Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

sition; these form a barrier to protect the frail basis of slate from the assault of the water. By the intervention of these impassive heaps, the shistus, notwithstanding its shattered constitution, maintains it's ground remarkably, and yields but slowly. „Yet, under the operation of such powerful causes, it gives way at last, though only inch by inch. In consequence of this moderate, but certain removal of the shistic foundation, the calcareous strata are at length deprived of their support, and yards and perches, as is believed, of their extremities have disappeared within the recollection of persons now alive.

By this means the cataract seems to have moved its place, and not to have been stationary at any one point. Beyond a doubt, says Dr. M. it is proceeding up the stream, and drawing nearer to Chipeway and Erie. And if in its early existence, it thundered where Queenstown now is, it must have worn its way about seven miles in the lapse of centuries, to its present seat. Strange and unaccountable as this conjecture may appear, to many it really violates no probability. On the other hand, it is countenanced by several important considerations. A little above that village, the plain which reaches north wardly front the shores of Lake Erie, ceases.

There is a rapid declivity to another plain which extends to Ontario. The difference of these levels is rather more than the height of the falls. The beholder is impressed with the belief that the river once ran to this natural limit, and there descended to its lower bed. If this really was the fact, it could not have continued to flow forever there. The decp) foundation is the same species of shattered slate which sustains the strata where the falls now are. The incumbent beds of rock are but continuations of those very calcareous layers; with the addition of some sillicious sandstone between the top and bottoin, along the declivity at Queenstown. What marvel then that the river should have opened for itself its present profound channel through rocks of such a stratification and so constituted? There cannot be a moment's liesitation in the mind of every examiner to admit the readiness with wisich the slaty stratà cracked through with innumerable flaws, would be dislodged by the force of such an agent. Their minute fragments of loosely cohering particles, would immediately be carried along by the tide. By attrition they would be worn away, and lay aside their shistic form on returning to argillaceous powder. Thus the strata of slate would naturally disappear and leave a passage for the waters.

In the meanwhile the limestone, deprived of its support beneath, would separate piecemeal and tumble into the abyss. Every person of science knows that calcareous earth is soluble in water, and that it is liable also to alteration through the chymical and mechanical agencies to which it is subjected; the firmest limestone will, after sufficient agitation and exposure, lose its coherence and be transformed to sand, or vanisl in solution.

In either

case, whether the rocks are pulverized or dissolved, the greater im-
pediments are removed and an opening made for the river. And really
when it is considered what vast power water possesses as a men-
struum, and how 'irresistibly it acts by impulse, there will be reason
enough to conclude that the channel from Queenstown to Chipeway
may have been worn between its rugged banks by that agent. It will
be equally evident that the work is by no means suspended; but that
the wear and tear is incessantly going on.

Professor Mitchill has transmitted to his colleague Professor Bruce,
a collection of the mineralogical specimens brought from the county,
river, and falls of Niagara, to be deposited in that gentleman's valuak
ble cabinet,


In the courteous correspondence, which accompanies the ensuing speculation, and some others of a character of no minor interest, our respected friend apprizes us that if this sort of contribution be acceptable, more can be easily furnished, to fill up, as he modestly expresses himself, a page in this Miscellany. The gentleman in question, to whom we are indebted for many leading articles in The Port Folio, is assured, in a tone of no prostituted flattery, that we and our readers are equally amused and instructed by his ingenious labours. The publication of the ensuing anecdote, though it does not instantly follow the commemoration of the event alluded to, can never be out of season, in the estimation, either of the Patriot or the Historian.


[ocr errors]




I was thinking the other day as I returned from the annual cele bration of our political nativity, that it would be interesting to collect from different authors a summary of what had been the opinion of wellinformed persons in former times, as to a probability of a separation between Great Britain and its colonies. Such a collection might teach Us not to give implicit faith to, but certainly not to despise the reasons


6 e

[ocr errors]

ings of speculative men. Hume, whose political sagacity seldom failed him, thought such an expectation altogether ill-founded, but the Abbe du Bos, who held some place in the diplomatic service of France, during the reign of Louis XIV, and at a period when the ministry of Queen Anne were said to have formed the plan of following up their successes in Europe by an attempt upon the French settlements in North America seems to have been inspired: he published a pamphlet entitled, “the Interests of England ill understood,” in which is the following passage: England, which seems now in the full tide of success, may end by getting possession of the whole American Continent; but when this great region shall come to be peopled, and peopled in a great measure at the expense of the mother country, what line of conduct will England then pursue? Will a free commerce with all the world be permitted, and will the Americans be allowed to pursue their own interests as they may see best, paying no taxes but those of their own imposing, and bound by the acts of the English Parliament so far only as they may think proper to adopt them, and at liberty to give the preference to their own manufactories? If such should be the policy of England, the colonies, which will have been established and defend ed at a great expense, will shortly prove the rivals and perhaps the enemies of the English nation in all which constitutes their prosperity, and the mother country will be still more weakened by the loss of numbers, who will emigrate to this rising empire in the west. If, the contrary, the government of England, actuated by the only principle, which can lead to the establishment of colonies, by a desire of promoting the national interest, should think of governing as the Spanish court does, and treating the people of the provinces like conquered subjects, rely upon it, that this fine and fertile country, at the distance of two thousand leagues, and peopled by men of English minds, will not long submit;—they will have inherited too high a sense of their rights as freemen not to be desirous of throwing off such a yoke, and their very rapid prosperity, their increase in wealth and numbers, and their improvement in every art and science will soon enable them to do so."



In a recent number of The Port Folio will be found a very spirited sketch of the character of Charles James Fos, and we now insert, as no unfit coinpanion to it, a portraiture of Edmund Burke executed with equal ability. These two productions have been ascribed, on what authority we do not know, to the celebrated Sir James M‘Intosh. They are certainly not ununworthy of his reputation. In vigour of conception, and richness of colouring, they are indeed, scarcely inferior to Grattan's splendid delineation of the elder Pitt's cbaracter,


MR. BURKE is dead. He is beyond the reach of public regard and hatred; and those who persecuted, and those who loved him, may weep alike for the loss of a victim, and a friend.

He was for so many years engaged in public life; so long the most conspicuous and interesting figure; that with respect to him every mode of description has been exhausted; every talent viewed in every light; every virtue either lavished or withheld; and so universally, though variously, did he touch the passions of mankind, that all who spoke of him, or heard of him, became parties in the decision upon his character, and entertained a host of adverse or partial feelings, enemies at once to truth, and evidences to the magnitude of the subject.

His private qualities, as an acquaintance, a companion, and a friend, are said to have been most useful, gratifying, and endearing. His manners, like his wit, were ever playful. The naked charms of virtue and of truth, received innumerable and unstudied ornaments, from a conversation pure in all its vivacity, though unconscious of its influence over every description of hearers, who had taste or dispositions to be delighted or improved.

The genius of Mr. Burke was full of splendor; it was the reflection of lights from every quarter of the material and intellectual universe, His eyes shot through the depths of science, and ascertained the wanderings, or enlarged the limits of conjecture. His fancy, rich and bright, infinite in its variety, and intoxicating with its beauty, furnished copious and striking images, to illustrate and familiarize the operations of a reasoning power, otherwise too profound for common apprehension. His eloquence, convincing, persuasive, terrible when it assaulted, irresistible when it soothed, dignified in its rapidity, polished in its vehemence, diffuse, without being languid, concise, on occasion, without being obscure, never failed to agitate the fiercer, or to interest the milder passions. A spirit of divine morality breatlied through him; and however our opinions may differ upon the actual effects of his words and writings, it is no great exercise of candor to suppose that his intentions were pure.

His immense stores of knowledge, were, in general, drawn forth to promote, or to resist some practical object, and he forced upon us the necessity of appreciating all human intelligence, by the good or evil to which it is directed. The sensibility of his heart was exquisite, and ever alive; more rapid than the flights of his imagination-infinitely too rapid, and at times, perhaps, too strong for his reason, it often turned against the latter, the strength it occasionally received from both. Always engaged in the contemplation of mighty objects, he knew, that although his objects were mighty, his instruments must be men.

In order to make the constitution what he could approve, and the empire what he wished, he united with a parliamentary party, which appeared the most respectable and effectual means of accomplishing these ends; but in attempting to render party his instrument, he became himself, for a time, the instrument of party; and his dereliction of that system upon the new turn of affairs in Europe, (the act of his life which has been the most unpopular) ought to vindicate his principles, though the consequences of it may arraign

[ocr errors]

his judgment.

In our imperfect nature the superiority of one man to another is ne more than a partial superiority. One towering faculty, in the composition of an individual, bears down and casts a shade upon the rest; in Conduct it obstructs their use, as in comparison at extinguishes their lustre. Mr. Burke's miscarriages in the world of politics, though not proportioned to the grandeur of his undertakings, have been more than proportioned to those incurred by ordinary men, in the ordinary level of human character. His fertile mind nourished every subject on which he thought, into a vast creation, multiform, rich in realities, in images, and in conjectures; much of it fluctuating and fugitive, complex in its materials, boundless in its dimensions, and new to its author. More secure, but far less elevated, their lot, in whom there is little of invention to suggest, and nothing of imagination to delude; whose ideas do not multiply into clogs upon their judgment, but leave it, through an empty region, a free and inglorious path! Where these, and such men as these, have to manage only their respective atoms, Mr. Burke, in his luxuriance, had to wield a universe—and to say he failed, is to say that he was not a God.

Some weeds of prejudice sprung up with his opinions ; a mist of superstition hung over him, which obscured important truths, and raised a multitude of illusory forms; his fancy associated other subjects with these; and his zeal committed them, so infected, to the world. The l'est of mankind saw truth and falsehood in colours less strong than

Tr. Burke, though perhaps more minutely accurate. All those whose


« PoprzedniaDalej »