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We stopped for a moment at Schenectady, and taking passage in another boat crowded with passengers, glided off for Utica. Night soon shut the scene, but the next morning we had some beautiful and romantic views. Surpassing all, however, was our route along the wild and fantastic shore of the Little Falls. The Mohawk is divided here by several rocky islands, between one of which, and the high cliff or promontory on the south side, a branch of it rushes along at a most impetuous rate. The front of this towering cliff has been wrenched off piecemeal, by the force of gunpowder, from top to bottom, to form a passage for the canal ; and a huge winding wall, resting on these ruins, rises from the margin of the torrent about 25 or 30 feet high, and the space between it and the cliff being filled up with stones and earth to the requisite level, the canal flows along its channelled surface. The side is guarded by a railing, on the inner side of which is the narrow towing path for the horses ; and so you skim along for about a quarter of a mile so near the rapids, that a spry man, I should imagine, might leap from the deck, over the railing, directly into the rushing water, 60 or 70 feet below. An aqueduct bridge, all of white marble, 170 feet in length, is built on three beautiful arches across the river just at the falls, and joins the canal, being a feeder to it, and serving at the same time as a canal for boats to pass along its watery floor to the village opposite, where there is a capacious reservoir made by means of a dam on the northern shore; one side of the bed of the river being higher than the other. A gap or opening through a hill more than 500 feet high, near the falls, and along which the canal passes, presents a scenery of rocks, not to be described. They resemble in some of their features the walls and broken masses of rock at the Passaic, and are sublimely topsyturvical. One might imagine that the gods had here had a skirmish with the Titans.
We continued our course through a great deal of rich and finely cultivated country, though evidently suffering by the drought of this unusually hot summer, and arrived at Utica, a new and beautiful town, and one of the most flourishing in the state. It is 96 miles from Albany, and seems to be the stepping-stone between it and lake Erie.
About 15 miles to the west of it, are the Trenton Falls, exceeding in beauty, we were told, those at the Catskill mountain. We went next day to view them, and never was I more enchanted. They consist of a succession of cascades, one enthroned as it were above another. The rocks are indescribably picturesque. Towering walls of lime stone on each side
for more than a mile up a vast ravine; the torrent one while diffused over a broad level floor of solid rock; then gushing through deep and narrow channels, and then pitching over precipes extending from one steep side of the valley to the other. These steep banks are about 150 feet high, and in some places overhang their bases. Along these cliffs, in some spots, there are ledges or shelves, along which one may walk and overlook the torrent 50 or 60 feet below. These ledges have recently been widened by the chisel, and chains being bolted in the rocks and hanging along their sides, you occasionally take hold of them, and skip securely along. The scenery of the rocks alone is worth travelling 200 miles to see. The cascades are wonderfully beautiful, though not very high ; the greatest one being, I should guess, about 50 feet. The drought having long prevailed, the stream is shallow, and its bed is uncovered and dry for three fourths of the way across. As the day was fast declining, we were obliged to leave this most romantic spot without having seen the upper part of this immense ravine, where the river begins its wild career. On our way back to Utica, we fell in with another torrent; but as it had its source in the clouds, and was locomotive, we were too much alarmed to view it with much complacency, and fled from it with all our horses might. We returned to Albany the next day by the stage, on the following morning took passage in the steam-boat, and next morning were in New-York.
I conclude my long letter, my dear friend, with a few stanzas addressed to
THE TRENTON FALLS.
Ye hills ! who have for
List’ning to the wild waters roar;
Dashing their foam from shore to shore !
And savage men, bave hover'd round;
Affrighted fled the enchanted ground.
How chang'd the scene! your lofty trees
Have sunk beneath the woodman's blade;
And footsteps all your haunts invade.
Where your proud rocks exposed stand ;
From babblers on your stony strand.
Vile blurs on nature's heraldry;
And keep your own proud album free.
Shall all its wasted strength restore;
Nor dare to touch the trembling shore.
'Tis her's—the fairest of the fair;
His humble name who wrote it there.
OBJECTIONS TO A REMARK IN MR. CAMPBELL'S LECTURES
ON POETRY. Messrs. Editors,
In perusing Mr. Campbell's Lectures on Greek Poetry, published in the New Monthly Magazine, I have been surprised to find that he has evidently fallen into the error of confounding the age in which Homer lived with that of which he wrote; and has thus been led to countenance the extravagant
hypothesis of those critics, who contend that the Iliad and Odyssey were composed before the use of writing was known, and were preserved through a long interval of time in a state of oral tradition. The poems themselves are considered by Mr. Campbell as affording internal evidence of the fact, from their containing no allusion to the art of writing; and he cites several instances of the astonishing powers of the human memory, in support of the idea, that these works may have been preserved in their present state of sequency and completeness, through a succession of ages. He says, “how long Homer's writings were preserved in a state of oral tradition, no one can pretend to determine. At the same time, it is but fair to admit, whatever arguments may be drawn from the admission, that there is no appearance of the knowledge of writing in his works.
Had the use of letters been familiar, Homer, who delights in describing the processes of art, would certainly have sent an epistle from Ulysses to his spouse, and Minerva would have taken special care of the orthography and sealing:” From such remarks as these we must conclude, that their author entirely lost sight of the fact, that Homer, according to the computation of those critics who give the highest antiquity to his birth, lived one hundred and sixty years after the Trojan war, and that his poems contain a description of a remote age, and not of the period in which he himself flourished; which sufficiently accounts for his omitting to mention many arts, which might yet have existed in his own time. This silence respecting the use of writing, I humbly think, would only prove that the invention of letters was unknown in the heroic age to which his poems refer, and that, with his usual judgment and propriety, he has avoided the anachronism of speaking of an art which did not exist at that period. Shakspeare, and other poets of eminence, frequently fall into such anachronisms ; but the simplicity which reigns through the works of Homer, correspondent to the character of the age of which he wrote, evinces the nice attention that he paid to consistency and verisimilitude, and renders it the more incredible that he should have composed his poems at a period when the art of writing was unknown. Had he represented Ulysses as writing a letter to Penelope, the blunder, though of a different kind, would have been nearly as palpable as that of Shakspeare, when he speaks of a sea-port in Bohemia. But the Grecian bard nowhere introduces the mention of circumstances inconsistent with the history of the period of which he wrote, but
embroiders the golden flowers of fiction upon the web of truth, with the utmost propriety and skill.
Mr. Campbell again says, “Homer has nowhere mentioned either Orpheus or Musæus; and his silence respecting them, though not a proof, is something like a presumption against the idea of their poetical existence having preceded his own." Consistently with the view we have taken, this circumstance affords no other presumption, than that Orpheus and Musæus did not exist at, or previous to, the period of the Trojan war, though they may have preceded Homer, in the interval between the last mentioned event and the birth of the great poet.
It is unnecessary at present to go further into this subject. I hold it to be utterly incredible, that poems comprising such varied excellencies as the Niad and Odyssey, and bearing in every part the indubitable impress of the same master-hand, could have been composed without the aid of writing, or preserved for ages in a state of oral tradition. The pictures of individual character which are presented to us in these wonderful works, discriminated as they are by the boldest strokes and minutest shades, and unsurpassed by the most successful delineations of the dramatic muse, are such delicate and precious master-pieces of art, as could not have floated uninjured upon the tossing stream of tradition, and come down to us in the state of freshness and preservation in which we find them. The tradition of the early introduction of the alphabet into Greece by Cadmus, and of the additions made to it by Palamedes, has always been sufficiently accredited; and, together with the story of Belerophon, which gave rise to the proverb respecting those who carry letters that condemn themselves, and that of the forged letter mentioned by Philostratus as having been written in Phrygian characters by Ulysses, and sent by him to Palamedes, afford quite as much evidence in favour of the hypothesis that the art of writing was known before Homer's time, as any thing that we have seen adduced in support of the contrary opinion.
HYMN TO DEATH.
Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heart