Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Sunday. 3d. CFA Sunday. 3d. CFA
Sunday. 3d.

The only obstacle to our pleasure here has been that we have received no letters from home. It is now a fortnight since we have had any information respecting the children and we are consequently very anxious about them. I have sent over and called over at the Post Office the other side, hitherto without effect. Our party decided upon another visit to Goat Island today for which I was very glad. We crossed the Ferry again which becomes quite a pleasant trip and our first purpose

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was to go to the Hotel where I left my Wife to spend the day with the Whites, and then to go to the Post Office. It was shut up but luckily the Mail was just in and the door had been opened to admit it. We slipped in and while he was examining the list I espied a letter which the Postmaster handed over. It was from Mrs. Frothingham and relieved us from all uneasiness,1 so we go tomorrow on our way rejoicing.

I then joined the rest of our party excepting my Wife whose strength I was anxious to spare, at Goat Island and went to those points which I had omitted to view before. The most remarkable one is that of the middle fall as seen from below. It is perfectly practicable to go quite under this and observe the effect. The body of water is to be sure very much less than are either of the others, but this very circumstance perhaps gives a better opportunity to measure the force of the fall. It is a little wonderful to observe the velocity with which the water descends. It appears to come not as if it was one body but as if it was a series of little solid masses each of which was thrown with force from above. This must be owing to the rapidity of the current before it reaches the fall, which gives the impetus which to me is the most striking feature. We saw two very perfect bows today, one in the ascent of the American side which was a complete arc, the other at the Middle Fall, which though not so long was exceedingly brilliant.

On the whole after visiting all the various points of view I came to the conclusion that it would be quite as well to limit one’s self to three. All that is to be got in the way of effect can be found at the Table Rock which is even with the top of the Fall, at the commencement of the ascent from the Ferry on the American side which gives the position to see it from below, and under the Middle Fall which gives a good idea of the power without inconvenience to the spectator. The view from the Stone Tower is also worth taking rather for the sake of the rapids above than for the Fall itself. But I think that a person could spend a month in looking at these objects and not be fatigued. On the whole I enjoyed this day much more than Friday’s, because I tried to see less in a given time.

We returned to the Ferry after I had called at the Hotel for my Wife whom her friends there tried hard to persuade to stay and dine, but a storm appeared to be brewing and my time was measured so that we hurried home, to dinner. In the afternoon my Wife returned to the Table Rock but having promised to write to Mr. Brooks while I was here and having postponed it thus far I determined to devote the last afternoon to this purpose. I wrote and wrote until I covered the fourth 31page when I remembered Mr. B did not relish long letters, so I determined to try again in the evening. We had a little singing in the Parlour after which I retired and wrote a second letter.2

1.

The letter is missing.

2.

The second letter to Peter C. Brooks is missing, but CFA retained the first version (Adams Papers), apparently to consult when writing the journal entries for the period since leaving home.

Monday. 4th. CFA Monday. 4th. CFA
Monday. 4th.
Niagara — Lake Ontario

We have had four pleasant days here which I shall not soon forget, but the end comes of all things and so it is with our stay at Niagara. The morning was consumed in packing and the ordinary preparations for departure, and in receiving a visit from our friends the Whites, who all came to spend the day on this side of the River. I thought there was some little formality on their part and on our’s. They were not perhaps over well plased with my declining their polite invitation yesterday which I am very sorry for. But be this as it may the civility was cold and we all felt somewhat relieved when the Stages came to the door to take us to Niagara.

After leave taking which was regularly done we started off, making two stages full, I being in a small one with Mr. Peacock and his two daughters and my Wife with the Wilkes party in the other. The distance to go was fourteen miles for the most part along the bank of the Niagara River and a more beautiful ride I have seldom taken. The Country improves as you go on and the verdure of the season does much to set it off. But the great charm is in the very deep blue of the River and the rapidity with which it flows. It is to be sure a little singular not to see a sign of navigation but the eye soon gets accustomed to that and watches only the stream itself. If it was slower water, there would probably be a greater desire to animate it.

We stopped at the Heights of Queenston to see the monument erected to the memory of General Brock who fell here when the Americans made their attack, during the last War.1 A man who appeared to keep guard there went over his lesson to us and pointed out the spot where Brock was shot, that where his aid in attempting to rally was also killed, the place where the Americans landed and the scene of final action. The Americans not being properly reinforced were finally defeated. The Canadian frontier furnishes no great occasion for national pride on our part. The Monument is a handsome one 32of Stone, a column ninety feet high, I should think, with an inscription purporting that Upper Canada had erected it in honor to Brock. The fence designed to protect it is not yet put up. We remained here only a few minutes and then hurried our pace to get rid of a thunder storm which threatened very decidedly in the North.

We arrived at the little town of Niagara or Fort George at about three and stopped to take dinner. Mr. Colden reminded us that it was our National Anniversary, a fact we should hardly have known from any thing about us. A few flags flying from various places on the other side of the river and now and then a distant shot was all we observed. I cannot say that I was sorry. I dislike noise and rioting although I have a great regard for the recollections of that day. We remembered it in a glass of very indifferent Champagne.

At five we went on board the Cobourg, a steamer of the largest Class and soon found ourselves floating along on the quiet waters of Lake Ontario. We passed close to Fort Niagara on the American side, a place not so famous for any military history as for being the dungeon into which poor Morgan was thrown previous to his final catastrophe in the waters of the Niagara. This is the birthplace of Antimasonry and as such I ought to regard it.2

We had a pleasant trip to Toronto, a distance of thirty six miles where we stopped for the night. It became a question whether we should go on shore to sleep or remain on board. Some of the party decided on the former, but as the Captain offered a nice State Room to us Abby and I concluded to remain. We and Mr. Peacock and his daughters who likewise staid, however accompanied the rest of the party to their Hotel where we had some Ice creams served from the shop, the Captain having informed us it was not proper to go to it, after which we went back again.

1.

Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock; see DNB .

2.

On the murder of William Morgan in 1826 and its significance, see vol. 4:350.