The land beyond, or on the south of the Falls, retains, as already remarked, the same level as before the rent was made. It is as if the trough below Niagara were bent right and left, several times before it reached the railway bridge. The land in the supposed bends being of the same height as that above the Fall, would give standing- places, or points of view, of the same nature as that from the railway-bridge, but the nearest would be only eighty yards, instead of two miles (the distance to the bridge) from the face of the cascade. The tops of the promontories are in general flat, smooth, and studded with trees. The first, with its base on the east, is at one place so narrow, that it would be dangerous to walk to its extremity. On the second, however, we found a broad rhinoceros path and a hut; but, unless the builder were a hermit, with a pet rhinoceros, we cannot conceive what beast or man ever went there for. On reaching the apex of this second eastern promontory we saw the great river, of a deep sea-green colour, now sorely compressed, gliding away, at least 400 feet below us.
Garden Island, when the river is low, commands the best view of the Great Fall chasm, as also of the promontory opposite, with its grove of large evergreen trees, and brilliant rainbows of three-quarters of a circle, two, three, and sometimes even four in number, resting on the face of the vast perpendicular rock, down which tiny streams are always running to be swept again back by the upward rushing vapour. But as, at Niagara, one has to go over to the Canadian shore to see the chief wonder--the Great Horse-shoe Fall--so here we have to cross over to Moselekatse's side to the promontory of evergreens, for the best view of the principal Falls of Mosi-oa-tunya. Beginning, therefore, at the base of this promontory, and facing the Cataract, at the west end of the chasm, there is, first, a fall of thirty-six yards in breadth, and of course, as they all are, upwards of 310 feet in depth. Then Boaruka, a small island, intervenes, and next comes a great fall, with a breadth of 573 yards; a projecting rock separates this from a second grand fall of 325 yards broad; in all, upwards of 900 yards of perennial Falls. Further east stands Garden Island; then, as the river was at its lowest, came a good deal of the bare rock of its bed, with a score of narrow falls, which, at the time of flood, constitute one enormous cascade of nearly another half-mile. Near the east end of the chasm are two larger falls, but they are nothing at low water compared to those between the islands.
The whole body of water rolls clear over, quite unbroken; but, after a descent of ten or more feet, the entire mass suddenly becomes like a huge sheet of driven snow. Pieces of water leap off it in the form of comets with tails streaming behind, till the whole snowy sheet becomes myriads of rushing, leaping, aqueous comets. This peculiarity was not observed by Charles Livingstone at Niagara, and here it happens, possibly from the dryness of the atmosphere, or whatever the cause may be which makes every drop of Zambesi water appear to possess a sort of individuality. It runs off the ends of the paddles, and glides in beads along the smooth surface, like drops of quicksilver on a table. Here we see them in a conglomeration, each with a train of pure white vapour, racing down till lost in clouds of spray. A stone dropped in became less and less to the eye, and at last disappeared in the dense mist below.
Charles Livingstone had seen Niagara, and gave Mosi-oa-tunya the palm, though now at the end of a drought, and the river at its very lowest. Many feel a disappointment on first seeing the great American Falls, but Mosi-oa-tunya is so strange, it must ever cause wonder. In the amount of water, Niagara probably excels, though not during the months when the Zambesi is in flood. The vast body of water, separating in the comet-like forms described, necessarily encloses in its descent a large volume of air, which, forced into the cleft, to an unknown depth, rebounds, and rushes up loaded with vapour to form the three or even six columns, as if of steam, visible at the Batoka village Moachemba, twenty-one miles distant. On attaining a height of 200, or at most 300 feet from the level of the river above the cascade, this vapour becomes condensed into a perpetual shower of fine rain. Much of the spray, rising to the west of Garden Island, falls on the grove of evergreen trees opposite; and from their leaves, heavy drops are for ever falling, to form sundry little rills, which, in running down the steep face of rock, are blown off and turned back, or licked off their perpendicular bed, up into the column from which they have just descended.
The morning sun gilds these columns of watery smoke with all the glowing colours of double or treble rainbows. The evening sun, from a hot yellow sky, imparts a sulphureous hue, and gives one the impression that the yawning gulf might resemble the mouth of the bottomless pit. No bird sits and sings on the branches of the grove of perpetual showers, or ever builds its nest there. We saw hornbills and flocks of little black weavers flying across from the mainland to the islands, and from the islands to the points of the promontories and back again, but they uniformly shunned the region of perpetual rain, occupied by the evergreen grove. The sunshine, elsewhere in this land so overpowering, never penetrates the deep gloom of that shade. In the presence of the strange Mosi-oa-tunya, we can sympathize with those who, when the world was young, peopled earth, air, and river, with beings not of mortal form. Sacred to what deity would be this awful chasm and that dark grove, over which hovers an ever-abiding "pillar of cloud"?
The ancient Batoka chieftains used Kazeruka, now Garden Island, and Boaruka, the island further west, also on the lip of the Falls, as sacred spots for worshipping the Deity. It is no wonder that under the cloudy columns, and near the brilliant rainbows, with the ceaseless roar of the cataract, with the perpetual flow, as if pouring forth from the hand of the Almighty, their souls should be filled with reverential awe. It inspired wonder in the native mind throughout the interior. Among the first questions asked by Sebituane of Mr. Oswell and Dr. Livingstone, in 1851, was, "Have you any smoke soundings in your country," and "what causes the smoke to rise for ever so high out of water?" In that year its fame was heard 200 miles off, and it was approached within two days; but it was seen by no European till 1855, when Dr. Livingstone visited it on his way to the East Coast. Being then accompanied as far as this Fall by Sekeletu and 200 followers, his stay was necessarily short; and the two days there were employed in observations for fixing the geographical position of the place, and turning the showers, that at times sweep from the columns of vapour across the island, to account, in teaching the Makololo arboriculture, and making that garden from which the natives named the island; so that he did not visit the opposite sides of the cleft, nor see the wonderful course of the river beyond the Falls. The hippopotami had destroyed the trees which were then planted; and, though a strong stockaded hedge was made again, and living orange-trees, cashew-nuts, and coffee seeds put in afresh, we fear that the perseverance of the hippopotami will overcome the obstacle of the hedge. It would require a resident missionary to rear European fruit-trees. The period at which the peach and apricot come into blossom is about the end of the dry season, and artificial irrigation is necessary. The Batoka, the only arboriculturists in the country, rear native fruit-trees alone--the mosibe, the motsikiri, the boma, and others. When a tribe takes an interest in trees, it becomes more attached to the spot on which they are planted, and they prove one of the civilizing influences.
Where one Englishman goes, others are sure to follow. Mr. Baldwin, a gentleman from Natal, succeeded in reaching the Falls guided by his pocket-compass alone. On meeting the second subject of Her Majesty, who had ever beheld the greatest of African wonders, we found him a sort of prisoner at large. He had called on Mashotlane to ferry him over to the north side of the river, and, when nearly over, he took a bath, by jumping in and swimming ashore. "If," said Mashotlane, "he had been devoured by one of the crocodiles which abound there, the English would have blamed us for his death. He nearly inflicted a great injury upon us, therefore, we said, he must pay a fine." As Mr. Baldwin had nothing with him wherewith to pay, they were taking care of him till he should receive beads from his wagon, two days distant.
Mashotlane's education had been received in the camp of Sebituane, where but little regard was paid to human life. He was not yet in his prime, and his fine open countenance presented to us no indication of the evil influences which unhappily, from infancy, had been at work on his mind. The native eye was more penetrating than ours; for the expression of our men was, "He has drunk the blood of men--you may see it in his eyes." He made no further difficulty about Mr. Baldwin; but the week after we left he inflicted a severe wound on the head of one of his wives with his rhinoceros-horn club. She, being of a good family, left him, and we subsequently met her and another of his wives proceeding up the country.