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Title: Wolfert's Roost, and Miscellanies
Author: Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Language: English
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Sir: I have observed that as a man advances in life, he is subject to
a kind of plethora of the mind, doubtless occasioned by the vast
accumulation of wisdom and experience upon the brain. Hence he is apt to
become narrative and admonitory, that is to say, fond of telling long
stories, and of doling out advice, to the small profit and great
annoyance of his friends. As I have a great horror of becoming the
oracle, or, more technically speaking, the "bore," of the domestic
circle, and would much rather bestow my wisdom and tediousness upon the
world at large, I have always sought to ease off this surcharge of the
intellect by means of my pen, and hence have inflicted divers gossiping
volumes upon the patience of the public. I am tired, however, of writing
volumes; they do not afford exactly the relief I require; there is too
much preparation, arrangement, and parade, in this set form of coming
before the public. I am growing too indolent and unambitious for any
thing that requires labor or display. I have thought, therefore, of
securing to myself a snug corner in some periodical work where I might,
as it were, loll at my ease in my elbow-chair, and chat sociably with
the public, as with an old friend, on any chance subject that might pop
into my brain.

In looking around, for this purpose, upon the various excellent
periodicals with which our country abounds, my eye was struck by the
title of your work--"THE KNICKERBOCKER." My heart leaped at the sight.
DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, Sir, was one of my earliest and most valued
friends, and the recollection of him is associated with some of the
pleasantest scenes of my youthful days. To explain this, and to show how
I came into possession of sundry of his posthumous works, which I
have from time to time given to the world, permit me to relate a
few particulars of our early intercourse. I give them with the more
confidence, as I know the interest you take in that departed worthy,
whose name and effigy are stamped upon your title-page, and as they will
be found important to the better understanding and relishing divers
communications I may have to make to you.

My first acquaintance with that great and good man, for such I may
venture to call him, now that the lapse of some thirty years has
shrouded his name with venerable antiquity, and the popular voice has
elevated him to the rank of the classic historians of yore, my first
acquaintance with him was formed on the banks of the Hudson, not far
from the wizard region of Sleepy Hollow. He had come there in the course
of his researches among the Dutch neighborhoods for materials for his
immortal history. For this purpose, he was ransacking the archives of
one of the most ancient and historical mansions in the country. It was
a lowly edifice, built in the time of the Dutch dynasty, and stood on a
green bank, overshadowed by trees, from which it peeped forth upon the
Great Tappan Zee, so famous among early Dutch navigators. A bright
pure spring welled up at the foot of the green bank; a wild brook came
babbling down a neighboring ravine, and threw itself into a little woody
cove, in front of the mansion. It was indeed as quiet and sheltered a
nook as the heart of man could require, in which to take refuge from the
cares and troubles of the world; and as such, it had been chosen in old
times, by Wolfert Acker, one of the privy councillors of the renowned
Peter Stuyvesant.

This worthy but ill-starred man had led a weary and worried life,
throughout the stormy reign of the chivalric Peter, being one of those
unlucky wights with whom the world is ever at variance, and who are kept
in a continual fume and fret, by the wickedness of mankind. At the time
of the subjugation of the province by the English, he retired hither in
high dudgeon; with the bitter determination to bury himself from the
world, and live here in peace and quietness for the remainder of his
days. In token of this fixed resolution, he inscribed over his door the
favorite Dutch motto, "Lust in Rust," (pleasure in repose.) The mansion
was thence called "Wolfert's Rust"--Wolfert's Rest; but in process of
time, the name was vitiated into Wolfert's Roost, probably from its
quaint cock-loft look, or from its having a weather-cock perched on
every gable. This name it continued to bear, long after the unlucky
Wolfert was driven forth once more upon a wrangling world, by the
tongue of a termagant wife; for it passed into a proverb through the
neighborhood, and has been handed down by tradition, that the cock of
the Roost was the most hen-pecked bird in the country.

This primitive and historical mansion has since passed through many
changes and trials, which it may be my lot hereafter to notice. At the
time of the sojourn of Diedrich Knickerbocker it was in possession of
the gallant family of the Van Tassels, who have figured so conspicuously
in his writings. What appears to have given it peculiar value, in his
eyes, was the rich treasury of historical facts here secretly hoarded
up, like buried gold; for it is said that Wolfert Acker, when he
retreated from New Amsterdam, carried off with him many of the records
and journals of the province, pertaining to the Dutch dynasty; swearing
that they should never fall into the hands of the English. These, like
the lost books of Livy, had baffled the research of former historians;
but these did I find the indefatigable Diedrich diligently deciphering.
He was already a sage in year's and experience, I but an idle stripling;
yet he did not despise my youth and ignorance, but took me kindly by the
hand, and led me gently into those paths of local and traditional lore
which he was so fond of exploring. I sat with him in his little chamber
at the Roost, and watched the antiquarian patience and perseverance
with which he deciphered those venerable Dutch documents, worse than
Herculanean manuscripts. I sat with him by the spring, at the foot of
the green bank, and listened to his heroic tales about the worthies of
the olden time, the paladins of New Amsterdam. I accompanied him in his
legendary researches about Tarrytown and Sing-Sing, and explored with
him the spell-bound recesses of Sleepy Hollow. I was present at many of
his conferences with the good old Dutch burghers and their wives, from
whom he derived many of those marvelous facts not laid down in books
or records, and which give such superior value and authenticity to his
history, over all others that have been written concerning the New

But let me check my proneness to dilate upon this favorite theme; I may
recur to it hereafter. Suffice it to say, the intimacy thus formed,
continued for a considerable time; and in company with the worthy
Diedrich, I visited many of the places celebrated by his pen. The
currents of our lives at length diverged. He remained at home to
complete his mighty work, while a vagrant fancy led me to wander about
the world. Many, many years elapsed, before I returned to the parent
soil. In the interim, the venerable historian of the New Netherlands
had been gathered to his fathers, but his name had risen to renown. His
native city, that city in which he so much delighted, had decreed all
manner of costly honors to his memory. I found his effigy imprinted upon
new-year cakes, and devoured with eager relish by holiday urchins; a
great oyster-house bore the name of "Knickerbocker Hall;" and I narrowly
escaped the pleasure of being run over by a Knickerbocker omnibus!

Proud of having associated with a man who had achieved such greatness,
I now recalled our early intimacy with tenfold pleasure, and sought to
revisit the scenes we had trodden together. The most important of
these was the mansion of the Van Tassels, the Roost of the unfortunate
Wolfert. Time, which changes all things, is but slow in its operations
upon a Dutchman's dwelling. I found the venerable and quaint little
edifice much as I had seen it during the sojourn of Diedrich. There
stood his elbow-chair in the corner of the room he had occupied;
the old-fashioned Dutch writing-desk at which he had pored over the
chronicles of the Manhattoes; there was the old wooden chest, with the
archives left by Wolfert Acker, many of which, however, had been fired
off as wadding from the long duck gun of the Van Tassels. The scene
around the mansion was still the same; the green bank; the spring beside
which I had listened to the legendary narratives of the historian; the
wild brook babbling down to the woody cove, and the overshadowing locust
trees, half shutting out the prospect of the great Tappan Zee.

As I looked round upon the scene, my heart yearned at the recollection
of my departed friend, and I wistfully eyed the mansion which he had
inhabited, and which was fast mouldering to decay. The thought struck me
to arrest the desolating hand of Time; to rescue the historic pile from
utter ruin, and to make it the closing scene of my wanderings; a quiet
home, where I might enjoy "lust in rust" for the remainder of my days.
It is true, the fate of the unlucky Wolfert passed across my mind; but
I consoled myself with the reflection that I was a bachelor, and that I
had no termagant wife to dispute the sovereignty of the Roost with me.

I have become possessor of the Roost! I have repaired and renovated it
with religious care, in the genuine Dutch style, and have adorned and
illustrated it with sundry reliques of the glorious days of the New
Netherlands. A venerable weathercock, of portly Dutch dimensions,
which once battled with the wind on the top of the Stadt-House of New
Amsterdam, in the time of Peter Stuyvesant, now erects its crest on
the gable end of my edifice; a gilded horse in full gallop, once the
weathercock of the great Vander Heyden Palace of Albany, now glitters in
the sunshine, and veers with every breeze, on the peaked turret over
my portal; my sanctum sanctorum is the chamber once honored by the
illustrious Diedrich, and it is from his elbow-chair, and his identical
old Dutch writing-desk, that I pen this rambling epistle.

Here, then, have I set up my rest, surrounded by the recollections of
early days, and the mementoes of the historian of the Manhattoes, with
that glorious river before me, which flows with such majesty through his
works, and which has ever been to me a river of delight.

I thank God I was born on the banks of the Hudson! I think it an
invaluable advantage to be born and brought up in the neighborhood of
some grand and noble object in nature; a river, a lake, or a mountain.
We make a friendship with it, we in a manner ally ourselves to it for
life. It remains an object of our pride and affections, a rallying
point, to call us home again after all our wanderings. "The things which
we have learned in our childhood," says an old writer, "grow up with our
souls, and unite themselves to it." So it is with the scenes among which
we have passed our early days; they influence the whole course of our
thoughts and feelings; and I fancy I can trace much of what is good and
pleasant in my own heterogeneous compound to my early companionship with
this glorious river. In the warmth of my youthful enthusiasm, I used to
clothe it with moral attributes, and almost to give it a soul. I admired
its frank, bold, honest character; its noble sincerity and perfect
truth. Here was no specious, smiling surface, covering the dangerous
sand-bar or perfidious rock; but a stream deep as it was broad, and
bearing with honorable faith the bark that trusted to its waves. I
gloried in its simple, quiet, majestic, epic flow; ever straight
forward. Once, indeed, it turns aside for a moment, forced from its
course by opposing mountains, but it struggles bravely through them, and
immediately resumes its straightforward march. Behold, thought I, an
emblem of a good man's course through life; ever simple, open, and
direct; or if, overpowered by adverse circumstances, he deviate into
error, it is but momentary; he soon recovers his onward and honorable
career, and continues it to the end of his pilgrimage.

Excuse this rhapsody, into which I have been betrayed by a revival of
early feelings. The Hudson is, in a manner, my first and last love; and
after all my wanderings and seeming infidelities, I return to it with a
heart-felt preference over all the other rivers in the world. I seem
to catch new life as I bathe in its ample billows and inhale the pure
breezes of its hills. It is true, the romance of youth is past, that
once spread illusions over every scene. I can no longer picture an
Arcadia in every green valley; nor a fairy land among the distant
mountains; nor a peerless beauty in every villa gleaming among the
trees; but though the illusions of youth have faded from the landscape,
the recollections of departed years and departed pleasures shed over it
the mellow charm of evening sunshine.

Permit me, then, Mr. Editor, through the medium of your work, to
hold occasional discourse from my retreat with the busy world I have
abandoned. I have much to say about what I have seen, heard, felt, and
thought through the course of a varied and rambling life, and some
lucubrations that have long been encumbering my portfolio; together with
divers reminiscences of the venerable historian of the New Netherlands,
that may not be unacceptable to those who have taken an interest in his
writings, and are desirous of any thing that may cast a light back upon
our early history. Let your readers rest assured of one thing, that,
though retired from the world, I am not disgusted with it; and that if
in my communings with it I do not prove very wise, I trust I shall at
least prove very good-natured.

Which is all at present, from

Yours, etc.,


       *       *       *       *       *


Worthy Sir: In a preceding communication, I have given you some brief
notice of Wolfert's Roost, the mansion where I first had the good
fortune to become acquainted with the venerable historian of the New
Netherlands. As this ancient edifice is likely to be the place whence
I shall date many of my lucubrations, and as it is really a very
remarkable little pile, intimately connected with all the great epochs
of our local and national history, I have thought it but right to give
some farther particulars concerning it. Fortunately, in rummaging a
ponderous Dutch chest of drawers, which serves as the archives of the
Roost, and in which are preserved many inedited manuscripts of Mr.
KNICKERBOCKER, together with the precious records of New-Amsterdam,
brought hither by Wolfert Acker at the downfall of the Dutch dynasty,
as has been already mentioned, I found in one corner, among dried
pumpkin-seeds, bunches of thyme, and pennyroyal, and crumbs of new-year
cakes, a manuscript, carefully wrapped up in the fragment of an old
parchment deed, but much blotted, and the ink grown foxy by time, which,
on inspection, I discovered to be a faithful chronicle of the Roost. The
hand-writing, and certain internal evidences, leave no doubt in my
mind, that it is a genuine production of the venerable historian of the
New-Netherlands, written, very probably, during his residence at the
Roost, in gratitude for the hospitality of its proprietor. As such, I
submit it for publication. As the entire chronicle is too long for the
pages of your Magazine, and as it contains many minute particulars,
which might prove tedious to the general reader, I have abbreviated and
occasionally omitted some of its details; but may hereafter furnish
them separately, should they seem to be required by the curiosity of an
enlightened and document-hunting public. Respectfully yours, GEOFFREY

       *       *       *       *       *



About five-and-twenty miles from the ancient and renowned city of
Manhattan, formerly called New-Amsterdam, and vulgarly called New-York,
on the eastern bank of that expansion of the Hudson, known among
Dutch mariners of yore, as the Tappan Zee, being in fact the great
Mediterranean Sea of the New-Netherlands, stands a little old-fashioned
stone mansion, all made up of gable-ends, and as full of angles and
corners as an old cocked hat. Though but of small dimensions, yet, like
many small people, it is of mighty spirit, and values itself greatly on
its antiquity, being one of the oldest edifices, for its size, in the
whole country. It claims to be an ancient seat of empire, I may rather
say an empire in itself, and like all empires, great and small, has had
its grand historical epochs. In speaking of this doughty and valorous
little pile, I shall call it by its usual appellation of "The Roost;"
though that is a name given to it in modern days, since it became the
abode of the white man.

Its origin, in truth, dates far back in that remote region commonly
called the fabulous age, in which vulgar fact becomes mystified, and
tinted up with delectable fiction. The eastern shore of the Tappan Sea
was inhabited in those days by an unsophisticated race, existing in all
the simplicity of nature; that is to say, they lived by hunting and
fishing, and recreated themselves occasionally with a little tomahawking
and scalping. Each stream that flows down from the hills into the
Hudson, had its petty sachem, who ruled over a hand's-breadth of forest
on either side, and had his seat of government at its mouth. The
chieftain who ruled at the Roost, was not merely a great warrior, but a
medicine-man, or prophet, or conjurer, for they all mean the same thing,
in Indian parlance. Of his fighting propensities, evidences still
remain, in various arrowheads of flint, and stone battle-axes,
occasionally digged up about the Roost: of his wizard powers, we have a
token in a spring which wells up at the foot of the bank, on the
very margin of the river, which, it is said, was gifted by him with
rejuvenating powers, something like the renowned Fountain of Youth in
the Floridas, so anxiously but vainly sought after by the veteran Ponce
de Leon. This story, however, is stoutly contradicted by an old Dutch
matter-of-fact tradition, which declares that the spring in question was
smuggled over from Holland in a churn, by Femmetie Van Slocum, wife of
Goosen Garret Van Slocum, one of the first settlers, and that she took
it up by night, unknown to her husband, from beside their farm-house
near Rotterdam; being sure she should find no water equal to it in the
new country--and she was right.

The wizard sachem had a great passion for discussing territorial
questions, and settling boundary lines; this kept him in continual feud
with the neighboring sachems, each of whom stood up stoutly for his
hand-breadth of territory; so that there is not a petty stream nor
ragged hill in the neighborhood, that has not been the subject of long
talks and hard battles. The sachem, however, as has been observed, was a
medicine-man, as well as warrior, and vindicated his claims by arts
as well as arms; so that, by dint of a little hard fighting here, and
hocus-pocus there, he managed to extend his boundary-line from field
to field and stream to stream, until he found himself in legitimate
possession of that region of hills and valleys, bright fountains and
limpid brooks, locked in by the mazy windings of the Neperan and the
Pocantico. [Footnote: As every one may not recognize these boundaries
by their original Indian names, it may be well to observe, that the
Neperan is that beautiful stream, vulgarly called the Saw-Mill River,
which, after winding gracefully for many miles through a lovely valley,
shrouded by groves, and dotted by Dutch farm-houses, empties itself
into the Hudson, at the ancient drop of Yonkers. The Pocantico is that
hitherto nameless brook, that, rising among woody hills, winds in many a
wizard maze through the sequestered banks of Sleepy Hollow. We owe it to
the indefatigable researches of Mr. KNICKERBOCKER, that those beautiful
streams are rescued from modern common-place, and reinvested with their
ancient Indian names. The correctness of the venerable historian may be
ascertained, by reference to the records of the original Indian grants
to the Herr Frederick Philipsen, preserved in the county clerk's office,
at White Plains.]

This last-mentioned stream, or rather the valley through which it flows,
was the most difficult of all his acquisitions. It lay half way to the
strong-hold of the redoubtable sachem of Sing-Sing, and was claimed by
him as an integral part of his domains. Many were the sharp conflicts
between the rival chieftains for the sovereignty of this valley, and
many the ambuscades, surprisals, and deadly onslaughts that took place
among its fastnesses, of which it grieves me much that I cannot furnish
the details for the gratification of those gentle but bloody-minded
readers of both sexes, who delight in the romance of the tomahawk and
scalping-knife. Suffice it to say that the wizard chieftain was at
length victorious, though his victory is attributed in Indian tradition
to a great medicine or charm by which he laid the sachem of Sing-Sing
and his warriors asleep among the rocks and recesses of the valley,
where they remain asleep to the present day with their bows and
war-clubs beside them. This was the origin of that potent and drowsy
spell which still prevails over the valley of the Pocantico, and which
has gained it the well-merited appellation of Sleepy Hollow. Often, in
secluded and quiet parts of that valley, where the stream is overhung by
dark woods and rocks, the ploughman, on some calm and sunny day as
he shouts to his oxen, is surprised at hearing faint shouts from the
hill-sides in reply; being, it is said, the spell-bound warriors, who
half start from their rocky couches and grasp their weapons, but sink to
sleep again.

The conquest of the Pocantico was the last triumph of the wizard sachem.
Notwithstanding all his medicine and charms, he fell in battle in
attempting to extend his boundary line to the east so as to take in the
little wild valley of the Sprain, and his grave is still shown near the
banks of that pastoral stream. He left, however, a great empire to his
successors, extending along the Tappan Zee, from Yonkers quite to Sleepy
Hollow; all which delectable region, if every one had his right, would
still acknowledge allegiance to the lord of the Roost--whoever he might
be. [Footnote: In recording the contest for the sovereignty of Sleepy
Hollow, I have called one sachem by the modern name of his castle or
strong-hold, viz.: Sing-Sing. This, I would observe for the sake
of historical exactness, is a corruption of the old Indian name,
O-sin-sing, or rather O-sin-song; that is to say, a place where any
thing may be had for a song--a great recommendation for a market town.
The modern and melodious alteration of the name to Sing-Sing is said to
have been made in compliment to an eminent Methodist singing-master, who
first introduced into the neighborhood the art of singing through the
nose. D. K.]

The wizard sachem was succeeded by a line of chiefs, of whom nothing
remarkable remains on record. The last who makes any figure in history
is the one who ruled here at the time of the discovery of the country by
the white man. This sachem is said to have been a renowned trencherman,
who maintained almost as potent a sway by dint of good feeding as his
warlike predecessor had done by hard fighting. He diligently cultivated
the growth of oysters along the aquatic borders of his territories, and
founded those great oyster-beds which yet exist along the shores of the
Tappan Zee. Did any dispute occur between him and a neighboring sachem,
he invited him and all his principal sages and fighting-men to a solemn
banquet, and seldom failed of feeding them into terms. Enormous heaps of
oyster-shells, which encumber the lofty banks of the river, remain as
monuments of his gastronomical victories, and have been occasionally
adduced through mistake by amateur geologists from town, as additional
proofs of the deluge. Modern investigators, who are making such
indefatigable researches into our early history, have even affirmed that
this sachem was the very individual on whom Master Hendrick Hudson and
his mate, Robert Juet, made that sage and astounding experiment so
gravely recorded by the latter in his narrative of the voyage: "Our
master and his mate determined to try some of the cheefe men of the
country whether they had any treacherie in them. So they took them down
into the cabin and gave them so much wine and aqua vitae that they
were all very merrie; one of them had his wife with him, which sate so
modestly as any of our countrywomen would do in a strange place. In the
end one of them was drunke; and that was strange to them, for they
could not tell how to take it." [Footnote: See Juet's Journal, Purchas

How far Master Hendrick Hudson and his worthy mate carried their
experiment with the sachem's wife is not recorded, neither does the
curious Robert Juet make any mention of the after-consequences of this
grand moral test; tradition, however, affirms that the sachem on landing
gave his modest spouse a hearty rib-roasting, according to the connubial
discipline of the aboriginals; it farther affirms that he remained a
hard drinker to the day of his death, trading away all his lands, acre
by acre, for aqua vitae; by which means the Roost and all its domains,
from Yonkers to Sleepy Hollow, came, in the regular course of trade and
by right of purchase, into the possession of the Dutchmen.

Never has a territorial right in these new countries been more
legitimately and tradefully established; yet, I grieve to say, the
worthy government of the New Netherlands was not suffered to enjoy this
grand acquisition unmolested; for, in the year 1654, the local Yankees
of Connecticut--those swapping, bargaining, squatting enemies of the
Manhattoes--made a daring inroad into this neighborhood and founded a
colony called Westchester, or, as the ancient Dutch records term it,
Vest Dorp, in the right of one Thomas Pell, who pretended to have
purchased the whole surrounding country of the Indians, and stood ready
to argue their claims before any tribunal of Christendom.

This happened during the chivalrous reign of Peter Stuyvesant, and it
roused the ire of that gunpowder old hero; who, without waiting to
discuss claims and titles, pounced at once upon the nest of nefarious
squatters, carried off twenty-five of them in chains to the Manhattoes,
nor did he stay his hand, nor give rest to his wooden leg, until he had
driven every Yankee back into the bounds of Connecticut, or obliged
him to acknowledge allegiance to their High Mightinesses. He then
established certain out-posts, far in the Indian country, to keep an eye
over these debateable lands; one of these border-holds was the Roost,
being accessible from New Amsterdam by water, and easily kept supplied.
The Yankees, however, had too great a hankering after this delectable
region to give it up entirely. Some remained and swore allegiance to the
Manhattoes; but, while they kept this open semblance of fealty, they
went to work secretly and vigorously to intermarry and multiply, and by
these nefarious means, artfully propagated themselves into possession of
a wide tract of those open, arable parts of Westchester county, lying
along the Sound, where their descendants may be found at the present
day; while the mountainous regions along the Hudson, with the valleys
of the Neperan and the Pocantico, are tenaciously held by the lineal
descendants of the Copperheads.

       *       *       *       *       *

The chronicle of the venerable Diedrich here goes on to relate how that,
shortly after the above-mentioned events, the whole province of the New
Netherlands 'was subjugated by the British; how that Wolfert Acker, one
of the wrangling councillors of Peter Stuyvesant, retired in dudgeon to
this fastness in the wilderness, determining to enjoy "lust in rust" for
the remainder of his days, whence the place first received its name of
Wolfert's Roost. As these and sundry other matters have been laid before
the public in a preceding article, I shall pass them over, and resume
the chronicle where it treats of matters not hitherto recorded:

Like many men who retire from a worrying world, says DIEDRICH
KNICKERBOCKER, to enjoy quiet in the country, Wolfert Acker soon found
himself up to the ears in trouble. He had a termagant wife at home,
and there was what is profanely called "the deuce to pay," abroad. The
recent irruption of the Yankees into the bounds of the New Netherlands,
had left behind it a doleful pestilence, such as is apt to follow the
steps of invading armies. This was the deadly plague of witchcraft,
which had long been prevalent to the eastward. The malady broke out at
Vest Dorp, and threatened to spread throughout the country. The Dutch
burghers along the Hudson, from Yonkers to Sleepy Hollow, hastened to
nail horseshoes to their doors, which have ever been found of sovereign
virtue to repel this awful visitation. This is the origin of the
horse-shoes which may still be seen nailed to the doors of barns and
farmhouses, in various parts of this sage and sober-thoughted region.

The evil, however, bore hard upon the Roost; partly, perhaps, from its
having in old times been subject to supernatural influences, during the
sway of the Wizard Sachem; but it has always, in fact, been considered a
fated mansion. The unlucky Wolfert had no rest day nor night. When the
weather was quiet all over the country, the wind would howl and whistle
round his roof; witches would ride and whirl upon his weathercocks, and
scream down his chimneys. His cows gave bloody milk, and his horses
broke bounds, and scampered into the woods. There were not wanting evil
tongues to whisper that Wolfert's termagant wife had some tampering
with the enemy; and that she even attended a witches' Sabbath in Sleepy
Hollow; nay, a neighbor, who lived hard by, declared that he saw her
harnessing a rampant broom-stick, and about to ride to the meeting;
though others presume it was merely flourished in the course of one of
her curtain lectures, to give energy and emphasis to a period. Certain
it is, that Wolfert Acker nailed a horse-shoe to the front door, during
one of her nocturnal excursions, to prevent her return; but as she
re-entered the house without any difficulty, it is probable she was
not so much of a witch as she was represented. [Footnote: HISTORICAL
NOTE.--The annexed extracts from the early colonial records, relate to
the irruption of witchcraft into Westchester county, as mentioned in the

"JULY 7, 1670.--Katharine Harryson, accused of witchcraft on complaint of
Thomas Hunt and Edward Waters, in behalf of the town, who pray that she
may be driven from the town of Westchester. The woman appears before
the council.... She was a native of England, and had lived a year in
Weathersfield, Connecticut, where she had been tried for witchcraft,
found guilty by the jury, acquitted by the bench, and released out of
prison, upon condition she would remove. Affair adjourned.

"AUGUST 24.--Affair taken up again, when, being heard at large, it was
referred to the general court of assize. Woman ordered to give security
for good behavior," etc.

In another place is the following entry:

"Order given for Katharine Harryson, charged with witchcraft, to leave
Westchester, as the inhabitants are uneasy at her residing there, and
she is ordered to go off."]

After the time of Wolfert Acker, a long interval elapses, about which
but little is known. It is hoped, however, that the antiquarian
researches so diligently making in every part of this new country, may
yet throw some light upon what may be termed the Dark Ages of the Roost.

The next period at which we find this venerable and eventful pile rising
to importance, and resuming its old belligerent character, is during the
revolutionary war. It was at that time owned by Jacob Van Tassel, or Van
Texel, as the name was originally spelled, after the place in Holland
which gave birth to this heroic line. He was strong-built, long-limbed,
and as stout in soul as in body; a fit successor to the warrior sachem
of yore, and, like him, delighting in extravagant enterprises and hardy
deeds of arms. But, before I enter upon the exploits of this worthy cock
of the Boost, it is fitting I should throw some light upon the state of
the mansion, and of the surrounding country, at the time.

The situation of the Roost is in the very heart of what was the
debateable ground between the American and British lines, during the
war. The British held possession of the city of New York, and the island
of Manhattan on which it stands. The Americans drew up toward the
Highlands, holding their headquarters at Peekskill. The intervening
country, from Croton River to Spiting Devil Creek, was the debateable
land, subject to be harried by friend and foe, like the Scottish borders
of yore. It is a rugged country, with a line of rocky hills extending
through it, like a back bone, sending ribs on either side; but among
these rude hills are beautiful winding valleys, like those watered by
the Pocantico and the Neperan. In the fastnesses of these hills,
and along these valleys, exist a race of hard-headed, hard-handed,
stout-hearted Dutchmen, descendants of the primitive Nederlanders. Most
of these were strong whigs throughout the war, and have ever remained
obstinately attached to the soil, and neither to be fought nor bought
out of their paternal acres. Others were tories, and adherents to the
old kingly rule; some of whom took refuge within the British lines,
joined the royal bands of refugees, a name odious to the American ear,
and occasionally returned to harass their ancient neighbors.

In a little while, this debateable land was overrun by predatory bands
from either side; sacking hen-roosts, plundering farm-houses, and
driving off cattle. Hence arose those two great orders of border
chivalry, the Skinners and the Cowboys, famous in the heroic annals of
Westchester county. The former fought, or rather marauded, under the
American, the latter under the British banner; but both, in the hurry of
their military ardor, were apt to err on the safe side, and rob friend
as well as foe. Neither of them stopped to ask the politics of horse or
cow, which they drove into captivity; nor, when they wrung the neck of
a rooster, did they trouble their heads to ascertain whether he were
crowing for Congress or King George.

While this marauding system prevailed on shore, the Great Tappan Sea,
which washes this belligerent region, was domineered over by British
frigates and other vessels of war, anchored here and there, to keep an
eye upon the river, and maintain a communication between the various
military posts. Stout galleys, also, armed with eighteen-pounders, and
navigated with sails and oars, cruised about like hawks, ready to pounce
upon their prey.

All these were eyed with bitter hostility by the Dutch yeomanry along
shore, who were indignant at seeing their great Mediterranean ploughed
by hostile prows; and would occasionally throw up a mud breast-work on a
point or promontory, mount an old iron field-piece, and fire away at the
enemy, though the greatest harm was apt to happen to themselves from the
bursting of their ordnance; nay, there was scarce a Dutchman along the
river that would hesitate to fire with his long duck gun at any British
cruiser that came within reach, as he had been accustomed to fire at

I have been thus particular in my account of the times and neighborhood,
that the reader might the more readily comprehend the surrounding
dangers in this the Heroic Age of the Roost.

It was commanded at the time, as I have already observed, by the stout
Jacob Van Tassel. As I wish to be extremely accurate in this part of
my chronicle, I beg that this Jacob Van Tassel of the Roost may not be
confounded with another Jacob Van Tassel, commonly known in border story
by the name of "Clump-footed Jake," a noted tory, and one of the refugee
band of Spiting Devil. On the contrary, he of the Roost was a patriot of
the first water, and, if we may take his own word for granted, a thorn
in the side of the enemy. As the Roost, from its lonely situation on the
water's edge, might be liable to attack, he took measures for defence.
On a row of hooks above his fire-place, reposed his great piece of
ordnance, ready charged and primed for action. This was a duck, or
rather goose-gun, of unparalleled longitude, with which it was said he
could kill a wild goose, though half-way across the Tappan Sea. Indeed,
there are as many wonders told of this renowned gun, as of the enchanted
weapons of the heroes of classic story.

In different parts of the stone walls of his mansion, he had made
loop-holes, through which he might fire upon an assailant. His wife was
stout-hearted as himself, and could load as fast as he could fire; and
then he had an ancient and redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, a
match, as he said, for the stoutest man in the country. Thus garrisoned,
the little Roost was fit to stand a siege, and Jacob Van Tassel was the
man to defend it to the last charge of powder.

He was, as I have already hinted, of pugnacious propensities; and, not
content with being a patriot at home, and fighting for the security of
his own fireside, he extended his thoughts abroad, and entered into a
confederacy with certain of the bold, hard-riding lads of Tarrytown,
Petticoat Lane, and Sleepy Hollow, who formed a kind of Holy
Brotherhood, scouring the country to clear it of Skinner and Cow-boy,
and all other border vermin. The Roost was one of their rallying points.
Did a band of marauders from Manhattan island come sweeping through the
neighborhood, and driving off cattle, the stout Jacob and his compeers
were soon clattering at their heels, and fortunate did the rogues esteem
themselves if they could but get a part of their booty across the lines,
or escape themselves without a rough handling. Should the mosstroopers
succeed in passing with their cavalcade, with thundering tramp and dusty
whirlwind, across Kingsbridge, the Holy Brotherhood of the Roost would
rein up at that perilous pass, and, wheeling about, would indemnify
themselves by foraging the refugee region of Morrisania.

When at home at the Roost, the stout Jacob was not idle; but was prone
to carry on a petty warfare of his own, for his private recreation and
refreshment. Did he ever chance to espy, from his look-out place, a
hostile ship or galley anchored or becalmed near shore, he would take
down his long goose-gun from the hooks over the fire-place, sally
out alone, and lurk along shore, dodging behind rocks and trees, and
watching for hours together, like a veteran mouser intent on a rat-hole.
So sure as a boat put off for shore, and came within shot, bang! went
the great goose-gun; a shower of slugs and buck-shot whistled about the
ears of the enemy, and before the boat could reach the shore, Jacob had
scuttled up some woody ravine, and left no trace behind. About this
time, the Roost experienced a vast accession of warlike importance, in
being made one of the stations of the water-guard. This was a kind of
aquatic corps of observation, composed of long, sharp, canoe-shaped
boats, technically called whale-boats, that lay lightly on the water,
and could be rowed with great rapidity. They were manned by resolute
fellows, skilled at pulling an oar, or handling a musket. These lurked
about in nooks and bays, and behind those long promontories which run
out into the Tappan Sea, keeping a look-out, to give notice of the
approach or movements of hostile ships. They roved about in pairs;
sometimes at night, with muffled oars, gliding like spectres about
frigates and guard-ships riding at anchor, cutting off any boats that
made for shore, and keeping the enemy in constant uneasiness. These
mosquito-cruisers generally kept aloof by day, so that their harboring
places might not be discovered, but would pull quietly along, under
shadow of the shore, at night, to take up their quarters at the Roost.
Hither, at such time, would also repair the hard-riding lads of the
hills, to hold secret councils of war with the "ocean chivalry;" and in
these nocturnal meetings were concerted many of those daring forays, by
land and water, that resounded throughout the border.

       *       *       *       *       *

The chronicle here goes on to recount divers wonderful stories of the
wars of the Roost, from which it would seem, that this little warrior
nest carried the terror of its arms into every sea, from Spiting Devil
Creek to Antony's Nose; that it even bearded the stout island of
Manhattan, invading it at night, penetrating to its centre, and burning
down the famous Delancey house, the conflagration of which makes such a
blaze in revolutionary history. Nay more, in their extravagant daring,
these cocks of the Roost meditated a nocturnal descent upon New York
itself, to swoop upon the British commanders, Howe and Clinton, by
surprise, bear them off captive, and perhaps put a triumphant close to
the war!

All these and many similar exploits are recorded by the worthy Diedrich,
with his usual minuteness and enthusiasm, whenever the deeds in arms of
his kindred Dutchmen are in question; but though most of these warlike
stories rest upon the best of all authority, that of the warriors
themselves, and though many of them are still current among the
revolutionary patriarchs of this heroic neighborhood, yet I dare not
expose them to the incredulity of a tamer and less chivalric age,
Suffice it to say, the frequent gatherings at the Roost, and the hardy
projects set on foot there, at length drew on it the fiery indignation
of the enemy; and this was quickened by the conduct of the stout Jacob
Van Tassel; with whose valorous achievements we resume the course of the

       *       *       *       *       *

THIS doughty Dutchman, continues the sage DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, was
not content with taking a share in all the magnanimous enterprises
concocted at the Roost, but still continued his petty warfare along
shore. A series of exploits at length raised his confidence in his
prowess to such a height, that he began to think himself and his
goose-gun a match for any thing. Unluckily, in the course of one of his
prowlings, he descried a British transport aground, not far from shore,
with her stern swung toward the land, within point-blank shot. The
temptation was too great to be resisted; bang! as usual, went the great
goose-gun, shivering the cabin windows, and driving all hands forward.
Bang! bang! the shots were repeated. The reports brought several
sharp-shooters of the neighborhood to the spot; before the transport
could bring a gun to bear, or land a boat, to take revenge, she was
soundly peppered, and the coast evacuated. This was the last of Jacob's
triumphs. He fared like some heroic spider, that has unwittingly
ensnared a hornet, to his immortal glory, perhaps, but to the utter ruin
of his web.

It was not long after this, during the absence of Jacob Van Tassel on
one of his forays, and when no one was in garrison but his stout-hearted
spouse, his redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, and a strapping negro
wench, called Dinah, that an armed vessel came to anchor off the Roost,
and a boat full of men pulled to shore. The garrison flew to arms, that
is to say, to mops, broom-sticks, shovels, tongs, and all kinds of
domestic weapons; for, unluckily, the great piece of ordnance, the
goose-gun, was absent with its owner. Above all, a vigorous defence was
made with that most potent of female weapons, the tongue. Never did
invaded hen-roost make a more vociferous outcry. It was all in vain. The
house was sacked and plundered, fire was set to each corner, and in a
few moments its blaze shed a baleful light far over the Tappan Sea. The
invaders then pounced upon the blooming Laney Van Tassel, the beauty of
the Roost, and endeavored to bear her off to the boat. But here was the
real tug of war. The mother, the aunt, and the strapping negro wench,
all flew to the rescue. The struggle continued down to the very water's
edge; when a voice from the armed vessel at anchor, ordered the spoilers
to let go their hold; they relinquished their prize, jumped into their
boats, and pulled off, and the heroine of the Roost escaped with a mere
rumpling of the feathers.

The fear of tiring my readers, who may not take such an interest as
myself in these heroic themes, induces me to close here my extracts from
this precious chronicle of the venerable Diedrich. Suffice it briefly to
say, that shortly after the catastrophe of the Roost, Jacob Van Tassel,
in the course of one of his forays, fell into the hands of the British;
was sent prisoner to New York, and was detained in captivity for
the greater part of the war. In the mean time, the Roost remained a
melancholy ruin; its stone walls and brick chimneys alone standing,
blackened by fire, and the resort of bats and owlets. It was not until
the return of peace, when this belligerent neighborhood once more
resumed its quiet agricultural pursuits, that the stout Jacob sought the
scene of his triumphs and disasters; rebuilt the Roost, and reared again
on high its glittering weather-cocks.

Does any one want further particulars of the fortunes of this eventful
little pile? Let him go to the fountain-head, and drink deep of historic
truth. Reader! the stout Jacob Van Tassel still lives, a venerable,
gray-headed patriarch of the revolution, now in his ninety-fifth year!
He sits by his fireside, in the ancient city of the Manhattoes, and
passes the long winter evenings, surrounded by his children, and
grand-children, and great-grand-children, all listening to his tales of
the border wars, and the heroic days of the Roost. His great goose-gun,
too, is still in existence, having been preserved for many years in a
hollow tree, and passed from hand to hand among the Dutch burghers, as a
precious relique of the revolution. It is now actually in possession of
a contemporary of the stout Jacob, one almost his equal in years, who
treasures it up at his house in the Bowerie of New-Amsterdam, hard by
the ancient rural retreat of the chivalric Peter Stuyvesant. I am not
without hopes of one day seeing this formidable piece of ordinance
restored to its proper station in the arsenal of the Roost. Before
closing this historic document, I cannot but advert to certain notions
and traditions concerning the venerable pile in question. Old-time
edifices are apt to gather odd fancies and superstitions about them, as
they do moss and weather-stains; and this is in a neighborhood a little
given to old-fashioned notions, and who look upon the Roost as somewhat
of a fated mansion. A lonely, rambling, down-hill lane leads to it,
overhung with trees, with a wild brook dashing along, and crossing
and re-crossing it. This lane I found some of the good people of the
neighborhood shy of treading at night; why, I could not for a long time
ascertain; until I learned that one or two of the rovers of the Tappan
Sea, shot by the stout Jacob during the war, had been buried hereabout,
in unconsecrated ground.

Another local superstition is of a less gloomy kind, and one which I
confess I am somewhat disposed to cherish. The Tappan Sea, in front of
the Roost, is about three miles wide, bordered by a lofty line of waving
and rocky hills. Often, in the still twilight of a summer evening, when
the sea is like glass, with the opposite hills throwing their purple
shadows half across it, a low sound is heard, as of the steady, vigorous
pull of oars, far out in the middle of the stream, though not a boat
is to be descried. This I should have been apt to ascribe to some boat
rowed along under the shadows of the western shore, for sounds are
conveyed to a great distance by water, at such quiet hours, and I can
distinctly hear the baying of the watch-dogs at night, from the farms on
the sides of the opposite mountains. The ancient traditionists of the
neighborhood, however, religiously ascribed these sounds to a judgment
upon one Rumbout Van Dam, of Spiting Devil, who danced and drank late
one Saturday night, at a Dutch quilting frolic, at Kakiat, and set off
alone for home in his boat, on the verge of Sunday morning; swearing he
would not land till he reached Spiting Devil, if it took him a month of
Sundays. He was never seen afterward, but is often heard plying his oars
across the Tappan Sea, a Flying Dutchman on a small scale, suited to
the size of his cruising-ground; being doomed to ply between Kakiat and
Spiting Devil till the day of judgment, but never to reach the land.

There is one room in the mansion which almost overhangs the river, and
is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a young lady who died of love
and green apples. I have been awakened at night by the sound of oars and
the tinkling of guitars beneath the window; and seeing a boat loitering
in the moonlight, have been tempted to believe it the Flying Dutchman of
Spiting Devil, and to try whether a silver bullet might not put an end
to his unhappy cruisings; but, happening to recollect that there was a
living young lady in the haunted room, who might be terrified by the
report of fire-arms, I have refrained from pulling trigger.

As to the enchanted fountain, said to have been gifted by the wizard
sachem with supernatural powers, it still wells up at the foot of the
bank, on the margin of the river, and goes by the name of the Indian
spring; but I have my doubts as to its rejuvenating powers, for though
I have drank oft and copiously of it, I cannot boast that I find myself
growing younger.


       *       *       *       *       *



HAVING pitched my tent, probably for the remainder of my days, in the
neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow, I am tempted to give some few particulars
concerning that spell-bound region; especially as it has risen to
historic importance under the pen of my revered friend and master, the
sage historian of the New Netherlands. Beside, I find the very existence
of the place has been held in question by many; who, judging from its
odd name and from the odd stories current among the vulgar concerning
it, have rashly deemed the whole to be a fanciful creation, like the
Lubber Land of mariners. I must confess there is some apparent cause for
doubt, in consequence of the coloring given by the worthy Diedrich to
his descriptions of the Hollow; who, in this instance, has departed
a little from his usually sober if not severe style; beguiled, very
probably, by his predilection for the haunts of his youth, and by a
certain lurking taint of romance whenever any thing connected with the
Dutch was to be described. I shall endeavor to make up for this amiable
error on the part of my venerable and venerated friend by presenting the
reader with a more precise and statistical account of the Hollow; though
I am not sure that I shall not be prone to lapse in the end into the
very error I am speaking of, so potent is the witchery of the theme.

I believe it was the very peculiarity of its name and the idea of
something mystic and dreamy connected with it that first led me in my
boyish ramblings into Sleepy Hollow. The character of the valley seemed
to answer to the name; the slumber of past ages apparently reigned over
it; it had not awakened to the stir of improvement which had put all the
rest of the world in a bustle. Here reigned good, old long-forgotten
fashions; the men were in home-spun garbs, evidently the product of
their own farms and the manufacture of their own wives; the women were
in primitive short gowns and petticoats, with the venerable sun-bonnets
of Holland origin. The lower part of the valley was cut up into small
farms, each consisting of a little meadow and corn-field; an orchard
of sprawling, gnarled apple-trees, and a garden, where the rose, the
marigold, and the hollyhock were permitted to skirt the domains of the
capacious cabbage, the aspiring pea, and the portly pumpkin. Each had
its prolific little mansion teeming with children; with an old hat
nailed against the wall for the housekeeping wren; a motherly hen, under
a coop on the grass-plot, clucking to keep around her a brood of vagrant
chickens; a cool, stone well, with the moss-covered bucket suspended
to the long balancing-pole, according to the antediluvian idea of
hydraulics; and its spinning-wheel humming within doors, the patriarchal
music of home manufacture.

The Hollow at that time was inhabited by families which had existed
there from the earliest times, and which, by frequent intermarriage, had
become so interwoven, as to make a kind of natural commonwealth. As
the families had grown larger the farms had grown smaller; every new
generation requiring a new subdivision, and few thinking of swarming
from the native hive. In this way that happy golden mean had been
produced, so much extolled by the poets, in which there was no gold and
very little silver. One thing which doubtless contributed to keep up
this amiable mean was a general repugnance to sordid labor. The sage
inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow had read in their Bible, which was the only
book they studied, that labor was originally inflicted upon man as a
punishment of sin; they regarded it, therefore, with pious abhorrence,
and never humiliated themselves to it but in cases of extremity. There
seemed, in fact, to be a league and covenant against it throughout
the Hollow as against a common enemy. Was any one compelled by dire
necessity to repair his house, mend his fences, build a barn, or get in
a harvest, he considered it a great evil that entitled him to call in
the assistance or his friend? He accordingly proclaimed a 'bee' or
rustic gathering, whereupon all his neighbors hurried to his aid like
faithful allies; attacked the task with the desperate energy of lazy men
eager to overcome a job; and, when it was accomplished, fell to eating
and drinking, fiddling and dancing for very joy that so great an amount
of labor had been vanquished with so little sweating of the brow.

Yet, let it not be supposed that this worthy community was without its
periods of arduous activity. Let but a flock of wild pigeons fly across
the valley and all Sleepy Hollow was wide awake in an instant.
The pigeon season had arrived. Every gun and net was forthwith in
requisition. The flail was thrown down on the barn floor; the spade
rusted in the garden; the plough stood idle in the furrow; every one was
to the hillside and stubble-field at daybreak to shoot or entrap the
pigeons in their periodical migrations.

So, likewise, let but the word be given that the shad were ascending the
Hudson, and the worthies of the Hollow were to be seen launched in boats
upon the river setting great stakes, and stretching their nets like
gigantic spider-webs half across the stream to the great annoyance
of navigators. Such are the wise provisions of Nature, by which she
equalizes rural affairs. A laggard at the plough is often extremely
industrious with the fowling-piece and fishing-net; and, whenever a man
is an indifferent farmer, he is apt to be a first-rate sportsman. For
catching shad and wild pigeons there were none throughout the country to
compare with the lads of Sleepy Hollow.

As I have observed, it was the dreamy nature of the name that first
beguiled me in the holiday rovings of boyhood into this sequestered
region. I shunned, however, the populous parts of the Hollow, and sought
its retired haunts far in the foldings of the hills, where the Pocantico
"winds its wizard stream" sometimes silently and darkly through solemn
woodlands; sometimes sparkling between grassy borders in fresh, green
meadows; sometimes stealing along the feet of rugged heights under
the balancing sprays of beech and chestnut trees. A thousand crystal
springs, with which this neighborhood abounds, sent down from the
hill-sides their whimpering rills, as if to pay tribute to the
Pocantico. In this stream I first essayed my unskilful hand at angling.
I loved to loiter along it with rod in hand, watching my float as it
whirled amid the eddies or drifted into dark holes under twisted roots
and sunken logs, where the largest fish are apt to lurk. I delighted
to follow it into the brown accesses of the woods; to throw by my
fishing-gear and sit upon rocks beneath towering oaks and clambering
grape-vines; bathe my feet in the cool current, and listen to the summer
breeze playing among the tree-tops. My boyish fancy clothed all nature
around me with ideal charms, and peopled it with the fairy beings I
had read of in poetry and fable. Here it was I gave full scope to my
incipient habit of day dreaming, and to a certain propensity, to weave
up and tint sober realities with my own whims and imaginings, which has
sometimes made life a little too much like an Arabian tale to me, and
this "working-day world" rather like a region of romance.

The great gathering-place of Sleepy Hollow in those days was the church.
It stood outside of the Hollow, near the great highway, on a green bank
shaded by trees, with the Pocantico sweeping round it and emptying
itself into a spacious mill-pond. At that time the Sleepy Hollow
church was the only place of worship for a wide neighborhood. It was
a venerable edifice, partly of stone and partly of brick, the latter
having been brought from Holland in the early days of the province,
before the arts in the New Netherlands could aspire to such a
fabrication. On a stone above the porch were inscribed the names of the
founders, Frederick Filipsen, a mighty patroon of the olden time, who
reigned over a wide extent of this neighborhood and held his seat of
power at Yonkers; and his wife, Katrina Van Courtlandt, of the no less
potent line of the Van Courtlandts of Croton, who lorded it over a great
part of the Highlands.

The capacious pulpit, with its wide-spreading sounding-board, were
likewise early importations from Holland; as also the communion-table,
of massive form and curious fabric. The same might be said of a
weather-cock perched on top of the belfry, and which was considered
orthodox in all windy matters, until a small pragmatical rival was set
up on the other end of the church above the chancel. This latter bore,
and still bears, the initials of Frederick Filipsen, and assumed great
airs in consequence. The usual contradiction ensued that always exists
among church weather-cocks, which can never be brought to agree as to
the point from which the wind blows, having doubtless acquired, from
their position, the Christian propensity to schism and controversy.

Behind the church, and sloping up a gentle acclivity, was its capacious
burying-ground, in which slept the earliest fathers of this rural
neighborhood. Here were tombstones of the rudest sculpture; on which
were inscribed, in Dutch, the names and virtues of many of the first
settlers, with their portraitures curiously carved in similitude of
cherubs. Long rows of grave-stones, side by side, of similar names,
but various dates, showed that generation after generation of the same
families had followed each other and been garnered together in this last
gathering-place of kindred.

Let me speak of this quiet grave-yard with all due reverence, for I owe
it amends for the heedlessness of my boyish days. I blush to acknowledge
the thoughtless frolic with which, in company with other whipsters, I
have sported within its sacred bounds during the intervals of worship;
chasing butterflies, plucking wild flowers, or vying with each other
who could leap over the tallest tomb-stones, until checked by the stern
voice of the sexton.

The congregation was, in those days, of a really rural character. City
fashions were as yet unknown, or unregarded, by the country people
of the neighborhood. Steam-boats had not as yet confounded town with
country. A weekly market-boat from Tarry town, the "Farmers' Daughter,"
navigated by the worthy Gabriel Requa, was the only communication
between all these parts and the metropolis. A rustic belle in those days
considered a visit to the city in much the same light as one of our
modern fashionable ladies regards a visit to Europe; an event that may
possibly take place once in the course of a lifetime, but to be hoped
for, rather than expected. Hence the array of the congregation was
chiefly after the primitive fashions existing in Sleepy Hollow; or if,
by chance, there was a departure from the Dutch sun-bonnet, or the
apparition of a bright gown of flowered calico, it caused quite a
sensation throughout the church. As the dominie generally preached by
the hour, a bucket of water was providently placed on a bench near the
door, in summer, with a tin cup beside it, for the solace of those who
might be athirst, either from the heat of the weather, or the drouth of
the sermon.

Around the pulpit, and behind the communion-table, sat the elders of the
church, reverend, gray-headed, leathern-visaged men, whom I regarded
with awe, as so many apostles. They were stern in their sanctity, kept
a vigilant eye upon my giggling companions and myself, and shook a
rebuking finger at any boyish device to relieve the tediousness of
compulsory devotion. Vain, however, were all their efforts at vigilance.
Scarcely had the preacher held forth for half an hour, on one of his
interminable sermons, than it seemed as if the drowsy influence of
Sleepy Hollow breathed into the place; one by one the congregation sank
into slumber; the sanctified elders leaned back in their pews, spreading
their handkerchiefs over their faces, as if to keep off the flies; while
the locusts in the neighboring trees would spin out their sultry summer
notes, as if in imitation of the sleep-provoking tones of the dominie.

I have thus endeavored to give an idea of Sleepy Hollow and its church,
as I recollect them to have been in the days of my boyhood. It was in
my stripling days, when a few years had passed over my head, that I
revisited them, in company with the venerable Diedrich. I shall never
forget the antiquarian reverence with which that sage and excellent man
contemplated the church. It seemed as if all his pious enthusiasm for
the ancient Dutch dynasty swelled within his bosom at the sight.
The tears stood in his eyes, as he regarded the pulpit and the
communion-table; even the very bricks that had come from the mother
country, seemed to touch a filial chord within his bosom. He almost
bowed in deference to the stone above the porch, containing the names
of Frederick Filipsen and Katrina Van Courtlandt, regarding it as the
linking together of those patronymic names, once so famous along the
banks of the Hudson; or rather as a key-stone, binding that mighty Dutch
family connexion of yore, one foot of which rested on Yonkers, and the
other on the Groton. Nor did he forbear to notice with admiration, the
windy contest which had been carried on, since time immemorial, and with
real Dutch perseverance, between the two weather-cocks; though I could
easily perceive he coincided with the one which had come from Holland.

Together we paced the ample church-yard. With deep veneration would
he turn down the weeds and brambles that obscured the modest brown
grave-stones, half sunk in earth, on which were recorded, in Dutch, the
names of the patriarchs of ancient days, the Ackers, the Van Tassels,
and the Van Warts. As we sat on one of the tomb-stones, he recounted to
me the exploits of many of these worthies; and my heart smote me, when I
heard of their great doings in days of yore, to think how heedlessly I
had once sported over their graves.

From the church, the venerable Diedrich proceeded in his researches up
the Hollow. The genius of the place seemed to hail its future historian.
All nature was alive with gratulation. The quail whistled a greeting
from the corn-field; the robin carolled a song of praise from the
orchard; the loquacious catbird flew from bush to bush, with restless
wing, proclaiming his approach in every variety of note, and anon would
whisk about, and perk inquisitively into his face, as if to get a
knowledge of his physiognomy; the wood-pecker, also, tapped a tattoo on
the hollow apple-tree, and then peered knowingly round the trunk, to
see how the great Diedrich relished his salutation; while the
ground-squirrel scampered along the fence, and occasionally whisked his
tail over his head, by way of a huzza!

The worthy Diedrich pursued his researches in the valley with
characteristic devotion; entering familiarly into the various cottages,
and gossiping with the simple folk, in the style of their own
simplicity. I confess my heart yearned with admiration, to see so great
a man, in his eager quest after knowledge, humbly demeaning himself
to curry favor with the humblest; sitting patiently on a three-legged
stool, patting the children, and taking a purring grimalkin on his lap,
while he conciliated the good-will of the old Dutch housewife, and drew
from her long ghost stories, spun out to the humming accompaniment of
her wheel.

His greatest treasure of historic lore, however, was discovered in an
old goblin-looking mill, situated among rocks and waterfalls, with
clanking wheels, and rushing streams, and all kinds of uncouth noises.
A horse-shoe, nailed to the door to keep off witches and evil spirits,
showed that this mill was subject to awful visitations. As we approached
it, an old negro thrust his head, all dabbled with flour, out of a hole
above the water-wheel, and grinned, and rolled his eyes, and looked like
the very hobgoblin of the place. The illustrious Diedrich fixed upon
him, at once, as the very one to give him that invaluable kind of
information never to be acquired from books. He beckoned him from his
nest, sat with him by the hour on a broken mill-stone, by the side of
the waterfall, heedless of the noise of the water, and the clatter
of the mill; and I verily believe it was to his conference with this
African sage, and the precious revelations of the good dame of the
spinning-wheel, that we are indebted for the surprising though true
history of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman, which has since
astounded and edified the world.

But I have said enough of the good old times of my youthful days; let me
speak of the Hollow as I found it, after an absence of many years,
when it was kindly given me once more to revisit the haunts of my
boyhood. It was a genial day, as I approached that fated region. The
warm sunshine was tempered by a slight haze, so as to give a dreamy
effect to the landscape. Not a breath of air shook the foliage. The
broad Tappan Sea was without a ripple, and the sloops, with drooping
sails, slept on its grassy bosom. Columns of smoke, from burning
brush-wood, rose lazily from the folds of the hills, on the opposite
side of the river, and slowly expanded in mid-air. The distant lowing
of a cow, or the noontide crowing of a cock, coming faintly to the ear,
seemed to illustrate, rather than disturb, the drowsy quiet of the

I entered the hollow with a beating heart. Contrary to my apprehensions,
I found it but little changed. The march of intellect, which had
made such rapid strides along every river and highway, had not yet,
apparently, turned down into this favored valley. Perhaps the wizard
spell of ancient days still reigned over the place, binding up the
faculties of the inhabitants in happy contentment with things as they
had been handed down to them from yore. There were the same little farms
and farmhouses, with their old hats for the housekeeping wren; their
stone wells, moss-covered buckets, and long balancing poles. There were
the same little rills, whimpering down to pay their tributes to the
Pocantico; while that wizard stream still kept on its course, as of old,
through solemn woodlands and fresh green meadows: nor were there wanting
joyous holiday boys to loiter along its banks, as I have done; throw
their pin-hooks in the stream, or launch their mimic barks. I watched
them with a kind of melancholy pleasure, wondering whether they were
under the same spell of the fancy that once rendered this valley a fairy
land to me. Alas! alas! to me every thing now stood revealed in its
simple reality. The echoes no longer answered with wizard tongues; the
dream of youth was at an end; the spell of Sleepy Hollow was broken!

I sought the ancient church on the following Sunday. There it stood, on
its green bank, among the trees; the Pocantico swept by it in a deep
dark stream, where I had so often angled; there expanded the mill-pond,
as of old, with the cows under the willows on its margin, knee-deep in
water, chewing the cud, and lashing the flies from their sides with
their tails. The hand of improvement, however, had been busy with the
venerable pile. The pulpit, fabricated in Holland, had been superseded
by one of modern construction, and the front of the semi-Gothic
edifice was decorated by a semi-Grecian portico. Fortunately, the two
weather-cocks remained undisturbed on their perches at each end of the
church, and still kept up a diametrical opposition to each other on all
points of windy doctrine.

On entering the church the changes of time continued to be apparent. The
elders round the pulpit were men whom I had left in the gamesome frolic
of their youth, but who had succeeded to the sanctity of station of
which they once had stood so much in awe. What most struck my eye was
the change in the female part of the congregation. Instead of the
primitive garbs of homespun manufacture and antique Dutch fashion,
I beheld French sleeves, French capes, and French collars, and a
fearful-fluttering of French ribbands.

When the service was ended I sought the church-yard, in which I had
sported in my unthinking days of boyhood. Several of the modest brown
stones, on which were recorded in Dutch the names and virtues of the
patriarchs, had disappeared, and had been succeeded by others of white
marble, with urns and wreaths, and scraps of English tomb-stone poetry,
marking the intrusion of taste and literature and the English language
in this once unsophisticated Dutch neighborhood.

As I was stumbling about among these silent yet eloquent memorials of
the dead, I came upon names familiar to me; of those who had paid
the debt of nature during the long interval of my absence. Some, I
remembered, my companions in boyhood, who had sported with me on the
very sod under which they were now mouldering; others who in those days
had been the flower of the yeomanry, figuring in Sunday finery on the
church green; others, the white-haired elders of the sanctuary, once
arrayed in awful sanctity around the pulpit, and ever ready to rebuke
the ill-timed mirth of the wanton stripling who, now a man, sobered by
years and schooled by vicissitudes, looked down pensively upon their
graves. "Our fathers," thought I, "where are they!--and the prophets,
can they live for ever!"

I was disturbed in my meditations by the noise of a troop of idle
urchins, who came gambolling about the place where I had so often
gambolled. They were checked, as I and my playmates had often been, by
the voice of the sexton, a man staid in years and demeanor. I looked
wistfully in his face; had I met him any where else, I should probably
have passed him by without remark; but here I was alive to the traces of
former times, and detected in the demure features of this guardian of
the sanctuary the lurking lineaments of one of the very playmates I have
alluded to. We renewed our acquaintance. He sat down beside me, on one
of the tomb-stones over which we had leaped in our juvenile sports, and
we talked together about our boyish days, and held edifying discourse
on the instability of all sublunary things, as instanced in the scene
around us. He was rich in historic lore, as to the events of the last
thirty years and the circumference of thirty miles, and from him I
learned the appalling revolution that was taking place throughout the
neighborhood. All this I clearly perceived he attributed to the boasted
march of intellect, or rather to the all-pervading influence of steam.
He bewailed the times when the only communication with town was by the
weekly market-boat, the "Farmers' Daughter," which, under the pilotage
of the worthy Gabriel Requa, braved the perils of the Tappan Sea. Alas!
Gabriel and the "Farmer's Daughter" slept in peace. Two steamboats now
splashed and paddled up daily to the little rural port of Tarrytown. The
spirit of speculation and improvement had seized even upon that once
quiet and unambitious little dorp. The whole neighborhood was laid out
into town lots. Instead of the little tavern below the hill, where
the farmers used to loiter on market days and indulge in cider and
gingerbread, an ambitious hotel, with cupola and verandas, now crested
the summit, among churches built in the Grecian and Gothic styles,
showing the great increase of piety and polite taste in the
neighborhood. As to Dutch dresses and sun-bonnets, they were no longer
tolerated, or even thought of; not a farmer's daughter but now went to
town for the fashions; nay, a city milliner had recently set up in the
village, who threatened to reform the heads of the whole neighborhood.

I had heard enough! I thanked my old playmate for his intelligence, and
departed from the Sleepy Hollow church with the sad conviction that I
had beheld the last lingerings of the good old Dutch times in this once
favored region. If any thing were wanting to confirm this impression,
it would be the intelligence which has just reached me, that a bank is
about to be established in the aspiring little port just mentioned. The
fate of the neighborhood is therefore sealed. I see no hope of averting
it. The golden mean is at an end, The country is suddenly to be deluged
with wealth. The late simple farmers are to become bank directors and
drink claret and champagne; and their wives and daughters to figure in
French hats and feathers; for French wines and French fashions commonly
keep pace with paper money. How can I hope that even Sleepy Hollow can
escape the general inundation? In a little while, I fear the slumber of
ages will be at end--the strum of the piano will succeed to the hum of
the spinning-wheel; the trill of the Italian opera to the nasal quaver
of Ichabod Crane; and the antiquarian visitor to the Hollow, in the
petulance of his disappointment, may pronounce all that I have recorded
of that once favored region a fable.

       *       *       *       *       *



My quiet residence in the country, aloof from fashion, politics, and the
money market, leaves me rather at a loss for important occupation, and
drives me to the study of nature, and other low pursuits. Having few
neighbors, also, on whom to keep a watch, and exercise my habits of
observation, I am fain to amuse myself with prying into the domestic
concerns and peculiarities of the animals around me; and, during the
present season, have derived considerable entertainment from certain
sociable little birds, almost the only visitors we have, during this
early part of the year.

Those who have passed the winter in the country, are sensible of the
delightful influences that accompany the earliest indications of spring;
and of these, none are more delightful than the first notes of the
birds. There is one modest little sad-colored bird, much resembling a
wren, which came about the house just on the skirts of winter, when not
a blade of grass was to be seen, and when a few prematurely warm days
had given a flattering foretaste of soft weather. He sang early in the
dawning, long before sun-rise, and late in the evening, just before the
closing in of night, his matin and his vesper hymns. It is true, he sang
occasionally throughout the day; but at these still hours, his song was
more remarked. He sat on a leafless tree, just before the window, and
warbled forth his notes, free and simple, but singularly sweet, with
something of a plaintive tone, that heightened their effect. The first
morning that he was heard, was a joyous one among the young folks of my
household. The long, deathlike sleep of winter was at an end; nature
was once more awakening; they now promised themselves the immediate
appearance of buds and blossoms. I was reminded of the tempest-tossed
crew of Columbus, when, after their long dubious voyage, the field birds
came singing round the ship, though still far at sea, rejoicing them
with the belief of the immediate proximity of land. A sharp return of
winter almost silenced my little songster, and dashed the hilarity of
the household; yet still he poured forth, now and then, a few plaintive
notes, between the frosty pipings of the breeze, like gleams of sunshine
between wintry clouds.

I have consulted my book of ornithology in vain, to find out the name
of this kindly little bird, who certainly deserves honor and favor far
beyond his modest pretensions. He comes like the lowly violet, the most
unpretending, but welcomest of flowers, breathing the sweet promise of
the early year.

Another of our feathered visitors, who follows close upon the steps of
winter, is the Pe-wit, or Pe-wee, or Phoebe-bird; for he is called by
each of these names, from a fancied resemblance to the sound of his
monotonous note. He is a sociable little being, and seeks the habitation
of man. A pair of them have built beneath my porch, and have reared
several broods there for two years past, their nest being never
disturbed. They arrive early in the spring, just when the crocus and
the snow-drop begin to peep forth. Their first chirp spreads gladness
through the house. "The Phoebe-birds have come!" is heard on all sides;
they are welcomed back like members of the family, and speculations are
made upon where they have been, and what countries they have seen
during their long absence. Their arrival is the more cheering, as it is
pronounced, by the old weather-wise people of the country, the sure sign
that the severe frosts are at an end, and that the gardener may resume
his labors with confidence.

About this time, too, arrives the blue-bird, so poetically yet truly
described by Wilson. His appearance gladdens the whole landscape.
You hear his soft warble in every field. He sociably approaches your
habitation, and takes up his residence in your vicinity. But why should
I attempt to describe him, when I have Wilson's own graphic verses to
place him before the reader?

  When winter's cold tempests and snows are no more,
  Green meadows and brown furrowed fields re-appearing:
  The fishermen hauling their shad to the shore,
  And cloud-cleaving geese to the lakes are a-steering;
  When first the lone butterfly flits on the wing,
  When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasing,
  O then comes the blue-bird, the herald of spring,
  And hails with his warblings the charms of the season.

  The loud-piping frogs make the marshes to ring;
  Then warm glows the sunshine, and warm glows the weather;
  The blue woodland flowers just beginning to spring,
  And spice-wood and sassafras budding together;
  O then to your gardens, ye housewives, repair,
  Your walks border up, sow and plant at your leisure;
  The blue-bird will chant from his box such an air,
  That all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasure.

  He flits through the orchard, he visits each tree,
  The red flowering peach, and the apple's sweet blossoms;
  He snaps up destroyers, wherever they be,
  And seizes the caitiffs that lurk in their bosoms;
  He drags the vile grub from the corn it devours,
  The worms from the webs where they riot and welter;
  His song and his services freely are ours,
  And all that he asks is, in summer a shelter.

  The ploughman is pleased when he gleams in his train,
  Now searching the furrows, now mounting to cheer him;
  The gard'ner delights in his sweet simple strain,
  And leans on his spade to survey and to hear him.
  The slow lingering school-boys forget they'll be chid,
  While gazing intent, as he warbles before them,
  In mantle of sky-blue, and bosom so red,
  That each little loiterer seems to adore him.

The happiest bird of our spring, however, and one that rivals the
European lark, in my estimation, is the Boblincon, or Boblink, as he is
commonly called. He arrives at that choice portion of our year, which,
in this latitude, answers to the description of the month of May, so
often given by the poets. With us, it begins about the middle of May,
and lasts until nearly the middle of June. Earlier than this, winter is
apt to return on its traces, and to blight the opening beauties of
the year; and later than this, begin the parching, and panting, and
dissolving heats of summer. But in this genial interval, nature is in
all her freshness and fragrance: "the rains are over and gone, the
flowers appear upon the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land." The trees are now in
their fullest foliage and brightest verdure; the woods are gay with the
clustered flowers of the laurel; the air is perfumed by the sweet-briar
and the wild rose; the meadows are enamelled with clover-blossoms; while
the young apple, the peach, and the plum, begin to swell, and the cherry
to glow, among the green leaves.

This is the chosen season of revelry of the Boblink. He comes amidst the
pomp and fragrance of the season; his life seems all sensibility and
enjoyment, all song and sunshine. He is to be found in the soft bosoms
of the freshest and sweetest meadows; and is most in song when the
clover is in blossom. He perches on the topmost twig of a tree, or on
some long flaunting weed; and as he rises and sinks with the breeze,
pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes; crowding one upon
another, like the outpouring melody of the skylark, and possessing the
same rapturous character. Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a
tree, begins his song as soon as he gets upon the wing, and flutters
tremulously down to the earth, as if overcome with ecstasy at his own
music. Sometimes he is in pursuit of his paramour; always in full
song, as if he would win her by his melody; and always with the same
appearance of intoxication and delight.

Of all the birds of our groves and meadows, the Boblink was the envy of
my boyhood. He crossed my path in the sweetest weather, and the sweetest
season of the year, when all nature called to the fields, and the rural
feeling throbbed in every bosom; but when I, luckless urchin! was doomed
to be mewed up, during the livelong day, in that purgatory of boyhood, a
school-room. It seemed as if the little varlet mocked at me, as he flew
by in full song, and sought to taunt me with his happier lot. Oh, how
I envied him! No lessons, no tasks, no hateful school; nothing but
holiday, frolic, green fields, and fine weather. Had I been then more
versed in poetry, I might have addressed him in the words of Logan to
the cuckoo:

  Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
  Thy sky is ever clear;
  Thou hast no sorrow in thy note,
  No winter in thy year.

  Oh! could I fly, I'd fly with thee;
  We'd make, on joyful wing,
  Our annual visit round the globe,
  Companions of the spring!

Farther observation and experience have given me a different idea of
this little feathered voluptuary, which I will venture to impart, for
the benefit of my school-boy readers, who may regard him with the same
unqualified envy and admiration which I once indulged. I have shown him
only as I saw him at first, in what I may call the poetical part of his
career, when he in a manner devoted himself to elegant pursuits
and enjoyments, and was a bird of music, and song, and taste, and
sensibility, and refinement. While this lasted, he was sacred from
injury; the very school-boy would not fling a stone at him, and the
merest rustic would pause to listen to his strain. But mark the
difference. As the year advances, as the clover-blossoms disappear, and
the spring fades into summer, his notes cease to vibrate on the ear. He
gradually gives up his elegant tastes and habits, doffs his poetical and
professional suit of black, assumes a russet or rather dusty garb, and
enters into the gross enjoyments of common, vulgar birds. He becomes a
bon-vivant, a mere gourmand; thinking of nothing but good cheer, and
gormandizing on the seeds of the long grasses on which he lately swung,
and chaunted so musically. He begins to think there is nothing like "the
joys of the table," if I may be allowed to apply that convivial phrase
to his indulgences. He now grows discontented with plain, every-day
fare, and sets out on a gastronomical tour, in search of foreign
luxuries. He is to be found in myriads among the reeds of the Delaware,
banqueting on their seeds; grows corpulent with good feeding, and soon
acquires the unlucky renown of the ortolan. Whereever he goes, pop! pop!
pop! the rusty firelocks of the country are cracking on every side;
he sees his companions falling by the thousands around him; he is
the _reed-bird_, the much-sought-for tit-bit of the Pennsylvanian

Does he take warning and reform? Not he! He wings his flight still
farther south, in search of other luxuries. We hear of him gorging
himself in the rice swamps; filling himself with rice almost to
bursting; he can hardly fly for corpulency. Last stage of his career,
we hear of him spitted by dozens, and served up on the table of the
gourmand, the most vaunted of southern dainties, the _rice-bird_ of the

Such is the story of the once musical and admired, but finally sensual
and persecuted Boblink. It contains a moral, worthy the attention of all
little birds and little boys; warning them to keep to those refined
and intellectual pursuits, which raised him to so high a pitch of
popularity, during the early part of his career; but to eschew all
tendency to that gross and dissipated indulgence, which brought this
mistaken little bird to an untimely end.

Which is all at present, from the well-wisher of little boys and little


       *       *       *       *       *



During a summer's residence in the old Moorish palace of the Alhambra,
of which I have already given numerous anecdotes to the public, I used
to pass much of my time in the beautiful hall of the Abencerrages,
beside the fountain celebrated in the tragic story of that devoted
race. Here it was, that thirty-six cavaliers of that heroic line were
treacherously sacrificed, to appease the jealousy or allay the fears of
a tyrant. The fountain which now throws up its sparkling jet, and sheds
a dewy freshness around, ran red with the noblest blood of Granada,
and a deep stain on the marble pavement is still pointed out, by the
cicerones of the pile, as a sanguinary record of the massacre. I have
regarded it with the same determined faith with which I have regarded
the traditional stains of Rizzio's blood on the floor of the chamber of
the unfortunate Mary, at Holyrood. I thank no one for endeavoring to
enlighten my credulity, on such points of popular belief. It is like
breaking up the shrine of the pilgrim; it is robbing a poor traveller of
half the reward of his toils; for, strip travelling of its historical
illusions, and what a mere fag you make of it!

For my part, I gave myself up, during my sojourn in the Alhambra, to all
the romantic and fabulous traditions connected with the pile. I lived in
the midst of an Arabian tale, and shut my eyes, as much as possible, to
every thing that called me back to every-day life; and if there is any
country in Europe where one can do so, it is in poor, wild, legendary,
proud-spirited, romantic Spain; where the old magnificent barbaric
spirit still contends against the utilitarianism of modern civilization.

In the silent and deserted halls of the Alhambra; surrounded with the
insignia of regal sway, and the still vivid, though dilapidated traces
of oriental voluptuousness, I was in the strong-hold of Moorish story,
and every thing spoke and breathed of the glorious days of Granada,
when under the dominion of the crescent. When I sat in the hall of the
Abencerrages, I suffered my mind to conjure up all that I had read of
that illustrious line. In the proudest days of Moslem domination, the
Abencerrages were the soul of every thing noble and chivalrous. The
veterans of the family, who sat in the royal council, were the foremost
to devise those heroic enterprises, which carried dismay into the
territories of the Christians; and what the sages of the family devised,
the young men of the name were the foremost to execute. In all services
of hazard; in all adventurous forays, and hair-breadth hazards; the
Abencerrages were sure to win the brightest laurels. In those noble
recreations, too, which bear so close an affinity to war; in the tilt
and tourney, the riding at the ring, and the daring bull-fight; still
the Abencerrages carried off the palm. None could equal them for the
splendor of their array, the gallantry of their devices; for their noble
bearing, and glorious horsemanship. Their open-handed munificence made
them the idols of the populace, while their lofty magnanimity, and
perfect faith, gained them golden opinions from the generous and
high-minded. Never were they known to decry the merits of a rival, or to
betray the confidings of a friend; and the "word of an Abencerrage" was
a guarantee that never admitted of a doubt.

And then their devotion to the fair! Never did Moorish beauty consider
the fame of her charms established, until she had an Abencerrage for a
lover; and never did an Abencerrage prove recreant to his vows. Lovely
Granada! City of delights! Who ever bore the favors of thy dames more
proudly on their casques, or championed them more gallantly in the
chivalrous tilts of the Vivarambla? Or who ever made thy moon-lit
balconies, thy gardens of myrtles and roses, of oranges, citrons, and
pomegranates, respond to more tender serenades?

I speak with enthusiasm on this theme; for it is connected with the
recollection of one of the sweetest evenings and sweetest scenes that
ever I enjoyed in Spain. One of the greatest pleasures of the Spaniards
is, to sit in the beautiful summer evenings, and listen to traditional
ballads, and tales about the wars of the Moors and Christians, and the
"buenas andanzas" and "grandes hechos," the "good fortunes" and "great
exploits" of the hardy warriors of yore. It is worthy of remark, also,
that many of these songs, or romances, as they are called, celebrate
the prowess and magnanimity in war, and the tenderness and, fidelity in
love, of the Moorish cavaliers, once their most formidable and hated
foes. But centuries have elapsed, to extinguish the bigotry of the
zealot; and the once detested warriors of Granada are now held up by
Spanish poets, as the mirrors of chivalric virtue.

Such was the amusement of the evening in question. A number of us were
seated in the Hall of the Abencerrages, listening to one of the most
gifted and fascinating beings that I had ever met with in my wanderings.
She was young and beautiful; and light and ethereal; full of fire, and
spirit, and pure enthusiasm. She wore the fanciful Andalusian dress;
touched the guitar with speaking eloquence; improvised with wonderful
facility; and, as she became excited by her theme, or by the rapt
attention of her auditors, would pour forth, in the richest and
most melodious strains, a succession of couplets, full of striking
description, or stirring narration, and composed, as I was assured, at
the moment. Most of these were suggested by the place, and related to
the ancient glories of Granada, and the prowess of her chivalry. The
Abencerrages were her favorite heroes; she felt a woman's admiration of
their gallant courtesy, and high-souled honor; and it was touching and
inspiring to hear the praises of that generous but devoted race, chanted
in this fated hall of their calamity, by the lips of Spanish beauty.

Among the subjects of which she treated, was a tale of Moslem honor, and
old-fashioned Spanish courtesy, which made a strong impression on me.
She disclaimed all merit of invention, however, and said she had merely
dilated into verse a popular tradition; and, indeed, I have since found
the main facts inserted at the end of Conde's History of the Domination
of the Arabs, and the story itself embodied in the form of an episode in
the Diana of Montemayor. From these sources I have drawn it forth, and
endeavored to shape it according to my recollection of the version of
the beautiful minstrel; but, alas! what can supply the want of that
voice, that look, that form, that action, which gave magical effect to
her chant, and held every one rapt in breathless admiration! Should this
mere travestie of her inspired numbers ever meet her eye, in her stately
abode at Granada, may it meet with that indulgence which belongs to her
benignant nature. Happy should I be, if it could awaken in her bosom
one kind recollection of the lonely stranger and sojourner, for
whose gratification she did not think it beneath her to exert those
fascinating powers which were the delight of brilliant circles; and who
will ever recall with enthusiasm the happy evening passed in listening
to her strains, in the moon-lit halls of the Alhambra.

       *       *       *       *       *




On the summit of a craggy hill, a spur of the mountains of Ronda, stands
the castle of Allora, now a mere ruin, infested by bats and owlets, but
in old times one of the strong border holds of the Christians, to keep
watch upon the frontiers of the warlike kingdom of Granada, and to hold
the Moors in check. It was a post always confided to some well-tried
commander; and, at the time of which we treat, was held by Rodrigo de
Narvaez, a veteran, famed, both among Moors and Christians, not only for
his hardy feats of arms, but also for that magnanimous courtesy which
should ever be entwined with the sterner virtues of the soldier.

The castle of Allora was a mere part of his command; he was Alcayde, or
military governor of Antiquera, but he passed most of his time at this
frontier post, because its situation on the borders gave more frequent
opportunity for those adventurous exploits which were the delight of the
Spanish chivalry. His garrison consisted of fifty chosen cavaliers, all
well mounted and well appointed: with these he kept vigilant watch
upon the Moslems; patrolling the roads, and paths, and defiles of the
mountains, so that nothing could escape his eye; and now and then
signalizing himself by some dashing foray into the very Vega of Granada.

On a fair and beautiful night in summer, when the freshness of the
evening breeze had tempered the heat of day, the worthy Alcayde sallied
forth, with nine of his cavaliers, to patrol the neighborhood, and
seek adventures. They rode quietly and cautiously, lest they should be
overheard by Moorish scout or traveller; and kept along ravines and
hollow ways, lest they should be betrayed by the glittering of the full
moon upon their armor. Coming to where the road divided, the Alcayde
directed five of his cavaliers to take one of the branches, while he,
with the remaining four, would take the other. Should either party be in
danger, the blast of a horn was to be the signal to bring their comrades
to their aid.

The party of five had not proceeded far, when, in passing through a
defile, overhung with trees, they heard the voice of a man, singing.
They immediately concealed themselves in a grove, on the brow of a
declivity, up which the stranger would have to ascend. The moonlight,
which left the grove in deep shadow, lit up the whole person of the
wayfarer, as he advanced, and enabled them to distinguish his dress and
appearance with perfect accuracy. He was a Moorish cavalier, and his
noble demeanor, graceful carriage, and splendid attire showed him to
be of lofty rank. He was superbly mounted, on a dapple-gray steed, of
powerful frame, and generous spirit, and magnificently caparisoned.
His dress was a marlota, or tunic, and an Albernoz of crimson damask,
fringed with gold. His Tunisian turban, of many folds, was of silk and
cotton, striped, and bordered with golden fringe. At his girdle hung a
scimitar of Damascus steel, with loops and tassels of silk and gold. On
his left arm he bore an ample target, and his right hand grasped a long
double-pointed lance. Thus equipped, he sat negligently on his steed, as
one who dreamed of no danger, gazing on the moon, and singing, with a
sweet and manly voice, a Moorish love ditty.

Just opposite the place where the Spanish cavaliers were concealed, was
a small fountain in the rock, beside the road, to which the horse turned
to drink; the rider threw the reins on his neck, and continued his song.

The Spanish cavaliers conferred together; they were all so pleased with
the gallant and gentle appearance of the Moor, that they resolved not to
harm, but to capture him, which, in his negligent mood, promised to be
an easy task; rushing, therefore, from their concealment, they thought
to surround and seize him. Never were men more mistaken. To gather up
his reins, wheel round his steed, brace his buckler, and couch his
lance, was the work of an instant; and there he sat, fixed like a castle
in his saddle, beside the fountain.

The Christian cavaliers checked their steeds and reconnoitered him
warily, loth to come to an encounter, which must end in his destruction.

The Moor now held a parley: "If you be true knights," said he, "and seek
for honorable fame, come on, singly, and I am ready to meet each in
succession; but if you be mere lurkers of the road, intent on spoil,
come all at once, and do your worst!"

The cavaliers communed for a moment apart, when one, advancing singly,
exclaimed: "Although no law of chivalry obliges us to risk the loss of a
prize, when clearly in our power, yet we willingly grant, as a courtesy,
what we might refuse as a right. Valiant Moor! defend thyself!" So
saying, he wheeled, took proper distance, couched his lance, and putting
spurs to his horse, made at the stranger. The latter met him in mid
career, transpierced him with his lance, and threw him headlong from his
saddle. A second and a third succeeded, but were unhorsed with equal
facility, and thrown to the earth, severely wounded. The remaining
two, seeing their comrades thus roughly treated, forgot all compact of
courtesy, and charged both at once upon the Moor. He parried the thrust
of one, but was wounded by the other in the thigh, and, in the shock and
confusion, dropped his lance. Thus disarmed, and closely pressed, he
pretended to fly, and was hotly pursued. Having drawn the two cavaliers
some distance from the spot, he suddenly wheeled short about, with
one of those dexterous movements for which the Moorish horsemen are
renowned; passed swiftly between them, swung himself down from his
saddle, so as to catch up his lance, then, lightly replacing himself,
turned to renew the combat.

Seeing him thus fresh for the encounter, as if just issued from his
tent, one of the cavaliers put his lips to his horn, and blew a blast,
that soon brought the Alcayde and his four companions to the spot.

The valiant Narvaez, seeing three of his cavaliers extended on the
earth, and two others hotly engaged with the Moor, was struck with
admiration, and coveted a contest with so accomplished a warrior.
Interfering in the fight, he called upon his followers to desist, and
addressing the Moor, with courteous words, invited him to a more equal
combat. The latter readily accepted the challenge. For some time, their
contest was fierce and doubtful; and the Alcayde had need of all his
skill and strength to ward off the blows of his antagonist. The Moor,
however, was exhausted by previous fighting, and by loss of blood. He
no longer sat his horse firmly, nor managed him with his wonted skill.
Collecting all his strength for a last assault, he rose in his stirrups,
and made a violent thrust with his lance; the Alcayde received it upon
his shield, and at the same time wounded the Moor in the right arm; then
closing, in the shock, he grasped him in his arms, dragged him from his
saddle, and fell with him to the earth: when putting his knee upon his
breast, and his dagger to his throat, "Cavalier," exclaimed he, "render
thyself my prisoner, for thy life is in my hands!"

"Kill me, rather," replied the Moor, "for death would be less grievous
than loss of liberty." The Alcayde, however, with the clemency of the
truly brave, assisted the Moor to rise, ministered to his wounds with
his own hands, and had him conveyed with great care to the castle of
Allora. His wounds were slight, and in a few days were nearly cured; but
the deepest wound had been inflicted on his spirit. He was constantly
buried in a profound melancholy.

The Alcayde, who had conceived a great regard for him, treated him more
as a friend than a captive, and tried in every way to cheer him, but in
vain; he was always sad and moody, and, when on the battlements of
the castle, would keep his eyes turned to the south, with a fixed and
wistful gaze.

"How is this?" exclaimed the Alcayde, reproachfully, "that you, who were
so hardy and fearless in the field, should lose all spirit in prison? If
any secret grief preys on your heart, confide it to me, as to a friend,
and I promise you, on the faith of a cavalier, that you shall have no
cause to repent the disclosure."

The Moorish knight kissed the hand of the Alcayde. "Noble cavalier,"
said he "that I am cast down in spirit, is not from my wounds, which are
slight, nor from my captivity, for your kindness has robbed it of all
gloom; nor from my defeat, for to be conquered by so accomplished and
renowned a cavalier, is no disgrace. But to explain to you the cause of
my grief, it is necessary to give you some particulars of my story; and
this I am moved to do, by the great sympathy you have manifested toward
me, and the magnanimity that shines through all your actions."

"Know, then, that my name is Abendaraez, and that I am of the noble but
unfortunate line of the Abencerrages of Granada. You have doubtless
heard of the destruction that fell upon our race. Charged with
treasonable designs, of which they were entirely innocent, many of
them were beheaded, the rest banished; so that not an Abencerrages was
permitted to remain in Granada, excepting my father and my uncle, whose
innocence was proved, even to the satisfaction of their persecutors. It
was decreed, however, that, should they have children, the sons should
be educated at a distance from Granada, and the daughters should be
married out of the kingdom.

"Conformably to this decree, I was sent, while yet an infant, to be
reared in the fortress of Cartama, the worthy Alcayde of which was an
ancient friend of my father. He had no children, and received me into
his family as his own child, treating me with the kindness and affection
of a father; and I grew up in the belief that he really was such. A few
years afterward, his wife gave birth to a daughter, but his tenderness
toward me continued undiminished. I thus grew up with Xarisa, for so
the infant daughter of the Alcayde was called, as her own brother, and
thought the growing passion which I felt for her, was mere fraternal
affection. I beheld her charms unfolding, as it were, leaf by leaf, like
the morning rose, each moment disclosing fresh beauty and sweetness.

"At this period, I overheard a conversation between the Alcayde and his
confidential domestic, and found myself to be the subject. 'It is time,'
said he, 'to apprise him of his parentage, that he may adopt a career
in life. I have deferred the communication as long as possible, through
reluctance to inform him that he is of a proscribed and an unlucky

"This intelligence would have overwhelmed me at an earlier period, but
the intimation that Xarisa was not my sister, operated like magic, and
in an instant transformed my brotherly affection into ardent love.

"I sought Xarisa, to impart to her the secret I had learned. I found her
in the garden, in a bower of jessamines, arranging her beautiful hair by
the mirror of a crystal fountain. The radiance of her beauty dazzled
me. I ran to her with open arms, and she received me with a sister's
embraces. When we had seated ourselves beside the fountain, she began to
upbraid me for leaving her so long alone.

"In reply, I informed her of the conversation I had overheard. The
recital shocked and distressed her. 'Alas!' cried she, 'then is our
happiness at an end!'

"'How!' exclaimed I; 'wilt thou cease to love me, because I am not thy

"'Not so,' replied she; 'but do you not know that when it is once known
we are not brother and sister, we can no longer be permitted to be thus
always together?'

"In fact, from that moment our intercourse took a new character. We
met often at the fountain among the jessamines, but Xarisa no longer
advanced with open arms to meet me. She became reserved and silent, and
would blush, and cast down her eyes, when I seated myself beside her. My
heart became a prey to the thousand doubts and fears that ever attend
upon true love. I was restless and uneasy, and looked back with regret
to the unreserved intercourse that had existed between us, when we
supposed ourselves brother and sister; yet I would not have had the
relationship true, for the world.

"While matters were in this state between us, an order came from the
King of Granada for the Alcayde to take command of the fortress of Coyn,
which lies directly on the Christian frontier. He prepared to remove,
with all his family, but signified that I should remain at Cartama. I
exclaimed against the separation, and declared that I could not be
parted from Xarisa. 'That is the very cause,' said he, 'why I leave thee
behind. It is time, Abendaraez, that thou shouldst know the secret of
thy birth; that thou art no son of mine, neither is Xarisa thy sister.'
'I know it all,' exclaimed I, 'and I love her with tenfold the
affection of a brother. You have brought us up together; you have made
us necessary to each other's happiness; our hearts have entwined
themselves with our growth; do not now tear them asunder. Fill up the
measure of your kindness; be indeed a father to me, by giving me Xarisa
for my wife.'

"The brow of the Alcayde darkened as I spoke. 'Have I then been
deceived?' said he. 'Have those nurtured in my very bosom, been
conspiring against me? Is this your return for my paternal
tenderness?--to beguile the affections of my child, and teach her to
deceive her father? It was cause enough to refuse thee the hand of my
daughter, that thou wert of a proscribed race, who can never approach
the walls of Granada; this, however, I might have passed over; but never
will I give my daughter to a man who has endeavored to win her from me
by deception.'

"All my attempts to vindicate myself and Xarisa were unavailing. I
retired in anguish from his presence, and seeking Xarisa, told her of
this blow, which was worse than death to me. 'Xarisa,' said I, 'we
part for ever! I shall never see thee more! Thy father will guard thee
rigidly. Thy beauty and his wealth will soon attract some happier rival,
and I shall be forgotten!'

"Xarisa reproached me with my want of faith, and promised me eternal
constancy. I still doubted and desponded, until, moved by my anguish and
despair, she agreed to a secret union. Our espousals made, we parted,
with a promise on her part to send me word from Coyn, should her
father absent himself from the fortress. The very day after our secret
nuptials, I beheld the whole train of the Alcayde depart from Cartama,
nor would he admit me to his presence, or permit me to bid farewell
to Xarisa. I remained at Cartama, somewhat pacified in spirit by this
secret bond of union; but every thing around me fed my passion, and
reminded me of Xarisa. I saw the windows at which I had so often beheld
her. I wandered through the apartment she had inhabited; the chamber in
which she had slept. I visited the bower of jessamines, and lingered
beside the fountain in which she had delighted. Every thing recalled her
to my imagination, and filled my heart with tender melancholy.

"At length, a confidential servant brought me word, that her father
was to depart that day for Granada, on a short absence, inviting me to
hasten to Coyn, describing a secret portal at which I should apply, and
the signal by which I would obtain admittance.

"If ever you have loved, most valiant Alcayde, you may judge of the
transport of my bosom. That very night I arrayed myself in my most
gallant attire, to pay due honor to my bride; and arming myself against
any casual attack, issued forth privately from Cartama. You know the
rest, and by what sad fortune of war I found myself, instead of a happy
bridegroom, in the nuptial bower of Coyn, vanquished, wounded, and a
prisoner, withing the walls of Allora. The term of absence of the father
of Xarisa is nearly expired. Within three days he will return to Coyn,
and our meeting will no longer be possible. Judge, then, whether I
grieve without cause, and whether I may not well be excused for showing
impatience under confinement."

Don Rodrigo de Narvaez was greatly moved by this recital; for, though
more used to rugged war, than scenes of amorous softness, he was of a
kind and generous nature.

"Abendaraez," said he, "I did not seek thy confidence to gratify an idle
curiosity. It grieves me much that the good fortune which delivered thee
into my hands, should have marred so fair an enterprise. Give me thy
faith, as a true knight, to return prisoner to my castle, within three
days, and I will grant thee permission to accomplish thy nuptials."

The Abencerrage would have thrown himself at his feet, to pour out
protestations of eternal gratitude, but the Alcayde prevented him.
Calling in his cavaliers, he took the Abencerrage by the right hand, in
their presence, exclaiming solemnly, "You promise, on the faith of a
cavalier, to return to my castle of Allora within three days, and render
yourself my prisoner?" And the Abencerrage said, "I promise."

Then said the Alcayde, "Go! and may good fortune attend you. If
you require any safeguard, I and my cavaliers are ready to be your

The Abencerrage kissed the hand of the Alcayde, in grateful
acknowledgment. "Give me," said he, "my own armor, and my steed, and
I require no guard. It is not likely that I shall again meet with so
valorous a foe."

The shades of night had fallen, when the tramp of the dapple-gray steed
sounded over the drawbridge, and immediately afterward the light clatter
of hoofs along the road, bespoke the fleetness with which the youthful
lover hastened to his bride. It was deep night when the Moor arrived at
the castle of Coyn. He silently and cautiously walked his panting steed
under its dark walls, and having nearly passed round them, came to the
portal denoted by Xarisa. He paused and looked around to see that he was
not observed, and then knocked three times with the butt of his lance.
In a little while the portal was timidly unclosed by the duenna of
Xarisa. "Alas! senor," said she, "what has detained you thus long? Every
night have I watched for you; and my lady is sick at heart with doubt
and anxiety."

The Abencerrage hung his lance, and shield, and scimitar against the
wall, and then followed the duenna, with silent steps, up a winding
stair-case, to the apartment of Xarisa. Vain would be the attempt to
describe the raptures of that meeting. Time flew too swiftly, and the
Abencerrage had nearly forgotten, until too late, his promise to return
a prisoner to the Alcayde of Allora. The recollection of it came to him
with a pang, and suddenly awoke him from his dream of bliss. Xarisa
saw his altered looks, and heard with alarm his stifled sighs; but her
countenance brightened, when she heard the cause. "Let not thy spirit be
cast down," said she, throwing her white arms around him. "I have the
keys of my father's treasures; send ransom more than enough to satisfy
the Christian, and remain with me."

"No," said Abendaraez, "I have given my word to return in person, and
like a true knight, must fulfil my promise. After that, fortune must do
with me as it pleases."

"Then," said Xarisa, "I will accompany thee. Never shall you return a
prisoner, and I remain at liberty."

The Abencerrage was transported with joy at this new proof of devotion
in his beautiful bride. All preparations were speedily made for their
departure. Xarisa mounted behind the Moor, on his powerful steed; they
left the castle walls before daybreak, nor did they pause, until they
arrived at the gate of the castle of Allora, which was flung wide to
receive them.

Alighting in the court, the Abencerrage supported the steps of his
trembling bride, who remained closely veiled, into the presence of
Rodrigo de Narvaez. "Behold, valiant Alcayde!" said he, "the way in
which an Abencerrage keeps his word. I promised to return to thee a
prisoner, but I deliver two captives into your power. Behold Xarisa,
and judge whether I grieved without reason, over the loss of such a
treasure. Receive us as your own, for I confide my life and her honor to
your hands."

The Alcayde was lost in admiration of the beauty of the lady, and the
noble spirit of the Moor. "I know not," said he, "which of you surpasses
the other; but I know that my castle is graced and honored by your
presence. Enter into it, and consider it your own, while you deign to
reside with me."

For several days the lovers remained at Allora, happy in each other's
love, and in the friendship of the brave Alcayde. The latter wrote a
letter, full of courtesy, to the Moorish king of Granada, relating the
whole event, extolling the valor and good faith of the Abencerrage, and
craving for him the royal countenance.

The king was moved by the story, and was pleased with an opportunity of
showing attention to the wishes of a gallant and chivalrous enemy; for
though he had often suffered from the prowess of Don Rodigro de Narvaez,
he admired the heroic character he had gained throughout the land.
Calling the Alcayde of Coyn into his presence, he gave him the letter to
read. The Alcayde turned pale, and trembled with rage, on the perusal.
"Restrain thine anger," said the king; "there is nothing that the
Alcayde of Allora could ask, that I would not grant, if in my power. Go
thou to Allora; pardon thy children; take them to thy home. I receive
this Abencerrage into my favor, and it will be my delight to heap
benefits upon you all."

The kindling ire of the Alcayde was suddenly appeased. He hastened to
Allora; and folded his children to his bosom, who would have fallen at
his feet. The gallant Rodrigo de Narvaez gave liberty to his prisoner
without ransom, demanding merely a promise of his friendship. He
accompanied the youthful couple and their father to Coyn, where their
nuptials were celebrated with great rejoicings. When the festivities
were over, Don Rodrigo de Narvaez returned to his fortress of Allora.

After his departure, the Alcayde of Coyn addressed his children: "To
your hands," said he, "I confide the disposition of my wealth. One of
the first things I charge you, is not to forget the ransom you owe to
the Alcayde of Allora. His magnanimity you can never repay, but you can
prevent it from wronging him of his just dues. Give him, moreover, your
entire friendship, for he merits it fully, though of a different faith."

The Abencerrage thanked him for his generous proposition, which so truly
accorded with his own wishes. He took a large sum of gold, and enclosed
it in a rich coffer; and, on his own part, sent six beautiful horses,
superbly caparisoned; with six shields and lances, mounted and embossed
with gold. The beautiful Xarisa, at the same time, wrote a letter to the
Alcayde, filled with expressions of gratitude and friendship, and sent
him a box of fragrant cypress-wood, containing linen, of the finest
quality, for his person. The valiant Alcayde disposed of the present
in a characteristic manner. The horses and armor he shared among the
cavaliers who had accompanied him on the night of the skirmish. The
box of cypress-wood and its contents he retained, for the sake of the
beautiful Xarisa; and sent her, by the hands of a messenger, the sum
of gold paid as a ransom, entreating her to receive it as a wedding
present. This courtesy and magnanimity raised the character of the
Alcayde Rodrigo de Narvaez still higher in the estimation of the Moors,
who extolled him as a perfect mirror of chivalric virtue; and from that
time forward, there was a continual exchange of good offices between

       *       *       *       *       *



  Break, Phantsie, from thy cave of cloud,
  And wave thy purple wings,
  Now all thy figures are allowed,
  And various shapes of things.
  Create of airy forms a stream;
  It must have blood and nought of phlegm;
  And though it be a walking dream,
  Yet let it like an odor rise
  To all the senses here,
  And fall like sleep upon their eyes,
  Or music on their ear.--BEN JONSON.

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our
philosophy," and among these may be placed that marvel and mystery of
the seas, the island of St. Brandan. Every school-boy can enumerate and
call by name the Canaries, the Fortunate Islands of the ancients; which,
according to some ingenious speculative minds, are mere wrecks and
remnants of the vast island of Atalantis, mentioned by Plato, as having
been swallowed up by the ocean. Whoever has read the history of those
isles, will remember the wonders told of another island, still more
beautiful, seen occasionally from their shores, stretching away in the
clear bright west, with long shadowy promontories, and high, sun-gilt
peaks. Numerous expeditions, both in ancient and modern days, have
launched forth from the Canaries in quest of that island; but, on their
approach, mountain and promontory have gradually faded away, until
nothing has remained but the blue sky above, and the deep blue water
below. Hence it was termed by the geographers of old, Aprositus, or the
Inaccessible; while modern navigators have called its very existence in
question, pronouncing it a mere optical illusion, like the Fata Morgana
of the Straits of Messina; or classing it with those unsubstantial
regions known to mariners as Cape Flyaway, and the Coast of Cloud Land.

Let not, however, the doubts of the worldly-wise sceptics of modern days
rob us of all the glorious realms owned by happy credulity in days of
yore. Be assured, O reader of easy faith!--thou for whom I delight to
labor--be assured, that such an island does actually exist, and has,
from time to time, been revealed to the gaze, and trodden by the feet,
of favored mortals. Nay, though doubted by historians and philosophers,
its existence is fully attested by the poets, who, being an inspired
race, and gifted with a kind of second sight, can see into the mysteries
of nature, hidden from the eyes of ordinary mortals. To this gifted race
it has ever been a region of fancy and romance, teeming with all kinds
of wonders. Here once bloomed, and perhaps still blooms, the famous
garden of the Hesperides, with its golden fruit. Here, too, was the
enchanted garden of Armida, in which that sorceress held the Christian
paladin, Rinaldo, in delicious but inglorious thraldom; as is set forth
in the immortal lay of Tasso. It was on this island, also, that Sycorax,
the witch, held sway, when the good Prospero, and his infant daughter
Miranda, were wafted to its shores. The isle was then

  ---"full of noises,
  Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not."

Who does not know the tale, as told in the magic page of Shakspeare?

In fact, the island appears to have been, at different times, under the
sway of different powers, genii of earth, and air, and ocean; who made
it their shadowy abode; or rather, it is the retiring place of old
worn-out deities and dynasties, that once ruled the poetic world,
but are now nearly shorn of all their attributes. Here Neptune and
Amphitrite hold a diminished court, like sovereigns in exile. Their
ocean-chariot lies bottom upward, in a cave of the island, almost a
perfect wreck, while their pursy Tritons and haggard Nereids bask
listlessly, like seals about the rocks. Sometimes they assume a shadow
of their ancient pomp, and glide in state about the glassy sea; while
the crew of some tall Indiaman, that lies becalmed with flapping sails,
hear with astonishment the mellow note of the Triton's shell swelling
upon the ear, as the invisible pageant sweeps by. Sometimes the quondam
monarch of the ocean is permitted to make himself visible to mortal
eyes, visiting the ships that cross the line, to exact a tribute from
new-comers; the only remnant of his ancient rule, and that, alas!
performed with tattered state, and tarnished splendor.

On the shores of this wondrous island, the mighty kraken heaves his
bulk, and wallows many a rood; here, too, the sea-serpent lies coiled
up, during the intervals of his much-contested revelations to the
eyes of true believers; and here it is said, even the Flying Dutchman
finds a port and casts his anchor, and furls his shadowy sail, and
takes a short repose from his eternal wanderings.

Here all the treasures lost in the deep are safely garnered. The caverns
of the shores are piled with golden ingots, hexes of pearls, rich bales
of oriental silks; and their deep recesses sparkle with diamonds, or
flame with carbuncles. Here, in deep bays and harbors, lies many a
spell-bound ship, long given up as lost by the ruined merchant. Here,
too, its crew, long bewailed as swallowed up in ocean, lie sleeping in
mossy grottoes, from age to age, or wander about enchanted shores and
groves, in pleasing oblivion of all things.

Such are some of the marvels related of this island, and which may serve
to throw some light on the following legend, of unquestionable truth,
which I recommend to the entire belief of the reader.

       *       *       *       *       *



In the early part of the fifteenth century, when Prince Henry of
Portugal, of worthy memory, was pushing the career of discovery along
the western coast of Africa, and the world was resounding with reports
of golden regions on the main land, and new-found islands in the ocean,
there arrived at Lisbon an old bewildered pilot of the seas, who had
been driven by tempests, he knew not whither, and who raved about an
island far in the deep, on which he had landed, and which he had found
peopled with Christians, and adorned with noble cities.

The inhabitants, he said, gathered round, and regarded him with
surprise, having never before been visited by a ship. They told him they
were descendants of a band of Christians, who fled from Spain when that
country was conquered by the Moslems. They were curious about the state
of their fatherland, and grieved to hear that the Moslems still held
possession of the kingdom of Granada. They would have taken the old
navigator to church, to convince him of their orthodoxy; but, either
through lack of devotion, or lack of faith in their words, he declined
their invitation, and preferred to return on board of his ship. He was
properly punished. A furious storm arose, drove him from his anchorage,
hurried him out to sea, and he saw no more of the unknown island.

This strange story caused great marvel in Lisbon and elsewhere. Those
versed in history, remembered to have read, in an ancient chronicle,
that, at the time of the conquest of Spain, in the eighth century, when
the blessed cross was cast down, and the crescent erected in its place,
and when Christian churches were turned into Moslem mosques, seven
bishops, at the head of seven bands of pious exiles, had fled from the
peninsula, and embarked in quest of some ocean island, or distant land,
where they might found seven Christian cities, and enjoy their faith

The fate of these pious saints errant had hitherto remained a
mystery, and their story had faded from memory; the report of the old
tempest-tossed pilot, however, revived this long-forgotten theme; and
it was determined by the pious and enthusiastic, that the island thus
accidentally discovered, was the identical place of refuge, whither the
wandering bishops had been guided by a protecting Providence, and where
they had folded their flocks.

This most excitable of worlds has always some darling object of
chimerical enterprise: the "Island of the Seven Cities" now awakened as
much interest and longing among zealous Christians, as has the renowned
city of Timbuctoo among adventurous travellers, or the North-east
Passage among hardy navigators; and it was a frequent prayer of the
devout, that these scattered and lost portions of the Christian family
might be discovered, and reunited to the great body of Christendom.

No one, however, entered into the matter with half the zeal of Don
Fernando de Ulmo, a young cavalier of high standing in the Portuguese
court, and of most sanguine and romantic temperament. He had recently
come to his estate, and had run the round of all kinds of pleasures and
excitements, when this new theme of popular talk and wonder presented
itself. The Island of the Seven Cities became now the constant subject
of his thoughts by day and his dreams by night; it even rivalled his
passion for a beautiful girl, one of the greatest belles of Lisbon, to
whom he was betrothed. At length his imagination became so inflamed on
the subject, that he determined to fit out an expedition, at his own
expense, and set sail in quest of this sainted island. It could not be
a cruise of any great extent; for according to the calculations of the
tempest-tossed pilot, it must be somewhere in the latitude of the
Canaries; which at that time, when the new world was as yet undiscovered,
formed the frontier of ocean enterprise. Don Fernando applied to the
crown for countenance and protection. As he was a favorite at court, the
usual patronage was readily extended to him; that is to say, he received
a commission from the king, Don Ioam II., constituting him Adelantado,
or military governor, of any country he might discover, with the single
proviso, that he should bear all the expenses of the discovery and pay a
tenth of the profits to the crown.

Don Fernando now set to work in the true spirit of a projector. He sold
acre after acre of solid land, and invested the proceeds in ships, guns,
ammunition, and sea-stores. Even his old family mansion in Lisbon was
mortgaged without scruple, for "he looked forward to a palace in one of
the Seven Cities of which he was to be Adelantado." This was the age of
nautical romance, when the thoughts of all speculative dreamers were
turned to the ocean. The scheme of Don Fernando, therefore, drew
adventurers of every kind. The merchant promised himself new marts of
opulent traffic; the soldier hoped to sack and plunder some one or other
of those Seven Cities; even the fat monk shook off the sleep and sloth
of the cloister, to join in a crusade which promised such increase to
the possessions of the church.

One person alone regarded the whole project with sovereign contempt
and growling hostility. This was Don Ramiro Alvarez, the father of the
beautiful Serafina, to whom Don Fernando was betrothed. He was one of
those perverse, matter-of-fact old men who are prone to oppose every
thing speculative and romantic. He had no faith in the Island of the
Seven Cities; regarded the projected cruise as a crack-brained freak;
looked with angry eye and internal heart-burning on the conduct of his
intended son-in-law, chaffering away solid lands for lands in the moon,
and scoffingly dubbed him Adelantado of Lubberland. In fact, he had
never really relished the intended match, to which his consent had been
slowly extorted by the tears and entreaties of his daughter. It is true
he could have no reasonable objections to the youth, for Don Fernando
was the very flower of Portuguese chivalry. No one could excel him at
the tilting match, or the riding at the ring; none was more bold and
dexterous in the bull-fight; none composed more gallant madrigals in
praise of his lady's charms, or sang them with sweeter tones to the
accompaniment of her guitar; nor could any one handle the castanets
and dance the bolero with more captivating grace. All these admirable
qualities and endowments, however, though they had been sufficient to
win the heart of Serafina, were nothing in the eyes of her unreasonable
father. O Cupid, god of Love! why will fathers always be so

The engagement to Serafina had threatened at first to throw an obstacle
in the way of the expedition of Don Fernando, and for a time perplexed
him in the extreme. He was passionately attached to the young lady; but
he was also passionately bent on this romantic enterprise. How should
he reconcile the two passionate inclinations? A simple and obvious
arrangement at length presented itself: marry Serafina, enjoy a portion
of the honeymoon at once, and defer the rest until his return from the
discovery of the Seven Cities!

He hastened to make known this most excellent arrangement to Don Ramiro,
when the long-smothered wrath of the old cavalier burst forth in a storm
about his ears. He reproached him with being the dupe of wandering
vagabonds and wild schemers, and of squandering all his real possessions
in pursuit of empty bubbles. Don Fernando was too sanguine a projector,
and too young a man, to listen tamely to such language. He acted with
what is technically called "becoming spirit." A high quarrel ensued; Don
Ramiro pronounced him a mad man, and forbade all farther intercourse
with his daughter, until he should give proof of returning sanity by
abandoning this mad-cap enterprise; while Don Fernando flung out of
the house, more bent than ever on the expedition, from the idea of
triumphing over the incredulity of the gray-beard when he should return

Don Ramiro repaired to his daughter's chamber the moment the youth had
departed. He represented to her the sanguine, unsteady character of her
lover and the chimerical nature of his schemes; showed her the propriety
of suspending all intercourse with him until he should recover from his
present hallucination; folded her to his bosom with parental fondness,
kissed the tear that stole down her cheek, and, as he left the chamber,
gently locked the door; for although he was a fond father, and had a
high opinion of the submissive temper of his child, he had a still
higher opinion of the conservative virtues of lock and key. Whether the
damsel had been in any wise shaken in her faith as to the schemes of her
lover, and the existence of the Island of the Seven Cities, by the sage
representations of her father, tradition does not say; but it is certain
that she became a firm believer the moment she heard him turn the key in
the lock.

Notwithstanding the interdict of Don Ramiro, therefore, and his
shrewd precautions, the intercourse of the lovers continued, although
clandestinely. Don Fernando toiled all day, hurrying forward his
nautical enterprise, while at night he would repair, beneath the
grated balcony of his mistress, to carry on at equal pace the no less
interesting enterprise of the heart. At length the preparations for the
expedition were completed. Two gallant caravels lay anchored in the
Tagus, ready to sail with the morning dawn; while late at night, by the
pale light of a waning moon, Don Fernando sought the stately mansion of
Alvarez to take a last farewell of Serafina. The customary signal of a
few low touches of a guitar brought her to the balcony. She was sad at
heart and full of gloomy forebodings; but her lover strove to impart to
her his own buoyant hope and youthful confidence. "A few short months,"
said he, "and I shall return in triumph. Thy father will then blush at
his incredulity, and will once more welcome me to his house, when
I cross its threshold a wealthy suitor and Adelantado of the Seven

The beautiful Serafina shook her head mournfully. It was not on those
points that she felt doubt or dismay. She believed most implicitly in
the Island of the Seven Cities, and trusted devoutly in the success of
the enterprise; but she had heard of the inconstancy of the seas, and
the inconstancy of those who roam them. Now, let the truth be spoken,
Don Fernando, if he had any fault in the world, it was that he was a
little too inflammable; that is to say, a little too subject to take
fire from the sparkle of every bright eye: he had been somewhat of a
rover among the sex on shore, what might he not be on sea? Might he
not meet with other loves in foreign ports? Might he not behold some
peerless beauty in one or other of those seven cities, who might efface
the image of Serafina from his thoughts?

At length she ventured to hint her doubts; but Don Fernando spurned at
the very idea. Never could his heart be false to Serafina! Never could
another be captivating in his eyes!--never--never! Repeatedly did he
bend his knee, and smite his breast, and call upon the silver moon to
witness the sincerity of his vows. But might not Serafina, herself, be
forgetful of her plighted faith? Might not some wealthier rival present,
while he was tossing on the sea, and, backed by the authority of her
father, win the treasure of her hand? Alas, how little did he know
Serafina's heart! The more her father should oppose, the more would she
be fixed in her faith. Though years should pass before his return, he
would find her true to her vows. Even should the salt seas swallow him
up, (and her eyes streamed with salt tears at the very thought,) never
would she be the wife of another--never--never! She raised her beautiful
white arms between the iron bars of the balcony, and invoked the moon as
a testimonial of her faith.

Thus, according to immemorial usage, the lovers parted, with many a vow
of eternal constancy. But will they keep those vows? Perish the doubt!
Have they not called the constant moon to witness?

With the morning dawn the caravels dropped down the Tagus and put
to sea. They steered for the Canaries, in those days the regions of
nautical romance. Scarcely had they reached those latitudes, when a
violent tempest arose. Don Fernando soon lost sight of the accompanying
caravel, and was driven out of all reckoning by the fury of the storm.
For several weary days and nights he was tossed to and fro, at the mercy
of the elements, expecting each moment to be swallowed up. At length,
one day toward evening, the storm subsided; the clouds cleared up, as
though a veil had suddenly been withdrawn from the face of heaven, and
the setting sun shone gloriously upon a fair and mountainous island,
that seemed close at hand. The tempest-tossed mariners rubbed their
eyes, and gazed almost incredulously upon this land, that had emerged so
suddenly from the murky gloom; yet there it lay, spread out in lovely
landscapes; enlivened by villages, and towers, and spires, while the
late stormy sea rolled in peaceful billows to its shores. About a league
from the sea, on the banks of a river, stood a noble city, with lofty
walls and towers, and a protecting castle. Don Fernando anchored off
the mouth of the river, which appeared to form a spacious harbor. In a
little while a barge was seen issuing from the river. It was evidently
a barge of ceremony, for it was richly though quaintly carved and gilt,
and decorated with a silken awning and fluttering streamers, while a
banner, bearing the sacred emblem of the cross, floated to the breeze.
The barge advanced slowly, impelled by sixteen oars, painted of a bright
crimson. The oarsmen were uncouth, or rather antique, in their garb, and
kept stroke to the regular cadence of an old Spanish ditty. Beneath the
awning sat a cavalier, in a rich though old-fashioned doublet, with an
enormous sombrero and feather. When the barge reached the caravel, the
cavalier stepped on board. He was tall and gaunt, with a long, Spanish
visage, and lack-lustre eyes, and an air of lofty and somewhat pompous
gravity. His mustaches were curled up to his ears, his beard was forked
and precise; he wore gauntlets that reached to his elbows, and a Toledo
blade that strutted out behind, while, in front, its huge basket-hilt
might have served for a porringer.

Thrusting out a long spindle leg, and taking off his sombrero with a
grave and stately sweep, he saluted Don Fernando by name, and welcomed
him, in old Castilian language, and in the style of old Castilian

Don Fernando was startled at hearing himself accosted by name, by an
utter stranger, in a strange land. As soon as he could recover from his
surprise, he inquired what land it was at which he had arrived.

"The Island of the Seven Cities!"

Could this be true? Had he indeed been thus tempest-driven upon the very
land of which he was in quest? It was even so. The other caravel, from
which he had been separated in the storm, had made a neighboring port of
the island, and announced the tidings of this expedition, which came to
restore the country to the great community of Christendom. The whole
island, he was told, was given up to rejoicings on the happy event; and
they only awaited his arrival to acknowledge allegiance to the crown of
Portugal, and hail him as Adelantado of the Seven Cities. A grand fête
was to be solemnized that very night in the palace of the Alcayde or
governor of the city; who, on beholding the most opportune arrival of
the caravel, had despatched his grand chamberlain, in his barge of
state, to conduct the future Adelantado to the ceremony.

Don Fernando could scarcely believe but that this was all a dream.
He fixed a scrutinizing gaze upon the grand chamberlain, who, having
delivered his message, stood in buckram dignity, drawn up to his full
stature, curling his whiskers, stroking his beard, and looking down upon
him with inexpressible loftiness through his lack-lustre eyes. There was
no doubting the word of so grave and ceremonious a hidalgo.

Don Fernando now arrayed himself in gala attire. He would have launched
his boat, and gone on shore with his own men, but he was informed the
barge of state was expressly provided for his accommodation, and, after
the fête, would bring him back to his ship; in which, on the following
day, he might enter the harbor in befitting style. He accordingly
stepped into the barge, and took his seat beneath the awning. The grand
chamberlain seated himself on the cushion opposite. The rowers bent to
their oars, and renewed their mournful old ditty, and the gorgeous, but
unwieldy barge moved slowly and solemnly through the water.

The night closed in, before they entered the river. They swept along,
past rock and promontory, each guarded by its tower. The sentinels at
every post challenged them as they passed by.

"Who goes there?"

"The Adelantado of the Seven Cities."

"He is welcome. Pass on."

On entering the harbor, they rowed close along an armed galley, of the
most ancient form. Soldiers with cross-bows were stationed on the deck.

"Who goes there?" was again demanded.

"The Adelantado of the Seven Cities."

"He is welcome. Pass on."

They landed at a broad flight of stone steps, leading up, between two
massive towers, to the water-gate of the city, at which they knocked for
admission. A sentinel, in an ancient steel casque, looked over the wall.
"Who is there?"

"The Adelantado of the Seven Cities."

The gate swung slowly open, grating upon its rusty hinges. They entered
between two rows of iron-clad warriors, in battered armor, with
cross-bows, battle-axes, and ancient maces, and with faces as
old-fashioned and rusty as their armor. They saluted Don Fernando in
military style, but with perfect silence, as he passed between their
ranks. The city was illuminated, but in such manner as to give a more
shadowy and solemn effect to its old-time architecture. There were
bonfires in the principal streets, with groups about them in such
old-fashioned garbs, that they looked like the fantastic figures that
roam the streets in carnival time. Even the stately dames who gazed from
the balconies, which they had hung with antique tapestry, looked more
like effigies dressed up for a quaint mummery, than like ladies in their
fashionable attire. Every thing, in short, bore the stamp of former
ages, as if the world had suddenly rolled back a few centuries. Nor was
this to be wondered at. Had not the Island of the Seven Cities been for
several hundred years cut off from all communication with the rest of
the world, and was it not natural that the inhabitants should retain
many of the modes and customs brought here by their ancestors?

One thing certainly they had conserved; the old-fashioned Spanish
gravity and stateliness. Though this was a time of public rejoicing, and
though Don Fernando was the object of their gratulations, every thing
was conducted with the most solemn ceremony, and wherever he appeared,
instead of acclamations, he was received with profound silence, and the
most formal reverences and swayings of their sombreros.

Arrived at the palace of the Alcayde, the usual ceremonial was repeated.
The chamberlain knocked for admission.

"Who is there?" demanded the porter.

"The Adelantado of the Seven Cities."

"He is welcome. Pass on."

The grand portal was thrown open. The chamberlain led the way up a vast
but heavily moulded marble stair-case, and so through one of those
interminable suites of apartments, that are the pride of Spanish
palaces. All were furnished in a style of obsolete magnificence. As they
passed through the chambers, the title of Don Fernando was forwarded on
by servants stationed at every door; and every where produced the most
profound reverences and courtesies. At length they reached a magnificent
saloon, blazing with tapers, in which the Alcayde, and the principal
dignitaries of the city, were waiting to receive their illustrious
guest. The grand chamberlain presented Don Fernando in due form, and
falling back among the other officers of the household, stood as usual
curling his whiskers and stroking his forked beard.

Don Fernando was received by the Alcayde and the other dignitaries with
the same stately and formal courtesy that he had every where remarked.
In fact, there was so much form and ceremonial, that it seemed difficult
to get at any thing social or substantial. Nothing but bows, and
compliments, and old-fashioned courtesies. The Alcayde and his courtiers
resembled, in face and form, those quaint worthies to be seen in the
pictures of old illuminated manuscripts; while the cavaliers and dames
who thronged the saloon, might have beep taken for the antique figures
of gobelin tapestry suddenly vivified and put in motion.

The banquet, which had been kept back until the arrival of Don Fernando,
was now announced; and such a feast! such unknown dishes and obsolete
dainties; with the peacock, that bird of state and ceremony, served up
in full plumage, in a golden dish, at the head of the table. And then,
as Don Fernando cast his eyes over the glittering board, what a vista of
odd heads and head-dresses, of formal bearded dignitaries, and stately
dames, with castellated locks and towering plumes!

As fate would have it, on the other side of Don Fernando, was seated the
daughter of the Alcayde. She was arrayed, it is true, in a dress that
might have been worn before the flood; but then, she had a melting black
Andalusian eye, that was perfectly irresistible. Her voice, too, her
manner, her movements, all smacked of Andalusia, and showed how female
fascination may be transmitted from age to age, and clime to clime,
without ever losing its power, or going out of fashion. Those who know
the witchery of the sex, in that most amorous region of old Spain, may
judge what must have been the fascination to which Don Fernando
was exposed, when seated beside one of the most captivating of its
descendants. He was, as has already been hinted, of an inflammable
temperament; with a heart ready to get in a light blaze at every
instant. And then he had been so wearied by pompous, tedious old
cavaliers, with their formal bows and speeches; is it to be wondered at
that he turned with delight to the Alcayde's daughter, all smiles, and
dimples, and melting looks, and melting accents? Beside, for I wish to
give him every excuse in my power, he was in a particularly excitable
mood, from the novelty of the scene before him, and his head was almost
turned with this sudden and complete realization of all his hopes and
fancies; and then, in the flurry of the moment, he had taken frequent
draughts at the wine-cup, presented him at every instant by officious
pages, and all the world knows the effect of such draughts in giving
potency to female charms. In a word, there is no concealing the matter,
the banquet was not half over, before Don Fernando was making love,
outright, to the Alcayde's daughter. It was his cold habitude,
contracted long before his matrimonial engagement. The young lady hung
her head coyly; her eye rested upon a ruby heart, sparkling in a ring on
the hand of Don Fernando, a parting gage of love from Serafina. A blush
crimsoned her very temples. She darted a glance of doubt at the
ring, and then at Don Fernando. He read her doubt, and in the giddy
intoxication of the moment, drew off the pledge of his affianced bride,
and slipped it on the finger of the Alcayde's daughter.

At this moment the banquet broke up. The chamberlain with his lofty
demeanor, and his lack-lustre eyes, stood before him, and announced that
the barge was waiting to conduct him back to the caravel. Don Fernando
took a formal leave of the Alcayde and his dignitaries, and a tender
farewell of the Alcayde's daughter, with a promise to throw himself at
her feet on the following day. He was rowed back to his vessel in the
same slow and stately manner, to the cadence of the same mournful old
ditty. He retired to his cabin, his brain whirling with all that he had
seen, and his heart now and then giving him a twinge as he recollected
his temporary infidelity to the beautiful Serafina. He flung himself on
his bed, and soon fell into a feverish sleep. His dreams were wild and
incoherent. How long he slept he knew not, but when he awoke he found
himself in a strange cabin, with persons around him of whom he had no
knowledge. He rubbed his eyes to ascertain whether he were really awake.
In reply to his inquiries, he was informed that he was on board of a
Portuguese ship, bound to Lisbon; having been taken senseless from a
wreck drifting about the ocean.

Don Fernando was confounded and perplexed. He retraced every thing
distinctly that had happened to him in the Island of the Seven Cities,
and until he had retired to rest on board of the caravel. Had his vessel
been driven from her anchors, and wrecked during his sleep? The people
about him could give him no information on the subject. He talked to
them of the Island of the Seven Cities, and of all that had befallen him
there. They regarded his words as the ravings of delirium, and in their
honest solicitude, administered such rough remedies, that he was fain to
drop the subject, and observe a cautious taciturnity.

At length they arrived in the Tagus, and anchored before the famous city
of Lisbon. Don Fernando sprang joyfully on shore, and hastened to his
ancestral mansion. To his surprise, it was inhabited by strangers; and
when he asked about his family, no one could give him any information
concerning them.

He now sought the mansion of Don Ramiro, for the temporary flame kindled
by the bright eyes of the Alcayde's daughter had long since burnt itself
out, and his genuine passion for Serafina had revived with all its
fervor. He approached the balcony, beneath which he had so often
serenaded her. Did his eyes deceive him? No! There was Serafina herself
at the balcony. An exclamation of rapture burst from him, as he raised
his arms toward her. She cast upon him a look of indignation, and
hastily retiring, closed the casement. Could she have heard of his
flirtation with the Alcayde's daughter? He would soon dispel every doubt
of his constancy. The door was open. He rushed up-stairs, and entering
the room, threw himself at her feet. She shrank back with affright, and
took refuge in the arms of a youthful cavalier.

"What mean you, Sir," cried the latter, "by this intrusion?"

"What right have you," replied Don Fernando, "to ask the question?"

"The right of an affianced suitor!"

Don Fernando started, and turned pale. "Oh, Serafina! Serafina!" cried
he in a tone of agony, "is this thy plighted constancy?"

"Serafina?--what mean you by Serafina? If it be this young lady you
intend, her name is Maria."

"Is not this Serafina Alvarez, and is not that her portrait?" cried Don
Fernando, pointing to a picture of his mistress.

"Holy Virgin!" cried the young lady; "he is talking of my

An explanation ensued, if that could be called an explanation, which
plunged the unfortunate Fernando into tenfold perplexity. If he might
believe his eyes, he saw before him his beloved Serafina; if he might
believe his ears, it was merely her hereditary form and features,
perpetuated in the person of her great-granddaughter.

His brain began to spin. He sought tho office of the Minister of Marine,
and made a report of his expedition, and of the Island of the Seven
Cities, which he had so fortunately discovered. No body knew any thing
of such an expedition, or such an island. He declared that he had
undertaken the enterprise under a formal contract with the crown, and
had received a regular commission, constituting him Adelantado. This
must be matter of record, and he insisted loudly, that the books of the
department should be consulted. The wordy strife at length attracted the
attention of an old, gray-headed clerk, who sat perched on a high stool,
at a high desk, with iron-rimmed spectacles on the top of a thin,
pinched nose, copying records into an enormous folio. He had wintered
and summered in the department for a great part of a century, until he
had almost grown to be a piece of the desk at which he sat; his memory
was a mere index of official facts and documents, and his brain was
little better than red tape and parchment. After peering down for a time
from his lofty perch, and ascertaining the matter in controversy, he
put his pen behind his ear, and descended. He remembered to have heard
something from his predecessor about an expedition of the kind in
question, but then it had sailed during the reign of Don Ioam II., and
he had been dead at least a hundred years. To put the matter beyond
dispute, however, the archives of the Torve do Tombo, that sepulchre of
old Portuguese documents, were diligently searched, and a record was
found of a contract between the crown and one Fernando de Ulmo, for the
discovery of the Island of the Seven Cities, and of a commission secured
to him as Adelantado of the country he might discover.

"There!" cried Don Fernando, triumphantly, "there you have proof, before
your own eyes, of what I have said. I am the Fernando de Ulmo specified
in that record. I have discovered the Island of the Seven Cities, and am
entitled to be Adelantado, according to contract."

The story of Don Fernando had certainly, what is pronounced the best
of historical foundation, documentary evidence; but when a man, in the
bloom of youth, talked of events that had taken place above a century
previously, as having happened to himself, it is no wonder that he was
set down for a mad man.

The old clerk looked at him from above and below his spectacles,
shrugged his shoulders, stroked his chin, reascended his lofty stool,
took the pen from behind his ears, and resumed his daily and eternal
task, copying records into the fiftieth volume of a series of gigantic
folios. The other clerks winked at each other shrewdly, and dispersed to
their several places, and poor Don Fernando, thus left to himself, flung
out of the office, almost driven wild by these repeated perplexities.

In the confusion of his mind, he instinctively repaired to the mansion
of Alvarez, but it was barred against him. To break the delusion under
which the youth apparently labored, and to convince him that the
Serafina about whom he raved was really dead, he was conducted to her
tomb. There she lay, a stately matron, cut out in alabaster; and there
lay her husband beside her; a portly cavalier, in armor; and there
knelt, on each side, the effigies of a numerous progeny, proving that
she had been a fruitful vine. Even the very monument gave proof of the
lapse of time, for the hands of her husband, which were folded as if in
prayer, had lost their fingers, and the face of the once lovely Serafina
was noseless.

Don Fernando felt a transient glow of indignation at beholding this
monumental proof of the inconstancy of his mistress; but who could
expect a mistress to remain constant during a whole century of absence?
And what right had he to rail about constancy, after what had passed
between him and the Alcayde's daughter? The unfortunate cavalier
performed one pious act of tender devotion; he had the alabaster nose of
Serafina restored by a skilful statuary, and then tore himself from the

He could now no longer doubt the fact that, somehow or other, he had
skipped over a whole century, during the night he had spent at the
Island of the Seven Cities; and he was now as complete a stranger in his
native city, as if he had never been there. A thousand times did he
wish himself back to that wonderful island, with its antiquated banquet
halls, where he had been so courteously received; and now that the once
young and beautiful Serafina was nothing but a great-grandmother in
marble, with generations of descendants, a thousand times would he
recall the melting black eyes of the Alcayde's daughter, who doubtless,
like himself, was still flourishing in fresh juvenility, and breathe a
secret wish that he were seated by her side.

He would at once have set on foot another expedition, at his own
expense, to cruise in search of the sainted island, but his means were
exhausted. He endeavored to rouse others to the enterprise, setting
forth the certainty of profitable results, of which his own experience
furnished such unquestionable proof. Alas! no one would give faith to
his tale; but looked upon it as the feverish dream of a shipwrecked
man. He persisted in his efforts; holding forth in all places and
all companies, until he became an object of jest and jeer to the
light-minded, who mistook his earnest enthusiasm for a proof of
insanity; and the very children in the streets bantered him with the
title of "The Adelantado of the Seven Cities."

Finding all his efforts in vain, in his native city of Lisbon, he took
shipping for the Canaries, as being nearer the latitude of his former
cruise, and inhabited by people given to nautical adventure. Here he
found ready listeners to his story; for the old pilots and mariners of
those parts were notorious island-hunters and devout believers in all
the wonders of the seas. Indeed, one and all treated his adventure as a
common occurrence, and turning to each other, with a sagacious nod of
the head, observed, "He has been at the Island of St. Brandan."

They then went on to inform him of that great marvel and enigma of
the ocean; of its repeated appearance to the inhabitants of their
islands; and of the many but ineffectual expeditions that had been made
in search of it. They took him to a promontory of the island of Palma,
from whence the shadowy St. Brandan had oftenest been descried, and they
pointed out the very tract in the west where its mountains had been

Don Fernando listened with rapt attention. He had no longer a doubt that
this mysterious and fugacious island must be the same with that of
the Seven Cities; and that there must be some supernatural influence
connected with it, that had operated upon himself, and made the events
of a night occupy the space of a century.

He endeavored, but in vain, to rouse the islanders to another attempt at
discovery; they had given up the phantom island as indeed inaccessible.
Fernando, however, was not to be discouraged. The idea wore itself
deeper and deeper in his mind, until it became the engrossing subject of
his thoughts and object of his being. Every morning he would repair to
the promontory of Palma, and sit there throughout the live-long day, in
hopes of seeing the fairy mountains of St. Brandan peering above the
horizon; every evening he returned to his home, a disappointed man, but
ready to resume his post on the following morning.

His assiduity was all in vain. He grew gray in his ineffectual attempt;
and was at length found dead at his post. His grave is still shown in
the island of Palma, and a cross is erected on the spot where he used
to sit and look out upon the sea, in hopes of the reappearance of the
enchanted island.

       *       *       *       *       *



Sir: I am somewhat of the same way of thinking, in regard to names, with
that profound philosopher, Mr. Shandy, the elder, who maintained that
some inspired high thoughts and heroic aims, while others entailed
irretrievable meanness and vulgarity; insomuch that a man might sink
under the insignificance of his name, and be absolutely "Nicodemused
into nothing." I have ever, therefore, thought it a great hardship for a
man to be obliged to struggle through life with some ridiculous or
ignoble _Christian_ name, as it is too often falsely called, inflicted
on him in infancy, when he could not choose for himself; and would give
him free liberty to change it for one more to his taste, when he had
arrived at years of discretion.

I have the same notion with respect to local names. Some at once
prepossess us in favor of a place; others repel us, by unlucky
associations of the mind; and I have known scenes worthy of being the
very haunt of poetry and romance, yet doomed to irretrievable vulgarity,
by some ill-chosen name, which not even the magic numbers of a Halleck
or a Bryant could elevate into poetical acceptation.

This is an evil unfortunately too prevalent throughout our country.
Nature has stamped the land with features of sublimity and beauty; but
some of our noblest mountains and loveliest streams are in danger of
remaining for ever unhonored and unsung, from bearing appellations
totally abhorrent to the Muse. In the first place, our country is
deluged with names taken from places in the old world, and applied to
places having no possible affinity or resemblance to their namesakes.
This betokens a forlorn poverty of invention, and a second-hand spirit,
content to cover its nakedness with borrowed or cast-off clothes of

Then we have a shallow affectation of scholarship: the whole catalogue
of ancient worthies is shaken out from the back of Lempriere's Classical
Dictionary, and a wide region of wild country sprinkled over with the
names of the heroes, poets, and sages of antiquity, jumbled into the
most whimsical juxtaposition. Then we have our political god-fathers;
topographical engineers, perhaps, or persons employed by government to
survey and lay out townships. These, forsooth, glorify the patrons that
give them bread; so we have the names of the great official men of the
day scattered over the land, as if they were the real "salt of the
earth," with which it was to be seasoned. Well for us is it, when these
official great men happen to have names of fair acceptation; but wo unto
us, should a Tubbs or a Potts be in power: we are sure, in a little
while, to find Tubbsvilles and Pottsylvanias springing up in every

Under these melancholy dispensations of taste and loyalty, therefore,
Mr. Editor, it is with a feeling of dawning hope, that I have lately
perceived the attention of persons of intelligence beginning to be
awakened on this subject. I trust if the matter should once be taken
up, it will not be readily abandoned. We are yet young enough, as a
country, to remedy and reform much of what has been done, and to release
many of our rising towns and cities, and our noble streams, from names
calculated to vulgarize the land.

I have, on a former occasion, suggested the expediency of searching out
the original Indian names of places, and wherever they are striking and
euphonious, and those by which they have been superseded are glaringly
objectionable, to restore them. They would have the merit of
originality, and of belonging to the country; and they would remain as
reliques of the native lords of the soil, when every other vestige had
disappeared. Many of these names may easily be regained, by reference to
old title deeds, and to the archives of states and counties. In my own
case, by examining the records of the county clerk's office, I have
discovered the Indian names of various places and objects in the
neighborhood, and have found them infinitely superior to the trite,
poverty-stricken names which had been given by the settlers. A beautiful
pastoral stream, for instance, which winds for many a mile through one
of the loveliest little valleys in the state, has long been known by the
common-place name of the "Saw-mill River." In the old Indian grants, it
is designated as the Neperan. Another, a perfectly wizard stream, which
winds through the wildest recesses of Sleepy Hollow, bears the hum-drum
name of Mill Creek: in the Indian grants, it sustains the euphonious
title of the Pocantico.

Similar researches have released Long-Island from many of those paltry
and vulgar names which fringed its beautiful shores; their Cow Bays, and
Cow Necks, and Oyster Ponds, and Mosquito Coves, which spread a spell of
vulgarity over the whole island, and kept persons of taste and fancy at
a distance.

It would be an object worthy the attention of the historical societies,
which are springing up in various parts of the Union, to have maps
executed of their respective states or neighborhoods, in which all the
Indian local names should, as far as possible, be restored. In fact,
it appears to me that the nomenclature of the country is almost of
sufficient importance for the foundation of a distinct society; or
rather, a corresponding association of persons of taste and judgment, of
all parts of the Union. Such an association, if properly constituted and
composed, comprising especially all the literary talent of the country,
though it might not have legislative power in its enactments, yet
would have the all-pervading power of the press; and the changes in
nomenclature which it might dictate, being at once adopted by elegant
writers in prose and poetry, and interwoven with the literature of the
country, would ultimately pass into popular currency.

Should such a reforming association arise, I beg to recommend to its
attention all those mongrel names that have the adjective _New_ prefixed
to them, and pray they may be one and all kicked out of the country.
I am for none of these second-hand appellations, that stamp us a
second-hand people, and that are to perpetuate us a new country to the
end of time. Odds my life! Mr. Editor, I hope and trust we are to live
to be an old nation, as well as our neighbors, and have no idea that
our cities, when they shall have attained to venerable antiquity, shall
still be dubbed _New_-York, and _New_-London, and _new_ this and _new_
that, like the Pont-Neuf, (the New Bridge,) at Paris, which is the
oldest bridge in that capital, or like the Vicar of Wakefield's horse,
which continued to be called "the colt," until he died of old age.

Speaking of New-York, reminds me of some observations which I met with
some time since, in one of the public papers, about the name of our
state and city. The writer proposes to substitute for the present names,
those of the State of Ontario, and the CITY OF MANHATTAN. I concur in
his suggestion most heartily. Though born and brought up in the city of
New-York, and though I love every stick and stone about it, yet I do
not, nor ever did, relish its name. I like neither its sound nor its
significance. As to its _significance_, the very adjective _new_ gives
to our great commercial metropolis a second-hand character, as if
referring to some older, more dignified, and important place, of which
it was a mere copy; though in fact, if I am rightly informed, the whole
name commemorates a grant by Charles II. to his brother, the duke of
York, made in the spirit of royal munificence, of a tract of country
which did not belong to him. As to the _sound_, what can you make of it,
either in poetry or prose? New-York! Why, Sir, if it were to share the
fate of Troy itself; to suffer a ten years' siege, and be sacked and
plundered; no modern Homer would ever be able to elevate the name to
epic dignity.

Now, Sir, ONTARIO would be a name worthy of the empire state. It bears
with it the majesty of that internal sea which washes our northwestern
shore. Or, if any objection should be made, from its not being
completely embraced within our boundaries, there is the MOHEGAN, one
of the Indian names for that glorious river, the Hudson, which would
furnish an excellent state appellation. So also New-York might be called
Manhatta, as it is named in some of the early records, and Manhattan
used as the adjective. Manhattan, however, stands well as a substantive,
and "Manhattanese," which I observe Mr. COOPER has adopted in some of
his writings, would be a very good appellation for a citizen of the
commercial metropolis.

A word or two more, Mr. Editor, and I have done. We want a NATIONAL
NAME. We want it poetically, and we want it politically. With the
poetical necessity of the case I shall not trouble myself. I leave it to
our poets to tell how they manage to steer that collocation of words,
"The United States of North America," down the swelling tide of song,
and to float the whole raft out upon the sea of heroic poesy. I am now
speaking of the mere purposes of common life. How is a citizen of this
republic to designate himself? As an American? There are two Americas,
each subdivided into various empires, rapidly rising in importance. As a
citizen of the United States? It is a clumsy, lumbering title, yet still
it is not distinctive; for we have now the United States of Central
America; and heaven knows how many "United States" may spring up under
the Proteus changes of Spanish America.

This may appear matter of small concernment; but any one that has
travelled in foreign countries must be conscious of the embarrassment
and circumlocution sometimes occasioned by the want of a perfectly
distinct and explicit national appellation. In France, when I have
announced myself as an American, I have been supposed to belong to one
of the French colonies; in Spain, to be from Mexico, or Peru, or some
other Spanish-American country. Repeatedly have I found myself involved
in a long geographical and political definition of my national identity.

Now, Sir, meaning no disrespect to any of our co-heirs of this great
quarter of the world, I am for none of this coparceny in a name that is
to mingle us up with the riff-raff colonies and off-sets of every nation
of Europe. The title of American may serve to tell the quarter of the
world to which I belong, the same as a Frenchman or an Englishman may
call himself a European; but I want my own peculiar national name to
rally under. I want an appellation that shall tell at once, and in a
way not to be mistaken, that I belong to this very portion of America,
geographical and political, to which it is my pride and happiness to
belong; that I am of the Anglo-Saxon race which founded this Anglo-Saxon
empire in the wilderness; and that I have no part or parcel with any
other race or empire, Spanish, French, or Portuguese, in either of the
Americas. Such an appellation, Sir, would have magic in it. It would
bind every part of the confederacy together as with a keystone; it would
be a passport to the citizen of our republic throughout the world.

We have it in our power to furnish ourselves with such a national
appellation, from one of the grand and eternal features of our country;
from that noble chain of mountains which formed its back-bone, and ran
through the "old confederacy," when it first declared our national
independence. I allude to the Appalachian or Alleghany mountains. We
might do this without any very inconvenient change in our present
titles. We might still use the phrase, "The United States," substituting
Appalachia, or Alleghania, (I should prefer the latter,) in place of
America. The title of Appalachian, or Alleghanian, would still announce
us as Americans, but would specify us as citizens of the Great Republic.
Even our old national cypher of U. S. A. might remain unaltered,
designating the United States of Alleghania.

These are crude ideas, Mr. Editor, hastily thrown out to elicit the
ideas of others, and to call attention to a subject of more national
importance than may at first be supposed.

Very respectfully yours,

Geoffrey Crayon.

       *       *       *       *       *


"Let a man write never so well, there are now-a-days a sort of persons
they call critics, that, egad, have no more wit in them than so many
hobby-horses: but they'll laugh at you, Sir, and find fault, and censure
things, that, egad, I'm sure they are not able to do themselves; a sort
of envious persons, that emulate the glories of persons of parts, and
think to build their fame by calumniation of persons that, egad, to my
knowledge, of all persons in the world, are in nature the persons that
do as much despise all that, as--a--In fine, I'll say no more of 'em!"

All the world knows the story of the tempest-tossed voyager, who, coming
upon a strange coast, and seeing a man hanging in chains, hailed it with
joy, as the sign of a civilized country. In like manner we may hail, as
a proof of the rapid advancement of civilization and refinement in
this country, the increasing number of delinquent authors daily gibbeted
for the edification of the public.

In this respect, as in every other, we are "going ahead" with
accelerated velocity, and promising to outstrip the superannuated
countries of Europe. It is really astonishing to see the number of
tribunals incessantly springing up for the trial of literary offences.
Independent of the high courts of Oyer and Terminer, the great quarterly
reviews, we have innumerable minor tribunals, monthly and weekly, down
to the Pie-poudre courts in the daily papers; insomuch that no culprit
stands so little chance of escaping castigation, as an unlucky author,
guilty of an unsuccessful attempt to please the public.

Seriously speaking, however, it is questionable whether our national
literature is sufficiently advanced, to bear this excess of criticism;
and whether it would not thrive better, if allowed to spring up, for
some time longer, in the freshness and vigor of native vegetation. When
the worthy Judge Coulter, of Virginia, opened court for the first time
in one of the upper counties, he was for enforcing all the rules and
regulations that had grown into use in the old, long-settled counties.
"This is all very well," said a shrewd old farmer; "but let me tell you,
Judge Coulter, you set your coulter too deep for a new soil."

For my part, I doubt whether either writer or reader is benefited by
what is commonly called criticism. The former is rendered cautious and
distrustful; he fears to give way to those kindling emotions, and brave
sallies of thought, which bear him up to excellence; the latter is made
fastidious and cynical; or rather, he surrenders his own independent
taste and judgment, and learns to like and dislike at second hand.

Let us, for a moment, consider the nature of this thing called
criticism, which exerts such a sway over the literary world. The pronoun
we, used by critics, has a most imposing and delusive sound. The reader
pictures to himself a conclave of learned men, deliberating gravely and
scrupulously on the merits of the book in question; examining it page by
page, comparing and balancing their opinions, and when they have united
in a conscientious verdict, publishing it for the benefit of the world:
whereas the criticism is generally the crude and hasty production of
an individual, scribbling to while away an idle hour, to oblige a
book-seller, or to defray current expenses. How often is it the
passing notion of the hour, affected by accidental circumstances; by
indisposition, by peevishness, by vapors or indigestion; by personal
prejudice, or party feeling. Sometimes a work is sacrificed, because
the reviewer wishes a satirical article; sometimes because he wants
a humorous one; and sometimes because the author reviewed has become
offensively celebrated, and offers high game to the literary marksman.

How often would the critic himself, if a conscientious man, reverse his
opinion, had he time to revise it in a more sunny moment; but the press
is waiting, the printer's devil is at his elbow; the article is wanted
to make the requisite variety for the number of the review, or the
author has pressing occasion for the sum he is to receive for the
article, so it is sent off, all blotted and blurred; with a shrug of
the shoulders, and the consolatory ejaculation: "Pshaw! curse it! it's
nothing but a review!"

The critic, too, who dictates thus oracularly to the world, is perhaps
some dingy, ill-favored, ill-mannered varlet, who, were he to speak by
word of mouth, would be disregarded, if not scoffed at; but such is the
magic of types; such the mystic operation of anonymous writing; such the
potential effect of the pronoun we, that his crude decisions, fulminated
through the press, become circulated far and wide, control the opinions
of the world, and give or destroy reputation.

Many readers have grown timorous in their judgments since the
all-pervading currency of criticism. They fear to express a revised,
frank opinion about any new work, and to relish it honestly and
heartily, lest it should be condemned in the next review, and they stand
convicted of bad taste. Hence they hedge their opinions, like a gambler
his bets, and leave an opening to retract, and retreat, and qualify,
and neutralise every unguarded expression of delight, until their very
praise declines into a faintness that is damning.

Were every one, on the contrary, to judge for himself, and speak his
mind frankly and fearlessly, we should have more true criticism in the
world than at present. Whenever a person is pleased with a work, he may
be assured that it has good qualities. An author who pleases a variety
of readers, must possess substantial powers of pleasing; or, in other
words, intrinsic merits; for otherwise we acknowledge an effect, and
deny the cause. The reader, therefore, should not suffer himself to be
readily shaken from the conviction of his own feelings, by the sweeping
censures of pseudo critics. The author he has admired, may be chargeable
with a thousand faults; but it is nevertheless beauties and excellencies
that have excited his admiration; and he should recollect that taste
and judgment are as much evinced in the perception of beauties among
defects, as in a detection of defects among beauties. For my part, I
honor the blessed and blessing spirit that is quick to discover and
extol all that is pleasing and meritorious. Give me the honest bee, that
extracts honey from the humblest weed, but save me from the ingenuity
of the spider, which traces its venom, even in the midst of a

If the mere fact of being chargeable with faults and imperfections is to
condemn an author, who is to escape? The greatest writers of antiquity
have, in this way, been obnoxious to criticism. Aristotle himself has
been accused of ignorance; Aristophanes of impiety and buffoonery;
Virgil of plagiarism, and a want of invention; Horace of obscurity;
Cicero has been, said to want vigor and connexion, and Demosthenes to
be deficient in nature, and in purity of language. Yet these have all
survived the censures of the critic, and flourished on to a glorious
immortality. Every now and then the world is startled by some new
doctrines in matters of taste, some levelling attacks on established
creeds; some sweeping denunciations of whole generations, or schools of
writers, as they are called, who had seemed to be embalmed and canonized
in public opinion. Such has been the case, for instance, with Pope, and
Dryden, and Addison, who for a time have almost been shaken from their
pedestals, and treated as false idols.

It is singular, also, to see the fickleness of the world with respect
to its favorites. Enthusiasm exhausts itself, and prepares the way
for dislike. The public is always for positive sentiments, and new
sensations. When wearied of admiring, it delights to censure; thus
coining a double set of enjoyments out of the same subject. Scott and
Byron are scarce cold in their graves, and already we find criticism
beginning to call in question those powers which held the world in magic
thraldom. Even in our own country, one of its greatest geniuses has
had some rough passages with the censors of the press; and instantly
criticism begins to unsay all that it has repeatedly said in his praise;
and the public are almost led to believe that the pen which has so often
delighted them, is absolutely destitute of the power to delight!

If, then, such reverses in opinion as to matters of taste can be so
readily brought about, when may an author feel himself secure? Where is
the anchoring-ground of popularity, when he may thus be driven from his
moorings, and foundered even in harbor? The reader, too, when he is to
consider himself safe in admiring, when he sees long-established altars
overthrown, and his household deities dashed to the ground!

There is one consolatory reflection. Every abuse carries with it its
own remedy or palliation. Thus the excess of crude and hasty criticism,
which has of late prevailed throughout the literary world, and
threatened to overrun our country, begins to produce its own antidote.
Where there is a multiplicity of contradictory paths, a man must make
his choice; in so doing, he has to exercise his judgment, and that is
one great step to mental independence. He begins to doubt all, where all
differ, and but one can be in the right. He is driven to trust to his
own discernment, and his natural feelings; and here he is most likely
to be safe. The author, too, finding that what is condemned at one
tribunal, is applauded at another, though perplexed for a time, gives
way at length to the spontaneous impulse of his genius, and the dictates
of his taste, and writes in the way most natural to himself. It is thus
that criticism, which by its severity may have held the little world of
writers in check, may, by its very excess, disarm itself of its terrors,
and the hardihood of talent become restored.


       *       *       *       *       *



Sir: I have already given you a legend or two drawn from ancient Spanish
sources, and may occasionally give you a few more. I love these old
Spanish themes, especially when they have a dash of the Morisco in them,
and treat of the times when the Moslems maintained a foot-hold in the
peninsula. They have a high, spicy, oriental flavor, not to be found in
any other themes that are merely European. In fact, Spain is a country
that stands alone in the midst of Europe; severed in habits, manners,
and modes of thinking, from all its continental neighbors. It is a
romantic country; but its romance has none of the sentimentality of
modern European romance: it is chiefly derived from the brilliant
regions of the East, and from the high-minded school of Saracenic

The Arab invasion and conquest brought a higher civilization and
a nobler style of thinking into Gothic Spain. The Arabs were a
quick-witted, sagacious, proud-spirited, and poetical people, and were
imbued with oriental science and literature. Wherever they established a
seat of power, it became a rallying place for the learned and ingenious;
and they softened and refined the people whom they conquered. By
degrees, occupancy seemed to give them a hereditary right to their
foothold in the land; they ceased to be looked upon as invaders, and
were regarded as rival neighbors. The peninsula, broken up into a
variety of states, both Christian and Moslem, became for centuries
a great campaigning ground, where the art of war seemed to be the
principal business of man, and was carried to the highest pitch of
romantic chivalry. The original ground of hostility, a difference of
faith, gradually lost its rancor. Neighboring states, of opposite
creeds, were occasionally linked together in alliances, offensive and
defensive; so that the cross and crescent were to be seen side by side
fighting against some common enemy. In times of peace, too, the noble
youth of either faith resorted to the same cities, Christian or Moslem,
to school themselves in military science. Even in the temporary truces
of sanguinary wars, the warriors who had recently striven together in
the deadly conflicts of the field, laid aside their animosity, met at
tournaments, jousts, and other military festivities, and exchanged the
courtesies of gentle and generous spirits. Thus the opposite races
became frequently mingled together in peaceful intercourse, or if any
rivalry took place, it was in those high courtesies and nobler acts
which bespeak the accomplished cavalier. Warriors of opposite creeds
became ambitious of transcending each other in magnanimity as well as
valor. Indeed, the chivalric virtues were refined upon to a degree
sometimes fastidious and constrained; but at other times, inexpressibly
noble and affecting. The annals of the times teem with illustrious
instances of high-wrought courtesy, romantic generosity, lofty
disinterestedness, and punctilious honor, that warm the very soul to
read them. These have furnished themes for national plays and poems, or
have been celebrated in those all-pervading ballads which are as the
life-breath of the people, and thus have continued to exercise an
influence on the national character which centuries of vicissitude and
decline have not been able to destroy; so that, with all their faults,
and they are many, the Spaniards, even at the present day, are on many
points the most high-minded and proud-spirited people of Europe.
It is true, the romance of feeling derived from the sources I have
mentioned, has, like all other romance, its affectations and extremes.
It renders the Spaniard at times pompous and grandiloquent; prone to
carry the "pundonor," or point of honor, beyond the bounds of sober
sense and sound morality; disposed, in the midst of poverty, to affect
the "grande caballero," and to look down with sovereign disdain upon
"arts mechanical," and all the gainful pursuits of plebeian life; but
this very inflation of spirit, while it fills his brain with vapors,
lifts him above a thousand meannesses; and though it often keeps him in
indigence, ever protects him from vulgarity.

In the present day, when popular literature is running into the low
levels of life and luxuriating on the vices and follies of mankind, and
when the universal pursuit of gain is trampling down the early growth
of poetic feeling and wearing out the verdure of the soul, I question
whether it would not be of service for the reader occasionally to turn
to these records of prouder times and loftier modes of thinking, and to
steep himself to the very lips in old Spanish romance.

For my own part, I have a shelf or two of venerable, parchment-bound
tomes, picked up here and there about the peninsula, and filled with
chronicles, plays, and ballads, about Moors and Christians, which I keep
by me as mental tonics, in the same way that a provident housewife has
her cupboard of cordials. Whenever I find my mind brought below par by
the commonplace of every-day life, or jarred by the sordid collisions
of the world, or put out of tune by the shrewd selfishness of modern
utilitarianism, I resort to these venerable tomes, as did the worthy
hero of La Mancha to his books of chivalry, and refresh and tone up my
spirit by a deep draught of their contents. They have some such effect
upon me as Falstaff ascribes to a good Sherris sack, "warming the blood
and filling the brain with fiery and delectable shapes."

I here subjoin, Mr. Editor, a small specimen of the cordials I have
mentioned, just drawn from my Spanish cupboard, which I recommend to
your palate. If you find it to your taste, you may pass it on to your

  Your correspondent and well-wisher,

       *       *       *       *       *



In the cloisters of the ancient Benedictine convent of San Domingo, at
Silos, in Castile, are the mouldering yet magnificent monuments of the
once powerful and chivalrous family of Hinojosa. Among these, reclines
the marble figure of a knight, in complete armor, with the hands pressed
together, as if in prayer. On one side of his tomb is sculptured in
relief a band of Christian cavaliers, capturing a cavalcade of male and
female Moors; on the other side, the same cavaliers are represented
kneeling before an altar. The tomb, like most of the neighboring
monuments, is almost in ruins, and the sculpture is nearly
unintelligible, excepting to the keen eye of the antiquary. The story
connected with the sepulchre, however, is still preserved in the old
Spanish chronicles, and is to the following purport.

       *       *       *       *       *

In old times, several hundred years ago, there was a noble Castilian
cavalier, named Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, lord of a border castle,
which had stood the brunt of many a Moorish foray. He had seventy
horsemen as his household troops, all of the ancient Castilian proof;
stark warriors, hard riders, and men of iron; with these he scoured the
Moorish lands, and made his name terrible throughout the borders. His
castle hall was covered with banners, and scimitars, and Moslem helms,
the trophies of his prowess. Don Munio was, moreover, a keen huntsman;
and rejoiced in hounds of all kinds, steeds for the chase, and hawks for
the towering sport of falconry. When not engaged in warfare, his delight
was to beat up the neighboring forests; and scarcely ever did he ride
forth, without hound and horn, a boar-spear in his hand, or a hawk upon
his fist, and an attendant train of huntsmen.

His wife, Donna Maria Palacin, was of a gentle and timid nature, little
fitted to be the spouse of so hardy and adventurous a knight; and many
a tear did the poor lady shed, when he sallied forth upon his daring
enterprises, and many a prayer did she offer up for his safety.

As this doughty cavalier was one day hunting, he stationed himself in a
thicket, on the borders of a green glade of the forest, and dispersed
his followers to rouse the game, and drive it toward his stand. He had
not been here long, when a cavalcade of Moors, of both sexes, came
prankling over the forest lawn. They were unarmed, and magnificently
dressed in robes of tissue and embroidery, rich shawls of India,
bracelets and anklets of gold, and jewels that sparkled in the sun.

At the head of this gay cavalcade, rode a youthful cavalier, superior
to the rest in dignity and loftiness of demeanor, and in splendor of
attire; beside him was a damsel, whose veil, blown aside by the breeze,
displayed a face of surpassing beauty, and eyes cast down in maiden
modesty, yet beaming with tenderness and joy.

Don Munio thanked his stars for sending him such a prize, and exulted at
the thought of bearing home to his wife the glittering spoils of these
infidels. Putting his hunting-horn to his lips, he gave a blast that
rung through the forest. His huntsmen came running from all quarters,
and the astonished Moors were surrounded and made captives.

The beautiful Moor wrung her hands in despair, and her female attendants
uttered the most piercing cries. The young Moorish cavalier alone
retained self-possession. He inquired the name of the Christian knight,
who commanded this troop of horsemen. When told that it was Don Munio
Sancho de Hinojosa, his countenance lighted up. Approaching that
cavalier, and kissing his hand, "Don Munio Sancho," said he, "I have
heard of your fame as a true and valiant knight, terrible in arms, but
schooled in the noble virtues of chivalry. Such do I trust to find you.
In me you behold Abadil, son of a Moorish Alcayde. I am on the way to
celebrate my nuptials with this lady; chance has thrown us in your
power, but I confide in your magnanimity. Take all our treasure and
jewels; demand what ransom you think proper for our person, but suffer
us not to be insulted or dishonored."

When the good knight heard this appeal, and beheld the beauty of the
youthful pair, his heart was touched with tenderness and courtesy.
"God forbid," said he, "that I should disturb such happy nuptials. My
prisoners in troth shall ye be, for fifteen days, and immured within
my castle, where I claim, as conqueror, the right of celebrating your

So saying, he despatched one of his fleetest horsemen in advance, to
notify Donna Maria Palacin of the coming of this bridal party; while he
and his huntsmen escorted the cavalcade, not as captors, but as a guard
of honor. As they drew near to the castle, the banners were hung out,
and the trumpets sounded from the battlements; and on their nearer
approach, the draw-bridge was lowered, and Donna Maria came forth
to meet them, attended by her ladies and knights, her pages and her
minstrels. She took the young bride, Allifra, in her arms, kissed her
with the tenderness of a sister, and conducted her into the castle. In
the mean time, Don Munio sent forth missives in every direction, and had
viands and dainties of all kinds collected from the country round; and
the wedding of the Moorish lovers was celebrated with all possible state
and festivity. For fifteen days, the castle was given up to joy and
revelry. There were tiltings and jousts at the ring, and bullfights, and
banquets, and dances to the sound of minstrelsy. When the fifteen days
were at an end, he made the bride and bridegroom magnificent presents,
and conducted them and their attendants safely beyond the borders. Such,
in old times, were the courtesy and generosity of a Spanish cavalier.

Several years after this event, the King of Castile summoned his nobles
to assist him in a campaign against the Moors. Don Munio Sancho was
among the first to answer to the call, with seventy horsemen, all
staunch and well-tried warriors. His wife, Donna Maria, hung about his
neck. "Alas, my lord!" exclaimed she, "how often wilt thou tempt thy
fate, and when will thy thirst for glory be appeased?"

"One battle more," replied Don Munio, "one battle more, for the honor of
Castile, and I here make a vow, that when this is over, I will lay by my
sword, and repair with my cavaliers in pilgrimage to the sepulchre of
our Lord at Jerusalem." The cavaliers all joined with him in the vow,
and Donna Maria felt in some degree soothed in spirit: still, she saw
with a heavy heart the departure of her husband, and watched his banner
with wistful eyes, until it disappeared among the trees of the forest,

The King of Castile led his army to the plains of Almanara, where they
encountered the Moorish host, near to Ucles. The battle was long and
bloody; the Christians repeatedly wavered, and were as often rallied by
the energy of their commanders. Don Munio was covered with wounds, but
refused to leave the field. The Christians at length gave way, and the
king was hardly pressed, and in danger of being captured.

Don Munio called upon his cavaliers to follow him to the rescue. "Now is
the time," cried he, "to prove your loyalty. Fall to, like brave men!
We fight for the true faith, and if we lose our lives here, we gain a
better life hereafter."

Rushing with his men between the king and his pursuers, they checked the
latter in their career, and gave time for their monarch to escape; but
they fell victims to their loyalty. They all fought to the last gasp.
Don Munio was singled out by a powerful Moorish knight, but having been
wounded in the right arm, he fought to disadvantage, and was slain. The
battle being over, the Moor paused to possess himself of the spoils of
this redoubtable Christian warrior. When he unlaced the helmet, however,
and beheld the countenance of Don Munio, he gave a great cry, and smote
his breast. "Woe is me!" cried he: "I have slain my benefactor! The
flower of knightly virtue! the most magnanimous of cavaliers!"

       *       *       *       *       *

While the battle had been raging on the plain of Salmanara, Donna Maria
Palacin remained in her castle, a prey to the keenest anxiety. Her eyes
were ever fixed on the road that led from the country of the Moors, and
often she asked the watchman of the tower, "What seest thou?"

One evening, at the shadowy hour of twilight, the warden sounded his
horn. "I see," cried he, "a numerous train winding up the valley. There
are mingled Moors and Christians. The banner of my lord is in the
advance. Joyful tidings!" exclaimed the old seneschal: "my lord returns
in triumph, and brings captives!" Then the castle courts rang with
shouts of joy; and the standard was displayed, and the trumpets were
sounded, and the draw-bridge was lowered, and Donna Maria went forth
with her ladies, and her knights, and her pages, and her minstrels, to
welcome her lord from the wars. But as the train drew nigh, she beheld a
sumptuous bier, covered with black velvet, and on it lay a warrior, as
if taking his repose: he lay in his armor, with his helmet on his head,
and his sword in his hand, as one who had never been conquered, and
around the bier were the escutcheons of the house of Hinojosa.

A number of Moorish cavaliers attended the bier, with emblems of
mourning, and with dejected countenances: and their leader cast himself
at the feet of Donna Maria, and hid his face in his hands. She beheld in
him the gallant Abadil, whom she had once welcomed with his bride to
her castle, but who now came with the body of her lord, whom he had
unknowingly slain in battle!

The sepulchre erected in the cloisters of the Convent of San Domingo was
achieved at the expense of the Moor Abadil, as a feeble testimony of his
grief for the death of the good knight Don Munio, and his reverence for
his memory. The tender and faithful Donna Maria soon followed her lord
to the tomb. On one of the stones of a small arch, beside his sepulchre,
is the following simple inscription: "_Hic jacet Maria Palacin, uxor
Munonis Sancij de Finojosa_:" Here lies Maria Palacin, wife of Munio
Sancho de Hinojosa.

The legend of Don Munio Sancho does not conclude with his death. On the
same day on which the battle took place on the plain of Salmanara, a
chaplain of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem, while standing at the outer
gate, beheld a train of Christian cavaliers advancing, as if in
pilgrimage. The chaplain was a native of Spain, and as the pilgrims
approached, he knew the foremost to be Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa,
with whom he had been well acquainted in former times. Hastening to the
patriarch, he told him of the honorable rank of the pilgrims at the
gate. The patriarch, therefore, went forth with a grand procession of
priests and monks, and received the pilgrims with all due honor. There
were seventy cavaliers, beside their leader, all stark and lofty
warriors. They carried their helmets in their hands, and their faces
were deadly pale. They greeted no one, nor looked either to the right or
to the left, but entered the chapel, and kneeling before the Sepulchre
of our Saviour, performed their orisons in silence. When they had
concluded, they rose as if to depart, and the patriarch and his
attendants advanced to speak to them, but they were no more to be seen.
Every one marvelled what could be the meaning of this prodigy. The
patriarch carefully noted down the day, and sent to Castile to learn
tidings of Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa. He received for reply, that
on the very day specified, that worthy knight, with seventy of his
followers, had been slain in battle. These, therefore, must have been
the blessed spirits of those Christian warriors, come to fulfil their
vow of a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Such was
Castilian faith, in the olden time, which kept its word, even beyond the

If any one should doubt of the miraculous apparition of these phantom
knights, let him consult the History of the Kings of Castile and Leon,
by the learned and pious Fray Prudencio de Sandoval, Bishop of Pamplona,
where he will find it recorded in the History of the King Don Alonzo
VI., on the hundred and second page. It is too precious a legend to be
lightly abandoned to the doubter.

       *       *       *       *       *



Sir: I observe, with pleasure, that you are performing from time to time
a pious duty, imposed upon you, I may say, by the name you have adopted
as your titular standard, in following in the footsteps of the venerable
KNICKERBOCKER, and gleaning every fact concerning the early times of the
Manhattoes which may have escaped his hand. I trust, therefore, a few
particulars, legendary and statistical, concerning a place which
figures conspicuously in the early pages of his history, will not be
unacceptable. I allude, Sir, to the ancient and renowned village of
Communipaw, which, according to the veracious Diedrich, and to equally
veracious tradition, was the first spot where our ever-to-be-lamented
Dutch progenitors planted their standard and cast the seeds of empire,
and from whence subsequently sailed the memorable expedition under
Oloffe the Dreamer, which landed on the opposite island of Manhatta,
and founded the present city of New-York, the city of dreams and

Communipaw, therefore, may truly be called the parent of New-York; yet
it is an astonishing fact, that though immediately opposite to the great
city it has produced, from whence its red roofs and tin weather-cocks
can actually be descried peering above the surrounding apple orchards,
it should be almost as rarely visited, and as little known by the
inhabitants of the metropolis, as if it had been locked up among the
Rocky Mountains. Sir, I think there is something unnatural in this,
especially in these times of ramble and research, when our citizens are
antiquity-hunting in every part of the world. Curiosity, like charity,
should begin at home; and I would enjoin it on our worthy burghers,
especially those of the real Knickerbocker breed, before they send their
sons abroad to wonder and grow wise among the remains of Greece and
Rome, to let them make a tour of ancient Pavonia, from Weehawk even
to the Kills, and meditate, with filial reverence, on the moss-grown
mansions of Communipaw. Sir, I regard this much neglected village as one
of the most remarkable places in the country. The intelligent traveller,
as he looks down upon it from the Bergen Heights, modestly nestled among
its cabbage-gardens, while the great flaunting city it has begotten is
stretching far and wide on the opposite side of the bay, the intelligent
traveller, I say, will be filled with astonishment; not, Sir, at the
village of Communipaw, which in truth is a very small village, but at
the almost incredible fact that so small a village should have produced
so great a city. It looks to him, indeed, like some squat little
dame, with a tall grenadier of a son strutting by her side; or some
simple-hearted hen that has unwittingly hatched out a long-legged

But this is not all for which Communipaw is remarkable. Sir, it is
interesting on another account. It is to the ancient province of
the New-Netherlands and the classic era of the Dutch dynasty, what
Herculaneum and Pompeii are to ancient Rome and the glorious days of the
empire. Here every thing remains in statu quo, as it was in the days of
Oloffe the Dreamer, Walter the Doubter, and the other worthies of the
golden age; the same broad-brimmed hats and broad-bottomed breeches;
the same knee-buckles and shoe-buckles; the same close-quilled caps
and linsey-woolsey short-gowns and petticoats; the same implements and
utensils and forms and fashions; in a word, Communipaw at the present
day is a picture of what New-Amsterdam was before the conquest. The
"intelligent traveller" aforesaid, as he treads its streets, is struck
with the primitive character of every thing around him. Instead of
Grecian temples for dwelling-houses, with a great column of pine boards
in the way of every window, he beholds high peaked roofs, gable ends
to the street, with weather-cocks at top, and windows of all sorts and
sizes; large ones for the grown-up members of the family, and little
ones for the little folk. Instead of cold marble porches, with
close-locked doors and brass knockers, he sees the doors hospitably
open; the worthy burgher smoking his pipe on the old-fashioned stoop in
front, with his "vrouw" knitting beside him; and the cat and her kittens
at their feet sleeping in the sunshine.

Astonished at the obsolete and "old world" air of every thing around
him, the intelligent traveller demands how all this has come to pass.
Herculaneum and Pompeii remain, it is true, unaffected by the varying
fashions of centuries; but they were buried by a volcano and preserved
in ashes. What charmed spell has kept this wonderful little place
unchanged, though in sight of the most changeful city in the universe?
Has it, too, been buried under its cabbage-gardens, and only dug out
in modern days for the wonder and edification of the world? The reply
involves a point of history, worthy of notice and record, and reflecting
immortal honor on Communipaw.

At the time when New-Amsterdam was invaded and conquered by British
foes, as has been related in the history of the venerable Diedrich, a
great dispersion took place among the Dutch inhabitants. Many, like the
illustrious Peter Stuyvesant, buried themselves in rural retreats in the
Bowerie; others, like Wolfert Acker, took refuge in various remote
parts of the Hudson; but there was one staunch, unconquerable band that
determined to keep together, and preserve themselves, like seed corn,
for the future fructification and perpetuity of the Knickerbocker race.
These were headed by one Garret Van Horne, a gigantic Dutchman, the
Pelayo of the New-Netherlands. Under his guidance, they retreated across
the bay and buried themselves among the marshes of ancient Pavonia, as
did the followers of Pelayo among the mountains of Asturias, when Spain
was overrun by its Arabian invaders.

The gallant Van Horne set up his standard at Communipaw, and invited
all those to rally under it, who were true Nederlanders at heart, and
determined to resist all foreign intermixture or encroachment. A strict
non-intercourse was observed with the captured city; not a boat ever
crossed to it from Communipaw, and the English language was rigorously
tabooed throughout the village and its dependencies. Every man was sworn
to wear his hat, cut his coat, build his house, and harness his horses,
exactly as his father had done before him; and to permit nothing but the
Dutch language to be spoken in his household.

As a citadel of the place, and a strong-hold for the preservation and
defence of every thing Dutch, the gallant Van Horne erected a lordly
mansion, with a chimney perched at every corner, which thence derived
the aristocratical name of "The House of the Four Chimneys." Hither he
transferred many of the precious reliques of New-Amsterdam; the great
round-crowned hat that once covered the capacious head of Walter the
Doubter, and the identical shoe with which Peter the Headstrong kicked
his pusillanimous councillors down-stairs. St. Nicholas, it is said,
took this loyal house under his especial protection; and a Dutch
soothsayer predicted, that as long as it should stand, Communipaw would
be safe from the intrusion either of Briton or Yankee.

In this house would the gallant Van Home and his compeers hold frequent
councils of war, as to the possibility of re-conquering the province
from the British; and here would they sit for hours, nay, days, together
smoking their pipes and keeping watch upon the growing city of New-York;
groaning in spirit whenever they saw a new house erected or ship
launched, and persuading themselves that Admiral Van Tromp would one
day or other arrive to sweep out the invaders with the broom which he
carried at his mast-head.

Years rolled by, but Van Tromp never arrived. The British strengthened
themselves in the land, and the captured city flourished under their
domination. Still, the worthies of Communipaw would not despair;
something or other, they were sure, would turn up to restore the power
of the Hogen Mogens, the Lord States-General; so they kept smoking and
smoking, and watching and watching, and turning the same few thoughts
over and over in a perpetual circle, which is commonly called
deliberating. In the mean time, being hemmed up within a narrow compass,
between the broad bay and the Bergen hills, they grew poorer and poorer,
until they had scarce the wherewithal to maintain their pipes in fuel
during their endless deliberations.

And now must I relate a circumstance which will call for a little
exertion of faith on the part of the reader; but I can only say that if
he doubts it, he had better not utter his doubts in Communipaw, as it is
among the religious beliefs of the place. It is, in fact, nothing more
nor less than a miracle, worked by the blessed St. Nicholas, for the
relief and sustenance of this loyal community.

It so happened, in this time of extremity, that in the course of
cleaning the House of the Four Chimneys, by an ignorant housewife who
knew nothing of the historic value of the reliques it contained, the old
hat of Walter the Doubter and the executive shoe of Peter the Headstrong
were thrown out of doors as rubbish. But mark the consequence. The good
St. Nicholas kept watch over these precious reliques, and wrought out of
them a wonderful providence.

The hat of Walter the Doubter falling on a stercoraceous heap of
compost, in the rear of the house, began forthwith to vegetate. Its
broad brim, spread forth grandly and exfoliated, and its round crown
swelled and crimped and consolidated until the whole became a prodigious
cabbage, rivalling in magnitude the capacious head of the Doubter. In a
word, it was the origin of that renowned species of cabbage known, by
all Dutch epicures, by the name of the Governor's Head, and which is to
this day the glory of Communipaw.

On the other hand, the shoe of Peter Stuyvesant being thrown into the
river, in front of the house, gradually hardened and concreted, and
became covered with barnacles, and at length turned into a gigantic
oyster; being the progenitor of that illustrious species known
throughout the gastronomical world by the name of the Governor's Foot.

These miracles were the salvation of Communipaw. The sages of the place
immediately saw in them the hand of St. Nicholas, and understood their
mystic signification. They set to work with all diligence to cultivate
and multiply these great blessings; and so abundantly did the
gubernatorial hat and shoe fructify and increase, that in a little time
great patches of cabbages were to be seen extending from the village of
Communipaw quite to the Bergen Hills; while the whole bottom of the
bay in front became a vast bed of oysters. Ever since that time this
excellent community has been divided into two great classes: those who
cultivate the land and those who cultivate the water. The former have
devoted themselves to the nurture and edification of cabbages, rearing
them in all their varieties; while the latter have formed parks and
plantations, under water, to which juvenile oysters are transplanted
from foreign parts, to finish their education.

As these great sources of profit multiplied upon their hands, the worthy
inhabitants of Communipaw began to long for a market at which to
dispose of their superabundance. This gradually produced once more an
intercourse with New-York; but it was always carried on by the old
people and the negroes; never would they permit the young folks, of
either sex, to visit the city, lest they should get tainted with foreign
manners and bring home foreign fashions. Even to this day, if you see an
old burgher in the market, with hat and garb of antique Dutch fashion,
you may be sure he is one of the old unconquered race of the "bitter
blood," who maintain their strong-hold at Communipaw.

In modern days, the hereditary bitterness against the English has lost
much of its asperity, or rather has become merged in a new source of
jealousy and apprehension: I allude to the incessant and wide-spreading
irruptions from New-England. Word has been continually brought back to
Communipaw, by those of the community who return from their trading
voyages in cabbages and oysters, of the alarming power which the Yankees
are gaining in the ancient city of New-Amsterdam; elbowing the genuine
Knickerbockers out of all civic posts of honor and profit; bargaining
them out of their hereditary homesteads; pulling down the venerable
houses, with crow-step gables, which have stood since the time of the
Dutch rule, and erecting, instead, granite stores, and marble banks; in
a word, evincing a deadly determination to obliterate every vestige of
the good old Dutch times.

In consequence of the jealousy thus awakened, the worthy traders from
Communipaw confine their dealings, as much as possible, to the genuine
Dutch families. If they furnish the Yankees at all, it is with inferior
articles. Never can the latter procure a real "Governor's Head," or
"Governor's Foot," though they have offered extravagant prices for the
same, to grace their table on the annual festival of the New-England

But what has carried this hostility to the Yankees to the highest pitch,
was an attempt made by that all-pervading race to get possession of
Communipaw itself. Yes, Sir; during the late mania for land speculation,
a daring company of Yankee projectors landed before the village; stopped
the honest burghers on the public highway, and endeavored to bargain
them out of their hereditary acres; displayed lithographic maps,
in which their cabbage-gardens were laid out into town lots: their
oyster-parks into docks and quays; and even the House of the Four
Chimneys metamorphosed into a bank, which was to enrich the whole
neighborhood with paper money.

Fortunately, the gallant Van Hornes came to the rescue, just as some of
the worthy burghers were on the point of capitulating. The Yankees were
put to the rout, with signal confusion, and have never since dared to
show their faces in the place. The good people continue to cultivate
their cabbages, and rear their oysters; they know nothing of banks, nor
joint stock companies, but treasure up their money in stocking-feet, at
the bottom of the family chest, or bury it in iron pots, as did their
fathers and grandfathers before them.

As to the House of the Four Chimneys, it still remains in the great and
tall family of the Van Hornes. Here are to be seen ancient Dutch corner
cupboards, chests of drawers, and massive clothes-presses, quaintly
carved, and carefully waxed and polished; together with divers thick,
black-letter volumes, with brass clasps, printed of yore in Leydon and
Amsterdam, and handed down from generation to generation, in the family,
but never read. They are preserved in the archives, among sundry old
parchment deeds, in Dutch and English, bearing the seals of the early
governors of the province.

In this house, the primitive Dutch holidays of Paas and Pinxter
are faithfully kept up; and New-Year celebrated with cookies and
cherry-bounce; nor is the festival of the blessed St. Nicholas
forgotten, when all the children are sure to hang up their stockings,
and to have them filled according to their deserts; though, it is said,
the good saint is occasionally perplexed in his nocturnal visits, which
chimney to descend.

Of late, this portentous mansion has begun to give signs of dilapidation
and decay. Some have attributed this to the visits made by the young
people to the city, and their bringing thence various modern fashions;
and to their neglect of the Dutch language, which is gradually becoming
confined to the older persons in the community. The house, too, was
greatly shaken by high winds, during the prevalence of the speculation
mania, especially at the time of the landing of the Yankees. Seeing how
mysteriously the fate of Communipaw is identified with this venerable
mansion, we cannot wonder that the older and wiser heads of the
community should be filled with dismay, whenever a brick is toppled
down from one of the chimneys, or a weather-cock is blown off from a

The present lord of this historic pile, I am happy to say, is calculated
to maintain it in all its integrity. He is of patriarchal age, and is
worthy of the days of the patriarchs. He has done his utmost to increase
and multiply the true race in the land. His wife has not been inferior
to him in zeal, and they are surrounded by a goodly progeny of children,
and grand-children, and great-grand-children, who promise to perpetuate
the name of Van Horne, until time shall be no more. So be it! Long may
the horn of the Van Hornes continue to be exalted in the land! Tall as
they are, may their shadows never be less! May the House of the Four
Chimneys remain for ages, the citadel of Communipaw, and the smoke of
its chimneys continue to ascend, a sweet-smelling incense in the hose of
St. Nicholas!

With great respect, Mr. Editor,

Your ob't servant,


       *       *       *       *       *



Sir: I have read with great satisfaction the valuable paper of your
correspondent, Mr. HERMANUS VANDERDONK, (who, I take it, is a descendant
of the learned Adrian Vanderdonk, one of the early historians of the
Nieuw-Nederlands,) giving sundry particulars, legendary and statistical,
touching the venerable village of Communipaw and its fate-bound citadel,
the House of the Four Chimneys. It goes to prove what I have repeatedly
maintained, that we live in the midst of history and mystery and
romance; and that there is no spot in the world more rich in themes for
the writer of historic novels, heroic melodramas, and rough-shod epics,
than this same business-looking city of the Manhattoes and its environs.
He who would find these elements, however, must not seek them among the
modern improvements and modern people of this moneyed metropolis, but
must dig for them, as for Kidd the pirate's treasures, in out-of-the-way
places, and among the ruins of the past.

Poetry and romance received a fatal blow at the overthrow of the ancient
Dutch dynasty, and have ever since been gradually withering under the
growing domination of the Yankees. They abandoned our hearths when the
old Dutch tiles were superseded by marble chimney-pieces; when brass
andirons made way for polished grates, and the crackling and blazing
fire of nut-wood gave place to the smoke and stench of Liverpool coal;
and on the downfall of the last gable-end house, their requiem was
tolled from the tower of the Dutch church in Nassau-street by the old
bell that came from Holland. But poetry and romance still live unseen
among us, or seen only by the enlightened few, who are able to
contemplate this city and its environs through the medium of tradition,
and clothed with the associations of foregone ages.

Would you seek these elements in the country, Mr. Editor, avoid all
turnpikes, rail-roads, and steamboats, those abominable inventions by
which the usurping Yankees are strengthening themselves in the land, and
subduing every thing to utility and common-place. Avoid all towns and
cities of white clapboard palaces and Grecian temples, studded with
"Academics," "Seminaries," and "Institutes," which glisten along our
bays and rivers; these are the strong-holds of Yankee usurpation; but if
haply you light upon some rough, rambling road, winding between stone
fences, gray with moss, and overgrown with elder, poke-berry, mullein,
and sweet-briar, with here and there a low, red-roofed, whitewashed
farm-house, cowering among apple and cherry trees; an old stone church,
with elms, willows, and button-woods, as old-looking as itself, and
tombstones almost buried in their own graves; and, peradventure, a small
log school-house at a cross-road, where the English is still taught with
a thickness of the tongue, instead of a twang of the nose; should you,
I say, light upon such a neighborhood, Mr. Editor, you may thank your
stars that you have found one of the lingering haunts of poetry and

Your correspondent, Sir, has touched upon that sublime and affecting
feature in the history of Communipaw, the retreat of the patriotic band
of Nederlanders, led by Van Horne, whom he justly terms the Pelayo of
the New-Netherlands. He has given you a picture of the manner in which
they ensconced themselves in the House of the Four Chimneys, and awaited
with heroic patience and perseverance the day that should see the flag
of the Hogen Mogens once more floating on the fort of New-Amsterdam.

Your correspondent, Sir, has but given you a glimpse over the threshold;
I will now let you into the heart of the mystery of this most mysterious
and eventful village.

  Yes, sir, I will now--"unclasp a secret book;
  And to your quick conceiving discontents,
  I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,
  As full of peril and adventurous spirit,
  As to o'er walk a current, roaring loud,
  On the unsteadfast footing of a spear."

Sir, it is one of the most beautiful and interesting facts connected
with the history of Communipaw, that the early feeling of resistance to
foreign rule, alluded to by your correspondent, is still kept up. Yes,
sir, a settled, secret, and determined conspiracy has been going on
for generations among this indomitable people, the descendants of the
refugees from New-Amsterdam; the object of which is to redeem their
ancient seat of empire, and to drive the losel Yankees out of the land.

Communipaw, it is true, has the glory of originating this conspiracy;
and it was hatched and reared in the House of the Four Chimneys; but it
has spread far and wide over ancient Pavonia, surmounted the heights of
Bergen, Hoboken, and Weehawk, crept up along the banks of the Passaic
and the Hackensack, until it pervades the whole chivalry of the country
from Tappan Slote in the north to Piscataway in the south, including the
pugnacious village of Rahway, more heroically denominated Spank-town.

Throughout all these regions a great "in-and-in confederacy" prevails,
that is to say, a confederacy among the Dutch families, by dint of
diligent and exclusive intermarriage, to keep the race pure and to
multiply. If ever, Mr. Editor, in the course of your travels between
Spank-town and Tappan Slote, you should see a cosey, low-eaved
farm-house, teeming with sturdy, broad-built little urchins, you may set
it down as one of the breeding places of this grand secret confederacy,
stocked with the embryo deliverers of New-Amsterdam.

Another step in the progress of this patriotic conspiracy, is the
establishment, in various places within the ancient boundaries of the
Nieuw-Nederlands, of secret, or rather mysterious associations, composed
of the genuine sons of the Nederlanders, with the ostensible object of
keeping up the memory of old times and customs, but with the real object
of promoting the views of this dark and mighty plot, and extending its
ramifications throughout the land.

Sir, I am descended from a long line of genuine Nederlanders, who,
though they remained in the city of New-Amsterdam after the conquest,
and throughout the usurpation, have never in their hearts been able to
tolerate the yoke imposed upon them. My worthy father, who was one of
the last of the cocked hats, had a little knot of cronies, of his own
stamp, who used to meet in our wainscoted parlor, round a nut-wood fire,
talk over old times, when the city was ruled by its native burgomasters,
and groan over the monopoly of all places of power and profit by the
Yankees. I well recollect the effect upon this worthy little conclave,
when the Yankees first instituted then New-England Society, held their
"national festival," toasted their "father land," and sang their foreign
songs of triumph within the very precincts of our ancient metropolis.
Sir, from that day, my father held the smell of codfish and potatoes,
and the sight of pumpkin pie, in utter abomination; and whenever the
annual dinner of the New-England Society came round, it was a sore
anniversary for his children. He got up in an ill humor, grumbled and
growled throughout the day, and not one of us went to bed that night,
without having had his jacket well trounced, to the tune of "The Pilgrim

You may judge, then, Mr. Editor, of the exaltation of all true patriots
of this stamp, when the Society of Saint Nicholas was set up among us,
and intrepidly established, cheek by jole, alongside of the society of
the invaders. Never shall I forget the effect upon my father and his
little knot of brother groaners, when tidings were brought them that the
ancient banner of the Manhattoes was actually floating from the window
of the City Hotel. Sir, they nearly jumped out of their silver-buckled
shoes for joy. They took down their cocked hats from the pegs on which
they had hanged them, as the Israelites of yore hung their harps upon
the willows, in token of bondage, clapped them resolutely once more upon
their heads, and cocked them in the face of every Yankee they met on the
way to the banqueting-room.

The institution of this society was hailed with transport throughout the
whole extent of the New-Netherlands; being considered a secret foothold
gained in New-Amsterdam, and a flattering presage of future triumph.
Whenever that society holds its annual feast, a sympathetic hilarity
prevails throughout the land; ancient Pavonia sends over its
contributions of cabbages and oysters; the House of the Four Chimneys is
splendidly illuminated, and the traditional song of St. Nicholas, the
mystic bond of union and conspiracy, is chaunted with closed doors, in
every genuine Dutch family.

I have thus, I trust, Mr. Editor, opened your eyes to some of the grand
moral, poetical, and political phenomena with which you are surrounded.
You will now be able to read the "signs of the times." You will
now understand what is meant by those "Knickerbocker Halls," and
"Knickerbocker Hotels," and "Knickerbocker Lunches," that are daily
springing up in our city and what all these "Knickerbocker Omnibuses"
are driving at. You will see in them so many clouds before a storm; so
many mysterious but sublime intimations of the gathering vengeance of a
great though oppressed people. Above all, you will now contemplate
our bay and its portentous borders, with proper feelings of awe and
admiration. Talk of the Bay of Naples, and its volcanic mountains! Why,
Sir, little Communipaw, sleeping among its cabbage gardens, "quiet as
gunpowder," yet with this tremendous conspiracy brewing in its bosom is
an object ten times as sublime (in a moral point of view, mark me) as
Vesuvius in repose, though charged with lava and brimstone, and ready
for an eruption.

Let me advert to a circumstance connected with this theme, which
cannot but be appreciated by every heart of sensibility. You must have
remarked, Mr. Editor, on summer evenings, and on Sunday afternoons,
certain grave, primitive-looking personages, walking the Battery, in
close confabulation, with their canes behind their backs, and ever and
anon turning a wistful gaze toward the Jersey shore. These, Sir, are the
sons of Saint Nicholas, the genuine Nederlanders; who regard Communipaw
with pious reverence, not merely as the progenitor, but the destined
regenerator, of this great metropolis. Yes, Sir; they are looking with
longing eyes to the green marshes of ancient Pavonia, as did the poor
conquered Spaniards of yore toward the stern mountains of Asturias,
wondering whether the day of deliverance is at hand. Many is the time,
when, in my boyhood, I have walked with my father and his confidential
compeers on the Battery, and listened to their calculations and
conjectures, and observed the points of their sharp cocked hats evermore
turned toward Pavonia. Nay, Sir, I am convinced that at this moment, if
I were to take down the cocked hat of my lamented father from the peg on
which it has hung for years, and were to carry it to the Battery, its
centre point, true as the needle to the pole, would turn to Communipaw.

Mr. Editor, the great historic drama of New-Amsterdam, is but half
acted. The reigns of Walter the Doubter, William the Testy, and Peter
the Headstrong, with the rise, progress, and decline of the Dutch
dynasty, are but so many parts of the main action, the triumphant
catastrophe of which is yet to come. Yes, Sir! the deliverance of
the New-Nederlands from Yankee domination will eclipse the far-famed
redemption of Spain from the Moors, and the oft-sung conquest of Granada
will fade before the chivalrous triumph of New-Amsterdam. Would that
Peter Stuyvesant could rise from his grave to witness that day!

Your humble servant,


       *       *       *       *       *

P. S. Just as I had concluded the foregoing epistle, I received a piece
of intelligence, which makes me tremble for the fate of Communipaw.
I fear, Mr. Editor, the grand conspiracy is in danger of being
countermined and counteracted, by those all-pervading and
indefatigable Yankees. Would you think it, Sir! one of them has actually
effected an entry in the place by covered way; or in other words, under
cover of the petticoats. Finding every other mode ineffectual, he
secretly laid siege to a Dutch heiress, who owns a great cabbage-garden
in her own right. Being a smooth-tongued varlet, he easily prevailed on
her to elope with him, and they were privately married at Spank-town!
The first notice the good people of Communipaw had of this awful event,
was a lithographed map of the cabbage garden laid out in town lots, and
advertised for sale! On the night of the wedding, the main weather-cock
of the House of the Four Chimneys was carried away in a whirlwind! The
greatest consternation reigns throughout the village!

       *       *       *       *       *



Sir: I observed in your last month's periodical, a communication from
a Mr. VANDERDONK, giving some information concerning Communipaw. I
herewith send you, Mr. Editor, a legend connected with that place; and
am much surprised it should have escaped the researches of your very
authentic correspondent, as it relates to an edifice scarcely less fated
than the House of the Four Chimneys. I give you the legend in its crude
and simple state, as I heard it related; it is capable, however, of
being dilated, inflated, and dressed up into very imposing shape and
dimensions. Should any of your ingenious contributors in this line feel
inclined to take it in hand, they will find ample materials, collateral
and illustrative, among the papers of the late Reinier Skaats, many
years since crier of the court, and keeper of the City Hall, in the
city of the Manhattoes; or in the library of that important and utterly
renowned functionary, Mr. Jacob Hays, long time high constable, who,
in the course of his extensive researches, has amassed an amount of
valuable facts, to be rivalled only by that great historical collection,
"The Newgate Calendar."

Your humble servant,


       *       *       *       *       *



Whoever has visited the ancient and renowned village of Communipaw,
may have noticed an old stone building, of most ruinous and sinister
appearance. The doors and window-shutters are ready to drop from their
hinges; old clothes are stuffed in the broken panes of glass, while
legions of half-starved dogs prowl about the premises, and rush out and
bark at every passer-by; for your beggarly house in a village is most
apt to swarm with profligate and ill-conditioned dogs. What adds to the
sinister appearance of this mansion, is a tall frame in front, not
a little resembling a gallows, and which looks as if waiting to
accommodate some of the inhabitants with a well-merited airing. It is
not a gallows, however, but an ancient sign-post; for this dwelling, in
the golden days of Communipaw, was one of the most orderly and peaceful
of village taverns, where all the public affairs of Communipaw were
talked and smoked over. In fact, it was in this very building that
Oloffe the Dreamer, and his companions, concerted that great voyage of
discovery and colonization, in which they explored Buttermilk Channel,
were nearly shipwrecked in the strait of Hell-gate, and finally landed
on the Island of Manhattan, and founded the great city of New-Amsterdam.

Even after the province had been cruelly wrested from the sway of their
High Mightinesses, by the combined forces of the British and Yankees,
this tavern continued its ancient loyalty. It is true, the head of the
Prince of Orange disappeared from the sign; a strange bird being painted
over it, with the explanatory legend of "DIE WILDE GANS," or The Wild
Goose; but this all the world knew to be a sly riddle of the landlord,
the worthy Teunis Van Gieson, a knowing man in a small way, who laid
his finger beside his nose and winked, when any one studied the
signification of his sign, and observed that his goose was hatching, but
would join the flock whenever they flew over the water; an enigma which
was the perpetual recreation and delight of the loyal but fat-headed
burghers of Communipaw.

Under the sway of this patriotic, though discreet and quiet publican,
the tavern continued to flourish in primeval tranquillity, and was
the resort of all true-hearted Nederlanders, from all parts of Pavonia;
who met here quietly and secretly, to smoke and drink the downfall of
Briton and Yankee, and success to Admiral Van Tromp.

The only drawback on the comfort of the establishment, was a nephew of
mine host, a sister's son, Yan Yost Vanderscamp by name, and a real
scamp by nature. This unlucky whipster showed an early propensity to
mischief, which he gratified in a small way, by playing tricks upon the
frequenters of the Wild Goose; putting gunpowder in their pipes, or
squibs in their pockets, and astonishing them with an explosion, while
they sat nodding round the fire-place in the bar-room; and if perchance
a worthy burgher from some distant part of Pavonia had lingered until
dark over his potation, it was odds but that young Vanderscamp would
slip a briar under his horse's tail, as he mounted, and send him
clattering along the road, in neck-or-nothing style, to his infinite
astonishment and discomfiture.

It may be wondered at, that mine host of the Wild Goose did not turn
such a graceless varlet out of doors; but Teunis Van Gieson was an
easy-tempered man, and, having no child of his own, looked upon his
nephew with almost parental indulgence. His patience and good-nature
were doomed to be tried by another inmate of his mansion. This was a
cross-grained curmudgeon of a negro, named Pluto, who was a kind of
enigma in Communipaw. Where he came from, nobody knew. He was found one
morning, after a storm, cast like a sea-monster on the strand, in front
of the Wild Goose, and lay there, more dead than alive. The neighbors
gathered round, and speculated on this production of the deep; whether
it were fish or flesh, or a compound of both, commonly yclept a merman.
The kind-hearted Teunis Van Gieson, seeing that he wore the human form,
took him into his house, and warmed him into life. By degrees, he showed
signs of intelligence, and even uttered sounds very much like language,
but which no one in Communipaw could understand. Some thought him a
negro just from Guinea, who had either fallen overboard, or escaped from
a slave-ship. Nothing, however, could ever draw from him any account
of his origin. When questioned on the subject, he merely pointed to
Gibbet-Island, a small rocky islet, which lies in the open bay, just
opposite to Communipaw, as if that were his native place, though every
body knew it had never been inhabited.

In the process of time, he acquired something of the Dutch language,
that is to say, he learnt all its vocabulary of oaths and maledictions,
with just words sufficient to string them together. "Donder en
blicksen!" (thunder and lightning,) was the gentlest of his
ejaculations. For years he kept about the Wild Goose, more like one of
those familiar spirits, or household goblins, that we read of, than
like a human being. He acknowledged allegiance to no one, but performed
various domestic offices, when it suited his humor; waiting occasionally
on the guests; grooming the horses, cutting wood, drawing water; and all
this without being ordered. Lay any command on him, and the stubborn
sea-urchin was sure to rebel. He was never so much at home, however,
as when on the water, plying about in skiff or canoe, entirely alone,
fishing, crabbing, or grabbing for oysters, and would bring home
quantities for the larder of the Wild Goose, which he would throw down
at the kitchen door, with a growl. No wind nor weather deterred him from
launching forth on his favorite element: indeed, the wilder the weather,
the more he seemed to enjoy it. If a storm was brewing, he was sure to
put off from shore; and would be seen far out in the bay, his light
skiff dancing like a feather on the waves, when sea and sky were all
in a turmoil, and the stoutest ships were fain to lower their sails.
Sometimes, on such occasions, he would be absent for days together. How
he weathered the tempest, and how and where he subsisted, no one
could divine, nor did any one venture to ask, for all had an almost
superstitious awe of him. Some of the Communipaw oystermen declared that
they had more than once seen him suddenly disappear, canoe and all, as
if they plunged beneath the waves, and after a while come up again, in
quite a different part of the bay; whence they concluded that he could
live under water like that notable species of wild duck, commonly called
the Hell-diver. All began to consider him in the light of a foul-weather
bird, like the Mother Carey's Chicken, or Stormy Petrel; and whenever
they saw him putting far out in his skiff, in cloudy weather, made up
their minds for a storm.

The only being for whom he seemed to have any liking, was Yan Yost
Vanderscamp, and him he liked for his very wickedness. He in a manner
took the boy under his tutelage, prompted him to all kinds of mischief,
aided him in every wild, harum-scarum freak, until the lad became the
complete scapegrace of the village; a pest to his uncle, and to every
one else. Nor were his pranks confined to the land; he soon learned to
accompany old Pluto on the water. Together these worthies would cruise
about the broad bay, and all the neighboring straits and rivers; poking
around in skiffs and canoes; robbing the set-nets of the fishermen;
landing on remote coasts, and laying waste orchards and water-melon
patches; in short, carrying on a complete system of piracy, on a small
scale, Piloted by Pluto, the youthful Vanderscamp soon became acquainted
with all the bays, rivers, creeks, and inlets of the watery world around
him; could navigate from the Hook to Spiting-devil on the darkest night,
and learned to set even the terrors of Hell-gate at defiance.

At length, negro and boy suddenly disappeared, and days and weeks
elapsed, but without tidings of them. Some said they must have run away
and gone to sea; others jocosely hinted, that old Pluto, being no other
than his namesake in disguise, had spirited away the boy to the nether
regions. All, however, agreed in one thing, that the village was well
rid of them.

In the process of time, the good Teunis Van Gieson slept with his
fathers, and the tavern remained shut up, waiting for a claimant, for
the next heir was Yan Yost Vanderscamp, and he had not been heard of for
years. At length, one day, a boat was seen pulling for the shore, from a
long, black, rakish-looking schooner, that lay at anchor in the bay. The
boat's crew seemed worthy of the craft from which they debarked. Never
had such a set of noisy, roistering, swaggering varlets landed in
peaceful Communipaw. They were outlandish in garb and demeanor, and were
headed by a rough, burly, bully ruffian, with fiery whiskers, a copper
nose, a scar across his face, and a great Flaunderish beaver slouched on
one side of his head, in whom, to their dismay, the quiet inhabitants
were made to recognize their early pest, Yan Yost Vanderscamp. The rear
of this hopeful gang was brought up by old Pluto, who had lost an
eye, grown grizzly-headed, and looked more like a devil than ever.
Vanderscamp renewed his acquaintance with the old burghers, much against
their will, and in a manner not at all to their taste. He slapped them
familiarly on the back, gave them an iron grip of the hand, and was hail
fellow well met. According to his own account, he had been all the world
over; had made money by bags full; had ships in every sea, and now meant
to turn the Wild Goose into a country seat, where he and his comrades,
all rich merchants from foreign parts, might enjoy themselves in the
interval of their voyages. Sure enough, in a little while there was a
complete metamorphose of the Wild Goose. From being a quiet, peaceful
Dutch public house, it became a most riotous, uproarious private
dwelling; a complete rendezvous for boisterous men of the seas, who came
here to have what they called a "blow out" on dry land, and might be
seen at all hours, lounging about the door, or lolling out of the
windows; swearing among themselves, and cracking rough jokes on every
passer-by. The house was fitted up, too, in so strange a manner:
hammocks slung to the walls, instead of bedsteads; odd kinds of
furniture, of foreign fashion; bamboo couches, Spanish chairs; pistols,
cutlasses, and blunderbusses, suspended on every peg; silver crucifixes
on the mantel-pieces, silver candle-sticks and porringers on the
tables, contrasting oddly with the pewter and Delf ware of the original
establishment. And then the strange amusements of these sea-monsters!
Pitching Spanish dollars, instead of quoits; firing blunderbusses out of
the window; shooting at a mark, or at any unhappy dog, or cat, or pig,
or barn-door fowl, that might happen to come within reach.

The only being who seemed to relish their rough waggery, was old Pluto;
and yet he led but a dog's life of it; for they practised all kinds of
manual jokes upon him; kicked him about like a foot-ball; shook him by
his grizzly mop of wool, and never spoke to him without coupling a curse
by way of adjective to his name, and consigning him to the infernal
regions. The old fellow, however, seemed to like them the better, the
more they cursed him, though his utmost expression of pleasure never
amounted to more than the growl of a petted bear, when his ears are

Old Pluto was the ministering spirit at the orgies of the Wild Goose;
and such orgies as took place there! Such drinking, singing, whooping,
swearing; with an occasional interlude of quarrelling and fighting. The
noisier grew the revel, the more old Pluto plied the potations, until
the guests would become frantic in their merriment, smashing every thing
to pieces, and throwing the house out of the windows. Sometimes, after a
drinking bout, they sallied forth and scoured the village, to the dismay
of the worthy burghers, who gathered their women within doors, and would
have shut up the house. Vanderscamp, however, was not to be rebuffed.
He insisted on renewing acquaintance with his old neighbors, and on
introducing his friends, the merchants, to their families; swore he was
on the look-out for a wife, and meant, before he stopped, to find
husbands for all their daughters. So, will-ye, nil-ye, sociable he was;
swaggered about their best parlors, with his hat on one side of his
head; sat on the good wife's nicely-waxed mahogany table, kicking his
heels against the carved and polished legs; kissed and tousled the young
vrouws; and, if they frowned and pouted, gave them a gold rosary, or a
sparkling cross, to put them in good humor again.

Sometimes nothing would satisfy him, but he must have some of his old
neighbors to dinner at the Wild Goose. There was no refusing him, for
he had got the complete upper-hand of the community, and the peaceful
burghers all stood in awe of him. But what a time would the quiet,
worthy men have, among these rake-hells, who would delight to astound
them with the most extravagant gunpowder tales, embroidered with all
kinds of foreign oaths; clink the can with them; pledge them in deep
potations; bawl drinking songs in their ears; and occasionally fire
pistols over their heads, or under the table, and then laugh in their
faces, and ask them how they liked the smell of gunpowder.

Thus was the little village of Communipaw for a time like the
unfortunate wight possessed with devils; until Vanderscamp and his
brother merchants would sail on another trading voyage, when the Wild
Goose would be shut up, and every thing relapse into quiet, only to be
disturbed by his next visitation.

The mystery of all these proceedings gradually dawned upon the tardy
intellects of Communipaw. These were the times of the notorious
Captain Kidd, when the American harbors were the resorts of piratical
adventurers of all kinds, who, under pretext of mercantile voyages,
scoured the West Indies, made plundering descents upon the Spanish Main,
visited even the remote Indian Seas, and then came to dispose of their
booty, have their revels, and fit out new expeditions, in the English

Vanderscamp had served in this hopeful school, and having risen to
importance among the bucaniers, had pitched upon his native village and
early home, as a quiet, out-of-the-way, unsuspected place, where he and
his comrades, while anchored at New York, might have their feasts, and
concert their plans, without molestation.

At length the attention of the British government was called to these
piratical enterprises, that were becoming so frequent and outrageous.
Vigorous measures were taken to check and punish them. Several of
the most noted freebooters were caught and executed, and three of
Vanderscamp's chosen comrades, the most riotous swash-bucklers of the
Wild Goose, were hanged in chains on Gibbet-Island, in full sight of
their favorite resort. As to Vanderscamp himself, he and his man Pluto
again disappeared, and it was hoped by the people of Communipaw that he
had fallen in some foreign brawl, or been swung on some foreign gallows.

For a time, therefore, the tranquillity of the village was restored;
the worthy Dutchmen once more smoked their pipes in peace, eying, with
peculiar complacency, their old pests and terrors, the pirates, dangling
and drying in the sun, on Gibbet-Island.

This perfect calm was doomed at length to be ruffled. The fiery
persecution of the pirates gradually subsided. Justice was satisfied
with the examples that had been made, and there was no more talk of
Kidd, and the other heroes of like kidney. On a calm summer evening, a
boat, somewhat heavily laden, was seen pulling into Communipaw. What
was the surprise and disquiet of the inhabitants, to see Yan Yost
Vanderscamp seated at the helm, and his man Pluto tugging at the oars!
Vanderscamp, however, was apparently an altered man. He brought home
with him a wife, who seemed to be a shrew, and to have the upper-hand of
him. He no longer was the swaggering, bully ruffian, but affected the
regular merchant, and talked of retiring from business, and settling
down quietly, to pass the rest of his days in his native place.

The Wild Goose mansion was again opened, but with diminished splendor,
and no riot. It is true, Vanderscamp had frequent nautical visitors, and
the sound of revelry was occasionally overheard in his house; but every
thing seemed to be done under the rose; and old Pluto was the only
servant that officiated at these orgies. The visitors, indeed, were
by no means of the turbulent stamp of their predecessors; but quiet,
mysterious traders, full of nods, and winks, and hieroglyphic signs,
with whom, to use their cant phrase, "every thing was smug." Their ships
came to anchor at night in the lower bay; and, on a private signal,
Vanderscamp would launch his boat, and accompanied solely by his man
Pluto, would make them mysterious visits. Sometimes boats pulled in at
night, in front of the Wild Goose, and various articles of merchandise
were landed in the dark, and spirited away, nobody knew whither. One of
the more curious of the inhabitants kept watch, and caught a glimpse of
the features of some of these night visitors, by the casual glance of
a lantern, and declared that he recognized more than one of the
freebooting frequenters of the Wild Goose, in former times; from whence
he concluded that Vanderscamp was at his old game, and that this
mysterious merchandise was nothing more nor less than piratical plunder.
The more charitable opinion, however, was, that Vanderscamp and his
comrades, having been driven from their old line of business, by the
"oppressions of government," had resorted to smuggling to make both ends

Be that as it may: I come now to the extraordinary fact, which is the
butt-end of this story. It happened late one night, that Yan Yost
Vanderscamp was returning across the broad bay, in his light skiff,
rowed by his man Pluto. He had been carousing on board of a vessel,
newly arrived, and was somewhat obfuscated in intellect, by the liquor
he had imbibed. It was a still, sultry night; a heavy mass of lurid
clouds was rising in the west, with the low muttering of distant
thunder. Vanderscamp called on Pluto to pull lustily, that they might
get home before the gathering storm. The old negro made no reply, but
shaped his course so as to skirt the rocky shores of Gibbet-Island. A
faint creaking overhead caused Vanderscamp to cast up his eyes, when,
to his horror, he beheld the bodies of his three pot companions and
brothers in iniquity dangling in the moonlight, their rags fluttering,
and their chains creaking, as they were slowly swung backward and
forward by the rising breeze.

"What do you mean, you blockhead!" cried Vanderscamp, "by pulling so
close to the island?"

"I thought you'd be glad to see your old friends once more," growled the
negro; "you were never afraid of a living man, what do you fear from the

"Who's afraid?" hiccupped Vanderscamp, partly heated by liquor, partly
nettled by the jeer of the negro; "who's afraid! Hang me, but I would be
glad to see them once more, alive or dead, at the Wild Goose. Come, my
lads in the wind!" continued he, taking a draught, and flourishing the
bottle above his head, "here's fair weather to you in the other world;
and if you should be walking the rounds to-night, odds fish! but I'll be
happy if you will drop in to supper."

A dismal creaking was the only reply. The wind blew loud and shrill, and
as it whistled round the gallows, and among the bones, sounded as if
there were laughing and gibbering in the air. Old Pluto chuckled to
himself, and now pulled for home. The storm burst over the voyagers,
while they were yet far from shore. The rain fell in torrents, the
thunder crashed and pealed, and the lightning kept up an incessant
blaze. It was stark midnight, before they landed at Communipaw.

Dripping and shivering, Vanderscamp crawled homeward. He was completely
sobered by the storm; the water soaked from without, having diluted and
cooled the liquor within. Arrived at the Wild Goose, he knocked timidly
and dubiously at the door, for he dreaded the reception he was to
experience from his wife. He had reason to do so. She met him at the
threshold, in a precious ill humor.

"Is this a time," said she, "to keep people out of their beds, and to
bring home company, to turn the house upside down?"

"Company?" said Vanderscamp, meekly; "I have brought no company with me,

"No, indeed! they have got here before you, but by your invitation; and
blessed-looking company they are, truly!"

Vanderscamp's knees smote together. "For the love of heaven, where are
they, wife?"

"Where?--why, in the blue-room, up-stairs, making themselves as much at
home as if the house were their own."

Vanderscamp made a desperate effort, scrambled up to the room, and threw
open the door. Sure enough, there at a table, on which burned a light as
blue as brimstone, sat the three guests from Gibbet-Island, with halters
round their necks, and bobbing their cups together, as if they were
hob-or-nobbing, and trolling the old Dutch freebooter's glee, since
translated into English:

 "For three merry lads be we,
  And three merry lads be we;
  I on the land, and thou on the sand,
  And Jack on the gallows-tree."

Vanderscamp saw and heard no more. Starting back with horror, he missed
his footing on the landing-place, and fell from the top of the stairs to
the bottom. He was taken up speechless, and, either from the fall or the
fright, was buried in the yard of the little Dutch church at Bergen, on
the following Sunday.

From that day forward, the fate of the Wild Goose was sealed. It was
pronounced a _haunted house_, and avoided accordingly. No one inhabited
it but Vanderscamp's shrew of a widow, and old Pluto, and they were
considered but little better than its hobgoblin visitors. Pluto grew
more and more haggard and morose, and looked more like an imp of
darkness than a human being. He spoke to no one, but went about
muttering to himself; or, as some hinted, talking with the devil, who,
though unseen, was ever at his elbow. Now and then he was seen pulling
about the bay alone, in his skiff, in dark weather, or at the approach
of night-fall; nobody could tell why, unless on an errand to invite more
guests from the gallows. Indeed it was affirmed that the Wild Goose
still continued to be a house of entertainment for such guests, and that
on stormy nights, the blue chamber was occasionally illuminated, and
sounds of diabolical merriment were overheard, mingling with the howling
of the tempest. Some treated these as idle stories, until on one such
night, it was about the time of the equinox, there was a horrible uproar
in the Wild Goose, that could not be mistaken. It was not so much
the sound of revelry, however, as strife, with two or three piercing
shrieks, that pervaded every part of the village. Nevertheless, no one
thought of hastening to the spot. On the contrary, the honest burghers
of Communipaw drew their night-caps over their ears, and buried their
heads under the bed-clothes, at the thoughts of Vanderscamp and his
gallows companions.

The next morning, some of the bolder and more curious undertook to
reconnoitre. All was quiet and lifeless at the Wild Goose. The door
yawned wide open, and had evidently been open all night, for the storm
had beaten into the house. Gathering more courage from the silence and
apparent desertion, they gradually ventured over the threshold. The
house had indeed the air of having been possessed by devils. Every thing
was topsy-turvy; trunks had been broken open, and chests of drawers and
corner cupboards turned inside out, as in a time of general sack and
pillage; but the most woful sight was the widow of Yan Yost Vanderscamp,
extended a corpse on the floor of the blue-chamber, with the marks of a
deadly gripe on the wind-pipe.

All now was conjecture and dismay at Communipaw; and the disappearance
of old Pluto, who was no where to be found, gave rise to all kinds of
wild surmises. Some suggested that the negro had betrayed the house to
some of Vanderscamp's bucaniering associates, and that they had decamped
together with the booty; others surmised that the negro was nothing more
nor less than a devil incarnate, who had now accomplished his ends, and
made off with his dues. Events, however, vindicated the negro from this
last imputation. His skiff was picked up, drifting about the bay, bottom
upward, as if wrecked in a tempest; and his body was found, shortly
afterward, by some Communipaw fishermen, stranded among the rocks of
Gibbet-Island, near the foot of the pirates' gallows. The fishermen
shook their heads, and observed that old Pluto had ventured once too
often to invite Guests from Gibbet-Island.

       *       *       *       *       *



"Who did not think, till within these foure yeares, but that these
islands had been rather a habitation for Divells, than fit for men to
dwell in? Who did not hate the name, when hee was on land, and shun the
place when he was on the seas? But behold the misprision and conceits of
the world! For true and large experience hath now told us, it is one of
the sweetest paradises that be upon earth."--"A PLAINE DESCRIPT. OF THE
BARMUDAS:" 1613.

In the course of a voyage home from England, our ship had been
struggling, for two or three weeks, with perverse headwinds, and a
stormy sea. It was in the month of May, yet the weather had at times
a wintry sharpness, and it was apprehended that we were in the
neighborhood of floating islands of ice, which at that season of the
year drift out of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and sometimes occasion the
wreck of noble ships.

Wearied out by the continued opposition of the elements, our captain at
length bore away to the south, in hopes of catching the expiring breath
of the trade-winds, and making what is called the southern passage. A
few days wrought, as it were, a magical "sea change" in every thing
around us. We seemed to emerge into a different world. The late dark and
angry sea, lashed up into roaring and swashing surges, became calm and
sunny; the rude winds died away; and gradually a light breeze sprang up
directly aft, filling out every sail, and wafting us smoothly along on
an even keel. The air softened into a bland and delightful temperature.
Dolphins began to play about us; the nautilus came floating by, like a
fairy ship, with its mimic sail and rainbow tints; and flying-fish, from
time to time, made their short excursive flights, and occasionally fell
upon the deck. The cloaks and overcoats in which we had hitherto wrapped
ourselves, and moped about the vessel, were thrown aside; for a summer
warmth had succeeded to the late wintry chills. Sails were stretched as
awnings over the quarter-deck, to protect us from the mid-day sun. Under
these we lounged away the day, in luxurious indolence, musing, with
half-shut eyes, upon the quiet ocean. The night was scarcely less
beautiful than the day. The rising moon sent a quivering column of
silver along the undulating surface of the deep, and, gradually climbing
the heaven, lit up our towering top-sails and swelling main-sails, and
spread a pale, mysterious light around. As our ship made her whispering
way through this dreamy world of waters, every boisterous sound on board
was charmed to silence; and the low whistle, or drowsy song of a sailor
from the forecastle, or the tinkling of a guitar, and the soft warbling
of a female voice from the quarter-deck, seemed to derive a witching
melody from the scene and hour. I was reminded of Oberon's exquisite
description of music and moonlight on the ocean:

 --"Thou rememberest
  Since once I sat upon a promontory,
  And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back,
  Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
  That the rude sea grew civil at her song?
  And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
  To hear the sea-maid's music."

Indeed, I was in the very mood to conjure up all the imaginary beings
with which poetry has peopled old ocean, and almost ready to fancy
I heard the distant song of the mermaid, or the mellow shell of the
triton, and to picture to myself Neptune and Amphitrite with all their
pageant sweeping along the dim horizon.

A day or two of such fanciful voyaging brought us in sight of the
Bermudas, which first looked like mere summer clouds, peering above the
quiet ocean. All day we glided along in sight of them, with just wind
enough to fill our sails; and never did land appear more lovely. They
were clad in emerald verdure, beneath the serenest of skies: not an
angry wave broke upon their quiet shores, and small fishing craft,
riding on the crystal waves, seemed as if hung in air. It was such a
scene that Fletcher pictured to himself, when he extolled the halcyon
lot of the fisherman:

  Ah! would thou knewest how much it better were
  To bide among the simple fisher-swains:
  No shrieking owl, no night-crow lodgeth here,
  Nor is our simple pleasure mixed with pains.
  Our sports begin with the beginning year;
  In calms, to pull the leaping fish to land,
  In roughs, to sing and dance along the yellow sand.

In contemplating these beautiful islands, and the peaceful sea
around them, I could hardly realize that these were the "still vexed
Bermoothes" of Shakspeare, once the dread of mariners, and infamous in
the narratives of the early discoverers, for the dangers and disasters
which beset them. Such, however, was the case; and the islands derived
additional interest in my eyes, from fancying that I could trace in
their early history, and in the superstitious notions connected with
them, some of the elements of Shakspeare's wild and beautiful drama of
the Tempest. I shall take the liberty of citing a few historical facts,
in support of this idea, which may claim some additional attention from
the American reader, as being connected with the first settlement of

At the time when Shakspeare was in the fulness of his talent, and
seizing upon everything that could furnish aliment to his imagination,
the colonization of Virginia was a favorite object of enterprise among
people of condition in England, and several of the courtiers of the
court of Queen Elizabeth were personally engaged in it. In the year
1609 a noble armament of nine ships and five hundred men sailed for the
relief of the colony. It was commanded by Sir George Somers, as admiral,
a gallant and generous gentleman, above sixty years of age, and
possessed of an ample fortune, yet still bent upon hardy enterprise, and
ambitious of signalizing himself in the service of his country.

On board of his flag-ship, the Sea-Vulture, sailed also Sir Thomas
Gates, lieutenant-general of the colony. The voyage was long and
boisterous. On the twenty-fifth of July, the admiral's ship was
separated from the rest, in a hurricane. For several days she was driven
about at the mercy of the elements, and so strained and racked, that her
seams yawned open, and her hold was half filled with water. The storm
subsided, but left her a mere foundering wreck. The crew stood in the
hold to their waists in water, vainly endeavoring to bail her with
kettles, buckets, and other vessels. The leaks rapidly gained on them,
while their strength was as rapidly declining. They lost all hope of
keeping the ship afloat, until they should reach the American coast; and
wearied with fruitless toil, determined, in their despair, to give up
all farther attempt, shut down the hatches, and abandon themselves to
Providence. Some, who had spirituous liquors, or "comfortable waters,"
as the old record quaintly terms them, brought them forth, and shared
them with their comrades, and they all drank a sad farewell to one
another, as men who were soon to part company in this world.

In this moment of extremity, the worthy admiral, who kept sleepless
watch from the high stern of the vessel, gave the thrilling cry of
"land!" All rushed on deck, in a frenzy of joy, and nothing now was to
be seen or heard on board, but the transports of men who felt as if
rescued from the grave. It is true the land in sight would not, in
ordinary circumstances, have inspired much self-gratulation. It could be
nothing else but the group of islands called after their discoverer, one
Juan Bermudas, a Spaniard, but stigmatized among the mariners of those
days as "the islands of devils!" "For the islands of the Bermudas," says
the old narrative of this voyage, "as every man knoweth that hath heard
or read of them, were never inhabited by any Christian or heathen
people, but were ever esteemed and reputed a most prodigious and
inchanted place, affording nothing but gusts, stormes, and foul weather,
which made every navigator and mariner to avoide them, as Scylla and
Charybdis, or as they would shun the Divell himself." [Footnote: "A
Plaine Description of the Barmudas."]

Sir George Somers and his tempest-tossed comrades, however, hailed them
with rapture, as if they had been a terrestrial paradise. Every sail was
spread, and every exertion made to urge the foundering ship to land.
Before long, she struck upon a rock. Fortunately, the late stormy winds
had subsided, and there was no surf. A swelling wave lifted her from off
the rock, and bore her to another; and thus she was borne on from rock
to rock, until she remained wedged between two, as firmly as if set upon
the stocks. The boats were immediately lowered, and, though the shore
was above a mile distant, the whole crew were landed in safety.

Every one had now his task assigned him. Some made all haste to unload
the ship, before she should go to pieces; some constructed wigwams of
palmetto leaves, and others ranged the island in quest of wood and
water. To their surprise and joy, they found it far different from the
desolate and frightful place they had been taught, by seamen's stories,
to expect. It was well-wooded and fertile; there were birds of various
kinds, and herds of swine roaming about, the progeny of a number that
had swam ashore, in former years, from a Spanish wreck. The island
abounded with turtle, and great quantities of their eggs were to be
found among the rocks. The bays and inlets were full of fish; so tame,
that if any one stepped into the water, they would throng around him.
Sir George Somers, in a little while, caught enough with hook and line
to furnish a meal to his whole ship's company. Some of them were so
large, that two were as much as a man could carry. Crawfish, also,
were taken in abundance. The air was soft and salubrious, and the sky
beautifully serene. Waller, in his "Summer Islands," has given us a
faithful picture of the climate:

  "For the kind spring, (which but salutes us here,)
  Inhabits these, and courts them all the year:
  Ripe fruits and blossoms on the same trees live;
  At once they promise, and at once they give:
  So sweet the air, so moderate the clime,
  None sickly lives, or dies before his time.
  Heaven sure has kept this spot of earth uncursed
  To shew how all things were created first."

We may imagine the feelings of the shipwrecked marines on finding
themselves cast by stormy seas upon so happy a coast; where abundance
was to be had without labor; where what in other climes constituted the
costly luxuries of the rich, were within every man's reach; and where
life promised to be a mere holiday. Many of the common sailors,
especially, declared they desired no better lot than to pass the rest of
their lives on this favored island.

The commanders, however, were not so ready to console themselves
with mere physical comforts, for the severance from the enjoyment of
cultivated life, and all the objects of honorable ambition. Despairing
of the arrival of any chance ship on these shunned and dreaded islands,
they fitted out the long-boat, making a deck of the ship's hatches,
and having manned her with eight picked men, despatched her, under
the command of an able and hardy mariner, named Raven, to proceed to
Virginia, and procure shipping to be sent to their relief.

While waiting in anxious idleness for the arrival of the looked-for
aid, dissensions arose between Sir George Somers and Sir Thomas Gates,
originating, very probably, in jealousy of the lead which the nautical
experience and professional station of the admiral gave him in the
present emergency. Each commander, of course, had his adherents:
these dissensions ripened into a complete schism; and this handful
of shipwrecked men, thus thrown together, on an uninhabited island,
separated into two parties, and lived asunder in bitter feud, as men
rendered fickle by prosperity instead of being brought into brotherhood
by a common calamity.

Weeks and months elapsed, without bringing the looked-for aid from
Virginia, though that colony was within but a few days' sail. Fears were
now entertained that the long-boat had been either swallowed up in
the sea, or wrecked on some savage coast; one or other of which most
probably was the case, as nothing was ever heard of Raven and his

Each party now set to work to build a vessel for itself out of the cedar
with which the island abounded. The wreck of the Sea-Vulture furnished
rigging, and various other articles; but they had no iron for bolts, and
other fastenings; and for want of pitch and tar, they payed the seams of
their vessels with lime and turtle's oil, which soon dried, and became
as hard as stone.

On the tenth of May, 1610, they set sail, having been about nine months
on the island. They reached Virginia without farther accident, but found
the colony in great distress for provisions. The account they gave of
the abundance that reigned in the Bermudas, and especially of the herds
of swine that roamed the island, determined Lord Delaware, the governor
of Virginia, to send thither for supplies. Sir George Somers, with his
wonted promptness and generosity, offered to undertake what was still
considered a dangerous voyage. Accordingly, on the nineteenth of June,
he set sail, in his own cedar vessel of thirty tons, accompanied by
another small vessel, commanded by Captain Argall.

The gallant Somers was doomed again to be tempest-tossed. His companion
vessel was soon driven back to port, but he kept the sea; and, as usual,
remained at his post on deck, in all weathers. His voyage was long and
boisterous, and the fatigues and exposures which he underwent, were too
much for a frame impaired by age, and by previous hardships. He arrived
at Bermudas completely exhausted and broken down.

His nephew, Captain Mathew Somers, attended him in his illness with
affectionate assiduity. Finding his end approaching, the veteran called
his men together, and exhorted them to be true to the interests of
Virginia; to procure provisions with all possible despatch, and hasten
back to the relief of the colony.

With this dying charge, he gave up the ghost, leaving us nephew and crew
overwhelmed with grief and consternation. Their first thought was to
pay honor to his remains. Opening the body, they took out the heart and
entrails, and buried them, erecting a cross over the grave. They then
embalmed the body, and set sail with it for England; thus, while paying
empty honors to their deceased commander, neglecting his earnest wish
and dying injunction, that they should return with relief to Virginia.

The little bark arrived safely at Whitechurch, in Dorsetshire, with its
melancholy freight. The body of the worthy Somers was interred with the
military honors due to a brave soldier, and many volleys were fired
over his grave. The Bermudas have since received the name of the Somer
Islands, as a tribute to his memory.

The accounts given by Captain Mathew Somers and his crew of the
delightful climate, and the great beauty, fertility, and abundance of
these islands, excited the zeal of enthusiasts, and the cupidity of
speculators, and a plan was set on foot to colonize them. The Virginia
company sold their right to the islands to one hundred and twenty of
their own members, who erected themselves into a distinct corporation,
under the name of the "Somer Island Society;" and Mr. Richard More was
sent out, in 1612, as governor, with sixty men, to found a colony: and
this leads me to the second branch of this research.

       *       *       *       *       *



At the time that Sir George Somers was preparing to launch his
cedar-built bark, and sail for Virginia, there were three culprits among
his men, who had been guilty of capital offences. One of them was shot;
the others, named Christopher Carter and Edward Waters, escaped. Waters,
indeed, made a very narrow escape, for he had actually been tied to a
tree to be executed, but cut the rope with a knife, which he had
concealed about his person, and fled to the woods, where he was joined by
Carter. These two worthies kept themselves concealed in the secret parts
of the island, until the departure of the two vessels. When Sir George
Somers revisited the island, in quest of supplies for the Virginia
colony, these culprits hovered about the landing-place, and succeeded in
persuading another seaman, named Edward Chard, to join them, giving him
the most seductive pictures of the ease and abundance in which they

When the bark that bore Sir George's body to England had faded from the
watery horizon, these three vagabonds walked forth in their majesty and
might, the lords and sole inhabitants of these islands. For a time their
little commonwealth went on prosperously and happily. They built a
house, sowed corn, and the seeds of various fruits; and having plenty
of hogs, wild fowl, and fish of all kinds, with turtle in abundance,
carried on their tripartite sovereignty with great harmony and much
feasting. All kingdoms, however, are doomed to revolution, convulsion,
or decay; and so it fared with the empire of the three kings of Bermuda,
albeit they were monarchs without subjects. In an evil hour, in their
search after turtle, among the fissures of the rocks, they came upon a
great treasure of ambergris, which had been cast on shore by the ocean.
Beside a number of pieces of smaller dimensions, there was one great
mass, the largest that had ever been known, weighing eighty pounds, and
which of itself, according to the market value of ambergris in those
days, was worth about nine or ten thousand pounds!

From that moment, the happiness and harmony of the three kings of
Bermuda were gone for ever. While poor devils, with nothing to share
but the common blessings of the island, which administered to present
enjoyment, but had nothing of convertible value, they were loving and
united: but here was actual wealth, which would make them rich men,
whenever they could transport it to a market.

Adieu the delights of the island! They now became flat and insipid. Each
pictured to himself the consequence he might now aspire to, in civilized
life, could he once get there with this mass of ambergris. No longer a
poor Jack Tar, frolicking in the low taveriis of Wapping, he might roll
through London in his coach, and perchance arrive, like Whittington, at
the dignity of Lord Mayor.

With riches came envy and covetousness. Each was now for assuming the
supreme power, and getting the monopoly of the ambergris. A civil war at
length broke out: Chard and Waters defied each other to mortal combat,
and the kingdom of the Bermudas was on the point of being deluged with
royal blood. Fortunately, Carter took no part in the bloody feud.
Ambition might have made him view it with secret exultation; for if
either or both of his brother potentates were slain in the conflict,
he would be a gainer in purse and ambergris. But he dreaded to be left
alone in this uninhabited island, and to find himself the monarch of
a solitude: so he secretly purloined and hid the weapons of the
belligerent rivals, who, having no means of carrying on the war,
gradually cooled down into a sullen armistice.

The arrival of Governor More, with an overpowering force of sixty men,
put an end to the empire. He took possession of the kingdom, in the
name of the Somer Island Company, and forthwith proceeded to make a
settlement. The three kings tacitly relinquished their sway, but stood
up stoutly for their treasure. It was determined, however, that they
had been fitted out at the expense, and employed in the service, of the
Virginia Company; that they had found the ambergis while in the service
of that company, and on that company's land; that the ambergis,
therefore, belonged to that company, or rather to the Somer Island
Company, in consequence of their recent purchase of the island, and all
their appurtenances. Having thus legally established their right, and
being moreover able to back it by might, the company laid the lion's paw
upon the spoil; and nothing more remains on historic record of the Three
Kings of Bermuda, and their treasure of ambergris.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reader will now determine whether I am more extravagant than most
of the commentators on Shakspeare, in my surmise that the story of Sir
George Somers' shipwreck, and the subsequent occurrences that took place
on the uninhabited island, may have furnished the bard with some of the
elements of his drama of the Tempest. The tidings of the shipwreck, and
of the incidents connected with it, reached England not long before the
production of this drama, and made a great sensation there. A narrative
of the whole matter, from which most of the foregoing particulars are
extracted, was published at the time in London, in a pamphlet form, and
could not fail to be eagerly perused by Shakspeare, and to make a vivid
impression on his fancy. His expression, in the Tempest, of "the still
vext Bermoothes," accords exactly with the storm-beaten character of
those islands. The enchantments, too, with which he has clothed the
island of Prospero, may they not be traced to the wild and superstitious
notions entertained about the Bermudas? I have already cited two
passages from a pamphlet published at the time, showing that they
were esteemed "a most _prodigious_ and _inchanted_ place," and the
"habitation of divells;" and another pamphlet, published shortly
afterward, observes: "And whereas it is reported that this land of the
Barmudas, with the islands about, (which are many, at least a hundred,)
are inchanted and kept with evil and wicked spirits, it is a most idle
and false report." [Footnote: "Newes from the Barmudas;" 1612.]

The description, too, given in the same pamphlets, of the real beauty
and fertility of the Bermudas, and of their serene and happy climate, so
opposite to the dangerous and inhospitable character with which they had
been stigmatized, accords with the eulogium of Sebastian on the island
of Prospero:

"Though this island seem to be desert, uninhabitable, and almost
inaccessible, it must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate
temperance. The air breathes upon us here most sweetly. Here is every
thing advantageous to life. How lush and lusty the grass looks! how

I think too, in the exulting consciousness of ease, security, and
abundance felt by the late tempest-tossed mariners, while revelling in
the plenteousness of the island, and their inclination to remain there,
released from the labors, the cares, and the artificial restraints of
civilized life, I can see something of the golden commonwealth of honest

  "Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,
  And were the king of it, what would I do?
  I' the commonwealth I would by contraries
  Execute all things: for no kind of traffic
  Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
  Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
  And use of service, none; contract, succession,
  Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none:
  No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil:
  No occupation; all men idle, all.

  All things in common, nature should produce,
  Without sweat or endeavor: Treason, felony,
  Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,
  Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,
  Of its own kind, all foizon, all abundance,
  To feed my innocent people."

But above all, in the three fugitive vagabonds who remained in
possession of the island of Bermuda, on the departure of their comrades,
and in their squabbles about supremacy, on the finding of their
treasure, I see typified Sebastian, Trinculo, and their worthy companion

  "Trinculo, the king and all our company being drowned,
we will inherit here."

  "Monster, I will kill this man; his daughter and I will be king and
queen, (save our graces!) and Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys."

I do not mean to hold up the incidents and characters in the narrative
and in the play as parallel, or as being strikingly similar: neither
would I insinuate that the narrative suggested the play; I would only
suppose that Shakspeare, being occupied about that time on the drama of
the Tempest, the main story of which, I believe, is of Italian origin,
had many of the fanciful ideas of it suggested to his mind by the
shipwreck of Sir George Somers on the "still vext Bermothes," and by the
popular superstitions connected with these islands, and suddenly put in
circulation by that event.

       *       *       *       *       *



It is the common lamentation of Spanish historiographers, that, for an
obscure and melancholy space of time immediately succeeding the conquest
of their country by the Moslems, its history is a mere wilderness of
dubious facts, groundless fables, and rash exaggerations. Learned men,
in cells and cloisters, have worn out their lives in vainly endeavoring
to connect incongruous events, and to account for startling
improbabilities, recorded of this period. The worthy Jesuit, Padre
Abarca, declares that, for more than forty years during which he had
been employed in theological controversies, he had never found any so
obscure and inexplicable as those which rise out of this portion of
Spanish history, and that the only fruit of an indefatigable, prolix,
and even prodigious study of the subject, was a melancholy and
mortifying state of indecision. [Footnote: PADRE PEDRO ABARCA. Anales
de Aragon, Anti Regno, F2.] During this apocryphal period, flourished
PELAYO, the deliverer of Spain, whose name, like that of William
Wallace, will ever be linked with the glory of his country, but linked,
in like manner, by a bond in which fact and fiction are inextricably

The quaint old chronicle of the Moor Rasis, which, though wild and
fanciful in the extreme, is frequently drawn upon for early facts by
Spanish historians, professes to give the birth, parentage, and whole
course of fortune of Pelayo, without the least doubt or hesitation. It
makes him a son of the Duke of Cantabria, and descended, both by father
and mother's side, from the Gothic kings of Spain. I shall pass over the
romantic story of his childhood, and shall content myself with a scene
of his youth, which was spent in a castle among the Pyrenees, under
the eye of his widowed and noble-minded mother, who caused him to be
instructed in everything befitting a cavalier of gentle birth. While the
sons of the nobility were revelling amid the pleasures of a licentious
court, and sunk in that vicious and effeminate indulgence which led
to the perdition of unhappy Spain, the youthful Pelayo, in his rugged
mountain school, was steeled to all kinds of hardy exercise. A great
part of his time was spent in hunting the bears, the wild boars, and the
wolves, with which the Pyrenees abounded; and so purely and chastely was
he brought up, by his good lady mother, that, if the ancient chronicle
from which I draw my facts may be relied on, he had attained his
one-and-twentieth year, without having once sighed for woman!

Nor were his hardy contests confined to the wild beasts of the forest.
Occasionally he had to contend with adversaries of a more formidable
character. The skirts and defiles of these border mountains were often
infested by marauders from the Gallic plains of Gascony. The Gascons,
says an old chronicler, were a people who used smooth words when
expedient, but force when they had power, and were ready to lay their
hands on every thing they met. Though poor, they were proud; for there
was not one who did not pride himself on being a hijo-dalgo, or the son
of somebody.

At the head of a band of these needy hijodalgos of Gascony, was one
Arnaud, a broken-down cavalier. He and four of his followers were well
armed and mounted; the rest were a set of scamper-grounds on foot,
furnished with darts and javelins. They were the terror of the border;
here to-day and gone to-morrow; sometimes in one pass, sometimes in
another. They would make sudden inroads into Spain, scour the roads,
plunder the country, and were over the mountains and far away before a
force could be collected to pursue them.

Now it happened one day, that a wealthy burgher of Bordeaux, who was a
merchant, trading with Biscay, set out on a journey for that province.
As he intended to sojourn there for a season, he took with him his
wife, who was a goodly dame, and his daughter, a gentle damsel, of
marriageable age, and exceeding fair to look upon. He was attended by a
trusty clerk from his comptoir, and a man servant; while another servant
led a hackney, laden with bags of money, with which he intended to
purchase merchandise.

When the Gascons heard of this wealthy merchant and his convoy passing
through the mountains, they thanked their stars, for they considered
all peaceful men of traffic as lawful spoil, sent by providence for the
benefit of hidalgos like themselves, of valor and gentle blood, who
lived by the sword. Placing themselves in ambush, in a lonely defile, by
which the travellers had to pass, they silently awaited their coming. In
a little while they beheld them approaching. The merchant was a fair,
portly man, in a buff surcoat and velvet cap. His looks bespoke the good
cheer of his native city, and he was mounted on a stately, well-fed
steed, while his wife and daughter paced gently on palfreys by his side.

The travellers had advanced some distance in the defile, when the
Bandoleros rushed forth and assailed them. The merchant, though but
little used to the exercise of arms, and unwieldy in his form, yet made
valiant defence, having his wife and daughter and money-bags at hazard.
He was wounded in two places, and overpowered; one of his servants was
slain, the other took to flight.

The freebooters then began to ransack for spoil, but were disappointed
at not finding the wealth they had expected. Putting their swords to the
breast of the trembling merchant, they demanded where he had concealed
his treasure, and learned from him of the hackney that was following,
laden with, money. Overjoyed at this intelligence, they bound their
captives to trees, and awaited the arrival of the golden spoil.

On this same day, Pelayo was out with his huntsmen among the mountains,
and had taken his stand on a rock, at a narrow pass, to await the
sallying forth of a wild boar. Close by him was a page, conducting a
horse, and at the saddle-bow hung his armor, for he was always prepared
for fight among these border mountains. While thus posted, the servant
of the merchant came flying from the robbers. On beholding Pelayo, he
fell on his knees, and implored his life, for he supposed him to be
one of the band. It was some time before he could be relieved from his
terror, and made to tell his story. When Pelayo heard of the robbers,
he concluded they were the crew of Gascon hidalgos, upon the scamper.
Taking his armor from the page, he put on his helmet, slung his buckler
round his neck, took lance in hand, and mounting his steed, compelled
the trembling servant to guide him to the scene of action. At the same
time he ordered the page to seek his huntsmen, and summon them to his

When the robbers saw Pelayo advancing through the forest, with a single
attendant on foot, and beheld his rich armor sparkling in the sun, they
thought a new prize had fallen into their hands, and Arnaud and two of
his companions, mounting their horses, advanced to meet him. As they
approached, Pelayo stationed himself in a narrow pass between two rocks,
where he could only be assailed in front, and bracing his buckler, and
lowering his lance, awaited their coming.

"Who and what are ye," cried he, "and what seek ye in this land?"

"We are huntsmen," replied Arnaud, "and lo! our game runs into our

"By my faith," replied Pelayo, "thou wilt find the game more readily
roused than taken: have at thee for a villain!"

So saying, he put spurs to his horse, and ran full speed upon him. The
Gascon, not expecting so sudden an attack from a single horseman, was
taken by surprise. He hastily couched his lance, but it merely glanced
on the shield of Pelayo, who sent his own through the middle of his
breast, and threw him out of his saddle to the earth. One of the other
robbers made at Pelayo, and wounded him slightly in the side, but
received a blow from the sword of the latter, which cleft his skull-cap,
and sank into his brain. His companion, seeing him fall, put spurs to
his steed, and galloped off through the forest.

Beholding several other robbers on foot coming up, Pelayo returned to
his station between the rocks, where he was assailed by them all at
once. He received two of their darts on his buckler, a javelin razed his
cuirass, and glancing down, wounded his horse. Pelayo then rushed forth,
and struck one of the robbers dead: the others, beholding several
huntsmen advancing, took to flight, but were pursued, and several of
them taken.

The good merchant of Bordeaux and his family beheld this scene with
trembling and amazement, for never had they looked upon such feats of
arms. They considered Don Pelayo as a leader of some rival band of
robbers; and when the bonds were loosed by which they were tied to
the trees, they fell at his feet and implored mercy. The females were
soonest undeceived, especially the daughter; for the damsel was struck
with the noble countenance and gentle demeanor of Pelayo, and said to
herself: "Surely nothing evil can dwell in so goodly and gracious a

Pelayo now sounded his horn, which echoed from rock to rock, and was
answered by shouts and horns from various parts of the mountains. The
merchant's heart misgave him at these signals, and especially when he
beheld more than forty men gathering from glen and thicket. They were
clad in hunters' dresses, and armed with boar-spears, darts, and
hunting-swords, and many of them led hounds in long leashes. All this
was a new and wild scene to the astonished merchant; nor were his fears
abated, when he saw his servant approaching with the hackney, laden with
money-bags; "for of a certainty," said he to himself, "this will be too
tempting a spoil for these wild hunters of the mountains."

Pelayo, however, took no more notice of the gold than if it had been
so much dross; at which the honest burgher marvelled exceedingly. He
ordered that the wounds of the merchant should be dressed, and his own
examined. On taking off his cuirass, his wound was found to be but
slight; but his men were so exasperated at seeing his blood, that
they would have put the captive robbers to instant death, had he not
forbidden them to do them any harm.

The huntsmen now made a great fire at the foot of a tree, and bringing
a boar which they had killed, cut off portions and roasted them, or
broiled them on the coals. Then drawing forth loaves of bread from their
wallets, they devoured their food half raw, with the hungry relish of
huntsmen and mountaineers. The merchant, his wife, and daughter, looked
at all this, and wondered, for they had never beheld so savage a repast.

Pelayo then inquired of them if they did not desire to eat; they were
too much in awe of him to decline, though they felt a loathing at the
thought of partaking of this hunter's fare; but he ordered a linen cloth
to be spread under the shade of a great oak, on the grassy margin of a
clear running stream; and to their astonishment, they were served, not
with the flesh of the boar, but with dainty cheer, such as the merchant
had scarcely hoped to find out of the walls of his native city of

The good burgher was of a community renowned for gastronomic prowess:
his fears having subsided, his appetite was now awakened, and he
addressed himself manfully to the viands that were set before him. His
daughter, however, could not eat: her eyes were ever and anon stealing
to gaze on Pelayo, whom she regarded with gratitude for his protection,
and admiration for his valor; and now that he had laid aside his helmet,
and she beheld his lofty countenance, glowing with manly beauty,
she thought him something more than mortal. The heart of the gentle
donzella, says the ancient chronicler, was kind and yielding; and had
Pelayo thought fit to ask the greatest boon that love and beauty could
bestow--doubtless meaning her fair hand--she could not have had the
cruelty to say him nay. Pelayo, however, had no such thoughts: the love
of woman had never yet entered his heart; and though he regarded the
damsel as the fairest maiden he had ever beheld, her beauty caused no
perturbation in his breast.

When the repast was over, Pelayo offered to conduct the merchant and
his family through the defiles of the mountains, lest they should be
molested by any of the scattered band of robbers. The bodies of the
slain marauders were buried, and the corpse of the servant was laid upon
one of the horses captured in the battle. Having formed their cavalcade,
they pursued their way slowly up one of the steep and winding passes of
the Pyrenees.

Toward sunset, they arrived at the dwelling of a holy hermit. It was
hewn out of the living rock; there was a cross over the door, and before
it was a great spreading oak, with a sweet spring of water at its foot.
The body of the faithful servant who had fallen in the defence of his
lord, was buried close by the wall of this sacred retreat, and the
hermit promised to perform masses for the repose of his soul. Then
Pelayo obtained from the holy father consent that the merchant's wife
and daughter should pass the night within his cell; and the hermit made
beds of moss for them, and gave them his benediction; but the damsel
found little rest, so much were her thoughts occupied by the youthful
champion who had rescued her from death or dishonor.

Pelayo, however, was visited by no such wandering of the mind; but,
wrapping himself in his mantle, slept soundly by the fountain under the
tree. At midnight, when every thing was buried in deep repose, he was
awakened from his sleep and beheld the hermit before him, with the beams
of the moon shining upon his silver hair and beard.

"This is no time," said the latter, "to be sleeping; arise and listen to
my words, and hear of the great work for which thou art chosen!"

Then Pelayo arose and seated himself on a rock, and the hermit continued
his discourse.

"Behold," said he, "the ruin of Spain is at hand! It will be delivered
into the hands of strangers, and will become a prey to the spoiler. Its
children will be slain or carried into captivity; or such as may escape
these evils, will harbor with the beasts of the forest or the eagles of
the mountain. The thorn and bramble will spring up where now are seen
the cornfield, the vine, and the olive; and hungry wolves will roam in
place of peaceful flocks and herds. But thou, my son! tarry not thou
to see these things, for thou canst not prevent them. Depart on a
pilgrimage to the sepulchre of our blessed Lord in Palestine; purify
thyself by prayer; enroll thyself in the order of chivalry, and prepare
for the great work of the redemption of thy country; for to thee it will
be given to raise it from the depth of its affliction."

Pelayo would have inquired farther into the evils thus foretold, but the
hermit rebuked his curiosity.

"Seek not to know more," said he, "than heaven is pleased to reveal.
Clouds and darkness cover its designs, and prophecy is never permitted
to lift up but in part the veil that rests upon the future."

The hermit ceased to speak, and Pelayo laid himself down again to take
repose, but sleep was a stranger to his eyes.

When the first rays of the rising sun shone upon the tops of the
mountains, the travellers assembled round the fountain beneath the tree
and made their morning's repast. Then, having received the benediction
of the hermit, they departed in the freshness of the day, and descended
along the hollow defiles leading into the interior of Spain. The good
merchant was refreshed by sleep and by his morning's meal; and when he
beheld his wife and daughter thus secure by his side, and the hackney
laden with his treasure close behind him, his heart was light in his
bosom, and he carolled a chanson as he went, and the woodlands echoed to
his song. But Pelayo rode in silence, for he revolved in his mind the
portentous words of the hermit; and the daughter of the merchant ever
and anon stole looks at him full of tenderness and admiration, and deep
sighs betrayed the agitation of her bosom.

At length they came to the foot of the mountains, where the forests and
the rocks terminated, and an open and secure country lay before the
travellers. Here they halted, for their roads were widely different.
When they came to part, the merchant and his wife were loud in thanks
and benedictions, and the good burgher would fain have given Pelayo the
largest of his sacks of gold; but the young man put it aside with a
smile. "Silver and gold," said he, "need I not, but if I have deserved
aught at thy hands, give me thy prayers, for the prayers of a good man
are above all price."

In the mean time the daughter had spoken never a word. At length she
raised her eyes, which were filled with tears, and looked timidly at
Pelayo, and her bosom throbbed; and after a violent struggle between
strong affection and virgin modesty, her heart relieved itself by words.

"Senor," said she, "I know that I am unworthy of the notice of so noble
a cavalier; but suffer me to place this ring upon a finger of that hand
which has so bravely rescued us from death; and when you regard it, you
may consider it as a memorial of your own valor, and not of one who is
too humble to be remembered by you."

With these words, she drew a ring from her finger and put it upon the
finger of Pelayo; and having done this, she blushed and trembled at her
own boldness, and stood as one abashed, with her eyes cast down upon the

Pelayo was moved at the words of the simple maiden, and at the touch of
her fair hand, and at her beauty, as she stood thus trembling and in
tears before him; but as yet he knew nothing of woman, and his heart was
free from the snares of love. "Amiga," (friend,) said he, "I accept thy
present, and will wear it in remembrance of thy goodness;" so saying, he
kissed her on the cheek.

The damsel was cheered by these words, and hoped that she had awakened
some tenderness in his bosom; but it was no such thing, says the grave
old chronicler, for his heart was devoted to higher and more sacred
matters; yet certain it is, that he always guarded well that ring.

When they parted, Pelayo remained with his huntsmen on a cliff, watching
that no evil befell them, until they were far beyond the skirts of the
mountain; and the damsel often turned to look at him, until she could no
longer discern him, for the distance and the tears that dimmed her eyes.

And for that he had accepted her ring, says the ancient chronicler, she
considered herself wedded to him in her heart, and would never marry;
nor could she be brought to look with eyes of affection upon any other
man; but for the true love which she bore Pelayo, she lived and died a
virgin. And she composed a book which treated of love and chivalry,
and the temptations of this mortal life; and one part discoursed of
celestial matters, and it was called "The Contemplations of Love;"
because at the time she wrote it, she thought of Pelayo, and of his
having accepted her jewel and called her by the gentle appellation of
"Amiga." And often thinking of him in tender sadness, and of her never
having beheld him more, she would take the book and would read it as
if in his stead; and while she repeated the words of love which it
contained, she would endeavor to fancy them uttered by Pelayo, and that
he stood before her.

       *       *       *       *       *



SIR: In the course of a tour which I made in Sicily, in the days of my
juvenility, I passed some little time at the ancient city of Catania,
at the foot of Mount Ætna. Here I became acquainted with the Chevalier
L----, an old Knight of Malta. It was not many years after the time that
Napoleon had dislodged the knights from their island, and he still wore
the insignia of his order. He was not, however, one of those reliques of
that once chivalrous body, who had been described was "a few worn-out
old men, creeping about certain parts of Europe, with the Maltese cross
on their breasts;" on the contrary, though advanced in life, his form
was still light and vigorous; he had a pale, thin, intellectual visage,
with a high forehead, and a bright, visionary eye. He seemed to take a
fancy to me, as I certainly did to him, and we soon became intimate,
I visited him occasionally, at his apartments, in the wing of an old
palace, looking toward Mount Ætna. He was an antiquary, a virtuoso, and
a connoisseur. His rooms were decorated with mutilated statues, dug up
from Grecian and Roman ruins; old vases, lachrymals, and sepulchral
lamps. He had astronomical and chemical instruments, and black-letter
books, in various languages. I found that he had dipped a little in
chimerical studies and had a hankering after astrology and alchymy. He
affected to believe in dreams and visions, and delighted in the fanciful
Rosicrucian doctrines. I cannot persuade myself, however, that he really
believed in all these: I rather think he loved to let his imagination
carry him away into the boundless fairy land which they unfolded.

In company with the chevalier, I took several excursions on horseback
about the environs of Catania, and the picturesque skirts of Mount Etna.
One of these led through a village, which had sprung up on the very
tract of an ancient eruption, the houses being built of lava. At one
time we passed, for some distance, along a narrow lane, between two high
dead convent walls. It was a cut-throat-looking place, in a country
where assassinations are frequent; and just about midway through it,
we observed blood upon the pavement and the walls, as if a murder had
actually been committed there.

The chevalier spurred on his horse, until he had extricated himself
completely from this suspicious neighborhood. He then observed, that it
reminded him of a similar blind alley in Malta, infamous on account of
the many assassinations that had taken place there; concerning one
of which, he related a long and tragical story, that lasted until
we reached Catania. It involved various circumstances of a wild and
supernatural character, but which he assured me were handed down in
tradition, and generally credited by the old inhabitants of Malta.

As I like to pick up strange stories, and as I was particularly struck
with several parts of this, I made a minute of it, on my return to my
lodgings. The memorandum was lost, with several others of my travelling
papers, and the story had faded from my mind, when recently, in perusing
a French memoir, I came suddenly upon it, dressed up, it is true, in a
very different manner, but agreeing in the leading facts, and given upon
the word of that famous adventurer, the Count Cagliostro.

I have amused myself, during a snowy day in the country, by rendering it
roughly into English, for the entertainment of a youthful circle round
the Christmas fire. It was well received by my auditors, who, however,
are rather easily pleased. One proof of its merits is that it sent
some of the youngest of them quaking to their beds, and gave them very
fearful dreams. Hoping that it may have the same effect upon your
ghost-hunting readers, I offer it, Mr. Editor, for insertion in your
Magazine. I would observe, that wherever I have modified the French
version of the Story, it has been in conformity to some recollection of
the narrative of my friend, the Knight of Malta.

Your obt. servt.,


       *       *       *       *       *



  "Keep my wits, heaven! They say spirits appear
  To melancholy minds, and the graves open!"--FLETCHER.

About the middle of the last century, while the Knights of Saint John of
Jerusalem still maintained something of their ancient state and sway in
the Island of Malta, a tragical event took place there, which is the
groundwork of the following narrative.

It may be as well to premise, that at the time we are treating of,
the order of Saint John of Jerusalem, grown excessively wealthy, had
degenerated from its originally devout and warlike character. Instead
of being a hardy body of "monk-knights," sworn soldiers of the cross,
fighting the Paynim in the Holy Land, or scouring the Mediterranean, and
scourging the Barbary coasts with their galleys, or feeding the poor,
and attending upon the sick at their hospitals, they led a life of
luxury and libertinism, and were to be found in the most voluptuous
courts of Europe. The order, in fact, had become a mode of providing
for the needy branches of the Catholic aristocracy of Europe. "A
commandery," we are told, was a splendid provision for a younger
brother; and men of rank, however dissolute, provided they belonged
to the highest aristocracy, became Knights of Malta, just as they did
bishops, or colonels of regiments, or court chamberlains. After a brief
Residence at Malta, the knights passed the rest of their time in their
own countries, or only made a visit now and then to the island. While
there, having but little military duty to perform, they beguiled their
idleness by paying attentions to the fair.

There was one circle of society, however, into which they could not
obtain currency. This was composed of a few families of the old Maltese
nobility, natives of the island. These families, not being permitted
to enroll any of their members in the order, affected to hold no
intercourse with its chevaliers; admitting none into their exclusive
coteries but the Grand Master, whom they acknowledged as their
sovereign, and the members of the chapter which composed his council.

To indemnify themselves for this exclusion, the chevaliers carried their
gallantries into the next class of society, composed of those who held
civil, administrative, and judicial situations. The ladies of this class
were called _honorate_, or honorables, to distinguish them from the
inferior orders; and among them were many of superior grace, beauty, and

Even in this more hospitable class, the chevaliers were not all equally
favored. Those of Germany had the decided preference, owing to their
fair and fresh complexions, and the kindliness of their manners: next
to these came the Spanish cavaliers, on account of their profound and
courteous devotion, and most discreet secrecy. Singular as it may seem,
the chevaliers of France fared the worst. The Maltese ladies dreaded
their volatility, and their proneness to boast of their amours, and
shunned all entanglement with them. They were forced, therefore, to
content themselves with conquests among females of the lower orders.
They revenged themselves, after the gay French manner, by making the
"honorate" the objects of all kinds of jests and mystifications; by
prying into their tender affairs with the more favored chevaliers, and
making them the theme of song and epigram.

About this time, a French vessel arrived at Malta, bringing out a
distinguished personage of the order of Saint John of Jerusalem,
the Commander de Foulquerre, who came to solicit the post of
commander-in-chief of the galleys. He was descended from an old and
warrior line of French nobility, his ancestors having long been
seneschals of Poitou, and claiming descent from the first counts of

The arrival of the commander caused a little uneasiness among the
peaceably inclined, for he bore the character, in the island, of being
fiery, arrogant, and quarrelsome. He had already been three times at
Malta, and on each visit had signalized himself by some rash and deadly

As he was now thirty-five years of age, however, it was hoped that time
might have taken off the fiery edge of his spirit, and that he might
prove more quiet and sedate than formerly. The commander set up an
establishment befitting his rank and pretensions; for he arrogated to
himself an importance greater even than that of the Grand Master. His
house immediately became the rallying place of all the young French
chevaliers. They informed him of all the slights they had experienced or
imagined, and indulged their petulant and satirical vein at the expense
of the honorate and their admirers. The chevaliers of other nations soon
found the topics and tone of conversation at the commander's irksome and
offensive, and gradually ceased to visit there. The commander remained
the head of a national _clique_, who looked up to him as their model.
If he was not as boisterous and quarrelsome as formerly, he had become
haughty and overbearing. He was fond of talking over his past affairs of
punctilio and bloody duel. When walking the streets, he was generally
attended by a ruffling train of young French cavaliers, who caught his
own air of assumption and bravado. These he would conduct to the scenes
of his deadly encounters, point out the very spot where each fatal lunge
had been given, and dwell vaingloriously on every particular.

Under his tuition, the young French chevaliers began to add bluster and
arrogance to their former petulance and levity; they fired up on the
most trivial occasions, particularly with those who had been most
successful with the fair; and would put on the most intolerable
drawcansir airs. The other chevaliers conducted themselves with all
possible forbearance and reserve; but they saw it would be impossible to
keep on long, in this manner, without coming to an open rupture.

Among the Spanish cavaliers was one named Don Luis de Lima Vasconcellos.
He was distantly related to the Grand Master; and had been enrolled at
an early age among his pages, but had been rapidly promoted by him,
until, at the age of twenty-six, he had been given the richest Spanish
commandery in the order. He had, moreover, been fortunate with the fair,
with one of whom, the most beautiful honorata of Malta, he had long
maintained the most tender correspondence.

The character, rank, and connexions of Don Luis put him on a par with
the imperious Commander de Foulquerre, and pointed him out as a leader
and champion to his countrymen. The Spanish chevaliers repaired to him,
therefore, in a body; represented all the grievances they had sustained,
and the evils they apprehended, and urged him to use his influence with
the commander and his adherents to put a stop to the growing abuses.

Don Luis was gratified by this mark of confidence and esteem on the part
of his countrymen, and promised to have an interview with the Commander
de Foulquerre on the subject. He resolved to conduct himself with
the utmost caution and delicacy on the occasion; to represent to
the commander the evil consequences which might result from the
inconsiderate conduct of the young French chevaliers, and to entreat him
to exert the great influence he so deservedly possessed over them, to
restrain their excesses. Don Luis was aware, however, of the peril that
attended any interview of the kind with this imperious and fractious
man, and apprehended, however it might commence, that it would terminate
in a duel. Still, it was an affair of honor, in which Castilian dignity
was concerned; beside, he had a lurking disgust at the overbearing
manners of De Foulquerre, and perhaps had been somewhat offended by
certain intrusive attentions which he had presumed to pay to the
beautiful honorata.

It was now Holy Week; a time too sacred for worldly feuds and passions,
especially in a community under the dominion of a religious order; it
was agreed, therefore, that the dangerous interview in question should
not take place until after the Easter holidays. It is probable, from
subsequent circumstances, that the Commander de Foulquerre had some
information of this arrangement among the Spanish chevaliers, and was
determined to be beforehand, and to mortify the pride of their champion,
who was thus preparing to read him a lecture. He chose Good Friday for
his purpose. On this sacred day, it is customary in Catholic countries
to make a tour of all the churches, offering up prayers in each. In
every Catholic church, as is well known, there is a vessel of holy water
near the door. In this, every one, on entering, dips his fingers, and
makes therewith the sign of the cross on his forehead and breast. An
office of gallantry, among the young Spaniards, is to stand near the
door, dip their hands in the holy vessel, and extend them courteously
and respectfully to any lady of their acquaintance who may enter; who
thus receives the sacred water at second hand, on the tips of her
fingers, and proceeds to cross herself, with all due decorum. The
Spaniards, who are the most jealous of lovers, are impatient when this
piece of devotional gallantry is proffered to the object of their
affections by any other hand: on Good Friday, therefore, when a lady
makes a tour of the churches, it is the usage among them for the
inamorato to follow her from church to church, so as to present her the
holy water at the door of each; thus testifying his own devotion, and at
the same time preventing the officious services of a rival.

On the day in question, Don Luis followed the beautiful honorata, to
whom, as has already been observed, he had long been devoted. At the
very first church she visited, the Commander de Foulquerre was stationed
at the portal, with several of the young French chevaliers about him.
Before Don Luis could offer her the holy water, he was anticipated by
the commander, who thrust himself between them, and, while he performed
the gallant office to the lady, rudely turned his back upon her admirer,
and trod upon his feet. The insult was enjoyed by the young Frenchmen
who were present: it was too deep and grave to be forgiven by Spanish
pride; and at once put an end to all Don Luis' plans of caution and
forbearance. He repressed his passion for the moment, however, and
waited until all the parties left the church; then, accosting the
commander with an air of coolness and unconcern, he inquired after his
health, and asked to what church he proposed making his second visit.
"To the Magisterial Church of Saint John." Don Luis offered to conduct
him thither, by the shortest route. His offer was accepted, apparently
without suspicion, and they proceeded together. After walking some
distance, they entered a long, narrow lane, without door or window
opening upon it, called the "Strada Stretta," or narrow street. It was a
street in which duels were tacitly permitted, or connived at, in Malta,
and were suffered to pass as accidental encounters. Every where else
they were prohibited. This restriction had been instituted to diminish
the number of duels, formerly so frequent in Malta. As a farther
precaution to render these encounters less fatal, it was an offence,
punishable with death, for any one to enter this street armed with
either poniard or pistol. It was a lonely, dismal street, just wide
enough for two men to stand upon their guard, and cross their swords;
few persons ever traversed it, unless with some sinister design; and on
any preconcerted duello, the seconds posted themselves at each end, to
stop all passengers, and prevent interruption.

In the present instance, the parties had scarce entered the street,
when Don Luis drew his sword, and called upon the commander to defend

De Foulquerre was evidently taken by surprise: he drew back, and
attempted to expostulate; but Don Luis persisted in defying him to the

After a second or two, he likewise drew his sword, but immediately
lowered the point.

"Good Friday!" ejaculated he, shaking his head: "one word with you; it
is full six years since I have been in a confessional: I am shocked at
the state of my conscience; but within three days--that is to say, on
Monday next--"

Don Luis would listen to nothing. Though naturally of a peaceable
disposition, he had been stung to fury, and people of that character,
when once incensed, are deaf to reason. He compelled the commander to
put himself on his guard. The latter, though a man accustomed to brawl
in battle, was singularly dismayed. Terror was visible in all his
features. He placed himself with his back to the wall, and the weapons
were crossed. The contest was brief and fatal. At the very first thrust,
the sword of Don Luis passed through the body of his antagonist. The
commander staggered to the wall, and leaned against it.

"On Good Friday!" ejaculated he again, with a failing voice, and
despairing accents. "Heaven pardon you!" added he; "take my sword to
Têtefoulques, and have a hundred masses performed in the chapel of the
castle, for the repose of my soul!" With these words he expired.

The fury of Don Luis was at an end. He stood aghast, gazing at the
bleeding body of the commander. He called to mind the prayer of the
deceased for three days' respite, to make his peace with heaven; he had
refused it; had sent him to the grave, with all his sins upon his head!
His conscience smote him to the core; he gathered up the sword of the
commander, which he had been enjoined to take to Têtefoulques, and
hurried from the fatal Strada Stretta.

The duel of course made a great noise in Malta, but had no injurious
effect upon the worldly fortunes of Don Luis. He made a full declaration
of the whole matter, before the proper authorities; the Chapter of
the Order considered it one of those casual encounters of the Strada
Stretta, which were mourned over, but tolerated; the public, by whom
the late commander had been generally detested, declared that he had
deserved his fate. It was but three days after the event, that Don
Luis was advanced to one of the highest dignities of the Order, being
invested by the Grand Master with the priorship of the kingdom of

From that time forward, however, the whole character and conduct of Don
Luis underwent a change. He became a prey to a dark melancholy, which
nothing could assuage. The most austere piety, the severest penances,
had no effect in allaying the horror which preyed upon his mind. He was
absent for a long time from Malta; having gone, it was said, on remote
pilgrimages: when he returned, he was more haggard than ever. There
seemed something mysterious and inexplicable in this disorder of his
mind. The following is the revelation made by himself, of the horrible
visions, or chimeras, by which he was haunted:

"When I had made my declaration before the Chapter," said he, "and my
provocations were publicly known, I had made my peace with man; but it
was not so with God, nor with my confessor, nor with my own conscience.
My act was doubly criminal, from the day on which it was committed,
and from my refusal to a delay of three days, for the victim of my
resentment to receive the sacraments. His despairing ejaculation, 'Good
Friday! Good Friday!' continually rang in my ears. 'Why did I not grant
the respite!' cried I to myself; 'was it not enough to kill the body,
but must I seek to kill the soul!'

"On the night of the following Friday, I started suddenly from my sleep.
An unaccountable horror was upon me. I looked wildly around. It seemed
as if I were not in my apartment, nor in my bed, but in the fatal Strada
Stretta, lying on the pavement. I again saw the commander leaning
against the wall; I again heard his dying words: 'Take my sword to
Têtefoulques, and have a hundred masses performed in the chapel of the
castle, for the repose of my soul!'

"On the following night, I caused one of my servants to sleep in the
same room with me. I saw and heard nothing, either on that night, or any
of the nights following, until the next Friday; when I had again the
same vision, with this difference, that my valet seemed to be lying at
some distance from me on the pavement of the Strada Stretta. The vision
continued to be repeated on every Friday night, the commander always
appearing in the same manner, and uttering the same words: 'Take my
sword to Têtefoulques, and have a hundred masses performed in the chapel
of the castle for the repose of my soul!' On questioning my servant on
the subject, he stated, that on these occasions he dreamed that he was
lying in a very narrow street, but he neither saw nor heard any thing of
the commander.

"I knew nothing of this Têtefoulques, whither the defunct was so urgent
I should carry his sword. I made inquiries, therefore, concerning it
among the French chevaliers. They informed me that it was an old castle,
situated about four leagues from Poitiers, in the midst of a forest.
It had been built in old times, several centuries since, by Foulques
Taillefer, (or Fulke Hackiron,) a redoubtable, hard-fighting Count of
Angouleme, who gave it to an illegitimate son, afterward created Grand
Seneschal of Poitou, which son became the pro genitor of the Foulquerres
of Têtefoulques, hereditary Seneschals of Poitou. They farther
informed me, that strange stories were told of this old castle, in the
surrounding country, and that it contained many curious reliques. Among
these, were the arms of Foulques Taillefer, together with all those of
the warriors he had slain; and that it was an immemorial usage with the
Foulquerres to have the weapons deposited there which they had wielded
either in war or in single combat. This, then, was the reason of the
dying injunction of the commander respecting his sword. I carried this
weapon with me, wherever I went, but still I neglected to comply with
his request.

"The visions still continued to harass me with undiminished horror.
I repaired to Rome, where I confessed myself to the Grand Cardinal
penitentiary, and informed him of the terrors with which I was haunted.
He promised me absolution, after I should have performed certain acts of
penance, the principal of which was, to execute the dying request of the
commander, by carrying the sword to Têtefoulques, and having the hundred
masses performed in the chapel of the castle for the repose of his soul.

"I set out for France as speedily as possible, and made no delay in my
journey. On arriving at Poitiers, I found that the tidings of the death
of the commander had reached there, but had caused no more affliction
than among the people of Malta. Leaving my equipage in the town, I
put on the garb of a pilgrim, and taking a guide, set out on foot
for Têtefoulques, Indeed the roads in this part of the country were
impracticable for carriages.

"I found the castle of Têtefoulques a grand but gloomy and dilapidated
pile. All the gates were closed, and there reigned over the whole place
an air of almost savage loneliness and desertion. I had understood that
its only inhabitant were the concierge, or warder, and a kind of hermit
who had charge of the chapel. After ringing for some time at the gate,
I at length succeeded in bringing forth the warder, who bowed with
reverence to my pilgrim's garb. I begged him to conduct me to the
chapel, that being the end of my pilgrimage. We found the hermit there,
chanting the funeral service; a dismal sound to one who came to perform
a penance for the death of a member of the family. When he had ceased
to chant, I informed him that I came to accomplish an obligation of
conscience, and that I wished him to perform a hundred masses for the
repose of the soul of the commander. He replied that, not being in
orders, he was not authorized to perform mass, but that he would
willingly undertake to see that my debt of conscience was discharged. I
laid my offering on the altar, and would have placed the sword of the
commander there, likewise. 'Hold!' said the hermit, with a melancholy
shake of the head,'this is no place for so deadly a weapon, that has so
often been bathed in Christian blood. Take it to the armory; you will
find there trophies enough of like character. It is a place into which I
never enter.'

"The warder here took up the theme abandoned by the peaceful man of
God. He assured me that I would see in the armory the swords of all the
warrior race of Foulquerres, together with those of the enemies over
whom they had triumphed. This, he observed, had been a usage kept
up since the time of Mellusine, and of her husband, Geoffrey a la
Grand-dent, or Geoffrey with the Great-tooth.

"I followed the gossiping warder to the armory. It was a great dusty
hall, hung round with Gothic-looking portraits, of a stark line of
warriors, each with his weapon, and the weapons of those he had slain in
battle, hung beside his picture. The most conspicuous portrait was that
of Foulques Taillefer, (Fulke Hackiron,) Count of Angouleme, and founder
of the castle. He was represented at full-length, armed cap-a-pie, and
grasping a huge buckler, on which were emblazoned three lions passant.
The figure was so striking, that it seemed ready to start from the
canvas: and I observed beneath this picture, a trophy composed of many
weapons, proofs of the numerous triumphs of this hard-fighting old
cavalier. Beside the weapons connected with the portraits, there were
swords of all shapes, sizes, and centuries, hung round the hall; with
piles of armor, placed as it were in effigy.

"On each side of an immense chimney, were suspended the portraits of the
first seneschal of Poitou (the illegitimate son of Foulques Taillefer)
and his wife Isabella de Lusignan; the progenitors of the grim race of
Foulquerres that frowned around. They had the look of being perfect
likenesses; and as I gazed on them, I fancied I could trace in their
antiquated features some family resemblance to their unfortunate
descendant, whom I had slain! This was a dismal neighborhood, yet the
armory was the only part of the castle that had a habitable air; so I
asked the warder whether he could not make a fire, and give me something
for supper there, and prepare me a bed in one corner.

"'A fire and a supper you shall have, and that cheerfully, most worthy
pilgrim,' said he; 'but as to a bed, I advise you to come and sleep in
my chamber.'

"'Why so?' inquired I; 'why shall I not sleep in this hall?'

"'I have my reasons; I will make a bed for you close to mine.'

"I made no objections, for I recollected that it was Friday, and I
dreaded the return of my vision. He brought in billets of wood, kindled
a fire in the great overhanging chimney, and then went forth to prepare
my supper. I drew a heavy chair before the fire, and seating myself in
it, gazed muzingly round upon the portraits of the Foulquerres, and the
antiquated armor and weapons, the mementos of many a bloody deed. As
the day declined, the smoky draperies of the hall gradually became
confounded with the dark ground of the paintings, and the lurid gleams
from the chimney only enabled me to see visages staring at me from the
gathering darkness. All this was dismal in the extreme, and somewhat
appalling; perhaps it was the state of my conscience that rendered me
peculiarly sensitive, and prone to fearful imaginings.

"At length the warder brought in my supper. It consisted of a dish of
trout, and some crawfish taken in the fosse of the castle. He procured
also a bottle of wine, which he informed me was wine of Poitou. I
requested him to invite the hermit to join me in my repast; but the holy
man sent back word that he allowed himself nothing but roots and herbs,
cooked with water. I took my meal, therefore, alone, but prolonged it as
much as possible, and sought to cheer my drooping spirits by the wine of
Poitou, which I found very tolerable.

"When supper was over, I prepared for my evening devotions. I have
always been very punctual in reciting my breviary; it is the prescribed
and bounden duty of all chevaliers of the religious orders; and I can
answer for it, is faithfully performed by those of Spain. I accordingly
drew forth from my pocket a small missal and a rosary, and told the
warder he need only designate to me the way to his chamber, where I
could come and rejoin him, when I had finished my prayers.

"He accordingly pointed out a winding stair-case, opening from the hall.
'You will descend this stair-case,' said he, 'until you come to the
fourth landing-place, where you enter a vaulted passage, terminated by
an arcade, with a statue of the blessed Jeanne of France; you cannot
help finding my room, the door of which I will leave open; it is the
sixth door from the landing-place. I advise you not to remain in this
hall after midnight. Before that hour, you will hear the hermit ring the
bell, in going the rounds of the corridors. Do not linger here after
that signal.'

"The warder retired, and I commenced my devotions. I continued at them
earnestly; pausing from time to time to put wood upon the fire. I did
not dare to look much around me, for I felt myself becoming a prey to
fearful fancies. The pictures appeared to become animated. If I regarded
one attentively, for any length of time, it seemed to move the eyes and
lips. Above all, the portraits of the Grand Seneschal and his lady,
which hung on each side of the great chimney, the progenitors of the
Foulquerres of Têtefoulque, regarded me, I thought, with angry and
baleful eyes: I even fancied they exchanged significant glances with
each other. Just then a terrible blast of wind shook all the casements,
and, rushing through the hall, made a fearful rattling and clashing
among the armor. To my startled fancy, it seemed something supernatural.

"At length I heard the bell of the hermit, and hastened to quit the
hall. Taking a solitary light, which stood on the supper-table, I
descended the winding stair-case; but before I had reached the vaulted
passage leading to the statue of the blessed Jeanne of France, a blast
of wind extinguished my taper. I hastily remounted the stairs, to light
it again at the chimney; but judge of my feelings, when, on arriving at
the entrance to the armory, I beheld the Seneschal and his lady, who had
descended from their frames, and seated themselves on each side of the
fire-place! "'Madam, my love,' said the Seneschal, with great formality,
and in antiquated phrase, 'what think you of the presumption of this
Castilian, who comes to harbor himself and make wassail in this our
castle, after having slain our descendant, the commander, and that
without granting him time for confession?'

"'Truly, my lord,' answered the female spectre, with no less stateliness
of manner, and with great asperity of tone; 'truly, my lord, I opine
that this Castilian did a grievous wrong in this encounter; and he
should never be suffered to depart hence, without your throwing him the
gauntlet.' I paused to hear no more, but rushed again down-stairs, to
seek the chamber of the warder. It was impossible to find it in the
darkness, and in the perturbation of my mind. After an hour and a half
of fruitless search, and mortal horror and anxieties, I endeavored
to persuade myself that the day was about to break, and listened
impatiently for the crowing of the cock; for I thought if I could hear
his cheerful note, I should be reassured; catching, in the disordered
state of my nerves, at the popular notion that ghosts never appear after
the first crowing of the cock.

"At length I rallied myself, and endeavored to shake off the vague
terrors which haunted me. I tried to persuade myself that the two
figures which I had seemed to see and hear, had existed only in my
troubled imagination. I still had the end of the candle in my hand, and
determined to make another effort to re-light it, and find my way to
bed; for I was ready to sink with fatigue. I accordingly sprang up the
stair-case, three steps at a time, stopped at the door of the armory,
and peeped cautiously in. The two Gothic figures were no longer in the
chimney corners, but I neglected to notice whether they had reascended
to their frames. I entered, and made desperately for the fire-place, but
scarce had I advanced three strides, when Messire Foolques Taillefer
stood before me, in the centre of the hall, armed cap-à-pie, and
standing in guard, with the point of his sword silently presented to
me. I would have retreated to the stair-case, but the door of it was
occupied by the phantom figure of an esquire, who rudely flung a
gauntlet in my face. Driven to fury, I snatched down a sword from the
wall: by chance, it was that of the commander which I had placed there.
I rushed upon my fantastic adversary, and seemed to pierce him through
and through; but at the same time I felt as if something pierced my
heart, burning like a red-hot iron. My blood inundated the hall, and I
fell senseless.

"When I recovered consciousness, it was broad day, and I found myself in
a small chamber, attended by the warder and the hermit. The former told
me that on the previous night, he had awakened long after the midnight
hour, and perceiving that I had not come to his chamber, he had
furnished himself with a vase of holy water, and set out to seek me. He
found me stretched senseless on the pavement of the armory, and bore me
to this room. I spoke of my wound, and of the quantity of blood that I
had lost. He shook his head, and knew nothing about it; and to my
surprise, on examination, I found myself perfectly sound and unharmed.
The wound and blood, therefore, had been all delusion. Neither the
warder nor the hermit put any questions to me, but advised me to leave
the castle as soon as possible. I lost no time in complying with their
counsel, and felt my heart relieved from an oppressive weight, as I left
the gloomy and fate-bound battlements of Têtefoulques behind me.

"I arrived at Bayonne, on my way to Spain, on the following Friday. At
midnight I was startled from my sleep, as I had formerly been; but it
was no longer by the vision of the dying commander. It was old Foulques
Taillefer who stood before me, armed cap-à-pie, and presenting the point
of his sword. I made the sign of the cross, and the spectre vanished,
but I received the same red-hot thrust in the heart which I had felt in
the armory, and I seemed to be bathed in blood. I would have called out,
or have arisen from my bed and gone in quest of succor, but I could
neither speak nor stir. This agony endured until the crowing of the
cock, when I fell asleep again; but the next day I was ill, and in a
most pitiable state. I have continued to be harassed by the same vision
every Friday night; no acts of penitence and devotion have been able to
relieve me from it; and it is only a lingering hope in divine mercy,
that sustains me, and enables me to support so lamentable a visitation."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Grand Prior of Minorca wasted gradually away under this constant
remorse of conscience, and this horrible incubus. He died some time
after having revealed the preceding particulars of his case, evidently
the victim of a diseased imagination.

The above relation has been rendered, in many parts literally, from the
French memoir, in which it is given as a true story: if so, it is one of
those instances in which truth is more romantic than fiction.

       *       *       *       *       *



At the dark and melancholy period when Don Roderick the Goth and his
chivalry were overthrown on the banks of the Guadalete, and all Spain
was overrun by the Moors, great was the devastation of churches and
convents throughout that pious kingdom. The miraculous fate of one of
those holy piles is thus recorded in one of the authentic legends of
those days.

On the summit of a hill, not very distant from the capital city of
Toledo, stood an ancient convent and chapel, dedicated to the invocation
of Saint Benedict, and inhabited by a sisterhood of Benedictine nuns.
This holy asylum was confined to females of noble lineage. The younger
sisters of the highest families were here given in religious marriage to
their Saviour, in order that the portions of their elder sisters might
be increased, and they enabled to make suitable matches on earth, or
that the family wealth might go undivided to elder brothers, and the
dignity of their ancient houses be protected from decay. The convent was
renowned, therefore, for enshrining within its walls a sisterhood of the
purest blood, the most immaculate virtue, and most resplendent beauty,
of all Gothic Spain.

When the Moors overran the kingdom, there was nothing that more
excited their hostility than these virgin asylums. The very sight of a
convent-spire was sufficient to set their Moslem blood in a foment, and
they sacked it with as fierce a zeal as though the sacking of a nunnery
were a sure passport to Elysium.

Tidings of such outrages committed in various parts of the kingdom
reached this noble sanctuary and filled it with dismay. The danger
came nearer and nearer; the infidel hosts were spreading all over the
country; Toledo itself was captured; there was no flying from the
convent, and no security within its walls.

In the midst of this agitation, the alarm was given one day that a great
band of Saracens were spurring across the plain. In an instant the whole
convent was a scene of confusion. Some of the nuns wrung their fair
hands at the windows; others waved their veils and uttered shrieks from
the tops of the towers, vainly hoping to draw relief from a country
over-run by the foe. The sight of these innocent doves thus fluttering
about their dove-cote, but increased the zealot fury of the whiskered
Moors. They thundered at the portal, and at every blow the ponderous
gates trembled on their hinges.

The nuns now crowded round the abbess. They had been accustomed to look
up to her as all-powerful, and they now implored her protection. The
mother abbess looked with a rueful eye upon the treasures of beauty
and vestal virtue exposed to such imminent peril. Alas! how was she to
protect them from the spoiler! She had, it is true, experienced many
signal inter-positions of providence in her individual favor. Her early
days had been passed amid the temptations of a court, where her virtue
had been purified by repeated trials, from none of which had she escaped
but by a miracle. But were miracles never to cease? Could she hope that
the marvelous protection shown to herself would be extended to a
whole sisterhood? There was no other resource. The Moors were at the
threshold; a few moments more and the convent would be at their mercy.
Summoning her nuns to follow her, she hurried into the chapel; and
throwing herself on her knees before the image of the blessed Mary, "Oh,
holy Lady!" exclaimed she, "oh, most pure and immaculate of virgins!
thou seest our extremity. The ravager is at the gate, and there is none
on earth to help us! Look down with pity, and grant that the earth may
gape and swallow us rather than that our cloister vows should suffer

The Moors redoubled their assault upon the portal; the gates gave way,
with a tremendous crash; a savage yell of exultation arose; when of a
sudden the earth yawned; down sank the convent, with its cloisters, its
dormitories, and all its nuns. The chapel tower was the last that sank,
the bell ringing forth a peal of triumph in the very teeth of the

       *       *       *       *       *

Forty years had passed and gone, since the period of this miracle. The
subjugation of Spain was complete. The Moors lorded it over city and
country; and such of the Christian population as remained, and were
permitted to exercise their religion, did it in humble resignation to
the Moslem sway.

At this time, a Christian cavalier, of Cordova, hearing that a patriotic
band of his countrymen had raised the standard of the cross in the
mountains of the Asturias, resolved to join them, and unite in breaking
the yoke of bondage. Secretly arming himself, and caparisoning his
steed, he set forth from Cordova, and pursued his course by unfrequented
mule-paths, and along the dry channels made by winter torrents. His
spirit burned with indignation, whenever, on commanding a view over a
long sweeping plain, he beheld the mosque swelling in the distance, and
the Arab horsemen careering about, as if the rightful lords of the soil.
Many a deep-drawn sigh, and heavy groan, also, did the good cavalier
utter, on passing the ruins of churches and convents desolated by the

It was on a sultry midsummer evening, that this wandering cavalier, in
skirting a hill thickly covered with forest, heard the faint tones of a
vesper bell sounding melodiously in the air, and seeming to come from
the summit of the hill. The cavalier crossed himself with wonder, at
this unwonted and Christian sound. He supposed it to proceed from one
of those humble chapels and hermitages permitted to exist through the
indulgence of the Moslem conquerors. Turning his steed up a narrow
path of the forest, he sought this sanctuary, in hopes of finding a
hospitable shelter for the night. As he advanced, the trees threw a deep
gloom around him, and the bat flitted across his path. The bell ceased
to toll, and all was silence.

Presently a choir of female voices came stealing sweetly through the
forest, chanting the evening service, to the solemn accompaniment of
an organ. The heart of the good cavalier melted at the sound, for it
recalled the happier days of his country. Urging forward his weary
steed, he at length arrived at a broad grassy area, on the summit of the
hill, surrounded by the forest. Here the melodious voices rose in full
chorus, like the swelling of the breeze; but whence they came, he could
not tell. Sometimes they were before, sometimes behind him; sometimes in
the air, sometimes as if from within the bosom of the earth. At length
they died away, and a holy stillness settled on the place.

The cavalier gazed around with bewildered eye. There was neither chapel
nor convent, nor humble hermitage, to be seen; nothing but a moss-grown
stone pinnacle, rising out of the centre of the area, surmounted by a
cross. The greensward around appeared to have been sacred from the tread
of man or beast, and the surrounding trees bent toward the cross, as if
in adoration.

The cavalier felt a sensation of holy awe. He alighted and tethered
his steed on the skirts of the forest, where he might crop the tender
herbage; then approaching the cross, he knelt and poured forth his
evening prayers before this relique of the Christian days of Spain.
His orisons being concluded, he laid himself down at the foot of the
pinnacle, and reclining his head against one of its stones, fell into a
deep sleep.

About midnight, he was awakened by the tolling of a bell, and found
himself lying before the gate of an ancient convent. A train of nuns
passed by, each bearing a taper. The cavalier rose and followed them
into the chapel; in the centre of which was a bier, on which lay the
corpse of an aged nun. The organ performed a solemn requiem: the nuns
joining in chorus. When the funeral service was finished, a melodious
voice chanted, "_Requiescat in pace!_"--"May she rest in peace!" The
lights immediately vanished; the whole passed away as a dream; and the
cavalier found himself at the foot of the cross, and beheld, by the
faint rays of the rising moon, his steed quietly grazing near him.

When the day dawned, the cavalier descended the hill, and following the
course of a small brook, came to a cave, at the entrance of which was
seated an ancient man, clad in hermit's garb, with rosary and cross,
and a beard that descended to his girdle. He was one of those holy
anchorites permitted by the Moors to live unmolested in dens and caves,
and humble hermitages, and even to practise the rites of their religion.
The cavalier checked his horse, and dismounting, knelt and craved a
benediction. He then related all that had befallen him in the night, and
besought the hermit to explain the mystery.

"What thou hast heard and seen, my son," replied the other, "is but type
and shadow of the woes of Spain."

He then related the foregoing story of the miraculous deliverance of the

"Forty years," added the holy man, "have elapsed since this event, yet
the bells of that sacred edifice are still heard, from time to time,
sounding from under ground, together with the pealing of the organ, and
the chanting of the choir. The Moors avoid this neighborhood, as haunted
ground, and the whole place, as thou mayest perceive, has become covered
with a thick and lonely forest."

The cavalier listened with wonder to the story of this engulphed
convent, as related by the holy man. For three days and nights did they
keep vigils beside the cross; but nothing more was to be seen of nun or
convent. It is supposed that, forty years having elapsed, the natural
lives of all the nuns were finished, and that the cavalier had beheld
the obsequies of the last of the sisterhood. Certain it is, that from
that time, bell, and organ, and choral chant have never more been heard.

The mouldering pinnacle, surmounted by the cross, still remains an
object of pious pilgrimage. Some say that it anciently stood in front
of the convent, but others assert that it was the spire of the sacred
edifice, and that, when the main body of the building sank, this
remained above ground, like the top-mast of some tall ship that
has foundered. These pious believers maintain, that the convent is
miraculously preserved entire in the centre of the mountain, where, if
proper excavations were made, it would be found, with all its treasures,
and monuments, and shrines, and reliques, and the tombs of its virgin

Should any one doubt the truth of this marvelous interposition of the
Virgin, to protect the vestal purity of her votaries, let him read the
excellent work entitled "España Triumphante," written by Padre Fray
Antonio de Sancta Maria, a bare-foot friar of the Carmelite order, and
he will doubt no longer.

       *       *       *       *       *


During the minority of Louis XV., while the Duke of Orleans was Regent
of France, a young Flemish nobleman, the Count Antoine Joseph Van Horn,
made his sudden appearance in Paris, and by his character, conduct, and
the subsequent disasters in which he became involved, created a great
sensation in the high circles of the proud aristocracy. He was about
twenty-two years of age, tall, finely formed, with a pale, romantic
countenance, and eyes of remarkable brilliancy and wildness.

He was of one of the most ancient and highly-esteemed families of
European nobility, being of the line of the Princes of Horn and
Overique, sovereign Counts of Hautekerke, and hereditary Grand Veneurs
of the empire.

The family took its name from the little town and seigneurie of Horn, in
Brabant; and was known as early as the eleventh century among the little
dynasties of the Netherlands, and since that time by a long line of
illustrious generations. At the peace of Utrecht, when the Netherlands
passed under subjection to Austria, the house of Van Horn came under the
domination of the emperor. At the time we treat of, two of the branches
of this ancient house were extinct; the third and only surviving branch
was represented by the reigning prince, Maximilian Emanuel Van Horn,
twenty-four years of age, who resided in honorable and courtly style
on his hereditary domains at Baussigny, in the Netherlands, and his
brother, the Count Antoine Joseph, who is the subject of this memoir.

The ancient house of Van Horn, by the intermarriage of its various
branches with the noble families of the continent, had become widely
connected and interwoven with the high aristocracy of Europe. The Count
Antoine, therefore, could claim relationship to many of the proudest
names in Paris. In fact, he was grandson, by the mother's side, of the
Prince de Ligne, and even might boast of affinity to the Regent (the
Duke of Orleans) himself. There were circumstances, however, connected
with his sudden appearance in Paris, and his previous story, that placed
him in what is termed "a false position;" a word of baleful significance
in the fashionable vocabulary of France.

The young count had been a captain in the service of Austria, but had
been cashiered for irregular conduct, and for disrespect to Prince Louis
of Baden, commander-in-chief. To check him in his wild career, and
bring him to sober reflection, his brother the prince caused him to be
arrested and sent to the old castle of Van Wert, in the domains of Horn.
This was the same castle in which, in former times, John Van Horn,
Stadtholder of Gueldres, had imprisoned his father; a circumstance which
has furnished Rembrandt with the subject of an admirable painting. The
governor of the castle was one Van Wert, grandson of the famous John Van
Wert, the hero of many a popular song and legend. It was the intention
of the prince that his brother should be held in honorable durance, for
his object was to sober and improve, not to punish and afflict him. Van
Wert, however, was a stern, harsh man of violent passions. He treated
the youth in a manner that prisoners and offenders were treated in the
strong-holds of the robber counts of Germany in old times; confined him
in a dungeon and inflicted on him such hardships and indignities that
the irritable temperament of the young count was roused to continual
fury, which ended in insanity. For six months was the unfortunate youth
kept in this horrible state, without his brother the prince being
informed of his melancholy condition or of the cruel treatment to which
he was subjected. At length, one day, in a paroxysm of frenzy, the count
knocked down two of his gaolers with a beetle, escaped from the castle
of Van Wert, and eluded all pursuit; and after roving about in a state
of distraction, made his way to Baussigny and appeared like a sceptre
before his brother.

The prince was shocked at his wretched, emaciated appearance and his
lamentable state of mental alienation. He received him with the most
compassionate tenderness; lodged him in his own room, appointed three
servants to attend and watch over him day and night, and endeavored by
the most soothing and affectionate assiduity to atone for the past act
of rigor with which he reproached himself. When he learned, however, the
manner in which his unfortunate brother had been treated in confinement,
and the course of brutalities that had led to his mental malady, he was
roused to indignation. His first step was to cashier Van Wert from his
command. That violent man set the prince at defiance, and attempted to
maintain himself in his government and his castle by instigating the
peasants, for several leagues round, to revolt. His insurrection might
have been formidable against the power of a petty prince; but he was put
under the ban of the empire and seized as a state prisoner. The memory
of his grandfather, the oft-sung John Van Wert, alone saved him from a
gibbet; but he was imprisoned in the strong tower of Horn-op-Zee. There
he remained until he was eighty-two years of age, savage, violent, and
unconquered to the last; for we are told that he never ceased fighting
and thumping as long as he could close a fist or wield a cudgel.

In the mean time a course of kind and gentle treatment and wholesome
regimen, and, above all, the tender and affectionate assiduity of his
brother, the prince, produced the most salutary effects upon Count
Antoine. He gradually recovered his reason; but a degree of violence
seemed always lurking at the bottom of his character, and he required
to be treated with the greatest caution and mildness, for the least
contradiction exasperated him.

In this state of mental convalescence, he began to find the supervision
and restraints of brotherly affection insupportable; so he left the
Netherlands furtively, and repaired to Paris, whither, in fact, it
is said he was called by motives of interest, to make arrangements
concerning a valuable estate which he inherited from his relative, the
Princess d'Epinay.

On his arrival in Paris, he called upon the Marquis of Créqui, and other
of the high nobility with whom he was connected. He was received with
great courtesy; but, as he brought no letters from his elder brother,
the prince, and as various circumstances of his previous history had
transpired, they did not receive him into their families, nor introduce
him to their ladies. Still they fêted him in bachelor style, gave him
gay and elegant suppers at their separate apartments, and took him to
their boxes at the theatres. He was often noticed, too, at the doors of
the most fashionable churches, taking his stand among the young men
of fashion; and at such times, his tall, elegant figure, his pale but
handsome countenance, and his flashing eyes, distinguished him from
among the crowd; and the ladies declared that it was almost impossible
to support his ardent gaze.

The Count did not afflict himself much at his limited circulation in the
fastidious circles of the high aristocracy. He relished society of a
wilder and less ceremonious cast; and meeting with loose companions to
his taste, soon ran into all the excesses of the capital, in that most
licentious period. It is said that, in the course of his wild career, he
had an intrigue with a lady of quality, a favorite of the Regent; that
he was surprised by that prince in one of his interviews; that sharp
words passed between them; and that the jealousy and vengeance thus
awakened, ended only with his life.

About this time, the famous Mississippi scheme of Law was at its height,
or rather it began to threaten that disastrous catastrophe which
convulsed the whole financial world. Every effort was making to keep the
bubble inflated. The vagrant population of France was swept off from the
streets at night, and conveyed to Havre de Grace, to be shipped to the
projected colonies; even laboring people and mechanics were thus crimped
and spirited away. As Count Antoine was in the habit of sallying forth
at night, in disguise, in pursuit of his pleasures, he came near being
carried off by a gang of crimps; it seemed, in fact, as if they had been
lying in wait for him, as he had experienced very rough treatment at
their hands. Complaint was made of his case by his relation, the Marquis
de Créqui, who took much interest in the youth; but the Marquis received
mysterious intimations not to interfere in the matter, but to advise the
Count to quit Paris immediately; "If he lingers, he is lost!" This has
been cited as a proof that vengeance was dogging at the heels of the
unfortunate youth, and only watching for an opportunity to destroy him.

Such opportunity occurred but too soon. Among the loose companions with
whom the Count had become intimate, were two who lodged in the same
hotel with him. One was a youth only twenty years of age, who passed
himself off as the Chevalier d'Etampes, but whose real name was Lestang,
the prodigal son of a Flemish banker. The other, named Laurent de Mille,
a Piedmontese, was a cashiered captain, and at the time an esquire
in the service of the dissolute Princess de Carignan, who kept
gambling-tables in her palace. It is probable that gambling propensities
had driven these young men together, and that their losses had brought
them to desperate measures: certain it is, that all Paris was suddenly
astounded by a murder which they were said to have committed. What made
the crime more startling, was, that it seemed connected with the great
Mississippi scheme, at that time the fruitful source of all kinds of
panics and agitations. A Jew, a stock-broker, who dealt largely in
shares of the bank of Law, founded on the Mississippi scheme, was the
victim. The story of his death is variously related. The darkest account
states, that the Jew was decoyed by these young men into an obscure
tavern, under pretext of negotiating with him for bank shares to the
amount of one hundred thousand crowns, which he had with him in his
pocket-book. Lestang kept watch upon the stairs. The Count and De Mille
entered with the Jew into a chamber. In a little while there were heard
cries and struggles from within. A waiter passing by the room, looked
in, and seeing the Jew weltering in his blood, shut the door again,
double-locked it, and alarmed the house. Lestang rushed downstairs, made
his way to the hotel, secured his most portable effects, and fled the
country. The Count and De Mille endeavored to escape by the window, but
were both taken, and conducted to prison.

A circumstance which occurs in this part of the Count's story, seems to
point him out as a fated man. His mother, and his brother, the Prince
Van Horn, had received intelligence some time before at Baussigny, of
the dissolute life the Count was leading at Paris, and of his losses at
play. They despatched a gentleman of the prince's household to Paris, to
pay the debts of the Count, and persuade him to return to Flanders; or,
if he should refuse, to obtain an order from the Regent for him to quit
the capital. Unfortunately the gentleman did not arrive at Paris until
the day after the murder.

The news of the Count's arrest and imprisonment on a charge of murder,
caused a violent sensation among the high aristocracy. All those
connected with him, who had treated him hitherto with indifference,
found their dignity deeply involved in the question of his guilt or
innocence. A general convocation was held at the hotel of the Marquis de
Créqui, of all the relatives and allies of the house of Horn. It was
an assemblage of the most proud and aristocratic personages of Paris.
Inquiries were made into the circumstances of the affair. It was
ascertained, beyond a doubt, that the Jew was dead, and that he had been
killed by several stabs of a poniard. In escaping by the window, it was
said that the Count had fallen, and been immediately taken; but that De
Mille had fled through the streets, pursued by the populace, and had
been arrested at some distance from the scene of the murder; that the
Count had declared himself innocent of the death of the Jew, and that
he had risked his own life in endeavoring to protect him; but that De
Mille, on being brought back to the tavern, confessed to a plot to
murder the broker, and rob him of his pocket-book, and inculpated the
Count in the crime.

Another version of the story was, that the Count Van Horn had deposited
with the broker, bank shares to the amount of eighty-eight thousand
livres; that he had sought him in this tavern, which was one of his
resorts, and had demanded the shares; that the Jew had denied the
deposit; that a quarrel had ensued, in the course of which the Jew
struck the Count in the face; that the latter, transported with rage,
had snatched up a knife from a table, and wounded the Jew in the
shoulder; and that thereupon De Mille, who was present, and who had
likewise been defrauded by the broker, fell on him, and despatched him
with blows of a poniard, and seized upon his pocket-book; that he had
offered to divide the contents of the latter with the Count, _pro rata_,
of what the usurer had defrauded them; that the latter had refused the
proposition with disdain, and that, at a noise of persons approaching,
both had attempted to escape from the premises, but had been taken.

Regard the story in any way they might, appearances were terribly
against the Count, and the noble assemblage was in great consternation.
What was to be done to ward off so foul a disgrace and to save their
illustrious escutcheons from this murderous stain of blood? Their
first attempt was to prevent the affair from going to trial, and their
relative from being dragged before a criminal tribunal, on so horrible
and degrading a charge. They applied, therefore, to the Regent, to
intervene his power; to treat the Count as having acted under an access
of his mental malady; and to shut him up in a madhouse. The Regent was
deaf to their solicitations. He replied, coldly, that if the Count was a
madman, one could not get rid too quickly of madmen who were furious in
their insanity. The crime was too public and atrocious to be hushed up
or slurred over; justice must take its course.

Seeing there was no avoiding the humiliating scene of a public trial,
the noble relatives of the Count endeavored to predispose the minds of
the magistrates before whom he was to be arraigned. They accordingly
made urgent and eloquent representations of the high descent, and noble
and powerful connexions of the Count; set forth the circumstances of his
early history; his mental malady; the nervous irritability to which he
was subject, and his extreme sensitiveness to insult or contradiction.
By these means they sought to prepare the judges to interpret every
thing in favor of the Count, and, even if it should prove that he had
inflicted the mortal blow on the usurer, to attribute it to access of
insanity, provoked by insult.

To give full effect to these representations, the noble conclave
determined to bring upon the judges the dazzling rays of the whole
assembled aristocracy. Accordingly, on the day that the trial took
place, the relations of the Count, to the number of fifty-seven persons,
of both sexes, and of the highest rank, repaired in a body to the Palace
of Justice, and took their stations in a long corridor which led to the
court-room. Here, as the judges entered, they had to pass in review this
array of lofty and noble personages, who saluted them mournfully and
significantly, as they passed. Any one conversant with the stately pride
and jealous dignity of the French noblesse of that day, may imagine the
extreme state of sensitiveness that produced this self-abasement. It was
confidently presumed, however, by the noble suppliants, that having once
brought themselves to this measure, their influence over the tribunal
would be irresistible. There was one lady present, however, Madame de
Beauffremont, who was affected with the Scottish gift of second sight,
and related such dismal and sinister apparitions as passing before
her eyes, that many of her female companions were filled with doleful

Unfortunately for the Count, there was another interest at work, more
powerful even than the high aristocracy. The all-potent Abbé Dubois, the
grand favorite and bosom counsellor of the Regent, was deeply interested
in the scheme of Law, and the prosperity of his bank, and of course in
the security of the stock-brokers. Indeed, the Regent himself is said to
have dipped deep in the Mississippi scheme. Dubois and Law, therefore,
exerted their influence to the utmost to have the tragic affair pushed
to the extremity of the law, and the murder of the broker punished in
the most signal and appalling manner. Certain it is, the trial was
neither long nor intricate. The Count and his fellow prisoner were
equally inculpated in the crime; and both were condemned to a death the
most horrible and ignominious--to be broken alive on the wheel!

As soon as the sentence of the court was made public, all the nobility,
in any degree related to the house of Van Horn, went into mourning.
Another grand aristocratical assemblage was held, and a petition to the
Regent, on behalf of the Count, was drawn out and left with the Marquis
de Créqui for signature. This petition set forth the previous insanity
of the Count, and showed that it was a hereditary malady of his family.
It stated various circumstances in mitigation of his offence, and
implored that his sentence might be commuted to perpetual imprisonment.

Upward of fifty names of the highest nobility, beginning with the Prince
de Ligne, and including cardinals, archbishops, dukes, marquises, etc.,
together with ladies of equal rank, were signed to this petition. By
one of the caprices of human pride and vanity, it became an object of
ambition to get enrolled among the illustrious suppliants; a kind of
testimonial of noble blood, to prove relationship to a murderer! The
Marquis de Créqui was absolutely besieged by applicants to sign, and had
to refer their claims to this singular honor, to the Prince de Ligne,
the grandfather of the Count. Many who were excluded, were highly
incensed, and numerous feuds took place. Nay, the affronts thus given to
the morbid pride of some aristocratical families, passed from generation
to generation; for, fifty years afterward, the Duchess of Mazarin
complained of a slight which her father had received from the Marquis
de Créqui; which proved to be something connected with the signature of
this petition. This important document being completed, the illustrious
body of petitioners, male and female, on Saturday evening, the eve of
Palm Sunday, repaired to the Palais Royal, the residence of the Regent,
and were ushered, with great ceremony but profound silence, into his
hall of council. They had appointed four of their number as deputies, to
present the petition, viz.: the Cardinal de Rohan, the Duke de Havré,
the Prince de Ligne, and the Marquis de Créqui. After a little while,
the deputies were summoned to the cabinet of the Regent. They entered,
leaving the assembled petitioners in a state of the greatest anxiety.
As time slowly wore away, and the evening advanced, the gloom of the
company increased. Several of the ladies prayed devoutly; the good
Princess of Armagnac told her beads.

The petition was received by the Regent with a most unpropitious aspect.
"In asking the pardon of the criminal," said he, "you display more zeal
for the house of Van Horn, than for the service of the king." The noble
deputies enforced the petition by every argument in their power. They
supplicated the Regent to consider that the infamous punishment in
question would reach not merely the person of the condemned, not
merely the house of Van Horn, but also the genealogies of princely
and illustrious families, in whose armorial bearings might be found
quarterings of this dishonored name.

"Gentlemen," replied the Regent, "it appears to me the disgrace consists
in the crime, rather than in the punishment."

The Prince de Ligne spoke with warmth: "I have in my genealogical
standard," said he, "four escutcheons of Van Horn, and of course have
four ancestors of that house. I must have them erased and effaced, and
there would be so many blank spaces, like holes, in my heraldic ensigns.
There is not a sovereign family which would not suffer, through the
rigor of your Royal Highness; nay, all the world knows, that in the
thirty-two quarterings of Madame, your mother, there is an escutcheon of
Van Horn."

"Very well," replied the Regent, "I will share the disgrace with you,

Seeing that a pardon could not be obtained, the Cardinal de Rohan and
the Marquis de Créqui left the cabinet; but the Prince de Ligne and the
Duke de Havré remained behind. The honor of their houses, more than the
life of the unhappy Count, was the great object of their solicitude.
They now endeavored to obtain a minor grace. They represented that in
the Netherlands, and in Germany, there was an important difference in
the public mind as to the mode of inflicting the punishment of death
upon persons of quality. That decapitation had no influence on the
fortunes of the family of the executed, but that the punishment of the
wheel was such an infamy, that the uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters
of the criminal, and his whole family, for three succeeding generations,
were excluded from all noble chapters, princely abbeys, sovereign
bishoprics, and even Teutonic commanderies of the Order of Malta. They
showed how this would operate immediately upon the fortunes of a sister
of the Count, who was on the point of being received as a canoness into
one of the noble chapters.

While this scene was going on in the cabinet of the Regent, the
illustrious assemblage of petitioners remained in the hall of council,
in the most gloomy state of suspense. The re-entrance from the cabinet
of the Cardinal de Rohan and the Marquis de Créqui, with pale, downcast
countenances, had struck a chill into every heart. Still they lingered
until near midnight, to learn the result of the after application. At
length the cabinet conference was at an end. The Regent came forth, and
saluted the high personages of the assemblage in a courtly manner. One
old lady of quality, Madame de Guyon, whom he had known in his infancy,
he kissed on the cheek, calling her his "good aunt." He made a most
ceremonious salutation to the stately Marchioness de Créqui, telling
her he was charmed to see her at the Palais Royal; "a compliment very
ill-timed," said the Marchioness, "considering the circumstance which
brought me there." He then conducted the ladies to the door of the
second saloon, and there dismissed them, with the most ceremonious

The application of the Prince de Ligne and the Duke de Havré, for a
change of the mode of punishment, had, after much difficulty, been
successful. The Regent had promised solemnly to send a letter of
commutation to the attorney-general on Holy Monday, the 25th of March,
at five o'clock in the morning. According to the same promise, a
scaffold would be arranged in the cloister of the Conciergerie,
or prison, where the Count would be beheaded on the same morning,
immediately after having received absolution. This mitigation of the
form of punishment gave but little consolation to the great body of
petitioners, who had been anxious for the pardon of the youth: it was
looked upon as all-important, however, by the Prince de Ligne, who, as
has been before observed,--was exquisitely alive to the dignity of his

The Bishop of Bayeux and the Marquis de Créqui visited the unfortunate
youth in prison. He had just received the communion in the chapel of the
Conciergerie, and was kneeling before the altar, listening to a mass for
the dead, which was performed at his request. He protested his innocence
of any intention to murder the Jew, but did not deign to allude to the
accusation of robbery. He made the bishop and the Marquis promise to see
his brother the prince, and inform him of this his dying asseveration.

Two other of his relations, the Prince Rebecq-Montmorency and the
Marshal Van Isenghien, visited him secretly, and offered him poison, as
a means of evading the disgrace of a public execution. On his refusing
to take it, they left him with high indignation. "Miserable man!" said
they, "you are fit only to perish by the hand of the executioner!"

The Marquis de Créqui sought the executioner of Paris, to bespeak an
easy and decent death--for the unfortunate youth. "Do not make him
suffer," said he; "uncover no part of him but the neck; and have his
body placed in a coffin, before you deliver it to his family." The
executioner promised all that was requested, but declined a rouleau of a
hundred louis-d'ors which the Marquis would have put into his hand. "I
am paid by the king for fulfilling my office," said he; and added that
he had already refused a like sum, offered by another relation of the

The Marquis de Créqui returned home in a state of deep affliction. There
he found a letter from the Duke de St. Simon, the familiar friend of the
Regent, repeating the promise of that prince, that the punishment of the
wheel should be commuted to decapitation.

"Imagine," says the Marchioness de Créqui, who in her memoirs gives a
detailed account of this affair, "imagine what we experienced, and what
was our astonishment, our grief, and indignation, when, on Tuesday, the
26th of March, an hour after midday, word was brought us that the Count
Van Horn had been exposed on the wheel, in the Place de Gréve, since
half-past six in the morning, on the same scaffold with the Piedmontese
de Mille, and that he had been tortured previous to execution!"

One more scene of aristocratic pride closed this tragic story. The
Marquis de Créqui, on receiving this astounding news, immediately
arrayed himself in the uniform of a general officer, with his cordon
of nobility on the coat. He ordered six valets to attend him in grand
livery, and two of his carriages, each with six horses, to be brought
forth. In this sumptuous state, he set off for the Place de Gréve, where
he had been preceded by the Princes de Ligne, de Rohan, de Croüy, and
the Duke de Havré.

The Count Van Horn was already dead, and it was believed that the
executioner had had the charity to give him the coup de grace, or
"death-blow," at eight o'clock in the morning. At five o'clock in the
evening, when the Judge Commissary left his post at the Hotel de Ville,
these noblemen, with their own hands, aided to detach the mutilated
remains of their relation; the Marquis de Crequi placed them in one of
his carriages, and bore them off to his hotel, to receive the last sad

The conduct of the Regent in this affair excited general indignation.
His needless severity was attributed by some to vindictive jealousy; by
others to the persevering machinations of Law. The house of Van Horn,
and the high nobility of Flanders and Germany, considered themselves
flagrantly outraged: many schemes of vengeance were talked of, and a
hatred engendered against the Regent, that followed him through life,
and was wreaked with bitterness upon his memory after his death.

The following letter is said to have been written to the Regent by the
Prince Van Horn, to whom the former had adjudged the confiscated effects
of the Count:

"I do not complain, Sir, of the death of my brother, but I complain
that your Royal Highness has violated in his person the rights of the
kingdom, the nobility, and the nation. I thank you for the confiscation
of his effects; but I should think myself as much disgraced as he,
should I accept any favor at your hands. _I hope that God and the
King may render to you as strict justice as you have rendered to my
unfortunate brother._"

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Wolfert's Roost, and Miscellanies" ***

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