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'being dashed with the intoxicating ingredient of politics, he prompted the tranquillity and happiness of the people
- and by detaching their minds from subjects which they could not understand, and which only tended to inflame their passions, he enabled them to attend more faithfully and industriously to their proper callings; becoming more useful citizens and more attentive to their families and fortunes.
So far from having any unreasonable austerity, he delighted to see the poor and the labouring man rejoice, and for this purpose was a great promoter of holidays and public amusements. Under his reign was first introduced the custom of cracking eggs at Paas or Easter. New year's Day was also observed with extravagant festivity and ushered in by the ringing of bells and firing of guns. Every house was a temple to the jolly god. Oceans of cherry-brandy, true Hollands, and mulled cider, were set afloat on the occasion: and not a poor man in town but made it a point to get drunk, out of a principle of pure economy-taking in liquor enough to serve him for half a year afterwards.
It would have done one's heart good also to have seen the valiant Peter, seated among the old burghers and their wives of a Saturday afternoon, under the great trees that spread their shade over the Battery, watching the young men and women as they danced on the green. Here he would smoke his pipe, crack his joke, and forget the rugged toils of war in the sweet oblivious festivities of peace. He would occasionally give a nod of approbation to those of the young men who shuffled and kicked most vigorously, and now and then gave a hearty smack, in all honesty of soul, to the buxom lass that held out longest, and tired down all her competitors, which she considered as infallible proofs of her being the best dancer. Once it is true the harmony of the meeting was rather interrupted. A young vrouw, of great figure in the gay world, and who, having lately come from Holland, of course led the fashions in the city, made her appearance in not more than half a dozen petticoats, and these too of most alarming shortness.-A universal whisper ran through the assembly
the old ladies all felt shocked in the extreme, the young ladies blushed and felt excessively for the “poor thing," and even the governor himself was observed to be a little troubled in mind. To complete the astonishment of the good folks, she undertook, in the course of a jig, to describe some astonishing figures in algebra, which she had learned from a dancing master in Rotterdam.- Whether she was too animated in flourishing her feet, or whether some vagabond Zephyr took the liberty of obtruding hi services, certain it is, that in the course of a grand evolution which would not have disgraced a modern ball room, she made a most unexpected display-whereat the whole assembly was thrown into great admiration, several grave country members were not a little moved, and the good Peter himself, who was a man of unparalleled modesty, felt himself grievously scandalized.
The shortness of the female dresses, which had continued in fashion ever since the days of William Kieft, had long offended his eye; and though extremely averse to meddling with the petticoats of the ladies, yet he immediately recommended that every one should be furnished with a flounce to the bottom. He likewise ordered that the ladies, and indeed the gentlemen, should use no other step in dancing than shuffle and turn, and double trouble; and forbade, under pain of his high displeasure, any young lady thenceforth to attempt what was termed, “exhibiting the graces.
These were the only restrictions he ever imposed upon the sex; and these were considered by them as tyrannical oppressions, and resisted with that becoming spirit always manifested by the gentle sex whenever their privileges are invaded. In fact, Peter Stuyvesant plainly perceived, that if he attempted to push the matter any farther, there was danger of their leaving off petticoats altogether; 80, like a wise man experienced in the ways of women, he held his peace, and suffered them ever after to wear their petticoats and cut their capers as high as they pleased.
Showing the great Difficulty Philosophers have had in
peopling America-and how the Aborigines came to be begotten by Accident, to the great Relief and Satisfaction of the Author.
The next inquiry at which we arrive in the regular course of our history, is to ascertain, if possible, how this country was originally peopled; a point fruitful of incredible embarrassments; for unless we prove that the aborigines did absolutely come from somewhere, it will be immediately asserted in this age of scepticism, that they did not come at all; and if they did not come at all, then was this country never populated-a conclusion perfectly agreeable to the rules of logic, but wholly irreconcilable to every feeling of humanity, inasmuch as it must syllogistically prove fatal to the innumerable aborigines of this populous region.
To avert so dire a sophism, and to rescue from logical annihilation so many millions of fellow creatures, how many wings of geese have been plundered! what oceans of ink have been benevolently drained! and how many capacious heads of learned historians have been addled and for ever confounded! I pause with reverential awe, when I contemplate the ponderous tomes in different languages, with which they have endeavoured to solve this question, so important to the happiness of society, but so involved in clouds of impenetrable obscurity. Historian after historian has engaged in the endless circle of hypothetical argument, and after leading us a weary chase through octavos, quartos, and folios, has let us out, at the end of his work, just as wise as we were at the beginning. It was doubtless some philosophical wild-goose chase of the kind, that made the old poet Macrobius rail in such a paşsion at curiosity, which he anathematizes most heartily as “an irksome, agonizing care, a superstitious industry about unprofitable things, an itching humour to see what
is not to be seen, and to be doing what signifies nothing when it is done."
But to proceed : Of the claims of the children of Noah to the original population of this country I shall say nothing, as they have already been touched upon in my last chapter. The claimants next in celebrity are the descendants of Abraham. Thus Christoval Colon (vulgarly called Colombus), 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 Solomon procured the gold for embellishing the temple at Jerusalem: nay, Colon even imagined that he saw the remains of furnaces of ve. ritable Hebraic construction, employed in refining the precious ore.
So golden a conjecture, tinctured with such fascinating extravagance, was too tempting not to be immediately snapped at by the gudgeons of learning; and accordingly, there were divers profound writers, ready to swear to its correctness, and to bring in their usual load of authorities and wise surmises, wherewithal to prop it up. Vatablus and Robertus Stephens declared nothing could be more elear: Arius Montanus, without the least hesitation, as serts that Mexico was the true Ophir, and the Jews the early settlers of the country : wbile Possevin, Becan, and several other sagacious writers, lug in a supposed prophecy of the fourth book of Esdras, which being inserted in the mighty hypothesis, like the 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 settlements of this country, attributing all those equivocal symptoms, and traces of Christianity and Judaism, which have been said to be found in divers provinces of the New World, to the Devil, who has always affected to counterfeit the worship of the true Deity. Ą 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 Gomora and Juan de Leri, insinuate that the Canaanites, being driven from the land of promise by the Jews, were seized with such a panic that they fled, without looking behind them, until stopping to take breath, they found themselves safe in America. As they brought neither their national language, manners, nor features with them, it is supposed. they left thep behind in the hurry of their flight. I cannot give my faith to this opinion.
I pass over the supposition of the learned Grotius, who being both an ambassador and a Dutchman to bont, is entitled to great respect; that North America was peopled by a strolling company of Norwegians, and that Peru was founded by a colony from China-Manco, or Mungo Capac, the first Incas, being himself a Chinese. Nor shall I more than barely mention, that father Kircher ascribes the settlement of America to the Egyptians, Budbeck to the Scandinavians, Charron to the Gauls, Juffredus Petri to a skating party from Friesland, Milius to the Celtæ, Marinocus the Sicilian to the Romans, Le Comte to the Phoenicians, Postel to the Moors, Martin d’Angleria to the Abyssinians, together with the sage surmise of De Laet, that England, Ireland, and the Or. cades may contend for that honour.
Nor will I bestow any more attention or credit to the idea that America is the fairy region of Zipangri, described by that dreaming traveller Marco Polo the Venetian; or that it comprises the visionary island of Atlantis, described by Plato. Neither will I stop to investigate the heathenish assertion of Paracelsus, that each hemisphere of the globe was originally furnished with an Adam and Eve: or the more flattering opinion of Dr. Romayne, supported by many nameless authorities, that Adam was of the Indian race: or the startling conjecture of Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin, so highly honourable to mankind,