Among many Surprising and Curious Matters, the Unutterable
Ponderings of Walter the Doubter, the Disastrous
Projects of William the Testy, and the Chivalric
Achievments of Peter the Headstrong, the three
Dutch Governors of New Amsterdam; being the only
Authentic History of the Times that ever hath been, or ever
will be Published.


De waarheid die in duiffer lag,
Die komt met klaarheid aan den dag.





     This Work is respectfully
Dedicated, as a humble and unworthy Tes-
timony of the profound veneration and ex-
alted esteem of the Society's

Sincere Well wisher
Devoted Servant



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the public's humble servant,

Seth Handaside.

Independent Columbian Hotel,
New York


     "TO rescue from oblivion the memory of for
"mer incidents, and to render a just tribute of
"renown to the many great and wonderful tran
"sactions of our Dutch progenitors, Diedrich
"Knickerbocker, native of the city of New York,
"produces this historical essay."1 Like the
great Father of History whose words I have just
quoted, I treat of times long past, over which the
twilight of uncertainty had already thrown its sha-
dows, and the night of forgetfulness was about to
descend forever. With great solicitude had I long
beheld the early history of this venerable and an-
cient city, gradually slipping from our grasp, trem-
bling on the lips of narrative old age, and day by
day dropping piece meal into the tomb. In a lit-
tle while, thought I, and those venerable dutch
burghers, who serve as the tottering monuments of
good old times, will be gathered to their fathers;
their children engrossed by the empty pleasures or
insignificant transactions of the present age, will ne-
glect to treasure up the recollections of the past,
and posterity shall search in vain, for memorials of
the days of the Patriarchs. The origin of our
city will be buried in eternal oblivion, and even the
names and atchievements of Wouter Van Twiller,
William Kieft, and Peter Stuyvesant, be enveloped
in doubt and fiction, like those of Romulus and
Rhemus, of Charlemagne, King Arthur, Rinaldo,
and Godfrey of Bologne.

     Determined therefore, to avert if possible this
threatening misfortune, I industriously sat myself
to work, to gather together all the fragments of our
infant history which still existed, and like my re-
vered prototype Herodotus, where no written re-
cords could be found, I have endeavoured to con-
tinue the chain of history by well authenticated tra-

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

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

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

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

     But the chief merit upon which I value myself,
and found my hopes for future regard, is that faith-
ful veracity with which I have compiled this in-
valuable little work; carefully winnowing away all
the chaff of hypothesis, and discarding the tares
of fable, which are too apt to spring up and choke the
seeds of truth and wholesome knowledge -- Had
I been anxious to captivate the superficial throng,
who skim like swallows over the surface of litera-
ture; or had I been anxious to commend my writ-
ings to the pampered palates of literary voluptuaries,
I might have availed myself of the obscurity that
hangs about the infant years of our city, to intro-
duce a thousand pleasing fictions. But I have scru-
pulously discarded many a pithy tale and marvel-
lous adventure, whereby the drowsy ear of summer
indolence might be enthralled; jealously maintain-
ing that fidelity, gravity and dignity, which should
ever distinguish the historian. "For a writer of
this class," observes an elegant critic, "must sus-
tain the character of a wise man, writing for the
instruction of posterity; one who has studied to in-
form himself well, who has pondered his subject
with care, and addresses himself to our judgment,
rather than to our imagination."

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

     "What," (in the language of Diodorus Siculus)
"What has become of Babylon, of Nineveh, of
Palmyra, of Persepolis, of Byzantium, of Agri-
gentum, of Cyzicum and Mytilene?" They have
disappeared from the face of the earth -- they have
perished for want of an historian! The philan-
thropist may weep over their desolation -- the poet
may wander amid their mouldering arches and
broken columns, and indulge the visionary flights
of his fancy -- but alas! alas! the modern historian,
whose faithful pen, like my own, is doomed irrevo-
cably to confine itself to dull matter of fact, seeks
in vain among their oblivious remains, for some
memorial that may tell the instructive tale, of
their glory and their ruin.

     "Wars, conflagrations, deluges (says Aristotle)
destroy nations, and with them all their monuments,
their discoveries and their vanities -- The torch of
science has more than once been extinguished and
rekindled -- a few individuals who have escaped
by accident, reunite the thread of generations."
Thus then the historian is the patron of man-
kind, the guardian priest, who keeps the perpetual
lamp of ages unextinguished -- Nor is he without
his reward. Every thing in a manner is tributary
to his renown -- Like the great projector of inland
lock navigation, who asserted that rivers, lakes and
oceans were only formed to feed canals; so I affirm
that cities, empires, plots, conspiracies, wars, ha-
vock and desolation, are ordained by providence
only as food for the historian. They form but the
pedestal on which he intrepidly mounts to the view
of surrounding generations, and claims to himself,
from ages as they rise, until the latest sigh of old
time himself, the meed of immortality -- The world
-- the world, is nothing without the historian!

     The same sad misfortune which has happened
to so many ancient cities, will happen again, and
from the same sad cause, to nine-tenths of those
cities which now flourish on the face of the globe.
With most of them the time for recording their
history is gone by; their origin, their very founda-
tion, together with the early stages of their settle-
ment, are forever buried in the rubbish of years;
and the same would have been the case with this
fair portion of the earth, the history of which I
have here given, if I had not snatched it from ob-
scurity, in the very nick of time, at the moment
that those matters herein recorded, were about en-
tering into the wide-spread, insatiable maw of ob-
livion -- if I had not dragged them out, in a manner,
by the very locks, just as the monster's adamantine
fangs, were closing upon them forever! And here
have I, as before observed, carefully collected, col-
lated and arranged them; scrip and scrap, "punt
en punt, gat en gat," and commenced in this little
work, a history which may serve as a foundation,
on which a host of worthies shall hereafter raise a
noble superstructure, swelling in process of time,
until Knickerbocker's New York shall be equally vo-
luminous, with Gibbon's Rome, or Hume and Smol-
let's England!

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

     Here then I cut my bark adrift, and launch it
forth to float upon the waters. And oh! ye mighty
Whales, ye Grampuses and Sharks of criticism,
who delight in shipwrecking unfortunate adven-
turers upon the sea of letters, have mercy upon this
my crazy vessel. Ye may toss it about in your
sport; or spout your dirty water upon it in showers;
but do not, for the sake of the unlucky mariner
within -- do not stave it with your tails and send it
to the bottom. And you, oh ye great little fish!
ye tadpoles, ye sprats, ye minnows, ye chubbs, ye
grubs, ye barnacles, and all you small fry of litera-
ture, be cautious how you insult my new launched
vessel, or swim within my view; lest in a moment
of mingled sportiveness and scorn, I sweep you up
in a scoop net, and roast half a hundred of you for
my breakfast.

  [1] Belce's Herodotus.


     Being, like all introductions to American histo-
ries, very learned, sagacious, and nothing at all to
the purpose; containing divers profound theories
and philosophic speculations, which the idle reader
may totally overlook, and begin at the next book.


     In which the Author ventures a Description of the
World, from the best Authorities

     THE world in which we dwell is a huge, opake,
reflecting, inanimate mass, floating in the vast ethe-
rial ocean of infinite space. It has the form of an
orange, being an oblate spheroid, curiously flattened
at opposite parts, for the insertion of two imaginary
poles, which are supposed to penetrate and unite at
the centre; thus forming an axis on which the migh-
ty orange turns with a regular diurnal revolution.

     The transitions of light and darkness, whence
proceed the alternations of day and night, are pro-
duced by this diurnal revolution, successively pre-
senting the different parts of the earth to the rays of
the sun. The latter is, according to the best, that
is to say, the latest, accounts, a luminous or fiery
body, of a prodigious magnitude, from which this
world is driven by a centrifugal or repelling power,
and to which it is drawn by a centripetal or attrac-
tive force; otherwise termed the attraction of gra-
vitation; the combination, or rather the counterac-
tion of these two opposing impulses producing a cir-
cular and annual revolution. Hence result the vicis-
situdes of the seasons, viz. spring, summer, autumn,
and winter.

     I am fully aware, that I expose myself to the
cavillings of sundry dead philosophers, by adopting
the above theory. Some will entrench themselves
behind the ancient opinion, that the earth is an ex-
tended plain, supported by vast pillars; others, that
it rests on the head of a snake, or the back of a huge
tortoise; and others, that it is an immense flat pan-
cake, and rests upon whatever it pleases God -- for-
merly a pious Catholic opinion, and sanctioned by a
formidable bull, dispatched from the vatican by a
most holy and infallible pontiff. Others will attack
my whole theory, by declaring with the Brahmins,
that the heavens rest upon the earth, and that the
sun and moon swim therein like fishes in the water,
moving from east to west by day, and gliding back
along the edge of the horizon to their original sta
tions during the night time. [2] While others will
maintain, with the Pauranicas of India, that is a vast
plain, encircled by seven oceans of milk, nectar and
other delicious liquids; that it is studded with seven
mountains, and ornamented in the centre by a moun-
tainous rock of burnished gold; and that a great
dragon occasionally swallows up the moon, which
accounts for the phenomena of lunar eclipses.

     I am confident also, I shall meet with equal op-
position to my account of the sun; certain ancient
philosophers having affirmed that it is a vast wheel
of brilliant fire,‡ others that it is merely a mirror or
sphere of transparent chrystal;‖ and a third class,
at the head of whom stands Anaxagoras, having
maintained, that it is nothing but a huge ignited
rock or stone, an opinion which the good people of
Athens have kindly saved me the trouble of con-
futing, by turning the philosopher neck and heels
out of their city.§ Another set of philosophers, who
delight in variety, declare, that certain fiery particles
exhale constantly from the earth, which concentrat-
ing in a single point of the firmament by day, con
stitute the sun, but being scattered, and rambling
about in the dark at night, collect in various points
and form stars. These are regularly burnt out and
extinguished, like the lamps in our streets, and re-
quire a fresh supply of exhalations for the next oc-
casion. [3]

     It is even recorded that at certain remote and ob-
scure periods, in consequence of a great scarcity of
fuel, (probably during a severe winter) the sun has
been completely burnt out, and not rekindled for a
whole month. A most melancholy occurrence, the
very idea of which gave vast concern to Heraclitus,
the celebrated weeping Philosopher, who was a
great stickler for this doctrine. Beside these pro-
found speculations, others may expect me to advo-
cate the opinion of Herschel, that the sun is a most
magnificent, habitable abode; the light it fur-
nishes, arising from certain empyreal, luminous or
phosphoric clouds, swimming in its transparent at-
mosphere. But to save dispute and altercation
with my readers -- who I already perceive, are a cap-
tious, discontented crew, and likely to give me a
world of trouble -- I now, once for all, wash my
hands of all and every of these theories, declining
entirely and unequivocally, any investigation of
their merits. The subject of the present chapter is
merely the Island, on which is built the goodly city
of New York, -- a very honest and substantial Is-
land, which I do not expect to find in the sun, or
moon; as I am no land speculator, but a plain mat-
ter of fact historian. I therefore renounce all luna-
tic, or solaric excursions, and confine myself to the
limits of this terrene or earthly globe; somewhere
on the surface of which I pledge my credit as a his-
torian -- (which heaven and my landlord know is all
the credit I possess) to detect and demonstrate the
existence of this illustrious island to the conviction
of all reasonable people.

     Proceeding on this discreet and considerate
plan, I rest satisfied with having advanced the most
approved and fashionable opinion on the form of this
earth and its movements; and I freely submit it to
the cavilling of any Philo, dead or alive, who may
choose to dispute its correctness. I must here in-
treat my unlearned readers (in which class I hum-
bly presume to include nine tenths of those who
shall pore over these instructive pages) not to be
discouraged when they encounter a passage above
their comprehension; for as I shall admit nothing
into my work that is not pertinent and absolutely es-
sential to its well being, so likewise I shall advance
no theory or hypothesis, that shall not be elucidat-
ed to the comprehension of the dullest intellect. I
am not one of those churlish authors, who do so
enwrap their works in the mystic fogs of scientific
jargon, that a man must be as wise as themselves to
understand their writings; on the contrary, my
pages, though abounding with sound wisdom and
profound erudition, shall be written with such plea-
sant and urbane perspicuity, that there shall not
even be found a country justice, an outward alder-
man, or a member of congress, provided he can read
with tolerable fluency, but shall both understand and
profit by my labours. I shall therefore, proceed
forthwith to illustrate by experiment, the com-
plexity of motion just ascribed to this our rotatory

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

     It is a mortifying circumstance, which greatly
perplexes many a pains taking philosopher, that
nature often refuses to second his most profound
and elaborate efforts; so that often after having in-
vented one of the most ingenious and natural theories
imaginable, she will have the perverseness to act
directly in the teeth of his system, and flatly con-
tradict his most favourite positions. This is a
manifest and unmerited grievance, since it throws
the censure of the vulgar and unlearned entirely
upon the philosopher; whereas the fault is not to
be ascribed to his theory, which is unquestionably
correct, but to the waywardness of dame nature,
who with the proverbial fickleness of her sex, is con-
tinually indulging in coquetries and caprices, and
seems really to take pleasure in violating all philo-
sophic rules, and jilting the most learned and inde-
fatigable of her adorers. Thus it happened with
respect to the foregoing satisfactory explanation of
the motion of our planet; it appears that the cen-
trifugal force has long since ceased to operate, while
its antagonist remains in undiminished potency:
the world therefore, according to the theory as it
originally stood, ought in strict propriety to tumble
into the sun -- Philosophers were convinced that it
would do so, and awaited in anxious impatience,
the fulfilment of their prognostications. But the
untoward planet, pertinaciously continued her
course, notwithstanding that she had reason, phi-
losophy, and a whole university of learned professors
opposed to her conduct. The philo's were all at a
non plus, and it is apprehended they would never
have fairly recovered from the slight and affront
which they conceived offered to them by the world,
had not a good natured professor kindly officiated
as mediator between the parties, and effected a re-

     Finding the world would not accomodate
itself to the theory, he wisely determined to ac-
comodate the theory to the world: he therefore
informed his brother philosophers, that the circular
motion of the earth round the sun was no sooner
engendered by the conflicting impulses above des-
cribed, than it became a regular revolution, inde-
pendent of the causes which gave it origin -- in short,
that madam earth having once taken it into her
head to whirl round, like a young lady of spirit in
a high dutch waltz, the duivel himself could not
stop her. The whole board of professors of the
university of Leyden joined in the opinion, being
heartily glad of any explanation that would decently
extricate them from their embarrassment -- and im-
mediately decreed the penalty of expulsion against
all who should presume to question its correctness:
the philosophers of all other nations gave an un-
qualified assent, and ever since that memorable
era the world has been left to take her own course,
and to revolve around the sun in such orbit as she
thinks proper.

  [2] Faria y Souza. Mick. Lus. Note B, 7.

  ‡ Plut. de Plac. Philos. lib. ii, cap. 20.

  ‖ Achill. Tat. Isag. cap. 19. Ap. Petav. t. iii, p. 81. Stob.
Eclog. Phys. lib. i, p. 56. Plut. de plac. p. p.

  § Diog. Laert. in Anaxag. I. ii, sec. 8. Plat. Apol. t i, p. 26.
Plut. de Superst. t. ii, p. 269. Xenoph. Mem. l. iv, p. 815.

  [3] Aristot. Meteor. l. ii, c. 2. Idem. Probl. sec. 15. Stob.
Ecl. Phys. l. i, p. 55. Bruck. Hist. Phil. t. i, p. 1154, et alii.

   Philos. Journ. 1. p. 13.


     Cosmogony or Creation of the World. With a mul-
titude of excellent Theories, by which the Crea-
tion of a World is shewn to be no such difficult
Matter as common Folks would imagine

     Having thus briefly introduced my reader to the
world, and given him some idea of its form and si-
tuation, he will naturally be curious to know from
whence it came, and how it was created. And in-
deed these are points absolutely essential to be
cleared up, in as much as if this world had not
been formed, it is more than probable, nay I may
venture to assume it as a maxim or postulate at
least, that this renowned island on which is situated
the city of New York, would never have had an
existence. The regular course of my history there-
fore, requires that I should proceed to notice the
cosmogony or formation of this our globe.

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

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

     Thus it was the opinion of certain ancient sages,
that the earth and the whole system of the universe,
was the deity himself;4 a doctrine most strenuous-
ly maintained by Zenophanes and the whole tribe
of Eleatics, as also by Strato and the sect of peri-
patetic or vagabondizing philosophers. Pythagoras
likewise inculcated the famous numerical system of
the monad, dyad and triad, and by means of his
sacred quaternary elucidated the formation of the
world, the arcana of nature and the principles both
of music and morals. Other sages adhered to
the mathematical system of squares and triangles;
the cube, the pyramid and the sphere; the tetrahe-
dron, the octahedron, the icosahedron and the do-
decahedron.5 While others advocated the great
elementary theory, which refers the construction of
our globe and all that it contains, to the combina-
tions of four material elements, air, earth, fire and
water; with the assistance of a fifth, an immate-
rial and vivifying principle; by which I presume
the worthy theorist meant to allude to that vivifying
spirit contained in gin, brandy, and other potent li-
quors, and which has such miraculous effects, not
only on the ordinary operations of nature, but like-
wise on the creative brains of certain philosophers.

     Nor must I omit to mention the great atomic
system taught by old Moschus before the siege of
Troy; revived by Democritus of laughing memory;
improved by Epicurus that king of good fellows,
and modernised by the fanciful Descartes. But I
decline enquiring, whether the atoms, of which the
earth is said to be composed, are eternal or recent;
whether they are animate or inanimate; whether,
agreeably to the opinion of the Atheists, they were
fortuitously aggregated, or as the Theists maintain,
were arranged by a supreme intelligence. Whe-
ther in fact the earth is an insensate clod, or whe
ther it is animated by a soul;6 which opinion was
strenuously maintained by a host of philosophers,
at the head of whom stands the great Plato, that
temperate sage, who threw the cold water of philo-
sophy on the form of sexual intercourse, and in-
culcated the doctrine of Platonic affection, or the
art of making love without making children. -- An
exquisitely refined intercourse, but much better
adapted to the ideal inhabitants of his imaginary
island of Atlantis, than to the sturdy race, composed
of rebellious flesh and blood, who populate the lit-
tle matter of fact island which we inhabit.

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

     But while briefly noticing long celebrated sys-
tems of ancient sages, let me not pass over with
neglect, those of other philosophers; which though
less universal and renowned, have equal claims to
attention, and equal chance for correctness. Thus
it is recorded by the Brahmins, in the pages of their
inspired Shastah, that the angel Bistnoo trans-
forming himself into a great boar, plunged into the
watery abyss, and brought up the earth on his tusks.
Then issued from him a mighty tortoise, and a
mighty snake; and Bistnoo placed the snake erect
upon the back of the tortoise, and he placed the
earth upon the head of the snake. [7]

     The negro philosophers of Congo affirm, that
the world was made by the hands of angels, ex-
cepting their own country, which the Supreme Be-
ing constructed himself, that it might be supremely
excellent. And he took great pains with the inha-
bitants, and made them very black, and beautiful:
and when he had finished the first man, he was well
pleased with him, and smoothed him over the face,
and hence his nose and the nose of all his descend-
ants became flat.

     The Mohawk Philosophers tell us that a preg-
nant woman fell down from heaven, and that a tor-
toise took her upon its back, because every place
was covered with water; and that the woman sit-
ting upon the tortoise paddled with her hands in
the water, and raked up the earth, whence it finally
happened that the earth became higher than the

     Beside these and many other equally sage opi-
nions, we have likewise the profound conjectures of
Aboul-Hassan-Aly, son of Al Khan, son of Aly,
son of Abderrahman, son of Abdallah, son of Ma-
soud-el-Hadheli, who is commonly called Masoudi,
and surnamed Cothbeddin, but who takes the hum-
ble title of Laheb-ar-rasoul, which means the com-
panion of the ambassador of God. He has written
an universal history entitled " Mouroudge-ed-dhah-
rab, or the golden meadows and the mines of preci-
ous stones." In this valuable work he has related
the history of the world, from the creation down to
the moment of writing; which was, under the Kha-
liphat of Mothi Billah, in the month Dgioumadi-el-
aoual of the 336th year of the Hegira or flight of
the Prophet. He informs us that the earth is a
huge bird, Mecca and Medina constituting the head,
Persia and India the right wing, the land of Gog
the left wing, and Africa the tail. He informs us
moreover, than an earth has existed before the pre-
sent, (which he considers as a mere chicken of 7000
years) that it has undergone divers deluges, and
that, according to the opinion of some well inform-
ed Brahmins of his acquaintance, it will be renova-
ted every seventy thousandth hazarouam; each
hazarouam consisting of 12,000 years.

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

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

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

     Whiston, the same ingenious philosopher who
rivalled Ditton in his researches after the longitude,
(for which the mischief-loving Swift discharged on
their heads a stanza as fragrant as an Edinburgh
nosegay) has distinguished himself by a very ad-
mirable theory respecting the earth. He conjec-
tures that it was originally a chaotic comet, which
being selected for the abode of man, was removed
from its excentric orbit, and whirled round the sun
in its present regular motion; by which change of
direction, order succeeded to confusion in the ar-
rangement of its component parts. The philoso-
pher adds, that the deluge was produced by an un
courteous salute from the watery tail of another
comet; doubtless through sheer envy of its improved
condition; thus furnishing a melancholy proof that
jealousy may prevail, even among the heavenly
bodies, and discord interrupt that celestial harmony
of the spheres, so melodiously sung by the poets.

     But I pass over a variety of excellent theories,
among which are those of Burnet, and Woodward,
and Whitehurst; regretting extremely that my time
will not suffer me to give them the notice they de-
serve -- And shall conclude with that of the re-
nowed Dr. Darwin, which I have reserved to the
last for the sake of going off with a report. This
learned Theban, who is as much distinguished for
rhyme as reason, and for good natured credulity as
serious research, and who has recommended himself
wonderfully to the good graces of the ladies, by
letting them into all the gallantries, amours, de-
baucheries, and other topics of scandal of the court
of Flora; has fallen upon a theory worthy of his
combustible imagination. According to his opinion,
the huge mass of chaos took a sudden occasion to
explode, like a barrel of gunpowder, and in that act
exploded the sun -- which in its flight by a similar ex-
plosion expelled the earth -- which in like guise ex-
ploded the moon -- and thus by a concatenation of
explosions, the whole solar system was produced,
and set most systematically in motion! [9]

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

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

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

     When a man once doffs the straight waistcoat
of common sense, and trusts merely to his imagin-
ation, it is astonishing how rapidly he gets forward.
Plodding souls, like myself, who jog along on the
two legs nature has given them, are sadly put to it
to clamber over the rocks and hills, to toil through
the mud and mire, and to remove the continual ob-
structions, that abound in the path of science. But
your adventurous philosopher launches his theory
like a balloon, and having inflated it with the smoke
and vapours of his own heated imagination, mounts
it in triumph, and soars away to his congenial re-
gions in the moon. Every age has furnished its
quota of these adventurers in the realms of fancy,
who voyage among the clouds for a season and are
stared at and admired, until some envious rival as-
sails their air blown pageant, shatters its crazy
texture, lets out the smoke, and tumbles the adven-
turer and his theory into the mud. Thus one
race of philosophers demolish the works of their
predecessors, and elevate more splendid fantasies in
their stead, which in their turn are demolished and
replaced by the air castles of a succeeding generation.
Such are the grave eccentricities of genius, and the
mighty soap bubbles, with which the grown up
children of science amuse themselves -- while the
honest vulgar, stand gazing in stupid admiration,
and dignify these fantastic vagaries with the name
of wisdom! -- surely old Socrates was right in his
opinion that philosophers are but a soberer sort of
madmen, busying themselves in things which are
totally incomprehensible, or which, if they could
be comprehended, would be found not worth the
trouble of discovery.

     And now, having adduced several of the most
important theories that occur to my recollection,
I leave my readers at full liberty to choose among
them. They are all the serious speculations of
learned men -- all differ essentially from each
other -- and all have the same title to belief. For
my part, (as I hate an embarrassment of choice)
until the learned have come to an agreement among
themselves, I shall content myself with the account
handed us down by the good old Moses; in which
I do but follow the example of our ingenious neigh-
bours of Connecticut; who at their first settlement
proclaimed, that the colony should be governed by
the laws of God -- until they had time to make bet-

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

     Thus it will be perceived, that like an experien-
ced historian I confine myself to such points as are
absolutely essential to my subject -- building up my
work, after the manner of the able architect who
erected our theatre; beginning with the foundation,
then the body, then the roof, and at last perching
our snug little island like the little cupola on the
top. Having dropt upon this simile by chance I
shall make a moment's further use of it, to illustrate
the correctness of my plan. Had not the founda-
tion, the body, and the roof of the theatre first
been built, the cupola could not have had existence
as a cupola -- it might have been a centry-box -- or
a watchman's box -- or it might have been placed in
the rear of the Manager's house and have formed --
a temple; -- but it could never have been considered a
cupola. As therefore the building of the theatre
was necessary to the existence of the cupola, as a
cupola -- so the formation of the globe and its inter-
nal construction, were first necessary to the existence
of this island, as an island -- and thus the necessity
and importance of this part of my history, which
in a manner is no part of my history, is logically

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

   mem. sur musique ancien. p. 39. Plutarch de plac. Philos. lib. i.
cap. 3. et. alii.

  [5] Tim. Locr. ap. Plato. t. 3. p. 90.

   cap. 3. Cic de. Nat. deor. lib. i. cap. 10. Justin. Mart. orat. ad
gent. p. 20.

  [6] Mosheim in Cudw. lib. i. cap. 4. Tim. de anim. mund. ap.
Plat. lib. 3. Mem. de l'acad. des Belles Lettr. t. 32. p. 19. et alii.

  [7] Holwell. Gent. Philosophy.

  [8] Johannes Megapolensis, jun. Account of Maquaas or Mo-
hawk Indians. 1644.

  [9] Darw. Bot. Garden. Part I, Cant. i, l. 105.


     How that famous navigator, Admiral Noah, was
shamefully nick-named; and how he committed
an unpardonable oversight in not having four
sons. With the great trouble of philosophers
caused thereby, and the discovery of America

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

     I regret exceedingly that the nature of my plan
will not permit me to gratify the laudable curiosity
of my readers, by investigating minutely the history
of the great Noah. Indeed such an undertaking
would be attended with more trouble than many
people would imagine; for the good old patriarch
seems to have been a great traveller in his day, and
to have passed under a different name in every
country that he visited. The Chaldeans for instance
give us his story, merely altering his name into
Xisuthrus -- a trivial alteration, which to an historian
skilled in etymologies, will appear wholly unimpor-
tant. It appears likewise, that he had exchanged
his tarpawlin and quadrant among the Chaldeans,
for the gorgeous insignia of royalty, and appears as
a monarch in their annals. The Egyptians celebrate
him under the name of Osiris; the Indians as
Menu; the Greek and Roman writers confound
him with Ogyges, and the Theban with Deucalion
and Saturn. But the Chinese, who deservedly rank
among the most extensive and authentic historians,
inasmuch as they have known the world ever since
some millions of years before it was created, declare
that Noah was no other than Fohi, a worthy gen-
tleman, descended from an ancient and respectable
family of Hong merchants, that flourished in the
middle ages of the empire. What gives this asser-
tion some air of credibility is, that it is a fact, ad-
mitted by the most enlightened literati, that Noah
travelled into China, at the time of the building of
the Tower of Babel (probably to improve himself
in the study of languages) and the learned Dr.
Shackford gives us the additional information, that
the ark rested upon a mountain on the frontiers of

     From this mass of rational conjectures and sage
hypotheses, many satisfactory deductions might be
drawn; but I shall content myself with the unques-
tionable fact stated in the Bible, that Noah begat
three sons -- Shem, Ham, and Japhet.

     It may be asked by some inquisitive readers,
not much conversant with the art of history writing,
what have Noah and his sons to do with the subject
of this work? Now though, in strict justice, I am
not bound to satisfy such querulous spirits, yet as
I have determined to accommodate my book to
every capacity, so that it shall not only delight the
learned, but likewise instruct the simple, and edify
the vulgar; I shall never hesitate for a moment to
explain any matter that may appear obscure.

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

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

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

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

     I shall not therefore stop to enquire, whether
America was first discovered by a wandering ves-
sel of that celebrated Phoenecian fleet, which, ac-
cording to Herodotus, circumnavigated Africa; or
by that Carthagenian expedition, which Pliny, the
naturalist, informs us, discovered the Canary Isl-
ands; or whether it was settled by a temporary
colony from Tyre, as hinted by Aristotle and Sene-
ca. I shall neither enquire whether it was first
discovered by the Chinese, as Vossius with great
shrewdness advances, nor by the Norwegians in
1002, under Biorn; nor by Behem, the German
navigator, as Mr. Otto has endeavoured to prove
to the Sçavans of the learned city of Philadelphia.

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

     Laying aside, therefore, all the conjectures
above mentioned, with a multitude of others, equal-
ly satisfactory, I shall take for granted, the vulgar
opinion that America was discovered on the 12th
of October, 1492, by Christovallo Colon, a Geno-
ese, who has been clumsily nick-named Columbus,
but for what reason I cannot discern. Of the voy-
ages and adventures of this Colon, I shall say no-
thing, seeing that they are already sufficiently
known. Nor shall I undertake to prove that this
country should have been called Colonia, after his
name, that being notoriously self evident.

     Having thus happily got my readers on this side
of the Atlantic, I picture them to myself, all impa-
tience to enter upon the enjoyment of the land of
promise, and in full expectation that I will imme-
diately deliver it into their possession. But if I
do, may I ever forfeit the reputation of a regular
bred historian. No -- no -- most curious and thrice
learned readers, (for thrice learned ye are if ye
have read all that goes before, and nine times
learned shall ye be, if ye read all that comes after)
we have yet a world of work before us. Think
you the first discoverers of this fair quarter of the
globe, had nothing to do but go on shore and find
a country ready laid out and cultivated like a gar-
den, wherein they might revel at their ease? No
such thing -- they had forests to cut down, under-
wood to grub up, marshes to drain, and savages to

     In like manner, I have sundry doubts to clear
away, questions to resolve, and paradoxes to ex-
plain, before I permit you to range at random;
but these difficulties, once overcome, we shall be
enabled to jog on right merrily through the rest of
our history. Thus my work shall, in a manner,
echo the nature of the subject, in the same manner
as the sound of poetry has been found by certain
shrewd critics, to echo the sense -- this being an
improvement in history, which I claim the merit
of having invented.


     Shewing the great toil and contention which Philo-
sophers have had in peopling America. -- And
how the Aborigines came to be begotten by acci-
dent -- to the great satisfaction and relief of the

     Bless us! -- what a hard life we historians have
of it, who undertake to satisfy the doubts of the
world! -- Here have I been toiling and moiling
through three pestiferous chapters, and my readers
toiling and moiling at my heels; up early and to
bed late, poring over worm-eaten, obsolete, good-
for-nothing books, and cultivating the acquaintance
of a thousand learned authors, both ancient and
modern, who, to tell the honest truth, are the stu-
pidest companions in the world -- and after all,
what have we got by it? -- Truly the mighty valua-
ble conclusion, that this country does actually ex-
ist, and has been discovered; a self-evident fact
not worth a hap'worth of gingerbread. And what
is worse, we seem just as far off from the city of
New York now, as we were at first. Now for my-
self, I would not care the value of a brass button,
being used to this dull and learned company; but
I feel for my unhappy readers, who seem most
woefully jaded and fatigued.

     Still, however, we have formidable difficulties
to encounter, since it yet remains, if possible, to
shew how this country was originally peopled --
a point fruitful of incredible embarrassment, to us
scrupulous historians, but absolutely indispensable
to our works. For unless we prove that the Abo-
rigines did absolutely come from some where, it
will be immediately asserted in this age of scepti-
cism, that they did not come at all; and if they did
not come at all, then was this country never popu-
lated -- a conclusion perfectly agreeable to the rules
of logic, but wholly irreconcilable to every feeling
of humanity, inasmuch as it must syllogistically
prove fatal to the innumerable Aborigines of this
populous region.

     To avert so dire a sophism, and to rescue from
logical annihilation so many millions of fellow crea-
tures, how many wings of geese have been plun-
dered! what oceans of ink have been benevolently
drained! and how many capacious heads of learn-
ed historians have been addled and forever con-
founded! I pause with reverential awe, when I
contemplate the ponderous tomes in different lan-
guages, with which they have endeavoured to solve
this question, so important to the happiness of so-
ciety, but so involved in clouds of impenetrable
obscurity. Historian after historian has engaged
in the endless circle of hypothetical argument, and
after leading us a weary chace through octavos,
quartos, and folios, has let us out at the end of his
work, just as wise as we were at the beginning.
It was doubtless some philosophical wild goose
chace of the kind, that made the old poet Macro-
bius rail in such a passion at curiosity, which he
anathematizes most heartily, as "an irksome ago-
nizing care, a superstitious industry about unprofit-
able things, an itching humour to see what is not to
be seen, and to be doing what signifies nothing when
it is done."

     But come my lusty readers, let us address our-
selves to our task and fall vigorously to work upon
the remaining rubbish that lies in our way; but I
warrant, had master Hercules, in addition to his
seven labours, been given as an eighth to write a
genuine American history, he would have been
fain to abandon the undertaking, before he got over
the threshold of his work.

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

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

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

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

     I pass over the supposition of the learned Gro-
tius, who being both an ambassador and a Dutch-
man to boot, is entitled to great respect; that
North America, was peopled by a strolling com-
pany of Norwegians, and that Peru was founded
by a colonyfrom China -- Manco or Mungo Capac,
the first Incas, being himself a Chinese. Nor shall
I more than barely mention that father Kircher,
ascribes the settlement of America to the Egypti-
ans, Budbeck to the Scandinavians, Charron to the
Gauls, Juffredus Petri to a skaiting party from
Friesland, Milius to the Celtæ, Marinocus the Si-
cilian to the Romans, Le Compte to the Phoenici-
ans, Postel to the Moors, Martyn d'Angleria to the
Abyssinians, together with the sage surmise of De
Laet, that England, Ireland and the Orcades may
contend for that honour.

     Nor will I bestow any more attention or credit
to the idea that America is the fairy region of Zi-
pangri, described by that dreaming traveller Marco
Polo the Venetian; or that it comprizes the vision-
ary island of Atlantis, described by Plato. Neither
will I stop to investigate the heathenish assertion of
Paracelsus, that each hemisphere of the globe was
originally furnished with an Adam and Eve. Or
the more flattering opinion of Dr. Romayne sup-
ported by many nameless authorities, that Adam
was of the Indian race -- or the startling conjecture
of Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin, so highly ho-
nourable to mankind, and peculiarly complimentary
to the French nation, that the whole human species
are accidentally descended from a remarkable fami-
ly of monkies!

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

     This was done either by migrations by land or
transmigrations by water. Thus Padre Joseph D'
Acosta enumerates three passages by land, first by
the north of Europe, secondly by the north of Asia
and thirdly by regions southward of the straits of Ma-
gellan. The learned Grotius marches his Norwe-
gians by a pleasant route across frozen rivers and
arms of the sea, through Iceland, Greenland, Es-
totiland and Naremberga. And various writers,
among whom are Angleria, De Hornn and Buffon,
anxious for the acommodation of these travellers,
have fastened the two continents together by a
strong chain of deductions -- by which means they
could pass over dry shod. But should even this
fail, Pinkerton, that industrious old gentleman, who
compiles books and manufactures Geographies, and
who erst flung away his wig and cane, frolicked
like a naughty boy, and committed a thousand
etourderies, among the petites filles of Paris [10] --
he I say, has constructed a natural bridge of ice,
from continent to continent, at the distance of four
or five miles from Behring's straits -- for which he
is entitled to the grateful thanks of all the wander-
ing aborigines who ever did, or ever will pass over

     It is an evil much to be lamented, that none of
the worthy writers above quoted, could ever com-
mence his work, without immediately declaring hos-
tilities against every writer who had treated of the
same subject. In this particular, authors may be
compared to a certain sagacious bird, which in build-
ing its nest, is sure to pull to pieces the nests of all
the birds in its neighbourhood. This unhappy pro-
pensity tends grievously to impede the progress of
sound knowledge. Theories are at best but brittle
productions, and when once committed to the stream,
they should take care that like the notable pots
which were fellow voyagers, they do not crack each
other. But this literary animosity is almost uncon-
querable. Even I, who am of all men the most
candid and liberal, when I sat down to write this
authentic history, did all at once conceive an abso-
lute, bitter and unutterable contempt, a strange and
unimaginable disbelief, a wondrous and most ineffa-
ble scoffing of the spirit, for the theories of the nu-
merous literati, who have treated before me, of this
country. I called them jolter heads, numsculls,
dunderpates, dom cops, bottericks, domme jordans,
and a thousand other equally indignant appellations.
But when I came to consider the matter coolly and
dispassionately, my opinion was altogether changed.
When I beheld these sages gravely accounting for
unaccountable things, and discoursing thus wisely
about matters forever hidden from their eyes, like
a blind man describing the glories of light, and the
beauty and harmony of colours, I fell back in asto-
nishment at the amazing extent of human ingenuity.

     If -- cried I to myself, these learned men can weave
whole systems out of nothing, what would be their
productions were they furnished with substantial
materials -- if they can argue and dispute thus in-
geniously about subjects beyond their knowledge,
what would be the profundity of their observations,
did they but know what they were talking about!
Should old Radamanthus, when he comes to decide
upon their conduct while on earth, have the least
idea of the usefulness of their labours, he will un-
doubtedly class them with those notorious wise men
of Gotham, who milked a bull, twisted a rope of
sand, and wove a velvet purse from a sow's ear.

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

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

     They have long been picking at the lock, and
fretting at the latch, but the honest father at once
unlocks the door by bursting it open, and when he
has it once a-jar, he is at full liberty to pour in as
many nations as he pleases. This proves to a de-
monstration that a little piety is better than a cart-
load of philosophy, and is a practical illustration of
that scriptural promise -- "By faith ye shall move

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

  [10] Vide Ed. Review


     In which the Author puts a mighty Question to the
rout, by the assistance of the Man in the Moon --
which not only delivers thousands of people
from great embarrassment, but likewise con-
cludes this introductory book

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

     The question which has thus suddenly arisen,
is, what right had the first discoverers of America
to land, and take possession of a country, without
asking the consent of its inhabitants, or yielding
them an adequate compensation for their territory?

     My readers shall now see with astonishment,
how easily I will vanquish this gigantic doubt,
which has so long been the terror of adventurous
writers; which has withstood so many fierce as-
saults, and has given such great distress of mind to
multitudes of kind-hearted folks. For, until this
mighty question is totally put to rest, the worthy
people of America can by no means enjoy the soil
they inhabit, with clear right and title, and quiet,
unsullied consciences.

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

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

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

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

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

     From the foregoing arguments therefore, and a
host of others equally conclusive, which I forbear
to enumerate, it was clearly evident, that this fair
quarter of the globe when first visited by Eu-
ropeans, was a howling wilderness, inhabited by no-
thing but wild beasts; and that the trans-atlantic
visitors acquired an incontrovertable property there-
in, by the right of Discovery.

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

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

     It is true the savages might plead that they
drew all the benefits from the land which their sim-
ple wants required -- they found plenty of game to
hunt, which together with the roots and uncultivat-
ed fruits of the earth, furnished a sufficient variety
for their frugal table; -- and that as heaven merely
designed the earth to form the abode, and satisfy
the wants of man; so long as those purposes were
answered, the will of heaven was accomplished. --
But this only proves how undeserving they were
of the blessings around them -- they were so much
the more savages, for not having more wants; for
knowledge is in some degree an increase of desires,
and it is this superiority both in the number and
magnitude of his desires, that distinguishes the
man from the beast. Therefore the Indians, in
not having more wants, were very unreasonable
animals; and it was but just that they should make
way for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants
to their one, and therefore would turn the earth to
more account, and by cultivating it, more truly
fulfil the will of heaven. Besides -- Grotius and
Lauterbach, and Puffendorff and Titius and a
host of wise men besides, who have considered the
matter properly, have determined, that the proper-
ty of a country cannot be acquired by hunting, cut-
ting wood, or drawing water in it -- nothing but
precise demarcation of limits, and the intention of
cultivation, can establish the possession. Now as
the savages (probably from never having read the
authors above quoted) had never complied with
any of these necessary forms, it plainly follows
that they had no right to the soil, but that it was
completely at the disposal of the first comers, who
had more knowledge and more wants than them-
selves -- who would portion out the soil, with chur-
lish boundaries; who would torture nature to pam-
per a thousand fantastic humours and capricious
appetites; and who of course were far more ra-
tional animals than themselves. In entering upon
a newly discovered, uncultivated country there-
fore, the new comers were but taking possession
of what, according to the aforesaid doctrine, was
their own property -- therefore in opposing them, the
savages were invading their just rights, infringing
the immutable laws of nature and counteracting the
will of heaven -- therefore they were guilty of im-
piety, burglary and trespass on the case, -- therefore
they were hardened offenders against God and
man -- therefore they ought to be exterminated.

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

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

     But notwithstanding all these complicated la-
bours for their good, such was the unparalleled ob-
stinacy of these stubborn wretches, that they ungrate-
fully refused, to acknowledge the strangers as
their benefactors, and persisted in disbelieving the
doctrines they endeavoured to inculcate; most inso-
lently alledging, that from their conduct, the advo-
cates of Christianity did not seem to believe in it them-
selves. Was not this too much forhum an patience?
-- would not one suppose, that the foreign emigrants
from Europe, provoked at their incredulity and
discouraged by their stiff-necked obstinacy, would
forever have abandoned their shores, and consigned
them to their original ignorance and misery? -- But
no -- so zealous were they to effect the temporal
comfort and eternal salvation of these pagan infi-
dels, that they even proceeded from the milder
means of persuasion, to the more painful and trou-
blesome one of persecution -- Let loose among
them, whole troops of fiery monks and furious
blood-hounds -- purified them by fire and sword,
by stake and faggot; in consequence of which in-
defatigable measures, the cause of Christian love
and charity were so rapidly advanced, that in a very
few years, not one fifth of the number of unbelievers
existed in South America, that were found there at
the time of its discovery.

     Nor did the other methods of civilization remain
uninforced. The Indians improved daily and won-
derfully by their intercourse with the whites. They
took to drinking rum, and making bargains. They
learned to cheat, to lie, to swear, to gamble, to
quarrel, to cut each others throats, in short, to ex-
cel in all the accomplishments that had originally
marked the superiority of their Christian visitors.
And such a surprising aptitude have they shewn for
these acquirements, that there is very little doubt
that in a century more, provided they survive so
long, the irrisistible effects of civilization; they
will equal in knowledge, refinement, knavery, and
debauchery, the most enlightened, civilized and
orthodox nations of Europe.

     What stronger right need the European settlers
advance to the country than this. Have not whole
nations of uninformed savages been made acquaint-
ed with a thousand imperious wants and indispen-
sible comforts of which they were before wholly
ignorant -- Have they not been literally hunted and
smoked out of the dens and lurking places of igno-
rance and infidelity, and absolutely scourged into
the right path. Have not the temporal things, the
vain baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which
were too apt to engage their worldly and selfish
thoughts, been benevolently taken from them; and
have they not in lieu thereof, been taught to set
their affections on things above -- And finally, to use
the words of a reverend Spanish father, in a letter
to his superior in Spain -- "Can any one have the
"presumption to say, that these savage Pagans,
"have yielded any thing more than an inconsidera
"ble recompense to their benefactors; in surren
"dering to them a little pitiful tract of this dirty
"sublunary planet, in exchange for a glorious inhe
"ritance in the kingdom of Heaven!"

     Here then are three complete and undeniable
sources of right established, any one of which was
more than ample to establish a property in the newly
discovered regions of America. Now, so it has
happened in certain parts of this delightful quarter
of the globe, that the right of discovery has been
so strenuously asserted -- the influence of cultiva-
tion so industriously extended, and the progress of
salvation and civilization so zealously prosecuted,
that, what with their attendant wars, persecutions,
oppressions, diseases, and other partial evils that
often hang on the skirts of great benefits -- the sa-
vage aborigines have, some how or another, been
utterly annihilated -- and this all at once brings me
to a fourth right, which is worth all the others put
together -- For the original claimants to the soil
bring all dead and buried, and no one remaining to
inherit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards as the next
immediate occupants entered upon the possession,
as clearly as the hang-man succeeds to the clothes
of the malefactor -- and as they have Blackstone,13
and all the learned expounders of the law on their
side, they may set all actions of ejectment at de-
fiance -- and this last right may be entitled, the RIGHT
BY EXTERMINATION, or in other words, the RIGHT

     But lest any scruples of conscience should re-
main on this head, and to settle the question of right
forever, his holiness Pope Alexander VI, issued
one of those mighty bulls, which bear down reason,
argument and every thing before them; by which
he generously granted the newly discovered quarter
of the globe, to the Spaniards and Portuguese; who,
thus having law and gospel on their side, and being
inflamed with great spiritual zeal, shewed the Pa-
gan savages neither favour nor affection, but prose-
cuted the work of discovery, colonization, civiliza-
tion, and extermination, with ten times more fury
than ever.

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

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

     Let us suppose then, that the inhabitants of the
moon, by astonishing advancement in science, and
by a profound insight into that ineffable lunar phi-
losophy, the mere flickerings of which, have of late
years, dazzled the feeble optics, and addled the
shallow brains of the good people of our globe --
let us suppose, I say, that the inhabitants of the
moon, by these means, had arrived at such a com-
mand of their energies, such an enviable state of
perfectability, as to controul the elements, and navi-
gate the boundless regions of space. Let us sup-
pose a roving crew of these soaring philosophers,
in the course of an ærial voyage of discovery among
the stars, should chance to alight upon this out-
landish planet.

     And here I beg my readers will not have the
impertinence to smile, as is too frequently the fault
of volatile readers, when perusing the grave specu-
lations of philosophers. I am far from indulging
in any sportive vein at present, nor is the supposi-
tion I have been making so wild as many may deem
it. It has long been a very serious and anxious ques-
tion with me, and many a time, and oft, in the course
of my overwhelming cares and contrivances for the
welfare and protection of this my native planet, have
I lain awake whole nights, debating in my mind whe-
ther it was most probable we should first discover and
civilize the moon, or the moon discover and civilize
our globe. Neither would the prodigy of sailing
in the air and cruising among the stars be a whit
more astonishing and incomprehensible to us, than
was the European mystery of navigating floating
castles, through the world of waters, to the simple
savages. We have already discovered the art of
coasting along the ærial shores of our planet, by
means of balloons, as the savages had, of venturing
along their sea coasts in canoes; and the disparity
between the former, and the ærial vehicles of the
philosophers from the moon, might not be greater,
than that, between the bark canoes of the savages,
and the mighty ships of their discoverers. I might
here pursue an endless chain of very curious, pro-
found and unprofitable speculations; but as they
would be unimportant to my subject, I abandon
them to my reader, particularly if he is a philoso-
pher, as matters well worthy his attentive consider-

     To return then to my supposition -- let us sup-
pose that the aerial visitants I have mentioned, pos-
sessed of vastly superior knowledge to ourselves;
that is to say, possessed of superior knowledge in the
art of extermination -- riding on Hypogriffs, de-
fended with impenetrable armour -- armed with
concentrated sun beams, and provided with vast
engines, to hurl enormous moon stones: in short,
let us suppose them, if our vanity will permit the
supposition, as superior to us in knowledge, and
consequently in power, as the Europeans were to
the Indians, when they first discovered them. All
this is very possible, it is only our self-sufficiency,
that makes us think otherwise; and I warrant the
poor savages, before they had any knowledge of the
white men, armed in all the terrors of glittering
steel and tremendous gun-powder, were as per-
fectly convinced that they themselves, were the
wisest, the most virtuous, powerful and perfect of
created beings, as are, at this present moment, the
lordly inhabitants of old England, the volatile popu-
lace of France, or even the self-satisfied citizens of
this most enlightened republick.

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

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

     "Most serene and mighty Potentate, whose do-
minions extend as far as eye can reach, who rideth
on the Great Bear, useth the sun as a looking
glass and maintaineth unrivalled controul over
tides, madmen and sea-crabs. We thy liege sub-
jects have just returned from a voyage of discovery,
in the course of which we have landed and taken
possession of that obscure little scurvy planet,
which thou beholdest rolling at a distance. The
five uncouth monsters, which we have brought
into this august presence, were once very important
chiefs among their fellow savages; for the inha-
bitants of the newly discovered globe are totally
destitute of the common attributes of humanity,
inasmuch as they carry their heads upon their
shoulders, instead of under their arms -- have two
eyes instead of one -- are utterly destitute of tails,
and of a variety of unseemly complexions, particu-
larly of a horrible whiteness -- whereas all the in-
habitants of the moon are pea green!

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

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

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

     Thus have I clearly proved, and I hope strik-
ingly illustrated, the right of the early colonists to
the possession of this country -- and thus is this gi-
gantic question, completely knocked in the head --
so having manfully surmounted all obstacles, and
subdued all opposition, what remains but that I
should forthwith conduct my impatient and way-
worn readers, into the renowned city, which we
have so long been in a manner besieging. -- But
hold, before I proceed another step, I must pause
to take breath and recover from the excessive fa-
tigue I have undergone, in preparing to begin this
most accurate of histories. And in this I do but
imitate the example of the celebrated Hans Von
Dunderbottom, who took a start of three miles for
the purpose of jumping over a hill, but having been
himself out of breath by the time he reached the
foot, sat himself quietly down for a few moments
to blow, and then walked over it at his leisure.


[11] Grotius. Puffendorf, b. 4. c. 4. Vattel, b. 1. c. 18. et alii.

[12] Vattel -- B.i, ch. 17. See likewise Grotius, Puffendorf, et alii.

[13] Black. Com. B. II, c. i.


     Treating of the first settlement of the province
of Nieuw Nederlants.


     How Master Hendrick Hudson, voyaging in
search of a north-west passage discovered the fa-
mous bay of New York, and likewise the great river
Mohegan -- and how he was magnificently rewarded
by the munificence of their High Mightinesses

     In the ever memorable year of our Lord 1609,
on the five and twentieth day of March (O. S.) -- a
fine Saturday morning, when jocund Phoebus, hav-
ing his face newly washed, by gentle dews and
spring time showers, looked from the glorious win-
dows of the east, with a more than usually shining
countenance -- "that worthy and irrecoverable dis-
coverer, Master Henry Hudson" set sail from Hol-
land in a stout vessel,14 called the Half Moon, being
employed by the Dutch East India Company, to
seek a north-west passage to China.

     Of this celebrated voyage we have a narration
still extant, written with true log-book brevity, by
master Robert Juet of Lime house, mate of the ves-
sel; who was appointed historian of the voyage,
partly on account of his uncommon literary talents,
but chiefly, as I am credibly informed, because he
was a countryman and schoolfellow of the great
Hudson, with whom he had often played truant and
sailed chip boats, when he was a little boy. I am
enabled however to supply the deficiencies of mas-
ter Juet's journal, by certain documents furnished
me by very respectable Dutch families, as likewise
by sundry family traditions, handed down from my
great great Grandfather, who accompanied the ex-
pedition in the capacity of cabin boy.

     From all that I can learn, few incidents worthy
of remark happened in the voyage; and it morti-
fies me exceedingly that I have to admit so noted
an expedition into my work, without making any
more of it. -- Oh! that I had the advantages of that
most authentic writer of yore, Apollonius Rhodius,
who in his account of the famous Argonautic expe-
dition, has the whole mythology at his disposal,
and elevates Jason and his compeers into heroes
and demigods; though all the world knows them
to have been a meer gang of sheep stealers, on a
marauding expedition -- or that I had the privileges
of Dan Homer and Dan Virgil to enliven my narra-
tion, with giants and Lystrigonians, to entertain
our honest mariners with an occasional concert of
syrens and mermaids, and now and then with the
rare shew of honest old Neptune and his fleet of
frolicksome cruisers. But alas! the good old times
have long gone by, when your waggish deities
would descend upon the terraqueous globe, in
their own proper persons, and play their pranks,
upon its wondering inhabitants. Neptune has pro-
claimed an embargo in his dominions, and the
sturdy tritons, like disbanded sailors, are out of em-
ploy, unless old Charon has charitably taken them
into his service, to sound their conchs, and ply as
his ferry-men. Certain it is, no mention has been
made of them by any of our modern navigators,
who are not behind their ancient predecessors in
tampering with the marvellous -- nor has any notice
been taken of them, in that most minute and au-
thentic chronicle of the seas, the New York Gazette
edited by Solomon Lang. Even Castor and Pol-
lux, those flaming meteors that blaze at the mast-
head of tempest tost vessels, are rarely beheld in
these degenerate days -- and it is but now and then,
that our worthy sea captains fall in with that por-
tentous phantom of the seas, that terror to all expe-
rienced mariners, that shadowy spectrum of the
night -- the flying Dutchman!

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

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

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

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

     Of the transactions of our adventurers with the
savages, and how the latter smoked copper pipes,
and eat dried currants; how they brought great
store of tobacco and oysters; how they shot one of
the ship's crew, and how he was buried, I shall say
nothing, being that I consider them unimportant to
my history. After tarrying a few days in the bay,
in order to smoke their pipes and refresh them-
selves after their sea-faring, our voyagers weighed
anchor, and adventurously ascended a mighty river
which emptied into the bay. This river it is said was
known among the savages by the name of the Shate-
though we are assured in an excellent little
history published in 1674, by John Josselyn, Gent.
that it was called the Mohegan,15 and master Richard
Bloome, who wrote some time afterwards, asserts
the same -- so that I very much incline in favour of
the opinion of these two honest gentlemen. Be
this as it may, the river is at present denominated
the Hudson; and up this stream the shrewd Hen
drick had very little doubt he should discover the
much looked for passage to China!

     The journal goes on to make mention of divers
interviews between the crew and the natives, in the
voyage up the river, but as they would be imperti-
nent to my history, I shall pass them over in si-
lence, except the following dry joke, played off by
the old commodore and his school-fellow Robert
Juet; which does such vast credit to their experi-
mental philosophy, that I cannot refrain from in-
serting it. "Our master and his mate determined
to try some of the chiefe men of the countrey, whe-
ther they had any treacherie in them. So they
tooke them downe into the cabin and gave them so
much wine and acqua vitæ that they were all mer-
rie; and one of them had his wife with him, which
sate so modestly, as any of our countrey women
would do in a strange place. In the end, one of
them was drunke, which had been aboarde of our
ship all the time that we had beene there, and that
was strange to them, for they could not tell how to
take it."16

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

     Being satisfied that there was little likelihood of
getting to China, unless like the blind man, he re-
turned from whence he sat out and took a fresh
start; he forthwith re-crossed the sea to Holland,
where he was received with great welcome by the
honourable East-India company, who were very
much rejoiced to see him come back safe -- with
their ship; and at a large and respectable meeting
of the first merchants and burgomasters of Amster-
dam, it was unanimously determined, that as a mu-
nificent reward for the eminent services he had
performed, and the important discovery he had
made, the great river Mohegan should be called
after his name! -- and it continues to be called Hud-
son river unto this very day.

  [14] Ogilvie calls it a frigate.

  [15] This river is likewise laid down in Ogilvy's map as Manhat-
tan -- Noordt -- Montaigne and Mauritius river.

  [16] Juet's Journ. Purch. Pil.


     Containing an account of a mighty Ark which float-
ed, under the protection of St. Nicholas, from
Holland to Gibbet Island -- the descent of the
strange Animals therefrom -- a great victory,
and a description of the ancient village of Com-

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

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

     The ship in which these illustrious adventurers
set sail was called the Goede Vrouw, or Good Woman,
in compliment to the wife of the President of the
West India Company, who was allowed by every
body (except her husband) to be a singularly sweet
tempered lady, when not in liquor. It was in
truth a gallant vessel, of the most approved dutch
construction, and made by the ablest ship carpen-
ters of Amsterdam, who it is well known, always
model their ships after the fair forms of their coun-
try women. Accordingly it had one hundred feet
in the keel, one hundred feet in the beam, and one
hundred feet from the bottom of the stern post, to
the tafforel. Like the beauteous model, who was
declared the greatest belle in Amsterdam, it was
full in the bows, with a pair of enormous cat-heads,
a copper bottom, and withal, a most prodigious

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

     My great great grandfather remarks, that the
voyage was uncommonly prosperous, for being under
the especial care of the ever-revered St. Nicholas,
the Goede Vrouw seemed to be endowed with qua-
lities, unknown to common vessels. Thus she made
as much lee-way as head-way, could get along very
nearly as fast with the wind a-head, as when it was
a-poop -- and was particularly great in a calm; in
consequence of which singular advantages, she made
out to accomplish her voyage in a very few months,
and came to anchor at the mouth of the Hudson, a
little to the east of Gibbet Island. [17]

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

     Animated by this unlooked-for victory our valiant
heroes sprang ashore in triumph, took possession
of the soil as conquerors in the name of their High
Mightinesses the lords states general, and march-
ing fearlessly forward, carried the village of Com-
by storm -- having nobody to withstand
them, but some half a score of old squaws, and
poppooses, whom they tortured to death with low
dutch. On looking about them they were so
transported with the excellencies of the place, that
they had very little doubt, the blessed St. Nicholas,
had guided them thither, as the very spot whereon to
settle their colony. The softness of the soil was
wonderfully adapted to the driving of piles; the
swamps and marshes around them afforded ample
opportunities for the constructing of dykes and
dams; the shallowness of the shore was peculiarly
favourable to the building of docks -- in a word, this
spot abounded with all the singular inconveniences,
and aquatic obstacles, necessary for the foundation
of a great dutch city. On making a faithful re-
port therefore, to the crew of the Goede Vrouw,
they one and all determined that this was the des-
tined end of their voyage. Accordingly they de-
scended from the Goede Vrouw, men women and
children, in goodly groups, as did the animals of
yore from the ark, and formed themselves into a
thriving settlement, which they called by the Indian
name Communipaw.

      -- As all the world is perfectly acquainted with
Communipaw, it may seem somewhat superfluous
to treat of it in the present work; but my readers
will please to recollect, that notwithstanding it is
my chief desire to improve the present age, yet I
write likewise for posterity, and have to consult the
understanding and curiosity of some half a score of
centuries yet to come; by which time perhaps,
were it not for this invaluable history, the great
Communipaw, like Babylon, Carthage, Nineveh
and other great cities, might be perfectly extinct --
sunk and forgotten in its own mud -- its inhabitants
turned into oysters, [18] and even its situation a
fertile subject of learned controversy and hardhead-
ed investigation among indefatigable historians.
Let me then piously rescue from oblivion, the
humble reliques of a place, which was the egg
from whence was hatched the mighty city of New

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

     These negroes, in fact, like the monks in the
dark ages, engross all the knowledge of the place,
and being infinitely more adventurous and more
knowing than their masters, carry on all the foreign
trade; making frequent voyages to town in canoes
loaded with oysters, buttermilk and cabbages.
They are great astrologers, predicting the different
changes of weather almost as accurately as an al-
manack -- they are moreover exquisite performers
on three stringed fiddles: in whistling they almost
boast the farfamed powers of Orpheus his lyre,
for not a horse or an ox in the place, when at the
plow or in the waggon, will budge a foot until he
hears the well known whistle of his black driver
and companion. -- And from their amazing skill at
casting up accounts upon their fingers, they are re-
garded with as much veneration as were the disci-
ples of Pythagoras of yore, when initiated into the
sacred quaternary of numbers.

     As to the honest dutch burghers of Communi-
paw, like wise men, and sound philosophers, they
never look beyond their pipes, nor trouble their
heads about any affairs out of their immediate
neighbourhood; so that they live in profound and
enviable ignorance of all the troubles, anxieties and
revolutions, of this distracted planet. I am even
told that many among them do verily believe that
Holland, of which they have heard so much from
tradition, is situated somewhere on Long-Island --
that Spiking-devil and the Narrows are the two ends
of the world -- that the country is still under the
dominion of their high mightinesses, and that the
city of New York still goes by the name of Nieuw
Amsterdam. They meet every saturday after-
noon, at the only tavern in the place, which bears
as a sign, a square headed likeness of the prince of
Orange; where they smoke a silent pipe, by way
of promoting social conviviality, and invariably
drink a mug of cider to the success of admiral Von
Tromp, who they imagine is still sweeping the Bri-
tish channel, with a broom at his mast head.

     Communipaw, in short, is one of the numerous
little villages in the vicinity of this most beautiful
of cities, which are so many strong holds and fast-
nesses, whither the primitive manners of our
dutch forefathers have retreated, and where they
are cherished with devout and scrupulous strict-
ness. The dress of the original settlers is handed
down inviolate, from father to son -- the identical
broad brimmed hat, broad skirted coat and broad
bottomed breeches, continue from generation to
generation, and several gigantic knee buckles of
massy silver, are still in wear, that made such gal-
lant display in the days of the patriarchs of Com-
munipaw. The language likewise, continues una-
dulterated by barbarous innovations; and so criti-
cally correct is the village school-master in his
dialect, that his reading of a low dutch psalm, has
much the same effect on the nerves, as the filing of
a hand saw.

  [17] So called, because one Joseph Andrews, a pirate and murderer,
was hanged in chains on that Island, the 23d May, 1769. Editor.

  [18] "Men by inaction degenerate into Oysters." Kaimes.


     In which is set forth the true art of making a bar-
gain, together with a miraculous escape of a
great Metropolis in a fog -- and how certain
adventurers departed from Communipaw on a
perilous colonizing expedition

     Having, in the trifling digression with which I
concluded my last chapter, discharged the filial du-
ty, which the city of New York owes to Communi-
paw, as being the mother settlement; and having
given a faithful picture of it as it stands at present,
I return, with a soothing sentiment of self-appro-
bation, to dwell upon its early history. The crew
of the Goede Vrouw being soon reinforced by fresh
importations from Holland, the settlement went
jollily on, encreasing in magnitude and prosperity.
The neighbouring Indians in a short time became
accustomed to the uncouth sound of the dutch lan-
guage, and an intercourse gradually took place be-
tween them and the new comers. The Indians
were much given to long talks, and the Dutch to
long silence -- in this particular therefore, they ac-
commodated each other completely. The chiefs
would make long speeches about the big bull, the
wabash and the great spirit, to which the others
would listen very attentively, smoke their pipes and
grunt yah myn-her -- whereat the poor savages were
wonderously delighted. They instructed the new
settlers in the best art of curing and smoking to-
bacco, while the latter in return, made them drunk
with true Hollands -- and then learned them the art
of making bargains.

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

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

     The Dutch possessions in this part of the globe
began now to assume a very thriving appearance,
and were comprehended under the general title of
Nieuw Nederlandts, on account, no doubt, of their
great resemblance to the Dutch Netherlands -- ex-
cepting that the former were rugged and moun-
tainous, and the latter level and marshy. About
this time the tranquility of the dutch colonists was
doomed to suffer a temporary interruption. In
1614, captain Sir Samuel Argal, sailing under a
commission from Dale, governor of Virginia, visit-
ed the dutch settlements on Hudson river, and de-
manded their submission to the English crown and
Virginian dominion. -- To this arrogant demand,
as they were in no condition to resist it, they sub-
mitted for the time, like discreet and reasonable men.

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

     Upon the departure of the enemy, our magna-
nimous ancestors took full six months to recover
their wind, having been exceedingly discomposed
by the consternation and hurry of affairs. They
then called a council of safety to smoke over the
state of the province. After six months more of
mature deliberation, during which nearly five hun-
dred words were spoken, and almost as much to-
bacco was smoked, as would have served a certain
modern general through a whole winter's campaign
of hard drinking, it was determined, to fit out an
armament of canoes, and dispatch them on a voyage
of discovery; to search if peradventure some more
sure and formidable position might not be found,
where the colony would be less subject to vexatious

     This perilous enterprize was entrusted to the
superintendance of Mynheers Oloffe Van Kort-
landt, Abraham Hardenbroek, Jacobus Van Zandt
and Weinant Ten Broek -- four indubitably great
men, but of whose history, though I have made di-
ligent enquiry, I can learn but little, previous to
their leaving Holland. Nor need this occasion
much surprize; for adventurers, like prophets,
though they make great noise abroad, have seldom
much celebrity in their own countries; but this
much is certain, that the overflowings and off-scour-
ings of a country, are invariably composed of the
richest parts of the soil. And here I cannot help
remarking how convenient it would be to many
of our great men and great families of doubtful
origin, could they have the privilege of the heroes
of yore, who, whenever their origin was involv-
ed in obscurity, modestly announced themselves
descended from a god -- and who never visited a
foreign country, but what they told some cock and
bull stories, about their being kings and princes at
home. This venial trespass on the truth, though
it has occasionally been played off by some pseudo
marquis, baronet, and other illustrious foreigner,
in our land of good natured credulity, has been
completely discountenanced in this sceptical, matter
of fact age -- And I even question whether any ten-
der virgin, who was accidentally and unaccountably
enriched with a bantling, would save her character
at parlour fire-sides and evening tea-parties, by as-
cribing the phenomenon to a swan, a shower of gold
or a river god.

     Thus being totally denied the benefit of mytho-
logy and classic fable, I should have been complete-
ly at a loss as to the early biography of my heroes,
had not a gleam of light been thrown upon their
origin from their names.

     By this simple means have I been enabled to
gather some particulars, concerning the adventurers
in question. Van Kortlandt for instance, was one of
those peripatetic philosophers, who tax providence
for a livelihood, and like Diogenes, enjoy a free
and unincumbered estate in sunshine. He was
usually arrayed in garments suitable to his fortune,
being curiously fringed and fangled by the hand of
time; and was helmeted with an old fragment
of a hat which had acquired the shape of a sugar-
loaf; and so far did he carry his contempt for the
adventitious distinction of dress, that it is said,
the remnant of a shirt, which covered his back,
and dangled like a pocket handkerchief out of a
hole in his breeches, was never washed, except by
the bountiful showers of heaven. In this garb was
he usually to be seen, sunning himself at noon day,
with a herd of philosophers of the same sect, on
the side of the great canal of Amsterdam. Like
your nobility of Europe, he took his name of Kort-
(or lack land) from his landed estate, which
lay some where in Terra incognita.

     Of the next of our worthies, might I have had
the benefit of mythological assistance, the want of
which I have just lamented -- I should have made
honourable mention, as boasting equally illustrious
pedigree, with the proudest hero of antiquity.
His name was Van Zandt, which freely translated,
signifies from the dirt, meaning, beyond a doubt,
that like Triptolemus, Themis -- the Cyclops and
the Titans, he sprung from dame Terra or the
earth! This supposition is strongly corroborated by
his size, for it is well known that all the progeny of
mother earth were of a gigantic stature; and Van
Zandt, we are told, was a tall raw-boned man, above
six feet high -- with an astonishingly hard head.
Nor is this origin of the illustrious Van Zandt a
whit more improbable or repugnant to belief, than
what is related and universally admitted of certain
of our greatest, or rather richest men; who we are
told, with the utmost gravity, did originally spring
from a dung-hill!

     Of the third hero, but a faint description has
reached to this time, which mentions, that he was
a sturdy, obstinate, burley, bustling little man; and
from being usually equipped with an old pair of
buck-skins, was familiarly dubbed Harden broek,
or Tough Breeches.

     Ten Broek completed this junto of adventurers.
It is a singular but ludicrous fact, which, were I
not scrupulous in recording the whole truth, I
should almost be tempted to pass over in silence,
as incompatible with the gravity and dignity of
my history, that this worthy gentleman should
likewise have been nicknamed from the most
whimsical part of his dress. In fact the small
clothes seems to have been a very important
garment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors,
owing in all probability to its really being the
largest article of raiment among them. The name
of Ten Broek, or Tin Broek is indifferently trans-
lated into Ten Breeches and Tin Breeches -- the
high dutch commentators incline to the former
opinion; and ascribe it to his being the first who
introduced into the settlement the ancient dutch fa-
shion of wearing ten pair of breeches. But the
most elegant and ingenious writers on the subject,
declare in favour of Tin, or rather Thin Breeches;
from whence they infer, that he was a poor, but
merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the
soundest, and who was the identical author of that
truly philosophical stanza:

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

     Such was the gallant junto that fearlessly set
sail at the head of a mighty armament of canoes, to
explore the yet unknown country about the mouth
of the Hudson -- and heaven seemed to shine pro-
pitious on their undertaking.

     It was that delicious season of the year, when
nature, breaking from the chilling thraldom of old
winter, like a blooming damsel, from the tyranny
of a sordid old hunks of a father, threw herself
blushing with ten thousand charms, into the arms,
of youthful spring. Every tufted copse and bloom-
ing grove resounded with the notes of hymeneal
love; the very insects as they sipped the morning
dew, that gemmed the tender grass of the meadows,
lifted up their little voices to join the joyous epi-
thalamium -- the virgin bud timidly put forth its
blushes, and the heart of man dissolved away in
tenderness. Oh sweet Theocritus! had I thy
oaten reed, wherewith thou erst didst charm the
gay Sicilian plains; or oh gentle Bion! thy pas-
toral pipe, in which the happy swains of the Les-
bian isle so much delighted; then would I attempt
to sing, in soft Bucolic or negligent Idyllium, the
rural beauties of the scene -- But having nothing but
this jaded goose quill, wherewith to wing my flight,
I must fain content myself to lay aside these poetic
disportings of the fancy and pursue my faithful nar-
rative in humble prose -- comforting myself with the
reflection, that though it may not commend itself
so sweetly to the imagination of my reader, yet
will it insinuate itself with virgin modesty, to his
better judgment, clothed as it is in the chaste and
simple garb of truth.

     In the joyous season of spring then, did these
hardy adventurers depart on this eventful expedi-
tion, which only wanted another Virgil to rehearse
it, to equal the oft sung story of the Eneid -- Many
adventures did they meet with and divers bitter
mishaps did they sustain, in their wanderings from
Communipaw to oyster Island -- from oyster Is-
land to gibbet island, from gibbet island to governors
island, and from governors island through butter-
milk channel, (a second streights of Pylorus) to
the Lord knows where; until they came very nigh
being ship wrecked and lost forever, in the tremen
dous vortexes of Hell gate. [19] which for terrors,
and frightful perils, might laugh old Scylla and
Charybdis to utter scorn -- In all which cruize they
encountered as many Lystrigonians and Cyclops
and Syrens and unhappy Didos, as did ever the
pious Eneas, in his colonizing voyage.

     At length, after wandering to and fro, they
were attracted by the transcendant charms of a vast
island, which lay like a gorgeous stomacher, divi-
ding the beauteous bosom of the bay, and to which
the numerous mighty islands among which they
had been wandering, seemed as so many foils and
appendages. Hither they bent their course, and
old Neptune, as if anxious to assist in the choice of
a spot, whereon was to be founded a city that
should serve as his strong hold in this western
world, sent half a dozen potent billows, that rolled
the canoes of our voyagers, high and dry on the
very point of the island, where at present stands the
delectable city of New York.

     The original name of this beautiful island is in
some dispute, and has already undergone a vitiation,
which is a proof of the melancholy instability of
sublunary things, and of the industrious perversions
of modern orthographers. The name which is
most current among the vulgar (such as members
of assembly and bank directors) is Manhattan --
which is said to have originated from a custom
among the squaws, in the early settlement, of wear-
ing men's wool hats, as is still done among many
tribes. "Hence," we are told by an old governor,
somewhat of a wag, who flourished almost a cen-
tury since, and had paid a visit to the wits of Phi-
ladelphia -- "Hence arose the appellation of Man-
hat-on, first given to the Indians, and afterwards
to the island" -- a stupid joke! -- but well enough for
a governor.

     Among the more ancient authorities which de-
serve very serious consideration, is that contained in
the valuable history of the American possessions,
written by master Richard Blome in 1687, where-
in it is called Manhadaes, or Manahanent; nor
must I forget the excellent little book of that au-
thentic historian, John Josselyn, Gent. who expli-
citly calls it Manadaes.

     But an authority still more ancient, and still
more deserving of credit, because it is sanctioned
by the countenance of our venerated dutch ances-
tors, is that founded on certain letters still ex-
tant, which passed between the early governors,
and their neighbour powers; wherein it is vari-
ously called the Monhattoes, Munhatos and Manhat-
toes -- an unimportant variation, occasioned by the
literati of those days having a great contempt for
those spelling book and dictionary researches, which
form the sole study and ambition of so many learn-
ed men and women of the present times. This
name is said to be derived from the great Indian
spirit Manetho, who was supposed to have made
this island his favourite residence, on account of
its uncommon delights. But the most venerable
and indisputable authority extant, and one on which
I place implicit confidence, because it confers a
name at once melodious, poetical and significant, is
that furnished by the before quoted journal of the
voyage of the great Hudson, by Master Juet; who
clearly and correctly calls it Manna-hata -- that is
to say, the island of Manna; or in other words --
"a land flowing with milk and honey!"

  [19] This is a fearful combination of rocks and whirlpools, in the
sound above New York, dangerous to ships unless under the care
of a skillful pilot. Certain wise men who instruct these modern
days have softened this characterestic name into Hurl gate, on what
authority, I leave them to explain. The name as given by our au-
thor is supported by Ogilvie's History of America published 1671,
as also by a journal still extant, written in the 16th century, and to
be found in Hazard's state papers. The original name, as laid
down in all the Dutch manuscripts and maps, was Helle gat, and
an old MS. written in French, speaking of various alterations in
names about this city observes "De Helle gat trou d'Enfer, ils ont
fait Hell gate, Porte d'Enfer." -- Printer's Devil.


     In which are contained divers very sound reasons
why a man should not write in a hurry: to-
gether with the building of New Amsterdam,
and the memorable dispute of Mynheers Ten
Breeches and Tough Breeches thereupon

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

     In a similar manner and with the example of
my worthy ancestor full before my eyes, have I
proceeded in writing this most authentic history.
The honest Rotterdammers no doubt thought my
great grandfather was doing nothing at all to the
purpose, while he was making such a world of
prefatory bustle, about the building of his church --
and many of the ingenious inhabitants of this fair
city, (whose intellects have been thrice stimulated
and quickened, by transcendant nitrous oxyde, as
were those of Chrysippus, with hellebore,) will
unquestionably suppose that all the preliminary
chapters, with the discovery, population and final
settlement of America, were totally irrelevant and
superfluous -- and that the main business, the history
of New York, is not a jot more advanced, than if I
had never taken up my pen. Never were wise
people more mistaken in their conjectures; in con-
sequence of going to work slowly and deliberately,
the church came out of my grandfather's hands, one
of the most sumptuous, goodly and glorious edifices
in the known world -- excepting, that, like our
transcendant capital at Washington, it was began on
such a grand scale, the good folks could not afford
to finish more than the wing of it.

     In the same manner do I prognosticate, if ever
I am enabled to finish this history, (of which in
simple truth, I often have my doubts,) that it will
be handed down to posterity, the most complete,
faithful, and critically constructed work that ever
was read -- the delight of the learned, the ornament
of libraries, and a model for all future historians.
There is nothing that gives such an expansion of
mind, as the idea of writing for posterity -- And
had Ovid, Herodotus, Polybius or Tacitus, like Mo-
ses from the top of Mount Pisgah, taken a view of
the boundless region over which their offspring
were destined to wander -- like the good old Israel-
ite, they would have lain down and died contented.

     I hear some of my captious readers questioning
the correctness of my arrangement -- but I have no
patience with these continual interruptions -- never
was historian so pestered with doubts and queries,
and such a herd of discontented quid-nunes! if
they continue to worry me in this manner, I shall
never get to the end of my work. I call Apollo
and his whole seraglio of muses to witness, that I
pursue the most approved and fashionable plan of
modern historians; and if my readers are not
pleased with my matter, and my manner, for God's
sake let them throw down my work, take up a pen
and write a history to suit themselves -- for my part
I am weary of their incessant interruptions, and beg
once for all, that I may have no more of them.

     The island of Manna-hata, Manhattoes, or as it
is vulgarly called Manhattan, having been discover-
ed, as was related in the last chapter; and being
unanimously pronounced by the discoverers, the
fairest spot in the known world, whereon to build a
city, that should surpass all the emporiums of Eu-
rope, they immediately returned to Communipaw
with the pleasing intelligence. Upon this a consi-
derable colony was forthwith fitted out, who after a
prosperous voyage of half an hour, arrived at Manna
hata, and having previously purchased the land of
the Indians, (a measure almost unparalleled in the
annals of discovery and colonization) they set-
tled upon the south-west point of the island, and
fortified themselves strongly, by throwing up a mud
battery, which they named Fort Amsterdam.
A number of huts soon sprung up in the neighbour-
hood, to protect which, they made an enclosure of
strong pallisadoes. A creek running from the
East river, through what at present is called White-
hall street, and a little inlet from Hudson river to
the bowling green formed the original boundarles;
as though nature had kindly designated the cradle,
in which the embryo of this renowned city was to
be nestled. The woods on both sides of the creek
were carefully cleared away, as well as from the
space of ground now occupied by the bowling green.
-- These precautions were taken to protect the fort
from either the open attacks or insidious advances
of its savage neighbours, who wandered in hordes
about the forests and swamps that extended over
those tracts of country, at present called broad way,
Wall street, William street and Pearl street.

     No sooner was the colony once planted, than
like a luxuriant vine, it took root and throve ama-
zingly; for it would seem, that this thrice favoured
island is like a munificent dung hill, where every
thing finds kindly nourishment, and soon shoots up
and expands to greatness. The thriving state of the
settlement, and the astonishing encrease of houses,
gradually awakened the leaders from a profound
lethargy, into which they had fallen, after having
built their mud fort. They began to think it was
high time some plan should be devised, on which
the encreasing town should be built; so taking pipe
in mouth, and meeting in close divan, they forth-
with fell into a profound deliberation on the sub-

     At the very outset of the business, an unex-
pected difference of opinion arose, and I mention
it with regret, as being the first internal altercation
on record among the new settlers. An ingenious
plan was proposed by Mynheer Ten Broek to cut
up and intersect the ground by means of canals;
after the manner of the most admired cities in Hol-
land; but to this Mynheer Hardenbroek was dia-
metrically opposed; suggesting in place thereof,
that they should run out docks and wharves, by
means of piles driven into the bottom of the river,
on which the town should be built -- By this means
said he triumphantly, shall we rescue a considera-
ble space of territory from these immense rivers,
and build a city that shall rival Amsterdam, Venice,
or any amphibious city in Europe. To this propo-
sition, Ten Broek (or Ten breeches) replied, with
a look of as much scorn as he could possibly as-
sume. He cast the utmost censure upon the plan
of his antagonist, as being preposterous, and against
the very order of things, as he would leave to every
true hollander. "For what;" said he, "is a town
without canals? -- it is like a body without veins
and arteries, and must perish for want of a free
circulation of the vital fluid" -- Tough breeches, on
the contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his an-
tagonist, who was somewhat of an arid, dry boned
habit of body; he remarked that as to the circu-
lation of the blood being necessary to existence,
Mynheer Ten breeches was a living contradiction
to his own assertion; for every body knew there
had not a drop of blood circulated through his
wind dried carcass for good ten years, and yet
there was not a greater busy body in the whole
colony. Personalities have seldom much effect in
making converts in argument -- nor have I ever
seen a man convinced of error, by being convicted
of deformity. At least such was not the case at
present. Ten Breeches was very acrimonious in
reply, and Tough Breeches, who was a sturdy little
man, and never gave up the last word, rejoined
with encreasing spirit -- Ten Breeches had the ad-
vantage of the greatest volubility, but Tough Breech-
es had that invaluable coat of mail in argument called
obstinacy -- Ten Breeches had, therefore, the most
mettle, but Tough Breeches the best bottom -- so
that though Ten Breeches made a dreadful clatter-
ing about his ears, and battered and belaboured
him with hard words and sound arguments, yet
Tough Breeches hung on most resolutely to the
last. They parted therefore, as is usual in all ar-
guments where both parties are in the right, with-
out coming to any conclusion -- but they hated
each other most heartily forever after, and a similar
breach with that between the houses of Capulet and
Montague, had well nigh ensued between the fami-
lies of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches.

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

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

     As most of the council were but little skilled in
the mystery of combining pot hooks and hangers,
they determined most judiciously not to puzzle
either themselves or posterity, with voluminous
records. The secretary however, kept the minutes
of each meeting with tolerable precision, in a large
vellum folio, fastened with massy brass clasps, with
a sight of which I have been politely favoured by
my highly respected friends, the Goelets, who have
this invaluable relique, at present in their possession.
On perusal, however, I do not find much informa-
tion -- The journal of each meeting consists but of
two lines, stating in dutch, that, "the council sat this
day, and smoked twelve pipes, on the affairs of the
colony." -- By which it appears that the first settlers
did not regulate their time by hours, but pipes, in
the same manner as they measure distances in Hol-
land at this very time; an admirably exact mea-
surement, as a pipe in the mouth of a genuine
dutchman is never liable to those accidents and
irregularities, that are continually putting our clocks
out of order.

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


     In which the Author is very unreasonably afflicted
about nothing. -- Together with divers Ancedotes
of the prosperity of New Amsterdam, and the
wisdom of its Inhabitants. -- And the sudden in-
troduction of a Great Man

     Grievous, and very much to be commiserated,
is the task of the feeling historian, who writes the
history of his native land. If it falls to his lot to
be the sad recorder of calamity or crime, the mourn-
ful page is watered with his tears -- nor can he recal
the most prosperous and blissful eras, without a
melancholy sigh at the reflection, that they have
passed away forever! I know not whether it be
owing to an immoderate love for the simplicity of
former times, or to a certain tenderness of heart,
natural to a sentimental historian; but I candidly
confess, I cannot look back on the halcyon days of
the city, which I now describe, without a deep de-
jection of the spirits. With faultering hand I with-
draw the curtain of oblivion, which veils the modest
merits of our venerable dutch ancestors, and as
their revered figures rise to my mental vision, hum-
ble myself before the mighty shades.

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

     These, say I to myself, are but frail memorials
of the mighty men, who flourished in the days of
the patriarchs; but who, alas, have long since
mouldered in that tomb, towards which my steps
are insensibly and irresistibly hastening! As I
pace the darkened chamber and lose myself in me-
lancholy musings, the shadowy images around me,
almost seem to steal once more into existence --
their countenances appear for an instant to assume
the animation of life -- their eyes to pursue me in
every movement! carried away by the delusion of
fancy, I almost imagine myself surrounded by the
shades of the departed, and holding sweet con-
verse with the worthies of antiquity! -- Luckless
Diedrich! born in a degenerate age -- abandoned to
the buffettings of fortune -- a stranger and a weary
pilgrim in thy native land; blest with no weeping
wife, nor family of helpless children -- but doomed
to wander neglected through those crowded streets,
and elbowed by foreign upstarts from those fair
abodes, where once thine ancestors held sovereign
empire. Alas! alas! is then the dutch spirit for-
ever extinct? The days of the patriarchs, have they
fled forever? Return -- return sweet days of sim-
plicity and ease -- dawn once more on the lovely
island of Manna hata! -- Bear with me my worthy
readers, bear with the weakness of my nature -- or
rather let us sit down together, indulge the full flow
of filial piety, and weep over the memories of our
great great grand-fathers.

     Having thus gratified those feelings irresistibly
awakened by the happy scenes I am describing, I
return with more composure to my history.

     The town of New Amsterdam, being, as I be-
fore mentioned, left to its own course and the fos-
tering care of providence, increased as rapidly in
importance, as though it had been burthened with a
dozen panniers full of those sage laws, which are
usually heaped upon the backs of young cities -- in
order to make them grow. The only measure that
remains on record of the worthy council, was to
build a chapel within the fort, which they dedicated
to the great and good St. Nicholas, who imme-
diately took the infant town of New Amsterdam un-
der his peculiar patronage, and has ever since been,
and I devoutly hope will ever be, the tutelar saint
of this excellent city. I am moreover told, that
there is a little legendary book somewhere extant,
written in low dutch, which says that the image
of this renowned saint, which whilome graced the
bowsprit of the Goede Vrouw, was placed in front
of this chapel; and the legend further treats of
divers miracles wrought by the mighty pipe which
the saint held in his mouth; a whiff of which was
a sovereign cure for an indigestion, and consequently
of great importance in this colony of huge feeders.
But as, notwithstanding the most diligent search,
I cannot lay my hands upon this little book, I en-
tertain considerable doubt on the subject.

     This much is certain, that from the time of the
building of this chapel, the town throve with ten-
fold prosperity, and soon became the metropolis of
numerous settlements, and an extensive territory.
The province extended on the north, to Fort Aura-
nia or Orange, now known by the name of Albany,
situated about 160 miles up the Mohegan or Hud-
son River. Indeed the province claimed quite to
the river St. Lawrence; but this claim was not
much insisted on at the time, as the country beyond
Fort Aurania was a perfect wilderness, reported to
be inhabited by cannibals, and termed Terra Incog-
nita. Various accounts were given of the people of
these unknown parts; by some they are described
as being of the race of the Acephali, such as Hero-
dotus describes, who have no heads, and carry their
eyes in their bellies. Others affirm they were of
that race whom father Charlevoix mentions, as hav
ing but one leg; adding gravely, that they were
exceedingly alert in running. But the most satis-
factory account is that given by the reverend Hans
Megapolensis, a missionary in these parts, who, in
a letter still extant, declares them to be the Moha-
gues or Mohawks; a nation, according to his des-
cription, very loose in their morals, but withal most
rare wags. "For," says he, "if theye can get to bedd
with another mans wife, theye thinke it a piece of
wit." [20] This excellent old gentleman gives moreover
very important additional information, about this
country of monsters; for he observes, "theye have
plenty of tortoises here, and within land, from two
and three to four feet long; some with two heads,
very mischievous and addicted to biting."

     On the south the province reached to Fort Nas-
sau, on the South River, since called the Delaware --
and on the east it extended to Varshe (or Fresh)
River, since called Connecticut River. On this
frontier was likewise erected a mighty fort and
trading house, much about the spot where at present
is situated the pleasant town of Hartford; this port
was called Fort Goed Hoop, or Good Hope, and
was intended as well for the purpose of trade as de-
fence; but of this fort, its valiant garrison, and
staunch commander, I shall treat more anon, as they
are destined to make some noise in this eventful and
authentic history.

     Thus prosperously did the province of New Ne-
derlandts encrease in magnitude; and the early his-
tory of its metropolis, presents a fair page, unsullied
by crime or calamity. Herds of painted savages
still lurked about the tangled woods and the rich
bottoms of the fair island of Manna-hata -- the hun-
ter still pitched his rude bower of skins and branches,
beside the wild brooks, that stole through the cool
and shady valleys; while here and there were seen
on some sunny knoll, a group of indian wigwams,
whose smoke rose above the neighbouring trees and
floated in the clear expanse of heaven. The uncivi-
lized tenants of the forest remained peaceable neigh-
bours of the town of New Amsterdam; and our
worthy ancestors endeavoured to ameliorate their
situation as much as possible, by benevolently giving
them gin, rum and glass beads, in exchange for all
the furs they brought; for it seems the kind hearted
dutchmen had conceived a great friendship for their
savage neighbours -- on account of the facility with
which they suffered themselves to be taken in. Not
that they were deficient in understanding, for cer-
tain of their customs give tokens of great shrewd-
ness, especially that mentioned by Ogilvie, who says,
"for the least offence the bridegroom soundly beats
the wife, and turns her out of doors and marries
another, insomuch that some of them have every
year a new wife."

     True it is, that good understanding between our
worthy ancestors and their savage neighbours, was
liable to occasional interruptions -- and I recollect
hearing my grandmother, who was a very wise old
woman, well versed in the history of these parts,
tell a long story of a winter evening, about a battle
between the New Amsterdammers and the Indians,
which was known, but why, I do not recollect, by
the name of the Peach War, and which took place
near a peach orchard, in a dark and gloomy glen,
overshadowed by cedars, oaks and dreary hemlocks.
The legend of this bloody encounter, was for a long
time current among the nurses, old women, and
other ancient chroniclers of the place; and the dis-
mal seat of war, went, for some generations, by the
name of Murderers' Valley; but time and improve-
ment have equally obliterated the tradition and the
place of this battle, for what was once the blood-
stained valley, is now in the centre of this populous
city, and known by the name of Dey-street. [21]

     For a long time the new settlement depended
upon the mother country for most of its supplies.
The vessels which sailed in search of a north west
passage, always touched at New Amsterdam, where
they unloaded fresh cargoes of adventurers, and
unheard of quantities of gin, bricks, tiles, glass
beads, gingerbread and other necessaries; in ex-
change for which they received supplies of pork and
vegetables, and made very profitable bargains for
furs and bear skins. Never did the simple islanders
of the south seas, look with more impatience for the
adventurous vessels, that brought them rich ladings
of old hoops, spike nails and looking glasses, than did
our honest colonists, for the vessels that brought them
the comforts of the mother country. In this particu-
lar they resembled their worthy but simple descend-
ants, who prefer depending upon Europe for neces-
saries, which they might produce or manufacture at
less cost and trouble in their own country. Thus have
I known a very shrewd family, who being removed
to some distance from an inconvenient draw well,
beside which they had long sojourned, always pre-
ferred to send to it for water, though a plentiful
brook ran by the very door of their new habitation.

     How long the growing colony might have looked
to its parent Holland for supplies, like a chubby
overgrown urchin, clinging to its mother's breast,
even after it is breeched, I will not pretend to say,
for it does not become an historian to indulge in
conjectures -- I can only assert the fact, that the in-
habitants, being obliged by repeated emergencies,
and frequent disappointments of foreign supplies, to
look about them and resort to contrivances, became
nearly as wise as people generally are, who are
taught wisdom by painful experience. They there-
fore learned to avail themselves of such expedients
as presented -- to make use of the bounties of nature,
where they could get nothing better -- and thus be-
came prodigiously enlightened, under the scourge
of inexorable necessity; gradually opening one eye
at a time, like the Arabian impostor receiving the

     Still however they advanced from one point of
knowledge to another with characteristic slowness
and circumspection, admitting but few improve-
ments and inventions, and those too, with a jealous
reluctance that has ever distinguished our respect-
able dutch yeomanry; who adhere, with pious and
praiseworthy obstinacy, to the customs, the fashions,
the manufactures and even the very utensils, how-
ever inconvenient, of their revered forefathers. It
was long after the period of which I am writing,
before they discoved the surprising secret, that it
was more economic and commodious, to roof their
houses with shingles procured from the adjacent
forests, than to import tiles for the purpose from
Holland; and so slow were they in believing that
the soil of a young country, could possibly make
creditable bricks; that even at a late period of the
last century, ship loads have been imported from
Holland, by certain of its most orthodox descend-

     The accumulating wealth and consequence of
New Amsterdam and its dependencies, at length
awakened the serious solicitude of the mother
country; who finding it a thriving and opulent co-
lony, and that it promised to yield great profit and
no trouble; all at once became wonderfully anxious
about its safety, and began to load it with tokens of
regard; in the same manner that people are sure
to oppress rich relations with their affection and
loving kindness, who could do much better without
their assistance.

     The usual marks of protection shewn by mo-
ther countries to wealthy colonies, were forth-
with evinced -- the first care always being to send
rulers to the new settlement, with orders to squeeze
as much revenue from it as it will yield. Accord-
ingly in the year of our Lord 1629 mynheer
Wouter Van Twiller was appointed governor
of the province of Nieuw Nederlandts, under the
controul of their High Mightinesses the lords
states general of the United Netherlands, and the
privileged West India company.

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

     But as it would be derogatory to the conse-
quence of the first dutch governor of the great pro-
vince of Nieuw Nederlandts, to be thus scurvily in-
troduced at the end of a chapter, I will put an
end to this second book of my history, that I may
usher him in, with the more dignity in the begin-
ning of my next.


[20] Let. of I. Megapol. Hag. S. P.

&dagger Ogilvie, in his excellent account of America, speaking of
these parts, makes mention of Lions, which abounded on a high
mountain, and likewise observes, "On the borders of Canada there
is seen sometimes a kind of beast which hath some resemblance
with a horse, having cloven feet, shaggy mayn, one horn just on
the forehead, a tail like that of a wild hog, and a deer's neck."
He furthermore gives a picture of this strange beast, which resem-
bles exceedingly an unicorn. -- It is much to be lamented by philo-
sophers, that this miraculous breed of animals, like that of the
horned frog, is totally extinct.

[21] This battle is said by some to have happened much later than
the date assigned by our historian. Some of the ancient inhabitants
of our city, place it in the beginning of the last century. It is more
than probable, however, that Mr. Knickerbocker is correct, as he
has doubtless investigated the matter. -- Print. Dev.


     In which is recorded the golden reign of Wouter
Van Twiller.


     Setting forth the unparalleled virtues of the renown-
ed Wouter Van Twiller, as likewise his unutter-
able wisdom in the law case of Wandle Schoon-
hoven and Barent Bleecker -- and the great ad-
miration of the public thereat

     The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van
Twiller, was descended from a long line of
dutch burgomasters, who had successively dozed
away their lives and grown fat upon the bench of
magistracy in Rotterdam; and who had comported
themselves with such singular wisdom and proprie-
ty, that they were never either heard or talked of --
which, next to being universally applauded, should
be the object of ambition of all sage magistrates and

     His surname of Twiller, is said to be a corrup-
tion of the original Twijfler, which in English
means doubter; a name admirably descriptive of
his deliberative habits. For though he was a man,
shut up within himself like an oyster, and of such a
profoundly reflective turn, that he scarcely ever spoke
except in monosyllables, yet did he never make up
his mind, on any doubtful point. This was clearly
accountd for by his adherents, who affirmed that
he always conceived every subject on so compre-
hensive a scale, that he had not room in his head,
to turn it over and examine both sides of it, so that
he always remained in doubt, merely in conse-
quence of the astonishing magnitude of his ideas!

     There are two opposite ways by which some
men get into notice -- one by talking a vast deal
and thinking a little, and the other by holding
their tongues and not thinking at all. By the first
many a vapouring, superficial pretender acquires
the reputation of a man of quick parts -- by the other
many a vacant dunderpate, like the owl, the stupid-
est of birds, comes to be complimented, by a dis-
cerning world, with all the attributes of wisdom.
This, by the way, is a mere casual remark, which
I would not for the universe have it thought, I ap-
ply to Governor Van Twiller. On the contrary he
was a very wise dutchman, for he never said a fool-
ish thing -- and of such invincible gravity, that he
was never known to laugh, or even to smile, through
the course of a long and prosperous life. Certain
however it is, there never was a matter proposed,
however simple, and on which your common nar-
row minded mortals, would rashly determine at the
first glance, but what the renowned Wouter, put on
a mighty mysterious, vacant kind of look, shook
his capacious head, and having smoked for five
minutes with redoubled earnestness, sagely ob-
served, that "he had his doubts about the matter" --
which in process of time gained him the character
of a man slow of belief, and not easily imposed on.

     The person of this illustrious old gentleman
was as regularly formed and nobly proportioned, as
though it had been moulded by the hands of some
cunning dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and
lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six
inches in height, and six feet five inches in circum-
ference. His head was a perfect sphere, far excel-
ling in magnitude that of the great Pericles (who
was thence waggishly called Schenocephalus, or
onion head) -- indeed, of such stupendous dimen-
sions was it, that dame nature herself, with all her
sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to con-
struct a neck, capable of supporting it; wherefore
she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it
firmly on the top of his back bone, just between the
shoulders; where it remained, as snugly bedded,
as a ship of war in the mud of the Potowmac.
His body was of an oblong form, particularly ca-
pacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by
providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary
habits, and very averse to the idle labour of walk-
ing. His legs, though exceeding short, were stur-
dy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain;
so that when erect, he had not a little the appear-
ance of a robustious beer barrel, standing on skids.
His face, that infallible index of the mind, presented
a vast expanse perfectly unfurrowed or deformed by
any of those lines and angles, which disfigure the
human countenance with what is termed expression.
Two small grey eyes twinkled feebly in the midst,
like two stars of lesser magnitude, in a hazy firma-
ment; and his full fed cheeks, which seemed to
have taken toll of every thing that went into his
mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked with
dusky red, like a spitzenberg apple.

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

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

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

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

     The very outset of the career of this excellent
magistrate, like that of Solomon, or to speak more
appropriately, like that of the illustrious governor of
Barataria, was distinguished by an example of legal
acumen, that gave flattering presage of a wise and
equitable administration. The very morning after
he had been solemnly installed in office, and at the
moment that he was making his breakfast from a
prodigious earthen dish, filled with milk and Indian
pudding, he was suddenly interrupted by the appear-
ance of one Wandle Schoonhoven, a very important
old burgher of New Amsterdam, who complained
bitterly of one Barent Bleecker, inasmuch as he
fraudulently refused to come to a settlement of ac-
counts, seeing that there was a heavy balance in
favour of the said Wandle. Governor Van Twiller,
as I have already observed, was a man of few words,
he was likewise a mortal enemy to multiplying
writings -- or being disturbed at his breakfast. Hav-
ing therefore listened attentively to the statement of
Wandle Schoonhoven, giving an occasional grunt,
as he shovelled a mighty spoonful of Indian pud-
ding into his mouth -- either as a sign that he relished
the dish, or comprehended the story -- he called unto
him his constable, and pulling out of his breeches
pocket a huge jack-knife, dispatched it after the de-
fendant as a summons, accompanied by his tobacco
box as a warrant.

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

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


     Containing some account of the grand Council of
New Amsterdam, as also divers especial good
philosophical reasons why an Alderman should
be fat -- with other particulars touching the
state of the Province

     In treating of the early governors of the pro-
vince, I must caution my readers against confound-
ing them, in point of dignity and power, with those
worthy gentlemen, who are whimsically denomina-
ted governors, in this enlightened republic -- a set
of unhappy victims of popularity, who are in fact
the most dependent, hen-pecked beings in commu-
nity: doomed to bear the secret goadings and cor-
rections of their own party, and the sneers and re-
vilings of the whole world beside. -- Set up, like
geese, at christmas hollidays, to be pelted and shot
at by every whipster and vagabond in the land. On
the contrary, the dutch governors enjoyed that un-
controlled authority vested in all commanders of
distant colonies or territories. They were in a
manner, absolute despots in their little domains,
lording it, if so disposed, over both law and gospel,
and accountable to none but the mother country;
which it is well known is astonishingly deaf to all
complaints against its governors, provided they
discharge the main duty of their station -- squeez-
ing out a good revenue. This hint will be of im-
portance, to prevent my readers from being seized
with doubt and incredulity, whenever, in the course
of this authentic history, they encounter the un-
common circumstance, of a governor, acting with
independence, and in opposition to the opinions of
the multitude.

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

     In return for these humble services, they
were permitted to say yes and no at the council
board, and to have that enviable privilege, the
run of the public kitchen -- being graciously per-
mitted to eat, and drink, and smoke, at all those
snug junkettings and public gormandizings, for
which the ancient magistrates were equally fa-
mous with their more modern successors. The
post of Schepen therefore, like that of assistant
alderman, was eagerly coveted by all your bur-
ghers of a certain description, who have a huge
relish for good feeding, and a humble ambition to
be great men, in a small way -- who thirst after a
little brief authority, that shall render them the
terror of the alms house, and the bridewell -- that
shall enable them to lord it over obsequious pover-
ty, vagrant vice, outcast prostitution, and hunger
driven dishonesty -- that shall place in their hands
the lesser, but galling scourge of the law, and give
to their beck a hound like pack of catchpoles and
bum bailiffs -- tenfold greater rogues than the cul-
prits they hunt down! -- My readers will excuse
this sudden warmth, which I confess is unbecoming
of a grave historian -- but I have a mortal antipathy
to catchpoles, bum bailiffs, and little great men.

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

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

     As a board of magistrates, formed on this mo-
del, think but very little, they are the less likely to
differ and wrangle about favourite opinions -- and as
they generally transact business upon a hearty din-
ner, they are naturally disposed to be lenient and
indulgent in the administration of their duties.
Charlemagne was conscious of this, and therefore
(a pitiful measure, for which I can never forgive
him), ordered in his cartularies, that no judge
should hold a court of justice, except in the morn-
ing, on an empty stomach. -- A rule which, I war-
rant, bore hard upon all the poor culprits in his
kingdom. The more enlightened and humane ge-
neration of the present day, have taken an opposite
course, and have so managed that the aldermen are
the best fed men in the community; feasting lustily
on the fat things of the land, and gorging so hearti-
ly on oysters and turtles, that in process of time they
acquire the activity of the one, and the form, the wad-
dle, and the green fat of the other. The consequence
is, as I have just said; these luxurious feastings do
produce such a dulcet equanimity and repose of the
soul, rational and irrational, that their transactions
are proverbial for unvarying monotony -- and the
profound laws, which they enact in their dozing
moments, amid the labours of digestion, are quietly
suffered to remain as dead letters, and never en-
forced, when awake. In a word your fair round-
bellied burgomaster, like a full fed mastiff, dozes
quietly at the house-door, always at home, and always
at hand to watch over its safety -- but as to electing
a lean, meddling candidate to the office, as has now
and then been done, I would as leave put a grey-
hound, to watch the house, or a race horse to drag
an ox waggon.

     The Burgo-masters then, as I have already
mentioned, were wisely chosen by weight, and the
Schepens, or assistant aldermen, were appointed to
attend upon them, and help them eat; but the latter,
in the course of time, when they had been fed and
fattened into sufficient bulk of body and drowsiness
of brain, became very eligible candidates for the
Burgomasters' chairs, having fairly eaten themselves
into office, as a mouse eats his way into a comfort-
able lodgement in a goodly, blue-nosed, skim'd
milk, New England cheese.

     Nothing could equal the profound deliberations
that took place between the renowned Wouter, and
these his worthy compeers, unless it be the sage di-
vans of some of our modern corporations. They
would sit for hours smoking and dozing over pub-
lic affairs, without speaking a word to interrupt that
perfect stillness, so necessary to deep reflection --
faithfully observing an excellent maxim, which the
good old governor had caused to be written in let-
ters of gold, on the walls of the council chamber

Stille Seugen eten at den draf op.
which, being rendered into English for the benefit of
modern legislatures, means --


"The sow that's still
Sucks all the swill."

     Under the sober way, therefore, of the renown-
ed Van Twiller, and the sage superintendance of
his burgomasters, the infant settlement waxed vigo-
rous apace, gradually emerging from the swamps
and forests, and exhibiting that mingled appearance
of town and country, customary in new cities, and
which at this day may be witnessed in the great city
of Washington; that immense metropolis, which
makes such a glorious appearance -- upon paper.

     Ranges of houses began to give the idea of
streets and lanes, and wherever an interval occurred,
it was over-run by a wilderness of sweet smelling
thorn apple, vulgarly called stinkweed. Amid
these fragrant bowers, the honest burghers, like so
many patriarchs of yore, sat smoking their pipes of
a sultry afternoon, inhaling the balmy odours waft-
ed on every gale, and listening with silent gratula-
tion to the clucking of their hens, the cackling of
their geese, or the sonorous gruntings of their
swine; that combination of farm-yard melody,
which may truly be said to have a silver sound, in-
asmuch as it conveys a certain assurance of profit-
able marketing.

     The modern spectator, who wanders through
the crowded streets of this populous city, can scarce
form an idea, of the different appearance which
every object presented, in those primitive times.
The busy hum of commerce, the noise of revelry,
the rattling equipages of splendid luxury, were un-
known in the peaceful settlement of New Amster-
dam. The bleating sheep and frolicksome calves
sported about the verdant ridge, where now their
legitimate successors, the Broadway loungers, take
their morning's stroll; the cunning fox or ravenous
wolf, skulked in the woods, where now are to be
seen the dens of Gomez and his righteous fra-
ternity of money brokers, and flocks of vociferous
geese cackled about the field, where now the pa-
triotic tavern of Martling echoes with the wrang-
lings of the mob.22 The whole island, at least such
parts of it as were inhabited, bloomed like a second
Eden; every dwelling had its own cabbage garden,
and that esculent vegetable, while it gave promise
of bounteous loads of sour crout, was also emblema-
tic of the rapid growth and regular habits of the
youthful colony.

     Such are the soothing scenes presented by a fat
government. The province of the New Nether-
lands, destitute of wealth, possessed a sweet tran-
quillity that wealth could never purchase. It seem-
ed indeed as if old Saturn had again commenced
his reign, and renewed the golden days of primeval
simplicity. For the golden age, says Ovid, was
totally destitute of gold, and for that very reason
was called the golden age, that is, the happy and
fortunate age -- because the evils produced by the
precious metals, such as avarice, covetuousness,
theft, rapine, usury, banking, note-shaving, lottery-
insuring, and the whole catalogue of crimes and
grievances were then unknown. In the iron age
there was abundance of gold, and on that very
account it was called the iron age, because of the
hardships, the labours, the dissentions, and the
wars, occasioned by the thirst of gold.

     The genial days of Wouter Van Twiller there-
fore, may truly be termed the golden age of our
city. There were neither public commotions, nor
private quarrels; neither parties, nor sects, nor
schisms; neither prosecutions, nor trials, nor pun-
ishments; nor were there counsellors, attornies,
catch-poles or hangmen. Every man attended to
what little business he was lucky enough to have,
or neglect it if he pleased, without asking the opi-
nion of his neighbour. -- In those days nobody med-
dled with concerns above his comprehension, nor
thrust his nose into other people's affairs; nor ne-
glected to correct his own conduct, and reform his
own character, in his zeal to pull to pieces the
characters of others -- but in a word, every respect-
able citizen eat when he was not hungry, drank
when he was not thirsty, and went regularly to bed,
when the sun set, and the fowls went to roost,
whether he was sleepy or not; all which, being
agreeable to the doctrines of Malthus, tended so
remarkably to the population of the settlement, that
I am told every dutiful wife throughout New Am-
sterdam, made a point of always enriching her hus-
band with at least one child a year, and very often
a brace -- this superabundance of good things clear-
ly constituting the true luxury of life, according to
the favourite dutch maxim that "more than enough
constitutes a feast." Every thing therefore went
on exactly as it should do, and in the usual words
employed by historians to express the welfare of a
country, "the profoundest tranquillity and repose
reigned throughout the province."

  [22] "De Vries mentions a place where they over-haul their ships,
which he calls Smits Vleye, there is still to this day a place in New
York called by that name, where a market is built called the Fly

-- Old MS.

     There are few native inhabitants, I trow, of this great city,
who when boys were not engaged in the renowned feuds of Broad-
way and Smith fly -- the subject of so many fly market romances
and schoolboy rhymes. Editor.


     How the town of New Amsterdam arose out of the
mud, and came to be marvellously polished and
polite -- together with a picture of the manners
of our great great Grandfathers

     Manifold are the tastes and dispositions of
the enlightened literati, who turn over the pages of
history. Some there be whose hearts are brim
full of the yeast of courage, and whose bosoms do
work, and swell, and foam with untried valour,
like a barrel of new cider, or a train-band captain,
fresh from under the hands of his taylor. This
doughty class of readers can be satisfied with no-
thing but bloody battles, and horrible encounters;
they must be continually storming forts, sacking
cities, springing mines, marching up to the muz-
zles of cannons, charging bayonet through every
page, and revelling in gun-powder and carnage.
Others, who are of a less martial, but equally ar-
dent imagination, and who, withal, are a little given
to the marvellous, will dwell with wonderous satis-
faction on descriptions of prodigies, unheard of
events, hair-breadth escapes, hardy adventures, and
all those astonishing narrations, that just amble
along the boundary line of possibility. -- A third
class, who, not to speak slightingly of them, are of
a lighter turn, and skin over the records of past
times, as they do over the edifying pages of a no-
vel, merely for relaxation and innocent amusement;
do singularly delight in treasons, executions, sa-
bine rapes, tarquin outrages, conflagrations, mur-
ders, and all the other catalogue of hideous crimes,
that like Cayenne in cookery, do give a pungency
and flavour, to the dull detail of history -- while a
fourth class, of more philosophic habits, do dili-
gently pore over the musty chronicles of time, to
investigate the operations of the human mind, and
watch the gradual changes in men and manners,
effected by the progress of knowledge, the vicissi-
tudes of events, or the influence of situation.

     If the three first classes find but little where-
withal to solace themselves, in the tranquil reign of
Wouter Van Twiller, I entreat them to exert their
patience for a while, and bear with the tedious pic-
ture of happiness, prosperity and peace, which my
duty as a faithful historian obliges me to draw;
and I promise them, that as soon as I can possibly
light upon any thing horrible, uncommon or impos-
sible, it shall go hard, but I will make it afford
them entertainment. This being premised, I turn
with great complacency to the fourth class of my
readers, who are men, or, if possible, women, after
my own heart; grave, philosophical and investiga-
ting; fond of analyzing characters, of taking a start
from first causes, and so hunting a nation down,
through all the mazes of innovation and improve-
ment. Such will naturally be anxious to witness
the first development of the newly hatched colo-
ny, and the primitive manners and customs, preva-
lent among its inhabitants, during the halcyon reign
of Van Twiller or the doubter.

     To describe minutely the gradual advances,
from the rude log hut, to the stately dutch man-
sion, with a brick front, glass windows, and shin-
gle roof -- from the tangled thicket, to the luxuriant
cabbage garden, and from the skulking Indian to
the ponderous burgomaster, would probably be fa-
tiguing to my reader, and certainly very inconve-
nient to myself; suffice it to say, trees were cut
down, stumps grubbed up, bushes cleared away,
until the new city rose gradually from amid swamps
and stinkweeds, like a mighty fungus, springing
from a mass of rotten wood.

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

     Some, it must be noted, who were strenuous
partizans of Mynheer Ten Breeches, (or Ten
Brock) vexed that his plan of digging canals was
not adopted, made a compromise with their incli-
nations, by establishing themselves on the margins
of those creeks and inlets, which meandered through
various parts of the ground laid out for improve-
ment. To these may be particularly ascribed the first
settlement of Broad street; which originally was
built along a creek, that ran up, to what at present
is called Wall street. The lower part soon became
very busy and populous; and a ferry house23 was
in process of time established at the head of it;
being at that day called "the head of inland navi-

     The disciples of Mynheer Toughbreeches, on
the other hand, no less enterprising, and more in-
dustrious than their rivals, stationed themselves
along the shore of the river, and laboured with un-
exampled perseverance, in making little docks and
dykes, from which originated that multitude of
mud traps with which this city is fringed. To
these docks would the old Burghers repair, just at
those hours when the falling tide had left the beach
uncovered, that they might snuff up the fragrant
effluvia of mud and mire; which they observed had
a true wholesome smell, and reminded them of the
canals of Holland. To the indefatigable labours,
and praiseworthy example of this latter class of
projectors, are we indebted for the acres of artificial
ground, on which several of our streets, in the
vicinity of the rivers are built; and which, if we
may credit the assertions of several learned physi-
cians of this city, have been very efficacious in
producing the yellow fever.

     The houses of the higher class, were generally
constructed of wood, excepting the gable end, which
was of small black and yellow dutch bricks, and
always faced on the street, as our ancestors, like
their descendants, were very much given to outward
shew, and were noted for putting the best leg fore-
most. The house was always furnished with
abundance of large doors and small windows on
every floor, the date of its erection was curiously
designated by iron figures on the front, and on the
top of the roof was perched a fierce little weather
cock, to let the family into the important secret,
which way the wind blew. These, like the weather
cocks on the tops of our steeples, pointed so many
different ways, that every man could have a wind
to his mind; and you would have thought old Eolus
had set all his bags of wind adrift, pell mell, to
gambol about this windy metropolis -- the most

     Some, it must be noted, who were strenuous
partizans of Mynheer Ten Breeches, (or Ten
Brock) vexed that his plan of digging canals was
not adopted, made a compromise with their incli-
nations, by establishing themselves on the margins
of those creeks and inlets, which meandered through
various parts of the ground laid out for improve-
ment. To these may be particularly ascribed the first
settlement of Broad street; which originally was
built along a creek, that ran up, to what at present
is called Wall street. The lower part soon became
very busy and populous; and a ferry house24 was
in process of time established at the head of it;
being at that day called "the head of inland navi-

     The disciples of Mynheer Toughbreeches, on
the other hand, no less enterprising, and more in-
dustrious than their rivals, stationed themselves
along the shore of the river, and laboured with un-
exampled perseverance, in making little docks and
dykes, from which originated that multitude of
mud traps with which this city is fringed. To
these docks would the old Burghers repair, just at
those hours when the falling tide had left the beach
have the tails of mermaids -- but this I look upon
to be a mere sport of fancy, or what is worse, a
wilful misrepresentation.

     The grand parlour was the sanctum sanctorum,
where the passion for cleaning was indulged with-
out controul. In this sacred apartment no one
was permitted to enter, excepting the mistress and
her confidential maid, who visited it once a week,
for the purpose of giving it a thorough cleaning,
and putting things to rights -- always taking the
precaution of leaving their shoes at the door, and
entering devoutly, on their stocking feet. After
scrubbing the floor, sprinkling it with fine white
sand, which was curiously stroked into angles, and
curves, and rhomboids, with a broom -- after wash-
ing the windows, rubbing and polishing the furni-
ture, and putting a new bunch of evergreens in the
fire-place -- the window shutters were again closed
to keep out the flies, and the room carefully locked
up until the revolution of time, brought round the
weekly cleaning day.

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

     In those happy days a well regulated family
always rose with the dawn, dined at eleven, and
went to bed at sun down. Dinner was invariably
a private meal, and the fat old burghers shewed in-
contestible symptoms of disappropriation and unea-
siness, at being surpised by a visit from a neigh-
bour on such occasions. But though our worthy
ancestors were thus singularly averse to giving din-
ners, yet they kept up the social bands of intimacy
by occasional banquettings, called tea parties.

     As this is the first introduction of those delect-
able orgies which have since become so fashionable
in this city, I am conscious my fair readers will be
very curious to receive information on the subject.
Sorry am I, that there will be but little in my des-
cription calculated to excite their admiration. I
can neither delight them with accounts of suffoca-
ting crowds, nor brilliant drawing rooms, nor
towering feathers, nor sparkling diamonds, nor im-
measurable trains. I can detail no choice anec-
dotes of scandal, for in those primitive times the
simple folk were either too stupid, or too good na-
tured to pull each other's characters to pieces --
nor can I furnish any whimsical anecdotes of brag --
how one lady cheated, or another bounced into a pas-
sion; for as yet there was no junto of dulcet old
dowagers, who met to win each other's money, and
lose their own tempers at a card table.

     These fashionable parties were generally con-
fined to the higher classes, or noblesse, that is to
say, such as kept their own cows, and drove their
own waggons. The company commonly assem-
bled at three o'clock, and went away about six, un-
less it was in winter time, when the fashionable
hours were a little earlier, that the ladies might
get home before dark. I do not find that they
ever treated their company to iced creams, jellies
or syllabubs; or regaled them with musty almonds,
mouldy raisins, or sour oranges, as is often done in
the present age of refinement. -- Our ancestors were
fond of more sturdy, substantial fare. The tea ta-
ble was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well
stored with slices of fat pork, fried brown, cut up
into mouthfuls, and swimming in doup or gravy.
The company being seated around the genial board,
and each furnished with a fork, evinced their dex-
terity in launching at the fattest pieces in this
mighty dish -- in much the same manner as sailors
harpoon porpoises at sea, or our Indians spear sal-
mon in the lakes. Sometimes the table was graced
with immense apple pies, or saucers full of preserv-
ed peaches and pears; but it was always sure to
boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened
dough, fried in hog's fat, and called dough nuts, or
oly koeks -- a delicious kind of cake, at present,
scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine
dutch families; but which retains its pre-eminent
station at the tea tables in Albany.

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

     At these primitive tea-parties the utmost pro-
priety and dignity of deportment prevailed. No
flirting nor coquetting -- no gambling of old ladies
nor hoyden chattering and romping of young ones --
No self satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen
with their brains in their pockets -- nor amusing
conceits, and monkey divertisements of smart young
gentlemen, with no brains at all. On the contrary,
the young ladies seated themselves demurely in
their rush-bottomed chairs, and knit their own
woollen stockings; nor ever opened their lips, ex-
cepting to say yah Mynher, or yah, ya Vrouw, to
any question that was asked them; behaving in all
things, like decent, well educated damsels. As to
the gentlemen, each of them tranquilly smoked his
pipe, and seemed lost in contemplation of the blue
and white tiles, with which the fire-places were de-
corated; wherein sundry passages of scripture,
were piously pourtrayed -- Tobit and his dog figur-
ed to great advantage; Haman swung conspicu-
ously on his gibbet, and Jonah appeared most man-
fully bouncing out of the whale, like Harlequin
through a barrel of fire.

     The parties broke up without noise and without
confusion -- for, strange as it may seem, the ladies
and gentlemen were content to take their own cloaks
and shawls and hats; not dreaming, simple souls!
of the ingenious system of exchange established in
modern days; by which those who first leave a
party are authorized to choose the best shawl or hat
they can find -- a custom which has doubtless arisen
in consequence of our commercial habits. They
were carried home by their own carriages, that is
to say, by the vehicles nature had provided them,
excepting such of the wealthy, as could afford to
keep a waggon. The gentlemen gallantly attended
their fair ones to their respective abodes, and took
leave of them with a hearty smack at the door:
which as it was an established piece of etiquette,
done in perfect simplicity and honesty of heart, oc-
casioned no scandal at that time, nor should it at
the present -- if our great grandfathers approved of
the custom, it would argue a great want of rever-
ence in their descendants to say a word against it.

  [23] This house has been several times repaired, and at present is
a small yellow brick house, No. 23, Broad Street, with the gable
end to the street, surmounted with an iron rod, on which, until
within three or four years, a little iron ferry boat officiated as
weather cock.

  [24] This house has been several times repaired, and at present is
a small yellow brick house, No. 23, Broad Street, with the gable
end to the street, surmounted with an iron rod, on which, until
within three or four years, a little iron ferry boat officiated as
weather cock.


     Containing further particulars of the Golden Age,
and what constituted a fine Lady and Gentleman
in the days of Walter the Doubter

     In this dulcet period of my history, when the
beauteous island of Mannahata presented a scene,
the very counterpart of those glowing pictures drawn
by old Hesiod of the golden reign of Saturn, there
was a happy ignorance, an honest simplicity preva-
lent among its inhabitants, which were I even able
to depict, would be but little understood by the de-
generate age for which I am doomed to write.
Even the female sex, those arch innovaters upon the
tranquillity, the honesty, and grey-beard customs of
society, seemed for a while to conduct themselves
with incredible sobriety and comeliness, and indeed
behaved almost as if they had not been sent into the
world, to bother mankind, baffle philosophy, and
confound the universe.

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

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

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

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

     But there was a secret charm in these petticoats,
which no doubt entered into the consideration of
the prudent gallant. The wardrobe of a lady was
in those days her only fortune; and she who had
a good stock of petticoats and stockings, was as
absolutely an heiress, as is a Kamschatka damsel
with a store of bear skins, or a Lapland belle with a
plenty of rein deer. The ladies therefore, were
very anxious to display these powerful attractions
to the greatest advantage; and the best rooms in
the house instead of being adorned with caricatures
of dame nature, in water colours and needle work,
were always hung round with abundance of home-
spun garments; the manufacture and property of
the females -- a piece of laudable ostentation that
still prevails among the heiresses of our dutch
villages. Such were the beauteous belles of the
ancient city of New Amsterdam, rivalling in pri-
mæval simplicity of manners, the renowned and
courtly dames, so loftily sung by Dan Homer --
who tells us that the princess Nausicaa, washed the
family linen, and the fair Penelope wove her own

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

     Not but what there were some two or three
youngsters who manifested the first dawnings of
what is called fire and spirit. Who held all la-
bour in contempt; skulked about docks and market
places; loitered in the sun shine; squandered what
little money they could procure at hustle cap and
chuck farthing, swore, boxed, fought cocks, and
raced their neighbours' horses -- in short who pro-
mised to be the wonder, the talk and abomination of
the town, had not their stylish career been un-
fortunately cut short, by an affair of honour with a
whipping post.

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

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

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

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


     In which the reader is beguiled into a delectable walk,
which ends very differently from what it com-

     In the year of our Lord, one thousand eight
hundred and four, on a fine afternoon, in the mellow
month of October, I took my customary walk upon
the battery, which is at once the pride and bulwark
of this ancient and impregnable city of New York.
I remember well the season, for it immediately pre-
ceded that remarkably cold winter, in which our
sagacious corporation, in a spasm of economical
philanthropy, pulled to pieces, at an expense of se-
veral hundred dollars, the wooden ramparts, which
had cost them several thousand; and distributed
the rotten fragments, which were worth considera-
bly less than nothing, among the shivering poor of
the city -- never, since the fall of the walls of Jeri-
cho, or the heaven built battlements of Troy, had
there been known such a demolition -- nor did it go
unpunished; five men, eleven old women and nine-
teen children, besides cats, dogs and negroes, were
blinded, in vain attempts to smoke themselves warm,
with this charitable substitute for firewood, and an
epidemic complaint of sore eyes was moreover pro-
duced, which has since recurred every winter; par-
ticularly among those who undertake to burn rotten
logs -- who warm themselves with the charity of
others -- or who use patent chimnies.

     On the year and month just designated, did I
take my accustomed walk of meditation, on that
same battery, which, though at present, no battery,
furnishes the most delightful walk, and commands
the noblest prospect, in the whole known world.
The ground on which I trod was hallowed by re-
collections of the past, and as I slowly wandered
through the long alleys of poplars, which, like so
many birch brooms standing on end, diffused a me-
lancholy and lugubrious shade, my imagination
drew a contrast between the surrounding scenery,
and what it was in the classic days of our fore-
fathers. Where the government house by name,
but the custom house by occupation, proudly rear-
ed its brick walls and wooden pillars; there whilome
stood the low but substantial, red tiled mansion of
the renowned Wouter Van Twiller. Around it
the mighty bulwarks of fort Amsterdam frowned
defiance to every absent foe; but, like many a whis-
kered warrior and gallant militia captain, confined
their martial deeds to frowns alone -- alas! those
threatening bulwarks had long since been sapped by
time, and like the walls of Carthage, presented no
traces to the enquiring eye of the antiquarian. The
mud breast works had long been levelled with the
earth, and their scite converted into the green lawns
and leafy alleys of the battery; where the gay ap-
prentice sported his sunday coat, and the laborious
mechanic, relieved from the dirt and drudgery of
the week, poured his septennial tale of love into the
half averted ear of the sentimental chambermaid.
The capacious bay still presented the same expan-
sive sheet of water, studded with islands, sprinkled
with fishing boats, and bounded by shores of pic-
turesque beauty. But the dark forests which once
clothed these shores had been violated by the
savage hand of cultivation, and their tangled mazes,
and impracticable thickets, had degenerated into
teeming orchards and waving fields of grain. Even
Governors Island, once a smiling garden, apper-
taining to the sovereigns of the province, was now
covered with fortifications, inclosing a tremendous
block house -- so that this once peaceful island re-
sembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat,
breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world!

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

     It was one of those rich autumnal days which
heaven particularly bestows upon the beauteous
island of Mannahata and its vicinity -- not a float-
ing cloud obscured the azure firmament -- the sun,
rolling in glorious splendour through his ethe-
rial course, seemed to expand his honest dutch
countenance into an unusual expression of benevo-
lence, as he smiled his evening salutation upon a
city, which he delights to visit with his most boun-
teous beams -- the very winds seemed to hold in
their breaths in mute attention, lest they should
ruffle the tranquillity of the hour -- and the wave-
less bosom of the bay presented a polished mirror,
in which nature beheld herself and smiled! -- The
standard of our city, which, like a choice handker-
chief, is reserved for days of gala, hung motionless
on the flag staff, which forms the handle to a gigan-
tic churn; and even the tremulous leaves of the
poplar and the aspen, which, like the tongues of the
immortal sex, are seldom still, now ceased to vi-
brate to the breath of heaven. Every thing seemed
to acquiesce in the profound repose of nature. --
The formidable eighteen pounders slept in the em-
brazures of the wooden batteries, seemingly gather-
ing fresh strength, to fight the battles of their coun-
try on the next fourth of July -- the solitary drum
on Governor's island forgot to call the garrison to
their shovels -- the evening gun had not yet sounded
its signal, for all the regular, well meaning poultry
throughout the country, to go to roost; and the
fleet of canoes, at anchor between Gibbet Island
and Communipaw, slumbered on their rakes, and
suffered the innocent oysters to lie for a while un-
molested, in the soft mud of their native banks! --
My own feelings sympathized in the contagious
tranquillity, and I should infallibly have dozed up-
on one of those fragments of benches, which our
benevolent magistrates have provided for the bene-
fit of convalescent loungers, had not the extraordi-
nary inconvenience of the couch set all repose at

     In the midst of this soothing slumber of the soul,
my attention was attracted to a black speck, peering
above the western horizon, just in the rear of Ber-
gen steeple -- gradually it augments and overhangs
the would-be cities of Jersey, Harsimus and Hobo-
ken, which, like three jockies, are starting cheek by
jowl on the career of existence, and jostling each
other at the commencement of the race. Now it
skirts the long shore of ancient Pavonia, spreading
its wide shadows from the high settlements at Wee-
hawk quite to the lazaretto and quarentine, erected
by the sagacity of our police, for the embarrassment
of commerce -- now it climbs the serene vault of
heaven, cloud rolling over cloud, like successive bil-
lows, shrouding the orb of day, darkening the vast
expanse, and bearing thunder and hail, and tempest
in its bosom. The earth seems agitated at the con-
fusion of the heavens -- the late waveless mirror is
lashed into furious waves, that roll their broken
surges in hollow murmurs to the shore -- the oyster
boats that erst sported in the placid vicinity of Gib-
bet Island, now hurry affrighted to the shore -- the
late dignified, unbending poplar, writhes and twists,
before the merciless blast -- descending torrents of
drenching rain and sounding hail deluge the battery
walks, the gates are thronged by 'prentices, servant
maids and little Frenchmen, with their pocket
handkerchiefs over their hats, scampering from the
storm -- the late beauteous prospect presents one
scene of anarchy and wild uproar, as though old
chaos had resumed his reign, and was hurling back
into one vast turmoil, the conflicting elements of
nature. Fancy to yourself, oh reader! the awful
combat sung by old Hesiod, of Jupiter, and the
Titans -- fancy to yourself the long rebellowing ar-
tillery of heaven, streaming at the heads of the gi-
gantic sons of earth. -- In short, fancy to yourself
all that has ever been said or sung, of tempest, storm
and hurricane -- and you will save me the trouble
of describing it.

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

     Whatever Plato, Aristotle, Grotius, Puffendorf,
Sydney, Thomas Jefferson or Tom Paine may say
to the contrary, I insist that, as to nations, the old
maxim that "honesty is the best policy," is a sheer
and ruinous mistake. It might have answered well
enough in the honest times when it was made; but
in these degenerate days, if a nation pretends to
rely merely upon the justice of its dealings, it will
fare something like an honest man among thieves,
who unless he has something more than his honest
to depend upon, stands but a poor chance of profiting
by his company. Such at least was the case with
the guileless government of the New Netherlands;
which, like a worthy unsuspicious old burgher,
quietly settled itself down into the city of New Am-
sterdam, as into a snug elbow chair -- and fell into a
comfortable nap -- while in the mean time its cunning
neighbours stepp'd in and picked its pockets. Thus
may we acribe the commencement of all the woes
of this great province, and its magnificent metro-
polis, to the tranquil security, or to speak more
accurately, to the unfortunate honesty of its govern-
ment. But as I dislike to begin an important part
of my history, towards the end of a chapter; and
as my readers like myself must doubtless be ex-
ceedingly fatigued with the long walk we have
taken, and the tempest we have sustained -- I hold
it meet we shut up the book, smoke a pipe and
having thus refreshed our spirits; take a fair start
in the next chapter.


     Faithfully describing the ingenious people of Con-
necticut and thereabouts -- Shewing moreover the
true meaning of liberty of conscience, and a curi-
ous device among these sturdy barbarians, to keep
up a harmony of intercourse and promote popu-

     That my readers may the more fully compre-
hend the extent of the calamity, at this very mo-
ment impending over the honest, unsuspecting pro-
vince of Nieuw Nederlandts, and its dubious Gover-
nor, it is necessary that I should give some account
of a horde of strange barbarians, bordering upon the
eastern frontier.

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

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

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

     The usual methods were adopted to reclaim
them, that in those days were considered so effica-
cious in bringing back stray sheep to the fold;
that is to say, they were coaxed, they were admo-
nished, they were menaced, they were buffeted --
line upon line, precept upon precept, lash upon lash,
here a little and there a great deal, were exhaust-
ed without mercy, but without success; until at
length the worthy pastors of the church wearied out
by their unparalleled stubbornness, were driven in
the excess of their tender mercy, to adopt the
scripture text, and literally "heaped live embers on
their heads."

     Nothing however could subdue that invincible
spirit of independence which has ever distinguished
this singular race of people, so that rather than sub-
mit to such horrible tyranny, they one and all em-
barked for the wilderness of America, where they
might enjoy unmolested, the inestimable luxury of
talking. No sooner did they land on this loquaci-
ous soil, than as if they had caught the disease
from the climate, they all lifted up their voices at
once, and for the space of one whole year, did keep
up such a joyful clamour, that we are told they
frightened every bird and beast out of the neigh-
bourhood, and so completely dumb-founded cer-
tain fish, which abound on their coast, that they
have been called dumb-fish ever since.

     From this simple circumstance, unimportant
as it may seem, did first originate that renowned
privilege so loudly boasted of throughout this
country -- which is so eloquently exercised in news-
papers, pamphlets, ward meetings, pot-house com-
mittees and congressional deliberations -- which es-
tablishes the right of talking without ideas and
without information -- of misrepresenting public af-
fairs; of decrying public measures -- of aspersing
great characters, and destroying little ones; in
short, that grand palladium of our country, the
liberty of speech; or as it has been more vulgarly
denominated -- the gift of the gab.

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

     True it is, and my fidelity as an historian will
not allow me to pass it over in silence, that the zeal
of these good people, to maintain their rights and
privileges unimpaired, did for a while betray them
into errors, which it is easier to pardon than de-
fend. Having served a regular apprenticeship in
the school of persecution, it behoved them to shew
that they had become proficients in the art. They
accordingly employed their leisure hours in banish-
ing, scourging or hanging, divers heretical papists,
quakers and anabaptists, for daring to abuse the
liberty of conscience; which they now clearly prov-
ed to imply nothing more, than that every man
should think as he pleased in matters of religion --
provided he thought right; for otherwise it would
be giving a latitude to damnable heresies. Now as
they (the majority) were perfectly convinced that
they alone thought right, it consequently followed,
that whoever thought different from them though
wrong -- and whoever thought wrong and obstinate-
ly persisted in not being convinced and converted,
was a flagrant violater of the inestimable liberty of
conscience, and a corrupt and infectious member of
the body politic, and deserved to be lopped off and
cast into the fire.

     Now I'll warrant, there are hosts of my rea-
ders, ready at once to lift up their hands and eyes,
with that virtuous indignation with which we al-
ways contemplate the faults and errors of our
neighbours, and to exclaim at these well meaning
but mistaken people, for inflicting on others the in-
juries they had suffered themselves -- for indulging
the preposterous idea of convincing the mind by
toasting the carcass, and establishing the doctrine
of charity and forbearance, by intolerant persecu-
tion. -- But soft you, my very captious sirs! what
are we doing at this very day, and in this very en-
lightened nation, but acting upon the very same
principle, in our political controversies. Have we
not within but a few years released ourselves from
the shackles of a government, which cruelly denied
us the privilege of governing ourselves, and using
in full latitude that invaluable member, the tongue?
and are we not at this very moment striving our
best to tyrannise over the opinions, tie up the
tongues, or ruin the fortunes of one another? What
are our great political societies, but mere political
inquisitions -- our pot-house committees, but little
tribunals of denunciation -- our news-papers but
mere whipping posts and pillories, where unfortu-
nate individuals are pelted with rotten eggs -- and
our council of appointment -- but a grand auto de fé,
where culprits are annually sacrificed for their po-
litical heresies?

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

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

     This amazing increase, may indeed be partly
ascribed to a singular custom prevalent among them,
and which was probably borrowed from the ancient
republic of Sparta; where we are told the young
ladies, either from being great romps and hoydens, or
else like many modern heroines, very fond of med-
dling with matters that did not appertain to their
sex, used frequently to engage with the men, in
wrestling, and other athletic exercises of the gym-
nasium. The custom to which I allude was vul-
garly known by the name of bundling -- a supersti-
tious rite observed by the young people of both
sexes, with which they usually terminated their fes-
tivities; and which was kept up with religious
strictness, by the more bigoted and vulgar part
of the community. This ceremony was like-
wise, in those primitive times considered as an in-
dispensible preliminary to matrimony; their court-
ships commencing, where ours usually finish -- by
which means they acquired that intimate acquain-
tance with each others good qualities before mar-
riage, that has been pronounced by philosophers
the sure basis of a happy union. Thus early did
this cunning and ingenious people, display a shrewd-
ness at making a bargain which has ever since dis-
tinguished them -- and a strict adherence to the good
old vulgar maxim about "buying a pig in a poke."

     To this sagacious custom, therefore, do I chief-
ly attribute the unparalleled increase of the yanokie
or yankee tribe; for it is a certain fact, well authen-
ticated by court records and parish registers, that
wherever the practice of bundling prevailed, there
was an amazing number of sturdy brats an-
nually born unto the state, without the license of
the law, or the benefit of clergy; and it is truly aston-
ishing that the learned Malthus, in his treatise on
population, has entirely overlooked this singular
fact. Neither did the irregularity of their birth
operate in the least to their disparagement. On
the contrary they grew up a long sided, raw boned,
hardy race of whoreson whalers, wood cutters, fish-
ermen and pedlars, and strapping corn-fed wenches;
who by their united efforts tended marvellously to-
wards populating those notable tracts of country,
called Nantucket, Piscataway and Cape Cod.


     How these singular barbarians turned out to be
notorious squatters. How they built air castles,
and attempted to initiate the Nederlanders in
the mystery of bundling

     In the last chapter, my honest little reader, I
have given thee a faithful and unprejudiced account,
of the origin of that singular race of people, inhabit-
ing the country eastward of the Nieuw Nederlandts;
but I have yet to mention certain peculiar habits
which rendered them exceedingly obnoxious to our
ever honoured dutch ancestors.

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

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

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

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

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

     The humble log hut, which whilome nestled
this improving family snugly within its narrow but
comfortable walls, stands hard by in ignominious
contrast, degraded into a cow house or pig stye;
and the whole scene reminds one forcibly of a fa-
ble, which I am surprised has never been recorded,
of an aspiring snail who quit his humble habitation
which he filled with great respectability, to crawl
into the empty shell of a lobster -- where he would
no doubt have resided with great style and splen-
dour, the envy and hate of all the pains-taking snails
of his neighbourhood, had he not accidentally
perished with cold, in one corner of his stupendous

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

     Such were the people of Connecticut, who bor-
dered upon the eastern frontier of Nieuw Neder-
landts, and my readers may easily imagine what
obnoxious neighbors this light hearted but restless
tribe must have been to our tranquil progenitors.
If they cannot, I would ask them, if they have ever
known one of our regular, well organized, antedi-
luvian dutch families, whom it hath pleased heaven
to afflict with the neighbourhood of a French board-
ing house. The honest old burgher cannot take
his afternoon's pipe, on the bench before his door,
but he is persecuted with the scraping of fiddles,
the chattering of women, and the squalling of chil-
dren -- he cannot sleep at night for the horrible me-
lodies of some amateur, who chooses to serenade
the moon, and display his terrible proficiency in
execution, by playing demisemiquavers in alt on the
clarionet, the hautboy, or some other soft toned in-
strument -- nor can he leave the street door open,
but his house is defiled by the unsavoury visits of a
troop of pug dogs, who even sometimes carry their
loathsome ravages into the sanctum sanctorum, the

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

     Gangs of these marauders we are told, pene-
trated into the New Netherland settlements and
threw whole villages into consternation by their
unparalleled volubility and their intolerable inquisi-
tiveness -- two evil habits hitherto unknown in those
parts, or only known to be abhorred; for our an-
cestors were noted, as being men of truly spartan
taciturnity, and who neither knew nor cared aught
about any body's concerns but their own. Many
enormities were committed on the high ways, where
several unoffending burghers were brought to a
stand, and so tortured with questions and guesses,
that it was a miracle they escaped with their five

     Great jealousy did they likewise stir up, by their
intermeddling and successes among the divine sex;
for being a race of brisk, likely, pleasant tongued
varlets, they soon seduced the light affections of
the simple damsels, from their honest but ponder-
ous dutch gallants. Among other hideous customs
they attempted to introduce among them that of
bundling, which the dutch lasses of the Neder-
landts, with that eager passion for novelty and fo-
reign fashions, natural to their sex, seemed very
well inclined to follow, but that their mothers, be-
ing more experienced in the world, and better ac-
quainted with men and things strenuously discoun-
tenanced all such outlandish innovations.

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

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


     How the Fort Goed Hoop was fearfully beleaguer-
ed -- how the renowned Wouter fell into a pro-
found doubt, and how he finally evaporated

     By this time my readers must fully perceive,
what an arduous task I have undertaken -- collect-
ing and collating with painful minuteness, the chro-
nicles of past times, whose events almost defy the
powers of research -- raking in a little kind of Her-
culaneum of history, which had lain nearly for
ages, buried under the rubbish of years, and almost
totally forgotten -- raking up the limbs and frag-
ments of disjointed facts, and endeavouring to put
them scrupulously together, so as to restore them
to their original form and connection -- now lugging
forth the character of an almost forgotten hero, like
a mutilated statue -- now decyphering a half defaced
inscription, and now lighting upon a mouldering
manuscript, which after painful study, scarce repays
the trouble of perusal.

     In such case how much has the reader to depend
upon the honour and probity of his author, lest like
a cunning antiquarian, he either impose upon him
some spurious fabrication of his own, for a precious
relique from antiquity -- or else dress up the dis-
membered fragment, with such false trappings, that
it is scarcely possible to distinguish the truth from
the fiction with which it is enveloped. This is a
grievance which I have more than once had to la-
ment, in the course of my wearisome researches
among the works of my fellow historians; who have
strangely disguised and distorted the facts respect-
ing this country; and particularly respecting the
great province of New Netherlands; as will be
perceived by any who will take the trouble to com-
pare their romantic effusions, tricked out in the
meretricious gauds of fable, with this excellent lit-
tle history -- universally to be renowned for its se-
vere simplicity and unerring truth.

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

     It was at an early period of the province, and pre-
vious to the arrival of the renowned Wouter -- that
the cabinet of Nieuw Nederlandts purchased the
lands about the Connecticut, and established, for
their superintendance and protection, a fortified post
on the banks of the river, which was called Fort Goed
Hoop, and was situated hard by the present fair
city of Hartford. The command of this important
post, together with the rank, title, and appointments
of commissary, were given in charge to the gallant
Jacobus Van Curlet, or as some historians will have
it Van Curlis -- a most doughty soldier of that sto-
machful class of which we have such numbers on pa-
rade days -- who are famous for eating all they kill.
He was of a very soldierlike appearance, and would
have been an exceeding tall man, had his legs been
in proportion to his body; but the latter being long,
and the former uncommonly short, it gave him the
uncouth appearance of a tall man's body, mounted
upon a little man's legs. He made up for this turn-
spit construction of body by throwing his legs to
such an extent when he marched, that you would
have sworn he had on the identical seven league
boots of the farfamed Jack the giant killer; and so
astonishingly high did he tread on any great milita-
ry occasion, that his soldiers were oft times alarm-
ed, lest the little man should trample himself under

     But notwithstanding the erection of this fort,
and the appointment of this ugly little man of war
as a commander, the intrepid Yankees, continued
those daring interlopings which I have hinted at in
my last chapter; and taking advantage of the
character which the cabinet of Wouter Van Twil-
ler soon acquired, for profound and phlegmatic
tranquillity -- did audaciously invade the territo-
ries of the Nieuw Nederlandts, and squat them-
selves down within the very jurisdiction of fort
Goed Hoop.

     On beholding this outrage, the long bodied Van
Curlet proceeded as became a prompt and valiant
officer. He immediately protested against these
unwarrantable encroachments, in low dutch, by
way of inspiring more terror, and forthwith dis-
patched a copy of the protest to the governor at
New Amsterdam, together with a long and bitter
account of the aggressions of the enemy. This
done, he ordered his men, one and all to be of good
cheer -- shut the gate of the fort, smoked three
pipes, went to bed and awaited the result with a
resolute and intrepid tranquillity, that greatly ani
mated his adherents, and no doubt struck sore dis-
may and affright into the hearts of the enemy.

     Now it came to pass, that about this time, the
renowned Wouter Van Twiller, full of years and
honours, and council dinners, had reached that pe-
riod of life and faculty which, according to the
great Gulliver, entitle a man to admission into
the ancient order of Struldbruggs. He employed
his time in smoking his turkish pipe, amid an as-
semblage of sages, equally enlightened, and nearly
as venerable as himself, and who for their silence,
their gravity, their wisdom, and their cautious
averseness to coming to any conclusion in business,
are only to be equalled by certain profound cor-
porations which I have known in my time. Upon
reading the protest of the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet
therefore, his excellency fell straightway into one
of the deepest doubts that ever he was known to
encounter; his capacious head gradually drooped
on his chest,25 he closed his eyes and inclined his
ear to one side, as if listening with great attention to
the discussion that was going on in his belly;
which all who knew him, declared to be the huge
court-house, or council chamber of his thoughts;
forming to his head what the house of representa-
tives does to the senate. An inarticulate sound,
very much resembling a snore, occasionally escap-
ed him -- but the nature of this internal cogitation,
was never known, as he never opened his lips on
the subject to man, woman or child. In the mean
time, the protest of Van Curlet laid quietly on the ta-
ble, where it served to light the pipes of the venerable
sages assembled in council; and in the great smoke
which they raised, the gallant Jacobus, his protest,
and his mighty Fort Goed Hoop, were soon as
completely beclouded and forgotten, as is a ques-
tion of emergency swallowed up in the speeches
and resolutions of a modern session of congress.

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

     This crying injustice was regarded with proper
indignation by the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet. He
absolutely trembled with the amazing violence of
his choler and the exacerbations of his valour;
which seemed to be the more turbulent in their
workings, from the length of the body, in which
they were agitated. He forthwith proceeded to
strengthen his redoubts, heighten his breastworks,
deepen his fosse, and fortify his position with a
double row of abbatis; after which valiant precau-
tions, he with unexampled intrepidity, dispatched a
fresh courier with tremendous accounts of his peri-
lous situation. Never did the modern hero, who
immortalized himself at the second Sabine war,
shew greater valour in the art of letter writing, or
distinguish himself more gloriously upon paper,
than the heroic Van Curlet.

     The courier chosen to bear these alarming dis-
patches, was a fat, oily little man, as being least
liable to be worn out, or to lose leather on the jour-
ney; and to insure his speed, he was mounted on
the fleetest waggon horse in the garrison; remarkable
for his length of limb, largeness of bone, and hard-
ness of trot; and so tall, that the little messenger
was obliged to climb on his back by means of his
tail and crupper. Such extraordinary speed did he
make, that he arrived at Fort Amsterdam in little
less than a month, though the distance was full two
hundred pipes, or about 120 miles.

     The extraordinary appearance of this portentous
stranger would have thrown the whole town of
New Amsterdam into a quandary, had the good
people troubled themselves about any thing more
than their domestic affairs. With an appearance
of great hurry and business, and smoking a short
travelling pipe, he proceeded on a long swing trot
through the muddy lanes of the metropolis, de-
molishing whole batches of dirt pies, which the little
dutch children were making in the road; and for
which kind of pastry the children of this city have
ever been famous -- On arriving at the governor's
house he climbed down from his steed in great trepida-
tion; roused the grey headed door keeper, old Skaats
who like his lineal decendant, and faithful representa-
tive, the venerable crier of our court, was nodding
at his post -- rattled at the door of the council cham-
ber, and startled the members as they were dozing
over a plan for establishing a public market.

     At that very moment a gentle grunt, or rather a
deep drawn snore was heard from the chair of the
governor; a whiff of smoke was at the same instant
observed to escape from his lips, and a slight cloud
to ascend from the bowl of his pipe. The council
of course supposed him engaged in deep sleep for
the good of the community, and according to cus-
tom in all such cases established, every man bawled
out silence, in order to maintain tranquillity; when
of a sudden, the door flew open and the little cou-
rier straddled into the apartment, cased to the middle
in a pair of Hessian boots, which he had got into for
the sake of expedition. In his right hand he held forth
the ominous dispatches, and with his left he grasped
firmly the waist-band of his galligaskins; which
had unfortunately given way, in the exertion of
descending from his horse. He stumped resolute-
ly up to the governor, and with more hurry than
perspicuity delivered his message. But fortunate-
ly his ill tidings came too late, to ruffle the tran-
quillity of this most tranquil of rulers. His venera-
ble excellency had just breathed and smoked his
last -- his lungs and his pipe having been exhausted
together, and his peaceful soul, as Dan Homer
would have said, having escaped in the last whiff
that curled from his tobacco pipe. -- In a word the
renowned Wouter Van Twiller, alias Walter the
Doubter, who had so often slumbered with his co-
temporaries, now slept with his fathers, and Wil-
helmus Kieft governed in his stead.



"Perplexed with vast affairs of state and town,
`His great head being overset, hangs down."
Telecides, on Pericles.


     Containing the Chronicles of the reign of William
the Testy.


     Exposing the craftiness and artful devices of those
arch Free Booters, the Book Makers, and their
trusty Squires, the Book Sellers. Containing
furthermore, the universal acquirements of Wil-
liam the Testy, aud how a man may learn so
much as to render himself good for nothing

     If ever I had my readers completely by the but-
ton, it is at this moment. Here is a redoubtable
fortress reduced to the greatest extremity; a valiant
commander in a state of the most imminent jeopar-
dy -- and a legion of implacable foes thronging upon
every side. The sentimental reader is preparing to
indulge his sympathies, and bewail the sufferings of
the brave. The philosophic reader, to come with
his first principles, and coolly take the dimensions
and ascertain the proportions of great actions, like
an antiquary, measuring a pyramid with a two-foot
rule -- while the mere reader, for amusement, pro-
mises to regale himself after the monotonous pages
through which he has dozed, with murders, rapes,
ravages, conflagrations, and all the other glorious
incidents, that give eclat to victory, and grace the
triumph of the conqueror.

     Thus every reader must press forward -- he can-
not refrain, if he has the least spark of curiosity in
his disposition, from turning over the ensuing page.
Having therefore gotten him fairly in my clutches --
what hinders me from indulging in a little recrea-
tion, and varying the dull task of narrative by stul-
tifying my readers with a drove of sober reflections
about this, that and the other thing -- by pushing
forward a few of my own darling opinions; or talk-
ing a little about myself -- all which the reader will
have to peruse, or else give up the book altogether,
and remain in utter ignorance of the mighty deeds,
and great events, that are contained in the sequel.

     To let my readers into a great literary secret,
your experienced writers, who wish to instil pecu-
liar tenets, either in religion, politics or morals, do
often resort to this expedient -- illustrating their fa-
vourite doctrines by pleasing fictions on established
facts -- -and so mingling historic truth, and subtle
speculation together, that the unwary million never
perceive the medley; but, running with open
mouth, after an interesting story, are often made to
swallow the most heterodox opinions, ridiculous
theories, and abominable heresies. This is par-
ticularly the case with the industrious advocates of
the modern philosophy, and many an honest unsus-
picious reader, who devours their works under an
idea of acquiring solid knowledge, must not be sur-
prised if, to use a pious quotation, he finds "his
belly filled with the east wind."

     This same expedient is likewise a literary artifice,
by which one sober truth, like a patient and laborious
pack horse, is made to carry a couple of pan-
niers of rascally little conjectures on its back.
In this manner books are encreased, the pen is kept
going and trade flourishes; for if every writer were
obliged to tell merely what he knew, there would
soon be an end of great books, and Tom Thumb's
folio would be considered as a gigantic production --
A man might then carry his library in his pocket, and
the whole race of book makers, book printers, book
binders and book sellers might starve together;
but by being entitled to tell every thing he thinks,
and every thing he does not think -- to talk about
every thing he knows, or does not know -- to con-
jecture, to doubt, to argue with himself, to laugh
with and laugh at his reader, (the latter of which
we writers do nine times out of ten -- in our sleeves)
to indulge in hypotheses, to deal in dashes -- and
stars **** and a thousand other innocent indul-
gencies -- all these I say, do marvelously concur to
fill the pages of books, the pockets of booksellers,
and the hungry stomachs of authors -- do contribute
to the amusement and edification of the reader, and
redound to the glory, the encrease and the profit of
the craft!

     Having thus, therefore, given my readers the
whole art and mystery of book making, they have
nothing further to do, than to take pen in hand, set
down and write a book for themselves -- while in
the mean time I will proceed with my history,
without claiming any of the privileges above re-

     Wilhelmus Kieft who in 1634 ascended the
Gubernatorial chair, (to borrow a favourite, though
clumsy appellation of modern phraseologists) was
in form, feature and character, the very reverse of
Wouter Van Twiller, his renowned predecessor.
He was of very respectable descent, his father being
Inspector of Windmills in the ancient town of
Saardam; and our hero we are told made very
curious investigations into the nature and operations
of these machines when a little boy, which is one
reason why he afterwards came to be so ingenious
a governor. His name according to the most in-
genious etymologists was a corruption of Kyver,
that is to say a wrangler or scolder, and expressed
the hereditary disposition of his family; which for
nearly two centuries, had kept the windy town of
Saardam in hot water, and produced more tartars
and brimstones than any ten families in the place --
and so truly did Wilhelmus Kieft inherit this family
endowment, that he had scarcely been a year in the
discharge of his government, before he was univer-
sally known by the appellation of William the

     He was a brisk, waspish, little old gentleman,
who had dried and wilted away, partly through the
natural process of years, and partly from being
parched and burnt up by his fiery soul; which
blazed like a vehement rush light in his bosom,
constantly inciting him to most valourous broils,
altercations and misadventures. I have heard it
observed by a profound and philosophical judge of
human nature, that if a woman waxes fat as she
grows old, the tenure of her life is very precarious,
but if haply she wilts, she lives forever -- such like-
wise was the case with William the Testy, who grew
tougher in proportion as he dried. He was some
such a little dutchman as we may now and then see,
stumping briskly about the streets of our city, in a
broad skirted coat, with buttons nearly as large as
the shield of Ajax, which makes such a figure in
Dan Homer, an old fashioned cocked hat stuck on
the back of his head, and a cane as high as his chin.
His visage was broad, but his features sharp, his
nose turned up with a most petulant curl; his
cheeks, like the region of Terra del Fuego, were
scorched into a dusky red -- doubtless in conse-
quence of the neighbourhood of two fierce little
grey eyes, through which his torrid soul beamed as
fervently, as a tropical sun blazing through a pair
of burning glasses. The corners of his mouth were
curiously modeled into a kind of fret work, not a
little resembling the wrinkled proboscis of an irri-
table pug dog -- in a word he was one of the
most positive, restless, ugly little men, that ever
put himself in a passion about nothing.

     Such were the personal endowments of Wil-
liam the Testy, but it was the sterling riches of his
mind that raised him to dignity and power. In
his youth he had passed with great credit through a
celebrated academy at the Hague, noted for pro-
ducing finished scholars, with a dispatch unequal-
led, except by certain of our American colleges,
which seem to manufacture bachelors of arts, by
some patent machine. Here he skirmished very
smartly on the frontiers of several of the sciences,
and made such a gallant inroad into the dead lan-
guages, as to bring off captive a host of Greek
nouns and Latin verbs, together with divers pithy
saws and apothegms, all which he constantly pa-
raded in conversation and writing, with as much
vain glory as would a triumphant general of yore
display the spoils of the countries he had ravaged.
He had moreover puzzled himself considerably
with logic, in which he had advanced so far as to
attain a very familiar acquaintance, by name at
least, with the whole family of syllogisms and di-
lemmas; but what he chiefly valued himself on,
was his knowledge of metaphysics, in which, hav-
ing once upon a time ventured too deeply, he came
well nigh being smothered in a slough of unintelligi-
ble learning -- a fearful peril, from the effects of
which he never perfectly recovered. -- In plain
words, like many other profound intermeddlers in
this abstruse bewildering science, he so confused his
brain, with abstract speculations which he could not
comprehend, and artificial distinctions which he
could not realize, that he could never think clearly
on any subject however simple, through the whole
course of his life afterwards. This I must confess
was in some measure a misfortune, for he never
engaged in argument, of which he was exceeding
fond, but what between logical deductions and
metaphysical jargon, he soon involved himself and
his subject in a fog of contradictions and perplexi-
ties, and then would get into a mighty passion with
his adversary, for not being convinced gratis.

     It is in knowledge, as in swimming, he who
ostentatiously sports and flounders on the surface,
makes more noise and splashing, and attracts more
attention, than the industrious pearl diver, who
plunges in search of treasures to the bottom. The
"universal acquirements" of William Kieft, were
the subject of great marvel and admiration among
his countrymen -- he figured about at the Hague
with as much vain glory, as does a profound Bonze
at Pekin, who has mastered half the letters of the
Chinese alphabet; and in a word was unanimously
pronounced an universal genius! -- I have known
many universal geniuses in my time, though to
speak my mind freely I never knew one, who, for
the ordinary purposes of life, was worth his weight
in straw -- but for the purposes of government, a little
sound judgment and plain common sense, is worth
all the sparkling genius that ever wrote poetry, or
invented theories.

     Strange as it may sound therefore, the universal
of the illustrious Wilhelmus, were
very much in his way, and had he been a less learn-
ed little man, it is possible he would have been a
much greater governor. He was exceedingly fond
of trying philosophical and political experiments;
and having stuffed his head full of scraps and rem-
nants of ancient republics, and oligarchies, and aris-
tocracies, and monarchies, and the laws of Solon
and Lycurgus and Charondas, and the imaginary
commonwealth of Plato, and the Pandects of Jus-
tinian, and a thousand other fragments of venerable
antiquity, he was forever bent upon introducing
some one or other of them into use; so that between
one contradictory measure and another, he entang-
led the government of the little province of Nieuw
Nederlandts in more knots during his administra-
tion, than half a dozen successors could have untied.

     No sooner had this bustling little man been
blown by a whiff of fortune into the seat of gov-
ernment, than he called together his council and de-
livered a very animated speech on the affairs of the
province. As every body knows what a glorious
opportunity a governor, a president, or even an
emperor has, of drubbing his enemies in his
speeches, messages and bulletins, where he has the
talk all on his own side, they may be sure the high
mettled William Kieft did not suffer so favourable
an occasion to escape him, of evincing that gallant-
ry of tongue, common to all able legislators. Be-
fore he commenced, it is recorded that he took out
of his pocket a red cotton handkerchief, and gave a
very sonorous blast of the nose, according to the
usual custom of great orators. This in general I
believe is intended as a signal trumpet, to call the
attention of the auditors, but with William the
testy it boasted a more classic cause, for he had
read of the singular expedient of that famous de-
magogue Caius Gracchus, who when he harangued
the Roman populace, modulated his tones by an
oratorical flute or pitch-pipe -- "which", said the
shrewd Wilhelmus, "I take to be nothing more nor
less, than an elegant and figurative mode of saying
-- he previously blew his nose."

     This preparatory symphony being performed,
he commenced by expressing a humble sense of his
own want of talents -- -his utter unworthiness of the
honour conferred upon him, and his humiliating
incapacity to discharge the important duties of his
new station -- -in short, he expressed so contempti-
ble an opinion of himself, that many simple country
members present, ignorant that these were mere
words of course, always used on such occasions,
were very uneasy, and even felt wrath that he
should accept an office, for which he was conscious-
ly so inadequate.

     He then proceeded in a manner highly classic,
profoundly erudite, and nothing at all to the purpose,
being nothing more than a pompous account of all
the governments of ancient Greece, and the wars of
Rome and Carthage, together with the rise and fall
of sundry outlandish empires, about which the as-
sembly knew no more than their great grand chil-
dren who were yet unborn. Thus having, after the
manner of your learned orators, convinced the au-
dience that he was a man of many words and great
erudition, he at length came to the less important
part of his speech, the situation of the province -- -
and here he soon worked himself into a fearful rage
against the Yankees, whom he compared to the
Gauls who desolated Rome, and the Goths and
Vandals who overran the fairest plains of Europe --
nor did he forget to mention, in terms of adequate
opprobrium, the insolence with which they had en-
croached upon the territories of New Netherlands,
and the unparalleled audacity with which they had
commenced the town of New Plymouth, and plant-
ed the onion patches of Weathersfield under the ve-
ry walls, or rather mud batteries of Fort Goed Hoop.

     Having thus artfully wrought up his tale of ter-
ror to a climax, he assumed a self satisfied look,
and declared, with a nod of knowing import, that
he had taken measures to put a final stop to these
encroachments -- that he had been obliged to have
recourse to a dreadful engine of warfare, lately in-
vented, awful in its effects, but authorized by dire-
ful necessity. In a word, he was resolved to con-
quer the Yankees -- -by proclamation!

     For this purpose he had prepared a tremendous
instrument of the kind ordering, commanding and
enjoining the intruders aforesaid, forthwith to re-
move, depart and withdraw from the districts, re-
gions and territories aforesaid, under pain of suffer-
ing all the penalties, forfeitures, and punishments
in such case made and provided, &c. This procla-
mation he assured them, would at once exterminate
the enemy from the face of the country, and he
pledged his valour as a governor, that within two
months after it was published, not one stone should
remain on another, in any of the towns which they
had built.

     The council remained for some time silent, af-
ter he had finished; whether struck dumb with ad-
miration at the brilliancy of his project, or put to
sleep by the length of his harangue, the history of
the times doth not mention. Suffice it to say, they at
length gave a universal grunt of acquiescence -- the
proclamation was immediately dispatched with due
ceremony, having the great seal of the province,
which was about the size of a buckwheat pancake,
attached to it by a broad red ribband. Governor
Kieft having thus vented his indignation, felt great-
ly relieved -- -adjourned the council sine die -- put on
his cocked hat and corduroy small clothes, and
mounting a tall raw boned charger, trotted out to
his country seat, which was situated in a sweet, se-
questered swamp, now called Dutch street, but more
commonly known by the name of Dog's Misery.

     Here, like the good Numa, he reposed from
the toils of legislation, taking lessons in govern-
ment, not from the Nymph Egeria, but from the
honoured wife of his bosom; who was one of that
peculiar kind of females, sent upon earth a little
after the flood, as a punishment for the sins of
mankind, and commonly known by the appellation
of knowing women. In fact, my duty as an his-
torian obliges me to make known a circumstance
which was a great secret at the time, and conse-
quently was not a subject of scandal at more than
half the tea tables in New Amsterdam, but which
like many other great secrets, has leaked out in
the lapse of years -- and this was, that the great
Wilhelmus the Testy, though one of the most po-
tent little men that ever breathed, yet submitted at
at home to a species of government, neither laid
down in Aristotle, nor Plato; in short, it partook of
the nature of a pure, unmixed tyranny, and is
familarly denominated petticoat government. -- An
absolute sway, which though exceedingly common
in these modern days, was very rare among the
ancients, if we may judge from the rout made
about the domestic economy of honest Socrates;
which is the only ancient case on record.

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


     In which are recorded the sage Projects of a Ruler
of universal Genius. -- The art of Fighting by
Proclamation, -- and how that the valiant Jaco-
bus Van Curlet came to be foully dishonoured at
Fort Goed Hoop

     Never was a more comprehensive, a more ex-
peditious, or, what is still better, a more econo-
mical measure devised, than this of defeating the
Yankees by proclamation -- an expedient, likewise,
so humane, so gentle and pacific; there were ten
chances to one in favour of its succeeding, -- but
then there was one chance to ten that it would not
succeed -- as the ill-natured fates would have it,
that single chance carried the day! The proclama-
tion was perfect in all its parts, well constructed,
well written, well sealed and well published -- all
that was wanting to insure its effect, was that the
Yankees should stand in awe of it; but, provok-
ing to relate, they treated it with the most abso-
lute contempt, applied it to an unseemly purpose,
which shall be nameless, and thus did the first war-
like proclamation come to a shameful end -- a fate
which I am credibly informed, has befallen but too
many of its successors.

     It was a long time before Wilhelmus Kieft could
be persuaded by the united efforts of all his counsel-
lors, that his war measure had failed in producing
any effect. -- On the contrary, he flew in a passion
whenever any one dared to question its efficacy;
and swore, that though it was slow in operating, yet
when once it began to work, it would soon purge
the land from these rapacious intruders. Time
however, that tester of all experiments both in phi-
losophy and politics, at length convinced the great
Kieft, that his proclamation was abortive; and that
notwithstanding he had waited nearly four years, in
a state of constant irritation, yet he was still further
off than ever from the object of his wishes. His
implacable adversaries in the east became more
and more troublesome in their encroachments, and
founded the thriving colony of Hartford close upon
the skirts of Fort Goed Hoop. They moreover com-
menced the fair settlement of Newhaven (alias the
Red Hills) within the domains of their high migh-
tinesses -- while the onion patches of Pyquag were
a continual eye sore to the garrison of Van Curlet.
Upon beholding therefore the inefficacy of his mea-
sure, the sage Kieft like many a worthy practitioner
of physic, laid the blame, not to the medicine, but
the quantity administered, and resolutely resolved
to double the dose.

     In the year 1638 therefore, that being the fourth
year of his reign, he fulminated against them a se-
cond proclamation, of heavier metal than the for-
mer; written in thundering long sentences, not one
word of which was under five syllables. This, in
fact, was a kind of non-intercourse bill, forbidding
and prohibiting all commerce and connexion, be-
tween any and every of the said Yankee intruders,
and the said fortified post of Fort Goed Hoop, and
ordering, commanding and advising, all his trusty,
loyal and well-beloved subjects, to furnish them
with no supplies of gin, gingerbread or sour crout;
to buy none of their pacing horses, meazly pork,
apple brandy, Yankee rum, cyder water, apple
sweetmeats, Weathersfield onions or wooden bowls,
but to starve and exterminate them from the face of
the land.

     Another pause of a twelve month ensued, du-
ring which the last proclamation received the same
attention, and experienced the same fate as the
first -- at the end of which term, the gallant Jacobus
Van Curlet dispatched his annual messenger, with
his customary budget of complaints and entreaties.
Whether the regular interval of a year, intervening
between the arrival of Van Curlet's couriers, was
occasioned by the systematic regularity of his
movements, or by the immense distance at which
he was stationed from the seat of government is a
matter of uncertainty. Some have ascribed it to
the slowness of his messengers, who, as I have be-
fore noticed, were chosen from the shortest and fat-
test of his garrison, as least likely to be worn out
on the road; and who, being pursy, short winded
little men, generally travelled fifteen miles a day,
and then laid by a whole week, to rest. All
these, however, are matters of conjecture; and I
rather think it may be ascribed to the immemorial
maxim of this worthy country -- and which has ever
influenced all its public transactions -- not to do
things in a hurry.

     The gallant Jacobus Van Curlet in his dispatch-
es respectfully represented, that several years had
now elapsed, since his first application to his late
excellency, the renowned Wouter Van Twiller:
during which interval, his garrison had been redu-
ced nearly one-eighth, by the death of two of his
most valiant, and corpulent soldiers, who had acci-
dentally over eaten themselves on some fat salmon,
caught in the Varsche rivier. He further stated
that the enemy persisted in their inroads, taking no
notice of the fort or its inhabitants; but squatting
themselves down, and forming settlements all
around it; so that, in a little while, he should find
himself enclosed and blockaded by the enemy, and
totally at their mercy.

     But among the most atrocious of his grievan-
ces, I find the following still on record, which may
serve to shew the bloody minded outrages of these
savage intruders. "In the meane time, they of
Hartford have not onely usurped and taken in the
lands of Connecticott, although unrighteously and
against the lawes of nations, but have hindered our
nation in sowing theire owne purchased broken up
lands, but have also sowed them with corne in the
night, which the Netherlanders had broken up and
intended to sowe: and have beaten the servants of
the high and mighty the honored companie, which
were labouring upon theire master's lands, from
theire lands, with sticks and plow staves in hostile
manner laming, and amongst the rest, struck Ever
Duckings [26] a hole in his head, with a stick, soe that
the blood ran downe very strongly downe upon his

     But what is still more atrocious --

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

     The receipt of this melancholy intelligence in-
censed the whole community -- there was something
in it that spoke to the dull comprehension, and
touched the obtuse feelings even of the puissant
vulgar, who generally require a kick in the rear, to
awaken their slumbering dignity. I have known
my profound fellow citizens bear without murmur,
a thousand essential infringements of their rights,
merely because they were not immediately obvious
to their senses -- but the moment the unlucky Pearce
was shot upon our coasts, the whole body politic
was in a ferment -- so the enlighted Nederlanders,
though they had treated the encroachments of their
eastern neighbours with but little regard, and left
their quill valiant governor, to bear the whole brunt
of war, with his single pen -- yet now every indivi-
dual felt his head broken in the broken head of
Duckings -- and the unhappy fate of their fellow
citizen the hog; being impressed, carried and sold
into captivity, awakened a grunt of sympathy from
every bosom.

     The governor and council, goaded by the
clamours of the multitude, now set themselves ear-
nestly to deliberate upon what was to be done.
Proclamations had at length fallen into temporary
disrepute; some were for sending the Yankees a
tribute, as we make peace offerings to the petty
Barbary powers, or as the Indians sacrifice to
the devil. Others were for buying them out,
but this was opposed, as it would be acknowledging
their title to the land they had seized. A variety
of measures were, as usual in such cases, proposed,
discussed and abandoned, and the council had at
last, to adopt the means, which being the most
common and obvious, had been knowingly over-
looked -- for your amazing acute politicians, are
forever looking through telescopes, which only
enable them to see such objects as are far off, and
unattainable; but which incapacitates them to see
such things as are in their reach, and obvious to all
simple folk, who are content to look with the naked
eyes, heaven has given them. The profound council,
as I have said, in their pursuit after Jack-o'-lanterns,
accidentally stumbled on the very measure they
were in need of; which was to raise a body of
troops, and dispatch them to the relief and rein-
forcement of the garrison. This measure was
carried into such prompt operation, that in less
than twelve months, the whole expedition, consist-
ing of a serjeant and twelve men, was ready to
march; and was reviewed for that purpose, in the
public square, now known by the name of the Bow-
ling Green. Just at this juncture the whole com-
munity was thrown into consternation, by the sudden
arrival of the gallant Jacobus Van Curlet; who
came straggling into town at the head of his crew
of tatterdemalions, and bringing the melancholy
tidings of his own defeat, and the capture of the
redoubtable post of Fort Goed Hope by the fero-
cious Yankees.

     The fate of this important fortress, is an impres-
sive warning to all military commanders. It was
neither carried by strom, nor famine; no practicable
breach was effected by cannon or mines; no maga-
zines were blown up by red hot shot, nor were the
barracks demolished, or the garrison destroyed, by
the bursting of bombshells. In fact, the place was
taken by a stratagem no less singular than effectual;
and one that can never fail of success, whenever
an opportunity occurs of putting it in practice.
Happy am I to add, for the credit of our illustrious
ancestors, that it was a stratagem, which though it
impeached the vigilance, yet left the bravery of the
intrepid Van Curlet and his garrison, perfectly free
from reproach.

     It appears that the crafty Yankees, having learn-
ed the regular habits of the garrison, watched a
favourable opportunity and silently introduced
themselves into the fort, about the middle of a
sultry day; when its vigilant defenders having
gorged themselves with a hearty dinner and smoak-
ed out their pipes, were one and all snoring most
obstreperously at their posts; little dreaming of so
disasterous an occurrence. The enemy most inhu-
manly seized Jacobus Van Curlet, and his sturdy
myrmidons by the nape of the neck, gallanted them
to the gate of the fort, and dismissed them severally,
with a kick on the crupper, as Charles the twelfth
dismissed the heavy bottomed Russians, after the
battle of Narva -- only taking care to give two kicks
to Van Curlet, as a signal mark of distinction.

     A strong garrison was immediately established
in the fort; consisting of twenty long sided, hard
fisted Yankees; with Weathersfield onions stuck
in their hats, by way of cockades and feathers --
long rusty fowling pieces for muskets -- hasty pud-
ding, dumb fish, pork and molasses for stores; and
a huge pumpkin was hoisted on the end of a pole,
as a standard -- liberty caps not having as yet come
into fashion.

  [26] This name is no doubt misspelt. In some old Dutch MSS.
of the time, we find the name of Evert Duyckingh, who is un-
questionably the unfortunate hero above alluded to.


     Containing the fearful wrath of William the Testy,
and the great dolour of the New Amsterdam-
mers, because of the affair of Fort Goed Hoop. --
And moreover how William the Testy fortified
the city by a Trumpeter -- a Flagstaff, and a
Wind-mill. -- Together with the exploits of Stoffel

     Language cannot express the prodigious fury,
into which the testy Wilhelmus Kieft was thrown
by this provoking intelligence. For three good
hours the rage of the little man was too great for
words, or rather the words were too great for him;
and he was nearly choaked by some dozen huge,
mis-shapen, nine cornered dutch oaths, that crowd-
ed all at once into his gullet. A few hearty thumps
on the back, fortunately rescued him from suffoca-
tion -- and shook out of him a bushel or two of
enormous execrations, not one of which was smaller
than "dunder and blixum!" -- It was a matter of
astonishment to all the bye standers, how so small
a body, could have contained such an immense
mass of words without bursting. Having blazed
off the first broadside, he kept up a constant firing
for three whole days -- anathematizing the Yan-
kees, man, woman, and child, body and soul, for a
set of dieven, schobbejaken, deugenieten, twist-
zoekeren, loozen-schalken blaes-kaeken, kakken-
bedden, and a thousand other names of which,
unfortunately for posterity, history does not make
particular mention. Finally he swore that he
would have nothing more to do with such a
squatting, bundling, guessing, questioning, swap-
ping, pumpkin-eating, molasses-daubing, shingle-
splitting, cider-watering, horse-jockeying, notion-
peddling crew -- that they might stay at Fort Goed
Hoop and rot, before he would dirty his hands by
attempting to drive them away; in proof of which
he ordered the new raised troops, to be marched
forthwith into winter quarters, although it was not
as yet quite mid summer. Governor Kieft faith-
fully kept his word, and his adversaries as faith-
fully kept their post; and thus the glorious river
Connecticut, and all the gay vallies through which it
rolls, together with the salmon, shad and other fish
within its waters, fell into the hands of the victori-
ous Yankees, by whom they are held at this very
day -- and much good may they do them.

     Great despondency seized upon the city of New
Amsterdam, in consequence of these melancholly
events. The name of Yankee became as terrible
among our good ancestors, as was that of Gaul
among the ancient Romans; and all the sage old
women of the province, who had not read Miss
Hamilton on education, used it as a bug-bear,
wherewith to frighten their unruly brats into obe-

     The eyes of all the province were now turned
upon their governor, to know what he would do
for the protection of the common weal in these
days of darkness and peril. Great apprehensions
prevailed among the reflecting part of the commu-
nity, especially the old women, that these terrible
fellows of Connecticut, not content with the con-
quest of Fort Goed Hoop would incontinently march
on to New Amsterdam and take it by storm -- and
as these old ladies, through means of the governor's
spouse, who as has been already hinted, was "the
better horse," had obtained considerable influence
in public affairs, keeping the province under a kind
of petticoat government, it was determined that
measures should be taken for the effective fortifica-
tion of the city.

     Now it happened that at this time there sojourned
in New Amsterdam one Anthony Van Corlear27 a
jolly fat dutch trumpeter, of a pleasant burley vi-
sage -- famous for his long wind and his huge
whiskers, and who as the story goes, could twang
so potently upon his instrument, as to produce an
effect upon all within hearing, as though ten thou-
sand bag-pipes were singing most lustly i' the nose.
Him did the illustrious Kieft pick out as the man
of all the world, most fitted to be the champion of
New Amsterdam, and to garrison its fort; making
little doubt but that his instrument would be as ef-
fectual and offensive in war as was that of the Pa-
ladin Astolpho, or the more classic horn of Alecto.
It would have done one's heart good to have seen
the governor snapping his fingers and fidgetting
with delight, while his sturdy trumpeter strutted
up and down the ramparts, fearlessly twanging his
trumpet in the face of the whole world, like a thrice
valorous editor daringly insulting all the princi-
palities and powers -- on the other side of the At-

     Nor was he content with thus strongly garrison-
ing the fort, but he likewise added exceedingly to
its strength by furnishing it with a formidable bat-
tery of quaker guns -- rearing a stupendous flag-staff
in the centre which overtopped the whole city -- and
moreover by building a great windmill on one of
the bastions. [28] This last to be sure, was somewhat
of a novelty in the art of fortification, but as I have
already observed William Kieft was notorious for
innovations and experiments, and traditions do af-
firm that he was much given to mechanical inven-
tions -- constructing patent smoke-jacks -- carts that
went before the horses, and especially erecting wind-
mills, for which machines he had acquired a singu-
lar predilection in his native town of Saardam.

     All these scientific vagaries of the little governor
were cried up with ecstasy by his adherents as proofs
of his universal genius -- but there were not wanting
ill natured grumblers who railed at him as employ-
ing his mind in frivolous pursuits, and devoting that
time to smoke-jacks and windmills, which should
have been occupied in the more important concerns
of the province. Nay they even went so far as to
hint once or twice, that his head was turned by his
experiments, and that he really thought to manage
his government, as he did his mills -- by mere wind!
-- such is the illiberality and slander to which your
enlightened rulers are ever subject.

     Notwithstanding all the measures therefore of
William the Testy to place the city in a posture of
defence, the inhabitants continued in great alarm
and despondency. But fortune, who seems always
careful, in the very nick of time, to throw a bone
for hope to gnaw upon, that the starveling elf may
be kept alive; did about this time crown the arms
of the province with success in another quarter, and
thus cheered the drooping hearts of the forlorn Ne-
derlanders; otherwise there is no knowing to what
lengths they might have gone in the excess of their
sorrowing -- "for grief," says the profound histo-
rian of the seven champions of Christendom, "is
companion with despair, and despair a procurer of
infamous death!"

     Among the numerous inroads of the Moss-
troopers of Connecticut, which for some time past
had occasioned such great tribulation, I should par-
ticularly have mentioned a settlement made on the
eastern part of Long Island, at a place which, from
the peculiar excellence of its shell fish, was called
Oyster Bay. This was attacking the province in a
most sensible part, and occasioned a great agitation
at New Amsterdam.

     It is an incontrovertible fact, well known to
your skilful physiologists, that the high road to the
affections, is through the throat; and this may be
accounted for on the same principles which I have
already quoted, in my strictures on fat aldermen.
Nor is this fact unknown to the world at large;
and hence do we observe, that the surest way to
gain the hearts of the million, is to feed them well --
and that a man is never so disposed to flatter, to
please and serve another, as when he is feeding at
his expense; which is one reason why your rich
men, who give frequent dinners, have such abun-
dance of sincere and faithful friends. It is on this
principle that our knowing leaders of parties secure
the affections of their partizans, by rewarding them
bountifully with loaves and fishes; and entrap the
suffrages of the greasy mob, by treating them with
bull feasts and roasted oxen. I have known many
a man, in this same city, acquire considerable im-
portance in society, and usurp a large share of the
good will of his enlightened fellow citizens, when
the only thing that could be said in his eulogium
was, that "he gave a good dinner, and kept excel-
lent wine."

     Since then the heart and the stomach are so
nearly allied, it follows conclusively that what af-
fects the one, must sympathetically affect the other.
Now it is an equally incontrovertible fact, that of
all offerings to the stomach, there is none more
grateful than the testaceous marine animal, called
by naturalists the Ostea, but known commonly by
the vulgar name of Oyster. And in such great
reverence has it ever been held, by my gormandi-
zing fellow citizens, that temples have been dedica-
ted to it, time out of mind, in every street, lane and
alley throughout this well fed city. It is not to be
expected therefore, that the seizing of Oyster Bay,
a place abounding with their favourite delicacy,
would be tolerated by the inhabitants of New Am-
sterdam. An attack upon their honour they might
have pardoned; even the massacre of a few citi-
zens might have been passed over in silence; but
an outrage that affected the larders of the great
city of New Amsterdam, and threatened the sto-
machs of its corpulent Burgomasters, was too seri-
ous to pass unrevenged. The whole council were
unanimous in opinion, that the intruders should be
immediately driven by force of arms, from Oyster
Bay, and its vicinity, and a detachment was accor-
dingly dispatched for the purpose, under command
of one Stoffel Brinkerhoff, or Brinkerhoofd (i. e.
Stoffel, the head-breaker) so called because he was
a man of mighty deeds, famous throughout the
whole extent of Nieuw Nederlandts for his skill at
quarterstaff, and for size would have been a match
for Colbrand, that famous Danish champion, slain
by little Guy of Warwick.

     Stoffel Brinckerhoff was a man of few words,
but prompt actions -- one of your straight going
officers, who march directly forward, and do their
orders without making any parade about it. He
used no extraordinary speed in his movements, but
trudged steadily on, through Nineveh and Babylon,
and Jericho and Patchog, and the mighty town of
Quag, and various other renowned cities of yore,
which have by some unaccountable witchcraft of
the Yankees, been strangely transplanted to Long
Island, until he arrived in the neighbourhood of
Oyster Bay.

     Here was he encountered by a tumultuous host
of valiant warriors, headed by Preserved Fish,
and Habbakuk Nutter, and Return Strong, and
Zerubbabel Fisk, and Jonathan Doolittle and De-
termined Cock! -- at the sound of whose names the
courageous Stoffel verily believed that the whole
parliament of Praise God Barebones had been let
loose to discomfit him. Finding however that this
formidable body was composed merely of the " se-
lect men" of the settlement, armed with no other
weapons but their tongues, and that they had issued
forth with no other intent, than to meet him on the
field of argument -- he succeeded in putting them
to the rout with little difficulty, and completely
broke up their settlement. Without waiting to write
an account of his victory on the spot, and thus letting
the enemy slip through his fingers while he was
securing his own laurels, as a more experienced
general would have done, the brave Stoffel thought
of nothing but completing his enterprize, and utterly
driving the Yankees from the island. This hardy
enterprize he performed in much the same manner
as he had been accustomed to drive his oxen; for
as the Yankees fled before him, he pulled up his
breeches and trudged steadily after them, and would
infallibly have driven them into the sea, had they
not begged for quarter, and agreed to pay tribute.

     The news of this achievement was a seasonable
restorative to the spirits of the citizens of New
Amsterdam. To gratify them still more, the go-
vernor resolved to astonish them with one of those
gorgeous spectacles, known in the days of classic
antiquity, a full account of which had been flogged
into his memory, when a school-boy at the Hague.
A grand triumph therefore was decreed to Stoffel
Brinckerhoff, who made his triumphant entrance
into town riding on a Naraganset pacer; five pump-
kins, which like Roman eagles had served the
enemy for standards, were carried before him -- ten
cart loads of oysters, five hundred bushels of Wea-
thersfield onions, a hundred quintals of codfish, two
hogsheads of molasses and various other treasures,
were exhibited as the spoils and tribute of the
Yankees; while three notorious counterfeiters of
Manhattan notes, [29] were led captive to grace the
hero's triumph. The procession was enlivened by
martial music, from the trumpet of Antony Van
Corlear the champion, accompanied by a select band
of boys and negroes, performing on the national in-
struments of rattle bones and clam shells. The
citizens devoured the spoils in sheer gladness of
heart -- every man did honour to the conqueror, by
getting devoutly drunk on New England rum -- and
learned Wilhelmus Kieft calling to mind, in a mo-
mentary fit of enthusiasm and generosity, that it was
customary among the ancients to honour their vic-
torious generals with public statues, passed a gra-
cious decree, by which every tavernkeeper was
permitted to paint the head of the intrepid Stoffel
on his sign!

  [27] David Pietrez De Vries in his "Reyze naer Nieuw Nederlandt
ønder het yaer 1640," makes mention of one Corlear a trumpeter in
fort Amsterdam, who gave name to Corlear's Hook and who was
doubtless this same champion, described by Mr. Knickerbocker.

  [28] De Vries mentions that this windmill stood on the south-east
bastion, and it is likewise to be seen, together with the flag-staff, in
Justus Danker's View of New Amsterdam, which I have taken
the liberty of prefixing to Mr. Knickerbocker's history. -- Editor.

  [29] This is one of those trivial anachronisms, that now and then
occur in the course of this otherwise authentic history. How
could Manhattan notes be counterfeited, when as yet Banks were
unknown in this country -- and our simple progenitors had not even
dreamt of those inexhaustible mines of paper opulence. Print. Dev.


     Philosophical reflections on the folly of being happy
in time of prosperity. -- Sundry troubles on the
southern Frontiers. -- How William the Testy
by his great learning had well nigh ruined the
province through a Cabalistic word. -- As also
the secret expeditions of Jan Jansen Alpen-
den, and his astonishing reward

     If we could but get a peep at the tally of dame
Fortune, where, like a notable landlady, she regu-
larly chalks up the debtor and creditor accounts of
mankind, we should find that, upon the whole, good
and evil are pretty nearly balanced in this world;
and that though we may for a long while revel in
the very lap of prosperity, the time will at length
come, when we must ruefully pay off the reckon-
ing. Fortune, in fact, is a pestilent shrew, and
withal a most inexorable creditor; for though she
may indulge her favourites in long credits, and
overwhelm them with her favours; yet sooner or
later, she brings up her arrears, with the rigour of
an experienced publican, and washes out her scores
with their tears. "Since," says good old Boetius
in his consolations of philosophy, "since no man
can retain her at his pleasure, and since her flight
is so deeply lamented, what are her favours but
sure prognostications of approaching trouble and

     There is nothing that more moves my con-
tempt at the stupidity and want of reflection in my
fellow men, than to behold them rejoicing, and in-
dulging in security and self confidence, in times of
prosperity. To a wise man, who is blessed with
the light of reason, those are the very moments of
anxiety and apprehension; well knowing that ac-
cording to the system of things, happiness is at
best but transient -- and that the higher a man is ele-
vated by the capricious breath of fortune, the lower
must be his proportionate depression. Whereas,
he who is overwhelmed by calamity, has the less
chance of encountering fresh disasters, as a man at
the bottom of a hill, runs very little risk of break-
ing his neck by tumbling to the top.

     This is the very essence of true wisdom, which
consists in knowing when we ought to be misera-
ble; and was discovered much about the same
time with that invaluable secret, that "every thing
is vanity and vexation of spirit;" in consequence
of which maxim your wise men have ever been the
unhappiest of the human race; esteeming it as an
infalliable mark of genius to be distressed without
reason -- since any man may be miserable in time of
misfortune, but it is the philosopher alone who
can discover cause for grief in the very hour of

     According to the principle I have just advanc-
ed, we find that the colony of New Netherlands,
which under the reign of the renowned Van Twil-
ler, had flourished in such alarming and fatal se-
renity; is now paying for its former welfare, and
discharging the enormous debt of comfort which it
contracted. Foes harass it from different quar-
ters; the city of New Amsterdam, while yet in its
infancy is kept in constant alarm; and its valiant
commander little William the Testy answers the
vulgar, but expressive idea of "a man in a peck of

     While busily engaged repelling his bitter ene-
mies the Yankees, on one side, we find him sud-
denly molested in another quarter, and by other
assailants. A vagrant colony of Swedes, under
the conduct of Peter Minnewits, and professing al-
legience to that redoubtable virago, Christina queen
of Sweden; had settled themselves and erected
a fort on south (or Delaware) river -- within the
boundaries, claimed by the Government of the
New Netherlands. History is mute as to the par-
ticulars of their first landing, and their real preten-
sions to the soil, and this is the more to be lament-
ed; as this same colony of Swedes will hereafter
be found most materially to affect, not only the in-
terests of the Nederlanders, but of the world at

     In whatever manner therefore, this vagabond
colony of Swedes first took possession of the coun-
try, it is certain that in 1638, they established a
fort, and Minnewits, according to the off hand usage
of his contemporaries, declared himself governor of
all the adjacent country, under the name of the pro-
vince of New Sweden. No sooner did this reach
the ears of the choleric Wilhelmus, than, like a true
spirited chieftan, he immediately broke into a vio-
lent rage, and calling together his council, belabour-
ed the Swedes most lustily in the longest speech
that had ever been heard in the colony, since the
memorable dispute of Ten breeches and Tough
breeches. Having thus given vent to the first ebul-
litions of his indignation, he had resort to his fa-
vourite measure of proclamation, and dispatched
one, piping hot, in the first year of his reign, in-
forming Peter Minnewits that the whole territory,
bordering on the south river, had, time out of mind,
been in possession of the Dutch colonists, having
been "beset with forts, and sealed with their

     The latter sanguinary sentence, would convey
an idea of direful war and bloodshed; were we not
relieved by the information that it merely related to
a fray, in which some half a dozen Dutchmen had
been killed by the Indians, in their benevolent at-
tempts to establish a colony and promote civiliza-
tion. By this it will be seen that William Kieft,
though a very small man, delighted in big expres-
sions, and was much given to a praise-worthy figure
in rhetoric, generally cultivated by your little great
men, called hyperbole. A figure which has been
found of infinite service among many of his class,
and which has helped to swell the grandeur of ma-
ny a mighty self-important, but windy chief magis-
trate. Nor can I resist in this place, from observ-
ing how much my beloved country is indebted to
this same figure of hyperbole, for supporting cer-
tain of her greatest characters -- statesmen, orators,
civilians and divines; who by dint of big words,
inflated periods, and windy doctrines, are kept
afloat on the surface of society, as ignorant swim-
mers are buoyed up by blown bladders.

     The proclamation against Minnewits concluded
by ordering the self-dubbed governor, and his gang
of Swedish adventurers, immediately to leave the
country under penalty of the high displeasure, and
inevitable vengeance of the puissant government of
the Nieuw Nederlandts. This "strong measure,"
however, does not seem to have had a whit more
effect than its predecessors, which had been thun-
dered against the Yankees -- the Swedes resolutely
held on to the territory they had taken possession
of -- whereupon matters for the present remained in
statu quo.

     That Wilhelmus Kieft should put up with this
insolent obstinacy in the Swedes, would appear in-
compatible with his valourous temperament; but
we find that about this time the little man had his
hands full; and what with one annoyance and ano-
ther, was kept continually on the bounce.

     There is a certain description of active legisla-
tors, who by shrewd management, contrive always
to have a hundred irons on the anvil, every one of
which must be immediately attended to; who conse-
quently are ever full of temporary shifts and expe-
dients, patching up the public welfare and cobbling
the national affairs, so as to make nine holes where
they mend one -- stopping chinks and flaws with
whatever comes first to hand, like the Yankees I
have mentioned stuffing old clothes in broken win-
dows. Of this class of statesmen was William
the Testy -- and had he only been blessed with powers
equal to his zeal, or his zeal been disciplined by a
little discretion, there is very little doubt but he
would have made the greatest governor of his size
on record -- the renowned governor of the island of
Barataria alone excepted.

     The great defect of Wilhelmus Kieft's policy
was, that though no man could be more ready to stand
forth in an hour of emergency, yet he was so intent
upon guarding the national pocket, that he suffered
the enemy to break its head -- in other words, what-
ever precaution for public safety he adopted, he was
so intent upon rendering it cheap, that he invariably
rendered it ineffectual. All this was a remote con-
sequence of his profound education at the Hague --
where having acquired a smattering of knowledge,
he was ever after a great conner of indexes, conti-
nually dipping into books, without ever studying to
the bottom of any subject; so that he had the scum
of all kinds of authors fermenting in his pericrani-
um. In some of these title page researches he un-
luckily stumbled over a grand political cabalistic
, which, with his customary facility he imme-
diately incorporated into his great scheme of go-
vernment, to the irretrievable injury and delusion
of the honest province of Nieuw Nederlandts, and
the eternal misleading, of all experimental rulers.

     In vain have I pored over the Theurgia of the
Chaldeans, the Cabala of the Jews, the Necromancy
of the Arabians -- The Magic of the Persians -- the
Hocus Pocus of the English, the Witch-craft of
the Yankees, or the Pow-wowing of the Indians to
discover where the little man first laid eyes on this
terrible word. Neither the Sephir Jetzirah, that
famous cabalistic volume, ascribed to the Patriarch
Abraham; nor the pages of the Zohar, containing
the mysteries of the cabala, recorded by the learned
rabbi Simeon Jochaides, yield any light to my en-
quiries -- Nor am I in the least benefited by my
painful researches in the Shem-hamphorah of Ben-
jamin, the wandering Jew, though it enabled Davi-
dus Elm to make a ten days' journey, in twenty
four hours. Neither can I perceive the slightest
affinity in the Tetragrammaton, or sacred name of
four letters, the profoundest word of the Hebrew
Cabala; a mystery, sublime, ineffable and incom-
municable -- and the letters of which Jod-He-Van-
He, having been stolen by the Pagans, constituted
their great Name Jao, or Jove. In short, in all my
cabalistic, theurgic, necromantic, magical and astro-
logical researches, from the Tetractys of Pythago-
ras, to the recondite works of Breslaw and mother
Bunch, I have not discovered the least vestige of
an origin of this word, nor have I discovered any
word of sufficient potency to counteract it.

     Not to keep my reader in any suspence, the
word which had so wonderfully arrested the atten-
tion of William the Testy and which in German
characters, had a particularly black and ominous
aspect, on being fairly translated into the English
is no other than economy -- a talismanic term,
which by constant use and frequent mention, has
ceased to be formidable in our eyes, but which has
as terrible potency as any in the arcana of necro-

     When pronounced in a national assembly it has
an immediate effect in closing the hearts, becloud-
ing the intellects, drawing the purse strings and but-
toning the breeches pockets of all philosophic legis-
lators. Nor are its effects on the eye less wonder-
ful. It produces a contraction of the retina, an
obscurity of the christaline lens, a viscidity of the
vitreous and an inspiration of the aqueous hu-
mours, an induration of the tunica sclerotica and a
convexity of the cornea; insomuch that the organ of
vision loses its strength and perspicuity, and the
unfortunate patient becomes myopes or in plain
English, pur-blind; perceiving only the amount of
immediate expense without being able to look fur-
ther, and regard it in connexion with the ultimate
object to be effected. -- "So that," to quote the
words of the eloquent Burke, "a briar at his nose
is of greater magnitude than an oak at five hundred
yards distance." Such are its instantaneous ope-
rations, and the results are still more astonishing.
By its magic influence seventy-fours, shrink into
frigates -- frigates into sloops, and sloops into gun-
boats. As the defenceless fleet of Eneas, at the
command of the protecting Venus, changed into sea
nymphs, and protected itself by diving; so the
mighty navy of America, by the cabalistic word
economy, dwindles into small craft, and shelters
itself in a mill-pond!

     This all potent word, which served as his
touchstone in politics, at once explains the whole
system of proclamations, protests, empty threats,
windmills trumpeters, and paper war, carried on by
Wilhelmus the Testy -- and we may trace its opera-
tions in an armament which he fitted out in 1642 in
a moment of great wrath; consisting of two
sloops and thirty men, under the command of
Mynheer Jan Jansen Alpendam, as admiral of the
fleet, and commander in chief of the forces. This
formidable expedition, which can only be paralleled
by some of the daring cruizes of our infant navy,
about the bay and up the sound; was intended to
drive the Marylanders from the Schuylkill, of
which they had recently taken possession -- and
which was claimed as part of the province of New
Nederlants -- for it appears that at this time our in-
fant colony was in that enviable state, so much
coveted by ambitious nations, that is to say, the
government had a vast extent of territory; part of
which it enjoyed, and the greater part of which it
had continually to quarrel about.

     Admiral Jan Jansen Alpendam was a man of
great mettle and prowess; and no way dismayed at
the character of the enemy; who were represented
as a gigantic gunpowder race of men, who lived on
hoe cakes and bacon, drank mint juleps and brandy
toddy, and were exceedingly expert at boxing,
biting, gouging, tar and feathering, and a variety of
other athletic accomplishments, which they had
borrowed from their cousins german and prototypes
the Virginians, to whom they have ever borne
considerable resemblance -- notwithstanding all these
alarming representations, the admiral entered the
Schuylkill most undauntedly with his fleet, and
arrived without disaster or opposition at the place
of destination.

     Here he attacked the enemy in a vigorous
speech in low dutch, which the wary Kieft had pre-
viously put in his pocket; wherein he courteously
commenced by calling them a pack of lazy, louting,
dram drinking, cock fighting, horse racing, slave
driving, tavern haunting, sabbath breaking, mulatto
breeding upstarts -- and concluded by ordering them
to evacuate the country immediately -- to which
they most laconically replied in plain English (as
was very natural for Swedes) "they'd see him
d -- d first."

     Now this was a reply for which neither Jan
Jansen Alpendam, nor Wilhelmus Kieft had made
any calculation -- and finding himself totally unpre-
pared to answer so terrible a rebuff with suitable
hostility he concluded, like a most worthy admiral
of a modern English expedition, that his wisest
course was to return home and report progress.
He accordingly sailed back to New Amsterdam,
where he was received with great honours, and
considered as a pattern for all commanders; ha-
ving achieved a most hazardous enterprize, at a
trifling expense of treasure, and without losing a
single man to the state! -- He was unanimously
called the deliverer of his country; (an appellation
liberally bestowed on all great men) his two sloops
having done their duty, were laid up (or dry dock-
ed) in a cove now called the Albany Bason, where
they quietly rotted in the mud; and to immortalize
his name, they erected, by subscription, a magnificent
shingle monument on the top of Flatten barrack [30]
Hill, which lasted three whole years; when it fell
to pieces, and was burnt for fire-wood.

  [30] A corruption of Varleth's bergh -- or Varleth's hill, so called
from one Varleth, who lived upon that hill in the early days of
the settlement. Editor.


     How William the Testy enriched the Province by a
multitude of good-for-nothing laws, and came to
be the Patron of Lawyers and Bum-Bailiffs.
How he undertook to rescue the public from a
grevious evil, and had well nigh been smoked to
death for his pains. How the people became
exceedingly enlightened and unhappy, under his
instructions -- with divers other matters which
will be found out upon perusal

     Among the many wrecks and fragments of ex-
alted wisdom, which have floated down the stream
of time, from venerable antiquity, and have been
carefully picked up by those humble, but industri-
ous wights, who ply along the shores of literature,
we find the following sage ordinance of Charondas,
the locrian legislator -- Anxious to preserve the an-
cient laws of the state from the additions and im-
provements of profound "country members," or
officious candidates for popularity, he ordained, that
whoever proposed a new law, should do it with a
halter about his neck; so that in case his proposi-
tion was rejected, he was strung up -- and there the
matter ended.

     This salutary institution had such an effect, that
for more than two hundred years there was only
one trifling alteration in the criminal code -- and the
whole race of lawyers starved to death for want of
employment. The consequence of this was, that
the Locrians being unprotected by an overwhelming
load of excellent laws, and undefended by a stand-
ing army of pettifoggers and sheriff's officers, lived
very lovingly together, and were such a happy peo-
ple, that we scarce hear any thing of them through-
out the whole Grecian history -- for it is well known
that none but your unlucky, quarrelsome, rantipole
nations make any noise in the world.

     Well would it have been for William the Testy,
had he happily, in the course of his "universal ac-
quirements," stumbled upon this precaution of the
good Charondas. On the contrary, he conceived
that the true policy of a legislator was to multiply
laws, and thus secure the property, the persons and
the morals of the people, by surrounding them in a
manner with men traps and spring guns, and beset-
ting even the sweet sequestered walks of private
life, with quick-set hedges, so that a man could
scarcely turn, without the risk of encountering some
of these pestiferous protectors. Thus was he con-
tinually coining petty laws for every petty offence
that occurred, until in time they became too nume-
rous to be remembered, and remained like those of
certain modern legislators, in a manner dead letters
-- revived occasionally for the purpose of individual
oppression, or to entrap ignorant offenders.

     Petty courts consequently began to appear,
where the law was administered with nearly as
much wisdom and impartiality as in those august
tribunals the aldermen's and justice shops of the
present day. The plaintiff was generally favoured,
as being a customer and bringing business to the
shop; the offences of the rich were discreetly
winked at -- for fear of hurting the feelings of their
friends; -- but it could never be laid to the charge
of the vigilant burgomasters, that they suffered
vice to skulk unpunished, under the disgraceful
rags of poverty.

     About this time may we date the first introduc-
tion of capital punishments -- a goodly gallows be-
ing erected on the water-side, about where White-
hall stairs are at present, a little to the east of the
battery. Hard by also was erected another gibbet
of a very strange, uncouth and unmatchable descrip-
tion, but on which the ingenious William Kieft va-
lued himself not a little, being a punishment entire-
ly of his own invention. [31]

     It was for loftiness of altitude not a whit infe-
rior to that of Haman, so renowned in bible history;
but the marvel of the contrivance was, that the
culprit instead of being suspended by the neck, ac-
cording to venerable custom, was hoisted by the
waistband, and was kept for an hour together,
dangling and sprawling between heaven and earth --
to the infinite entertainment and doubtless great
edification of the multitude of respectable citizens,
who usually attend upon exhibitions of the kind.

     It is incredible how the little governor chuckled
at beholding caitiff vagrants and sturdy beggars
thus swinging by the breech, and cutting antic gam-
bols in the air. He had a thousand pleasantries,
and mirthful conceits to utter upon the occasions
He called them his dandle-lions -- his wild fowl --
his high flyers -- his spread eagles -- his goshawks --
his scare-crows and finally his gallows birds, which
ingenious appellation, though originally confined to
worthies who had taken the air in this strange man-
ner, has since grown to be a cant name given to all
candidates for legal elevation. This punishment,
moreover, if we may credit the assertions of cer-
tain grave etymologists, gave the first hint for a
kind of harnessing, or strapping, by which our fore-
fathers braced up their multifarious breeches, and
which has of late years been revived and continue.
to be worn at the present day. It still bears the
name of the object to which it owes its origin; be-
ing generally termed a pair of gallows-es -- though
I am informed it is sometimes vulgarly denomina-
ted suspenders.

     Such were the admirable improvements of
William Kieft in criminal law -- nor was his civil
code less a matter of wonderment, and much does
it grieve me that the limits of my work will not
suffer me to expatiate on both, with the prolixity
they deserve. Let it suffice then to say; that in a
little while the blessings of innumerable laws be-
came notoriously apparent. It was soon found
necessary to have a certain class of men to expound
and confound them -- divers pettifoggers accord-
ingly made their appearance, under whose protect-
ing care the community was soon set together by
the ears.

     I would not here, for the whole world, be
thought to insinuate any thing derogatory to the
profession of the law, or to its dignified mem-
bers. Well am I aware, that we have in this an-
cient city an innumerable host of worthy gentle-
men, who have embraced that honourable order,
not for the sordid love of filthy lucre, or the selfish
cravings of renown, but through no other motives
under heaven, but a fervent zeal for the correct ad-
ministration of justice, and a generous and disinte-
rested devotion to the interests of their fellow citi-
zens! -- Sooner would I throw this trusty pen into
the flames, and cork up my ink bottle forever
(which is the worst punishment a maggot brained
author can inflict upon himself) than infringe even
for a nail's breadth upon the dignity of this truly
benevolent class of citizens -- on the contrary I al-
lude solely to that crew of caitiff scouts who in these
latter days of evil have become so numerous -- who
infest the skirts of the profession, as did the recre-
ant Cornish knights the honourable order of chivalry
-- who, under its auspices, commit their depreda-
tions on society -- who thrive by quibbles, quirks
and chicanery, and like vermin swarm most, where
there is most corruption.

     Nothing so soon awakens the malevolent pas-
sions as the facility of gratification. The courts of
law would never be so constantly crowded with pet-
ty, vexatious and disgraceful suits, were it not for
the herds of pettifogging lawyers that infest them.
These tamper with the passions of the lower and
more ignorant classes; who, as if poverty was not
a sufficient misery in itself, are always ready to
heighten it, by the bitterness of litigation. They
are in law what quacks are in medicine -- exciting
the malady for the purpose of profiting by the cure,
and retarding the cure, for the purpose of augment-
ing the fees. Where one destroys the constitution,
the other impoverishes the purse; and it may like-
wise be observed, that a patient, who has once been
under the hands of a quack, is ever after dabbling
in drugs, and poisoning himself with infallible rem-
edies; and an ignorant man who has once meddled
with the law under the auspices of one of these em-
pyrics, is forever after embroiling himself with his
neighbours, and impoverishing himself with suc-
cessful law suits. -- My readers will excuse this di-
gression into which I have been unwarily betrayed;
but I could not avoid giving a cool, unprejudiced
account of an abomination too prevalent in this ex-
cellent city, and with the effects of which I am un-
luckily acquainted to my cost; having been nearly
ruined by a law suit, which was unjustly decided
against me -- and my ruin having been completed,
by another which was decided in my favour.

     It is an irreparable loss to posterity, that of the
innumerable laws enacted by William the Testy,
which doubtless formed a code that might have
vied with those of Solon, Lycurgus or Sancho Pan-
za, but few have been handed down to the present
day, among which the most important is one fra-
med in an unlucky moment, to prohibit the univer-
sal practice of smoking. This he proved by mathe-
matical demonstration, to be not merely a heavy
tax upon the public pocket, but an incredible con-
sumer of time, a hideous encourager of idleness,
and of course a deadly bane to the morals of the
people. Ill fated Kieft! -- had he lived in this most
enlightened and libel loving age, and attempted to
subvert the inestimable liberty of the press, he
could not have struck more closely, upon the sensi-
bilities of the million.

     The populace were in as violent a turmoil as
the constitutional gravity of their deportment would
permit -- a mob of factious citizens had even the
hardihood to assemble around the little governor's
house, where setting themselves resolutely down,
like a besieging army before a fortress, they one and
all fell to smoking with a determined perseverance,
that plainly evinced it was their intention, to funk
him into terms with villainous Cow-pen mundun-
gus! -- Already was the stately mansion of the go-
vernor enveloped in murky clouds, and the puis-
sant little man, almost strangled in his hole, when
bethinking himself, that there was no instance on
record, of any great man of antiquity perishing in
so ignoble a manner (the case of Pliny the elder be-
ing the only one that bore any resemblance) -- he was
fain to come to terms, and compromise with the
mob, on condition that they should spare his life,
by immediately extinguishing their tobacco pipes.

     The result of the armistice was, that though he
continued to permit the custom of smoking, yet did
he abolish the fair long pipes which prevailed in the
days of Wouter Van Twiller, denoting ease, tran-
quillity and sobriety of deportment, and in place
thereof introduced little captious short pipes, two
inches in length; which he observed could be stuck
in one corner of the mouth, or twisted in the hat-
band, and would not be in the way of business.
But mark, oh reader! the deplorable consequences.
The smoke of these villainous little pipes -- continu-
ally ascending in a cloud about the nose, penetrated
into and befogged the cerebellum, dried up all the
kindly moisture of the brain, and rendered the peo-
ple as vapourish and testy as their renowned little
governor -- nay, what is more, from a goodly bur-
ley race of folk, they became, like our honest dutch
farmers, who smoke short pipes, a lanthorn-jawed,
smoak-dried, leathern-hided race of men.

     Indeed it has been remarked by the observant
writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript, that under the
administration of Wilhelmus Kieft the disposition
of the inhabitants of New Amsterdam experienced
an essential change, so that they became very
meddlesome and factious. The constant exacer-
bations of temper into which the little governor
was thrown, by the maraudings on his frontiers,
and his unfortunate propensity to experiment and
innovation, occasioned him to keep his council in a
continual worry -- and the council being to the
people at large, what yeast or leaven is to a batch,
they threw the whole community into a ferment --
and the people at large being to the city, what the
mind is to the body, the unhappy commotions they
underwent operated most disastrously, upon New
Amsterdam -- insomuch, that in certain of their
paroxysms of consternation and perplexity, they
begat several of the most crooked, distorted and
abominable streets, lanes and alleys, with which
this metropolis is disfigured.

     But the worst of the matter was, that just about
this time the mob, since called the sovereign people,
like Balaam's ass, began to grow more enlight-
ened than its rider, and exhibited a strange
desire of governing itself. This was another ef-
fect of the "universal acquirements" of William
the Testy. In some of his pestilent researches
among the rubbish of antiquity, he was struck with
admiration at the institution of public tables among
the Lacedemonians, where they discussed topics
of a general and interesting nature -- at the schools
of the philosophers, where they engaged in profound
disputes upon politics and morals -- where grey
beards were taught the rudiments of wisdom, and
youths learned to become little men, before they
were boys. "There is nothing" said the ingenious
Kieft, shutting up the book, "there is nothing
more essential to the well management of a country,
than education among the people; the basis of a
good government, should be laid in the public mind."
-- now this was true enough, but it was ever the
wayward fate of William the Testy, that when he
thought right, he was sure to go to work wrong.
In the present instance he could scarcely eat or
sleep, until he had set on foot brawling debating
societies, among the simple citizens of New Am-
sterdam. This was the one thing wanting to
complete his confusion. The honest Dutch bur-
ghers, though in truth but little given to argument
or wordy altercation, yet by dint of meeting often
together, fuddling themselves with strong drink,
beclouding their brains with tobacco smoke, and
listening to the harangues of some half a dozen
oracles, soon became exceedingly wise, and -- as is
always the case where the mob is politically en-
lightened -- exceedingly discontented. They found
out, with wonderful quickness of discernment, the
fearful error in which they had indulged, in fancy-
ing themselves the happiest people in creation --
and were fortunately convinced, that, all circum-
stances to the contrary notwithstanding, they were
a very unhappy, deluded, and consequently, ruined

     In a short time the quidnuncs of New Am-
sterdam formed themselves into sage juntos of
political croakers, who daily met together to groan
over public affairs, and make themselves miserable;
thronging to these unhappy assemblages with the
same eagerness, that your zealots have in all ages
abandoned the milder and more peaceful paths of
religion to crowd to the howling convocations of
fanaticism. We are naturally prone to discontent,
and avaricious after imaginary causes of lamenta-
tion -- like lubberly monks we belabour our own
shoulders, and seem to take a vast satisfaction in
the music of our own groans. Nor is this said for
the sake of paradox; daily experience shews the
truth of these sage observations. It is next to a
farce to offer consolation, or to think of elevating
the spirits of a man, groaning under ideal calamities;
but nothing is more easy than to render him wretch-
ed, though on the pinnacle of felicity; as it is an
Herculean task to hoist a man to the top of a steeple,
though the merest child can topple him off thence.

     In the sage assemblages I have noticed, the
philosophic reader will at once perceive the faint
germs of those sapient convocations called popular
meetings, prevalent at our day -- Hither resorted
all those idlers and "squires of low degree," who
like rags, hang loose upon the back of society, and
are ready to be blown away by every wind of doc-
trine. Coblers abandoned their stalls and hasten-
ed hither to give lessons on political economy --
blacksmiths left their handicraft and suffered their
own fires to go out, while they blew the bellows
and stirred up the fire of faction; and even taylors,
though but the shreds and patches, the ninth parts
of humanity, neglected their own measures, to at-
tend to the measures of government -- Nothing
was wanting but half a dozen newspapers and pa-
triotic editors, to have completed this public illu-
mination and to have thrown the whole province in
an uproar!

     I should not forget to mention, that these po-
pular meetings were always held at a noted tavern;
for houses of that description, have always been
found the most congenial nurseries of politicks;
abounding with those genial streams which give
strength and sustenance to faction -- We are told that
the ancient Germans, had an admirable mode of
treating any question of importance; they first deli-
berated upon it when drunk, and afterwards recon-
sidered it, when sober. The shrewder mobs of
America, who dislike having two minds upon a
subject, both determine and act upon it drunk; by
which means a world of cold and tedious specula-
tion is dispensed with -- and as it is universally al-
lowed that when a man is drunk he sees double, it
follows most conclusively that he sees twice as well
as his sober neighbours.

  [31] Both the gibbets as mentioned above by our author, may be
seen in the sketch of Justus Danker, which we have prefixed to the
work. -- Editor.


     Shewing the great importance of party distinctions,
and the dolourous perplexities into which William
the Testy was thrown, by reason of his having
enlightened the multitude

     For some time however, the worthy politicians
of New Amsterdam, who had thus conceived the
sublime project of saving the nation, were very
much perplexed by dissentions, and strange con-
trariety of opinions among themselves, so that they
were often thrown into the most chaotic uproar and
confusion, and all for the simple want of party classi-
fication. Now it is a fact well known to your expe-
rienced politicians, that it is equally necessary to
have a distinct classification and nomenclature in
politics, as in the physical sciences. By this means
the several orders of patriots, with their breedings
and cross breedings, their affinities and varieties
may be properly distinguished and known. Thus
have arisen in different quarters of the world the
generic titles of Guelfs and Ghibbelins -- Round
heads and Cavaliers -- Big endians and Little endians
-- Whig and Tory -- Aristocrat and Democrat --
Republican and Jacobin -- Federalist and Antifede-
ralist, together with a certain mongrel party called
Quid; which seems to have been engendered be-
tween the two last mentioned parties, as a mule is
produced between an horse and an ass -- and like a
mule it seems incapable of procreation, fit only for
humble drudgery, doomed to bear successively the
burthen of father and mother, and to be cudgelled
soundly for its pains.

     The important benefit of these distinctions is
obvious. How many very strenuous and hard
working patriots are there, whose knowledge is
bounded by the political vocabulary, and who,
were they not thus arranged in parties would never
know their own minds, or which way to think on a
subject; so that by following their own common
sense the community might often fall into that
unanimity, which has been clearly proved, by many
excellent writers, to be fatal to the welfare of a
republick. Often have I seen a very well meaning
hero of seventy six, most horribly puzzled to make
up his opinion about certain men and measures,
and running a great risk of thinking right; until
all at once he resolved his doubts by resorting to
the old touch stone of Whig and Tory; which
titles, though they bear about as near an affinity to
the present parties in being, as do the robustious
statues of Gog and Magog, to the worthy London
Aldermen, who devour turtle under their auspices
at Guild-Hall; yet are they used on all occasions
by the sovereign people, as a pair of spectacles,
through which they are miraculously enabled to see
beyond their own noses, and to distinguish a hawk
from a hand saw, or an owl from a buzz-

     Well, was it recorded in holy writ, "the horse
knoweth his rider, and the ass his master's crib,"
for when the sovereign people are thus harnessed
out, and properly yoked together, it is delectable to
behold with what system and harmony they jog on-
ward, trudging through the mud and mire, obeying the
commands of their drivers, and dragging the scur-
vy dung carts of faction at their heels. How many
a patriotic member of congress have I known, loy-
ally disposed to adhere to his party through thick
and think but who would often, from sheer ignorance,
or the dictates of conscience and common sense,
have stumbled into the ranks of his adversaries, and
advocated the opposite side of the question, had not
the parties been thus broadly designated by generic

     The wise people of New Amsterdam therefore,
after for some time enduring the evils of confusion,
at length,
like honest dutchmen as they were, so-
berly settled down into two distinct parties, known
by the name of Square head and Platter breech --
the former implying that the bearer was deficient in
that rotundity of pericranium, which was consider-
ed as a token of true genius -- the latter, that he was
destitute of genuine courage, or good bottom, as it
has since been technically termed -- and I defy all
the politicians of this great city to shew me where
any two parties of the present day, have split upon
more important and fundamental points.

     These names, to tell the honest truth -- and I
scorn to tell any thing else -- were not the mere pro-
geny of whim or accident, as were those of Ten
Breeches and Tough Breeches, in the days of yore,
but took their origin in recondite and scientific de-
ductions of certain Dutch philosophers. In a word,
they were the dogmas or elementary principia
of those ingenious systems since supported in the
physiognomical tracts of Lavater, who gravely mea-
sures intellect by the length of a nose, or detects it
lurking in the curve of a lip, or the arch of an eye-
brow -- The craniology of Dr. Gall, who has found
out the encampments and strong holds of the virtues
and vices, passions and habits among the protube-
rances of the skull, and proves that your whorson
jobbernowl, is your true skull of genius -- The
Linea Fascialis of Dr. Petrus Camper, anatomical
professor in the college of Amsterdam, which re-
gulates every thing by the relative position of the
upper and lower jaw; shewing the ancient opinion
to be correct that the owl is the wisest of animals,
and that a pancake face is an unfailing index of
talents, and a true model of beauty -- and finally,
the breechology of professor Higgenbottom, which
teaches the surprizing and intimate connection be-
tween the seat of honour, and the seat of intellect --
a doctrine supported by experiments of pedagogues
in all ages, who have found that applications a parte
, are marvellously efficacious in quickening the
perceptions of their scholars, and that the most ex-
peditious mode of instilling knowledge into their
heads, is to hammer it into their bottoms!

     Thus then, the enlightened part of the inhabi-
tants of Nieuw Nederlandts, being comfortably ar-
ranged into parties, went to work with might and
main to uphold the common wealth -- assembling
together in separate beer-houses, and smoking at
each other with implacable animosity, to the great
support of the state, and emolument of the tavern-
keepers. Some indeed who were more zealous
than the rest went further, and began to bespatter
one another with numerous very hard names and
scandalous little words, to be found in the dutch
language; every partizan believing religiously that
he was serving his country, when he besmutted the
character, or damaged the pocket of a political ad-
versary. But however they might differ between
themselves, both parties agreed on one point, to ca-
vil at and condemn every measure of government
whether right or wrong; for as the governor was
by his station independent of their power, and was
not elected by their choice, and as he had not deci-
ded in favour of either faction, neither of them
were interested in his success, or the prosperity of
the country while under his administration.

     "Unhappy William Kieft!" exclaims the sage
writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript, -- doomed to
contend with enemies too knowing to be entrapped,
and to reign over people, too wise to be governed!
All his expeditions against his enemies were baf-
fled and set at naught, and all his measures for the
public safety, were cavilled at by the people.
Did he propose levying an efficient body of
troops for internal defence, the mob, that is to
say, those vagabond members of the community
who have nothing to lose, immediately took the
alarm, vociferated that their interests were in dan-
ger -- that a standing army was a legion of moths,
preying on the pockets of society; a rod of iron in
the hands of government; and that a government
with a military force at its command, would inevi-
tably swell into a despotism. Did he, as was but
too commonly the case, defer preparation until the
moment of emergency, and then hastily collect a
handful of undisciplined vagrants, the measure was
hooted at, as feeble and inadequate, as trifling with
the public dignity and safety, and as lavishing the
public funds on impotent enterprizes. -- Did he re-
sort to the economic measure of proclamation, he
was laughed at by the Yankees, did he back it by
non-intercourse, it was evaded and counteracted by
his own subjects. Whichever way he turned him-
self he was beleaguered and distracted by petitions
of "numerous and respectable meetings," con-
sisting of some half a dozen scurvy pot-house poli-
ticians -- all of which he read, and what is worse, all
of which he attended to. The consequence was,
that by incessantly changing his measures, he gave
none of them a fair trial; and by listening to the
clamours of the mob and endeavouring to do every
thing, he in sober truth did nothing.

     I would not have it supposed however, that he
took all these memorials and interferences good na-
turedly, for such an idea would do injustice to his
valiant spirit; on the contrary he never received a
piece of advice in the whole course of his life, with-
out first getting into a passion with the giver. But
I have ever observed that your passionate little
men, like small boats with large sails, are the
easiest upset or blown out of their course; and this
is demonstrated by governor Kieft, who though
in temperament as hot as an old radish, and with
a mind, the territory of which was subjected to per-
petual whirl-winds and tornadoes, yet never failed
to be carried away by the last piece of advice that
was blown into his ear. Lucky was it for him
that his power was not dependant upon the greasy
multitude, and that as yet the populace did not
possess the important privilege of nominating their
chief magistrate. They, however, like a true mob,
did their best to help along public affairs; pestering
their governor incessantly, by goading him on with
harangues and petitions, and then thwarting his
fiery spirit with reproaches and memorials, like a
knot of sunday jockies, managing an unlucky devil
of a hack horse -- so that Wilhelmus Kieft, may be
said to have been kept either on a worry or a
hand gallop, throughout the whole of his adminis-


     Containing divers fearful accounts of Border wars,
and the flagrant outrages of the Moss troopers of
Connecticut -- With the rise of the great Amphyc-
tionic Council of the east, and the decline of
William the Testy

     Among the many perils and mishaps that sur-
round your hardy historian, there is one that in
spite of my unspeakable delicacy, and unbounded
good will towards all my fellow creatures, I have
no hopes of escaping. While raking with curious
hand, but pious heart, among the rotten remains of
former days, I may fare somewhat like that doughty
fellow Sampson, who in meddling with the car-
cass of a dead Lion, drew a swarm of bees about
his ears. Thus I am sensible that in detailing the
many misdeeds of the Yanokie, or Yankee tribe, it
is ten chances to one but I offend the morbid sensi-
bilities of certain of their unreasonable descendants,
who will doubtless fly out, and raise such a buzzing
about this unlucky pate of mine, that I shall need
the tough hide of an Achilles, or an Orlando Furio-
so, to protect me from their stings. Should such
be the case I should deeply and sincerely lament --
not my misfortune in giving offence -- but the wrong-
headed perverseness of this most ill natured and un-
charitable age, in taking offence at any thing I say.
-- My good, honest, testy sirs, how in heaven's name,
can I help it, if your great grandfathers behaved in a
scurvy manner to my great grandfathers? -- I'm very
sorry for it, with all my heart, and wish a thousand
times, that they had conducted themselves a thou-
sand times better. But as I am recording the sa-
cred events of history, I'd not bate one nail's
breadth of the honest truth, though I were sure the
whole edition of my work, should be bought up and
burnt by the common hangman of Connecticut. --
And let me tell you, masters of mine! this is one of
the grand purposes for which we impartial histori-
ans were sent into the world -- to redress wrongs
and render justice on the heads of the guilty -- So
that though a nation may wrong their neighbours,
with temporary impunity, yet some time or another
an historian shall spring up, who shall give them a
hearty rib-roasting in return. Thus your ancestors,
I warrant them, little thought, when they were kick-
ing and cuffing the worthy province of Nieuw Ne-
derlandts, and setting its unlucky little governor at
his wits ends, that such an historian as I should ever
arise, and give them their own, with interest -- Bo-
dy-o'me! but the very talking about it makes my
blood boil! and I have as great a mind as ever I
had for my dinner, to cut a whole host of your an-
cestors to mince meat, in my very next page! -- but
out of the bountiful affection which I feel towards
their descendants, I forbear -- and I trust when you
perceive how completely I have them all in my pow-
er, and how, with one flourish of my pen I could
make every mother's son of ye grandfatherless, you
will not be able enough to applaud my candour and
magnanimity. -- To resume then, with my accus-
tomed calmness and impartiality, the course of my

     It was asserted by the wise men of ancient
times, intimately acquainted with these matters,
that at the gate of Jupiter's palace lay two huge
tuns, the one filled with blessings, the other with
misfortunes -- and it verily seems as if the latter
had been set a tap, and left to deluge the unlucky
province of Nieuw Nederlandts. Among other
causes of irritation, the incessant irruptions and
spoliations of his eastern neighbours upon his fron-
tiers, were continually adding fuel to the naturally
inflammable temperament of William the Testy.
Numerous accounts of them may still be found
among the records of former days; for the com-
manders on the frontiers were especially careful to
evince their vigilance and soldierlike zeal, by stri-
ving who should send home the most frequent and
voluminous budgets of complaints, as your faithful
servant is continually running with complaints to
the parlour, of all the petty squabbles and misde-
meanours of the kitchen.

     All these valiant tale-bearings were listened to
with great wrath by the passionate little governor,
and his subjects, who were to the full as eager to
hear, and credulous to believe these frontier fables,
as are my fellow citizens to swallow those amusing
stories with which our papers are daily filled, about
British aggressions at sea, French sequestrations
on shore, and Spanish infringements in the promi-
sed land
of Louisiana -- all which proves what I
have before asserted, that your enlightened people
love to be miserable.

     Far be it from me to insinuate however, that our
worthy ancestors indulged in groundless alarms;
on the contrary they were daily suffering a repe-
tition of cruel wrongs, not one of which, but was a
sufficient reason, according to the maxims of na-
tional dignity and honour, for throwing the whole
universe into hostility and confusion.

     From among a host of these bitter grievances
still on record, I select a few of the most atrocious,
and leave my readers to judge, if our progenitors
were not justifiable in getting into a very valiant
passion on the occasion.

     "24 June 1641. Some of Hartford haue taken
a hogg out of the vlact or common and shut it vp
out of meer hate or other prejudice, causing it to
starve for hunger in the stye!

     26 July. The foremencioned English did againe
driue the companies hoggs out of the vlact of Sico
joke into Hartford; contending daily with re-
proaches, blows, beating the people with all dis-
grace that they could imagine.

     May 20, 1642. The English of Hartford haue
violently cut loose a horse of the honored compa-
nies, that stood bound vpon the common or vlact.

     May 9, 1643. The companies horses pastured
vpon the companies ground, were driven away by
them of Connecticott or Hartford, and the heards-
man was lustily beaten with hatchets and sticks.

     16. Again they sold a young Hogg belonging
to the Companie which piggs had pastured on the
Companies land." [32]

     Oh ye powers! into what indignation did
every one of these outrages throw the philoso-
phic Kieft! Letter after letter; protest after pro-
test; proclamation after proclamation; bad Latin,
worse English, and hideous low dutch were ex-
hausted in vain upon the inexorable Yankees; and
the four-and-twenty letters of the alphabet, which
except his champion, the sturdy trumpeter Van
Corlear, composed the only standing army he had
at his command, were never off duty, throughout
the whole of his administration. -- Nor did Antony
the trumpeter, remain a whit behind his patron,
the gallant William in his fiery zeal; but like a
faithful champion and preserver of the public safe-
ty, on the arrival of every fresh article of news, he
was sure to sound his trumpet from the ramparts
with most disasterous notes, throwing the people
into violent alarms and disturbing their rest at all
times and seasons -- which caused him to be held in
very great regard, the public paying and pampering
him, as we do brawling editors, for similar impor-
tant services.

     Appearances to the eastward began now to as-
sume a more formidable aspect than ever -- for I
would have you note that bitherto the province had
been chiefly molested by its immediate neighbours,
the people of Connecticut, particularly of Hartford,
which, if we may judge from ancient chronicles,
was the strong hold of these sturdy moss troopers;
from whence they sallied forth, on their daring in-
cursions, carrying terror and devastation into the
barns, the hen-roosts and pig-styes of our revered

     Albeit about the year 1643, the people of the
east country, inhabiting the colonies of Massachu-
setts, Connecticut, New Plymouth and New Ha-
ven, gathered together into a mighty conclave, and
after buzzing and turmoiling for many days, like a
political hive of bees in swarming time, at length
settled themselves into a formidable confederation,
under the title of the United Colonies of New Eng-
land. By this union they pledged themselves to
stand by one another in all perils and assaults, and
to co-operate in all measures offensive and defen-
sive against the surrounding savages, among which
were doubtlessly included our honoured ancestors
of the Manhattoes; and to give more strength and
system to this confederation, a general assembly
or grand council was to be annually held, compos-
ed of representatives from each of the provinces.

     On receiving accounts of this puissant combi-
nation, the fiery Wilhelmus was struck with vast
consternation, and for the first time in his whole
life, forgot to bounce, at hearing an unwelcome
piece of intelligence -- which a venerable historian
of the times observes, was especially noticed among
the sage politicians of New Amsterdam. The
truth was, on turning over in his mind all that he
had read at the Hague, about leagues and combi-
nations, he found that this was an exact imitation
of the famous Amphyctionic council, by which the
states of Greece were enabled to attain to such
power and supremacy, and the very idea made his
heart to quake for the safety of his empire at the

     He strenuously insisted, that the whole object
of this confederation, was to drive the Nederlan-
ders out of their fair domains; and always flew into
a great rage if any one presumed to doubt the
probability of his conjecture. Nor, to speak my
mind freely, do I think he was wholly unwarranted
in such a suspicion; for at the very first annual
meeting of the grand council, held at Boston
(which governor Kieft denominated the Delphos of
this truly classic league) strong representations
were made against the Nederlanders, for as much
as that in their dealings with the Indians they
carried on a traffic in "guns, powther and shott --
a trade damnable and injurious to the colonists."
Not but what certain of the Connecticut traders
did likewise dabble a little in this "damnable traffic"
-- but then they always sold the Indians such
scurvy guns, that they burst at the first discharge --
and consequently hurt no one but these pagan

     The rise of this potent confederacy was a death
blow to the glory of William the Testy, for from
that day forward, it was remarked by many,
he never held up his head, but appeared quite crest
fallen. His subsequent reign therefore, affords but
scanty food for the historic pen -- we find the grand
council continually augmenting in power, and threat-
ening to overwhelm the mighty but defenceless
province of Nieuw Nederlandts; while Wilhelmus
Kieft kept constantly firing off his proclamations
and protests, like a sturdy little sea captain, firing
off so many carronades and swivels, in order to
break and disperse a water spout -- but alas! they
had no more effect than if they had been so many
blank cartridges.

     The last document on record of this learned,
philosophic, but unfortunate little man is a long
letter to the council of the Amphyctions, wherein
in the bitterness of his heart he rails at the people
of New Haven, or red hills, for their uncourteous
contempt of his protest levelled at them for squatting
within the province of their high mightinesses.
From this letter, which is a model of epistolary
writing, abounding with pithy apophthegms and
classic figures, my limits will barely allow me to
extract the following recondite passage:-"Certainly
when we heare the Inhabitants of New Hartford
complayninge of us, we seem to heare Esop's wolfe
complayninge of the lamb, or the admonition of the
younge man, who cryed out to his mother, chideing
with her neighboures, `Oh Mother revile her, lest
she first take up that practice against you.' But be-
ing taught by precedent passages we received such
an answer to our protest from the inhabitants of
New Haven as we expected: the Eagle always
despiseth the Beetle fly;
yet notwithstanding we
doe undauntedly continue on our purpose of pur-
suing our own right, by just arms and righteous
means, and doe hope without scruple to execute
the express commands of our superiours." To
shew that this last sentence was not a mere empty
menace he concluded his letter, by intrepidly pro-
testing against the whole council, as a horde of
squatters and interlopers, inasmuch as they held
their meeting at New Haven, or the Red Hills,
which he claimed as being within the province of
the New Netherlands.

     Thus end the authenticated chronicles of the
reign of William the Testy -- for henceforth, in the
trouble, the perplexities and the confusion of the
times he seems to have been totally overlooked, and
to ahve slipped forever through the fingers of scru-
pulous history. Indeed from some cause or ano-
ther, which I cannot divine, there appears to have
been a combination among historians to sink his
very name into oblivion, in consequence of which
they have one and all forborne even to speak of his
exploits; and though I have disappointed the cai-
tiffs in this their nefarious conspiracy, yet I much
question whether some one or other of their adhe-
rents may not even yet have the hardihood to rise
up, and question the authenticity of certain of the
well established and incontrovertible facts, I have
herein recorded -- but let them do it at their peril;
for may I perish, if ever I catch any slanderous in-
cendiaries contradicting a word of this immaculate
history, or robbing my heroes of any particle of that
renown they have gloriously acquired, if I do not
empty my whole ink-horn upon them -- even though
it should equal in magnitude that of the sage Gar-
gantua; which according to the faithful chronicle of
his miraculous atchievements, weighted seven thou-
sand quintals.

     It has been a matter of deep concern to me, that
such darkness and obscurity should hang over the
latter days of the illustrious Kieft -- for he was a
mighty and great little man worthy of being utterly
renowned, seeing that he was the first potentate
that introduced into this land, the art of fighting by
proclamation; and defending a country by trumpe-
ters, and windmills -- an economic and humane
mode of warfare, since revived with great applause,
and which promises, if it can ever be carried into
full effect, to save great trouble and treasure, and
spare infinitely more bloodshed than either the
discovery of gunpowder, or the invention of torpe-

     It is true that certain of the early provincial poets,
of whom there were great numbers in the Nieuw
Nederlandts, taking advantage of the mysterious
exit of William the Testy, have fabled, that like
Romulus he was translated to the skies, and forms
a very fiery little star, some where on the left claw
of the crab; while others equally fanciful, declare
that he had experienced a fate similar to that of the
good king Arthur; who, we are assured by ancient
bards, was carried away to the delicious abodes of
fairy land, where he still exists, in pristine worth
and vigour, and will one day or another return to
rescue poor old England from the hands of paltry,
flippant, pettifogging cabinets, and restore the gal-
lantry, the honour and the immaculate probity,
which prevailed in the glorious days of the Round
Table. [33]

     All these however are but pleasing fantasies, the
cobweb visions of those dreaming varlets the poets,
to which I would not have my judicious reader attach
any credibility. Neither am I disposed to yield
any credit to the assertion of an ancient and rather
apocryphal historian, who alleges that the ingenious
Wilhelmus was annihilated by the blowing down of
one of his windmills -- nor to that of a writer of la-
ter times, who affirms that he fell a victim to a phi-
losophical experiment, which he had for many
years been vainly striving to accomplish; having
the misfortune to break his neck from the garret
window of the Stadt house, in an ineffectual at-
tempt to catch swallows, by sprinkling fresh salt
upon their tails.

     The most probable account, and to which I am
inclined to give my implicit faith, is contained in a
very obscure tradition, which declares, that what
with the constant troubles on his frontiers, the in-
cessant schemings, and projects going on in his own
pericranium -- the memorials, petitions, remonstran-
ces and sage pieces of advice from divers respecta-
ble meetings of the sovereign people, together with
the refractory disposition of his council, who were
sure to differ from him on every point and uniform-
ly to be in the wrong -- all these I say, did eternally
operate to keep his mind in a kind of furnace heat,
until he at length became as completly burnt out, as
a dutch family pipe which has passed through three
generations of hard smokers. In this manner did
the choleric but magnanimous William the Testy
undergo a kind of animal combustion, consuming
away like a farthing rush light -- so that when grim
death finally snuffed him out, there was scarce left
enough of him to bury!


[32] Hag. Collect. S. Pap.

&dagger Certain of Wilhelmus Kieft's Latin letters are still extant
in divers collections of state papers.

[33] The old welsh bards believed that king Arthur was not dead
but carried awaie by the fairies into some pleasant place, where he
shold remaine for a time, and then returne againe and reigne in as
great authority as ever. -- Hollingshed.

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

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