Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Friday. July 1.

Sunday. 3d.

Saturday. 2d. CFA Saturday. 2d. CFA
Saturday. 2d.

The air here is certainly softer than it is with us. A haze prevails in the atmosphere which gives a feeling of dampness to which the quantity of spray which must be constantly in process of rapid evaporation doubtless contributes. This morning was fixed upon for a party to the Whirlpool, a place about three miles and a half down the river, which all persons must go to see. Accordingly my Wife and one of the Misses Peacock got into a little waggon with myself and a boy driver, and thus fitted we went on before the rest who were to follow in a berline.1 The road which passed across Lundy’s Lane the scene of one of the actions during the War of 1812, was tolerably good until we came to the turning point when it becomes very bad. We got along slowly until we arrived at the bank of the river where we got out and walked to the spot near which is lately erected a refreshment house.

The Whirlpool as it is called is formed by a very sharp turn at a right angle of the course of the river, and the current flowing along with such impetuosity and meeting with this obstacle shoots across into a sort of basin on the opposite side where it forms a circle before it resumes it’s course upon the new direction. It is said, boats cannot live in this water and that beams of timber will be set on end by it’s force, but it certainly does not look powerful enough to produce such effects. Indeed my feeling was that of slight disappointment. The gentlemen went down the precipitous bank to take a nearer view, but I preferred to trace the course of the river as far as I could.

The scenery strikes me as peculiarly grand. The narrow gorge in 27which the river runs, the height of the banks, their wild and rugged state, all put one in mind of the sovereignty of nature in her solitudes. Like this, the Country about the Falls should look likewise instead of being distorted by the penny wise projects of man. To the worldly man, the rivers of God flowing in Paradise with milk and honey would appear only as power to move so many millwheels. I had almost forgotten to mention the peculiar and brilliant blue of the waters which strikes the eye of the stranger so powerfully. All in all, I remember few scenes of similar fascination. Having gone as far as I could, I was returning in a kind of reverie when attracted by a signal from the ladies who announced their return in the berline. I went with them and we got home to dinner.

As we passed along our attention was attracted by an assemblage of persons at a spot where a flag was flying and men were making speeches. This was the hustings. An election of a Representative to the provincial assembly was taking place, in consequence of Sir Francis B. Head’s dissolution of the late one2 caused by their refusal to vote any bill of supplies. Of course this was a severe contest between the government party and the opposition. Here and along the border of the United States, the radical or opposition party carried the day but we soon after leaving this place discovered it had been entirely defeated in the general result. I found the election excited general interest even among the boy drivers.

After dinner we thought we would spend the afternoon at the Table Rock and accordingly went down, and I deem myself fortunate that I did go for I should have been sorry to have lost what I saw. Can I describe it? No. There is no use in superlatives. But let me try to recall to mind what it was. The spray from the Fall in consequence of the agitation of the water by the wind over the rapids, was rising very high. In front of us was a very dark thunder cloud, which gave note every few minutes of the approaching storm, while behind us the sun was still uncovered and shining bright as usual. Just at this moment in consequence of the high spray, a large and very perfect rainbow made it’s appearance directly before our position. The effect was prodigious. Here was peace and war in immediate contrast with one of nature’s most remarkable works. The growling of the thunder, the brilliant flashes of the lightning on one side and on the other the sun and the arc of promise. There is something extremely fascinating to me in the sight of these colours which are commonly of great brilliance when they appear. My eyes as if tired with seeing the vast and the fearful turn for refreshment upon the graceful combination of nature’s most 28beautiful colours. It is like hope to the mind of the weary traveller, a sign, it may be a failing sign, but yet for the moment a benefit as it brings with it repose from anxiety and care.

The storm and the calm united in one picture by such a magnificent scene, was a piece of good fortune for me to see which I shall forever remember. We had not much time to observe it for the cloud rose fast, soon obscuring the sun and by sundry heavy drops warning us to seek shelter. We went into the refreshment house and amused ourselves looking over the Register of visitors and their remarks. I was struck with but one thing, and that was the great poverty of them all. In fact, this Fall beggars description. There it is, you may look at it and analyze your emotions as well as you are able, but to describe it in any adequate form you cannot do.

The rain lasted so long that we exhausted all the books and then we asked the ladies to sing, which they did very prettily. Miss Mary Peacock has a sweet natural voice and being trained to sing without accompaniment she is never embarrassed with want of notes or of an instrument. This is a great advantage in such a trip as our’s. Mrs. Wilkes sings also but her voice is exceedingly sharp, and has no melody. But the rain continued and it was getting late, while the ascent to the Hotel was to be made through the slippery mud. We decided to send for a Carriage from the House into which we put the ladies and decided to try the walk. Carriage riding among these rocks and precipices is by no means so safe a thing. They had to make a tour of a mile and a half which to us who walked was not a third of a mile. We got home so much before them that I began to grow anxious. They arrived at last and tea having been kept waiting for them, they went in directly. It was eight o’clock, so that the rest of the evening was soon gone and we retired.


A four-wheeled covered carriage, with a seat behind covered with a hood ( OED ).


Sir Francis Bond Head was lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada ( DNB ).