

with Americans

who went

to attempt to depict



so far as to consider

Niagara by word, pen, or

I it

man

to

even met a sacrilege

pencil.

One



day I still have a lively recollection of my surprise happened to pass a bookseller’s shop in New York, in company with a native American; several excellent drawings of Niagara were exposed in the window for general inspecI stopped, and drew his attention to them, expressing, tion. at the same time, my delight at the various engravings. Uncertain whether I actually meant what I said, he eyed me a long while with a penetrating look, and exclaimed at last, with a sneer, ‘You have not seen Niagara!’ and then cut short his conversation. This remark hurt me at the time, and I was almost resolved to follow the example of a certain traveller, who heard so much said of the waterworks at Philadelphia that he determined not to see them at all. Luckily I did not act upon the same principle at Niagara; but my curiosity became so excited, that I can only compare it

to the sensation I felt

when

entering

Rome

for the

first

wandering in the streets of Pompeii. In truth, there are no words expressive enough, no pen gifted with sufficient inspiration, no pencil endowed with an adequate share of poetical imagination, to describe Niagara as it time, or

actually is.”

,

THE NIAGARA IN ART.

158

In a more confident vein Anthony Trollope:

is

the following

comment by

came across an artist at Niagara who was attempting draw the spray of the waters. ‘You have a difficult

“I to

he replied, ‘to a is impossible/ I said. ‘You have no right to say so till I have finished my picture/ he replied. I acknowledged the justice of his rebuke, regretted that I could not remain till the completion of his work should enable me to revoke my words, and passed on. Then I began to reflect whether I did not intend to try a task as difficult in describing the Falls, and whether I felt any of that proud self-confidence which kept him happy at any rate while his task was in hand. I will not say that it is as difficult to describe aright that rush of waters, as it is to paint it well. But I doubt whether it is subject/ said

man who

‘All subjects are difficult/

I.

desires to do well.’

‘But yours, I fear,

not quite as difficult to write a description that shall interest the reader, as it is to paint a picture of them that shall be pleasant to the beholder/’

As

for

mere painting the work of a Church proves that

the Falls can be painted, not merely with realism, but with subtlest spirit. Is

it

In a word, then (to be done with this)

greatness with him, and does not find

it

lying in wait at this

or that specially distinguished spot of the earth tographer, Falls

:

not true of the painter as the poet, that he carries his

;

I

grant,

comes grandly

into his

own

?

The pho-

at a

Niagara

but Nature’s highest appeals are largely independent

of the accidents of rock and water. art never can find its

ing the physical, no matter on

sented in Nature.

The

supreme expression

how grand

painter’s noblest in

merely depict-

a scale

it is

pre-

JOHN VANDERLYN’S TO NIAGARA FALLS IN

VISIT

HE

American

first

Falls, so far as I

Vanderlyn.

artist to visit

and paint Niagara

have been able to learn, was John

In preceding pages

As

brief note of his work.

1802

(129-130)

there has

come

I

have made

into

my

hands

a hitherto unpublished narrative of his visit to Niagara in 1802,

seems appropriate,

it

in

printing

it,

to

add some

further facts regarding his eventful career.

There

Many

exists

no

biography

published

years ago the story of his

life

was

of

Vanderlyn.

written, either by

himself or from his dictation, but while in the hands of a

New York Much there

publisher the manuscript

material still

was then

exists,

however,

was destroyed by

fire.

which could not be replaced;

lost

much

regarding him which

it is

hoped may yet be put before the public by a competent and Vanderlyn was a striking figure

sympathetic hand. art history of

and other

in the

America, and his relations with Aaron Burr

celebrities

of his

day give to his career an

exceptional interest.

James Parton,

in his

“Life and Times of Aaron Burr,”

has told the story of Burr’s

first

meeting with Vanderlyn:

“The interest which Colonel Burr took in the education of youth has been before alluded to. He always had a protege in training, upon whose culture he bestowed unwearied pains and more money than he could always afford. The story of Vanderlyn, the most distinguished protege he

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

160

VISIT

ever had, was one which was often related in these later years.

“He was riding along in a curricle and pair, one day during his senatorial term, when one of his horses lost a shoe; and he stopped at the next blacksmith’s to have it replaced. It was a lonely country place, not far from Kingston, in Ulster county, New York. He strolled about while the blacksmith was at work, and, returning, saw upon the side of a stable near by, a charcoal drawing of his

own curricle and horses. The picture, which must have been executed in a very few minutes, was wonderfully accurate and spirited, and he stood admiring it for some time. Turning round, he noticed a boy a little way off, dressed in coarse homespun. “ ‘Who did that ?’ inquired Burr, pointing to the picture. “ ‘I did it,” said the boy.

“The astonished traveler entered into conversation with him intelligent, though ignorant, learned that he was born in the neighborhood, had had no instruction in drawing, and was engaged to work for the blacksmith six months. Burr wrote a few words on a piece of paper, the lad, found

and “

said, as

‘My

he wrote:

boy, you are too smart a fellow to stay here

all

your life. If ever you should want to change your employment and see the world, just put a clean shirt in your pocket, go to New York, and go straight to that address,’ handing the boy the paper. “He then mounted his curricle and was out of sight in a moment. Several months passed away, and the circumstances had nearly faded from the busy senator’s recollecAs he was sitting at breakfast one morning, at tion. Richmond Hill, a servant put into his hand a small paper parcel, saying that it was brought by a boy who was waiting Burr opened the parcel, and found a coarse, outside. country-made clean shirt. Supposing it to be a mistake, he ordered the boy to be shown in. Who should enter but the Genius of the Roadside, who placed in Burr’s hand the The lad was identical piece of paper he had given him.

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN Burr took him into

warmly welcomed.

161

1802.

his family, educated

him, and procured him instruction in the art which nature had indicated should be the occupation of his life-time.

Afterward, Burr assisted him to Europe, where he spent five years in the study of painting, and became an artist worthy of the name.”

Regarding

this story, of

which there are several versions,

one of Vanderlyn’s friends sent a letter of correction to the historian, Parton, lished;

the letter

is

when

his Life of

appended

Burr was

first

pub-

to the later editions of that

was Robert Gosman, now deceased, son of the Rev. Dr. John Gosman, who in 1808 became the pastor of the old Dutch church in Kingston, and was its

The

work.

first

writer

pastor to preach in the English language.

Gosman wrote with an be questioned, and

I

intimate knowledge which could not

can do no better than to quote a portion

of his letter correcting Parton, as

it

forms our most authori-

tative statement as to the early years of the first artist

who

.

.

during the

American

painted Niagara Falls:

“Rondout, N. “

Robert

.

Y.,

Vanderlyn honored

February

me

11, 1858.

with his confidence

I minuted, at his years of his life. request, from his own lips, the principal events of his career. As is ever the case with the aged, the incidents of his

last

five

were most vividly recalled. The circumstances acquaintance with Colonel Burr, and the friendship and favor with which that eminent man honored him,

earlier life

of his

first

I recorded many anecdotes illustrative of the character of ‘his best friend. This but added to the strength of a conviction I had had for many years, that the popular idea of Burr’s character was erroneous, and would be corrected in time. But to my purpose, which was to correct the anecdote as to Vanderlyn in your recent biography of Colonel Burr. That

were favorite subjects of discourse; and

5

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

162

VISIT

in the main, as it had been in circulation But it is an invention purely. “Vanderlyn was born at Kingston, in 1775. His grandfather, a Hollander, was a portrait painter of decided talent, though he did not make painting a profession his father had the same taste and bias; and from his earliest years John Vanderlyn showed the direction of his powers. The Vanderlyn family were in comfortable circumstances and highly esteemed. John was educated at Kingston Academy, then an institution of high standing, and was a is

related

for

many

by you, years.

;

At the age of seventeen he passed York, and had, in a paint and color shop, and at an evening drawing-school, some very seasonable He turned his attention to oil painting the advantages. summer afterwards, copying at home two of Stuart’s portraits lent by a friend, one being that of Colonel Burr. This copy was purchased by the then representative in Congress from this district, who was a warm friend of Colonel Burr, and who mentioned the fact to the Colonel at the session of 1795, the latter being then in the Federal Senate. ‘Colonel Burr never forgot anything,’ as Vanderlyn frequently said, and he did not forget that his friend had spoken very warmly of the decided talent of the youthful proficient in the classics.

a year in

New

painter.

“In the summer following, Vanderlyn, when at New York, received a note without signature, asking him to call at a certain place. He did so it was the office of Colonel Burr; and at the instance of J. B. Prevost, who was there, and who said the note was in the Colonel’s handwriting, Vanderlyn proceeded to the residence of Burr, at Richmond Hill. The young artist was warmly met by Colonel Burr, became an inmate of his house for several weeks, fulfilling orders which came through his friend; and in the autumn of 1795 he was placed under the instruction of Gilbert ;

Stuart, at Philadelphia.

“Vanderlyn remained with Stuart about a year, when Burr he had taught him all he could, and said he was then ready for Paris. Colonel Burr pro-

the latter told Colonel

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN

163

1802.

vided his young friend with the means; Vanderlyn went 1796, remaining there between four and five years, and enjoying all the advantages of its admirable

to Paris in

schools in art.

.

.

.

“On he

the occasion of Burr’s Parisian sojourn (1810-11), assisted Vanderlyn pecuniarily, instead of the latter

assisting him.

Vanderlyn was always

straitened cir-

in

cumstances, and never more so than at that time. He was generous to a fault, but rarely had a louis which was not mortgaged ten deep. The ‘Marius at Carthage’ was the only picture he ever exhibited at the Louvre, or indeed

anywhere else in Europe though he painted his ‘Ariadne,’ and made some remarkable copies from Correggio and other masters during his abode there. “I have the honor to be, very respectfully yours, “Robt. Gosman.” ;

The omitted

portions of Mr. Gosman’s letter relate to

current charges against the character of

which we are not

in the present connection, interested.

Returning to America in a

great

Aaron Burr, with

in 1801,

Vanderlyn found himself

He was welcomed

high tide of favor.

and

accomplishments

still

Washington he became a member

promise.

greater

of

as a youth of

the

In

household of

Aaron Burr, who was then Vice President; and there and in New York he was made much of, socially, and received many requests to paint portraits. He refused all commissions at this time, however, but painted the portraits of

Burr and

his daughter Theodosia, both in profile

now widely known through ently the most popular

America when

if

engravings.

and both

He was

not the most capable

appar-

artist

in

autumn of 1802 he set out with a The narrative of that tour was taken down in later years, from the artist’s dictation, by the late Robert Gosman. The original manuscript is now owned by the Rev. Roswell Randall Hoes, chaplain in the in the

friend for Niagara Falls.

:

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

164

United States Navy, stationed

VISIT

at Norfolk,

courtesy the Buffalo Historical Society it,

herewith,

its first

Va.

is

;

through his

enabled to give

publication

JOHN VANDERLYN’S NIAGARA VISIT IN

1802.

In the latter part of September, 1802, Vanderlyn, with

way to Niagara Falls. He purchased a horse and hired a chaise, and with as little baggage as was compatible with the supposed exigencies of a journey through a wilderness comparatively, and his sketching matea young nephew, took his

rials, proceeded from Kingston, up the west bank of the Hudson. Our travellers followed the ordinary route from Albany to Schenectady, thence ascending the valley of the

Mohawk

to Utica.

was on the

first of October that, in passing over the then high hill at Little Falls, the first sketch taken on this journey was made. Here the artist caught a fine view of the Genesee Flats, with a grandly rugged foreground, and the turbulent Mohawk eddying and foaming among the rocks, partially hidden by huge tangled and rough forest trees clinging to its precipitous banks. Utica was then a small town, just emerging from the and condition of a trading post and frontier station having lost the picturesque character and attributes of a garrison town without, as yet, having acquired the grace or comforts of advanced civilization. There was however a very comfortable tavern, for the travel to “the Genesee country” was becoming very great. Simeon DeWitt, the State Surveyor General, had already passed over the country with his Lempriere in hand, erasing the Indian nomenclature, and giving to townships and villages, names ludicrous in their misapplication, and provoking the most biting comparisons. Rome then existed, but it was an aggregation of small tempprary dwellings redolent of discomfort, and a half century could not efface from the artist’s memory a most vigorous remembrance of the activity and sleeplessness of the Roman fleas.

It

;

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN

165

1802.

Passing from Rome to Onondaga Hollow, the travellers met an Indian, a drunken Onondaga, bottle in hand, singing as a refrain “We sell all dis,” and sweeping an imaginary boundary line. A few coppers persuaded the semi-savage to halt whilst the artist took his rapid sketch.

history of this sketch

is

so curious, that

it

The

after

deserves note.

A

year or two afterwards Vanderlyn met, at a friend’s, in of Italian birth, we believe of very Paris, an ecclesiastic benevolent turn and warmly commiserating the condition





The little he knew of them seemed to be drawn from the history of Jesuit missions. He anxiously enquired of Mr. Vanderlyn, on learning that he was an American, as to the condition of the Indians in New York. The artist quietly replied that he could give his reverence an answer briefly, directly and professionally, if he would call at his lodgings next day. The good father did call, and Vanderlyn, without a word, put into his hands this sketch of the drunken Oneida as a statement in brief of the condition of his race. It is equally complimentary to the penetration of the priest and the force of the artist’s pencil, that he took the reply to its fullest extent at a glance. He judiciously dealt out his anathemas, not on the poor savage, but on his tempters and destroyers, laid down the sketch with a sigh, and, though he and Vanderlyn met of the American aborigines.

frequently afterwards never reverted to the subject.

After dipping into Oneida Hollow the travellers ascended a hill whence they caught a glimpse of Oneida lake, and an inadequate sketch was added to the memorials of the tour. Till reaching Manlius, the highway had been tolerable, but thence it was so decidedly bad, even for a backwoods road, that the “chaise” was abandoned, with a bargain to have it sent back to Albany, another horse was purchased, and the residue of the journey to Niagara made on horseback. Their first day’s travel as cavaliers was marked by meeting a lawyer of Vanderlyn’s acquaintance, and the rencontre was attended with the usually disastrous consequences of such meetings. The lawyer tendered his advice as to a short-cut road it was followed and the natural conse;

;

166

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

VISIT

quence was that they consumed several hours in toiling to a deserted clearing at its end, bringing about a catastrophe equivalent to a nonsuit, and compelling a retracement of their steps and proceedings de novo. The artist spoke of his sensations on this, his first experience of the painful solitude of an unbroken forest. Any sound would have been a relief any sight breaking the sameness of the long walls of trees hemming them in, a blessing indeed. There was no breeze to stir the foliage; and the hot noontide sun pouring upon the expanse of decaying vegetable matter, engendered an oppressive and sickening atmosphere. The dead level of the road was peculiarly wearisome to a wayfarer from a land of mountains and valleys, and once it was seriously debated whether it would not be best to turn back to the Hudson. In all his subsequent journeyings, Mr. Vanderlyn declared, he never passed through a more repellant country, and said he was convinced it would not be settled for a century. At Cayuga Bridge the travellers were most kindly entertained by Gen. John Swartwout. Thence they skirted the sandy beach to reach Geneva, then a small village on the hill above the lake. The lake did not strike the artist very forcibly, for with his mind intent upon the grander aspects of nature towards which he was wending, the placid beauty of that charming sheet of water with all its unbroken sylvan surroundings seemed tame and lifeless. From Geneva to Canandaigua, the travellers made their sore way over “a corduroy road,” or a road made of logs



laid crosswise in the

swampy

soil,

its

inequalities unmiti-

A

gated by the slightest covering of earth. Canandaigua, said Mr. Vanderlyn, described rately than he had ever heard it, by calling bump road.”

it it

little

girl

at

more accu“the bump,

At Canandaigua the travellers were hospitably received by Mr. Thomas Morris, to whom they were introduced by a letter from Colonel Burr. Their host at parting gave Mr. Vanderlyn letters to Judge Hamilton of Queenston, Canada, and other Canadian gentlemen, which were ex-

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN ceedingly useful.

1802.

167

Mr. Morris highly commended the idea

of the artist to visit Genesee Falls prior to Niagara, “for,” he remarked, “after seeing the latter, Genesee is hardly worth a glance. But,” said he, “it is a place which will be known hereafter, for there is a capital water power.” The travellers turned off to Genesee Falls, now the site of the city of Rochester. The germ of the present thriving town with its dozen giant mills, consisted of a solitary farm house and a primitive grist mill. The Genesee river falling over three ledges formed three distinct falls. Now the whole stream is diverted to furnish power for the mills, and all the primitive aspect of the scene is lost. A finished pen and ink sketch of the Falls of the Genesee by the still artist’s hand, is in existence. Mr. Vanderlyn and comrade found homely but bounteous entertainment at the farm house spoken of, and as a farther act of hospitality, their host got up a raccoon hunt by torchlight, which proved

highly successful.

From the junction of the cross road to Genesee Falls and the main route, to the next inn was twenty miles, twelve Night closed upon them as of it being unbroken forest. the travellers were toiling wearily over the log causeway of a morass, for they were unhappily in the heart of “the It was moonlight, and endless swamp of Tonawanta.” though this aided their progress, it sadly bewildered them by giving in the fantasies of light and shade, hints to imagination which detected crouching beasts of prey in the gloom, and pictured imaginary houses in the distance. There was no lack of strange sounds in this wilderness, the hoot of an owl being occasionally blended with the scream of a panther. More jaded in mind than body, the travellers reached a clearing and saw a cheering light, just as they had decided to try and perch in a tree till daybreak. The haven of rest proved to be a rude log house, where they were received at midnight and with backwoods kindness treated to the best the cabin afforded. No incident of moment occurred prior to the arrival of Mr.

Vanderlyn and

his

nephew

at

New Amsterdam, now more

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

168

appropriately called Buffaloe.

more than a

cluster of

travellers crossed to

The

VISIT place

was then

little

log huts, so uninviting that the

Canada, where they found the

evi-

dences of an older and more thriving country and got comfortable quarters at a stone farm house. From this point, Chippewa, even then a small village

The little more now, was twenty miles distant. cloud of mist from Niagara greeted the pilgrims some eighteen miles from the cataract and its roar was heard two though

Vanderlyn remained at Niagara twelve days, having reached [there] about mid October. After a day of needed rest at Chippewa the artist took up his comfortable quarters at Burden’s farm house hard by the cataract so near in fact say 800 yards that a constant tremor pervaded the house and all its belongings, rendering a new comer rather nervous till custom caused it to be unnoticeable. fork stuck into the floor would quiver like an aspen. In 1802 there was no crossing for miles above and below the Falls, and all Vanderlyn’s sketches were therefore taken from the Canada shore. The only descent to the water was by ‘‘the Indian Ladder,” thus perilous enough to deter the timorous from its trial. “Table Rock,” which miles.







A

is so noticeable a feature in Vanderlyn’s views, was then unmutilated by the wear of the elements, and the gunpowder experiments which have at length destroyed it. Nature

had then no divided empire with art, for save an occasional clearing, and a farm house or log cabin here and there, Niagara doubtless appeared very much as it did when Father de Smet, in 16.., stood upon its banks, and the glories and magnificence of the scene were revealed to the first intelligent European to whom they were revealed. The companion engravings afterwards given as the fruits of this tour by Mr. Vanderlyn, were a “General View,” and a “View of the Great Fall.” The first was taken three fourths of a mile below the cataract near the Indian Ladder, which is directly opposite “the American Fall.” From the semi-circular sweep of the shelf, this General View gives a surpassing idea of the magnitude and

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN The

169

1802.

Great,

or

Horse Shoe Fall, was taken from Table Rock. A day or two elapsed before the artist employed

his

Niagara.

proportions of

He

pencil.

said

it

sketch

for the

required that time at least to give him

any idea of the proportion of the elements of the scene. of grand scenery, of towering rocks or mountain heights as standards of comparison, rendered it impossible at first to seize an idea of the magnitude of the a feeling scene. He said that in truth he was disappointed which is confirmed by most who see Niagara at first, the reality not coming up to the imagination all indulge. Added to this, the tremor of the rocks, and the roar and motion of the mighty waters had a confusing effect, distracting, dizzying and bewildering, for a time. The man overcame the artist. He forgot his errand; sitting several hours as if under a spell, lost to himself, taking in no distinct idea of the scene, and only conscious of an arena of overwhelming grandeur and power in full and turbulent vigour.

The absence



The

narrative ends abruptly, nor have

we any

further

record of the sojourn at the Falls, or the return journey. If

Mr. Vanderlyn ever dictated

it,

was perhaps destroyed

it

in the fire referred to.

The reader

will

of the journey.

“German

Flats.”

have noted a few errors

The “Genesee According

Flats” should

in the

account

no doubt read

to credible testimony

it

was

not Simeon DeWitt, but a subordinate in his department,

who

is

responsible for the classic

out central as an either.

New

York.

names of places through-

The drunken Indian

referred to

Onondaga, and again as an Oneida, may have been

The Thomas Morris met

at

Canandaigua was no

doubt the son of Robert Morris, the financier of the Revo-

whose land interests in western New York were to some extent looked after by Thomas. Father de Smet was never at Niagara, so far as we know, and was of the

lution,

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

170

nineteenth,

VISIT

not the seventeenth century;

the allusion

is

undoubtedly to Father Hennepin, in 1678.

On

his

return

from Niagara

Kingston Vanderlyn

to

evidently applied himself to his several paintings of the Falls, as already noted.

published his

London

He

returned to Europe in 1803,

famous companion studies of Niagara

in 1804;

and after a sojourn

Rome,

painted a portrait of Washington Irving, settled in

where he did that

his

most notable work.

had been Salvator Rosa’s,

picture,

he

Living in a house painted

exhibited at the Louvre in 1808, where

it

medal offered by the Emperor Napoleon, artist’s

his

famous

“Marius amid the Ruins of Carthage.”

shared in by twelve hundred

artists.

life,

and was

It

was

received a gold in a competition

It is significant

varied fortunes that this medal was twice

for the necessities of

in

where he

in Paris,

finally

of the

pawned

redeemed and

preserved by members of the family of Bishop Kip, in San Francisco,

who

at last accounts

were the owners of the

“Marius.”

After two years in Rome, Vanderlyn again returned to

where he worked, with splendid results, until 1815. Besides painting many portraits, and copies of great works Paris,

of Raphael, Titian and Correggio in the Louvre, he painted his original

“Ariadne of Naxos,” afterwards purchased by

Durand and engraved by him “in one of When, some produced in America.”

the best plates ever

“Ariadne” was exhibited

aroused a no small

in

America,

it

years

later,

storm of protest in certain quarters, simply because a nude study,

it

the

was

something the American public has been

curiously slow to learn to look

upon with proper

vision.

Vanderlyn was during this sojourn in Paris befriended Aaron Burr, who after his duel with Hamilton found it advisable for a time to live abroad. In Europe he It

that



TO NIAGARA FALLS IN

171

1802.

was shunned by Americans, but Vanderlyn remained true to his

former benefactor.

Returning to America, the

and

of calamitous

portrait commissions

but

little

demand

artist

entered upon a series

disappointing years.

came

to him, there

for his services.

tive art “atmosphere’’ of

He

Although some was on the whole

missed the apprecia-

Europe, and as one project after

another miscarried, his nature changed and he became

He had dreamed

of founding in

America a National Gallery of Art, but

failed to enlist

morose and

resentful.

funds or even kindly

many

portraits included

Although

interest.

of the great

his

men

sitters

for

of the day

Madison, Monroe, Calhoun, Clinton, Jackson, Randolph

and others

—he

claimed that the rivalry of

Trumbull deprived him of a just recognition. his talents to

panorama

the Corporation of rear

of the

He

City

and

turned

painting, secured a concession

New York

present

Stuart

from

for a building, and in the

Hall,

erected

the

New York

Rotunda, where for some dozen years were exhibited very

panoramas, largely his

excellent

various of his smaller canvases. of this enterprise to

renew

portrait painting.

that

some years

Academy

was

his lease,

disastrous;

and deeply

own work, as well as The financial outcome in

1829 the city refused

in debt,

he turned again to

So embittered was he by his experiences later,

when

elected to

membership

in the

of Design, he refused to accept the honor.

Among

his

constant friends were Joseph Allston and

Gulien C. Verplanck, through whose efforts, in 1832, he

was commissioned by Congress trait

of Washington,

for the

to paint a full-length por-

House of

Representatives.

This work, when completed, gave such satisfaction that the

Government paid him $2500, instead of the $1000 originally In 1837 he was commissioned to paint, for stipulated.

;

JOHN VANDERLYN’S

172

VISIT

$12,000, one of the panels for the rotunda in the Capitol.

He

gladly accepted the commission, chose for his subject,

“The Landing of Columbus,” and went the work.

The work was mostly

powers. artists

to

to Paris to execute

But age and disappointment had sapped

employed by Vanderlyn.

have been

his,

his

painted by clever French

The composition

is

said

but the completed picture was a great art,

and detracted

rather than added to Vanderlyn’s reputation.

Before being

disappointment to

all

capable judges of

was exhibited throughout the East and it may be noted that it is the original from which was engraved the plate long used by the Treasury Department placed in the Capitol

on the back of the

it

five-dollar bills of the

United States

currency.

In his youth some of Vanderlyn’s successful attempts in the way of historical compositions, among others, “The Death of Jane McCrea”; but in later life he made no attempt in this field. One of his latest portraits was of President Taylor, now in the Corcoran gallery, in Wash-

were

ington.

His portraits of Burr and R. R. Livingston are

owned by the New York Historical Society. His “Ariadne” is owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Several of his canvases, among them the “Niagaras” previously noted, and a number of excellent portraits, are preserved in Kingston.

John Vanderlyn’s end was a touching one. I quote from a sketch of him printed in the New York Evening Post ,

July ii, 1903:

“One morning in September, 1852, he landed from a Hudson river steamboat in a feeble condition, and set out walk to Kingston, two and a half miles distant. Fatigue soon overcame him, and he was found sitting by the roadside by a friend from whom he begged a shilling for the

to

TO NIAGARA FALLS IN

173

1802.

transportation of his trunk, adding that he was sick and penniless. He secured a small back room in the village,

and the friend spoken of went quietly about among a few of his acquaintances with a subscription list for his maintenance. Funds for the purpose were promptly pledged, few mornings after his but they were never needed.

A

He Vanderlyn was found dead in bed. now in the old Wiltwyck cemetery in Kingston, with

arrival rests

.

neither stone nor

mound

to

mark

his artistic merits

and defects as “those of a painter trained

— splendid

draughtsmanship and

was wide,

and the only canvases

I

in the school of

skill in

marred by frequent want of feeling for his range of subject

.

his grave.”

The same capable biographer sums up David

.

his production

have learned

composition

color.”

of,

Although

was

from

limited,

his brush,

which depict American scenery, are the early pictures have described of Niagara

Falls,

I

painted while yet the

world’s only pictorial acquaintance with the great cataract

was through the inadequate sketches of early travelers, and one or two worthy works by Europeans. But the pioneer American

artist

of Niagara

is

John Vanderlyn.

THE NIAGARA TN

A

no

we

IN SCIENCE

of literature regarding the Niagara region do

field

more definite and gratifying Our poetry may be uninspired, our

arrive at

science.

results than in

part in fiction

dubious, our art in large measure negligible; but in science at

any rate Niagara stands for something

definite

—some-

thing splendid and fruitful.

Without attempting a

scientific

treatise

I

propose to

bring together sundry available facts which will show what

Niagara represents, or what has been accomplished by aid, in the

its

various branches of physics and of natural his-

tory; with something of

its

associations with distinguished

scientists.

The

men

first

scientific spirit,

in

May,

included

1721.

to

visit

the

were Canadian

in

Falls,

officers

anything

who came

to

a

like

Niagara

Before that date the white visitors had

missionary

priests,

and traders

soldiers

;

and

although the latter at any rate would no doubt contemplate the place with a practical eye, and objurgate the interruption to navigation, yet their

beyond some portage.

men

of

But

scientific

attainments did not go

slight devices for ameliorating the toil of the

in the spring of 1721, there

another stamp

:

came

to the

Charles Le Moyne,

Longueuil, lieutenant governor of Montreal

;

Niagara

Baron de

with him the

Marquis de Cavagnal, son of the Governor-General of Canada, Captain de Senneville, M. de Laubinois, commissary of ordnance, Ensign de

Noyan, commandant

la

at

Chauvignerie the interpreter, Frontenac,

De

and others, with a

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

176

numerous

train of soldiers

The main

and servants.

of the visit was to treat with the Senecas;

was

object

to

measure the

their having been measured,

report says

that the

There

Falls.

up

French

is

object

an incidental

no mention of

An

to this time.

unofficial

used a cod-line and a

officers

stone of half a hundred weight, and they found the perpendicular height “vingt et six bras” that is, twenty-six



fathoms, or 156

feet.

taken from what height today

is

This

we know

first

measurement was probably

it

was found

The Rev. Father Bonnecamp, with De dition, at

Niagara

according to

my

to be in 1721.

Celoron’s expe-

in 1749, reports its height to

measurement, which

Peter Kalm, the

first

where the

as “Prospect Point,”

not far from what

be “133

feet,

believe to be exact.”

I

professional naturalist to write of

Niagara, reported in 1750 that “those

who have measur’d

with mathematical instruments find the perpendicular of the water to be exactly 137 feet.

Mons. Morandrier, the

King’s engineer in Canada, assured me, and gave also

of

under

it”

but he adds, that those

;

with a

his hand, that 137 feet

line,

“find

it

it

fall

was

it

me

to

precisely the height

who have

tried to

measure

sometimes 140, sometimes 150

feet,

it

and

sometimes more.”

Andrew

Ellicott,

of Buffalo,”

scientific habit

to

brother of Joseph,

was a distinguished of thought, and the

measure the

Falls.

He

who was

civil first

the “Father

engineer, a

man

of

American surveyor

found “the perpendicular pitch

150 feet,” to which he added 58 feet for the descent in the

upper rapids, and 65 feet for the lower rapids, a total descent of 273 feet “in the distance of about seven miles and a half.”

Andrew

Ellicott’s description is really

mark-documents

in the history

one of the land-

of the region.

It is

not long,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. but compact with precise data.

make

served to

It

was widely

new standard

general a

177

reprinted,

regarding physical phenomena at Niagara.

He

noted the

formation of clouds, from the ascending spray; striking effect of the water “puffed

nearly as large as

common

up

and

of information

and the

in spherical figures,

cocks of hay; they burst at the

top and project a column of spray to a prodigious height;

they then subside, and are succeeded by others, which burst in like

manner.”

This interesting phenomenon has been commented on by

many

writers

from

Ellicott’s

day to

nation being that air carried

water

at first

is

this; the accepted expla-

down by

the

mass of

compressed, then, as the pressure

expands and forces

itself

is

falling

lessened,

upwards, producing the “haycock,”

“cone” or “geyser” effect as

it

bursts through the water and

One of the best treatises on this subject, entitled “The Upward Jets at Niagara,” by W. H. Barlow (F. R. S., escapes.

etc.),

is

paper read before a meeting of the British

a

Association

;

it

appears in the publications of that body, and

also in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia,

1877.

The

author,

who was one

of the judges at the Centen-

nial Exposition, visited the Falls in 1876.

Initial curiosity as to the fied, scientific

height of the Falls being satis-

thought was more and more concerned with

the history of Niagara and

its

gorge.

In the eighteenth cen-

tury the science of geology did not exist, in the

comprehension of the term lating

;

yet very early

and announcing theories as

modern

men were

to the formati

specu-

n of the

gorge.

One of our earliest writers on the scientific aspects of Niagara was Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton of Philadelphia.

Among

the papers which he contributed to the Proceedings

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

178

of the American Philosophical Society was one entitled

“Notes on the Falls of Niagara,” written (but not pubTen years before that he had communicated

lished) in 1799.

the

to

“An

society

found near the the

account

Falls

Spray of the

Falls,

of

at

substance

Niagara and vulgarly

called

together with some remarks on

the Falls,” by Robert McCauslin,

had then resided

an earthy

of

M. D.

Dr. McCauslin

Niagara for nine years, and as early as

1781 had measured the height of the cataract, with the aid

of “the acting engineer,” perhaps of Fort Niagara. reported the American

fall at

143

Canadian

feet, the

He

at 163.

In view of the early date and the thorough acquaintance

with the region which Dr. McCauslin had,

from

his

it is

well to quote

remarks on the recession of the Falls:

“This retrocession of the Fall does not by any means go on so quickly as some have imagined. During nine years that I have remained at Niagara, very few pieces of rock have fallen down which were large enough to make any sensible alteration in the brink; and in the space of two years I could not perceive, by a pretty accurate measurement, that the northeast brink had in the least receded. If

we adopt the opinion of the and if we suppose the world

Falls having retired six miles,

to be 5700 years old, this will give above 66^2 inches for a year, or i 6 2/$ yards for nine years, which I venture to say has not been the case since

But if we accede to the opinion of some modern 1774. philosophers and suppose that America has emerged much later than other parts of the world, it will necessarily follow that this retrograde motion of the Falls must have been quicker, which is a supposition still less consonant to the observations of late years.” In

New York—then

winter of 1790,

Andrew

the seat of

Government

Ellicott told of



Niagara

in

the

to his

friend William Maclay, one of the United States Senators

from Pennsylvania.

Senator Maclay considered what had

:

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. been told him, and in his journal, February

179

i,

1790, wrote

as follows

accounts of Niagara Falls are amazing to him my scheme of an attempt to account for the age of the world, or at least to fix the period when the water began to cut the ledge of rock over which it falls. The distance from the present pitch to where the Falls originally were, is now seven miles. For this space a tremendous channel is cut in a solid limestone rock, in all parts one hundred and fifty feet deep, but near two hundred and fifty at the mouth or part where the People who have known the place since attrition began. Sir William Johnson took possession of it, about thirty years ago, gave out that there is an attrition of twenty feet in that time. Now if 20 feet equals 30 years, then 7 miles

“Mr.

indeed.

Ellicott’s

communicated

I

or 36,960 feet equals 55,440 years

To most modern

readers the deductions of McCauslin and

Maclay would seem tian

!”

to be harmless enough.

world of that day was not able to

which opened the way

to

many

the rocks at Niagara

than the

literal

anything

doubt of the then accepted inter-

When

pretation of Scriptural statements.

wrote, and for

Yet the Chris-

listen to

years after, no

man

showed the earth

reading of Genesis

Dr. McCauslin

could declare that

to be of greater age

made

out,

and maintain

his integrity as a Christian or even a believer in the Christian’s

God.

Half a century after McCauslin Sir Charles

Lyell gave to the geological problems at Niagara the most intelligent study thay had,

large part of the world

up

was

to that time, received.

still

incapable of accepting his

conclusions, which pointed to the world’s great age. J.

Yet a Dr.

L. Comstock, a prolific author on natural history topics,

in his “Outlines of

Geology” (3d ed.

New

York, 1837)

reviews Lyell’s earlier theories at length, and sums up as follows

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

180

“Suppose the cataract of Niagara now

at the outlet of

Lake Erie and moving into it at the rate of 50 yards in 40 years, or a little more than a yard per year, we would inquire of Mr. Lyell how long a period would be consumed in draining it to the bottom, and whether the escape of its waters thus sudden ‘would cause a tremendous deluge,’ as he asserts. The title of Mr. Lyell’s book being ‘An attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in action,’ is itself an attack on the sacred Scriptures, but we are happy to believe that Christianity is in little danger from his arguments.”

The Niagara

Falls have been used both to prove,

Fairholme published

“New and

titled:

in

London a

and to

In 1837 George

disprove, the Biblical account of the Deluge.

substantial

volume en-

conclusive physical demonstrations, both

of the fact and period of the Mosaic Deluge, and of

its

having been the only event of the kind that has ever occurred

upon the

As he

earth.”

construed the Scriptural testimony,

he found that the Deluge occurred some 4000 years ago;

whereupon, with

all

possible ingenuity, he interprets

geological data so as to harmonize with his theory. result,

all

his

calculations

arrive

at

had never seen the Falls of Niagara he had

them by several

for his purpose. cut by the river

He

Although he

that the

occupied less than 5,000 years. his

argument.

“As

says, “at Queenston,

basin of led,

by

Lake Erie

all

the whole

at

hand

descrip-

and these were adequate

contemplated the seven miles of gorge

from Queenston

evidences”

“distinct

travelers,

a

conclusions exactly

corresponding with the Mosaic chronology.

tions of

all

As

to the cataract,

recession of

He

devotes

and

the

many

falls

finds

has

pages to

the operation of Niagara began,” he

on that same day when the shallow

first

overflowed

its

margin,

we

are thus

the laws of inductive reasoning, to the origin of

American

continent, as a dry land, at a period

.

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE

181

not more remote than about four or five thousand years.”

And

again, speaking of the erosion produced

by streams, he

“Their ceaseless friction affords us the key to

observes:

commencement; and

the fact of a

of Niagara, this the greatest of

all

in the

remarkable case

cataracts,

seems to have

been purposely appointed, to confound the reasoning of the skeptic,

and

to

open a more secret cabinet,

distinctly disclos-

ing to us the very date of this event.”

Even

Fairholme’s day the science of geology had

in

made

such progress that fair-minded men, with a knowledge of the subject, were unable to reconcile Biblical chronology

The

with the testimony of the rocks.

conflict that arose

between the students of nature and the adherents of theological

teaching was one of the bitterest phases in the long

between theology and science.

conflict

When

geologists

began to assert that the rocks proved that the earth was

more than

five

or six thousand years old, the

strict

adher-

Book of Genesis called them infidels, and atheists. this strife by any means a matter of the remote past.

ents to the

Nor

is



Many years after Fairholme proved it all presumably to his own convincement another Englishman felt called upon



to prove

all

it

over again.

This was Philip Henry Gosse,

whose “Omphalos,” published seeks

to

reestablish

chronology.

He

the

in

London

tottering

as late as 1857,

structure

Mosaic

developed a theory originally put forward

by Granville Penn, and styled “prochronism.” ance with

of

this,” says

“In accord-

Andrew D. White, summarizing

the

views of Gosse (in his “Warfare of Science with Theology”), “all things were created by the Almighty hand literally within the six days, each made up of ‘the evening and the morning,’ and each great branch of creation was brought

into existence in

an

instant.

Accepting a declaration of Dr.





THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

182

Ure, that ‘neither reason nor revelation will justify us in extending the origin of the material system beyond six thousand years from our own days/ Gosse held that all evidences of convulsive changes and long epochs in strata, only rocks, minerals and fossils are simply ‘ appearances’ that and nothing more. Among these mere ‘appearances/ all created simultaneously, were the glacial furrows and scratches on rocks, the marks of retreat of rocky masses, as at Niagara”



all

these and

many more

manifestations of great time,

we

came into being in an instant; asked Dr. White puts it, “that Jehovah tilted and

are asked to believe to believe, as

twisted

the

strata,

scattered the

through

fossils

them,

scratched the glacial furrows upon them, spread over them the marks of erosion by water, and set Niagara pouring all

in

an instant

—thus mystifying the

scrutable purpose, but for His

William

in

world

glory.’

‘for

some

in-



whose volume of American

Priest, a musician

was published

travels

own

London

in 1802, did not visit the

Niagara region, but has the following interesting allusion:

“An American

writer has been endeavoring to investigate

from the

Falls of Niagara! Accord(which, by the way, is not a little 36,960 years since the first rain fell upon the

the age of the world,

ing to his calculation

curious)

is

it

face of the earth.” I

have not been able to identify

From Andrew

Ellicott’s

day

“American writer.”

this

to this the geologists

been studying Niagara and figuring out

The

ing diversity of result. is

vast

its

literature of

age, with

have

amaz-

Niagara geology

—probably exceeded by that of no phase of our sub-

ject except possibly the

War

of 1812.

No

one who devotes

himself to the science of geology can omit Niagara from his studies,

and anything

who have

like

an exhaustive mention of those

written on the subject

is

here out of the question.

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

183

In his “Partial Bibliography of the Geology of the Niagara,” etc., A. W. Grabau (1901) who have written 194 books

bau’s

He

gives the

Gra-

but a beginning and might be greatly extended.

list is

To the many other

takes note only of scientists of distinction.

student of the subject in

its

historical aspect

writers, especially the earlier ones,

for

names of 61 authors

or papers on the subject.

we

trace through

and adjustment of the cataract,

of,

them the gradual growth of knowledge

theories.

and of

must be taken note

its

The problems of

rate of recession,

the “age” of

have always been

of great interest because their solution would establish a relation

between the periods of geologic time and the cen-

human chronology. Soon after Andrew Ellicott had made

turies of

his

measurements

of Niagara, came the French savant C. F. Volney.

Our

knew Volney’s “Ruins”

His

grandparents

“Views” contains a long account of Niagara, which he visited in 1796

as

a classic.

his investigations at

—a

memorable

year, in

which Great Britain relinquished her hold on the “Amer-

DeWitt Clinton was studying the rocks at Niagara in 1810, and in 1822, under the pseudonym of “Hibernicus,” wrote at length of ican” side of the Niagara and the Lakes.

the geology of the region in his “Letters

on the Natural His-

New

tory and Internal Resources of the State of

He

called the cataract “a great

rainbows,” and adds: Buffalo.

If the

a northerly

Amos Eaton

“It serves as a

barometer as far as

spray spreads from the north

wind

;

York.”

manufactory of clouds and

it is

a sign of

a southeast wind indicates rain.”

wrote prior to 1825.

Robert Bakewell, an

eminent Englishman, studied the Niagara problem as early as 1829,

and estimated the age of the Falls

—that

time of recession from the escarpment at Lewiston 12,000 years.

Lyell, in 1841, visited Niagara,

is,

the

—to be

wrote delight-

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

184

fully of

Compare and the

and decided that

it,

its

age was about 35,000 years.

with the 55,440 years of Maclay and Fairholme!

this

Ellicott,

“less than 5,000 years” of

In 1831 G.

W.

Feather stonhaugh made certain general

observations on the ancient drainage of North America, and applied the operating principle to the origin of the cataract

He

of Niagara.

especially controverted

a distinguished engineer,

who

in a

Mr. James Geddes,

paper in the Proceedings

of the Albany Institute, had taken the ground that the

Niagara had not cut ridge to

gorge back from the Queenston

its

present position, but that the river had found

its

the ravine already existing, and flowed through

A

many

Hall, for

he

name

truly great

who

in

1842 set the of

recession

years

the

in

Niagara study

New York first

Falls

stone

has

it.

that of

is

State Geologist.

James was

It

monuments by which the

ever

since

been

measured.

Professor Hall’s work of 1842, and subsequent surveys, supplied exact data, so that there

is little

guess-work about

the retreat of the Falls in the last seventy years.

The rate Amer-

of recession has been shown to vary remarkably, the ican

fall,

from 1842

from 1875 its

to 1875,

to 1886, only .11

rate rose to 1.65 feet,

averaged .74 of a foot a year; of a foot; from 1886 to 1890

making an average per

the period 1842 to 1890, of .64 of a foot.

wears away much faster; from 1886 to 1890 5.01 feet;

and for the whole period, 1842

year, for

The Horseshoe at the rate of

to 1890,

an aver-

age of 2.18 feet per year.

Pohlman of Buffalo was the first scientist to base his calculations on these known rates of recession. He reasoned that a portion of the gorge was pre-glacial in Dr. Julius

origin,

and reduced the length of the

sion period to 3,500 years.

same data but reasoning

post-glacial or reces-

Warren Upham, taking made the age of

differently,

the the

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. gorge “between 5,000 and 10,000 years.”

whose writings on

J.

185

W.

Spencer,

this subject are held in esteem, puts the

age of the gorge at 32,000 years; and F. B. Taylor, also a learned and prolific writer on Niagara, places the length of

Professor

the recession period, tentatively, at 50,000 years.

G. F. Wright makes elaborate calculations and gets 10,000 years as the answer it all

;

and Professor C. H. Hitchcock

figures

out, with delightful precision, at 18,918 years.

Never was there a more palpable case of the disagree-

ment of

doctors.

We may

as well leave

it,

a thorough student of the subject, leaves

as A. it

W. Grabau,

in his valuable

“Guide to the Geology and Paleontology of Niagara Falls

and Vicinity” (Albany, 1901) alities

“All such estimates are .

.

—that

is,

with a few gener-

:

.

The

little

more than personal

opinions.

leading questions concerning the extent of the

erosion in this region, and the changes in volume of water during the lifetime of the Niagara, which pre-glacial

are of such vital importance in the solution of this problem, are by no means satisfactorily answered. Nor can we assume that we are familiar with all the factors which enter into the equation. There may be still undiscovered causes which may have operated to lengthen or shorten the lifetime of this great river, just as there may be, and probably are, factors which make any estimates of the future history of the river and cataract little more than a mere speculation. We may perhaps say that our present knowledge leads us to believe that the age of the cataract is probably not less than 10,000 nor more than 50,000 years.”

Of prime interest are Robert Bakewell’s “Observations on the Whirlpool and on the Rapids below the Falls of Niagara” (Am. Jour. Sci. and Arts New Haven, 1847), ,

with curious illustrations.

Mr. Bakewell, then a resident of

England, was at Niagara for six days in 1829. after he

had made

his

home

in the

In 1846,

United States, he spent

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

186

eight days

more

the

at

Falls,

studying the geology and

physical geography of the place.

much his own

derives

pare

its

The paper

referred to

value from the author’s ability to com-

observations at two intervals seventeen years

His son also wrote on the same

apart. I

of

subject.

have alluded to Professor James Hall’s work of placing

markers ernor

in 1842.

Marcy

In 1837 he had been appointed by Gov-

to investigate the geology of the

Fourth (N. Y.

including the Niagara region.

The

result

of his work, as presented in his “Geology of

New

York,

State)

district,

Part IV.,”

etc.

most valuable

perhaps even

(Albany, 1843),

single

work we have on

now

the

the geology of the

Niagara region. Sir Charles Lyell, greatest of English geologists, leisurely visit at

Niagara

made

a

His studies of the region

in 1841.

(“Travels,” etc., London, 1845) are conspicuous for their thoroughness and sagacity, and his descriptions of scenery

and narrative of travels are

still

entertaining and profitable

reading, even for the unscientific.

Not only

in the “Travels,”

but in other of his writings, especially his “Principles of

much relating to our region. who have written of their Niagara experiences include Sir Andrew C. Ramsay, who came in 1859; John Tyndall in 1872; Thomas Henry Huxley in 1876. The last named, with his wife, visited Geology,” will the student find

Other notable English

scientists

American Association Advancement of Science. Here they were the guests of Mr. O. H. Marshall, who afterwards visited them in England. A week was spent at Niagara, “partly,” writes Buffalo, to attend the meeting of the

for the

Professor Huxley’s biographer, his son Leonard, “in

making

had

to be delivered at the

pression

holiday, partly in shaping the lectures which

made upon him by

end of the the Falls

trip.

As

to the im-

—an experience which,



THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

187

is bound to record note that after the first disappointment at their appearance, inevitable wherever the height of a waterfall is less than the breadth, he found in them an inexhaustible charm and fascination. As in duty bound, he, with my mother, completed his experiences by going under the wall of waters to the Cave of the Winds. But of all things nothing pleased him more than to sit of an evening by the it is

I

generally presumed, every traveler

may

edge of the listen

and through the roar of the cataract to

river,

for the under-sound of the beaten stones grinding

together at

its

foot.”

November, 1872, gave to Niagara literature one of its most delightful chapters. The reader is recommended to turn to it, in the “Fragments of Professor Tyndall’s

Science,”

visit,

in

where he can enjoy the whole of

it.

the scene escaped Mr. Tyndall’s attention.

cluded “that beauty but majesty

Tom

is

not absent from the Horseshoe Fall,

chief attribute.”

is its

No aspect of He soon con-

Conroy, he made his

With

way along

the veteran guide,

the foot of the Horse-

shoe Fall, below Terrapin Point, to a point seldom visited

and only by the active; the place has since been named “Tyndall’s Rock.”

In his record of the experience he does

not content himself with formal observations on the force of the currents or the erosion of the rocks.

Scientist that

he was, and accustomed to deal only with exact facts and

known

quantities,

he takes

note

not

phenomena, but of a “certain sanative

only

of

effect”

external

which the

spray and thunder of Niagara wrought on himself.

“Quick-

ened by the emotions there aroused, the blood sped exultingly through the arteries, abolishing introspection, clearing

the heart of tolerance,

if

all

bitterness,

and enabling one

to think with

not with tenderness, on the most relentless and

unreasonable foe.” I

know

of no

more

significant utterance in all the

realm

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

188

Coming from

of Niagara literature.

would scarce command our it

attention.

has the impressiveness of a

new

a sentimentalist,

it

Uttered by a Tyndall,

revelation of the eternal

and benignant gospel of nature. In 1886 the American Association for the Advancement of Science met for the third time in Buffalo, thus gathering

on the banks of the Niagara America’s foremost living geologists and physicists. As fruit of that meeting, or of subsequent studies then inspired, there are

many books and

Among

countless papers in scientific journals.

the

more

prolific

and authoritative of recent writers on Niagara

geology

I

must be content with the mere mention of Herman

Leroy Fairchild (“The Birth of Niagara”), E. L. Garbett, G. K. Gilbert of the U. S. Geological Survey

many monographs on

the subject,

W.

—author

of

D. Gunning (“The

Past and Future of Niagara”), Aug. S. Kibbe (“Report of the Survey to determine the Crest Lines of the Falls of

Niagara

in 1900”), J. S.

of the Earth”), relating to

J.

W.

Newberry, N. Spencer

S.

Shaler (“Aspects

—author

Niagara geology and kindred

Upham (“The

of

many papers Warren

topics,

Niagara River since the Ice Age”), Alex-

ander Winchell, R.

S.

Woodward (“On

the Rate of Reces-

among

sion of Niagara Falls”), and G. Frederick Wright,

whose numerous useful writings mention should be made of the “New Method of Estimating the Age of Niagara Falls”

and “The Niagara Gorge as a Geologic Chron-

ometer.” Dr. John Bigsby, in a paper published in 1824

(

Amer

.

Jour. Sci. and Arts) describes minerals and other specimens

found

at

Niagara Falls

in June, 1819.

Nobody has measured

the flow of Niagara, but

engineers and scientists have computed

it.

One

many of the

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. do so was Z. Allen,

earliest to

in co-operation

work (“On

In his report of their

Blackwell.

the Niagara River,”

etc.,

Am.

189

with E. R.

the

Volume of

Jour. Sci. and Arts,

New

Haven, 1844), Mr. Allen writes: “Whilst passing a few days at the Falls of Niagara in summer of 1841, it occurred to me to make the necessary admeasurements for ascertaining the quantity of water For this purprecipitated by the grand cataract. pose the services of Mr. E. R. Blackwell of Black Rock, a most skillful and accurate engineer, were engaged by me.” the

.

There

is

a full-page

map

.

.

(by Blackwell) of a section of

the Niagara river opposite Black Rock, with thirty-eight

soundings extending in three ranges across the river, with localities,

etc.,

indicated.

Mr. Allen computed the

total

horse-power of Niagara Falls at 4,533,334.

An

exceptional phase of

Niagara study

is

Professor

William H. Brewer’s “Earth Tremors at Niagara Falls.” (

Yale Sci.

Monthly May, 1896.) It is an account of made at Niagara Falls through a period of ,

observations

forty-five years.

The

heaviest vibrations were found to

be on either side of and near the Horseshoe Fall.

They

dis-

appeared in places in the soft shales below the limestone, although they were evident in the harder limestone and sandstones. in

Passing

intensity,

down

the gorge, the vibrations decreased

becoming too faint

to be perceived

between

the suspension bridges, but increasing again on nearing the

The theory has been promulgated that crystals are more common in the rocks near the Falls than elsewhere, rapids.

their formation being

promoted by the jar of the cataract;

but Professor Brewer found no evidence of

There at

is

Niagara

this.

probably no connection between earth tremors Falls,

and earthquakes; but Professor Brewer’s

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

190

me of a report made by Dr. Charles E. West “On an Earthquake in Western New York,” Oct. 23, 1857. paper reminds

made at a meeting of Advancement of Science,

Dr. West’s report of Association for the

more

in

May,

it,

the

American

held in Balti-

1858, says in part:

“It occurred in Buffalo, at a quarter past three o’clock, p.

m., and

was

violent

the Northern States.

compared with other earthquakes in I was seated in a chair with my

head leaning against the mantel of the fireplace when the shock occurred, and so great was its violence as to throw me forward to my feet. A farmer living in Aurora, a town sixteen miles southeast of Buffalo, was

...

digging potatoes in his

field, at

the time of the earthquake,

and so powerful was the shock that he instinctively leaned upon his hoe-handle, and while in this posture he observed the dirt shake back and forth over his hoe, which was partially buried in the soil.”

Further evidence

is

presented from Port Hope, Ont.,

Lockport, Buffalo, Jamestown, Warren, Pa., Erie, Pa., and

Other earthquake tremors have been reported

other points.

—or imagined—

in this region, but this

one of Oct. 23, 1857, Dr. West,

is

the only one supported by credible testimony.

it

is

unnecessary to remind the older residents of Buffalo,

was the

principal of the Buffalo

first

Female Seminary, a

gentleman of wide repute for his scholarly attainments and love of truth.

It

might be shown, perhaps, that some of the

supposed earthquake tremors were coincident with the

fall

of great rock-masses at the cataract, and either caused the fall,

and

or were caused by 8,

1889,

when

it.

the fall

This was the case on January 7 of heavy rock masses in the cleft

of the Horseshoe produced earth tremors that were

some

felt for

miles around.

In 1804, Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, in his Medical and Physical Journal, reported that an “earthquake occurred at the Falls of Niagara, on the 26th of December, 1796, about

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. six o’clock in the morning.

northwest, and did not last

was

seemed

It

The sound

was due

of Niagara



ors had as

much much

tance at which

cf the scene.

before

you

roar, or if

The very

curious comment.

please,

silence

its

it,

its

—has

earliest visit-

and the

to say about the great noise,

dis-

could be heard, as about any visual aspect

it

Niagara was, naturally, discovered by the ear as

we have

noted,

the early missionaries reported having heard

going to see

it

This

Falls.”

to the fall of rock.

its

was by the eye; and

it

But

seconds.

around the

thunder, or as one poet prefers to put

occasioned

proceed from the

more than two

sensibly felt for fifty miles

also, in all probability,

to

191

The

it.

distance at which

some of

it,

without

sound could be

its

heard was always matter of curious report and speculation. T. Trowbridge, in that pleasant autobiography,

J.

Own

“My

Story,” speaks cf his boyhood in Lockport, where, he

says, writing of the Falls, “often in the

rear, a

autumn weather,

sound that always breathed a quiet joy into

This was in the miles.

still

continuous, low, hardly distinguishable

I listened to their

’40’s,

Tom Moore

my

soul.”

and the distance was some eighteen

the poet, in 1804, claimed to have heard

the Falls at Buffalo.

This

is

corroborated by the Hon.

Lewis F. Allen, an early resident of Buffalo, who told not

many

years before his death in 1890 that

many

me

a time,

seated on the veranda of his house on Niagara street near

Ferry, in the calm of a

roar of the Falls.

What

summer

evening, he had heard the

with whistles and bells and horns,

the noise of trains and electric cars, the din of pavement and factory, the civic “shouting

composite Voice of

Cities,

and tumult,” it

has been

all

that

many

make up

the

a day since the

cadence of Niagara has been audible

in Buffalo.

sound

have no doubt that

is

constant at the source

;

and

I

But the if

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

192

we would

all

keep

and the wind were

still,

in the right

quarter, Niagara’s roar could again be heard, as

Tom Moore

“upon Erie’s shore.”

said,

In the early years of the long-distance telephone

it

was

thought to be a notable feat to make the roar of Niagara audible in

New York

City.

an impressive thought

It is still

that audiences assembled in distant cities can, by the aid of

well-perfected instruments, distinctly hear

Ole Bull, who came to America Falls.

is

1843, soon

his “musical thoughts” of Niagara.

his biographer, says that

he had “spent

the Falls at different times, and

“One evening

sun and storm.”

blaze and glare to the silvery

and the lurid waters

deep music.

saw the

In the autumn of 1844, resting at Bristol, R.

wrote down

who

in

its

made

saw them

I.,

he

His wife,

many days

in all lights



at in

great forest fires added their

shimmer of the moonlit

rapids,

with the grand rush and roar of the

light

a deep impression upon him.”

It

was

at

Niagara that he made the acquaintance of George Ticknor

and

his family, with

whom

the musician ever after main-

tained a pleasant acquaintance and friendship.

The “Niagara,” which he played for the first time in in the winter of 1844, was disappointing to the general public, though favorably commented on by the press. It was of the class of compositions which make no appeal to

New York

the unimaginative.

— after writers

it

had been explained

gifted with phrases

pretative insight tion of

After

had given

if

to the public

not with true inter-

to the public a tangible explana-

what they thought that Ole Bull thought he was

expressing in terms of the violin fessed to like

it,

and

exquisite sentiment in

to

it,

the cataract of Niagara.

see

—or

—then the public prohear— a great deal of way to was one of those who

pertaining in an emotional

N. P. Willis

:

I

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

193

undertook to record Ole Bull’s emotions so that others, gifted,

might share them.

“We

—not

believe that

Thus he wrote,

we have heard

less

in part

a transfusion into music

of ‘Niagara,’ which the audience seemed bona fide to expect, but of the pulses of a human heart at Niagara. had a prophetic boding of the result of calling the

We



‘Niagara,’ the listener furnished with no ‘argument’ as a guide through the wilderness of ‘treatment’

piece vaguely to

which the subject was open. This mistake allowed, howit must be said that Ole Bull has, genius-like, refused

ever,

to misinterpret the voice within

him

—refused —

to play the

and ‘bring the house down’ as he might well have done by any kind of ‘uttermost,’ from the drums and charlatan,

trumpets of the orchestra. “The emotion at Niagara is all but mute. It is a ‘small, still voice’ that replies within us to the thunder of waters. The musical mission of the Norwegian was to represent the insensate element as it was to him to a human soul, stirred It was in its seldom reached depths by the call of power. the anszuer to Niagara that he endeavored to render in music not the call!”





Another of Ole

Bull’s interpreters,

most richly endowed

with imagination, was Lydia Maria Child,

famous “Letters from

New York”

who

in

her once-

wrote as follows:

for my impressions of Ole Bull’s ‘Niagara.’ asking an seolian harp to tell what the great organ of Freiburg does. But I will give you the tones as they breathed through my soul.

“You ask me

It is like

...

.

“I did not

know what

.

.

the composer intended to express.

would have avoided knowing

if the information had been wished to hear what the music itself would say to me. And thus it spoke The serenely-beautiful opening told of a soul going peacefully into the calm, bright atmosphere. It passes along, listening to the half-audible, many-voiced murmurings of the summer woods. Gradually, tremulous vibrations fill the air, as of a huge cauldron

I

offered;

for

I

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

194

The echoing sounds

seething in the distance.

and

swell,

and thunder.

finally roar

stands the soul, striving to utter

its

rise

and

In the midst of this

feelings.

‘Like to a mighty heart the music seems That yearns with melodies it cannot speak.’

“It wanders away from the cataract, and again and again returns within sound of its mighty echoes. Then calmly, reverentially, it passes away, listening to the receding chorus of Nature’s tremendous drums and trombones; musing solemnly as it goes, on that vast sheet of waters, rolling now as it has rolled, ‘long, long time ago.’ “Grand as I thought ‘Niagara’ when I first heard it, it opened upon me with increasing beauty when I heard it I then observed many exquisite and graceful repeated. touches, which were lost in the magnitude of the first imThe multitudinous sounds are bewildering in pression. their rich variety. There is the pattering of waterdrops, gurglings, twitterings, and little gushes of song. me of a sentence in the ‘Noctes It reminded Ambrosianae,’ beautifully descriptive of its prevailing character: ‘It keeps up a bonnie wild musical sough, like that o’ swarming bees, spring-startled birds, and the voices of a hundred streams, some wimpling awa’ ower the Elysian meadows, and ithers roaring at a distance frae the clefts.’ “The sublime waterfall is ever present with its echoes, but present in a calm, contemplative soul. One of the most poetic minds I know, after listening to this music, said to me: ‘The first time I saw Niagara, I came upon it through .

.

.

.

.

.

the woods, in the clear sunlight of a summer’s morning; and these tones are a perfect transcript of my emotions!’

In truth, it seems to me a perfect disembodied poem; a most beautiful mingling of natural sounds with the reflex of their impressions on a refined and romantic mind. This serene grandeur, this pervading beauty, which softens all the greatness, gave the composition its greatest charm to those it

who

love poetic expression in music;

less captivating to the public in general,

anticipated.

Had

it

been

called

a

but it renders than they had

Pastorale

composed

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

195

within hearing of Niagara, their preconceived ideas would in accordance with its calm, bright majesty.”

have been more

“Over everything stands

its

doemon or

soul,” says

Emer-

“and as the form of the thing is reflected to the eye, so the soul of the thing reflected by a melody. The sea, the

son, is

mountain-ridge, Niagara, super-exist in precantations, which sail like

odours in the air

;

and when any man goes by with

ears sufficiently fine, he overhears them, and endeavors to

write them down, without diluting or depraving them.”

After

all this,

one can but wish that we had Ole Bull’s

own explanation of The sound of the and the ship.

scientists,

Most

of the term ciation of

his

“Niagara” music.

cataract appeals particularly to the poets

and

therein, perhaps, reveals their kin-

poets are not scientists, in the practical sense ;

but every true scientist

nature’s processes

and

is

a poet, in his appre-

revelations.

Frederick

Almy touches the matter with fine discernment in his paper on “What to See” at Niagara (“The Niagara Book”) :

“Mr. Howells speaks in his book of the repose of Another paradox is its silence. The sheets of falling water are so unchanging to the eye that the motion seems no more actual than when the breeze runs through a field of grain. It moves without moving. In some such way the unchanging volume of sound soon leaves on the ear a strange sense of silence. Now and again, however, as some more compact mass of water makes its fall, a new note strikes the ear, and under all is the heavy beating of the air as if of sound too low for the range of human hearing. It has always seemed to me as if much of the voice of Niagara might be to us inaudible.” Niagara.

Eugene M. Thayer, Niagara”

( Scribner's

in a notable

the voice of the cataract as sense.

He

paper on “The Music of

Magazine, February, 1881), analyzes it

appealed to his trained musical

writes the chords of

its

harmonies, and finds

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

196

them four octaves lower than the lowest range of our piano His study is exceedingly suggestive and profit-

keyboards.

Mr. Thayer often

able to read.

visited

was a well-known

figure at that resort.

place suggested in

some of

its

Niagara Falls and

His passion for the

phases the morbid infatuation

of Francis Abbott, the Niagara “hermit” of

Burlington, Vt., June 27, 1889.

Much might 1804 there

had turned

to

our river the Paisley poet-weaver

Niagara by the

need

I

Alexander Wilson.

poet-naturalist,

lake.

In

my

In

who

He had

Oswego, coming thence

to

at

.

be written of the bird-lovers at Niagara.

came

walked from Philadelphia

and on

years

Mr. Thayer committed suicide by shooting,

before.

Poets”

many

to the

paper on “Niagara and the

at some length on Wilson’s adventures, work as a poet; in the present connection we him only as naturalist.

have dwelt

his

recall

The Niagara

was four years before the publication his “American Ornithology,” but he was already diligently collecting material for it. At the Falls he was much impressed by the numbers of the whiteheaded or bald eagles. The most striking of all the plates in his great work is the colored engraving showing this bird, of the

first

about one-third Wilson’s

visit

volume of

own

life size.

“In the background”



to quote

description,

“is seen a distant view of the celebrated cataract of Niagara, a noted place of resort for these birds, as well on account of the fish procured there, as for the numerous carcasses of squirrels, deer, bear and other animals that, in their

attempts to cross the river, above the Falls, have been

dragged into the current, and precipitated down that trewhere among the rocks which bound the rapids below they furnish a rich repast for the vulture, the There rises from the raven and the bald eagle.

mendous gulf

;

.

.

.

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

197

gulf into which the Fall of the Horseshoe descends, a stu-

pendous column of heavens and moving

smoke,

or

spray,

reaching to the

off in large black clouds, according to

the direction of the wind,

forming a very striking and

The

eagles are here seen sailing about, sometimes losing themselves in this thick column,

majestic appearance.

and again re-appearing in another place, with such ease and elegance of motion, as renders the whole truly sublime.” Wilson’s prose, especially is

apt to

grow

feeble.

when he attempts fine writing, “The Foresters,”

In his famous poem,

descriptive of this tour to Niagara, he has told of the eagles in verse:

“High

o’er the wat’ry uproar, silent seen,

Sailing sedate, in majesty serene,

Now

midst the pillared spray sublimely lost, eagles, gazing calm and slow On all the horrors of the gulf below; Intent, alone, to sate themselves with blood, From the torn victims of the raging flood.”

Swept the gray

Wilson, like Audubon, and Charles Lucien Bonaparte,

who

continued Wilson’s work, makes numerous references

to Niagara Falls as the habitat of birds

which he describes.

John James Audubon was at once author, artist and naturalist. As America’s greatest ornithologist I find his most fitting place among the scientists. In his journal a fascinat-



ing narrative of one of the most interesting of careers tells

of his

visit to

Niagara

in the

summer

of 1824.

crossed the State from Albany, part of the as yet unfinished to Buffalo.

I

—he

He had

way by

canal,

quote from his journal

“August 24. Took passage for Buffalo, arrived safely, and passed a sleepless night, as most of my nights have been since I began my wanderings. Left next morning for the Falls of Niagara; the country is poor, the soil stiff white clay, and the people are lank and sallow. Arrived at the hotel, found but few visitors, recorded my name and wrote

;

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

198

under

it,

‘who, like Wilson, will ramble, but never, like that

great man, die under the lash of a bookseller.’

“All trembling

what a scene

!

my

I

reached the Falls of Niagara, and oh! still, although I am not a

blood shudders

coward, at the grandeur of the Creator’s power; and I gazed motionless on this new display of the irresistible force of one of His elements. The falls, the rainbow, the rapids, and the surroundings all unite to strike the senses with awe and a view satisthey defy description with pen or pencil fied me that Niagara never had been and never will be painted. I moved towards the rapids, over which there is a bridge to Goat Island, that I would like to have crossed, to look on the water which was rushing with indescribable swiftness below, but was deterred from the low state of my funds. Walking along the edge of the stream for a few hundred yards, the full effect of the whole grand rush of the water was before me. The color of the water was a verdigris green, and contrasted remarkably with the ;

falling torrent.

The mist

of the spray mounted to the

clouds, while the roaring below sounded like constant heavy

thunder, making shaking also.

“From down the

me

think at times that the earth

was

this point I could see three-quarters of a mile

which appeared quite calm. I descended a about seventy steps, and walked and crouched on my hams along a rugged, slippery path to the edge of the river, where a man and skiff are always waiting to take visitors to the opposite shore. I approached as near the falling water as I could, without losing sight of the objects behind me. In a few moments my clothes were wet. I retired a few hundred yards to admire two beautiful rainbows, which seemed to surround me, and also looked as if spanning obliquely from the American to the Canadian shore. Visitors can walk under the falling sheet of water, and see through it, while at their feet are thousands of eels lying side by side, trying vainly to ascend the torrent. “I afterwards strolled through the village to find some bread and milk, and ate a good dinner for twelve cents,

flight of

river,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE Went

199

.

to bed at night thinking of Franklin eating his roll in

the streets of Philadelphia, of Goldsmith traveling by the help of his musical powers, and of other great men who had

worked

make

way through hardships and

their

fame, and

name

a

difficulties

to

asleep hoping, by persevering industry, to

fell

for myself

among my countrymen.

“Buffalo, August 25. This village was utterly destroyed by fire in the War of 1812, but now has about 200 houses, a bank, and daily mail. It is now filled with Indians, who

have come here to receive their annuity from the Govern-

The

ment.

chief

Red

Jacket

is

a noble-looking

man;

an-

Ramrod, has a savage look. Took a deck-passage on board a schooner bound to Erie, Pennsylvania; fare, one dollar and fifty cents, to furnish my own bed and provisions.” other, called the Devil’s

Thus

far the journal;

Niagara.

visit to

The

but this was not Audubon’s only

fortunate reader

who

has access to

Audubon’s great work, the “Ornithological Biography,” find

a

therein

another tracted

apparently in 1820.

visit,

from

will

pleasant chapter on Niagara, describing

The following

is

ex-

it:

“After wandering on some of our great lakes for many I bent my course toward the celebrated Falls of Niagara, being desirous of taking a sketch of them. This was not my first visit to them, and I hoped it would not be

months

the

last.

know not if I can be called one) too often imagine that what they produce must be excellent, and with that foolish idea go on spoiling much paper and canvas, when their time might have been better employed in a different manner. But digressions aside I directed my steps towards the Falls of Niagara, with the view of representing them on paper, for the amusement of my family. “Returning as I then was from a tedious journey, and possessing little more than some drawings of rare birds and plants, I reached the tavern at Niagara Falls in such plight “Artists (I



200

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

as might have deterred many an individual from obtruding himself upon a circle of well-clad and perhaps well-bred society. Months had passed since the last of my linen had been taken from my body, and used to clean that useful companion, my gun. I was in fact covered just like one of the poorer class of Indians, and was rendered even more disagreeable to the eye of civilized man, by not having, like them, plucked my beard, or trimmed my hair in any way. Had Hogarth been living, and there when I arrived, he could not have found a fitter subject for a Robinson Crusoe. My beard covered my neck in front, my hair fell much lower at my back, the leather dress which I wore had for months stood in need of repair, a large knife hung at my side, a rusty tin box containing my drawings and colors, and wrapped up in a worn-out blanket that had served me for a bed, was buckled to my shoulders. To every one I must have seemed immersed in the depths of poverty, perhaps of despair. Nevertheless, as I cared little about my appearance during those happy rambles, I pushed into the sitting-room, unstrapped my little burden, and asked how soon breakfast would be ready. “In America no person is ever refused entrance to the

inns, at least far

from

cities.

We

know

too well

how many

poor creatures are forced to make their way from other countries in search of employment, or to seek uncultivated land, and we are ever ready to let them have what they may call for. No one knew who I was, and the landlord looking at me with an eye of close scrutiny, answered that breakfast would be on the table as soon as the company should come down from their rooms. I approached this important personage, told him of my avocations, and convinced him From this that he might feel safe as to remuneration. moment I was, with him at least, on equal footing with every person in his house. “He talked a good deal of the many artists who had visited the Falls that season, from different parts, and offered to assist me, by giving such accommodations as I might require to finish the drawings I had in contempla-

;

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE tion.

He

left

me, and as

I

201

.

looked about the room,

several views of the Falls, by

which

I

was so

I

saw

disgusted,

came to my better senses. ‘What,’ thought come here to mimic nature in her grandest enterprise, and add my caricature of one of the wonders of the world to those which I here see? No. I give up the vain that I suddenly I,

‘have

I

attempt. I will look on these mighty cataracts and imprint them where they alone can be represented on my mind!’ “Had I taken a view, I might as well have given you what might be termed a regular account of the form, the height, the tremendous roar of these Falls might have spoken of people perilling their lives by going between the rock and the sheet of water, calculated the density of the atmosphere in that strange position, related wondrous tales of Indians and their canoes having been precipitated the whole depth; might have told of the narrow, rapid and



;

rockbound river that leads the waters of the Erie into those of Ontario, remarking en passant the Devil’s Hole and sundry other places or objects but supposing you had been ;

my description would prove useless, and quite as puny as my intended view would have been for my family there,

and should you not have seen them, and are fond of contemplating the most magnificent of the Creator’s works, go to Niagara, reader, for all the pictures you may see, all the descriptions you may read of these mighty Falls, can only produce in your mind the faint glimmer of the glow-worm compared with the overpowering glory of the meridian sun.

amid a crowd of

strangers, who gazed rambled about and admired the Falls for a while, saw several young gentlemen sketching on cards the mighty mass of foaming waters, and walked to Buffalo, where I purchased new apparel and sheared my beard. I then enjoyed civilized life as much as a month before I had enjoyed the wildest solitudes and the darkest recesses of mountain and forest.” “I breakfasted

and laughed

at

me, paid

More than one

my

bill,

bird-lover has since pursued his favorite

study in the vicinity of the great cataract, and has written of it.

The Duke

of Argyll, not

many

years ago, spent some

,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

202

lime at Niagara, and in a series of pleasantly-written articles in the

he had seen

I

made

Youth’s Companion in the

special note of the birds

neighborhood of the

must not forget the

visit

Falls.

of Professor Louis Agassiz,

who gave a course of scientific lectures at Niagara Falls in the summer of 1848. He was really the leader of a party of scientists, who made an excursion from Boston to the north shore of Lake Superior, June to August, 1848. The narrative of the tour, written

by

J.

Elliot

Cabot, gives an

account of the party’s sojourn at the Falls, of their

scientific

explorations in the neighborhood, and of Professor Agas-

evening lectures on the phenomena of

siz’

Agassiz saw at Niagara for the r

the only representative

type of Lepidosteus. learned

first

more than from any

time a living gar-pike,

other, of the relations

Incidentally

we

Cabot’s narrative, that rattlesnakes were

Niagara

region.

among modern fishes of the fossil From this type, he tells us, he had

the past and present fishes.

Falls

the

and pigs roamed

learn

still

between

from Mr.

abundant

at

the streets of Buffalo.

Niagara has ever been beloved of the botanists.

Her

constant baptism of spray no doubt has something to do not

only with the growth of an exceptionally large number of species, but with the profusion of individuals. in particular is prolific of flowering

year after year

May their

its

annuals

;

Goat Island

and although

natural gardens have been despoiled in

and June by the hordes of school children who call wholesale pulling of plants “botanizing,” yet most of

the species persist, and, to a surprising degree, in generous

and forgiving abundance. Peter

Kalm was

the

first

botanist to study the flora of the

;

;

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. Falls.

to

203

Students of the science today need only a reminder

make them

associate

two of our most

plants with the great Swedish botanist.

for him.

One

of the

Johnsworts

St.

is

Lobelia

Kalmianum

in this latitude,

and both of these plants are Falls, as

no doubt they were

to be

interesting wild

Both are named

the other, the rarest

Hypericum Kalmii

found today

in 1750,

at

Niagara

by Kalm himself.

An-

other rarity that has in recent years been found near the

Horseshoe

Fall,

Canadian

cannot ascribe to

it

side, is

Daphne mezereum, but we

association with any early flower-loving

visitor. It is

probable that F. A. Michaux, whose “North Ameri-

can Silva,” published in 1807, was the

first

relating to our native trees, visited Niagara.

work of value Though I do

not find allusion to the Falls in his work, he frequently notes, in his description of species, that he observed

them

“on the shores of Lake Ontario” or Erie.

Among

the published letters of Alexander Wilson

is

the

following

Philadelphia, July

8,

1806.

To Mr. Wilson at the Falls of Niagara. Dear

Sir:

This will be handed to you by Mr. Michaux,

a gentleman of an amiable character,

who

and a distinguished

pursuing his botanical researches through North America, and intends visiting the Cataract of Niagara. The kindness I received from your family in naturalist,

is

1804 makes me desirous that my friend, Mr. Michaux, should reside with you during his stay at Niagara; and any attention paid to him will be considered as done to myself, and suitable acknowledgments made in person by me on my arrival at Niagara, which I expect will be early next Spring.

You will be so good as give Mr. Michaux information respecting the late rupture of the rock at the Falls, of the burning spring above, and point out to him the place of

,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

204

descent to the Rapids below, with any other information respecting the wonderful scenery around you.

In the short stay I made, and the unfavorable weather experienced, I was prevented from finishing my intended sketch equal to my wishes; but I design to spend several weeks with you, and not only take correct drawings, but I

particular descriptions of every thing relating to that stu-

pendous Cataract, and to publish a more complete and satisfactory account, and a better representation of it, than has been yet done in the United States. I had a rough journey home through the Genessee country, which was covered with snow to the depth of fifteen If you inches, and continued so all the way to Albany. know of any gentlemen in your neighborhood acquainted with botany, be so good as to introduce Mr. Michaux to them. I

.

.

.

cannot say

who was

the Mr. Wilson at Niagara Falls,

or whether Mr. Michaux used this letter; but he probably

Andre Michaux, also studied the flora and silva of America, but did not come into the Niagara region. Alexander Wilson’s project of revisiting the Falls was never carried out. His original sketches, made in 1804, were completed by an artist, engraved by George Cooke of London, and illustrated his poem of “The Foresters,” as it did.

His

father,

originally appeared in the Philadelphia Portfolio in 1809-10.

—spoken

of

by the great Linnaeus as “the greatest natural botanist

in

John Bartram, the the world,”

made

Philadelphia to

first

American botanist

way in 1743, with Lewis Evans, from Such a Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario. his

journey through the wilderness was no slight undertaking,

and no doubt these naturalists felt on reaching the lake had pushed far enough into a region of doubtful They did not come on to Niagara. Amos hospitality. that they

Eaton, eminent in his time both as botanist and geologist, studied

those

sciences

at

Niagara, which he visited

as

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE

205

.

Asa Gray knew the Niagara region prior when he published his “Notice of some new, rare

early as 1824. to 1834

from the Northern and

or otherwise interesting plants

New

Western Portions of the State of

York.”

Whoever

has used Gray’s “Manual” will recall his frequent citation of Niagara Falls as habitat of

no doubt many

uncommon

though

species,

of his specimens were had in exchange, as

perhaps his data were secured, from local correspondents. Constantine Rafinesque, an enthusiastic but most eccentric naturalist, visited

Niagara Falls

collecting with impartial zest

and

rocks.

A

its

in 1826,

studying and

plants, birds, animals, fishes

meager account of

his sojourn there

America and South Europe,” published

To

those of us

who

con-

is

tained in his “Life of Travels and Researches in

North

in 1836.

within the sound of Niagara no

live

student of the regional flora will ever attain quite the place

long held by Judge George

W.

For many years he

Clinton.

Botany was

was, preeminently, Buffalo’s naturalist. delight,

and no one knew better than he

He

sylvan treasures of Niagara’s banks.

now

the Whirlpool woods, not then as

vastated, but a wonderful wild nook,

sassafras

trees

grew.

named Niagara Glen rhyzophyllus),

its

Foster’s

—with

its

too

As David

F.

Day wrote

politely

( camptosorus

known

was a

favorite

of him:

“The

and the wild fastnesses about

the Falls of Niagara and at Portage

they had never been

become known

to us as

Judge Clinton wrote “Notes of a Botanist,” which

before.”

of his botanical studies in his

many

and

rare Aspidiums and Pellaeas, and other

thick woods, the shaded dells

delighted

tulip

—now

walking-fern

lovely shy things in the vegetable world,

forage-ground.

especially loved

despoiled and de-

where great

Flats,

his

the herbal and

all

readers during their newspaper publication.

His successor in this special

field

was Mr. Day, who

like

,

,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

206

Judge Clinton, studied much but wrote and published too

all

little.

Every natural phenomenon, every Falls,

Some

has been written of.

this field are

most

For

interesting.

Carus-Wilson has written

Nature

(

instance, Charles A.

vol.

47) of the Niagara

bow mock

spray clouds, which “exhibit an ice

He

weather/’

phase of the

scientific

of the minor writings in

notes the absence of

frosty

in clear

which are

suns,

accounted for by supposing the presence of hexagonal crystals

;

and he

ice

offers the theory that the ice crystals in the

Niagara spray clouds are not hexagons but rhombs.

More

appealing, perhaps, to popular appreciation are the

color observations of

who

finds in the

H. G. Madan

American

fall

illustration of contrast-colors.

of water

is

trimmed, as

it

(

Nature Dec.

The

pure, green, even sheet

were, at regular intervals, by broad

bands of foam, which although of course appear of a delicate rose-pink hue.

no poet has made

and It

I close

white,

really

The

.

.

fall,

be rather “capital” for the

May

.

capital out of it.”

heightens the beauty of the beautiful that

21, 1882),

“a perfect and permanent

I

am

effect

surprised

would seem

to

artists.

these notes, which could be

by recording one observation of

my

much

extended,

own, of Niagara Falls

as a cloud-maker. I

had occasion

train.

to

go to Lewiston on an early morning

Seated on the river side of the car,

prospect of the fresh and

dewy

landscape.

windless night, and banks of fog were fields

along the river.

As

still

I

enjoyed the

It

had been a

sleeping above the

the train reached that fair stretch

of stream, north of Tonawanda,

I

observed a long, heavy

cloud lying on the northwest horizon.

The sun was

yet low

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

207

beams made sharp contrasts of light and shade on the cloud. As a bend in the road opened an unobstructed view of the heaviest and lowest-hanging in the east,

and the

level

portion of this cloud,

it

was discovered

earthward

to reach

with a mightly tap-root, the lower end of which

was hid by

intervening trees. I

rubbed

my

resurveyed the rest here

eyes to

make

sure there

celestial field.

A

few

was no

and there on the horizon's rim, but

any heavy cloud, except

this one,

illusion,

and

clouds were at

little

in

no quarter

whose arms stretched

out,

vaporous and dark, across the Niagara peninsula for miles

on the one hand toward Lake Erie, and toward Lake Ontario

on the other; and whose middle part was joined by

this sharply-defined pillar of vapor.

It

to earth

was not

until, a

mile or so below the Falls, where the road skirts the edge of the gorge and gives the traveler a fleeting but unobstructed view of the cataract, that this earthward-reaching

cloud was seen to be nothing but the uprising vapor of the

During the

Falls.

the sun,

it

still

hours of the night, undissipated by

had poured upward and spread out on a support-

ing stratum of air until

it

shadowed the country for many

miles.

Returning, a

little

later in the day, there

was

to be seen

only a distant-drifting cloud and the shifting spray that

vanished from sight as

it

rose in the

warm

and the morning breeze had broken the cloud to the cataract which had given

Men

looked at the cataract for

idea of utilizing visitors

slow

viewed

rise of a

sciences, as

its

it,

as

it

air.

tie

The sun

that held the

birth.

many

years before the

The earlier was viewed before the

energy occurred to them. all

the universe

knowledge of nature developed the natural

merely an extraordinary manifestation of Divine

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

208

power. As Nature’s story became better known and geology more and more an exact science, Niagara was studied with a view of reading from this torn page of the earth some portion of its history. The great cataract was seen to be

one of the world’s chronometers, measuring with less beat the

progress of the ages.

Men

cease-

its

ceased to dispute

over the Mosaic account of creation, ceased attempting to

prove by the phenomena of Niagara that the Deluge was universal and that

it

occurred exactly when the pre-scientific

interpretation of the Pentateuch

have occurred.

made out

that

it

should

Gradually through the decades, these themes

The who dared

of earlier strife and difference lost their importance. pulpit ceased to assail as infidel the geologist assert that the recession of

Niagara proved the earth of a

far greater age than the six thousand or so Mosaic years.

Gradually the age of the earth and the erosion of the

Niagara gorge were taken as facts

And

all

—as things demonstrated.

the time, while artists and poets and critics were

painting and rhapsodizing,

more and more men of a

practical

turn were thinking of the tremendous power of Niagara.

No

miller

who had

ever regulated the flow of a

to turn his mill-wheel could look reflecting

little

stream

upon Niagara without

A

on the tremendous waste of energy.

small mill

or two were set by Niagara’s margin in the pioneer days. Later, able,

when settlement had advanced and capital was availcame the era of construction of hydraulic canals,

diverting a small fraction of the flood, yet by

up no inconsiderable a

city of

many

All this time the literary world

Hundreds of

aid building

manufactories.

was having

its

small say.

travelers wrote hundreds of uninspired books,

and would-be poets measured verse.

its

their emotions in

mediocre

Deeply religious natures, such as Mrs. Sigourney,

Margaret

Fuller, Harriet

Martineau and Fredrika Bremer,

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. were brought by Niagara

into

209

moods of exalted devotion. America and Americans,

Irritating British critics, disliking

of the type of Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope, found Niagara a

new excuse

James, and other choice

And

real Niagara.

ing

away

A

for hostile demonstrations.

poets and analysts at soul

Henry

to us the

to

spirits

all this

time the great river was pound-

and hurling

at its rocks

few men, true

—Dickens, Hawthorne, —labored reveal its

measureless millions of

tons into the abyss to no purpose whatever save as a

of aesthetic gratification.

But as

man’s higher attainments come

from those that are lower, so Niagara: as the

latest

he has begun to use

it,

it is

means

a law of Nature that

in the process of evolution

is it

in the relation of

man

to

expression of his appreciation of

it,

or marring

its

without destroying

it

beauty, for the good of mankind.

The

measure learned

is

it

to utilize

studied, it

for

is,

world, big and

little,

being brought into

we have

that

human

good.

as the starting point, as the inspiration,

cascades it

With Niagara

the rivers of the

all

new

service for humanity.

—of mighty cataracts —are “harnessed,” as the phrase

is

in

which offer any available power, are

thousand waterfalls

of

no some

greatest thing that can be recorded of Niagara, in

matter what aspect

is

Already a

and of sylvan ;

and the record

the latest and greatest chapter in the

story of

Niagara.

When

the historian comes

who

can write knowingly and

authoritatively of this phase of the subject, he will accord

not absolute precedence, to Sir Carl Wilhelm

eminence,

if

Siemens.

His name

Falls.

will

always be associated with Niagara

This renowned physicist and inventor found in our

cataract his greatest spur to achievement.

mostly contained in his collected “Scientific

London, 1889)

will be

In many papers, Works” (3 vols.,

found record of his accomplishments

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

210 in

In volume two

this connection.

is

a paper,

“On

the

transmission and distribution of energy by the electric cur-

meeting of the Physical Society (British),

rent,” read at the

February

In volume three

22, 1879.

is

his address as presi-

dent of the Iron and Steel Institute, delivered March 20, 1877.

This paper,

and Steel lation

first

published in the Journal of the Iron

Institute for 1877, was, I believe, the first

by a

and

scientist,

first

formu-

presentation to a scientific

body, of a method of electrically transmitting Niagara

power for are given,

more or

waste energy

s

In these and other addresses of Sir William,

use.

at

less

in

extensu, his observations

on

Niagara, and the electrical transmission of

power therefrom. In the “Life of Sir William Siemens” (Anglicising his

name) by William Pole (London, 1888) is set forth evidence to show that .Siemens was the first to propose the utilization of Niagara power by electrical transmission. “This subject,” says his biographer, “formed a favorite study

and

of Dr. Siemens; pressed

went his

itself

to

on

his

seems to have

mind when,

America and

many

it

in the

first

strongly im-

autumn of

1876, he

visited the Falls of Niagara.

journeys in different countries nothing

In

all

made such

a deep impression on him as this wonderful natural phenomenon.

The stupendous rush

and admiration, as of

its

it

mighty roar.”

of waters

Dr.

filled

him with

who comes Siemens in his own

does every one

fear

within sound

account says

nothing of “fear and admiration,” but observes that the vast

amount of falling water accomplished nothing save by its weight and concussion to raise, by a minute fraction of a degree, the temperature of the St. Lawrence river! “But,” continues Dr. Pole,

“he saw

in

it

the multitude;

something far beyond what was obvious to for his scientific mind could not help view-

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

211

an inexpressibly grand manifestation of mechaniAnd he at once began to speculate whether it was absolutely necessary that the whole of this glorious magnitude of power should be wasted in dashing itself into the chasm below? whether it was not possible that at least some portion of it might be practically utilized for ing

it

as

cal energy.



mankind? He had not long to think before means of doing this presented itself to him. The dynamo machine had just then been brought to perfection, partly by his own labors; and he asked himself, Why should not this colossal power actuate a colossal series of dynamos, whose conducting wires might transmit its activity to places miles away? This great idea, formed amid the thunderings of the cataract, accompanied him all the way home, and was meditated on in the quiet of his the benefit of a possible

study.

He

submitted

it

to the test of mathematical calcula-

and so far convinced himself of its reasonable nature, that he determined when a fitting occasion arrived, to make it known. That occasion arrived in the spring of 1877, when he had to give an opening address as President of the Iron and Steel Institute.” tion,

For many years, many schemes were devised, and plans proposed, for securing some part of the Niagara power.

When

not only to catch this power but to carry

new

made

the development of electrical science it

it

to distant places,

conceptions evolved as to what was possible.

the earlier plans electricity played no part.

As

George Catlin constructed a model of the

Men were

even then figuring on using

model may have stimulated have been

chiefly

its

possible

But

in

early as 1830

Falls, to scale.

power, and Catlin’s

their fancies, but

it

seems to

used for exhibition, as any painting might

have been.

As

late as

1878 a company was formed to transmit from

the Falls to Buffalo “a constant supply of compressed air,” to be

used as a substitute for steam

in factories.

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

212

In the years immediately preceding the perfection of the

dynamo a

many

great

Niagara power.

on the

river,

plans were proposed for utilizing

Buffalo being the chief power-using place

most of these early schemes sought

power from the

Some

river at Buffalo.

be chronicled for their originality,

if

to take the

of these deserve to

nothing

Clark of Schofield, Wis., proposed “to

move

W.

T.

else.

the great

cataract of Niagara back to Buffalo and drop the water

through a thousand great turbine wheels located pits

240 feet deep

was

to be

shale

The “moving”

at that city.”

wheel

in

of the Falls

done by driving a great tunnel through the Clinton

from the precipice

at the cataract to the outlet of

Erie, 300 feet below the surface

Lake

and 22 miles long.

This

was to make Buffalo “the greatest manufacturing on earth.” Less benevolent was the project of one Peter

project city

Cameron, apparently a a deep tunnel

citizen of Rochester,

from the

Buffalo, but to drain

Cleveland inland

Falls to

Lake

cities

Erie,

Lake

make

who advocated

Erie, not to build

Buffalo, Toledo

and “reclaim” the

floor of

up

and

Lake Erie

for agricultural purposes. Still

another project of the late

’8o’s

or thereabout

who

was

that of Charles

M.

and claimed

have ample financial backing from Chicago

to

Bartlett of Chicago,

capitalists, for the installation at

plant which

proposed to

secured patents

Niagara Falls of a power

would not mar the beauty of the scene. He cut chambers in the rock under the river back

of the cataract, in which turbines could be placed.

He

pro-

posed to enter the bedrock of the river at the foot of the precipice.

The entrance excavation was afterwards

stitute the tail-race.

upward

Back of

as well as laterally,

floors of the wheel-pit

this

to con-

he planned to penetrate

and cut room for the bottom

:

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. “The lowest

floor will be

the water before

213

used as a waste-room to receive

The

flows out through the tail-race.

it

second floor will be the machinery floor, on which are to be located a turbine wheel and electric dynamos to store and Workmen convert the power obtained, to use. who operate the machinery will be let down by an elevator shaft sunk on shore and conecting from the bottom with the wheel-pit by tunnel. A house at the top of the elevator shaft will probably be the only structure above ground.” .

Buffalo was to have been Mr. Bartlett’s for disposing of his power.

“As an inducement

will

.

first

main point

publication of the day says

New York

to

Mr. Bartlett

operate,

A

.

to grant the right to

lay before the Legislature

an

elaborate design of electric lights, which he will agree to

suspend over the brink of the Falls from the American to

The

the Canadian shore and keep perpetually burning. sign will represent the

Although much reported for a time,

chasm.”

this project presently

de-

two nations shaking hands across the

dropped out of

sight,

in the press,

perhaps because

was not secured. In view of Canada relative to “reciprocity”

the necessary legislative consent of the subsequent action

made by

overtures trical

the United States, the proposed elec-

clasped hands above the cataract would have been

at least

somewhat premature.

The most amazing

project of those years

was

that of

Leonard Henkle of Rochester, who gravely produced

elab-

orately-drawn plans and unfolded a scheme for the construc-

monstrous building, to bridge the Niagara river

tion of a

from Goat Island brink of the

fall.

to the It

Canadian shore, 35

was

feet

above the

to be 1,600 feet long, 804 feet

high in the center and 606 feet at the ends, with from 40 to

50 stories tion.

!

The

Its

lower part was to be used for power-genera-

inventor proposed to install “122 pairs of twin

turbine wheels, each of 6,000 horse-power,

making

in all

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

214

732,000 horse-power under a 28-foot head of water.

It is

estimated that 21,000,000 cubic feet of water pass over the

and by this 7,320 dynamos of 1,000 horsepower each will be run.” I hesitate to quote further from Mr. Henkle’s astounding prospectus. His ideas were per-

Falls per minute,

haps of the sort that belong than to dreams and visions. ing, if not

of Western

what

less to

But

Niagara and science,

in his

day he had a hear-

always a serious one, and the press, especially

New

York, lent

generously to the some-

itself

The

ironical exploitation of his project.

cost of the

undertaking v/as estimated at $38,000,000, and the chief

promoter was quoted

at

one time as saying that $17,500,000

were pledged “by persons who are interested taking.”

Not

the least striking feature of

vast assembly hall which

ample building, devoted

was

in the it

all

under-

was the

to be provided in the very

to the uses not only of art

science, but especially dedicated to religion

and

and the promo-

tion of international amity.

The decade of the ’8o’s was The Buffalo Historical Society

prolific in

Niagara schemes.

preserves the original

list

of

subscribers to a fund for a prize to be given to the winner

of a competition for utilizing the power of Niagara river. It

contains the signatures of 108

Buffalo,

who from

men and

firms, chiefly of

May 23,

1888, subscribed

July 14, 1887 to

$1,000 each to this project.

The fund was

to constitute “a

prize or reward to be offered to the inventors of the world

for the discovery or invention (and sole right to use the

same), of the best appliance for utilize economically, the

or near Buffalo,”

etc.

“crank” variety, were advertised.

utilizing,

and that

will

water power of Niagara river at

Numerous elicited

by

plans,

most of them of the which was widely

this offer,

The more promising were submitted

to a

board

of hydraulic engineers and other competent persons;

but

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE. in the

end

were rejected

all

so that no prizes were awarded,

;

nor were any of the subscriptions ever called

Some

years

later, after

215

for.

power-development

at the Falls

had been successfully undertaken, Alonzo C. Mather proposed a combined bridge and power wheel construction for

His plans were regarded as

the Niagara river at Buffalo.

more

far

posed

most of those that had been pro-

practical than

and as he professed to be able to finance his under-

;

taking without popular subscriptions, municipal or State aid,

and merely

.sought the necessary permission to build his

bridge, his claims received serious

A

attention. least

bill

and for a time favorable

granting the desired permission passed at

two Legislatures

at

Albany.

In 1899 Mr. Mather

was

again before the Legislature with a measure which had the

endorsement of Buffalo’s Exchanges, and of the Mayor.

At

this time the inventor

asked only for permission to erect

an experimental span, to demonstrate the soundness of his claims

;

but although

never received a Governor’s signature.

When is

to be offered, with vast

opposition developed and the Mather bridge

possibilities, bill

much seemed

the history of this phase of “Niagara and Science”

written,

it

due recognition of the work of

will contain

Thomas Evershed, who

first

suggested the utilization of

Niagara power by means of wheelpits with a tunnel to the lower river.

It will

tail-race

record the part borne by the

Commission of which Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) was the president, his associates being

International

Professor Mascart, Colonel Theodore Turrettini, Hr. Cole-

man

Sellers

due credit

and Professor

to

many

other

W.

men

C.

Unwin.

And

it

will give

of great attainments,

among

them George Forbes and William Birch Rankine, who in one capacity and another shared in the work of “harnessing” Niagara.

When

this history is written

it

will tell of the co-

THE NIAGARA IN SCIENCE.

216

operation of the greatest engineers and electricians of our

The

age.

literature of this subject is

books than

and the Proceedings of learned

nals

of

it

found today

less in

pages of engineering and electrical jour-

in the

Something

societies.

contained in the “Life of Lord Kelvin/’ by S. P.

is

Thompson (London, struction,

Niagara

The

1910).

installation

Falls, already written

being written

—and

story of the gradual con-

and operation of power plants by a thousand pens,

be written.

to

still

It

is

is

at still

the most

important, the most fascinating, the most splendid chapter in all the literature

In

has

common

its

from

of Niagara.

with

all

other parts of our country, Niagara

literature of history

all

others

it

world’s greatest wonders. to this hour,

all

but in distinction

From

the day of

its

discovery

artist,

all

devotees at the shrine of beauty and

And Niagara

grandeur.

locality;

which celebrates one of the

Niagara has been a point of pilgrimage for

lovers of nature, for

For the

and

has a literature

has spoken to each, after his kind.

she draws aside her silvery

veil,

and

in

her

rainbows and her emerald tide gives him glimpses of the beauty of

light,

of

worlds hereafter.

form and of motion, which are

To

hints

from

the musician, she sounds the deep

diapasons of earth’s grandest organ. she makes no revelation.

To

all

To

the

empty minded,

high and serious minds, she

brings peace, tranquillity, wholesome renewals of strength

and kinship with nature.

region.

find

the devout, she speaks as with

These are some of the varied utterances recorded in the literature of the Niagara

the voice of God.

which we

To

TWO EARLY ' I '

HE

VISITORS

narratives of early travels in the Niagara region

have for

me

a peculiar attraction; partly, no doubt,

because they help to

fill

in periods in

our history for which

data are scanty; and partly, perhaps, because they give us the Niagara landscape, and conditions hereabouts, before the adjuncts of civilization

had so

largely obliterated the

things of the wilderness. Often have I echoed the sentiment expressed by Tyrone Power, an Irish actor of worth and wit, who visited the Niagara early in the last century:

“How

I

have envied those,” he says, “who

first

sought

Niagara, through the scarce-trod wilderness, with the Indian for a guide;

summer

and who

slept

actor,

banks with the

its

trees for their only shelter, with the

One

waters for their only reveille.” trymen,

upon

many

years before, and no doubt

had realized

especially as

it

it

own

unknown

may

made

its

counto the

to the full this romantic longing.

not recall that that early visit has been local annals, but

sound of

of Power’s

I

do

note of, in our

appropriately be put on record here,

concerns

still

another

visit,

which likewise

merits a place in our Niagara chronicling.

Let us fancy ourselves, then, back in the year 1789.

Al-

though the Revolution was over, and the Treaty of Paris had been signed for half a dozen years, the British still held control of both sides of the Niagara, and maintained garrisons at Fort Niagara, Fort Schlosser city of

exist

;

(now included

Niagara Falls), and Fort Erie.

in the

Buffalo did not

though for nine years the Senecas, refugees from the 217

TWO EARLY

218

VISITORS.

Genesee country, had had their villages on Buffalo Creek;

and for

five

years the house built by Ezekiel Lane and his

son-in-law Martin Middaugh, the site

first white settlers on the had stood near the present Exchange of Washington, not far from the bank of Little

of the present

street, east

city,

Buffalo Creek.

This

came

very brief was the local situation when there

in

into the region

wilderness

life

one who after enjoying to the

as he found

it

was

here,

This was Lord Edward

trouble and a most lamentable end. Fitzgerald.

I

am

full the

to pass to a life of

not to write his biography and so refer

the reader at once to the story of

Lord Edward’s life and Thomas Moore. For

death, as written eighty years ago by

our purpose

it is

Duke

enough

was the

to recall that he

first

son

of Leinster, and was born near Dublin in

of the

first

1763.

Given a military training, we find him serving with

his regiment, the

19th, in the

American Revolution.

As

aide-de-camp to Lord Rawdon, he distinguished himself in

numerous engagements,

particularly in the battle of

was wounded,

Springs, South Carolina, where he 1781.

His biographer

finds

it

“not a

little

Eutaw

Sept. 8,

striking that there

should have been engaged, at this time, on opposite sides, in

America, two noble youths, Lafayette and Lord Edward

whose

Fitzgerald,

coincided.”

ward was

political principles

afterwards so entirely

After the surrender of Cornwallis, Lord Ed-

sent, early in 1783, to the

West

served on the staff of General O’Hara.

Indies,

where he

For the next few

years he had a varied service, in different parts of the world;

and

in

1788 again came out to America to join the 54th

regiment

in

New

Brunswick.

He

had. reached the rank of

major, and according to report, was service.

A

much esteemed

in the

sergeant-major of the 54th at this time was the

afterwards celebrated William Cobbett.

In the latter’s once

:

TWO EARLY famous “Advice

VISITORS.

Young Men” he

to

219

says that he got his dis-

charge from the army “by the great kindness of poor Lord

Edward

Fitzgerald”

with Mr.

Pitt,

and he

;

how, on dining one day

tells

on being asked by that statesman some

questions respecting his former officer, he answered that

“Lord Edward was a most humane and the only really honest officer he ever

An

old portrait of

excellent

knew

him (from which the

man, and army.”

in the

frontispiece of

of him

was engraved), happily endorses this verdict, and shows him as a bright-faced, alert, goodhumored youth, the very embodiment of Irish wit and enMoore’s

life

ergy.

This

may

serve as a sufficient introduction to his Lord-

ship the major,

who

with a fellow

officer

and a servant,

in

February and March, 1789, walked from Fredericton to Quebec, 175 miles through the wilderness. “We were thirty days on our march, twenty-six of which

own

woods, and never saw a soul but our of that year, in high health and

Quebec, bound for Ireland, by Mississippi and the Gulf of

spirits,

way

we were he

!

Contemplating the

adventure, before leaving Quebec, he wrote

on

mad

out from

of Niagara Falls, the

Mexico

supposed they would think him

set

in the

In April

party.”

home

that he

but his heart was set

;

go

all

part with a relief of troops that are proceeding

up

“It will not be very expensive, particularly as I

it.

the

first

as

far

whether Detroit,

as

Lake Superior.

I will

from

Ohio, and

I

go up quite so

am far,

that to the Fort Pitt,

down

it

not quite

determined

perhaps only as far as

and from thence

to the

to the Mississippi.”

This was the tour on which Lord Edward

set out, to-

wards By June 1st he was on the Niagara, where he wrote the following letter to his mother the end of April.

,

TWO EARLY

220

“Dearest Mother:

To

am

I

VISITORS.

“Fort Erie, June i, just come from the

them is impossible. days admiring, and was absolutely obliged Niagara.

away

at last.

impossible

:

describe

1789.

Falls of

stayed three

I

to tear myself

As I said before, to describe them would be Homer could not in writing, nor Claude painting: your own imagination must do it.



Lorraine in

The immense

height and noise of the Falls, the spray that

rises to the clouds



in short,

it

forms

all

together a scene

from Europe to and tranquility of everything about, the quiet of the immense forests around, compared that see.

is

well worth the trouble of coming

Then, the greenness

with the violence of

all

that

is

close to the Falls,

—but

I

go on, for I should never end. “I set out tomorrow for Detroit: I go with one of the Indian chiefs, Joseph Brant, he that was in England. We have taken very much to one another. I shall entertain you very much with his remarks on England, and the English, while he was there. Instead of crossing Lake Erie in a In crossing Lake ship, I go in canoes up and down rivers. Ontario, I was as sick as at sea, so you may guess I prefer canoeing; besides my friend Joseph always travels with company; and we shall go through a number of Indian villages. If you only stop an hour, they have a dance for you. They are delightful people; the ladies charming, and with manners that I like very much, they are so natural. Notwithstanding the life they lead, which would make most women rough and masculine, they are as soft, meek, and modest as the best brought up girls in England. At the same time, they are coquettes au possible. Conceive the manners of Mimi in a poor squaw that has been carrying will not

.

.





packs in the woods “I

.

all

her

life.

must make haste and

finish

my

letter,

for I

am

just

be at Michilimackinack in nineteen days. My journey then will be soon over, for from that I shall soon reach the Mississippi, and down it to New Orleans, and then to my dearest mother to Frescati, to I shall then relate all my journey in the little book- room.

going to

set off.

I shall

:

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

221

be happy. Give my love to all. I think often of you all they are better than rooms. Ireland in these wild woods and England will be too little for me when I go home. If I could carry my dearest mother about with me, I should be completely happy here.” :

A

subsequent

the story in

its



letter

may

be briefly quoted, to complete

local bearing:

“Detroit, June 20 [1789]. It is so hot I can hardly hold the pen. My hand trembles so, you will be hardly able to read my letter. My journey quite answered my expectations. I set out tomorrow for Michillimackinack, and then down the Mississippi. I am in rude health. As soon as I get to the Mississippi I reckon my journey half over. I can say no more, for really it is too hot for anything but lying on a mat. Entre nous, I am in a little sorrow, as I am to part tomorrow with a fellow-traveller who has been very pleasant and taken great care of me Les plus courtes folies sont les meilleures. I have been adopted by one of the Nations, and am now a thorough Indian.”

“My Dearest Mother:

:

According to

Tom

medium

Detroit, through the

David

Hill,

Bear Clan.

by

A

Moore,

whom

this

adoption took place at

of a chief of the Six Nations,

he was formally inducted into the

document recording the conferment of

“wild honour,” as Moore phrases Lord Edward’s papers; and is,

it,

was preserved among

in

alleged

English, as follows

“Waghgongh Sen non Pryer

Ne

this

nen Seghyrage ne

Ye Sayats Eghnidal Ethonayyere

David Hill Karonghyontye Tyogh Saghnontyon 21 June 1789.

i

Indian and

TWO EARLY

222 “I,

David

Hill, chief

of Eghnidal to

my

which

will

hope he

I

VISITORS.

of the Six Nations, give the

Lord Edward remember me as long

friend

“The name belongs

to the

Captain David Hill’s

letter

name

Fitzgerald,

for

as he lives.

Bear Tribe.” purports to be in the

but the orthography as given by

Moore

is

Mohawk,

very erroneous.

According to O. H. Marshall, who commented

on

this

“Karong hyontye” is the Indian name of Captain David. “Tyogh Saghnontyon” is the name of Detroit, where the letter was written. Lord Edward’s correspondence says no more of the letter,

Niagara region, but ences hereabouts.

it

has not told the whole of his experi-

For further particulars

I

turn

to

a

young woman’s journal of

1789, which although published some thirty odd years ago, has never been made use of,

so far as

Edward

I

am

aware, in connection with the letters of Lord

Fitzgerald, to illustrate conditions on the Niagara

soon after the Revolution.

The young woman was Ann Powell of Boston,

When

in

she met Lord

Powell, daughter of John

which town she was born

Edward

Fitzgerald,

cestors

1769.

was twenty years The Powell genealogy shows that her

visited the site of Buffalo in 1789, she

he twenty-six.

in

and with him

were of a distinguished

line in Colonial

old,

an-

Massachu-

Her grandfather Powell came from England as secretary of Lieutenant Governor Dummer, and married his sister, Ann Dummer. Their eldest son, William setts.

Dummer

Powell, married Janet Grant, sister of Sir Alex-

ander Grant. being declared

Dummer

They were alien,

a Loyalist family, and about 1775,

left

Boston

for

Powell, eldest son of the John

Canada.

William

who was Dummer’s

became Chief Justice of Canada. At the time we are considering, he had been appointed a Puisne Judge; secretary,

TWO EARLY and

it

was

in connection

VISITORS.

223

with his duties in that

office that

from Montreal to Detroit was undertaken. his young sister, Ann, who accompanied him

the journey

Thanks to and kept a

journal,

elsewhere afforded.

we have

a glimpse of our locality not

This journal, with a few unimportant

pages omitted, follows:

FROM THE JOURNAL OF ANN POWELL.



TOUR FROM MONTREAL TO DETROIT IN 1 789 VISIT TO THE SITE OF BUFFALO WITH LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD.

When

talked of keeping a journal from Montreal to was not aware of the difficulties attending the I expected it would be tedious, journey. and thought writing would be a very pleasant employment, and so it might have proved, had it been practicable, but the opportunities for writing were so few, that I found it would be I

Detroit, I

impossible to keep a journal with any degree of regularity, so I left it wholly alone, and trusted to my memory (which never deserved such a compliment) for recalling whatever was worth communicating. We left Montreal on the nth of May, 1789, with a large party of our friends, who paid us the compliment of seeing us the first stage, where we took a farewell dinner. We then went to our boats; one was fitted up with an awning to protect us from the weather, and held the family and bedding. It was well filled, eighteen persons in all, so you may suppose we had not much room; as it happened that was of no consequence, it was cold on the water, and we were glad to sit close. This mode of traveling is very tedious we are obliged to keep along the shore and go on very slowly. The first night we slept at the house of a “Habitan,” who turned out with his family, to give us the best room, where we spread our beds and slept in peace. I entertained myself with looking at the Canadian family who were eating their supper, saying their prayers, and conversing at the ;

same

time.

TWO EARLY

224

VISITORS

.

The next day we reached a part of the St. Lawrence where our boats were obliged to be unloaded, and taken through a Lock, the rapids being too strong to pass these rapids were the first of any consequence that I had seen. Perhaps you do not know what I mean by a rapid; it is when the water runs with swiftness over large rocks, every one of which forms a cascade, and the river here is all a bed of rocks. There is no describing the grandeur of the water when thrown into this kind of agitation the sea after a tempest is smooth to it. My brother had traveled the road before, and knew the people, and the distance from house to house. This part of the country has been settled since the Peace, and it was granted to the troops raised in America during the war. We went from a Colonel to a Captain, and from a Captain to a Major. They have most of them built good houses, and with the assistance of their half pay, live very ;

;

comfortably.

One

night

Mrs. Powell’s I

was

we reached

the house of an old servant of

the children were delighted to see her, and

;

new scene of domestic life. seems, had married a disbanded soldier,

well pleased to view a

This woman,

it

who had

a small lot of land, where they immediately went and cultivated it with so much care, that in a few years they were offered in exchange for it, a farm twice its value, to which they had just removed, and were obliged to live some time in a temporary log house, which consisted only of one room, in which was a very neat bed, where a lovely babe of three months old, lay crowing and laughing by itself. A large loom was on one side, on the other all to live,

the necessary utensils of a famly, everythng perfectly clean.

Small as the place was, we chose to stay all night, so while Mrs. Powell was giving orders for arranging the beds, my brother and I walked out to enjoy a very fine evening. The banks of the river were very high and woody, the

moon shone

bright through the trees,

some Indians were on

the river taking fish with harpoons, a

had never seen before.

They make

mode

of fishing

large fires

in

I

their

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

225

canoes, which attract the fish to the surface of the water,

when they can of

fires

see by the fire to strike them. The number moving on the water had a pretty and singular

effect.

When we

returned to the house,

floor covered with beds.

we found

The man and woman

the whole

of the house,

with their children, had retired to their own room, and left blanket was hung before us to manage as we pleased.

A

my

drew aside to see how the rest were accommodated. My brother and sister, myself, five children, and two maid servants made up the group a blazing fire (not in the chimney, for there was none, but in one side of the room, which was opened at the top to let out the smoke, and gave us a fine current of air) showed every mattress, which

I

;

object distinctly. I

was

in a

humor

to be easily diverted,

thousand things to laugh

at.

It

struck

me

and found a we were

that

like a strolling party of players.

At

night

we always

drest a dinner for the next day.

When we boat,

were disposed to eat it, the cloth was laid in the and our table served up with as much decency as could

be expected, if we could be contented with cold provisions. Not so our sailors they went on shore and boiled their ;

and smoked their pipes. One day we happened to anchor at a small Island, where the men themselves had some difficulty in climbing the banks, which were very steep. I finished my dinner before I the rest of the party, and felt an inclination to walk. took one of the maids and made one of the men help us up the bank; we strolled to the other side of the Island, and when we turned round, saw the whole of the ground covered with fire. The wind blew fresh, and the dried leaves had spread it from where the people were cooking. We had no alternative, so were obliged to make the best of our way back. I believe we took very few steps, for neither of us had our shoes burnt through. The weather was so fine that we ventured to sleep out, and I liked it so much that I regretted that we had ever pots,

;

TWO EARLY

226

gone

house

into the

;

it is

VISITORS.

the pleasantest vagabond life you

can imagine.

We

stopt before sunset,

when

a large

taking

it

the

men

erected a tent

;

was

instantly

while

we were

fire

made, and tea and chocolate were prepared

;

the sails of the boat served

for the top, and blankets were fastened round the sides

few minutes they had made a place large enough to all our beds, where we slept with as much comfort as I ever did in any chamber in my life. It was our own fault if we did not choose a fine situation to encamp.

in a

spread

You

can scarcely conceive a more beautiful scene than

The men had piled up boughs of before our tent, till they made a noble bonfire. In the course of the evening it spread more than half a mile; the ground was covered with dry leaves which burnt like so many lamps, with the fire running up the bushes and trees. The whole formed the most beautiful illumination you can form an idea of. The children were in ecstasies, running about like so many savages, and our sailors were encamped near enough for us to hear them was one night

trees for a

exhibited.

fire,

singing and laughing.

We

had, before

we

left

Montreal, heard of his Majesty’s

you please you can set this all down as rejoicings on that account, though I doubt whether it once recovery, so

if

occurred to our minds, yet we are a very loyal people. On the tenth day we reached Kingston; it is a small town, and stands on a beautiful bay at the foot of Lake Ontario. The moment we reached the wharf, a number of people came down to welcome us a gentleman in his hurry to hand out the ladies, brushed one of the children into the lake. He was immediately taken out, but that did not save went to a house of a Mr. his Mother a severe fright. Forsyth, a young bachelor, who very politely begged we would consider it as our own. Here we staid three days, and then sailed with a fair wind for Niagara. At Kingston we were overtaken by two officers of the They artillery, one going to Niagara the other to Detroit. both expressed themselves pleased with joining our party, ;

We

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

227

and accepted an offer my brother made them, to cross the Lake in a vessel appointed for him. We were fifteen where there were only four berths. When the beds were put down at night, every one remained in the spot he had first taken, for there was no moving without general consent. One night after we had lain down and began to be composed, Mrs. Powell saw one of the maids standing where she had been making the children’s beds, and asked her why she staid there? The poor girl who speaks indifferent English answered: “I am quazed, Ma’am.” Sure enough, she was wedged in beyond the power of moving without I heard a great laugh among the gentlemen, assistance. who were divided from us by a blanket partition. I suppose they were “quazed” too. Lake Ontario is two hundred miles over. We were four days crossing it. We were certainly a very good humoured set of people, for no one complained or seemed rejoiced

when we arrived at Niagara. The fort is by no means pleasantly

situated.

It is built

upon the Lake, which gains upon its foundations so There, fast, that in a few years they must be overflowed. however, we passed some days very agreeably, at the house of Mr. Hamilton. We received the most polite attentions from Colonel Hunter, the commanding officer, and all his officers. Lord Edward Fitzgerald had been some months at Niagara before us, and was making excursions among the Indians, of whose society he seemed particularly fond. close

Joseph Brant, a celebrated Indian chief, lives in that neighborhood. Lord Edward had spent some days at his house, and seemed charmed with his visit. Brant returned to Niagara with his Lordship. He was the first, and indeed the only savage I ever dined at table with. As the party was large, he was at too great a distance from me to hear him converse, and I was by no means pleased with his looks. These people pay great deference They to rank; with them it is only obtained by merit. attended Lord Edward from the house of one Chief to another, and entertained him with dancing, which is the

TWO EARLY

228

VISITORS.

greatest compliment they can pay. at Niagara,

leave.

we made many

Short as our stay was

acquaintances

we were

sorry to

Several gentlemen offered to escort us to the land-

which is eight miles from Fort Erie [Fort Niagara]. There the Niagara river becomes impassible, and all the luggage was drawn up a steep hill in a cradle, a machine I never saw before. We walked up the hill, and were conducted to a good garden with an arbor in it, where we found a cloth laid for dinner, which was provided for us by the ing,

officers of the post.

After dinner we went on seven miles to Fort Schlosher. The road was good, the weather charming, and this was the only opportunity we should have of seeing the Falls. All

and walked way. The Falls I had heard of forever, but no one had mentioned the rapids. For half a mile the river comes foaming down immense rocks, some of them forming cascades 30 or 40 The banks are covered with woods, as are a feet high. number of the Islands, some of them very high out of the water. One in the centre of the river, runs out into a point, and seems to divide the Falls, which would otherwise be

our party collected half a mile above the

down

to them.

I

was

Falls,

in raptures all of the

form of a crescent. no mind can form an idea of the immensity of the body of water, or the rapidity with which it hurries down. The height is 180 [ !] feet, and long before it reaches quite across the river, into the I believe

the bottom,

it

rises like light

loses all appearance of a liquid.

summer

The spray

and when the rays of the they form innumerable rain-

clouds,

sun are reflected through it, bows, but the sun was not in a situation to show the effect

when we were there. One thing I could is,

find

no one

to explain to

me, which

the stillness of the water at the bottom of the Falls;

it

smooth as a lake, for half a mile, deep and narrow, the banks very high and steep, with trees hanging over them. I was never before sensible of the power of scenery, nor did I suppose the eye could carry to the mind such strange emotions of pleasure, wonder and solemnity. is

as

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

229

For a time every other impression was erased from my memory. Had I been left to myself, I am convinced, I should not have thought of moving whilst there was light to distinguish objects. With reluctance I at length attended to the proposal of going, determining in

when

I

returned, I

would be mistress of

my own mind, that my own time, and

two at least. were received at Fort Schlosher by Mr. Foster, of the 6oth Regiment, one of the most elegant young men I ever saw. Here we were extremely well accommodated, and much pleased with the house and garden. I never saw a situation where retirement wore so many charms. The next day we went in a batteau to Fort Erie. When we arrived there we found the commanding officer, Mr. Boyd, was gone in a party with Lord Edward and Mr. Brisbane to the other side of the river, where the Indians were holding a Council. The gentlemen all returned in the evening, and seemed so much pleased with their entertainment, that when they proposed our going with them the stay a day or

We

next day,

we very

readily agreed to

it.

thought

I

it

a

good fortune, having an opportunity of seeing a number of the most respectable of these people peculiar piece of

collected together.

We

reached the spot where the Council began, and as we passed along, saw several of the chiefs at their toilets. They sat

upon the ground with the most profound

gravity, dress-

ing themselves before a small looking-glass for they are very exact in fixing on their ornaments, and not a little whimsical. I am told that one of these fellows will be an ;

hour or two painting

his face,

and when anyone

else

would

think him sufficiently horrible, some new conceit will strike him, and he will rub it all off, and begin again.

The women

dress with more simplicity than the men, at have seen; but at this meeting there were not many of the fair sex. Some old squaws who sat in council, and a few young ones to dress their provisions for these great men, as well as those of our world, like a good dinner after spending their lungs for the good of their country. least all I

;

TWO EARLY

230

VISITORS.

Some women we saw employed basket

in

taking

fish

in

a

a gentleman of our party took the basket from one

;

of them, and tried to catch the fish as she did, but failing, they laughed, at his want of dexterity. One young squaw sat in a tent weaving a sort of worsted garter intermixed

with beads. I suppose she was a lady of distinction, for her ears were bored in four different places, with ear-rings in them all. She would not speak English, but seemed to understand what was said to her. gentleman introduced Mrs. Powell and me to her as white squaws, begging she would go on with her work, as we wished to see how it was done. She complied immediately, with great dignity, taking no more notice of us than if we were posts. A proof of her good breeding.

A

We

then went up a steep bank to a very beautiful spot; trees were in full leaf, and the ground covered with wild flowers. were seated on a log in the centre, where we could see all that passed. the

tall

We

Upwards of 200 chiefs were assembled and seated in proper order. They were the delegates of six nations; each tribe formed a circle under the shade of a tree, their faces towards each other; they never changed their places, but sat or lay on the grass as they liked. The speaker of each tribe stood with his back against a tree. The old women walked one by one with great solemnity and seated themselves behind the men they were wholly covered with their blankets, and sought not by the effect of ornaments to attract, or fright, the other sex, for I cannot tell whether the men mean to make themselves charming, or horrible, by the pains they take with their persons. ;

On

seeing this respectable band of matrons

I

was struck

with the different opinions of mankind. In England when a man grows infirm and his talents are obscured by age, the wits decide upon his character by calling him an old woman. On the banks of Lake Erie a woman becomes respectable as she grows old, and I suppose the greatest compliment you can pay a young hero, is that he is as wise as an old woman, a good trait of savage understanding. These ladies

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

231

preserve a modest silence in the debates (I fear they are not like women of other countries) but nothing is deter-

mined without their advice and approbation. I was very much struck with the figures of these Indians They are remarkably tall, and as they approached us. finely made, and walk with a degree of grace and dignity you can have no idea of. I declare our beaux looked quite insignificant by them; one man called to my mind some of Homer’s finest heroes. One of the gentlemen told me that he was a chief of great distinction and spoke English, and if I pleased he should be introduced to me. I had some curiosity to see how a chief of the six nations would pay his compliments, but little did I expect the elegance with which he addressed me. The Prince of Wales does not bow with more grace than Captain David. He spoke English with propriety, and returned all the compliments that were paid him with ease and politeness. As he was not only the handsomest but the best drest man I saw, I will endeavor to describe him.

His person

is tall and fine as it is possible to conceive, handsome and regular, with a countenance of much softness, his complexion was disagreeably dark, and

his features

I

he washes his face, for it appeared perwithout paint; his hair was all shaved off

really believe

fectly clean,

except a to;

his

little on the top of his head to fasten his ornaments head and ears painted a glowing red; round his

head was fastened a the left temple

fillet

hung two

of highly polished silver

;

from

straps of black velvet covered

On the top of his head which bowed to the wind, as each ear; a pair of immense earrings

with silver beads and brooches.

was

fixed a Eoxtail feather,

did a black one in

which hung below his shoulders completed his head-dress, which I assure you was not unbecoming, though I must confess somewhat fantastical. His dress was a shirt of colored calico, the neck and shoulders covered so thick with silver brooches as to have the appearance of a net, his

sleeves

much

like those the

TWO EARLY

232

VISITORS.

ladies wore when I left England, fastened about the arm, with a broad bracelet of highly polished silver, and engraved with the arms of England. Four smaller bracelets of the same kind about his wrists and arms around his waist was ;

a large scarf of

which hung

at

very dark colored

to his feet.

One

stuff, lined

with

part he generally

scarlet,

drew over

arm which had

a very graceful effect when he His legs were covered with blue cloth made to fit neatly, with an ornamental garter bound below the knee. I know not what kind of a being your imagination will his left

moved.

represent to you, but I sincerely declare to you, that altogether Captain David made the finest appearance I ever

saw

in

Do taste;

my

life.

not suppose they were

all

their clothes are not cut

dressed with the same

by the same pattern,

like

Every Indian is dressed according to his own fancy, and you see no two alike; even their faces are differently painted; some of them wear their the beaux of England.

hair in a strange manner, others shave

man

me

it

entirely off.

One

extremely he was dressed in a scarlet coat, richly embroidered, that must have been made half a century, with waistcoat of the same, that reached half way down his thighs, no shirt or breeches, but blue cloth stockings. As he strutted about more than the rest, I concluded that he was particularly pleased with his dress, and with himself. They told us that he was a chief of distinction. We only staid to hear two speeches; they spoke with great gravity and no action, frequently making long pauses for a hum of applause. Lord Edward and Mr. Brisbane remained with them all night, and were entertained with old

diverted

;

dancing.

We

were detained some days

trary wind.

On

by a condrinking the

at Fort Erie

the 4th of Tune as

we were

King’s health like good loyal subjects, the wind changed and we were hurried on board; we were better accommodated than when we crossed Lake Ontario, for the weather was so fine that the gentlemen all slept on deck. Lake Erie is 280 miles over, we were five days on our passage.

;

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

233

river Detroit divides Lake Erie from Lake St. which is again separated by a small river from Lake Huron. The head of Lake Erie and the entrance into the Whilst we were river Detroit is uncommonly beautiful. sailing up the river a perverse storm of rain and thunder drove us into the cabin, and gave us a thorough wetting. After it was over we went on shore. The fort lies about In half way up the river, which is 18 miles in length. drawing the line between the British and American pos-

The

Clair,

sessions, this fort

now

was

left

within their lines; a

new town

on the other side of the river, where the Courts are held, and where my brother must of course is

to be built

reside.

As soon as our vessel anchored, several ladies and gentlemen came on board; they had agreed upon a house for us, till my brother could meet with one that would suit him, so we found ourselves at home immediately. The ladies visited us in full dress, though the weather was boiling hot. What do you think of walking about when the Thermometer is above 90? It was as high as 96 the morning we returned our visits. Whilst we staid at the Fort, several parties were made for us. A very agreeable one by the 65th to an island a little

way up

the river.

Our

party was divided into five

boats, one held the music, in each of the others

were two and as many gentlemen as it could hold. Lord Edward and his friend arrived just time enough to join us they went round the Lake by land, to see some Indian settlements, and were highly pleased with their ladies

;

jaunt.

Lord Edward speaks

me one

in raptures of the

Indian hos-

which would reflect honor on the most polished society. By some means or other, the gentlemen lost their provisions, and were entirely without bread in a place where they could get none some Indians traveling with them, had one loaf, which they offered to his Lordship, but he would not accept it; the Indians gave him to understand that they were used to do without and therefore it was less inconvenient to them pitality;

he told

instance of

it,

;

TWO EARLY

234

they

VISITORS.

refused, and the Indians then disappeared, and

still

bread in the road the travelers must pass, and the Indians were seen no more. Our party on the Island proved very pleasant, which that kind of parties seldom do; the day was fine, the country cheerful and the band delightful. We walked some time in the shady part of the Island and then were led to a bower where the table was spread for dinner. Everything here is on a grand scale do not suppose we dined in an English arbor. This one was made of forest trees that grew in a circle, and it was closed by filling up the space with small trees and bushes, which being fresh cut, you could not see where they were put together, and the bower was the whole height of the trees though quite closed at the top. The band was placed without, and played whilst we were at dinner. We were hurried home in the evening by the appearance of a thunder storm it was the most beautiful I ever remember to have seen. The clouds were collected about the setting sun, and the forked lightning was darting in a thousand different directions from it. You can form no idea from anything you have seen of what the lightning is in this country. These Lakes I believe are the nurseries of thunder storms. What you see are only left the loaf of

;

;

;

stragglers

The

who

lose their strength before they reach you.

locality indicated

by Miss Powell as “the other side

of the river,” was, obviously, somewhere in the present

bounds of Buffalo, probably on the banks of Buffalo Creek.

When

they “went up a steep bank to a very beautiful spot,”

they not unlikely gained what

is

now

the Terrace;

must

have been, indeed, as the neighborhood of the Indian lages further

up Buffalo Creek would not

Powell’s description.

Red

Jacket.

various

official

The

old

man

Miss Powell’s narrative documents.

A

letter

satisfy

in the scarlet coat is

vil-

Miss

was

corroborated by

from Joseph Brant and

other Indians to Governor George Clinton, dated “Cana-

dague”



i.

e.,

Canandaigua

—“30th

July,

1789,” refers to

TWO EARLY

VISITORS.

Red Jacket

this council of Buffalo Creek.

missioners of Indian Affairs,”

Nations,

is

David

etc.,

one of the chiefs of the Six

Hill,

Miss Powell

His

letters

show

Red

Jacket,” ist

in error in writing that

is

Edward “had been some months arrived.

Hough,

edited by F. B.

referred to in Stone’s “Life of

ed., p. 95.

one of the

is

(See “Proceedings of the Com-

signers with his “mark.”

Albany, 1861.)

235

that he

at

Lord

Niagara” before she

was there

in

May “some ;

weeks” was perhaps meant.

Lord Edward by way of

finished his journey, returning to Ireland

New

much

Orleans,

as planned.

He

has no

further connection with the Niagara region or Buffalo, but

some further glimpse of

the reader should have

When

career.

tic

supported

its

the

principles

roman-

his

French Revolution broke out he

and

in 1793

went

to Paris,

where he

married Pamela, the reputed daughter of Louis Philippe Joseph,

Duke

of Orleans, and

Madame

de Genlis.

“On

his

return to Ireland, Fitzgerald was desirous of effecting a separation of that country from England, and induced the

French Directory

A

to furnish

him with

a fleet

and troops.

landing was attempted on several occasions, but without

success,

death.”

and Fitzgerald was

While he lay

seized, tried

who had known him

a soldier friend

and condemned to

from

in prison suffering

the American Revolution, called on

his

wounds,

in Charleston

during

him and chanced to they had first

speak of the circumstances under which

become acquainted; when the suffering

“Ah was

!

I

in

was wounded then

Before the time

set for his

very different cause.

in a

fighting against liberty

patriot exclaimed:



this,

in

execution arrived, Lord

died from his wounds, June

4,

1798.

Edward

Fitzgerald.

it.”

Edward

In her chaplet of

heroes and patriots, Ireland will forever keep the of Lord

That

fighting for

memory

HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS OF

BUFFALO T HAVE

A

been asked to say something on the historical

At the many American

associations of Buffalo.

that Buffalo, like

one most admit

outset,

towns, has paid

little

attention to her landmarks, and has been too busy developing

material interests to care whether or not anything were done

This

to preserve the historical associations.

the case with ticular

American towns

comment

history,

it is

;

that

need

it

but, in the point of

is

call

so generally for no par-

view of the student of

more reminders of the To those who make

a matter of regret that

past are not preserved for the future.

readily obvious that

the study of history a business,

it

more than a sentimental value

attaches to reminders of

An

things that are gone.

shows the marks of

old house

conflict

;

is

a battlefield, which

;

still

a venerable tree, in the shade of

which a treaty or a council were held

—any of these things

is

an historical document quite as much as the written manuscript or the printed page,

clear

and

and vivid conditions of the

sort, happily,

past.

we have preserved from

and of some occurrences of which able to determine the original fashion,

we

can

still

pography and along

site,

all

Some

things of this

earlier generations;

trace

is

so that after

gone we are in

all,

read the book of Buffalo in

its

make

to the student helps

some

its

to-

water-front to pretty good purpose.

There are two ways of studying

local history:

one

contents itself with a mere determination of dates and 237

way sites.

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

238

Though

service has

this

its

value,

confess,

I

scarcely

it

appeals to me. Another aspect of local history, which

think

more

the

is

useful,

is

to the general history of

Buffalo

is,

we

that in which

our country.

see

I

relations

its

In this last relation,

perhaps, the least historic point on the Niagara

The

town as a white man’s settlement runs back scarcely more than a century; but the history of the Niagara river and of the lakes which it joins goes back almost two centuries farther and belongs to that romantic and picturesque chapter of American development which begins with the forest missions of the Jesuits and frontier.

history of our

other holy orders, shifts soon into the period of exploration, and, finally, after a time of strateg)

and of wilderness

campaigns,

domain of the French

,

of forest-fort building

changes

again

to the rule of the English.

from In

the

all

the

long conflict of the old French war, ending on our frontier

and

in 1759,

in all the troubled years that followed,

down

to the close of the Revolution, our river and lake bore an

important part.

But there was no Buffalo,

nor, indeed, did

the site of Buffalo figure to any extent in these early annals

of the region. I it

am

was

may

to confine myself to the present city.

the seat of Seneca villages,

still

two or

A

portion of

three of which

be traced by experts on the banks of the Buffalo

and Cazenovia creeks.

Local archaeologists also

tell us>

that

within the present area of Delaware Park they find remains

The motto which

of Indian village occupancy and burial. is

engraved on a

council fires true,

though

lintel in

the Historical Building, “Other

were here before ours,” it is little

more than

is

tradition

perhaps

which

literally

fixes

upon

the banks of the Scajaquada in the vicinity of that building a former abiding-place of the Senecas..

There

is

more

definiteness about the tradition connected

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

239

Smoke’s

with a stream at the other extremity of Buffalo. creek,

whose course

Lake Erie

into

been well-nigh obliterated by great buildings, derives

its

peculiar prominence

foremost

in

name from

among

works and other

steel

the Seneca chief

He

“Old Smoke.”

to the English as

has, in recent years,

his people,

known

held a position of said to have been

is

leading them against the American settlers at

Wyoming, and was buried years

after

stream which bears his name.

South Buffalo has many

Here

associations with the Indians.

on the banks of the

lived

Red

Jacket,

who

was buried in what is now known as the “Old Indian Cemetery” on Buffam street. This little plot died in 1830 and

of ground,

still

shaded by

the burial-place of

many

during the Revolution and century.

most famous

Mary Jemison, the white among the Indians is one of our local history. The remains of

stories in

Mary Jemison were removed interred in Forest

1874 to Glen

in

other Seneca

Lawn Cemetery by

Society in 1884 and 1894.

now been added

to the

The

generations.

Iris,

and the

were

chiefs

re-

the Buffalo Historical

old Indian burying-ground

park system of Buffalo and

us hope will be preserved with

its

fine

trees

let

for future

Near by was formerly the Indian Mission

Church, built 1826, abandoned 1843. as Indian

years of the 19th

in the early

of captivity

life

bones of Red Jacket and

has

oaks and walnuts, was

Here, too, was buried

woman, whose the

fine old

of the Seneca Nation, prominent

Church avenue crosses

its

What former

is

now known

site.

Several

other points in this vicinity are of interest to the student

of the Seneca Indians and their former relations to the people of Buffalo.

Two or more council houses have at different times stood on or near the banks of Buffalo creek, the last one probably being not far from the present

site

of the International

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

240

Railway Company’s car-house on Seneca

street,

But perhaps the region has no

junction with Elk.

near

its

associa-

more importance than those which cluster around the old mission house still standing on Buffam street. Built in 1833, it is still in good preservation, with heavy hewn black walnut beams that bid fair to stand for many a year to come. In this house, from 1833 to 1844, dwelt the Rev. Asher Wright, missionary to the Senecas, and his gifted tions of

and devoted wife.

on which,

Press,

made

type,

spelling books,

work

in the

Seneca language, from specially

were printed portions of the Scriptures, hymnals, and Seneca

Mental Elevator

is

Here, in 1839, was set up the Mission

,

in the

many

carried on for

lexicon,

and a

periodical, the

The

Seneca tongue.

story of the

years by Mr. and Mrs. Wright

perhaps the most beautiful record of disinterested devo-

tion to the welfare of others to be

found

in the annals of

Buffalo.

There are many places within the

city limits

which have

more or less important, with the Seneca Indians. Most of these need not be touched on in a brief sketch like the present. But the reader whose interest is at all drawn to this subject will do well some pleasant day to associations,

stroll

through Forest

Lawn

Cemetery.

He

will note the

bronze statue erected to Red Jacket and his associates

he

is

;

but

not so apt to have his attention drawn to another and

older,

though

less

conspicuous, monument, nearer the east

side of the cemetery,

which marks the resting place of some

twelve hundred bodies that were removed in 1851 from the old Franklin Street Cemetery

Hall



to the then

—the present

site

new Forest Lawn. Among

of the City

these remains

were those of Farmer’s Brother, one of the worthiest Senecas of

whom

history gives us record.

A man

of far

higher character than Red Jacket, he proved himself the

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO

241

.

staunch friend of the Americans, and fought bravely

during the

War

Buffalo was a poor

little

their cause

The

began.

first

in

of 1812. frontier village

when

that

war

white settlement on Buffalo creek was,

and there were squatters, frontiers-

apparently, in 1784;

men, and renegades, of whose presence here something

known, but

little

that

worth our thought,

New Amsterdam was

of

Company by town

although

many

city

Joseph

we have

Ellicott,

and Indians

in

1813

so that,

;

records which enable us to fix the locality

buildings thus destroyed, there

no structure that was standing

when

The

1802.

in

next decade was wiped out of

in the

British

is

until the village

surveyed for the Holland Land

their agent,

grew up

that

existence by the

of

is

the British burned

it.

now

exists in the

in the village of Buffalo

There

one

is

now

house,

was standing at the time of the was then some three or four miles north of

within the city limits, which

burning, but

it

Buffalo on the Williamsville road. tion,

to

Its

age gives

It

it.

was

built in

1809 by a

distinc-

Zachariah

settler,

and the story goes that the Indians

their

in

destruction with musket and firebrand were too

come with

Oddly enough,

it

still

comfortable, as a residence, although is

Griffin,

course of

much

undoubtedly changed.

It is

stands,

sound and

exterior appear-

its

No. 2485 Main

the second house north of the Belt Line crossing.

one story house,

it

is

struction, but behind

over-

do any

liquor before they reached this house to

further damage.

ance

it

although no associations of great importance belong

street,

A

little

apparently of ordinary frame conits

veranda and clapboards are

still

the old log walls of the original structure.

am often asked what is the oldest and it may be worth while to mention I

entitled to the respect

we accord

to age.

house a

in Buffalo,

few which are

The

Griffin house,

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

242

aiready mentioned,

is,

so far as

am

I

aware, entitled to

precedence.

There are but two or three

greater age.

One

of

them known

in the

county of

Evans homestead,

as the

and

at Williamsville, dates back, in its oldest part, to 1797,

has the associations which come, not only from long occu-

pancy by a family prominent

in the history of

our county

but from having been the headquarters of General Scott

and other

officers

during the

War

the oldest house of distinction for

edly that

known

as the

Within the

of 1812.

many

city,

years was undoubt-

Porter mansion, afterwards the

home

of the Hon. Lewis F. Allen

more

dignified belongings, serving commercial purposes as

later,

;

stripped of

part of an automobile factory, and finally torn down.

was formerly No. 1192 Niagara and the site is

who

river, a short distance

wholly surrounded

has not

known

it

between the

street,

north of Ferry

now by

of the former beauty of the place

—a

It

street

street.

factory buildings

in its better state

its

;

Its

one

can form no idea

dignified,

ample house,

with beautiful grounds, originally sloping to the banks of the river.

Built in

Secretary of War,

it

1816 by General Porter, afterwards

was for many

years, both during his

ownership and that of Mr. Allen, often the scene of

distin-

many famous men were

guests

guished hospitality, and there.

Mr. Allen’s nephew, Grover Cleveland, was, for a

time, an inmate of his household.

an old house, with so

many

not have been preserved, as

is

houses in other towns, for a

a pity that so fine

It is

historical associations, could

sometimes the case with old

museum

or headquarters of

historical or antiquarian organizations.

There are but few buildings

them

to

home

until recently

distinction.

1819 by Col.

One

in the city

that

whose age

entitles

remained a comfortable

was No. 1118 Niagara William A. Bird. For the most

street, built in

part, buildings

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO. that

may

now

be called old,

in the

decade of the

known

of an earlier period.

30’s.

standing in the

Two One

243

city,

were erected

or three residences are

of the latest to go was No.

37 Church street, understood to have been built before 1830. The Wilkeson homestead, on Niagara Square, dates from about 1825. Ellicott

High

Two

or three years before this date, Joseph

began the construction of a home for himself above

street,

about in

line

with the present Washington others and passed

The house was completed by

street.

through various

ownerships;

some twenty

finally,

odd

years ago, being bought by Mr. John C. Glenny and moved in

sections to Amherst street, where it was re-erected new wings and some other alterations, and now stands one of Buffalo’s most beautiful homes and the only

two

with as

structure in

Buffalo directly associated with the founder

of the city.

While we have

lost

the old houses,

we have

retained

Thanks to the good work of the Niagara Frontier Landmarks Association, suitable tablets are being placed on numerous sites which have associations knowledge of

their sites.

worth preserving. One of these, on the Dun Building, marks the site of Buffalo’s first schoolhouse, built in 1807; another, on the Public Library, recalls the fact that that site

was occupied by two courthouses

;

the

first

1810, destroyed at the burning of Buffalo;

enduring

until 1876.

tration of justice for

and after the

what was formerly Niagara county,

division, of Erie county, covering a period of

over half a century, has

a long

citizens,

figured

many

associations connected with

list

in the annals of

who became Presidents many years in the

for

built in

This spot, the center of the adminis-

the leaders of the bar, judges, and lawyers

make

one

the second one

our of

the

whose names

Two

city.

United

practice of

their

Buffalo States,

profes-

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

244

sion in the old courthouse

—Millard

Fillmore and Grover

Cleveland.

One house which was spared at the burning of Buffalo in 1813, known as the St. John House, stood on ground now covered by the H. A. Meldrum stores. The earlier life of the town was active

and lower Main region has

Some

its

No

neighborhood of the Terrace

and well-nigh every foot of that

associations with events in our early history.

of these

Landmarks

the

in the

street,

sites,

no doubt,

will later receive attention of

Association.

period in the city’s history

than that of the

War

is

more

of 1812, and yet

I

distinctly

marked

do not know of a

single construction, not even an earthwork, belonging to that time

which now endures.

the water front,

There are many points along

from Buffalo creek

to

which have stirring associations with of several batteries are service,

was

on

the

known; Terrace

Niagara from the edge of the street,

the actual

site

;

Lower Black Rock, war. The sites

this

one, which

another

saw but

little

overlooked

bluff at the foot of

the

Vermont

being utterly obliterated by the con-

struction of the Erie canal in 1825

but now, overlooked from the Front, most nearly approached a short distance ;

south of the memorial to the 13th U. S. Infantry, in the

grounds of Fort Porter.

another battery was on a

Still

high bank just south of the foot of Massachusetts

As

in the case

tion of the Erie canal

away much of formerly was

and

No

later

of the railroad, which cut

the original bank, left only empty air where this

defensive work.

bluff at the point indicated

old level.

street.

of the battery just mentioned, the construc-

is

place in Buffalo

But the edge of the

the nearest approach on the

commands

a finer view.

A

point of public resort, a memorial tablet should sometime be

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO. placed here, where

it

245

would be seen by thousands, and add

the historic to the present scenic interest.

Many

points on the Niagara river bank have associations

with this period

we

are considering.

Especially storied

the site of the present International Railway

is

Company’s

which cover the ground

buildings, opposite School street,

where formerly stood Fort Adams, otherwise known as

From

Fort Tompkins.

this

point to Breckenridge street

was battleground on more than one

At the mouth was the Sailors’

occasion.

of the Scajaquada creek, on the south side,

Battery, which figured in several hot engagements. too,

during the war, were

which constituted the

fleet

ous battle on Lake Erie.

fitted

with which Perry

The

Here,

out several of the vessels

won

his glori-

present Niagara street bridge

over Scajaquada creek bears a tablet which records the fact that thereabouts, on

August

3,

1814,

was fought the im-

portant Battle of Black Rock.

We

have touched but a few of many points and many Returning

associations in this interesting part of our city.

we

though

to

Fort Porter,

it

should be noted that Fort Porter

in

any war, although the old magazine which was destroyed

find associations of a later period,

—the ruins of —was a picturesque

some years ago parade-ground

though

it

matter of

it

itself

has never shared

underlying the present structure and looked as

might have many war-time associations. fact,

it

was

built in

As

1846-47, and, although

a it

served the Government for some years as a storehouse, for a longer period

No

it

stood useless, having been ruined by

sentimental nor historic interest attaches to

Although there are many points

in the city

associations with the period of this old war, recall

any

visible

on the meadow

reminder of

in

it

save one

I

fire.

it.

which have do not now

—a granite boulder

Delaware Park, which marks the burial-

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

246

place of soldiers in

who

died of

camp

fever during that war,

the barracks hospital which stood on the banks of Sca-

jaquada creek, within the present

area

of

Forest

which they

their present resting-place, the long trench in

were deposited being marked these willows for

tree;

and beauty

tinction

Lawn

Their bones were removed many years ago to

Cemetery.

at either

many

end with a willow

years were objects of dis-

but yielding to time and

in the park,

storm, they disappeared and the present boulder with

its

was placed there on the 4th of July, 1896. This is, perhaps, enough by way of reminder of this old war. Later and more peaceful years have their associations tablet

as well as those of conflict.

The War

of 1812 destroyed

Buffalo; the building of our harbor and the opening of the

Erie canal created a

new

The grave

Buffalo.

of Samuel

Wilkeson, marked by a rugged monument, shaded by trees, in a quiet part of

every one

who

Forest Lawn, should be

fine

known

to

gives a thought to the history of our city;

was Judge Wilkeson, more than any other one man, who brought about conditions which made possible the defor

it

velopment into Buffalo’s commercial greatness. inscription

officials first

the in

in

passage westward through the Erie canal,

1825.

the

Judge Wilkeson’s house, then newly built, that and prominent men of the State gathered after the

was

It

As

on his monument records: “Urbem condidit.”

This house, already referred

home

of three generations of

history.

many

It faces

its

welfare, but has been

gatherings of significance in Buffalo’s

Niagara Square, and we

that this spot and the neighboring Square,

name of

in the fall of

has not only been

men and women prominent

our community and devoted to

the scene of

to,

may as well note now bearing the

Lafayette, have both, from the earliest days of the

town, been the scene of countless gatherings, receptions,



ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO. and events of in

Western

That most famous of early executions

note.

New York—the

took place in Court

hanging of the three Thayers a few rods west of Niagara

street,

During the

Square.

War, the Buffalo troops

Civil

dezvoused there and made their

was

final

for

many

years the residence of Millard Fillmore.

one of the queer things in our history that

It is

ren-

reviews before leaving

Across the Square from the Wilkeson home-

for camp. stead,

247

this

Square,

so long associated with a President of the United States, contains

no reminder of him,

known by another name than

his

former home even being

and the Square

his;

days has been given the distinction of a

later

in these

monument

to

another President, whose last associations with Buffalo were of the saddest, but tions

whatever with

who

is

known

not

to

have any associa-

this particular spot.

Probably no place in Buffalo stands for more history, both local and general, than Lafayette Square.

In the old

when it was Courthouse Square and little more than an open common, it was the scene of many conventions, meetings, celebrations, and speeches. In 1825, when Lafayette made his visit to Buffalo, he was given a reception at the Eagle Tavern, on the west side of Main street, about where the Hudson stores now are, and the square opposite was named in his honor. The only national political condays,

vention ever held in Buffalo

1848 are,

—was held under too,

political

—the

Free Soil Convention of

a great tent in this Square.

associations

of

an early

attached to the block below, for in the famous

period

and drink hard

built

on

Main

and Eagle streets, and there

to harangue,

and cheer for “Tippecanoe,”

the northeast corner of

met

that

Log Cabin

campaign of 1840 Buffalo’s veritable log cabin was the citizens

There

cider.

Following the

political associations a little further,

it

is

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

248

well to remind the reader of at least one other site in our city

which

who have

distinguished because of the people

is

labored there.

Where now

Fidelity Trust

Company, formerly

building

the

stands

stood,

of

three or four successive buildings

owned by

Weed, devoted

hardware business.

in the

main

to the

the Messrs.

the upper stories of the last of these buildings,

way

demolished to make

the

1820, the

since

In

which was

for the present structure, were,

for a time, the offices of Millard Fillmore, and, at a later

period, the offices of

and of

his partner

Nathan K.

Wilson

Hall, of Grover Cleveland,

The

S. Bissell.

old

Weed

block,

two Presidents and two Postmasters-

therefore, sent out general.

Not

our historic associations relate to distant years.

all

An

event of very recent years, which must have mention,

was

a sequence of the Pan-American Exposition and the

The house in which September 14, 1901, known then

assassination of President McKinley.

President McKinley died,

as the Milburn residence, No. 1168

Delaware avenue,

will

always possess for the resident and the visitor a melancholy interest.

of

His successor, Theodore Roosevelt, took the oath

office as

President of the United States, in the

Mr. Ansley Wilcox,

at

day Mr. McKinley died. the

most “historic”

mandant’s

known

This house, by the way,

for

as Poinsett Barracks,

is

of

one of

Built about 1840 as the

in Buffalo.

headquarters

home

No. 641 Delaware avenue, on the

the it

military

com-

establishment

originally faced to the east,

looking out on the parade ground, which extended from

Delaware

to

Main

street,

surrounded by buildings, the whole

military tract covering the area

Main, Allen and Delaware.

now bounded by North,

During

this period,

one part

Wood,

post was occupied by surgeon, whose wife was a daughter of Zachary Taylor,

of the present house

Dr.

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

who became

249

President of the United States in 1850, with

Millard Fillmore as his Vice-president.

ment of Poinsett Barracks and

now

house

to other uses, the

After the abandon-

the conversion of the tract

standing was given

its

front

Additions and modern

approach from Delaware avenue.

improvement have been made, but the main part of the structure dignified

We

is

still

the original old house, one of the most

and attractive residences

could ramble up and

and forth across the town that

association,

our

in

down Main

city.

and back

street,

at great length, recalling this

passing

in

review

whole

the

virtually

and

There are many associations with places

history of Bufifalo.

which offer to the eye no reminder, no memorial, of the

The enduring landmarks of

past.

was not

It

my

people in middle

My

years.

fortune to

may

life

who

Buffalo until what to

be called comparatively recent

residence here dates from 1881

than a quarter century. here,

early days are very few.

know

To

elderly persons

;

a

little

who were born

are familiar with the conditions and traditions of

a generation earlier than their own, the Buffalo

known

is

not an old-time Buffalo at

none of us who read Buffalo.

of today

many

For

size.

There were

and residences

still

a few horse-car lines.

that matter,

young people years ago, would seem

instance, the recent Buffalo that

much

city of

trees

in its rear,

For

can have

that for the

things even of thirty

knew, was a

all.

I

page can have known the old

this

And we must remember

strangely antiquated. I first

more

less

its

present

around the old First Church,

along Pearl

You

than half

street.

There were

could go out Niagara

street, as

far as the Prospect reservoir, where the 74th regiment armory now stands, for five cents if you rode further, the fare was eight cents. Horse-cars took you out Main street ;

to

Cold Spring.

You

could go on, as far as the Sisters’

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

250

Hospital, in a bobtail car

drawn by one

When On Main

horse, over rails at

the side of the street.

business seemed to warrant,

ran once an hour.

street the Williamsville stage

it.

was as familiar it went slower.

as the Lockport trolley cars are

now

—but

many pumps on the Terrace, at Main and Genesee, and elsewhere, were much used. Bacteriology was There were

still

public cisterns in

parts of town, and the

in its infancy,

and the microbe, though no doubt then with

had not attained

us,

The

present monopoly of ailment.

its

down-town churches were still the devotional meeting-places of most of the church-going population. The phrase, “The Churches,” was still in common use as designation of what is now Shelton Square no doubt some of our older residents still use it, but the reason old group of

;

for

it is

have

no longer apparent.

St.

Baptist,

The “Old

First” has gone

Peter’s has

gone,

Temple Beth Zion,

The French

Presbyterian

made way The Central

originally a Methodist church,

reader.

—Congrega—are both abandoned, and the former

and the Niagara-square Baptist

tional in its later years least

may be demolished before these lines reach the Of them all, there now remain, consecrated to reli-

gious use, but two, St. Paul’s and St. Joseph’s. Joseph’s

Old

and the Wells-street chapel.

for the Masonic building on Niagara street.

at

so

and the United Presbyterian, and two or three

other earlier churches on Washington street. St.

;

John’s, and Trinity, and the Washington-street

is

building, but

its

completion will not,

hoped, put an end to the older associations, or to

its

Thirty years ago

edifice,

A

new

it

is

infinitely

St.

to be

rich in

sacred use.

we had

but one theatre





at least but

There polite society the old Academy. was still an occasional sailing craft in the harbor. The Board of Trade still flourished on Central Wharf; and one attended by

;

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO. from the purlieus of Canal not yet wholly departed.

were

my own

recollections of

an attendance

are,

what

As one and

at

must

choice residence

Among

modern

call

Buffalo,

on grounds between Rich-

whose

a circus

Wadsworth

pitched just west of

now

I

at ball-games

mond and Elmwood; and John’s place

now

are

vacant land and cow-pasture.

districts

still

sulphurous glory had

street the

What

251

notes the constant change, both in the business

residential sections,

If one will

one comes to the conclusion that in its

own

compare the Buffalo of today with

that,

say, of thirty years

how few it is

St.

runs.

Buffalo at least each generation practically creates city.

were

tents

about where

street,

ago,

he

be

will

surprised to note

of the important buildings are old.

true, dates

back to 1876, and the

Jail

is

Our

City Hall,

somewhat

older

but the Federal building, the Municipal building, every one of the theatres

two of

;

the three high schools

prominent hotels except the Genesee; old

Mansion House has been the

building;

home

of the Y.

houses

—the

try



built over;

Chamber of Commerce, and the “old” Y. M. C. A.

armories;

W.

C. A.

;

all

all

of the

our two great

M. C. A. building, now the the Y.

of the conspicuous club

Saturn, University, Twentieth Century, Coun-

fact except the Buffalo

all in

;

even the historic

and the Park, and they

occupy former residences so altered and enlarged as to be

new

practically

;

the Public Library, the

Grosvenor, the

Catholic Institute, the Historical Building, the Albright Art

Gallery

;

most of the churches and hospitals and asylums

the banks

;

scores of public and private

on miles of business which built

really

within

schools

;

miles

and thousands of residences, make up the Buffalo of today, have all been the

buildings,

last

thirty

years.

Attention

is

called

to this feature of our city merely to emphasize the point

ASSOCIATIONS OF BUFFALO.

252

that historic association does not depend

The

vation of the old.

upon the preser-

associations remain with us though

the face of our city constantly changes

;

and while we often

lament the passing of a beautiful old residence or a building which has been the scene of important events,

remember that after embodied in the acts of to

It is

all

the history of the

its

men and women.

is,

would be a pleasure, were

is

most concerned. It feasible, to recall the names

after it

all,

and achievements of many of the men and women lived their lives in this

name

after

but as one begins to

name, their very number

Our

impracticable.

who have

community and accomplished some-

thing for the world’s betterment;

it

well

with the deeds of the makers of Buffalo that the

student of our history

recall

it is

community

dearest

is

associations

remain with the personality of those

seen to

make

must always

who have

and

lived

worked, rather than with the things of brick and mortar that

may

withstand for a few years.

and the most

significant

of good lives and labelled,

all

useful

The only enduring work memory

the wholly immaterial effort,

things

that

cannot

museums, nor marked by tablets. history, that it is merely the outcome of

nor kept

not true of

is

in

vidual character and effort?

Is

be it

indi-

FROM INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE MAGAZINE “OPPORTUNITY

/'*

JANUARY, I909.

VTO

New York

chapter in the story of Western

is

more

important or more interesting than that which relates the

development

touches the real

of wars and

Western

of

life

means

of

of the people far

humor

not admit

New York

to be

They do have

found anywhere.

than in

more than the record

has sometimes been called the “most If there

in this, the residents of it.

It

politics.

highly civilized spot on earth.” or

intercommunication.

facilities

all

is

Western

a touch of irony

New York

need

the advantages and blessings

more fortunate and communication by mail, tele-

In nothing are they

of travel

graph and telephone.

The telephone

service in our day, the highest

development of intercommunication, series of steps in

When Western

is

the latest of a long

to

know what we

our progress.

the white

New

and best

man

York,

it

came

first

was

the

home

call

of a people highly

developed, compared with most of the American aborigines.

Their

trails

ran across and up and

their fleet-footed runners,

verbal messages

the country, and

by using the relay system, carried

from Lake Erie to the Hudson

in

an

The first whites used the old Indian but they used more the natural waterways. The

incredibly short time. trails;

down

253

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE.

254

—who were the —and after them of the

campaigns and marches of the French white masters of the region

first

British,

were mostly made by boats which skirted the shores of Ontario and Erie, or paddled and poled up and down the streams, with arduous portages from one watershed to another.

This was the state of things so far as travel or

traffic

was concerned when white men first undertook to acquire the lands of Western New York. For this sketch we will refer to Western New York as bounded on the east by a

that region

Seneca

chusetts final

line

running through

Under the old Colonial charters, both Massaand New York made claim to this territory. The

lake.

adjustment of their claims led to a sale

1788 on the

in

part of Massachusetts of the pre-emption right to million acres, to Nathaniel

They paid about scrip

a million dollars for

which soon

fell

New York

land deal

speculators.

Two

the Indian

title

Gorham and it,

Oliver

little

six

Phelps.

but they paid

in

much below par. The first Western was not a conspicuous success for the

years

later,

Phelps and

Gorham bought

to 2 600,000 acres, extending from about ,

The Indians

the line of Seneca lake to the Genesee river.

got very

some

out of the bargain, as was the case in every

trade with the whites.

In 1791, the western part of the great tract was resold to

Robert Morris,

who

again sold

it

to a

company of Dutch

speculators, who, although they did not constitute a cor-

porate company, are

known

in history as the

Holland Land

Company. These Dutch speculators sent into the wilderness.

out the

first

their surveyors

They opened

settlements.

the

first

For the sake of

and agents

roads and laid its

good harbor

on Lake Erie, a town was begun on Buffalo creek

in 1799,

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE.

New Amsterdam.

and with Dutch loyalty was called

It

soon became Buffalo.

For many years the two tracts into which Western New York was thus divided, the Phelps and Gorham tract east of the Genesee, and the Holland Land Company’s tract west



of

it,

—present similar phases

The

of development.

people to come in and take up the lands were

first

New England; especially in the Genesee valley was New England immigration so large that it turned that

from the

wilderness into what

fertile

New York

and gave

State,

it

a character for thrift, culture

and morality which constituted

The Holland Purchase, settlers

from

New

the garden region of

still

is

England; but

New

a second

it

too,

England.

had a similar as time

went on

influx

of

received

it

more immigrants from Europe, most of them bringing very few worldly goods. Its interests, too, were less purely agricultural, especially at Buffalo, where lake traffic drew together large numbers of sailors and others of a more or less

rough and adventurous disposition.

been made up of

many

Buffalo has always

Rochester, the chief city of

races.

the Genesee valley region, has always remained tinctly of

The

New

first

England parentage and English

is

neighbors,

his

many

—neighbors

and

the trees

none the

may be less

in

new

built his

touch with

though perhaps

miles distant.

The opened trail

hewn

the opening of a road that he

dis-

origin.

thing that marks the development of a

region after the settler has cabin,

more

first

in

wagon

track on the Holland

1798 and followed

from Canandaigua

ten years,

many

in

the

Purchase was

main the

old Indian

In the next

to the Buffalo creek.

roads were opened between the

new

settle-

ments, usually by the agents of the Holland Land Company.

One important road

a

hundred years ago, and

still

a

much



INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE.

256

used highway,

was

not

constructed.

so

This was the

Road opened by United States officers stationed at Fort Niagara in 1800. They constructed it from the brow Military

now

of the high land above Lewiston to Scajaquada Creek,

within the limits of Buffalo.

Originally built to facilitate

the transportation of troops

and munitions of war from

Lake Ontario

it

road for the

Lake

to

Military Road,

Even before

Erie,

A

settlers.

later

portion of

became a convenient today

it,

known

as the

a part of the street system of Buffalo.

is

were made, the people of Western Government for a mail service. Before

the roads

New York asked

the

the era of settlements,

when

the French or British troops

controlled the region, military mail

was

sent back

by boat between Oswego and Fort Niagara, and

was followed long

and forth method

this

were opened.

after the first roads

In

winter the mail carrier was either an athletic soldier or an

Indian

who

ran through the forest on snow-shoes.

Many

an important mail has been delivered by such a carrier at

Oswego, Fort Niagara and Buffalo Creek. In 1790 there were but 175 postoffices in the United

These were mostly

States and 1875 miles of post roads.

between old Utica got first

cities

its first

New York

State

mail in 1793, Canandaigua in 1794.

The

near the seaboard.

mail was carried

meaning not the present



in

1797.

On

all

In

from Canandaigua to Niagara, city of the Falls, but the old Fort,

the early mail routes in

York, the carrier was a horseman

who

Western

New

rode over the mirey

and stump-crowded roads, usually with

his mail in his hat

or pocket, carrying food for himself and oats for his horse in saddle-bags. tiplied,

the

As

settlements and loadside taverns mul-

food question was simplified and the saddle-

bags were used for the mail. Buffalo’s

first

On

September

postmaster was appointed.

30,

1804,

This was Erastus

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE. Granger, for

many

New

Western

257

years one of the most prominent

York.

At

that time there

were no

men

in

postoffices

nearer to Buffalo than Batavia on the east, Niagara to the

The

north and Erie to the southwest.

Canandaigua

to

Niagara was changed

the carrier rode his horse by

way

post route from

in that year so that

of Buffalo creek, leaving

there the packet of letters and papers for Buffalo and for

on the

the occasional schooner

lake.

mail once in two weeks until 1805 a

was

then, until 1809,

it

its

had

In

1810 a change to “stage-wagon”

established

from Buffalo eastward and the mail

weekly service.

service

;

Buffalo received



used that method.

prominent citizen of

Andrew Langdon grandfather of a Buffalo of that name drove the first



stage from Albany to Buffalo.

The war of 1812

to

development of Western tion,

it

impoverished

1815 was a great setback to the

New

many

York.

It

of the settlers

stopped immigra-

who had

already

taken up lands, and checked the development of

all

im-

provements.

From

about 1815, for ten years or

so, the interest

of the

people in this section largely centered on the construction

of the Erie canal. in

Open from

the east as far as Rochester

1823 and to Buffalo and Lake Erie in the

became and of

for a period the travel;

but

it

fall

of 1825,

it

main highway of freight shipment

did not carry the mail.

When

the

was opened, in October, 1825, the news was carried by the booming of cannon, one after another, across the State from Lake Erie to the Hudson, in one hour and canal

twenty minutes.

The

era in which the canal

was without

rival

was

short.

Eight years after the a railway a

first boat had left Buffalo for the east, was opened from Buffalo to Black Rock. It was

most primitive construction,

the

rail

being

of

wood

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE.

258

covered with a strap of iron and the motive power a team of horses

;

but

it

was the beginning of the great railway

era.

In 1836, however, a real railroad with a steam locomotive

whch drew the queer old cars over a wonderfully rough track was opened from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. It carried the mail and there was no lack of people willing to take chances and travel on the new-fangled line. The chain of railways across New York State from Albany to Buffalo was completed added

links

in

Built in sections with connecting

1843.

and representing many

at intervals of years,

companies and various

interests

found to keep very nearly the

when completed,

it

was

line of the old stage road,

turn had gradually evolved from the earlier roads

which

in

of the

settlers,

and these had followed, wherever practicable,

the ancient trails of the Indians.

Whoever

rides today in the luxurious coaches

rapid-moving trains across the part,

state, passes, for the

through the same valleys,



same hills but marked the way Iroquois runner hastened two hundred

does not see the same forests

along which the

on the greater

skirts the

—which

years ago.

From

the time railroads were

mails, but

it

was not

until

many

first built,

they carried the

years later that the rate of

postage was so reduced that communication by mail ceased to be

an expense which was

felt

by the average individual.

In the earlier years, domestic postage ranged from 6 }4 c to

Towards the close of the War of 1812, this maximum rate of 25c was increased 50 per cent., so that a letter of any considerable length sent from one part of New York State to another was likely to cost either the sender or the No envelopes were used. The correct receiver 37 ^4 c.

25c.

way paper

of is

and

addressing

folding,

sealing

now one

of the lost arts.

the

sheets

of

The modern envelope

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE. and cheap postage

259

practically revolutionized domestic cor-

respondence.

The railway Wire.

era

was quickly followed by the Age of

Before people

enough

their timidity

they began

to

telegraph.”

Nothing

hear

in

New York

State had overcome

to travel generally

of in

on the railways,

Morse’s new-fangled “magnetic the history of the world did so

much

to revolutionize intercommunication as this invention.

Next

to the inventor himself, none did

practicable than

more

New

two men of Western

to

make

York.

It

it

was

Millard Fillmore of Buffalo, afterward President of the

United States, who, as a member of Congress

in 1842, pro-

cured for Morse the Government appropriation for the line. Morse’s idea was to was Ezra Cornell of Ithaca who first suggested stringing them on poles. Mr. Cornell made a fortune out of the idea and hastened the day when telegraph communication was made well nigh universal. The Civil War had a curious effect on the development

construction of an experimental

bury the wires.

of the telegraph. partly because of

It

Prior to the its cost,

war

it

was used

partly because

many

sparingly,

people mis-

But the demand for prompt reports from the front during the war led the great newspapers of

trusted

its

accuracy.

make the first extensive use of the wire for The business public soon followed. Boards commercial interests generally made little or and

the country to

news

reports.

of trade

no use of the telegraph

War.

Now

until

about the time of the Civil

the bulk of their business

is

transacted by wire.

Extensive as telegraphic communication has become,

it

has never reached every comer of every county, and practically

every household, as has the telephone.

This

is

the

more wonderful when we recall that the practical use of the telephone is scarcely more than a quarter century old.

INDIAN RUNNER TO TELEPHONE.

260

Although the telephone was ago,

it

was for some years

and short

distances.

of Western

It is

New York

is

in use

more than

thirty years

chiefly confined to great cities

not too

much

to say that

now

all

brought into instantaneous com-

munication by a network of wires.

While these advances have been taking

New York

itself

Western

place,

When

has been transformed.

the

first

Federal census was taken, in 1790, the white population of old Ontario county,

we

are considering,

which then embraced

was

1085.

all

The fourteen

which old Ontario has been divided, had census

of

1900 a population of

counties into

at the

1,469,360,

question in excess of a million and a half. bilities

of the territory

Federal

now beyond

With

the possi-

of wireless communication and other yet undreamed-

who can doubt that the coming decades show changes in our means of intercommunication as marked and wonderful as those of the past? of improvements, will

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS A SUNDAY AFTERNOON ADDRESS AT THE HISTORICAL BUILDING.

T ASK

you

me

to join with

considering briefly the

in

historical aspect of Thanksgiving, the

and holiday which most of us celebrate this week.

you know, let

is

I

hope

all

of us

feast

—are

to

have no thought of preaching a

I

Our

Thanksgiving sermon.



American

point of view in these talks, as

always that of the student of history.

As such

us take note of certain significant changes in the char-

acter

and observance of

And

first, let

me

day we

this

Thanksgiving.

call

call attention to certain contrasts in the

proclamations establishing the day.

I

read the short proclamation

a

issued

hope you have

all

few days ago by

was much struck on reading it with its significant difference from many of the formal proclamations which have preceded it. “With profound appreGovernor Hughes.

ciation,” says the

I

Governor, “of the obligations of liberty

and of our dependence, for the maintenance of our

upon a proper sense of the

tutions,

insti-

responsibilities of citi-

zenship and upon the cultivation of those qualities of character

which

he says

:

will enable us to discharge

“Let us devote our

best of which in

we

are capable in

our fellowship and

in the

them.”

lives to the all

And

again

attainment of the

good works, delighting

joyous service of brotherhood.” 261

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

262

And

then he goes on and in the usual

way recommends

a

religious observance of the day.

But such language as Governor Hughes uses, such ideas ideals as inspired that language, would have been abso-

and

lutely impossible

and incomprehensible to the old Colonial

governors whose proclamations instituted the observance of the day.

Contrast with these words of following

from

“Every person

the

Governor Hughes the

Connecticut proclamation of

shall duly resort

1650:

and attend thereunto upon

such public fast days and days of thanksgiving as are to be generally kept by the appointment of authority,” and for failure to obey this

mandate the Connecticut

liable to a fine of five shillings.

idea of

commanding

citizen

was

This illustrates the early

the people, not merely to attend service,

but to pray and to fast and to rejoice.

More than one hundred years later, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, a man was liable to fine or other punishment if he worked on days appointed for fasting and prayer. 1696, William Veazie of Boston was on a fast-day.

pilloried for

In

plowing

For many years such was the conception and the custom. Gradually, as the nation expanded, the ideas underlying this

thanksgiving institution shifted.

It

would be an

inter-

esting inquiry to trace year by year the evolution of the

modern conception other, fifty

;

but for our purpose

a proclamation by

Governor Seward,

“I

recommend

that they abstain on that day

was no longer

tion.

us cite only one

made

some

years ago, in which, after reviewing the blessings of

the people, he says:

It

let

a

to

my

fellow citizens

from secular employments.”

peremptory order, but a recommenda-

Governor Seward’s proclamation was by no means

exceptional;

his point of view

was

that of his time;

but

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS. note

how

had travelled from the old compulsory

far he

And now,

mandates of 1650.

we

Governor of

find the

263

half a century after Seward,

New York

State neither ordering

nor formally recommending, but heartily reminding the and the individual of

citizen

and

to

his obligations to

Nothing more

others.

perfectly

growth of the feeling of personal a proclamation as

we have

the

illustrates

responsibility, than such

from Governor Hughes.

this year

Again, notice the contrasts It

government

observance of the day.

in the

has come to be a custom that no governor of a State

issues a

Thanksgiving proclamation

the United States has issued one.

until the President of

By custom

has taken on a national character.

know,

it

was purely

local,

In

its

the institution

and for many years

a variable and irregular institution.

you

origin, as it

continued

Three of the early

John Adams and Madison, issued the people, calling on them to observe

Presidents, Washington,

proclamations to

fasting, prayer and thanksgiving but Madison no President of the United States issued a

certain days with

after

;

proclamation for a national thanksgiving until Lincoln.

This seems the more remarkable because at dif-

ferent periods in our history, territories

Abraham

had practically

when most

settled

of the states and

upon one day

in the year

for thanksgiving observance, requests had been presented to the President that the institution of

be given itself

national

a

always

calamity.

during

The most

or

after

Thanksgiving might

This feeling manifested

character.

some national

notable Thanksgiving in

crisis

the

or

early

history of the country followed the treaty of peace con-

cluding the

War

of

after the

i 837~’38,

of 1812.

during the long period special fast days,

After the great financial

Mexican War, and of

bitter

crisis

at different times

agitation over slavery,

sometimes combined with the feature of

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

264

thanksgiving, were ordained by the governors of different states.

But there was a feeling

at

Washington

that such

matters belonged to the states.

A

Buffalo President had offered to him, urged upon him,

most symbolical day of

the opportunity to establish this

American observance, but he tunity.

failed to

This was Millard Fillmore.

dent in 1852, a strong

improve the oppor-

While he was Presi-

movement was

started to give to

Thanksgiving a national character by having

it

proclaimed

by the President and observed on the same day throughout the Union. their

named

Prior to that time, the different states

own

days, so that a Massachusetts

man might

cele-

brate Thanksgiving in Boston, and, perhaps, being later in

Connecticut

New

or

Thanksgiving with the

Among

Jersey,

might

celebrate

another

citizens of those states.

the manuscripts in the possession of this Society,

formerly belonging to President Fillmore, are certain interesting letters written to

him by representatives of public

journals and by organizers and educational workers, ex-

him

plaining to

at great length

luster of his administration,

giving Day.

Mr. Fillmore’s reply was

were the prerogative apparently,

how he might add

of

the

was the view of

to the

by creating a national Thanksthat such matters

several states.

And

his successors until the

such,

day of

Lincoln. I

have said that the popular demand for

always followed a period of

may

crisis

this

observance

or calamity, so that you

readily believe that the greatest of our nation’s crises,

the Civil

War, turned

than ever before of this institution.

the minds of the people

in their history to the

more strongly

formal observance

President Lincoln issued several procla-

mations creating days of prayer and fasting during the Civil

War.

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

265

In 1863 he appointed August 6th as a special Thanks-

Army

giving because “there have been vouchsafed to the

and Navy of the United States

victories

sea so signal and so effective

as

to

on land and on the furnish

reasonable

grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their constitution preserved and

peace and prosperity permanently

their

The

restored/’

people were not asked to give thanks because the North had

won

victories over the South, but “for

that the

Union of these States

augmented confidence

will be maintained/’

I

cannot

forbear to call attention to one striking thing which this quotation illustrates

How

English. in

its

—the beauty and purity of Mr. Lincoln’s

came he

to be master of a diction that rivals

rhythmic appeal to the

and

ear,

in its precise

and

forceful use of our speech, the most exalted passages in

the Prophets, the prayer of St. Crysostom, or the best of

Was

English anywhere? lutely sincere,

was abso-

the gift his because he

and wrought, as well as wrote,

in the midst of

times that taught, no less than they tried, the souls of

men?

But President Lincoln died before the whole country had

So

fairly

that

it

come to consider itself once more as a Union. was his successor, President Johnson, who had

the distinction of issuing the tion

first

for a national observance

From Andrew

Thanksgiving proclama-

throughout

Johnson’s day to this

the

country.

we have had an

annual

Thanksgiving proclamation from the President.

Nothing better

illustrates

Thanksgivings were list

first

the changed conditions since

observed

in this

country than a

of some of the things for which thanks were specially

ordered at different periods.

Our

ancestors gave thanks for not starving to death.

This, in a word,

was

land Thanksgivings.

the occasion of those first

New Eng-



SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

266

For For

rain.

the end of a too rainy season.

For the

arrival of provision ships.

For deliverance from pirates. For defeat of enemies in war.

For

safe arrival of persons of rank or quality.

For the

birth of an heir to the British throne.

This, of

course, in the English colonies.

For the establishment of

Some on a

the Constitution.

of these promptings to thanksgiving

For

little.

the second

instance, the gratitude for rain.

American Thanksgiving,

in

From May

no

The Pilgrims

rain.

set apart

1623.

faith of the

to the middle of July there

stood

dwelt

That caused

July,

was no harvest-home, but a triumph of the munity.

may be

This

com-

had been

as long as they could, then

it

In the morning,

“a solemn day of humiliation.”

when they began to pray, according to the old chronicle, “it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen.”

kept up for nine hours

;

Strenuous religious services were

towards evening

lasted fourteen days.

dilettanti, these

Pilgrim fathers,

Then they changed

You may

be a

it

began to rain

They were no mere when it came to praying.

and the shower

their fast to a thanksgiving.

bit skeptical as to a

of defeat of enemies in war. the archives of the

A

thanksgiving because

manuscript preserved

Hague shows

that in

1644 the

in

New

Yorkers marched to Greenwich, Conn., shot or burned' alive five

or six hundred Indians, including

women and

children

;

New York—and sat down to a And did the New England colonists

they then marched back to

Thanksgiving dinner!

have a Thanksgiving season after the virtual annihilation of the Pequots It

?

has always been true that

men

give thanks at the

!

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS. One

defeat of their enemies.

267

of the most notable Thanks-

giving Days in the history of our country was October

9,

was appointed by Colonial Governors “a day

1760, which

of Public Thanksgiving for the success of his Majesty’s

Arms, more

especially in the intire Reduction of Canada.”

Clergymen everywhere (except in Boston,

in

preached long sermons

Canada), and especially full

of exultation at the

in

America; and these

overthrow of the power of France

were

the

good

old-fashioned

double-barreled

which began with a long discourse for a

noon breathing

in the

sermons,

morning, stopped

and wound up with two or three

spell,

more hours of exhortation

in the afternoon.

To many

an

eager, restless youth in those days, the real Thanksgiving

must have begun when the minister’s “amen” released him

from

all

One to

these hours on hard benches.

of those old Thanksgiving sermons has

me.

It

was preached on

come down

same October

this

9,

1760,

morning and afternoon, by Jonathan Mayhew, a most eminent D. D. of his time, in the West Church, Boston. His text

was: “Thou

will give the

art

my

son.

.

.

.

Ask

of me, and I

Heathen for thine inheritance, and the

The devout

most parts of the earth for thy possession.” inference, of course,

away from

was

that the

Lord had taken Canada

the wicked French, and had put

session of the

good English,

look at

way

it;

is

the

Mayhew and his way we always look at

The curious thing about

people, a few years later, vices in gratitude to the

in the pos-

scheme

That was, of course,

that Minister

that

an adversary.

it

as a part of the general

of advancing His kingdom on earth. the only

utter-

it is

people could the defeat of

that these

were holding Thanksgiving

Almighty for

their

own

same ser-

deliverance

from the English

As

to the establishment of the Constitution,

it is

interest-

;

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

268

ing to recall that in 1789 a joint commission of the two houses of Congress waited upon Washington “to request that he

would recommend

to

of

people

the

the

United

States a day of public thanksgiving and thanks to God, especially for affording

them an opportunity peacefully to government for their safety and

establish a constitution of

happiness.” There have been other occasions in our history

when Congress has asked thanksgiving days

The modern

the President to proclaim fast or

—three times during the War of 1812.

evolution of Thanksgiving day observance

has carried us a long ways from the original institution.

Every schoolboy knows, probably with more certainty of information than his elders, that what is now a national observance

As

Pilgrims; if

is

an outgrowth of the Pilgrim Thanksgiving.

a religious observance fasts

it

antedates the coming of the

and feasts are as old as the Hebrew

not as old as the race

itself.

Thanksgiving followed that

first

on which joyful occasion, thanks turkey was brought

in,

But the

first

faith,

American

Pilgrim harvest of 1621 to

“King” Massasoit, the

and entered upon the most exalted

career attained by any bird, not even excepting the eagle.

We

give the eagle vague respect, but

I

The was

we

love the turkey.

have spoken of the second American Thanksgiving. third

American Thanksgiving of formal observance

in 1631,

because of the safe arrival of provision ships.

Gradually, the festival became established, and extended to other colonies;

eminently a

but Thanksgiving has always been pre-

New

England

institution.

country have varied in their regard for strong element of

made much for a

New

England

Other parts of the it.

settlers,

Where

there

is

Thanksgiving

a is

was the great day of the year in Boston century and a half before New York paid much atten-

tion to

it.

of.

It

New

York, with different traditions, always

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS. New

exalted Christmas and

long years frowned

savored so

much

put

“of

to

it,

on

The Bostonians

Year’s.

Christmas

the

for

which

festivities,

of ritualism and, as the old preachers used

New York

popery.”

England has warmed up

to a

and the

southern

New

England.

from

colonies have adopted Thanksgiving

New

269

merry Christmas

and

;

these and the whole country have handed the earlier day

over to feasting, visiting and sports, with

less

and

less

of

religious observance.

Thanksgiving Day and Fast Day sermons are



pretty lively reading

if

they are old enough.

Our

really

country

got through the Colonial and the Revolutionary period with

an

of

alternation

and thanksgivings

fasts

gauges the varying fortunes of the struggle.

were once

launched

fairly

which truly

But when we

the critical period that fol-

in

lowed, and then so soon carried into another Britain, our troubles tician arrived as

began

war with Great The American poli-

in earnest.

he never had before, and that “menace of

malice,” which one of our Presidents mentioned in one of

Thanksgiving proclamations, showed

his

as

itself

never

Fast days multiplied, and there were few Thanks-

before. givings.

A

very curious chapter of American history could be

written from data contained in the Fast

giving

Day sermons preached during

Day and Thanks-

the decade

from 1810

New England did not support President Madipolicy. When Congress declared war, June 18, 1812,

to 1820. son’s

the first thing that the to proclaim a

Governor of Massachusetts did was

day of fasting, humiliation and prayer. Other

governors did the same, fast,

usually a

Sunday

ance at that time.

So

in addition to the

in April,

violent

annual spring

which was a regular observ-

was

Madison’s policy, that, although

the adverse criticism on the

President

did

not

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS

270

swerve from

his course,

he

fell

with the

in

.

spirit

of his

—or perhaps that the emergency called for This was on August —and proclaimed a national opponents

felt

fast.

But before that time the

1812.

it

20,

New England ministers had He was denounced as the

“sailed into him,” hot and heavy.

enemy of politics,

his

country

and

the

But no minister today would be apt 1

go

to

extremes of language and denunciation Executive that characterized these wrathy their

New

Pulpit

many

a

to the intemperate

of

fast

National

the

day sermon of

England parsons.

remarks by saying that

politics in the pulpit,

Many

France.

of

tool

then as now, were not conspicuous for discretion.

it

They usually prefaced was not their custom to talk day was exceptional.

but that the

a Thanksgiving sermon nowadays has a like introduc-

Freedom of speech meant free speaking, in the New England pulpit in the good old days. The Reverend John Smith, pastor of the church in “Whether Great Salem, N. H., told his. congregation Britain is friendly to the American interest or not, she is

tion.

:

friendly to her

guards our

own

interest,

and

in

defending herself she

Could our twenty ships

liberties.

effect

injury to the thousand ships of the British navy,

be like taking

away

the rampart of our

own

any

real

would

it

defense. Could

the wildest imagination conceive of anything like victory

over England,

in the

same event might be seen the complete

ruin of our own country.” What a shock to this good man must have been those glorious sea-duels that were so soon to demonstrate American superiority. He urged the young declared the war not merely “an enlist, and men not to alliance with France,” but “making war with the Lamb and

—an epithet —“combining with the

with the saints,” “uniting with Antichrist” the time often given to Bonaparte

deluded nations, that wander after the beast,

at

.

.

.

and

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS. finally

go

271

Dr. Dwight’s fast-day sermons in

to perdition.”

the chapel of Yale College proved to the boys, with absolute

war would put

logic, that the

“We

ance with France.

this

country

in

an abject

alli-

are linking ourselves,” said William fast-day sermon

Ellery Channing, in his

the

at

Federal

Boston, July 23, 1812, “with the acknowl-

street church,

edged enemy of mankind, with a government which has not a vestige of liberty where

The Reverend John Gardiner,

sway.”

Boston, on the same day said

my

ever,

has extended

it

brethren, deter you at

and ruinous.

war

let

land’s

.

.

at Trinity

Church,

all

times and in

war

It is a

As Mr. Madison

.

Mr. Madison carry

on.”

it

harangued

ministers

blasting

“Let no considerations what-

:

from execrating the present war. ish

left

its

their

all

places

unjust, fool-

has declared

Scores of

New Eng-

congregations

in

this

strain.

New

Outside of

England, especially

in Philadelphia, the

Episcopal ministers were equally violent against President

Madison.

All

preached by other hostile forces.

through

the

war,

the

fast-day

sermons

New

England ministers were practically ancampaign against the struggling American

The preachers

did

not

hesitate

The Reverend

towards the President.

personalities

at

Elijah Parish, at

Newburyport, fulminating on the certainty of an Washington, since the

alliance

“Have not the Rulers at Paris and commencement of the war, been one

with France, exclaimed

:

much as ‘the great red dragon’ and ‘one of his horns’ one? Which sooty slave in all the ancient dominion, as

more obsequiously watched

are

has

the eye of his master, or flew

to the indulgence of his desires,

more

servilely,

than the

same masters have waited and watched, and obeyed the Are not the bonds of this These clergymen alliance already stronger than death?” 1

orders of the great Napoleon?

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

272

feared not only political bondage to France, but the spread

throughout America of French atheistical views.

Only now and then did a minister, on these fast-day occasions when politics

were permitted, stand up for

Such

his President.

one was the Reverend John Giles, Presbyterian, of

a

New-

buryport; and such another was Solomon Aiken, pastor of the First Church in Dracutt,

who

issued “an address to

Federal clergymen on the subject of the war,” and vigorously showed them which

way

lay true patriotism.

“Some

of you,” he said, “treat our Christian rulers with more free-

dom

than what Michael thought decent, or even dared, to

treat the devil.”

These fast-day exhibitions of public feeling gradually gave way to a more reconciled tunes of war favored' us more.

state of

mind, as the for-

And when

President Madi-

son proclaimed April 13, 1815, as a National Thanksgiving

Day, even his pulpit bitterly

critics

and hampered

the war, found a

who had opposed him most

good deal to be thankful

exception of the Thanksgivings of 13, 1815,

throughout

his policy all they could

was the most notable

for.

With

the

i 863~’64,

that of April

in the history

of the United

States.

In one of President Roosevelt’s Thanksgiving proclama-

Each generation, he says, is a striking sentence. more than the century and a quarter which have

tions there in

the

country took

among

passed since

this

“has had

peculiar burdens, each to face

its

its

place

and each has known years of grim

trial,

its

the nations,

special crisis,

when

the country

was menaced by malice, domestic or foreign levy, when the hand of the Lord was heavy upon it in drouth or flood or pestilence, when in bodily distress and anguish of soul it paid the penalty of folly and a froward heart.”

Roosevelt wrote his

own

proclamations

;

President

there can be

no

4

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS. doubt of

He

that.

is

a historian

;

and when he sweeps the

past years in a single sentence, he

is

thinking of specific

“Menaced by malice”

things in our history.

273

is

no mere

American progress has always been more delayed strife than by any act of other

phrase.

and endangered by internal

We

nations.

are

among

peace now,

at

ourselves, than

Curiously enough, the bitterest strife of past

ever before. years finds

more

most intemperate record

its

and

fast-day

in

Thanksgiving-day sermons.

Nothing

more

is

significant, in the history of

than the decline of the

Hebrews continue

there

There are

As

on abstaining from food than for-

for the multitude of sects, for the

they do not

fast.

peoples

who

all

The tendency of

War.

If this

the time

The

are prosperous.

American history were observed Civil

fasts for the Protestant

but taking that denomination as a whole,

less insistence

is

merly.

;

our people,

Catholics and orthodox

faithful in the observance of fasts pre-

scribed in their churches.

Episcopalians

Good

fast.

is

last

in the

most

part,

simply that of great fasts in

dark days of the

country should be once more plunged

into such deep trouble, the fast

day would no doubt reap-

pear as essentially a national observance.

The

first

national

Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by President Lincoln in

1863

Union

;

1864, after the triumphs of the

the second in

forces.

There was a

spirit

of earnestness in the

Thanksgiving services then that has disappeared from them

now.

This

is

no reproach

it is

;

human

nature.

We

are too

prosperous to observe days of supplication and fasting, too free

from great calamity

placidly thankful. is

The

to be anything

but an index of national well being.

that the people are

grown

Turning to recent

more than

so-called decline of It

just

Thanksgiving does not

mean

irreligious.

years,

it is

instructive to observe

how

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

274

the keynote, the special bequest of different Thanksgivings varies,

as.

Thus State,

shown

in

in the proclamations.

1883, Grover Cleveland, then Governor of the

found as a special cause for the people’s gratitude,

“that the supremacy of law and order has been complete,”

and “we have advanced social

and educational

in all that pertains to the material,

interests of

The year

our people.”

before this Governor Cornell had mentioned as a special blessing that the “tide of immigration to our shores has

This view would hardly prompt a

been unprecedented.”

special thanksgiving today.

Governor David B.

Hill, in 1885, called

upon the people

have been enjoyed

to give thanks because “political rights

without infringement from any source.”

Governor Flower,

in

found

1893,

special

reason

for

gratitude because the “State had been spared serious conflict

between employers and employes.”

Each of these shows

in a

measure the issue which had

engaged the attention of the public and on which, more or less,

party lines had been drawn, or a subject of general

discussion and

common

concern.

In 1889 Governor Roosevelt in a proclamation, which

was

as unconventional

ances,

and individual as are

all

of his utter-

saw reason for thanksgiving because “each man has live his life and do his work as seemed

been permitted to

best to him, provided only that he in no wise interfered

with the liberty and well being of his fellows.” right,” he added, “that

perity that has this great

come

we

moving forward

to

meet

first flush its

and for the way of

its

in

which

mighty manhood

is

destiny and to do without flinch-

ing every duty with which that destiny brings face.”

is

should give thanks for the pros-

to the nation

people in the

“It

it

face to

:

SOME THANKSGIVING CONTRASTS.

275

The Thanksgiving proclamations of President Roosevelt and Governor Hughes, and some other of the present governors of States, well establish, from an historical point of view, the fact that this country

is

turbed by any menace to

prosperity.

menace has found

arisen, the

its

absolutely at peace, undis-

thought of those

definite expression, so that

Whenever

that

in authority

has

we may

see in the old

proclamations just what were the evils from which deliver-

ance was sought

or

nation’s gratitude

was

the

specific blessings

for which the

due.

If the future historian of this country

were

to

have no

other sources of information than the Thanksgiving proclamations, he could not write

much

of a history, but he

could state with confidence two important facts First:

That the American people (notwithstanding the

clamor of difficult

political strife, the conflicts

problems of our day) are

prosperous and with

ample

of labor, and

all

grounds

for

the

very

at this time really

happiness

and

gratitude.

Second:

That the idea of personal

—the

responsibility

national valuation of individual conduct towards the state as

towards one’s fellows

—has

come

before in the history of this Nation.

to the

front,

as never

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU

A

HERE

recently

came

into the possession of the Buffalo

Historical Society the original manuscript of a long

letter written

1834.

by Harriet Martineau,

was addressed

It

Brooks, at

to her

of Niagara literature,

records.

Niagara

Falls, in

“Hingham near Boston, Massachusetts.”

has never been published, and as bit

at

friend the Rev. Charles

The

letter

I

itself

deem is

it is

it

in part

it

an interesting

worthy a place

something

As

of

a

in these

curiosity;

written in a light angular hand on thin paper, covering both sides of the folded sheets to side

and then cross-written, from side

and from top to bottom,

in a

The only

and exasperating chirography. sheets not closely criss-crossed,

— for

very maze of thrifty

is

portion of the

a space on the back for

was before the days of envelopes, and the precious pages were folded after a fashion which is

the address

this

now a lost art, and fastened with Few of our early visitors English visitors



red wafers.

—especially

of

our

early

have been so affable, so gracious without

condescension, as Harriet Martineau.

When

she came to

America in the summer of 1834, she was thirty-two years of age, and for ten years had had a growing reputation as a writer and a vigorous, remarkably clear-minded young woman. Her first book, “Devotional Exercises for the use of Young Persons,” was not of a sort likely to gain wide 277

278

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

popularity.

In 1830 she

won

three prizes offered by the

many

Central Unitarian Association for as to

essays “designed

convert respectively the Catholics, the Jews and the

Mohammedans. The

essays,” observes an acute biographer,

nobody,

brought

“probably

converted

guineas.”

She had won some measure of popularity by her

stories,

and genuine respect for her

tions of tion,”

but

Economy” and

Political

when,

ability

in 1834, she sailed for

less interested in the

in

by her

forty-five

“Illustra-

TaxaHere she was

“Illustrations of

America.

obvious phases of our society and our

scenery, than in the great problems which then engaged the

thought of

On

political

and

social leaders in the

United States.

her return to England in 1836 she published her well-

known work,

“Society in America,” and followed

it

1838

in

with the three- volume “Retrospect of Western Travel.”

She designed

in this latter

work

to picture the scenery

and

but at her lightest

the lighter phases of her journeyings;

Miss Martineau was never anything but serious; and her criticisms of slavery, as she

had observed

it

in

her travels,

some pretty harsh criticism. Had she come to us twenty years later she would have found the Abolition movement better organized, and would have been greeted by warm sympathizers.

won

for her “Retrospect”

I revert to

her “Retrospect” because

books we have, for as

it

was seen

in

its

period.

1834 by a person

without prejudice and

who

it is

It pictures

America

who was

spared some small unpleasantnesses

;

Miss

may have been

but she seems to have

judicial cast of mind.

as well as she loved philosophy;

to us

absolutely

never became hysterical.

Martineau was very deaf, and thereby

had a singularly

one of the best

She loved

justice

and the lapse of more

than three quarters of a century has not taken from her pages

their

worth or attractiveness.

In later years her



WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU. work grew more and more

279

In 1853 she published a

grave.

condensation of Comte's ‘‘Positive Philosophy,” followed

by a “History of England during the Thirty Years’ Peace” and other works of learning and merit. Her voluminous one of the most candid records

“Autobiography”

is

of an ardent

pledged to high

life

ideals.

have long since sought to do justice to

minded woman.

I

we have

Able biographers this gifted, high-

here merely seek to recall to the student

of our regional history her visits and what she wrote of us.

The “Retrospect”

contains a lively chapter on Buffalo,

and another and longer one on Niagara

Miss Mar-

Falls.

tineau visited the Falls in October, 1834, and again in June, 1836. I

am

It

was during her

first visit

about to quote from.

First,

that she wrote the letter

however,

I

wish to copy

from her pages a narrative of the burning of Buffalo, told to her by one who had shared in the experiences described It is

a record worthy a place in Buffalo’s annals of the

of 1812.

I

give

it

seated, she tells us, with a friend, “a lady of

War

down Buffalo, who

as Miss Martineau wrote

it

happens to be a good walker,” on the ruins of Fort Erie;

and

I

reserve a

word or two

of

comment or

correction until

the end:

At the time of the War of 1812, Mrs. W. lived in Buffalo, with her father, mother, brothers, and sisters. In 1814, just

when

frontier, her

the

war was becoming

terrific

father and eldest brother were

crossing the neighboring

ferry.

Six months

on the

drowned after

in

this

danger of Buffalo was so great that the younger children of the family were sent away into the country with their married sister, under the charge of their brother-in-law, who was to return with his wagon for the mother and two daughters who were left behind, and for the clothes of the family. For three weeks there had been so strong an apprehension of a descent of the Indians, the incident, the



280

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

barbarous allies of the British, that the ladies had snatched sleep with their clothes on, one watching while the others lay down. It was with some difficulty, and after many delays, that the wagon party got away, and there were still doubts whether it was the safer course to go or stay. Nothing was heard of them before night, however, and it was hoped that they were safe, and that the wagon would come for the remaining three the next morning. The ladies put out their lights early, as they were

and at eight, two of the three lay down to sleep; Mrs. W., then a girl of sixteen, being one. At nine, she was called up by the beating of a drum, the signal that the Indians were at hand. No description can give an idea of the loathing with which these savages were then regarded, the mingled horror, disgust, dread and hatred. The Indians were insidious, dangerous, and cruel beyond example, even in the history of savage warfare. These poor ladies had been brought up to hate them with a deadly hatred; they were surrounded with persons burning with the injuries inflicted by Indian revenge and barbarity; for weeks they had lived in hourly dread of death by their hands their strength was worn, and their nerves were shaken by the long suspense; and now the hoarse drum woke them up A deadly sickness with news that the hour was come. overspread their hearts as they started from their beds. They looked from their windows, but could see nothing through the blank darkness. They listened, but they knew that if the streets had been quiet as death, the stealthy tread of the savages would have been inaudible. There was a bustle in the town. Was the fight beginning? No. It was an express sent by the scouts to say that it was a false alarm. The worn-out ladies composed their spirits, and sank to sleep again. At four, they were once more awakened by the horrid drum, and now there was a mustering in the streets which looked as if this were no false alarm. In the same moment, the sister who was watching what passed in the street, saw by torchlight the militia part asunder and fly, and Mrs. W., desired;

;

WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU. who was

281

looking through the back window, perceived in was leaping

the uncertain glimmer that a host of savages the garden- fence, like so

—leaping along the walks the house, —but painted, and flourishing to

many kangaroos,

their

mother and sister, and they attempted to fly but there was no time. Before they could open the front door, the back windows came crashing With in, and the house was crowded with yelling savages. their tomahawks, they destroyed everything but the ladies, who put on the most submissive air possible. The trunks containing the clothing of the whole family stood in the

tomahawks.

She cried out

to her

;

ready to be carried away when the wagon should These were split to fragments by the tomahawk. These wretches had actually met the wagon, with the rest hall,

arrive.

of the family, and turned

it back; but the brother-in-law, watching his opportunity, wheeled off from the road when his savage guards were somewhat engaged, and escaped. The ladies were seized, and as Mrs. W. claimed protection, they were delivered into the charge of some squaws to be driven to the British camp. It was unpleasant enough, the being goaded on through such a scene by savage women, as insolent as the men were cruel but the ladies soon saw that this was the best thing that could have happened to them for the town was burning in various directions, and soon no alternative would be left between being in the British camp and in the thick of the slaughter in the burning streets. The British officer did not wish to have his hands full of helpless female prisoners. He sent them home again with a guard of an ensign and a private, who had orders to prevent their house being burned. The ensign had much to do to fulfil his orders. He stood in the doorway, commanding, persuading, struggling, threatening; but he saved the house, which was, in two days, almost the only one left standing. The whole town was a mass of smoking ruins, in many places slaked with blood. Opposite the door lay the body of a woman who in her despair had drunk spirits, and then defied the savages. They tomahawked her, in sight of the neighbors, and before her own door, and her ;

;

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

282

body lay where

it

had

fallen;

for there were none to bury

the dead.

Before the

fire

was

quite burned out, the Indians

were

gone, and the inhabitants began to creep back into the town, cold and half dead with hunger. The ladies kept up

a large

fire

(carefully darkening the windows), and cooked

they were too weary to stand, and one Mrs. W. often fire. during those dreary days used to fasten a blanket, Indian fashion, about her shoulders, and go out into the wintry night, to forage for food, a strange employment for a young girl in the neighborhood of a savage foe. She traced the hogs in the snow, and caught many fowls in the dark. for the settlers,

at a time lay

till

down

to sleep before the



On

the third day, very early in the morning, six Buffalo

men were

enjoying a breakfast of her cooking, when the windows were again broken in, and the house once more full of savages. They had come back to burn and pillage all that was left. The six men fled, and, by a natural impulse, the girl with them. At some distance from the house, she looked behind her, and saw a savage leaping towards her, with his tomahawk already raised. She saw that the next instant it would be buried in her skull. She faced about, burst out laughing, and held out both her hands savage. His countenance changed, first to perplexity; but he swerved his weapon aside, laughed, and shook hands, but motioned her homewards. She was full of remorse for having quitted her mother and sister. When she reached her door, the house was so crowded that she could neither make her way in, nor learn anything of their fate. Under the persuasion that they lay murdered within, she flew to some British dragoons who were sitting on the ground at a considerable distance, watching the burning of the remainder of the town. They expressed their amazement that she should have made her way through the savages, and guarded her home, where they procured an entrance for her, so that she reached the arms of her patient and suffering mother and sister. The house was, at length, the only one left standing; and when we returned, Mrs. W. pointed it out to me. to the

WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU. The

283

remained for some time in the woods, stealwarming and supper at the lone abode of the widow and her daughters. The ladies had nothing Their property had been in houses left but this dwelling. which were burned, and their very clothes were gone. The settlers had, however, carried off their money with them safely into the woods. They paid the ladies for their hospitality, and afterwards for as much needlework as they could do; for every one was in want of clothes. By their industry these women raised themselves to independence, which the widow lived some tranquil years to enjoy. The daughter who told the story is now the lady of a Judge. She never boasts of her bravery, and rarely refers to her adventures in the war; but preserves all her readiness and strength of mind, and in the silence of her own heart, or in the ear of a sympathizing friend, gratefully contrasts the perils of her youth with the milder discipline of her riper settlers

ing in to a midnight

age.

The “Mrs. W.” of

this narrative

Gamaliel and Margaret

Samuel Wilkeson.

St.

John,

was Sarah, daughter of

who became

the wife of

Miss Martineau’s dates are wrong, the

events described being at the burning of Buffalo, 30, 1813,

may

and days following.

December

Certain other inaccuracies

best be corrected by referring the reader to the narra-

tives of

Skinner,

Mrs. Wilkeson’s published

in

sisters,

Mrs. Sidway and Mrs.

volume IX.,

Publications

of

the

Buffalo Historical Society.

Miss Martineau tarried

in Buffalo long

enough

to note

She thought Buffalo an undesirable place of residence, because of the many rough several things of significance.

characters that gathered here.

manner of persons;

“It

States,

the rendezvous of

all

the passage through which fugitives

pass from the States to Canada,

and from Europe and

wild West.

is

Runaway

slaves

from

Canada

to

the

the Eastern States into the

come

here,

and

their

owners

a

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

284

follow in hopes of recapturing them.

Indian traders, land

and poor emigrants come here, and the most

speculators,

debased Indians, the half-civilized, hang about the outskirts. .

.

.

The

place

is

unavoidably a very vicious one.”

For

her other observations in Buffalo, at Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, I

must refer the reader to her own pages

mit without further comment a

letter

;

and sub-

which she wrote, as

above described, omitting portions of no general

interest,

but adhering to Miss Martineau’s peculiarities of style:

Niagara Falls, Octbr

Dear friends

know Mrs.

19th, 1834.

me address can not hope that you have been thinking of us as often as we have of you, but yet you may have begun to look for a letter to tell how we like your country & your her thus)



(for

I

B. will

let

I

On

our part, we hope that you are now so your usual habits of life that a full sheet will not come in upon you as an interruption. How we did think of you both on the day of your meeting and on the next Sunday! And now we want to know what you are doing, & whether you will write to tell us. A letter addressed to us at Mr. [name illegible], Philadelphia, between the 10th & 25th of next month, will be sure to reach us & we shall be truly thankful for it. A newspaper wh I have just taken up tells me that I am now at Boston thing not to be believed even on such assurance while the roar of these falls is in my ears. You will not expect me to wish to be anywhere but where I am, but indeed I should like to spend an hour by your evening fireside and hear what is doing in Hingham. Well, let us hope the time will come. If I did but know where to begin, Ish’d like to tell you what I think of what I have seen, secure that you will not betray me by repeating as my opinions what can be no more than first impressions. I will just go on till my paper is full people, so far.

far settled

down

into





&

leave the rest for some future time. charge a duty, as well as give myself

First, let

&

me

dis-

you pleasure by

WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU.

285

I am really reporting of my companion, Louisa Jeffery. delighted with her, & my esteem & regard for her grow every day. Our popularity so far I consider to be much

& pleasantness of her manners. seems to have any effect upon her. She is as careful of me as my mother herself cd be, & as a companion, she is all I c’d wish; so great is her good sense joined with much cultivation of mind. I believe that she is much liked wherever we have been & am sure she ought to be. We have had such a month of enjoyment. We are in love with travelling; & I really hope in spite of the contradictions between what we hear & what we see to learn more of man & get more light upon social morals than I anticipated, & Mr. B. knows how much I expected. From New York we went to Paterson & saw the falls of the Passaic, & a pleasant manufacturer’s family, where we were kindly entertained & taught much of what life is like in such a place. Then from New York to West Point, owing

No

to the cheerfulness

difficulty or fatigue

where we saw Washington Irving, interesting

human specimens

& some curious & some & where I was driven

besides,

half delirious by the beauty of the scene.

Tivoli

where we

staid three days with the

Then up to Elmendorfs &

saw much of the neighboring country. Then to Stockwhere we staid with the Sedgwick clan for some time, so happy that we scarcely expect to enjoy ourselves more in all our lives. I am sure Stockbridge can be no fair specimen of a village in any country. I never saw any thing to compare with it for its union of the charms of scenery & Society. The presence of Miss Sedgwick alone is blessing enough for any one place; but the whole clan seems worthy of her. You will rejoice to hear that we are not only to meet her again in Philadelphia, but that she &

bridge,



her eldest brother will travel with us all thro’ the West next spring. At Albany, we joined Dr. Julius, his two friends, Messrs. Oppenheim & Sillen, & Mr. Higham, for our journey to the falls. Miss Sedgwick w’d fain have gone, but a call of duty

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

286 at

home prevented

her, besides that she

the journey this year.

on me.

I

had

letters to

had already taken

At Albany, Mr. Van Buren called him at Washington, but I was glad

to begin our acquaintance earlier that I

might be able

to

unravel some of the contradictions that we hear about him wherever we go. He was kind & communicative, took pains to provide for my seeing Auburn properly, & held

out the prospect of

much

further intercourse at

Wash-

ington.

Our happy

party arrived here last Tuesday after a

comprehending days at Trenton Auburn, & Canandaigua. We saw all the beautiful scenery by the way, except a part of the valley of the

delightful week’s journey, Falls,

Mohawk, wh we passed in the canal boat in the dark. Louisa & I wished to make out a week here, not being able to understand how people persuade themselves that they have seen the Falls by staying two days. Our companions c’d not remain so long, and were obliged to return by different routes; so Higham, & Oppenheim set out for New York on Friday & Dr. Julius & Mr. Sillen for Toronto yes y We go back to Buffalo tomorrow for some days & .

then proceed to take possession of Gen’l Mason’s house at Detroit, where his son, who is Gov r of Michigan will take care that we get a palaver with Indians, & all else that we want. Crossing the Lake to Cleveland, we go by Pittsburg might go through all our adventures to Philadelphia. in white satin shoes, for besides that I have abundance of

We

letters,

upon me & overwhelmed with

the principal people of every place call

the only fear seems to be that I sh’d be

kindness. I was amused at a message from the Mayor of Buffalo (whose name I do not yet know). We arrived at dark & left early next morning, but he conveyed his regrets that he did not hear of my arrival for two hours (!) after I alighted, when he thought it w’d be too late to call, but means to await my return. The only thing of this kind that has vexed me is its having been said in the newspapers that

I

am

rich, a

mistake

wh

can not but cause

me

inconvenience.

WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU.

287

will talk over the Falls with Mr. B. when we meet. you, Mr. B., have not seen them, I shall not talk here of their unimaginable beauty. It is this beauty, soft beyond I

As

all names of softness, wh strikes me much more than their grandeur, though I have been over them & under them, looked at them from every side.

An

adventure of ours yes y will give you an idea of what to see the country. We wanted to have just a peep at Ontario, as we may not live to visit it next year. So we went to Queenston by stage, with Dr. Julius, & bade him farewell there, intending to walk back (754 miles). We got a package of sandwiches & a bottle of cider at the inn, in order to have as much time as possible for exploring. We carried our prog to Gen’l Brock's monum 1 wh we, ascended, full of astonishment that we had heard so little of the splendid scene wh lay below us. I w’d almost as soon have passed by the Falls in the night as have omitted this view of the strait, the lake, forests, villages & (alas!) battle grounds. The portress, a nice little Yorkshire

we do

delighted to see countrywomen, & made us eat our dinner in her cottage, where she told us all her affairs. When we had seen everything & were setting out on our walk home, a country wagon, driven by a fine lad, passed, & he asked us to let him drive us to the falls, as he was going as far as Chippewa. We were glad of such an opport y of learning something of Canada farming so we jumped in; whereby we escaped a thorough wetting, saw a new road, & learned all that the lad c’d tell us, he being amused all the while, instead of hav’g a solitary ride. This will do, won’t it? I am apt to forget that we are in Canada till the boarders here & our host begin their cruel remarks on their neighbors over the water, the narrow limit wh sh’d not divide men’s I almost think that the host must speak to please hearts. his British guests, or he c’d not be so hard as he is. They all seem to vie with each other in abusing the Americans, & agreed at breakfast this morning that Mrs. Trollope’s book

woman, was





is

the truest,

&

it

only stops short of the truth.

Some

of



!

ON THE NIAGARA FRONTIER

288

these people are really superior people,

When

them.

&

they say they were

when they first travelled through to us, & we can only say that we

delighted with the States

they appeal

have not seen the enormities they speak of, they look at one another with smiles, as much as to say that we shall soon grow wiser. One silly man acknowledges that there is more refinement of mind & manner than among the Engh generally, but fears that religion has a poor chance, since so much political independence must make men think themselves independent of God There is a new idea for you !

At

least

As

quite

it is



new to us. I may say what

if I feel at the end of one charmed. No one thing has struck us both so much as (what I have never heard even alluded to by our countrymen) that freedom & ingenuousness of manners wh belongs only to a society remarkably pure in its morals. I w’d already stake all the knowledge I have of human nature on the fact that the morals of society are purer here than in any society I have ever been in. The disagreeable instinct by which the presence of profligacy is indicated has never once been awakened & the confidence thus inspired We cannot is exhilarating to a degree I cannot describe. explain this to the boarders here and we must therefore submit to their anticipations that we shall grow wiser as

for me,

month,

am

I

;

we

Next

travel on.

plenty

&

comfort,

&

is

as wise

&

hear, the

comes the universal diffusion of

the growing conviction that your gov 1

as stable as I believed

more amused

political perils; I

to this

&

&

I

shall

get to Washington.

At

I

am

it

was. The more I read alarms about your

at all

probably feel this at any rate

till

present, I like the children, their

independence & extraordinary efficiency & dexterity. I cannot judge of them in their filial relation till I have been

more

in private houses.

Now



what I do not like. Your newspapers distress Their carping spirit & abusive language disgust me more than anything I almost ever met with. I mean to Then we were on board the get at the bottom of this. canal boat with a party of clergymen going to Utica some for

a stranger.





WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU.

289

of them missionaries; & their praying & saying grace all day, their stories of special judgments, & criticisms of their neighbours realized all I had ever read of bigotry & cant.

But there

much

England. It does not belong indeed it be the ignorant & silly questions wh were asked about the Chinese, & foolishly answered by a missionary from China. I can hardly imagine any disciple in Eng d asking if the Chinese are cannibals. Tobacco is a grievance, of course; & now and then we are struck with a little coldness of manner: but all this is nothing in comparison with the hearty hospitality & unvarying consideration & kindness we have met with still less with the innocence wh I have spoken of as the prevailing charm. As to domestic accommodations, we are only surprised at their completeness, considering how new a country we are in. Here are, in brief, my impressions. I shall have much more to say, & with more confidence, when I have been settled in a town for a month together. My mother writes delightfully, persuading me that she is happy without me. It was a great comfort to her while writing, she says, to remember that you were on board, dear Mrs. B. Farewell now. Louisa sends her kind regards. Believe me ever most truly & gratefully yours is

to the country,

like this in

—unless

:

.

.

.

H. Martineau.

Up

hour of our leaving N. York, we were obliged to your brother for much kind attention. to the

The Mayor

of Buffalo

in

1834,

whose courtesy Miss

Martineau mentions, was Ebenezer Johnson. I

conclude these notes with the following letter which

Miss Martineau wrote been published,

in

at this time to

her mother.

It

has

her “Autobiography,” but deserves a

place in our collection:

Niagara, October

You must

14.

not expect a description from me. One might as well give an idea of the kingdom of heaven by images of jasper and topazes as of what we have been .

.

.

WITH HARRIET MARTINEAU.

290

Except the seeing by writing of hues and dimensions. hurricane at sea, it is the only sight I ever saw that I had utterly failed to imagine. It is not its grandeur that strikes me so much; but its unimaginable beauty. All images of softness fail before it. Think of a double rainbow issuing from a rock one hundred feet below one, and almost completing its circle by nearly lighting on one’s head. The slowness with which the waters roll over is most majestic. There is none of the hurry and tumble of common waterfalls, but the green transparent mass seems to ooze over the edges. The ascent of the spray, seen some miles off, surprised me; it did not hang like a cloud, but curled vigorously up, like the smoke from a cannon or a new fire. have crossed the ferry, and done more than in my present state of intoxication I can well remember or tell you of. On the spot, I felt quite sane sure-footed and reasonable; but when I sat down to dinner, I found what the excitement had been. I could not tell boiled from roast beef, and my only resource was to go out again as soon as we could leave the table; and now I am very sleepy. I expected I should be disappointed, and told Miss Sedgwick She was right in saying that it was impossible. If one so. looks merely at a cataract, it would be easy to say, “Dear me I could fancy a rock twice as high as that, and a river twice as broad,” but I could not think any imagination could conceive of such colouring; and I was wholly unprepared Fragments of for the beauty of the surrounding scenery.

We



!

start up and flit and vanish, like phantoms at a from the sun. We have watched the growth of this moon, “the Niagara moon”; and there she is, at her very

rainbow

signal

What a pleasure there is in a wholly new idea! never occurred to me before that there can never be a cloudless sky at Niagara. A light fleecy rack is always in the sky over the falls; and the watcher may here see the process of cloud-making. No more now. Rejoice with me that I have now seen the best that my eyes can behold in brightest! It

this life.

.

.

.

Yours most

.

affectionately,

H. Martineau.

:

HISTORY THAT T X rETHOUT *

*

who maintain

aspiring to the ranks of those

that there

is

no truth

avoid argument) that there still

ISN’T SO

prompted to point out

in history

is

much

in

and conceding (to

;

what they

in behalf of

what

I

say, I

am

conceive to

be history, a few instances which really have no warrant to be so called.

would shrink from the

I

role

Schoolmaster Abroad, for to correct other people as futile as tion,

it is,

to me, distasteful.

however, that

if

there

seeking out and setting

is

down

It is

my

is

of the usually

present reflec-

any service to be rendered by an equal service

facts,

may

be

rendered by pointing out some alleged facts which are only fiction.

There

is

no

While

enough.

difficulty in it

doing this

if

one go back far

might be embarrassing to accuse a living

writer of mendacity, there

is

no trouble

at all about

your writer has been dead for a century or case no temper

is

so.

it

if

In such a

aroused; the contention usually becomes

merely a matter of mild amusement. This

who

is

very

much

so with several of the early writers

described Niagara Falls.

ately tried to deceive

marvelous

tale to tell,

one, that of the

“As

not likely they deliber-

a traveler must have a

and from the beginning Niagara has

been a fount of inspiration. the Falls has been

It is

anybody;

much

Father Hennepin’s account of

quoted.

Here

for the waterfall of Niagara;

hundred

is

Baron La Hontan, which

feet high,

a somewhat later I like better

’tis

and half a League broad.

seven or eight

Towards the

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

292

middle of

SO.

we

descry an Island that leans towards the were ready to fall. All the Beasts that cross the Water within half a quarter of a League above this unfortunate Island, are suck’d in by force of the Stream: And the Beasts and Fish that are thus kill’d by the prodigious fall, serve for food to fifty Iroquese, who are settled about two Leagues off, and take ’em out of the water with their Canows. Between the surface of the water that shelves off prodigiously, and the foot of the Precipice, three Men may cross in a breast without any other damage than a sprinkling of some few drops of water.” it

Precipice, as if

This I

know

the most satisfactory description of Niagara Falls

is

It is jaunty, off-hand, sufficiently precise,

of.

too long

it

—and

how

extract

That

suggestive!

fancy, and even that of scholars,

is

it

hit the

shown by

not

popular

the following

from an old English geography:

“Near

(Fort Niagara) there’s a waterfall in down from Lake Conti (Erie) ’tis about eight hundred foot high, and half a league broad. Towards the middle there’s an island that leans toward the precipice, as if it were ready to fall down. All the beasts that cross the water for a mile at least above this precipice are sucked down by the stream and killed by the Fall: so that fifty Iroquese, who are planted near it, daily wait for this place

the river, which runs

;

them in their canoes. Under this cataract, three men may pass abreast without being much wet, because the current falls like a spout over their heads.”

So

it

was not the

the devil-may-care

staid

and trustworthy Hennepin, but

La Hontan, who

supplied the Niagara

data for small Britons in the Eighteenth century.

shows us authorities

This

what an early period the British educational adopted the system which has been so well

at

characterized by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

America,” says the genial Doctor,

“is

taught in the English public schools.”

“Ignorance of

one of the branches

That

little

geography



!

HISTORY THAT ISN'T lesson also illustrates a trait of said the falls

human

SO.

293

La Hontan The

nature.

were “seven or eight hundred

feet high.”

geography maker, who drew on La Hontan for mation, a

man

made them “about

sand feet high, and he

how

of his exploit?

tells

eight

hundred

mountain he has climbed

that a

woman

feet high.”

less

Tell

eight to ten thou-

is

high do you suppose

Never a foot

his infor-

it

when

is

than ten thousand.

diamond you are giving her between $250 and $500 and what do you suppose diamond cost, when she shows it to her friends Tell a

that the



The by

first

man who

tried to

cost

that

measure the height of Niagara,

were from 150 to 200 feet; by two or three times, he said they

eye, estimated that they

the time he had told of

were about 200 hearer,

all

feet,

it

then 200 feet or more;

the while believing that he

made them “two

report,

grew with each

wonder

is

or three hundred”;

Having got up

telling.

they didn’t go further.

along with a

and the

was giving to

a true

and so they 800

feet,

the

Probably some one came

new measurement.

Oliver Goldsmith must have had other sources of infor-

mation about us than that old geography, for

I

read in the

account of Niagara given in his invaluable “History of the

Earth and Animated Nature”: “It

may

easily be conceived

that such a cataract quite destroys the navigation of the

stream, and yet some Indian canoes, as

known

to venture

down

it

with safety.”

carries off at a pen-stroke

all

it is

said,

This

bit

have been of history

the laurels of Mrs. Taylor

and the redoubtable Bobby Leach.

And, as

my

friend the

Baron would

the Falls, the student should by no

wonderful

—and

treatise

say, as for going over

means overlook

that

by Thomas Carlyle: “Shooting Niagara

After,” which in

more than one book-catalogue acumen

those seductive works, compiled with exceptional

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

294

SO.

# I find classified

with works relating to the cataract.

may prove

edifying this essay of Carlyle

great natural wonder, I leave for

The

Champlain says lake”



of our

literature

with but

little

believe that

“Des

in



to students of our

to discover.

region begins with a blunder. “At the end of this Sauvages”

—“they pass a

Ontario

e.,

i.

them

How

:

fall,

water flowing over.”

somewhat high and

We

cannot possibly

the power companies had not arrived

in 1603.

Perhaps some of Champlain’s aboriginal informants were

men of the stamp of Edward Everett Hale tells the quite a jump from Champlain to

of the cautious and conservative type, the Rev. Barzillai Frost. story; and although

Hale,

it

may

it is

as well be recorded here.

Dr. Hale

is

writing

of the boyhood of James Russell Lowell, a portion of which

was passed

in the

home

of the Rev. Barzillai Frost:

“Imagine the boy Lowell, with his fine sense of humor, Mr. Frost’s sermon describing Niagara after he had made the unusual journey thither. He could rise at listening to

times into lofty eloquence, but his sense of truth was such that he would not go a hair’s breadth beyond what he was sure of, for any effect of rhetoric. So in this sermon, which

remembered, he describes the cataract with real and great eloquence. You had the mighty flood discharging the waters of the vast lake in a torrent so broad and grand and then, forgetting the precise statistics, he ended the majestic sentence with the words: ‘and several

is

still

feeling



feet deep.’



And what edge

of

this,

as a contribution to

human knowl-

:

“The Falls of Niagara river are the greatest and most sublime curiosity which this or any other country affords. The noise produced by this cataract is sometimes heard 40 or 50 miles. There is sufficient space between the perpendicular rock and the column of water for .

.

.

.

.

.

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

SO.

295

Near Burlington people to pass in perfect safety. Bay is a volcano, subject to frequent irruptions, with a noise The Indians sacrifice to the Bad Spirit at like thunder. .

.

.

this place.”

This description, which rather carries the impression that there

a fine popular

is

promenade behind the

falls, is

one might suppose, from some old and excusable

not, as

author of a couple of hundred years ago, but from the sixteenth edition of Morse’s

“American Universal Geog-

raphy,” published in Boston in 1815.

As

for that active volcano on Burlington

where for

in the vicinity of

me

I

;

leave

The spread

we have seen, The first man

Hamilton, Ont.



it’s

— some-

Bay

quite too

much

right there.

it

of misinformation about Niagara began, as as soon as

usually

men began

means the

to write of the region.

first lie.

In contemplation

of such a cataract, exaggeration was a natural tribute of the mind.

La Hontan’s

of a sort with the or the

first

“seven or eight hundred feet” was

modern

reporter’s estimate of a crowd,

reports of loss of life in a casualty.

the real thing, but

they describe

it.

it

gets exalted in their imagination before

We are so accustomed to the contemporary

writing of history that isn’t so

our powers for

when



in the Press

—that we

critically estimating the history of

Perhaps, in cases like

mere excess of

People see

La Hontan’s,

fact, as it

were



is

long ago.

the overstatement

what the

lose

critics

—the mean

The Falls were so

they talk of “literary perspective.”

from Europe they had to be elevated to make the proper efifect upon the reader. The Baron’s motive was wholly far

laudable.

The

early artists

who

illustrated

Father Hennepin’s

books were impelled by the same motive. far

oflf,

the features of

its

America was so

topography must be magnified

HISTORY THAT

296

ISN’T SO.

and emphasized to be appreciated

in

So they put

Europe.

high mountains around Lake Erie, and up and Niagara, and planted thereon strange trees tropical verdure that a

might dream

cellar

of.

with a

hump and

European cow

and from the bough above

curly hair;

they hung a long-tailed rat depict the opossum.

beaver,

to depict the strange

the bison, a very queer

:

the

sort of

man in a Paris garret or a Dutch And among these mountains and

under these dreamland trees they tried

American animals

down

—the



Some

drawn of course by

presumably

an

attempt

to

of the early pictures of the

artists

who had

never seen one,

but were impressed by priests’ and travelers’ accounts of

wonderful sagacity, are uncannily human.

their

In the 1704 edition of Hennepin’s “Nouvelle Decouverte” there is a picture of the building of the Griffon, that

famous pioneer vessel of the Upper Lakes.

structed,

you

It

was con-

remember, on the American shore of the

will

Niagara near the present village of La

Salle.

According to

the old French or Flemish artist, there were high mountains

with precipitous sides over on the western bank, which

now Canada. cratic

Alas, the leveling influences of time in

communities

Griffon

itself,

we

—these mountains are

learn

from

all

is

demo-

gone now. The

was put which looks like a huge

this precious picture,

together under the shade of a tree

feather-duster, or a sheaf of corn-leaves tied to a pole.

The

early artists

were fond of

this tree

;

it

appears in

many

plates illustrating Seventeenth-century travels in America. I

too

am

a lover of trees, and in years past have

roamed

over every foot of ground of the Niagara shores;

found no trace of the Hennepin feather-duster the species

is

not extinct.

shelf of old books,

I

where La

tree.

but

I

Still,

have but to turn to a certain Salle

and Hennepin and Tonty

and other worthies hold converse with each other, and

lo!

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

SO.

297

as I turn the leaves, the feather-duster tree

found as

is

abundant and flourishing as ever.

And

Our

speaking of the Griffon.

local

newspapers are

enough addicted to history yet the story of La Salle’s small craft is a favorite, and allusions to it are not infre-

little

;



quent, though rarely

accuracy.

I

may

as

well

say,

never

—with

Editors and contributors seem to have agreed

was the first white man’s vessel on the Over and over again I find it so stated and

that the Griffon

Great Lakes.

;

not merely in newspapers, but in school-books. of the brigantine in which

Lake Ontario

La

What

then

Salle’s party sailed across

December, 1678, bringing on her material for the construction of the Griffon? She was afterwards in

wrecked on the Lake Ontario shore.

named

She was appropriately

the Frontenac, and, obviously, to her belongs the

distinction of priority.

There has long been a variety of opinion and disagreement as to the place where the Griffon was built. It was

Mr. O. H. Marshall who found and which

set in

order the evidence

fixes the spot near the present site of

think this

is

La

Salle.

I

proved, although there are statements in some

of the old chronicles which

I

cannot reconcile with this

That the matter has occasioned the writing of considerable “history that isn’t so,” is readily seen by examining

view.

any shelf of books on that period of American

history.

Jared Sparks, in the early editions of his “Life of Salle,” says the boat

Canadian side of the

was

La

Chippewa creek, on the Parkman, prehaps accepting

built “at

river.”

Sparks as trustworthy, said the same thing

in his “Life of

Pontiac.” These statements are changed, in recent editions. John S. C. Abbott, who is not to be classed with Sparks or Parkman, but whose unreliable pages have had wide reading, says, in his “Adventures of La Salle and his Com-

:

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

298

SO.

panions,” that the ship-yard “was about six miles above

Niagara

his

on the western

Falls,

side of the river, at the outlet

little

stream called Chippewa creek.”

“Tour

to the Lakes,” said the Griffon

of a

Governor Lewis Cass,

Buffalo.”

in

Schoolcraft, in

was

built “near

an address before the

Historical Society of Michigan, claimed that “the Griffon

was launched the United

Griffon was Lake Erie!

A

Erie”;

at

respect.

Gay’s “History of

it

is

in

on

a reprehensible thing for author or pub-

the statements relative to the

been established.

much

—to

La Salle on the Niagara are What for instance can be made of

episode of able.

locates

is

lisher to persist in error, after the truth has

Some of

it

made from the best available eviafterwards shown to be wrong, is entitled to

if

But

&

amazing statement that the

Fort Frontenac, which

built at

statement which

dence, even

and Bryant

States” has the

me

this,

written-of

—inexplic-

which occurs

the article “Fort Niagara,” contained in that nearest

approach of the human mind to omniscience, the

latest

edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica

“A fort built (1675) by Gabriel Edouard, chevalier de Nouvel (1636-1694), was soon destroyed, as were Fort Conti and the trading-post built by La Salle in 1679.” I

leave that for students of our regional history

who

“nuts to crack,” along with another, a simple inquiry did Point Abino get

La

Salle

is

in historical study,

writer of reputation. C.

name?

often but erroneously called Chevalier;

merely by amateurs

S.

its

like

How

:

Thus

not

but by more than one

the story of

La

Salle,

by John

Abbott, in the “American Pioneers and Patriots”

series, is entitled

Salle,” etc.

It

“The Adventures of

would seem

the Chevalier

De La

to require exceptional careless-

HISTORY THAT ISN'T ness to mistake

La

family

Salle’s

SO.

299

name,

“Chevalier,” indicating the rank of knighthood.

was ennobled, but never knighted. granted him by Louis XIV., May his wife

and their lawful issue

shall

The

for

Cavelier,

Cavelier

patent of nobility

13, 1675, states that he,

be “deemed and reputed

noble, bearing the rank of Esquire, with

power to reach But La

ranks of knighthood and gendarmerie.”

all

Salle never

married and found a grave in a Texas swamp, with no

His companion Tonty was knighted before he appears on the Niagara, and is higher rank of nobility than “Sieur.”

entitled to be called “Chevalier.”

has long been customary to write of Father Hennepin

It

as the discoverer of the Niagara.

If discovery

ascribed to the expedition of which he

is

was a member, ought

not the leader of that expedition to have the credit?

we

are not warranted in saying that

Falls. It is a

was

We

that

La

man; but

there

years before Hennepin came

had written of

first

plausibility, that

is

saw them.

Etienne Brule

nothing to prove

it.

Many

this way, Jesuit missionaries

Father Jerome Lalement had referred to

it.

the Falls, by name, thirty-seven years before

them;

Yet

Salle discovered the

do not know what white man

good guess, with some

to be

and thirty-one years

Hennepin saw

another missionary,

before,

Father Paul Ragueneau, had told of “a waterfall of frightful height” likely

between Erie and Ontario.

have read their descriptions.

much information about

the

great

Hennepin may very

We

may

be sure that

cataract

was current

before the party including Hennepin arrived in December

of the year 1678.

By

the way,

perverse

is

spelling

Hennepin responsible for our present Before him it was “Niagara”?

of

“Ongiara” and “Onguiaahra,” the two (Huron or Neuter)

forms pronouncing much the same.

Hennepin was not the

HISTORY THAT ISN'T

300

SO.

student of the native dialects that his predecessors, the

Which was the more likely to be correct? wrong name, “ Niagara,” we have long

Jesuits, were.

And now,

to this

given a wrong pronunciation.

was

It

spoken

formerly

“Ni-[or Nee]-ah-ga-ra.” To speak it with a syllable ending in hard “g” “Ni-a#-a-ra” is to do violence to the genius





of the Seneca language.

word.

“Nee-ah-ga-ra”

“Ni-ag-a-ra” is

soft

where (“Niagara and the Poets”) in Goldsmith’s

word was

a harsh and ugly

have

I

else-

called attention to a line

“Traveler” which shows that in his day the

correctly spoken:

“And

The

is

and pleasant.

Nia-^a-ra stuns with thundering sound.”

scansion and rhythm would be lost with our present

perverted pronunciation.

So we are not only wrong in our name of the wrong in our pronunciation of that wrong name! There Niagara

exists

falls,

but

a curious narrative of the discovery of

Many

it was widely printed, in Not long ago I found it in French, volume of the Magazin de Bas-Canada, Journal

Falls.

years ago

more than one language. in the first

Litter air e et Scientifique,

1832. it,

I

After

I

found that

appeared in the Philadelphia,

etc.,

published

had taken the trouble it

was

essentially the

Museum

October,

Fraser's Magazine.

No

rative, too

following

Among

1831,

which

doubt

it

may

first

that

had

taken

from

it

turn up in a score of say

to

long to be given here in

the

same story had

It is a veracious, rather

summary may

in

and translate

of Foreign Literature and Science,

old-time magazines and reviews,

newspapers.

Montreal

in

to copy

nothing

of

the

straightforward nar-

full,

but of which the

suffice.

missionaries

who were

England to convert the American aborigines

sent

from

to Christianity,

HISTORY THAT

ISN’T SO.

301

were Joseph Price and Henry Wilmington. with some

It

is

related

but a lack of dates, that these young Eng-

detail,

lishmen, after a passage of thirteen weeks from Plymouth,

landed at Boston, “then a very small but thriving village,” fired

At

with a desire to carry the gospel to the Indians.

the end of

May

fowling-pieces.

they set out, provided with compasses and

was

“It

tract of country, of

their intention to visit a distant

which nothing was known except vague

immense

reports of sheets of water so

that,

but for the

cir-

cumstance of their being fresh, they might have been led to suppose they

were on an

After some days, hav-

island.”

ing passed “the ultimate farm,” they plunged into the forest

“which had most civilized

man.”

likely

never been trodden by the feet of

After various woodland incidents they

reached “a large and rapid river.”

“In about a week

after,

they reached a chain of mountains,” beyond which were

encountered friendly Indians

who were

surprised “at be-

holding people so different in colour to themselves, and

armed with what appeared

A

to

them only polished

sticks.”

flock of wild geese passing high overhead, the Indians

futilely shot

arrows

at

them, whereupon Price and Wil-

mington promptly brought down two with slight exploit

their

these missionaries could hardly claim to be.

first

go on

it

—no

They sojourned

with the Indians at their village “on the Oneida.” the

guns

even for expert woodsmen and hunters, which

name which

appears that “the Oneida”

of a lake but of a river.

is

is

we

the designation not

Price preached a sermon, until the

Indians refused to listen any more.

Then he proposed

Wilmington that they verify a rumor, heard great inland waters.

This

helps to localize the story, but as

They





Maiook or guiding them to

set out, the chief

Mayouk, a work suggesting “Mohawk” a river which he said “would carry them to

to

in Boston, of

the great basin.”



HISTORY THAT ISN'T

302

But few of his

his people

youth had gone

enormous

many days

which

river

had been fell

SO.

there, but

man

an old

coming

in his canoe,

from a fresh-water

in

to an

While

lake.

hunting he had heard a great noise of water, but fear had turned him back.

The missionaries were given a guide— one account says Maiook went with them. They have adventures in a burning wood reach Lake Ontario and for days coast along its shore, finally coming to “a great and rapid river,” which they ascended until rapids were encountered, when they Price told a young man to continued along the bank. climb a tall tree, to spy out the country. “Encouraged by ;

his report they continued to follow the precipitous

the river.

The

noise,

banks of

which had gradually increased, be-

came each instant more terrible, and the swiftness of the current showed that they were near a furious rapid.” Presently “they found themselves on the edge of a bare rock which hung over a vast abyss into which two currents of one great river fell with a noise that drowned their exclamations of surprise, and surpassed that of the ocean in a tempest.”

The

“missionaries”

plunged into the abyss by a that

is,

a sort of a description

fall

narrowly

A

of rock.

being

escape

description

—of the Falls follows.

Among

other things, they behold “a large deer struggling against the overpowering suction of the falls

of the cataracts drowned

its

voice and

.

.

it

.

but the roar

was soon

precipi-

tated into the boiling abyss.”

“The French,” concludes the conscientious chronicler, “from the Province of Quebec, may have reached as far before, but Price and his first

who had

companion believed they were the

penetrated to that spot;

and

when

they

returned back to their settlements, their description of the unparalleled magnificence of the cataracts, to which

Maiook

;

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

SO.

303

gave the name of Niagara, or the thundering waters, was

deemed

And

incredible.”

well

So

ible.

to Fraser's

Galt.

It

many

it

may have

been, for the whole yarn

far as I have traced

it, it

Magazine by the clever Canadian

it

But

as history.

writer,

John

many who have

some of the papers

a century ago,

“isn’t so.”

it

minor error and inaccuracy on the written of our regional history, are

in the collections

mentary History of the State of ments

incred-

bears so few earmarks of fiction that no doubt

Prolific sources of

part of

is

originally contributed

excellent people, three quarters of

regarded

known

New York”

as

“The Docu-

and the “Docu-

relative to the Colonial History of the State of

These well-known

York.” precious plete,

was

—simply invaluable;

sources

of

information

New are

but they are not always com-

or accurate transcriptions of the original manuscripts

and they need to be used, as any source material does, with discernment. Especially are the Sir William Johnson papers in them

of slips and misstatements, which can

full

Sir Wil-

usually be detected by the painstaking student. liam’s innocence

any

of

knowledge of French, and the

ingeniousness of his spelling, are responsible for

One

repeated errors.

many

oft-

instance will illustrate this.

Not long ago I had occasion to review the early history of the Chautauqua and French Creek portages, a part of the old military routes from Lake Erie into the Ohio valley. Of the well-known expedition of 1753, commanded by

“Babeer” or “Barbeer.”

more than one history, that he sure of what rank, called The story, as usually told, is to

the effect that “Babeer”

and

found

Marin,

I

had a

sub-officer,

it

stated, in I

am

coming on from Montreal tion,

landed at what

is

not

in

his

detachment of troops,

advance of the main expedi-

now Barcelona Harbor, and began

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

304

SO.

there the construction of a fort, and that the commander-inchief arriving a

portage by

way

of Presque

Isle.

in getting access to the official

names of the

the

work, moved

later put a stop to the

little

the expedition further westward, and opened

There

up the famous

no great

is

They were,

officers are easily ascertained.

for the most part,

men

difficulty

records of this expedition;

conspicuous in the French service in

America; but no where

in all these sources of trustworthy

name

information can be found the

of this alleged fore-

The name

runner of the expedition, called “Babeer.”

itself

improbable as a French word, and should have long

is

ago awakened the suspicion of conscientious writers

have told of the exploits of Babeer wilderness. sult the

who

the Chautauqua

in

however, one will take the trouble to con-

If,

“Documentary History of the State of

New

York,”

he will find there a certain deposition made by one Stephen Coffen before Col. Johnson (afterwards Sir William), at

home on

his

soldier, a

the

New

the French for

Mohawk,

Englander,

some

in 1754.

Coffen was an ignorant

who had been

years.

Being

at

a prisoner

Montreal

among

in the fall

of 1752, he was allowed to serve as a soldier under Marin.

Deserting from the French service soon after the passage of Marin’s troops

and

down

Unable to

told his story to Johnson.

his statement with

bears his

name was

a cross. set

Mohawk

the Ohio, he reached the

down

The

write, he signed

record, therefore, that

either

by Johnson or a

sec-

retary. It

takes but the slightest familiarity with the

worthy were Coffen’s memory and Johnson’s is

names of

how

the French officers of the period to discover

untrust-

spelling.

It

a grotesque blending of misinformation, badly spelled.

One pauses “Le Cain”

to

a

moment when he

remember

reads of Governor-General

that the officer’s

name

is

Du

Quesne.

HISTORY THAT ISN’T “Presque Isle” becomes “Briske tioned by Coffen

is

SO.

305

Every name men-

Isle.”

And here we have who has been so

distorted.

of this mythical “Babeer,”

the source

taken for

granted by the writers of Chautauqua county histories.

Whoever “Babeer” was we may be

was not his Marin

sure that

name, nor was there any

officer in the retinue of

whose name suggests

form.

The

this

discovery of Chautauqua Lake, like the discovery

of Niagara Falls,

is

Some

a matter of speculation.

still

show that La Salle discovered the lake, I know not on what evidence. Others have claimed the honor for Celoron, whose name is preserved in the nomenwriters try to

But

clature of the region.

so,” for the old records state that

shown

when near

this is plainly “history that isn’t

which

us of his expedition also

tell

the outlet of the lake his forces were

a path to the high land, a cut-off, I suppose, to avoid

the long marsh, by a

Frenchman who had been

that

way

before.

This was Dagneaux de

among

la

Saussaye, and a

sion to the

so

any

much

Chanouanons



i.

e.,

summer

had

of 1743 on a mis-

the Shawanees.

do not

I

of the local histories that de Saussaye receives

as a mention, yet he certainly preceded Celoron

six years,

record

search

the documents of the time discovers that he

passed through the region in the

find in

little

and

who

is

the

first

white

man

of

whom

can be said to have explored what

by

I find official is

now Chau-

tauqua county.

A

book could readily be written on the blunders

books, relating to our region.

them, and would be of

little

It

in other

would probably add

service, as ungracious

perform-

The ordinary kind of misstatement not “very deadly” to a student who knows the subject ances usually are.

all.

Many

to

current errors in our published annals are

is

at

trivial,.



HISTORY THAT ISN’T

306

many are due to prejudice and may be construed variously by

SO.

the fact that a definite event different writers

of Lundy’s Lane, for instance, which

is still

and many are merely amusing.

that I call

One

—the

battle

being fought

amusing

is

the grave statement in William Kirby’s “Annals of Niagara”



was named for Louis or, as I believe he it, Lezvis XIV! Shade of Governor Morgan Lewis, what is fame! Mr. Kirby was an excellent gentleman, for many years Collector of Customs at Niagara, Ont. He that Lewiston spells

knew one

the history of his corner of the world better than any

else,

and he rendered a

when he work could be overeliminated, its value would be

real service to history

wrote the “Annals of Niagara”; hauled, and

its

many

errors

the

if

increased.

Another work that the student of our history should

know

is

exceedingly deceptive in

its title.

That

is

Ketchum’s

“Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo,” published in

two volumes

Many

in 1864.

Buffalo data has discovered that Buffalo at

all,

it

a reader in quest of

really

is

not a history of

except in the earliest years, the narrative

ending with the burning of the village

in

1813.

It

is

an

admirable compilation of data relating to the aborigines of

Western

New

York, to events preceding settlement and the

earliest years

of the town.

having a

which

title

This

is

a case of a good book

Probably the author’s plan

“isn’t so.”

never contemplated a review of events for the half century

and more which he did not write about; but paused on the threshold,

like

if it

did he

Henry Thomas Buckle, who

exhausted himself in writing the two-volume introduction to his “History of Civilization,”

and never wrote more.

The enquiring region, may run

student, curious about the history of our

“A

History of the early Adventures of Wash-

1841, entitled

across

a book

published in Albany in

HISTORY THAT ISN'T ington

among

was Josiah will be

on

wandering

SO.

307

The author

the Indians of the West,” etc. If

Priest.

guard;

his

our student knows about if

in a veritable

he does not, he

maze of

Priest,

he

will presently

be

“history.”

One

of the

characters of this extraordinary narrative, which purports to be “gathered terious

Mingo

from the Records of

that Era,”

is

a

mys-

prophet, Tonnaleuka, otherwise the Laird of

who

Mackintosh, a Scotch outlaw,

tells

Washington that

through the interests of the Stuarts he procured a commission in the French army:

“In a few years I was sent as lieutenant-colonel of a regiment to Canada. My superior disliking the climate, soon returned to Europe, and I was made Colonel in his In this capacity I was stationed for a number of place. years at a Fort near the Falls of Niagara. Here I had an opportunity of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the manners and customs of the Indians, as well as with many of their languages; and also of greatly improving my fortune by purchasing their furs and transmitting them to Quebec.”

Washington

represented as falling in love with this

is

The book

man’s daughter. chances upon

Many

it

a curio, but the reader

is

must not mistake

it

who

for history.

of the books relating in whole or part to the

Niagara region, which today seem merely amusing and

when

absurd,

enough by instance

is

first

published were no doubt taken seriously

their readers, if not

the

published in Dublin in 1824.

of another work, tive,

by their authors.

anonymous “Travels if

indeed

It is it

is

in

Such for

North America,”

apparently an abridgment

not a manufactured narra-

based on any available works, for the edification of

Young

Ireland.

It relates,

of one George Philips,

soberly enough, the adventures

who

visited

Niagara apparently

in

HISTORY THAT ISN’T

308

1816,

SO.

Lewis and Clarke

after having traveled with the

way

exploring expedition to the Pacific, by

and Columbia

The author

rivers.

of the Missouri

though

states, as

it

were

the simplest thing in the world, that Philips “engaged a

canoe and men, and by keeping dexterously in the middle of the stream from Chippeway, reached an island called



Having viewed the Falls of which an amusingly bad cut is given he and his companion “returned to Chippeway, by keeping their canoe in the middle of the stream”! Lake Erie is described as very deep, while in

Goat Island.”



from the very

places “long ranges of steep mountains rise

edge of the water.”

All in

all, it’s

There are many statements

quite a book.

the

in

guide-books,

local

by one compiler after another, republished

appropriated

year after year, purporting to be “history,” yet utterly

without authority or reason.

am

I

uncertainties or inaccuracies of date

not speaking of mere ;

who makes is very much

the person

no mistakes has not yet been born, and there yet to be learned by

I

all.

inventions which are passed

only the deliberate

criticize

Of

off as truth.

this class is

the much-printed statement that Father Hennepin discov-

known

ered Niagara Falls from the point

Of

View.” not.

He

but there

course

he may have

passed repeatedly up and is

as “Hennepin's

stood there, or he

down

may

the river bank,

no authority for associating him,

particularly,

with any one spot.

Another

La

and a

fiction,

one,

silly

is

that

which makes

Salle a visitor at the cave in the Devil’s Hole.

whole yarn writers Still

is

preposterous, yet

who know

Caroline.

is

The

retold, at intervals,

by

better.

another incident that

bellished,

it

is

much

even in pretentious works,

By some

accounts, she

was

is

distorted

and em-

the affair of the

sent blazing over the

HISTORY THAT ISN’T Falls, carrying

study of

many men down

SO.

309

A

to death.

painstaking

available evidence in the case affords proof of

all

the death of but one man, and he

was shot on the dock

at

Schlosser.

There are numerous instances literature of

that

—and

go here into the

was waged, by

exploits of

plagiarism

the

in

our region, and of the appropriation by one

writer of the narrative will not

of

La

Salle

who

all

and

experiences

—of

another.

I

intricacies of the literary strife

could share in

over the

it,

Hennepin,

his several expeditions.

Tonty, Joutel, Cavelier, shared in the contention, to say

As

nothing of the train of commentators to this day. as 1750 Peter visitors

Kalm

who had preceded

own

him.

upon

He

found people

early

Niagara

to correct all in

Canada

Hennepin “un grand menteur,” and added Kalm wanted it of that worthy.

calling Father his

felt called

repudiation

understood that he could be relied on just as they are,

and so to

many

plagiarist; but

“I like to see things

:

relate them.

later writers

He

,,

was no

surely

on the Niagara have been No one cares,

victims of this most widespread literary sin.

about such thievery, unless

particularly,

—becomes “history that

false record

it

constitutes

isn’t so.”

of this sort, to which, I think, attention has not is

that of Peter Williamson.

this in

instance

been

called,

There are many editions of

wandering Scotchman’s book.

Edinburgh

An

a

in 1768, is entitled:

One

before me, printed

“The Travels of Peter

Williamson among the different Nations and Tribes of

Savage Indians

in

America”

—and much more, a very prolix

The work purports

“a

general

description of the Falls of Niagara, according to

my own

inscription.

observations, during

the

course

America, before the late war,” that

Any

to

of is,

contain

my

travels

through

the Old French

narrative of observations hereabouts

at

so

War.

early a

HISTORY THAT ISN'T

310

SO.

period would have value and interest;

Williamson,

find that his description

I

clumsily stolen

stolen

— from Kalm’s account, written

Incidents narrated shortly

1750.

is

when

but

after



read

and rather Albany

at

his

I

in

account of

Niagara are dated May, 1746, and August, 1748, but there is nothing in the book to fix more definitely his alleged travels in this region.

“was born

was

in

The

Aberdeenshire

preface states that the author in the north of Scotland,

carried off in his infancy

from

that city, by his

America

countrymen, and sold as a slave

in

ing in this state of slavery for

many

and

own

after continu-

;

years he was at last

unfortunately taken captive by the savage Indians, in whose

hands he remained for some years, and suffered during their hunting expeditions the most severe hardships.”

The work

contains no narrative of these experiences

I

and

;

am

con-

strained, in lack of evidence to the contrary, to include

much

of Williamson’s reputed career, especially his alleged

Niagara

visit, in

Most of were not

the early observers at the Falls

there.

ing pages.

the category of “history that isn’t so.”

Some

of these

I

saw things that

have touched on

In looking through Volney’s “Views,”

in precedI

note his

account of the carcasses of wild boars, found at the foot of the

His observation was not disturbed by the fact

falls.

that the wild boar has never inhabited America.

De Witt

Clinton, in his delightful old journal, “Letters

on the Natural History and Internal Resources of the State of

New

title

York,” a volume much more attractive than

would

indicate, quotes

its

from the speech of “a cidevant

governor to a great military commander, on the presentation of a sword.

...

In speaking of a nocturnal battle

near the cataract of Niagara, he says that

it

produced a

midnight rainbow, whose refulgence outshone the the day.”

iris

of

:

HISTORY THAT This

is

ISN'T SO

311

.

though perhaps not so much natural

history,

history as unnatural.

It

belongs in the same class as the

eulogium of a country schoolmaster on General Wolfe Great General Wolfe, without any Led on his brave grenadiers,

fears,

And what

He Error

is

is most miraculous and particular, climbed up rocks that were perpendicular.

everywhere.

I

pick up a picture post-card from

“Old stone house and barracks where Morgan was imprisoned, Niagara,” and it isn’t that a hotel stand.

at

It is

labeled

:

but a very different building at Fort Niagara.

all,

a ride on a sight-seeing certain

gray-stone

wagon

in Buffalo,

residence

I

take

and as we pass a

conductor-orator-guide

the

declaims loudly that this house was “General Scott’s head-

War

quarters in the that the house

was

Park meadow he

of 1812”

—and

built in 1836.

calls the attention

large boulder which, he explains,

War

Thus

of 1812!

I know of a certainty As we drive around the

is

history

of the tourists to the

marks a

made



battlefield of the

popular.

If I retreat to the peaceful seclusion of

my

office in the

numerous callers who ask to be where President McKinley stood in that edifice when he was shot! How this last painful and needless error gains currency I cannot guess, but the numHistorical Building, I have

shown

the place

ber of strangers

they declare



is

who have been informed amazing.

to that effect

—so

NARRATIVES OF

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VISITORS

TO NIAGARA

:

18

TN

TH CENTURY

VISITORS

preceding pages have been given the earliest printed reports concerning Niagara Falls.

no other Seventeenth-century visitors

There are probably

who

printed accounts

of what they saw here, except Hennepin and

The

latter’s

Father Hennepin’s less

La Hontan.

account of Niagara was not printed until 1703. first

book, the “Louisiane,” says

much

of the Falls than his later and less trustworthy works.

As matter

of record

I

quote from the “Louisiane,”

first

published in 1683

1

“On the 6th [December, 1678], St. Nicholas day, we entered the beautiful river Niagara, which no bark had ever yet entered. Four leagues from Lake Frontenac there .

.

.

an incredible Cataract or Waterfall, which has no equal. The Niagara river near this place is only the eighth of a league wide, but it is very deep in places, and so rapid above the great fall, that it hurries down all the animals which try to cross it, without a single one being able to withstand They plunge down a height of more than five its current. is

hundred feet, and its fall is composed of two sheets of water and a cascade, with an island sloping down. In the middle these waters foam and boil in a fearful manner. They thunder continually, and when the wind blows in a southerly direction, the noise which they make is heard for from more than fifteen leagues. Four leagues from this cataract or fall, the Niagara river rushes with extraordinary rapidity especially for two leagues into Lake Frontenac. It There is during these two leagues that goods are carried. is a very fine road, very little wood, and almost all prairies mingled with some oaks and firs, on both banks of the

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

316 river,

VISITORS.

which are of a height that inspire fear when you

look down.

That Falls.

600

is

Father Hennepin’s

In his subsequent

feet,

and elaborated

later description is the

first

description of Niagara

work he increased

the height to

his account in various ways.

This

one most often quoted, and need not

be included here.

The Baron La Hontan, who saw 1687, published in 1703 an account

the Falls in August,

which

I

have given

in

a preceding paper (p. 291).

During the Eighteenth century, travelers more and more found their way to the Niagara, and more and more descriptions appeared in print.

we

interesting records

A

Some

of these are

among

the most

have, of early days on the Niagara.

few of them are perhaps familiar through much

ing,

but others are

unknown except

have made particular research

to students

in this subject.

reprint-

who may As matter

of record, therefore, and for the convenience of

all,

there

are brought together in pages following the principal descriptions of the Falls

which were written, down

of the Eighteenth century. is

Correction of their

to the close

many

errors

here deemed, for the most part, superfluous.

FROM “THE FOUR KINGS OF CANADA,” In that curious

little

1710.

book, “The Four Kings of Canada,

being a succinct account of the Four Indian Princes lately arriv’d

from North America,”

etc.,

printed in

London

in

1710, occurs the following:

“The River of St. Lawrence or Canada, receives in these Parts an Infinite Quantity of fresh Water from the four great Lakes, the Lake Huron, the upper Lake, the Lake of the Illinois, and the Lake Erie or of the Cat, which may



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

317

little fresh Water Seas. This great Deluge of Water tumbling furiously over the greatest and most dreadful Heap in the World, an infinite Number of Fish take great Delight to spawn here, and as it were suffocate here, because they cannot get over this huge Cataract: So that the Quantity taken here is incredible. “A Gentleman who was traveling this Part, went to see this Heap, which comes from a River in the North, and falls into a great Basin of Lake Outano [Ontario], big enough to hold a Hundred Men of War, being there he taught the Nations to catch Fish with their Hands, by causing Trees to be cut down in the Spring, and to be roll’d to the Bank of the River, so that he might be upon them without wetting himself by the Assistance of which he thrust his Arm into the Water up to the Elbow, where he found a prodigious Quantity of Fish of different species, which he laid hold on by the Gills, gently stroking ’em, and when he had taken Fifty or Sixty of ’em at a Time, he use after this Manner, in a short to warm and refresh himself Time he would catch Fish enough to feed Fifty or Sixty

properly be call’d

;

;

Families.”

This account, which puts Niagara well to the fore

in

would seem to have been drawn from a source quite independent of Hennepin and La Hontan. When it was published the latter was still living and Hennepin may have been. his death occurring in 1715

the matter of fish stories,



In 1710 he would have been but 71 years old, but there

no trace of him

“The Four Kings of Canada”

know

is

later than 1701.

of, relating to

chronological order

is

is

Niagara, after

the

first

publication

I

Next in “M. Borassaw,”

La Hontan.

the account given by

Hon. Paul Dudley, who wrote it down and published it. The Frenchman, whose name was probably Borassan or Borassau it certainly was not as at

Albany

Dudley

in 1721, to the

spelled

it

—appears



to

have been a boatman, or

— ;

:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

318

He

possibly a trader.

measured the

was printed

Falls.

in

many

had been

said he

and was there

times,

May,

in

VISITORS.

1721,

at

Niagara seven

when de Longueuil

His account, as written by Dudley, places.

I

here transcribe

it

from the

Philosophical Transactions, Royal Society of London, of

1722

THE “BORASSAW” NARRATION OF WRITTEN BY THE HON. PAUL DUDLEY,

The

falls

1721.

F. R. S.

of Niagara are formed by a vast ledge or

precipice of solid rock, lying across the whole breadth of

the river, a little before lake Ontario.

M. Borassaw

it

empties

itself into,

or forms the

says, that in spring 1722 [should be 1721],

Canada ordered his own son, with three other officers, to survey the Niagara, and take the exact height of the cataract, which they accordingly did with a stone of half a hundred weight, and a large cod-line, and found it on a perpendicular no more than 26 fathoms the governor of

‘'vingt et six bras.”

This differs very much from the account Father Hennepin has given to that cataract; for he makes it 100 fathoms, and our modern maps from him, as I suppose, mark it at 600 feet but I believe Hennepin never measured it, and there is no guessing at such things. When I objected Hennepin’s account of those falls to M. Borassaw, he replied, that accordingly every body had depended on it as right, until the late survey. On further ;

discourse he acknowledged, that below the cataract, for a numbers of small ledges or stairs

great way, there were

across the river, that lowered

came

to a level

;

so that

it still

if all

more and more,

till

you

the descents be put together,

he does not know but the difference of the water above the falls and the level below, may come up to Father Hennepin but the strict and proper cataract on a perpendicular is no more than 26 fathoms, or 156 feet, which yet is a prodigious thing, and what the world I suppose cannot parallel, con-

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

319

sidering the size of the river, being near a quarter of an English mile broad, and very deep water. Several other things M. Borassaw set me right in, as to the falls of Niagara. Particularly it has been said, that the cataract makes such a prodigious noise, that people cannot hear each other speak at some miles distances; whereas he affirms, that you may converse together close by it. I have also heard it positively asserted, that the shoot of the river, when it comes to the precipice, was with such force, that men and horse might march under the body of the river without being whet; this also he utterly denies, and says, the water falls in a manner right down. What he observed farther to me was, that the mist or shower which the falls make, is so extraordinary, as to be seen at five leagues distance, and rise as high as the common clouds. In this brume or cloud, when the sun shines, you have always a glorious rainbow. That the river itself, which is there called the river Niagara, is much narrower at the falls than either above or below and that from below there is no coming nearer the falls by water than about six English miles, the torrent is so rapid, and having such terrible whirlpools. He confirms Father Hennepin’s and Mr. Kelug’s [ ?] account of the large trouts of those lakes, and solemnly affirmed there was one taken lately, that weighed 86 lb. ;

which

I

am

that fish are

rather inclined to believe, on the general rule, according to the waters. To confirm which, a

very worthy minister affirmed, that he saw a pike taken

in

Canada river, and carried on a pole between two men, that measured five feet ten inches in length, and proportionably thick.

PIERRE

F. X.

DE CHARLEVOIX,

Father Charlevoix, best known of writers on America, twice visited

down 1721.

the Mississippi.

He came

all

S. J., 1721.

the early Jesuit

Canada

and

voyaged

to the Niagara in

May,

In the original French edition of his “History of

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

320

New the

VISITORS.

France,” volume three consists of his “Journal,” in

form of a

series of letters to the

Three

guieres.

are dated respectively, “Niagara,

letters

May

23,” “Falls of Niagara,

Lake

Erie,

May

27,” 1721.

May

In the

the “Journal,” the second Niagara

“May

dated

Duchess de Lesdi-

26,” and “Entrance to first

English edition of

letter

erroneously

is

In the following extracts

14.”

I

have

in the

main followed the old English translation, which though now and then quaint in form, is true to the original. A few omissions have also been supplied. So far as I am aware, Charlevoix

is

the

first

writer to use the

word “horse-

shoe” [“fer a cheval ”] in description of the greater

[Niagara,

May

fall.

23, 1721.]

Now, Madam, we must acknowledge,

that nothing but zeal for the public good could possibly induce an officer to remain in such a country as this, than which a .

.

.

is not to be seen. On the one side you see just under your feet, and as it were at the bottom of an abyss, a great river, but which in this place is like a torrent by its rapidity, by the whirlpools formed by a thousand rocks, through which it with difficulty finds a passage, and by the foam with which it is always covered; on the other the view is confined by three mountains placed one over the other, and whereof the last hides itself in the clouds. This would have been a very proper scene for the

wilder and more frightful

poets to make the Titans attempt to scale the heavens. In a word, on whatever side you turn your eyes, you discover nothing which does not inspire a secret horror. You have, however, but a very short way to go, to behold

Behind those uncultivated and a very different prospect. uninhabitable mountains, you enjoy the sight of a rich country, magnificent forests, beautiful and fruitful hills; you breathe the purest air, under the mildest and most temperate climate imaginable, situated between two lakes the least of which circuit.

.

.

.

is

two hundred and

fifty

leagues in

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

[At the Falls of Niagara, May

The

321

26, 1721.]

having departed, I ascended those frightful mountains, in order to visit the famous Fall of Niagara, above which I was to take water; this is a journey of three leagues though formerly five because the way then lay by the other, that is, the west side of the river, and also because the place for embarking lay full two leagues above the Fall. But there has since been found, on the left, .

.

.

officers

;

at the distance of half

a quarter of a league from this where the current is not perceivable, and consequently a place where one may take water without danger. My first care, after my arrival, was to visit the noblest cascade perhaps in the world but I presently found the Baron de la Hontan had committed such a mistake with respect to its height and figure, as to give grounds to believe he had never seen it. It is certain, that if you measure its height by that of the three mountains, you are obliged to climb to get at it, it does not come short of what the map of M. Deslisle makes it that is, six hundred feet, having certainly gone into this paradox, either, on the faith of the Baron de la Hontan or Father Hennepin; but after I arrived at the summit of cataract, a creek,

;

;

the third mountain,

I

observed, that in the space of three

which I had to walk before I came to this fall of water, though you are sometimes obliged to ascend, you must yet descend still more, a circumstance to which travAs it is imellers seem not to have sufficiently attended. possible to approach it but on one side only, and conseit is no quently to see it, excepting in profile, or sideways easy matter to measure its height with instruments. It has, however, been attempted by means of a pole tied to a long line, and after many repeated trials, it has been found only one hundred and fifteen, or one hundred and twenty feet high. But it is impossible to be sure that the pole has not been stopt by some projecting rock; for though it was always drawn up wet, as well as the end of the line to which it was tied, this proves nothing at all, as the water which precipitates itself from the mountain, rises very high in leagues,

;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

322

For my own part, after having examined it on ail where it could be viewed to the greatest advantage,

foam. sides, I

am

VISITORS.

inclined to think

dred and forty, or

we

cannot allow

it

than one hun-

less

fifty feet.

As to its figure, it is in the shape of a horseshoe, and is it is divided about four hundred paces in circumference into two, exactly in the middle, by a very narrow island, half a quarter of a league long. It is true, those two parts very soon unite; that on my side, and which I could only have a side view of, has several branches which project from the body of the cascade, but that which I viewed in front, appeared to me quite entire. The Baron de la Hontan mentions a torrent which comes from the West, but which if this author has not invented it, must certainly fall through some channel on the melting of the snows. You may easily guess, Madam, that a great way below this Fall, the river still retains strong marks of so violent a shock accordingly, it becomes only navigable three leagues below, and exactly at the place which M. de Joncaire has chosen for his residence. It should by right be equally unnavigable above it, since the river falls perpendicular the whole space of its breadth. But besides the island, which divides it into two, several rocks which are scattered up and down above it, abate much of the rapidity of the stream; it is notwithstanding so very strong, that ten or twelve Outaways trying to cross over to the island to shun the Iroquoise who were in pursuit of them, were drawn into the precipice, in spite of all their efforts to preserve them;

;

selves.

have heard say that the fish that happen to be entangled dead into the river, and that the Indians of those parts were considerably advantaged by them; but I

in the current, fall

I was also told, that the birds were sometimes caught in the whirlwind formed, by the violence of the torrent. But I observed quite the contrary, for I saw small birds flying very low, and exactly over the Fall, which yet cleared their

I

saw nothing of

this sort.

that attempted to fly over

passage very well.

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

323

This sheet of water falls upon a rock, and there are two reasons which induce me to believe that it has either found, or perhaps in time hollowed out a cavern of considerable depth. The first is, that the noise it makes is very hollow, resembling that of thunder at a distance. You can scarce hear it at M. de Joncaire’s, and what you hear in this place, may possibly be only that of the whirlpools caused by the

which

rocks,

so

much

fill

the bed of the river as far as this.

the rather as above the cataract,

And

you do not hear

near so far. The second is, that nothing has ever been seen again that has once fallen over it, not even the wrecks of the canoe of the Outaways, I mentioned just now. Be it

this as

it

Ovid gives us the description of such another him in the delightful valley

will,

cataract situated according to

of Tempe. is

I will

not pretend that the country of Niagara

as fine as that, though I believe

its

cataract

much

the

noblest of the two. it, but from behind, one would take it for smoke, and there is no person who would not be deceived with it, if he came in sight of the isle, without having been told before-hand that

Besides

I

perceived no mist above

at a distance,

there

was

The

so surprising a cataract in this place. of the three leagues I had to go afoot to get

soil

and which is called the carrying-place of Niagara, seems very indifferent it is even very ill-wooded, and you cannot walk ten paces without treading on ant-hills, or meeting with rattle-snakes, especially during the heat of hither,

;

the day.

.

.

.

FATHER BONNECAMPS’ DESCRIPTION,

1749-

In the summer of 1749, a French expedition headed by Pierre Joseph Celoron, passed up the Niagara, bound for the Ohio.

With

it

was the

camps, hydrographer

Jesuit Joseph Pierre de

at the Jesuit college in

kept a journal of the expedition,

Niagara June 30th.

Of

which

arrived

the Falls he wrote:

Bonne-

Quebec. at

He the

:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

324

VISITORS.

The famous

waterfall of Niagara is very nearly equifrom the two lakes. It is formed by a rock cleft vertically, and is 133 feet, according to my measurement, which I believe to be exact. Its figure is a half-ellipse, divided near the middle by a little island. The width of distant

the

fall

The water

perhaps three-eighths of a league.

is

foam over the length of the rock, and is received a large basin, over which hangs a continual mist.

falls in

in

PETER KALM’S ACCOUNT,

1750.

In 1750 there came to the Niagara the eminent Swedish of Oeconomy in the Aobo in Swedish Finland, and Member of Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences,” who wrote a big

Peter Kalm, “Professor

botanist,

University of the

book about America and familiar with his

work

Niagara

left

in the original

out. ;

am

I

not

but in John R.

Forster’s English translation (Warrington, 1770) I find stated that “the author,

yet finished this year’s traveling,

...

who

work; and especially .

.

quese, and fort Niagara, are

appear that Professor

Kalm

his expedition to the Iro-

still

I

believe

it is

the

first

to come.”

It

does not

ever completed the

work

as

1850, he wrote a long

2,

letter to a friend in Philadelphia.

English,

has not

the journal of a whole

.

but at Albany, Sept.

suggested;

is still living,

it

If originally written in

detailed account of Niagara,

not a translation, to appear in that language.

It

follows

herewith

Albany, Sep. Sir

—After

am come

2,

1750.

made in a short time, You may remember, that

a pretty long journey

back to this town. took my leave of you, I told you, I would this summer, if time permitted, take a view of Niagara Fall, esteemed one of the greatest curiosities in the World. When I came last year from Quebec, you inquired of me several I

when

I

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

325

and I told you what I particulars concerning this fall heard of it in Canada, from several French gentlemen who had been there but this was still all hearsay I could not assure you of the truth of it, because I had not then seen it myself, and so it could not satisfy my own, much less your curiosity. Now, since I have been on the spot, it is in my power to give you a more perfect and satisfactory ;

:

description of

;

it.

After a fatiguing travel, first on horseback thro’ the country of the Six Nations, to Oswego, and from thence in a batteau upon Lake Ontario, I came on the 12th of August in the evening to Niagara fort. The French there seemed much perplexed at my first coming, imagining I was an English officer, who under pretext of seeing Niagara Falls, came with some other view but as soon as I shew’d them my passports, they chang’d their behaviour, and received me with the greatest civility. Niagara Fall is six French leagues from Niagara Fort. You first go three leagues by water up Niagara river, and then three leagues over the carrying place. As it was late when I arriv’d at the Fort, I could not the same day go to the Fall, but I The comprepared myself to do it the next morning. mandant of the Fort, Monsr. Beaujou, invited all the officers and gentlemen there to supper with him. I had read formerly almost all the authors that have wrote any thing and the last year in Canada, had made so about this Fall many enquiries about it, that I thought I had a pretty good Idea of it; and now at supper, requested the gentlemen to tell me all they knew and thought worth notice relating to it, which they accordingly did. I observed that in many things they all agreed, in some things they were of different opinions, of all which I took When they had told me all they knew, particular notice. ;

;

them concerning what I had read and heard of it, whether such and such a thing was true or not? and had their answers on every circumstance. But as I have found by experience in my other travels, that very few observe nature’s works with accuracy, or report I

made

several quiries to

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

326

the truth precisely, I cannot

now be

VISITORS. entirely satisfied with-

eyes whenever ’tis in my power. Accordingly the next morning, being the 13th of August,

out seeing with

my own

The commandant at break of day, I set out for the Fall. had given orders to two of the Officers of the Fort to go with me and shew me every thing, and also sent by them an order to Monsr. Joncaire, who had liv’d ten years by the carrying-place, and knew every thing worth notice of the Fall, better than any other person, to go with me, and shew and tell me whatever he knew. A little before we came to the carrying-place, the water of Niagara River grew so rapid, that four men in a light birch canoe, had much difficulty to get up thither. Canoes can go half a league above the beginning of the carrying-place, tho’ they must work against a water extremely rapid; but higher up it is quite impossible, the whole course of the water for two leagues and a half up to the great Fall, being a series of smaller Falls, one under another, in which the greatest canoe or Batteau would in a moment be turn’d upside down. We went ashore therefore, and walk’d over the carryingplace, having besides the high and steep side of the river, two great hills to ascend one above the other. Here on the carrying-place I saw above 200 Indians, most of them belonging to the Six Nations, busy in carrying packs of furs, chiefly of deer and bear, over the carrying-place. You would be surpris’d to see what abundance of these things are brought every day over this place. An Indian gets 20 pence for every pack he carries over, the distance being three leagues.

Half an hour past 10 in the morning, we came to the great Fall, which I found as follows. To the river (or rather strait), runs here from S. S. E. to N. N. W. and the rocks of the great Fall crosses it, not in a right line, but forming almost the figure of a semicircle or horseshoe. Above the Fall, in the middle of the river is an island, lying also S. S. E. river;

its

W. or parallel with the sides of the about 7 or 8 French arpents (an arpent The lower end of this Island is just at the

and N. N.

length

being 180 feet).

is

,

!

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY perpendicular edge of the Fall.

runs

all

On

VISITORS.

327

both sides of this island

the water that comes from the lakes of Canada, viz.

Lake Superior, lake Mischigan, lake Huron, and lake Erie, which you know are rather small seas than lakes, and have besides a great many large rivers that empty their water in them, of which the greatest part comes down this Niagara Before the water comes to this island, it runs but Fall. slowly, compar’d with its motion when it approaches the

where it grows the most rapid water in the World, running with surprizing swiftness before it comes to the island,

many places is thrown high and strongest batteaux would here in turn’d over and over. The water that goes down on the west side of the island, is more rapid, in greater abundance, whiter, and seems almost to outdo an arrow in swiftness. When you are at the Fall, and look up the river, you may see, that the river above the Fall is every where exceedingly steep, almost as the side of a hill. When all this water comes to the very It is beFall, there it throws itself down perpendicular! yond all belief the surprize when you see this! I cannot with words express how amazing it is! You cannot see it Fall;

up

it is

quite white,

The a moment be

into the air

!

and

in

greatest

without being quite terrified; to behold so vast a quantity of water falling headlong from a surprizing height I doubt not but you have a desire to learn the exact height of this great Fall. Father Hennepin supposes it 600 Feet perpendicular; but he has gained little credit in Canada; the name of honour they give him there, is un grand Menteur or The Great Liar; he writes of what he saw in places where he never was. ’Tis true he saw this Fall: but as it is the way of some travellers to magnify everything, so he has done with regard to the fall of Niagara. This humour of travellers, has occasioned me

many

disappointments in

my

travels,

having seldom been

so happy as to find the wonderful things that had been For my part, who am not fond of the related by others. Marvellous, I like to see things just as they are, and so to relate them.

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

328

VISITORS.

Since Father Hennepin’s time, this Fall by

counts that have been given of

it,

all

the ac-

has grown less and less;

and those who have measur’d it with mathematical instruments find the perpendicular fall of the water to be exactly Monsr. Morandrier, the king’s engineer in 137 feet. Canada, assured me, and gave it me also under his hand, that 137 Feet was precisely the height of it; and all the French Gentlemen that were present with me at the Fall, did agree with him, without the least contradiction:

who have

it

is

measure it with a line, find it sometimes 140, sometimes 150 feet, and sometimes more; but the reason is, it cannot that way be measured with any certainty, the water carrying away the Line. When the water is come down to the bottom of the rock of the Fall, it jumps back to a very great height in the air in other places it is as white as milk or snow and all in motion like a

true, those

try’d to

;

;

boiling chaldron.

You may remember,

to

what a great distance Hennepin

may be heard. All the gentlemen who were with me, agreed, that the farthest one can hear it is 15 leagues, and that very seldom. When the air is quite calm, you can hear it to Niagara Fort; but seldom at other times, because when the wind blows, the waves of Lake Ontario make too much noise there against the Shore. They informed me, that when they hear at the Fort the noise of the Fall, louder than ordinary, they are sure a North East Wind will follow, which never fails: this seems wonderful, as the Fall is South West from the Fort: and one would imagine it to be rather a sign of a contrary wind. Sometimes, ’tis said, the Fall makes a much greater noise than at other times, and this is look’d upon as a certain mark of approaching bad weather, or rain; the Indians here hold it always for a sure sign. When I was there, it did not make an extraordinary great noise: just by the Fall, we could easily hear what each other said, without speaking much louder than common when conversing in other places. I do not know how others have found so great says the noise of this great Fall

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY a noise here, perhaps

it

was

at

VISITORS.

329

certain times, as above

mentioned.

From the Place where the water falls, there rise abundance of vapours, like the greatest and thickest smoke, sometimes more, sometimes less these vapours rise high in the air when it is calm, but are dispersed by the wind when If you go nigh to this vapour or fog, or if it blows hard. the wind blows it on you, it is so penetrating, that in a few minutes you will be as wet as if you had been under water. :

I

got two young

Frenchmen

to

me from some of each of the

go down, to bring

the side of the Fall at the bottom,

and shells they should find they returned in a few minutes, and I really thought they had fallen into the water; they were obliged to strip themselves quite naked, and hang their clothes in the sun several kinds of herbs, stones

there

:

When

you are on the other East side of the Lake many leagues from the Fall, you may, every clear and calm morning, see the vapours of the Fall rising in the air you would think all the woods thereabouts were set on fire by the Indians, so great is the apparent smoak. In the same manner you may see it on the West

to dry.

Ontario, a great

;

many leagues off. Several of the French gentlemen told me, that when birds come flying into this fog or smoak of the fall, they fall down and perish in the Water, either because their side of the lake Erie, a great

wings are become wet, or that the noise of the fall astonishes them, and they know not where to go in the Dark: but others were of opinion, that seldom or never any bird

manner because, as they all agreed, among the abundance of birds found dead below the fall, there are no other sorts than such as live and swim frequently in the water; as swans, geese, ducks, water-hens, teal, and the perishes in that

like.

And

very often great flocks of them are seen going manner they swim in the river above and so are carried down lower and lower by the

to destruction in this

the

;

fall,

;

water, and as water-fowl commonly take great delight in being carry’d with the stream, so here they indulge themselves in enjoying this pleasure so long, till the swiftness of

;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

330

the water becomes so great, that

them

’tis

to rise, but they are driven

perish.

They

are observ’d

VISITORS.

no longer

down

possible for

the precipice, and

when they draw nigh

the

fall,

to

wing and leave the water, but they cannot. In the months of September and October, such abundant quantities of dead waterfowl are found every morning below the Fall, on the shore, that the garrison of the fort for a long time live chiefly upon them besides the fowl, they find also several sorts of dead fish, also deer, bears, and other animals which have tried to cross endeavour with

their might, to take

all

the water above the fall;

found broken to rapid, but goes

the larger animals are generally

Just below the fall the water is not in circles and whirls like a boiling pot;

pieces. all

which however doth not hinder the Indians going upon in

small canoes a fishing;

but a

little

it

lower begins the

fall. When you are above the fall, and look down, your head begins to turn: the French who have been here ioo times, will seldom venture to look down, without at the same time keeping fast hold of some tree with one hand. It was formerly thought impossible for any body living tc come at the Island that is in the middle of the fall but an accident that happen’d 12 years ago, or thereabouts, made it appear otherwise. The history is this. Two Indians of the Six Nations went out from Niagara fort, to hunt upon an island that is in the middle of the river, or strait, above the great fall, on which there used to be abundance of deer. They took some French brandy with them, from the fort, which they tasted several times as they were going over and when they were in the canoe, they the carrying-place took now and then a dram, and so went along up the strait towards the Island where they propos’d to hunt, but growing sleepy, they laid themselves down in the canoe, which getting loose drove back with the stream, farther and farther down till it came nigh that island that is in the middle of the fall. Here one of them, awakened by the noise of the fall, cries out to the other, that they were gone! yet they This island was nighest, and tri’d if possible to save life.

smaller

:

;

with

much working

they got on shore there.

At

first

they

;;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

were glad; but when they had consider’d every

331

thing, they

thought themselves hardly in a better state than if they had gone down the fall, since they had now no other choice, than either to throw themselves down the same, or to perish with hunger. But hard necessity put them on invention. At the lower end of the island the rock is perpendicular, and no water is running there. This island has plenty of wood; they went to work directly and made a ladder or shrouds of the bark of linden tree, (which is very tough and strong) so long till they could with it reach the water below; one end of this bark ladder they tied fast to a great tree that grew at the side of the rock above the fall, and let the other end down to the water. So they went down along their new-invented stairs, and when they came to the bottom in the middle of the fall, they rested a little and as the water next below the fall is not rapid, as beforementioned, they threw themselves out into it, thinking to swim on shore. I have said before, that one part of the fall is on one side of the island, the other on the other side. Hence it is, that the waters of the two cataracts running against each other, turn back against the rock that is just under the island. Therefore, hardly had the Indians began to swim, before the waves of the eddy threw them with They violence against the rock from whence they came. tried it several times, but at last grew weary; and being often thrown against the rock they were much brus’d, and the skin of their bodies torn in many places. So they were obliged to climb up their stairs again to the island, not knowing what to do. After some time they perceived Indians on the shore, to whom they cried out. These saw and pity’d them, but gave them little hopes of help yet they ;

commandant where two of their brethren were. He persuaded them to try all possible means of relieving the two poor Indians and it was done in this manner. The water that runs on

made

haste

down

to the fort,

and

told the

the east side of this island is shallow, especially a little above the island towards the eastern shore. The commandant caused poles to be made and pointed with iron two :

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

332

VISITORS.

Indians determined to walk to this island by the help of these poles, to save the other poor creatures, or perish

themselves.

were going

They took leave of all their friends Each had two such poles in

to death.

as

if

they

his hands,

bottom of the stream, to keep them steady. So they went and got to the island, and having given poles to the two poor Indians there, they all returned safely to the main. Those two Indians who in the abovementioned manner were first brought to this island, are yet alive. They were nine days on the island, and almost starved to to set against the

death.

Now since the way to this island has been found, the Indians go there often to kill deer, which having tried to cross the river above the fall, were driven upon the island by the stream but if the King of France would give me all :

Canada, I would not venture to go to this island and were you to see it, Sir, I am sure you would have the same ;

sentiment.

On the West side of this island are some small islands or rocks of no consequence. The east side of the river is nearly perpendicular, the west side more sloping. In former times a part of the rock at the Fall which is on the west side of the island, hung over in such a manner, that the water which fell perpendicularly from it, left a vacancy below, so that people could go under between the rock and

some years since broke and fell down; so that there is now no possibility of going between the falling water and the rock, as water now runs close to it all the way down. the water, but the prominent part off

The breadth of the Fall, as it runs into a semicircle, is The island is in the reckon’d to be about six Arpents. middle of the Fall, and from it to each side is almost the same breadth the breadth of the island at its lower end is two thirds of an Arpent, or thereabouts. Below the Fall in the holes of the rocks, are great plenty of Eels, which the Indians and French catch with their hands without other :

means I sent down two Indians boys, who up with about twenty fine ones. ;

directly

came

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

333

Every day, when the Sun shines, you see here from 10 morning to 2 in the afternoon, below the Fall, and under you, when you stand at the side over the Fall, a glorious rainbow and sometimes two rainbows, one within the other. I was so happy to be at the Fall on a fine clear day, and it was with great delight I viewed this rainbow, which had almost all the colours you see in a rainbow in the air. The more vapours, the brighter and clearer is the rainbow. I saw it on the East side of the Fall in the bottom under the place where I stood, but above the water. When the wind carries the vapours from that place, the rainbow o’clock in the

is

gone, but appears again as soon as new vapours come. From the Fall to the landing above the Fall, where the

canoes from Lake Erie put on shore (or from the Fall to the upper end of the carrying-place)

is

half a mile.

Lower

the canoes dare not come, lest they should be obliged to try the fate of the

two Indians, and perhaps with

They have often found below

less success.

the Fall pieces of

human

drunken Indians, that have unhappily came down the Fall. I was told at Oswego, that in October, or thereabouts, such plenty of feathers are to be found here below the Fall, that a man in a day’s time can gather enough of them for several beds, which feathers they said came off

bodies, perhaps

I ask’d the French, if this was they had never seen any such thing; but that if the feathers were picked off the dead birds, they might be such a quantity. The French told me, they had often thrown whole trees into the water above, to see them tumble down the Fall. They went down with surprising

the birds kill’d at the Fall.

true?

They

told

me

whence it was a bottomless deep or abyss just under the Fall. I am also of Opinion, that there must be a vast deep here; yet I think if they had watched very well, they might have found the trees at some distance below the Fall. The rock of the Fall consists of a grey limestone. Here you have, Sir, a short but exact description of this famous Niagara cataract; you may depend on the truth of what I write. You must excuse me if you find in my acswiftness, but could never be seen afterwards;

was thought

there

:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

334

VISITORS.

count, no extravagant wonders. I cannot make nature otherwise than I find it. I had rather it should be said of me in time to come, that I related things as they were, and all is found to agree with my description than to be esteem’d a false Relater. I have seen some other things in this my journey, an account of which I know would gratify your curiosity; but time at present wilf not permit me to write more, and I hope shortly to see you. I am &c.,

that

;

Peter Kalm.

THE ABBE PIQUET Peter server.

note

Kalm was

came

the next visitor

is

priest, the

to the Niagara,

Ogdensburg,

1751.

a thorough naturalist and a good ob-

In strong contrast

—the Sulpitian

IN

from

am

able to

Picquet,

who

his mission near the present

Of Niagara he wrote

in 1751.

I

Abbe Francois

the following

extraordinary passage

“This cascade is as marvelous for its height, and the quantity of water which falls there, as for the diversity of its falls, which are in the number of six principal ones separated by a

which puts three to the north and they have a regular symetry and an

little isle

three to the south

;

astonishing effect.”

ADVENTURES OF

A

M.

BONNEFONS,

1753.

narrative of American travel and adventure very

known, and

I

believe unpublished as yet in English,

little

is

the

“Voyage an Canada dans le Nord de V Amerique Septentrionale fait depuis Van 1751 a 1761.” The original manuscript, written in journal form during the decade 1751 to 1761, was at last accounts in the possession of the Marquis de Bassano, in Paris.

The National Library

possesses a manuscript copy of

it.

In 1887

it

of France

was

printed,

:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

335

French, at Quebec, with some editing by the very capable hand of the Abbe H. R. Casgrain. The only acknowledgment of authorship on the original manuscript is the initials “J. C. B.” which the Abbe Casgrain ascertains, with probin

able accuracy, to stand

for

J.

C.

Bonnefons,

who

held

various posts in the French military service in America, and

who became

secretary to Capt. Pouchot, the last French

defender of Fort Niagara. interest;

but

relating to

1753.

A

I

translate

The whole

from

it

M. Bonnefons’ adventures

few errors

journal

is

full

of

only a few paragraphs at

Niagara Falls

in

will be corrected at the close of the

quotation

Fort Niagara, situated on the high ground and at the south of Lake Ontario, was originally named Denonville. It stands on an elevated spot which is overlooked by mountains at the west bordering a strait three leagues in length, which bears the name of the Niagara river. This fort, built It was rebuilt and fortified in 1687, was palisaded. find it built partly of stone and partly of wood, 1763. well fortified on the land side and surrounded with ditches,

in

We

with bastions supplied with eighteen pieces of cannon, a drawbridge and eighty men in the garrison. Opposite this fort, at the north and nearly at the end of Lake Ontario, is a great bay, named Toronto, since called by the English, York Bay. On the shore of this bay, there had been built by order of the Governor Joncquiere a fort named Toronto, which has since been destroyed as useless. The next day, April 12th, we went on by land. From Fort Niagara we ascended the three mountains which are at the west of the fort and on the top of each of which we found a level space formed of flat rock, very even, which

makes a resting place for travelers who pass there. It is about two leagues from the bottom to the top of the mountains. When we had reached the top we had to rest, after which we continued to march. At a quarter of a league to the north of the last mountain is the famous fall of Niagara,

336

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

the noise of which

may

the place to the south of

VISITORS.

be heard nearly three leagues.

where we were was a

At

little station,

newly established, for the building of batteaux and canoes needed for the navigation of Lake Erie. This station was named Toronto, the English gave to it that of Scuyler or Sckuiler. At the time of our passage there was there a garrison of forty men, Canadians, all boat carpenters. We rested there three days, during which they loaded the provisions, ammunition and goods which we had to take with us to the upper end of Lake Erie. The curiosity permitted to travelers made me wish to visit the Niagara fall, which I had heard spoken of as a marvelous curiosity. I was one of three to go there. I examined this astonishing cataract, which has the form of a crescent, a quarter of a league in extent. They give to the height, according to common report, of 180 feet. It the discharge of

throws into the

Lake

Erie,

and receives

its

waters, which

it

is it

or river of Niagara, which then empties into Lake Ontario near Fort Niagara. The approaches to this fall appear inaccessible, especially on the south side where we were, and present from both sides a rock covered with bushes, which grow naturally in the crevices. It is impossible when near it to make speaking After having well heard, unless very near to the ears. examined this fall from above, I proposed to the two persons who had accompanied me to go down below. They opposed the difficulty of getting there, there being neither road, nor path, nor security, and that the undertaking was perilous and rash to go there by the bushes, which appeared too weak to sustain us, or by the roots which were not strong, having only hold in the joints of the rock. These reasons, all of force as it appeared to me, did not prevent me from persisting in my curiosity. I resolved then to expose myself alone and presently I began to descend with the intention of making sure of the branches which I encountered on my way; descending backwards, so that I would not let go one after another, until I had seized others of the same firmness. strait

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

337

I was about an hour in getting down, not without commending myself to Providence, for I perceived the rashness of my undertaking, but I had to finish as much from pride as from curiosity. Finally, I came to the bottom, at about twenty toises from the foot of the fall, which even at that distance, did not prevent me from being drenched by the rain-like spray which the fall made. I advanced still nearer. I

passed over a fine shingle of

the sheet of falling water.

much more drenched and

flat

It felt

rock,

which led

was then

that I

me under was very

the trembling of the rocks

caused by the fall of water, which made me hesitate whether I ought to go on or retreat. However, reflecting that this trembling must be the same always, I resolved to go forward, and after having made thirty steps more I found myself in a sort of cavern, formed in the rocks, in the midst of which ran the sheets of water from crevices at

which made cascades, agreeable and amusing fall had permitted me to stay there a little time. I seemed in this place to be in the midst of the cataract. The noise and the trembling were very great. That did not prevent me from examining the cavern, which appeared of a length of six toises by about twenty feet in height. Its depth was scarcely more than I would have passed it, but was unable to go fifteen feet. further because of large clefts which I was unable to cross. All shivering with cold, and I had to retrace my steps. drenched, I hastened to take again the road by which I had I climbed up the bushes quicker than I had descended. descended them. Arrived on top, I found the two people with whom I had come. They wished to interrogate me. This was futile. I was deaf and was not able to hear them. Cold and hunger forced me to hasten to Toronto, where, being arrived, I at once changed my clothes, after which

several points,

enough

if

the rain caused by the

I ate. It

left

was not

seen.

until

two hours afterwards

that the deafness

able to give an account of what I had learn if I have since questioned several travelers to

me and

I

was

they had knowledge of any one

who had

descended this

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

338 fall.

They had heard no one

tell

of

it.

VISITORS.

That does not seem

extraordinary to me, knowing that the Canadians are so little curious that they would not deign to turn aside from

worthy of report. This indifference on their part does not however give me pretence of being the only one who may have risked himself in this their route for something

nor that there will not be found in days to I. But if that happens, those who will have the enterprise will be able to confirm what I report to have seen. It is common report in this country that a native Iroquois, finding himself with his canoe drawn into the current from above, and not being able to draw out of the force of it, wrapped himself in his blanket, glided along in his canoe, perilous

visit,

come others

as curious as

and abandoned himself to the current, which quickly precipitated him over the fall, where he was swallowed up with his canoe without reappearing. I have seen the fall of a tree, drawn down by the current, which did not again appear; from which I have concluded that there is a gulf where everything that falls from above is swallowed up. About twenty feet above this fall is a little island, formed of rock, some fifteen toises in length, by io or 12 feet in width, overgrown with bushes, with one single tree in the midst. The water of Lake Erie, which rushes around and throws itself into the fall, is very rapid and glides it.

over a shelf of especially

One

flat

rock at a depth of four or five

on the side to the south, where

I

examined

feet, it.

finds at the foot of the fall, along the river Niagara,

many dead

Travelers pretend that these fish find they have become drawn down into the fall by the rapidity of the water. I have given to this matter a reflection which seems to me just. It is that they first ascend rather than descend, and that coming from Lake Ontario, ascending near to the fall, they are there killed, afterward drawn down by the current which throws them on the banks, where one often finds them only stunned. Now if they came from Lake Erie they would be killed and, what is more, swallowed up in the fall. a great

come from Lake

fish.

Erie.

They

;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

it

339

birds which fly over the fall are by the force of the

It is said also that

into

VISITORS.

in spite of themselves,

drawn I

air.

am

not sure of this fact, which, however, is not lacking in probability, since there is often seen there a rainbow which seems strongly to attract the birds who direct their flight into it, where they become confused and drenched, lacking strength to ascend. And it may perhaps be only birds of passage, for those which inhabit the neighborhood are so accustomed to the rainbow and to the noise of the fall that

they know how to preserve themselves, since they are seldom seen there, although there are a great many of them in this vicinity.

The

place

Toronto

called

is

except in the

not,

allusion, the present Toronto, but the old landing-place

the Falls, long

name

known

as Schlosser. It

was no doubt

first

above

this last

when he wrote “Scuyler on made as bad a mess of English names or in this case of a German as the English did of French names. One has but to look at Sir William Johnson’s attempts at French names to see how bad that could be. I have used the old French word “toise,” Bonnefons aimed

that

Sckuiler

!’

The

at

early French writers



which occurs



Bonnefons’ journal;

in

“fathom,” or six

feet.

The

“little

it

could be translated

M.

island” described by

Bonnefons was no doubt that afterwards named Gull island

numerous early

visitors

others, in 1804.

It

speak of

disappeared not

it,

Tom Moore among

many

DIARY OF RALPH IZARD, The following

is

New York

in 1846,

The

and

fell

1765.

a portion of a diary, ascribed to Ralph

Izard of South Carolina;

Izard Deal.

years later.

it

it

was published anonymously

said

is

by his grand-daughter, Anna

was born

writer

in Charleston in 1742,

heir to large property, both in land and slaves.

was educated

in

England

;

in

He

returning to America he married

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

340

a niece of Lt. Gov. his

marriage that he

in his journal.

VISITORS.

De Lancey. It was apparently before made the journey to Niagara described

In 1771 he went to England, residing in

London, and, after the outbreak of war with the American colonies, in Paris.

He

returned to America in 1780, became

devoted to the patriot cause, and pledged his estate as security to the Government,

when Congress was

trying to

arrange for the purchase of ships of war in Europe.

In

1782 he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, and from 1789 to 1795, United States Senator from South Carolina, and a part of the time president pro tem of the Senate.

was a

He loyal

stood high in the esteem of Washington, and

and active patriot; he was, however, says a

biographer, “violent in his temper and practically useless as a diplomatist.”

May

30, 1804.

serves

He

The

some of the

died at South Bay, near Charleston,

following extract from his diary pre-

peculiarities of the original:

Monday, 24th June, 1765. Went with my three companions on board a sloop for Albany a very hot day, with the wind at south. After sailing about fifty miles through a very rocky and mountainous country, the wind came about Friday, 28th. Arrived at contrary and we anchored. Albany, one hundred and sixty miles from New York. Albany is a dirty, ill-built Dutch town, of about three hun-



Dined at houses; stands upon Hudson’s River. July 2d. Left Albany in a wagon, came to Schenectady. Lay at Sir William Johnson’s; he is superintendent for Indian affairs in the northern district. Breakfasted at Fort Johnson, where Sir William’s son lives, eighteen miles from Schenectady; good land all the way Dined with Sir William at Johnson Hall. Extrathither. ordinary good land about his house. The office of superintendent very troublesome. Sir William continually plagued dred

Schuyler’s.

with Indians about him, generally from three hundred to nine hundred in number spoil his garden and keep his



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

341

house always dirty. 7th. Left Sir William’s; lay at Nicholas Failings, a very civil Dutchman, who seemed glad to give us whatever he had in his house; it is forty-two miles from Schenectady. 8th sixteen miles from Failings.

Got to Nicholas Harkimer’s, Fort Harkimer, eight miles. The land about it belongs to old Harkimer, excellent land, settled by Germans. During the war this fort was built for the protection of the neighborhood from the attacks of the Six Nation Indians, who live round about it. 10th. Discharged our wagon; went on board a batteau; hunted and rowed up the Mohawk River against the stream which, on account of the rapidity of the current, is very hard work for the poor soldiers. Encamped on the banks of the river, about nine miles from Harkimer’s. The inconveniences attending a married subaltern, strongly appear in this tour; what with the sickness of their wives, the squealing of their children, and the smallness of their pay I think the gentlemen discover no uncommon share of philosophy, in keeping themselves from running mad. Officers and soldiers, with their wives and children, legitimate and illegitimate, make altogether a pretty compound oglio, which does not tend towards showing military matrimony off to any great advantage. .

$>th.

Friday nth. Got to Fort Schuyler, fifteen miles from our last night’s encampment. A little block-house, built during the late war, not capable of containing above six or eight people.

Saturday 12th. Had a disagreeable ride twenty-two miles through a thick wood, with a bad path, to Fort Stanwix built in the year 1759 by General Stanwix. Lieutenant Allan Grant

Monday

commanded

14th.

there.

horseback by the side of Wooda kind of proof against any Indian attacks. It is

Went on

creek, twenty miles to the royal block-house,

wooden

castle;

now abandoned by

the troops, and a settler lives there,

who

keeps rum, milk, rackoons, etc., which though nothing of the most elegant, is comfortable to strangers passing that way.

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VISITORS.

This block-house is situated on the east end of the Oneida Lake, and is surrounded by the Oneida Indians, one of the Six Nations. Some of our batteaux not being come up, we stayed next day at the block house.

Embarked and rowed

to the west end of the lake twenty-eight miles, to Fort Brewington, a small stockade, built last war. The Oneida Lake is twenty miles broad from north to south. 16th.

which

is

iyth.

Rowed down Oswego River

Falls, thirty-nine miles.

batteaux were

upon

yards,

all

logs,

These

falls,

to

the

Onondaga

are so rapid, that the

drawn out of the water, and rolled twenty made for that purpose below the Falls,

where we encamped. 18th.

Arrived

at

Fort Ontario (commanded by Captain

Lieut. Jonathan Rogers of the Seventeenth), situated on the

lake of that name, near a point

Oswxgo

river.

Fort Ontario

is

formed by the lake and

of wood, has five bastions,

built in 1759.

Fort Oswego, which was taken by the French, is on the opposite side of the river, within sight of this Fort. Pondiach, the famous Ottawa chief, with fifty head men of the neighboring Indians, were arrived here to meet Sir

William Johnson, about matters of consequence. 21st Sir William arrived. 22d. At two o’clock in the morning, left Fort Ontario, encamped on the banks of Lake Ontario, about thirty miles from the Fort. 23d. Proceeded and encamped. 24th. Arrived late in the evening at Niagara Fort, one hundred and seventy miles from Fort Ontario. Captain Thomas Norris, of the Seven.

teenth regiment,

commanded

from him and the

here.

Many

civilities

received

officers of the regiment.

26th. Rode to Fort Schlosser, about fifteen miles from Niagara, which is situated on Niagara River, about two miles above the famous Falls.

Mr. Pfister, a German half-pay lieutenant of the Royal Americans, lives at Fort Schlosser. He has made a contract with General Gage, commander-in-chief, to carry all stores,

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

343

etc., belonging to the army, in wagons over land, about seven miles, the Falls of Niagara making the river of that name so rapid both above and below them, that it is absolutely necessary for every thing going towards Lake Erie, to be carried that distance by land. Every batteau,

batteaux,

besides those belonging to the army, pays him £10, currency, and upwards, according to their size.

New-

York

Batteaux and all heavy baggage are raised to the top of an high hill on the river, by means of a capstan.

From Fort Schlosser we went to see the Falls, which are two amazing cataracts, divided by an island in the

We

river. were inclined to go down a steep rock and view the Falls from the bottom, but having no rope with us to fasten to a tree above, the dangerous appearance of the

precipice deterred us.

A few days after, we crossed the river from Niagara Fort and rode to the Falls, which appeared much higher and more beautiful than from the opposite side. We had got a rope, and resolved by its assistance to go to the bottom of the Falls but some accident happening to the horse of the man who had charge of the rope, he was obliged to stop on the road, and endeavoring to overtake us, he lost his way; so we should have been a second time ;

disappointed of the pleasure of seeing the Falls from the bottom had we not resolved to go down at all events, without a rope. Before this resolution could be executed, it was necessary to find out a proper place from which we might make an attempt with some probability of success. This was no easy matter; and we examined the banks of the river for at least an hour and a half before any such place could be found. Nothing but the bare face of a rock was to be seen. At last an opening appeared between some trees and bushes, which, though dangerous to go down, seemed the most likely place for our purpose of any we had seen. A council was now held, whether an attempt should be made there. We all seemed pretty well agreed, that if any one of us would jump down a smooth perpendicular rock, about twenty feet in height, when he got to

344

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VISITORS.

it was likely he might find a place where we might descend lower with ease. Nothing was now wanting but a mouse hardy enough to tie the bell about the cat’s neck. At last one of the company, after having made one or two fruitless attempts, fixed a forked pole to the branch of a tree that hung over the rock, and by that means let himself down to the bottom. The fork of the pole broke as he was going down, and I think it is a wonder he did not break his neck. After looking about him some time, he found some notched logs, not twenty yards from the place where he had risked breaking his bones, that served as a ladder, by which the whole company went down easily to the place where he was. We then scrambled down, holding by stumps and roots, and tufts of grass, to the bottom, and a terrible piece of work we had before we got there. Our labor, however, was in a great measure recompensed by a sight of the Falls, which appear much higher and much more beautiful than from above, on either side. We went so near, as to be wet through with the spray. After getting to the bottom of the precipice our anxiety to be near the Falls was so great, that we forgot to mark the place where we came down and so, after our curiosity was satisfied with looking, we were obliged to wander up and down for three hours, and scramble over many dangerous places, before we could find our way. The night approaching, gave us a comfortable prospect of staying there till morning; and the appearance of wolves’ tracks in many places added much to our pleasant situation. We were informed that those animals frequently travelled about that place, in companies of about twenty or thirty at a time, and were so fierce as to attack men even in the middle of the day. As we had nothing with us to defend ourselves, nor flint and steel to make a fire, I think the odds were about five to four that no part of us except our bones would have ever got to the top of the hill, undigested, if we had not luckily found our way. Upon the whole, our jaunt was difficult and dangerous,

the bottom

;



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VISITORS.

345

and although a sight of the Falls from below affords great pleasure, yet it is not adequate to the trouble and hazard necessary to the obtaining it. The Falls of Niagara have been measured several times

by a

down from

line, let

From

a rock near the top of the Falls.

the best accounts I could get, I think they are about

one hundred and forty feet perpendicular. They are extremely grand, and are well worth seeing. During our stay in this part of the world, we went to Fort Erie, which is situated on the mouth of the Lake of that name. Lake Erie is about three hundred miles long and about one hundred and twenty broad. At the north-west corner of Lake Erie is Detroit on the Straits between that Lake and Lake Huron eighteen miles up these Straits is Fort Pontchartrain. Niagara seems to be the key of all our northern possessions in America; yet so fond are the Ministry of the appearance of economy that this Fort, for want of a trifling annual expense, is suffered to go to ruin. The works are they are very extensive and very much out built of turf of repair. The commanding officer assured me, that if the Fort was attacked it must fall, as he did not think it There is indeed in the Fort a large stone house, tenable. ninety by forty-five feet, which is proof against any Indian attacks, even though they were in possession of the Fort, yet if there were three or four Frenchmen, with these Indians, who could show them the use of the cannon in the Fort, the house would soon be levelled to the ground. This ;

;

large house

was

built

by the French, under the pretence of

being a trading-house, the Indians refusing then to permit them to build a fort. Soon after the house was built, they raised a stockade about it, and by degrees constructed the regular fortification, which is now seen here. The officer s’ fresh provisions were entirely out, and they its

had not a drop of wine; we luckily had a little which we brought up with us. When we first arrived we were told that the schooner that carries provisions between Niagara and Oswegachy,

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

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VISITORS.

would certainly arrive in two or three days we waited with the utmost expectation for her, but she did not appear until Saturday, 16th August, when to our great joy she ;

arrived.

The

diary continues with an account

down

of

the

return

Lawrence to Quebec, back to Montreal, thence through Lake Champlain to Albany, and by river sloop to New York. journey,

the

St.

A

few peculiarities in the preceding journal may be noted. “Harkimer” is a much-used early form for the family name now usually written “Herkimer.” “Pondiach” is

but “Fort Brew-

a permissible spelling for “Pontiac”;

ington”

is

an error for “Fort Brewerton.”

do not

slips

call

Other minor

for correction.

JONATHAN CARVER, Jonathan Carver passed

this

way

1766.

in

1766 and observed

“those remarkable Falls which are esteemed one of the most

extraordinary productions of nature at present known”!

“As these have been visited by so many travand so frequently described, I shall omit giving a

But, he adds, elers,

particular description of them.”

If that

had

to be said in

what would Carver think of the cataracts of descripwhich have been poured out in the last century and

1766, tion

a half?

ST.

To

JOHN DE CREVECOEUR,

the researches of

1785.

Mr. O. H. Marshall we are indebted

for one of the most important of the early narratives of travel in the

by Hector

Niagara region.

John

de

Alexander, in France.

A

St.

It is a letter written in 1785 Crevecoeur to his young son

copy of

it,

and of an accompany-

:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

347

ing map, were given to Mr. Marshall, some thirty odd years ago, by a grandson of the writer, Count Robert de Creve-

coeur, at that time the head of the family in France.

Mr.

Marshall sent a translation of the document, with the map, to the

Magazine of American History, in which they were I am not aware of any other publi-

printed, October, 1878.

cation of this very interesting and useful narrative, which

amply merits inclusion Hector

in the present collection.

John de Crevecoeur, usually called, it appears, at least during his American sojourn, Mr. St. John, was born, of a distinguished French family, at Caen in Normandy in 1731. He was educated in England and in 1754

came

St.

to America,

where he married, and for some years I quote from a sketch of

was settled as an agriculturist. him by Mr. Marshall

“In 1780 he was arrested by the British as a spy and imprisoned for three months. Released through the mediation of a friend who became security for his neutrality, he returned to his paternal home in Normandy. On the ratification of peace in 1782 between the United States and Great Britain, he was appointed French Consul-General for

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. On his New York he found his property burnt, his wife

arrival at

dead and hands of a stranger. A Mr. Fellows of Boston, having learned that Mr. St. John had befriended some American sailors wrecked on the coast of Normandy, went over three hundred miles to the relief of his children and took charge of them in their father’s absence. “Mr. St. John remained in America until 1793, during which time he traded extensively among the western Indians. He visited an Onondaga council in 1789, where he was received as an adopted son of the Oneidas under the name of Kayo. He was also present at an Indian treaty held at Fort Stanwix, now Rome. He had a daughter who was married to an attache of the Consular office by the his children in the

name of

Otto,

who

rose to high diplomatic rank in the

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

348

French

service,

VISITORS.

even to the embassy to England for a short

time.”

Crevecoeur was the author of two curious and interesting

One, “Letters from an American Farmer,” was

works.

written and editions

of

enlarged

it

first

published in English.

1782

and

1783.

and translated

it

There are London

The author into French,

subsequently

Paris editions

appearing in 1784 and 1787. “In it,” writes Mr. Marshall, “he paints in glowing colors the attractions of rural life in

America.

His graphic descriptions drew many an emi-

grant from Europe to our shores, to find disappointment in the hardships and privations of a

new

country.

General

Washington briefly characterizes the book as ‘a work, though founded in fact, embellished in some instances with rather too flattering circumstances’.”

His other work, written

“Voyage ” dans VEtat de New York

in French, is entitled

la Haute Pensylvanie, et was published, three volumes, in Paris, 1801. It purports to have been translated from an English manuscript, rescued from an American vessel wrecked at the mouth of

dans

It

the Elbe. writing, script

This gave the author an excuse for disconnected

under pretense that portions of the original manu-

were

lost.

He

describes his travels in

his intercourse with the Indians.

to the

Many

America and

pages are devoted

Niagara region, but they are so embellished with

incidents apparently the invention of the author, that one

can only regard them as history.

The

fiction,

rather than as trustworthy

letter to his son,

however, written after his

excursion to Niagara in July, 1785,

worthy, and his

map

is

unequaled,

is

in

indubitably trustthat

period,

for

accuracy and useful data.

Crevecoeur corresponded with Washington and with Franklin.

In 1787 he accompanied the latter to Lancaster,

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY when Franklin

Pa.,

bears his name.

VISITORS.

349

laid the corner-stone of the college that

He

spent his last years in France, dying at

Sarcelles, near Paris, in 1813,

aged 82 years.

In the account that follows, there are numerous refer-

by

ences,

respond.

probably

which

is

on the map, marked to cor“The gentleman of the name of Hambleton” was letters,

Robert Hamilton,

the

founder

of

Queenston,

the “Landing” or “landing place” of Crevecoeur’s

The

letter.

to places

allusion to “surrounding mountains”

is

singular.

Early travelers called the Lewiston heights “mountains,” but

was an oddly perverse memory which made mountains

it

visible at the Falls.

Having no access to the original manuscript, I have had follow Mr. Marshall’s translation, which has some obvious slips, as for instance where two falls, each a quarter to

of a mile, are said to

make

in all a mile

;

mentioned should read “three quarters.” tion will be

of the

in connection

first-

Further explana-

with the map, at the end

letter.

was

It

and

found

probably the

in the

month of

July, 1785,

my

friend Mr. Hunter

arrived at the Fort of Niagara, after a long and painful voyage up the river St. Laurence, the particulars of I

which being foreign to my present subject, I will therefore proceed to the immediate description of the wonderful Cataract of Niagara, which of its kind, is the greatest

phenomenon

in nature.

Early in the morning of July the 12th, a gentleman of the name of Hambleton to whom we had been introduced, called upon us with horses to accompany him to Fort Slausser, “A,” near

route

which place the

falls are situated.

Our

which takes its name generally one quarter to one half

was upon the banks of the

river

from the Cataract and is a mile wide, the current extremely rapid, but being deep water for about 9 miles, is navigable with a strong north-

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

350

VISITORS.

wind to “B.” Here the rapids begin and whose fury and violence increases for 9 miles more, which bring you to the head of the river “C.” erly

From

the landing place, as

it is

called (because the boats

we found

the banks became more and we continued to ascend them until we arrived at Mr. Stedman’s house “D” who forms this place of Government and has the exclusive right of transporting the stores and merchandise from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. The men were received by the gentleman with the greatest hospitality, who amused tis for the remaining part of the day with various details of the incidents which had occurred during his residence here. Having concerted every thing for our Expedition to the Falls, we retired to our rooms. July 13. We arose before the Sun, and in company with several gentlemen of the Army, began our walk to the river Erie, which is here some miles over and interspersed with a

discharge their loading)

steep,

number of

beautiful small islands, covered with forest trees. pursued the course of the river for nearly two miles, our Expectations were kept awake by the distant sound of the Fall, which became louder as we approached it. About a mile before you arrive at the Cataract, “E,” the rapids commence, and which of themselves, in any other part of the world would be thought superior to anything of the kind. You distinguish them best from a sawmill, “F,” which projects from the shore. These rapids are formed by a continuous chain of craggy rocks of various heights and the descent below the bed of the river being great, the vast body of water which comes from the upper lakes and which are discharged by this river, force themselves over these rocks, with inconceivable fury and rapidity, producing billows of white foam which for magnitude, can only find a companion in the agitation of the Atlantic Ocean in a gale of wind. We continued our route through a wood until we came in view of this tremendous Cataract but where shall I find language to convey even an idea of the grandeur of the Scene? When the period of astonishment was over, and

We

;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY the

mind

beauties,

at liberty to investigate

we found

a very ample

The most sublime and

VISITORS.

351

each part of these varied field

for observation.

was a column of spray or vapor, that rises from the basin “C” into which the waters are hurled, the weight and elasticity of which elevated object

make it rebound at least one half the height of the fall. The upper particles being light form into a thin vapor, which appears like a cloud. The weather was remarkably serene, not a breath of air nor a cloud to be seen. The sun rose with peculiar lustre, and as the night clouds were dis-

Azure

sipated then succeeded a clear

sky.

The

rays of the

sun gilded the tops of the surrounding mountains, and at length, in oblique angles, struck the cloud I have mentioned. It was instantly vivified by the colors of the rainbow, three of which were visible at once. One as it were under our feet upon the surface of the basin below, was at 180 feet. The splendor of those objects was truly beautiful, and lasted some time until the sun rising in the horizon, from its attracting influence, left only a light cloud which upon many occasions has been seen at the distance of 50 to 60 miles.

Our attention was now taken up with the general appearance and shape of the Cataract, which, from the situation we were in, appeared an irregular curve. We were standing upon a rising ground on the Eastern Shore, and within a few yards of the lesser fall, for it is so distinguished from another which is separated from this by an island, and which conceals a great part of the large fall, and can only be seen to advantage on the opposite side. I shall here confine myself to the small fall, which is near one quarter of a mile wide this vast body of water all in a foam, is precipitated 150 feet perpendicular, with a ;

noise like thunder.

I

shall

reserve the most minute and on the Western Shore, but

descriptive part until I arrive

before I leave this, I must mention the perilous and danhad provided a strong rope gerous descent we made. which we attached to the trunk of a large tree about 40 or The rocks are 50 yards from the edge of the little fall

We

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352

VISITORS.

nearly perpendicular, from the fissures of which grew a number of shrubs and plants, which served to fix our feet upon whilst we held firm by our hands on the rope. In this manner we descended nearly 150 feet, not without

having experienced the greatest bodily fatigue, but also

some fearful apprehensions.

What

will not curiosity stimu-

us to encounter, for certainly there was more danger than pleasure or advantage.

late

However duty,

this

is

considered as a part of a traveler’s

and being come so

be excelled in

spirit

far,

we were determined

or variety of attempt.

the falling waters until

We

not to

approached

We

we were

rested completely wet. we could see these tumultuous waters which seemed to threaten us with instant death, but before they could arrive to us, they were diverted from us by a ledge of rocks which conveyed them into the immense vortex below, for we were still elevated above the bed of the river. had now to return by the way we came, which we effected without any material in-

ourselves upon a rock and from thence

We

jury, except some bruises which could not be avoided. We had been several hours on this Expedition, and returned to Mr. Stedman’s where we ate our breakfast with keen appetites, which were whetted by the feast of mental gratification we had just been enjoying. We had the pleasure of an introduction to Capt. Jones, commanding officer of this Post, whose obliging communications and very polite attention, I shall ever recollect with gratitude. We were desirous of crossing the river Erie to the opposite shore, where we might see the Cataract in the

best situation.

The

general route

is

to return to the landing

place upon the river Niagara “B,” pass the river and proceed by a road through the thick woods until you arrive at We were saved this troublesome route by Mr. the falls. Jones offering us one of the Military Batteaux, with six After expressing soldiers, to put us and our horses over.

our obligation to him for his convenient offer, which we accepted, we took our leaves of the friends we had met with. The river here is about three miles wide, the waters

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

353

very deep, which conceals in some measure the rapidity of the current, which

up the

is

so great that

we were

river close in shore for near

two

obliged to pole

miles.

Our men

then took to their oars and with incredible labor arrived at the other side and landed in Chippeway Creek “I.” This

passage is extremely awful, for many accidents have happened from the breaking of an oar and the current running at the rate of six miles an hour, it requires great exertion to prevent being hurried along with it; and this is the reason they ascend the river so high, for Chippewa Creek is even lower down than Fort Slausser. The terror is increased by a full view of the rapids I have described, and the spray and cloud within two or three miles. An accident such as I have mentioned would expose persons to be driven by the current into the rapids, where you must inevitably perish.

We however had this only in idea, for we were safely landed upon a beautiful plantation occupied by Mr. Birch, a gentleman from London, but who from a long residence in the State of New York and attached to the British Government, came under the description of a Loyalist. He had the lands granted him which now seem to repay his labors and difficulties, with the greatest abundance of every thing useful; we were entertained by him with great hospitality and we found him a very sensible, well informed character, his conversation pleasing and instructive, and his communications very novel, which some day I may take an opportunity of imparting. This gentleman directed us how to proceed in a choice of situation and objects, and we derived considerable advantage from it. We pursued our route upon some elevated ground covered with large forest trees, through which we now and then caught a glimpse of the river. One station we took gave us one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen. We arrived at the house of Mr. Ellsworth, a Loyalist, “K,” who is settled upon a fine plot of land which is cultivated to the very edge of the Falls “L,” and which with the river and extensive prospect is

plainly seen

and commanded from

his house.

We

in-

:

354

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

duced him to act as a guide, and having put ourselves under he conducted us to a shelve of rocks which are upon a level of the river Erie, “M.” Upon one of those we took our stand, and how shall I attempt to describe the scene before me! The bare recollection seems to deny my pen expression of the influence of the mind in vain the ideas form and seek expression. They multiply upon each other so quick that even now I require reflection to arrange his direction,

;

them.

The view of this cataract from the Eastern shore seems only preparative for that on the west side, where we now stood. I shall begin with observing, that you command here every drop of water, since there is not a curve or indented line but may be seen. were within 30 or 40 yards of the great fall, the waters of which force themselves over these great rocks, and occasionally two small falls, the waters of which washed our feet. The great fall is in the shape of a horse-shoe, and is about a quarter mile broad, its descent at least 175 feet. The vast bodies of water which are discharged here, are more than the ingenuity of man can ascertain. To form a competent idea, we must trace them to their sources, which are derived

We

from those great inland seas which are distinguished and which in order of magnitude are

as

lakes

The Lake of the Woods which The two chains of Lakes, which Lake Lake Lake Lake Lake

is

of no fixed

size.

are small.

Superior is 350 miles long, 250 miles broad. “ “ “ Michigan “ 290 60 “ “ “ 280 “ Huron 180 “ “ “ 330 “ Erie 75 “ “ “ 190 “ Ontario 70

These lakes have all a communication with each other, and their collected waters, except Lake Ontario, are precipitated over the falls of Niagara with a force and weight inconceivably great. It rises again at least 80 feet and produces a spray, which when the wind blows is like a shower of rain and is felt at some 100 yards distance. The vapor and cloud are similar to what we observed on the

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY East

side,

only here

we observed

VISITORS.

355

four distinct rainbows at

once.

The waters

in the center of the great fall appear of a green color. On each side of the crescent the waters are in a white foam, the contrast of which has a very fine

beautiful effect.

At the extremity of the crescent a right line runs for ioo yards over which the water flows. You then come to an island covered with trees and shrubs, whose foliage and situation have a very happy effect amidst the turbulent scene around. a mile

when

The breadth

more, making in

all

of

it

may

be near a quarter of

continues for about a quarter a mile. The appearance of the whole

the lesser

fall

and the island enables you to see the ledge of rocks which form the base over which it runs, being like a wall, the sides of which are so smooth that you might think it proceeded from the chisel rather than from the hand of nature. The waters fall as it were into a large basin, which from the fermentation of the water may be justly compared to an immense caldron of boiling water, every part of which is only increased by the magnitude of the object. This immense basin appears land-locked from this station and the turn of the river is so quick and the body of the water so great, seeking a bent [vent?], that it causes an amazing whirlpool, which would swallow up the largest vessels. The basin is surrounded, except the outlet, by is level,

high steep craggy rocks, covered with trees of various sorts, and which are from 150 to 200 feet above the level of the water. Objects below are very minute. The rock we were upon, bends over at least 20 or 30 feet, and to look

down makes you your

giddy, particularly

from the

agitation of

feelings.

Our

had been so much taken up with the we could think and see nothing else for some when we raised our eyes to make a more general

attention

cataract, that

time, but

once transported and astonished with the had been overlooked in the contemplation of a more sublime and uncomsurvey, I

was

at

variety of natural scenery and beauty, that

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

356

mon

found from

VISITORS.

any other part of the by one of the most varied prospects I had ever beheld. First you see the rapids sweeping with inconceivable force and in different courses round the several islands which are interspersed in the river, which from its breadth and great extent appears like a lake. At some miles distant appears, on the opposite shore, Fort Slausser, Mr. Stedman’s house and his plantations, and if you pursue the scenery around, you are lost in the immeasurable extent. The back grounds at a great distance are terminated by a chain of high mountains, which lose themselves in the clouds and are bounded by the object than

world;

we were

is

to be

relieved

in

this

horizon.

Having dwelt with pleasure and delight upon the objects before us, which my eyes run over a thousand times and with which the mind could never be fatigued, we were at length admonished by our conductor that we had no time to spare, if we meant to complete our tour, and satisfy our curiosity. We followed him upon the bank or ledge of rocks for a short mile, in which walk

views of the

falls,

we had many

altering their appearance

as

striking

we saw

them from projecting points. We arrived at a break in the rock, “N,” which serves as the only admittance or path to descend to the river. This we pursued for some distance down to a very steep bank, and were obliged to hold by the We came roots of trees and shrubs that surrounded us. to a large tree which stands alone, “O,” and upon the back of which were carved a number of names of different perBeing fatigued we rested here sons who had been here. some little time, and amused ourselves by adding ours to the number. We now continued our route until we came to a large rock the sides of which are perpendicular and near 30 feet high. We were obliged to make use of an Indian ladder, which is simply two straight trees in which, with their tomahawks or hatchets they cut notches at 12 or 15 inches from each other. In these notches you put your feet and by this means we got to the bottom. We now found our route more difficult, being obliged to change

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VISITORS.

357

our course in different directions, according as we thought it could accelerate our passage; sometimes we crept on all fours for many yards together, passing through holes in the rocks, which would scarce admit our bodies. At other times we absolutely passed under the roots of trees which had been hollowed by the savages who have made this Indian path in order to amuse themselves with fishing, which is a very favorite amusement. At some seasons fishes are found here in great plenty, and then many hundred savages frequent it. We had now been near an hour in descending and but a very small part of our difficulty overcome. We were arrived upon a broken shelve of rocks which had fallen from above in the spring of the year when the ice began to thaw, the rocks being loosened. It is from the expansion of the fissures which have snow and water in them during the winter, and melting in the spring of the year, that this effect is produced. There have been instances of persons losing their lives or being lamed from the falling of these pieces, some of which would weigh many tons. At this period of the year there was little danger. We were nearly a mile and a half from the foot of the cataract, and the whole way back was strewed with these broken pieces of stone, and owing to the great declivity to the river we were in fear of falling in, as the stones sometimes gave away, and the only way to save ourselves was by lying down, by which we frequently were hurt. The pending rocks above us added much to the horrors of our situation, for knowing those under our feet had fallen at different periods, we could not divest ourselves of apprehension. However we encouraged each other with the idea of surmounting the same difficulties which others had done before us.

We

which I have mentioned Being excessively fatigued and warm we sat before. down some time to refresh ourselves, and prepare for advancing. Here we undressed and in our boots and trousers began the most hazardous expedition I was ever engaged in. After climbing over several very high and craggy rocks,

came

at last to the

two small

falls

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358

VISITORS.

to the first of the small falls, under which we passed without much inconvenience, though the pressure of the water was so great from the height it fell, that I can only compare it to a violent storm of hail, but when we came to the second through which our guide with difficulty passed, I felt no inclination to proceed. Our guide returned

we came

to encourage us, and upon my hands and feet I followed him, expecting each moment to sink under the weight of water, but I began to find it less disagreeable as I advanced, and I was soon relieved by enjoying the open air, which now I breathed with pleasing avidity. Here we reposed a little. My friend Hunter was entirely spent I repented his coming, for fear of some accident, and indeed had endeavored to dissuade him from this perilous excursion, but he could not bear being left behind. We now were recovered in some degree, and proceeded toward the great fall, and here I may say with propriety, that the most awful scene was now before me that we had yet seen. Our difficulties and dangers as well as our gratifications, had been progressive and this was the height of our ambitious pursuit. I have before remarked that the waters run over the shelve of rocks, that in many places pend over their base. The great force with which they are ;

them an horizontal direction, so that at where we stood, it left an opening between the water and rocks. It was here we entered by slow and cautious steps. It soon became dark, which proves the immense body of water there must be betwixt us and the light, for

precipitated, gives

the bottom

we

know we can

see a great depth in the river, and should imagine the light would assist in rendering it more transparent, but we found it opaque or dark. had proceeded about 15 or 20 yards, when we found it so very sultry that we might be said to be in a fumigating hastened out of this dreary place, and once more bath. congratulating each other upon our safety, and in seeing the sun whose beams seem to shine with peculiar lustre, from the pleasure and gaiety it diffused over our trembling all

here

I

We

We

senses.

I

found here ample subject for

reflection.

I

ad-

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY mired

this cataract as

VISITORS.

one of the great

dence, showing the omnipotence of a

359

efforts of a Provi-

Supreme Being, for

it

one of the most sublime and terrific objects in nature, at once impressing the mind with reverence and It has often been matter of surprise to me admiration. that men do not pursue the study of nature more. Its certainly

is

works are possessed with every requisite to gratify the senses, and our feelings are harmonized into placid con-

Where

is there in being one who could refuse matin praise when he rises from his pillow after the refreshing slumbers of the night and beholds that grand luminary, the sun, vivifying every object; there is not a tree or a shrub but seems to welcome the return of If we indulge in a contemplative walk, what an imday. mense variety presents itself to our notice. We may learn the most useful lessons of moral duties from every surrounding object. The progressive rise of every plant and

templation.

his cheerful

flower, teaches us the gradation

Their decay informs us of the

of

man from infancy. human nature,

instability of

and indicates the dissolution of time and the whole of the animated universe. How preferable are these innocent contemplative reflections, to the hurry and bustle of a licentious world, where our sensibilities are alarmed with the sight of men preying upon men, and degrading the finest and noblest works of God-man, below the level of the brute creation. The awful majesty and craggy appearance of the great and stupendous works which are on both sides of the river, form a kind of impenetrable barrier for many miles, except the winding path by which we descended, seemingly made by the hand of nature to admit prying man into every one of its secrets. Here also is to be found a Phenomenon of which kind there can be seen no other, that is an eternal or never ceasing shower, the influence of which is felt to a great I mean the spray of the clouds which is occadistance. sioned by the concussion of the water; the rainbows are ever visible where the God of day, bright Phoebus, makes his daily course and diffuses his genial rays.

Etc

“Notes,”

See

Niagara.

the

of

Map

Crevecoeur’s

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

361

NOTES ON THE MAP. The map is here reproduced except a marginal inscription in French, in effect as follows “Plan of the communication between Lakes Erie and Ontario, towards the middle of which is found the :

known, as much for its height, estiimmense volume of the waters there precipitated. Addressed to M. Ally [Alexander] St. John by his affectionate father; drawn to help the description of this cataract which Fall of Niagara, the greatest

mated

to be 160 feet, as for the

he sends to him.” The upper river

here called “Erie”

is

“Erie.”

The

The key

to the letters, given

early writers

more often on the map

— sometimes

called in

it

more properly

the St. Lawrence.

French,

is

as follows:

A.

Fort Erie, spot surrounded with palisades, in which are built several houses for the reception and protection of goods. There are here a captain and company. [This was Fort

B.

Wharf, consisting of two quays and three large storehouses, surrounded by palisades. Foot of the fall group [of rocks] more than 200 feet in diameter, where the water churns about before escaping. House of Mr. Stedman, a little distance from the river, where

Schlosser.]

C.

D.

;

we E. F.

G.

slept the first night.

Beginning of the rapids and head of the rocks. Saw mill on a point, belonging to Mr. Stedman. Site whence we viewed the west branch of the fall, estimated to be 800 feet wide, and from which we descended to the edge of the great group.

we landed

I.

Plantation where

K.

Plantation belonging to Mr. Elsworth,

L.

West branch of

M.

Isolated rock surrounded with water, great fall.

the

fall,

after crossing the river.

who

served us as guide.

estimated to be at least 1700 feet in

width.

we descended

N.

Place where

O.

Great larch tree on which

P.

Anchorage for the

S.

first

from which we studied the

to the water’s edge.

we wrote our names.

vessels which come from Detroit and Mackinac, distant [. .] miles and the second [. .] miles.

midst which divides the great cataract wide by about 1000 to 3400 feet long.

Isle in the

in two,

900 feet

[The English “Scale of ten Miles” on the map was probably added by Mr. Marshall.]

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

362

VISITORS.

I found here a kind of calcareous earth, which is called Surf stone. It certainly derives its formation from some hidden cause proceeding from the agitation of the waters which imbibe certain cohesive particles, but I am not suffi-

ciently acquainted with

chemistry to analyze

its

peculiar

properties.

formed by it, but it by being thrown upon its shores and exposed to the sun and air. It seems to have many of the qualities of soap but less greasy. It may be melted by heat, but when cold becomes a solid mass again. When found it has the appearance of Derbyshire Spar or marble, is quite white but much lighter. I saw nothing else curious here. There are great numbers of snakes amongst the rocks, particularly the rattlesnake, which delights in these retired and gloomy places. We found an Indian of the Messasauga nation fishing at the mouth of the Basin. We exchanged some friendly signs and took our leaves. We could have wished for a balloon to have ascended at once, but we were obliged to toil the same way back, in which we were often constrained to repose upon the ground. We at length arrived upon the summit, and who can speak the pleasure we received from our safe return. We had been six hours and upwards descending and ascending. Our friend Mr. Hambleton had been under some fears for us and welcomed us back. He had prepared us a homely but wholesome repast at Ellsworth’s house, which we ate voraciously. The night was advancing and we wished to return to Niagara that evening. We mounted our horses and after riding some miles in the woods, we came to a fine cultivated country interspersed with good farms. Government lately has given every possible assistance to these new settlers. After a ride of 18 miles we arrived at Butlersburg, so called from Col. Butler, who had barracks for his Corps of Loyalists and another for the savages. There are several good buildings here and an appearance of civilization. We had only to cross Niagara river and found ourselves once more in that hospitable garrison. The It

is

acquires

dissolvable in water though its

solidity

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

363

Major Campbell, to whom we had had shown us great attentions, and continued them during our stay there. I saw very little worth remarking at Niagara Fort. The garrison consisted of 400 soldiers. The fortifications are defensible. The fort is built upon an elevated point of land which commands the entrance of the river from Lake Ontario,

commanding

brought

which

officer,

letters of introduction,

seen to great advantage.

is

CAPTAIN ENYS’ VISIT IN The

original manuscript of the following journal

Dominion Archives

the

1787.

at

Ottawa.

It

was

who

of a son of Captain Enys, the writer,

New

years ago emigrated to

Zealand.

Exposition in Philadelphia,

in

1876,

is

in

in the possession

a

number of

At

the Centennial

Dr.

Selwyn, then

Director of the Canadian Geological Survey, met Mr. Enys,

who that

in the course of conversation respecting the

had taken place

home

New

in

at

Niagara

Zealand

he

Falls,

had

his

Selwyn, late

New

who

Zealand

transferred

it

sent

The

This was,

sketch

is

the

On Mr.

Enys’

manuscript to Dr.

The

to the Archives Branch.

Douglas Brymner, then

report for 1886. tion.

he

at his

father’s manuscript

journal of his visit to Niagara in 1787.

return to

changes

mentioned that

it

archivist, is

printed

believed,

its

it

in

his

only publica-

reproduced from a drawing preserved

with the manuscript.



From hence to Fort Slosser is about a 1787, July 1 8th & a half or two miles on a perfectly straight and good .

mile

road, at which place

we

at length arrived, after being four

hours on the road from Niagara, which is only fourteen miles. On our arrival we found dinner over but we soon got a mutton chop, which we had no sooner swallowed than we all set out to see the Falls taking Mr. Hamilton of the 53d

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

364

VISITORS.

Regiment for our guide, who having commanded Fort Slosser for some time knew his way. After passing through some fields and a small piece of wood, we came to the river side at an old saw-mill, about a quarter of a mile from the brink of the Falls. This view alone is worth going many miles to see. The current, which is very strong more than three miles above the Falls, is here increased by many causes, for the river which grows naturally narrower as it approaches the brink of the cataract, is here divided by a large island in the middle; it also begins to be shallow and rocky, so that from hence

down

quite

to the brink of the Falls the water

is

in a con-

foam and has in many parts of the distance Falls which would be much talked of were they in any other situations, which may be easily conceived from the perpentinual

dicular height which the water falls in the course of this

quarter of a mile previous to cataract,

which

is

its

reaching the brink of the

at least sixty feet

;

this

many seem

to

think should be added to the perpendicular height of the Falls;

whether

it

should or no

I

shall

not presume to

determine. I

already find

my

pen, or at least

my

ideas, inadequate

any account of what is now before me, as it is not only the water which is beautiful but the island also is covered with noble trees down quite to the edge of the water; to this we must add the many small islands which have been severed from time to time from the larger one by the force of the current, and which still partake of their parent’s verdure and beauty. It was with difficulty we could prevail on ourselves to leave the place, even tho’ we knew we were to go to parts infinitely more beautiful. We at length, however, struck again into the wood and, passing down its skirts, Mr. H. brought us out a few yards below the Fall. Here I for one sat down for some time in silent admiration and astonishment, at a sight which I am fully persuaded no pen or pencil can ever convey across the sea. In our present situation we were too near to the highest part of the Fall, which in a kind of a sketch or plan I have to give

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

365

is marked i, to enjoy its full beauty, but we had a tolerable good view of the great, or as it is generally called, the Horseshoe Fall, which is here marked 4, 5, 6. To give any adequate idea of the astonishing variety which here crowds upon your mind is impossible, and it may be

annexed

well said to be the real sublime and beautiful conveyed in the language of nature, infinitely more strong than the

united eloquence of Pitt,

them the

Fox and Burke, even

if

we

give

assistance of Loutherbourg to help them.

CAPT. ENYS’ SKETCH OF THE FALLS.

As the water during its fall from different parts meeting the rays of the sun in different directions takes an infinite number of

different colours and shades to this we must add the numberless beautiful breaks in the water; the delightful verdure which covers the islands and neighbouring shores; the beauty of the most noble rapid which can ;

be conceived, before it ever reaches the brink of the precipice ; the astonishing column of spray which rises from the great Fall; the thundering noise which the whole makes by its fall on the heap of stones below, from whence it runs, no longer like water but absolutely in such a state of foam as to appear like a perfect river of milk, for about 100 or

150 yards, after which it resumes its natural state again, although it is still carried away by means of a strong rapid. To all this I must add the lofty banks which surround the basin into which the water falls, the tops of which are covered with noble trees quite close to the edge of these cliffs. Hence I could not help remarking to Mr. Humphry that before my arrival I expected to have been disappointed, from having my ideas raised too high by hearing so many

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

366

people join in their praise, but that

VISITORS. I

was sure from

view alone no one can say too much of it. Here some of our party wished to go down a thing very seldom done on this side, as well culty of the descent as that when down your means so good as on the opposite side. It agreed upon to

this

to the bottom,

from the diffiview is by no was however make the attempt, preparatory to which Mr.

Hamilton made us

all

take off our shoes, as in

many

places

would have been more dangerous to attempt with them on. Our party now consisted of Mr. H. our guide, Mr. Douglas of the 65th and Mr. Brunton of the same Regiment, myself, and last of all Mr. it

is

so very slippery

Humphry.

We

all

it

with great

difficulty got

But when

down about one

saw the path by which I was to descend further I gave it up, telling Mr. Humphry that if he choose to go further I would get out of his way, which I accordingly did and he descended as low as I had done where like me he gave up the point. The other three gentlemen completed their design and on their return very candidly allowed, although they were well pleased with what they had done, now it was over, they would by no means attempt it again until ropes or something more secure were placed in the most dangerous parts, as in some of the steepest parts they were obliged to let themselves down by means of twisted stick, in the manner of the faggot band, which was tied to an old stump above, which stick had been then in use for three years. Mr. H. indeed went further and acknowledged that on reflection when at the bottom he entertained some doubts their being able to reascend. However, they all got up safe with no other loss than the feet of their stockings, which were perfectly worn out. We next went back a few yards to the brink of the Falls and found to my surprise that we could not only third part of the way.

I

approach close to the top of the Falls, but that the water was nearly on a level with the flat rock on which we stood (marked 1,) that I could without the least danger stoop and take up the water with my hand after it had fallen over the precipice. The view which we have here straight

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

367

over the Falls is very fine, but not so grand as the one we had before left, except that we saw the pillar of spray to greater advantage, as the Fall from whence it proceeded appeared less in this direction than the former. I do not know how long we should have stood looking at the scene before us, if the setting of the sun had not reminded us that it was time to return, on which we began to retreat. After we had returned more than a mile, on looking back from a little eminence we could see the spray of the Fall rising to an immense height above the surrounding woods, like the large column of smoke which ascends from any large building on fire, but not of so dark a colour. Having gone a little further we came to the house of Mr. Philip Stedman where we passed an agreeable hour in company with him and his niece. As Mr. Humphry and myself had no business at the Fort, we staid a short time after the rest of the party, and were at last going in quest of our supper without any hopes of seeing any of the Fall Notwithstanding it was the very middle of for the night. summer and the day had been extremely hot, the night was very cold, so that we had run a good deal of the way, when stopping just before the Fort gate we saw the most beautiful as well as strange appearance, that can be well conceived.

It

was the moon which was now

just

setting

appeared to rise to a very uncommon height in likeness of a very dark column, but the thinner part of the spray which admitted the light through it, gave all the edge of the column a luminous appearance which looked more like a pillar fringed round with fire, than anything I can compare it to. Not wishing to keep the sight to ourselves we ran to call the rest whom we found collected round a large fire from which we could with great difficulty draw them, as they supposed it was only a story made for the purpose of drawing them from their seats by the fire, that we might ourselves get possession of them, by which means they were not out until the moon was very near gone, when from what they saw they sincerely lamented they had been so tenacious of their seats.

behind the spray of the Falls

;

it

368

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

This over we all returned to the Fort and after a hearty supper we returned to Mr. Stedman’s again to bed and slept very sound until past 7 o’clock next morning (19th), at which time from the orders which had been given to the servants over night, I was in hopes our chair and horses

were on the other side of the water; disappointed.

in this I was again next hastened to the Fort with all expedifound both officers and men still in bed, from I

where I whence they were soon roused and a boat and party of men got to put the chair and horses over, which we soon sent off with orders to land them on the north side of the Chipaway Creek, whilst we, having procured Mr. Stedtion,

man’s light boat, remained behind to breakfast. Breakfast being finished, we left Mr. Brunton alone at his new Government, about ten in the forenoon, and after having rowed up a mile or more under the East shore, we crossed a very large island that lies in the middle, which having gained we rowed up under its western bank for a considerable distance before we ventured to cross to the western side of the river. At length we made our crossing and landed about four miles from the Falls, at a farm of Mr. Stedman’s; here Mr. Hamilton left us and striking to the left went to Fort Erie, whilst the rest of us taking the right-hand road after a walk of two miles came to Chipaway Creek where we found our horses at the house of Mr. As Birch, one of the principal people in the settlement. the squire was not at home, we were glad to wave the ceremony of a visit, so as soon as our cavalry were ready we set out toward the Falls. About another mile brought us to the head of the rapid, and a short way further we came to a mill Mr. Birch has lately built it appears to me a very elegant piece of workmanship, and is to be both a grist and saw mill, but I am very much afraid from the rapids above it he will find it difficult, if not dangerous, to bring down boats and rafts to it, although the man who superintends it says he thinks it may be done with ease when they become better acquainted with the currents. About 100 yards below the mill, from a point that ;

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

we had

a most delightful view of the whole near a mile in length and I should think three times as broad as that on the east side the numerous falls are large in proportion, which of course renders it infinitely more grand than the one we had seen the evening before, but still it wanted those beautiful little islands with which the smaller one is adorned. In the course of this long rapid I conceive the perpendicular fall of the water is not less than ioo feet before it reaches the brink of the Fall, and so full is it of rocks and cascades that I conceive it utterly impossible that any boat can ever get down to the Fall without being overset; indeed some of the 29th Regiment whilst in these parts sent down an old boat for the purpose of seeing it go over the Fall. They went themselves below the Falls to look out for it, whilst they left men on the different points to make signals when it passed them, but some of those near the Fall nor the Gentlemen at the bottom never saw any thing more of it. As the day was now advancing, we could not stay so long here as I could have wished for fear of being stinted in time at the Fall itself, for which we now set off, and very soon reached the nearest house to it and got permission from Mr. Elsworth the owner to put our horses in his stable ; but all the family being busy carrying their corn we could get no one to go with us. However, as Mr. Humphry had been here before, he undertook to guide us, and we accordingly set out under his directions. Not far from the house we came to the edge of a very steep bank, which we descended through a very deep ravine or gully, not without

projects a rapid,

little,

which

is

;

some dread of rattlesnakes, for whose habitation this place seemed particularly suited, and the pass being so very narrow and full of stones and stumps, that had any such After thing been there it would be difficult to avoid it. going some distance we got to the bottom of this nasty place and found ourselves again on level ground, which took us to the brink of the Fall at a place from its appearance which the water rolls. This being the nearest part to the Great Fall, you are of

called the Table rock, over a part of

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VISITORS

370

.

course almost stunned with its noise and perfectly wet with the continual mist arising from the bottom, in form of a pillar, which having gained a sufficient height is separated

by the wind and falls like small rain or mist. From hence we had a much better view of the Falls than that which we had the preceding evening, but like that we were too near the object to see

think this

is

it

to perfection.

I

am

told

many

people

the best view in which you can place the Fall,

but

I rather think it can only be such as have never given themselves the trouble to search for any other. Here, they

say,

you can likewise dip up the water after

the brink of the precipice.

However

true this

it

has passed

may

be,

it is

not so perfectly so as on the opposite side, as here it is only a small branch of the Fall you approach on the other side it is actually the main body of water itself, as may be seen in the little sketch of the top of the Fall before given; the former or Fort Slosser side being marked I in the plan I am now speaking of 8. The Table Rock is a very large flat rock projecting from the bank and overhanging its base very much, by which means it forms one of the best modes of determining the height of the Fall, being exactly ;

;

level and projecting so much that a line let summit will drop very nearly at the water’s the bottom. But whatever methods may have been

upon the same

down from

its

edge at taken to ascertain its height, that of both sides is very well determined, being agreed by all hands to be 170 feet on the east, or Fort Slosser side, whilst from the Table Rock it is only 140, but this 30 feet if it is taken from the perpendicular of the Fall adds to the noble rapid that is above it.

we at length set off from way to a point not many hundred yards below where we now were, without returning to the in this, however, we were disaptop of the bank again Having

staid a long while

hence, hoping to find a

;

pointed, finding the brake too thick and the ground too swampy to admit of our passage, although I hear there is a

going to those who are acquainted with the This was not our case, so we were obliged to ascend the gully by which we came, at the top of which we turned

possibility of

place.

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

371

and soon found a path leading to another same kind, through which we a second time descended the bank. Having got down to the level ground, we could find no kind of path we therefore marked the off to the right

gully of the

;

we

went, thinking they might serve us as a guide on our return. Thus, guided by the noise of the Falls more than by any thing else, we soon came to the brink of the trees as

and striking

clift

were

in

off a little to

our

and which

search of,

I

left

found the place we

believe

is

now

called

from a man of that name in whose ground Here we found a spot which had been in some it is. measure cleared (by Lieutenant Tinling of the 29th when he was acting Engineer at Niagara) on purpose to give you a good view of the whole of this grand object at once, and it most certainly is the best view of any on a level with the Fall, as here every part is by far more equidistant than in any other point you can look at it from. From hence you look directly against the island which is in the centre, having the Great Fall to the right and the smaller one to the left from this place you have also a better view of a small Fall on the east side of Goat Island which is called the Montmorrency Fall, and which is said to disembogue more water in the course of a year than the famous fall of that name near Quebec, which perhaps it may, but I do not think Painter’s Point,

;

Perhaps its very diminutive is so broad as that Fall. appearance here may be only occasioned by its being placed in the midst of such astonishing large ones, as the nearest computation that has ever been made allows the breadth of the Fall from one side to the other to be 1,300 yards, including all the turns which there are in the summit and the which last may be something more island in the centre it

;

than 100 yards broad. I could willingly have staid here much longer than we did, but having determined to go down to the bottom we were obliged to hasten towards the place where you descend. This place lies some yards to the left of Painter’s Point, from which you pass all the way on the brink of the precipice, nor is it easy to find the opening unless you are

372

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

it, as you pass round a small bush where you some stumps and roots which assist you for the first three or four yards of a very steep bank, when you come to

acquainted with find

a place quite perpendicular for perhaps about twelve feet.

Here they have put what they call Indian-ladders, which is no more than a tree about a foot in diameter with notches cut in its sides that is placed rather slantwise to answer the purpose of going down. Not far after you pass the first of these ladders, you come to a second, not quite so long, after which you descend through a very steep gully full of rocks and stumps, most part of the way being assisted by the branches of the neighboring trees. It surprised me to find that the descent was so easy to what I had always been led to think it, which I conceive proceeds from many who have never tried it but speak from hearsay; indeed I am fully persuaded that many who say they have been at the bottom never have been there, as they are frequently betrayed by the erroneous accounts they give of the lower region, which in fact is, I believe, visited by but few. Once arrived at the bottom, you receive ample reward for the pains the descent has occasioned you. If this noble scene inspire you with awe when above, it may be easily conceived how much it must be augmented when you get to the bottom, absolutely into the very basin whence all this sheet of water falls. You are no sooner clear of the wood than you have a full and complete view of all the magnificent scene, in which all the various shades which the water receives in its fall, either from the projecting rocks or from the intersection of the rays of the sun, appear to the greatest of all possible advantage besides which you here see nothing of the rapid above, your prospect being confined to the perpendicular fall and the basin which receives it, but then that fall appears to much greater advantage and much higher than it does from any of the views above. Having sat down a few minutes to rest after our descent and drank a glass or two of wine, we proceeded to get as near the Fall as we conveniently could. This is by far the most difficult and I may add, dangerous part of the day’s ;

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VISITORS.

373

distance from hence to the fall, is very conyou have no kind of road, the way lying along the beach, which is formed of large stones which have from time to time fallen from the high clifts which overhang most part of the way. These rocks lie just as they happen to have fallen, so that sometimes you are obliged to climb over them, at others to creep under them, whilst they seem to threaten your destruction every step you take; many of them appear as if they would fall every moment, being only ballanced on a point, others seem to have no other support than trees which have fallen at the same time with themselves, which appear very slight supporters for such immense masses of stone; then as the apertures among these rocks are not large enough to admit of your walking through, you are obliged to creep through them on your hands and knees, or slide through them on your back, every moment in danger of meeting with either a water or a rattle snake, for both of which this place is very remarkable, particularly the latter, and the very best part of the road lies over a parcel of large round stones that slide under your feet. Notwithstanding all these dangers, such is the beauty of the surrounding prospect and such the pleasing kind of awe which I felt at the time, that it never once struck my mind that I was in the least danger until the whole was over and we had got back again to the entrance of the wood. But to return to my tale. Having scrambled over these rocks until we got pretty near the Fall, we found the spray begin to fall like hard rain. Here Mr. Humphry stopped, but Mr. Douglas and myself went on until we got within about twenty yards of the Falls. Here we were in some doubt whether or no we should strip and go as far as we this we however at length rejected, could under the Fall as we never found any one pretends to have gone further than under the first small shoot, which we thought unworthy people the trouble of undressing for. There are reports of I were they who but shoot great the that have gone under who several examined have I although learn, could not

journey.

siderable and

;

;

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374

VISITORS.

asserted they had been under the Falls of Niagara, yet, closely upon the subject, it appeared to

when questioned

have been only the small spout they had been under. Yet I by no means mean to assert there is not that kind of cavity betwixt the under part of the rock and the fall itself, that would admit of a man going under for some distance. On the contrary from the Table Rock being so very much undermined near its base, 1 conceive it to be highly probable the rock over which the Fall rolls is the same, but as the falling of the spray is so very thick and troublesome as to prevent your seeing and almost to prevent your breathing even where we were, I do not conceive it is possible for a man to exist under the great shoot itself. However, we did not advance thus far without finding something which had so far as I could find never been spoken of before. Within a few yards of the place we turned round,

I

sulphur, which

I

could perceive

a

very

strong smell of

remarked to Mr. Douglas and on further examination we perceived a small rill which descended from the rocks above and all the stones over which it passed seemed covered with a whitish kind of slime. This induced me to taste the water, which I found to be exactly the same as the water at Harrowgate, in Yorkshire. Mr. Douglas also tasted of the same water and directly exclaimed, “it is just like the washings of a gun barrel,” although he declares he had never heard the Harrowgate water compared to that mixture.

Having

staid

here

for

some time contemplating the

grandeur of the object before us, our time passed away insensibly until we found by our watches that it was high time we should turn our backs upon the scene from which we had received so much delight. On our return we employed ourselves in picking up a kind of stone which is said to be the spray of the Fall petrified, but whether it is or no, I will not pretend to determine this much I can say, that it grows or forms itself in cavities in the clift about ;

half its

way

to the top,

composition

is

from whence

it

falls

from time

to time

a good deal like a piece of white marble

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

VISITORS.

375

which has been burnt in the fire, so that it may be pulverized with ease. Whatever may be its composition, it does not appear that it will bear to be exposed to the air, as some pieces which seem to have fallen longer than the rest are quite soft, while such as have lately fallen are of a much harder nature. Having again made our

way back

where we were to reascend, we

to the edge of the

sat

down

to take

wood some

refreshment, very well satisfied to have seen everything worth our notice except the rainbow, which very often forms

During the time we were lamenting the made its appearance in a most perfect across the highest part of the Fall, which made our

itself in

the spray.

loss of this object, state

it

sight of this place as complete as possible.

We

now began our ascent and after again visiting way we came to the place where we had marked the trees we found one or two of the first but had done it so very ill that we could not trace our way back by them. We therefore struck into the wood and endeavPainter’s Point, in our ;

oured to keep the sound of the Falls directly behind us, by which means we found our way by a much nearer route than the one we had descended, from which we again soon reached the house we had left our horses at, after an absence of five hours and a half, from which time we had been employed walking about the place. It may not be improper here to take notice of an opinion which is held by some people of this place, who seem to think the original situation of the Falls was at the landing which as before observed is seven miles from where they now are, and that through a series of years the water has worn away the channel that distance. Among those who

favour this opinion is a Mr. Hamilton, a merchant at Niagara and a man of very good understanding, who says also that he has examined the face of the adjacent country, which has confirmed his opinion, and in particular conceives the place which has before been taken notice of by the name of the Lion’s Den, to have been made by a channel of the How far this may be river formerly passing through it.

376

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

I do not know had seen the place,

true

;

I

VISITORS.

did not hear this opinion until after

which time no such idea ever entered my head. The principal reasons they seem to give for this opinion are two First, from the abrupt rise of the bank of the river at the Landing, which from being of a moderate height and almost every where accessible from the water's edge, they became at once very high and perpendicular clifts; at the same time the river becomes much more narrow and rapid than before. The second reason seems to have more reason in it, and is, that according to their language the Falls have altered their position or retreated since the memory of men. Having made all the inquiries I could concerning this movement, I found that about twenty years since, there was a projecting rock at the end of the centre island which had fallen and seems to be the only ground work for this strong contested opinion. One thing I must grant, that it is possible that in a very long series of years they may alter a little and for this reason the spray rising from the bottom continually striking against the clifts wears it away and forms a kind of cavity over which a large rock projects, as the Table Rock already mentioned, which, when it becomes so undermined that it is not able to sustain the weight of water which overflows it in great floods, must naturally fall. How long it may take the water I

at

:

:

all its clifts in this manner I cannot determine can say is, the place where the rock fell twenty years ago does not yet appear to be the least worn by its influence, nor does any one pretend to remember the Table Rock any other than it now is, projecting very far over its base. By which I conceive we may fairly conclude it will take many centuries to bring about this revolution, which when done only alters one small part of the Fall for a yard or two. At that rate, how long it would have taken to have retreated from the landing I shall leave to those who pretend from such

to excavate

;

I

But causes to ascertain the age of our terrestrial globe. even if we should for a moment grant the possibility of their favourite maxim, what is become of the immense quantity of stone,

which must from time to time have

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY fallen during its

movement.

VISITORS.

This seems to

me

377

to be

a

question none can answer, certain a great quantity of stone must have been in a channel above seven miles long and

from a half

to a

whole mile broad, and from seventy to

eighty feet deep.

Had

natural to suppose

it is

it fallen in such quantities as it is very strange the fall should keep its

present perpendicular form;

it

is

by far more natural

to

think had this been the case that these immense rocks, re-

posing where they fell, would have altered the Fall from a perpendicular to a strong rapid. But say the advocators for this opinion, the force of the water has driven them away from its foot. This may also be true in a small measure, for where it is, the rocky part of the river would not break off so abruptly just at the same place where the

mountain ends, which is at present the case, for not more than two hundred yards from the end of this rocky rapid part which is the spot they say the Fall originally occupied, the River expands itself and becomes deep, muddy and tranquil, which course it continues for about 9 miles by the water to the mouth, the outside of which is encumbered with a bar of sand. I

when

observed another circumstance their having been once so far the river. Below the present situation of them is a of more than a quarter perhaps a mile or more in

also

at the Fall

which seems to be against

down circle

diameter whilst the outlet is not so wide. I conceive this part has been widened by the same means the Falls have retired, as when you get beyond the influence of the spray

Speaking to Mr. Chipaway Creek, he said he had perceived a regular flux and reflux in the Creek, resembling the tide of the Sea. Mr. Hamilton who I have

the river assumes Birch,

who

its

lives at the

natural breadth.

mouth of

the

before mentioned, says it is not a regular flux or reflux at all, but that occasionally the current runs up instead of down, and what appears at first more extraordinary is, that the Creek has its source to the West and runs to the Eastward yet it is a Westerly or a wind di