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EDITORS' TABLE.

Rev. Mr. Bascom's SKETCH OF THE Great CATARACT. – The following picture of Niagara, is from the pen of an eloquent divine, with whose bigh reputation our readers are not unacquainted. To those who have seen the Falls, it will recommend itself for its vivid truth; and to those who have not, we commend the writer's introductory note to the editor.

*My Dear Sir: In complying with your request, to furnish you with the following letter, for publication in the KNICKERBOCKER Magazine, I must claim the protection of one of the most indulgent canons of criticism ; that which suggests, that every production, claiming to be a mere reveTation of personal impression and private feeling, should be judged of mainly in view of the mind's peculiar state, in giving it birth. The annexed sketch, except the last paragraph, was written upon an angle of «Table Rock,' at the instance, and for the exclusive gratification, of a friend, and without any, the most remote, reference to publication, then or subsequently. It was produced under the influence of high-wrought feeling, and does little more than reveal the heart's mythology, in presence of one of the most fearful manifestations of the power and grandeur of physical nature. If the feeling wbich gave birth to the fragment you have asked for publication, be responded to by the reader, I have nothing to regret, and nothing farther to hope for.

Very truly and sincerely, New-York, February, 1839.

H. B. BASCOM.'

Cataract of Niagara, September 9, 18-- . MY DEAR E -: I have seen, surveyed, and combined with the whole !- and awed and bewildered, as if enchanted before the revealment of a mystery, I attempt to write. You ask me, in your last, for some detailed, veritable account of the Falls, and I should be glad to gratify you; but how shall I essay to paint a scene, that so utterly baffles all conception, and renders worse than fruitless every attempt at description ? In five minutes after my arrival, on the evening of the fifth, I descended the winding. path from the 'Pavilion,' on the Canadian side, and for the first time in my life, saw this unequalled cascade from “Table Rock;' the whole indescribable scene, in bold outline, bursting on my view at once. I had heard and read much, and imagined more, of what was before me. I was perfectly familiar with the often-told, the far-travelled story of what I saw; but the overpowering reality on which I was gazing, motionless as the rock on which I stood, deprived me of recollection, annihilated all curiosity; and with emotions of sublimity till now unfelt, and all unearthly, the involuntary exclamation escaped me, 'God of Grandeur! what a scene!'

But the majesty of the sight, and the interest of the moment, how depict them? The huge amplitude of water, tumbling in foam above, and dashing on, arched and pillared as it glides, until it reaches the precipice of the chute, and then, in one vast column, bounding, with maddening roar and rush, into the depths beneath, presents a spectacle so unutterably appalling, that language falters; words are no longer signs, and I despair giving you any adequate idea of what I saw and felt. Yet this is not all. The eye and the mind necessarily take in other objects, as parts of the grand panorama; forests, cliffs, and islands; banks, foam, and spray; wood rock, and precipice; dimmed with the rising fog and mist, and obscurely gilded by the softening tints of the rainbow. These all belong to the picture; and the effect of the whole is immeasurably heightened, by the noise of the cataract, now reminding you of the reverberations of the heavens in a tempest, and then of the eternal roar of ocean, when angered by the winds !

The concave bed of rock, from which the water falls, some two hundred feet, into the almost boundless reservoir beneath, is the section of a circle, which at first sight, from Table Rock, presents something like the geometrical curve of the rainbow; and the wonders of the grand 'crescent,' thus advantageously thrown upon the eye in combinations, and the appropriate sensations and conceptions heightened by the crash and boom of the waters, render the sight more surpassingly sublime, than any thing I have ever looked upon, or conceived of. As it regards my thoughts and feelings at the time, I can help you to no conception of their character. Overwhelming astonishment was the only bond between thought and thought; and wild, and vague, and boundless, were the associations of the hour! Before me, the strength and fulness of the congregated 'lakes of the north,' were enthroned and concentrated, within a circumference embraced by a single glance of the eye! Here I saw, rolling and dashing, at the rate of twenty-fire hundred millions of tons per day, nearly one half of all the fresh water upon the surface of the globe! On the American side, I beheld a vast deluge, nine hundred feet in breadth, with a fall of one hundred and eighty or ninety, met, fifty feet above the level of the gulf, by a huge projection of rock, which seems to break the descent and continuity of the flood, only to increase its fierce and overwhelming bound. And turning to the crescent,' I saw the mingled rush of foam and tide, dashing with fearful strife and desperate emulation -four hundred yards of the sheet rough and sparry, and the remaining three hundred a deep sea-like mass of living green - rolling and heaving like a sheet of emerald. Even imagination failed me, and I could think of nothing but ocean let loose from his bed, and seeking a deeper gulf below! The fury of the water, at the termination of its fall, combined with the columned strength of the cataract, and the deafening thunder of the flood, are at once inconceivable and indescribable. No imagination, however creative, can correspond with the grandeur of the reality.

I have already mentioned, and it is important that you keep it in view, the ledge of rock, the verge of the cataract, rising like a wall of equal height, and extending in semicular form across the whole bed of the river, a distance of more than two thousand feet; and the impetuous food, conforming to this arrangement, in making its plunge, with mountain weight, into the great horse-shoe basin beneath, exhibits a spectacle of the sublime, in geographical scenery, without perhaps a parallel in

As I leaned over Table Rock, and cast my eye downward upon the billowy turbulence of the angry depth, where the waters were tossing and whirling, coiling and springing, with the energy of an earthquake, and a rapidity that almost mocked my vision, I found the scene sufficient to appal a sterner spirit than mine; and I was glad to turn away and relieve my mind by a sight of the surrounding scenery; bays, islands, shores, and forests, every where receding in due perspective. The rainbows of the crescent and American side, which are only visible from the western bank of the Niagara, and in the afternoon, seem to diminish somewhat from the awfulness of the scene, and to give it an aspect of rich and mellow grandeur, not unlike the bow of promise, throwing its assuring radiance over the retiring waters of the deluge.

The'rapids,' which commence nearly a mile above the cataract, and sparkling in the sun, spread out before the eye like a sea of diamonds, seem admirably to give notice of what awaits below; and when examined from a position on Goat-Island, become extremely interesting, from the dash and foam of the broken flood, the noise of which, distinct from that of the great fall, would remind you of the lofty murmurs of an Alpine forest, in the rising swell of the coming storm. In crossing the river below the

nature.

Falls, you have one of the richest views of the whole cascade, that can possibly be ima. gined; and the rising bank and mossy rock, the lofty trees, and luxuriant shrubbery, on either side, are in fine keeping with the scene, and are essential to the unity and completeness of the picture. But what most interested me here, was the tumultuous tossing and whirling of the water, where its depth must be more than two hundred feet, and its width at least seven hundred yards. The whole mass seems to be heaving with infuriate life. A thousand counter-currents and eddies meet, break, and mingle, in the general'torrent and whirlwind' of the waters. Within a circumference of two or three hundred yards, near the American shore, this singular action of the element gives the water an elevation of from five to seven feet, above the ordinary level; and the strong conflicting currents are seen tossing and struggling with volcanic force, like the Adriatic turned up from the bottom by a tempest.

But the most appalling combination of wonder and awe was felt, when, after descend. ing the spiral stair-case at Tuble Rock, I passed under the great falling sheet. Divesting myself of the more burdensome part of my clothes, and girding an oil-cloth mantle about me, with a hood for the protection of the head, I entered the hollow space, half luminous, half obscure, between the projecting rock and the boundless mass of water pouring over its arch, like a sea of molten lead. In this way I proceeded one hundred and fifty or sixty feet, to 'Termination Rock,' a point beyond which no human being has ever penetrated; and here, amid a tempest of wind and spray, almost depriving me of respiration, I paused to look up and around, awed and agitated by the stirring grandeur and sombre mysteriousness of all I could hear or see! The edge of the precipice, over which the water falls, is a projection of about fifty feet over the base where I stood. After remaining here for several minutes, and selecting some pebbles from the path at my feet, with an increased sense of danger, I effected my retreat, sincerely thankful, that I had not purchased the gratification of my curiosity with the loss of my life. I spent four days and nights, with the exception of a few hours for rest, in the examination of the Falls, and in solitude with the majesty of the engrossing scene - a majesty all its own - untyped and unshadowed by aught I had ever seen before; and having surveyed the great object of my visit, from nearly an hundred different points of view, I was more than satisfied, that the Cataract of Niagara is a wonder in nature, wholly unique in its kind, and affording a rich, if not an unequalled harvest, of interest and observation, to every belolder. Indeed, nature seems to have done her work here in a mood and upon a scale of the most creative prodigality; consulting alike, as the Pagan poet would say, her own amusement, and the admiration of man.

My last look at the Falls was a night view, from the upper portico of the Pavilion; the brilliant lamps and mcoved loveliness of an autumnal heaven adding to the splendor of the vision. From this point, amid the tremulous shaking of the earth and the heavens, in silent communion with the mighty cataract, the eye takes in a more extended range- the most magnificent of prospects. The whole scenery, diversified and yet one, is spread out before you in living beauty and picturesque majesty. You see the plains and forests above, the cliffs, and rocks, and islands, around; the drcadsul precipice, and the bold sweep of the watery mass, while the fall of the vast pervading column strikes your ear, like the thunder-chorus of the 'vasty deep,' warring with its bounds!

I felt about me a heart-reaching, a spirit-stirring influence, that detained me until midnight; and when I retired, fatigued and exhausted, and threw myself upon my pillow, it was only to feel the more intensely the power and expression, the oneness, the depth, the nameless grandeur, of the scene; and ear and thought still lingered, to catch and commune with the far-off chidings of the Flood, as they wailed to the one the requiem of departed waters, and murmured to the other the melancholy dirge of their passing away! VOL. XIII.

47

Editors' DRAWER. — 'Without overflowing, full,' has been the condition of our drawer,' for some time past; but it is now overrunning; and to the exclusion of nut a few matters of our own, we hasten to relieve it of a portion of its contents, reserving the remainder for future consideration. We shall commence our selections with the annexed admirable sketch, from a facile pen, which will hereafter often minister to the enjoyment of our readers.

PAGANINI AND BERLIOZ.

There are certain features of Europe seldom recognised by the tourist, and which it is the privilege of thc quiet spectator of human affairs to etudy and to admire; I mean its dramatic aspect. 'The Old World, from my peaceful library, seems a vast theatre, where illustrations of human glory succeed thuse of human weakness, and nations, like individuals, enact the mutable drama of destiny. And I can conceive that they who, from the suminit of a calm philosophy, contemplate the endless curtainrising and scene-shifting, require no other zest to existence. To-day a war, lo-morrow a peace; here a revolution, there a national jubilee; in every direction, are unfolded new scenes, physiognomies, costumes; and kings and princes, statesinen and demagogues, appear, decree, proclaim, and perorate; while, like the Greek chorus of old, the populace murmurs or chants, inaudibly or vehemently, the strophe and antistrophe of Faie.

"These reflections came over me, a day or two since, while looking through my French files, to keep even with the rapid and perpelual current of Parisian events. It is no trifling task. The stream of time seems to gather fresh volume and impetuosity, when it pours its waters through the Great Metropolis, and carries down io the cataract, over which the present precipit ates the past, a thousand varied objects and deeds of human love, or of human hate; of man's adoration or of his pity. There are days when the accumulation appals me; there are others in which I welcome it, and dash into the motley crowd, in pursuit of a hero or a circumstance. The quest is never unrewarded ; ihe field rarely barren; here and there a sameness of character or direction contrasis, during a short period, with the variety of multiplied incidents; and then, new forms start up in the tumult, thus investing the game of actualities with all the mystery and motley adventure of romance. If one does not grow wiser in thus watching the chaoging physiognomy of the age, he learns, amidsi the mingled grandeurs and frivolities of the present, to respect yesterday, and to revere to-morrow.

The words PAGANINI and Berlioz caught my eye, among the notices of new plays, of new books, of new drugs, music, celebrities, and infamies. I never see the great virtuoso's pame, without a thrill, a shiver of the chord he first, and last, and alone, set vibrating in the barp of my sensibilities; and I hastily sought to learn by what caprice or glory his name had been bronght anew before the Parisian public. It is a strange and interesting anecdote; a new trait in the singular nature of this remarkable being; one which allies him unexpectedly to mortality. But I am anticipating.

Paris, the city of pleasure, the temple of science, is above all the capital of art. The French public, generally profound in its discriminations, and correct in its taste, is at times capricious, and can scarcely account for its own humor. The tendency is to exalt every thing national, but never at the expense of foreign excellence, which consequently finds no where in this narrow world so sure an appreciation. Even the German has to come thither from Vienna and Berlin, would he hear Beethoven interpreted; and hardly has Italy, with its enthusiasm, and suave taste, formed a prima donna, ere she obeys the beckoning finger of the Parisian, and leaves her sunny skies, and poetic land; leaves the home of her youth, the shrine of her heart; bids the blessed virgin adieu, and casts upon her patron saint the last imploring gaze of her liquid eye, to wend her way to the frigid norih, where the metropolis of France rears in mid-winier its scarred brow of glory.

Hector Berlioz was the brightest ornament of the 'Conservatire Royale de Musique;' and the gray masters of the gai science who watched his youthful efforts, predicied for him a brilliant career in the path BEETHOVEN and Mozart have cut in the adamantine rock of fame. France was at last to have her composer, her illustration; Lully, and Gluck, and Piccini, a worthy successor; MeYERBEER and Rossini a rival. The young man's genius grew, and wandered after its own fashion. It was way ward and fantastic; always gloomy, and oftumes grand. His friends and admirers wailed in patience. Ai last, he produced a work, the Overture to Roh Roy,' a wild and incomprehensible begiuning, which had no end. There were parts wbich all admired; there were others which no one understood. But it evinced abundant talent.

Thus solitary, and watched even by friendship, do not believe it easy for genius to expand, in durable forms. It is impatient of observation, galled by control, and frets even under the rein which would guide it to the goal. Thus Berlioz consumed his strength in plans; glorious edifices never constructed; musical chateaux en Espagne ;

overtures, embodying many a glorious but incomplete conception. I well remember listening to his · Symphonie Fantastique,' a page of transcendentalism, and like most transcendentalism, not wholly destituie of poetry, although impalpable. After years of this vagabondage, a sudden inspiration seized him one day, and filed him with the energy to elaborate an opera. There is something fascinating in the character of BenVENUTO CELLINI. He seems to my eye an emblem of his variegated age of piety and crime; or art defiled, and of art glorified. So thought Berlioz, and he resolved to make the Florentine sculptor the hero of a musical drama.

Alas! it often requires two to consummate an enterprise in this nether world. Most things are accomplished by alliance, by the union of powers or of attributes. But it is especially in an opera, that two heads are better than one, and the mäestro is not a little at the mercy of the author.

Whatever may have been the genius employed and developed, in the partition of Benvenuto Cellini,' certain it is, that the libretto was worthless; the plot trivial, and destitute of incidents; and the dénouement unworthy of the Academie Royale de Musique,' on the classic boards of which this creation of Berlioz was unfolded. It sell through; and the lyric genius of France hid her head in sorrow, when a child of such proinise retired from the world, disgusted, and buried himself in retirement. It was impossible to draw Berlioz out from his seclusion. He led the glooniy existence of brooding disappointment, within the walls of the humble dwelling, where the cnly rays of gladness were the light of stars' that beamed from the eyes of his wife and her child.

Suspecting his purse to be low, his friends devised two concerts, in which his favorite and best-known creations should be given to a public, prodigal in its admiration of genius, but which, though well aware of the value of its applause, seems unconscious of the effects of its silence. Accordingly, the festivals were proclaimed, and the first was attended by the throng. Imagine how deep must have been his despondency, when Berlioz, he for whose benefit it was conceived, and whom that crowd was assembled to honor, absented himself from his own triumph.

This success cheered the melancholy composer; and on the night of the second concert, he was there; leading the orchestra, guiding the idea thai serpentined through his deep, and expansive harmonies, and watching, with love, its graceful wreathings amidst the sounds which lent it life and elasticity. They were playing his March to Execution' - whose blood does not tremble at this significant title? -- and Berlioz himself was yielding to the sway of the deep, thrilling tones of sorrow and despair he has thrown into thai master-piece of harmonic eloquence, when lo! in a dark corner of the spacious orchestra, he saw a man of marble, weeping. Tears coursed down the pale cheek of PAGANINI — the man of ice, whose cold ironic smile had frozen the audiences his magic bow bad warmed with its glowing voice! Yes! PAGANINI, the immovable, the impenetrable, wept like a child; and as ihe muffled drum of this funeral march of life ceased beating, and all hearts were gathered by the solemn pause, which signified eternily, the great virtuose stepped forward, and knelt before Berlioz, in presence of the astonished crowd, and kissed his hand in token of homage!

The clouds that yet hung over the brow of the poor composer, were dispersed by this radiant sunshine of triumph; and the audience signified, by a ihunder-burst of approbation, its sense of the beauty and grandeur of this spectacle, and its sympathy with him whom it suddenly raised from despair to joy. And on the morrow, Hector BERLioz, hardly realizing ihis unexpected revolution in his destiny, received the following note:

“My Dear Friend: Beethoven dead, Berlioz alone can revive him ; and I, who have enjoyed your divine compositions, worthy of a genius like you, I esteem it my duty to beg your acceptance, as a testimony of my liomage, of twenty thousand francs, which M. LE BARON DE ROTHSCHILD will pay you, on presentation of the enclosed draft.

Ever your affectionate friend,

NICOLO PAGANINI,"

s.

And the grateful composer has by this time embarked for Italy, where, after three years of study and repose, he will doubtless do honor to the munificence of his extraordinary patron.

We have before us the 'Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris,' of the twenty-fifth of December, with a supplement in lithograph, containing fac similes of the correspondence between PagANINI and Berlioz. The annexed is the original of the note quoted above :

*MIO CARO AMICO: Beethoven estinto, non c'era che Berlioz che potesse far lo revivere ; ed io che ho gustato le vostre divine composizioni; degne di on genio qual siete, credo mio dovere di pregarvi a voller accettare in segno del mio omaggio venti mila franchi i quali vi saranno rimessi dal signor barou de Rothschild, dopo che gli avrete pre entato l'acclusa. Credete mi sempro, ,

Il vostro affectionatissimo amico,

Nicolo PAGANINI.' Parigi, le 18 Decembre, 1838.

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