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Title: Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete
Author: Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete" ***

[Transcriber's note: The spelling irregularities of the original have
been retained in this etext.]









KNICKERBOCKER'S HISTORY OF NEW YORK is the book, published in December,
1809, with which Washington living, at the age of twenty-six, first won
wide credit and influence. Walter Scott wrote to an American friend, who
sent him the second edition----

    "I beg you to accept my best thanks for the uncommon degree of
    entertainment which I have received from the most excellently
    jocose History of New York. I am sensible that, as a stranger to
    American parties and politics, I must lose much of the concealed
    satire of the piece, but I must own that, looking at the simple
    and obvious meaning only, I have never read anything so closely
    resembling the style of Dean Swift as the annals of Diedrich
    Knickerbocker. I have been employed these few evenings in reading
    them aloud to Mrs. S. and two ladies who are our guests, and our
    sides have been absolutely sore with laughing. I think, too,
    there are passages which indicate that the author possesses
    powers of a different kind, and has some touches which remind me
    much of Sterne."

Washington Irving was the son of William Irving, a sturdy native of the
Orkneys, allied to the Irvines of Drum, among whose kindred was an old
historiographer who said to them, "Some of the foolish write themselves
Irving." William Irving of Shapinsha, in the Orkney Islands, was a petty
officer on board an armed packet ship in His Majesty's service, when he
met with his fate at Falmouth in Sarah Sanders, whom he married at
Falmouth in May, 1761. Their first child was buried in England before
July, 1763, when peace had been concluded, and William Irving emigrated to
New York with his wife, soon to be joined by his wife's parents.

At New York William Irving entered into trade, and prospered fairly until
the outbreak of the American Revolution. His sympathy, and that of his
wife, went with the colonists. On the 19th of October, 1781, Lord
Cornwallis, with a force of seven thousand men, surrendered at Yorktown.
In October, 1782, Holland acknowledged the independence of the United
States in a treaty concluded at The Hague. In January, 1783, an armistice
was concluded with Great Britain. In February, 1783, the independence of
the United States was acknowledged by Sweden and by Denmark, and in March
by Spain. On the 3rd of April in that year an eleventh child was born to
William and Sarah Irving, who was named Washington, after the hero under
whom the war had been brought to an end. In 1783 the peace was signed, New
York was evacuated, and the independence of the United States acknowledged
by England.

Of the eleven children eight survived. William Irving, the father, was
rigidly pious, a just and honorable man, who made religion burdensome to
his children by associating it too much with restrictions and denials. One
of their two weekly half-holidays was devoted to the Catechism. The
mother's gentler sensibility and womanly impulses gave her the greater
influence; but she reverenced and loved her good husband, and when her
youngest puzzled her with his pranks, she would say, "Ah, Washington, if
you were only good!"

For his lively spirits and quick fancy could not easily be subdued. He
would get out of his bed-room window at night, walk along a coping, and
climb over the roof to the top of the next house, only for the high
purpose of astonishing a neighbor by dropping a stone down his chimney. As
a young school-boy he came upon Hoole's translation of Ariosto, and
achieved in his father's back yard knightly adventures. "Robinson Crusoe"
and "Sindbad the Sailor" made him yearn to go to sea. But this was
impossible unless he could learn to lie hard and eat salt pork, which he
detested. He would get out of bed at night and lie on the floor for an
hour or two by way of practice. He also took every opportunity that came
in his way of eating the detested food. But the more he tried to like it
the nastier it grew, and he gave up as impracticable his hope of going to
sea. He fastened upon adventures of real travelers; he yearned for travel,
and was entranced in his youth by first sight of the beauties of the
Hudson River. He scribbled jests for his school friends, and, of course,
he wrote a school-boy play. At sixteen his schooling was at an end, and he
was placed in a lawyer's office, from which he was transferred to another,
and then, in January, 1802, to another, where he continued his clerkship
with a Mr. Hoffman, who had a young wife, and two young daughters by a
former marriage. With this family Washington Irving, a careless student,
lively, clever, kind, established the happiest relations, of which
afterwards there came the deep grief of his life and a sacred memory.

Washington Irving's eldest brothers were beginning to thrive in business.
A brother Peter shared his frolics with the pen. His artist pleasure in
the theater was indulged without his father's knowledge. He would go to
the play, come home for nine o'clock prayers, go up to bed, and climb out
of his bed-room window, and run back and see the after-piece. So come
evasions of undue restraint. But with all this impulsive liveliness, young
Washington Irving's life appeared, as he grew up, to be in grave danger.
When he was nineteen, and taken by a brother-in-law to Ballston springs,
it was determined by those who heard his incessant night cough that he was
"not long for this world." When he had come of age, in April, 1804, his
brothers, chiefly his eldest brother, who was prospering, provided money
to send him to Europe that he might recover health by restful travel in
France, Italy and England. When he was helped up the side of the vessel
that was to take him from New York to Bordeaux, the captain looked at him
with pity and said, "There's a chap who will go overboard before we get
across." But Washington Irving returned to New York at the beginning of
the year 1806 with health restored.

What followed will be told in the Introduction to the of her volume of
this History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker.



The following work, in which, at the outset, nothing more was contemplated
than a temporary _jeu-d'esprit_, was commenced in company with my brother,
the late Peter Irving, Esq. Our idea was to parody a small hand-book which
had recently appeared, entitled, "A Picture of New York." Like that, our
work was to begin an historical sketch; to be followed by notices of the
customs, manners and institutions of the city; written in a serio-comic
vein, and treating local errors, follies and abuses with good-humored

To burlesque the pedantic lore displayed in certain American works, our
historical sketch was to commence with the creation of the world; and we
laid all kinds of works under contribution for trite citations, relevant
or irrelevant, to give it the proper air of learned research. Before this
crude mass of mock erudition could be digested into form, my brother
departed for Europe, and I was left to prosecute the enterprise alone.

I now altered the plan of the work. Discarding all idea of a parody on the
"Picture of New York," I determined that what had been originally intended
as an introductory sketch should comprise the whole work, and form a comic
history of the city. I accordingly moulded the mass of citations and
disquisitions into introductory chapters, forming the first book; but it
soon became evident to me that, like Robinson Crusoe with his boat, I had
begun on too large a scale, and that, to launch my history successfully, I
must reduce its proportions. I accordingly resolved to confine it to the
period of the Dutch domination, which, in its rise, progress and decline,
presented that unity of subject required by classic rule. It was a period,
also, at that time almost a _terra incognita_ in history. In fact, I was
surprised to find how few of my fellow-citizens were aware that New York
had ever been called New Amsterdam, or had heard of the names of its early
Dutch governors, or cared a straw about their ancient Dutch progenitors.

This, then, broke upon me as the poetic age of our city; poetic from its
very obscurity, and open, like the early and obscure days of ancient Rome,
to all the embellishments of heroic fiction. I hailed my native city as
fortunate above all other American cities in having an antiquity thus
extending back into the regions of doubt and fable; neither did I conceive
I was committing any grievous historical sin in helping out the few facts
I could collect in this remote and forgotten region with figments of my
own brain, or in giving characteristic attributes to the few names
connected with it which I might dig up from oblivion.

In this, doubtless, I reasoned like a young and inexperienced writer,
besotted with his own fancies; and my presumptuous trespasses into this
sacred, though neglected, region of history have met with deserved rebuke
from men of soberer minds. It is too late, however, to recall the shaft
thus rashly launched. To any one whose sense of fitness it may wound, I
can only say with Hamlet----

    "Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
    Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
    That I have shot my arrow o'er the house,
    And hurt my brother."

I will say this in further apology for my work: that if it has taken an
unwarrantable liberty with our early provincial history, it has at least
turned attention to that history, and provoked research. It is only since
this work appeared that the forgotten archives of the province have been
rummaged, and the facts and personages of the olden time rescued from the
dust of oblivion, and elevated into whatever importance they may actually

The main object of my work, in fact, had a bearing wide from the sober aim
of history, but one which, I trust, will meet with some indulgence from
poetic minds. It was to embody the traditions of our city in an amusing
form; to illustrate its local humors, customs and peculiarities; to clothe
home scenes and places and familiar names with those imaginative and
whimsical associations so seldom met with in our new country, but which
live like charms and spells about the cities of the old world, binding the
heart of the native inhabitant to his home.

In this I have reason to believe I have in some measure succeeded. Before
the appearance of my work the popular traditions of our city were
unrecorded; the peculiar and racy customs and usages derived from our
Dutch progenitors were unnoticed, or regarded with indifference, or
adverted to with a sneer. Now they form a convivial currency, and are
brought forward on all occasions; they link our whole community together
in good-humor and good-fellowship; they are the rallying points of home
feeling; the seasoning of our civic festivities; the staple of local tales
and local pleasantries; and are so harped upon by our writers of popular
fiction that I find myself almost crowded off the legendary ground which I
was the first to explore by the host who have followed in my footsteps.

I dwell on this head because, at the first appearance of my work, its aim
and drift were misapprehended by some of the descendants of the Dutch
worthies, and because I understand that now and then one may still be
found to regard it with a captious eye. The far greater part, however, I
have reason to flatter myself, receive my good-humored picturings in the
same temper with which they were executed; and when I find, after a lapse
of nearly forty years, this haphazard production of my youth still
cherished among them; when I find its very name become a "household word,"
and used to give the home stamp to everything recommended for popular
acceptation, such as Knickerbocker societies, Knickerbocker insurance
companies, Knickerbocker steamboats, Knickerbocker omnibuses,
Knickerbocker bread, and Knickerbocker ice; and when I find New Yorkers of
Dutch descent priding themselves upon being "genuine Knickerbockers," I
please myself with the persuasion that I have struck the right chord; that
my dealings with the good old Dutch times, and the customs and usages
derived from them, are n harmony with the feelings and humors of my
townsmen; that I have opened a vein of pleasant associations and quaint
characteristics peculiar to my native place, and which its inhabitants
will not willingly suffer to pass away; and that, though other histories
of New York may appear of higher claims to learned acceptation, and may
take their dignified and appropriate rank in the family library,
Knickerbocker's history will still be received with good-humored
indulgence, and be thumbed and chuckled over by the family fireside.

Sunnyside, 1848.




_From the "Evening Post" of October_ 26, 1809.


Left his lodgings some time since, and has not since been heard of, a
small elderly gentleman, dressed in an old black coat and cocked hat, by
the name of _Knickerbocker_. As there are some reasons for believing he is
not entirely in his right mind, and as great anxiety is entertained about
him, any information concerning him, left either at the Columbian Hotel,
Mulberry Street, or at the office of this paper, will be thankfully

P.S.--Printers of newspapers will be aiding the cause of humanity in
giving an insertion to the above.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the same, November_ 6, 1809.

_To the Editor of the "Evening Post."_

SIR,--Having read, in your paper of the 26th of October last, a paragraph
respecting an old gentleman by the name of _Knickerbocker_, who was
missing from his lodgings; if it would be any relief to his friends, or
furnish them with any clue to discover where he is, you may inform them
that a person answering the description given was seen by the passengers
of the Albany stage, early in the morning, about four or five weeks since,
resting himself by the side of the road, a little above King's Bridge. He
had in his hand a small bundle tied in a red bandana handkerchief: he
appeared to be traveling northward, and was very much fatigued and


       *       *       *       *       *

_From the same, November_ 16, 1809.

_To the Editor of the "Evening Post."_

SIR,--You have been good enough to publish in your paper a paragraph about
_Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker_, who was missing so strangely some time
since. Nothing satisfactory has been heard of the old gentleman since; but
a _very curious kind of a written book_ has been found in his room, in
his own handwriting. Now, I wish you to notice him, if he is still alive,
that if he does not return and pay off his bill for boarding and lodging,
I shall have to dispose of his book to satisfy me for the same.

I am, Sir, your humble servant,


Landlord of the Independent Columbian Hotel,

Mulberry Street.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the same, November_ 28, 1809.


INSKEEP and BRADFORD have in the press, and will shortly publish,

A History of New York,

In two volumes, duodecimo. Price three dollars.

Containing an account of its discovery and settlement, with its internal
policies, manners, customs, wars, &c. &c., under the Dutch government,
furnishing many curious and interesting particulars never before
published, and which are gathered from various manuscript and other
authenticated sources, the whole being interspersed with philosophical
speculations and moral precepts.

This work was found in the chamber of Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker, the old
gentleman whose sudden and mysterious disappearance has been noticed. It
is published in order to discharge certain debts he has left behind.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the "American Citizen" December_ 6, 1809.

Is this day published,

By INSKEEP and BRADFORD, No. 128, Broadway,

A History of New York,

&c. &c.

(Containing same as above.)


It was some time, if I recollect right, in the early part of the fall of
1808, that a stranger applied for lodgings at the Independent Columbian
Hotel in Mulberry Street, of which I am landlord. He was a small,
brisk-looking old gentleman, dressed in a rusty black coat, a pair of
olive velvet breeches, and a small cocked hat. He had a few gray hairs
plaited and clubbed behind, and his beard seemed to be of some
eight-and-forty hours' growth. The only piece of finery which he bore
about him was a bright pair of square silver shoe-buckles; and all his
baggage was contained in a pair of saddle-bags, which he carried under his
arm. His whole appearance was something out of the common run; and my
wife, who is a very shrewd little body, at once set him down for some
eminent country schoolmaster.

As the Independent Columbian Hotel is a very small house, I was a little
puzzled at first where to put him; but my wife, who seemed taken with his
looks, would needs put him in her best chamber, which is genteelly set off
with the profiles of the whole family, done in black, by those two great
painters, Jarvis and Wood: and commands a very pleasant view of the new
grounds on the Collect, together with the rear of the Poor House and
Bridewell, and the full front of the Hospital; so that it is the
cheerfulest room in the whole house.

During the whole time that he stayed with us, we found him a very worthy,
good sort of an old gentleman, though a little queer in his ways. He would
keep in his room for days together, and if any of the children cried, or
made a noise about his door, he would bounce out in a great passion, with
his hands full of papers, and say something about "deranging his ideas;"
which made my wife believe sometimes that he was not altogether _compos_.
Indeed, there was more than one reason to make her think so, for his room
was always covered with scraps of paper and old mouldy books, lying about
at sixes and sevens, which he would never let anybody touch; for he said
he had laid them all away in their proper places, so that he might know
where to find them; though, for that matter, he was half his time worrying
about the house in search of some book or writing which he had carefully
put out of the way. I shall never forget what a pother he once made,
because my wife cleaned out his room when his back was turned, and put
everything to rights; for he swore he would never be able to get his
papers in order again in a twelve-month. Upon this my wife ventured to ask
him, what he did with so many books and papers? and he told her, that he
was "seeking for immortality"; which made her think, more than ever, that
the poor old gentleman's head was a little cracked.

He was a very inquisitive body, and when not in his room was continually
poking about town, hearing all the news, and prying into everything that
was going on; this was particularly the case about election time, when he
did nothing but bustle about him from poll to poll, attending all ward
meetings and committee-rooms; though I could never find that he took part
with either side of the question. On the contrary, he would come home and
rail at both parties with great wrath--and plainly proved one day to the
satisfaction of my wife, and three old ladies who were drinking tea with
her, that the two parties were like two rogues, each tugging at the skirt
of the nation; and that in the end they would tear the very coat off its
back, and expose its nakedness. Indeed, he was an oracle among the
neighbors, who would collect around him to hear him talk of an afternoon,
as he smoked his pipe on the bench before the door; and I really believe
he would have brought over the whole neighborhood to his own side of the
question, if they could ever have found out what it was.

He was very much given to argue, or, as he called it, philosophize, about
the most trifling matter, and to do him justice, I never knew anybody that
was a match for him, except it was a grave-looking old gentleman who
called now and then to see him, and often posed him in an argument. But
this is nothing surprising, as I have since found out this stranger is the
city librarian; and, of course, must be a man of great learning; and I
have my doubts if he had not some hand in the following history.

As our lodger had been a long time with us, and we had never received any
pay, my wife began to be somewhat uneasy, and curious to find out who and
what he was. She accordingly made bold to put the question to his friend
the librarian, who replied, in his dry way, that he was one of the
_Literati_; which she supposed to mean some new party in politics. I scorn
to push a lodger for his pay, so I let day after day pass on without
dunning the old gentleman for a farthing; but my wife, who always takes
these matters on herself, and is, as I said, a shrewd kind of a woman, at
last got out of patience, and hinted, that she thought it high time "some
people should have a sight of some people's money." To which the old
gentleman replied in a mighty touchy manner, that she need not make
herself uneasy, for that he had a treasure there (pointing to his
saddle-bags) worth her whole house put together. This was the only answer
we could ever get from him; and as my wife, by some of those odd ways in
which women find out everything, learnt that he was of very great
connections, being related to the Knickerbockers of Scaghtikoke, and
cousin german to the Congressman of that name, she did not like to treat
him uncivilly. What is more, she even offered, merely by way of making
things easy, to let him live scot-free, if he would teach the children
their letters; and to try her best and get her neighbors to send their
children also; but the old gentleman took it in such dudgeon, and seemed
so affronted at being taken for a schoolmaster, that she never dared to
speak on the subject again.

About two months ago, he went out of a morning, with a bundle in his
hand--and has never been heard of since. All kinds of inquiries were made
after him, but in vain. I wrote to his relations at Scaghtikoke, but they
sent for answer, that he had not been there since the year before last,
when he had a great dispute with the Congressman about politics, and left
the place in a huff, and they had neither heard nor seen anything of him
from that time to this. I must own I felt very much worried about the poor
old gentleman; for I thought something bad must have happened to him, that
he should be missing so long, and never return to pay his bill. I
therefore advertised him in the newspapers, and though my melancholy
advertisement was published by several humane printers, yet I have never
been able to learn anything satisfactory about him.

My wife now said it was high time to take care of ourselves, and see if he
had left anything behind in his room, that would pay us for his board and
lodging. We found nothing, however, but some old books and musty writings,
and his pair of saddle-bags; which, being opened in the presence of the
librarian, contained only a few articles of worn-out clothes and a large
bundle of blotted paper. On looking over this, the librarian told us, he
had no doubt it was the treasure which the old gentleman had spoke about;
as it proved to be a most excellent and faithful History of New York,
which he advised us by all means to publish; assuring us that it would be
so eagerly bought up by a discerning public, that he had no doubt it would
be enough to pay our arrears ten times over. Upon this we got a very
learned schoolmaster, who teaches our children, to prepare it for the
press, which he accordingly has done; and has, moreover, added to it a
number of notes of his own; and an engraving of the city, as it was at the
time Mr. Knickerbocker writes about.

This, therefore, is a true statement of my reasons for having this work
printed, without waiting for the consent of the author; and I here
declare, that if he ever returns (though I much fear some unhappy accident
has befallen him), I stand ready to account with him like a true and
honest man. Which is all at present----

From the public's humble servant,



       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing account of the author was prefixed to the first edition of
this work. Shortly after its publication, a letter was received from him,
by Mr. Handaside, dated at a small Dutch village on the banks of the
Hudson, whither he had traveled for the purpose of inspecting certain
ancient records. As this was one of those few and happy villages, into
which newspapers never find their way, it is not a matter of surprise,
that Mr. Knickerbocker should never have seen the numerous advertisements
that were made concerning him; and that he should learn of the publication
of his history by mere accident.

He expressed much concern at its premature appearance, as thereby he was
prevented from making several important corrections and alterations: as
well as from profiting by many curious hints which he had collected during
his travels along the shores of the Tappan Sea, and his sojourn at
Haverstraw and Esopus.

Finding that there was no longer any immediate necessity for his return to
New York, he extended his journey up to the residence of his relations at
Scaghtikoke. On his way thither he stopped for some days at Albany, for
which city he is known to have entertained a great partiality. He found
it, however, considerably altered, and was much concerned at the inroads
and improvements which the Yankees were making, and the consequent decline
of the good old Dutch manners. Indeed, he was informed that these
intruders were making sad innovations in all parts of the State; where
they had given great trouble and vexation to the regular Dutch settlers,
by the introduction of turnpike-gates and country school-houses. It is
said, also, that Mr. Knickerbocker shook his head sorrowfully at noticing
the gradual decay of the great Vander Heyden palace; but was highly
indignant at finding that the ancient Dutch church, which stood in the
middle of the street, had been pulled down since his last visit.

The fame of Mr. Knickerbocker's History having reached even to Albany, he
received much flattering attention from its worthy burghers; some of whom,
however, pointed out two or three very great errors he had fallen into,
particularly that of suspending a lump of sugar over the Albany
tea-tables, which they assured him had been discontinued for some years
past. Several families, moreover, were somewhat piqued that their
ancestors had not been mentioned in his work, and showed great jealousy of
their neighbors who had thus been distinguished; while the latter, it must
be confessed, plumed themselves vastly thereupon; considering these
recordings in the lights of letters patent of nobility, establishing their
claims to ancestry, which, in this republican country, is a matter of no
little solicitude and vain-glory.

It is also said, that he enjoyed high favor and countenance from the
governor, who once asked him to dinner, and was seen two or three times to
shake hands with him when they met in the street; which certainly was
going great lengths, considering that they differed in politics. Indeed,
certain of the governor's confidential friends, to whom he could venture
to speak his mind freely on such matters, have assured us that he
privately entertained a considerable good-will for our author--nay, he
even once went so far as to declare, and that openly too, and at his own
table, just after dinner, that "Knickerbocker was a very well-meaning sort
of an old gentleman, and no fool." From all which may have been led to
suppose, that, had our author been of different politics, and written for
the newspapers instead of wasting his talents on histories, he might have
risen to some post of honor and profit: peradventure to be a notary
public, or even a justice in the ten-pound court.

Besides the honors and civilities already mentioned, he was much caressed
by the _literati_ of Albany; particularly by Mr. John Cook, who
entertained him very hospitably at his circulating library and
reading-room, where they used to drink Spa water, and talk about the
ancients. He found Mr. Cook a man after his own heart--of great literary
research, and a curious collector of books At parting, the latter, in
testimony of friendship, made him a present of the two oldest works in his
collection; which were, the earliest edition of the Heidelberg Catechism,
and Adrian Vander Donck's famous account of the New Netherlands; by the
last of which Mr. Knickerbocker profited greatly in this his second

Having passed some time very agreeably at Albany, our author proceeded to
Scaghtikoke; where, it is but justice to say, he was received with open
arms, and treated with wonderful loving-kindness. He was much looked up to
by the family, being the first historian of the name; and was considered
almost as great a man as his cousin the Congressman--with whom, by-the-by,
he became perfectly reconciled, and contracted a strong friendship.

In spite, however, of the kindness of his relations, and their great
attention to his comforts, the old gentleman soon became restless and
discontented. His history being published, he had no longer any business
to occupy his thoughts, or any scheme to excite his hopes and
anticipations. This, to a busy mind like his, was a truly deplorable
situation; and had he not been a man of inflexible morals and regular
habits, there would have been great danger of his taking to politics or
drinking--both which pernicious vices we daily see men driven to by mere
spleen and idleness.

It is true he sometimes employed himself in preparing a second edition of
his history, wherein he endeavored to correct and improve many passages
with which he was dissatisfied, and to rectify some mistakes that had
crept into it; for he was particularly anxious that his work should be
noted for its authenticity; which, indeed, is the very life and soul of
history. But the glow of composition had departed--he had to leave many
places untouched which he would fain have altered; and even where he did
make alterations, he seemed always in doubt whether they were for the
better or the worse.

After a residence of some time at Scaghtikoke, he began to feel a strong
desire to return to New York, which he ever regarded with the warmest
affection; not merely because it was his native city, but because he
really considered it the very best city in the whole world. On his return
he entered into the full enjoyment of the advantages of a literary
reputation. He was continually importuned to write advertisements,
petitions, handbills, and productions of similar import; and, although he
never meddled with the public papers, yet had he the credit of writing
innumerable essays, and smart things, that appeared on all subjects, and
all sides of the question, in all which he was clearly detected "by his

He contracted, moreover, a considerable debt at the postoffice, in
consequence of the numerous letter he received from authors and printers
soliciting his subscription--and he was applied to by every charitable
society for yearly donations, which he gave very cheerfully, considering
these applications as so many compliments. He was once invited to a great
corporation dinner; and was even twice summoned to attend as a juryman at
the court of quarter sessions. Indeed, so renowned did he become, that he
could no longer pry about, as formerly, in all holes and corners of the
city, according to the bent of his humor, unnoticed and uninterrupted; but
several times when he has been sauntering the streets, on his usual
rambles of observation, equipped with his cane and cocked hat, the little
boys at play have been known to cry, "There goes Diedrich!" at which the
old gentleman seemed not a little pleased, looking upon these salutations
in the light of the praise of posterity.

In a word, if we take into consideration all these various honors and
distinctions, together with an exuberant eulogium, passed on his in the
Portfolio (with which, we are told, the old gentleman was so much
overpowered, that he was sick for two or three days) it must be confessed
that few authors have ever lived to receive such illustrious rewards, or
have so completely enjoyed in advance their own immortality.

After his return from Scaghtikoke, Mr. Knickerbocker took up his residence
at a little rural retreat, which the Stuyvesants had granted him on the
family domain, in gratitude for his honorable mention of their ancestor.
It was pleasantly situated on the borders of one of the salt marshes
beyond Corlear's Hook; subject, indeed, to be occasionally over-flowed,
and much infested, in the summer-time, with mosquitoes; but otherwise
very agreeable, producing abundant crops of salt grass and bulrushes.

Here, we are sorry to say, the good old gentleman fell dangerously ill of
a fever, occasioned by the neighboring marshes. When he found his end
approaching, he disposed of his worldly affairs, leaving the bulk of his
fortune to the New York Historical Society; his Heidelberg Catechism and
Vander Donck's work to the City Library; and his saddle-bags to Mr.
Handaside. He forgave all his enemies--that is to say, all that bore any
enmity towards him; for as to himself, he declared he died in good-will to
all the world. And, after dictating several kind messages, to his
relations at Scaghtikoke, as well as to certain of our most substantial
Dutch citizens, he expired in the arms of his friend the librarian.

His remains were interred, according to his own request, in St. Mark's
Churchyard, close by the bones of his favorite hero, Peter Stuyvesant; and
it is rumored that the Historical Society have it in mind to erect a
wooden monument to his memory in the Bowling Green.


"To rescue from oblivion the memory of former incidents, and to render a
just tribute of renown to the many great and wonderful transactions of our
Dutch progenitors, Diedrich Knickerbocker, native of the city of New York,
produces this historical essay."[1] Like the great Father of History,
whose words I have just quoted, I treat of times long past, over which the
twilight of uncertainty had already thrown its shadows, and the night of
forgetfulness was about to descend for ever. With great solicitude had I
long beheld the early history of this venerable and ancient city gradually
slipping from our grasp, trembling on the lips of narrative old age, and
day by day dropping piecemeal into the tomb. In a little while, thought I,
and those revered Dutch burghers, who serve as the tottering monuments of
good old times, will be gathered to their fathers; their children,
engrossed by the empty pleasures or insignificant transactions of the
present age, will neglect to treasure up the recollections of the past,
and posterity will search in vain for memorials of the days of the
Patriarchs. The origin of our city will be buried in eternal oblivion, and
even the names and achievements of Wouter Van Twiller, William Kieft, and
Peter Stuyvesant be enveloped in doubt and fiction, like those of Romulus
and Remus, of Charlemagne, King Arthur, Rinaldo, and Godfrey of Boulogne.

Determined, therefore, to avert if possible this threatened misfortune, I
industriously set myself to work to gather together all the fragments of
our ancient history which still existed; and, like my revered prototype,
Herodotus, where no written records could be found, I have endeavored to
continue the chain of history by well-authenticated traditions.

In this arduous undertaking, which has been the whole business of a long
and solitary life, it is incredible the number of learned authors I have
consulted, and all to but little purpose. Strange as it may seem, though
such multitudes of excellent works have been written about this country,
there are none extant which give any full and satisfactory account of the
early history of New York, or of its three first Dutch Governors. I have,
however, gained much valuable and curious matter from an elaborate
manuscript, written in exceeding pure and classic low Dutch, excepting a
few errors in orthography, which was found in the archives of the
Stuyvesant family. Many legends, letters, and other documents have I
likewise gleaned in my researches among the family chests and lumber
garrets of our respectable Dutch citizens; and I have gathered a host of
well-authenticated traditions from divers excellent old ladies of my
acquaintance, who requested that their names might not be mentioned. Nor
must I neglect to acknowledge how greatly I have been assisted by that
admirable and praiseworthy institution, the New York Historical Society,
to which I here publicly return my sincere acknowledgments.

In the conduct, of this inestimable work I have adopted no individual
model, but, on the contrary, have simply contented myself with combining
and concentrating the excellences of the most approved ancient historians.
Like Xenophon, I have maintained the utmost impartiality, and the
strictest adherence to truth throughout my history. I have enriched it,
after the manner of Sallust, with various characters of ancient worthies,
drawn at full length and faithfully colored. I have seasoned it with
profound political speculations like Thucydides, sweetened it with the
graces of sentiment like Tacitus, and infused into the whole the dignity,
the grandeur and magnificence of Livy.

I am aware that I shall incur the censure of numerous very learned and
judicious critics for indulging too frequently in the bold excursive
manner of my favorite Herodotus. And, to be candid, I have found it
impossible always to resist the allurements of those pleasing episodes,
which, like flowery banks and fragrant bowers, beset the dusty road of the
historian, and entice him to turn aside, and refresh himself from his
wayfaring. But I trust it will be found that I have always resumed my
staff, and addressed myself to my weary journey with renovated spirits, so
that both my readers and myself have been benefited by the relaxation.

Indeed, though it has been my constant wish and uniform endeavor to rival
Polybius himself, in observing the requisite unity of History, yet the
loose and unconnected manner in which many of the facts herein recorded
have come to hand rendered such an attempt extremely difficult. This
difficulty was likewise increased by one of the grand objects contemplated
in my work, which was to trace the rise of sundry customs and institutions
in these best of cities, and to compare them, when in the germ of infancy,
with what they are in the present old age of knowledge and improvement.

But the chief merit on which I value myself, and found my hopes for future
regard, is that faithful veracity with which I have compiled this
invaluable little work; carefully winnowing away the chaff of hypothesis,
and discarding the tares of fable, which are too apt to spring up and
choke the seeds of truth and wholesome knowledge. Had I been anxious to
captivate the superficial throng, who skim like swallows over the surface
of literature; or had I been anxious to commend my writings to the
pampered palates of literary epicures, I might have availed myself of the
obscurity that overshadows the infant years of our city, to introduce a
thousand pleasing fictions. But I have scrupulously discarded many a pithy
tale and marvelous adventure, whereby the drowsy ear of summer indolence
might be enthralled; jealously maintaining that fidelity, gravity, and
dignity which should ever distinguish the historian. "For a writer of this
class," observes an elegant critic, "must sustain the character of a wise
man writing for the instruction of posterity; one who has studied to
inform himself well, who has pondered his subject with care, and addresses
himself to our judgment rather than to our imagination."

Thrice happy, therefore, is this our renowned city, in having incidents
worthy of swelling the theme of history; and doubly thrice happy is it in
having such an historian as myself to relate them. For, after all, gentle
reader, cities of themselves, and, in fact, empires of themselves, are
nothing without an historian. It is the patient narrator who records their
prosperity as they rise--who blazons forth the splendor of their noontide
meridian--who props their feeble memorials as they totter to decay--who
gathers together their scattered fragments as they rot--and who piously,
at length, collects their ashes into the mausoleum of his work, and rears
a triumphant monument to transmit their renown to all succeeding ages.

What has been the fate of many fair cities of antiquity, whose nameless
ruins encumber the plains of Europe and Asia, and awaken the fruitless
inquiry of the traveler? They have sunk into dust and silence--they have
perished from remembrance for want of a historian! The philanthropist may
weep over their desolation--the poet may wander among their mouldering
arches and broken columns, and indulge the visionary flights of his
fancy--but alas! alas! the modern historian, whose pen, like my own, is
doomed to confine itself to dull matter of fact, seeks in vain among
their oblivious remains for some memorial that may tell the instructive
tale of their glory and their ruin.

"Wars, conflagrations, deluges," says Aristotle, "destroy nations, and
with them all their monuments, their discoveries, and their vanities. The
torch of science has more than once been extinguished and rekindled--a few
individuals, who have escaped by accident, reunite the thread of

The same sad misfortune which has happened to so many ancient cities will
happen again, and from the same sad cause, to nine-tenths of those which
now flourish on the face of the globe. With most of them the time for
recording their history is gone by: their origin, their foundation,
together with the early stages of their settlement, are for ever buried in
the rubbish of years; and the same would have been the case with this fair
portion of the earth if I had not snatched it from obscurity in the very
nick of time, at the moment that those matters herein recorded were about
entering into the widespread insatiable maw of oblivion--if I had not
dragged them out, as it were, by the very locks, just as the monster's
adamantine fangs were closing upon them for ever! And here have I, as
before observed, carefully collected, collated, and arranged them, scrip
and scrap, "_punt en punt, gat en gat_," and commenced in this little
work, a history to serve as a foundation on which other historians may
hereafter raise a noble superstructure, swelling in process of time, until
Knickerbocker's New York may be equally voluminous with Gibbon's Rome, or
Hume and Smollett's England!

And now indulge me for a moment: while I lay down my pen, skip to some
little eminence at the distance of two or three hundred years ahead; and,
casting back a bird's-eye glance over the waste of years that is to roll
between, discover myself--little I--at this moment the progenitor,
prototype, and precursor of them all, posted at the head of this host of
literary worthies, with my book under my arm, and New York on my back,
pressing forward, like a gallant commander, to honor and immortality.

Such are the vain-glorious misgivings that will now and then enter into
the brain of the author--that irradiate, as with celestial light, his
solitary chamber, cheering his weary spirits, and animating him to
persevere in his labors. And I have freely given utterance to these
rhapsodies whenever they have occurred; not, I trust, from an unusual
spirit of egotism, but merely that the reader may for once have an idea
how an author thinks and feels while he is writing--a kind of knowledge
very rare and curious, and much to be desired.


    [1] Beloe's Herodotus.





According to the best authorities, the world in which we dwell is a huge,
opaque, reflecting, inanimate mass, floating in the vast ethereal ocean of
infinite space. It has the form of an orange, being an oblate spheroid,
curiously flattened at opposite parts, for the insertion of two imaginary
poles, which are supposed to penetrate and unite at the center; thus
forming an axis on which the mighty orange turns with a regular diurnal

The transitions of light and darkness, whence proceed the alternations of
day and night, are produced by this diurnal revolution successively
presenting the different parts of the earth to the rays of the sun. The
latter is, according to the best, that is to say, the latest, accounts a
luminous or fiery body, of a prodigious magnitude, from which this world
is driven by a centrifugal or repelling power, and to which it is drawn by
a centripetal or attractive force; otherwise called the attraction of
gravitation; the combination, or rather the counteraction, of these two
opposing impulses producing a circular and annual revolution. Hence result
the different seasons of the year--viz., spring, summer, autumn, and

This I believe to be the most approved modern theory on the subject;
though there be many philosophers who have entertained very different
opinions; some, too, of them entitled to much deference from their great
antiquity and illustrious characters. Thus it was advanced by some of the
ancient sages that the earth was an extended plain, supported by vast
pillars; and by others that it rested on the head of a snake, or the back
of a huge tortoise; but as they did not provide a resting place for either
the pillars or the tortoise, the whole theory fell to the ground for want
of proper foundation.

The Brahmins assert, that the heavens rest upon the earth, and the sun and
moon swim therein like fishes in the water, moving from east to west by
day, and gliding along the edge of the horizon to their original stations
during the night;[2] while, according to the Pauranicas of India, it is a
vast plain, encircled by seven oceans of mild, nectar, and other delicious
liquids; that it is studded with seven mountains, and ornamented in the
center by a mountainous rock of burnished gold; and that a great dragon
occasionally swallows up the moon, which accounts for the phenomena of
lunar eclipses.[3]

Beside these, and many other equally sage opinions, we have the profound
conjectures of Aboul-Hassan-Aly, son of Al Khan, son of Aly, son of
Abderrahman, son of Abdallah, son of Masoud el-Hadheli, who is commonly
called Masoudi, and surnamed Cothbeddin, but who takes the humble title of
Laheb-ar-rasoul, which means the companion of the ambassador of God. He
has written a universal history, entitled, "Mouroudge-ed-dharab or the
Golden Meadows, and the Mines of Precious Stones."[4] In this valuable work
he has related the history of the world, from the creation down to the
moment of writing; which was under the Khaliphat of Mothi Billah, in the
month Dgioumadi-el-aoual of the 336th year of the Hegira or flight of the
Prophet. He informs us that the earth is a huge bird, Mecca and Medina
constitute the head, Persia and India the right wing, the land of Gog the
left wing, and Africa the tail. He informs us moreover, that an earth has
existed before the present (which he considers as a mere chicken of 7,000
years), that it has undergone divers deluges, and that, according to the
opinion of some well-informed Brahmins of his acquaintance; it will be
renovated every seventy thousandth hazarouam; each hazarouam consisting of
12,000 years.

These are a few of the many contradictory opinions of philosophers
concerning the earth, and we find that the learned have had equal
perplexity as to the nature of the sun. Some of the ancient philosophers
have affirmed that it is a vast wheel of brilliant fire;[5] others that it
is merely a mirror or sphere of transparent crystal;[6] and a third class,
at the head of whom stands Anaxagoras, maintained that it was nothing but
a huge ignited mass of iron or stone--indeed he declared the heavens to be
merely a vault of stone--and that the stars were stones whirled upward
from the earth, and set on fire by the velocity of its revolutions.[7] But
I give little attention to the doctrines of this philosopher, the people
of Athens having fully refuted them by banishing him from their city; a
concise mode of answering unwelcome doctrines, much resorted to in former
days. Another sect of philosophers do declare, that certain fiery
particles exhale constantly from the earth, which, concentrating in a
single point of the firmament by day, constitute the sun, but being
scattered and rambling about in the dark at night, collect in various
points, and form stars. These are regularly burnt out and extinguished,
not unlike to the lamps in our streets, and require a fresh supply of
exhalations for the next occasion.[8]

It is even recorded that at certain remote and obscure periods, in
consequence of a great scarcity of fuel, the sun has been completely burnt
out, and sometimes not rekindled for a month at a time. A most melancholy
circumstance, the very idea of which gave vast concern to Heraclitus, that
worthy weeping philosopher of antiquity. In addition to these various
speculations, it was the opinion of Herschel that the sun is a
magnificent, habitable abode; the light it furnishes arising from certain
empyreal, luminous or phosphoric clouds, swimming in its transparent

But we will not enter further at present into the nature of the sun, that
being an inquiry not immediately necessary to the development of this
history; neither will we embroil ourselves in any more of the endless
disputes of philosophers touching the form of this globe, but content
ourselves with the theory advanced in the beginning of this chapter, and
will proceed to illustrate by experiment the complexity of motion therein
described to this our rotatory planet.

Professor Von Poddingcoft (or Puddinghead, as the name may be rendered
into English) was long celebrated in the University of Leyden for profound
gravity of deportment and a talent at going to sleep in the midst of
examinations, to the infinite relief of his hopeful students, who thereby
worked their way through college with great ease and little study. In the
course of one of his lectures, the learned professor seizing a bucket of
water swung it around his head at arm's length. The impulse with which he
threw the vessel from him, being a centrifugal force, the retention of his
arm operating as a centripetal power, and the bucket, which was a
substitute for the earth, describing a circular orbit round about the
globular head and ruby visage of Professor Von Poddingcoft, which formed
no bad representation of the sun. All of these particulars were duly
explained to the class of gaping students around him. He apprised them,
moreover, that the same principle of gravitation which retained the water
in the bucket restrains the ocean from flying from the earth in its rapid
revolutions; and he farther informed them that should the motion of the
earth be suddenly checked, it would incontinently fall into the sun,
through the centripetal force of gravitation: a most ruinous event to this
planet, and one which would also obscure, though it most probably would
not extinguish, the solar luminary. An unlucky stripling, one of those
vagrant geniuses who seem sent into the world merely to annoy worthy men
of the puddinghead order, desirous of ascertaining the correctness of the
experiment, suddenly arrested the arm of the professor just at the moment
that the bucket was in its zenith, which immediately descended with
astonishing precision upon the philosophic head of the instructor of
youth. A hollow sound, and a red-hot hiss, attended the contact; but the
theory was in the amplest manner illustrated, for the unfortunate bucket
perished in the conflict; but the blazing countenance of Professor Von
Poddingcoft emerged from amidst the waters, glowing fiercer than ever with
unutterable indignation, whereby the students were marvelously edified,
and departed considerably wiser than before.

It is a mortifying circumstance, which greatly perplexes many a
painstaking philosopher, that nature often refuses to second his most
profound and elaborate efforts; so that often after having invented one
of the most ingenious and natural theories imaginable, she will have the
perverseness to act directly in the teeth of his system, and flatly
contradict his most favorite positions. This is a manifest and unmerited
grievance, since it throws the censure of the vulgar and unlearned
entirely upon the philosopher; whereas the fault is not to be ascribed to
his theory, which is unquestionably correct, but to the waywardness of
Dame Nature, who, with the proverbial fickleness of her sex, is
continually indulging in coquetries and caprices, and seems really to take
pleasure in violating all philosophic rules, and jilting the most learned
and indefatigable of her adorers. Thus it happened with respect to the
foregoing satisfactory explanation of the motion of our planet; it appears
that the centrifugal force has long since ceased to operate, while its
antagonist remains in undiminished potency: the world, therefore,
according to the theory as it originally stood, ought in strict propriety
to tumble into the sun; philosophers were convinced that it would do so,
and awaited in anxious impatience the fulfillment of their prognostics.
But the untoward planet pertinaciously continued her course, not
withstanding that she had reason, philosophy, and a whole university of
learned professors opposed to her conduct. The philosophers took this in
very ill part, and it is thought they would never have pardoned the slight
and affront which they conceived put upon them by the world had not a
good-natured professor kindly officiated as a mediator between the
parties, and effected a reconciliation.

Finding the world would not accommodate itself to the theory, he wisely
determined to accommodate the theory to the world; he therefore informed
his brother philosophers that the circular motion of the earth round the
sun was no sooner engendered by the conflicting impulses above described
than it became a regular revolution independent of the cause which gave it
origin. His learned brethren readily joined in the opinion, being
heartily glad of any explanation that would decently extricate them from
their embarrassment; and ever since that memorable era the world has been
left to take her own course, and to revolve around the sun in such orbit
as she thinks proper.


    [2] Faria y Souza: Mick. Lus. note b. 7.

    [3] Sir W. Jones, Diss. Antiq. Ind. Zod.

    [4] MSS. Bibliot. Roi. Fr.

    [5] Plutarch de Plac. Philos. lib. ii. cap. 20

    [6] Achill. Tat. isag. cap. 19; Ap. Petav. t. iii. p. 81; Stob.
        Eclog. Phys. lib. i. p. 56; Plut. de Plac. Philos.

    [7] Diogenes Laertius in Anaxag. 1. ii. sec. 8; Plat Apol. t. i.
        p. 26; Plut. de Plac. Philos; Xenoph. Mem. 1. iv. p. 815.

    [8] Aristot. Meteor. 1. ii. c. 2; Idem. Probl. sec. 15; Stob.
        Ecl. Phys. 1. i. p. 55; Bruck. Hist. Phil, t. i. p. 1154, etc.

    [9] Philos. Trans. 1795, p. 72; Idem. 1801, p. 265; Nich. Philos.
        Journ. i. p. 13.


Having thus briefly introduced my reader to the world, and given him some
idea of its form and situation, he will naturally be curious to know from
whence it came, and how it was created. And, indeed, the clearing up of
these points is absolutely essential to my history, inasmuch as if this
world had not been formed, it is more than probable that this renowned
island, on which is situated the city of New York, would never have had an
existence. The regular course of my history, therefore, requires that I
should proceed to notice the cosmogony or formation of this our globe.

And now I give my readers fair warning that I am about to plunge, for a
chapter or two, into as complete a labyrinth as ever historian was
perplexed withal; therefore, I advise them to take fast hold of my skirts,
and keep close at my heels, venturing neither to the right hand nor to the
left, lest they get bemired in a slough of unintelligible learning, or
have their brains knocked out by some of those hard Greek names which will
be flying about in all directions. But should any of them be too indolent
or chicken-hearted to accompany me in this perilous undertaking, they had
better take a short cut round, and wait for me at the beginning of some
smoother chapter.

Of the creation of the world we have a thousand contradictory accounts;
and though a very satisfactory one is furnished us by divine revelation,
yet every philosopher feels himself in honor bound to furnish us with a
better. As an impartial historian, I consider it my duty to notice their
several theories, by which mankind have been so exceedingly edified and

Thus it was the opinion of certain ancient sages, that the earth and the
whole system of the universe was the Deity himself;[10] a doctrine most
strenuously maintained by Zenophanes and the whole tribe of Eleatics, as
also by Strabo and the sect of peripatetic philosophers. Pythagoras
likewise inculcated the famous numerical system of the monad, dyad, and
triad; and by means of his sacred quaternary, elucidated the formation of
the world, the arcana of nature, and the principles both of music and
morals.[11] Other sages adhered to the mathematical system of squares and
triangles; the cube, the pyramid, and the sphere; the tetrahedron, the
octahedron, the icosahedron, and the dodecahedron.[12] While others
advocated the great elementary theory, which refers the construction of
our globe and all that it contains to the combinations of four material
elements, air, earth, fire, and water; with the assistance of a fifth, an
immaterial and vivifying principle.

Nor must I omit to mention the great atomic system taught by old Moschus
before the siege of Troy; revived by Democritus of laughing memory;
improved by Epicurus, that king of good fellows; and modernized by the
fanciful Descartes. But I decline inquiring, whether the atoms, of which
the earth is said to be composed, are eternal or recent; whether they are
animate or inanimate; whether, agreeably, to the opinion of Atheists, they
were fortuitously aggregated, or, as the Theists maintain, were arranged
by a supreme intelligence.[13] Whether, in fact, the earth be an insensate
clod, or whether it be animated by a soul,[14] which opinion was
strenuously maintained by a host of philosophers, at the head of whom
stands the great Plato, that temperate sage, who threw the cold water of
philosophy on the form of sexual intercourse, and inculcated the doctrine
of Platonic love--an exquisitely refined intercourse, but much better
adapted to the ideal inhabitants of his imaginary island of Atlantis than
to the sturdy race, composed of rebellious flesh and blood, which
populates the little matter-of-fact island we inhabit.

Besides these systems, we have, moreover, the poetical theogony of old
Hesiod, who generated the whole universe in the regular mode of
procreation; and the plausible opinion of others, that the earth was
hatched from the great egg of night, which floated in chaos, and was
cracked by the horns of the celestial bull. To illustrate this last
doctrine, Burnet, in his theory of the earth,[15] has favored us with an
accurate drawing and description, both of the form and texture of this
mundane egg, which is found to bear a marvelous resemblance to that of a
goose. Such of my readers as take a proper interest in the origin of this
our planet will be pleased to learn that the most profound sages of
antiquity among the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, and Latins
have alternately assisted at the hatching of this strange bird, and that
their cacklings have been caught, and continued in different tones and
inflections, from philosopher to philosopher, unto the present day.

But while briefly noticing long celebrated systems of ancient sages, let
me not pass over, with neglect, those of other philosophers, which, though
less universal than renowned, have equal claims to attention, and equal
chance for correctness. Thus it is recorded by the Brahmins in the pages
of their inspired Shastah, that the angel Bistnoo transformed himself into
a great boar, plunged into the watery abyss, and brought up the earth on
his tusks. Then issued from him a mighty tortoise and a mighty snake; and
Bistnoo placed the snake erect upon the back of the tortoise, and he
placed the earth upon the head of the snake.[16]

The negro philosophers of Congo affirm, that the world was made by the
hands of angels, excepting their own country, which the Supreme Being
constructed himself that it might be supremely excellent. And he took
great pains with the inhabitants, and made them very black and beautiful;
and when he had finished the first man, he was well pleased with him, and
smoothed him over the face, and hence his nose, and the nose of all his
descendants, became flat.

The Mohawk philosophers tell us, that a pregnant woman fell down from
heaven, and that a tortoise took her upon its back, because every place
was covered with water; and that the woman, sitting upon the tortoise,
paddled with her hands in the water, and raked up the earth, whence it
finally happened that the earth became higher than the water.[17]

But I forbear to quote a number more of these ancient and outlandish
philosophers, whose deplorable ignorance, in despite of all their
erudition, compelled them to write in languages which but few of my
readers can understand; and I shall proceed briefly to notice a few more
intelligible and fashionable theories of their modern successors.

And, first, I shall mention the great Buffon, who conjectures that this
globe was originally a globe of liquid fire, scintillated from the body of
the sun, by the percussion of a comet, as a spark is generated by the
collision of flint and steel. That at first it was surrounded by gross
vapors, which, cooling and condensing in process of time, constituted,
according to their densities, earth, water, and air, which gradually
arranged themselves, according to their respective gravities, round the
burning or vitrified mass that formed their center.

Hutton, on the contrary, supposes that the waters at first were
universally paramount; and he terrifies himself with the idea that the
earth must be eventually washed away by the force of rain, rivers, and
mountain torrents, until it is confounded with the ocean, or, in other
words, absolutely dissolves into itself. Sublime idea! far surpassing that
of the tender-hearted damsel of antiquity, who wept herself into a
fountain; or the good dame of Narbonne in France, who, for a volubility of
tongue unusual in her sex, was doomed to peel five hundred thousand and
thirty-nine ropes of onions, and actually run out at her eyes before half
the hideous task was accomplished.

Whistorn, the same ingenious philosopher who rivaled Ditton in his
researches after the longitude (for which the mischief-loving Swift
discharged on their heads a most savory stanza), has distinguished himself
by a very admirable theory respecting the earth. He conjectures that it
was originally a chaotic comet, which, being selected for the abode of
man, was removed from its eccentric orbit; and whirled round the sun in
its present regular motion; by which change of direction, order succeeded
to confusion in the arrangement of its component parts. The philosopher
adds that the deluge was produced by an uncourteous salute from the watery
tail of another comet; doubtless through sheer envy of its improved
condition; thus furnishing a melancholy proof that jealousy may prevail
even among the heavenly bodies, and discord interrupt that celestial
harmony of the spheres so melodiously sung by the poets.

But I pass over a variety of excellent theories, among which are those of
Burnet, and Woodward, and Whitehurst; regretting extremely that my time
will not suffer me to give them the notice they deserve; and shall
conclude with that of the renowned Dr. Darwin. This learned Theban, who is
as much distinguished for rhyme as reason, and for good-natured credulity
as serious research, and who has recommended himself wonderfully to the
good graces of the ladies, by letting them into all the gallantries,
amours, debaucheries, and other topics of scandal of the court of Flora,
has fallen upon a theory worthy of his combustible imagination. According
to his opinion, the huge mass of chaos took a sudden occasion to explode,
like a barrel of gunpowder, and in that act exploded the sun--which, in
its flight, by a similar convulsion, exploded the earth, which in like
guise exploded the moon--and thus, by a concatenation of explosions, the
whole solar system was produced, and set most systematically in

By the great variety of theories here alluded to, every one of which, if
thoroughly examined, will be found surprisingly consistent in all its
parts, my unlearned readers will perhaps be led to conclude that the
creation of a world is not so difficult a task as they at first imagined.
I have shown at least a score of ingenious methods in which a world could
be constructed; and I have no doubt that had any of the philosophers above
quoted the use of a good manageable comet, and the philosophical
warehouse, chaos, at his command, he would engage to manufacture, a planet
as good, or, if you would take his word for it, better than this we

And here I cannot help noticing the kindness of Providence in creating
comets for the great relief of bewildered philosophers. By their
assistance more sudden evolutions and transitions are effected in the
system of nature than are wrought in a pantomimic exhibition by the
wonder-working sword of harlequin. Should one of our modern sages, in his
theoretical flights among the stars, ever find himself lost in the clouds,
and in danger of tumbling into the abyss of nonsense and absurdity, he has
but to seize a comet by the beard, mount astride of its tail, and away he
gallops in triumph like an enchanter on his hippogriff, or a Connecticut
witch on her broomstick, "to sweep the cobwebs out of the sky."

It is an old and vulgar saying about a "beggar on horseback" which I would
not for the world have applied to these reverend philosophers; but I must
confess that some of them, when they are mounted on one of those fiery
steeds, are as wild in their curvettings as was Phaeton of yore, when he
aspired to manage the chariot of Phoebus. One drives his comet at full
speed against the sun, and knocks the world out of him with the mighty
concussion; another, more moderate, makes his comet a kind of beast of
burden, carrying the sun a regular supply of food and faggots; a third, of
more combustible disposition, threatens to throw his comet like a
bombshell into the world, and blow it up like a powder magazine; while a
fourth, with no great delicacy to this planet and its inhabitants,
insinuates that some day or other his comet--my modest pen blushes while I
write it--shall absolutely turn tail upon our world and deluge it with
water! Surely, as I have already observed, comets were bountifully
provided by Providence for the benefit of philosophers to assist them in
manufacturing theories.

And now, having adduced several of the most prominent theories that occur
to my recollection, I leave my judicious readers at full liberty to
choose among them. They are all serious speculations of learned men--all
differ essentially from each other--and all have the same title to belief.
It has ever been the task of one race of philosophers to demolish the
works of their predecessors, and elevate more splendid fantasies in their
stead, which in their turn are demolished and replaced by the air-castles
of a succeeding generation. Thus it would seem that knowledge and genius,
of which we make such great parade, consist but in detecting the errors
and absurdities of those who have gone before, and devising new errors and
absurdities, to be detected by those who are to come after us. Theories
are the mighty soap-bubbles with which the grown-up children of science
amuse themselves while the honest vulgar stand gazing in stupid
admiration, and dignify these learned vagaries with the name of wisdom!
Surely Socrates was right in his opinion, that philosophers are but a
soberer sort of madmen, busying themselves in things totally
incomprehensible, or which, if they could be comprehended, would be found
not worthy the trouble of discovery.

For my own part, until the learned have come to an agreement among
themselves, I shall content myself with the account handed down to us by
Moses; in which I do but follow the example of our ingenious neighbors of
Connecticut; who at their first settlement proclaimed that the colony
should be governed by the laws of God--until they had time to make better.

One thing, however, appears certain--from the unanimous authority of the
before quoted philosophers, supported by the evidence of our own senses
(which, though very apt to deceive us, may be cautiously admitted as
additional testimony)--it appears, I say, and I make the assertion
deliberately, without fear of contradiction, that this globe really was
created, and that it is composed of land and water. It further appears
that it is curiously divided and parceled out into continents and islands,
among which I boldly declare the renowned island of New York will be found
by any one who seeks for it in its proper place.


   [10] Aristot. ap, Cic. lib. i. cap. 3.

   [11] Aristot. Metaph. lib. i. c. 5.; Idem, de Coelo, 1. iii, c.
        I; Rousseau mem. sur Musique ancien. p. 39; Plutarch de Plac.
        Philos. lib. i. cap. 3.

   [12] Tim. Locr. ap. Plato. t. iii. p. 90.

   [13] Aristot. Nat. Auscult. I. ii. cap. 6; Aristoph. Metaph. lib.
        i. cap. 3; Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. cap. 10; Justin Mart. orat.
        ad gent. p. 20.

   [14] Mosheim in Cudw. lib. i. cap. 4; Tim. de anim. mund. ap. Plat.
        lib. iii.; Mem. de l'Acad. des Belles-Lettr. t. xxxii. p. 19.

   [15] Book i. ch. 5.

   [16] Holwell, Gent. Philosophy.

   [17] Johannes Megapolensis. Jun. Account of Maquaas or Mohawk Indians.

   [18] Drw. Bot. Garden, part i. cant. i. 1. 105.


Noah, who is the first seafaring man we read of, begat three sons, Shem,
Ham, and Japhet. Authors, it is true, are not wanting who affirm that the
patriarch had a number of other children. Thus Berosus makes him father of
the gigantic Titans; Methodius gives him a son called Jonithus, or Jonicus
(who was the first inventor of Johnny cakes); and others have mentioned a
son, named Thuiscon, from whom descended the Teutons or Teutonic, or, in
other words, the Dutch nation.

I regret exceedingly that the nature of my plan will not permit me to
gratify the laudable curiosity of my readers, by investigating minutely
the history of the great Noah. Indeed, such an undertaking would be
attended with more trouble than many people would imagine; for the good
old patriarch seems to have been a great traveler in his day, and to have
passed under a different name in every country that he visited. The
Chaldeans, for instance, give us his story, merely altering his name into
Xisuthrus--a trivial alteration, which to an historian skilled in
etymologies will appear wholly unimportant. It appears, likewise, that he
had exchanged his tarpaulin and quadrant among the Chaldeans for the
gorgeous insignia of royalty, and appears as a monarch in their annals.
The Egyptians celebrate him under the name of Osiris; the Indians as Menu;
the Greek and Roman writers confound him with Ogyges; and the Theban with
Deucalion and Saturn. But the Chinese, who deservedly rank among the most
extensive and authentic historians, inasmuch as they have known the world
much longer than any one else, declare that Noah was no other than Fohi;
and what gives this assertion some air of credibility is that it is a
fact, admitted by the most enlightened _literati_, that Noah traveled into
China, at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel (probably to
improve himself in the study of languages), and the learned Dr. Shuckford
gives us the additional information that the ark rested on a mountain on
the frontiers of China.

From this mass of rational conjectures and sage hypotheses many
satisfactory deductions might be drawn; but I shall content myself with
the simple fact stated in the Bible--viz., that Noah begat three sons,
Shem, Ham, and Japhet. It is astonishing on what remote and obscure
contingencies the great affairs of this world depend, and how events the
most distant, and to the common observer unconnected, are inevitably
consequent the one to the other. It remains to the philosopher to discover
these mysterious affinities, and it is the proudest triumph of his skill
to detect and drag forth some latent chain of causation, which at first
sight appears a paradox to the inexperienced observer. Thus many of my
readers will doubtless wonder what connection the family of Noah can
possibly have with this history; and many will stare when informed that
the whole history of this quarter of the world has taken its character and
course from the simplest circumstance of the patriarch's having but three
sons--but to explain.

Noah, we are told by sundry very credible historians, becoming sole
surviving heir and proprietor of the earth, in fee simple, after the
deluge, like a good father, portioned out his estate among his children.
To Shem he gave Asia; to Ham, Africa; and to Japhet, Europe. Now it is a
thousand times to be lamented that he had but three sons, for had there
been a fourth he would doubtless have inherited America, which, of
course, would have been dragged forth from its obscurity on the occasion;
and thus many a hard-working historian and philosopher would have been
spared a prodigious mass of weary conjecture respecting the first
discovery and population of this country. Noah, however, having provided
for his three sons, looked in all probability upon our country as mere
wild unsettled land, and said nothing about it; and to this unpardonable
taciturnity of the patriarch may we ascribe the misfortune that America
did not come into the world as early as the other quarters of the globe.

It is true, some writers have vindicated him from this misconduct towards
posterity, and asserted that he really did discover America. Thus it was
the opinion of Mark Lescarbot, a French writer, possessed of that
ponderosity of thought and profoundness of reflection so peculiar to his
nation, that the immediate descendants of Noah peopled this quarter of the
globe, and that the old patriarch himself, who still retained a passion
for the seafaring life, superintended the transmigration. The pious and
enlightened father, Charlevoix, a French Jesuit, remarkable for his
aversion to the marvelous, common to all great travelers, is conclusively
of the same opinion; nay, he goes still farther, and decides upon the
manner in which the discovery was effected, which was by sea, and under
the immediate direction of the great Noah. "I have already observed,"
exclaims the good father, in a tone of becoming indignation, "that it is
an arbitrary supposition that the grandchildren of Noah were not able to
penetrate into the new world, or that they never thought of it. In effect,
I can see no reason that can justify such a notion. Who can seriously
believe that Noah and his immediate descendants knew less than we do, and
that the builder and pilot of the greatest ship that ever was, a ship
which was formed to traverse an unbounded ocean, and had so many shoals
and quicksands to guard against, should be ignorant of, or should not
have communicates to his descendants, the art of sailing on the ocean?
Therefore, they did sail on the ocean--therefore, they sailed to
America--therefore, America was discovered by Noah!"

Now all this exquisite chain of reasoning, which is so strikingly
characteristic of the good father, being addressed to the faith, rather
than the understanding, is flatly opposed by Hans de Laet, who declares it
a real and most ridiculous paradox to suppose that Noah ever entertained
the thought of discovering America; and as Hans is a Dutch writer, I am
inclined to believe he must have been much better acquainted with the
worthy crew of the ark than his competitors, and of course possessed of
more accurate sources of information. It is astonishing how intimate
historians do daily become with the patriarchs and other great men of
antiquity. As intimacy improves with time, and as the learned are
particularly inquisitive and familiar in their acquaintance with the
ancients, I should not be surprised if some future writers should gravely
give us a picture of men and manners as they existed before the flood, far
more copious and accurate than the Bible; and that, in the course of
another century, the log-book of the good Noah should be as current among
historians as the voyages of Captain Cook, or the renowned history of
Robinson Crusoe.

I shall not occupy my time by discussing the huge mass of additional
suppositions, conjectures, and probabilities respecting the first
discovery of this country, with which unhappy historians overload
themselves in their endeavors to satisfy the doubts of an incredulous
world. It is painful to see these laborious wights panting, and toiling,
and sweating under an enormous burden, at the very outset of their works,
which, on being opened, turns out to be nothing but a mighty bundle of
straw. As, however, by unwearied assiduity, they seem to have established
the fact, to the satisfaction of all the world, that this country has
been discovered I shall avail myself of their useful labors to be
extremely brief upon this point.

I shall not, therefore, stop to inquire whether America was first
discovered by a wandering vessel of that celebrated Phoenician fleet,
which, according to Herodotus, circumnavigated Africa; or by that
Carthaginian expedition which, Pliny the naturalist informs us, discovered
the Canary Islands; or whether it was settled by a temporary colony from
Tyre, as hinted by Aristotle and Seneca. I shall neither inquire whether
it was first discovered by the Chinese, as Vossius with great shrewdness
advances; nor by the Norwegians in 1002, under Biron; nor be Behem the
German navigator, as Mr. Otto has endeavored to prove to the savants of
the learned city of Philadelphia.

Nor shall I investigate the more modern claims of the Welsh, founded on
the voyage of Prince Madoc in the eleventh century, who, having never
returned, it has since been wisely concluded that he must have gone to
America, and that for a plain reason if he did not go there, where else
could he have gone?--a question which most Socratically shuts out all
further dispute.

Laying aside, therefore, all the conjectures above mentioned, with a
multitude of others equally satisfactory, I shall take for granted the
vulgar opinion that America was discovered on the 12th of October, 1492,
by Christopher Colon, a Genoese, who has been clumsily nicknamed Columbus,
but for what reason I cannot discern. Of the voyages and adventures of
this Colon I shall say nothing, seeing that they are already sufficiently
known. Nor shall I undertake to prove that this country should have been
called Colonia, after his name, that being notoriously self-evident.

Having thus happily got my readers on this side of the Atlantic, I picture
them to myself, all impatience to enter upon the enjoyment of the land of
promise, and in full expectation that I will immediately deliver it into
their possession. But if I do, may I ever forfeit the reputation of a
regular bred historian! No--no--most curious and thrice-learned readers
(for thrice learned ye are if ye have read all that has gone before, and
nine times learned shall ye be if ye read that which comes after), we have
yet a world of work before us. Think you the first discoverers of this
fair quarter of the globe had nothing to do but go on shore and find a
country ready laid out and cultivated like a garden, wherein they might
revel at their ease? No such thing. They had forests to cut down,
underwood to grub up, marshes to drain, and savages to exterminate. In
like manner, I have sundry doubts to clear away, questions to resolve, and
paradoxes to explain before I permit you to range at random; but these
difficulties once overcome we shall be enabled to jog on right merrily
through the rest of our history. Thus my work shall, in a manner, echo the
nature of the subject, in the same manner as the sound of poetry has been
found by certain shrewd critics to echo the sense--this being an
improvement in history which I claim the merit of having invented.


The next inquiry at which we arrive in the regular course of our history
is to ascertain, if possible, how this country was originally peopled--a
point fruitful of incredible embarrassments; for unless we prove that the
aborigines did absolutely come from somewhere, it will be immediately
asserted in this age of scepticism, that they did not come at all; and if
they did not come at all, then was this country never populated--a
conclusion perfectly agreeable to the rules of logic, but wholly
irreconcilable to every feeling of humanity, inasmuch as it must
syllogistically prove fatal to the innumerable aborigines of this populous

To avert so dire a sophism, and to rescue from logical annihilation so
many millions of fellow-creatures, how many wings of geese have been
plundered! what oceans of ink have been benevolently drained! and how many
capacious heads of learned historians have been addled and for ever
confounded! I pause with reverential awe when I contemplate the ponderous
tomes in different languages, with which they have endeavored to solve
this question, so important to the happiness of society, but so involved
in clouds of impenetrable obscurity. Historian after historian has engaged
in the endless circle of hypothetical argument, and, after leading us a
weary chase through octavos, quartos, and folios, has let us out at the
end of his work just as wise as we were at the beginning. It was doubtless
some philosophical wild-goose chase of the kind that made the old poet
Macrobius rail in such a passion at curiosity, which he anathematises most
heartily as "an irksome, agonising care, a superstitious industry about
unprofitable things, an itching humor to see what is not to be seen, and
to be doing what signifies nothing when it is done." But to proceed.

Of the claims of the children of Noah to the original population of this
country I shall say nothing, as they have already been touched upon in my
last chapter. The claimants next in celebrity are the descendants of
Abraham. Thus Christoval Colon (vulgarly called Columbus), when he first
discovered the gold mines of Hispaniola, immediately concluded, with a
shrewdness that would have done honor to a philosopher, that he had found
the ancient Ophir, from whence Solomon procured the gold for embellishing
the temple at Jerusalem; nay, Colon even imagined that he saw the remains
of furnaces of veritable Hebraic construction, employed in refining the
precious ore.

So golden a conjecture, tinctured with such fascinating extravagance, was
too tempting not to be immediately snapped at by the gudgeons of
learning; and, accordingly, there were divers profound writers ready to
swear to its correctness, and to bring in their usual load of authorities
and wise surmises, wherewithal to prop it up. Vatablus and Robert Stephens
declared nothing could be more clear; Arius Montanus, without the least
hesitation, asserts that Mexico was the true Ophir, and the Jews the early
settlers of the country. While Possevin, Becan, and several other
sagacious writers lug in a supposed prophecy of the fourth book of Esdras,
which being inserted in the mighty hypothesis, like the keystone of an
arch, gives it, in their opinion, perpetual durability.

Scarce, however, have they completed their goodly superstructure when in
trudges a phalanx of opposite authors with Hans de Laet, the great
Dutchman, at their head, and at one blow tumbles the whole fabric about
their ears. Hans, in fact, contradicts outright all the Israelitish claims
to the first settlement of this country, attributing all those equivocal
symptoms, and traces of Christianity and Judaism, which have been said to
be found in divers provinces of the new world, to the Devil, who has
always effected to counterfeit the worship of the true Deity. "A remark,"
says the knowing old Padre d'Acosta, "made by all good authors who have
spoken of the religion of nations newly discovered, and founded, besides,
on the authority of the fathers of the church."

Some writers again, among whom it is with much regret I am compelled to
mention Lopez de Gomara and Juan de Leri, insinuate that the Canaanites,
being driven from the land of promise by the Jews, were seized with such a
panic that they fled without looking behind them, until stopping to take
breath, they found themselves safe in America. As they brought neither
their national language, manners, nor features with them it is supposed
they left them behind in the hurry of their flight. I cannot give my
faith to this opinion.

I pass over the supposition of the learned Grotius, who being both an
ambassador and a Dutchman to boot, is entitled to great respect, that
North America was peopled by a strolling company of Norwegians, and that
Peru was founded by a colony from China--Manco or Mungo Capac, the first
Incas, being himself a Chinese. Nor shall I more than barely mention that
Father Kircher ascribes the settlement of America to the Egyptians,
Budbeck to the Scandinavians, Charron to the Gauls, Juffredus Petri to a
skating party from Friesland, Milius to the Celtæ, Marinocus the Sicilian
to the Romans, Le Comte to the Phoenicians, Postel to the Moors, Martin
d'Angleria to the Abyssinians, together with the sage surmise of De Laet,
that England, Ireland, and the Orcades may contend for that honor.

Nor will I bestow any more attention or credit to the idea that America is
the fairy region of Zipangri, described by that dreaming traveler Marco
Polo the Venetian; or that it comprises the visionary island of Atlantis,
described by Plato. Neither will I stop to investigate the heathenish
assertion of Paracelsus, that each hemisphere of the globe was originally
furnished with an Adam and Eve. Or the more flattering opinion of Dr.
Romayne, supported by many nameless authorities, that Adam was of the
Indian race; or the startling conjecture of Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin,
so highly honorable to mankind, that the whole human species is
accidentally descended foam a remarkable family of monkeys!

This last conjecture, I must own, came upon me very suddenly and very
ungraciously. I have often beheld the clown in a pantomime, while gazing
in stupid wonder at the extravagant gambols of a harlequin, all at once
electrified by a sudden stroke of the wooden sword across his shoulders.
Little did I think at such times that it would ever fall to my lot to be
treated with equal discourtesy, and that while I was quietly beholding
these grave philosophers emulating the eccentric transformations of the
hero of pantomime, they would on a sudden turn upon me and my readers, and
with one hypocritical flourish metamorphose us into beasts! I determined
from that moment not to burn my fingers with any more of their theories,
but content myself with detailing the different methods by which they
transported the descendants of these ancient and respectable monkeys to
this great field of theoretical warfare.

This was done either by migrations by land or transmigrations by water.
Thus Padre Joseph d'Acosta enumerates three passages by land, first by the
north of Europe, secondly by the north of Asia, and, thirdly, by regions
southward of the Straits of Magellan. The learned Grotius marches his
Norwegians by a pleasant route across frozen rivers and arms of the sea,
through Iceland, Greenland, Estotiland, and Naremberga; and various
writers, among whom are Angleria, De Hornn, and Buffon, anxious for the
accommodation of these travelers, have fastened the two continents
together by a strong chain of deductions--by which means they could pass
over dry-shod. But should even this fail, Pinkerton, that industrious old
gentleman, who compiles books and manufactures geographies, has
constructed a natural bridge of ice, from continent to continent, at the
distance of four or five miles from Behring's Straits-for which he is
entitled to the grateful thanks of all the wandering aborigines who ever
did or ever will pass over it.

It is an evil much to be lamented that none of the worthy writers above
quoted could ever commence his work without immediately declaring
hostilities against every writer who had treated of the same subject. In
this particular authors may be compared to a certain sagacious bird,
which, in building its nest is sure to pull to pieces the nests of all
the birds in its neighborhood. This unhappy propensity tends grievously to
impede the progress of sound knowledge. Theories are at best but brittle
productions, and when once committed to the stream, they should take care
that, like the notable pots which were fellow-voyagers, they do not crack
each other.

My chief surprise is, that among the many writers I have noticed, no one
has attempted to prove that this country was peopled from the moon--or
that the first inhabitants floated hither on islands of ice, as white
bears cruise about the northern oceans--or that they were conveyed hither
by balloons, as modern aeronauts pass from Dover to Calais--or by
witchcraft, as Simon Magus posted among the stars--or after the manner of
the renowned Scythian Abaris, who, like the New England witches on
full-blooded broomsticks, made most unheard-of journeys on the back of a
golden arrow, given him by the Hyperborean Apollo.

But there is still one mode left by which this country could have been
peopled, which I have reserved for the last, because I consider it worth
all the rest; it is--by accident! Speaking of the islands of Solomon, New
Guinea, and New Holland, the profound father Charlevoix observes: "In
fine, all these countries are peopled, and it is possible some have been
so by accident. Now if it could have happened in that manner, why might it
not have been at the same time, and by the same means, with the other
parts of the globe?" This ingenious mode of deducing certain conclusions
from possible premises is an improvement in syllogistic skill, and proves
the good father superior even to Archimedes, for he can turn the world
without anything to rest his lever upon. It is only surpassed by the
dexterity with which the sturdy old Jesuit in another place cuts the
gordian knot--"Nothing," says he, "is more easy. The inhabitants of both
hemispheres are certainly the descendants of the same father. The common
father of mankind received an express order from Heaven to people the
world, and accordingly it has been peopled. To bring this about it was
necessary to overcome all difficulties in the way, and they have also been
overcome!" Pious logician! how does he put all the herd of laborious
theorists to the blush, by explaining in five words what it has cost them
volumes to prove they knew nothing about!

From all the authorities here quoted, and a variety of others which I have
consulted, but which are omitted through fear of fatiguing the unlearned
reader, I can only draw the following conclusions, which luckily, however,
are sufficient for my purpose. First, that this part of the world has
actually been peopled (Q.E.D.) to support which we have living proofs in
the numerous tribes of Indians that inhabit it. Secondly, that it has been
peopled in five hundred different ways, as proved by a cloud of authors,
who, from the positiveness of their assertions, seem to have been
eye-witnesses to the fact. Thirdly, that the people of this country had a
variety of fathers, which, as it may not be thought much to their credit
by the common run of readers, the less we say on the subject the better.
The question, therefore, I trust, is for ever at rest.


The writer of a history may, in some respects, be likened unto an
adventurous knight, who having undertaken a perilous enterprise by way of
establishing his fame, feels bound, in honor and chivalry to turn back for
no difficulty nor hardship, and never to shrink or quail, whatever enemy
he may encounter. Under this impression, I resolutely draw my pen, and
fall to with might and main at those doughty questions and subtle
paradoxes which, like fiery dragons and bloody giants, beset the entrance
to my history, and would fain repulse me from the very threshold. And at
this moment a gigantic question has started up, which I must needs take by
the beard and utterly subdue before I can advance another step in my
historic undertaking; but I trust this will be the last adversary I shall
have to contend with, and that in the next book I shall be enabled to
conduct my readers in triumph into the body of my work.

The question which has thus suddenly arisen is, What right had the first
discoverers of America to land and take possession of a country without
first gaining the consent of its inhabitants, or yielding them an adequate
compensation for their territory?--a question which has withstood many
fierce assaults, and has given much distress of mind to multitudes of
kind-hearted folk. And, indeed, until it be totally vanquished, and put to
rest, the worthy people of America can by no means enjoy the soil they
inhabit with clear right and title, and quiet, unsullied conscience.

The first source of right by which property is acquired in a country is
discovery. For as all mankind have an equal right to anything which has
never before been appropriated, so any nation that discovers an
uninhabited country, and takes possession thereof, is considered as
enjoying full property, and absolute, unquestionable empire therein.[19]

This proposition being admitted, it follows clearly that the Europeans who
first visited America were the real discoverers of the same; nothing being
necessary to the establishment of this fact but simply to prove that it
was totally uninhabited by man. This would at first appear to be a point
of some difficulty, for it is well known that this quarter of the world
abounded with certain animals, that walked erect on two feet, had
something of the human countenance, uttered certain unintelligible
sounds, very much like language; in short, had a marvelous resemblance to
human beings. But the zealous and enlightened fathers who accompanied the
discoverers, for the purpose of promoting the kingdom of heaven by
establishing fat monasteries and bishoprics on earth, soon cleared up this
point, greatly to the satisfaction of his holiness the Pope and of all
Christian voyagers and discoverers.

They plainly proved, and, as there were no Indian writers arose on the
other side, the fact was considered as fully admitted and established,
that the two-legged race of animals before mentioned were mere cannibals,
detestable monsters, and many of them giants--which last description of
vagrants have, since the time of Gog, Magog, and Goliath, been considered
as outlaws, and have received no quarter in either history, chivalry, or
song. Indeed, even the philosophic Bacon declared the Americans to be
people proscribed by the laws of nature, inasmuch as they had a barbarous
custom of sacrificing men, and feeding upon man's flesh.

Nor are these all the proofs of their utter barbarism; among many other
writers of discernment, Ulla tells us, "their imbecility is so visible
that one can hardly form an idea of them different from what one has of
the brutes. Nothing disturbs the tranquillity of their souls, equally
insensible to disasters and to prosperity. Though half naked, they are as
contented as a monarch in his most splendid array. Fear makes no
impression on them, and respect as little." All this is furthermore
supported by the authority of M. Boggier. "It is not easy," says he, "to
describe the degree of their indifference for wealth and all its
advantages. One does not well know what motives to propose to them when
one would persuade them to any service. It is vain to offer them money;
they answer they are not hungry." And Vane gas confirms the whole,
assuring us that "ambition they have none, and are more desirous of being
thought strong than valiant. The objects of ambition with us--honor, fame,
reputation, riches, posts, and distinctions--are unknown among them. So
that this powerful spring of action, the cause of so much seeming good and
real evil in the world, has no power over them. In a word, these unhappy
mortals may be compared to children, in whom the development of reason is
not completed."

Now all these peculiarities, although in the unenlightened states of
Greece they would have entitled their possessors to immortal honor, as
having reduced to practice those rigid and abstemious maxims, the mere
talking about which acquired certain old Greeks the reputation of sages
and philosophers; yet were they clearly proved in the present instance to
betoken a most abject and brutified nature, totally beneath the human
character. But the benevolent fathers, who had undertaken to turn these
unhappy savages into dumb beasts by dint of argument, advanced still
stronger proofs; for as certain divines of the sixteenth century, and
among the rest Lullus, affirm, the Americans go naked, and have no beards!
"They have nothing," says Lullus, "of the reasonable animal, except the
mask." And even that mask was allowed to avail them but little, for it was
soon found that they were of a hideous copper complexion--and being of a
copper complexion, it was all the same as if they were negroes--and
negroes are black, "and black," said the pious fathers, devoutly crossing
themselves, "is the color of the devil!" Therefore, so far from being able
to own property, they had no right even to personal freedom--for liberty
is too radiant a deity to inhabit such gloomy temples. All which
circumstances plainly convinced the righteous followers of Cortes and
Pizarro that these miscreants had no title to the soil that they
infested--that they were a perverse, illiterate, dumb, beardless,
black-seed--mere wild beasts of the forests and, like them, should either
be subdued or exterminated.

From the foregoing arguments, therefore, and a variety of others equally
conclusive, which I forbear to enumerate, it is clearly evident that this
fair quarter of the globe, when first visited by Europeans, was a howling
wilderness, inhabited by nothing but wild beasts; and that the
transatlantic visitors acquired an incontrovertible property therein, by
the right of discovery.

This right being fully established, we now come to the next, which is the
right acquired by cultivation. "The cultivation of the soil," we are told,
"is an obligation imposed by nature on mankind. The whole world is
appointed for the nourishment of its inhabitants; but it would be
incapable of doing it, was it uncultivated. Every nation is then obliged
by the law of nature to cultivate the ground that has fallen to its share.
Those people, like the ancient Germans and modern Tartars, who, having
fertile countries, disdain to cultivate the earth, and choose to live by
rapine, are wanting to themselves, and deserve to be exterminated as
savage and pernicious beasts."[20]

Now it is notorious that the savages knew nothing of agriculture when
first discovered by the Europeans, but lived a most vagabond, disorderly,
unrighteous life, rambling from place to place, and prodigally rioting
upon the spontaneous luxuries of nature, without tasking her generosity to
yield them anything more; whereas it has been most unquestionably shown
that Heaven intended the earth should be ploughed, and sown, and manured,
and laid out into cities, and towns, and farms, and country seats, and
pleasure grounds, and public gardens, all which the Indians knew nothing
about--therefore, they did not improve the talents Providence had
bestowed on them--therefore they were careless stewards--therefore, they
had no right to the soil--therefore, they deserved to be exterminated.

It is true the savages might plead that they drew all the benefits from
the land which their simple wants required--they found plenty of game to
hunt, which, together with the roots and uncultivated fruits of the earth,
furnished a sufficient variety for their frugal repasts; and that as
Heaven merely designed the earth to form the abode and satisfy the wants
of man, so long as those purposes were answered the will of Heaven was
accomplished. But this only proves how undeserving they were of the
blessings around them--they were so much the more savages for not having
more wants; for knowledge is in some degree an increase of desires, and it
is this superiority both in the number and magnitude of his desires that
distinguishes the man from the beast. Therefore the Indians, in not having
more wants, were very unreasonable animals; and it was but just that they
should make way for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants to their one,
and, therefore, would turn the earth to more account, and by cultivating
it more truly fulfil the will of Heaven. Besides--Grotius and Lauterbach,
and Puffendorf, and Titius, and many wise men beside, who have considered
the matter properly, have determined that the property of a country cannot
be acquired by hunting, cutting wood, or drawing water in it--nothing but
precise demarcation of limits, and the intention of cultivation, can
establish the possession. Now as the savages (probably from never having
read the authors above quoted) had never complied with any of these
necessary forms, it plainly follows that they had no right to the soil,
but that it was completely at the disposal of the first comers, who had
more knowledge, more wants, and more elegant, that is to say artificial,
desires than themselves.

In entering upon a newly discovered, uncultivated country, therefore, the
new comers were but taking possession of what, according to the aforesaid
doctrine, was their own property--therefore in opposing them, the savages
were invading their just rights, infringing the immutable laws of nature,
and counteracting the will of Heaven--therefore, they were guilty of
impiety, burglary, and trespass on the case--therefore, they were hardened
offenders against God and man--therefore, they ought to be exterminated.

But a more irresistible right than either that I have mentioned, and one
which will be the most readily admitted by my reader, provided he be
blessed with bowels of charity and philanthropy, is the right acquired by
civilization. All the world knows the lamentable state in which these poor
savages were found. Not only deficient in the comforts of life, but, what
is still worse, most piteously and unfortunately blind to the miseries of
their situation. But no sooner did the benevolent inhabitants of Europe
behold their sad condition than they immediately went to work to
ameliorate and improve it. They introduced among them rum, gin, brandy,
and the other comforts of life--and it is astonishing to read how soon the
poor savages learn to estimate those blessings--they likewise made known
to them a thousand remedies, by which the most inveterate diseases are
alleviated and healed; and that they might comprehend the benefits and
enjoy the comforts of these medicines, they previously introduced among
them the diseases which they were calculated to cure. By these and a
variety of other methods was the condition of these poor savages
wonderfully improved; they acquired a thousand wants of which they had
before been ignorant, and as he has most sources of happiness who has most
wants to be gratified, they were doubtlessly rendered a much happier race
of beings.

But the most important branch of civilization, and which has most
strenuously been extolled by the zealous and pious fathers of the Roman
Church, is the introduction of the Christian faith. It was truly a sight
that might well inspire horror, to behold these savages tumbling among the
dark mountains of paganism, and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of
religion. It is true, they neither stole nor defrauded; they were sober,
frugal, continent, and faithful to their word; but though they acted right
habitually, it was all in vain, unless they acted so from precept. The new
comers, therefore, used every method to induce them to embrace and
practice the true religion--except, indeed, that of setting them the

But not withstanding all these complicated labors for their good, such was
the unparalleled obstinacy of these stubborn wretches, that they
ungratefully refused to acknowledge the strangers as their benefactors,
and persisted in disbelieving the doctrines they endeavored to inculcate;
most insolently alleging that, from their conduct, the advocates of
Christianity did not seem to believe in it themselves. Was not this too
much for human patience? Would not one suppose that the benign visitants
from Europe, provoked at their incredulity and discouraged by their
stiff-necked obstinacy, would for ever have abandoned their shores, and
consigned them to their original ignorance and misery? But no: so zealous
were they to effect the temporal comfort and eternal salvation of these
pagan infidels that they even proceeded from the milder means of
persuasion to the more painful and troublesome one of persecution--let
loose among them whole troops of fiery monks and furious
bloodhounds--purified them by fire and sword, by stake and faggot; in
consequence of which indefatigable measures the cause of Christian love
and charity was so rapidly advanced that in a few years not one fifth of
the number of unbelievers existed in South America that were found there
at the time of its discovery.

What stronger right need the European settlers advance to the country than
this? Have not whole nations of uninformed savages been made acquainted
with a thousand imperious wants and indispensable comforts of which they
were before wholly ignorant? Have they not been literally hunted and
smoked out of the dens and lurking places of ignorance and infidelity, and
absolutely scourged into the right path? Have not the temporal things, the
vain baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which were too apt to engage
their worldly and selfish thoughts, been benevolently taken from them; and
have they not, instead thereof, been taught to set their affections on
things above? And finally, to use the words of a reverend Spanish father,
in a letter to his superior in Spain: "Can any one have the presumption to
say that these savage pagans have yielded anything more than an
inconsiderable recompense to their benefactors, in surrendering to them a
little pitiful tract of this dirty sublunary planet, in exchange for a
glorious inheritance in the kingdom of heaven."

Here then are three complete and undeniable sources of right established,
any one of which was more than ample to establish a property in the
newly-discovered regions of America. Now, so it has happened in certain
parts of this delightful quarter of the globe that the right of discovery
has been so strenuously asserted--the influence of cultivation so
industriously extended, and the progress of salvation and civilization so
zealously persecuted; that, what with their attendant wars, persecutions,
oppressions, diseases, and other partial evils that often hang on the
skirts of great benefits--the savage aborigines have, somehow or other,
been utterly annihilated--and this all at once brings me to a fourth
right, which is worth all the others put together. For the original
claimants to the soil being all dead and buried, and no one remaining to
inherit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards, as the next immediate
occupants, entered upon the possession as clearly as the hangman succeeds
to the clothes of the malefactor--and as they have Blackstone[21] and all
the learned expounders of the law on their side, they may set all actions
of ejectment at defiance--and this last right may be entitled the right by
extermination, or in other words, the right by gunpowder.

But lest any scruples of conscience should remain on this head, and to
settle the question of right for ever, his holiness Pope Alexander VI.
issued a mighty Bull, by which he generously granted the newly-discovered
quarter of the globe to the Spaniards and Portuguese; who, thus having law
and gospel on their side, and being inflamed with great spiritual zeal,
showed the pagan savages neither favor nor affection, but persecuted the
work of discovery, colonization, civilization, and extermination with ten
times more fury than ever.

Thus were the European worthies who first discovered America clearly
entitled to the soil, and not only entitled to the soil, but likewise to
the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, for having come so far,
endured so many perils by sea and land, and taken such unwearied pains,
for no other purpose but to improve their forlorn, uncivilized, and
heathenish condition; for having made them acquainted with the comforts of
life; for having introduced among them the light of religion; and,
finally, for having hurried them out of the world to enjoy its reward!

But as argument is never so well understood by us selfish mortals as when
it comes home to ourselves, and as I am particularly anxious that this
question should be put to rest for ever, I will suppose a parallel case,
by way of arousing the candid attention of my readers.

Let us suppose, then, that the inhabitants of the moon, by astonishing
advancement in science, and by profound insight into that ineffable lunar
philosophy, the mere flickerings of which have of late years dazzled the
feebled optics, and addled the shallow brains of the good people of our
globe--let us suppose, I say, that the inhabitants of the moon, by these
means, had arrived at such a command of their energies, such an enviable
state of perfectibility, as to control the elements, and navigate the
boundless regions of space. Let us suppose a roving crew of these soaring
philosophers, in the course of an aerial voyage of discovery among the
stars, should chance to alight upon this outlandish planet. And here I beg
my readers will not have the uncharitableness to smile, as is too
frequently the fault of volatile readers, when perusing the grave
speculations of philosophers. I am far from indulging in any sportive vein
at present; nor is the supposition I have been making so wild as many may
deem it. It has long been a very serious and anxious question with me, and
many a time and oft, in the course of my overwhelming cares and
contrivances for the welfare and protection of this my native planet, have
I lain awake whole nights debating in my mind whether it were most
probable we should first discover and civilize the moon, or the moon
discover and civilize our globe. Neither would the prodigy of sailing in
the air or cruising among the stars be a whit more astonishing and
incomprehensible to us than was the European mystery of navigating
floating castles through the world of waters to the simple savages. We
have already discovered the art of coasting along the aerial shores of our
planet by means of balloons, as the savages had of venturing along their
sea-coasts in canoes; and the disparity between the former and the aerial
vehicles of the philosophers from the moon might not be greater than that
between the bark canoes of the savages and the mighty ships of their
discoverers. I might here pursue an endless chain of similar speculations;
but as they would be unimportant to my subject, I abandon them to my
reader, particularly if he be a philosopher, as matters well worthy of his
attentive consideration.

To return, then, to my supposition--let us suppose that the aerial
visitants I have mentioned, possessed of vastly superior knowledge to
ourselves--that is to say, possessed of superior knowledge in the art of
extermination--riding on hippogriffs--defended with impenetrable
armor--armed with concentrated sunbeams, and provided with vast engines,
to hurl enormous moonstones; in short, let us suppose them, if our vanity
will permit the supposition, as superior to us in knowledge, and
consequently in power, as the Europeans were to the Indians when they
first discovered them. All this is very possible, it is only our
self-sufficiency that makes us think otherwise; and I warrant the poor
savages, before they had any knowledge of the white men, armed in all the
terrors of glittering steel and tremendous gunpowder, were as perfectly
convinced that they themselves were the wisest, the most virtuous,
powerful, and perfect of created beings, as are at this present moment the
lordly inhabitants of old England, the volatile populace of France, or
even the self-satisfied citizens of this most enlightened republic.

Let us suppose, moreover, that the aerial voyagers, finding this planet to
be nothing but a howling wilderness, inhabited by us poor savages and wild
beasts, shall take formal possession of it, in the name of his most
gracious and philosophic excellency, the Man in the Moon. Finding however
that their numbers are incompetent to hold it in complete subjection, on
account of the ferocious barbarity of its inhabitants, they shall take our
worthy President, the King of England, the Emperor of Hayti, the mighty
Bonaparte, and the great King of Bantam, and, returning to their native
planet, shall carry them to court, as were the Indian chiefs led about as
spectacles in the courts of Europe.

Then making such obeisance as the etiquette of the court requires, they
shall address the puissant Man in the Moon in, as near as I can
conjecture, the following terms:----

"Most serene and mighty Potentate, whose dominions extend as far as eye
can reach, who rideth on the Great Bear, useth the sun as a looking glass,
and maintaineth unrivaled control over tides, madmen, and sea-crabs. We,
thy liege subjects, have just returned from a voyage of discovery, in the
course of which we have landed and taken possession of that obscure little
dirty planet, which thou beholdest rolling at a distance. The five uncouth
monsters which we have brought into this august present were once very
important chiefs among their fellow-savages, who are a race of beings
totally destitute of the common attributes of humanity, and differing in
everything from the inhabitants of the moon, inasmuch as they carry their
heads upon their shoulders, instead of under their arms--have two eyes
instead of one--are utterly destitute of tails, and of a variety of
unseemly complexions, particularly of horrible whiteness, instead of

"We have moreover found these miserable savages sunk into a state of the
utmost ignorance and depravity, every man shamelessly living with his own
wife, and rearing his own children, instead of indulging in that community
of wives enjoined by the law of nature, as expounded by the philosophers
of the moon. In a word, they have scarcely a gleam of true philosophy
among them, but are, in fact, utter heretics, ignoramuses, and barbarians.
Taking compassion, therefore, on the sad condition of these sublunary
wretches, we have endeavored, while we remained on their planet, to
introduce among them the light of reason and the comforts of the moon. We
have treated them to mouthfuls of moonshine, and draughts of nitrous
oxide, which they swallowed with incredible voracity, particularly the
females; and we have likewise endeavored to instil into them the precepts
of lunar philosophy. We have insisted upon their renouncing the
contemptible shackles of religion and common sense, and adoring the
profound, omnipotent, and all perfect energy, and the ecstatic, immutable,
immovable perfection. But such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these
wretched savages that they persisted in cleaving to their wives, and
adhering to their religion, and absolutely set at nought the sublime
doctrines of the moon--nay, among other abominable heresies they even went
so far as blasphemously to declare that this ineffable planet was made of
nothing more nor less than green cheese!"

At these words, the great Man in the Moon (being a very profound
philosopher) shall fall into a terrible passion, and possessing equal
authority over things that do not belong to him, as did whilome his
holiness the Pope, shall forthwith issue a formidable Bull, specifying,
"That whereas a certain crew of Lunatics have lately discovered and taken
possession of a newly-discovered planet called the earth; and that whereas
it is inhabited by none but a race of two-legged animals that carry their
heads on their shoulders instead of under their arms; cannot talk the
Lunatic language; have two eyes instead of one; are destitute of tails,
and of a horrible whiteness, instead of pea-green--therefore, and for a
variety of other excellent reasons, they are considered incapable of
possessing any property in the planet they infest, and the right and title
to it are confirmed to its original discoverers. And, furthermore, the
colonists who are now about to depart to the aforesaid planet are
authorised and commanded to use every means to convert these infidel
savages from the darkness of Christianity, and make them thorough and
absolute Lunatics."

In consequence of this benevolent Bull, our philosophic benefactors go to
work with hearty zeal. They seize upon our fertile territories, scourge us
from our rightful possessions, relieve us from our wives, and when we are
unreasonable enough to complain, they will turn upon us and say,
"Miserable barbarians! ungrateful wretches! have we not come thousands of
miles to improve your worthless planet? have we not fed you with
moonshine! have we not intoxicated you with nitrous oxide? does not our
moon give you light every night? and have you the baseness to murmur, when
we claim a pitiful return for all these benefits?" But finding that we not
only persist in absolute contempt of their reasoning and disbelief in
their philosophy, but even go so far as daringly to defend our property,
their patience shall be exhausted, and they shall resort to their superior
powers of argument; hunt us with hippogriffs, transfix us with
concentrated sunbeams, demolish our cities with moonstones; until having
by main force converted us to the true faith, they shall graciously permit
us to exist in the torrid deserts of Arabia, or the frozen regions of
Lapland, there to enjoy the blessings of civilization and the charms of
lunar philosophy, in much the same manner as the reformed and enlightened
savages of this country are kindly suffered to inhabit the inhospitable
forests of the north, or the impenetrable wilderness of South America.

Thus, I hope, I have clearly proved, and strikingly illustrated, the right
of the early colonists to the possession of this country; and thus is this
gigantic question completely vanquished: so having manfully surmounted all
obstacles, and subdued all opposition, what remains but that I should
forthwith conduct my readers into the city which we have been so long in a
manner besieging? But hold: before I proceed another step I must pause to
take breath, and recover from the excessive fatigue I have undergone, in
preparing to begin this most accurate of histories. And in this I do but
imitate the example of a renowned Dutch tumbler of antiquity, who took a
start of three miles for the purpose of jumping over a hill, but having
run himself out of breath by the time he reached the foot, sat himself
quietly down for a few moments to blow, and then walked over it at his


   [19] Grotius: Puffendorf, b. v. c. 4, Vattel, b. i. c. 18, etc.

   [20] Vattel, b. i. ch. 17.

   [21] Bl. Com. b. ii. c. 1.




My great-grandfather by the mother's side, Hermanus Van Clattercop, when
employed to build the large stone church at Rotterdam, which stands about
three hundred yards to your left after you turn off from the Boomkeys, and
which is so conveniently constructed that all the zealous Christians of
Rotterdam prefer sleeping through a sermon there to any other church in
the city--my great-grandfather, I say, when employed to build that famous
church, did in the first place send to Delft for a box of long pipes; then
having purchased a new spitting-box and a hundredweight of the best
Virginia, he sat himself down, and did nothing for the space of three
months but smoke most laboriously. Then did he spend full three months
more in trudging on foot, and voyaging in the trekschuit, from Rotterdam
to Amsterdam--to Delft--to Haerlem--to Leyden--to the Hague, knocking his
head and breaking his pipe against every church in his road. Then did he
advance gradually nearer and nearer to Rotterdam, until he came in full
sight of the identical spot whereon the church was to be built. Then did
he spend three months longer in walking round it and round it;
contemplating it, first from one point of view and then from another--now
he would be paddled by it on the canal--now would he peep at it through a
telescope, from the other side of the Meuse--and now would he take a
bird's-eye glance at it, from the top of one of those gigantic windmills
which protect the gates of the city. The good folks of the place were on
the tiptoe of expectation and impatience--notwithstanding all the turmoil
of my great-grandfather, not a symptom of the church was yet to be seen;
they even began to fear it would never be brought into the world, but that
its great projector would lie down and die in labor of the mighty plan he
had conceived. At length, having occupied twelve good months in puffing
and paddling, and talking and walking--having traveled over all Holland,
and even taken a peep into France and Germany--having smoked five hundred
and ninety-nine pipes and three hundredweight of the best Virginia
tobacco--my great-grandfather gathered together all that knowing and
industrious class of citizens who prefer attending to anybody's business
sooner than their own, and having pulled off his coat and five pair of
breeches, he advanced sturdily up, and laid the corner-stone of the
church, in the presence of the whole multitude--just at the commencement
of the thirteenth month.

In a similar manner, and with the example of my worthy ancestor full
before my eyes, have I proceeded in writing this most authentic history.
The honest Rotterdammers no doubt thought my great-grandfather was doing
nothing at all to the purpose, while he was making such a world of
prefatory bustle about the building of his church; and many of the
ingenious inhabitants of this fair city will unquestionably suppose that
all the preliminary chapters, with the discovery, population, and final
settlement of America, were totally irrelevant and superfluous--and that
the main business, the history of New York, is not a jot more advanced
than if I had never taken up my pen. Never were wise people more mistaken
in their conjectures. In consequence of going to work slowly and
deliberately, the church came out of my grandfather's hands one of the
most sumptuous, goodly, and glorious edifices in the known
world--excepting that, like our magnificent capitol at Washington, it was
begun on so grand a scale that the good folk could not afford to finish
more than the wing of it. So, likewise, I trust, if ever I am able to
finish this work on the plan I have commenced (of which, in simple truth,
I sometimes have my doubts), it will be found that I have pursued the
latest rules of my art, as exemplified in the writings of all the great
American historians, and wrought a very large history out of a small
subject--which nowadays, is considered one of the great triumphs of
historic skill. To proceed, then, with the thread of my story.

In the ever-memorable year of our Lord, 1609, on a Saturday morning, the
five-and-twentieth day of March, old style, did that "worthy and
irrecoverable discoverer (as he has justly been called), Master Henry
Hudson," set sail from Holland in a stout vessel called the Half Moon,
being employed by the Dutch East India Company to seek a north-west
passage to China.

Henry (or, as the Dutch historians call him, Hendrick) Hudson was a
seafaring man of renown, who had learned to smoke tobacco under Sir Walter
Raleigh, and is said to have been the first to introduce it into Holland,
which gained him much popularity in that country, and caused him to find
great favor in the eyes of their High Mightinesses the Lords States
General, and also of the Honorable West India Company. He was a short,
square, brawny old gentleman, with a double chin, a mastiff mouth, and a
broad copper nose, which was supposed in those days to have acquired its
fiery hue from the constant neighborhood of his tobacco pipe.

He wore a true Andrea Ferrara tucked in a leathern belt, and a commodore's
cocked hat on one side of his head. He was remarkable for always jerking
up his breeches when he gave out his orders, and his voice sounded not
unlike the brattling of a tin trumpet, owing to the number of hard
north-westers which he had swallowed in the course of his seafaring.

Such was Hendrick Hudson, of whom we have heard so much, and know so
little; and I have been thus particular in his description, for the
benefit of modern painters and statuaries, that they may represent him as
he was; and not, according to their common custom with modern heroes, make
him look like a Cæsar, or Marcus Aurelius, or the Apollo of Belvidere.

As chief mate and favorite companion, the commodore chose Master Robert
Juet, of Limehouse, in England. By some his name has been spelt Chewit,
and ascribed to the circumstance of his having been the first man that
ever chewed tobacco; but this I believe to be a mere flippancy; more
especially as certain of his progeny are living at this day, who write
their names Juet. He was an old comrade and early schoolmate of the great
Hudson, with whom he had often played truant and sailed chip boats in a
neighboring pond, when they were little boys; from whence, it is said, the
commodore first derived his bias towards a seafaring life. Certain it is
that the old people about Limehouse declared Robert Juet to be a unlucky
urchin prone to mischief, that would one day or other come to the gallows.

He grew up as boys of that kind often grow up, a rambling, heedless
varlet, tossed about in all quarters of the world, meeting with more
perils and wonders than did Sinbad the Sailor, without growing a whit more
wise, prudent, or ill-natured. Under every misfortune he comforted himself
with a quid of tobacco, and the truly philosophic maxim that "it will be
all the same thing a hundred years hence." He was skilled in the art of
carving anchors and true lovers' knot on the bulk-heads and quarter
railings, and was considered a great wit on board ship, in consequence of
his playing pranks on everybody around, and now and then even making a
wry face at old Hendrick when his back was turned.

To this universal genius are we indebted for many particulars concerning
this voyage, of which he wrote a history, at the request of the commodore,
who had an unconquerable aversion to writing himself, from having received
so many floggings about it when at school. To supply the deficiencies of
Master Juet's journal, which is written with true log-book brevity, I have
availed myself of divers family traditions, handed down from my
great-great-grandfather, who accompanied the expedition in the capacity of

From all that I can learn, few incidents worthy of remark happened in the
voyage; and it mortifies me exceedingly that I have to admit so noted an
expedition into my work without making any more of it.

Suffice it to say, the voyage was prosperous and tranquil--the crew, being
a patient people, much given to slumber and vacuity, and but little
troubled with the disease of thinking--a malady of the mind, which is the
sure breeder of discontent. Hudson had laid in abundance of gin and
sour-krout, and every man was allowed to sleep quietly at his post unless
the wind blew. True it is, some slight dissatisfaction was shown on two or
three occasions at certain unreasonable conduct of Commodore Hudson. Thus,
for instance, he forbore to shorten sail when the wind was light and the
weather serene, which was considered among the most experienced Dutch
seamen as certain weather-breeders, or prognostics, that the weather would
change for the worse. He acted, moreover, in direct contradiction to that
ancient and sage rule of the Dutch navigators, who always took in sail at
night, put the helm a-port, and turned in; by which precaution they had a
good night's rest, were sure of knowing where they were the next morning,
and stood but little chance of running down a continent in the dark. He
likewise prohibited the seamen from wearing more than five jackets and six
pair of breeches, under pretence of rendering them more alert; and no man
was permitted to go aloft and hand in sails with a pipe in his mouth, as
is the invariable Dutch custom at the present day. All these grievances,
though they might ruffle for a moment the constitutional tranquillity of
the honest Dutch tars, made but transient impression; they ate hugely,
drank profusely, and slept immeasurably; and being under the especial
guidance of Providence, the ship was safely conducted to the coast of
America; where, after sundry unimportant touchings and standings off and
on, she at length, on the fourth day of September, entered that majestic
bay which at this day expands its ample bosom before the city of New York,
and which had never before been visited by any European.[22]

It has been traditionary in our family that when the great navigator was
first blessed with a view of this enchanting island, he was observed, for
the first and only time in his life, to exhibit strong symptoms of
astonishment and admiration. He is said to have turned to master Juet, and
uttered these remarkable words, while he pointed towards this paradise of
the new world--"See! there!"--and thereupon, as was always his way when he
was uncommonly pleased, he did puff out such clouds of dense tobacco smoke
that in one minute the vessel was out of sight of land, and Master Juet
was fain to wait until the winds dispersed this impenetrable fog.

"It was indeed," as my great-grandfather used to say, though in truth I
never heard him, for he died, as might be expected, before I was born--"it
was indeed a spot on which the eye might have revelled for ever, in ever
new and never-ending beauties." The island of Manna-hata spread wide
before them, like some sweet vision of fancy, or some fair creation of
industrious magic. Its hills of smiling green swelled gently one above
another, crowned with lofty trees of luxuriant growth; some pointing their
tapering foliage towards the clouds which were gloriously transparent, and
others loaded with a verdant burden of clambering vines, bowing their
branches to the earth that was covered with flowers. On the gentle
declivities of the hills were scattered in gay profusion the dog-wood, the
sumach, and the wild brier, whose scarlet berries and white blossoms
glowed brightly among the deep green of the surrounding foliage; and here
and there a curling column of smoke rising from the little glens that
opened along the shore seemed to promise the weary voyagers a welcome at
the hands of their fellow-creatures. As they stood gazing with entranced
attention on the scene before them, a red man, crowned with feathers,
issued from one of these glens, and after contemplating in silent wonder
the gallant ship, as she sat like a stately swan swimming on a silver
lake, sounded the war-whoop, and bounded into the woods like a wild deer,
to the utter astonishment of the phlegmatic Dutchmen, who had never heard
such a noise or witnessed such a caper in their whole lives.

Of the transactions of our adventurers with the savages, and how the
latter smoked copper pipes and ate dried currants; how they brought great
store of tobacco and oysters; how they shot one of the ship's crew, and
how he was buried, I shall say nothing, being that I consider them
unimportant to my history. After tarrying a few days in the bay, in order
to refresh themselves after their seafaring, our voyagers weighed anchor,
to explore a mighty river which emptied into the bay. This river, it is
said, was known among the savages by the name of the Shatemuck; though we
are assured in an excellent little history published in 1674, by John
Josselyn, gent., that it was called the Mohegan;[23] and Master Richard
Bloome, who wrote some time afterwards, asserts the same--so that I very
much incline in favor of the opinion of these two honest gentlemen. Be
this as it may, up this river did the adventurous Hendrick proceed, little
doubting but it would turn to be the much-looked-for passage to China!

The journal goes on to make mention of divers interviews between the crew
and the natives in the voyage up the river; but as they would be
impertinent to my history, I shall pass over them in silence, except the
following dry joke, played off by the old commodore and his schoolfellow
Robert Juet, which does such vast credit to their experimental philosophy
that I cannot refrain from inserting it. "Our master and his mate
determined to try some of the chiefe men of the countrey whether they had
any treacherie in them. So they tooke them downe into the cabin, and gave
them so much wine and acqua vitæ that they were all merrie; and one of
them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly, as any of our countrey
women would do in a strange place. In the end, one of them was drunke,
which had been aboarde of our ship all the time that we had been there,
and that was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it."[24]

Having satisfied himself by this ingenious experiment that the natives
were an honest, social race of jolly roysterers, who had no objection to
a drinking bout, and were very merry in their cups, the old commodore
chuckled hugely to himself, and thrusting a double quid of tobacco in his
cheek, directed Master Juet to have it carefully recorded, for the
satisfaction of all the natural philosophers of the University of
Leyden--which done, he proceeded on his voyage with great
self-complacency. After sailing, however, above a hundred miles up the
river, he found the watery world around him began to grow more shallow
and confined, the current more rapid and perfectly fresh--phenomena not
uncommon in the ascent of rivers, but which puzzled the honest Dutchman
prodigiously. A consultation was therefore called, and having deliberated
full six hours, they were brought to a determination by the ship's
running aground--whereupon they unanimously concluded that there was but
little chance of getting to China in this direction. A boat, however, was
despatched to explore higher up the river, which, on its return,
confirmed the opinion; upon this the ship was warped off and put about
with great difficulty, being, like most of her sex, exceedingly hard to
govern; and the adventurous Hudson, according to the account of my
great-great-grandfather, returned down the river--with a prodigious flea
in his ear!

Being satisfied that there was little likelihood of getting to China,
unless, like the blind man, he returned from whence he set out, and took a
fresh start, he forthwith recrossed the sea to Holland, where he was
received with great welcome by the Honorable East India Company, who were
very much rejoiced to see him come back safe--with their ship; and at a
large and respectable meeting of the first merchants and burgomasters of
Amsterdam it was unanimously determined that, as a munificent reward for
the eminent services he had performed, and the important discovery he had
made, the great river Mohegan should be called after his name; and it
continues to be called Hudson River unto this very day.


   [22] True it is, and I am not ignorant of the fact, that in a
        certain apocryphal book of voyages, compiled by one Hackluyt, is
        to be found a letter written to Francis the First, by one
        Giovanni, or John Verazzani, on which some writers are inclined
        to found a belief that this delightful bay had been visited
        nearly a century previous to the voyage of the enterprising
        Hudson. Now this (albeit it has met with the countenance of
        certain very judicious and learned men) I hold in utter
        disbelief, and that for various good and substantial reasons:
        First, because on strict examination it will be found that the
        description given by this Verazzani applies about as well to the
        bay of New York as it does to my nightcap. Secondly, because that
        this John Verazzani, for whom I already begin to feel a most
        bitter enmity, is a native of Florence, and everybody knows the
        crafty wiles of these losel Florentines, by which they filched
        away the laurels from the brows of the immortal Colon (vulgarly
        called Columbus), and bestowed them on their officious townsman,
        Amerigo Vespucci; and I make no doubt they are equally ready to
        rob the illustrious Hudson of the credit of discovering this
        beauteous island, adorned by the city of New York, and placing it
        beside their usurped discovery of South America. And, thirdly, I
        award my decision in favor of the pretensions of Hendrick Hudson,
        inasmuch as his expedition sailed from Holland, being truly and
        absolutely a Dutch enterprise; and though all the proofs in the
        world were introduced on the other side, I would set them at
        nought as undeserving my attention. If these three reasons be not
        sufficient to satisfy every burgher of this ancient city, all I
        can say is they are degenerate descendants from their venerable
        Dutch ancestors, and totally unworthy the trouble of convincing.
        Thus, therefore, the title of Hendrick Hudson to his renowned
        discovery is fully vindicated.

   [23] This river is likewise laid down in Ogilvy's map as
        Manhattan--Noordt, Montaigne, and Mauritius river.

   [24] Juet's Journ. Purch. Pil.


The delectable accounts given by the great Hudson and Master Juet of the
country they had discovered excited not a little talk and speculation
among the good people of Holland. Letters patent were granted by
Government to an association of merchants, called the West India Company,
for the exclusive trade on Hudson River, on which they erected a
trading-house called Fort Aurania, or Orange, from whence did spring the
great city of Albany. But I forbear to dwell on the various commercial and
colonizing enterprises which took place; among which was that of Mynheer
Adrian Block, who discovered and gave a name to Block Island, since famous
for its cheese--and shall barely confine myself to that which gave birth
to this renowned city.

It was some three or four years after the return of the immortal Hendrick
that a crew of honest Low Dutch colonists set sail from the city of
Amsterdam for the shores of America. It is an irreparable loss to history,
and a great proof of the darkness of the age and the lamentable neglect of
the noble art of book-making, since so industriously cultivated by knowing
sea-captains and learned supercargoes, that an expedition so interesting
and important in its results should be passed over in utter silence. To my
great-great-grandfather am I again indebted for the few facts I am enabled
to give concerning it--he having once more embarked for this country, with
a full determination, as he said, of ending his days here--and of
begetting a race of Knickerbockers that should rise to be great men in the

The ship in which these illustrious adventurers set sail was called the
Goede Vrouw, or good woman, in compliment to the wife of the president of
the West India Company, who was allowed by everybody, except her husband,
to be a sweet-tempered lady--when not in liquor. It was in truth a most
gallant vessel, of the most approved Dutch construction, and made by the
ablest ship-carpenters of Amsterdam, who, it is well known, always model
their ships after the fair forms of their countrywomen. Accordingly, it
had one hundred feet in the beam, one hundred feet in the keel, and one
hundred feet from the bottom of the stern-post to the taffrail. Like the
beauteous model, who was declared to be the greatest belle in Amsterdam,
it was full in the bows, with a pair of enormous catheads, a copper
bottom, and withal a most prodigious poop.

The architect, who was somewhat of a religious man, far from decorating
the ship with pagan idols, such as Jupiter, Neptune or Hercules, which
heathenish abominations, I have no doubt, occasion the misfortunes and
shipwreck of many a noble vessel, he I say, on the contrary, did laudably
erect for a head, a goodly image of St. Nicholas, equipped with a low,
broad-brimmed hat, a huge pair of Flemish trunk hose, and a pipe that
reached to the end of the bow-sprit. Thus gallantly furnished, the staunch
ship floated sideways, like a majestic goose, out of the harbor of the
great city of Amsterdam, and all the bells that were not otherwise
engaged, rung a triple bobmajor on the joyful occasion.

My great-great-grandfather remarks, that the voyage was uncommonly
prosperous, for, being under the especial care of the ever-revered St.
Nicholas, the Goede Vrouw seemed to be endowed with qualities unknown to
common vessels. Thus she made as much leeway as headway, could get along
very nearly as fast with the wind a head as when it was a-poop, and was
particularly great in a calm; in consequence of which singular advantage
she made out to accomplish her voyage in a very few months, and came to
anchor at the mouth of the Hudson, a little to the east of Gibbet Island.

Here lifting up their eyes they beheld, on what is at present called the
Jersey shore, a small Indian village, pleasantly embowered in a grove of
spreading elms, and the natives all collected on the beach, gazing in
stupid admiration at the Goede Vrouw. A boat was immediately dispatched to
enter into a treaty with them, and, approaching the shore, hailed them
through a trumpet in the most friendly terms; but so horribly confounded
were these poor savages at the tremendous and uncouth sound of the Low
Dutch language that they one and all took to their heels, and scampered
over the Bergen Hills: nor did they stop until they had buried themselves,
head and ears, in the marshes on the other side, where they all miserably
perished to a man; and their bones being collected and decently covered by
the Tammany Society of that day, formed that singular mound called
Rattlesnake Hill, which rises out of the center of the salt marshes a
little to the east of the Newark Causeway.

Animated by this unlooked-for victory, our valiant heroes sprang ashore in
triumph, took possession of the soil as conquerors, in the name of their
High Mightinesses the Lords States General; and marching fearlessly
forward, carried the village of Communipaw by storm, not withstanding that
it was vigorously defended by some half a score of old squaws and
pappooses. On looking about them they were so transported with the
excellences of the place that they had very little doubt the blessed St.
Nicholas had guided them thither as the very spot whereon to settle their
colony. The softness of the soil was wonderfully adapted to the driving of
piles; the swamps and marshes around them afforded ample opportunities for
the constructing of dykes and dams; the shallowness of the shore was
peculiarly favorable to the building of docks; in a word, this spot
abounded with all the requisites for the foundation of a great Dutch City.
On making a faithful report, therefore, to the crew of the Goede Vrouw,
they one and all determined that this was the destined end of their
voyage. Accordingly, they descended from the Goede Vrouw, men, women and
children, in goodly groups, as did the animals of yore from the ark, and
formed themselves into a thriving settlement, which they called by the
Indian name Communipaw.

As all the world is doubtless perfectly acquainted with Communipaw, it may
seem somewhat superfluous to treat of it in the present work; but my
readers will please to recollect, that not withstanding it is my chief
desire to satisfy the present age, yet I write likewise for posterity, and
have to consult the understanding and curiosity of some half a score of
centuries yet to come; by which time, perhaps, were it not for this
invaluable history, the great Communipaw, like Babylon, Carthage, Nineveh,
and other great cities, might be perfectly extinct--sunk and forgotten in
its own mud--its inhabitants turned into oysters,[25] and even its
situation a fertile subject of learned controversy and hard-headed
investigation among indefatigable historians. Let me, then, piously rescue
from oblivion the humble relics of a place which was the egg from whence
was hatched the mighty city of New York!

Communipaw is at present but a small village, pleasantly situated among
rural scenery, on that beauteous part of the Jersey shore which was known
in ancient legends by the name of Pavonia,[26] and commands a grand
prospect of the superb bay of New York. It is within but half an hour's
sail of the latter place, provided you have a fair wind, and may be
distinctly seen from the city. Nay, it is a well known fact, which I can
testify from my own experience, that on a clear still summer evening you
may hear from the battery of New York the obstreperous peals of
broad-mouthed laughter of the Dutch negroes at Communipaw, who, like most
other negroes, are famous for their risible powers. This is peculiarly the
case on Sunday evenings, when, it is remarked by an ingenious and
observant philosopher, who has made great discoveries in the neighborhood
of this city, that they always laugh loudest, which he attributes to the
circumstance of their having their holiday clothes on.

These negroes, in fact, like the monks in the dark ages, engross all the
knowledge of the place, and, being infinitely more adventurous, and more
knowing than their masters, carry on all the foreign trade, making
frequent voyages to town in canoes loaded with oysters, buttermilk and
cabbages. They are great astrologers, predicting the different changes of
weather almost as accurately as an almanac; they are, moreover, exquisite
performers on three-stringed fiddles; in whistling they almost boast the
far-famed powers of Orpheus' lyre, for not a horse nor an ox in the place,
when at the plough or before the wagon, will budge a foot until he hears
the well known whistle of his black driver and companion. And from their
amazing skill at casting up accounts upon their fingers they are regarded
with as much veneration as were the disciples of Pythagoras of yore when
initiated into the sacred quaternary of numbers.

As to the honest burghers of Communipaw, like wise men and sound
philosophers, they never look beyond their pipes, nor trouble their heads
about any affairs out of their immediate neighborhood; so that they live
in profound and enviable ignorance of all the troubles, anxieties, and
revolutions of this distracted planet. I am even told that many among them
do verily believe that Holland, of which they have heard so much from
tradition, is situated somewhere on Long Island; that Spiking-devil and
the Narrows are the two ends of the world; that the country is still under
the dominion of their High Mightinesses, and that the city of New York
still goes by the name of Nieuw Amsterdam. They meet every Saturday
afternoon at the only tavern in the place, which bears as a sign a
square-headed likeness of the Prince of Orange, where they smoke a silent
pipe by way of promoting social conviviality, and invariably drink a mug
of cider to the success of Admiral Van Tromp, whom they imagine is still
sweeping the British Channel with a broom at his masthead.

Communipaw, in short, is one of the numerous little villages in the
vicinity of this most beautiful of cities, which are so many strongholds
and fastnesses whither the primitive manners of our Dutch forefathers have
retreated, and where they are cherished with devout and scrupulous
strictness. The dress of the original settlers is handed down inviolate
from father to son--the identical broad-brimmed hat, broad-skirted coat,
and broad-bottomed breeches continue from generation to generation; and
several gigantic knee-buckles of massy silver are still in wear that made
gallant display in the days of the patriarchs of Communipaw. The language
likewise continues unadulterated by barbarous innovations; and so
critically correct is the village schoolmaster in his dialect that his
reading of a Low Dutch psalm has much the same effect on the nerves as the
filing of a hand-saw.


   [25] Men by inaction degenerate into oysters.--Kaimes.

   [26] Pavonia, in the ancient maps, is given to a tract of country
        extending from about Hoboken to Amboy.


Having in the trifling digression which concluded the last chapter
discharged the filial duty which the city of New York owed to Communipaw,
as being the mother settlement; and having given a faithful picture of it
as it stands at present, I return with a soothing sentiment of
self-approbation to dwell upon its early history. The crew of the Goede
Vrouw being soon reinforced by fresh importations from Holland, the
settlement went jollily on increasing in magnitude and prosperity. The
neighboring Indians in a short time became accustomed to the uncouth sound
of the Dutch language, and an intercourse gradually took place between
them and the new comers. The Indians were much given to long talks, and
the Dutch to long silence; in this particular, therefore, they
accommodated each other completely. The chiefs would make long speeches
about the big bull, the wabash, and the Great Spirit, to which the others
would listen very attentively, smoke their pipes, and grunt yah, myn-her;
whereat the poor savages were wondrously delighted. They instructed the
new settlers in the best art of curing and smoking tobacco, while the
latter in return, made them drunk with true Hollands, and then taught them
the art of making bargains.

A brisk trade for furs was soon opened. The Dutch traders were
scrupulously honest in their dealings, and purchased by weight,
establishing it as an invariable table of avoirdupois that the hand of a
Dutchman weighed one pound, and his foot two pounds. It is true the simple
Indians were often puzzled by the great disproportion between bulk and
weight, for let them place a bundle of furs never so large in one scale,
and a Dutchman put his hand or foot in the other, the bundle was sure to
kick the beam; never was a package of furs known to weigh more than two
pounds in the market of Communipaw!

This is a singular fact; but I have it direct from my
great-great-grandfather, who had risen to considerable importance in the
colony, being promoted to the office of weigh-master, on account of the
uncommon heaviness of his foot.

The Dutch possessions in this part of the globe began now to assume a very
thriving appearance, and were comprehended under the general title of
Nieuw Nederlandts, on account, as the sage Vander Donck observes, of their
great resemblance to the Dutch Netherlands, which indeed was truly
remarkable, excepting that the former was rugged and mountainous, and the
latter level and marshy. About this time the tranquillity of the Dutch
colonists was doomed to suffer a temporary interruption. In 1614, Captain
Sir Samuel Argal, sailing under a commission from Dale, Governor of
Virginia, visited the Dutch settlements on Hudson River, and demanded
their submission to the English crown and Virginian dominion. To this
arrogant demand, as they were in no condition to resist it, they submitted
for the time, like discreet and reasonable men.

It does not appear that the valiant Argal molested the settlement of
Communipaw; on the contrary, I am told that when his vessel first hove in
sight, the worthy burghers were seized with such a panic that they fell
to smoking their pipes with astonishing vehemence; insomuch that they
quickly raised a cloud, which, combining with the surrounding woods and
marshes, completely enveloped and concealed their beloved village, and
overhung the fair regions of Pavonia--so that the terrible Captain Argal
passed on, totally unsuspicious that a sturdy little Dutch settlement lay
snugly couched in the mud, under cover of all this pestilent vapor. In
commemoration of this fortunate escape, the worthy inhabitants have
continued to smoke almost without intermission unto this very day, which
is said to be the cause of the remarkable fog which often hangs over
Communipaw of a clear afternoon.

Upon the departure of the enemy our magnanimous ancestors took full six
months to recover their wind, having been exceedingly discomposed by the
consternation and hurry of affairs. They then called a council of safety
to smoke over the state of the provinces. At this council presided one
Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who had originally been one of a set of peripatetic
philosophers who passed much of their time sunning themselves on the side
of the great canal of Amsterdam in Holland; enjoying, like Diogenes, a
free and unencumbered estate in sunshine. His name Kortlandt (Shortland or
Lackland) was supposed, like that of the illustrious Jean Sansterre, to
indicate that he had no land; but he insisted, on the contrary, that he
had great landed estates somewhere in Terra Incognita; and he had come out
to the new world to look after them.

Like all land speculators, he was much given to dreaming. Never did
anything extraordinary happen at Communipaw but he declared that he had
previously dreamt it, being one of those infallible prophets who predict
events after they have come to pass. This supernatural gift was as highly
valued among the burghers of Pavonia as among the enlightened nations of
antiquity. The wise Ulysses was more indebted to his sleeping than his
waking moments for his most subtle achievements, and seldom undertook any
great exploit without first soundly sleeping upon it; and the same may be
said of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who was thence aptly denominated Oloffe the

As yet his dreams and speculations had turned to little personal profit;
and he was as much a lackland as ever. Still he carried a high head in the
community: if his sugar-loaf hat was rather the worse for wear, he set it
oft with a taller cock's tail; if his shirt was none of the cleanest, he
puffed it out the more at the bosom; and if the tail of it peeped out of a
hole in his breeches, it at least proved that it really had a tail and was
not a mere ruffle.

The worthy Van Kortlandt, in the council in question, urged the policy of
emerging from the swamps of Communipaw and seeking some more eligible site
for the seat of empire. Such, he said, was the advice of the good St.
Nicholas, who had appeared to him in a dream the night before, and whom he
had known by his broad hat, his long pipe, and the resemblance which he
bore to the figure on the bow of the Goede Vrouw.

Many have thought this dream was a mere invention of Oloffe Van Kortlandt,
who, it is said, had ever regarded Communipaw with an evil eye, because he
had arrived there after all the land had been shared out, and who was
anxious to change the seat of empire to some new place, where he might be
present at the distribution of "town lots." But we must not give heed to
such insinuations, which are too apt to be advanced against those worthy
gentlemen engaged in laying out towns and in other land speculations.

This perilous enterprise was to be conducted by Oloffe himself, who chose
as lieutenants, or coadjutors, Mynheers Abraham Harden Broeck, Jacobus Van
Zandt, and Winant Ten Broeck--three indubitably great men, but of whose
history, although I have made diligent inquiry, I can learn but little
previous to their leaving Holland. Nor need this occasion much surprise;
for adventurers, like prophets, though they make great noise abroad, have
seldom much celebrity in their own countries; but this much is certain
that the overflowings and offscourings of a country are invariably
composed of the richest parts of the soil. And here I cannot help
remarking how convenient it would be to many of our great men and great
families of doubtful origin, could they have the privilege of the heroes
of yore, who, whenever their origin was involved in obscurity, modestly
announced themselves descended from a god, and who never visited a foreign
country but what they told some cock-and-bull stories about their being
kings and princes at home. This venal trespass on the truth, though it has
been occasionally played off by some pseudo marquis, baronet, and other
illustrious foreigner, in our land of good-natured credulity, has been
completely discountenanced in this sceptical, matter-of-fact age; and I
even question whether any tender virgin, who was accidentally and
unaccountably enriched with a bantling, would save her character at parlor
firesides and evening tea-parties by ascribing the phenomenon to a swan, a
shower of gold, or a river god.

Had I the benefit of mythology and classic fable above alluded to, I
should have furnished the first of the trio with a pedigree equal to that
of the proudest hero of antiquity. His name, Van Zandt--that is to say,
from the dirt--gave reasons to suppose that, like Triptolemus, Themis, the
Cyclops, and the Titans, he had sprung from Dame Terra or the Earth! This
supposition is strongly corroborated by his size, for it is well known
that all the progeny of Mother Earth were of a gigantic stature; and Van
Zandt, we are told, was a tall, raw-boned man, above six feet high, with
an astonishingly hard head. Nor is this origin of the illustrious Van
Zandt a whit more improbable or repugnant to belief than what is related
and universally admitted of certain of our greatest, or rather richest,
men, who we are told with the utmost gravity did originally spring from a

Of the second of the trio but faint accounts have reached to this time,
which mention that he was a sturdy, obstinate, worrying, bustling little
man; and, from being usually equipped in an old pair of buckskins, was
familiarly dubbed Harden Broeck, or Tough Breeches.

Ten Broeck completed this junto of adventurers. It is a singular but
ludicrous fact, which, were I not scrupulous in recording the whole truth,
I should almost be tempted to pass over in silence, as incompatible with
the gravity and dignity of history, that this worthy gentleman should
likewise have been nicknamed from what in modern times is considered the
most ignoble part of the dress. But, in truth, the small-clothes seems to
have been a very dignified garment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors,
in all probability from its covering that part of the body which has been
pronounced "the seat of honor."

The name of Ten Broeck, or, as it was sometimes spelt, Tin Broeck, has
been indifferently translated into Ten Breeches and Tin Breeches. The most
elegant and ingenious writers on the subject declare in favor of Tin, or
rather Thin, Breeches; whence they infer that the original bearer of it
was a poor but merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest,
and who, peradventure, may have been the author of that truly
philosophical stanza:----

    "Then why should we quarrel for riches,
      Or any such glittering toys?
    A light heart and thin pair of breeches
      Will go through the world, my brave boys!"

The High Dutch commentators, however, declare in favor of the other
reading, and affirm that the worthy in question was a burly, bulbous man,
who, in sheer ostentation of his venerable progenitors, was the first to
introduce into the settlement the ancient Dutch fashion of ten pair of

Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by Oloffe the Dreamer to accompany
him in this voyage into unknown realms; as to the names of his crews they
have not been handed down by history.

Having, as I before observed, passed much of his life in the open air,
among the peripatetic philosophers of Amsterdam, Oloffe had become
familiar with the aspect of the heavens, and could as accurately determine
when a storm was brewing or a squall rising as a dutiful husband can
foresee, from the brow of his spouse, when a tempest is gathering about
his ears. Having pitched upon a time for his voyage, when the skies
appeared propitious, he exhorted all his crews to take a good night's
rest, wind up their family affairs, and make their wills; precautions
taken by our forefathers, even in after times when they became more
adventurous, and voyaged to Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, or Groodt Esopus, or
any other far country, beyond the great waters of the Tappen Zee.


And now the rosy blush of morn began to mantle in the east, and soon the
rising sun, emerging from amidst golden and purple clouds, shed his
blithesome rays on the tin weathercocks of Communipaw. It was that
delicious season of the year when Nature, breaking from the chilling
thraldom of old winter, like a blooming damsel from the tyranny of a
sordid old father, threw herself, blushing with ten thousand charms, into
the arms of youthful Spring. Every tufted copse and blooming grove
resounded with the notes of hymeneal love. The very insects, as they
sipped the dew that gemmed the tender grass of the meadows, joined in the
joyous epithalamium--the virgin bud timidly put forth its blushes, "the
voice of the turtle was heard in the land," and the heart of man dissolved
away in tenderness. Oh, sweet Theocritus! had I thine oaten reed,
wherewith thou erst did charm the gay Sicilian plains; or, oh, gentle
Bion! thy pastoral pipe wherein the happy swains of the Lesbian isle so
much delighted, then might I attempt to sing, in soft Bucolic or negligent
Idyllium, the rural beauties of the scene; but having nothing, save this
jaded goose-quill, wherewith to wing my flight, I must fain resign all
poetic disportings of the fancy, and pursue my narrative in humble prose;
comforting myself with the hope, that though it may not steal so sweetly
upon the imagination of my reader, yet it may commend itself, with virgin
modesty, to his better judgment, clothed in the chaste and simple garb of

No sooner did the first rays of cheerful Phoebus dart into the windows of
Communipaw than the little settlement was all in motion. Forth issued from
his castle the sage Van Kortlandt, and seizing a conch shell, blew a
far-resounding blast, that soon summoned all his lusty followers. Then did
they trudge resolutely down to the water side, escorted by a multitude of
relatives and friends, who all went down, as the common phrase expresses
it, "to see them off." And this shows the antiquity of those long family
processions, often seen in our city, composed of all ages, sizes, and
sexes, laden with bundles and bandboxes, escorting some bevy of country
cousins about to depart for home in a market-boat.

The good Oloffe bestowed his forces in a squadron of three canoes, and
hoisted his flag on board a little round Dutch boat, shaped not unlike a
tub, which had formerly been the jolly-boat of the Goede Vrouw. And now,
all being embarked, they bade farewell to the gazing throng upon the
beach, who continued shouting after them, even when out of hearing,
wishing them a happy voyage, advising them to take good care of
themselves, not to get drowned--with an abundance of other of those sage
and invaluable cautions generally given by landsmen to such as go down to
the sea in ships, and adventure upon the deep waters. In the meanwhile the
voyagers cheerily urged their course across the crystal bosom of the bay,
and soon left behind them the green shores of ancient Pavonia.

And first they touched at two small islands which lie nearly opposite
Communipaw, and which are said to have been brought into existence about
the time of the great irruption of the Hudson, when it broke through the
Highlands and made its way to the ocean.[27] For, in this tremendous
uproar of the waters we are told that many huge fragments of rock and land
were rent from the mountains and swept down by this runaway river, for
sixty or seventy miles; where some of them ran aground on the shoals just
opposite Communipaw, and formed the identical islands in question, while
others drifted out to sea, and were never heard of more. A sufficient
proof of the fact is, that the rock which forms the bases of these islands
is exactly similar to that of the Highlands; and moreover, one of our
philosophers, who has diligently compared the agreement of their
respective surfaces, has even gone so far as to assure me, in confidence,
that Gibbet Island was originally nothing more nor less than a wart on
Anthony's nose.[28]

Leaving these wonderful little isles, they next coasted by Governor's
Island, since terrible from its frowning fortress and grinning batteries.
They would by no means, however, land upon this island, since they doubted
much it might be the abode of demons and spirits, which in those days did
greatly abound throughout this savage and pagan country.

Just at this time a shoal of jolly porpoises came rolling and tumbling by,
turning up their sleek sides to the sun, and spouting up the briny element
in sparkling showers. No sooner did the sage Oloffe mark this than he was
greatly rejoiced. "This," exclaimed he, "if I mistake not, augurs
well--the porpoise is a fat, well-conditioned fish--a burgomaster among
fishes--his looks betoken ease, plenty, and prosperity. I greatly admire
this round fat fish, and doubt not but this is a happy omen of the success
of our undertaking." So saying, he directed his squadron to steer in the
track of these alderman fishes.

Turning, therefore, directly to the left, they swept up the strait,
vulgarly called the East River. And here the rapid tide which courses
through this strait, seizing on the gallant tub in which Commodore Van
Kortlandt had embarked, hurried it forward with a velocity unparalleled in
a Dutch boat, navigated by Dutchmen; insomuch that the good commodore, who
had all his life long been accustomed only to the drowsy navigation of
canals, was more than ever convinced that they were in the hands of some
supernatural power, and that the jolly porpoises were towing them to some
fair haven that was to fulfill all their wishes and expectations.

Thus borne away by the resistless current, they doubled that boisterous
point of land since called Corlear's Hook,[29] and leaving to the right
the rich winding cove of the Wallabout, they drifted into a magnificent
expanse of water, surrounded by pleasant shores, whose verdure was
exceedingly refreshing to the eye. While the voyagers were looking around
them, on what they conceived to be a serene and sunny lake, they beheld at
a distance a crew of painted savages busily employed in fishing, who
seemed more like the genii of this romantic region--their slender canoe
lightly balanced like a feather on the undulating surface of the bay.

At sight of these the hearts of the heroes of Communipaw were not a little
troubled. But as good fortune would have it, at the bow of the commodore's
boat was stationed a valiant man, named Hendrick Kip (which, being
interpreted, means chicken, a name given him in token of his courage).

No sooner did he behold these varlet heathens, than he trembled with
excessive valor, and although a good half mile distant, he seized a
musketoon that lay at hand, and turning away his head, fired it most
intrepidly in the face of the blessed sun. The blundering weapon recoiled,
and gave the valiant Kip an ignominious kick, which laid him prostrate
with uplifted heels in the bottom of the boat. But such was the effect of
this tremendous fire, that the wild men of the woods, struck with
consternation, seized hastily upon their paddles, and shot away into one
of the deep inlets of the Long Island shore.

This signal victory gave new spirits to the voyagers, and in honor of the
achievement they gave the name of the valiant Kip to the surrounding bay,
and it has continued to be called Kip's Bay from that time to the present.
The heart of the good Van Kortlandt--who, having no land of his own, was a
great admirer of other people's--expanded to the full size of a peppercorn
at the sumptuous prospect of rich unsettled country around him, and
falling into a delicious reverie, he straightway began to riot in the
possession of vast meadows of salt marsh and interminable patches of
cabbages. From this delectable vision he was all at once awakened by the
sudden turning of the tide, which would soon have hurried him from this
land of promise, had not the discreet navigator given signal to steer for
shore; where they accordingly landed hard by the rocky heights of
Bellevue--that happy retreat where our jolly aldermen eat for the good of
the city, and fatten the turtle that are sacrificed on civic solemnities.

Here, seated on the greensward, by the side of a small stream that ran
sparkling among the grass, they refreshed themselves after the toils of
the seas by feasting lustily on the ample stores which they had provided
for this perilous voyage. Thus having well fortified their deliberate
powers, they fell into an earnest consultation what was further to be
done. This was the first council dinner ever eaten at Bellevue by
Christian burghers; and here, as tradition relates, did originate the
great family feud between the Hardenbroecks and the Tenbroecks, which
afterwards had a singular influence on the building of the city. The
sturdy Harden Broeck, whose eyes had been wondrously delighted with the
salt marshes which spread their reeking bosoms along the coast, at the
bottom of Kip's Bay, counseled by all means to return thither, and found
the intended city. This was strenuously opposed by the unbending Ten
Broeck, and many testy arguments passed between them. The particulars of
this controversy have not reached us, which is ever to be lamented; this
much is certain, that the sage Oloffe put an end to the dispute, by
determining to explore still farther in the route which the mysterious
porpoises had so clearly pointed out; whereupon the sturdy Tough Breeches
abandoned the expedition, took possession of a neighboring hill, and in a
fit of great wrath peopled all that tract of country, which has continued
to be inhabited by the Hardenbroecks unto this very day.

By this time the jolly Phoebus, like some wanton urchin sporting on the
side of a green hill, began to roll down the declivity of the heavens; and
now, the tide having once more turned in their favor, the Pavonians again
committed themselves to its discretion, and coasting along the western
shores, were borne towards the straits of Blackwell's Island.

And here the capricious wanderings of the current occasioned not a little
marvel and perplexity to these illustrious mariners. Now would they be
caught by the wanton eddies, and, sweeping round a jutting point, would
wind deep into some romantic little cove, that indented the fair island of
Manna-hata; now were they hurried narrowly by the very bases of impending
rocks, mantled with the flaunting grape-vine, and crowned with groves,
which threw a broad shade on the waves beneath; and anon they were borne
away into the mid-channel and wafted along with a rapidity that very much
discomposed the sage Van Kortlandt, who, as he saw the land swiftly
receding on either side, began exceedingly to doubt that terra firma was
giving them the slip.

Wherever the voyagers turned their eyes a new creation seemed to bloom
around. No signs of human thrift appeared to check the delicious wildness
of Nature, who here reveled in all her luxuriant variety. Those hills, now
bristled like the fretful porcupine, with rows of poplars (vain upstart
plants! minions of wealth and fashion!), were then adorned with the
vigorous natives of the soil--the lordly oak, the generous chestnut, the
graceful elm--while here and there the tulip-tree reared its majestic
head, the giant of the forest. Where now are seen the gay retreats of
luxury--villas half buried in twilight bowers, whence the amorous flute
oft breathes the sighings of some city swain--there the fish-hawk built
his solitary nest, on some dry tree that overlooked his watery domain. The
timid deer fed undisturbed along those shores now hallowed by the lover's
moonlight walk, and printed by the slender foot of beauty; and a savage
solitude extended over those happy regions, where now are reared the
stately towers of the Joneses, the Schermerhornes, and the Rhinelanders.

Thus gliding in silent wonder through these new and unknown scenes, the
gallant squadron of Pavonia swept by the foot of a promontory, which
strutted forth boldly into the waves, and seemed to frown upon them as
they brawled against its base. This is the bluff well known to modern
mariners by the name of Gracie's Point, from the fair castle which, like
an elephant, it carries upon its back. And here broke upon their view a
wild and varied prospect, where land and water were beauteously
intermingled, as though they had combined to heighten and set off each
other's charms. To their right lay the sedgy point of Blackwell's Island,
dressed in the fresh garniture of living green; beyond it stretched the
pleasant coast of Sundswick, and the small harbor well known by the name
of Hallet's Cove--a place infamous in latter days, by reason of its being
the haunt of pirates who infest these seas, robbing orchards and
water-melon patches, and insulting gentlemen navigators when voyaging in
their pleasure boats. To the left a deep bay, or rather creek, gracefully
receded between shores fringed with forests, and forming a kind of vista
through which were beheld the sylvan regions of Haerlem, Morrissania, and
East Chester. Here the eye reposed with delight on a richly weeded
country, diversified by tufted knolls, shadowy intervals, and waving lines
of upland, swelling above each other; while over the whole the purple
mists of spring diffused a hue of soft voluptuousness.

Just before them the grand course of the stream, making a sudden bend,
wound among embowered promontories and shores of emerald verdure that
seemed to melt into the wave. A character of gentleness and mild fertility
prevailed around. The sun had just descended, and the thin haze of
twilight, like a transparent veil drawn over the bosom of virgin beauty,
heightened the charms which it half concealed.

Ah! witching scenes of foul delusion! Ah! hapless voyagers, gazing with
simple wonder on these Circean shores! Such, alas! are they, poor easy
souls, who listen to the seductions of a wicked world; treacherous are its
smiles, fatal its caresses! He who yields to its enticements launches upon
a whelming tide, and trusts his feeble bark among the dimpling eddies of a
whirlpool! And thus it fared with the worthies of Pavonia, who, little
mistrusting the guileful sense before them, drifted quietly on, until they
were aroused by an uncommon tossing and agitation of their vessels. For
now the late dimpling current began to brawl around them, and the waves to
boil and foam with horrible fury. Awakened as if from a dream, the
astonished Oloffe bawled aloud to put about, but his words were lost amid
the roaring of the waters. And now ensued a scene of direful
consternation. At one time they were borne with dreadful velocity among
tumultuous breakers; at another, hurried down boisterous rapids. Now they
were nearly dashed upon the Hen and Chickens (infamous rocks! more
voracious than Scylla and her whelps!); and anon they seemed sinking into
yawning gulfs, that threatened to entomb them beneath the waves. All the
elements combined to produce a hideous confusion. The waters raged--the
winds howled--and as they were hurried along several of the astonished
mariners beheld the rocks and trees of the neighboring shores driving
through the air!

At length the mighty tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt was drawn into the
vortex of that tremendous whirlpool called the Pot, where it was whirled
about in giddy mazes, until the senses of the good commander and his crew
were overpowered by the horror of the scene, and the strangeness of the

How the gallant squadron of Pavonia was snatched from the jaws of this
modern Charybdis has never been truly made known, for so many survived to
tell the tale, and, what is still more wonderful, told it in so many
different ways, that there has ever prevailed a great variety of opinions
on the subject.

As to the commodore and his crew, when they came to their senses they
found themselves stranded on the Long Island shore. The worthy commodore,
indeed, used to relate many and wonderful stories of his adventures in
this time of peril; how that he saw specters flying in the air, and heard
the yelling of hobgoblins, and put his hand into the pot when they were
whirled round, and found the water scalding hot, and beheld several
uncouth-looking beings seated on rocks and skimming it with huge ladles;
but particularly he declared with great exultation, that he saw the losel
porpoises, which had betrayed them into this peril, some broiling on the
Gridiron, and others hissing on the Frying-pan!

These, however, were considered by many as mere phantasies of the
commodore, while he lay in a trance, especially as he was known to be
given to dreaming; and the truth of them has never been clearly
ascertained. It is certain, however, that to the accounts of Oloffe and
his followers may be traced the various traditions handed down of this
marvelous strait--as how the devil has been seen there, sitting astride of
the Hog's Back and playing on the fiddle--how he broils fish there before
a storm; and many other stories, in which we must be cautious of putting
too much faith. In consequence of all these terrific circumstances, the
Pavonian commander gave this pass the name of Helle-gat, or, as it has
been interpreted, Hell-gate;[30] which it continues to bear at the present


   [27] It is a matter long since established by certain of our
        philosophers, that is to say, having been often advanced and
        never contradicted, it has grown to be pretty nigh equal to a
        settled fact, that the Hudson was originally a lake dammed up by
        the mountains of the Highlands. In process of time, however,
        becoming very mighty and obstreperous, and the mountains waxing
        pursy, dropsical, and weak in the back, by reason of their
        extreme old age, it suddenly rose upon them, and after a violent
        struggle effected its escape. This is said to have come to pass
        in very remote time, probably before that rivers had lost the art
        of running up hill. The foregoing is a theory in which I do not
        pretend to be skilled, not withstanding that I do fully give it
        my belief.

   [28] A promontory in the Highlands.

   [29] Properly spelt Hoeck (i.e. a point of land).

   [30] This is a narrow strait in the Sound, at the distance of six
        miles above New York. It is dangerous to shipping, unless under
        the care of skillful pilots, by reason of numerous rocks,
        shelves, and whirlpools. These have received sundry appellations,
        such as the Gridiron, Frying-pan, Hog's Back, Pot, etc., and are
        very violent and turbulent at certain times of tide. Certain
        mealy-mouthed men, of squeamish consciences, who are loth to give
        the devil his due, have softened the above characteristic name
        into Hell-gate, forsooth! Let those take care how they venture
        into the Gate, or they may be hurled into the Pot before they are
        aware of it. The name of this strait, as given by our author, is
        supported by the map of Vander Donck's history, published in
        1656--by Ogilvie's History of America, 1671--as also by a journal
        still extant, written in the sixteenth century, and to be found
        in Hazard's State Papers. And an old MS, written in French,
        speaking of various alterations, in names about this city,
        observes, "De Hellegat, trou d'Enfer, ils ont fait Hell-gate,
        porte d'Enfer."


The darkness of night had closed upon this disastrous day, and a doleful
night was it to the shipwrecked Pavonians, whose ears were incessantly
assailed with the raging of the elements, and the howling of the
hobgoblins that infested this perfidious strait. But when the morning
dawned the horrors of the preceding evening had passed away, rapids,
breakers and whirlpools had disappeared, the stream again ran smooth and
dimpling, and having changed its tide, rolled gently back towards the
quarter where lay their much regretted home.

The woebegone heroes of Communipaw eyed each other with rueful
countenances; their squadrons had been totally dispersed by the late
disaster. Some were cast upon the western shore, where, headed by one
Ruleff Hopper, they took possession of all the country lying about the
six-mile-stone, which is held by the Hoppers at this present writing.

The Waldrons were driven by stress of weather to a distant coast, where,
having with them a jug of genuine Hollands, they were enabled to
conciliate the savages, setting up a kind of tavern; whence, it is said,
did spring the fair town of Haerlem, in which their descendants have ever
since continued to be reputable publicans. As to the Suydams, they were
thrown upon the Long Island coast, and may still be found in those parts.
But the most singular luck attended the great Ten Broeck, who, falling
overboard, was miraculously preserved from sinking by the multitude of his
nether garments. Thus buoyed up, he floated on the waves like a merman, or
like an angler's dobber, until he landed safely on a rock, where he was
found the next morning busily drying his many breeches in the sunshine.

I forbear to treat of the long consultation of Oloffe with his remaining
followers, in which they determined that it would never do to found a city
in so diabolical a neighborhood. Suffice it in simple brevity to say, that
they once more committed themselves, with fear and trembling, to the briny
element, and steered their course back again through the scenes of their
yesterday's voyage, determined no longer to roam in search of distant
sites, but to settle themselves down in the marshy regions of Pavonia.

Scarce, however, had they gained a distant view of Communipaw, when they
were encountered by an obstinate eddy, which opposed their homeward
voyage. Weary and dispirited as they were, they yet tugged a feeble oar
against the stream; until, as if to settle the strife, half a score of
potent billows rolled the tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt high and dry on
the long point of an island which divided the bosom of the bay.

Some pretend that these billows were sent by old Neptune to strand the
expedition on a spot whereon was to be founded his stronghold in this
western world; others, more pious, attribute everything to the
guardianship of the good St. Nicholas; and after events will be found to
corroborate this opinion. Oloffe Van Kortlandt was a devout trencherman.
Every repast was a kind of religious rite with him; and his first thought
on finding him once more on dry ground was how he should contrive to
celebrate his wonderful escape from Hell-gate and all its horrors by a
solemn banquet. The stores which had been provided for the voyage by the
good housewives of Communipaw were nearly exhausted; but in casting his
eyes about the commodore beheld that the shore abounded with oysters. A
great store of these was instantly collected; a fire was made at the foot
of a tree; all hands fell to roasting, and broiling, and stewing, and
frying, and a sumptuous repast was soon set forth. This is thought to be
the origin of those civic feasts with which, to the present day, all our
public affairs are celebrated, and in which the oyster is ever sure to
play an important part.

On the present occasion the worthy Van Kortlandt was observed to be
particularly zealous in his devotions to the trencher; for having the
cares of the expedition especially committed to his care he deemed it
incumbent on him to eat profoundly for the public good. In proportion as
he filled himself to the very brim with the dainty viands before him did
the heart of this excellent burgher rise up towards his throat, until he
seemed crammed and almost choked with good eating and good nature. And at
such times it is, when a man's heart is in his throat, that he may more
truly be said to speak from it, and his speeches abound with kindness and
good fellowship. Thus, having swallowed the last possible morsel, and
washed it down with a fervent potation, Oloffe felt his heart yearning,
and his whole frame in a manner dilating with unbounded benevolence.
Everything around him seemed excellent and delightful; and laying his
hands on each side of his capacious periphery, and rolling his half-closed
eyes around on the beautiful diversity of land and water before him, he
exclaimed, in a fat, half-smothered voice, "What a charming prospect!" The
words died away in his throat--he seemed to ponder on the fair scene for a
moment--his eyelids heavily closed over their orbs--his head drooped upon
his bosom--he slowly sank upon the green turf, and a deep sleep stole
gradually over him.

And the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream--and, lo! the good St. Nicholas came
riding over the tops of the trees, in that self-same wagon wherein he
brings his yearly presents to children. And he descended hard by where the
heroes of Communipaw had made their late repast. And he lit his pipe by
the fire, and sat himself down and smoked; and as he smoked the smoke from
his pipe ascended into the air, and spread like a cloud overhead. And
Oloffe bethought him, and he hastened and climbed up to the top of one of
the tallest trees, and saw that the smoke spread over a great extent of
country--and as he considered it more attentively he fancied that the
great volume of smoke assumed a variety of marvelous forms, where in dim
obscurity he saw shadowed out palaces and domes and lofty spires, all of
which lasted but a moment, and then faded away, until the whole rolled
off, and nothing but the green woods were left. And when St. Nicholas had
smoked his pipe he twisted it in his hatband, and laying his finger beside
his nose, gave the astonished Van Kortlandt a very significant look, then
mounting his wagon, he returned over the treetops and disappeared.

And Van Kortlandt awoke from his sleep greatly instructed, and he aroused
his companions, and related to them his dream, and interpreted it that it
was the will of St. Nicholas that they should settle down and build the
city here; and that the smoke of the pipe was a type how vast would be
the extent of the city, inasmuch as the volumes of its smoke would spread
over a wide extent of country. And they all with one voice assented to
this interpretation excepting Mynheer Ten Broeck, who declared the meaning
to be that it would be a city wherein a little fire would occasion a great
smoke, or, in other words, a very vaporing little city--both which
interpretations have strangely come to pass!

The great object of their perilous expedition, therefore, being thus
happily accomplished, the voyagers returned merrily to Communipaw, where
they were received with great rejoicings. And here calling a general
meeting of all the wise men and the dignitaries of Pavonia, they related
the whole history of their voyage, and of the dream of Oloffe Van
Kortlandt. And the people lifted up their voices and blessed the good St.
Nicholas, and from that time forth the sage Van Kortlandt was held in more
honor than ever, for his great talent at dreaming, and was pronounced a
most useful citizen, and a right good man--when he was asleep.


The original name of the island whereon the squadron of Communipaw was
thus propitiously thrown is a matter of some dispute, and has already
undergone considerable vitiation--a melancholy proof of the instability of
all sublunary things, and the vanity of all our hopes of lasting fame; for
who can expect his name will live to posterity, when even the names of
mighty islands are thus soon lost in contradiction and uncertainty!

The name most current at the present day, and which is likewise
countenanced by the great historian Vander Donck, is Manhattan, which is
said to have originated in a custom among the squaws, in the early
settlement, of wearing men's hats, as is still done among many tribes.
"Hence," as we are told by an old governor, who was somewhat of a wag, and
flourished almost a century since, and had paid a visit to the wits of
Philadelphia, "hence arose the appellation of man-hat-on, first given to
the Indians, and afterwards to the island"--a stupid joke!--but well
enough for a governor.

Among the more venerable sources of information on this subject is that
valuable history of the American possessions, written by Master Richard
Blome, in 1687, wherein it is called the Manhadaes and Manahanent; nor
must I forget the excellent little book, full of precious matter, of that
authentic historian, John Josselyn, gent., who expressly calls it

Another etymology still more ancient, and sanctioned by the countenance of
our ever to be lamented Dutch ancestors, is that found in certain letters,
still extant,[31] which passed between the early governors and their
neighboring powers, wherein it is called indifferently Monhattoes,
Munhatos, and Manhattoes, which are evidently unimportant variations of
the same name; for our wise forefathers set little store by those
niceties, either in orthography or orthoepy, which form the sole study and
ambition of many learned men and women of this hypercritical age. This
last name is said to be derived from the great Indian spirit Manetho, who
was supposed to make this island his favorite abode, on account of its
uncommon delights. For the Indian traditions affirm that the bay was once
a translucid lake, filled with silver and golden fish, in the midst of
which lay this beautiful island, covered with every variety of fruits and
flowers, but that the sudden irruption of the Hudson laid waste these
blissful scenes, and Manetho took his flight beyond the great waters of

These, however, are very fabulous legends, to which very cautious
credence must be given; and though I am willing to admit the last quoted
orthography of the name as very fit for prose, yet is there another which
I peculiarly delight in, as at once poetical, melodious, and
significant--and which we have on the authority of Master Juet, who, in
his account of the voyage of the great Hudson, calls this Manna-hata--that
is to say, the island of manna--or, in other words, a land flowing with
milk and honey.

Still my deference to the learned obliges me to notice the opinion of the
worthy Dominie Heckwelder, which ascribes the name to a great drunken
bout, held on the island by the Dutch discoverers, whereat they made
certain of the natives most ecstatically drunk for the first time in their
lives; who, being delighted with their jovial entertainment, gave the
place the name of Mannahattanink--that is to say, the Island of Jolly
Topers--a name which it continues to merit to the present day.[32]


   [31] Vide Hazard's Col. Stat. Pap.

   [32] MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder, in the archives of the New
        York Historical Society.


It having been solemnly resolved that the seat of empire should be removed
from the green shores of Pavonia to the pleasant island of Manna-hata,
everybody was anxious to embark under the standard of Oloffe the Dreamer,
and to be among the first sharers of the promised land. A day was
appointed for the grand migration, and on that day little Communipaw as in
a buzz and a bustle like a hive in swarming time. Houses were turned
inside out, and stripped of the venerable furniture which had come from
Holland; all the community, great and small, black and white, man, woman,
and child, was in commotion, forming lines from the houses to the water
side, like lines of ants from an ant-hill; everybody laden with some
article of household furniture; while busy housewifes plied backwards and
forwards along the lines, helping everything forward by the nimbleness of
their tongues.

By degrees a fleet of boats and canoes were piled up with all kinds of
household articles; ponderous tables; chests of drawers, resplendent with
brass ornaments, quaint corner cupboards; beds and bedsteads; with any
quantity of pots, kettles, frying-pans, and Dutch ovens. In each boat
embarked a whole family, from the robustious burgher down to the cats and
dogs and little negroes. In this way they set off across the mouth of the
Hudson, under the guidance of Oloffe the Dreamer, who hoisted his standard
on the leading boat.

This memorable migration took place on the first of May, and was long
cited in tradition as the grand moving. The anniversary of it was piously
observed among the "sons of the pilgrims of Communipaw," by turning their
houses topsy-turvy, and carrying all the furniture through the streets, in
emblem of the swarming of the parent hive; and this is the real origin of
the universal agitation and "moving" by which this most restless of cities
is literally turned out of doors on every May-day.

As the little squadron from Communipaw drew near to the shores of
Manna-hata, a sachem, at the head of a band of warriors, appeared to
oppose their landing. Some of the most zealous of the pilgrims were for
chastising this insolence with the powder and ball, according to the
approved mode of discoverers; but the sage Oloffe gave them the
significant sign of St. Nicholas, laying his finger beside his nose and
winking hard with one eye; whereupon his followers perceived that there
was something sagacious in the wind. He now addressed the Indians in the
blandest terms, and made such tempting display of beads, hawks's bells,
and red blankets, that he was soon permitted to land, and a great land
speculation ensued. And here let me give the true story of the original
purchase of the site of this renowned city, about which so much has been
said and written. Some affirm that the first cost was, but sixty guilders.
The learned Dominie Heckwelder records a tradition[33] that the Dutch
discoverers bargained for only so much land as the hide of a bullock would
cover; but that they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a child's
finger, so as to take in a large portion of land, and to take in the
Indians into the bargain This, however, is an old fable which the worthy
Dominie may have borrowed from antiquity. The true version is, that Oloffe
Van Kortlandt bargained for just so much land as a man could cover with
his nether garments. The terms being concluded, he produced his friend
Mynheer Ten Broeck, as the man whose breeches were to be used in
measurement. The simple savages, whose ideas of a man's nether garments
had never expanded beyond the dimensions of a breech clout, stared with
astonishment and dismay as they beheld this bulbous-bottomed burgher
peeled like an onion, and breeches after breeches spread forth over the
land until they covered the actual site of this venerable city.

This is the true history of the adroit bargain by which the Island of
Manhattan was bought for sixty guilders; and in corroboration of it I will
add that Mynheer Ten Breeches, for his services on this memorable
occasion, was elevated to the office of land measurer; which he ever
afterwards exercised in the colony.


   [33] MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder: New York Historical Society.


The land being thus fairly purchased of the Indians, a circumstance very
unusual in the history of colonization, and strongly illustrative of the
honesty of our Dutch progenitors, a stockade fort and trading house were
forthwith erected on an eminence in front of the place where the good St.
Nicholas had appeared in a vision to Oloffe the Dreamer; and which, as has
already been observed, was the identical place at present known as the
Bowling Green.

Around this fort a progeny of little Dutch-built houses, with tiled roofs
and weathercocks, soon sprang up, nestling themselves under its walls for
protection, as a brood of half-fledged chickens nestle under the wings of
the mother hen. The whole was surrounded by an enclosure of strong
palisadoes, to guard against any sudden irruption of the savages. Outside
of these extended the corn-fields and cabbage-gardens of the community,
with here and there an attempt at a tobacco plantation; all covering those
tracts of country at present called Broadway, Wall Street, William Street,
and Pearl Street, I must not omit to mention, that in portioning out the
land a goodly "bowerie" or farm was allotted to the sage Oloffe, in
consideration of the service he had rendered to the public by his talent
at dreaming; and the site of his "bowerie" is known by the name of
Kortlandt (or Cortland) Street to the present day.

And now the infant settlement having advanced in age and stature, it was
thought high time it should receive an honest Christian name. Hitherto it
had gone by the original Indian name of Manna-hata, or, as some will have
it, "The Manhattoes;" but this was now decried as savage and heathenish,
and as tending to keep up the memory of the pagan brood that originally
possessed it. Many were the consultations held upon the subject without
coming to a conclusion, for though everybody condemned the old name,
nobody could invent a new one. At length, when the council was almost in
despair, a burgher, remarkable for the size and squareness of his head,
proposed that they should call it New Amsterdam. The proposition took
everybody by surprise; it was so striking, so apposite, so ingenious. The
name was adopted by acclamation, and New Amsterdam the metropolis was
thenceforth called. Still, however, the early authors of the province
continued to call it by the general appelation of "The Manhattoes," and
the poets fondly clung to the euphonious name of Manna-hata; but those are
a kind of folk whose tastes and notions should go for nothing in matters
of this kind.

Having thus provided the embryo city with a name, the next was to give it
an armorial bearing or device, as some cities have a rampant lion, others
a soaring eagle; emblematical, no doubt, of the valiant and high-flying
qualities of the inhabitants: so after mature deliberation a sleek beaver
was emblazoned on the city standard as indicative of the amphibious origin
and patient persevering habits of the New Amsterdamers.

The thriving state of the settlement and the rapid increase of houses soon
made it necessary to arrange some plan upon which the city should be
built; but at the very first consultation on the subject a violent
discussion arose; and I mention it with much sorrowing as being the first
altercation on record in the councils of New Amsterdam. It was, in fact, a
breaking forth of the grudge and heart-burning that had existed between
those two eminent burghers, Mynheers Ten Broeck and Harden Broeck, ever
since their unhappy dispute on the coast of Bellevue. The great Harden
Broeck had waxed very wealthy and powerful from his domains, which
embraced the whole chain of Apulean mountains that stretched along the
gulf of Kip's Bay, and from part of which his descendants have been
expelled in latter ages by the powerful clans of the Joneses and the

An ingenious plan for the city was offered by Mynheer Harden Broeck, who
proposed that it should be cut up and intersected by canals, after the
manner of the most admired cities in Holland. To this Mynheer Ten Broeck
was diametrically opposed, suggesting in place thereof that they should
run out docks and wharves, by means of piles driven into the bottom of the
river, on which the town should be built. "By these means," said he,
triumphantly, "shall we rescue a considerable space of territory from
these immense rivers, and build a city that shall rival Amsterdam, Venice,
or any amphibious city in Europe." To this proposition Harden Broeck (or
Tough Breeches) replied, with a look of as much scorn as he could possibly
assume. He cast the utmost censure upon the plan of his antagonist, as
being preposterous, and against the very order of things, as he would
leave to every true Hollander. "For what," said he, "is a town without
canals?--it is like a body without veins and arteries, and must perish for
want of a free circulation of the vital fluid."--Ten Breeches, on the
contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his antagonist, who was somewhat of
an arid, dry-boded habit; he remarked, that as to the circulation of the
blood being necessary to existence, Mynheer Tough Breeches was a living
contradiction to his own assertion; for everybody knew there had not a
drop of blood circulated through his wind-dried carcase for good ten
years, and yet there was not a greater busybody in the whole colony.
Personalities have seldom much effect in making converts in argument; nor
have I ever seen a man convinced of error by being convicted of deformity.
At least such was not the case at present. If Ten Breeches was very happy
in sarcasm, Tough Breeches, who was a sturdy little man, and never gave up
the last word, rejoined with increasing spirit; Ten Breeches had the
advantage of the greatest volubility, but Tough Breeches had that
invaluable coat of mail in argument called obstinacy; Ten Breeches had,
therefore, the most mettle, but Tough Breeches the best bottom--so that
though Ten Breeches made a dreadful clattering about his ears, and
battered and belabored him with hard words and sound arguments, yet Tough
Breeches hung on most resolutely to the last. They parted, therefore, as
is usual in all arguments where both parties are in the right, without
coming to any conclusion; but they hated each other most heartily for ever
after, and a similar breach with that between the houses of Capulet and
Montague did ensue between the families of Ten Breeches and Tough

I would not fatigue my reader with these dull matters of fact, but that my
duty as a faithful historian requires that I should be particular; and, in
truth, as I am now treating of the critical period when our city, like a
young twig, first received the twists and turns which have since
contributed to give it its present picturesque irregularity, I cannot be
too minute in detailing their first causes.

After the unhappy altercation I have just mentioned, I do not find that
anything further was said on the subject worthy of being recorded. The
council, consisting of the largest and oldest heads in the community, met
regularly once a week, to ponder on this momentous subject; but, either
they were deterred by the war of words they had witnessed, or they were
naturally averse to the exercise of the tongue, and the consequent
exercise of the brains--certain it is, the most profound silence was
maintained--the question, as usual, lay on the table--the members quietly
smoked their pipes, making but few laws, without ever enforcing any, and
in the meantime the affairs of the settlement went on--as it pleased God.

As most of the council were but little skilled in the mystery of
combining pot-hooks and hangers, they determined most judiciously not to
puzzle either themselves or posterity with voluminous records. The
secretary, however, kept the minutes of the council with tolerable
precision, in a large vellum folio, fastened with massy brass clasps; the
journal of each meeting consisted but of two lines, stating in Dutch that
"the council sat this day, and smoked twelve pipes on the affairs of the
colony." By which it appears that the first settlers did not regulate
their time by hours, but pipes, in the same manner as they measure
distances in Holland at this very time; an admirably exact measurement, as
a pipe in the mouth of a true-born Dutchman is never liable to those
accidents and irregularities that are continually putting our clocks out
of order.

In this manner did the profound council of New Amsterdam smoke, and doze,
and ponder, from week to week, month to month, and year to year, in what
manner they should construct their infant settlement; meanwhile the town
took care of itself, and, like a sturdy brat which is suffered to run
about wild, unshackled by clouts and bandages, and other abominations by
which your notable nurses and sage old women cripple and disfigure the
children of men, increased so rapidly in strength and magnitude, that
before the honest burgomasters had determined upon a plan it was too late
to put it in execution--whereupon they wisely abandoned the subject


There is something exceedingly delusive in thus looking back, through the
long vista of departed years, and catching a glimpse of the fairy realms
of antiquity. Like a landscape melting into distance, they receive a
thousand charms from their very obscurity, and the fancy delights to fill
up their outlines with graces and excellences of its own creation. Thus
loom on my imagination those happier days of our city, when as yet New
Amsterdam was a mere pastoral town, shrouded in groves of sycamores and
willows, and surrounded by trackless forests and wide-spreading waters,
that seemed to shut out all the cares and vanities of a wicked world.

In those days did this embryo city present the rare and noble spectacle of
a community governed without laws; and thus being left to its own course,
and the fostering care of Providence, increased as rapidly as though it
had been burdened with a dozen panniers full of those sage laws usually
heaped on the backs of young cities--in order to make them grow. And in
this particular I greatly admire the wisdom and sound knowledge of human
nature displayed by the sage Oloffe the Dreamer and his fellow
legislators. For my part, I have not so bad an opinion of mankind as many
of my brother philosophers. I do not think poor human nature so sorry a
piece of workmanship as they would make it out to be; and as far as I have
observed, I am fully satisfied that man, if left to himself, would about
as readily go right as wrong. It is only this eternally sounding in his
ears that it is his duty to go right which makes him go the very reverse.
The noble independence of his nature revolts at this intolerable tyranny
of law, and the perpetual interference of officious morality, which are
ever besetting his path with finger-posts and directions to "keep to the
right, as the law directs;" and like a spirited urchin, he turns directly
contrary, and gallops through mud and mire, over hedges and ditches,
merely to show that he is a lad of spirit, and out of his leading-strings.
And these opinions are amply substantiated by what I have above said of
our worthy ancestors; who never being be-preached and be-lectured, and
guided and governed by statutes and laws and by-laws, as are their more
enlightened descendants, did one and all demean themselves honestly and
peaceably, out of pure ignorance, or, in other words--because they knew no

Nor must I omit to record one of the earliest measures of this infant
settlement, inasmuch as it shows the piety of our forefathers, and that,
like good Christians, they were always ready to serve God, after they had
first served themselves. Thus, having quietly settled themselves down, and
provided for their own comfort, they bethought themselves of testifying
their gratitude to the great and good St. Nicholas, for his protecting
care in guiding them to this delectable abode. To this end they built a
fair and goodly chapel within the fort, which they consecrated to his
name; whereupon he immediately took the town of New Amsterdam under his
peculiar patronage, and he has even since been, and I devoutly hope will
ever be, the tutelar saint of this excellent city.

At this early period was instituted that pious ceremony, still religiously
observed in all our ancient families of the right breed, of hanging up a
stocking in the chimney on St. Nicholas Eve; which stocking is always
found in the morning miraculously filled; for the good St. Nicholas has
ever been a great giver of gifts, particularly to children.

I am moreover told that there is a little legendary book somewhere extant,
written in Low Dutch, which says that the image of this renowned saint,
which whilom graced the bow-sprit of the Goede Vrouw, was elevated in
front of this chapel, in the center of what in modern days is called the
Bowling Green--on the very spot, in fact, where he appeared in vision to
Oloffe the Dreamer. And the legend further treats of divers miracles
wrought by the mighty pipe which the saint held in his mouth; a whiff of
which was a sovereign cure for an indigestion--an invaluable relic in this
colony of brave trenchermen. As however, in spite of the most diligent
search, I cannot lay my hands upon this little book, I must confess that
I entertain considerable doubt on the subject.

Thus benignly fostered by the good St. Nicholas, the infant city thrived
apace. Hordes of painted savages, it is true, still lurked about the
unsettled parts of the island. The hunter still pitched his bower of skins
and bark beside the rills that ran through the cool and shady glens, while
here and there might be seen, on some sunny knoll, a group of Indian
wigwams whose smoke arose above the neighboring trees, and floated in the
transparent atmosphere. A mutual good-will, however, existed between these
wandering beings and the burghers of New Amsterdam. Our benevolent
forefathers endeavored as much as possible to ameliorate their situation,
by giving them gin, rum, and glass beads, in exchange for their peltries;
for it seems the kind-hearted Dutchmen had conceived a great friendship
for their savage neighbors, on account of their being pleasant men to
trade with, and little skilled in the art of making a bargain.

Now and then a crew of these half human sons of the forest would make
their appearance in the streets of New Amsterdam, fantastically painted
and decorated with beads and flaunting feathers, sauntering about with an
air of listless indifference--sometimes in the marketplace, instructing
the little Dutch boys in the use of the bow and arrow--at other times,
inflamed with liquor, swaggering, and whooping, and yelling about the town
like so many fiends, to the great dismay of all the good wives, who would
hurry their children into the house, fasten the doors, and throw water
upon the enemy from the garret windows. It is worthy of mention here that
our forefathers were very particular in holding up these wild men as
excellent domestic examples--and for reasons that may be gathered from the
history of Master Ogilby, who tells us that "for the least offence the
bridegroom soundly beats his wife and turns her out of doors, and marries
another, insomuch that some of them have every year a new wife." Whether
this awful example had any influence or not history does not mention; but
it is certain that our grandmothers were miracles of fidelity and

True it is that the good understanding between our ancestors and their
savage neighbors was liable to occasional interruptions, and I have heard
my grandmother, who was a very wise old woman, and well versed in the
history of these parts, tell a long story of a winter's evening, about a
battle between the New-Amsterdammers and the Indians, which was known by
the name of the Peach War, and which took place near a peach orchard, in a
dark glen, which for a long while went by the name of Murderer's Valley.

The legend of this sylvan war was long current among the nurses, old
wives, and other ancient chroniclers of the place; but time and
improvement have almost obliterated both the tradition and the scene of
battle; for what was once the blood-stained valley is now in the center of
this populous city, and known by the name of Dey Street.

I know not whether it was to this "Peach War," and the acquisitions of
Indian land which may have grown out of it, that we may ascribe the first
seeds of the spirit of "annexation" which now began to manifest
themselves. Hitherto the ambition of the worthy burghers had been confined
to the lovely island of Manna-hata; and Spiten Devil on the Hudson, and
Hell-gate on the Sound, were to them the pillars of Hercules, the _ne plus
ultra_ of human enterprise. Shortly after the Peach War however, a
restless spirit was observed among the New Amsterdammers, who began to
cast wistful looks upon the wild lands of their Indian neighbors; for
somehow or other wild Indian land always looks greener in the eyes of
settlers than the land they occupy. It is hinted that Oloffe the Dreamer
encouraged these notions; having, as has been shown, the inherent spirit
of a land speculator, which had been wonderfully quickened and expanded
since he had become a landholder. Many of the common people, who had never
before owned a foot of land, now began to be discontented with the town
lots which had fallen to their shares; others who had snug farms and
tobacco plantations found they had not sufficient elbow-room, and began to
question the rights of the Indians to the vast regions they pretended to
hold--while the good Oloffe indulged in magnificent dreams of foreign
conquest and great patroonships in the wilderness.

The result of these dreams were certain exploring expeditions sent forth
in various directions to "sow the seeds of empire," as it was said. The
earliest of these were conducted by Hans Reinier Oothout, an old navigator
famous for the sharpness of his vision, who could see land when it was
quite out of sight to ordinary mortals, and who had a spy-glass covered
with a bit of tarpaulin, with which he could spy up the crookedest river,
quite to its head waters. He was accompanied by Mynheer Ten Breeches, as
land measurer, in case of any dispute with the Indians.

What was the consequence of these exploring expeditions? In a little while
we find a frontier post or trading-house called Fort Nassau, established
far to the south on Delaware River; another called Fort Goed Hoop (or Good
Hope), on the Varsche or Fresh, or Connecticut River; and another called
Fort Aurania (now Albany) away up the Hudson River; while the boundaries
of the province kept extending on every side, nobody knew whither, far
into the regions of Terra Incognita.

Of the boundary feuds and troubles which the ambitious little province
brought upon itself by these indefinite expansions of its territory we
shall treat at large in the after pages of this eventful history;
sufficient for the present is it to say, that the swelling importance of
the Nieuw Nederlandts awakened the attention of the mother country, who,
finding it likely to yield much revenue and no trouble, began to take that
interest in its welfare which knowing people evince for rich relations.

But as this opens a new era in the fortunes of New Amsterdam I will here
put an end to this second book of my history, and will treat of the
maternal policy of the mother country in my next.




Grievous and very much to be commiserated is the task of the feeling
historian who writes the history of his native land. If it fell to his lot
to be the recorder of calamity or crime, the mournful page is watered with
his tears--nor can he recall the most prosperous and blissful era without
a melancholy sigh at the reflection that it has passed away for ever! I
know not whether it be owing to an immoderate love for the simplicity of
former times, or to that certain tenderness of heart incident to all
sentimental historians, but I candidly confess that I cannot look back on
the happier days of our city, which I now describe, without great
dejection of spirits. With faltering hand do I withdraw the curtain of
oblivion that veils the modest merit of our venerable ancestors, and as
their figures rise to my mental vision, humble myself before their mighty

Such are my feelings when I revisit the family mansion of the
Knickerbockers, and spend a lonely hour in the chamber where hang the
portraits of my forefathers, shrouded in dust like the forms they
represent. With pious reverence do I gaze on the countenances of those
renowned burghers who have preceded me in the steady march of
existence--whose sober and temperate blood now meanders through my veins,
flowing slower and slower in its feeble conduits, until its current shall
soon be stopped for ever!

These I say to myself are but frail memorials of the mighty men who
flourished in the days of the patriarchs: but who, alas! have long since
smouldered in that tomb towards which my steps are insensibly and
irresistibly hastening. As I pace the darkened chamber, and lose myself in
melancholy musings, the shadowy images around me almost seem to steal once
more into existence, their countenances to assume the animation of
life--their eyes to pursue me in every movement! Carried away by the
delusions of fancy, I almost imagine myself surrounded by the shades of
the departed, and holding sweet converse with the worthies of antiquity!
Ah, hapless Diedrich! born in a degenerate age, abandoned to the
buffetings of fortune--a stranger and weary pilgrim in thy native
land--blest with no weeping wife, nor family of helpless children; but
doomed to wander neglected through those crowded streets, and elbowed by
foreign upstarts from those fair abodes where once thine ancestors held
sovereign empire!

Let me not, however, lose the historian in the man, nor suffer the doting
recollections of age to overcome me, while dwelling with fond garrulity on
the virtuous days of the patriarchs--on those sweet days of simplicity and
ease, which never more will dawn on the lovely island of Manna-hata.

These melancholy reflections have been forced from me by the growing
wealth and importance of New Amsterdam, which, I plainly perceive, are to
involve it in all kinds of perils and disasters. Already, as I observed at
the close of my last book, they had awakened the attention of the mother
country. The usual mark of protection shown by mother countries to wealthy
colonies was forthwith manifested; a governor being sent out to rule over
the province, and squeeze out of it as much revenue as possible. The
arrival of a governor of course put an end to the protectorate of Oloffe
the Dreamer. He appears, however, to have dreamt to some purpose during
his sway, as we find him afterwards living as a patroon on a great landed
estate on the banks of the Hudson, having virtually forfeited all right to
his ancient appellation of Kortlandt, or Lackland.

It was in the year of our Lord 1629 that Mynheer Wouter Van Twiller was
appointed governor of the province of Nieuw Nederlands, under the
commission and control of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General
of the United Netherlands and the privileged West India Company.

This renowned old gentleman arrived at New Amsterdam in the merry month of
June, the sweetest month in all the year; when Dan Apollo seems to dance
up the transparent firmament--when the robin, the thrush, and a thousand
other wanton songsters make the woods to resound with amorous ditties, and
the luxurious little boblicon revels among the clover blossoms of the
meadows--all which happy coincidence persuaded the old dames of New
Amsterdam who were skilled in the art of foretelling events, that this was
to be a happy and prosperous administration.

The renowned Wouter, or Walter, Van Twiller was descended from a long line
of Dutch burgomasters, who had successively dozed away their lives, and
grown fat upon the bench of magistracy in Rotterdam; and who had empowered
themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety that they were never
either heard or talked of--which, next to being universally applauded,
should be the object of ambition of all magistrates and rulers. There are
two opposite ways by which some men make a figure in the world; one by
talking faster than they think, and the other by holding their tongues and
not thinking at all. By the first many a smatterer acquires the reputation
of a man of quick parts; by the other many a dunderpate, like the owl, the
stupidest of birds, comes to be considered the very type of wisdom. This,
by the way, is a casual remark, which I would not for the universe have
it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller. It is true he was a man shut
up within himself, like an oyster, and rarely spoke except in
monosyllables; but then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So
invincible was his gravity that he was never known to laugh, or even to
smile, through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. Nay, if a
joke were uttered in his presence, that set light-minded hearers in a
roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. Sometimes
he would deign to inquire into the matter, and when, after much
explanation, the joke was made as plain as a pike-staff, he would continue
to smoke his pipe in silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes, would
exclaim, "Well! I see nothing in all that to laugh about."

With all his reflective habits he never made up his mind on a subject. His
adherents accounted for this by the astonishing magnitude of his ideas. He
conceived every subject on so grand a scale that he had not room in his
head to turn it over and examine both sides of it. Certain it is that if
any matter were propounded to him, on which ordinary mortals would rashly
determine at first glance, he would put on a vague mysterious look, shake
his capacious head, smoke some time in profound silence, and at length
observe that "he had his doubts about the matter;" which gained him the
reputation of a man slow of belief, and not easily imposed upon. What is
more, it gained him a lasting name, for to this habit of the mind has been
attributed his surname of Twiller, which is said to be a corruption of the
original Twijfler, or, in plain English, Doubter.

The person of this illustrious old gentleman was formed and proportioned,
as though it had been moulded by the hands of some cunning Dutch statuary,
as a model of majesty and lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six
inches in height and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was
a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions, that Dame Nature,
with all her sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck
capable of supporting it; wherefore, she wisely declined the attempt, and
settled it firmly on the top of his backbone; just between the shoulders.
His body was oblong and particularly capacious at bottom, which was wisely
ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and
very averse to the idle labor of walking.

His legs were short, but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to
sustain; so that, when erect, he had not a little the appearance of a beer
barrel on skids. His face, that infallible index of the mind, presented a
vast expanse, unfurrowed by any of those lines and angles which disfigure
the human countenance with what is termed expression. Two small gray eyes
twinkled feebly in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude in a hazy
firmament; and his full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have taken toll of
everything that went into his mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked
with dusky red, like a Spitzenberg apple.

His habits were as regular as his person. He daily took his four stated
meals; appropriating exactly an hour to each; he smoked and doubted eight
hours, and he slept the remaining twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was
the renowned Wouter Van Twiller--a true philosopher, for his mind was
either elevated above, or tranquilly settled below, the cares and
perplexities of this world. He had lived in it for years, without feeling
the least curiosity to know whether the sun revolved round it, or it round
the sun; and he had watched for at least half century the smoke curling
from his pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling his head with any of
those numerous theories by which a philosopher would have perplexed his
brain in accounting for its rising above the surrounding atmosphere.

In his council he presided with great state and solemnity. He sat in a
huge chair of solid oak, hewn in the celebrated forest of the Hague,
fabricated by an experienced timmerman of Amsterdam, and curiously carved
about the arms and feet into exact imitations of gigantic eagle's claws.
Instead of a scepter he swayed a long Turkish pipe, wrought with jasmin
and amber, which had been presented to a stadtholder of Holland, at the
conclusion of a treaty, with one of the petty Barbary Powers. In this
stately chair would he sit, and this magnificent pipe would he smoke,
shaking his right knee with a constant motion, and fixing his eye for
hours together upon a little print of Amsterdam, which hung in a black
frame against the opposite wall of the council chamber. Nay, it has even
been said, that when any deliberation of extraordinary length and
intricacy was on the carpet, the renowned Wouter would shut his eyes for
full two hours at a time, that he might not be disturbed by external
objects--and at such times the internal commotion of his mind was evinced
by certain regular guttural sounds, which his admirers declared were
merely the noise of conflict made by his contending doubts and opinions.

It is with infinite difficulty I have been enabled to collect these
biographical anecdotes of the great man under consideration. The facts
respecting him were so scattered and vague, and divers of them so
questionable in point of authenticity, that I have had to give up the
search after many, and decline the admission of still more, which would
have tended to heighten the coloring of his portrait.

I have been the more anxious to delineate fully the person and habits of
Wouter Van Twiller, from the consideration that he was not only the first,
but also the best governor, that ever presided over this ancient and
respectable province; and so tranquil and benevolent was his reign, that I
do not find throughout the whole of it a single instance of any offender
being brought to punishment--a most indubitable sign of a merciful
governor, and a case unparalleled, excepting in the reign of the
illustrious King Log, from whom, it is hinted, the renowned Van Twiller
was a lineal descendant.

The very outset of the career of this excellent magistrate was
distinguished by an example of legal acumen, that gave flattering presage
of a wise and equitable administration. The morning after he had been
installed in office, and at the moment that he was making his breakfast
from a prodigious earthen dish, filled with milk and Indian pudding, he
was interrupted by the appearance of Wandle Schoonhoven, a very important
old burgher of New Amsterdam, who complained bitterly of one Barent
Bleecker, inasmuch as he refused to come to a settlement of accounts,
seeing that there was a heavy balance in favor of the said Wandle.
Governor Van Twiller, as I have already observed, was a man of few words;
he was likewise a mortal enemy to multiplying writings, or being disturbed
at his breakfast. Having listened attentively to the statement of Wandle
Schoonhoven, giving an occasional grunt, as he shoveled a spoonful of
Indian pudding into his mouth--either as a sign that he relished the dish
or comprehended the story--he called unto his constable, and pulling out
of his breeches proper a huge jack-knife, dispatched it after the
defendant as a summons, accompanied by his tobacco box as a warrant.

This summary process was as effectual in those simple days as was the seal
ring of the great Haroun Alraschid among the true believers. The two
parties being confronted before him, each produced a book of accounts,
written in a language and character that would have puzzled any but a High
Dutch commentator, or a learned decipherer of Egyptian obelisks. The sage
Wouter took them one after the other, and having poised them in his hands,
and attentively counted over the number of leaves, fell straightway into a
very great doubt, and smoked for half an hour without saying a word; at
length, laying his finger beside his nose, and shutting his eyes for a
moment, with the air of a man who has just caught a subtle idea by the
tail, he slowly took his pipe from his mouth, puffed forth a column of
tobacco smoke, and with marvelous gravity and solemnity pronounced--that
having carefully counted over the leaves and weighed the books, it was
found that one was just as thick and as heavy as the other--therefore, it
was the final opinion of the court that the accounts were equally
balanced--therefore, Wandle should give Barent a receipt, and Barent
should give Wandle a receipt--and the constable should pay the costs.

This decision being straightway made known, diffused general joy
throughout New Amsterdam, for the people immediately perceived that they
had a very wise and equitable magistrate to rule over them. But its
happiest effect was, that not another lawsuit took place throughout the
whole of his administration--and the office of constable fell into such
decay, that there was not one of those losel scouts known in the province
for many years. I am the more particular in dwelling on this transaction,
not only because I deem it one of the most sage and righteous judgments on
record, and well worthy the attention of modern magistrates, but because
it was a miraculous event in the history of the renowned Wouter, being the
only time he was ever known to come to a decision in the whole course of
his life.


In treating of the early governors of the province I must caution my
readers against confounding them, in point of dignity and power, with
those worthy gentlemen who are whimsically denominated governors in this
enlightened republic--a set of unhappy victims of popularity, who are in
fact the most dependent, henpecked beings in the community, doomed to
bear the secret goadings and corrections of their own party, and the
sneers and revilings of the whole world beside--set up, like geese at
Christmas holidays, to be pelted and shot at by every whipster and
vagabond in the land. On the contrary, the Dutch governors enjoyed that
uncontrolled authority, vested in all commanders of distant colonies or
territories. They were in a manner absolute despots in their little
domains, lording it, if so disposed, over both law and gospel, and
accountable to none but the mother-country; which, it is well known, is
astonishingly deaf to all complaints against its governors, provided they
discharge the main duty of their station--squeezing out a good revenue.
This hint will be of importance to prevent my readers from being seized
with doubt and incredulity, whenever, in the course of this authentic
history, they encounter the uncommon circumstance of a governor acting
with independence, and in opposition to the opinions of the multitude.

To assist the doubtful Wouter in the arduous business of legislation, a
board of magistrates was appointed, which presided immediately over the
police. This potent body consisted of a schout, or bailiff, with powers
between those of the present mayor and sheriff--five burgermeesters, who
were equivalent to aldermen, and five schepens, who officiated as scrubs,
sub-devils, or bottle-holders to the burgermeesters, in the same manner as
do assistant aldermen to their principals at the present day; it being
their duty to fill the pipes of the lordly burgermeesters, hunt the
markets for delicacies for corporation dinners, and to discharge such
other little offices of kindness as were occasionally required. It was,
moreover, tacitly understood, though not specifically enjoined, that they
should consider themselves as butts for the blunt wits of the
burgermeesters, and should laugh most heartily at all their jokes; but
this last was a duty as rarely called in action in those days as it is at
present, and was shortly remitted, in consequence of the tragical death of
a fat little schepen, who actually died of suffocation in an unsuccessful
effort to force a laugh at one of burgermeester Van Zandt's best jokes.

In return for these humble services, they were permitted to say "yes" and
"no" at the council-board, and to have that enviable privilege, the run of
the public kitchen--being graciously permitted to eat, and drink, and
smoke, at all those snug junketing and public gormandisings, for which the
ancient magistrates were equally famous with their modern successors. The
post of schepen, therefore, like that of assistant alderman, was eagerly
coveted by all your burghers of a certain description, who have a huge
relish for good feeding, and an humble ambition to be great men in a small
way--who thirst after a little brief authority, that shall render them the
terror of the almshouse and the bridewell--that shall enable them to lord
it over obsequious poverty, vagrant vice, outcast prostitution, and
hunger-driven dishonesty--that shall give to their beck a hound-like pack
of catshpolls and bumbailiffs--tenfold greater rogues than the culprits
they hunt down! My readers will excuse this sudden warmth, which I confess
is unbecoming of a grave historian; but I have a mortal antipathy to
catchpolls, bumbailiffs, and little great men.

The ancient magistrates of this city corresponded with those of the
present time no less in form, magnitude, and intellect, than in
prerogative and privilege. The burgomasters, like our aldermen, were
generally chosen by weight--and not only the weight of the body, but
likewise the weight of the head. It is a maxim practically observed in all
honest, plain-thinking, regular cities, that an alderman should be fat;
and the wisdom of this can be proved to a certainty. That the body is in
some measure an image of the mind, or rather that the mind is moulded to
the body, like melted lead to the clay in which it is cast, has been
insisted on by many philosophers, who have made human nature their
peculiar study; for, as a learned gentleman of our own city observes,
"there is a constant relation between the moral character of all
intelligent creatures, and their physical constitution--between their
habits and the structure of their bodies." Thus we see that a lean, spare,
diminutive body is generally accompanied by a petulant, restless, meddling
mind; either the mind wears down the body, by its continual motion; or
else the body, not affording the mind sufficient house-room, keeps it
continually in a state of fretfulness, tossing and worrying about from the
uneasiness of its situation. Whereas your round, sleek, fat, unwieldly
periphery is ever attended by a mind like itself, tranquil, torpid, and at
ease; and we may alway observe, that your well-fed, robustious burghers
are in general very tenacious of their ease and comfort; being great
enemies to noise, discord, and disturbance--and surely none are more
likely to study the public tranquillity than those who are so careful of
their own. Who ever hears of fat men heading a riot, or herding together
in turbulent mobs! No--no--it is your lean, hungry men who are continually
worrying society, and setting the whole community by the ears.

The divine Plato, whose doctrines are not sufficiently attended to by
philosophers of the present age, allows to every man three souls--one
immortal and rational, seated in the brain, that it may overlook and
regulate the body; a second, consisting of the surly and irascible
passions which, like belligerent powers, lie encamped around the heart; a
third, mortal and sensual, destitute of reason, gross and brutal in its
propensities, and enchained in the belly, that it may not disturb the
divine soul by its ravenous howlings. Now, according to this excellent
theory, what can be more clear, than that your fat alderman is most
likely to have the most regular and well-conditioned mind. His head is
like a huge spherical chamber, containing a prodigious mass of soft
brains, whereon the rational soul lies softly and snugly couched, as on a
feather-bed; and the eyes which are the windows of the bedchamber, are
usually half-closed, that its slumberings may not be disturbed by external
objects. A mind thus comfortably lodged, and protected from disturbance,
is manifestly most like to perform its functions with regularly and ease.
By dint of good feeding, moreover, the mortal and malignant soul, which is
confined in the belly, and which, by its raging and roaring, puts the
irritable soul in the neighborhood of the heart in an intolerable passion,
and thus renders men crusty and quarrelsome when hungry, is completely
pacified, silenced, and put to rest; whereupon a host of honest,
good-fellow qualities and kind-hearted affections, which had lain perdue,
slily peeping out of the loopholes of the heart, finding this Cerberus
asleep, do pluck up their spirits, turn out one and all in their holiday
suits, and gambol up and down the diaphragm--disposing their possessor to
laughter, good humor, and a thousand friendly offices towards his

As a board of magistrates, formed on this principle, think but very
little, they are the less likely to differ and wrangle about favorite
opinions; and, as they generally transact business upon a hearty dinner,
they are naturally disposed to be lenient and indulgent in the
administration of their duties. Charlemagne was conscious of this, and
therefore ordered in his cartularies, that no judge should hold a court of
justice except in the morning on an empty stomach. A pitiful rule which I
can never forgive, and which I warrant bore hard upon all the poor
culprits in the kingdom. The more enlightened and humane generation of the
present day have taken an opposite course, and have so managed that the
alderman are the best fed men in the community; feasting lustily on the
fat things of the land, and gorging so heartily on oysters and turtles,
that in process of time they acquire the activity of the one, and the
form, the waddle, and the green fat of the other. The consequence is, as I
have just said, these luxurious feastings do produce such a dulcet
equanimity and repose of the soul, rational and irrational, that their
transactions are proverbial for unvarying monotony; and the profound laws
which they enact in their dozing moments, amid the labors of digestion,
are quietly suffered to remain as dead letters, and never enforced when
awake. In a word, your fair, round-bellied burgomaster, like a full-fed
mastiff, dozes quietly at the house-door, always at home, and always at
hand to watch over its safety; but as to electing a lean, meddling
candidate to the office, as has now and then been done, I would as lief
put a greyhound to watch the house, or a racehorse to draw an ox-wagon.

The burgomasters then, as I have already mentioned, were wisely chosen by
weight, and the schepens, or assistant aldermen, were appointed to attend
upon them, and help them eat; but the latter, in the course of time, when
they had been fed and fattened into sufficient bulk of body and drowsiness
of brain, became very eligible candidates for the burgomasters' chairs,
having fairly eaten themselves into office, as a mouse eats his way into a
comfortable lodgment in a goodly, blue-nosed, skimmed milk, New England
cheese. Nothing could equal the profound deliberations that took place
between the renowned Wouter and these his worthy compeers, unless it be
the sage divans of some of our modern corporations. They would sit for
hours smoking and dozing over public affairs, without speaking a word to
interrupt that perfect stillness so necessary to deep reflection. Under
the sober sway of Wouter Van Twiller and these his worthy coadjutors, the
infant settlement waxed vigorous apace, gradually emerging from the swamps
and forests, and exhibiting that mingled appearance of town and country
customary in new cities, and which at this day may be witnessed in the
city of Washington; that immense metropolis, which makes so glorious an
appearance on paper.

It was a pleasing sight in those times to behold the honest burgher, like
a patriarch of yore, seated on the bench at the door of his whitewashed
house, under the shade of some gigantic sycamore or overhanging willow.
Here would he smoke his pipe of a sultry afternoon, enjoying the soft
southern breeze and listening with silent gratulation to the clucking of
his hens, the cackling of his geese, and the sonorous grunting of his
swine; that combination of farmyard melody, which may truly be said to
have a silver sound, inasmuch as it conveys a certain assurance of
profitable marketing.

The modern spectator, who wanders through the streets of this populous
city, can scarcely form an idea of the different appearance they presented
in the primitive days of the doubter. The busy hum of multitudes, the
shouts of revelry, the rumbling equipages of fashion, the rattling of
accursed carts, and all the spirit-grieving sounds of brawling commerce,
were unknown in the settlement of New Amsterdam. The grass grew quietly in
the highways--the bleating sheep and frolicksome calves sported about the
verdant ridge, where now the Broadway loungers take their morning
stroll--the cunning fox or ravenous wolf skulked in the woods, where now
are to be seen the dens of Gomez and his righteous fraternity of
money-brokers--and flocks of vociferous geese cackled about the fields,
where now the great Tammany wigwam and the patriotic tavern of Martling
echo with the wranglings of the mob.

In these good times did a true and enviable equality of rank and property
prevail, equally removed from the arrogance of wealth, and the servility
and heart-burnings of repining poverty--and what in my mind is still more
conducive to tranquillity and harmony among friends, a happy equality of
intellect was likewise to be seen. The minds of the good burghers of New
Amsterdam seemed all to have been cast in one mould, and to be those
honest, blunt minds, which, like certain manufactures, are made by the
gross, and considered as exceedingly good for common use.

Thus it happens that your true dull minds are generally preferred for
public employ, and especially promoted to city honors; your keen
intellects, like razors, being considered too sharp for common service. I
know that it is common to rail at the unequal distribution of riches, as
the great source of jealousies, broils, and heart-breakings; whereas, for
my part, I verily believe it is the sad inequality of intellect that
prevails, that embroils communities more than anything else; and I have
remarked that your knowing people, who are so much wiser than anybody
else, are eternally keeping society in a ferment. Happily for New
Amsterdam, nothing of the kind was known within its walls--the very words
of learning, education, taste, and talents were unheard of--a bright
genius was an animal unknown, and a blue-stocking lady would have been
regarded with as much wonder as a horned frog or a fiery dragon. No man in
fact seemed to know more than his neighbor, nor any man to know more than
an honest man ought to know, who has nobody's business to mind but his
own; the parson and the council clerk were the only men that could read in
the community, and the sage Van Twiller always signed his name with a

Thrice happy and ever to be envied little burgh! existing in all the
security of harmless insignificance--unnoticed and unenvied by the world,
without ambition, without vain-glory, without riches, without learning,
and all their train of carking cares; and as of yore, in the better days
of man, the deities were wont to visit him on earth and bless his rural
habitations, so we are told, in the sylvan days of New Amsterdam, the
good St. Nicholas would often make his appearance in his beloved city, of
a holiday afternoon, riding jollily among the treetops, or over the roofs
of houses, now and then drawing forth magnificent presents from his
breeches pockets, and dropping them down the chimneys of his favorites.
Whereas, in these degenerate days of iron and brass he never shows us the
light of his countenance, nor ever visits us, save one night in the year;
when he rattles down the chimneys of the descendants of the patriarchs,
confining his presents merely to the children, in token of the degeneracy
of the parents.

Such are the comfortable and thriving effects of a fat government. The
province of the New Netherlands, destitute of wealth, possessed a sweet
tranquillity that wealth could never purchase. There were neither public
commotions, nor private quarrels; neither parties, nor sects, nor schisms;
neither persecutions, nor trials, nor punishments; nor were there
counsellors, attorneys, catchpolls, or hangmen. Every man attended to what
little business he was lucky enough to have, or neglected it if he
pleased, without asking the opinion of his neighbor. In those days nobody
meddled with concerns above his comprehension, nor thrust his nose into
other people's affairs, nor neglected to correct his own conduct and
reform his own character, in his zeal to pull to pieces the characters of
others; but in a word, every respectable citizen ate when he was not
hungry, drank when he was not thirsty, and went regularly to bed when the
sun set and the fowls went to roost, whether he were sleepy or not; all
which tended so remarkably to the population of the settlement, that I am
told every dutiful wife throughout New Amsterdam made a point of enriching
her husband with at least one child a year, and very often a brace--this
superabundance of good things clearly constituting the true luxury of
life, according to the favorite Dutch maxim, that "more than enough
constitutes a feast." Everything, therefore, went on exactly as it should
do, and in the usual words employed by historians to express the welfare
of a country, "the profoundest tranquillity and repose reigned throughout
the province."


Manifold are the tastes and dispositions of the enlightened _literati_ who
turn over the pages of history. Some there be whose hearts are brimful of
the yeast of courage, and whose bosoms do work, and swell, and foam with
untried valor, like a barrel of new cider, or a train-band captain fresh
from under the hands of his tailor. This doughty class of readers can be
satisfied with nothing but bloody battles, and horrible encounters; they
must be continually storming forts, sacking cities, springing mines,
marching up to the muzzles of cannon, charging bayonet through every page,
and revelling in gunpowder and carnage. Others, who are of a less martial,
but equally ardent imagination, and who, withal, are little given to the
marvelous, will dwell with wondrous satisfaction on descriptions of
prodigies, unheard of events, hair-breadth escapes, hardy adventures, and
all those astonishing narrations which just amble along the boundary line
of possibility. A third class, who, not to speak slightly of them, are of
a lighter turn, and skim over the records of past times, as they do over
the edifying pages of a novel, merely for relaxation and innocent
amusement, do singularly delight in treasons, executions, Sabine rapes,
Tarquin outrages, conflagrations, murders, and all the other catalogues of
hideous crimes, which, like cayenne in cookery, do give a pungency and
flavor to the dull detail of history; while a fourth class, of more
philosophic habits, do diligently pore over the musty chronicles of time,
to investigate the operations of the human kind, and watch the gradual
changes in men and manners, effected by the progress of knowledge, the
vicissitudes of events, or the influence of situation.

If the three first classes find but little wherewithal to solace
themselves in the tranquil reign of Wouter Van Twiller, I entreat them to
exert their patience for a while, and bear with the tedious picture of
happiness, prosperity, and peace, which my duty as a faithful historian
obliges me to draw; and I promise them that as soon as I can possibly
alight upon anything horrible, uncommon, or impossible, it shall go hard
but I will make it afford them entertainment. This being premised, I turn
with great complacency to the fourth class of my readers, who are men, or,
if possible, women after my own heart; grave, philosophical, and
investigating; fond of analyzing characters, of taking a start from first
causes, and so haunting a nation down, through all the mazes of innovation
and improvement. Such will naturally be anxious to witness the first
development of the newly-hatched colony, and the primitive manners and
customs prevalent among its inhabitants, during the halcyon reign of Van
Twiller, or the Doubter.

I will not grieve their patience, however, by describing minutely the
increase and improvement of New Amsterdam. Their own imaginations will
doubtless present to them the good burghers, like so many painstaking and
persevering beavers, slowly and surely pursuing their labors--they will
behold the prosperous transformation from the rude log hut to the stately
Dutch mansion, with brick front, glazed windows, and tiled roof; from the
tangled thicket to the luxuriant cabbage garden; and from the skulking
Indian to the ponderous burgomaster. In a word, they will picture to
themselves the steady, silent, and undeviating march of prosperity,
incident to a city destitute of pride or ambition, cherished by a fat
government, and whose citizens do nothing in a hurry.

The sage council, as has been mentioned in a preceding chapter, not being
able to determine upon any plan for the building of their city, the cows,
in a laudable fit of patriotism, took it under their peculiar charge, and
as they went to and from pasture, established paths through the bushes, on
each side of which the good folks built their houses; which is one cause
of the rambling and picturesque turns and labyrinths, which distinguish
certain streets of New York at this very day.

The houses of the higher class were generally constructed of wood,
excepting the gable end, which was of small black and yellow Dutch bricks,
and always faced on the street, as our ancestors, like their descendants,
were very much given to outward show, and were noted for putting the best
leg foremost. The house was always furnished with abundance of large doors
and small windows on every floor, the date of its erection was curiously
designated by iron figures on the front, and on the top of the roof was
perched a fierce little weathercock, to let the family into the important
secret which way the wind blew. These, like the weathercocks on the tops
of our steeples, pointed so many different ways, that every man could have
a wind to his mind;--the most staunch and loyal citizens, however, always
went according to the weathercock on the top of the governor's house,
which was certainly the most correct, as he had a trusty servant employed
every morning to climb up and set it to the right quarter.

In those good days of simplicity and sunshine, a passion for cleanliness
was the leading principle in domestic economy, and the universal test of
an able housewife--a character which formed the utmost ambition of our
unenlightened grandmothers. The front door was never opened except on
marriages, funerals, new year's days, the festival of St. Nicholas, or
some such great occasion. It was ornamented with a gorgeous brass knocker,
curiously wrought, sometimes in the device of a dog, and sometimes of a
lion's head, and was daily burnished with such religious zeal, that it was
oft-times worn out by the very precautions taken for its preservation. The
whole house was constantly in a state of inundation, under the discipline
of mops and brooms and scrubbing brushes; and the good housewives of those
days were a kind of amphibious animal, delighting exceedingly to be
dabbling in water--insomuch that an historian of the day gravely tells us,
that many of his townswomen grew to have webbed fingers like unto a duck;
and some of them, he had little doubt, could the matter be examined into,
would be found to have the tails of mermaids; but this I look upon to be a
mere sport of fancy, or, what is worse, a wilful misrepresentation.

The grand parlor was the _sanctum sanctorum_, where the passion for
cleaning was indulged without control. In this sacred apartment no one was
permitted to enter excepting the mistress and her confidential maid, who
visited it once a week, for the purpose of giving it a thorough cleaning,
and putting things to rights; always taking the precaution of leaving
their shoes at the door, and entering devoutly on their stocking feet.
After scrubbing the floor, sprinkling it with fine white sand, which was
curiously stroked into angles, and curves, and rhomboids with a broom;
after washing the windows, rubbing and polishing the furniture, and
putting a bunch of evergreens in the fireplace--the window shutters were
again closed to keep out the flies, and the room carefully locked up until
the revolution of time brought round the weekly cleaning day.

As to the family, they always entered in at the gate, and most generally
lived in the kitchen. To have seen a numerous household assembled round
the fire, one would have imagined that he was transported back to those
happy days of primeval simplicity, which float before our imaginations
like golden visions. The fireplaces were of a truly patriarchal magnitude,
where the whole family, old and young, master and servant, black and
white, nay, even the very cat and dog, enjoyed a community of privilege,
and had each a right to a corner. Here the old burgher would sit in
perfect silence, puffing his pipe, looking into the fire with half-shut
eyes, and thinking of nothing for hours together; the goede vrouw, on the
opposite side, would employ herself diligently in spinning yarn or
knitting stockings. The young folks would crowd around the hearth,
listening with breathless attention to some old crone of a negro, who was
the oracle of the family, and who, perched like a raven in the corner of a
chimney, would croak forth for a long winter afternoon a string of
incredible stories about New England witches, grisly ghosts, horses
without heads, and hair-breadth escapes and bloody encounters among the

In those happy days a well-regulated family always rose with the dawn,
dined at eleven, and went to bed at sunset. Dinner was invariably a
private meal, and the fat old burghers showed incontestable signs of
disapprobation and uneasiness at being surprised by a visit from a
neighbor on such occasions. But though our worthy ancestors were thus
singularly averse to giving dinners, yet they kept up the social bands of
intimacy by occasional banquettings, called tea-parties.

These fashionable parties were generally confined to the higher classes,
or noblesse: that is to say, such as kept their own cows and drove their
own waggons. The company commonly assembled at three o'clock, and went
away about six, unless it was in winter time, when the fashionable hours
were a little earlier, that the ladies might get home before dark. The
tea-table was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well stored with slices of
fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, and swimming in gravy. The
company being seated round the genial board, and each furnished with a
fork, evinced their dexterity in launching at the fattest pieces in this
mighty dish--in much the same manner as sailors harpoon porpoises at sea,
or our Indians spear salmon in the lakes. Sometimes the table was graced
with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears;
but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened
dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks--a delicious
kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, except in genuine
Dutch families.

The tea was served out of a majestic delf teapot, ornamented with
paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses, tending pigs,
with boats sailing in the air, and houses built in the clouds, and sundry
other ingenious Dutch fantasies. The beaux distinguished themselves by
their adroitness in replenishing this pot from a huge copper tea-kettle,
which would have made the pigmy macaronies of these degenerate days sweat
merely to look at it. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar was laid
beside each cup, and the company alternately nibbled and sipped with great
decorum; until an improvement was introduced by a shrewd and economic old
lady, which was to suspend a large lump directly over the tea-table by a
string from the ceiling, so that it could be swung from mouth to mouth--an
ingenious expedient, which is still kept up by some families in Albany,
but which prevails without exception in Communipaw, Bergen Flatbush, and
all our uncontaminated Dutch villages.

At these primitive tea parties the utmost propriety and dignity of
deportment prevailed. No flirting nor coquetting--no gambling of old
ladies, nor hoyden chattering and romping of young ones--no
self-satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen with their brains in their
pockets--nor amusing conceits and monkey divertissements of smart young
gentlemen with no brains at all. On the contrary, the young ladies seated
themselves demurely in their rush-bottomed chairs, and knit their own
woollen stockings; nor ever opened their lips excepting to say "_yah
Mynheer_," or "_yah ya Vrouw_," to any question that was asked them;
behaving, in all things, like decent, well-educated damsels. As to the
gentlemen, each of them tranquilly smoked his pipe, and seemed lost in
contemplation of the blue and white tiles with which the fireplaces were
decorated; wherein sundry passages of Scripture were piously
portrayed--Tobit and his dog figured to great advantage, Haman swung
conspicuously on his gibbet, and Jonah appeared most manfully bouncing out
of the whale like Harlequin through a barrel of fire.

The parties broke up without noise and without confusion. They were
carried home by their own carriages, that is to say, by the vehicles
nature had provided them, excepting such of the wealthy as could afford to
keep a wagon. The gentlemen gallantly attended their fair ones to their
respective abodes, and took leave of them with a hearty smack at the door;
which, as it was an established piece of etiquette, done in perfect
simplicity and honesty of heart, occasioned no scandal at that time, nor
should it at the present. If our great-grandfathers approved of the
custom, it would argue a great want of reverence in their descendants to
say a word against it.


In this dulcet period of my history, when the beauteous island of
Manna-hata presented a scene the very counterpart of those glowing
pictures drawn of the golden reign of Saturn, there was, as I have before
observed, a happy ignorance, an honest simplicity prevalent among its
inhabitants, which, were I even able to depict, would be but little
understood by the degenerate age for which I am doomed to write. Even the
female sex, those arch innovators upon the tranquillity, the honesty, and
grey-beard customs of society, seemed for a while to conduct themselves
with incredible sobriety and comeliness.

Their hair, untortured by the abominations of art, was scrupulously
pomatomed back from their foreheads with a candle, and covered with a
little cap of quilted calico, which fitted exactly to their heads. Their
petticoats of linsey-woolsey were striped with a variety of gorgeous
dyes--though I must confess these gallant garments were rather short,
scarce reaching below the knee; but then they made up in the number, which
generally equalled that of the gentleman's small clothes; and what is
still more praiseworthy, they were all of their own manufacture--of which
circumstance, as may well be supposed, they were not a little vain.

These were the honest days, in which every woman stayed at home, read the
Bible, and wore pockets--ay, and that too of a goodly size, fashioned with
patchwork into many curious devices, and ostentatiously worn on the
outside. These, in fact, were convenient receptacles, where all good
housewives carefully stored away such things as they wished to have at
hand, by which means they often came to be incredibly crammed; and I
remember there was a story current, when I was a boy, that the lady of
Wouter Van Twiller once had occasion to empty her right pocket in search
of a wooden ladle, when the contents filled a couple of corn baskets, and
the utensil was discovered lying among some rubbish in one corner; but we
must not give too much faith to all these stories, the anecdotes of those
remote periods being very subject to exaggeration.

Besides these notable pockets, they likewise wore scissors and pincushions
suspended from their girdles by red ribands, or among the more opulent and
showy classes by brass, and even silver, chains, indubitable tokens of
thrifty housewives and industrious spinsters. I cannot say much in
vindication of the shortness of the petticoats; it doubtless was
introduced for the purpose of giving the stockings a chance to be seen,
which were generally of blue worsted, with magnificent red clocks; or
perhaps to display a well-turned ankle, and a neat though serviceable
foot, set off by a high-heeled leathern shoe, with a large and splendid
silver buckle. Thus we find that the gentle sex in all ages have shown the
same disposition to infringe a little upon the laws of decorum, in order
to betray a lurking beauty, or gratify an innocent love of finery.

From the sketch here given, it will be seen that our good grandmothers
differed considerably in their ideas of a fine figure from their
scantily-dressed descendants of the present day. A fine lady, in those
times, waddled under more clothes, even on a fair summer's day, than would
have clad the whole bevy of a modern ball-room. Nor were they the less
admired by the gentlemen in consequence thereof. On the contrary, the
greatness of a lover's passion seemed to increase in proportion to the
magnitude of its object; and a voluminous damsel, arrayed in a dozen
petticoats, was declared by a low Dutch sonneteer of the province to be
radiant as a sunflower, and luxuriant as a full-blown cabbage. Certain it
is that in those day the heart of a lover could not contain more than one
lady at a time, whereas the heart of a modern gallant has often room
enough to accommodate half a dozen; the reason of which I conclude to be,
that either the hearts of the gentlemen have grown larger, or the persons
of the ladies smaller; this, however, is a question for physiologists to

But there was a secret charm in these petticoats, which, no doubt, entered
into the consideration of the prudent gallants. The wardrobe of a lady was
in those days her only fortune; and she who had a good stock of petticoats
and stockings was as absolutely an heiress as is a Kamschatka damsel with
a store of bear-skins, or a Lapland belle with a plenty of reindeer. The
ladies, therefore, were very anxious to display these powerful attractions
to the greatest advantage; and the best rooms in the house, instead of
being adorned with caricatures of Dame Nature, in water-colors and
needlework, were always hung round with abundance of homespun garments,
the manufacture and the property of the females; a piece of laudable
ostentation that still prevails among the heiresses of our Dutch villages.

The gentlemen, in fact, who figured in the circles of the gay world in
these ancient times, corresponded in most particulars with the beauteous
damsels whose smiles they were ambitious to deserve. True it is, their
merits would make but a very inconsiderable impression upon the heart of a
modern fair; they neither drove their curricles nor sported their tandems,
for as yet those gaudy vehicles were not even dreamt of; neither did they
distinguish themselves by their brilliancy at the table, and their
consequent rencontres with watchmen, for our forefathers were of too
pacific a disposition to need those guardians of the night, every soul
throughout the town being sound asleep before nine o'clock. Neither did
they establish their claims to gentility at the expense of their tailors
for as yet those offenders against the pockets of society, and the
tranquillity of all aspiring young gentlemen were unknown in New
Amsterdam; every good housewife made the clothes of her husband and
family, and even the goede vrouw of Van Twiller himself thought it no
disparagement to cut out her husband's linsey-woolsey galligaskins.

Not but what there were some two or three youngsters who manifested the
first dawning of what is called fire and spirit, who held all labor in
contempt, skulked about docks and market-places, loitered in the sunshine,
squandered what little money they could procure at hustle cap and chuck
farthing; swore, boxed, fought cocks, and raced their neighbor's horses;
in short, who promised to be the wonder, the talk, and abomination of the
town, had not their stylish career been unfortunately cut short by an
affair of honor with a whipping post.

Far other, however, was the truly fashionable gentleman of those days; his
dress, which served for both morning and evening, street and drawing-room,
was a linsey-woolsey coat, made, perhaps, by the fair hands of the
mistress of his affections, and gallantly bedecked with abundance of large
brass buttons--half a score of breeches heightened the proportions of his
figure--his shoes were decorated by enormous copper buckles--a low
crowned, broad-brimmed hat overshadowed his burly visage, and his hair
dangled down his back in a prodigious queue of sulskin.

Thus equipped, he would manfully sally forth with pipe in mouth to besiege
some fair damsel's obdurate heart--not such a pipe, good reader, as that
which Acis did sweetly tune in praise of his Galatea, but one of true delf
manufacture, and furnished with a charge of fragrant tobacco. With this
would he resolutely set himself down before the fortress, and rarely
failed, in the process of time, to smoke the fair enemy into a surrender
upon honorable terms.

Such was the happy reign of Wouter Van Twiller, celebrated in many a long
forgotten song as the real golden age, the rest being nothing but
counterfeit copper-washed coin. In that delightful period a sweet and holy
calm reigned over the whole province. The burgomaster smoked his pipe in
peace; the substantial solace of his domestic cares, after her daily toils
were done, sat soberly at the door, with her arms crossed over her apron
of snowy white without being insulted by ribald street walkers or vagabond
boys--those unlucky urchins who do so infest our streets, displaying under
the roses of youth the thorns and briars of iniquity. Then it was that the
lover with ten breeches, and the damsel with petticoats of half a score,
indulged in all the innocent endearments of virtuous love without fear and
without reproach; for what had that virtue to fear which was defended by a
shield of good linsey-woolsey, equal at least to the seven bull-hides of
the invincible Ajax?

Ah! blissful and never to be forgotten age! when everything was better
than it has ever been since, or ever will be again--when Buttermilk
Channel was quite dry at low water--when the shad in the Hudson were all
salmon, and when the moon shone with a pure and resplendent whiteness,
instead of that melancholy yellow light which is the consequence of her
sickening at the abominations she every night witnesses in this degenerate

Happy would it have been for New Amsterdam could it always have existed in
this state of blissful ignorance and lowly simplicity; but, alas! the days
of childhood are too sweet to last. Cities, like men, grow out of them in
time, and are doomed alike to grow into the bustle, the cares, and
miseries of the world. Let no man congratulate himself when he beholds the
child of his bosom, or the city of his birth, increasing in magnitude and
importance, let the history of his own life teach him the dangers of the
one, and this excellent little history of Manna-hata convince him of the
calamities of the other.


It has already been mentioned that, in the early times of Oloffe the
Dreamer, a frontier post, or trading house, called Fort Aurania, had been
established on the upper waters of the Hudson, precisely on the site of
the present venerable city of Albany, which was at time considered at the
very end of the habitable world. It was, indeed, a remote possession, with
which, for a long time, New Amsterdam held but little intercourse. Now and
then the "Company's Yacht," as it was called, was sent to the Fort with
supplies, and to bring away the peltries which had been purchased of the
Indians. It was like an expedition to the Indias, or the North Pole, and
always made great talk in the settlement. Sometimes an adventurous burgher
would accompany the expedition, to the great uneasiness of his friends;
but, on his return, had so many stories to tell of storms and tempests on
the Tappan Zee, of hobgoblins in the Highlands and at the Devil's Dane
Kammer, and of all the other wonders and perils with which the river
abounded in those early days, that he deterred the less adventurous
inhabitants from following his xample.

Matters were in this state, when, one day, as Walter the Doubter and his
burgermeesters were smoking and pondering over the affairs of the
province, they were roused by the report of a cannon. Sallying forth, they
beheld a strange vessel at anchor in the bay; it was unquestionably of
Dutch build, broad-brimmed and high-pooped, and bore the flag of their
High Mightinesses at the masthead.

After a while a boat put off for land, and a stranger stepped on shore, a
lofty, lordly kind of man, tall and dry, with a meager face, furnished
with hug mustachios. He was clad in Flemish doublet and hose, and an
insufferably tall hat, with a cocktail feather. Such was the patroon
Killian Van Rensellaer, who had come out from Holland to found a colony or
patroonship on a great tract of wild land, granted to him by their Hight
Mightinesses the Lords States General, in the upper regions of the Hudson.

Killian Van Rensellaer was a nine day's wonder in New Amsterdam, for he
carried a high head, looked down upon the portly, short-legged
burgomasters, and owned no allegiance to the governor himself; boasting
that he held his patroonship directly from the Lords States General.

He tarried but a short time in New Amsterdam merely to beat up recruits
for his colony. Few, however, ventured to enlist for those remote and
savage regions; and when they embarked, their friends took leave of them
as if they should never see them more; and stood gazing with tearful eyes
as the stout, round-sterned little vessel ploughed and splashed its way up
the Hudson, with great noise and little progress, taking nearly a day to
get out of sight of the city.

And now, from time to time, floated down tidings to the Manhattoes of the
growing importance of this new colony. Every account represented Killian
Van Rensellaer as rising in importance and becoming a mighty patroon in
the land. He had received more recruits from Holland. His patroonship of
Rensellaerwick lay immediately below Fort Aurania, and extended for
several miles on each side of the Hudson, beside embracing the mountainous
region of the Helderberg. Over all this he claimed to hold separate
jurisdiction independent of the colonial authorities at New Amsterdam.

All these assumptions of authority were duly reported to Governor Van
Twiller and his council, by dispatches from Fort Aurania, at each new
report the governor and his counsellors looked at each other, raised their
eyebrows, gave an extra puff or two of smoke, and then relapsed into
their usually tranquillity.

At length tidings came that the patroon of Rensellaerwick had extended his
usurpations along the river, beyond the limits granted him by their High
Mightinesses, and that he had even seized upon a rocky island in the
Hudson, commonly known by the name of Beern or Bear's Island, where he was
erecting a fortress, to be called by the lordly name of Rensellaersteen.

Wouter Van Twiller was roused by this intelligence. After consulting with
his burgomasters, he dispatched a letter to the patroon of Rensellaerwick,
demanding by what right he had seized upon this island, which lay beyond
the bounds of his patroonship. The answer of Killian Van Rensellaer was in
his own lordly style, "By _wapen recht!_" that is to say, by the right of
arms, or in common parlance, by club-law. This answer plunged the worthy
Wouter in one of the deepest doubts he had in the whole course of his
administration. In the meantime, while Wouter doubted, the lordly Killian
went on to finish his fortress of Rensellaersteen, about which I foresee I
shall have something to record in a future chapter of this most eventful


In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and four, on a fine
afternoon in the glowing month of September, I took my customary walk upon
the battery, which is at once the pride and bulwark of this ancient and
impregnable city of New York. The ground on which is I trod was hallowed
by recollections of the past, and as I slowly wandered through the long
alley of poplars, which, like so many birch-brooms standing on end,
diffused a melancholy and lugubrious shade, my imagination drew a contrast
between the surrounding scenery, and what it was in the classic days of
our forefathers. Where the government house by name, but the customhouse
by occupation, proudly reared its brick walls and wooden pillars, there
whilom stood the low, but substantial red-tiled mansion of the renowned
Wouter Van Twiller. Around it the mighty bulwarks of Fort Amsterdam
frowned defiance to every absent foe; but, like many a whiskered warrior
and gallant militia captain, confined their martial deeds to frowns alone.
The mud breastworks had long been leveled with the earth, and their site
converted into the green lawns and leafy alleys of the battery, where the
gay apprentice sported his Sunday coat, and the laborious mechanic,
relieved from the dirt and drudgery of the week, poured his weekly tale of
love into the half averted ear of the sentimental chambermaid. The
capacious bay still presented the same expansive sheet of water, studded
with islands, sprinkled with fishing boats, and bounded by shores of
picturesque beauty. But the dark forests which once clothed those shores
had been violated by the savage hand of cultivation, and their tangled
mazes and impenetrable thickets had degenerated into teeming orchards, and
waving fields of grain. Even Governor's Island, once a smiling garden
appertaining to the sovereigns of the province, was now covered with
fortifications, inclosing a tremendous block house; so that this once
peaceful island resembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat,
breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world!

For some time did I indulge in a pensive train of thought, contrasting in
sober sadness the present day with the hallowed years behind the
mountains, lamenting the melancholy progress of improvement, and praising
the zeal with which our worthy burghers endeavor to preserve the wrecks of
venerable customs, prejudices, and errors, from the overwhelming tide of
modern innovation; when, by degrees, my ideas took a different turn, and I
insensibly awakened to an enjoyment of the beauties around me.

It was one of those rich autumnal days, which heaven particularly bestows
upon the beauteous island of Mannahata and its vicinity; not a floating
cloud obscured the azure firmament; the sun rolling in glorious splendor
through his ethereal course, seemed to expand his honest Dutch countenance
into an unusual expression of benevolence, as he smiled his evening
salutation upon a city which he delights to visit with his most bounteous
beams; the very winds seemed to hold in their breaths in mute attention,
lest they should ruffle the tranquillity of the hour; and the waveless
bosom of the bay presented a polished mirror, in which Nature beheld
herself and smiled. The standard of our city, reserved like a choice
handkerchief for days of gala, hung motionless on the flag-staff which
forms the handle of a gigantic churn; and even the tremulous leaves of the
poplar and the aspen ceased to vibrate to the breath of heaven. Everything
seemed to acquiesce in the profound repose of Nature. The formidable
eighteen-pounders slept in the embrasures of the wooden batteries,
seemingly gathering fresh strength to fight the battles of their country
on the next fourth of July; the solitary drum on Governor's Island forgot
to call the garrison to the shovels; the evening gun had not yet sounded
its signal for all the regular well-meaning poultry throughout the country
to go to roost; and the fleet of canoes at anchor between Gibbet Island
and Communipaw slumbered on their rakes, and suffered the innocent oysters
to lie for a while unmolested in the soft mud of their native banks. My
own feelings sympathized with the contagious tranquillity, and I should
infallibly have dozed upon one of those fragments of benches which our
benevolent magistrates have provided for the benefit of convalescent
loungers had not the extraordinary inconvenience of the couch set all
repose at defiance.

In the midst of this slumber of the soul my attention was attracted to a
black speck, peering above the western horizon, just in the rear of Bergen
steeple; gradually it augments and overhangs the would-be cities of
Jersey, Harsimus, and Hoboken, which, like three jockeys, are starting on
the course of existence, and jostling each other at the commencement of
the race. Now it skirts the long shore of ancient Pavonia, spreading its
wide shadows from the high settlements of Weehawk quite to the lazaretto
and quarantine, erected by the sagacity of our police for the
embarrassment of commerce; now it climbs the serene vault of heaven, cloud
rolling over cloud, shrouding the orb of day, darkening the vast expanse,
and bearing thunder, and hail, and tempest, in its bosom. The earth seems
agitated at the confusion of the heavens--the late waveless mirror is
lashed into furious waves, that roll in hollow murmurs to the shore--the
oyster boats that erst sported in the placid vicinity of Gibbet Island,
now hurry affrighted to the land--the poplar writhes and twists, and
whistles in the blast--torrents of drenching rain and sounding hail deluge
the battery walks--the gates are thronged by apprentices, servant-maids,
and little Frenchmen, with pocket-handkerchiefs over their hats,
scampering from the storm--the late beauteous prospect presents one scene
of anarchy and wild uproar, as though old Chaos had resumed his reign, and
was hurling back into one vast turmoil the conflicting elements of Nature.

Whether I fled from the fury of the storm, or remained bodly at my post,
as our gallant train-band captains, who march their soldiers through the
rain without flinching, are points which I leave to the conjecture of the
reader. It is possible he may be a little perplexed also to know the
reason why I introduced this tremendous tempest to disturb the serenity of
my work. On this latter point I will gratuitously instruct his ignorance.
The panorama view of the battery was given to gratify the reader with a
correct description of that celebrated place, and the parts adjacent;
secondly, the storm was played off partly to give a little bustle and life
to this tranquil part of my work, and to keep my drowsy readers from
falling asleep, and partly to serve as an overture to the tempestuous
times which are about to assail the pacific province of Nieuw Nederlandts,
and which overhang the slumbrous administration of the renowned Wouter Van
Twiller. It is thus the experienced playwright puts all the fiddles, the
French-horns, the kettle drums, and trumpets of his orchestra, in
requisition, to usher in one of those horrible and brimstone uproars
called melodrames; and it is thus he discharges his thunder, his
lightning, his rosin, and saltpetre, preparatory to the rising of a ghost,
or the murdering of a hero. We will now proceed with our history.

Whatever may be advanced by philosophers to the contrary, I am of opinion
that, as to nations, the old maxim, that "honesty is the best policy," is
a sheer and ruinous mistake. It might have answered well enough in the
honest times when it was made; but, in these degenerate days, if a nation
pretends to rely merely upon the justice of its dealings, it will fare
something like the honest man who fell among thieves, and found his
honesty a poor protection against bad company. Such, at least, was the
case with the guileless government of the New Netherlands; which, like a
worthy, unsuspicious old burgher, quietly settled itself down in the city
of New Amsterdam as into a snug elbow-chair, and fell into a comfortable
nap, while, in the meantime, its cunning neighbors stepped in and picked
his pockets. In a word, we may ascribe the commencement of all the woes of
this great province and its magnificent metropolis to the tranquil
security, or, to speak more accurately, to the unfortunate honesty of its
government. But as I dislike to begin an important part of my history
towards the end of a chapter; and as my readers, like myself, must
doubtless be exceedingly fatigued with the long walk we have taken, and
the tempest we have sustained, I hold it meet we shut up the book, smoke a
pipe, and having thus refreshed our spirits, take a fair start in a new


That my readers may the more fully comprehend the extent of the calamity
at this very moment impending over the honest, unsuspecting province of
Nieuw Nederlandts and its dubious governor, it is necessary that I should
give some account of a horde of strange barbarians bordering upon the
eastern frontier.

Now so it came to pass that, many years previous to the time of which we
are treating, the sage Cabinet of England had adopted a certain national
creed, a kind of public walk of faith, or rather a religious turnpike, in
which every loyal subject was directed to travel to Zion, taking care to
pay the toll-gatherers by the way.

Albeit a certain shrewd race of men, being very much given to indulge
their own opinions on all manner of subjects (a propensity exceedingly
offensive to your free governments of Europe), did most presumptuously
dare to think for themselves in matters of religion, exercising what they
considered a natural and unextinguishable right-the liberty of conscience.

As, however, they possessed that ingenuous habit of mind which always
thinks aloud--which rides cock-a-hoop on the tongue, and is for ever
galloping into other people's ears--it naturally followed that their
liberty of conscience likewise implied liberty of speech, which being
freely indulged, soon put the country in a hubbub, and aroused the pious
indignation of the vigilant fathers of the Church.

The usual methods were adopted, to reclaim them, which in those days were
considered efficacious in bringing back stray sheep to the fold; that is
to say, they were coaxed, they were admonished, they were menaced, they
were buffeted--line upon line, precept upon precept, lash upon lash, here
a little and there a great deal, were exhausted without mercy and without
success; until worthy pastors of the Church, wearied out by their
unparalleled stubbornness, were driven in the excess of their tender mercy
to adopt the Scripture text, and literally to "heap live embers on their

Nothing, however, could subdue that independence of the tongue which has
ever distinguished this singular race, so that, rather than subject that
heroic member to further tyranny, they one and all embarked for the
wilderness of America, to enjoy, unmolested, the inestimable right of
talking. And, in fact, no sooner did they land upon the shore of this
free-spoken country, than they all lifted up their voices, and made such a
clamor of tongues, that we are told they frightened every bird and beast
out of the neighborhood, and struck such mute terror into certain fish,
that they have been called dumb-fish ever since.

This may appear marvelous, but it is nevertheless true; in proof of which
I would observe, that the dumb-fish has ever since become an object of
superstitious reverence, and forms the Saturday's dinner of every true

The simple aborigines of the land for a while contemplated these strange
folk in utter astonishment, but discovering that they wielded harmless,
though noisy weapons, and were a lively, ingenious, good-humored race of
men, they became very friendly and sociable, and gave them the name of
Yanokies, which in the Mais-Tchusaeg (or Massachusett) language signifies
silent men--a waggish appellation, since shortened into the familiar
epithet of Yankees, which they retain unto the present day.

True it is, and my fidelity as an historian will not allow me to pass over
the fact, that having served a regular apprenticeship in the school of
persecution, these ingenious people soon showed that they had become
masters of the art. The great majority were of one particular mode of
thinking in matters of religion; but, to their great surprise and
indignation, they found that divers Papists, Quakers, and Anabaptists were
springing up among them, and all claiming to use the liberty of speech.
This was at once pronounced a daring abuse of the liberty of conscience,
which they now insisted was nothing more than the liberty to think as one
pleased in matters of religion, provided one thought right; for otherwise
it would be giving a latitude to damnable heresies. Now as they, the
majority, were convinced that they alone thought right, it consequently
followed that whoever thought different from them thought wrong: and
whoever thought wrong, and obstinately persisted in not being convinced
and converted, was a flagrant violator of the inestimable liberty of
conscience, and a corrupt and infestious member of the body politic, and
deserved to be lopped off and cast into the fire. The consequence of all
which was a fiery persecution of divers sects, and especially of Quakers.

Now I'll warrant there are hosts of my readers ready at once to lift up
their hands and eyes, with that virtuous indignation with which we
contemplate the faults and errors of our neighbors, and to exclaim at the
preposterous idea of convincing the mind by tormenting the body, and
establishing the doctrine of charity and forbearance by intolerant
persecution. But, in simple truth, what are we doing at this very day, and
in this very enlightened nation, but acting upon the very same principle
in our political controversies? Have we not, within but a few years,
released ourselves from the shackles of a government which cruelly denied
us the privilege of governing ourselves, and using in full latitude that
invaluable member, the tongue? and are we not at this very moment striving
our best to tyrannize over the opinions, tie up the tongues, and ruin the
fortunes of one another? What are our great political societies but mere
political inquisitions--our pot-house committees but little tribunals of
denunciation--our newspapers but mere whipping-posts and pillories, where
unfortunate individuals are pelted with rotten eggs--and our council of
appointment but a grand auto-da-fe, where culprits are annually sacrificed
for their political heresies?

Where, then, is the difference in principle between our measures and those
you are so ready to condemn among the people I am treating of? There is
none; the difference is merely circumstantial. Thus we denounce, instead
of banishing--we libel, instead of scourging--we turn out of office,
instead of hanging--and where they burnt an offender in proper person, we
either tar and feather, or burn him in effigy--this political persecution
being, somehow or other, the grand palladium of our liberties, and an
incontrovertible proof that this is a free country!

But not withstanding the fervent zeal with which this holy war was
prosecuted against the whole race of unbelievers, we do not find that the
population of this new colony was in anywise hindered thereby; on the
contrary, they multiplied to a degree which would be incredible to any man
unacquainted with the marvelous fecundity of this growing country.

This amazing increase may, indeed, be partly ascribed to a singular custom
prevalent among them, commonly known by the name of bundling--a
superstitious rite observed by the young people of both sexes, with which
they usually terminated their festivities, and which was kept up with
religious strictness by the more bigoted part of the community. This
ceremony was likewise, in those primitive times, considered as an
indispensable preliminary to matrimony, their courtships commencing where
ours usually finish; by which means they acquired that intimate
acquaintance with each other's good qualities before marriage, which has
been pronounced by philosophers the sure basis of a happy union. Thus
early did this cunning and ingenious people display a shrewdness of making
a bargain which has ever since distinguished them, and a strict adherence
to the good old vulgar maxim about "buying a pig in a poke."

To this sagacious custom, therefore, do I chiefly attribute the
unparalleled increase of the Yanokie or Yankee race: for it is a certain
fact, well authenticated by court records and parish registers, that
wherever the practice of bundling prevailed, there was an amazing number
of sturdy brats annually born unto the state, without the license of the
law or the benefit of clergy. Neither did the irregularity of their birth
operate in the least to their disparagement. On the contrary, they grew up
a long-sided, raw-boned, hardy race of whalers, wood-cutters, fishermen,
and pedlars, and strapping corn-fed wenches, who, by their united efforts,
tended marvelously toward peopling those notable tracts of country called
Nantucket, Piscataway, and Cape Cod.


In the last chapter I have given a faithful and unprejudiced account of
the origin of that singular race of people inhabiting the country eastward
of the Nieuw Nederlandts, but I have yet to mention certain peculiar
habits which rendered them exceedingly annoying to our ever-honored Dutch

The most prominent of these was a certain rambling propensity with which,
like the sons of Ishmael, they seem to have been gifted by Heaven, and
which continually goads them on to shift their residence from place to
place, so that a Yankee farmer is in a constant state of migration,
tarrying occasionally here and there, clearing lands for other people to
enjoy, building houses for others to inhabit, and in a manner may be
considered the wandering Arab of America.

His first thought, on coming to the years of manhood, is to settle himself
in the world--which means nothing more nor less than to begin his rambles.
To this end he takes unto himself for a wife some buxom country heiress,
passing rich in red ribbons, glass beads, and mock-tortoiseshell combs,
with a white gown and morocco shoes for Sunday, and deeply skilled in the
mystery of making apple sweetmeats, long sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Having thus provided himself, like a pedlar, with a heavy knapsack,
wherewith to regale his shoulders through the journey of life, he
literally sets out on the peregrination. His whole family, household
furniture, and farming utensils are hoisted into a covered cart; his own
and his wife's wardrobe packed up in a firkin; which done, he shoulders
his axe, takes his staff in hand, whistles "Yankee doodle," and trudges
off to the woods, as confident of the protection of Providence, and
relying as cheerfully upon his own resources, as did ever a patriarch of
yore, when he journeyed into a strange country of the Gentiles. Having
buried himself in the wilderness, he builds himself a log hut, clears away
a corn-field and potato patch, and, Providence smiling upon his labors, is
soon surrounded by a snug farm and some half a score of flaxen-headed
urchins, who, by their size, seem to have sprung all at once out of the
earth like a crop of toadstools.

But it is not the nature of this most indefatigable of speculators to rest
contented with any state of sublunary enjoyment; improvement is his
darling passion, and having thus improved his lands, the next care is to
provide a mansion worthy the residence of a landholder. A huge palace of
pine boards immediately springs up in the midst of the wilderness, large
enough for a parish church, and furnished with windows of all dimensions,
but so rickety and flimsy withal, that every blast gives it a fit of the

By the time the outside of this mighty air castle is completed, either the
funds or the zeal of our adventurer are exhausted, so that he barely
manages to half finish one room within, where the whole family burrow
together, while the rest of the house is devoted to the curing of
pumpkins, or storing of carrots and potatoes, and is decorated with
fanciful festoons of dried apples and peaches. The outside, remaining
unpainted, grows venerably black with time; the family wardrobe is laid
under contribution for old hats, petticoats, and breeches, to stuff into
the broken windows, while the four winds of heaven keep up a whistling and
howling about this aerial palace, and play as many unruly gambols as they
did of yore in the cave of old Æolius.

The humble log hut which whilom nestled this improving family snugly
within its narrow but comfortable walls, stands hard by, in ignominious
contrast, degraded into a cow-house or pig-sty; and the whole scene
reminds one forcibly of a fable, which I am surprised has never been
recorded, of an aspiring snail who abandoned his humble habitation, which
he had long filled with great respectability, to crawl into the empty
shell of a lobster, where he would no doubt have resided with great style
and splendor, the envy and the hate of all the painstaking snails in the
neighborhood, had he not perished with cold in one corner of his
stupendous mansion.

Being thus completely settled, and, to use his own words, "to rights," one
would imagine that he would begin to enjoy the comforts of his situation,
to read newspapers, talk politics, neglect his own business, and attend
to the affairs of the nation like a useful and patriotic citizen; but now
it is that his wayward disposition begins again to operate. He soon grows
tired of a spot where there is no longer any room for improvement--sells
his farm, air castle, petticoat windows and all, reloads his cart,
shoulders his axe, puts himself at the head of his family, and wanders
away in search of new lands--again to fell trees--again to clear
corn-fields--again to build a shingle palace, and again to sell off and

Such were the people of Connecticut, who bordered upon the eastern
frontier of Nieuw Nederlandts, and my readers may easily imagine what
uncomfortable neighbors this light-hearted but restless tribe must have
been to our tranquil progenitors. If they cannot, I would ask them if they
have ever known one of our regular, well-organized Dutch families, whom it
hath pleased Heaven to afflict with the neighborhood of a French
boarding-house? The honest old burgher cannot take his afternoon's pipe on
the bench before his door but he is persecuted with the scraping of
fiddles, the chattering of women, and the squalling of children; he cannot
sleep at night for the horrible melodies of some amateur, who chooses to
serenade the moon, and display his terrible proficiency in execution on
the clarionet, hautboy, or some other soft-toned instrument; nor can he
leave the street door open, but his house is defiled by the unsavory
visits of a troop of pug dogs, who even sometimes carry their loathsome
ravages into the _sanctum sanctorum_, the parlor.

If my readers have ever witnessed the sufferings of such a family, so
situated, they may form some idea how our worthy ancestors were distressed
by their mercurial neighbors of Connecticut.

Gangs of these marauders, we are told, penetrated into the New-Netherland
settlements, and threw whole villages into consternation by their
unparalleled volubility, and their intolerable inquisitiveness--two evil
habits hitherto unknown in those parts, or only known to be abhorred; for
our ancestors were noted as being men of truly Spartan taciturnity, and
who neither knew nor cared aught about anybody's concerns but their own.
Many enormities were committed on the highways, where several unoffending
burghers were brought to a stand, and tortured with questions and guesses,
which outrages occasioned as much vexation and heart-burning as does the
modern right of search on the high seas.

Great jealousy did they likewise stir up by their intermeddling and
successes among the divine sex, for being a race of brisk, likely,
pleasant-tongued varlets, they soon seduced the light affections of the
simple damsels from their ponderous Dutch gallants. Among other hideous
customs, they attempted to introduce among them that bundling, which the
Dutch lasses of the Nederlandts, with that eager passion for novelty and
foreign fashions natural to their sex, seemed very well inclined to
follow, but that their mothers, being more experienced in the world, and
better acquainted with men and things, strenuously discountenanced all
such outlandish innovations.

But what chiefly operated to embroil our ancestors with these strange folk
was an unwarrantable liberty which they occasionally took of entering in
hordes into the territories of the New Netherlands, and settling
themselves down, without leave or license, to improve the land in the
manner I have before noticed. This unceremonious mode of taking possession
of new land was technically termed squatting, and hence is derived the
appellation of squatters, a name odious in the ears of all great
landholders, and which is given to those enterprising worthies who seize
upon land first, and take their chance to make good their title to it

All these grievances, and many others which were constantly accumulating,
tended to form that dark and portentious cloud which, as I observed in a
former chapter, was slowly gathering over the tranquil province of New
Netherlands. The pacific cabinet of Van Twiller, however, as will be
perceived in the sequel, bore them all with a magnanimity that redounds to
their immortal credit, becoming by passive endurance inured to this
increasing mass of wrongs, like that mighty man of old, who by dint of
carrying about a calf from the time it was born, continued to carry it
without difficulty when he had grown to be an ox.


By this time my readers must fully perceive what an arduous task I have
undertaken--exploring a little kind of Herculaneum of history, which had
lain nearly for ages buried under the rubbish of years, and almost totally
forgotten; raking up the limbs and fragments of disjointed facts, and
endeavoring to put them scrupulously together, so as to restore them to
their original form and connection; now lugging forth the character of an
almost forgotten hero, like a mutilated statue: now deciphering a
half-defaced inscription, and now lighting upon a mouldering manuscript,
which, after painful study, scarce repays the trouble of perusal.

In such cases how much has the reader to depend upon the honor and probity
of his author, lest, like a cunning antiquarian, he either impose upon him
some spurious fabrication of his own for a precious relic from antiquity,
or else dress up the dismembered fragment with such false trappings, that
it is scarcely possible to distinguish the truth from the fiction with
which it is enveloped. This is a grievance which I have more than once had
to lament, in the course of my wearisome researches among the works of my
fellow-historians, who have strangely disguised and distorted the facts
respecting this country, and particularly respecting the great province of
New Netherlands, as will be perceived by any who will take the trouble to
compare their romantic effusions, tricked out in the meretricious gauds of
fable, with this authentic history.

I have had more vexations of the kind to encounter, in those parts of my
history which treat of the transactions on the eastern border than in any
other, in consequence of the troops of historians who have infested those
quarters, and have shown the honest people of Nieuw Nederlands no mercy in
their works. Among the rest, Mr. Benjamin Trumbull arrogantly declares
that "the Dutch were always mere intruders." Now, to this I shall make no
other reply than to proceed in the steady narration of my history, which
will contain not only proofs that the Dutch had clear title and possession
in the fair valleys of the Connecticut, and that they were wrongfully
dispossessed thereof, but, likewise, that they have been scandalously
maltreated ever since by the misrepresentations of the crafty historians
of New England. And in this I shall be guided by a spirit of truth and
impartiality, and a regard to immortal fame; for I would not wittingly
dishonor my work by a single falsehood, misrepresentation, or prejudice,
though it should gain our forefathers the whole country of New England.

I have already noticed, in a former chapter of my history that the
territories of the Nieuw Nederlandts extended on the east quite to the
Varsche, or Fresh, or Connecticut River. Here, at an early period, had
been established a frontier post on the bank of the river, and called Fort
Goed Hoop, not far from the site of the present fair city of Hartford. It
was placed under the command of Jacobus Van Curlet, or Curlis, as some
historians will have it, a doughty soldier, of that stomachful class
famous for eating all they kill. He was long in the body and short in the
limb, as though a tall man's body had been mounted on a little man's legs.
He made up for this turnspit construction by striding to such an extent,
that you would have sworn he had on the seven-leagued boots of Jack the
Giant Killer; and so high did he tread on parade, that his soldiers were
sometimes alarmed lest he should trample himself under foot.

But not withstanding the erection of this fort, and the appointment of
this ugly little man of war as commander, the Yankees continued the
interlopings hinted at in my last chapter, and at length had the audacity
to squat themselves down within the jurisdiction of Fort Goed Hoop.

The long-bodied Van Curlet protested with great spirit against these
unwarrantable encroachments, couching his protest in Low Dutch, by way of
inspiring more terror, and forthwith dispatched a copy of the protest to
the governor at New Amsterdam, together with a long and bitter account of
the aggressions of the enemy. This done, he ordered his men, one and all,
to be of good cheer, shut the gate of the fort, smoked three pipes, went
to bed, and awaited the result with a resolute and intrepid tranquillity,
that greatly animated his adherents, and, no doubt, struck sore dismay and
affright into the hearts of the enemy.

Now it came to pass that, about this time, the renowned Wouter Van
Twiller, full of years and honors, and council dinners, had reached the
period of life and faculty which, according to the great Gulliver,
entitles a man to admission into the ancient order of Struldbruggs. He
employed his time in smoking his Turkish pipe amid an assemblage of sages
equally enlightened, and nearly as venerable, as himself, and who, for
their silence, their gravity, their wisdom, and their cautious averseness
to coming to any conclusion in business, are only to be equalled by
certain profound corporations which I have known in my time. Upon reading
the protest of the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet, therefore, His Excellency
fell straightway into one of the deepest doubts that ever he was known to
encounter; his capacious head gradually drooped on his chest; he closed
his eyes, and inclined his ear to one side, as if listening with great
attention to the discussion that was going on in his belly, and which all
who knew him declared to be the huge courthouse or council chamber of his
thoughts, forming to his head what the House of Representatives does to
the Senate. An inarticulate sound, very much resembling a snore,
occasionally escaped him; but the nature of this internal cogitation was
never known, as he never opened his lips on the subject to man, woman or
child. In the meantime, the protect of Van Curlet lay quietly on the
table, where it served to light the pipes of the venerable sages assembled
in council; and, in the great smoke which they raised, the gallant
Jacobus, his protest, and his mighty fort Goed Hoop, were soon as
completely beclouded and forgotten, as is a question of emergency
swallowed up in the speeches and resolutions of a modern session of

There are certain emergencies when your profound legislators and sage
deliberative councils are mightily in the way of a nation, and when an
ounce of hair-brained decision is worth a pound of sage doubt and cautious
discussion. Such, at least, was the case at present; for while the
renowned Wouter Van Twiller was daily battling with his doubts, and his
resolution growing weaker and weaker in the contest, the enemy pushed
farther and farther into his territories, and assumed a most formidable
appearance in the neighborhood of the Fort Goed Hoop. Here they founded
the mighty town of Pyquag, or, as it has since been called,
Weathersfield--a place which, if we may credit the assertions of that
worthy historian, John Josselyn, gent., "hath been infamous by reason of
the witches therein." And so daring did these men of Pyquag become, that
they extended those plantations of onions, for which their town is
illustrious, under the very noses of the garrison of Fort Goed Hoop,
insomuch that the honest Dutchmen could not look toward that quarter
without tears in their eyes.

This crying injustice was regarded with proper indignation by the gallant
Jacobus Van Curlet. He absolutely trembled with the violence of this
choler and the exacerbations of his valor, which were the more turbulent
in their workings from the length of the body in which they were agitated.
He forthwith proceeded to strengthen his redoubts, heighten his
breastworks, deepen his fosse, and fortify his position with a double row
of abattis; after which he dispatched a fresh courier with accounts of his
perilous situation.

The courier chosen to bear the dispatches was a fat, oily little man, as
being less liable to be worn out or to lose leather on the journey; and,
to insure his speed, he was mounted on the fleetest wagon horse in the
garrison, remarkable for length of limb, largeness of bone, and hardness
of trot; and so tall, that the little messenger was obliged to climb on
his back by means of his tail and crupper. Such extraordinary speed did he
make, that he arrived at Fort Amsterdam in a little less than a month,
though the distance was full two hundred pipes, or about one hundred and
twenty miles.

With an appearance of great hurry and business, and smoking a short
traveling pipe, he proceeded on a long swing trot through the muddy lanes
of the metropolis, demolishing whole batches of dirt pies which the little
Dutch children were making in the road, and for which kind of pastry the
children of this city have ever been famous. On arriving at the governor's
house, he climbed down from his steed, roused the gray-headed doorkeeper,
old Skaats, who, like his lineal descendant and faithful representative,
the venerable crier of our court, was nodding at his post, rattled at the
door of the council chamber, and startled the members as they were dozing
over a plan for establishing a public market.

At that very moment a gentle grunt, or rather a deep-drawn snore, was
heard from the chair of the governor, a whiff of smoke was at the same
instant observed to escape from his lips, and a light cloud to ascend from
the bowl of his pipe. The council, of course, supposed him engaged in deep
sleep for the good of the community, and according to custom, in all such
cases established, every man bawled out "Silence!" when, of a sudden, the
door flew open, and the little courier straddled into the apartment, cased
to the middle in a pair of Hessian boots, which he had got into for the
sake of expedition. In his right hand he held forth the ominous
dispatches, and with his left he grasped firmly the waistband of his
galligaskins, which had unfortunately given way in the exertion of
descending from his horse. He stumped resolutely up to the governor, and,
with more hurry than perspicuity, delivered his message. But, fortunately,
his ill tidings came too late to ruffle the tranquillity of this most
tranquil of rulers. His venerable Excellency had just breathed and smoked
his last; his lungs and his pipe having been exhausted together, and his
peaceful soul having escaped in the last whiff that curled from his
tobacco pipe. In a word, the renowned Walter the Doubter, who had so often
slumbered with his contemporaries, now slept with his fathers, and
Wilhelmus Kieft governed in his stead.




When the lofty Thucydides is about to enter upon his description of the
plague that desolated Athens, one of his modern commentators assures the
reader that the history is now going to be exceedingly solemn, serious and
pathetic; and hints, with that air of chuckling gratulation with which a
good dame draws forth a choice morsel from a cupboard to regale a
favorite, that this plague will give his history a most agreeable variety.

In like manner did my heart leap within me when I came to the dolorous
dilemma of Fort Good Hope, which I at once perceived to be the forerunner
of a series of great events and entertaining disasters. Such are the true
subjects for the historic pen. For what is history, in fact, but a kind of
Newgate Calendar--a register of the crimes and miseries that man has
inflicted on his fellow-men? It is a huge libel on human nature to which
we industriously add page after page, volume after volume, as if we were
building up a monument to the honor, rather than the infamy, of our
species. If we turn over the pages of these chronicles that man has
written of himself, what are the characters dignified by the appellation
of great, and held up to the admiration of posterity? Tyrants, robbers,
conquerors, renowned only for the magnitude of their misdeeds and the
stupendous wrongs and miseries they have inflicted on mankind--warriors,
who have hired themselves to the trade of blood, not from motives of
virtuous patriotism, or to protect the injured and defenseless, but merely
to gain the vaunted glory of being adroit and successful in massacring
their fellow-beings! What are the great events that constitute a glorious
era? The fall of empires, the desolation of happy countries, splendid
cities smoking in their ruins, the proudest works of art tumbled in the
dust, the shrieks and groans of whole nations ascending unto heaven!

It is thus the historians may be said to thrive on the miseries of
mankind, like birds of prey which hover over the field of battle to fatten
on the mighty dead. It was observed by a great projector of inland lock
navigation, that rivers, lakes, and oceans were only formed to feed
canals. In like manner I am tempted to believe that plots, conspiracies,
wars, victories, and massacres are ordained by Providence only as food for
the historian.

It is a source of great delight to the philosophers, in studying the
wonderful economy of nature, to trace the mutual dependencies of
things--how they are created reciprocally for each other, and how the most
noxious and apparently unnecessary animal has its uses. Thus those swarms
of flies which are so often execrated as useless vermin are created for
the sustenance of spiders; and spiders, on the other hand, are evidently
made to devour flies. So those heroes who have been such scourges to the
world were bounteously provided as themes for the poet and historian,
while the poet and the historian were destined to record the achievements
of heroes!

These and many similar reflections naturally arose in my mind as I took up
my pen to commence the reign of William Kieft; for now the stream of our
history, which hitherto has rolled in a tranquil current, is about to
depart, for ever from its peaceful haunts, and brawl through many a
turbulent and rugged scene.

As some sleek ox, sunk in the rich repose of a clover field, dozing and
chewing the cud, will bear repeated blows before it raises itself, so the
province of Nieuw Nederlandts, having waxed fat under the drowsy reign of
the Doubter, needed cuffs and kicks to rouse it into action. The reader
will now witness the manner in which a peaceful community advances towards
a state of war; which is apt to be like the approach of a horse to a drum,
with much prancing and little progress, and too often with the wrong end

Wilhelmus Kieft, who in 1634 ascended the gubernatorial chair, to borrow a
favorite though clumsy appellation of modern phraseologists, was of a
lofty descent, his father being inspector of windmills in the ancient town
of Saardam; and our hero, we are told, when a boy, made very curious
investigations into the nature and operation of these machines, which was
one reason why he afterwards came to be so ingenious a governor. His name,
according to the most authentic etymologists, was a corruption of Kyver;
that is to say, a wrangler or scolder; and expressed the characteristic of
his family, which for nearly two centuries had kept the windy town of
Saardam in hot water, and produced more tartars and brimstones than any
ten families in the place; and so truly did he inherit this family
peculiarity that he had not been a year in the government of the province
before he was universally denominated William the Testy. His appearance
answered to his name. He was a brisk, wiry, waspish little old gentleman,
such a one as may now and then be seen stumping about our city in a
broad-skirted coat with huge buttons, a cocked hat stuck on the back of
his head, and a cane as high as his chin. His face was broad, but his
features were sharp; his cheeks were scorched into a dusky red, by two
fiery little gray eyes, his nose turned up, and the corners of his mouth
turned down pretty much like the muzzle of an irritable pug-dog.

I have heard it observed by a profound adept in human physiology that if
a woman waxes fat with the progress of years her tenure of life is
somewhat precarious, but if haply she withers as she grows old, she lives
for ever. Such promised to be the case with William the Testy, who grew
tough in proportion as he dried. He had withered, in fact, not through the
process of years, but through the tropical fervor of his soul, which burnt
like a vehement rushlight in his bosom, inciting him to incessant broils
and bickerings. Ancient traditions speak much of his learning, and of the
gallant inroads he had made into the dead languages, in which he had made
captive a host of Greek nouns and Latin verbs, and brought off rich booty
in ancient saws and apophthegms, which he was wont to parade in his public
harangues, as a triumphant general of yore his _spolia opima_. Of
metaphysics he knew enough to confound all hearers and himself into the
bargain. In logic, he knew the whole family of syllogisms and dilemmas,
and was so proud of his skill that he never suffered even a self-evident
fact to pass unargued. It was observed, however, that he seldom got into
an argument without getting into a perplexity, and then into a passion
with his adversary for not being convinced gratis.

He had, moreover, skirmished smartly on the frontiers of several of the
sciences, was fond of experimental philosophy, and prided himself upon
inventions of all kinds. His abode, which he had fixed at a bowery, or
country seat, at a short distance from the city, just at what is now
called Dutch Street, soon abounded with proofs of his ingenuity; patent
smoke jacks that required a horse to work them; Dutch ovens that roasted
meat without fire; carts that went before the horses; weathercocks that
turned against the wind; and other wrong-headed contrivances that
astonished and confounded all beholders. The house, too, was beset with
paralytic cats and dogs, the subjects of his experimental philosophy; and
the yelling and yelping of the latter unhappy victims of science, while
aiding in the pursuit of knowledge, soon gained for the place the name of
"Dog's Misery," by which it continues to be known even at the present day.

It is in knowledge as in swimming, he who flounders and splashes on the
surface makes more noise and attracts more attention than the pearl diver
who quietly dives in quest of treasures to the bottom. The vast
acquirements of the new governor were the theme of marvel among the simple
burghers of New Amsterdam; he figured about the place as learned a man as
a Bonze at Pekin, who has mastered one-half of the Chinese alphabet; and
was unanimously pronounced a "universal genius!"

I have known in my time many a genius of this stamp; but, to speak my mind
freely, I never knew one who, for the ordinary purposes of life, was worth
his weight in straw. In this respect a little sound judgment and plain
common sense is worth all the sparkling genius that ever wrote poetry or
invented theories. Let us see how the universal acquirements of William
the Testy aided him in the affairs of government.


No sooner had this bustling little potentate been blown by a whiff of
fortune into the seat of government than he called his council together to
make them a speech on the state of affairs.

Caius Gracchus, it is said, when he harangued the Roman populace,
modulated his tone by an oratorical flute or pitch pipe. Wilhelmus Kieft,
not having such an instrument at hand, availed himself of that musical
organ or trump which nature has implanted in the midst of a man's face; in
other words, he preluded his address by a sonorous blast of the nose; a
preliminary flourish much in vogue among public orators.

He then commenced by expressing his humble sense of his utter unworthiness
of the high post to which he had been appointed, which made some of the
simple burghers wonder why he undertook it, not knowing that it is a point
of etiquette with a public orator never to enter upon office without
declaring himself unworthy to cross the threshold. He then proceeded, in a
manner highly classic and erudite, to speak of government generally, and
of the governments of ancient Greece in particular; together with the wars
of Rome and Carthage, and the rise and fall of sundry outlandish empires
which the worthy burghers had never read nor heard of. Having thus, after
the manner of your learned orators, treated of things in general, he came
by a natural roundabout transition to the matter in hand, namely, the
daring aggressions of the Yankees.

As my readers are well aware of the advantage a potentate has of handling
his enemies as he pleases in his speeches and bulletins, where he has the
talk all on his own side, they may rest assured that William the Testy did
not let such an opportunity escape of giving the Yankees what is called "a
taste of his quality." In speaking of their inroads into the territories
of their High Mightinesses, he compared them to the Gauls, who desolated
Rome; the Goths and Vandals, who overran the fairest plains of Europe; but
when he came to speak of the unparalleled audacity with which they at
Weathersfield had advanced their patches up to the very walls of Fort Goed
Hoop, and threatened to smother the garrison in onions, tears of rage
started into his eyes, as though he nosed the very offence in question.

Having thus wrought up his tale to a climax, he assumed a most belligerent
look, and assured the council that he had devised an instrument potent in
its effects, and which he trusted would soon drive the Yankees from the
land. So saying, he thrust his hand into one of the deep pockets of his
broad-skirted coat and drew forth, not an infernal machine, but an
instrument in writing, which he laid with great emphasis upon the table.

The burghers gazed at it for a time in silent awe, as a wary housewife
does at a gun, fearful it may go off half-cocked. The document in question
had a sinister look, it is true; it was crabbed in text, and from a broad
red ribbon dangled the great seal of the province, about the size of a
buckwheat pancake. Herein, however, existed the wonder of the invention.
The document in question was a proclamation, ordering the Yankees to
depart instantly from the territories of their High Mightinesses, under
pain of suffering all the forfeitures and punishments in such case made
and provided. It was on the moral effect of this formidable instrument
that Wilhelmus Kieft calculated; pledging his valor as a governor that,
once fulminated against the Yankees, it would in less than two months
drive every mother's son of them across the borders.

The council broke up in perfect wonder, and nothing was talked of for some
time among the old men and women of New Amsterdam but the vast genius of
the governor and his new and cheap mode of fighting by proclamation.

As to Wilhelmus Kieft, having dispatched his proclamation to the
frontiers, he put on his cocked hat and corduroy small clothes, and,
mounting a tall, raw-boned charger, trotted out to his rural retreat of
Dog's Misery. Here, like the good Numa, he reposed from the toils of
state, taking lessons in government, not from the nymph Egeria, but from
the honored wife of his bosom, who was one of that class of females, sent
upon the earth a little after the flood, as a punishment for the sins of
mankind, and commonly known by the appellation of knowing women. In fact,
my duty as an historian obliges me to make known a circumstance which was
a great secret at the time, and consequently was not a subject of scandal
at more than half the tea tables in New Amsterdam, but which, like many
other great secrets, has leaked out in the lapse of years; and this was,
that Wilhelmus the Testy, though one of the most potent little men that
ever breathed, yet submitted at home to a species of government, neither
laid down in Aristotle or Plato; in short, it partook of the nature of a
pure, unmixed tyranny, and is familiarly denominated petticoat government.
An absolute sway, which, although exceedingly common in these modern days,
was very rare among the ancients, if we may judge from the rout made about
the domestic economy of honest Socrates, which is the only ancient case on

The great Kieft, however, warded off all the sneers and sarcasms of his
particular friends, who are ever ready to joke with a man on sore points
of the kind, by alleging that it was a government of his own election, to
which he submitted through choice; adding, at the same time, a profound
maxim which he had found in an ancient author, that "he who would aspire
to govern should first learn to obey."


Never was a more comprehensive, a more expeditious, or, what is still
better, a more economical measure devised than this of defeating the
Yankees by proclamation--an expedient, likewise, so gentle and humane,
there were ten chances to one in favor of its succeeding; but then, there
was one chance to ten that it would not succeed. As the ill-natured Fates
would have it, that single chance carried the day! The proclamation was
perfect in all its parts, well constructed, well written, well sealed, and
well published; all that was wanting to insure its effect was, that the
Yankees should stand in awe of it; but, provoking to relate, they treated
it with the most absolute contempt, applied it to an unseemly purpose,
and thus did the first warlike proclamation come to a shameful end--a fate
which I am credibly informed has befallen but too many of its successors.

So far from abandoning the country, those varlets continued their
encroachments, squatting along the green banks of the Varsche river, and
founding Hartford, Stamford, New Haven, and other border towns. I have
already shown how the onion patches of Pyquag were an eyesore to Jacobus
Van Curlet and his garrison, but now these moss troopers increased in
their atrocities, kidnaping hogs, impounding horses, and sometimes
grievously rib-roasting their owners. Our worthy forefathers could
scarcely stir abroad without danger of being outjockeyed in horseflesh, or
taken in in bargaining; while, in their absence, some daring Yankee pedlar
would penetrate to their household, and nearly ruin the good housewives
with tinware and wooden bowls.[34]

I am well aware of the perils which environ me in this part of my
history. While raking, with curious hand but pious heart, among the
mouldering remains of former days, anxious to draw therefrom the honey of
wisdom, I may fare somewhat like that valiant worthy, Samson, who, in
meddling with the carcase of a dead lion, drew a swarm of bees about his
ears. Thus, while narrating the many misdeeds of the Yanokie or Yankee
race, it is ten chances to one but I offend the morbid sensibilities of
certain of their unreasonable descendants, who may fly out and raise such
a buzzing about this unlucky head of mine, that I shall need the tough
hide of an Achilles, or an Orlando Furioso, to protect me from their

Should such be the case, I should deeply and sincerely lament--not my
misfortune in giving offence--but the wrong-headed perverseness of an
ill-natured generation, in taking offence at anything I say. That their
ancestors did use my ancestors ill is true, and I am very sorry for it. I
would, with all my heart, the fact were otherwise; but as I am recording
the sacred events of history, I'd not bate one nail's breadth of the
honest truth, though I were sure the whole edition of my work would be
bought up and burnt by the common hangman of Connecticut. And in sooth,
now that these testy gentlemen have drawn me out, I will make bold to go
farther, and observe that this is one of the grand purposes for which we
impartial historians are sent into the world--to redress wrongs, and
render justice on the heads of the guilty. So that, though a powerful
nation may wrong its neighbors with temporary impunity, yet sooner or
later an historian springs up, who wreaks ample chastisement on it in

Thus these moss-troopers of the east little thought, I'll warrant it,
while they were harassing the inoffensive province of Nieuw Nederlandts,
and driving its unhappy governor to his wits' end, that an historian would
ever arise, and give them their own with interest. Since, then, I am but
performing my bounden duty as a historian in avenging the wrongs of our
reverend ancestors, I shall make no further apology; and, indeed, when it
is considered that I have all these ancient borderers of the east in my
power, and at the mercy of my pen, I trust that it will be admitted I
conduct myself with great humanity and moderation.

It was long before William the Testy could be persuaded that his
much-vaunted war measure was ineffectual; on the contrary, he flew in a
passion whenever it was doubted, swearing that though slow in operating,
yet when it once began to work it would soon purge the land of those
invaders. When convinced at length of the truth, like a shrewd physician,
he attributed the failure to the quantity, not the quality of the
medicine, and resolved to double the dose. He fulminated, therefore, a
second proclamation more vehement than the first, forbidding all
intercourse with these Yankee intruders; ordering the Dutch burghers on
the frontiers to buy none of their pacing horses, measly pork, apple
sweetmeats, Weathersfield onions, or wooden bowls, and to furnish them
with no supplies of gin, gingerbread, or sourkrout.

Another interval elapsed, during which the last proclamation was as little
regarded as the first, and the non-intercourse was especially set at
nought by the young folks of both sexes.

At length one day inhabitants of New Amsterdam were aroused by a furious
barking of dogs, great and small, and beheld to their surprise the whole
garrison of Fort Good Hope straggling into town all tattered and way-worn,
with Jacobus Van Curlet at their head, bringing the melancholy
intelligence of the capture of Fort Good Hope by the Yankees.

The fate of this important fortress is an impressive warning to all
military commanders. It was neither carried by storm nor famine; nor was
it undermined, nor bombarded, nor set on fire by red-hot shot, but was
taken by a stratagem no less singular than effectual, and which can never
fail of success whenever an opportunity occurs of putting it in practice.

It seems that the Yankees had received intelligence that the garrison of
Jacobus Van Curlet had been reduced nearly one-eighth by the death of two
of his most corpulent soldiers, who had over-eaten themselves on fat
salmon caught in the Varsche river. A secret expedition was immediately
set on foot to surprise the fortress. The crafty enemy, knowing the habits
of the garrison to sleep soundly after they had eaten their dinners and
smoked their pipes, stole upon them at the noonstide of a sultry summer's
day, and surprised them in the midst of their slumbers.

In an instant the flag of their High Mightinesses was lowered, and the
Yankee standard elevated in its stead, being a dried codfish, by way of a
spread eagle. A strong garrison was appointed of long-sided, hard-fisted
Yankees, with Weathersfield onions for cockades and feathers. As to
Jacobus Van Curlet and his men, they were seized by the nape of the neck,
conducted to the gate, and one by one dismissed with a kick in the
crupper, as Charles XII dismissed the heavy-bottomed Russians at the
battle of Narva; Jacobus Van Curlet receiving two kicks in consideration
of his official dignity.


   [34] The following cases in point appear in Hazard's "Collection
        of State Papers:"--"In the meantime, they of Hartford have not
        onely usurped and taken in the lands of Connecticott, although
        uprighteously and against the lawes of nations, but have hindered
        our nation in sowing theire own purchased broken-up lands, but
        have also sowed them with corne in the night, which the
        Nederlanders had broken up and intended to sowe; and have beaten
        the servants of the high and mighty the honored companie, which
        were labouring upon theire masters' lands, from theire lands,
        with sticks and plow staves in hostile manner laming, and, among
        the rest, struck Ever Duckings [Evert Duyckink] a hole in his
        head with a stick, so that the bloode ran downe very strongly
        downe upon his body."

        "Those of Hartford sold a hogg, that belonged to the honored
        companie, under pretence that it had eaten of theire grounde
        grass, when they had not any foot of inheritance. They proffered
        the hogg for 5s. if the commissioners would have given 5s. for
        damage; which the commissioners denied, because noe man's own
        hogg (as men used to say), can trespass upon his owne master's


Language cannot express the awful ire of William the Testy on hearing of
the catastrophe at Fort Goed Hoop. For three good hours his rage was too
great for words, or rather the words were too great for him (being a very
small man), and he was nearly choked by the misshapen, nine-cornered Dutch
oaths and epithets which crowded at one into his gullet. At length his
words found vent, and for three days he kept up a constant discharge,
anathematising the Yankees, man, woman, and child, for a set of dieven,
schobbejacken, deugenieten, twist-zoekeren, blaes-kaken, loosen-schalken,
kakken-bedden, and a thousand other names, of which, unfortunately for
posterity, history does not make mention. Finally, he swore that he would
have nothing more to do with such a squatting, bundling, guessing,
questioning, swapping, pumpkin-eating, molasses-daubing,
shingle-splitting, cider-watering, horse-jockeying, notion-peddling
crew--that they might stay at Fort Goed Hoop and rot, before he would
dirty his hands by attempting to drive them away; in proof of which he
ordered the new-raised troops to be marched forthwith into winter
quarters, although it was not as yet quite midsummer. Great despondency
now fell upon the city of New Amsterdam. It was feared that the conquerors
of Fort Goed Hoop, flushed with victory and apple-brandy, might march on
to the capital, take it by storm, and annex the whole province to
Connecticut. The name of Yankee became as terrible among the Nieuw
Nederlanders as was that of Gaul among the ancient Romans, insomuch that
the good wives of the Manhattoes used it as a bugbear wherewith to
frighten their unruly children.

Everybody clamored round the governor, imploring him to put the city in a
complete posture of defence, and he listened to their clamors. Nobody
could accuse William the Testy of being idle in time of danger, or at any
other time. He was never idle, but then he was often busy to very little
purpose. When a youngling he had been impressed with the words of Solomon,
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard, observe her ways and be wise," in
conformity to which he had ever been of a restless, ant-like turn;
hurrying hither and thither, nobody knew why or wherefore, busying himself
about small matters with an air of great importance and anxiety, and
toiling at a grain of mustard-seed in the full conviction that he was
moving a mountain. In the present instance he called in all his inventive
powers to his aid, and was continually pondering over plans, making
diagrams, and worrying about with a troop of workmen and projectors at his
heels. At length, after a world of consultation and contrivance, his plans
of defence ended in rearing a great flag-staff in the center of the fort,
and perching a windmill on each bastion.

These warlike preparations in some measure allayed the public alarm,
especially after an additional means of securing the safety of the city
had been suggested by the governor's lady. It has already been hinted in
this most authentic history that in the domestic establishment of William
the Testy "the grey mare was the better horse;" in other words, that his
wife "ruled the roast," and, in governing the governor, governed the
province, which might thus be said to be under petticoat government.

Now it came to pass that this time there lived in the Manhattoes a jolly,
robustious trumpeter, named Anthony Van Corlear, famous for his long wind;
and who, as the story goes, could twang so potently upon his instrument
that the effect upon all within hearing was like that ascribed to the
Scotch bagpipe when it sings right lustily i' the nose.

This sounder of brass was moreover a lusty bachelor, with a pleasant,
burly visage, a long nose, and huge whiskers. He had his little bowery, or
retreat in the country, where he led a roystering life, giving dances to
the wives and daughters of the burghers of the Manhattoes, insomuch that
he became a prodigious favorite with all the women, young and old. He is
said to have been the first to collect that famous toll levied on the fair
sex at Kissing Bridge, on the highway to Hell-gate.[35]

To this sturdy bachelor the eyes of all the women were turned in this time
of darkness and peril, as the very man to second and carry out the plans
of defence of the governor. A kind of petticoat council was forthwith held
at the government house, at which the governor's lady presided: and this
lady, as has been hinted, being all potent with the governor, the result
of these councils was the elevation of Anthony the Trumpeter to the post
of commandant of windmills and champion of New Amsterdam.

The city being thus fortified and garrisoned, it would have done one's
heart good to see the governor snapping his fingers and fidgeting with
delight, as the trumpeter strutted up and down the ramparts twanging
defiance to the whole Yankee race, as does a modern editor to all the
principalities and powers on the other side of the Atlantic. In the hands
of Anthony Van Corlear this windy instrument appeared to him as potent as
the horn of the paladin Astolpho, or even the more classic horn of Alecto;
nay, he had almost the temerity to compare it with the rams' horns
celebrated in Holy Writ, at the very sound of which the walls of Jericho
fell down.

Be all this as it may, the apprehensions of hostilities from the east
gradually died away. The Yankees made no further invasion; nay, they
declared they had only taken possession of Fort Goed Hoop as being erected
within their territories. So far from manifesting hostility, they
continued to throng to New Amsterdam with the most innocent countenances
imaginable, filling the market with their notions, being as ready to trade
with the Netherlands as ever, and not a whit more prone to get to the
windward of them in a bargain.

The old wives of the Manhattoes who took tea with the governor's lady
attributed all this affected moderation to the awe inspired by the
military preparations of the governor, and the windy prowess of Anthony
the Trumpeter.

There were not wanting illiberal minds, however, who sneered at the
governor for thinking to defend his city as he governed it, by mere wind;
but William Kieft was not to be jeered out of his windmills; he had seen
them perched upon the ramparts of his native city of Saardam; and was
persuaded they were connected with the great science of defence; nay, so
much piqued was he by having them made a matter of ridicule, that he
introduced them into the arms of the city, where they remain to this day,
quartered with the ancient beaver of the Manhattoes, an emblem and memento
of his policy.

I must not omit to mention that certain wise old burghers of the
Manhattoes, skilful in expounding signs and mysteries, after events have
come to pass, consider this early intrusion of the windmill into the
escutcheon of our city, which before had been wholly occupied by the
beaver, as portentous of its after fortune, when the quiet Dutchman would
be elbowed aside by the enterprising Yankee, and patient industry
overtopped by windy speculation.


   [35] The bridge here mentioned by Mr. Knickerbocker still exists;
        but it is said that the toll is seldom collected nowadays
        excepting on sleighing parties, by the descendants of the
        patriarchs, who still preserve the traditions of the city.


Among the wrecks and fragments of exalted wisdom which have floated down
the stream of time from venerable antiquity, and been picked up by those
humble but industrious wights who ply along the shores of literature, we
find a shrewd ordinance of Charondas the Locrian legislator. Anxious to
preserve the judicial code of the state from the additions and amendments
of country members and seekers of popularity, he ordained that, whoever
proposed a new law should do it with a halter about his neck; whereby, in
case his proposition were rejected, they just hung him up--and there the
matter ended.

The effect was, that for more than two hundred years there was but one
trifling alteration in the judicial code; and legal matters were so clear
and simple that the whole race of lawyers starved to death for want of
employment. The Locrians, too, being freed from all incitement to
litigation, lived very lovingly together, and were so happy a people that
they make scarce any figure in history; it being only your litigatous,
quarrelsome, rantipole nations who make much noise in the world.

I have been reminded of these historical facts in coming to treat of the
internal policy of William the Testy. Well would it have been for him had
he in the course of his universal acquirements stumbled upon the
precaution of the good Charondas; or had he looked nearer home at the
protectorate of Oloffe the Dreamer, when the community was governed
without laws. Such legislation, however, was not suited to the busy,
meddling mind of William the Testy. On the contrary, he conceived that the
true wisdom of legislation consisted in the multiplicity of laws. He
accordingly had great punishments for great crimes, and little punishments
for little offences. By degrees the whole surface of society was cut up by
ditches and fences, and quickset hedges of the law, and even the
sequestered paths of private life so beset by petty rules and ordinances,
too numerous to be remembered, that one could scarce walk at large without
the risk of letting off a spring-gun or falling into a man-trap.

In a little while the blessings of innumerable laws became apparent; a
class of men arose to expound and confound them. Petty courts were
instituted to take cognizance of petty offences, pettifoggers began to
abound, and the community was soon set together by the ears.

Let me not be thought as intending anything derogatory to the profession
of the law, or to the distinguished members of that illustrious order.
Well am I aware that we have in this ancient city innumerable worthy
gentlemen, the knights-errant of modern days, who go about redressing
wrongs and defending the defenceless, not for the love of filthy lucre,
nor the selfish cravings of renown, but merely for the pleasure of doing
good. Sooner would I throw this trusty pen into the flames, and cork up my
ink-bottle for ever, than infringe even for a nail's breadth upon the
dignity of these truly benevolent champions of the distressed. On the
contrary, I allude merely to those caitiff scouts who, in these latter
days of evil, infest the skirts of the profession, as did the recreant
Cornish knights of yore the honorable order of chivalry; who, under its
auspices, commit flagrant wrongs; who thrive by quibbles, by quirks and
chicanery, and like vermin increase the corruption in which they are

Nothing so soon awakens the malevolent passions as the facility of
gratification. The courts of law would never be so crowded with petty,
vexatious, and disgraceful suits were it not for the herds of
pettifoggers. These tamper with the passions of the poorer and more
ignorant classes; who, as if poverty were not a sufficient misery in
itself, are ever ready to embitter it by litigation. These, like quacks in
medicine, excite the malady to profit by the cure, and retard the cure to
augment the fees. As the quack exhausts the constitution the pettifogger
exhausts the purse; and as he who has once been under the hands of a quack
is for ever after prone to dabble in drugs, and poison himself with
infallible prescriptions, so the client of the pettifogger is ever after
prone to embroil himself with his neighbors, and impoverish himself with
successful lawsuits. My readers will excuse this digression into which I
have been unwarily betrayed; but I could not avoid giving a cool and
unprejudiced account of an abomination too prevalent in this excellent
city, and with the effects of which I am ruefully acquainted, having been
nearly ruined by a lawsuit which was decided against me; and my ruin
having been completed by another, which was decided in my favor.

To return to our theme. There was nothing in the whole range of moral
offences against which the jurisprudence of William the Testy was more
strenuously directed than the crying sin of poverty. He pronounced it the
root of all evil, and determined to cut it up root and branch, and
extirpate it from the land. He had been struck, in the course of his
travels in the old countries of Europe, with the wisdom of those notices
posted up in country towns, that "any vagrant found begging there would be
put in the stocks," and he had observed that no beggars were to be seen in
these neighborhoods; having doubtless thrown off their rags and their
poverty, and become rich under the terror of the law. He determined to
improve upon this hint. In a little while a new machine of his own
invention was erected hard by Dog's Misery. This was nothing more nor less
than a gibbet, of a very strange, uncouth, and unmatchable construction,
far more efficacious, as he boasted, than the stocks, for the punishment
of poverty. It was for altitude not a whit inferior to that of Haman, so
renowned in Bible history; but the marvel of the contrivance was, that the
culprit, instead of being suspended by the neck according to venerable
custom, was hoisted by the waistband, and kept dangling and sprawling
between heaven and earth for an hour or two at a time, to the infinite
entertainment and edification of the respectable citizens who usually
attend exhibitions of the kind.

Such was the punishment of all petty delinquents, vagrants, and beggars
and others detected in being guilty of poverty in a small way. As to those
who had offended on a great scale, who had been guilty of flagrant
misfortunes and enormous backslidings of the purse, and who stood
convicted of large debts which they were unable to pay, William Kieft had
them straightway enclosed within the stone walls of a prison, there to
remain until they should reform and grow rich. This notable expedient,
however, does not appear to have been more efficacious under William the
Testy than in more modern days, it being found that the longer a poor
devil was kept in prison the poorer he grew.






The playful devices by which attention was directed to the coming
publication of the History of Diedrich Knickerbocker are represented in
the author's opening to the first volume. Irving joined afterward in
business as a sleeping partner, visited England in 1815, and, while
cordially welcomed here by Thomas Campbell, Walter Scott, and others, the
failure of his brother's business obliged him to make writing his
profession. The publishers at first refused to take one of the most
charming of his works, the "Sketch Book"; but John Murray yielded at last
to the influence of Walter Scott, and paid £200 for the copyright of it, a
sum afterward increased to £400. "Bracebridge Hall" and the "Tales of a
Traveler" followed. Irving went to Spain with the American Ambassador to
translate documents and acquire experience which he used afterward in
successive books. "The Life and Voyages of Columbus" appeared in 1828, and
was followed by "Voyages of the Companions of Columbus."

In 1829 Washington Irving came again to England, this time as Secretary to
the American Legation. He published the "Conquest of Granada." In 1831 he
received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Oxford. Then
he returned to America, published in 1832 "The Alhambra;" in 1835 "Legends
of the Conquest of Spain." In 1842 he went again to Spain, this time as
American Minister. Other works were produced, and at the close of his life
he achieved his early ambition, by writing a Life of Washington, after
whom he had been named, and who had laid his hand upon his head and
blessed him when he was a child of five. Although the first of the five
volumes of the Life of Washington did not appear until he was more than
seventy years old, he lived to complete his work, and died on the 28th of
November, 1859. Washington Irving never married. He had loved in his early
years a daughter of his friend Mrs. Hoffman, had sat by her death-bed when
she was a girl of seventeen, and waited until his own death restored her
to him.



_BOOK IV_. (_continued._)


Next to his projects for the suppression of poverty may be classed those
of William the Testy for increasing the wealth of New Amsterdam. Solomon
of whose character for wisdom the little governor was somewhat emulous,
had made gold and silver as plenty as the stones in the streets of
Jerusalem. William Kieft could not pretend to vie with him as to the
precious metals, but he determined, as an equivalent, to flood the streets
of New Amsterdam with Indian money. This was nothing more nor less than
strings of beads wrought out of clams, periwinkles, and other shell-fish,
and called seawant or wampum. These had formed a native currency among the
simple savages, who were content to take them of the Dutchmen in exchange
for peltries. In an unlucky moment, William the Testy, seeing this money
of easy production, conceived the project of making it the current coin of
the province. It is true it had an intrinsic value among the Indians, who
used it to ornament their robes and moccasins; but among the honest
burghers it had no more intrinsic value than those rags which form the
paper currency of modern days. This consideration, however, had no weight
with William Kieft. He began by paying all the servants of the company and
all the debts of government, in strings of wampum. He sent emissaries to
sweep the shores of Long Island, which was the Ophir of this modern
Solomon, and abounded in shell-fish. These were transported in loads to
New Amsterdam, coined into Indian money, and launched into circulation.

And now for a time affairs went on swimmingly; money became as plentiful
as in the modern days of paper currency, and, to use the popular phrase,
"a wonderful impulse was given to public prosperity." Yankee traders
poured into the province, buying everything they could lay their hands on,
and paying the worthy Dutchmen their own price--in Indian money. If the
latter, however, attempted to pay the Yankees in the same coin for their
tinware and wooden bowls the case was altered; nothing would do but Dutch
guilders, and such-like "metallic currency." What was worse, the Yankees
introduced an inferior kind of wampum, made of oyster shells, with which
they deluged the province, carrying off all the silver and gold, the Dutch
herrings and Dutch cheeses: thus early did the knowing men of the East
manifest their skill in bargaining the New Amsterdammers out of the
oyster, and leaving them the shell.[36]

It was a long time before William the Testy was made sensible how
completely his grand project of finance was turned against him by his
eastern neighbors; nor would he probably have ever found it out had not
tidings been brought him that the Yankees had made a descent upon Long
Island, and had established a kind of mint at Oyster Bay, where they were
coining up all the oyster banks.

Now this was making a vital attack upon the province in a double sense,
financial and gastronomical. Ever since the council dinner of Oloffe the
Dreamer, at the founding of New Amsterdam, at which banquet the oyster
figured so conspicuously, this divine shell-fish has been held in a kind
of superstitious reverence at the Manhattoes; as witness the temples
erected to its cult in every street and lane and alley. In fact, it is the
standard luxury of the place, as is the terrapin at Philadelphia, the soft
crab at Baltimore, or the canvas-back at Washington.

The seizure of Oyster Bay, therefore, was an outrage not merely on the
pockets, but on the larders of the New Amsterdammers; the whole community
was aroused, and an oyster crusade was immediately set on foot against the
Yankees. Every stout trencherman hastened to the standard; nay, some of
the most corpulent burgomasters and schepens joined the expedition as a
_corps de reserve_, only to be called into action when the sacking

The conduct of the expedition was entrusted to a valiant Dutchman, who,
for size and weight, might have matched with Colbrand, the Danish
champion, slain by Guy of Warwick. He was famous throughout the province
for strength of arm and skill at quarter-staff, and hence was named
Stoffel Brinkerhoff; or rather, Brinkerhoofd; that is to say, Stoffel the

This sturdy commander, who was a man of few words but vigorous deeds, led
his troops resolutely on through Nineveh, and Babylon, and Jericho, and
Patch-hog, and other Long Island towns, without encountering any
difficulty of note, though it is said that some of the burgomasters gave
out at Hard-scramble Hill and Hungry Hollow; and that others lost heart,
and turned back at Puss-panick. With the rest he made good his march until
he arrived in the neighborhood of Oyster Bay.

Here he was encountered by a host of Yankee warriors, headed by Preserved
Fish, and Habakkuk Nutter, and Return Strong, and Zerubbabel Fisk, and
Determined Cock! at the sound of whose names Stoffel Brinkerhoff verily
believed the whole parliament of Praise-God Barebones had been let loose
upon him. He soon found, however, that they were merely the "select men"
of the settlement, armed with no weapon but the tongue, and disposed only
to meet him on the field of argument. Stoffel had but one mode of
arguing--that was with the cudgel; but he used it with such effect that he
routed his antagonists, broke up the settlement, and would have driven the
inhabitants into the sea, if they had not managed to escape across the
Sound to the mainland by the Devil's Stepping-stones, which remain to this
day monuments of this great Dutch victory over the Yankees.

Stoffel Brinkerhoff made great spoil of oysters and clams, coined and
uncoined, and then set out on his return to the Manhattoes. A grand
triumph, after the manner of the ancients, was prepared for him by William
the Testy. He entered New Amsterdam as a conqueror, mounted on a
Narraganset pacer. Five dried codfish on poles, standards taken from the
enemy, were borne before him; and an immense store of oysters and clams,
Weathersfield onions, and Yankee "notions" formed the _spolia opima;_
while several coiners of oyster-shells were led captive to grace the
hero's triumph.

The procession was accompanied by a full band of boys and negroes,
performing on the popular instruments of rattle-bones and clam-shells,
while Anthony Van Corlear sounded his trumpet from the ramparts.

A great banquet was served up in the Stadthouse from the clams and oysters
taken from the enemy, while the governor sent the shells privately to the
mint, and had them coined into Indian money, with which he paid his

It is moreover said that the governor, calling to mind the practice among
the ancients to honor their victorious generals with public statues,
passed a magnanimous decree, by which every tavern-keeper was permitted to
paint the head of Stoffel Brinkerhoff upon his sign!


   [36] In a manuscript record of the province, dated 1659, Library
        of the New York Historical Society, is the following mention of
        Indian money:--"Seawant, alias wampum. Beads manufactured from
        the Quahang or whelk, a shell-fish formerly abounding on our
        coasts, but lately of more rare occurrence of two colors, black
        and white; the former twice the value of the latter. Six beads of
        the white and three of the black for an English penny. The
        seawant depreciates from time to time. The New England people
        make use of it as a means of barter, not only to carry away the
        best cargoes which we send thither, but to accumulate a large
        quantity of beavers' and other furs, by which the company is
        defrauded of her revenues, and the merchants disappointed in
        making returns with that speed with which they might wish to meet
        their engagements; while their commissioners and the inhabitants
        remain overstocked with seawant, a sort of currency of no value
        except with the New Netherland savages," etc.


It has been remarked by the observant writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript,
that under the administration of William Kieft the disposition of the
inhabitants of New Amsterdam experienced an essential change, so that they
became very meddlesome and factious. The unfortunate propensity of the
little governor to experiment and innovation, and the frequent
exacerbations of his temper, kept his council in a continual worry; and
the council being to the people at large what yeast or leaven is to a
batch, they threw the whole community in a ferment; and the people at
large being to the city what the mind is to the body, the unhappy
commotions they underwent operated most disastrously upon New Amsterdam;
insomuch that, in certain of their paroxysms of consternation and
perplexity, they begat several of the most crooked, distorted, and
abominable streets, lanes, and alleys, with which this metropolis is

The fact was, that about this time the community, like Balaam's ass, began
to grow more enlightened than its rider, and to show a disposition for
what is called "self-government." This restive propensity was first
evinced in certain popular meetings, in which the burghers of New
Amsterdam met to talk and smoke over the complicated affairs of the
province, gradually obfuscating themselves with politics and tobacco
smoke. Hither resorted those idlers and squires of low degree who hang
loose on society and are blown about by every wind of doctrine. Cobblers
abandoned their stalls to give lessons on political economy; blacksmiths
suffered their fires to go out, while they stirred up the fires of
faction; and even tailors, though said to be the ninth parts of humanity,
neglected their own measures to criticise the measures of government.

Strange! that the science of government, which seems to be so generally
understood, should invariably be denied to the only one called upon to
exercise it. Not one of the politicians in question, but, take his word
for it, could have administered affairs ten times better than William the

Under the instructions of these political oracles, the good people of New
Amsterdam soon became exceedingly enlightened; and, as a matter of course,
exceedingly discontented. They gradually found out the fearful error in
which they had indulged, of thinking themselves the happiest people in
creation; and were convinced that, all circumstances to the contrary not
withstanding, they were a very unhappy, deluded, and consequently ruined

We are naturally prone to discontent, and avaricious after imaginary
causes of lamentation. Like lubberly monks, we belabor our own shoulders,
and take a vast satisfaction in the music of our own groans. Nor is this
said by way of paradox; daily experience shows the truth of these
observations. It is almost impossible to elevate the spirits of a man
groaning under ideal calamities; but nothing is easier than to render him
wretched, though on the pinnacle of felicity: as it would be an herculean
task to hoist a man to the top of a steeple, though the merest child could
topple him off thence.

I must not omit to mention that these popular meetings were generally
held at some noted tavern; these public edifices possessing what in modern
times are thought the true fountains of political inspiration. The ancient
Germans deliberated upon a matter when drunk, and reconsidered it when
sober. Mob politicians in modern times dislike to have two minds upon a
subject, so they both deliberate and act when drunk; by this means a world
of delay is spared; and as it is universally allowed that a man when drunk
sees double, it follows conclusively that he sees twice as well as his
sober neighbors.


Wilhelmus Kieft, as has already been observed, was a great legislator on a
small scale, and had a microscopic eye in public affairs. He had been
greatly annoyed by the facetious meetings of the good people of New
Amsterdam, but observing that on these occasions the pipe was ever in
their mouth, he began to think that the pipe was at the bottom of the
affair, and that there was some mysterious affinity between politics and
tobacco smoke. Determined to strike at the root of the evil, he began
forthwith to rail at tobacco as a noxious, nauseous weed, filthy in all
its uses; and as to smoking, he denounced it as a heavy tax upon the
public pocket, a vast consumer of time, a great encourager of idleness,
and a deadly bane to the prosperity and morals of the people. Finally, he
issued an edict, prohibiting the smoking of tobacco throughout the New
Netherlands. Ill-fated Kieft! Had he lived in the present age, and
attempted to check the unbounded license of the press, he could not have
struck more sorely upon the sensibilities of the million. The pipe, in
fact, was the great organ of reflection and deliberation of the New
Netherlander. It was his constant companion and solace--was he gay, he
smoked: was he sad, he smoked; his pipe was never out of his mouth; it was
a part of his physiognomy; without it, his best friends would not know
him. Take away his pipe? You might as well take away his nose!

The immediate effect of the edict of William the Testy was a popular
commotion. A vast multitude, armed with pipes and tobacco-boxes, and an
immense supply of ammunition, sat themselves down before the governor's
house, and fell to smoking with tremendous violence. The testy William
issued forth like a wrathful spider, demanding the reason of this lawless
fumigation. The sturdy rioters replied by lolling back in their seats, and
puffing away with redoubled fury, raising such a murky cloud that the
governor was fain to take refuge in the interior of his castle.

A long negotiation ensued through the medium of Anthony the Trumpeter. The
governor was at first wrathful and unyielding, but was gradually smoked
into terms. He concluded by permitting the smoking of tobacco, but he
abolished the fair long pipes used in the days of Wouter Van Twiller,
denoting ease, tranquillity, and sobriety of deportment; these he
condemned as incompatible with the despatch of business; in place whereof
he substituted little captious short pipes, two inches in length, which,
he observed, could be stuck in one corner of the mouth, or twisted in the
hatband, and would never be in the way. Thus ended this alarming
insurrection, which was long known by the name of the Pipe Plot, and
which, it has been somewhat quaintly observed, did end, like most plots
and seditions, in mere smoke.

But mark, O reader! the deplorable evils which did afterward result. The
smoke of these villainous little pipes, continually ascending in a cloud
about the nose, penetrated into and befogged the cerebellum, dried up all
the kindly moisture of the brain, and rendered the people who used them as
vaporish and testy as the governor himself. Nay, what is worse, from
being goodly, burly, sleek-conditioned men, they became, like our Dutch
yeomanry who smoke short pipes, a lantern-jawed, smoke-dried,
leather-hided race.

Nor was this all. From this fatal schism in tobacco pipes we may date the
rise of parties in the Nieuw Nederlandts. The rich and self-important
burghers who had made their fortunes, and could afford to be lazy, adhered
to the ancient fashion, and formed a kind of aristocracy known as the Long
Pipes; while the lower order, adopting the reform of William Kieft as more
convenient in their handicraft employments, were branded with the plebeian
name of Short Pipes.

A third party sprang up, headed by the descendants of Robert Chewit, the
companion of the great Hudson. These discarded pipes altogether, and took
up chewing tobacco; hence they were called Quids; an appellation since
given to those political mongrels which sometimes spring up between two
great parties, as a mule is produced between a horse and an ass.

And here I would note the great benefit of party distinctions in saving
the people at large the trouble of thinking. Hesiod divides mankind into
three classes--those who think for themselves, those who think as others
think, and those who do not think at all. The second class comprises the
great mass of society; for most people require a set creed and a
file-leader. Hence the origin of party, which means a large body of
people, some few of whom think, and all the rest talk. The former take the
lead and discipline the latter, prescribing what they must say, what they
must approve, what they must hoot at, whom they must support, but, above
all, whom they must hate; for no one can be a right good partisan who is
not a thoroughgoing hater.

The enlightened inhabitants of the Manhattoes, therefore, being divided
into parties, were enabled to hate each other with great accuracy. And
now the great business of politics went bravely on, the Long Pipes and
Short Pipes assemblings in separate beer-houses, and smoking at each
other with implacable vehemence, to the great support of the state and
profit of the tavern-keepers. Some, indeed, went so far as to bespatter
their adversaries with those odoriferous little words which smell so
strong in the Dutch language; believing, like true politicians, that they
served their party and glorified themselves in proportion as they bewrayed
their neighbors. But, however they might differ among themselves, all
parties agreed in abusing the governor, seeing that he was not a governor
of their choice, but appointed by others to rule over them.

Unhappy William Kieft! exclaims the sage writer of the Stuyvesant
manuscript, doomed to contend with enemies too knowing to be entrapped,
and to reign over a people too wise to be governed. All his foreign
expeditions were baffled and set at naught by the all-pervading Yankees;
all his home measures were canvassed and condemned by "numerous and
respectable meetings" of pot-house politicians.

In the multitude of counsellors, we are told, there is safety; but the
multitude of counsellors was a continual source of perplexity to William
Kieft. With a temperament as hot as an old radish, and a mind subject to
perpetual whirlwinds and tornadoes, he never failed to get into a passion
with every one who undertook to advise him. I have observed, however, that
your passionate little men, like small boats with large sails, are easily
upset or blown out of their course; so was it with William the Testy, who
was prone to be carried away by the last piece of advice blown into his
ear. The consequence was that though a projector of the first class, yet,
by continually changing his projects, he gave none a fair trial; and by
endeavoring to do everything, he, in sober truth, did nothing.

In the meantime the sovereign people, having got into the saddle, showed
themselves, as usual, unmerciful riders; spurring on the little governor
with harangues and petitions, and thwarting him with memorials and
reproaches, in much the same way as holiday apprentices manage an unlucky
devil of a hack-horse; so that Wilhelmus Kieft was kept at a worry or a
gallop throughout the whole of his administration.


If we could but get a peep at the tally of Dame Fortune, where like a
vigilant landlady she chalks up the debtor and creditor accounts of
thoughtless mortals, we should find that every good is checked off by an
evil; and that however we may apparently revel scot-free for a season, the
time will come when we must ruefully pay off the reckoning. Fortune, in
fact, is a pestilent shrew, and, withal, an inexorable creditor; and
though for a time she may be all smiles and courtesies, and indulge us in
long credits, yet sooner or later she brings up her arrears with a
vengeance, and washes out her scores with our tears. "Since," says good
old Boethius, "no man can retain her at his pleasure, what are her favors
but sure prognostications of approaching trouble and calamity?"

This is the fundamental maxim of that sage school of philosophers, the
Croakers, who esteem it true wisdom to doubt and despond when other men
rejoice, well knowing that happiness is at best but transient; that the
higher one is elevated on the see-saw balance of fortune, the lower must
be his subsequent depression; that he who is on the uppermost round of a
ladder has most to suffer from a fall, while he who is at the bottom runs
very little risk of breaking his neck by tumbling to the top.

Philosophical readers of this stamp must have doubtless indulged in
dismal forebodings all through the tranquil reign of Walter the Doubter,
and considered it what Dutch seamen call a weather-breeder. They will not
be surprised, therefore, that the foul weather which gathered during his
days should now be rattling from all quarters on the head of William the

The origin of some of these troubles may be traced quite back to the
discoveries and annexations of Hans Reinier Oothout, the explorer, and
Wynant Ten Breeches, the land-measurer, made in the twilight days of
Oloffe the Dreamer, by which the territories of the Nieuw Nederlandts were
carried far to the south, to Delaware River and parts beyond. The
consequence was many disputes and brawls with the Indians, which now and
then reached the drowsy ears of Walter the Doubter and his council, like
the muttering of distant thunder from behind the mountains, without,
however, disturbing their repose. It was not till the time of William the
Testy that the thunderbolt reached the Manhattoes. While the little
governor was diligently protecting his eastern boundaries from the
Yankees, word was brought him of the irruption of a vagrant colony of
Swedes in the South, who had landed on the banks of the Delaware, and
displayed the banner of that redoubtable virago Queen Christina, and taken
possession of the country in her name. These had been guided in their
expedition by one Peter Minuits or Minnewits, a renegade Dutchman,
formerly in the service of their High Mightinesses; but who now declared
himself governor of all the surrounding country, to which was given the
name of the province of New Sweden.

It is an old saying, that "a little pot is soon hot," which was the case
with William the Testy. Being a little man, he was soon in a passion, and
once in a passion he soon boiled over. Summoning his council on the
receipt of this news, he belabored the Swedes in the longest speech that
had been heard in the colony since the wordy warfare of Ten Breeches and
Tough Breeches. Having thus taken off the fire-edge of his valor, he
resorted to his favorite measure of proclamation, and despatched a
document of the kind, ordering the renegade Minnewits and his gang of
Swedish vagabonds to leave the country immediately, under pain of
vengeance of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, and of the
potentates of the Manhattoes.

This strong measure was not a whit more effectual than its predecessors
which had been thundered against the Yankees, and William Kieft was
preparing to follow it up with something still more formidable, when he
received intelligence of other invaders on his southern frontier, who had
taken possession of the banks of the Schuylkill, and built a fort there.
They were represented as a gigantic, gunpowder race of men, exceedingly
expert at boxing, biting, gouging, and other branches of the
rough-and-tumble mode of warfare, which they had learned from their
prototypes and cousins-german the Virginians, to whom they have ever borne
considerable resemblance. Like them, too, they were great roisterers, much
given to revel on hoe-cake and bacon, mint-julep and apple toddy; whence
their newly formed colony had already acquired the name of Merryland,
which, with a slight modification, it retains to the present day.

In fact, the Merrylanders and their cousins, the Virginians, were
represented to William Kieft as offsets from the same original stock as
his bitter enemies the Yanokie, or Yankee, tribes of the east; having both
come over to this country for the liberty of conscience, or, in other
words, to live as they pleased; the Yankees taking to praying and
money-making and converting Quakers, and the Southerners to horse-racing
and cock-fighting and breeding negroes.

Against these new invaders Wilhelmus Kieft immediately despatched a naval
armament of two sloops and thirty men, under Jan Jansen Alpendam, who was
armed to the very teeth with one of the little governor's most powerful
speeches, written in vigorous Low Dutch.

Admiral Alpendam arrived without accident in the Schuylkill, and came upon
the enemy just as they were engaged in a great "barbecue," a king of
festivity or carouse much practised in Merryland. Opening upon them with
the speech of William the Testy, he denounced them as a pack of lazy,
canting, julep-tippling, cock-fighting, horse-racing, slave-driving,
tavern-haunting, Sabbath-breaking, mulatto-breeding upstarts: and
concluded by ordering them to evacuate the country immediately; to which
they laconically replied in plain English, "They'd see him d----d first!"

Now this was a reply on which neither Jan Jansen Alpendam nor Wilhelmus
Kieft had made any calculation. Finding himself, therefore, totally
unprepared to answer so terrible a rebuff with suitable hostility, the
admiral concluded his wisest course would be to return home and report
progress. He accordingly steered his course back to New Amsterdam, where
he arrived safe, having accomplished this hazardous enterprise at small
expense of treasure, and no loss of life. His saving policy gained him the
universal appellation of the Savior of his Country, and his services were
suitably rewarded by a shingle monument, erected by subscription on the
top of Flattenbarrack Hill, where it immortalized his name for three whole
years, when it fell to pieces and was burnt for firewood.


About this time, the testy little governor of the New Netherlands appears
to have had his hands full, and with one annoyance and the other to have
been kept continually on the bounce. He was on the very point of following
up the expedition of Jan Jansen Alpendam by some belligerent measures
against the marauders of Merryland, when his attention was suddenly called
away by belligerent troubles springing up in another quarter, the seeds of
which had been sown in the tranquil days of Walter the Doubter.

The reader will recollect the deep doubt into which that most pacific
governor was thrown on Killian Van Rensellaer's taking possession of Bearn
Island by _wapen recht_. While the governor doubted and did nothing, the
lordly Killian went on to complete his sturdy little castellum of
Rensellaersteen, and to garrison it with a number of his tenants from the
Helderberg, a mountain region famous for the hardest heads and hardest
fists in the province. Nicholas Koorn, a faithful squire of the patroon,
accustomed to strut at his heels, wear his cast-off clothes, and imitate
his lofty bearing, was established in this post as wacht-meester. His duty
it was to keep an eye on the river, and oblige every vessel that passed,
unless on the service of their High Mightinesses, to strike its flag,
lower its peak, and pay toll to the Lord of Rensellaersteen.

This assumption of sovereign authority within the territories of the Lords
States General, however it might have been tolerated by Walter the
Doubter, had been sharply contested by William the Testy, on coming into
office and many written remonstrances had been addressed by him to Killian
Van Rensellaer, to which the latter never deigned a reply. Thus by degrees
a sore place, or, in Hibernian parlance, a raw, had been established in
the irritable soul of the little governor, insomuch that he winced at the
very name of Rensellaersteen.

Now it came to pass that, on a fine sunny day, the company's yacht, the
Half Moon, having been on one of its stated visits to Fort Aurania, was
quietly tiding it down the Hudson; the commander, Govert Lockerman, a
veteran Dutch skipper of few words but great bottom, was seated on the
high poop, quietly smoking his pipe, under the shadow of the proud flag
of Orange, when, on arriving abreast of Bearn Island, he was saluted by a
stentorian voice from the shore, "Lower thy flag, and be d----d to thee!"

Govert Lockerman, without taking his pipe out of his mouth, turned up his
eye from under his broad-brimmed hat to see who hailed him thus
discourteously. There, on the ramparts of the forts, stood Nicholas Koorn,
armed to the teeth, flourishing a brass-hilted sword, while a
steeple-crowned hat and cock's tail-feather, formerly worn by Killian Van
Rensellaer himself, gave an inexpressible loftiness to his demeanor.

Govert Lockerman eyed the warrior from top to toe, but was not to be
dismayed. Taking the pipe slowly out of his mouth, "To whom should I lower
my flag?" demanded he. "To the high and mighty Killian Van Rensellaer, the
lord of Rensellaersteen!" was the reply.

"I lower it to none but the Prince Orange and my masters, the Lords States
General." So saying, he resumed his pipe and smoked with an air of dogged

Bang! went a gun from the fortress; the ball cut both sail and rigging.
Govert Lockerman said nothing, but smoked the more doggedly.

Bang! went another gun; the shot whistling close astern.

"Fire, and be d----d," cried Govert Lockerman, cramming a new charge of
tobacco into his pipe, and smoking with still increasing vehemence.

Bang! went a third gun. The shot passed over his head, tearing a hole in
the "princely flag of Orange."

This was the hardest trial of all for the pride and patience of Govert
Lockerman; he maintained a stubborn though swelling silence, but his
smothered rage might be perceived by the short vehement puffs of smoke
emitted from his pipe, by which he might be tracked for miles, as he
slowly floated out of shot and out of sight of Bearn Island. In fact, he
never gave vent to his passion until he got fairly among the Highlands of
the Hudson, when he let fly whole volleys of Dutch oaths, which are said
to linger to this very day among the echoes of the Dunderberg, and to give
particular effect to the thunder-storms in that neighborhood.

It was the sudden apparition of Govert Lockerman at Dog's Misery, bearing
in his hand the tattered flag of Orange, that arrested the attention of
William the Testy, just as he was devising a new expedition against the
marauders of Merryland. I will not pretend to describe the passion of the
little man when he heard of the outrage of Rensellaersteen. Suffice it to
say, in the first transports of his fury, he turned Dog's Misery
topsy-turvy, kicked every cur out of doors, and threw the cats out of the
window; after which, his spleen being in some measure relieved, he went
into a council of war with Govert Lockerman, the skipper, assisted by
Anthony Van Corlear, the trumpeter.


The eyes of all New Amsterdam were now turned to see what would be the end
of this direful feud between William the Testy and the patron of
Rensellaerwick; and some, observing the consultations of the governor with
the skipper and the trumpeter, predicted warlike measures by sea and land.
The wrath of William Kieft, however, though quick to rise, was quick to
evaporate. He was a perfect brush-heap in a blaze, snapping and crackling
for a time, and then ending in smoke. Like many other valiant potentates,
his first thoughts were all for war, his sober second thoughts for

Accordingly Govert Lockerman was once more despatched up the river in the
company's yacht, the Goed Hoop, bearing Anthony the Trumpeter as
ambassador, to treat with the belligerent powers of Rensellaersteen. In
the fulness of time the yacht arrived before Bearn Island, and Anthony the
Trumpeter, mounting the poop, sounded a parly to the forces. In a little
while the steeple-crowned hat of Nicholas Koorn, the wacht-meester, rose
above the battlements, followed by his iron visage, and ultimately his
whole person, armed, as before, to the very teeth; while one by one a
whole row of Helderbergers reared their round burly heads above the wall,
and beside each pumpkin-head peered the end of a rusty musket. Nothing
daunted by this formidable array, Anthony Van Corlear drew forth and read
with audible voice a missive from William the Testy, protesting against
the usurpation of Bearn Island, and ordering the garrison to quit the
premises, bag and baggage, on pain of the vengeance of the potentate of
the Manhattoes.

In reply, the wacht-meester applied the thumb of his right hand to the end
of his nose, and the thumb of the left hand to the little finger of the
right, and spreading each hand like a fan, made an aerial flourish with
his fingers. Anthony Van Corlear was sorely perplexed to understand this
sign, which seemed to him something mysterious and masonic. Not liking to
betray his ignorance, he again read with a loud voice the missive of
William the Testy, and again Nicholas Koorn applied the thumb of his right
hand to the end of his nose, and the thumb of his left hand to the little
finger of the right, and repeated this kind of nasal weathercock. Anthony
Van Corlear now persuaded himself that this was some short-hand sign or
symbol, current in diplomacy, which, though unintelligible to a new
diplomat like himself, would speak volumes to the experienced intellect of
William the Testy. Considering his embassy therefore at an end, he sounded
his trumpet with great complacency, and set sail on his return down the
river, every now and then practising this mysterious sign of the
wacht-meester, to keep it accurately in mind.

Arrived at New Amsterdam, he made a faithful report of his embassy to the
governor, accompanied by a manual exhibition of the response of Nicholas
Koorn. The governor was equally perplexed with his ambassador. He was
deeply versed in the mysteries of freemasonry, but they threw no light on
the matter. He knew ever variety of windmill and weathercock, but was not
a whit the wiser as to the aerial sign in question. He had even dabbled in
Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the mystic symbols of the obelisk, but none
furnished a key to the reply of Nicholas Koorn. He called a meeting of his
council. Anthony Van Corlear stood forth in the midst, and putting the
thumb of his right hand to his nose, and the thumb of his left hand to the
finger of the right, he gave a faithful fac-simile of the portentous sign.
Having a nose of unusual dimensions, it was as if the reply had been put
in capitals, but all in vain, the worthy burgomasters were equally
perplexed with the governor. Each one put his thumb to the end of his
nose, spread his fingers like a fan, imitated the motion of Anthony Van
Corlear, then smoked on in dubious silence. Several times was Anthony
obliged to stand forth like a fugleman and repeat the sign, and each time
a circle of nasal weathercocks might be seen in the council chamber.

Perplexed in the extreme, William the Testy sent for all the soothsayers
and fortune tellers and wise men of the Manhattoes, but none could
interpret the mysterious reply of Nicholas Koorn. The council broke up in
sore perplexity. The matter got abroad; Anthony Van Corlear was stopped at
every corner to repeat the signal to a knot of anxious newsmongers, each
of whom departed with his thumb to his nose and his fingers in the air, to
carry the story home of his family. For several days all business was
neglected in New Amsterdam; nothing was talked of but the diplomatic
mission of Anthony the Trumpeter, nothing was to be seen but knots of
politicians with their thumbs to their noses. In the meantime the fierce
feud between William the Testy and Killian Van Rensellaer, which at first
had menaced deadly warfare, gradually cooled off, like many other war
questions, in the prolonged delays of diplomacy.

Still, to this early affair of Rensellaersteen may be traced the remote
origin of those windy wars in modern days which rage in the bowels of the
Helderberg, and have well nigh shaken the great patroonship of the Van
Rensellaers to its foundation: for we are told that the bully boys of the
Helderberg, who served under Nicholas Koorn, the wacht-meester, carried
back to their mountains the hieroglyphic sign which had so sorely puzzled
Anthony Van Corlear and the sages of the Manhattoes; so that to the
present day, the thumb to the nose and the fingers in the air is apt to be
the reply of the Helderbergers whenever called upon for any long arrears
of rent.


It was asserted by the wise men of ancient times who had a nearer
opportunity of ascertaining the fact, that at the gate of Jupiter's palace
lay two huge tuns, one filled with blessings, the other with misfortunes;
and it would verily seem as if the latter had been completely overturned,
and left to deluge the unlucky province of Nieuw Nederlandts; for about
this time, while harassed and annoyed from the south and the north,
incessant forays were made by the border chivalry of Connecticut upon the
pig-sties and hen-roosts of the Nederlanders. Every day or two some
broad-bottomed express rider, covered with mud and mire, would come
floundering into the gate of New Amsterdam, freighted with some new tale
of aggression from the frontier; whereupon Anthony Van Corlear, seizing
his trumpet, the only substitute for a newspaper in those primitive days,
would sound the tidings from the ramparts with such doleful notes and
disastrous cadence, as to throw half the old women in the city into
hysterics; all which tended greatly to increase his popularity, there
being nothing for which the public are more grateful than being frequently
treated to a panic--a secret well known to modern editors.

But oh, ye powers! into what a paroxysm of passion did each new outrage of
the Yankees throw the choleric little governor! Letter after letter,
protest after protest, bad Latin, worse English, and hideous Low Dutch,
were incessantly fulminated upon them, and the four-and-twenty letters of
the alphabet, which formed his standing army, were worn out by constant
campaigning. All, however, was ineffectual; even the recent victory at
Oyster Bay, which had shed such a gleam of sunshine between the clouds of
his foul weather reign, was soon followed by a more fearful gathering up
of those clouds and indications of more portentous tempests; for the
Yankee tribe on the banks of the Connecticut, finding on this memorable
occasion their incompetency to cope in fair fight with the sturdy chivalry
of the Manhattoes, had called to their aid all the ten tribes of their
brethren who inhabit the east country, which from them has derived the
name of Yankee land. This call was promptly responded to. The consequence
was a great confederacy of the tribes of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New
Plymouth, and New Haven, under the title of the "United Colonies of New
England;" the pretended object of which was mutual defense against the
savages, but the real object the subjugation of the Nieuw Nederlandts.

For, to let the reader into one of the greatest secrets of history, the
Nieuw Nederlandts had long been regarded by the whole Yankee race as the
modern land of promise, and themselves as the chosen and peculiar people
destined, one day or other, by hook or by crook, to get possession of it.
In truth, they are a wonderful and all-prevalent people; of that class who
only require an inch to gain an ell; or a halter to gain a horse. From the
time they first gained a foothold on Plymouth Rock, they began to migrate,
progressing and progressing from place to place, and land to land, making
a little here and a little there, and controverting the old proverb, that
a rolling stone gathers no moss. Hence they have facetiously received the
nickname of "The Pilgrims," that is to say, a people who are always
seeking a better country than their own.

The tidings of this great Yankee league struck William Kieft with dismay,
and for once in his life he forgot to bounce on receiving a disagreeable
piece of intelligence. In fact, on turning over in his mind all that he
had read at the Hague about leagues and combinations, he found that this
was a counterpart of the Amphictyonic League, by which the states of
Greece attained such power and supremacy; and the very idea made his heart
quake for the safety of his empire at the Manhattoes.

The affairs of the confederacy were managed by an annual council of
delegates held at Boston, which Kieft denominated the Delphos of this
truly classic league. The very first meeting gave evidence of hostility to
the New Nederlanders, who were charged, in their dealings with the
Indians, with carrying on a traffic in "guns, powther, and shott--a trade
damnable and injurious to the colonists." It is true the Connecticut
traders were fain to dabble a little in this damnable traffic; but then
they always dealt in what were termed Yankee guns, ingeniously calculated
to burst in the pagan hands which used them.

The rise of this potent confederacy was a death-blow to the glory of
William the Testy, for from that day forward he never held up his head,
but appeared quite crestfallen. It is true, as the grand council augmented
in power, and the league, rolling onward, gathered about the red hills of
New Haven, threatening to overwhelm the Nieuw Nederlandts, he continued
occasionally to fulminate proclamations and protests, as a shrewd sea
captain fires his guns into a water spout, but, alas! they had no more
effect than so many blank cartridges.

Thus end the authenticated chronicles of the reign of William the Testy,
for henceforth, in the troubles, perplexities, and confusion of the times,
he seems to have been totally overlooked, and to have slipped for ever
through the fingers of scrupulous history. It is a matter of deep concern
that such obscurity should hang over his latter days; for he was in truth
a mighty and great little man, and worthy of being utterly renowned,
seeing that he was the first potentate that introduced into this land the
art of fighting by proclamation, and defending a country by trumpeters and

It is true that certain of the early provincial poets, of whom there were
great numbers in the Nieuw Nederlandts, taking advantage of his mysterious
exit, have fabled that, like Romulus, he was translated to the skies, and
forms a very fiery little star, somewhere on the left claw of the crab;
while others, equally fanciful, declare that he had experienced a fate
similar to that of the good King Arthur, who, we are assured by ancient
bards, was carried away to the delicious abodes of fairyland, where he
still exists in pristine worth and vigor, and will one day or another
return to restore the gallantry, the honor, and the immaculate probity,
which prevailed in the glorious days of the Round Table.[37]

All these, however, are but pleasing fantasies, the cobweb visions of
those dreaming varlets the poets, to which I would not have my judicious
reader attach any credibility. Neither am I disposed to credit an ancient
and rather apocryphal historian, who asserts that the ingenious Wilhelmus
was annihilated by the blowing down of one of his windmills, nor a writer
of later times, who affirms that he fell a victim to an experiment in
natural history, having the misfortune to break his neck from a garret
window of the stadthouse in attempting to catch swallows by sprinkling
salt upon their tails. Still less do I put my faith in the tradition that
he perished at sea in conveying home to Holland a treasure of golden ore,
discovered somewhere among the haunted regions of the Catskill

The most probable account declares, that what with the constant troubles
on his frontiers--the incessant schemings and projects going on in his own
pericranium--the memorials, petitions, remonstrances, and sage pieces of
advice of respectable meetings of the sovereign people, and the refractory
disposition of his councillors, who were sure to differ from him on every
point, and uniformly to be in the wrong--his mind was kept in a furnace
heat, until he became as completely burnt out as a Dutch family pipe which
has passed through three generations of hard smokers. In this manner did
he undergo a kind of animal combustion consuming away like a farthing
rushlight, so that when grim Death finally snuffed him out, there was
scarcely left enough of him to bury!


   [37] "The old Welsh bards believed that King Arthur was not dead,
        but carried awaie by the fairies into some pleasant place, where
        he sholde remaine for a time, and then returne againe and reigne
        in as great authority as ever."--_Holinshed_.

        "The Britons suppose that he shall come yet and conquere all
        Britaigne; for, certes, this is the prophicye of Merlyn--He say'd
        that his deth shall be doubteous; and said soth, for men thereof
        yet have doubte and shullen for evermore, for men wyt not whether
        that he lyveth or is dede."--_De Leew Chron_.

   [38] Diedrich Knickerbocker, in his scrupulous search after
        truth, is sometimes too fastidious in regard to facts which
        border a little on the marvelous. The story of the golden ore
        rests on something better than mere tradition. The venerable
        Adrian Van der Donck, Doctor of Laws, in his description of the
        New Netherlands, asserts it from his own observation as an
        eye-witness. He was present, he says, in 1645, at a treaty
        between Governor Kieft and the Mohawk Indians, in which one of
        the latter, in painting himself for the ceremony, used a pigment,
        the weight and shining appearance of which excited the curiosity
        of the governor and Mynheer Van der Donck. They obtained a lump
        and gave it to be proved by a skillful doctor of medicine,
        Johannes de la Montagne, one of the councillors of the New
        Netherlands. It was put into a crucible, and yielded two pieces
        of gold worth about three guilders. All this, continues Adrian
        Van der Donck, was kept secret. As soon as peace was made with
        the Mohawks, an officer and a few men were sent to the mountain,
        in the region of the Kaatskill, under the guidance of an Indian,
        to search for the precious mineral. They brought back a bucketful
        of ore, which, being submitted to the crucible, proved as
        productive as the first. William Kieft now thought the discovery
        certain. He sent a confidential person, Arent Corsen, with a
        bagful of the mineral to New Haven, to take passage in an English
        ship for England, thence to proceed to Holland. The vessel sailed
        at Christmas, but never reached her port. All on board

        In the year 1647, Wilhelmus Kieft himself embarked on board the
        _Princess_, taking with him specimens of the supposed mineral.
        The ship was never heard of more!

        Some have supposed that the mineral in question was not gold, but
        pyrites; but we have the assertion of Adrian Van der Donck, an
        eye-witness, and the experiment of Johannes de la Montagne, a
        learned doctor of medicine, on the golden side of the question.
        Cornelius Van Tienhooven, also, at that time secretary of the New
        Netherlands, declared, in Holland, that he had tested several
        specimens of the mineral, which proved satisfactory. It would
        appear, however, that these golden treasures of the Kaatskill
        always brought ill luck; as is evidenced in the fate of Arent
        Corsen and Wilhelmus Kieft, and the wreck of the ships in which
        they attempted to convey the treasure across the ocean. The
        golden mines have never since been explored, but remain among the
        mysteries of the Kaatskill mountains, and under the protection of
        the goblins which haunt them.

        [A] See Van der Donck's description of the New Netherlands,
            Collect. New York Hist. Society, vol. i., p. 161.




To a profound philosopher like myself, who am apt to see clear through a
subject, where the penetration of ordinary people extends but half way,
there is no fact more simple and manifest than that the death of a great
man is a matter of very little importance. Much as we may think of
ourselves, and much as we may excite the empty plaudits of the million, it
is certain that the greatest among us do actually fill but an exceedingly
small space in the world; and it is equally certain, that even that small
space is quickly supplied when we leave it vacant. "Of what consequence is
it," said Pliny, "that individuals appear, or make their exit? the world
is a theater whose scenes and actors are continually changing." Never did
philosopher speak more correctly, and I only wonder that so wise a remark
could have existed so many ages, and mankind not have laid it more to
heart. Sage follows on in the footsteps of sage; one hero just steps out
of his triumphal car, to make way for the hero who comes after him; and of
the proudest monarch it is merely said that, "he slept with his fathers,
and his successor reigned in his stead."

The world, to tell the private truth, cares but little for their loss,
and, if left to itself, would soon forget to grieve; and though a nation
has often been figuratively drowned in tears on the death of a great man,
yet it is ten to one if an individual tear has been shed on the occasion,
excepting from the forlorn pen of some hungry author. It is the historian,
the biographer, and the poet, who have the whole burden of grief to
sustain; who, kind souls! like undertakers in England, act the part of
chief mourners; who inflate a nation with sighs it never heaved, and
deluge it with tears it never dreamt of shedding. Thus, while the
patriotic author is weeping and howling in prose, in blank verse, and in
rhyme, and collecting the drops of public sorrow into his volume, as into
a lachrymal vase, it is more than probable his fellow-citizens are eating
and drinking, fiddling and dancing, as utterly ignorant of the bitter
lamentations made in their name as are those men of straw, John Doe and
Richard Roe, of the plaintiffs for whom they are generously pleased to
become sureties.

The most glorious hero that ever desolated nations might have mouldered
into oblivion among the rubbish of his own monument, did not some
historian take him into favor, and benevolently transmit his name to
posterity; and much as the valiant William Kieft worried, and bustled, and
turmoiled, while he had the destinies of a whole colony in his hand, I
question seriously whether he will not be obliged to this authentic
history for all his future celebrity.

His exit occasioned no convulsion in the city of New Amsterdam nor its
vicinity; the earth trembled not, neither did any stars shoot from their
spheres; the heavens were not shrouded in black, as poets would fain
persuade us they have been, on the death of a hero; the rocks
(hard-hearted varlets!) melted not into tears, nor did the trees hang
their heads in silent sorrow; and as to the sun, he lay abed the next
night just as long, and showed as jolly a face when he rose, as he ever
did, on the same day of the month in any year, either before or since. The
good people of New Amsterdam, one and all, declared that he had been a
very busy, active, bustling little governor; that he was "the father of
his country;" that he was "the noblest work of God;" that "he was a man,
take him for all in all, they ne'er should look upon his like again;"
together with sundry other civil and affectionate speeches, regularly said
on the death of all great men; after which they smoked their pipes,
thought no more about him, and Peter Stuyvesant succeeded to his station.

Peter Stuyvesant was the last, and, like the renowned Wouter Van Twiller,
the best of our ancient Dutch governors; Wouter having surpassed all who
preceded him, and Pieter, or Piet, as he was sociably called by the old
Dutch burghers, who were ever prone to familiarize names, having never
been equalled by any successor. He was, in fact, the very man fitted by
Nature to retrieve the desperate fortunes of her beloved province, had not
the Fates, those most potent and unrelenting of all ancient spinsters,
destined them to inextricable confusion.

To say merely that he was a hero would be doing him great injustice; he
was, in truth, a combination of heroes; for he was of a sturdy, raw-boned
make, like Ajax Telamon, with a pair of round shoulders that Hercules
would have given his hide for (meaning his lion's hide) when he undertook
to ease old Atlas of his load. He was, moreover, as Plutarch describes
Coriolanus, not only terrible for the force of his arm, but likewise for
his voice, which sounded as though it came out of a barrel; and, like the
self-same warrior, he possessed a sovereign contempt for the sovereign
people, and an iron aspect, which was enough of itself to make the very
bowels of his adversaries quake with terror and dismay. All this martial
excellency of appearance was inexpressibly heightened by an accidental
advantage, with which I am surprised that neither Homer nor Virgil have
graced any of their heroes.

This was nothing less than a wooden leg, which was the only prize he had
gained in bravely fighting the battles of his country, but of which he was
so proud, that he was often heard to declare he valued it more than all
his other limbs put together; indeed, so highly did he esteem it, that he
had it gallantly enchased and relieved with silver devices, which caused
it to be related in divers histories and legends that he wore a silver

Like that choleric warrior Achilles, he was somewhat subject to extempore
bursts of passion, which were rather unpleasant to his favorites and
attendants, whose perceptions he was apt to quicken after the manner of
his illustrious imitator, Peter the Great, by anointing their shoulders
with his walking staff.

Though I cannot find that he had read Plato, or Aristotle, or Hobbes, or
Bacon, or Algernon Sydney, or Tom Paine, yet did he sometimes manifest a
shrewdness and sagacity in his measures that one would hardly expect from
a man who did not know Greek and had never studied the ancients. True it
is, and I confess it with sorrow, that he had an unreasonable aversion to
experiments, and was fond of governing his province after the simplest
manner; but then he contrived to keep it in better order than did the
erudite Kieft, though he had all the philosophers, ancient and modern, to
assist and perplex him. I must likewise own that he made but very few
laws, but then again he took care that those few were rigidly and
impartially enforced; and I do not know but justice, on the whole, was as
well administered as if there had been volumes of sage acts and statutes
yearly made, and daily neglected and forgotten.

He was, in fact, the very reverse of his predecessors, being neither
tranquil and inert, like Walter the Doubter, nor restless and fidgeting,
like William the Testy; but a man, or rather a governor, of such uncommon
activity and decision of mind, that he never sought nor accepted the
advice of others, depending bravely upon his single head, as would a hero
of yore upon his single arm, to carry him through all difficulties and
dangers. To tell the simple truth, he wanted nothing more to complete him
as a statesman than to think always right, for no one can say but that he
always acted as he thought. He was never a man to flinch when he found
himself in a scrape, but to dash forward through thick and thin, trusting,
by hook or by crook, to make all things straight in the end. In a word, he
possessed in an eminent degree that great quality in a statesman, called
perseverance by the polite, but nicknamed obstinacy by the vulgar. A
wonderful salve for official blunders; since he who perseveres in error
without flinching gets the credit of boldness and consistency, while he
who wavers, in seeking to do what is right, gets stigmatised as a trimmer.
This much is certain, and it is a maxim well worthy the attention of all
legislators great and small, who stand shaking in the wind, irresolute
which way to steer, that a ruler who follows his own will pleases himself,
while he who seeks to satisfy the wishes and whims of others runs great
risk of pleasing nobody. There is nothing, too, like putting down one's
foot resolutely when in doubt, and letting things take their course. The
clock that stands still points right twice in the four-and-twenty hours,
while others may keep going continually, and be continually going wrong.

Nor did this magnanimous quality escape the discernment of the good people
of Nieuw Nederlandts; on the contrary, so much were they struck with the
independent will and vigorous resolution displayed on all occasions by
their new governor, that they universally called him Hard Koppig Piet, or
Peter the Headstrong, a great compliment to the strength of his

If, from all that I have said, thou dost not gather, worthy reader, that
Peter Stuyvesant was a tough, sturdy, valiant, weather-beaten, mettlesome,
obstinate, leathern-sided, lion-hearted, generous-spirited old governor,
either I have written to but little purpose, or thou art very dull at
drawing conclusions.

This most excellent governor commenced his administration on the 29th of
May, 1647; a remarkably stormy day, distinguished in all the almanacks of
the time which have come down to us by the name of "Windy Friday." As he
was very jealous of his personal and official dignity, he was inaugurated
into office with great ceremony, the goodly oaken chair of the renowned
Wouter Van Twiller being carefully preserved for such occasions, in like
manner as the chair and stone were reverentially preserved at Scone, in
Scotland, for the coronation of the Caledonian monarchs.

I must not omit to mention that the tempestuous state of the elements,
together with its being that unlucky day of the week termed "hanging day,"
did not fail to excite much grave speculation and divers very reasonable
apprehensions among the more ancient and enlightened inhabitants; and
several of the sager sex, who were reputed to be not a little skilled in
the mysteries of astrology and fortune-telling, did declare outright that
they were omens of a disastrous administration; an event that came to be
lamentably verified, and which proves beyond dispute the wisdom of
attending to those preternatural intimations furnished by dreams and
visions, the flying of birds, falling of stones, and cackling of geese, on
which the sages and rulers of ancient times placed such reliance; or to
those shootings of stars, eclipses of the moon, howlings of dogs, and
flarings of candles, carefully noted and interpreted by the oracular
Sibyls of our day, who, in my humble opinion, are the legitimate
inheritors and preservers of the ancient science of divination. This much
is certain, that Governor Stuyvesant succeeded to the chair of state at a
turbulent period, when foes thronged and threatened from without, when
anarchy and stiff-necked opposition reigned rampant within; when the
authority of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, though
supported by economy, and defended by speeches, protests, and
proclamations, yet tottered to its very center; and when the great city of
New Amsterdam, though fortified by flag-staffs, trumpeters, and windmills,
seemed, like some fair lady of easy virtue, to lie open to attack, and
ready to yield to the first invader.


   [39] See the histories of Masters Josselyn and Blome.


The very first movements of the great Peter, on taking the reins of
government, displayed his magnanimity, though they occasioned not a little
marvel and uneasiness among the people of the Manhattoes. Finding himself
constantly interrupted by the opposition, and annoyed by the advice of his
privy council, the members of which had acquired the unreasonable habit of
thinking and speaking to themselves during the preceding reign, he
determined at once to put a stop to such grievous abominations. Scarcely,
therefore, had he entered upon his authority, than he turned out of office
all the meddlesome spirits of the factious cabinet of William the Testy;
in place of whom he chose unto himself councillors from those fat,
somniferous, respectable burghers who had flourished and slumbered under
the easy reign of Walter the Doubter. All these he caused to be furnished
with abundance of fair long pipes, and to be regaled with frequent
corporation dinners, admonishing them to smoke, and eat, and sleep for the
good of the nation, while he took the burden of government upon his own
shoulders--an arrangement to which they all gave hearty acquiescence.

Nor did he stop here, but made a hideous rout among the inventions and
expedients of his learned predecessor--rooting up his patent gallows,
where caitiff vagabonds were suspended by the waistband; demolishing his
flag-staffs and windmills, which, like mighty giants, guarded the ramparts
of New Amsterdam; pitching to the Duyvel whole batteries of Quaker guns;
and, in a word, turning topsy-turvy the whole philosophic, economic, and
windmill system of the immortal sage of Saardam.

The honest folk of New Amsterdam began to quake now for the fate of their
matchless champion, Antony the Trumpeter, who had acquired prodigious
favor in the eyes of the women by means of his whiskers and his trumpet.
Him did Peter the Headstrong cause to be brought into his presence, and
eyeing him for a moment from head to foot, with a countenance that would
have appalled anything else than a sounder of brass--"Pr'ythee, who and
what art thou?" said he. "Sire," replied the other, in no wise dismayed,
"for my name, it is Antony Van Corlear--for my parentage, I am the son of
my mother--for my profession, I am champion and garrison of this great
city of New Amsterdam." "I doubt me much," said Peter Stuyvesant, "that
thou art some scurvy costard-monger knave: how didst thou acquire this
paramount honor and dignity?" "Marry, sir," replied the other, "like many
a great man before me, simply by sounding my own trumpet." "Ay, is it so?"
quoth the governor; "why, then, let us have a relish of thy art."
Whereupon the good Antony put his instrument to his lips, and sounded a
charge with such tremendous outset, such a delectable quaver, and such a
triumphant cadence, that it was enough to make one's heart leap out of
one's mouth only to be within a mile of it. Like as a war-worn charger,
grazing in peaceful plains, starts at a strain of martial music, pricks up
his ears, and snorts, and paws, and kindles at the noise, so did the
heroic Peter joy to hear the clangor of the trumpet; for of him might
truly be said, what was recorded of the renowned St. George of England,
"there was nothing in all the world that more rejoiced his heart than to
hear the pleasant sound of war, and see the soldiers brandish forth their
steeled weapons." Casting his eye more kindly, therefore, upon the sturdy
Van Corlear, and finding him to be a jovial varlet, shrewd in his
discourse, yet of great discretion and immeasurable wind, he straightway
conceived a vast kindness for him, and discharging him from the
troublesome duty of garrisoning, defending, and alarming the city, ever
after retained him about his person, as his chief favorite, confidential
envoy, and trusty squire. Instead of disturbing the city with disastrous
notes, he was instructed to play so as to delight the governor while at
his repasts, as did the minstrels of yore in the days of glorious
chivalry; and on all public occasions to rejoice the ears of the people
with warlike melody, thereby keeping alive a noble and martial spirit.

But the measure of the valiant Peter which produced the greatest agitation
in the community was his laying his hand upon the currency. He had
old-fashioned notions in favor of gold and silver, which he considered the
true standards of wealth and mediums of commerce, and one of his first
edicts was that all duties to government should be paid in those precious
metals, and that seawant, or wampum, should no longer be a legal tender.

Here was a blow at public prosperity! All those who speculated on the rise
and fall of this fluctuating currency found their calling at an end;
those, too, who had hoarded Indian money by barrels full, found their
capital shrunk in amount; but, above all, the Yankee traders, who were
accustomed to flood the market with newly-coined oyster-shells, and to
abstract Dutch merchandise in exchange, were loud-mouthed in decrying this
"tampering with the currency." It was clipping the wings of commerce; it
was checking the development of public prosperity; trade would be at an
end; goods would moulder on the shelves; grain would rot in the granaries;
grass would grow in the marketplace. In a word, no one who has not heard
the outcries and howlings of a modern Tarshish, at any check upon "paper
money," can have any idea of the clamor against Peter the Headstrong for
checking the circulation of oyster-shells.

In fact, trade did shrink into narrower channels; but then the stream was
deep as it was broad. The honest Dutchman sold less goods; but then they
got the worth of them, either in silver and gold, or in codfish, tinware,
apple-brandy, Weathersfield onions, wooden bowls, and other articles of
Yankee barter. The ingenious people of the east, however, indemnified
themselves in another way for having to abandon the coinage of
oyster-shells, for about this time we are told that wooden nutmegs made
their first appearance in New Amsterdam, to the great annoyance of the
Dutch housewives.


    From a manuscript record of the province (Lib, N.Y. Hist,
    Soc.).--"We have been unable to render your inhabitants wiser,
    and prevent their being, further imposed upon, than to declare,
    absolutely and peremptorily, that henceforward seawant shall be
    bullion--not longer admissable in trade, without any value, as it
    is indeed. So that every one may be upon his guard to barter no
    longer away his wares and merchandise for these baubles; at least
    not to accept them at a higher rate, or in a larger quantity,
    than as they may want them in their trade with the savages.

    "In this way your English [Yankee] neighbors shall no longer be
    enabled to draw the best wares and merchandise from our country
    for nothing; the beavers and furs not excepted. This has, indeed,
    long since been insufferable; although it ought chiefly to be
    imputed to the imprudent penuriousness of our own merchants and
    inhabitants, who, it is to be hoped, shall, through the abolition
    of this seawant, become wiser and more prudent.

    "27th January, 1662,

    "Seawant falls into disrepute; duties to be paid in silver coin."


Now it came to pass, that while Peter Stuyvesant was busy regulating the
internal affairs of his domain, the great Yankee league, which had caused
such tribulation to William the Testy, continued to increase in extent and
power. The grand Amphictyonic council of the league was held at Boston,
where it spun a web which threatened to link within it all the mighty
principalities and powers of the east. The object proposed by this
formidable combination was mutual protection and defence against their
savage neighbors; but all the world knows the real aim was to form a grand
crusade against the Nieuw Nederlandts and to get possession of the city of
the Manhattoes--as devout an object of enterprise and ambition to the
Yankees as was ever the capture of Jerusalem to ancient Crusaders.

In the very year following the inauguration of Governor Stuyvesant, a
grand deputation departed from the city of Providence (famous for its
dusty streets and beauteous women) in behalf of the plantation of Rhode
Island, praying to be admitted into the league.

The following minute of this deputation appears in the ancient records of
the council.[40]

"Mr. Will. Cottington and Captain Partridg of Rhoode Island presented this
insewing request to the commissioners in wrighting----

    "Our request and motion is in behalfe of Rhoode Iland, that wee
    the ilanders of Rhoode Iland may be rescauied into combination
    with all the united colonyes of New England in a firme and
    perpetual league of friendship and amity of ofence and defence,
    mutuall advice and succor upon all just occasions for our mutuall
    safety and wellfaire, etc.


There was certainly something in the very physiognomy of this document
that might well inspire apprehension. The name of Alexander, however
mis-spelt, has been warlike in every age, and though its fierceness is in
some measure softened by being coupled with the gentle cognomen of
Partridge, still, like the color of scarlet, it bears an exceeding great
resemblance to the sound of a trumpet. From the style of the letter,
moreover, and the soldier-like ignorance of orthography displayed by the
noble Captain Alicxsander Partridg in spelling his own name, we may
picture to ourselves this mighty man of Rhodes, strong in arms, potent in
the field, and as great a scholar as though he had been educated among
that learned people of Thrace, who, Aristotle assures us, could not count
beyond the number four.

The result of this great Yankee league was augmented audacity on the part
of the moss-troopers of Connecticut, pushing their encroachments farther
and farther into the territories of their High Mightinesses, so that even
the inhabitants of New Amsterdam began to draw short breath, and to find
themselves exceedingly cramped for elbow-room.

Peter Stuyvesant was not a man to submit quietly to such intrusions; his
first impulse was to march at once to the frontier, and kick these
squatting Yankees out of the country; but, bethinking himself in time that
he was now a governor and legislator, the policy of the statesman for once
cooled the fire of the old soldier, and he determined to try his hand at
negotiation. A correspondence accordingly ensued between him and the great
council of the league, and it was agreed that commissioners from either
side should meet at Hartford, to settle boundaries, adjust grievances,
and establish a "perpetual and happy peace."

The commissioners on the part of the Manhattoes were chosen, according to
immemorial usage of that venerable metropolis, from among the "wisest and
weightiest" men of the community; that is to say, men with the oldest
heads and heaviest pockets. Among these sages the veteran navigator, Hans
Reinier Oothout, who had made such extensive discoveries during the time
of Oloffe the Dreamer, was looked up to as an oracle in all matters of the
kind; and he was ready to produce the very spy-glass with which he first
spied the mouth of the Connecticut river from his masthead, and all the
world knows that the discovery of the mouth of the river gives prior right
to all the lands drained by its waters.

It was with feelings of pride and exultation that the good people of the
Manhattoes saw two of the richest and most ponderous burghers departing on
this embassy; men whose word on 'Change was oracular, and in whose
presence no poor man ventured to appear without taking off his hat: when
it was seen, too, that the veteran Reinier Oothout accompanied them with
his spy-glass under his arm, all the old men and old women predicted that
men of such weight, with such evidence, would leave the Yankees no
alternative but to pack up their tin kettles and wooden wares, put wife
and children in a cart, and abandon all the lands of their High
Mightinesses on which they had squatted.

In truth, the commissioners sent to Hartford by the league seemed in no
wise calculated to compete with men of such capacity. They were two lean
Yankee lawyers, litigious-looking varlets, and evidently men of no
substance, since they had no rotundity in the belt, and there was no
jingling of money in their pockets; it is true they had longer heads than
the Dutchmen; but if the heads of the latter were flat at top, they were
broad at bottom, and what was wanting in height of forehead was made up
by a double chin.

The negotiation turned as usual upon the good old corner-stone of original
discovery; according to the principle that he who first sees a new country
has an unquestionable right to it. This being admitted, the veteran
Oothout, at a concerted signal, stepped forth in the assembly with the
identical tarpaulin spy-glass in his hand with which he had discovered the
mouth of the Connecticut, while the worthy Dutch commissioners lolled back
in their chairs, secretly chuckling at the idea of having for once got the
weather-gauge of the Yankees, but what was their dismay when the latter
produced a Nantucket whaler with a spy-glass, twice as long, with which he
discovered the whole coast, quite down to the Manhattoes: and so crooked
that he had spied with it up the whole course of the Connecticut river.
This principle pushed home, therefore, the Yankees had a right to the
whole country bordering on the Sound; nay, the city of New Amsterdam was a
mere Dutch squatting-place on their territories.

I forbear to dwell upon the confusion of the worthy Dutch commissioners at
finding their main pillar of proof thus knocked from under them; neither
will I pretend to describe the consternation of the wise men at the
Manhattoes when they learnt how their commissioner, had been out-trumped
by the Yankees, and how the latter pretended to claim to the very gates of
New Amsterdam.

Long was the negotiation protracted, and long was the public mind kept in
a state of anxiety. There are two modes of settling boundary questions,
when the claims of the opposite parties are irreconcilable. One is by an
appeal to arms, in which case the weakest party is apt to lose its right,
and get a broken head into the bargain; the other mode is by compromise,
or mutual concession--that is to say, one party cedes half of its claims,
and the other party half of its rights; he who grasps most gets most, and
the whole is pronounced an equitable division, "perfectly honorable to
both parties."

The latter mode was adopted in the present instance. The Yankees gave up
claims to vast tracts of the Nieuw Nederlandts which they had never seen,
and all right to the island of Manna-hata and the city of New Amsterdam,
to which they had no right at all; while the Dutch, in return, agreed that
the Yankees should retain possession of the frontier places where they had
squatted, and of both sides of the Connecticut river.

When the news of this treaty arrived at New Amsterdam, the whole city was
in an uproar of exultation. The old women rejoiced that there was to be no
war, the old men that their cabbage-gardens were safe from invasion; while
the political sages pronounced the treaty a great triumph over the
Yankees, considering how much they had claimed, and how little they had
been "fobbed off with."

And now my worthy reader is, doubtless, like the great and good Peter,
congratulating himself with the idea that his feelings will no longer be
harassed by afflicting details of stolen horses, broken heads, impounded
hogs, and all the other catalogue of heart-rending cruelties that
disgraced these border wars. But if he should indulge in such
expectations, it is a proof that he is but little versed in the
paradoxical ways of cabinets; to convince him of which I solicit his
serious attention to my next chapter, wherein I will show that Peter
Stuyvesant has already committed a great error in politics, and, by
effecting a peace, has materially hazarded the tranquillity of the


   [40] Haz. Coll. Stat. Pap.


It was the opinion of that poetical philosopher, Lucretius, that war was
the original state of man, whom he described as being, primitively, a
savage beast of prey, engaged in a constant state of hostility with his
own species, and that this ferocious spirit was tamed and ameliorated by
society. The same opinion has been advocated by Hobbes;[41] nor have there
been wanting many other philosophers to admit and defend it.

For my part, though prodigiously fond of these valuable speculations, so
complimentary to human nature, yet, in this instance, I am inclined to
take the proposition by halves, believing with Horace,[42] that though war
may have been originally the favorite amusement and industrious employment
of our progenitors, yet, like many other excellent habits, so far from
being ameliorated, it has been cultivated and confirmed by refinement and
civilization, and increases in exact proportion as we approach towards
that state of perfection which is the _ne plus ultra_ of modern

The first conflict between man and man was the mere exertion of physical
force, unaided by auxiliary weapons--his arm was his buckler, his fist was
his mace, and a broken head the catastrophe of his encounters. The battle
of unassisted strength was succeeded by the more rugged one of stones and
clubs, and war assumed a sanguinary aspect. As man advanced in refinement,
as his faculties expanded, and as his sensibilities became more
exquisite, he grew rapidly more ingenious and experienced in the art of
murdering his fellow beings. He invented a thousand devices to defend and
to assault--the helmet, the cuirass, and the buckler, the sword, the dart,
and the javelin, prepared him to elude the wound as well as to launch the
blow. Still urging on, in the career of philanthropic invention, he
enlarges and heightens his powers of defense and injury. The aries, the
scorpio, the balista, and the catapulta, give a horror and sublimity to
war, and magnify its glory, by increasing its desolation. Still
insatiable, though armed with machinery that seemed to reach the limits of
destructive invention, and to yield a power of injury commensurate even
with the desires of revenge--still deeper researches must be made in the
diabolical arcana. With furious zeal he dives into the bowels of the
earth; he toils midst poisonous minerals, and deadly salts--the sublime
discovery of gunpowder blazes upon the world; and finally, the dreadful
art of fighting by proclamation seems to endow the demon of war with
ubiquity and omnipotence!

This, indeed, is grand!--this, indeed, marks the powers of mind, and
bespeaks that divine endowment of reason, which distinguishes us from the
animals, our inferiors. The unenlightened brutes content themselves with
the native force which Providence has assigned them. The angry bull butts
with his horns, as did his progenitors before him; the lion, the leopard,
and the tiger, seek only with their talons and their fangs to gratify
their sanguinary fury; and even the subtle serpent darts the same venom,
and uses the same wiles, as did his sire before the flood. Man alone,
blessed with the inventive mind, goes on from discovery to discovery,
enlarges and multiplies his powers of destruction; arrogates the
tremendous weapons of Deity itself, and tasks creation to assist him in
murdering his brother worm!

In proportion as the art of war has increased in improvement has the art
of preserving peace advanced in equal ratio; and as we have discovered, in
this age of wonders and inventions, that proclamation is the most
formidable engine of war, so have we discovered the no less ingenious mode
of maintaining peace by perpetual negotiations.

A treaty, or, to speak more correctly, a negotiation, therefore, according
to the acceptation of experienced statesmen learned in these matters, is
no longer an attempt to accommodate differences, to ascertain rights, and
to establish an equitable exchange of kind offices; but a contest of skill
between two powers which shall overreach and take in the other it is a
cunning endeavor to obtain by peaceful manoeuvre and the chicanery of
cabinets those advantages which a nation would otherwise have wrested by
force of arms; in the same manner as a conscientious highwayman reforms
and becomes a quiet and praiseworthy citizen, contenting himself with
cheating his neighbor out of that property he would formerly have seized
with open violence.

In fact, the only time when two nations can be said to be in a state of
perfect amity is when a negotiation is open and a treaty pending. Then,
when there are no stipulations entered into, no bonds to restrain the
will, no specific limits to awaken the captious jealousy of right
implanted in our nature; when each party has some advantage to hope and
expect from the other; then it is that the two nations are wonderfully
gracious and friendly, their ministers professing the highest mutual
regard, exchanging _billets-doux_, making fine speeches, and indulging in
all those little diplomatic flirtations, coquetries, and fondlings, that
do so marvelously tickle the good humor of the respective nations. Thus it
may paradoxically be said, that there is never so good an understanding
between two nations as when there is a little misunderstanding--and that
so long as they are on terms at all they are on the best terms in the

I do not by any means pretend to claim the merit of having made the above
discovery. It has, in fact, long been secretly acted upon by certain
enlightened cabinets, and is, together with divers other notable theories,
privately copied out of the commonplace book of an illustrious gentleman
who has been member of congress, and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of
heads of departments. To this principle may be ascribed the wonderful
ingenuity shown of late years in protracting and interrupting
negotiations. Hence the cunning measure of appointing as ambassador some
political pettifogger skilled in delays, sophisms, and misapprehensions,
and dexterous in the art of baffling argument; or some blundering
statesman, whose errors and misconstructions may be a plea for refusing to
ratify his engagements. And hence, too, that most notable expedient, so
popular with our government, of sending out a brace of ambassadors,
between whom, having each an individual will to consult, character to
establish, and interest to promote, you may as well look for unanimity and
concord as between two lovers with one mistress, two dogs with one bone,
or two naked rogues with one pair of breeches. This disagreement,
therefore, is continually breeding delays and impediments, in consequence
of which the negotiation goes on swimmingly, inasmuch as there is no
prospect of its ever coming to a close. Nothing is lost by these delays
and obstacles but time; and in a negotiation, according to the theory I
have exposed, all time lost is in reality so much time gained; with what
delightful paradoxes does modern political economy abound!

Now all that I have here advanced, is so notoriously true, that I almost
blush to take up the time of my readers, with treating of matters which
must many a time have stared them in the face. But the proposition to
which I would most earnestly call their attention is this, that though a
negotiation be the most harmonizing of all national transactions, yet a
treaty of peace is a great political evil, and one of the most fruitful
sources of war.

I have rarely seen an instance of any special contract between individuals
that did not produce jealousies, bickerings and often downright ruptures
between them; nor did I ever know of a treaty between two nations that did
not occasion continual misunderstandings. How many worthy country
neighbors have I known, who, after living in peace and good-fellowship for
years, have been thrown into a state of distrust, caviling, and animosity,
by some ill-starred agreement about fences, runs of water, and stray
cattle! and how many well-meaning nations, who would otherwise have
remained in the most amicable disposition towards each other, have been
brought to swords' points about the infringement or misconstruction of
some treaty, which in an evil hour they had concluded, by way of making
their amity more sure!

Treaties at best are but complied with so long as interest requires their
fulfilment; consequently they are virtually binding on the weaker party
only, or, in plain truth, they are not binding at all. No nation will
wantonly go to war with another if it has nothing to gain thereby, and
therefore needs no treaty to restrain it from violence; and if it have
anything to gain, I much question, from what I have witnessed of the
righteous conduct of nations, whether any treaty could be made so strong
that it could not thrust the sword through; nay, I would hold ten to one
the treaty itself would be the very source to which resort would be had to
find a pretext for hostilities.

Thus, therefore, I conclude--that though it is the best of all policies
for a nation to keep up a constant negotiation with its neighbors, yet it
is the summit of folly for it ever to be beguiled into a treaty; for then
comes on non-fulfillment and infraction, then remonstrance, then
altercation, then retaliation, then recrimination, and finally open war.
In a word, negotiation is like courtship, a time of sweet words, gallant
speeches, soft looks, and endearing caresses--but the marriage ceremony is
the signal for hostilities.

If my painstaking reader be not somewhat perplexed by the ratiocination of
the foregoing passage, he will perceive at a glance that the great Peter,
in concluding a treaty with his eastern neighbors, was guilty of
lamentable error in policy. In fact, to this unlucky agreement may be
traced a world of bickerings and heart-burnings between the parties, about
fancied or pretended infringements of treaty stipulations; in all which
the Yankees were prone to indemnify themselves by a "dig into the sides"
of the New Netherlands. But, in sooth, these border feuds, albeit they
gave great annoyance to the good burghers of Mannahata, were so pitiful in
their nature, that a grave historian like myself, who grudges the time
spent in anything less than the revolutions of states and fall of empires,
would deem them unworthy of being inscribed on his page. The reader is,
therefore, to take it for granted--though I scorn to waste in the detail
that time which my furrowed brow and trembling hand inform me is
invaluable--that all the while the great Peter was occupied in those
tremendous and bloody contests which I shall shortly rehearse, there was a
continued series of little, dirty, sniveling scourings, broils, and
maraudings, kept up on the eastern frontiers by the moss-troopers of
Connecticut. But, like that mirror of chivalry, the sage and valorous Don
Quixote, I leave these petty contests for some future Sancho Panza of an
historian, while I reserve my prowess and my pen for achievements of
higher dignity; for at this moment I hear a direful and portentous note
issuing from the bosom of the great council of the league, and resounding
throughout the regions of the east, menacing the fame and fortunes of
Peter Stuyvesant; I call, therefore, upon the reader to leave behind him
all the paltry brawls of the Connecticut borders, and to press forward
with me to the relief of our favorite hero, who, I foresee, will be
wofully beset by the implacable Yankees in the next chapter.


   [41] Hobbes, Leviathan, part i., ch. 13.

        "Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
        Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
        Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque its porro
        Pugnabaut armis, quæ post fabricaverat usus."
                    --Hor. _Sat._ lib. i. s. 3.


That the reader may be aware of the peril at this moment menacing Peter
Stuyvesant and his capital, I must remind him of the old charge advanced
in the council of the league in the time of William the Testy, that the
Nederlanders were carrying on a trade "damnable and injurious to the
colonists," in furnishing the savages with "guns, powther, and shott."
This, as I then suggested, was a crafty device of the Yankee confederacy
to have a snug cause of war _in petto_, in case any favorable opportunity
should present of attempting the conquest of the New Nederlands, the great
object of Yankee ambition.

Accordingly, we now find, when every other ground of complaint had
apparently been removed by treaty, this nefarious charge revived with
tenfold virulence, and hurled like a thunderbolt at the very head of Peter
Stuyvesant; happily his head, like that of the great bull of the Wabash,
was proof against such missiles.

To be explicit, we are told that, in the years 1651, the great confederacy
of the east accused the immaculate Peter, the soul of honor and heart of
steel, of secretly endeavoring, by gifts and promises, to instigate the
Narroheganset, Mohaque, and Pequot Indians to surprise and massacre the
Yankee settlements. "For," as the grand council observed, "the Indians
round about for divers hundred miles cercute seeme to have drunk deepe of
an intoxicating cupp, att or from the Manhattoes against the English,
whoe have sought their good, both in bodily and spirituall respects."

This charge they pretended to support by the evidence of divers Indians,
who were probably moved by that spirit of truth which is said to reside in
the bottle, and who swore to the fact as sturdily as though they had been
so many Christian troopers.

Though descended from a family which suffered much injury from the losel
Yankees of those times, my great-grandfather having had a yoke of oxen and
his best pacer stolen, and having received a pair of black eyes and a
bloody nose in one of these border wars; and my grandfather, when a very
little boy tending pigs, having been kidnaped and severely flogged by a
long-sided Connecticut schoolmaster--yet I should have passed over all
these wrongs with forgiveness and oblivion--I could even have suffered
them to have broken Everett Ducking's head; to have kicked the doughty
Jacobus Van Curlet and his ragged regiment out of doors; to have carried
every hog into captivity, and depopulated every hen-roost on the face of
the earth with perfect impunity--but this wanton attack upon one of the
most gallant and irreproachable heroes of modern times is too much even
for me to digest, and has overset, with a single puff, the patience of the
historian and the forbearance of the Dutchman.

Oh, reader, it was false! I swear to thee, it was false! If thou hast any
respect to my word, if the undeviating character for veracity, which I
have endeavored to maintain throughout this work, has its due weight with
thee, thou wilt not give thy faith to this tale of slander; for I pledge
my honor and my immortal fame to thee, that the gallant Peter Stuyvesant
was not only innocent of this foul conspiracy, but would have suffered his
right arm, or even his wooden leg, to consume with slow and everlasting
flames, rather than attempt to destroy his enemies in any other way than
open, generous warfare. Beshrew those caitiff scouts that conspired to
sully his honest name by such an imputation!

Peter Stuyvesant, though haply he may never have heard of a knight errant,
had as true a heart of chivalry as ever beat at the round table of King
Arthur. In the honest bosom of this heroic Dutchman dwelt the seven noble
virtues of knighthood, flourishing among his hardy qualities like wild
flowers among rocks. He was, in truth, a hero of chivalry struck off by
Nature at a single heat, and though little care may have been taken to
refine her workmanship, he stood forth a miracle of her skill. In all his
dealings he was headstrong perhaps, but open and above board; if there was
anything in the whole world he most loathed and despised, it was cunning
and secret wile; "straight forward" was his motto, and he at any time
rather run his hard head against a stone wall than attempt to get round

Such was Peter Stuyvesant, and if my admiration of him has on this
occasion transported my style beyond the sober gravity which becomes the
philosophic recorder of historic events, I must plead as an apology that
though a little grey-headed Dutchman, arrived almost at the down-hill of
life, I still retain a lingering spark of that fire which kindles in the
eye of youth when contemplating the virtues of ancient worthies. Blessed
thrice, and nine times blessed be the good St. Nicholas, if I have indeed
escaped that apathy which chills the sympathies of age and paralyses every
glow of enthusiasm.

The first measure of Peter Stuyvesant, on hearing of this slanderous
charge, would have been worthy of a man who had studied for years in the
chivalrous library of Don Quixote. Drawing his sword and laying it across
the table to put him in proper tune, he took pen in hand and indited a
proud and lofty letter to the council of the league, reproaching them with
giving ear to the slanders of heathen savages against a Christian, a
soldier, and a cavalier; declaring that whoever charged him with the plot
in question lied in his throat; to prove which he offered to meet the
president of the council, or any of his compeers; or their champion,
Captain Alexander Partridge, that mighty man of Rhodes, in single combat;
wherein he trusted to vindicate his honor by the prowess of his arm.

This missive was intrusted to his trumpeter and squire, Anthony Van
Corlear, that man of emergencies, with orders to travel night and day,
sparing neither whip nor spur, seeing that he carried the vindication of
his patron's fame in his saddle-bags. The loyal Anthony accomplished his
mission with great speed and considerable loss of leather. He delivered
his missive with becoming ceremony, accompanying it with a flourish of
defiance on his trumpet to the whole council, ending with a significant
and nasal twang full in the face of Captain Partridge, who nearly jumped
out of his skin in an ecstasy of astonishment.

The grand council was composed of men too cool and practical to be put
readily in a heat, or to indulge in knight-errantry, and above all to run
a tilt with such a fiery hero as Peter the Headstrong. They knew the
advantage, however, to have always a snug, justifiable cause of war in
reserve with a neighbor who had territories worth invading; so they
devised a reply to Peter Stuyvesant, calculated to keep up the "raw" which
they had established.

On receiving this answer, Anthony Van Corlear remounted the Flanders mare
which he always rode, and trotted merrily back to the Manhattoes, solacing
himself by the way according to his wont; twanging his trumpet like a very
devil, so that the sweet valleys and banks of the Connecticut, resounded
with the warlike melody; bringing all the folks to the windows as he
passed through Hartford and Pyquag and Middletown, and all the other
border towns; ogling and winking at the women, and making aerial
windmills from the end of his nose at their husbands; and stopping
occasionally in the villages to eat pumpkin-pies, dance at country
frolics, and bundle with the Yankee lasses, whom he rejoiced exceedingly
with his soul-stirring instrument.


The reply of the grand council to Peter Stuyvesant was couched in the
coolest and most diplomatic language. They assured him that "his confident
denials of the barbarous plot alleged against him would weigh little
against the testimony of divers sober and respectable Indians;" that "his
guilt was proved to their perfect satisfaction," so that they must still
require and seek due satisfaction and security; ending with--"so we rest,
sir--Yours in ways of righteousness."

I forbear to say how the lion-hearted Peter roared and ramped at finding
himself more and more entangled in the meshes thus artfully drawn round
him by the knowing Yankees. Impatient, however, of suffering so gross an
aspersion to rest upon his honest name, he sent a second messenger to the
council, reiterating his denial of the treachery imputed to him, and
offering to submit his conduct to the scrutiny of a court of honor. His
offer was readily accepted; and now he looked forward with confidence to
an august tribunal to be assembled at the Manhattoes, formed of
high-minded cavaliers, peradventure governors and commanders of the
confederate plantations, where the matter might be investigated by his
peers in a manner befitting his rank and dignity.

While he was awaiting the arrival of such high functionaries, behold, one
sunshiny afternoon there rode into the great gate of the Manhattoes two
lean, hungry-looking Yankees, mounted on Narraganset pacers, with
saddle-bags under their bottoms, and green satchels under their arms, who
looked marvelously like two pettifogging attorneys beating the hoof from
one county court to another in quest of lawsuits; and, in sooth, though
they may have passed under different names at the time, I have reason to
suspect they were the identical varlets who had negotiated the worthy
Dutch commissioners out of the Connecticut river.

It was a rule with these indefatigable missionaries never to let the grass
grow under their feet. Scarce had they, therefore, alighted at the inn and
deposited their saddle-bags, than they made their way to the residence of
the governor. They found him, according to custom, smoking his afternoon
pipe on the "stoop," or bench at the porch of his house, and announced
themselves at once as commissioners sent by the grand council of the east
to investigate the truth of certain charges advanced against him.

The good Peter took his pipe from his mouth, and gazed at them for a
moment in mute astonishment. By way of expediting business, they were
proceeding on the spot to put some preliminary questions; asking him,
peradventure, whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty; considering him
something in the light of a culprit at the bar; when they were brought to
a pause by seeing him lay down his pipe and begin to fumble with his
walking-staff. For a moment those present would not have given half a
crown for both the crowns of the commissioners; but Peter Stuyvesant
repressed his mighty wrath and stayed his hand; he scanned the varlets
from head to foot, satchels and all, with a look of ineffable scorn; then
strode into the house, slammed the door after him, and commanded that they
should never again be admitted to his presence.

The knowing commissioners winked to each other and made a certificate on
the spot that the governor had refused to answer their interrogatories or
to submit to their examination. They then proceeded to rummage about the
city for two or three days, in quest of what they called evidence,
perplexing Indians and old women with their cross-questioning until they
had stuffed their satchels and saddle-bags with all kinds of apocryphal
tales, rumors, and calumnies; with these they mounted their Narraganset
pacers, and travelled back to the grand council. Neither did the
proud-hearted Peter trouble himself to hinder their researches nor impede
their departure; he was too mindful of their sacred character as envoys;
but I warrant me had they played the same tricks with William the Testy,
he would have had them tucked up by the waistband, and treated to an
aerial gambol on his patent gallows.


The grand council of the east held a solemn meeting on the return of their
envoys. As no advocate appeared in behalf of Peter Stuyvesant, everything
went against him. His haughty refusal to submit to the questioning of the
commissioners was construed into a consciousness of guilt. The contents of
the satchels and saddle-bags were poured forth before the council, and
appeared a mountain of evidence. A pale bilious orator took the floor, and
declaimed for hours and in belligerent terms. He was one of those furious
zealots who blow the bellows of faction until the whole furnace of
politics is red-hot with sparks and cinders. What was it to him if he
should set the house on fire, so that he might boil his pot by the blaze?
He was from the borders of Connecticut; his constituents lived by
marauding their Dutch neighbors, and were the greatest poachers in
Christendom, excepting the Scotch border nobles. His eloquence had its
effect, and it was determined to set on foot an expedition against the
Nieuw Nederlandts.

It was necessary, however, to prepare the public mind for this measure.
Accordingly the arguments of the orator were echoed from the pulpit for
several succeeding Sundays, and a crusade was preached up against Peter
Stuyvesant and his devoted city.

This is the first we hear of the "drum ecclesiastic" beating up for
recruits in worldly warfare in our country. It has since been called into
frequent use. A cunning politician often lurks under the clerical robe;
things spiritual and things temporal are strangely jumbled together, like
drugs on an apothecary's shelf; and instead of a peaceful sermon, the
simple seeker after righteousness has often a political pamphlet thrust
down his throat, labeled with a pious text from Scripture.

And now nothing was talked of but an expedition against the Manhattoes. It
pleased the populace, who had a vehement prejudice against the Dutch,
considering them a vastly inferior race, who had sought the new world for
the lucre of gain, not the liberty of conscience: who were mere heretics
and infidels, inasmuch as the refused to believe in witches and
sea-serpents, and had, faith in the virtues of horse-shoes nailed to the
door; ate pork without molasses; held pumpkins in contempt, and were in
perpetual breach of the eleventh commandment of all true Yankees, "Thou
shalt have codfish dinners on Saturdays."

No sooner did Peter Stuyvesant get wind of the storm that was brewing in
the east, than he set to work to prepare for it. He was not one of those
economical rulers who postpone the expense of fortifying until the enemy
is at the door. There is nothing, he would say, that keeps off enemies and
crows more than the smell of gunpowder. He proceeded, therefore, with all
diligence, to put the province and its metropolis in a posture of defence.

Among the remnants which remained from the days of William the Testy were
the militia laws, by which the inhabitants were obliged to turn out twice
a year, with such military equipments as it pleased God; and were put
under the command of tailors and man-milliners, who, though on ordinary
occasions they might have been the meekest, most pippin-hearted little men
in the world, were very devils at parades, when they had cocked hats on
their heads and swords by their sides. Under the instructions of these
periodical warriors, the peaceful burghers of the Manhattoes were schooled
in iron war, and became so hardy in the process of time, that they could
march through sun and rain, from one end of the town to the other, without
flinching; and so intrepid and adroit, that they could face to the right,
wheel to the left, and fare without winking or blinking.

Peter Stuyvesant, like all old soldiers who have seen service and smelt
gunpowder, had no great respect for militia troops: however, he determined
to give them a trial, and accordingly called for a general muster,
inspection, and review. But, O Mars and Bellona! what a turning-out was
here! Here came old Roelant Cuckaburt, with a short blunderbuss on his
shoulder and a long horseman's sword trailing by his side; and Barent
Dirkson, with something that looked like a copper kettle, turned upside
down on his head, and a couple of old horse pistols in his belt; and Dirk
Volkertson, with a long duck fowling-piece without any ramrod, and a host
more, armed higgledy-piggledy with swords, hatchets, snickersnees,
crowbars, broomsticks, and what not; the officers distinguished from the
rest by having their slouched hats cocked up with pins and surmounted with
cocktail feathers.

The sturdy Peter eyed this nondescript host with some such rueful aspect
as a man would eye the devil, and determined to give his feather-bed
soldiers a seasoning. He accordingly put them through their manual
exercise over and over again, trudged them backwards and forwards about
the streets of New Amsterdam, until their short legs ached and their fat
sides sweated again, and finally encamped them in the evening on the
summit of a hill without the city, to give them a taste of camp life,
intending the next day to renew the toils and perils of the field. But so
it came to pass that in the night there fell a great and heavy rain, and
melted away the army, so that in the morning when Gaffer Phoebus shed his
first beams upon the camp, scarce a warrior remained, excepting Peter
Stuyvesant and his trumpeter, Van Corlear.

This awful desolation of a whole army would have appalled a commander of
less nerve; but it served to confirm Peter's want of confidence in the
militia system, which he thenceforward used to call, in joke--for he
sometimes indulged in a joke--William the Testy's broken reed. He now took
into his service a goodly number of burly, broad-shouldered,
broad-bottomed Dutchmen, whom he paid in good silver and gold, and of whom
he boasted that, whether they could stand fire or not, they were at least

He fortified the city, too, with pickets and palisadoes, extending across
the island from river to river; and above all cast up mud batteries or
redoubts on the point of the island where it divided the beautiful bosom
of the bay.

These latter redoubts, in process of time, came to be pleasantly overrun
by a carpet of grass and clover, and overshadowed by wide-spreading elms
and sycamores, among the branches of which the birds would build their
nests and rejoice the ear with their melodious notes. Under these trees,
too, the old burghers would smoke their afternoon pipe, contemplating the
golden sun as he sank in the west, an emblem of the tranquil end toward
which they were declining. Here, too, would the young men and maidens of
the town take their evening stroll, watching the silver moon beams as they
trembled along the calm bosom of the bay, or lit up the sail of some
gliding bark, and peradventure interchanging the soft vows of honest
affection; for to evening strolls in this favored spot were traced most of
the marriages in New Amsterdam.

Such was the origin of that renowned promenade, The Battery, which, though
ostensibly devoted to the stern purposes of war, has ever been consecrated
to the sweet delights of peace. The scene of many a gambol in happy
childhood--of many a tender assignation in riper years--of many a soothing
walk in declining age--the healthful resort of the feeble invalid--the
Sunday refreshment of the dusty tradesman--in fine, the ornament and
delight of New York, and the pride of the lovely island of Manna-hata.


Having thus provided for the temporary security of New Amsterdam, and
guarded it against any sudden surprise, the gallant Peter took a hearty
pinch of snuff, and snapping his fingers, set the great council of
Amphictyons and their champion, the redoubtable Alicxsander Partridg, at
defiance. In the meantime the moss-troopers of Connecticut, the warriors
of New Haven and Hartford, and Pyquag--otherwise called Weathersfield,
famous for its onions and its witches--and of all the other border towns,
were in a prodigious turmoil, furbishing up their rusty weapons, shouting
aloud for war, and anticipating easy conquests and glorious rummaging of
the fat little Dutch villages.

In the midst of these warlike preparations, however, they received the
chilling news that the colony of Massachusetts refused to back them in
this righteous war. It seems that the gallant conduct of Peter Stuyvesant,
the generous warmth of his vindication, and the chivalrous spirit of his
defiance, though lost upon the grand council of the league, had carried
conviction to the general court of Massachusetts, which nobly refused to
believe him guilty of the villainous plot laid at his door.[43]

The defection of so important a colony paralysed the councils of the
league. Some such dissension arose among its members as prevailed of yore
in the camp of the brawling warriors of Greece, and in the end the crusade
against the Manhattoes was abandoned.

It is said that the moss-troopers of Connecticut were sorely disappointed;
well for them that their belligerent cravings were not gratified, for, by
my faith, whatever might have been the ultimate result of a conflict with
all the powers of the east, in the interim the stomachful heroes of Pyquag
would have been choked with their own onions, and all the border towns of
Connecticut would have had such a scouring from the lion-hearted Peter and
his robustious myrmidons, that I warrant me they would not have had the
stomach to squat on the land, or invade the hen-roost of a Nederlander for
a century to come.

But it was not merely the refusal of Massachusetts to join in their unholy
crusade that confounded the councils of the league; for about this time
broke out in the New England provinces the awful plague of witchcraft,
which spread like pestilence through the land. Such a howling abomination
could not be suffered to remain long unnoticed; it soon excited the fiery
indignation of those guardians of the commonwealth, who whilom had evinced
such active benevolence in the conversion of Quakers and Anabaptists. The
grand council of the league publicly set their faces against the crime,
and bloody laws were enacted against all "solem conversing or compacting
with the devil by the way of conjuracion or the like."[44] Strict search,
too, was made after witches, who were easily detected by devil's pinches;
by being able to weep but three tears, and those out of the left eye; and
by having a most suspicious predilection for black cats and broomsticks!
What is particularly worthy of admiration is, that this terrible art,
which has baffled the studies and researches of philosophers, astrologers,
theurgists, and other sages, was chiefly confined to the most ignorant,
decrepid, and ugly old women in the community, with scarce more brains
than the broomsticks they rode upon.

When once an alarm is sounded, the public, who dearly love to be in a
panic, are always ready to keep it up. Raise but the cry of yellow fever,
and immediately every headache, indigestion, and overflowing of the bile
is pronounced the terrible epidemic; cry out mad dog, and every unlucky
cur in the street is in jeopardy; so in the present instance, whoever was
troubled with colic or lumbago was sure to be bewitched; and woe to any
unlucky old woman living in the neighborhood.

It is incredible the number of offences that were detected, "for every one
of which," says the Reverend Cotton Mather, in that excellent work, the
History of New England, "we have such a sufficient evidence, that no
reasonable man in this whole country ever did question them; and it will
be unreasonable to do it in any other."[45]

Indeed, that authentic and judicious historian, John Josselyn, gent.,
furnishes us with unquestionable facts on this subject. "There are none,"
observes he, "that beg in this country, but there be witches too
many--bottle-bellied witches and others, that produce many strange
apparitions, if you will believe report, of a shallop at sea manned with
women--and of a ship and great red horse standing by the mainmast; the
ship being in a small cove to the eastward vanished of a sudden," etc.

The number of delinquents, however, and their magical devices, were not
more remarkable than their diabolical obstinacy. Though exhorted in the
most solemn, persuasive and affectionate manner, to confess themselves
guilty, and be burnt for the good of religion, and the entertainment of
the public, yet did they most pertinaciously persist in asserting their
innocence. Such incredible obstinacy was in itself deserving of immediate
punishment, and was sufficient proof, if proof were necessary, that they
were in league with the devil, who is perverseness itself. But their
judges were just and merciful, and were determined to punish none that
were not convicted on the best of testimony; not that they needed any
evidence to satisfy their own minds, for, like true and experienced
judges, their minds were perfectly made up, and they were thoroughly
satisfied of the guilt of the prisoners before they proceeded to try them;
but still something was necessary to convince the community at large, to
quiet those praying quidnuncs who should come after them--in short, the
world must be satisfied. Oh, the world! the world! all the world knows the
world of trouble the world is eternally occasioning! The worthy judges,
therefore, were driven to the necessity of sifting, detecting and making
evident as noonday, matters which were at the commencement all clearly
understood and firmly decided upon in their own pericraniums; so that it
may truly be said that the witches were burnt to gratify the populace of
the day, but were tried for the satisfaction of the whole world that
should come after them.

Finding, therefore, that neither exhortation, sound reason, nor friendly
entreaty had any avail on these hardened offenders, they resorted to the
more urgent arguments of torture; and having thus absolutely wrung the
truth from their stubborn lips, they condemned them to undergo the
roasting due unto the heinous crimes they had confessed. Some even
carried their perverseness so far as to expire under the torture,
protesting their innocence to the last; but these were looked upon as
thoroughly and absolutely possessed by the devil, and the pious bystanders
only lamented that they had not lived a little longer to have perished in
the flames.

In the city of Ephesus, we are told that the plague was expelled by
stoning a ragged old beggar to death, whom Apollonius pointed out as being
the evil spirit that caused it, and who actually showed himself to be a
demon by changing into a shagged dog. In like manner, and by measures
equally sagacious, a salutary check was given to this growing evil. The
witches were all burnt, banished, or panic-stuck, and in a little while
there was not an ugly old woman to be found throughout New England; which
is doubtless one reason why all the young women there are so handsome.
Those honest folk who had suffered from their incantations gradually
recovered, excepting such as had been afflicted with twitches and aches,
which, however, assumed the less alarming aspects of rheumatism, ciatics,
and lumbagos; and the good people of New England, abandoning the study of
the occult sciences, turned their attention to the more profitable hocus
pocus of trade, and soon became expert in the legerdemain art of turning a
penny. Still, however, a tinge of the old leaven is discernible, even unto
this day, in their characters; witches occasionally start up among them in
different disguises, as physicians, civilians and divines. The people at
large show a keenness, a cleverness and a profundity of wisdom, that
savors strongly of witchcraft; and it has been remarked, that whenever any
stones fall from the moon, the greater part of them is sure to tumble into
New England.


   [43] Hazard's State Papers.

   [44] New Plymouth Record.

   [45] Mather's Hist. New Eng. b. vi. ch. 7.


When treating of these tempestuous times, the unknown writer of the
Stuyvesant manuscript breaks out into an apostrophe in praise of the good
St. Nicholas, to whose protecting care he ascribes the dissensions which
broke out in the council of the league, and the direful witchcraft which
filled all Yankee land as with Egyptian darkness.

A portentous gloom, says he, hung lowering over the fair valleys of the
east; the pleasant banks of the Connecticut no longer echoed to the sounds
of rustic gayety; grisly phantoms glided about each wild brook and silent
glen; fearful apparitions were seen in the air; strange voices were heard
in solitary places, and the border towns were so occupied in detecting and
punishing losel witches, that for a time all talk of war was suspended,
and New Amsterdam and its inhabitants seemed to be totally forgotten.

I must not conceal the fact, that at one time there was some danger of
this plague of witchcraft extending into the New Netherlands; and certain
witches, mounted on broomsticks, are said to have been seen whisking in
the air over some of the Dutch villages near the borders; but the worthy
Nederlanders took the precaution to nail horse-shoes to their doors, which
it is well known are effectual barriers against all diabolical vermin of
the kind. Many of those horse-shoes may be seen at this very day on
ancient mansions and barns, remaining from the days of the patriarchs;
nay, the custom is still kept up among some of our legitimate Dutch
yeomanry, who inherit from their forefathers a desire to keep witches and
Yankees out of the country.

And now the great Peter, having no immediate hostility to apprehend from
the east, turned his face, with characteristic vigilance, to his southern
frontiers. The attentive reader will recollect that certain freebooting
Swedes had become very troublesome in this quarter in the latter part of
the reign of William the Testy, setting at naught the proclamations of
that veritable potentate, and putting his admiral, the intrepid Jan Jensen
Alpendam, to a perfect nonplus. To check the incursions of these Swedes,
Peter Stuyvesant now ordered a force to that frontier, giving the command
of it to General Jacobus Van Poffenburgh, an officer who had risen to
great importance during the reign of Wilhelmus Kieft. He had, if histories
speak true, been second in command to the doughty Van Curlet, when he and
his warriors were inhumanly kicked out of Fort Goed Hoop by the Yankees.
In that memorable affair Van Poffenburgh is said to have received more
kicks, in a certain honorable part, than any of his comrades; in
consequence of which, on the resignation of Van Curlet, he had been
promoted to his place, being considered a hero who had seen service, and
suffered in his country's cause.

It is tropically observed by honest old Socrates, that heaven infuses into
some men at their birth a portion of intellectual gold; into others, of
intellectual silver; while others are intellectually furnished with iron
and brass. Of the last class was General Van Poffenburgh, and it would
seem as if Dame Nature, who will sometimes be partial, had given him brass
enough for a dozen ordinary braziers. All this he had contrived to pass
off upon William the Testy for genuine gold; and the little governor would
sit for hours and listen to his gunpowder stories of exploits, which left
those of Tirante the White, Don Belianis of Greece, or St. George and the
Dragon, quite in the background. Having been promoted by William Kieft to
the command of his whole disposable forces, he gave importance to his
station by the grandiloquence of his bulletins, always styling himself
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the New Netherlands; though in sober
truth these Armies were nothing more than a handful of hen-stealing,
bottle-bruising ragamuffins.

In person he was not very tall, but exceedingly round: neither did his
bulk proceed from his being fat, but windy; being blown up by a prodigious
conviction of his own importance, until he resembled one of those bags of
wind given by Æolus, in an incredible fit of generosity to that vagabond
warrior, Ulysses. His windy endowments had long excited the admiration of
Antony Van Corlear, who is said to have hinted more than once to William
the Testy, that in making Van Poffenburgh a general, he had spoiled an
admirable trumpeter.

As it is the practice in ancient story to give the reader a description of
the arms and equipments of every noted warrior, I will bestow a word upon
the dress of this redoubtable commander. It comported with his character,
being so crossed and slashed, and embroidered with lace and tinsel, that
he seemed to have as much brass without as nature had stored away within.
He was swathed too in a crimson sash, of the size and texture of a
fishing-net; doubtless to keep his swelling heart from bursting through
his ribs. His face glowed with furnace heat from between a huge pair of
well-powdered whiskers; and his valorous soul seemed ready to bounce out
of a pair of large, glassy, blinking eyes, projecting like those of a

I swear to thee, worthy reader, if history and tradition belie not this
warrior, I would give all the money in my pocket to have seen him
accoutred cap-a-pie--booted to the middle--sashed to the chin--collared to
the ears--whiskered to the teeth--crowned with an overshadowing cocked
hat, and girded with a leathern belt ten inches broad, from which trailed
a falchion, of a length that I dare not mention. Thus equipped, he
strutted about, as bitter looking a man of war as the far-famed More, of
More Hall, when he sallied forth to slay the Dragon of Wantley. For what
says the ballad?

    "Had you but seen him in this dress,
      How fierce he looked and how big,
    You would have thought him for to be
      Some Egyptian porcupig.
    He frighted all--cats, dogs, and all,
      Each cow, each horse, and each hog;
    For fear did flee, for they took him to be
      Some strange outlandish hedgehog."[46]

I must confess this general, with all his outward valor and ventosity, was
not exactly an officer to Peter Stuyvesant's taste, but he stood foremost
in the army list of William the Testy, and it is probable the good Peter,
who was conscientious in his dealings with all men, and had his military
notions of precedence, thought it but fair to give him a chance of proving
his right to his dignities.

To this copper captain, therefore, was confided the command of the troops
destined to protect the southern frontier; and scarce had he departed from
his station than bulletins began to arrive from him, describing his
undaunted march through savage deserts over insurmountable mountains,
across impassable rivers, and through impenetrable forests, conquering
vast tracts of uninhabited country, and encountering more perils than did
Xenophon in his far-famed retreat with his ten thousand Grecians.

Peter Stuyvesant read all these grandiloquent dispatches with a dubious
screwing of the mouth and shaking of the head; but Antony Van Corlear
repeated these contents in the streets and market-places with an
appropriate flourish upon his trumpet, and the windy victories of the
general resounded through the streets of New Amsterdam.

On arriving at the southern frontier, Van Poffenburgh proceeded to erect a
fortress, or stronghold, on the South of Delaware river. At first he
bethought him to call it Fort Stuyvesant, in honor of the governor, a
lowly kind of homage prevalent in our country among speculators, military
commanders, and office-seekers of all kinds, by which our maps come to be
studded with the names of political patrons and temporary great men; in
the present instance, Van Poffenburgh carried his homage to the most lowly
degree, giving his fortress the name of Fort Casimir, in honor, it is
said, of a favorite pair of brimstone trunk-breeches of his excellency.

As this fort will be found to give rise to important events, it may be
worth while to notice that it was afterwards called Nieuw-Amstel, and was
the germ of the present flourishing town of Newcastle, or, more properly
speaking, No Castle, there being nothing of the kind on the premises.

His fortress being finished, it would have done any man's heart good to
behold the swelling dignity with which the general would stride in and out
a dozen times a day, surveying it in front and in rear, on this side and
on that; how he would strut backwards and forwards, in full regimentals,
on the top of the ramparts, like a vain-glorious cock-pigeon, swelling and
vaporing on the top of a dovecote.

There is a kind of valorous spleen which, like wind, is apt to grow unruly
in the stomachs of newly-made soldiers, compelling them to box-lobby
brawls and brokenheaded quarrels, unless there can be found some more
harmless way to give it vent. It is recorded, in the delectable romance of
Pierce Forest, that a young knight, being dubbed by King Alexander, did
incontinently gallop into an adjacent forest, and belabor the trees with
such might and main, that he not merely eased off the sudden effervescence
of his valor, but convinced the whole court that he was the most potent
and courageous cavalier on the face of the earth. In like manner the
commander of Fort Casimir, when he found his martial spirit waxing too hot
within him, would sally forth into the fields and lay about him most
lustily with his sabre; decapitating cabbages by platoons; hewing down
lofty sunflowers, which he termed gigantic Swedes; and if, perchance, he
espied a colony of big-bellied pumpkins quietly basking in the sun, "Ah!
caitiff Yankees!" would he roar, "have I caught ye at last?" So saying,
with one sweep of his sword, he would cleave the unhappy vegetables from
their chins to their waist-bands; by which warlike havoc, his choler being
in some sort allayed, he would return into the fortress with the full
conviction that he was a very miracle of military prowess.

He was a disciplinarian, too, of the first order. Woe to any unlucky
soldier who did not hold up his head and turn out his toes when on parade;
or who did not salute the general in proper style as he passed. Having one
day, in his Bible researches, encountered the history of Absalom and his
melancholy end, the general bethought him that, in a country abounding
with forests, his soldiers were in constant risk of a like catastrophe; he
therefore, in an evil hour, issued orders for cropping the hair of both
officers and men throughout the garrison.

Now so it happened, that among his officers was a sturdy veteran named
Keldermeester, who had cherished, through a long life, a mop of hair not a
little resembling the shag of a Newfoundland dog, terminating in a queue
like the handle of a frying-pan, and queued so tightly to his head that
his eyes and mouth generally stood ajar, and his eyebrows were drawn up to
the top of his forehead. It may naturally be supposed that the possessor
of so goodly an appendage would resist with abhorrence an order condemning
it to the shears. On hearing the general orders, he discharged a tempest
of veteran, soldier-like oaths, and dunder and blixums--swore he would
break any man's head who attempted to meddle with his tail--queued it
stiffer than ever, and whisked it about the garrison as fiercely as the
tail of a crocodile.

The eelskin queue of old Keldermeester became instantly an affair of the
utmost importance. The commander-in-chief was too enlightened an officer
not to perceive that the discipline of the garrison, the subordination and
good order of the armies of the Nieuw-Nederlands, the consequent safety of
the whole province, and ultimately the dignity and prosperity of their
High Mightinesses the Lords States General, imperiously demanded the
docking of that stubborn queue. He decreed, therefore, that old
Keldermeester should be publicly shorn of his glories in presence of the
whole garrison--the old man as resolutely stood on the defensive-whereupon
he was arrested and tried by a court-martial for mutiny, desertion, and
all the other list of offences noticed in the articles of war, ending with
a "videlicet, in wearing an eelskin queue, three feet long, contrary to
orders." Then came on arraignments, and trials, and pleadings; and the
whole garrison was in a ferment about this unfortunate queue. As it is
well known that the commander of a frontier post has the power of acting
pretty much after his own will, there is little doubt but that the veteran
would have been hanged or shot at least, had he not luckily fallen ill of
a fever, through mere chagrin and mortification--and deserted from all
earthly command, with his beloved locks unviolated. His obstinacy remained
unshaken to the very last moment, when he directed that he should be
carried to his grave with his eelskin queue sticking out of a hole in his

This magnanimous affair obtained the general great credit as a
disciplinarian; but it is hinted that he was ever afterwards subject to
bad dreams and fearful visitations in the night, when the grizzly spectrum
of old Keldermeester would stand sentinel by his bedside, erect as a pump,
his enormous queue strutting out like the handle.


   [46] Ballad of Dragon of Wantley.




Hitherto, most venerable and courteous reader, have I shown thee the
administration of the valorous Stuyvesant, under the mild moonshine of
peace, or rather the grim tranquillity of awful expectation; but now the
war-drum rumbles from afar, the brazen trumpet brays its thrilling note,
and the rude clash of hostile arms speaks fearful prophecies of coming
troubles. The gallant warrior starts from soft repose--from golden visions
and voluptuous ease; where, in the dulcet "piping time of peace," he
sought sweet solace after all his toils. No more in Beauty's siren lap
reclined he weaves fair garlands for his lady's brows; no more entwines
with flowers his shining sword nor through the livelong lazy summer's day
chants forth his love-sick soul in madrigals. To manhood roused, he spurns
the amorous flute, doffs from his brawny back the robe of peace, and
clothes his pampered limbs in panoply of steel. O'er his dark brow, where
late the myrtle waved, where wanton roses breathed enervate love, he rears
the beaming casque and nodding plume; grasps the bright shield, and shakes
the ponderous lance; or mounts with eager pride his fiery steed, and burns
for deeds of glorious chivalry.

But soft, worthy reader! I would not have you imagine that any _preux
chevalier_, thus hideously begirt with iron, existed in the city of New
Amsterdam. This is but a lofty and gigantic mode, in which we heroic
writers always talk of war, thereby to give it a noble and imposing
aspect; equipping our warriors with bucklers, helms, and lances, and
such-like outlandish and obsolete weapons, the like of which perchance
they had never seen or heard of; in the same manner that a cunning
statuary arrays a modern general or an admiral in the accoutrements of a
Cæsar or an Alexander. The simple truth, then, of all this oratorical
flourish is this: that the valiant Peter Stuyvesant all of a sudden found
it necessary to scour his rusty blade, which too long had rusted in its
scabbard, and prepare himself to undergo those hardy toils of war, in
which his mighty soul so much delighted.

Methinks I at this moment behold him in my imagination; or rather, I
behold his goodly portrait, which still hangs in the family mansion of the
Stuyvesants, arrayed in all the terrors of a true Dutch general. His
regimental coat of German blue, gorgeously decorated with a goodly show of
large brass buttons, reaching from his waistband to his chin; the
voluminous skirts turned up at the corners, and separating gallantly
behind, so as to display the seat of a sumptuous pair of brimstone-colored
trunk-breeches, a graceful style still prevalent among the warriors of our
day, and which is in conformity to the custom of ancient heroes, who
scorned to defend themselves in rear. His face, rendered exceeding
terrible and warlike by a pair of black mustachios; his hair strutting out
on each side in stiffly pomatumed ear-locks, and descending in a rat-tail
queue below his waist; a shining stock of black leather supporting his
chin, and a little but fierce cocked hat, stuck with a gallant and fiery
air over his left eye. Such was the chivalric port of Peter the
Headstrong; and when he made a sudden halt, planted himself firmly on his
solid supporter, with his wooden leg inlaid with silver a little in
advance, in order to strengthen his position, his right hand grasping a
gold-headed cane, his left resting upon the pummel of his sword, his head
dressing spiritedly to the right, with a most appalling and hard-favored
frown upon his brow, he presented altogether one of the most commanding,
bitter-looking, and soldier-like figures that ever strutted upon canvas.
Proceed we now to inquire the cause of this warlike preparation.

In the preceding chapter we have spoken of the founding of Fort Casimir,
and of the merciless warfare waged by its commander upon cabbages,
sunflowers, and pumpkins, for want of better occasion to flesh his sword.
Now it came to pass that higher up the Delaware, at his stronghold of
Tinnekonk, resided one Jan Printz, who styled himself Governor of New
Sweden. If history belie not this redoubtable Swede, he was a rival worthy
of the windy and inflated commander of Fort Casimir; for Master David
Pieterzen de Vrie, in his excellent book of voyages, describes him as
"weighing upwards of four hundred pounds," a huge feeder, and bouser in
proportion, taking three potations, pottle-deep, at every meal. He had a
garrison after his own heart at Tinnekonk, guzzling, deep-drinking
swashbucklers, who made the wild woods ring with their carousals.

No sooner did this robustious commander hear of the erection of Fort
Casimir, than he sent a message to Van Poffenburgh, warning him off the
land, as being within the bounds of his jurisdiction.

To this General Van Poffenburgh replied that the land belonged to their
High Mightinesses, having been regularly purchased of the natives as
discoverers from the Manhattoes, as witness the breeches of their land
measurer, Ten Broeck.

To this the governor rejoined that the land had previously been sold by
the Indians to the Swedes, and consequently was under the petticoat
government of her Swedish majesty, Christina; and woe be to any mortal
that wore a breeches who should dare to meddle even with the hem of her
sacred garment.

I forbear to dilate upon the war of words which was kept up for some time
by these windy commanders; Van-Poffenburgh, however, had served under
William the Testy, and was a veteran in this kind of warfare. Governor
Printz, finding he was not to be dislodged by these long shots, now
determined upon coming to closer quarters. Accordingly he descended the
river in great force and fume, and erected a rival fortress just one
Swedish mile below Fort Casimir, to which he gave the name of Helsenburg.

And now commenced a tremendous rivalry between these two doughty
commanders, striving to outstrut and outswell each other, like a couple of
belligerent turkey-cocks. There was a contest who should run up the
tallest flag-staff and display the broadest flag; all day long there was a
furious rolling of drums and twanging of trumpets in either fortress, and,
whichever had the wind in its favor, would keep up a continual firing of
cannon, to taunt its antagonist with the smell of gunpowder.

On all these points of windy warfare the antagonists were well matched;
but so it happened that the Swedish fortress being lower down the river,
all the Dutch vessels, bound to Fort Casimir with supplies, had to pass
it. Governor Printz at once took advantage of this circumstance, and
compelled them to lower their flags as they passed under the guns of his

This was a deadly wound to the Dutch pride of General Van Poffenburgh, and
sorely would he swell when from the ramparts of Fort Casimir he beheld the
flag of their High Mightinesses struck to the rival fortress. To heighten
his vexation, Governor Printz, who, as has been shown, was a huge
trencherman, took the liberty of having the first rummage of every Dutch
merchant-ship, and securing to himself and his guzzling garrison all the
little round Dutch cheeses, all the Dutch herrings, the gingerbread, the
sweetmeats, the curious stone jugs of gin, and all the other Dutch
luxuries, on their way for the solace of Fort Casimir. It is possible he
may have paid to the Dutch skippers the full value of their commodities,
but what consolation was this to Jacobus Van Poffenburgh and his garrison,
who thus found their favorite supplies cut off, and diverted into the
larders of the hostile camps? For some time this war of the cupboard was
carried on to the great festivity and jollification of the Swedes, while
the warriors of Fort Casimir found their hearts, or rather their stomachs,
daily failing them. At length the summer heats and summer showers set in,
and now, lo and behold! a great miracle was wrought for the relief of the
Nederlands, not a little resembling one of the plagues of Egypt; for it
came to pass that a great cloud of mosquitos arose out of the marshy
borders of the river, and settled upon the fortress of Helsenburg, being
doubtless attracted by the scent of the fresh blood of the Swedish
gormandisers. Nay, it is said that the body of Jan Printz alone, which was
as big and as full of blood as that of a prize ox, was sufficient to
attract the mosquito from every part of the country. For some time the
garrison endeavored to hold out, but it was all in vain; the mosquitos
penetrated into every chink and crevice, and gave them no rest day nor
night; and as to Governor Jan Printz, he moved about as in a cloud, with
mosquito music in his ears, and mosquito stings to the very end of his
nose. Finally, the garrison was fairly driven out of the fortress, and
obliged to retreat to Tinnekonk; nay, it is said that the mosquitos
followed Jan Printz even thither, and absolutely drove him out of the
country; certain it is, he embarked for Sweden shortly afterward, and Jan
Claudius Risingh was sent to govern New Sweden in his stead.

Such was the famous mosquito war on the Delaware, of which General Van
Poffenburgh would fain have been the hero; but the devout people of the
Nieuw-Nederlands always ascribed the discomfiture of the Swedes to the
miraculous intervention of St. Nicholas. As to the fortress of Helsenburg,
it fell to ruin, but the story of its strange destruction was perpetuated
by the Swedish name of Myggen-borg, that is to say, Mosquito Castle.[47]


   [47] Acrelius' History N. Sweden. For some notices of this
        miraculous discomfiture of the Swedes, see N.Y. Hist. Col., new
        series, vol. i., p. 412.


Jan Claudius Risingh, who succeeded to the command of New Sweden, looms
largely in ancient records as a gigantic Swede, who, had he not been
rather knock-kneed and splay-footed, might have served for the model of a
Samson or a Hercules. He was no less rapacious than mighty, and withal, as
crafty as he was rapacious, so that there is very little doubt that, had
he lived some four or five centuries since, he would have figured as one
of those wicked giants, who took a cruel pleasure in pocketing beautiful
princesses and distressed damsels, when gadding about the world, and
locking them up in enchanted castles, without a toilet, a change of linen,
or any other convenience. In consequence of which enormities they fell
under the high displeasure of chivalry, and all true, loyal, and gallant
knights were instructed to attack and slay outright any miscreant they
might happen to find above six feet high; which is doubtless one reason
why the race of large men is nearly extinct, and the generations of latter
ages are so exceedingly small.

Governor Risingh, not withstanding his giantly condition, was, as I have
hinted, a man of craft. He was not a man to ruffle the vanity of General
Van Poffenburgh, or to rub his self-conceit against the grain. On the
contrary, as he sailed up the Delaware, he paused before Fort Casimir,
displayed his flag, and fired a royal salute before dropping anchor. The
salute would doubtless have been returned, had not the guns been
dismounted; as it was, a veteran sentinel who had been napping at his
post, and had suffered his match to go out, returned the compliment by
discharging his musket with the spark of a pipe borrowed from a comrade.
Governor Risingh accepted this as a courteous reply, and treated the
fortress to a second salute, well knowing its commander was apt to be
marvelously delighted with these little ceremonials, considering them so
many acts of homage paid to his greatness. He then prepared to land with a
military retinue of thirty men, a prodigious pageant in the wilderness.

And now took place a terrible rummage and racket in Fort Casimir, to
receive such a visitor in proper style, and to make an imposing
appearance. The main guard was turned out as soon as possible, equipped to
the best advantage in the few suits of regimentals, which had to do duty,
by turns, with the whole garrison. One tall, lank fellow appeared in a
little man's coat, with the buttons between his shoulders; the skirts
scarce covering his bottom; his hands hanging like spades out of the
sleeves; and the coat linked in front by worsted loops made out of a pair
of red garters. Another had a cocked hat stuck on the back of his head,
and decorated with a bunch of cocks' tails; a third had a pair of rusty
gaiters hanging about his heels; while a fourth, a little duck-legged
fellow, was equipped in a pair of the general's cast-off breeches, which
he held up with one hand while he grasped his firelock with the other. The
rest were accoutred in similar style, excepting three ragamuffins without
shirts, and with but a pair and a half of breeches between them; wherefore
they were sent to the black hole, to keep them out of sight, that they
might not disgrace the fortress.

His men being thus gallantly arrayed--those who lacked muskets
shouldering spades and pickaxes, and every man being ordered to tuck in
his shirttail and pull up his brogues--General Van Poffenburgh first took
a sturdy draught of foaming ale, which, like the magnanimous More, of
More Hall,[48] was his invariable practice on all great occasions; this
done, he put himself at their head, and issued forth from his castle like
a mighty giant just refreshed with wine. But when the two heroes met,
then began a scene of warlike parade that beggars all description. The
shrewd Risingh, who had grown grey much before his time, in consequence
of his craftiness, saw at one glance the ruling passion of the great Van
Poffenburgh, and humored him in all his valorous fantasies.

Their detachments were accordingly drawn up in front of each other, they
carried arms and they presented arms, they gave the standing salute and
the passing salute, they rolled their drums, they flourished their fifes,
and they waved their colors; they faced to the left, and they faced to the
right, and they faced to the right about; they wheeled forward, and they
wheeled backward, and they wheeled into echelon; they marched and they
countermarched, by grand divisions, by single divisions, and by
subdivisions; by platoons, by sections, and by files; in quick time, in
slow time, and in no time at all; for, having gone through all the
evolutions of two great armies, including the eighteen manoeuvres of
Dundas; having exhausted all that they could recollect or image of
military tactics, including sundry strange and irregular evolutions, the
like of which were never seen before or since, excepting among certain of
our newly-raised militia, the two commanders and their respective troops
came at length to a dead halt, completely exhausted by the toils of war.
Never did two valiant train-band captains, or two buskined theatric
heroes, in the renowned tragedies of Pizarro, Tom Thumb, or any other
heroical and fighting tragedy, marshal their gallows-looking, duck-legged,
heavy-heeled myrmidons with more glory and self-admiration.

These military compliments being finished, General Van Poffenburgh
escorted his illustrious visitor, with great ceremony, into the fort,
attended him throughout the fortifications, showed him the horn-works,
crown-works, half-moons, and various other outworks, or rather the places
where they ought to be erected, and where they might be erected if he
pleased; plainly demonstrating that it was a place of "great capability,"
and though at present but a little redoubt, yet that it was evidently a
formidable fortress in embryo. This survey over, he next had the whole
garrison put under arms, exercised, and reviewed, and concluded by
ordering the three Bridewell birds to be hauled out of the black hole,
brought up to the halberds, and soundly flogged for the amusement of his
visitors, and to convince him that he was a great disciplinarian.

The cunning Risingh, while he pretended to be struck dumb outright with
the puissance of the great Van Poffenburgh, took silent note of the
incompetency of his garrison, of which he gave a wink to his trusty
followers, who tipped each other the wink, and laughed most obstreperously
in their sleeves.

The inspection, review, and flogging being concluded, the party adjourned
to the table; for, among his other great qualities, the general was
remarkably addicted to huge carousals, and in one afternoon's campaign
would leave more dead men on the field than he ever did in the whole
course of his military career. Many bulletins of these bloodless
victories do still remain on record, and the whole province was once
thrown in amaze by the return of one of his campaigns, wherein it was
stated, that though, like Captain Bobadil, he had only twenty men to back
him, yet in the short space of six months he had conquered and utterly
annihilated sixty oxen, ninety hogs, one hundred sheep, ten thousand
cabbages, one thousand bushels of potatoes, one hundred and fifty
kilderkins of small beer, two thousand seven hundred and thirty-five
pipes, seventy-eight pounds of sugar-plums, and forty bars of iron,
besides sundry small meats, game, poultry, and garden stuff: an
achievement unparalleled since the days of Pantagruel and his
all-devouring army, and which showed that it was only necessary to let Van
Poffenburgh and his garrison loose in an enemy's country, and in a little
while they would breed a famine, and starve all the inhabitants.

No sooner, therefore, had the general received intimation of the visit of
Governor Risingh, than he ordered a great dinner to be prepared, and
privately sent out a detachment of his most experienced veterans to rob
all the hen-roosts in the neighborhood, and lay the pigstyes under
contribution: a service which they discharged with such zeal and
promptitude, that the garrison table groaned under the weight of their

I wish, with all my heart, my readers could see the valiant Van
Poffenburgh, as he presided at the head of the banquet: it was a sight
worth beholding: there he sat in his greatest glory, surrounded by his
soldiers, like that famous wine-bibber, Alexander, whose thirsty virtues
he did most ably imitate, telling astounding stories of his hair-breadth
adventures and heroic exploits; at which, though all his auditors knew
them to be incontinent lies and outrageous gasconades, yet did they cast
up their eyes in admiration, and utter many interjections of astonishment.
Nor could the general pronounce anything that bore the remotest
resemblance to a joke, but the stout Risingh would strike his brawny fist
upon the table till every glass rattled again, throw himself back in the
chair, utter gigantic peals of laughter, and swear most horribly it was
the best joke he ever heard in his life. Thus all was rout and revelry and
hideous carousal within Fort Casimir, and so lustily did Van Poffenburgh
ply the bottle, that in less than four short hours he made himself and his
whole garrison, who all sedulously emulated the deeds of their chieftain,
dead drunk, with singing songs, quaffing bumpers, and drinking patriotic
toasts, none of which but was as long as a Welsh pedigree or a plea in

No sooner did things come to this pass, than Risingh and his Swedes, who
had cunningly kept themselves sober, rose on their entertainers, tied them
neck and heels, and took formal possession of the fort and all its
dependencies, in the name of Queen Christina of Sweden, administering at
the same time an oath of allegiance to all the Dutch soldiers who could be
made sober enough to swallow it. Risingh then put the fortifications in
order, appointed his discreet and vigilant friend Suen Schute, otherwise
called Skytte, a tall, wind-dried, water-drinking Swede, to the command,
and departed, bearing with him this truly amiable garrison and its
puissant commander, who, when brought to himself by a sound drubbing, bore
no little resemblance to a "deboshed fish," or bloated sea-monster, caught
upon dry land.

The transportation of the garrison was done to prevent the transmission of
intelligence to New Amsterdam; for much as the cunning Risingh exulted in
his stratagem, yet did he dread the vengeance of the sturdy Peter
Stuyvesant, whose name spread as much terror in the neighborhood as did
whilom that of the unconquerable Scanderbeg among his scurvy enemies the


              "As soon as he rose,
          To make him strong and mighty,
        He drank by the tale, six pots of ale,
          And a quart of aqua vitæ."

                    _Dragon of Wantley._


Whoever first described common fame, or rumor, as belonging to the sager
sex, was a very owl for shrewdness. She has in truth certain feminine
qualities to an astonishing degree, particularly that benevolent anxiety
to take care of the affairs of others, which keeps her continually hunting
after secrets and gadding about proclaiming them. Whatever is done openly
and in the face of the world, she takes but transient notice of; but
whenever a transaction is done in a corner, and attempted to be shrouded
in mystery, then her goddess-ship is at her wits' end to find it out, and
takes a most mischievous and lady-like pleasure in publishing it to the

It is this truly feminine propensity which induces her continually to be
prying into the cabinets of princes, listening at the key-holes of senate
chambers, and peering through chinks and crannies, when our worthy
congress are sitting with closed doors, deliberating between a dozen
excellent modes of ruining the nation. It is this which makes her so
baneful to all wary statesmen and intriguing commanders--such a
stumbling-block to private negotiations and secret expeditions; betraying
them by means and instruments which never would have been thought of by
any but a female head.

Thus it was in the case of the affair of Fort Casimir. No doubt the
cunning Risingh imagined, that, by securing the garrison he should for a
long time prevent the history of its fate from reaching the ears of the
gallant Stuyvesant; but his exploit was blown to the world when he least
expected, and by one of the last beings he would ever have suspected of
enlisting as trumpeter to the wide-mouthed deity.

This was one Dirk Schuiler (or Skulker), a kind of hanger-on to the
garrison, who seemed to belong to nobody, and in a manner to be
self-outlawed. He was one of those vagabond cosmopolites who shark about
the world, as if they had no right or business in it, and who infest the
skirts of society like poachers and interlopers. Every garrison and
country village has one or more scapegoats of this kind, whose life is a
kind of enigma, whose existence is without motive, who comes from the Lord
knows where, who lives the Lord knows how, and who seems created for no
other earthly purpose but to keep up the ancient and honorable order of
idleness. This vagrant philosopher was supposed to have some Indian blood
in his veins, which was manifested by a certain Indian complexion and cast
of countenance, but more especially by his propensities and habits. He was
a tall, lank fellow, swift of foot, and long-winded. He was generally
equipped in a half Indian dress, with belt, leggings, and moccasins. His
hair hung in straight gallows locks about his ears, and added not a little
to his sharking demeanor. It is an old remark, that persons of Indian
mixture, are half civilized, half savage, and half devil--a third half
being provided for their particular convenience. It is for similar
reasons, and probably with equal truth, that the backwoodsmen of Kentucky
are styled half man, half horse, and half alligator by the settlers on the
Mississippi, and held accordingly in great respect and abhorrence.

The above character may have presented itself to the garrison as
applicable to Dirk Schuiler, whom they familiarly dubbed Gallows Dirk.
Certain it is, he acknowledged allegiance to no one--was an utter enemy to
work, holding it in no manner of estimation--but lounging about the fort,
depending upon chance for a subsistence, getting drunk whenever he could
get liquor, and stealing whatever he could lay his hands on. Every day or
two he was sure to get a sound rib-roasting for some of his misdemeanors;
which, however, as it broke no bones, he made very light of, and scrupled
not to repeat the offence whenever another opportunity presented.
Sometimes, in consequence of some flagrant villainy, he would abscond from
the garrison, and be absent for a month at a time; skulking about the
woods and swamps, with a long fowling-piece on his shoulder, lying in
ambush for game, or squatting himself down on the edge of a pond catching
fish for hours together, and bearing no little resemblance to that notable
bird of the crane family, yclept the mudpoke. When he thought his crimes
had been forgotten or forgiven, he would sneak back to the fort with a
bundle of skins or a load of poultry, which, perchance, he had stolen, and
would exchange them for liquor, with which having well soaked his carcase,
he would lie in the sun, and enjoy all the luxurious indolence of that
swinish philosopher Diogenes. He was the terror of all the farmyards in
the country, into which he made fearful inroads; and sometimes he would
make his sudden appearance in the garrison at daybreak, with the whole
neighborhood at his heels; like the scoundrel thief of a fox, detected in
his maraudings and hunted to his hole. Such was this Dirk Schuiler; and
from the total indifference he showed to the world and its concerns, and
from his truly Indian stoicism and taciturnity, no one would ever have
dreamt that he would have been the publisher of the treachery of Risingh.

When the carousal was going on, which proved so fatal to the brave
Poffenburgh and his watchful garrison, Dirk skulked about from room to
room, being a kind of privileged vagrant, or useless hound whom nobody
noticed. But though a fellow of few words, yet, like your taciturn people,
his eyes and ears were always open, and in the course of his prowlings he
overheard the whole plot of the Swedes. Dirk immediately settled in his
own mind how he should turn the matter to his own advantage. He played the
perfect jack-of-both-sides--that is to say, he made a prize of everything
that came in his reach, robbed both parties, stuck the copper-bound cocked
hat of the puissant Van Poffenburgh on his head, whipped a huge pair of
Risingh's jack-boots under his arms, and took to his heels, just before
the catastrophe and confusion at the garrison.

Finding himself completely dislodged from his haunt in this quarter, he
directed his flight towards his native place, New Amsterdam, whence he had
formerly been obliged to abscond precipitately, in consequence of
misfortune in business--that is to say, having been detected in the act of
sheep-stealing. After wandering many days in the woods, toiling through
swamps, fording brooks, swimming various rivers, and encountering a world
of hardships that would have killed any other being but an Indian, a
backwoodsman, or the devil, he at length arrived, half famished, and lank
as a starved weasel, at Communipaw, where he stole a canoe, and paddled
over to New Amsterdam. Immediately on landing, he repaired to Governor
Stuyvesant, and in more words than he had ever spoken before in the whole
course of his life, gave an account of the disastrous affair.

On receiving these direful tidings, the valiant Peter started from his
seat--dashed the pipe he was smoking against the back of the
chimney--thrust a prodigious quid of tobacco into his left cheek--pulled
up his galligaskins, and strode up and down the room, humming, as was
customary with him when in a passion, a hideous north-west ditty. But, as
I have before shown, he was not a man to vent his spleen in idle vaporing.
His first measure, after the paroxysm of wrath had subsided, was to stump
upstairs to a huge wooden chest which served as his armory, from whence he
drew forth that identical suit of regimentals described in the preceding
chapter. In these portentous habiliment she arrayed himself, like Achilles
in the armor of Vulcan, maintaining all the while an appalling silence,
knitting his brows, and drawing his breath through his clenched teeth.
Being hastily equipped, he strode down into the parlor, and jerked down
his trusty sword from over the fireplace, where it was usually suspended;
but before he girded it on his thigh, he drew it from its scabbard, and as
his eye coursed along the rusty blade, a grim smile stole over his iron
visage; it was the first smile that had visited his countenance for five
long weeks; but every one who beheld it prophesied that there would soon
be warm work in the province!

Thus armed at all points, with grisly war depicted in each feature, his
very cocked hat assuming an air of uncommon defiance, he instantly put
himself upon the alert, and dispatched Antony Van Corlear hither and
thither, this way and that way, through all the muddy streets and crooked
lanes of the city, summoning by sound of trumpet his trusty peers to
assemble in instant council. This done, by way of expediting matters,
according to the custom of people in a hurry, he kept in continual bustle,
shifting from chair to chair, popping his head out of every window, and
stumping up and downstairs with his wooden leg in such brisk and incessant
motion, that, as we are informed by an authentic historian of the times,
the continual clatter bore no small resemblance to the music of a cooper
hooping a flour-barrel.

A summons so peremptory, and from a man of the governor's mettle, was not
to be trifled with; the sages forthwith repaired to the council chamber,
seated themselves with the utmost tranquillity, and lighting their long
pipes, gazed with unruffled composure on his excellency and his
regimentals; being, as all counsellors should be, not easily flustered,
nor taken by surprise. The governor, looking around for a moment with a
lofty and soldier-like air, and resting one hand on the pommel of his
sword, and flinging the other forth in a free and spirited manner,
addressed them in a short but soul-stirring harangue.

I am extremely sorry that I have not the advantages of Livy, Thucydides,
Plutarch, and others of my predecessors, who were furnished, as I am told,
with the speeches of all their heroes taken down in short-hand by the most
accurate stenographers of the time, whereby they were enabled wonderfully
to enrich their histories, and delight their readers with sublime strains
of eloquence. Not having such important auxiliaries, I cannot possibly
pronounce what was the tenor of Governor Stuyvesant's speech. I am bold,
however, to say, from the tenor of his character, that he did not wrap his
rugged subject in silks and ermines, and other sickly trickeries of
phrase, but spoke forth like a man of nerve and vigor, who scorned to
shrink in words from those dangers which he stood ready to encounter in
very deed. This much is certain, that he concluded by announcing his
determination to lead on his troops in person, and rout these
costard-monger Swedes from their usurped quarters at Fort Casimir. To this
hardy resolution, such of his council as were awake gave their usual
signal of concurrence; and as to the rest, who had fallen asleep about the
middle of the harangue (their "usual custom in the afternoon"), they made
not the least objection.

And now was seen in the fair city of New Amsterdam a prodigious bustle and
preparation for iron war. Recruiting parties marched hither and thither,
calling lustily upon all the scrubs, the runagates, and tatterdemalions of
the Manhattoes and its vicinity, who had any ambition of sixpence a day,
and immortal fame into the bargain, to enlist in the cause of glory; for I
would have you note that you warlike heroes who trudge in the rear of
conquerors are generally of that illustrious class of gentlemen who are
equal candidates for the army or the bridewell, the halberds or the
whipping-post, for whom Dame Fortune has cast an even die whether they
shall make their exit by the sword or the halter, and whose deaths shall,
at all events, be a lofty example to their countrymen.

But, not withstanding all this martial rout and invitation, the ranks of
honor were but scantily supplied, so averse were the peaceful burghers of
New Amsterdam from enlisting in foreign broils, or stirring beyond that
home which rounded all their earthly ideas. Upon beholding this, the great
Peter, whose noble heart was all on fire with war, and sweet revenge,
determined to wait no longer for the tardy assistance of these oily
citizens, but to muster up his merry men of the Hudson, who, brought up
among woods, and wilds, and savage beasts, like our yeomen of Kentucky,
delighted in nothing so much as desperate adventures and perilous
expeditions through the wilderness. Thus resolving, he ordered his trusty
squire, Antony Van Corlear, to have his state galley prepared and duly
victualed; which being performed, he attended public service at the great
church of St. Nicholas, like a true and pious governor; and then leaving
peremptory orders with his council to have the chivalry of the Manhattoes
marshaled out and appointed against his return, departed upon his
recruiting voyage up the waters of the Hudson.


Now did the soft breezes of the south steal sweetly over the face of
nature, tempering the panting heats of summer into genial and prolific
warmth, when that miracle of hardihood and chivalric virtue, the dauntless
Peter Stuyvesant, spread his canvas to the wind, and departed from the
fair island of Manna-hata. The galley in which he embarked was
sumptuously adorned with pendants and streamers of gorgeous dyes, which
fluttered gayly in the wind, or drooped their ends into the bosom of the
stream. The bow and poop of this majestic vessel were gallantly bedight,
after the rarest Dutch fashion, with figures of little pursy Cupids with
periwigs on their heads, and bearing in their hands garlands of flowers
the like of which are not to be found in any book of botany, being the
matchless flowers which flourished in the golden age, and exist no longer,
unless it be in the imaginations of ingenious carvers of wood and
discolorers of canvas.

Thus rarely decorated, in style befitting the puissant potentate of the
Manhattoes, did the galley of Peter Stuyvesant launch forth upon the bosom
of the lordly Hudson, which, as it rolled its broad waves to the ocean,
seemed to pause for a while and swell with pride, as if conscious of the
illustrious burden it sustained.

But trust me, gentlefolk, far other was the scene presented to the
contemplation of the crew from that which may be witnessed at this
degenerate day. Wildness and savage majesty reigned on the borders of this
mighty river; the hand of cultivation had not as yet laid low the dark
forest and tamed the features of the landscape, nor had the frequent sail
of commerce broken in upon the profound and awful solitude of ages. Here
and there might be seen a rude wigwam perched among the cliffs of the
mountains, with its curling column of smoke mounting in the transparent
atmosphere, but so loftily situated that the whoopings of the savage
children, gamboling on the margin of the dizzy heights, fell almost as
faintly on the ear as do the notes of the lark when lost in the azure
vault of heaven. Now and then, from the beetling brow of some precipice,
the wild deer would look timidly down upon the splendid pageant as it
passed below, and then, tossing his antlers in the air, would bound away
into the thickets of the forest.

Through such scenes did the stately vessel of Peter Stuyvesant pass. Now
did they skirt the bases of the rocky heights of Jersey, which sprang up
like everlasting walls, reaching from the waves unto the heavens, and were
fashioned, if tradition may be believed, in times long past, by the mighty
spirit of Manetho, to protect his favorite abodes from the unhallowed eyes
of mortals. Now did they career it gayly across the vast expanse of Tappan
Bay, whose wide extended shores present a variety of delectable scenery;
here the bold promontory, crowned with embowering trees, advancing into
the bay; there the long woodland slope, sweeping up from the shore in rich
luxuriance, and terminating in the upland precipice, while at a distance,
a long waving line of rocky heights threw their gigantic shades across the
water. Now would they pass where some modest little interval, opening
among these stupendous scenes, yet retreating as it were for protection
into the embraces of the neighboring mountains, displayed a rural
paradise, fraught with sweet and pastoral beauties; the velvet-tufted
lawn, the bushy copse, the tinkling rivulet, stealing through the fresh
and vivid verdure, on whose banks was situated some little Indian village,
or, peradventure, the rude cabin of some solitary hunter.

The different periods of the revolving day seemed each, with cunning
magic, to diffuse a different charm over the scene. Now would the jovial
sun break gloriously from the east, blazing from the summits of the hills,
and sparkling the landscape with a thousand dewy gems; while along the
borders of the river were seen heavy masses of mist, which, like midnight
caitiffs, disturbed at his reproach, made a sluggish retreat, rolling in
sullen reluctance upon the mountains. As such times all was brightness,
and life, and gayety; the atmosphere was of an indescribable pureness and
transparency; the birds broke forth in wanton madrigals, and the
freshening breezes wafted the vessel merrily on her course. But when the
sun sunk amid a flood of glory in the west, mantling the heavens and the
earth with a thousand gorgeous dyes, then all was calm, and silent, and
magnificent. The late swelling sail hung lifelessly against the mast; the
seamen, with folded arms, leaned against the shrouds, lost in that
involuntary musing which the sober grandeur of nature commands in the
rudest of her children. The vast bosom of the Hudson was like an unruffled
mirror, reflecting the golden splendor of the heavens; excepting that now
and then a bark canoe would steal across its surface, filled with painted
savages, whose gay feathers glared brightly, as perchance a lingering ray
of the setting sun gleamed upon them from the western mountains.

But when the hour of twilight spread its majestic mists around, then did
the face of nature assume a thousand fugitive charms, which to the worthy
heart that seeks enjoyment in the glorious works of its Maker are
inexpressibly captivating. The mellow dubious light that prevailed just
served to tinge with illusive colors the softened features of the scenery.
The deceived but delighted eye sought vainly to discern, in the broad
masses of shade, the separating line between the land and water, or to
distinguish the fading objects that seemed sinking into chaos. Now did the
busy fancy supply the feebleness of vision, producing with industrious
craft a fairy creation of her own. Under her plastic wand the barren rocks
frowned upon the watery waste, in the semblance of lofty towers, and high
embattled castles; trees assumed the direful forms of mighty giants, and
the inaccessible summits of the mountains seemed peopled with a thousand
shadowy beings.

Now broke forth from the shores the notes of an innumerable variety of
insects, which filled the air with a strange but not inharmonious concert;
while ever and anon was heard the melancholy plaint of the whip-poor-will,
who, perched on some lone tree, wearied the ear of night with his
incessant moanings. The mind, soothed into a hallowed melancholy, listened
with pensive stillness to catch and distinguish each sound that vaguely
echoed from the shore--now and then startled, perchance, by the whoop of
some straggling savage, or by the dreary howl of a wolf, stealing forth
upon his nightly prowlings.

Thus happily did they pursue their course, until they entered upon those
awful defiles denominated the Highlands, where it would seem that the
gigantic Titans had erst waged their impious war with heaven, piling up
cliffs on cliffs, and hurling vast masses of rock in wild confusion. But
in sooth very different is the history of these cloud-capped mountains.
These in ancient days, before the Hudson poured its waters from the lakes,
formed one vast prison, within whose rocky bosom the omnipotent Manetho
confined the rebellious spirits who repined at his control. Here, bound in
adamantine chains, or jammed in rifted pines, or crushed by ponderous
rocks, they groaned for many an age. At length the conquering Hudson, in
its career toward the ocean, burst open their prison-house, rolling its
tide triumphantly through the stupendous ruins.

Still, however, do many of them lurk about their old abodes; and these it
is, according to venerable legends, that cause the echoes which resound
throughout these awful solitudes, which are nothing but their angry
clamors when any noise disturbs the profoundness of their repose. For when
the elements are agitated by tempest, when the winds are up and the
thunder rolls, then horrible is the yelling and howling of these troubled
spirits, making the mountains to re-bellow with their hideous uproar; for
at such times it is said that they think the great Manetho is returning
once more to plunge them in gloomy caverns, and renew their intolerable

But all these fair and glorious scenes were lost upon the gallant
Stuyvesant; nought occupied his mind but thoughts of iron war, and proud
anticipations of hardy deeds of arms. Neither did his honest crew trouble
their heads with any romantic speculations of the kind. The pilot at the
helm quietly smoked his pipe, thinking of nothing either past, present, or
to come; those of his comrades who were not industriously smoking under
the hatches were listening with open mouths to Antony Van Corlear, who,
seated on the windlass, was relating to them the marvelous history of
those myriads of fireflies, that sparkled like gems and spangles upon the
dusky robe of night. These, according to tradition, were originally a race
of pestilent sempiternous beldames, who peopled these parts long before
the memory of man, being of that abominated race emphatically called
brimstones; and who, for their innumerable sins against the children of
men, and to furnish an awful warning to the beauteous sex, were doomed to
infest the earth in the shade of these threatening and terrible little
bugs; enduring the internal torments of that fire, which they formerly
carried in their hearts and breathed forth in their words, but now are
sentenced to bear about for ever--in their tails!

And now I am going to tell a fact, which I doubt much my readers will
hesitate to believe; but if they do, they are welcome not to believe a
word in this whole history--for nothing which it contains is more true. It
must be known then that the nose of Antony the Trumpeter was of a very
lusty size, strutting boldly from his countenance like a mountain of
Golconda, being sumptuously bedecked with rubies and other precious
stones, the true regalia of a king of good fellows, which jolly Bacchus
grants to all who bouse it heartily at the flagon. Now thus it happened,
that bright and early in the morning, the good Antony, having washed his
burly visage, was leaning over the quarter-railing of the galley,
contemplating it in the glassy wave below. Just at this moment the
illustrious sun, breaking in all his splendor from behind a high bluff of
the Highlands, did dart one of his most potent beams full upon the
refulgent nose of the sounder of brass; the reflection of which shot
straightway down, hissing hot, into the water, and killed a mighty
sturgeon that was sporting beside the vessel! This huge monster being with
infinite labor hoisted on board, furnished a luxurious repast to all the
crew, being accounted of excellent flavor, excepting about the wound,
where it smacked a little of brimstone; and this, on my veracity, was the
first time that ever sturgeon was eaten in those parts by Christian

When this astonishing miracle came to be made known to Peter Stuyvesant,
and that he tasted of the unknown fish, he, as may well be supposed,
marveled exceedingly: and as a monument thereof, he gave the name of
Antony's Nose to a stout promontory in the neighborhood; and it has
continued to be called Antony's Nose ever since that time.

But hold, whither am I wandering? By the mass, if I attempt to accompany
the good Peter Stuyvesant on this voyage, I shall never make an end; for
never was there a voyage so fraught with marvelous incidents, nor a river
so abounding with transcendent beauties, worthy of being severally
recorded. Even now I have it on the point of my pen to relate how his crew
were most horribly frightened, on going on shore above the Highlands, by a
gang of merry roistering devils, frisking and curveting on a flat rock,
which projected into the river, and which is called the Duyvel's
Dans-Kamer to this very day. But no! Diedrich Knickerbocker, it becomes
thee not to idle thus in thy historic wayfaring.

Recollect, that while dwelling with the fond garrulity of age over these
fairy scenes, endeared to thee by the recollections of thy youth, and the
charms of a thousand legendary tales, which beguiled the simple ear of thy
childhood--recollect that thou art trifling with those fleeting moments
which should be devoted to loftier themes. Is not Time, relentless Time!
shaking, with palsied hand, his almost exhausted hour-glass before
thee?--hasten then to pursue thy weary task, lest the last sands be run
ere thou hast finished thy history of the Manhattoes.

Let us, then, commit the dauntless Peter, his brave galley, and his loyal
crew, to the protection of the blessed St. Nicholas, who, I have no doubt,
will prosper him in his voyage, while we await his return at the great
city of New Amsterdam.


   [49] The learned Hans Megapolonsis, treating of the country about
        Albany, in a letter which was written some time after the
        settlement thereof, says, "There is in the river great plenty of
        sturgeon, which we Christians do not make use of, but the Indians
        eat them greedily."


While thus the enterprising Peter was coasting, with flowing sail, up the
shores of the lordly Hudson, and arousing all the phlegmatic little Dutch
settlements upon its borders, a great and puissant concourse of warriors
was assembling at the city of New Amsterdam. And here that invaluable
fragment of antiquity, the Stuyvesant manuscript, is more than commonly
particular; by which means I am enabled to record the illustrious host
that encamped itself in the public square in front of the fort, at present
denominated the Bowling Green.

In the center, then, was pitched the tent of the men of battle of the
manhattoes, who being the inmates of the metropolis, composed the
lifeguards of the governor. These were commanded by the valiant Stoffel
Brinkerhoff, who whilom had acquired such immortal fame at Oyster Bay;
they displayed as a standard a beaver rampant on a field of orange, being
the arms of the province, and denoting the persevering industry and the
amphibious origin of the Nederlanders.[50]

On their right hand might be seen the vassals of that renowned Mynheer,
Michael Paw[51], who lorded it over the fair regions of ancient Pavonia,
and the lands away south, even unto the Navesink Mountains,[52] and was,
moreover, patroon of Gibbet Island. His standard was borne by his trusty
squire, Cornelius Van Vorst, consisting of a huge oyster recumbent upon a
sea-green field, being the armorial bearings of his favorite metropolis,
Communipaw. He brought to the camp a stout force of warriors, heavily
armed, being each clad in ten pair of linsey-woolsey breeches, and
overshadowed by broad-brimmed beavers, with short pipes twisted in their
hat-bands. These were the men who vegetated in the mud along the shores of
Pavonia, being of the race of genuine copper-heads, and were fabled to
have sprung from oysters.

At a little distance was encamped the tribe of warriors who came from the
neighborhood of Hell-gate. These were commanded by the Suy Dams and the
Van Dams, incontinent hard swearers, as their names betoken; they were
terrible looking fellows, clad in broad-skirted gaberdines, of that
curious colored cloth called thunder and lightning, and bore as a standard
three devil's darning-needles, volant, in a flame-colored field.

Hard by was the tent of the men of battle from the marshy borders of the
Waale-Boght[53] and the country thereabouts; these were of a sour aspect,
by reason that they lived on crabs, which abound in these parts. They were
the first institutors of that honorable order of knighthood, called
Flymarket shirks; and, if tradition speak true, did likewise introduce the
far-famed step in dancing, called "double trouble." They were commanded by
the fearless Jacobus Varra Vanger, and had, moreover, a jolly band of
Breuckelen[54] ferry-men, who performed a brave concerto on conch shells.

But I refrain from pursuing this minute description, which goes on to
describe the warriors of Bloemen-dael, and Weehawk, and Hoboken, and
sundry other places, well known in history and song--for now do the notes
of martial music alarm the people of New Amsterdam, sounding afar from
beyond the walls of the city. But this alarm was in a little while
relieved; for, lo! from the midst of a vast cloud of dust, they recognized
the brimstone-colored breeches and splendid silver leg of Peter
Stuyvesant, glaring in the sunbeams; and beheld him approaching at the
head of a formidable army, which he had mustered along the banks of the
Hudson. And here the excellent but anonymous writer of the Stuyvesant
manuscript breaks out into a brave and glorious description of the forces,
as they defiled through the principal gate of the city, that stood by the
head of Wall Street.

First of all came the Van Brummels, who inhabit the pleasant borders of
the Bronx: these were short fat men, wearing exceeding large
trunk-breeches, and were renowned for feats of the trencher; they were the
first inventors of suppawn, or mush and milk. Close in their rear marched
the Van Vlotens, or Kaats-kill, horrible quavers of new cider, and arrant
braggarts in their liquor. After them came the Van Pelts of Groodt Esopus,
dexterous horsemen, mounted upon goodly switch-tailed steeds of the Esopus
breed; these were mighty hunters of minks and musk-rats, whence came the
word Peltry. Then the Van Nests of Kinderhoeck, valiant robbers of birds'
nests, as their name denotes; to these, if report may be believed, are we
indebted for the invention of slap-jacks, or buckwheat cakes. Then the Van
Higginbottoms, of Wapping's Creek; these came armed with ferrules and
birchen rods, being a race of schoolmasters, who first discovered the
marvelous sympathy between the seat of honor and the seat of intellect.
Then the Van Grolls, of Antony's Nose, who carried their liquor in fair
round little pottles, by reason they could not bouse it out of their
canteens, having such rare long noses. Then the Gardeniers, of Hudson and
thereabouts, distinguished by many triumphant feats: such as robbing
water-melon patches, smoking rabbits out of their holes, and the like, and
by being great lovers of roasted pigs' tails; these were the ancestors of
the renowned congressman of that name. Then the Van Hoesens, of Sing-Sing,
great choristers and players upon the jewsharp; these marched two and two,
singing the great song of St. Nicholas. Then the Couenhovens of Sleepy
Hollow; these gave birth to a jolly race of publicans, who first
discovered the magic artifice of conjuring a quart of wine into a pint
bottle. Then the Van Kortlandts, who lived on the wild banks of the
Croton, and were great killers of wild ducks, being much spoken of for
their skill in shooting with the long bow. Then the Van Bunschotens, of
Nyack and Kakiat, who were the first that did ever kick with the left
foot; they were gallant bush-whackers and hunters of raccoons by
moonlight. Then the Van Winkles, of Haerlem, potent suckers of eggs, and
noted for running of horses, and running up of scores at taverns; they
were the first that ever winked with both eyes at once. Lastly came the
Knickerbockers, of the great town of Schaghtikoke, where the folk lay
stones upon the houses in windy weather, lest they should be blown away.
These derive their name, as some say, from Knicker, to shake, and Beker, a
goblet, indicating thereby that they were sturdy toss-pots of yore; but,
in truth, it was derived from Knicker, to nod, and Boeken, books; plainly
meaning that they were great nodders or dozers over books; from them did
descend the writer of this history.

Such was the legion of sturdy bush-beaters that poured in at the grand
gate of New Amsterdam; the Stuyvesant manuscript, indeed, speaks of many
more, whose names I omit to mention, seeing that it behooves me to hasten
to matters of greater moment. Nothing could surpass the joy and martial
pride of the lion-hearted Peter as he reviewed this mighty host of
warriors, and he determined no longer to defer the gratification of his
much-wished-for revenge upon the scoundrel Swedes at Fort Casimir.

But before I hasten to record those unmatchable events, which will be
found in the sequel of this faithful history, let us pause to notice the
fate of Jacobus Van Poffenburgh, the discomfited commander-in-chief of the
armies of the New Netherlands. Such is the inherent uncharitableness of
human nature that scarcely did the news become public of his deplorable
discomfiture at Fort Casimir, than a thousand scurvy rumors were set
afloat in New Amsterdam, wherein it was insinuated that he had in reality
a treacherous understanding with the Swedish commander; that he had long
been in the practice of privately communicating with the Swedes; together
with divers hints about "secret service money." To all which deadly
charges I do not give a jot more credit than I think they deserve.

Certain it is that the general vindicated his character by the most
vehement oaths and protestations, and put every man out of the ranks of
honor who dared to doubt his integrity. Moreover, on returning to New
Amsterdam, he paraded up and down the streets with a crew of hard swearers
at his heels--sturdy bottle companions, whom he gorged and fattened, and
who were ready to bolster him through all the courts of justice--heroes of
his own kidney, fierce-whiskered, broad-shouldered, colbrand-looking
swaggerers--not one of whom but looked as though he could eat up an ox,
and pick his teeth with the horns. These lifeguard men quarreled all his
quarrels, were ready to fight all his battles, and scowled at every man
that turned up his nose at the general, as though they would devour him
alive. Their conversation was interspersed with oaths like minute-guns,
and every bombastic rhodomontade was rounded off by a thundering
execration, like a patriotic toast honored with a discharge of artillery.

All these valorous vaporings had a considerable effect in convincing
certain profound sages, who began to think the general a hero, of
unmatchable loftiness and magnanimity of soul; particularly as he was
continually protesting on the honor of a soldier--a marvelously
high-sounding asseveration. Nay, one of the members of the council went so
far as to propose they should immortalise him by an imperishable statue of
plaster of Paris.

But the vigilant Peter the Headstrong was not thus to be deceived. Sending
privately for the commander-in-chief of all the armies, and having heard
all his story, garnished with the customary pious oaths, protestations,
and ejaculations--"Harkee, comrade," cried he, "though by your own
account you are the most brave, upright, and honorable man in the whole
province, yet do you lie under the misfortune of being damnably traduced,
and immeasurably despised. Now, though it is certainly hard to punish a
man for his misfortunes, and though it is very possible you are totally
innocent of the crimes laid to your charge; yet as heaven, doubtless for
some wise purpose, sees fit at present to withhold all proofs of your
innocence, far be it from me to counteract its sovereign will. Besides, I
cannot consent to venture my armies with a commander whom they despise,
nor to trust the welfare of my people to a champion whom they distrust.
Retire therefore, my friend, from the irksome toils and cares of public
life, with this comforting reflection--that if guilty, you are but
enjoying your just reward--and if innocent, you are not the first great
and good man who has most wrongfully been slandered and maltreated in this
wicked world--doubtless to be better treated in a better world, where
there shall be neither error, calumny, nor persecution. In the meantime,
let me never see your face again, for I have a horrible antipathy to the
countenances of unfortunate great men like yourself."


   [50] This was likewise a great seal of the New Netherlands, as
        may still be seen in ancient records.

   [51] Besides what is related in the Stuyvesant MS., I have found
        mention made of this illustrious patroon in another manuscript,
        which says, "De Heer (or the squire) Michael Paw, a Dutch
        subject, about 10th Aug., 1630, by deed purchased Staten Island.
        N.B.--The same Michael Paw had what the Dutch call a colonie at
        Pavonia, on the Jersey shore, opposite New York: and his
        overseer, in 1636, was named Corns. Van Vorst, a person of the
        same name, in 1769, owned Pawles Hook, and a large farm at
        Pavonia, and is a lineal descendant from Van Vorst."

   [52] So called from the Navesink tribe of Indians that inhabited
        these parts. At present they are erroneously denominated the
        Neversink, or Neversunk, mountains.

   [53] Since corrupted into the Wallabout, the bay where the
        navy-yard is situated.

   [54] Now spelt Brooklyn.


As my readers and myself are about entering on as many perils as ever a
confederacy of meddlesome knights-errant wilfully ran their heads into it
is meet that, like those hardy adventurers, we should join hands, bury all
differences, and swear to stand by one another, in weal or woe, to the end
of the enterprise. My readers must doubtless perceive how completely I
have altered my tone and deportment since we first set out together. I
warrant they then thought me a crabbed, cynical, impertinent little son of
a Dutchman; for I scarcely ever gave them a civil word, nor so much as
touched my beaver, when I had occasion to address them. But as we jogged
along together on the high road of my history, I gradually began to relax,
to grow more courteous, and occasionally to enter into familiar discourse,
until at length I came to conceive a most social, companionable kind of
regard for them. This is just my way--I am always a little cold and
reserved at first, particularly to people whom I neither know nor care for
and am only to be completely won by long intimacy.

Besides, why should I have been sociable to the crowd of how-d'ye-do
acquaintances that flocked around me at my first appearance? Many were
merely attracted by a new face; and having stared me full in the title
page walked off without saying a word; while others lingered yawningly
through the preface, and, having gratified their short-lived curiosity,
soon dropped off one by one, but more especially to try their mettle, I
had recourse to an expedient, similar to one which, we are told, was used
by that peerless flower of chivalry, King Arthur; who, before he admitted
any knight to his intimacy, first required that he should show himself
superior to danger or hardships, by encountering unheard-of mishaps,
slaying some dozen giants, vanquishing wicked enchanters, not to say a
word of dwarfs, hippogriffs, and fiery dragons. On a similar principle did
I cunningly lead my readers, at the first sally, into two or three knotty
chapters, where they were most woefully belabored and buffeted by a host
of pagan philosophers and infidel writers. Though naturally a very grave
man, yet could I scarce refrain from smiling outright at seeing the utter
confusion and dismay of my valiant cavaliers. Some dropped down dead
(asleep) on the field; others threw down my book in the middle of the
first chapter, took to their heels, and never ceased scampering until they
had fairly run it out of sight; when they stopped to take breath, to tell
their friends what troubles they had undergone, and to warn all others
from venturing on so thankless an expedition. Every page thinned my ranks
more and more; and of the vast multitude that first set out, but a
comparatively few made shift to survive, in exceedingly battered
condition, through the five introductory chapters.

What, then! would you have had me take such sunshine, faint-hearted
recreants to my bosom at our first acquaintance? No--no; I reserved my
friendship for those who deserved it, for those who undauntedly bore me
company, in despite of difficulties, dangers, and fatigues. And now, as to
those who adhere to me at present, I take them affectionately by the hand.
Worthy and thrice-beloved readers! brave and well-tried comrades! who have
faithfully followed my footsteps through all my wanderings--I salute you
from my heart--I pledge myself to stand by you to the last; and to conduct
you (so Heaven speed this trusty weapon which I now hold between my
fingers) triumphantly to the end of this our stupendous undertaking.

But, hark! while we are thus talking, the city of New Amsterdam is in a
bustle. The host of warriors encamped in the Bowling Green are striking
their tents; the brazen trumpet of Antony Van Corlear makes the welkin to
resound with portentous clangour--the drums beat--the standards of the
Manhattoes, of Hell-gate, and of Michael Paw wave proudly in the air. And
now behold where the mariners are busily employed, hoisting the sails of
yon topsail schooner and those clump-built sloops which are to waft the
army of the Nederlanders to gather immortal honors on the Delaware!

The entire population of the city, man, woman, and child, turned out to
behold the chivalry of New Amsterdam, as it paraded the streets previous
to embarkation. Many a handkerchief was waved out of the windows, many a
fair nose was blown in melodious sorrow on the mournful occasion. The
grief of the fair dames and beauteous damsels of Grenada could not have
been more vociferous on the banishment of the gallant tribe of
Abencerrages than was that of the kind-hearted fair ones of New Amsterdam
on the departure of their intrepid warriors. Every love-sick maiden fondly
crammed the pockets of her hero with gingerbread and doughnuts; many a
copper ring was exchanged, and crooked sixpence broken, in pledge of
eternal constancy: and there remain extant to this day some love verses
written on that occasion, sufficiently crabbed and incomprehensible to
confound the whole universe.

But it was a moving sight to see the buxom lasses how they hung about the
doughty Antony Van Corlear; for he was a jolly, rosy-faced, lusty
bachelor, fond of his joke, and withall a desperate rogue among the women.
Fain would they have kept him to comfort them while the army was away, for
besides what I have said of him, it is no more than justice to add that he
was a kind-hearted soul, noted for his benevolent attentions in comforting
disconsolate wives during the absence of their husbands; and this made him
to be very much regarded by the honest burghers of the city. But nothing
could keep the valiant Antony from following the heels of the old
governor, whom he loved as he did his very soul: so embracing all the
young vrouws, and giving every one of them, that had good teeth and rosy
lips, a dozen hearty smacks, he departed, loaded with their kind wishes.

Nor was the departure of the gallant Peter among the least causes of
public distress. Though the old governor was by no means indulgent to the
follies and waywardness of his subjects, yet somehow or other he had
become strangely popular among the people. There is something so
captivating in personal bravery that, with the common mass of mankind, it
takes the lead of most other merits. The simple folk of New Amsterdam
looked upon Peter Stuyvesant as a prodigy of valor. His wooden leg, that
trophy of his martial encounters, was regarded with reverence and
admiration. Every old burgher had a budget of miraculous stories to tell
about the exploits of Hardkoppig Piet, wherewith he regaled his children
of a long winter night, and on which he dwelt with as much delight and
exaggeration as do our honest country yeomen on the hardy adventures of
old General Putnam (or, as he is familiarly termed, Old Put) during our
glorious revolution.

Not an individual but verily believed the old governor was a match for
Beelzebub himself; and there was even a story told, with great mystery,
and under the rose, of his having shot the devil with a silver bullet one
dark stormy night as he was sailing in a canoe through Hell-gate; but this
I do not record as being an absolute fact. Perish the man who would let
fall a drop to discolor the pure stream of history!

Certain it is, not an old woman in New Amsterdam but considered Peter
Stuyvesant as a tower of strength, and rested satisfied that the public
welfare was secure, so long as he was in the city. It is not surprising,
then, that they looked upon his departure as a sore affliction. With heavy
hearts they dragged at the heels of his troop, as they marched down to the
riverside to embark. The governor from the stern of his schooner gave a
short but truly patriarchal address to his citizens, wherein he
recommended them to comport like loyal and peaceable subjects--to go to
church regularly on Sundays, and to mind their business all the week
besides. That the women should be dutiful and affectionate to their
husbands--looking after nobody's concerns but their own, eschewing all
gossipings and morning gaddings, and carrying short tongues and long
petticoats. That the men should abstain from intermeddling in public
concerns, intrusting the cares of government to the officers appointed to
support them--staying at home, like good citizens, making money for
themselves, and getting children for the benefit of the country. That the
burgomasters should look well to the public interest--not oppressing the
poor nor indulging the rich--not tasking their ingenuity to devise new
laws, but faithfully enforcing those which were already made--rather
bending their attention to prevent evil than to punish it; ever
recollecting that civil magistrates should consider themselves more as
guardians of public morals than ratcatchers, employed to entrap public
delinquents. Finally, he exhorted them, one and all, high and low, rich
and poor, to conduct themselves as well as they could, assuring them that
if they faithfully and conscientiously complied with this golden rule,
there was no danger but that they would all conduct themselves well
enough. This done, he gave them a paternal benediction, the sturdy Anthony
sounded a most loving farewell with his trumpet, the jolly crews put up a
shout of triumph, and the invincible armada swept off proudly down the

The good people of New Amsterdam crowded down to the Battery--that blest
resort, from whence so many a tender prayer has been wafted, so many a
fair hand waved, so many a tearful look been cast by love-sick damsel,
after the lessening barque, bearing her adventurous swain to distant
climes! Here the populace watched with straining eyes the gallant
squadron, as it slowly floated down the bay, and when the intervening land
at the Narrows shut it from their sight, gradually dispersed with silent
tongues and downcast countenances.

A heavy gloom hung over the late bustling city; the honest burghers smoked
their pipes in profound thoughtfulness, casting many a wistful look to the
weathercock on the church of St. Nicholas; and all the old women, having
no longer the presence of Peter Stuyvesant to hearten them, gathered their
children home, and barricaded the doors and windows every evening at sun

In the meanwhile the armada of the sturdy Peter proceeded prosperously on
its voyage, and after encountering about as many storms, and waterspouts,
and whales, and other horrors and phenomena, as generally befall
adventurous landsmen in perilous voyages of the kind; and after undergoing
a severe scouring from that deplorable and unpitied malady, called
sea-sickness, the whole squadron arrived safely in the Delaware.

Without so much as dropping anchor, and giving his wearied ships time to
breathe, after laboring so long on the ocean, the intrepid Peter pursued
his course up the Delaware, and made a sudden appearance before Fort
Casimir. Having summoned the astonished garrison by a terrific blast from
the trumpet of the long-winded Van Corlear, he demanded, in a tone of
thunder, an instant surrender of the fort. To this demand, Suen Skytte,
the wind-dried commandant, replied in a shrill, whiffling voice, which, by
reason of his extreme spareness, sounded like the wind whistling through a
broken bellows--"that he had no very strong reason for refusing, except
that the demand was particularly disagreeable, as he had been ordered to
maintain his post to the last extremity." He requested time, therefore, to
consult with Governor Risingh, and proposed a truce for that purpose.

The choleric Peter, indignant at having his rightful fort so treacherously
taken from him, and thus pertinaciously withheld, refused the proposed
armistice, and swore by the pipe of St. Nicholas, which, like the sacred
fire, was never extinguished, that unless the fort were surrendered in ten
minutes, he would incontinently storm the works, make all the garrison run
the gauntlet, and split their scoundrel of a commander like a pickled
shad. To give this menace the greater effect, he drew forth his trusty
sword, and shook it at them with such a fierce and vigorous motion that
doubtless, if it had not been exceeding rusty, it would have lightened
terror into the eyes and hearts of the enemy. He then ordered his men to
bring a broadside to bear upon the fort, consisting of two swivels, three
muskets, a long duck fowling-piece, and two braces of horse-pistols.

In the meantime the sturdy Van Corlear marshaled all his forces, and
commenced his warlike operations. Distending his cheeks like a very
Boreas, he kept up a most horrific twanging of his trumpet--the lusty
choristers of Sing-Sing broke forth into a hideous song of battle--the
warriors of Breuckelen and the Wallabout blew a potent and astounding
blast on their conch shells, altogether forming as outrageous a concerto
as though five thousand French fiddlers were displaying their skill in a
modern overture.

Whether the formidable front of war thus suddenly presented smote the
garrison with sore dismay--or whether the concluding terms of the summons,
which mentioned that he should surrender "at discretion," were mistaken by
Suen Skytte, who, though a Swede, was a very considerate, easy-tempered
man, as a compliment to his discretion, I will not take upon me to say;
certain it is he found it impossible to resist so courteous a demand.
Accordingly, in the very nick of time, just as the cabin-boy had gone
after a coal of fire to discharge the swivel, a chamade was beat on the
rampart by the only drum in the garrison, to the no small satisfaction of
both parties; who, not withstanding their great stomach for fighting, had
full as good an inclination to eat a quiet dinner as to exchange black
eyes and bloody noses.

Thus did this impregnable fortress once more return to the domination of
their High Mightinesses; Skytte and his garrison of twenty men were
allowed to march out with the honors of war; and the victorious Peter, who
was as generous as brave, permitted them to keep possession of all their
arms and ammunition--the same on inspection being found totally unfit for
service, having long rusted in the magazine of the fortress, even before
it was wrested by the Swedes from the windy Van Poffenburgh. But I must
not omit to mention that the governor was so well pleased with the service
of his faithful squire Van Corlear, in the reduction of this great
fortress, that he made him on the spot lord of a goodly domain in the
vicinity of New Amsterdam, which goes by the name of Corlear's Hook unto
this very day.

The unexampled liberality of Peter Stuyvesant towards the Swedes
occasioned great surprise in the city of New Amsterdam; nay, certain
factious individuals, who had been enlightened by political meetings in
the days of William the Testy, but who had not dared to indulge their
meddlesome habits under the eye of their present ruler, now emboldened by
his absence, gave vent to their censures in the street. Murmurs were heard
in the very council-chamber of New Amsterdam; and there is no knowing
whether they might not have broken out into downright speeches and
invectives, had not Peter Stuyvesant privately sent home his walking-stick
to be laid as a mace on the table of the council-chamber, in the midst of
his counsellors, who, like wise men, took the hint, and for ever after
held their peace.


Like as a mighty alderman, when at a corporation feast the first spoonful
of turtle-soup salutes his palate, feels his appetite but tenfold
quickened, and redoubles his vigorous attacks upon the tureen, while his
projecting eyes rolled greedily round, devouring everything at table; so
did the mettlesome Peter Stuyvesant feel that hunger for martial glory,
which raged within his bowels, inflamed by the capture of Fort Casimir,
and nothing could allay it but the conquest of all New Sweden. No sooner,
therefore, had he secured his conquest than he stumped resolutely on,
flushed with success, to gather fresh laurels at Fort Christina.[55]

This was the grand Swedish post, established on a small river (or, as it
is improperly termed, creek) of the same name; and here that crafty
governor Jan Risingh lay grimly drawn up, like a grey-bearded spider in
the citadel of his web.

But before we hurry into the direful scenes which must attend the meeting
of two such potent chieftains, it is advisable to pause for a moment, and
hold a kind of warlike council. Battles should not be rushed into
precipitately by the historian and his readers, any more than by the
general and his soldiers. The great commanders of antiquity never engaged
the enemy without previously preparing the minds of their followers by
animating harangues; spiriting them up to heroic deeds, assuring them of
the protection of the gods, and inspiring them with a confidence in the
prowess of their leaders. So the historian should awaken the attention and
enlist the passions of his readers; and having set them all on fire with
the importance of his subject, he should put himself at their head,
flourish his pen, and lead them on to the thickest of the fight.

An illustrious example of this rule may be seen in that mirror of
historians, the immortal Thucydides. Having arrived at the breaking out of
the Peloponnesian War, one of his commentators observes that "he sounds
that charge in all the disposition and spirit of Homer. He catalogues the
allies on both sides. He awakens our expectations, and fast engages our
attention. All mankind are concerned in the important point now going to
be decided. Endeavors are made to disclose futurity. Heaven itself is
interested in the dispute. The earth totters, and nature seems to labor
with the great event. This is his solemn, sublime manner of setting out.
Thus he magnifies a war between two, as Rapin styles them, petty states;
and thus artfully he supports a little subject by treating it in a great
and noble method."

In like manner, having conducted my readers into the very teeth of peril:
having followed the adventurous Peter and his band into foreign regions,
surrounded by foes, and stunned by the horrid din of arms, at this
important moment, while darkness and doubt hang o'er each coming chapter,
I hold it meet to harangue them, and prepare them for the events that are
to follow.

And here I would premise one great advantage, which, as historian, I
possess over my reader; and this it is, that though I cannot save the life
of my favorite hero, nor absolutely contradict the event of a battle (both
which liberties, though often taken by the French writers of the present
reign, I hold to be utterly unworthy of a scrupulous historian), yet I can
now and then make him bestow on his enemy a sturdy back stroke sufficient
to fell a giant; though, in honest truth, he may never have done anything
of the kind; or I can drive his antagonist clear round and round the
field, as did Homer make that fine fellow Hector scamper like a poltroon
round the walls of Troy; for which, if ever they have encountered one
another in the Elysian Fields, I'll warrant the prince of poets has had to
make the most humble apology.

I am aware that many conscientious readers will be ready to cry out, "foul
play!" whenever I render a little assistance to my hero; but I consider it
one of those privileges exercised by historians of all ages, and one which
has never been disputed. An historian is in fact, as it were, bound in
honor to stand by his hero--the fame of the latter is intrusted to his
hands, and it is his duty to do the best by it he can. Never was there a
general, an admiral, or any other commander, who, in giving an account of
any battle he had fought, did not sorely belabor the enemy; and I have no
doubt that, had my heroes written the history of their own achievements,
they would have dealt much harder blows than any that I shall recount.
Standing forth, therefore, as the guardian of their fame, it behoves me to
do them the same justice they would have done themselves; and if I happen
to be a little hard upon the Swedes, I give free leave to any of their
descendants, who may write a history of the State of Delaware, to take
fair retaliation, and belabor Peter Stuyvesant as hard as they please.

Therefore stand by for broken heads and bloody noses! My pen hath long
itched for a battle--siege after siege have I carried on without blows or
bloodshed; but now I have at length got a chance, and I vow to Heaven and
St. Nicholas that, let the chronicles of the times say what they please,
neither Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, Polybius, nor any other historian did ever
record a fiercer fight than that in which my valiant chieftains are now
about to engage.

And you, O most excellent readers, whom, for your faithful adherence, I
could cherish in the warmest corner of my heart, be not uneasy--trust the
fate of our favorite Stuyvesant with me; for by the rood, come what may,
I'll stick by Hardkoppig Piet to the last. I'll make him drive about these
losels vile, as did the renowned Launcelot of the Lake a herd of recreant
Cornish knights; and if he does fall, let me never draw my pen to fight
another battle in behalf of a brave man, if I don't make these lubberly
Swedes pay for it.

No sooner had Peter Stuyvesant arrived before Forth Christina, than he
proceeded without delay to entrench himself, and immediately on running
his first parallel, dispatched Antony Van Corlear to summon the fortress
to surrender. Van Corlear was received with all due formality, hoodwinked
at the portal, and conducted through a pestiferous smell of salt fish and
onions to the citadel, a substantial hut built of pine logs. His eyes were
here uncovered, and he found himself in the august presence of Governor
Risingh. This chieftain, as I have before noted, was a very giantly man,
and was clad in a coarse blue coat, strapped round the waist with a
leathern belt, which caused the enormous skirts and pockets to set off
with a very warlike sweep. His ponderous legs were cased in a pair of
foxy-colored jack-boots, and he was straddling in the attitude of the
Colossus of Rhodes, before a bit of broken looking-glass, shaving himself
with a villainously dull razor. This afflicting operation caused him to
make a series of horrible grimaces, which heightened exceedingly the
grisly terrors of his visage. On Antony Van Corlear's being announced, the
grim commander paused for a moment, in the midst of one of his most
hard-favored contortions, and after eyeing him askance over the shoulder,
with a kind of snarling grin on his countenance, resumed his labors at the

This iron harvest being reaped, he turned once more to the trumpeter, and
demanded the purport of his errand. Antony Van Corlear delivered in a few
words, being a kind of short-hand speaker, a long message from his
excellency, recounting the whole history of the province, with a
recapitulation of grievances, and enumeration of claims, and concluding
with a peremptory demand of instant surrender; which done, he turned
aside, took his nose between his thumb and finger, and blew a tremendous
blast, not unlike the flourish of a trumpet of defiance, which it had
doubtless learned from a long and intimate neighborhood with that
melodious instrument.

Governor Risingh heard him through trumpet and all, but with infinite
impatience; leaning at times, as was his usual custom, on the pommel of
his sword, and at times twirling a huge steel watch-chain, or snapping
his fingers. Van Corlear having finished, he bluntly replied, that Peter
Stuyvesant and his summons might go to the d----, whither he hoped to send
him and his crew of ragamuffins before supper time. Then unsheathing his
brass-hilted sword, and throwing away the scabbard, "'Fore gad," quoth he,
"but I will not sheathe thee again until I make a scabbard of the
smoke-dried leathern hide of this runagate Dutchman." Then having flung a
fierce defiance in the teeth of his adversary, by the lips of his
messenger, the latter was reconducted to the portal, with all the
ceremonious civility due to the trumpeter, squire, and ambassador, of so
great a commander; and being again unblinded, was courteously dismissed
with a tweak of the nose, to assist him in recollecting his message.

No sooner did the gallant Peter receive this insolent reply, than he let
fly a tremendous volley of red-hot execrations, which would infallibly
have battered down the fortifications, and blown up the powder magazine
about the ears of the fiery Swede had not the ramparts been remarkably
strong, and the magazine bomb proof. Perceiving that the works withstood
this terrific blast, and that it was utterly impossible, as it really was
in those unphilosophic days, to carry on a war with words, he ordered his
merry men all to prepare for an immediate assault. But here a strange
murmur broke out among his troops, beginning with the tribe of the Van
Bummels, those valiant trenchermen of the Bronx, and spreading from man to
man, accompanied with certain mutinous looks and discontented murmurs. For
once in his life, and only for once, did the great Peter turn pale; for he
verily thought his warriors were going to falter in this hour of perilous
trial, and thus to tarnish forever the fame of the province of New

But soon did he discover, to his great joy, that in this suspicion he
deeply wronged this most undaunted army; for the cause of this agitation
and uneasiness simply was that the hour of dinner was at hand, and it
would almost have broken the hearts of these regular Dutch warriors to
have broken in upon the invariable routine of their habits. Besides, it
was an established rule among our ancestors always to fight upon a full
stomach, and to this may be doubtless attributed the circumstance that
they came to be so renowned in arms.

And now are the hearty men of the Manhattoes, and their no less hearty
comrades, all lustily engaged under the trees, buffeting stoutly with the
contents of their wallets, and taking such affectionate embraces of their
canteens and pottles as though they verily believed they were to be the
last. And as I foresee we shall have hot work in a page or two, I advise
my readers to do the same, for which purpose I will bring this chapter to
a close; giving them my word of honor that no advantage shall be taken of
this armistice to surprise, or in anywise molest the honest Nederlanders
while at their vigorous repast.


   [55] At present a flourishing town, called Christiana, or
        Christeen, about thirty-seven miles from Philadelphia, on the
        post road to Baltimore.


"Now had the Dutchmen snatched a huge repast," and finding themselves
wonderfully encouraged and animated thereby, prepared to take the field.
Expectation, says the writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript, expectation now
stood on stilts. The world forgot to turn round, or rather stood still,
that it might witness the affray, like a round-bellied alderman watching
the combat of two chivalrous flies upon his jerkin. The eyes of all
mankind, as usual in such cases, were turned upon Fort Cristina. The sun,
like a little man in a crowd at a puppet-show, scampered about the
heavens, popping his head here and there, and endeavoring to get a peep
between the unmannerly clouds that obtruded themselves in his way. The
historians filled their inkhorns; the poets went without their dinners,
either that they might buy paper and goose-quills, or because they could
not get anything to eat. Antiquity scowled sulkily out of its grave to see
itself outdone; while even Posterity stood mute, gazing in gaping ecstasy
of retrospection on the eventful field.

The immortal deities, who whilom had seen service at the "affair" of Troy,
now mounted their feather-bed clouds, and sailed over the plain, or
mingled among the combatants in different disguises, all itching to have a
finger in the pie. Jupiter sent off his thunderbolt to a noted coppersmith
to have it furbished up for the direful occasion. Venus vowed by her
chastity to patronize the Swedes, and in semblance of a blear-eyed trull
paraded the battlements of Fort Christina, accompanied by Diana, as a
sergeant's widow, of cracked reputation. The noted bully Mars stuck two
horse-pistols into his belt, shouldered a rusty firelock, and gallantly
swaggered at their elbow as a drunken corporal, while Apollo trudged in
their rear as a bandy-legged fifer, playing most villainously out of tune.

On the other side the ox-eyed Juno, who had gained a pair of black eyes
over night, in one of her curtain lectures with old Jupiter, displayed her
haughty beauties on a baggage wagon; Minerva, as a brawny gin-suttler,
tacked up her skirts, brandished her fists, and swore most heroically, in
exceeding bad Dutch, (having but lately studied the language), by way of
keeping up the spirits of the soldiers; while Vulcan halted as a
club-footed blacksmith, lately promoted to be a captain of militia. All
was silent awe or bustling preparation, war reared his horrid front,
gnashed loud his iron fangs, and shook his direful crest of bristling

And now the mighty chieftains marshaled out their hosts. Here stood stout
Risingh, firm as a thousand rocks, incrusted with stockades and in
trenched to the chin in mud batteries. His valiant soldiery lined the
breastwork in grim array, each having his mustachios fiercely greased, and
his hair pomatumed back, and queued so stiffly, that he grinned above the
ramparts like a grisly death's head.

There came on the intrepid Peter, his brows knit, his teeth set, his fists
clenched, almost breathing forth volumes of smoke, so fierce was the fire
that raged within his bosom. His faithful squire Van Corlear trudged
valiantly at his heels, with his trumpet gorgeously bedecked with red and
yellow ribands, the remembrances of his fair mistresses at the Manhattoes.
Then came waddling on the sturdy chivalry of the Hudson. There were the
Van Wycks, and the Van Dycks, and the Ten Eycks; the Van Nesses, the Van
Tassels, the Van Grolls; the Van Hoesens, the Van Giesons, and the Van
Blarcoms; the Van Warts, the Van Winkles, the Van Dams; the Van Pelts, the
Van Rippers, and the Van Brunts. There were the Van Hornes, the Van Hooks,
the Van Bunschotens; the Van Gelders, the Van Arsdales, and the Van
Bummels; the Vander Belts, the Vander Hoofs, the Vander Voorts, the Vander
Lyns, the Vander Pools, and the Vander Spiegles; there came the Hoffmans,
the Hooglands, the Hoppers, the Cloppers, the Ryckmans, the Dyckmans, the
Hogebooms, the Rosebooms, the Oothouts, the Quackenbosses, the Roerbacks,
the Garrebrantzes, the Bensons, the Brouwers, the Waldrons, the
Onderdonks, the Varra Vangers, the Schermerhorns, the Stoutenburghs, the
Brinkerhoffs, the Bontecous, the Knickerbockers, the Hockstrassers, the Ten
Breecheses, and the Tough Breecheses, with a host more of worthies, whose
names are too crabbed to be written, or if they could be written, it would
be impossible for man to utter--all fortified with a mighty dinner, and,
to use the words of a great Dutch poet,

    "Brimful of wrath and cabbage."

For an instant the mighty Peter paused in the midst of his career, and
mounting on a stump, addressed his troops in eloquent Low Dutch, exhorting
them to fight like _duyvels_, and assuring them that if they conquered,
they should get plenty of booty; if they fell, they should be allowed the
satisfaction, while dying, of reflecting that it was in the service of
their country; and after they were dead, of seeing their names inscribed
in the temple of renown, and handed down, in company with all the other
great men of the year, for the admiration of posterity. Finally, he swore
to them, on the word of a governor (and they knew him too well to doubt it
for a moment), that if he caught any mother's son of them looking pale, or
playing craven, he would curry his hide till he made him run out of it
like a snake in spring time. Then lugging out his trusty sabre, he
brandished it three times over his head, ordered Van Corlear to sound a
charge, and shouting the words, "St. Nicholas and the Manhattoes!"
courageously dashed forwards. His warlike followers, who had employed the
interval in lighting their pipes, instantly stuck them into their mouths,
gave a furious puff, and charged gallantly under cover of the smoke.

The Swedish garrison, ordered by the cunning Risingh not to fire until
they could distinguish the whites of their assailants' eyes, stood in
horrid silence on the covert-way, until the eager Dutchmen had ascended
the glacis. Then did they pour into them such a tremendous volley that the
very hills quaked around, and were terrified even into an incontinence of
water, insomuch that certain springs burst forth from their sides, which
continue to run unto the present day. Not a Dutchman but would have
bitten the dust beneath that dreadful fire had not the protecting Minerva
kindly taken care that the Swedes should, one and all, observe their usual
custom of shutting their eyes, and turning away their heads at the moment
of discharge.

The Swedes followed up their fire by leaping the counterscarp, and falling
tooth and nail upon the foe with furious outcries. And now might be seen
prodigies of valor, unmatched in history or song. Here was the sturdy
Stoffel Brinkerhoff brandishing his quarter-staff like the giant Blanderon
his oak tree (for he scorned to carry any other weapon), and drumming a
horrific tune upon the hard heads of the Swedish soldiery. There were the
Van Kortlandts, posted at a distance, like the Locrian archers of yore,
and plying it most potently with the long-bow, for which they were so
justly renowned. On a rising knoll were gathered the valiant men of
Sing-Sing, assisting marvellously in the fight, by chanting the great song
of St. Nicholas; but as to the Gardeniers of Hudson, they were absent on a
marauding party, laying waste the neighboring water-melon patches.

In a different part of the field were the Van Grolls of Anthony's Nose,
struggling to get to the thickest of the fight, but horribly perplexed in
a defile between two hills, by reason of the length of their noses. So
also the Van Bunschotens of Nyack and Kakiat, so renowned for kicking with
the left foot, were brought to a stand for want of wind, in consequence of
the hearty dinner they had eaten, and would have been put to utter rout
but for the arrival of a gallant corps of voltigeurs, composed of the
Hoppers, who advanced nimbly to their assistance on one foot. Nor must I
omit to mention the valiant achievements of Antony Van Corlear, who, for a
good quarter of an hour, waged stubborn fight with a little pursy Swedish
drummer, whose hide he drummed most magnificently, and whom he would
infallibly have annihilated on the spot, but that he had come into the
battle with no other weapon but his trumpet.

But now the combat thickened. On came the mighty Jacobus Varra Vanger and
the fighting men of the Wallabout; after them thundered the Van Pelts of
Esopus, together with the Van Riepers and the Van Brunts, bearing down all
before them; then the Suy Dams and the Van Dams, pressing forward with
many a blustering oath, at the head of the warriors of Hell-gate, clad in
their thunder and lightning gaberdines; and, lastly, the standard-bearers
and body-guards of Peter Stuyvesant, bearing the great beaver of the

And now commenced the horrid din, the desperate struggle, the maddening
ferocity, the frantic desperation, the confusion, and self-abandonment of
war. Dutchman and Swede commingled, tugged, panted, and blowed. The
heavens were darkened with a tempest of missives. Bang! went the guns;
whack! went the broad-swords! thump! went the cudgels; crash! went the
musket-strocks; blows, kicks, cuffs, scratches, black eyes, and bloody
noses swelling the horrors of the scene! Thick thwack, cut and hack,
helter skelter, higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, head over heels, rough and
tumble! Dunder and blixum! swore the Dutchmen; splitter and splutter!
cried the Swedes. Storm the works, shouted Hardkoppig Peter. Fire the
mine, roared stout Risingh. Tanta-ra-ra-ra! twanged the trumpet of Antony
Van Corlear, until all voice and sound became unintelligible; grunts of
pain, yells of fury, and shouts of triumph mingling in one hideous clamor.
The earth shook as if struck with a paralytic stroke; trees shrunk aghast,
and withered at the sight; rocks burrowed in the ground like rabbits; and
even Christina Creek turned from its course, and ran up a hill in
breathless terror!

Long hung the contest doubtful; for though a heavy shower of rain, sent by
the "cloud-compelling Jove," in some measure cooled their ardor, as doth
a bucket of water thrown on a group of fighting mastiffs, yet did they but
pause for a moment, to return with tenfold fury to the charge. Just at
this juncture a vast and dense column of smoke was seen slowly rolling
toward the scene of battle. The combatants paused for a moment, gazing in
mute astonishment until the wind, dispelling the murky cloud, revealed the
flaunting banner of Michael Paw, the patroon of Communipaw. That valiant
chieftain came fearlessly on at the head of a phalanx of oyster-fed
Pavonians and a corps de reserve of the Van Arsdales and Van Bummels, who
had remained behind to digest the enormous dinner they had eaten. These
now trudged manfully forward, smoking their pipes with outrageous vigor,
so as to raise the awful cloud that has been mentioned; but marching
exceedingly slow, being short of leg, and of great rotundity in the belt.

And now the deities who watched over the fortunes of the Nederlanders,
having unthinkingly left the field and stepped into a neighboring tavern
to refresh themselves with a pot of beer, a direful catastrophe had
well-night ensued. Scarce had the myrmidons of Michael Paw attained the
front of battle, when the Swedes, instructed by the cunning Risingh,
levelled a shower of blows full at their tobacco-pipes. Astounded at this
assault, and dismayed at the havoc of their pipes, these ponderous
warriors gave way, and like a drove of frightened elephants, broke through
the ranks of their own army. The little Hoppers were borne down in the
surge; the sacred banner emblazoned with the gigantic oyster of Communipaw
was trampled in the dirt; on blundered and thundered the heavy-sterned
fugitives, the Swedes pressing on their rear, and applying their feet _a
parte poste_ of the Van Arsdales and the Van Bummels with a vigor that
prodigiously accelerated their movements; nor did the renowned Michael Paw
himself fail to receive divers grievous and dishonorable visitations of
shoe leather.

But what, O Muse! was the rage of Peter Stuyvesant, when from afar he saw
his army giving way! In the transports of his wrath he sent forth a roar,
enough to shake the very hills. The men of the Manhattoes plucked up new
courage at the sound; or rather, they rallied at the voice of their
leader, of whom they stood more in awe than of all the Swedes in
Christendom. Without waiting for their aid, the daring Peter dashed, sword
in hand, into the thickest of the foe. Then might be seen achievements
worthy of the days of the giants. Wherever he went, the enemy shrank
before him; the Swedes fled to right and left, or were driven, like dogs,
into the own ditch; but, as he pushed forward singly with headlong
courage, the foe closed behind and hung upon his rear. One aimed a blow
full at his heart; but the protecting power which watches over the great
and the good turned aside the hostile blade, and directed it to a side
pocket, where reposed an enormous iron tobacco-box, endowed, like the
shield of Achilles, with supernatural powers, doubtless from bearing the
portrait of the blessed St. Nicholas. Peter Stuyvesant turned like an
angry bear upon the foe, and seizing him as he fled, by an immeasurable
queue, "Ah, whoreson caterpillar," roared he, "here's what shall make
worms' meat of thee!" So saying, he whirled his sword, and dealt a blow
that would have decapitated the varlet, but that the pitying steel struck
short, and shaved the queue for ever from his crown. At this moment an
arquebusier levelled his piece from a neighboring mound, with deadly aim;
but the watchful Minerva, who had just stopped to tie up her garter,
seeing the peril of her favorite hero, sent old Boreas with his bellows,
who, as the match descended to the pan, gave a blast that blew the priming
from the touch-hole.

Thus waged the fight, when the stout Risingh, surveying the field from
the top of a little ravelin, perceived his troops banged, beaten, and
kicked by the invincible Peter. Drawing his falchion, and uttering a
thousand anathemas, he strode down to the scene of combat with some such
thundering strides as Jupiter is said by Hesiod to have taken when he
strode down the spheres to hurl his thunderbolts at the Titans.

When the rival heroes came face to face, each made prodigious start, in
the style of a veteran stage champion. Then did they regard each other for
a moment with the bitter aspect of two furious ram-cats on the point of a
clapper-clawing. Then did they throw themselves into one attitude, then
into another, striking their swords on the ground, first on the right
side, then on the left; at last at it they went, with incredible ferocity.
Words cannot tell the prodigies of strength and valor displayed in this
direful encounter--an encounter compared to which the far-famed battles of
Ajax with Hector, of Aeneas with Turnus, Orlando with Rodomont, Guy of
Warwick and Colbrand the Dane, or of that renowned Welsh knight, Sir Owen
of the Mountains, with the giant Guylon, were all gentle sports and
holiday recreations. At length the valiant Peter, watching his
opportunity, aimed a blow, enough to cleave his adversary to the very
chine; but Risingh, nimbly raising his sword, warded it off so narrowly,
that glancing on one side, it shaved away a huge canteen in which he
carried his liquor: thence pursuing its trenchant course, it severed off a
deep coat pocket, stored with bread and cheese which provant rolling among
the armies, occasioned a fearful scrambling between the Swedes and
Dutchmen, and made the general battle wax ten times more furious than

Enraged to see his military stores laid waste, the stout Risingh,
collecting all his forces, aimed a mighty blow full at the hero's crest.
In vain did his fierce little cocked hat oppose its course. The biting
steel clove through the stubborn ram beaver, and would have cracked the
crown of any one not endowed with supernatural hardness of head; but the
brittle weapon shivered in pieces on the skull of Hardkoppig Piet,
shedding a thousand sparks, like beams of glory, round his grizzly visage.

The good Peter reeled with the blow, and turning up his eyes, beheld a
thousands suns, beside moons and stars, dancing about the firmament; at
length, missing his footing, by reason of his wooden leg, down he came on
his seat of honor with a crash which shook the surrounding hills, and
might have wrecked his frame had he not been received into a cushion
softer than velvet, which Providence or Minerva, or St. Nicholas, or some
kindly cow, had benevolently prepared for his reception.

The furious Risingh, in despite of the maxim, cherished by all true
knights, that "fair play is a jewel," hastened to take advantage of the
hero's fall; but, as he stooped to give a fatal blow, Peter Stuyvesant
dealt him a thwack over the sconce with his wooden leg, which set a chime
of bells ringing triple bob majors in his cerebellum. The bewildered Swede
staggered with the blow, and the wary Peter seizing a pocket-pistol which
lay hard by, discharged it full at the head of the reeling Risingh. Let
not my reader mistake; it was not a murderous weapon loaded with powder
and ball, but a little sturdy stone pottle charged to the muzzle with a
double dram of true Dutch courage, which the knowing Antony Van Corlear
carried about him by way of replenishing his valor, and which had dropped
from his wallet during his furious encounter with the drummer. The hideous
weapon sang through the air, and true to its course, as was the fragment
of a rock discharged at Hector by bully Ajax, encountered the head of the
gigantic Swede with matchless violence.

This heaven-directed blow decided the battle. The ponderous pericranium of
General Jan Risingh sank upon his breast; his knees tottered under him; a
death-like torpor seized upon his frame, and he tumbled to the earth with
such violence that old Pluto started with affright, lest he should have
broken through the roof of his infernal palace.

His fall was the signal of defeat and victory; the Swedes gave way, the
Dutch pressed forward; the former took to their heels, the latter hotly
pursued. Some entered with them pell mell through the sallyport, others
stormed the bastion, and others scrambled over the curtain. Thus in a
little while the fortress of Fort Christina, which, like another Troy, had
stood a siege of full ten hours, was carried by assault, without the loss
of a single man on either side. Victory, in the likeness of a gigantic
ox-fly, sat perched on the cocked hat of the gallant Stuyvesant; and it
was declared by all the writers whom he hired to write the history of his
expedition that on this memorable day he gained a sufficient quantity of
glory to immortalize a dozen of the greatest heroes in Christendom!


Thanks to St. Nicholas, we have safely finished this tremendous battle.
Let us sit down, my worthy reader, and cool ourselves, for I am in a
prodigious sweat and agitation. Truly this fighting of battles is hot
work! and if your great commanders did but know what trouble they give
their historians, they would not have the conscience to achieve so many
horrible victories. But methinks I hear my reader complain that throughout
this boasted battle there is not the least slaughter, nor a single
individual maimed, if we except the unhappy Swede, who was shorn of his
queue by the trenchant blade of Peter Stuyvesant; all of which, he
observes, as a great outrage on probability, and highly injurious to the
interest of the narration.

This is certainly an objection of no little moment, but it arises entirely
from the obscurity enveloping the remote periods of time about which I
have undertaken to write. Thus, though doubtless, from the importance of
the object, and the prowess of the parties concerned, there must have been
terrible carnage and prodigies of valor displayed before the walls of
Christina, yet, not withstanding that I have consulted every history,
manuscript, and tradition, touching this memorable though long-forgotten
battle, I cannot find mention made of a single man killed or wounded in
the whole affair.

This is, without doubt, owing to the extreme modesty of our forefathers,
who, unlike their descendants, were never prone to vaunt of their
achievements; but it is a virtue which places their historian in a most
embarrassing predicament; for, having promised my readers a hideous and
unparalleled battle, and having worked them up into a warlike and
blood-thirsty state of mind, to put them off without any havoc and
slaughter would have been as bitter a disappointment as to summon a
multitude of good people to attend an execution, and then cruelly balk
them by a reprieve.

Had the Fates allowed me some half a score of dead men, I had been
content; for I would have made them such heroes as abounded in the olden
time, but whose race is now unfortunately extinct; any one of whom, if we
may believe those authentic writers, the poets, could drive great armies,
like sheep before him, and conquer and desolate whole cities by his single

But seeing that I had not a single life at my disposal, all that was left
me was to make the most I could of my battle, by means of kicks, and
cuffs, and bruises, and such-like ignoble wounds. And here I cannot but
compare my dilemma, in some sort, to that of the divine Milton, who,
having arrayed with sublime preparation his immortal hosts against each
other, is sadly put to it how to manage them, and how he shall make the
end of his battle answer to the beginning; inasmuch as, being mere
spirits, he cannot deal a mortal blow, nor even give a flesh wound to any
of his combatants. For my part, the greatest difficulty I found was, when
I had once put my warriors in a passion, and let them loose into the midst
of the enemy, to keep them from doing mischief. Many a time had I to
restrain the sturdy Peter from cleaving a gigantic Swede to the very
waistband, or spitting half a dozen little fellows on his sword, like so
many sparrows. And when I had set some hundred of missives flying in the
air, I did not dare to suffer one of them to reach the ground, lest it
should have put an end to some unlucky Dutchman.

The reader cannot conceive how mortifying it is to a writer thus in a
manner to have his hands tied, and how many tempting opportunities I had
to wink at, where I might have made as fine a death-blow as any recorded
in history or song.

From my own experience I begin to doubt most potently of the authenticity
of many of Homer's stories. I verily believe that when he had once
launched one of his favorite heroes among a crowd of the enemy, he cut
down many an honest fellow, without any authority for so doing, excepting
that he presented a fair mark; and that often a poor fellow was sent to
grim Pluto's domains, merely because he had a name that would give a
sounding turn to a period. But I disclaim all such unprincipled liberties:
let me but have truth and the law on my side, and no man would fight
harder than myself, but since the various records I consulted did not
warrant it, I had too much conscience to kill a single soldier. By St.
Nicholas, but it would have been a pretty piece of business! My enemies,
the critics, who I foresee will be ready enough to lay any crime they can
discover at my door, might have charged me with murder outright; and I
should have esteemed myself lucky to escape with no harsher verdict than

And now, gentle reader, that we are tranquilly sitting down here, smoking
our pipes, permit me to indulge in a melancholy reflection which at this
moment passes across my mind. How vain, how fleeting, how uncertain are
all those gaudy bubbles after which we are panting and toiling in this
world of fair delusions! The wealth which the miser has amassed with so
many weary days, so many sleepless nights, a spendthrift heir may squander
away in joyless prodigality; the noblest monuments which pride has ever
reared to perpetuate a name, the hand of time will shortly tumble into
ruins; and even the brightest laurels, gained by feats of arms, may
wither, and be for ever blighted by the chilling neglect of mankind. "How
many illustrious heroes," says the good Boetius, "who were once the pride
and glory of the age, hath the silence of historians buried in eternal
oblivion!" And this it was that induced the Spartans, when they went to
battle, solemnly to sacrifice to the Muses, supplicating that their
achievements might be worthily recorded. Had not Homer turned his lofty
lyre, observes the elegant Cicero, the valor of Achilles had remained
unsung. And such, too, after all the toils and perils he had braved, after
all the gallant actions he had achieved, such too had nearly been the fate
of the chivalric Peter Stuyvesant, but that I fortunately stepped in and
engraved his name on the indellible tablet of history, just as the caitiff
Time was silently brushing it away for ever!

The more I reflect, the more I am astonished at the important character of
the historian. He is the sovereign censor, to decide upon the renown or
infamy of his fellow-men. He is the patron of kings and conquerors on whom
it depends whether they shall live in after ages, or be forgotten as were
their ancestors before them. The tyrant may oppress while the object of
his tyranny exists; but the historian possesses superior might, for his
power extends even beyond the grave. The shades of departed and
long-forgotten heroes anxiously bend down from above, while he writes,
watching each movement of his pen, whether it shall pass by their names
with neglect, or inscribe them on the deathless pages of renown. Even the
drop of ink which hangs trembling on his pen, which he may either dash
upon the floor, or waste in idle scrawlings--that very drop, which to him
is not worth the twentieth part of a farthing, may be of incalculable
value to some departed worthy--may elevate half a score, in one moment, to
immortality, who would have given worlds, had they possessed them, to
ensure the glorious meed.

Let not my readers imagine, however, that I am indulging in vain-glorious
boastings, or am anxious to blazon forth the importance of my tribe. On
the contrary, I shrink when I reflect on the awful responsibility we
historians assume; I shudder to think what direful commotions and
calamities we occasion in the world; I swear to thee, honest reader, as I
am a man, I weep at the very idea! Why, let me ask, are so many
illustrious men daily tearing themselves away from the embraces of their
families, slighting the smiles of beauty, despising the allurements of
fortune, and exposing themselves to the miseries of war? Why are kings
desolating empires, and depopulating whole countries? In short, what
induces all great men, of all ages and countries, to commit so many
victories and misdeeds, and inflict so many miseries upon mankind and upon
themselves, but the mere hope that some historian will kindly take them
into notice, and admit them into a corner of his volume? For, in short,
the mighty object of all their toils, their hardships, and privations, is
nothing but immortal fame. And what is immortal fame? Why, half a page of
dirty paper! Alas, alas! how humiliating the idea, that the renown of so
great a man as Peter Stuyvesant should depend upon the pen of so little a
man as Diedrich Knickerbocker!

And now, having refreshed ourselves after the fatigues and perils of the
field, it behoves us to return once more to the scene of conflict, and
inquire what were the results of this renowned conquest. The fortress of
Christina being the fair metropolis, and in a manner the key to New
Sweden, its capture was speedily followed by the entire subjugation of the
province. This was not a little promoted by the gallant and courteous
deportment of the chivalric Peter. Though a man terrible in battle, yet in
the hour of victory was he endued with a spirit generous, merciful and
humane. He vaunted not over his enemies, nor did he make defeat more
galling by unmanly insults; for, like that mirror of knightly virtue, the
renowned Paladin Orlando, he was more anxious to do great actions than to
talk of them after they were done. He put no man to death, ordered no
houses to be burnt down, permitted no ravages to be perpetrated on the
property of the vanquished, and even gave one of his bravest officers a
severe punishment with his walking-staff, for having been detected in the
act of sacking a hen-roost.

He moreover issued a proclamation, inviting the inhabitants to submit to
the authority of their High Mightinesses, but declaring, with unexampled
clemency, that whoever refused should be lodged, at the public expense, in
a goodly castle provided for the purpose, and have an armed retinue to
wait on them in the bargain. In consequence of these beneficent terms,
about thirty Swedes stepped manfully forward and took the oath of
allegiance; in reward for which they were graciously permitted to remain
on the banks of the Delaware, where their descendants reside at this very
day. I am told, however, by divers observant travelers, that they have
never been able to get over the chap-fallen looks of their ancestors; but
that they still do strangely transmit, from father to son, manifest marks
of the sound drubbing given them by the sturdy Amsterdammers.

The whole country of New Sweden having thus yielded to the arms of the
triumphant Peter, was reduced to a colony called South River, and placed
under the superintendence of a lieutenant-governor, subject to the control
of the supreme government of New Amsterdam. This great dignitary was
called Mynheer William Beekman, or rather Beck-man, who derived his
surname, as did Ovidius Naso of yore, from the lordly dimensions of his
nose, which projected from the center of his countenance like the beak of
a parrot. He was the great progenitor of the tribe of the Beekmans, one of
the most ancient and honorable families of the province; the members of
which do gratefully commemorate the origin of their dignity, nor as your
noble families in England would do by having a glowing proboscis
emblazoned in their escutcheon, but by one and all wearing a right goodly
nose stuck in the very middle of their faces.

Thus was this perilous enterprise gloriously terminated, with the loss of
only two men--Wolfet Van Horne, a tall spare man, who was knocked
overboard by the boom of a sloop in a flaw of wind, and fat Brom Van
Bummel, who was suddenly carried off by an indigestion; both, however,
were immortalized as having bravely fallen in the service of their
country. True it is, Peter Stuyvesant had one of his limbs terribly
fractured in the act of storming the fortress; but as it was fortunately
his wooden leg, the wound was promptly and effectually healed.

And now nothing remains to this branch of my history but to mention that
this immaculate hero and his victorious army returned joyously to the
Manhattoes, where they made a solemn and triumphant entry, bearing with
them the conquered Risingh, and the remnant of his battered crew who had
refused allegiance; for it appears that the gigantic Swede had only
fallen into a swoon at the end of the battle, from which he was speedily
restored by a wholesome tweak of the nose.

These captive heroes were lodged, according to the promise of the
governor, at the public expense, in a fair and spacious castle, being the
prison of state of which Stoffel Brinkerhoff, the immortal conqueror of
Oyster Bay, was appointed governor, and which has ever since remained in
the possession of his descendants.[56]

It was a pleasant and goodly sight to witness the joy of the people of New
Amsterdam at beholding their warriors once more return from this war in
the wilderness. The old women thronged round Antony Van Corlear, who gave
the whole history of the campaign with matchless accuracy, saving that he
took the credit of fighting the whole battle himself, and especially of
vanquishing the stout Risingh, which he considered himself as clearly
entitled to, seeing that it was effected by his own stone pottle.

The schoolmasters throughout the town gave holiday to their little urchins
who followed in droves after the drums, with paper caps on their heads and
sticks in their breeches, thus taking the first lesson in the art of war.
As to the sturdy rabble, they thronged at the heels of Peter Stuyvesant
wherever he went, waving their greasy hats in the air, and shouting,
"Hardkoppig Piet forever!"

It was indeed a day of roaring rout and jubilee. A huge dinner was
prepared at the stadthouse in honor of the conquerors, where were
assembled, in one glorious constellation, the great and little luminaries
of New Amsterdam. There were the lordly Schout and his obsequious deputy,
the burgomasters with their officious schepens at their elbows, the
subaltern officers at the elbows of the schepens, and so on, down to the
lowest hanger-on of police; every tag having his rag at his side, to
finish his pipe, drink off his heel-taps, and laugh at his flights of
immortal dulness. In short--for a city feast is a city feast all over the
world, and has been a city feast ever since the creation--the dinner went
off much the same as do our great corporation junketings and Fourth of
July banquets. Loads of fish, flesh, and fowl were devoured, oceans of
liquor drunk, thousands of pipes smoked, and many a dull joke honored with
much obstreperous fat-sided laughter.

I must not omit to mention that to this far-famed victory Peter Stuyvesant
was indebted for another of his many titles, for so hugely delighted were
the honest burghers with his achievements, that they unanimously honored
him with the name of Pieter de Groodt; that is to say, Peter the Great;
or, as it was translated into English by the people of New Amsterdam, for
the benefit of their New England visitors, Piet de pig--an appellation
which he maintained even unto the day of his death.


   [56] This castle, though very much altered, and modernized, is
        still in being and stands at the corner of Pearl Street, facing
        Coentie's Slip.




The history of the reign of Peter Stuyvesant furnishes an edifying picture
of the cares and vexations inseparable from sovereignty, and a solemn
warning to all who are ambitious of attaining the seat of honor. Though
returning in triumph and crowned with victory, his exultation was checked
on observing the abuses which had sprung up in New Amsterdam during his
short absence. His walking-staff which he had sent home to act as his
vicegerent, had, it is true, kept his council chamber in order; the
counsellors eyeing it with awe as it lay in grim repose upon the table,
and smoking their pipes in silence; but its control extended not out of

The populace unfortunately had had too much their own way under the slack
though fitful reign of William the Testy; and though upon the accession of
Peter Stuyvesant they had felt, with the instinctive perception which mobs
as well as cattle possess, that the reins of government had passed into
stronger hands, yet could they not help fretting and chafing and champing
upon, the bit in restive silence.

Scarcely, therefore, had he departed on his expedition against the Swedes,
than the whole factions of William Kieft's reign had again thrust their
heads above water. Pot-house meetings were again held to "discuss the
state of the nation," where cobblers, tinkers, and tailors, the
self-dubbed "friends of the people," once more felt themselves inspired
with the gift of legislation, and undertook to lecture on every movement
of government.

Now, as Peter Stuyvesant had a singular inclination to govern the province
by his individual will, his first move on his return, was to put a stop to
this gratuitous legislation. Accordingly, one evening, when an inspired
cobbler was holding forth to an assemblage of the kind, the intrepid Peter
suddenly made his appearance with his ominous walking staff in his hand,
and a countenance sufficient to petrify a millstone. The whole meeting was
thrown into confusion--the orators stood aghast, with open mouth and
trembling knees, while "Horror!" "Tyranny!" "Liberty!" "Rights!" "Taxes!"
"Death!" "Destruction!" and a host of other patriotic phrases, were bolted
forth before he had time to close his lips. Peter took no notice of the
skulking throng, but strode up to the brawling, bully-ruffian, and pulling
out a huge silver watch, which might have served in times of yore as a
town-clock, and which is still retained by his descendants as a family
curiosity, requested the orator to mend it and set it going. The orator
humbly confessed it was utterly out of his power, as he was unacquainted
with the nature of its construction. "Nay, but," said Peter, "try your
ingenuity, man; you see all the springs and wheels and how easily the
clumsiest hand may stop it, and pull it to pieces, and why should it not
be equally easy to regulate as to stop it?" The orator declared that his
trade was wholly different--that he was a poor cobbler, and had never
meddled with a watch in his life--that there were men skilled in the art
whose business it was to attend to those matters, but for his part he
should only mar the workmanship, and put the whole in confusion. "Why,
harkee, master of mine," cried Peter, turning suddenly upon him with a
countenance that almost petrified the patcher of shoes into a perfect
lapstone, "dost thou pretend to meddle with the movements of government to
regulate, and correct, and patch, and cobble a complicated machine, the
principles of which are above thy comprehension, and its simplest
operations too subtle for thy understanding, when thou canst not correct a
trifling error in a common piece of mechanism, the whole mystery of which
is open to thy inspection?--Hence with thee to the leather and stone,
which are emblems of thy head; cobble thy shoes, and confine thyself to
the vocation for which Heaven has fitted thee; but," elevating his voice
until it made the welkin ring, "if ever I catch thee, or any of thy tribe,
meddling again with affairs of government, by St. Nicholas, but I'll have
every mother's bastard of ye flayed alive, and your hides stretched for
drumheads, that ye may thenceforth make a noise to some purpose!"

This threat and the tremendous voice in which it was uttered, caused the
whole multitude to quake with fear. The hair of the orator rose on his
head like his own swine's bristles; and not a knight of the thimble
present but his heart died within him, and he felt as though he could have
verily escaped through the eye of a needle. The assembly dispersed in
silent consternation: the pseudo-statesmen who had hitherto undertaken to
regulate public affairs were now fain to stay at home, hold their tongues,
and take care of their families; and party feuds died away to such a
degree, that many thriving keepers of taverns and dram-shops were utterly
ruined for want of business. But though this measure produced the desired
effect in putting an extinguisher on the new lights just brightening up,
yet did it tend to injure the popularity of the great Peter with the
thinking part of the community; that is to say, that part which think for
others instead of for themselves; or, in other words, who attend to
everybody's business but their own. These accused the old governor of
being highly aristocratical, and in truth there seems to have been some
ground for such an accusation, for he carried himself with a lofty,
soldier-like air, and was somewhat particular in his dress, appearing,
when not in uniform, in rich apparel of the antique flaundish cut, and was
especially noted for having his sound leg, which was a very comely one,
always arrayed in a red stocking and high-heeled shoe.

Justice he often dispensed in the primitive patriarchal way, seated on the
"stoep" before the door, under the shade of a great button-wood tree, but
all visits of form and state were received with something of court
ceremony in the best parlor, where Antony the Trumpeter officiated as high
chamberlain. On public occasions he appeared with great pomp of equipage,
and always rode to church in a yellow wagon with flaming red wheels.

These symptoms of state and ceremony, as we have hinted, were much caviled
at by the thinking, and talking, part of the community. They had been
accustomed to find easy access to their former governors, and in
particular had lived on terms of extreme intimacy with William the Testy,
and they accused Peter Stuyvesant of assuming too much dignity and
reserve, and of wrapping himself in mystery. Others, however, have
pretended to discover in all this a shrewd policy on the part of the old
governor. It is certainly of the first importance, say they, that a
country should be governed by wise men; but then it is almost equally
important that the people should think them wise; for this belief alone
can produce willing subordination. To keep up, however, this desirable
confidence in rulers, the people should be allowed to see as little of
them as possible. It is the mystery which envelopes great men that gives
them half their greatness. There is a kind of superstitious reverence for
office which leads us to exaggerate the merits of the occupant, and to
suppose that he must be wiser than common men. He, however, who gains
access to cabinets, soon finds out by what foolishness the world is
governed. He finds that there is quackery in legislation as in everything
else; that rulers have their whims and errors as well as other men, and
are not so wonderfully superior as he had imagined, since even he may
occasionally confute them in argument. Thus awe subsides into confidence,
confidence inspires familiarity, and familiarity produces contempt. Such
was the case, say they, with William the Testy. By making himself too easy
of access, he enabled every scrub-politician to measure wits with him, and
to find out the true dimensions not only of his person, but of his mind;
and thus it was that, by being familiarly scanned, he was discovered to be
a very little man. Peter Stuyvesant, on the contrary, say they, by
conducting himself with dignity and loftiness, was looked up to with great
reverence. As he never gave his reasons for anything he did, the public
gave him credit for very profound ones; every movement, however
intrinsically unimportant, was a matter of speculation; and his very red
stockings excited some respect, as being different from the stockings of
other men.

Another charge against Peter Stuyvesant was, that he had a great leaning
in favor of the patricians; and, indeed, in his time rose many of those
mighty Dutch families which have taken such vigorous root, and branched
out so luxuriantly in our state. Some, to be sure, were of earlier date,
such as the Van Kortlandts, the Van Zandts, the Ten Broecks, the Harden
Broecks, and others of Pavonian renown, who gloried in the title of
"Discoverers," from having been engaged in the nautical expedition from
Communipaw, in which they so heroically braved the terrors of Hell-gate
and Buttermilk-channel, and discovered a site for New Amsterdam.

Others claimed to themselves the appellation of Conquerors, from their
gallant achievements in New Sweden and their victory over the Yankees at
Oyster Bay. Such was that list of warlike worthies heretofore enumerated,
beginning with the Van Wycks, the Van Dycks, and the Ten Eycks, and
extending to the Rutgers, the Bensons, the Brinkerhoffs, and the
Schermerhorns; a roll equal to the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror,
and establishing the heroic origin of many an ancient aristocratical Dutch
family. These, after all, are the only legitimate nobility and lords of
the soil; these are the real "beavers of the Manhattoes;" and much does it
grieve me in modern days to see them elbowed aside by foreign invaders,
and more especially by those ingenious people, "the Sons of the Pilgrims;"
who out-bargain them in the market, out-speculate them on the exchange,
out-top them in fortune, and run up mushroom palaces so high, that the
tallest Dutch family mansion has not wind enough left for its weathercock.

In the proud days of Peter Stuyvesant, however, the good old Dutch
aristocracy loomed out in all its grandeur. The burly burgher, in
round-crowned flaunderish hat with brim of vast circumference, in portly
gaberdine and bulbous multiplicity of breeches, sat on his "stoep" and
smoked his pipe in lordly silence; nor did it ever enter his brain that
the active, restless Yankee, whom he saw through his half-shut eyes
worrying about in dog day heat, ever intent on the main chance, was one
day to usurp control over these goodly Dutch domains. Already, however,
the races regarded each other with disparaging eyes. The Yankees
sneeringly spoke of the round-crowned burghers of the Manhattoes as the
"Copper-heads;" while the latter, glorying in their own nether rotundity,
and observing the slack galligaskins of their rivals, flapping like an
empty sail against the mast, retorted upon them with the opprobrious
appellation of "Platter-breeches."


From what I have recounted in the foregoing chapter, I would not have it
imagined that the great Peter was a tyrannical potentate, ruling with a
rod of iron. On the contrary, where the dignity of office permitted, he
abounded in generosity and condescension. If he refused the brawling
multitude the right of misrule, he at least endeavored to rule them in
righteousness. To spread abundance in the land, he obliged the bakers to
give thirteen loaves to the dozen--a golden rule which remains a monument
of his beneficence. So far from indulging in unreasonable austerity, he
delighted to see the poor and the laboring man rejoice; and for this
purpose he was a great promoter of holidays. Under his reign there was a
great cracking of eggs at Paas or Easter; Whitsuntide or Pinxter also
flourished in all its bloom; and never were stockings better filled on the
eve of the blessed St. Nicholas.

New Year's Day, however, was his favorite festival, and was ushered in by
the ringing of bells and firing of guns. On that genial day the fountains
of hospitality were broken up, and the whole community was deluged with
cherry-brandy, true hollands, and mulled cider; every house was a temple
to the jolly god; and many a provident vagabond got drunk out of pure
economy, taking in liquor enough gratis to serve him half a year

The great assemblage, however, was at the governor's house, whither
repaired all the burghers of New Amsterdam with their wives and daughters,
pranked out in their best attire. On this occasion the good Peter was
devoutly observant of the pious Dutch rite of kissing the women-kind for
a happy new year; and it is traditional that Antony the trumpeter, who
acted as gentleman usher, took toll of all who were young and handsome, as
they passed through the ante-chamber. This venerable custom, thus happily
introduced, was followed with such zeal by high and low that on New Year's
Day, during the reign of Peter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam was the most
thoroughly be-kissed community in all Christendom.

Another great measure of Peter Stuyvesant for public improvement was the
distribution of fiddles throughout the land. These were placed in the
hands of veteran negroes, who were despatched as missionaries to every
part of the province. This measure, it is said, was first suggested by
Antony the Trumpeter, and the effect was marvelous. Instead of those
"indignation meetings" set on foot in the time of William the Testy, where
men met together to rail at public abuses, groan over the evils of the
times, and make each other miserable, there were joyous gatherings of the
two sexes to dance and make merry. Now were instituted "quilting bees,"
and "husking bees," and other rural assemblages, where, under the
inspiring influence of the fiddle, toil was enlivened by gayety and
followed up by the dance. "Raising bees" also were frequent, where houses
sprang up at the wagging of the fiddle-stick, as the walls of Thebes
sprang up of yore to the sound of the lyre of Amphion.

Jolly autumn, which pours its treasures over hill and dale, was in those
days a season for the lifting of the heel as well as the heart; labor came
dancing in the train of abundance, and frolic prevailed throughout the
land. Happy days! when the yeomanry of the Nieuw Nederlands were merry
rather than wise; and when the notes of the fiddle, those harbingers of
good humor and good will, resounded at the close of the day from every
hamlet along the Hudson!

Nor was it in rural communities alone that Peter Stuyvesant introduced his
favorite engine of civilization. Under his rule the fiddle acquired that
potent sway in New Amsterdam which it has ever since retained. Weekly
assemblages were held, not in heated ball-rooms at midnight hours, but on
Saturday afternoons, by the golden light of the sun, on the green lawn of
the Battery; with Antony the Trumpeter for master of ceremonies. Here
would the good Peter take his seat under the spreading trees, among the
old burghers and their wives, and watch the mazes of the dance. Here would
he smoke his pipe, crack his joke, and forget the rugged toils of war, in
the sweet oblivious festivities of peace, giving a nod of approbation to
those of the young men who shuffled and kicked most vigorously; and now
and then a hearty smack, in all honesty of soul, to the buxom lass who
held out longest, and tired down every competitor--infallible proof of her
being the best dancer.

Once, it is true, the harmony of these meetings was in danger of
interruption. A young belle, just returned from a visit to Holland, who of
course led the fashions, made her appearance in not more than half-a-dozen
petticoats, and these of alarming shortness. A whisper and a flutter ran
through the assembly. The young men of course were lost in admiration, but
the old ladies were shocked in the extreme, especially those who had
marriageable daughters; the young ladies blushed and felt excessively for
the "poor thing," and even the governor himself appeared to be in some
kind of perturbation.

To complete the confusion of the good folk she undertook, in the course of
a jig, to describe some figures in algebra taught her by a dancing-master
at Rotterdam. Unfortunately, at the highest flourish of her feet, some
vagabond zephyr obtruded his services, and a display of the graces took
place, at which all the ladies present were thrown into great
consternation; several grave country members were not a little moved, and
the good Peter Stuyvesant himself was grievously scandalized.

The shortness of the female dresses, which had continued in fashion ever
since the days of William Kieft, had long offended his eye; and though
extremely averse to meddling with the petticoats of the ladies, yet he
immediately recommended that every one should be furnished with a flounce
to the bottom. He likewise ordered that the ladies, and indeed the
gentlemen, should use no other step in dancing than "shuffle and turn,"
and "double trouble;" and forbade, under pain of his high displeasure, any
young lady thenceforth to attempt what was termed "exhibiting the graces."

These were the only restrictions he ever imposed upon the sex, and these
were considered by them as tyrannical oppressions, and resisted with that
becoming spirit manifested by the gentle sex whenever their privileges are
invaded. In fact, Antony Van Corlear, who, as has been shown, was a
sagacious man, experienced in the ways of women, took a private occasion
to intimate to the governor that a conspiracy was forming among the young
vrouws of New Amsterdam; and that, if the matter were pushed any further,
there was danger of their leaving off petticoats altogether; whereupon the
good Peter shrugged his shoulders, dropped the subject, and ever after
suffered the women to wear their petticoats, and cut their capers as high
as they pleased, a privilege which they have jealously maintained in the
Manhattoes unto the present day.


In the last two chapters I have regaled the reader with a delectable
picture of the good Peter and his metropolis during an interval of peace.
It was, however, but a bit of blue sky in a stormy day; the clouds are
again gathering up from all points of the compass, and, if I am not
mistaken in my forebodings, we shall have rattling weather in the ensuing

It is with some communities, as it is with certain meddlesome
individuals--they have a wonderful facility at getting into scrapes; and I
have always remarked that those are most prone to get in who have the
least talent at getting out again. This is doubtless owing to the
excessive valor of those states; for I have likewise noticed that this
rampant quality is always most frothy and fussy where most confined; which
accounts for its vaporing so amazingly in little states, little men and
ugly little women more especially.

Such is the case with this little province of the Nieuw Nederlands; which,
by its exceeding valor, has already drawn upon itself a host of enemies;
has had fighting enough to satisfy a province twice its size, and is in a
fair way of becoming an exceedingly forlorn, well-belabored, and woebegone
little province. All which was providentially ordered to give interest and
sublimity to this pathetic history.

The first interruption to the halcyon quiet of Peter Stuyvesant was caused
by hostile intelligence from the old belligerent nest of Rensellaersteen.
Killian, the lordly patroon of Rensellaerwick, was again in the field, at
the head of his myrmidons of the Helderberg seeking to annex the whole of
the Catskill mountains to his domains. The Indian tribes of these
mountains had likewise taken up the hatchet, and menaced the venerable
Dutch settlements of Esopus.

Fain would I entertain the reader with the triumphant campaign of Peter
Stuyvesant in the haunted regions of those mountains, but that I hold all
Indian conflicts to be mere barbaric brawls, unworthy of the pen which has
recorded the classic war of Fort Christina; and as to these Helderberg
commotions, they are among the flatulencies which from time to time
afflict the bowels of this ancient province, as with a wind-colic, and
which I deem it seemly and decent to pass over in silence.

The next storm of trouble was from the south. Scarcely had the worthy
Mynheer Beekman got warm in the seat of authority on the South River, than
enemies began to spring up all around him. Hard by was a formidable race
of savages inhabiting the gentle region watered by the Susquehanna, of
whom the following mention is made by Master Hariot in his excellent

"The Susquesahanocks are a giantly people, strange in proportion, behavior,
and attire--their voice sounding from them as out of a cave. Their
tobacco-pipes were three-quarters of a yard long; carved at the great end
with a bird, beare, or other device, sufficient to beat out the brains of
a horse. The calfe of one of their legges measured three-quarters of a
yard about; the rest of the limbs proportionable."[57]

These gigantic savages and smokers caused no little disquiet in the mind
of Mynheer Beekman, threatening to cause a famine of tobacco in the land;
but his most formidable enemy was the roaring, roistering English colony
of Maryland, or, as it was anciently written, Merryland; so called because
the inhabitants, not having the fear of the Lord before their eyes, were
prone to make merry and get fuddled with mint-julep and apple-toddy. They
were, moreover, great horse-racers and cock-fighters, mighty wrestlers and
jumpers, and enormous consumers of hoe-cake and bacon. They lay claim to
be the first inventors of those recondite beverages, cock-tail,
stone-fence, and sherry-cobbler, and to have discovered the gastronomical
merits of terrapins, soft crabs, and canvas-back ducks.

This rantipole colony, founded by Lord Baltimore, a British nobleman, was
managed by his agent, a swaggering Englishman, commonly called Fendall,
that is to say, "offend all," a name given him for his bullying
propensities. These were seen in a message to Mynheer Beekman, threatening
him, unless he immediately swore allegiance to Lord Baltimore as the
rightful lord of the soil, to come at the head of the roaring boys of
Merryland and the giants of the Susquehanna, and sweep him and his
Nederlanders out of the country.

The trusty sword of Peter Stuyvesant almost leaped from its scabbard, when
he received missives from Mynheer Beekman, informing him of the swaggering
menaces of the bully Fendall; and as to the giantly warriors of the
Susquehanna, nothing would have more delighted him than a bout, hand to
hand, with half a score of them, having never encountered a giant in the
whole course of his campaigns, unless we may consider the stout Risingh as
such, and he was but a little one.

Nothing prevented his marching instantly to the South River, and enacting
scenes still more glorious than those of Fort Christina, but the necessity
of first putting a stop to the increasing aggressions and inroads of the
Yankees, so as not to leave an enemy in his rear; but he wrote to Mynheer
Beekman to keep up a bold front and a stout heart, promising, as soon as
he had settled affairs in the east, that he would hasten to the south with
his burly warriors of the Hudson, to lower the crests of the giants, and
mar the merriment of the Merrylanders.


   [57] Hariot's Journal, Purch. Pilgrims.


To explain the apparently sudden movement of Peter Stuyvesant against the
crafty men of the East Country, I would observe that, during his campaigns
on the South River, and in the enchanted regions of the Catskill
Mountains, the twelve tribes of the East had been more than usually
active in prosecuting their subtle scheme for the subjugation of the Nieuw

Independent of the incessant maraudings among hen-roosts and squattings
along the border, invading armies would penetrate, from time to time, into
the very heart of the country. As their prototypes of yore went forth into
the land of Canaan, with their wives and their children, their
men-servants and their maid-servants, their flocks and herds, to settle
themselves down in the land and possess it; so these chosen people of
modern days would progress through the country in patriarchal style,
conducting carts and waggons laden with household furniture, with women
and children piled on top, and pots and kettles dangling beneath. At the
tail of these vehicles would stalk a crew of long-limbed, lank-sided
varlets with axes on their shoulders, and packs on their backs, resolutely
bent upon "locating" themselves, as they termed it, and improving the
country. These were the most dangerous kind of invaders. It is true they
were guilty of no overt acts of hostility; but it was notorious that,
wherever they got a footing, the honest Dutchmen gradually disappeared,
retiring slowly as do the Indians before the white men; being in some way
or other talked and chaffered, and bargained and swapped, and, in plain
English, elbowed out of all those rich bottoms and fertile nooks in which
our Dutch yeomanry are prone to nestle themselves.

Peter Stuyvesant was at length roused to this kind of war in disguise, by
which the Yankees were craftily aiming to subjugate his dominions.

He was a man easily taken in, it is true, as all great-hearted men are apt
to be; but if he once found it out, his wrath was terrible. He now threw
diplomacy to the dogs, determined to appear no more by ambassadors, but to
repair in person to the great council of the Amphictyons, bearing the
sword in one hand and the olive-branch in the other, and giving them
their choice of sincere and honest peace, or open and iron war.

His privy council were astonished and dismayed when he announced his
determination. For once they ventured to remonstrate, setting forth the
rashness of venturing his sacred person in the midst of a strange and
barbarous people. They might as well have tried to turn a rusty
weathercock with a broken-winded bellows. In the fiery heart of the
iron-headed Peter sat enthroned the five kinds of courage described by
Aristotle, and had the philosopher enumerated five hundred more, I verily
believed he would have possessed them all. As to that better part of valor
called discretion, it was too cold-blooded a virtue for his tropical

Summoning, therefore, to his presence his trusty follower, Antony Van
Corlear, he commanded him to hold himself in readiness to accompany him
the following morning on this his hazardous enterprise.

Now Antony the Trumpeter was by this time a little stricken in years, yet
by dint of keeping up a good heart, and having never known care or sorrow
(having never been married), he was still a hearty, jocund, rubicund,
gamesome wag, and of great capacity in the doublet. This last was ascribed
to his living a jolly life on those domains at the Hook, which Peter
Stuyvesant had granted to him for his gallantry at Fort Casimir.

Be this as it may, there was nothing that more delighted Antony than this
command of the great Peter, for he could have followed the stout-hearted
old governor to the world's end, with love and loyalty--and he moreover
still remembered the frolicing, and dancing, and bundling, and other
disports of the east country, and entertained dainty recollections of
numerous kind and buxom lasses, whom he longed exceedingly again to

Thus then did this mirror of hardihood set forth, with no other attendant
but his trumpeter, upon one of the most perilous enterprises ever
recorded in the annals of knight-errantry. For a single warrior to venture
openly among a whole nation of foes--but, above all, for a plain,
downright Dutchman to think of negotiating with the whole council of New
England!--never was there known a more desperate undertaking! Ever since I
have entered upon the chronicles of this peerless, but hitherto
uncelebrated, chieftain, has he kept me in a state of incessant action and
anxiety with the toils and dangers he is constantly encountering. Oh, for
a chapter of the tranquil reign of Wouter Van Twiller, that I might repose
on it as on a feather-bed!

Is it not enough, Peter Stuyvesant, that I have once already rescued thee
from the machinations of these terrible Amphictyons, by bringing the
powers of witchcraft to thine aid? Is it not enough that I have followed
thee undaunted, like a guardian spirit, into the midst of the horrid
battle of Fort Christina? That I have been put incessantly to my trumps to
keep them safe and sound--now warding off with my single pen the shower of
dastard blows that fell upon thy rear--now narrowly shielding thee from a
deadly thrust by a mere tobacco-box--now casing thy dauntless skull with
adamant, when even thy stubborn ram beaver failed to resist the sword of
the stout Risingh--and now, not merely bringing thee off alive, but
triumphant, from the clutches of the gigantic Swede, by the desperate
means of a paltry stone pottle? Is not all this enough, but must thou
still be plunging into new difficulties, and hazarding in headlong
enterprises thyself, thy trumpeter, and thy historian?

And now the ruddy-faced Aurora, like a buxom chambermaid, draws aside the
sable curtains of the night, and out bounces from his bed the jolly
red-haired Phoebus, startled at being caught so late in the embraces of
Dame Thetis. With many a stable-boy oath he harnesses his brazen-footed
steeds, and whips, and lashes, and splashes up the firmament, like a
loitering coachman, half-an-hour behind his time. And now behold that imp
of fame and prowess, the headstrong Peter, bestriding a raw-boned,
switch-tailed charger, gallantly arrayed in full regimentals, and bracing
on his thigh that trusty, brass-hilted sword, which had wrought such
fearful deeds on the banks of the Delaware.

Behold hard after him his doughty trumpeter, Van Corlear, mounted on a
broken-winded, walleyed, calico mare; his stone pottle, which had laid low
the mighty Risingh, slung under his arm; and his trumpet displayed
vauntingly in his right hand, decorated with a gorgeous banner, on which
is emblazoned the great beaver of the Manhattoes. See them proudly issuing
out of the city gate, like an iron clad hero of yore, with his faithful
squire at his heels; the populace following with their eyes, and shouting
many a parting wish and hearty cheering, Farewell, Hardkoppig Piet!
Farewell, honest Antony! pleasant be your wayfaring, prosperous your
return!--the stoutest hero that ever drew a sword, and the worthiest
trumpeter that ever trod shoe-leather!

Legends are lamentably silent about the events that befell our adventurers
in this their adventurous travel, excepting the Stuyvesant manuscript,
which gives the substance of a pleasant little heroic poem, written on the
occasion by Dominie Ægidius Luyck,[58] who appears to have been the poet
laureate of New Amsterdam. This inestimable manuscript assures us that it
was a rare spectacle to behold the great Peter and his loyal follower
hailing the morning sun, and rejoicing in the clear countenance of Nature,
as they pranced it through the pastoral scenes of Bloemen Dael; which in
those days was a sweet and rural valley, beautiful with many a bright
wild flower, refreshed by many a pure streamlet, and enlivened here and
there by a delectable little Dutch cottage, sheltered under some sloping
hill, and almost buried in embowering trees.

Now did they enter upon the confines of Connecticut, where they
encountered many grievous difficulties and perils. At one place they were
assailed by a troop of country squires and militia colonels, who, mounted
on goodly steeds, hung upon their rear for several miles, harassing them
exceedingly with guesses and questions, more especially the worthy Peter,
whose silver-chased leg excited not a little marvel. At another place,
hard by the renowned town of Stamford, they were set upon by a great and
mighty legion of church deacons, who imperiously demanded of them five
shillings for traveling on Sunday, and threatened to carry them captive to
a neighboring church, whose steeple peered above the trees; but these the
valiant Peter put to rout with little difficulty, insomuch that they
bestrode their canes and galloped off in horrible confusion, leaving their
cocked hats behind in the hurry of their flight. But not so easily did he
escape from the hands of a crafty man of Pyquag; who, with undaunted
perseverance and repeated onsets, fairly bargained him out of his goodly
switch-tailed charger, leaving in place thereof a villainous, foundered
Narraganset pacer.

But, maugre all these hardships, they pursued their journey cheerily along
the course of the soft flowing Connecticut, whose gentle waves, says the
song, roll through many a fertile vale and sunny plain; now reflecting the
lofty spires of the bustling city, and now the rural beauties of the
humble hamlet; now echoing with the busy hum of commerce, and now with the
cheerful song of the peasant.

At every town would Peter Stuyvesant, who was noted for warlike punctilio,
order the sturdy Antony to sound a courteous salutation; though the
manuscript observes that the inhabitants were thrown into great dismay
when they heard of his approach. For the fame of his incomparable
achievements on the Delaware had spread throughout the east country, and
they dreaded lest he had come to take vengeance on their manifold

But the good Peter rode through these towns with a smiling aspect, waving
his hand with inexpressible majesty and condescension; for he verily
believed that the old clothes which these ingenious people had thrust into
their broken windows, and the festoons of dried apples and peaches which
ornamented the fronts of their houses, were so many decorations in honor
of his approach, as it was the custom in the days of chivalry to
compliment renowned heroes by sumptuous displays of tapestry and gorgeous
furniture. The women crowded to the doors to gaze upon him as he passed,
so much does prowess in arms delight the gentler sex. The little children,
too, ran after him in troops, staring with wonder at his regimentals, his
brimstone breeches, and the silver garniture of his wooden leg. Nor must I
omit to mention the joy which many strapping wenches betrayed at beholding
the jovial Van Corlear, who had whilom delighted them so much with his
trumpet, when he bore the great Peter's challenge to the Amphictyons. The
kind-hearted Antony alighted from his calico mare, and kissed them all
with infinite loving kindness, and was right pleased to see a crew of
little trumpeters crowding round him for his blessing, each of whom he
patted on the head, bade him be a good boy, and gave him a penny to buy
molasses candy.


   [58] This Luyck was, moreover, rector of the Latin School in
        Nieuw Nederlands, 1663. There are two pieces addressed to Ægidius
        Luyck in D. Selyn's MSS. of poesies, upon his marriage with
        Judith Isendoorn. (Old MSS.)


Now so it happened, that while the great and good Peter Stuyvesant,
followed by his trusty squire, was making his chivalric progress through
the east country, a dark and direful scheme of war against his beloved
province was forming in that nursery of monstrous projects, the British

This, we are confidently informed, was the result of the secret
instigations of the great council of the league; who, finding themselves
totally incompetent to vie in arms with the heavy-sterned warriors of the
Manhattoes and their iron-headed commander, sent emissaries to the British
Government, setting forth in eloquent language the wonders and delights of
this delicious little Dutch Canaan, and imploring that a force might be
sent out to invade it by sea, while they should co-operate by land.

These emissaries arrived at a critical juncture, just as the British Lion
was beginning to bristle up his mane and wag his tail; for we are assured
by the anonymous writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript that the astounding
victory of Peter Stuyvesant at Fort Christina had resounded throughout
Europe, and his annexation of the territory of New Sweden had awakened the
jealousy of the British Cabinet for their wild lands at the south. This
jealousy was brought to a head by the representations of Lord Baltimore,
who declared that the territory thus annexed lay within the lands granted
to him by the British Crown, and he claimed to be protected in his rights.
Lord Sterling, another British subject, claimed the whole of Nassau, or
Lond Island, once the Ophir of William the Testy, but now the
kitchen-garden of the Manhattoes, which he declared to be British
territory by the right of discovery, but unjustly usurped by the

The result of all these rumors and representations was a sudden zeal on
the part of his Majesty Charles the Second for the safety and well-being
of his transatlantic possessions, and especially for the recovery of the
New Netherlands, which Yankee logic had, somehow or other, proved to be a
continuity of the territory taken possession of for the British Crown by
the pilgrims when they landed on Plymouth Rock, fugitives from British
oppression. All this goodly land thus wrongfully held by the Dutchmen, he
presented, in a fit of affection, to his brother the Duke of York, a
donation truly royal, since none but great sovereigns have a right to give
away what does not belong to them. That this munificent gift might not be
merely nominal, his Majesty ordered that an armament should be straightway
despatched to invade the city of New Amsterdam by land and water, and put
his brother in complete possession of the premises.

Thus critically situated are the affairs of the New Nederlanders. While
the honest burghers are smoking their pipes in somber security, and the
privy councillors are snoring in the council chamber, while Peter the
Headstrong is undauntedly making his way through the east country, in the
confident hope by honest words and manly deeds to bring the grand council
to terms, a hostile fleet is sweeping like a thunder-cloud across the
Atlantic, soon to rattle a storm of war about the ears of the dozing
Nederlanders, and to put the mettle of their governor to the trial.

But come what may, I here pledge my veracity that in all warlike conflicts
and doubtful perplexities he will every acquit himself like a gallant,
noble-minded, obstinate old cavalier. Forward, then, to the charge! Shine
out, propitious stars, on the renowned city of the Manhattoes; and the
blessing of St. Nicholas go with thee, honest Peter Stuyvesant.


Great nations resemble great men in this particular, that their greatness
is seldom known until they get in trouble; adversity, therefore, has been
wisely denominated the ordeal of true greatness, which, like gold, can
never receive its real estimation until it has passed through the furnace.
In proportion, therefore, as a nation, a community, or an individual
(possessing the inherent quality of greatness) is involved in perils and
misfortunes, in proportion does it rise in grandeur; and even when sinking
under calamity, makes, like a house on fire, a more glorious display than
ever it did in the fairest period of its prosperity.

The vast Empire of China, though teeming with population and imbibing and
concentrating the wealth of nations, has vegetated through a succession of
drowsy ages; and were it not for its internal revolution, and the
subversion of its ancient government by the Tartars, might have presented
nothing but a dull detail of monotonous prosperity. Pompeii and
Herculaneum might have passed into oblivion, with a herd of their
contemporaries, had they not been fortunately overwhelmed by a volcano.
The renowned city of Troy acquired celebrity only from its ten years'
distress and final conflagration. Paris rose in importance by the plots
and massacres which ended in the exaltation of Napoleon; and even the
mighty London has skulked through the records of time, celebrated for
nothing of moment excepting the Plague, the Great Fire, and Guy Faux's
Gunpowder Plot! Thus cities and empires creep along, enlarging in silent
obscurity, until they burst forth in some tremendous calamity, and snatch,
as it were, immortality from the explosion.

The above principle being admitted, my reader will plainly perceive that
the city of New Amsterdam and its dependent province are on the high road
to greatness. Dangers and hostilities threaten from every side, and it is
really a matter of astonishment how so small a State has been able in so
short a time to entangle itself in so many difficulties. Ever since the
province was first taken by the nose, at the Fort of Good Hope, in the
tranquil days of Wouter Van Twiller, has it been gradually increasing in
historic importance: and never could it have had a more appropriate
chieftain to conduct it to the pinnacle of grandeur than Peter Stuyvesant.

This truly headstrong hero having successfully effected his daring
progress through the east country, girded up his loins as he approached
Boston, and prepared for the grand onslaught with the Amphictyons, which
was to be the crowning achievement of the campaign. Throwing Antony Van
Corlear, who, with his calico mare, formed his escort and army, a little
in the advance, and bidding him be of stout heart and great mind, he
placed himself firmly in his saddle, cocked his hat more fiercely over his
left eye, summoned all the heroism of his soul into his countenance, and,
with one arm akimbo, the hand resting on the pommel of his sword, rode
into the great metropolis of the league, Antony sounding his trumpet
before him in a manner to electrify the whole community.

Never was there such a stir in Boston as on this occasion; never such a
hurrying hither and thither about the streets; such popping of heads out
of windows; such gathering of knots in market-places Peter Stuyvesant was
a straightforward man, and prone to do everything above board. He would
have ridden at once to the great council-house of the league and sounded a
parley; but the grand council knew the mettlesome hero they had to deal
with, and were not for doing things in a hurry. On the contrary, they sent
forth deputations to meet him on the way, to receive him in a style
befitting the great potentate of the Manhattoes, and to multiply all
kinds of honors, and ceremonies, and formalities, and other courteous
impediments in his path. Solemn banquets were accordingly given him, equal
to thanksgiving feasts. Complimentary speeches were made him, wherein he
was entertained with the surpassing virtues, long sufferings, and
achievements of the Pilgrim Fathers; and it is even said he was treated to
a sight of Plymouth Rock, that great corner-stone of Yankee empire.

I will not detain my readers by recounting the endless devices by which
time was wasted, and obstacles and delays multiplied to the infinite
annoyance of the impatient Peter. Neither will I fatigue them by dwelling
on his negotiations with the grand council, when he at length brought them
to business. Suffice it to say, it was like most other diplomatic
negotiations; a great deal was said and very little done; one conversation
led to another; one conference begot misunderstandings which it took a
dozen conferences to explain, at the end of which both parties found
themselves just where they had begun, but ten times less likely to come to
an agreement.

In the midst of these perplexities, which bewildered the brain and
incensed the ire of honest Peter, he received private intelligence of the
dark conspiracy matured in the British Cabinet, with the astounding fact
that a British squadron was already on the way to invade New Amsterdam by
sea, and that the grand council of Amphictyons, while thus beguiling him
with subtleties, were actually prepared to co-operate by land!

Oh! how did the sturdy old warrior rage and roar when he found himself
thus entrapped, like a lion in the hunter's toil! Now did he draw his
trusty sword, and determine to break in upon the council of the
Amphictyons, and put every mother's son of them to death. Now did he
resolve to fight his way throughout all the regions of the east, and to
lay waste Connecticut river.

Gallant, but unfortunate Peter! Did I not enter with sad forebodings on
this ill-starred expedition? Did I not tremble when I saw thee, with no
other councillor than thine own head; no other armour but an honest
tongue, a spotless conscience, and a rusty sword; no other protector but
St. Nicholas, and no other attendant but a trumpeter--did I not tremble
when I beheld thee thus sally forth to contend with all the knowing powers
of New England?

It was a long time before the kind-hearted expostulations of Antony Van
Corlear, aided by the soothing melody of his trumpet, could lower the
spirits of Peter Stuyvesant from their warlike and vindictive tone, and
prevent his making widows and orphans of half the population of Boston.
With great difficulty he was prevailed upon to bottle up his wrath for the
present; to conceal from the council his knowledge of their machinations;
and by effecting his escape, to be able to arrive in time for the
salvation of the Manhattoes.

The latter suggestion awakened a new ray of hope in his bosom; he
forthwith dispatched a secret message to his councillors at New Amsterdam,
apprising them of their danger, and commanding them to put the city in a
posture of defense, promising to come as soon as possible to their
assistance. This done, he felt marvelously relieved, rose slowly, shook
himself like a rhinoceros, and issued forth from his den, in much the same
manner as Giant Despair is described to have issued from Doubting Castle,
in the chivalric history of the Pilgrim's Progress.

And now much does it grieve me that I must leave the gallant Peter in this
imminent jeopardy; but it behooves us to hurry back and see what is going
on at New Amsterdam, for greatly do I fear that city is already in a
turmoil. Such was ever the fate of Peter Stuyvesant; while doing one thing
with heart and soul he was too apt to leave everything else at sixes and
sevens. While, like a potentate of yore, he was absent attending to those
things in person which in modern days are trusted to generals and
ambassadors, his little territory at home was sure to get in an
uproar--all which was owing to that uncommon strength of intellect which
induced him to trust to nobody but himself, and which had acquired him the
renowned appellation of Peter the Headstrong.


There is no sight more truly interesting to a philosopher than a community
where every individual has a voice in public affairs; where every
individual considers himself the Atlas of the nation; and where every
individual thinks it his duty to bestir himself for the good of his
country--I say, there is nothing more interesting to a philosopher than
such a community in a sudden bustle of war. Such clamor of tongues--such
patriotic bawling--such running hither and thither--everybody in a
hurry--everybody in trouble--everybody in the way, and everybody
interrupting his neighbor--who is busily employed in doing nothing! It is
like witnessing a great fire, where the whole community are agog--some
dragging about empty engines, others scampering with full buckets, and
spilling the contents into their neighbors' boots, and others ringing the
church bells all night, by way of putting out the fire. Little firemen,
like sturdy little knights storming a breach, clambering up and down
scaling-ladders, and bawling through tin trumpets, by way of directing the
attack. Here a fellow, in his great zeal to save the property of the
unfortunate, catches up some article of no value, and gallants it off with
an air of as much self-importance as if he had rescued a pot of money;
there another throws looking-glasses and china out of the window, to save
them from the flames; whilst those who can do nothing else run up and down
the streets, keeping up an incessant cry of "Fire! fire! fire!"

"When the news arrived at Sinope," says Lucian--though I own the story is
rather trite-"that Philip was about to attack them, the inhabitants were
thrown into a violent alarm. Some ran to furbish up their arms; others
rolled stones to build up the walls; everybody, in short, was employed,
and everybody in the way of his neighbor. Diogenes alone could find
nothing to do; whereupon, not to be idle when the welfare of his country
was at stake, he tucked up his robe, and fell to rolling his tub with
might and main up and down the Gymnasium." In like manner did every
mother's son in the patriotic community of New Amsterdam, on receiving the
missives of Peter Stuyvesant, busy himself most mightily in putting things
in confusion, and assisting the general uproar. "Every man," said the
Stuyvesant manuscript, "flew to arms!" by which is meant that not one of
our honest Dutch citizens would venture to church or to market without an
old-fashioned spit of a sword dangling at his side, and a long Dutch
fowling-piece on his shoulder; nor would he go out of a night without a
lantern, nor turn a corner without first peeping cautiously round, lest he
should come unawares upon a British army; and we are informed that Stoffel
Brinkerhoff, who was considered by the old women almost as brave a man as
the governor himself, actually had two one-pound swivels mounted in his
entry, one pointing out at the front door, and the other at the back.

But the most strenuous measure resorted to on this awful occasion, and one
which has since been found of wonderful efficacy, was to assemble popular
meetings. These brawling convocations, I have already shown, were
extremely offensive to Peter Stuyvesant; but as this was a moment of
unusual agitation, and as the old governor was not present to repress
them, they broke out with intolerable violence. Hither, therefore, the
orators and politicians repaired, striving who should bawl loudest, and
exceed the others in hyperbolical bursts of patriotism, and in resolutions
to uphold and defend the government. In these sage meetings it was
resolved that they were the most enlightened, the most dignified, the most
formidable, and the most ancient community upon the face of the earth.
This resolution being carried unanimously, another was immediately
proposed--whether it were not possible and politic to exterminate Great
Britain? upon which sixty-nine members spoke in the affirmative, and only
one arose to suggest some doubts, who, as a punishment for his treasonable
presumption, was immediately seized by the mob, and tarred and feathered,
which punishment being equivalent to the Tarpeian Rock, he was afterwards
considered as an outcast from society, and his opinion went for nothing.
The question, therefore, being unanimously carried in the affirmative, it
was recommended to the grand council to pass it into a law; which was
accordingly done. By this measure the hearts of the people at large were
wonderfully encouraged, and they waxed exceeding choleric and valorous.
Indeed, the first paroxysm of alarm having in some measure subsided, the
old women having buried all the money they could lay their hands on, and
their husbands daily getting fuddled with what was left, the community
began even to stand on the offensive. Songs were manufactured in Low
Dutch, and sung about the streets, wherein the English were most woefully
beaten, and shown no quarter; and popular addresses were made, wherein it
was proved to a certainty that the fate of Old England depended upon the
will of the New Amsterdammers.

Finally, to strike a violent blow at the very vitals of Great Britain, a
multitude of the wiser inhabitants assembled, and having purchased all
the British manufactures they could find, they made thereof a huge
bonfire, and in the patriotic glow of the moment, every man present who
had a hat or breeches of English workmanship pulled it off, and threw it
into the flames, to the irreparable detriment, loss and ruin of the
English manufacturers! In commemoration of this great exploit they erected
a pole on the spot, with a device on the top intended to represent the
province of Nieuw Nederlandts destroying Great Britain, under the
similitude of an eagle picking the little island of Old England out of the
globe; but either through the unskillfulness of the sculptor, or his
ill-timed waggery, it bore a striking resemblance to a goose vainly
striving to get hold of a dumpling.


It will need but little penetration in any one conversant with the ways of
that wise but windy potentate, the sovereign people, to discover that not
withstanding all the warlike bluster and bustle of the last chapter, the
city of New Amsterdam was not a whit more prepared for war than before.
The privy councillors of Peter Stuyvesant were aware of this; and, having
received his private orders to put the city in an immediate posture of
defense, they called a meeting of the oldest and richest burghers to
assist them with their wisdom. These were of that order of citizens
commonly termed "men of the greatest weight in the community;" their
weight being estimated by the heaviness of their heads and of their
purses. Their wisdom in fact is apt to be of a ponderous kind, and to hang
like a millstone round the neck of the community.

Two things were unanimously determined in this assembly of venerables:
first, that the city required to be put in a state of defense; and second,
that, as the danger was imminent, there should be no time lost; which
points being settled, they fell to making long speeches, and belaboring
one another in endless and intemperate disputes. For about this time was
this unhappy city first visited by that talking endemic so prevalent in
this country, and which so invariably evinces itself wherever a number of
wise men assemble together, breaking out in long windy speeches; caused,
as physicians suppose, by the foul air which is ever generated in a crowd.
Now it was, moreover, that they first introduced the ingenious method of
measuring the merits of an harangue by the hour-glass, he being considered
the ablest orator who spoke longest on a question. For which excellent
invention, it is recorded, we are indebted to the same profound Dutch
critic who judged of books by their size.

This sudden passion for endless harangues, so little consonant with the
customary gravity and taciturnity of our sage forefathers, was supposed by
certain philosophers to have been imbibed, together with divers other
barbarous propensities, from their savage neighbors, who were peculiarly
noted for long talks and council fires; and never undertook any affair of
the least importance without previous debates and harangues among their
chiefs and old men. But the real cause was, that the people, in electing
their representatives to the grand council, were particular in choosing
them for their talents at talking, without inquiring whether they
possessed the more rare, difficult, and oft-times important talent of
holding their tongues. The consequence was, that this deliberative body
was composed of the most loquacious men in the community. As they
considered themselves placed there to talk, every man concluded that his
duty to his constituents, and, what is more, his popularity with them,
required that he should harangue on every subject, whether he understood
it or not. There was an ancient mode of burying a chieftain, by every
soldier throwing his shield full of earth on the corpse, until a mighty
mound was formed; so, whenever a question was brought forward in this
assembly, every member pressing forward to throw on his quantum of wisdom,
the subject was quickly buried under a mountain of words.

We are told that disciples on entering the school of Pythagoras were for
two years enjoined silence, and forbidden either to ask questions or make
remarks. After they had thus acquired the inestimable art of holding their
tongues they were gradually permitted to make inquiries, and finally to
communicate their own opinions.

With what a beneficial effect could this wise regulation of Pythagoras be
introduced in modern legislative bodies--and how wonderfully would it have
tended to expedite business in the grand council of the Manhattoes.

At this perilous juncture the fatal word economy, the stumbling block of
William the Testy, had been once more set afloat, according to which the
cheapest plan of defense was insisted upon as the best; it being deemed a
great stroke of policy in furnishing powder to economise in ball.

Thus old Dame Wisdom (whom the wags of antiquity have humorously
personified as a woman) seem to take a mischievous pleasure in jilting the
venerable councillors of New Amsterdam. To add to the confusion, the old
factions of Short Pipes and Long Pipes, which had been almost strangled by
the Herculean grasp of Peter Stuyvesant, now sprang up with tenfold vigor.
Whatever was proposed by a Short Pipe was opposed by the whole tribe of
Long Pipes, who, like true partisans, deemed it their first duty to effect
the downfall of their rivals, their second to elevate themselves, and
their third to consult the public good; though many left the third
consideration out of question altogether.

In this great collision of hard heads it is astonishing the number of
projects that were struck out; projects which threw the windmill system of
William the Testy completely in the background. These were almost
uniformly opposed by the "men of the greatest weight in the community;"
your weighty men, though slow to devise, being always great at
"negativing." Among these were a set of fat, self-important old burghers,
who smoked their pipes, and said nothing except to negative every plan of
defence proposed. These were that class of "conservatives" who, having
amassed a fortune, button up their pockets, shut their mouths, sink, as it
were, into themselves, and pass the rest of their lives in the indwelling
beatitude of conscious wealth; as some phlegmatic oyster, having swallowed
a pearl, closes its shell, sinks in the mud, and devotes the rest of its
life to the conservation of its treasure. Every plan of defence seemed to
these worthy old gentlemen pregnant with ruin. An armed force was a legion
of locusts preying upon the public property; to fit out a naval armament
was to throw their money into the sea; to build fortifications was to bury
it in the dirt. In short, they settled it as a sovereign maxim, so long as
their pockets were full, no matter how much they were drubbed. A kick left
no scar; a broken head cured itself; but an empty purse was of all
maladies the slowest to heal, and one in which nature did nothing for the

Thus did this venerable assembly of sages lavish away their time, which
the urgency of affairs rendered invaluable, in empty brawls and
long-winded speeches, without ever agreeing, except on the point with
which they started, namely, that there was no time to be lost, and delay
was ruinous. At length, St. Nicholas taking compassion on their distracted
situation, and anxious to preserve them from anarchy, so ordered, that in
the midst of one of their most noisy debates on the subject of
fortification and defence, when they had nearly fallen to loggerheads in
consequence of not being able to convince each other, the question was
happily settled by the sudden entrance of a messenger, who informed them
that a hostile fleet had arrived, and was actually advancing up the bay!


Like as an assemblage of belligerent cats, gibbering and caterwauling,
eyeing one another with hideous grimaces and contortions, spitting in each
other's faces, and on the point of a general clapper-clawing, are suddenly
put to scampering rout and confusion by the appearance of a house-dog, so
was the no less vociferous council of New Amsterdam amazed, astounded, and
totally dispersed by the sudden arrival of the enemy. Every member waddled
home as fast as his short legs could carry him, wheezing as he went with
corpulency and terror. Arrived at his castle, he barricaded the
street-door, and buried himself in the cider-cellar, without venturing to
peep out, lest he should have his head carried off by a cannon ball.

The sovereign people crowded into the marketplace, herding together with
the instinct of sheep, who seek safety in each other's company when the
shepherd and his dog are absent, and the wolf is prowling round the fold.
Far from finding relief, however, they only increased each other's
terrors. Each man looked ruefully in his neighbor's face, in search of
encouragement, but only found in its woebegone lineaments a confirmation
of his own dismay. Not a word now was to be heard of conquering Great
Britain, not a whisper about the sovereign virtues of economy--while the
old women heightened the general gloom by clamorously bewailing their
fate, and calling for protection on St. Nicholas and Peter Stuyvesant.

Oh, how did they bewail the absence of the lion-hearted Peter! and how
did they long for the comforting presence of Antony Van Corlear! Indeed a
gloomy uncertainty hung over the fate of these adventurous heroes. Day
after day had elapsed since the alarming message from the governor without
bringing any further tidings of his safety. Many a fearful conjecture was
hazarded as to what had befallen him and his loyal squire. Had they not
been devoured alive by the cannibals of Marblehead and Cape Cod? Had they
not been put to the question by the great council of Amphictyons? Had they
not been smothered in onions by the terrible men of Pyquag? In the midst
of this consternation and perplexity, when horror, like a mighty
nightmare, sat brooding upon the little, fat, plethoric city of New
Amsterdam, the ears of the multitude were suddenly startled by the distant
sound of a trumpet;--it approached--it grew louder and louder--and now it
resounded at the city gate. The public could not be mistaken in the
well-known sound; a shout of joy burst from their lips as the gallant
Peter, covered with dust, and followed by his faithful trumpeter, came
galloping into the marketplace.

The first transports of the populace having subsided, they gathered round
the honest Antony, as he dismounted, overwhelming him with greetings and
congratulations. In breathless accents, he related to them the marvelous
adventures through which the old governor and himself had gone, in making
their escape from the clutches of the terrible Amphictyons. But though the
Stuyvesant manuscript, with its customary minuteness where anything
touching the great Peter is concerned, is very particular as to the
incidents of this masterly retreat, the state of the public affairs will
not allow me to indulge in a full recital thereof. Let it suffice to say,
that, while Peter Stuyvesant was anxiously revolving in his mind how he
could make good his escape with honor and dignity, certain of the ships
sent out for the conquest of the Manhattoes touched at the eastern ports
to obtain supplies, and to call on the grand council of the league for its
promised co-operation. Upon hearing of this, the vigilant Peter,
perceiving that a moment's delay were fatal, made a secret and precipitate
decampment, though much did it grieve his lofty soul to be obliged to turn
his back even upon a nation of foes. Many hair-breadth escapes and divers
perilous mishaps did they sustain, as they scourged, without sound of
trumpet, through the fair regions of the east. Already was the country in
an uproar with hostile preparation, and they were obliged to take a large
circuit in their flight, lurking along through the woody mountains of the
Devil's Backbone; whence the valiant Peter sallied forth, one day like a
lion, and put to rout a whole legion of squatters, consisting of three
generations of a prolific family, who were already on their way to take
possession of some corner of the New Netherlands. Nay, the faithful Antony
had great difficulty, at sundry times, to prevent him, in the excess of
his wrath, from descending down from the mountains, and falling, sword in
hand, upon certain of the border-towns, who were marshaling forth their
draggle-tailed militia.

The first movement of the governor, on reaching his dwelling, was to mount
the roof, whence he contemplated with rueful aspect the hostile squadron.
This had already come to anchor in the bay, and consisted of two stout
frigates, having on board, as John Josselyn, gent., informs us, "three
hundred valiant red coats." Having taken this survey, he sat himself down,
and wrote an epistle to the commander, demanding the reason of his
anchoring in the harbor without obtaining previous permission so to do.
This letter was couched in the most dignified and courteous terms, though
I have it from undoubted authority that his teeth were clinched, and he
had a bitter sardonic grin upon his visage all the while he wrote. Having
despatched his letter, the grim Peter stumped to and fro about the town,
with a most war-betokening countenance, his hands thrust into his breeches
pockets, and whistling a low Dutch psalm-tune, which bore no small
resemblance to the music of a northeast wind, when a storm is brewing. The
very dogs, as they eyed him, skulked away in dismay; while all the old and
ugly women of New Amsterdam ran howling at his heels, imploring him to
save them from murder, robbery, and pitiless ravishment!

The reply of Colonel Nicholas, who commanded the invaders, was couched in
terms of equal courtesy with the letter of the governor, declaring the
right and title of his British Majesty to the province, where he affirmed
the Dutch to be mere interlopers; and demanding that the town, forts,
etc., should be forthwith rendered into his majesty's obedience and
protection; promising at the same time, life, liberty, estate, and free
trade, to every Dutch denizen who should readily submit to his Majesty's

Peter Stuyvesant read over this friendly epistle with some such harmony of
aspect as we may suppose a crusty farmer reads the loving letter of John
Stiles, warning him of an action of ejectment. He was not, however, to be
taken by surprise; but, thrusting the summons into his breeches pocket,
stalked three times across the room, took a pinch of snuff with great
vehemence, and then, loftily waving his hand, promised to send an answer
the next morning. He now summoned a general meeting of his privy
councillors and burgomasters, not to ask their advice, for confident in
his own strong head, he needed no man's counsel, but apparently to give
them a piece of his mind on their late craven conduct.

His orders being duly promulgated, it was a piteous sight to behold the
late valiant burgomasters, who had demolished the whole British empire in
their harangues, peeping ruefully out of their hiding-places; crawling
cautiously forth; dodging through narrow lanes and alleys; starting at
every little dog that barked; mistaking lamp-posts for British grenadiers;
and, in the excess of their panic, metamorphosing pumps into formidable
soldiers, levelling blunderbusses at their bosoms! Having, however, in
despite of numerous perils and difficulties of the kind, arrived safe,
without the loss of a single man, at the hall of assembly, they took their
seats, and awaited in fearful silence the arrival of the governor. In a
few moments the wooden leg of the intrepid Peter was heard in regular and
stout-hearted thumps upon the staircase. He entered the chamber, arrayed
in full suit of regimentals, and carrying his trusty toledo, not girded on
his thigh, but tucked under his arm. As the governor never equipped
himself in this portentious manner unless something of martial nature were
working within his pericranium, his council regarded him ruefully, as if
they saw fire and sword in his iron countenance, and forgot to light their
pipes in breathless suspense.

His first words were to rate his council soundly for having wasted in idle
debate and party feud the time which should have been devoted to putting
the city in a state of defence. He was particularly indignant at those
brawlers who had disgraced the councils of the province by empty
bickerings and scurrilous invectives against an absent enemy. He now
called upon them to make good their words by deeds, as the enemy they had
defied and derided was at the gate. Finally, he informed them of the
summons he had received to surrender, but concluded by swearing to defend
the province as long as Heaven was on his side, and he had a wooden leg to
stand upon; which warlike sentence he emphasized by a thwack with the flat
of his sword upon the table that quite electrified his auditors.

The privy councillors who had long since been brought into as perfect
discipline as were ever the soldiers of the great Frederick, knew there
was no use in saying a word, so lighted their pipes, and smoked away in
silence like fat and discreet councillors. But the burgomasters, being
inflated with considerable importance and self-sufficiency acquired at
popular meetings, were not so easily satisfied. Mustering up fresh spirit,
when they found there was some chance of escaping from their present
jeopardy without the disagreeable alternative of fighting, they requested
a copy of the summons to surrender, that they might show it to a general
meeting of the people.

So insolent and mutinous a request would have been enough to have roused
the gorge of the tranquil Van Twiller himself--what, then, must have been
its effect upon the great Stuyvesant, who was not only a Dutchman, a
governor, and a valiant wooden-legged soldier to boot, but withal a man of
the most stomachful and gunpowder disposition? He burst forth into a blaze
of indignation--swore not a mother's son of them should see a syllable of
it; that as to their advice or concurrence, he did not care a whiff of
tobacco for either; that they might go home and go to bed like old women,
for he was determined to defend the colony himself without the assistance
of them or their adherents! So saying, he tucked his sword under his arm,
cocked his hat upon his head, and girding up his loins, stumped
indignantly out of the council chamber, everybody making room for him as
he passed.

No sooner was he gone than the busy burgomasters called a public meeting
in front of the stadthouse, where they appointed as chairman one Dofue
Roerback, formerly a meddlesome member of the cabinet during the reign of
William the Testy, but kicked out of office by Peter Stuyvesant on taking
the reins of government. He was, withal, a mighty gingerbread baker in the
land, and reverenced by the populace as a man of dark knowledge, seeing
that he was the first to imprint New-year cakes with the mysterious
hieroglyphics of the Cock and Breeches, and such-like magical devices.

This burgomaster, who still chewed the cud of ill-will against Peter
Stuyvesant, addressed the multitude in what is called a patriotic speech,
informing them of the courteous summons which the governor had received to
surrender, of his refusal to comply therewith, and of his denying the
public even a sight of the summons, which doubtless contained conditions
highly to the honor and advantage of the province.

He then proceeded to speak of his excellency in high-sounding terms of
vituperation, suited to the dignity of his station; comparing him to Nero,
Caligula, and other flagrant great men of yore; assuring the people that
the history of the world did not contain a despotic outrage equal to the
present; that it would be recorded in letters of fire on the blood-stained
tablet of history; that ages would roll back with sudden horror when they
came to view it; that the womb of time (by the way, your orators and
writers take strange liberties with the womb of time, though some would
fain have us believe that time is an old gentleman)--that the womb of
time, pregnant as it was with direful horrors, would never produce a
parallel enormity: with a variety of other heart-rending, soul-stirring
tropes and figures, which I cannot enumerate; neither, indeed, need I, for
they were of the kind which even to the present day form the style of
popular harangues and patriotic orations, and may be classed in rhetoric
under the general title of Rigmarole.

The result of this speech of the inspired burgomaster was a memorial
addressed to the governor, remonstrating in good round terms on his
conduct. It was proposed that Dofue Roerback himself should be the bearer
of this memorial; but this he warily declined, having no inclination of
coming again within kicking distance of his excellency. Who did deliver
it has never been named in history; in which neglect he has suffered
grievous wrong, seeing that he was equally worthy of blazon with him
perpetuated in Scottish song and story by the surname of Bell-the-cat. All
we know of the fate of this memorial is, that it was used by the grim
Peter to light his pipe, which, from the vehemence with which he smoked
it, was evidently anything but a pipe of peace.


Now did the high-minded Peter de Groodt shower down a pannier load of
maledictions upon his burgomaster for a set of self-willed, obstinate,
factious varlets, who would neither be convinced nor persuaded. Nor did he
omit to bestow some left-handed compliments upon the sovereign people, as
a heard of poltroons, who had no relish for the glorious hardships and
illustrious misadventures of battle, but would rather stay at home, and
eat and sleep in ignoble ease, than fight in a ditch for immortality and a
broken head.

Resolutely bent, however, upon defending his beloved city, in despite even
of itself, he called unto him his trusty Van Corlear, who was his
right-hand man in all times of emergency. Him did he adjure to take his
war-denouncing trumpet, and mounting his horse, to beat up the country
night and day--sounding the alarm along the pastoral border of the
Bronx--startling the wild solitudes of Croton--arousing the rugged
yeomanry of Weehawk and Hoboken--the mighty men of battle of Tappan
Bay--and the brave boys of Tarry-Town, Petticoat-Lane, and
Sleepy-Hollow--charging them one and all to sling their powder-horns,
shoulder their fowling-pieces, and march merrily down to the Manhattoes.

Now there was nothing in all the world, the divine sex excepted, that
Antony Van Corlear loved better than errands of this kind. So just
stopping to take a lusty dinner, and bracing to his side his junk bottle,
well charged with heart-inspiring Hollands, he issued jollily from the
city gate, which looked out upon what is at present called Broadway;
sounding a farewell strain, that rung in sprightly echoes through the
winding streets of New Amsterdam. Alas! never more were they to be
gladdened by the melody of their favorite trumpeter.

It was a dark and stormy night when the good Antony arrived at the creek
(sagely denominated Haerlem river) which separates the island of
Manna-hata from the mainland. The wind was high, the elements were in an
uproar, and no Charon could be found to ferry the adventurous sounder of
brass across the water. For a short time he vapored like an impatient
ghost upon the brink, and then, bethinking himself of the urgency of his
errand, took a hearty embrace of his stone bottle, swore most valorously
that he would swim across in spite of the devil (_spyt den duyvel_), and
daringly plunged into the stream. Luckless Antony! scarce had he buffeted
half-way over when he was observed to struggle violently, as if battling
with the spirit of the waters. Instinctively he put his trumpet to his
mouth, and giving a vehement blast sank for ever to the bottom.

The clangor of his trumpet, like that of the ivory horn of the renowned
Paladin Orlando, when expiring in the glorious field of Roncesvalles, rang
far and wide through the country, alarming the neighbors round, who
hurried in amazement to the spot. Here an old Dutch burgher, famed for his
veracity, and who had been a witness of the fact, related to them the
melancholy affair; with the fearful addition (to which I am slow of giving
belief) that he saw the duyvel, in the shape of a huge mossbonker, seize
the sturdy Antony by the leg and drag him beneath the waves. Certain it
is, the place, with the adjoining promontory, which projects into the
Hudson, has been called _Spyt den Duyvel_ ever since; the ghost of the
unfortunate Antony still haunts the surrounding solitudes, and his trumpet
has often been heard by the neighbors of a stormy night, mingling with the
howling of the blast.

Nobody ever attempts to swim across the creek after dark; on the contrary,
a bridge has been built to guard against such melancholy accidents in the
future; and as to moss-bonkers, they are held in such abhorrence that no
true Dutchman will admit them to his table who loves good fish and hates
the devil.

Such was the end of Antony Van Corlear--a man deserving of a better fate.
He lived roundly and soundly, like a true and jolly bachelor, until the
day of his death; but though he was never married, yet did he leave behind
some two or three dozen children in different parts of the country--fine,
chubby, brawling, flatulent little urchins, from whom, if legends speak
true (and they are not apt to lie), did descend the innumerable race of
editors who people and defend this country, and who are bountifully paid
by the people for keeping up a constant alarm and making them miserable.
It is hinted, too, that in his various expeditions into the east he did
much towards promoting the population of the country, in proof of which is
adduced the notorious propensity of the people of those parts to sound
their own trumpet.

As some way-worn pilgrim, when the tempest whistles through his locks, and
night is gathering round, beholds his faithful dog, the companion and
solace of his journeying, stretched lifeless at his feet, so did the
generous-hearted hero of the Manhattoes contemplate the untimely end of
Antony Van Corlear. He had been the faithful attendant of his footsteps;
he had charmed him in many a weary hour by his honest gayety and the
martial melody of his trumpet, and had followed him with unflinching
loyalty and affection through many a scene of direful peril and mishap. He
was gone for ever! and that, too, at a moment when every mongrel cur was
skulking from his side. This, Peter Stuyvesant, was the moment to try thy
fortitude; and this was the moment when thou didst indeed shine
forth--Peter the Headstrong!

The glare of day had long dispelled the horrors of the stormy night; still
all was dull and gloomy. The late jovial Apollo hid his face behind
lugubrious clouds, peeping out now and then for an instant, as if anxious,
yet fearful, to see what was going on in his favorite city. This was the
eventful morning when the Great Peter was to give his reply to the summons
of the invaders. Already was he closeted with his privy council, sitting
in grim state, brooding over the fate of his favorite trumpeter, and anon
boiling with indignation as the insolence of his recreant burgomasters
flashed upon his mind. While in this state of irritation, a courier
arrived in all haste from Winthrop, the subtle governor of Connecticut,
counseling him, in the most affectionate and disinterested manner, to
surrender the province, and magnifying the dangers and calamities to which
a refusal would subject him. What a moment was this to intrude officious
advice upon a man who never took advice in his whole life! The fiery old
governor strode up and down the chamber with a vehemence that made the
bosoms of his councillors to quake with awe; railing at his unlucky fate,
that thus made him the constant butt of factious subjects and jesuitical

Just at this ill-chosen juncture the officious burgomasters, who had heard
of the arrival of mysterious despatches, came marching in a body into the
room, with a legion of schepens and toad-eaters at their heels, and
abruptly demanded a perusal of the letter. This was too much for the
spleen of Peter Stuyvesant. He tore the letter in a thousand pieces--threw
it in the face of the nearest burgomaster--broke his pipe over the head
of the next--hurled his spitting-box at an unlucky schepen, who was just
retreating out at the door; and finally prorogued the whole meeting _sine
die_, by kicking them downstairs with his wooden leg.

As soon as the burgomasters could recover from their confusion, and had
time to breathe, they called a public meeting, where they related at full
length, and with appropriate coloring and exaggeration, the despotic and
vindictive deportment of the governor, declaring that, for their own
parts, they did not value a straw the being kicked, cuffed, and mauled by
the timber toe of his excellency, but that they felt for the dignity of
the sovereign people, thus rudely insulted by the outrage committed on the
seat of honor of their representatives. The latter part of the harangue
came home at once to that delicacy of feeling and jealous pride of
character vested in all true mobs; who, though they may bear injuries
without a murmur, yet are marvelously jealous of their sovereign dignity;
and there is no knowing to what act of resentment they might have been
provoked, had they not been somewhat more afright of their sturdy old
governor than they were of St. Nicholas, the English, or the d----l


There is something exceedingly sublime and melancholy in the spectacle
which the present crisis of our history presents. An illustrious and
venerable little city--the metropolis of a vast extent of uninhabited
country--garrisoned by a doughty host of orators, chairmen, committee-men,
burgomasters, schepens, and old women--governed by a determined and
strong-headed warrior, and fortified by mud batteries, palisadoes, and
resolutions--blockaded by sea, beleaguered by land, and threatened with
direful desolation from without; while its very vitals are torn with
internal faction and commotion! Never did historic pen record a page of
more complicated distress, unless it be the strife that distracted the
Israelites during the siege of Jerusalem, where discordant parties were
cutting each other's throats at the moment when the victorious legions of
Titus had toppled down their bulwarks, and were carrying fire and sword
into the very _sanctum sanctorum_ of the temple!

Governor Stuyvesant having triumphantly put his grand council to the rout,
and delivered himself from a multitude of impertinent advisers, despatched
a categorical reply to the commanders of the invading squadron, wherein he
asserted the right and title of their High Mightinesses the Lords States
General to the province of New Netherlands, and trusting in the
righteousness of his cause, set the whole British nation at defiance!

My anxiety to extricate my readers and myself from these disastrous scenes
prevents me from giving the whole of this gallant letter, which concluded
in these manly and affectionate terms:----

    "As touching the threats in your conclusion, we have nothing to
    answer, only that we fear nothing but what God (who is as just as
    merciful) shall lay upon us; all things being in His gracious
    disposal, and we may as well be preserved by Him with small
    forces as by a great army, which makes us to wish you all
    happiness and prosperity, and recommend you to His
    protection.--My lords, your thrice humble and affectionate
    servant and friend,


Thus having thrown his gauntlet, the brave Peter stuck a pair of
horse-pistols in his belt, girded an immense powder-horn on his side,
thrust his sound leg into a Hessian boot, and clapping his fierce little
war-hat on the top of his head, paraded up and down in front of his house,
determined to defend his beloved city to the last.

While all these struggles and dissentions were prevailing in the unhappy
city of New Amsterdam, and while its worthy but ill-starred governor was
framing the above quoted letter, the English commanders did not remain
idle. They had agents secretly employed to foment the fears and clamors of
the populace; and moreover circulated far and wide through the adjacent
country a proclamation, repeating the terms they had already held out in
their summons to surrender, at the same time beguiling the simple
Nederlanders with the most crafty and conciliating professions. They
promised that every man who voluntarily submitted to the authority of his
British Majesty should retain peaceful possession of his house, his vrouw,
and his cabbage-garden. That he should be suffered to smoke his pipe,
speak Dutch, wear as many beeches as he pleased, and import bricks, tiles,
and stone jugs from Holland, instead of manufacturing them on the spot.
That he should on no account be compelled to learn the English language,
nor eat codfish on Saturdays, nor keep accounts in any other way than by
casting them up on his fingers, and chalking them down upon the crown of
his hat; as is observed among the Dutch yeomanry at the present day. That
every man should be allowed quietly to inherit his father's hat, coat,
shoe-buckles, pipe, and every other personal appendage; and that no man
should be obliged to conform to any improvements, inventions, or any other
modern innovations; but, on the contrary, should be permitted to build his
house, follow his trade, manage his farm, rear his hogs, and educate his
children, precisely as his ancestors had done before him from time
immemorial. Finally, that he should have all the benefits of free trade,
and should not be required to acknowledge any other saint in the calendar
than St. Nicholas, who should thenceforward, as before, be considered the
tutelar saint of the city.

These terms, as may be supposed, appeared very satisfactory to the people,
who had a great disposition to enjoy their property unmolested, and a most
singular aversion to engage in a contest, where they could gain little
more than honor and broken heads: the first of which they held in
philosophic indifference, the latter in utter detestation. By these
insidious means, therefore, did the English succeed in alienating the
confidence and affections of the populace from their gallant old governor,
whom they considered as obstinately bent upon running them into hideous
misadventures; and did not hesitate to speak their minds freely, and abuse
him most heartily, behind his back.

Like as a mighty grampus, when assailed and buffeted by roaring waves and
brawling surges, still keeps on an undeviating course, rising above the
boisterous billows, spouting and blowing as he emerges, so did the
inflexible Peter pursue, unwavering, his determined career, and rise,
contemptuous, above the clamors of the rabble.

But when the British warriors found that he set their power at defiance,
they despatched recruiting officers to Jamaica, and Jericho, and Nineveh,
and Quag, and Patchog, and all those towns on Long Island which had been
subdued of yore by Stoffel Brinkerhoff, stirring up the progeny of
Preserved Fish and Determined Cock, and those other New England squatters,
to assail the city of New Amsterdam by land, while the hostile ships
prepared for an assault by water.

The streets of New Amsterdam now presented a scene of wild dismay and
consternation. In vain did Peter Stuyvesant order the citizens to arm and
assemble on the Battery. Blank terror reigned over the community. The
whole party of Short Pipes in the course of a single night had changed
into arrant old women--a metamorphosis only to be paralleled by the
prodigies recorded by Livy as having happened at Rome at the approach of
Hannibal, when statues sweated in pure affright, goats were converted into
sheep, and cocks, turning into hens, ran cackling about the street.

Thus baffled in all attempts to put the city in a state of defence,
blockaded from without, tormented from within, and menaced with a Yankee
invasion, even the stiff-necked will of Peter Stuyvesant for once gave
way, and in spite of his mighty heart, which swelled in his throat until
it nearly choked him, he consented to a treaty of surrender.

Words cannot express the transports of the populace on receiving this
intelligence; had they obtained a conquest over their enemies, they could
not have indulged greater delight. The streets resounded with their
congratulations--they extolled their governor as the father and deliverer
of his country--they crowded to his house to testify their gratitude, and
were ten times more noisy in their plaudits than when he returned, with
victory perched upon his beaver, from the glorious capture of Fort
Christina. But the indignant Peter shut his doors and windows, and took
refuge in the innermost recesses of his mansion, that he might not hear
the ignoble rejoicings of the rabble.

Commissioners were now appointed on both sides, and a capitulation was
speedily arranged; all that was wanting to ratify it was that it should be
signed by the governor. When the commissioners waited upon him for this
purpose they were received with grim and bitter courtesy. His warlike
accoutrements were laid aside; an old Indian night-gown was wrapped about
his rugged limbs; a red nightcap overshadowed his frowning brow; an
iron-grey beard of three days' growth gave additional grimness to his
visage. Thrice did he seize a worn-out stump of a pen, and essay to sign
the loathsome paper; thrice did he clinch his teeth, and make a horrible
countenance, as though a dose of rhubarb-senna, and ipecacuanha, had been
offered to his lips. At length, dashing it from him, he seized his
brass-hilted sword, and jerking it from the scabbard, swore by St.
Nicholas to sooner die than yield to any power under heaven.

For two whole days did he persist in this magnanimous resolution, during
which his house was besieged by the rabble, and menaces and clamorous
revilings exhausted to no purpose. And now another course was adopted to
soothe, if possible, his mighty ire. A procession was formed by the
burgomasters and schepens, followed by the populace, to bear the
capitulation in state to the governor's dwelling. They found the castle
strongly barricaded, and the old hero in full regimentals, with his cocked
hat on his head, posted with a blunderbuss at the garret window.

There was something in this formidable position that struck even the
ignoble vulgar with awe and admiration. The brawling multitude could not
but reflect with self-abasement upon their own pusillanimous conduct, when
they beheld their hardy but deserted old governor, thus faithful to his
post, like a forlorn hope, and fully prepared to defend his ungrateful
city to the last. These compunctions, however, were soon overwhelmed by
the recurring tide of public apprehension. The populace arranged
themselves before the house, taking off their hats with most respectful
humility; Burgomaster Roerback, who was of that popular class of orators
described by Sallust as being "talkative rather than eloquent," stepped
forth and addressed the governor in a speech of three hours' length,
detailing, in the most pathetic terms, the calamitous situation of the
province, and urging him, in a constant repetition of the same arguments
and words, to sign the capitulation.

The mighty Peter eyed him from his garret window in grim silence. Now and
then his eye would glance over the surrounding rabble, and an indignant
grin, like that of an angry mastiff, would mark his iron visage. But
though a man of most undaunted mettle--though he had a heart as big as an
ox, and a head that would have set adamant to scorn--yet after all he was
a mere mortal. Wearied out by these repeated oppositions, and this eternal
haranguing, and perceiving that unless he complied the inhabitants would
follow their own inclination, or rather their fears, without waiting for
his consent; or, what was still worse, the Yankees would have time to pour
in their forces and claim a share in the conquest, he testily ordered them
to hand up the paper. It was accordingly hoisted to him on the end of a
pole, and having scrawled his hand at the bottom of it, he anathematised
them all for a set of cowardly, mutinous, degenerate poltroons--threw the
capitulation at their heads, slammed down the window, and was heard
stumping downstairs with vehement indignation. The rabble incontinently
took to their heels; even the burgomasters were not slow in evacuating the
premises, fearing lest the sturdy Peter might issue from his den, and
greet them with some unwelcome testimonial of his displeasure.

Within three hours after the surrender, a legion of British beef-fed
warriors poured into New Amsterdam, taking possession of the fort and
batteries. And now might be heard from all quarters the sound of hammers
made by the old Dutch burghers, in nailing up their doors and windows, to
protect their vrouws from these fierce barbarians, whom they contemplated
in silent sullenness from the garret windows as they paraded through the

Thus did Colonel Richard Nichols, the commander of the British forces,
enter into quiet possession of the conquered realm, as _locum tenens_ for
the Duke of York. The victory was attended with no other outrage than that
of changing the name of the province and its metropolis, which thenceforth
were denominated New York, and so have continued to be called unto the
present day. The inhabitants, according to treaty, were allowed to
maintain quiet possession of their property, but so inveterately did they
retain their abhorrence of the British nation that in a private meeting of
the leading citizens it was unanimously determined never to ask any of
their conquerors to dinner.


    Modern historians assert that when the New Netherlands were thus
    overrun by the British, as Spain in ancient days by the Saracens,
    a resolute band refused to bend the neck to the invader. Led by
    one Garret Van Horne, a valorous and gigantic Dutchman, they
    crossed the bay and buried themselves among the marshes and
    cabbage gardens of Communipaw, as did Pelayo and his followers
    among the mountains of Asturias. Here their descendants have
    remained ever since, keeping themselves apart, like seed corn, to
    repeople the city with the genuine breed, whenever it shall be
    effectually recovered from its intruders. It is said the genuine
    descendants of the Nederlanders who inhabit New York still look
    with longing eyes to the green marshes of ancient Pavonia, as did
    the conquered Spaniards of yore to the stern mountains of
    Asturias, considering these the regions whence deliverance is to


Thus then have I concluded this great historical enterprise; but before I
lay aside my weary pen, there yet remains to be performed one pious duty.
If, among the variety of readers who may peruse this book, there should
haply be found any of those souls of true nobility, which glow with
celestial fire at the history of the generous and the brave, they will
doubtless be anxious to know the fate of the gallant Peter Stuyvesant. To
gratify one such sterling heart of gold, I would go more lengths than to
instruct the cold-blooded curiosity of a whole fraternity of philosophers.

No sooner had that high-mettled cavalier signed the articles of
capitulation, than, determined not to witness the humiliation of his
favorite city, he turned his back on its walls, and made a growling
retreat to his bowery, or country seat, which was situated about two miles
off; where he passed the remainder of his days in patriarchal retirement.
There he enjoyed that tranquillity of mind which he had never known amid
the distracting cares of government, and tasted the sweets of absolute and
uncontrolled authority, which his factious subjects had so often dashed
with the bitterness of opposition.

No persuasion should ever induce him to revisit the city; on the contrary,
he would always have his great arm-chair placed with its back to the
windows which looked in that direction, until a thick grove of trees,
planted by his own hand, grew up and formed a screen that effectually
excluded it from the prospect. He railed continually at the degenerate
innovations and improvements introduced by the conquerors--forbade a word
of their detested language to be spoken in his family, a prohibition
readily obeyed, since none of the household could speak anything but
Dutch, and even ordered a fine avenue to be cut down in front of his house
because it consisted of English cherry trees.

The same incessant vigilance, which blazed forth when he had a vast
province under his care, now showed itself with equal vigor, though in
narrower limits. He patroled with unceasing watchfulness the boundaries of
his little territory, repelled every encroachment with intrepid
promptness: punished every vagrant depredation upon his orchard or his
farmyard with inflexible severity, and conducted every stray hog or cow in
triumph to the pound. But to the indigent neighbor, the friendless
stranger, or the weary wanderer, his spacious doors were ever open, and
his capacious fireplace, that emblem of his own warm and generous heart,
had always a corner to receive and cherish them. There was an exception to
this, I must confess, in case the ill-starred applicant were an
Englishman or a Yankee; to whom, though he might extend the hand of
assistance, he could never be brought to yield the rites of hospitality.
Nay, if peradventure some straggling merchant of the East should stop at
his door, with his cart-load of tinware or wooden bowls, the fiery Peter
would issue forth like a giant from his castle, and make such a furious
clattering among his pots and kettles, that the vender of "notions" was
fain to betake himself to instant flight.

His suit of regimentals, worn threadbare by the brush, was carefully hung
up in the state bedchamber, and regularly aired the first fair day of
every month, and his cocked hat and trusty sword were suspended in grim
repose over the parlor mantelpiece, forming supporters to a full-length
portrait of the renowned admiral Van Tromp. In his domestic empire he
maintained strict discipline, and a well organized despotic government;
but though his own will was the supreme law, yet the good of his subjects
was his constant object. He watched over not merely their immediate
comforts, but their morals and their ultimate welfare; for he gave them
abundance of excellent admonition; nor could any of them complain, that,
when occasion required, he was by any means niggardly in bestowing
wholesome correction.

The good old Dutch festivals, those periodical demonstrations of an
overflowing heart and a thankful spirit, which are falling into sad disuse
among my fellow citizens, were faithfully observed in the mansion of
Governor Stuyvesant. New year was truly a day of open-handed liberality,
of jocund revelry and warm-hearted congratulation, when the bosom swelled
with genial good-fellowship, and the plenteous table was attended with an
unceremonious freedom and honest broad-mouthed merriment unknown in these
days of degeneracy and refinement. Paas and Pinxter were scrupulously
observed throughout his dominions; nor was the day of St. Nicholas
suffered to pass by without making presents, hanging the stocking in the
chimney, and complying with all its other ceremonies.

Once a year, on the first day of April, he used to array himself in full
regimentals, being the anniversary of his triumphal entry into New
Amsterdam, after the conquest of New Sweden. This was always a kind of
saturnalia among the domestics, when they considered themselves at
liberty, in some measure, to say and do what they pleased, for on this day
their master was always observed to unbend and become exceedingly pleasant
and jocose, sending the old gray-headed negroes on April-fool's errands
for pigeons' milk; not one of whom but allowed himself to be taken in, and
humored his old master's jokes, as became a faithful and well disciplined
dependent. Thus did he reign, happily and peacefully on his own land,
injuring no man, envying no man, molested by no outward strifes, perplexed
by no internal commotions; and the mighty monarchs of the earth, who were
vainly seeking to maintain peace, and promote the welfare of mankind by
war and desolation, would have done well to have made a voyage to the
little island of Manna-hata, and learned a lesson in government from the
domestic economy of Peter Stuyvesant.

In process of time, however, the old governor, like all other children of
mortality, began to exhibit evident tokens of decay. Like an aged oak,
which, though it long has braved the fury of the elements, and still
retains its gigantic proportions, begins to shake and groan, with every
blast--so was it with the gallant Peter; for though he still bore the port
and semblance of what he was in the days of his hardihood and chivalry,
yet did age and infirmity begin to sap the vigor of his frame--but his
heart, that unconquerable citadel, still triumphed unsubdued. With
matchless avidity would he listen to every article of intelligence
concerning the battles between the English and Dutch; still would his
pulse beat high, whenever he heard of the victories of De Ruyter--and his
countenance lower, and his eyebrows knit, when fortune turned in favor of
the English. At length, as on a certain day he had just smoke his fifth
pipe, and was napping after dinner in his arm-chair, conquering the whole
British nation in his dreams, he was suddenly aroused by a ringing of
bells, rattling of drums, and roaring of cannon, that put all his blood in
a ferment. But when he learnt that these rejoicings were in honor of a
great victory obtained by the combined English and French fleets over the
brave De Ruyter and the younger Van Tromp, it went so much to his heart
that he took to his bed, and in less than three days was brought to
death's door by a violent cholera morbus! Even in this extremity he still
displayed the unconquerable sprit of Peter the Headstrong--holding out to
the last gasp with inflexible obstinacy against a whole army of old women,
who were bent upon driving the enemy out of his bowels, in the true Dutch
mode of defense, by inundation.

While he thus lay, lingering on the verge of dissolution, news was brought
him that the brave De Ruyter had made good his retreat with little loss,
and meant once more to meet the enemy in battle. The closing eye of the
old warrior kindled with martial fire at the words. He partly raised
himself in bed, clinched his withered hand as if he felt within his gripe
that sword which waved in triumph before the walls of Port Christina, and
giving a grim smile of exultation, sank back upon his pillow, and expired.
Thus died Peter Stuyvesant, a valiant soldier, a loyal subject, an upright
governor, and an honest Dutchman, who wanted only a few empires to
desolate to have been immortalized as a hero!

His funeral obsequies were celebrated with the utmost grandeur and
solemnity. The town was perfectly emptied of its inhabitants, who crowded
in throngs to pay the last sad honors to their good old governor. All his
sterling qualities rushed in full tide upon their recollection, while the
memory of his foibles and his faults had expired with him. The ancient
burghers contended who should have the privilege of bearing the pall; the
populace strove who should walk nearest to the bier, and the melancholy
procession was closed by a number of gray-bearded negroes, who had
wintered and summered in the household of their departed master for the
greater part of a century.

With sad and gloomy countenances the multitude gathered round the grave.
They dwelt with mournful hearts on the sturdy virtues, the signal
services, and the gallant exploits of the brave old worthy. They recalled,
with secret upbraiding, their own factious oppositions to his government;
and many an ancient burgher, whose phlegmatic features had never been
known to relax, nor his eyes to moisten, was now observed to puff a
pensive pipe, and the big drop to steal down his cheek; while he muttered,
with affectionate accent, and melancholy shake of the head, "Well,
den!--Hardkoppig Peter ben gone at last!"

His remains were deposited in the family vault, under a chapel which he
had piously erected on his estate, and dedicated to St. Nicholas, and
which stood on the identical spot at present occupied by St. Mark's
church, where his tombstone is still to be seen. His estate, or bowery, as
it was called, has ever continued in the possession of his descendants,
who, by the uniform integrity of their conduct, and their strict adherence
to the customs and manners that prevailed in the "good old times," have
proved themselves worthy of their illustrious ancestor. Many a time and
oft has the farm been haunted at night by enterprising money-diggers, in
quest of pots of gold, said to have been buried by the old governor,
though I cannot learn that any of them have ever been enriched by their
researches; and who is there, among my native-born fellow-citizens, that
does not remember when, in the mischievous days of his boyhood, he
conceived it a great exploit to rob "Stuyvesant's orchard" on a holiday

At this stronghold of the family may still be seen certain memorials of
the immortal Peter. His full-length portrait frowns in martial terrors
from the parlor wall, his cocked hat and sword still hang up in the best
bed-room; his brimstone-colored breeches were for a long while suspended
in the hall, until some years since they occasioned a dispute between a
new-married couple; and his silver-mounted wooden leg is still treasured
up in the store-room as an invaluable relique.


Among the numerous events, which are each in their turn the most direful
and melancholy of all possible occurrences, in your interesting and
authentic history, there is none that occasions such deep and
heart-rending grief as the decline and fall of your renowned and mighty
empires. Where is the reader who can contemplate without emotion the
disastrous events by which the great dynasties of the world have been
extinguished? While wandering, in imagination, among the gigantic ruins of
states and empires, and marking the tremendous convulsions that wrought
their overthrow, the bosom of the melancholy inquirer swells with sympathy
commensurate to the surrounding desolation. Kingdoms, principalities, and
powers, have each had their rise, their progress, and their downfall; each
in its turn has swayed a potent sceptre; each has returned to its primeval
nothingness. And thus did it fare with the empire of their High
Mightinesses, at the Manhattoes, under the peaceful reign of Walter the
Doubter, the fretful reign of William the Testy, and the chivalric reign
of Peter the Headstrong.

Its history is fruitful of instruction, and worthy of being pondered over
attentively; for it is by thus raking among the ashes of departed
greatness that the sparks of true knowledge are to be found and the lamp
of wisdom illuminated. Let then the reign of Walter the Doubter warn
against yielding to that sleek, contented security, and that overweening
fondness for comfort and repose, which are produced by a state of
prosperity and peace. These tend to unnerve a nation; to destroy its pride
of character; to render it patient of insult; deaf to the calls of honor
and of justice; and cause it to cling to peace, like the sluggard to his
pillow, at the expense of every valuable duty and consideration. Such
supineness ensures the very evil from which it shrinks. One right yielded
up produces the usurpation of a second; one encroachment passively
suffered makes way for another; and the nation which thus, through a
doting love of peace, has sacrificed honor and interest, will at length
have to fight for existence.

Let the disastrous reign of William the Testy serve as a salutary warning
against that fitful, feverish mode of legislation, which acts without
system, depends on shifts and projects, and trusts to lucky contingencies;
which hesitates, and wavers, and at length decides with the rashness of
ignorance and imbecility; which stoops for popularity by courting the
prejudices and flattering the arrogance, rather than commanding the
respect, of the rabble; which seeks safety in a multitude of counsellors,
and distracts itself by a variety of contradictory schemes and opinions;
which mistakes procrastination for weariness--hurry for
decision--parsimony for economy--bustle for business, and vaporing for
valor; which is violent in council, sanguine in expectation, precipitate
in action, and feeble in execution; which undertakes enterprises without
forethought, enters upon them without preparation, conducts them without
energy, and ends them in confusion and defeat.

Let the reign of the good Stuyvesant show the effects of vigor and
decision, even when destitute of cool judgment, and surrounded by
perplexities. Let it show how frankness, probity, and high-souled courage
will command respect and secure honor, even where success is unattainable.
But, at the same time, let it caution against a too ready reliance on the
good faith of others, and a too honest confidence in the loving
professions of powerful neighbors, who are most friendly when they most
mean to betray. Let it teach a judicious attention to the opinions and
wishes of the many, who, in times of peril, must be soothed and led, or
apprehension will overpower the deference to authority.

Let the empty wordiness of his factious subjects, their intemperate
harangues, their violent "resolutions," their hectorings against an absent
enemy, and their pusillanimity on his approach, teach us to distrust and
despise those clamorous patriots whose courage dwells but in the tongue.
Let them serve as a lesson to repress that insolence of speech, destitute
of real force, which too often breaks forth in popular bodies, and
bespeaks the vanity rather than the spirit of a nation. Let them caution
us against vaunting too much of our own power and prowess, and reviling a
noble enemy. True gallantry of soul would always lead us to treat a foe
with courtesy and proud punctilio; a contrary conduct but takes from the
merit of victory, and renders defeat doubly disgraceful.

But I cease to dwell on the stores of excellent examples to be drawn from
the ancient chronicles of the Manhattoes. He who reads attentively will
discover the threads of gold which run throughout the web of history, and
are invisible to the dull eye of ignorance. But before I conclude let me
point out a solemn warning furnished in the subtle chain of events by
which the capture of Fort Casimir has produced the present convulsions of
our globe.

Attend then, gentle reader, to this plain deduction, which, if thou art a
king, an emperor, or other powerful potentate, I advise thee to treasure
up in thy heart, though little expectation have I that my work will fall
into such hands; for well I know the care of crafty ministers, to keep all
grave and edifying books of the kind out of the way of unhappy monarchs,
lest peradventure they should read them and learn wisdom.

By the treacherous surprisal of Fort Casimir, then, did the crafty Swedes
enjoy a transient triumph; but drew upon their heads the vengeance of
Peter Stuyvesant, who wrested all New Sweden from their hands. By the
conquest of New Sweden Peter Stuyvesant aroused the claims of Lord
Baltimore, who appealed to the Cabinet of Great Britain, who subdued the
whole province of New Netherlands. By this great achievement, the whole
extent of North America, from Nova Scotia to the Floridas, was rendered
one entire dependency upon the British crown. But mark the consequence:
the hitherto-scattered colonies being thus consolidated, and having no
rival colonies to check or keep them in awe, waxed great and powerful, and
finally becoming too strong for the mother country, were enabled to shake
off its bonds, and by a glorious revolution became an independent empire.
But the chain of effects stopped not here; the successful revolution in
America produced the sanguinary revolution in France which produced the
puissant Bonaparte, who produced the French despotism, which has thrown
the whole world in confusion! Thus have these great Powers been
successively punished for their ill-starred conquests; and thus, as I
asserted, have all the present convulsions, revolutions, and disasters
that overwhelm mankind, originated in the capture of the little Fort
Casimir, as recorded in this eventful history.

And now, worthy reader, ere I take a sad farewell, which, alas! must be
for ever--willingly would I part in cordial fellowship, and bespeak thy
kind-hearted remembrance. That I have not written a better history of the
days of the patriarchs is not my fault; had any other person written one
as good, I should not have attempted it at all. That many will hereafter
spring up and surpass me in excellence I have very little doubt, and still
less care; well knowing that, when the great Christovallo Colon (who is
vulgarly called Columbus) had once stood his egg upon its end every one at
table could stand his up a thousand times more dexterously. Should any
reader find matter of offence in this history, I should heartily grieve,
though I would on no account question his penetration by telling him he
was mistaken--his good-nature by telling him he was captious--or his pure
conscience by telling him he was startled at a shadow. Surely, when so
ingenious in finding offence where none was intended, it were a thousand
pities he should not be suffered to enjoy the benefit of his discovery.

I have too high an opinion of the understanding of my fellow-citizens to
think of yielding them instruction, and I covet too much their good-will
to forfeit it by giving them good advice. I am none of those cynics who
despise the world, because it despises them; on the contrary, though but
low in its regard, I look up to it with the most perfect good-nature, and
my only sorrow is, that it does not prove itself more worthy of the
unbounded love I bear it.

If, however, in this my historic production, the scanty fruit of a long
and laborious life, I have failed to gratify the dainty palate of the age,
I can only lament my misfortune, for it is too late in the season for me
even to hope to repair it. Already has withering age showered his sterile
snows upon my brow; in a little while, and this genial warmth which still
lingers around my heart, and throbs, worthy reader, throbs kindly toward
thyself, will be chilled for ever. Haply this frail compound of dust,
which while alive may have given birth to naught but unprofitable weeds,
may form a humble sod of the valley, whence may spring many a sweet wild
flower, to adorn my beloved island of Mannahata!


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete" ***

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