CONCLUSION

From Bermuda I took a sailing vessel to New York, in company with a
rather large assortment of potatoes and onions. I had declared during
my unlucky voyage from Kingston to Cuba that no consideration should
again tempt me to try a sailing vessel, but such declarations always
go for nothing. A man in his misery thinks much of his misery; but as
soon as he is out of it it is forgotten, or becomes matter for mirth.
Of even a voyage in a sailing vessel one may say that at some future
time it will perhaps be pleasant to remember that also. And so I
embarked myself along with the potatoes and onions on board the good
ship ‘Henrietta.’

Indeed, there is no other way of getting from Bermuda to New York;
or of going anywhere from Bermuda–except to Halifax and St. Thomas,
to which places a steamer runs once a month. In going to Cuba I had
been becalmed, starved, shipwrecked, and very nearly quaranteened. In
going to New York I encountered only the last misery. The doctor who
boarded us stated that a vessel had come from Bermuda with a sick
man, and that we must remain where we were till he had learnt what
was the sick man’s ailment. Our skipper, who knew the vessel in
question, said that one of their crew had been drunk in Bermuda for
two or three days, and had not yet worked it off. But the doctor
called again in the course of the day, and informed us that it was
intermittent fever. So we were allowed to pass. It does seem strange
that sailing vessels should be subjected to such annoyances. I hardly
think that one of the mail steamers going into New York would be
delayed because there was a case of intermittent fever on board
another vessel from Liverpool.

It is not my purpose to give an Englishman’s ideas of the United
States, or even of New York, at the fag end of a volume treating
about the West Indies. On the United States I should like to
write a volume, seeing that the government and social life of the
people there–of that people who are our children–afford the most
interesting phenomena which we find as to the new world;–the best
means of prophesying, if I may say so, what the world will next be,
and what men will next do. There, at any rate, a new republic has
become politically great and commercially active; whereas all other
new republics have failed in those points, as in all others. But this
cannot be attempted now.

From New York I went by the Hudson river to Albany, and on by the New
York Central Railway to Niagara; and though I do not mean to make any
endeavour to describe that latter place as such descriptions should
be–and doubtless are and have been–written, I will say one or two
words which may be of use to any one going thither.

The route which I took from New York would be, I should think, the
most probable route for Englishmen. And as travellers will naturally
go up the Hudson river by day, and then on from Albany by night
train,* seeing that there is nothing to be seen at Albany, and that
these trains have excellent sleeping accommodation–a lady, or indeed
a gentleman, should always take a double sleeping-berth, a single
one costs half a dollar, and a double one a dollar. This outlay has
nothing to do with the travelling ticket;–it will follow that he,
she, or they will reach Niagara at about 4 a.m.

[*It would be well, however, to visit Trenton Falls by the way,
which I did not do. They are but a short distance from Utica,
a town on this line of railway.]

In that case let them not go on to what is called the Niagara
Falls station, but pass over at a station called the Suspension
Bridge–very well known on the road–to the other or Canada side of
the water, and thence go to the Clifton Hotel. There can be no doubt
as to this being the site at which tourists should stop. It is one of
those cases in which to see is to be sure. But if the traveller be
carried on to Niagara Falls station, he has a long and expensive
journey to make back; and the United States side of the water will be
antagonistic to him in doing so. The ticket from Albany to Niagara
cost me six dollars; the carriage from Niagara to the Clifton Hotel
cost me five. It was better to pay the five than to remain where
I was; but it would have been better still to have saved them. I
mention this as passengers to the Falls have no sort of intimation
that they should get out at the Suspension Bridge; though they are
all duly shaken out of their berths, and inquired of whether or not
they be going west.

Nothing ever disappointed me less than the Falls of Niagara–but my
raptures did not truly commence for the first half-day. Their charms
grow upon one like the conversation of a brilliant man. Their depth
and breadth and altitude, their music, colour, and brilliancy are
not fully acknowledged at the first moment. It may be that my eye is
slow; but I can never take in to its full enjoyment any view or any
picture at the first glance. I found this to be especially the case
at Niagara. It was only by long gazing and long listening that I was
able to appreciate the magnitude of that waste of waters.

My book is now complete, and I am not going to “do the Falls,” but
I must bid such of my readers as may go there to place themselves
between the rocks and the waters of the Horse-shoe Fall after
sunset–well after sunset; and there remain–say for half an hour.
And let every man do this alone; or if fortune have kindly given him
such a companion, with one who may leave him as good as alone. But
such companions are rare.

The spot to which I allude will easily make itself known to him, nor
will he have any need of a guide. He will find it, of course, before
the sun shall set. And, indeed, as to guides, let him eschew them,
giving a twenty-five cent piece here and there, so that these men
be not ruined for want of custom. Into this spot I made my way, and
stood there for an hour, dry enough. The spray did reach my coat,
and the drops settled on my hair; but nevertheless, as a man not
over delicate, I was dry enough. Then I went up, and when there was
enticed to put myself into a filthy oil-skin dress, hat, coat, and
trousers, in order that I might be conducted under the Falls. Under
the Falls! Well I had been under the Falls; but still, wishing to see
everything, I allowed myself to be caparisoned.

A sable conductor took me exactly to the spot where I had been
before. But he took me also ten yards further, during which little
extra journey I became soaking wet through, in spite of the dirty
oil-cloth. The ducking cost me sixty cents, or half a crown.

But I must be allowed one word as to that visit after sunset; one
word as to that which an obedient tourist will then see. In the spot
to which I allude the visitor stands on a broad safe path, made
of shingles, between the rock over which the water rushes and the
rushing water. He will go in so far that the spray rising back from
the bed of the torrent does not incommode him. With this exception,
the further he can go the better; but here also circumstances will
clearly show him the spot. Unless the water be driven in by a very
strong wind, five yards make the difference between a comparatively
dry coat and an absolutely wet one.

And then let him stand with his back to the entrance, thus hiding the
last glimmer of the expiring day. So standing he will look up among
the falling waters, or down into the deep misty pit, from which they
reascend in almost as palpable a bulk. The rock will be at his right
hand, high and hard, and dark and straight, like the wall of some
huge cavern, such as children enter in their dreams. For the first
five minutes he will be looking but at the waters of a cataract,–at
the waters, indeed, of such a cataract as we know no other, and at
their interior curves, which elsewhere we cannot see. But by-and-by
all this will change. He will no longer be on a shingly path beneath
a waterfall; but that feeling of a cavern wall will grow upon him, of
a cavern deep, deep below roaring seas, in which the waves are there,
though they do not enter in upon him; or rather not the waves, but
the very bowels of the deep ocean. He will feel as though the floods
surrounded him, coming and going with their wild sounds, and he will
hardly recognize that though among them he is not in them. And they,
as they fall with a continual roar, not hurting the ear, but musical
withal, will seem to move as the vast ocean waters may perhaps move
in their internal currents. He will lose the sense of one continued
descent, and think that they are passing round him in their appointed
courses. The broken spray that rises from the depth below, rises so
strongly, so palpably, so rapidly, that the motion in every direction
will seem equal. And then, as he looks on, strange colours will show
themselves through the mist; the shades of gray will become green and
blue, with ever and anon a flash of white; and then, when some gust
of wind blows in with greater violence, the sea-girt cavern will
become all dark and black. Oh, my friend, let there be no one there
to speak to thee then; no, not even a heart’s brother. As you stand
there speak only to the waters.

So much for Niagara. From thence, I went along Lake Ontario, and
by the St. Lawrence to Montreal, being desirous of seeing the new
tubular railway bridge which is being erected there over the St.
Lawrence close to that town. Lake Ontario is uninteresting, being
altogether too large for scenery, and too foggy for sight-seeing if
there were anything to see. The travelling accommodation, however,
is excellent. The points of interest in the St. Lawrence are the
thousand islands, among which the steamer glides as soon as it enters
the river; and the rapids, of which the most singularly rapid is the
one the vessel descends as it nears Montreal. Both of these are very
well, but they do not require to be raved about. The Canadian towns
at which one touches are interesting as being clean and large, and
apparently prosperous;–also as being English, for we hardly reach
the French part of Canada till we get down to Montreal.

This tubular bridge over the St. Lawrence, which will complete the
whole trunk line of railway from Portland on the coast of Maine,
through the two Canadas, to the States of Michigan and Wisconsin,
will certainly be one of the most wonderful works of scientific art
in the world. It is to consist of different tubes, resting on piers
placed in the river bed at intervals sufficient to provide for the
free navigation of the water. Some of these, including the centre and
largest one, are already erected. This bridge will be over a mile
and a half in length, and will cost the enormous sum of one million
four hundred thousand pounds, being but two hundred thousand pounds
short of the whole cost of the Panama railway. I only wish that the
shareholders may have as good a dividend.

From Montreal I went down Lake Champlain to Saratoga Springs, the
great resort of New Yorkers when the weather in the city becomes too
hot for endurance. I was there late in June, but was very glad at
that time to sit with my toes over a fire. The country about Saratoga
is by no means pretty. The waters, I do not doubt, are very healthy,
and the hotels very good. It must, I should think, be a very dull
place for persons who are not invalids.

From Saratoga I returned to New York, and from New York sailed for
Liverpool in the exceedingly good ship ‘Africa,’ Captain Shannon.
I have sailed in many vessels, but never in one that was more
comfortable or better found.

And on board this most comfortable of vessels I have now finished my
book, as I began it on board that one, of all the most uncomfortable,
which carried me from Kingston in Jamaica to Cien Fuegos in the
island of Cuba.