Much has been written about this marvelous waterfall, but no one has yet found the way to convey the terrific impression produced by this immense river as it falls from the height of one hundred and fifty feet into a bottomless whirlpool. The sight of this vast amphitheatre, of this prodigious mass of water swirling with a thunderous noise like that monster wave which follows an earthquake, made me dizzy and caused me to forget all that I had read, all that I had heard, all that my imagination had dimly perceived. The torrent framed in a setting of wild nature with trees of an intense green on its banks upon which the mist ceaselessly falls—the whole scene defies photography, painting, and description. To describe is to compare; and with what shall one compare Niagara, that unrivaled phenomenon to whose grandeur one can never become accustomed?
As we were absorbed in contemplating this marvel of nature, “This is the place,” said the person who was with us, “where an Indian found death only two weeks ago. Borne along by the current, in spite of the paddles, the boat in which he was riding drew near the edge of the falls. The Indian, feeling himself completely exhausted, understood that all was lost. He ceased struggling. He was seen to wrap himself in his red cloak, as if in a winding sheet, and to lie down in the bottom of his canoe. A few seconds later, he was at the crest of a gigantic wave and fell like lightning into that watery and noisy tomb, veiled by a mist of virgin whiteness.”
When I heard the tale of this catastrophe at the same time frightful and grandiose, I was envious in spite of myself of the fate of the unhappy redskin, and I was astonished that all Americans who have come to the end of their resources should not prefer Niagara Falls to an insipid revolver.
After I had enjoyed this wonderful spectacle for a long time, I crossed the bridge and set foot in Canada. “You will see Indians,” I had been told. I was expecting to find Noble Savages, instead I saw only peddlers, who looked frightful, I must admit; they seemed savage, I admit that, too; but were they really Indians? I doubt it. Indians or not, they surrounded me on all sides, some offering me bamboo sticks, some fans, others cigar cases, still others pocketbooks in very doubtful taste. They reminded me of the “Indians” of the Forest of Fontainebleau who sell penholders and paper knives.
I made some purchases, but I am pretty sure that I brought back to France some baubles which must have come originally from the liquidation of a Parisian department store.