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CONTAINING THE SECOND PART OF THE REIGN OF PETER THE HEADSTRONG, AND HIS, GALLANT ACHIEVEMENTS ON THE DELAWARE.

CHAPTER I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon of Wantley.

CHAPTER III.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER IV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER V.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER VI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER VII.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER VIII.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Brimful of wrath and cabbage.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER IX.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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