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east wind, when a storm is brewing. The very dogs, as they eyed him, skulked away in dismay-while all the old and ugly women of New-Amsterdam ran howling at his heels, imploring him to save them from murder, robbery, and pitiless ravishment!
The reply of Col. Nicholas, who commanded the invaders, was couched in terms of equal courtesy with the letter of the governor-declaring the right and title of his British majesty to the province; where he affirmed the Dutch to be mere interlopers; and demanding that the town, forts, &c. should be forthwith rendered into his majesty's obedience and protection-promising at the same time, life, liberty, estate, and free trade, to every Dutch denizen, who should readily submit to his majesty's government.
Peter Stuyvesant read over this friendly epistle with some such harmony of aspect as we may suppose a crusty farmer, who has long been fattening upon his neighbour's soil, reads the loving letter of John Styles, that warns him of an action of ejectment. The old governor, however, was not to be taken by surprise, but thrusting the summons into his breeches pocket, he stalked three times across the room, took a pinch of snuff with great vehemence, and then loftily waving his hand, promised to send an answer the next morning. In the mean time he called a general council of war of his privy counsellors and burgomasters, not for the purpose of asking their advice, for that, as has been already shown, he valued not a rush; but to make known to them his sovereign determination, and require their prompt adherence.
Before, however, he convened his council, he resolved upon three important points; first, never to give up the city without a little hard fighting, for he deemed it highly derogatory to the dignity of so renowned a city, to suffer itseli' to be captured and stripped, without receiving a few kicks into the bargain. Secondly, that the majority of his grand council was composed of arrant poltroons, utterly destitute of true bottom; and, thirdly, that he would not therefore suffer them to see the summons of Col. Nicholas, lest the easy terms it held out might induce them to clamour for a surrender.
His orders being duly promulgated, it was a piteous sight to behold the late valiant burgomasters, who had demolished the whole British empire in their harangues; peeping ruefully out of their hiding places, and then crawline ing cautiously forth, dodging through narrow lanes and alleys; starting at every little dog that barked, as though it had been a discharge of artillery-mistaking lamp-posts for British grenadiers, and in the excess of their panic, metamorphosing pumps into formidable soldiers, levelling blunderbusses at their bosolus! Having, however, in despite of numerous perils and difficulties of the kind, arrived safe without the loss of a single man, at the hall of 1 assembly, they took their seats and awaited in fearful si
lence the arrival of the governor. In a few moments the wooden leg of the intrepid Peter was heard in regular and stout hearted thumps upon the staircase. He entered the chamber arrayed in full suit of regimentals, and carrying his trusty toledo, not girded on his thigh, but tucked under his arm.
As the governor never equipped himself in this portentous manner, unless something of martial nature were working within his fearless pericranium, his council regarded him ruefully, as a very Janus, bearing fire and sword, in his iron countenance, and forgot to light their pipes in breathless suspense.
The great Keter was as eloquent as he was valorous ; indeed, these two rare qualities seemed to go hand in hand in his composition; and, unlike most great statesmen, whose victories are only confined to the bloodless field of argument, he was always ready to enforce his hardy words by no less hardy deeds. His speeches were generally marked by a simplicity approaching to bluntness, and by truly categorical decision. Addressing the grand council
, he touched briefly upon the perils and hardships he had sustained, in escaping from his crafty foes. He next reproached the council for wasting in idle debate and party feuds that time which should have been devoted to their country. He was particularly indignant at those brawlers, who, conscious of individual security, had disgraced the councils of the province, by impotent hectorings and scurrilous invectives, against a noble and powerful enemy—those cowardly curs who were incessant in their barkings and yelpings at the lion, while distant or asleep, but the moment he approached, were the first to skulk away. He now called on those who had been so valiant in their threats against Great Britain, to stand forth and support their vauntings by their actions—for it was deeds, not words, that bespoke the spirit of a nation. He proceeded to recall the golden days of former prosperity, which were only to be gained by manfully withstanding their enemies; for the peace, he observed, which is effected by force of arms, is always more sure and durable than that which is patched up by temporary accommodations. He endeavoured, moreover, to arouse their martial fire, by reminding them of the time, when, before the frowning walls of fort Christina, he had led them on to victory. He strove likewise to awaken
their confidence, by assuring them of the protection of St. Nicholas, who had hitherto maintained them in safety, amid all the savages of the wilderness, the witches and squatters of the east, and the giants of Merry-land. Finally, he informed them of the insolent summons he had received, to surrender; but concluded by swearing to defend the province as long as heaven was on his side, and he had a wooden leg to stand upon. Which noble sentence he emphasized by a tremendous thwack with the broad side of his sword upon the table, that totally electrified his auditors.
The privy counsellors, who had long been accustomed to the governor's way, and in fact had been brought into as perfect discipline as were ever the soldiers of the great Frederick, saw that there was no use in saying a word 80 lighted their pipes and smoked away in silence like fat and discreet counsellors. But the burgomasters being less under the governor's control, considering themselves as representatives of the sovereign people, and being moreover inflated with considerable importance and self-sufficiency, which they had acquired at those notable schools of wisdom and morality, the popular meetings were not so easily satisfied. Mustering up fresh spirit, when they found there was some chance of escaping from their present jeopardy, without the disagreeable alternative of fighting, they requested a copy of the summons to surrender, that they might show it to a general meeting of the people.
So insolent and mutinous a request would have been enough to have aroused the gorge of the tranquil Van Twiller himself—what then must have been its effects upon the great Stuyvesant, who was not only a Dutchman, a governor, and a valiant wooden-legged soldier to boot, but withal a man of the most stomachful and gunpowder disposition. He burst forth into a blaze of noble indignation, to which the famous rage of Achilles was a mere pouting fit-swore not a mother's son of them should see a syllable of it—that they deserved, every one of them, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, for traitorously daring to question the infallibility of government; that as to their advice and concurrence, he did not care a whiff of tobacco for either; that he had long been harassed and thwarted by their cowardly councils; but that they might thence forth go home, and go to bed like old women, for he was determined to defend the colony himself, without the assistance of them of their adherents! So saying, he tucked his sword under his arm, cocked his hat upon his head, and girding up his loins, stumped indignantly out of the council-chamber, every body making room for him as he passed.
No sooner had he gone than the busy burgomasters called a public meeting in front of the Stadt-house, where they appointed as chairman one Dofue Roerback, a mighty gingerbread-baker in the land, and formerly of the cabinet of William the Testy. He was looked up to with great reverence by the populace, who considered þim a man of dark knowledge, seeing he was the first that imprinted new-year cakes with the mysterious hieroglyphics of the cock and breeches, and such like magical devices.
This great burgomaster, who still chewed the cud of ill will against the valiant Stuyvesant, in consequence of having been ignominiously kicked out of his cabinet at the time of his taking the reins of government, addressed the greasy multitude in what is called a patriotic speech ; in which he informed them of the courteous summons to surfender-of the governor's refusal to comply therewithof his denying the public a sight of the summons, which, he had no doubt
, contained conditions highly to the hopour and advantage of the province.
He then proceeded to speak of his excellency in high sounding teļms, suitable to the dignity and grandeur of his station, comparing him to Nero, Caligula, and those other great men of yore, who are generally quoted by popular orators on similar occasions. Assuring the people that the history of the world did not contain a despotic outrage to equal the present for atrocity, cruelty, tyranny, and blood-thirstiness; that it would be recorded in letters of fire on the blood stained tablet of history! that ages would roll back with sudden horror, when they came to view it! That the womb of time-(by the way your orators and writers take strange liberties with the womb of time, though some would fain have us believe that time is an old gentleman)—that the womb of time, pregnant as it was with direful horrors, would never produce a parallel enor: mity !-with a variety of other heart-rending, soul-stirring tropes and figures, which I cannot enumerate. Neither, indeed need Ï, for they were exactly the same that are useu in all popular harangues and patriotic orations at the preseni day, and may be classed in rhetoric under the general title of RIGMAROLE.
The speech of this inspired burgomaster being finished, the meeting fell into a kind of popular fermentation, which produced not only a string of right wise resolutions, but likewise a most resolute memorial, addressed to the governor, remonstrating at his conduct; which was no sooner handed to him, than he handed it into the fire ; and thus deprived posterity of an invaluable document, that might have served as a precedent to the enlightened cobblers and tailors of the present day; in their sage intermeddlings with politics.
THE WIDOW AND HER SON.
DURING my residence in the country, I used frequently to attend at the old village church. Its shadowy aisles, its mouldering monuments, its dark oaken pannelling, all reverend with the gloom of departed years, seemed to fit it for the haunt of solemn meditation. A Sunday, too, in the country, is so holy in its repose ; such a pensive quiet reigns over the face of nature, that every restless passion is charmed down, and we feel all the natural religion of the soul gently springing up within us.
"Sweet day, so pure, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky." I do not pretend to be what is called a devout man; but there are feelings that visit me in a country church, amid the beautiful serenity of nature, which I experience no where else ; and if not a more religious, I think I am a better man on Sunday, than on any other day of the
But in this church I felt myself continually thrown back upon the world by the frigidity and pomp of the poor worms around me. The only being that seemed thoroughly to feel the humble and prostrate piety of a true Christian, was a poor decrepid. old woman, bending under the weight of years and infirmities. She bore the traces of something better than abject poverty.