« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of his country.-I say, there is nothing more interesting to a philosopher than to see such a community in a sudden bustle of war. Such a clamour of tongues, such a bawling of patriotism, such running hither and thither, every body in a hurry, every body up to the ears in trouble, every body in the way, and every body interrupting his industrious neighbour, who is busily employed in doing nothing! It is like witnessing a great fire, where every man is at work like a hero; some dragging about empty engines! others scampering with full buckets, and spilling the contents into the boots of their neighbour ; and others ringing the church bells at night, by way of putting out the fire. Little firemen, like sturdy little knights storming a breach, clambering up and down scaling-ladders, and bawling through tin trumpets, by way of directing the attack. Here one busy fellow, in his great zeal to save the property of the unfortunate, catches up an anonymous chamber utensil
, and gallants it off with an air of as much self-importance, as if he had rescued a pot of money; another throws looking glasses and china out of the window, to save them from the flames; while those, who can do nothing else to assist the great calamity, run up and down the streets with open throats, keeping up an incessant cry of-Fire! Fire! Fire!
“ When the news arrived at Sinope,” says the grave and profound Lucian, though I own the story is rather trite," that Philip was about to attack them, the inhabitants were thrown into violent alarm. Some ran to furbish up their arms; others rolled stones to build up the walls; every body, in short, was employed, and every body was in the way of his neighbour. Diogenes alone was the only man who could find nothing to do; whereupon, determining not to be idle when the welfare of his country was at stake, he tucked up his robe, and fell to rolling his tub with might and main, up and down the Gymnasium.” In like manner did every mother's son, in the patriotic community of New-Amsterdam, on receiving the missives of Peter Stuyvesant, busy himself most mightily in putting things into confusion, and assisting the general uproar. “Every man," saith the Stuyvesant manuscript," flew to arms!" By which is meant, that not one of our honest Dutch citizens would venture to church or to market, without an old fashioned spit of a sword dangling at his side, and a long Dutch fowlingpiece on his shoulder; nor would he go out of a night
without a lantern! nor turn a corner without first peeping cautiously round, lest he should come unawares upon a British army; and we are informed, that Stoffel Brin. kerhoff
, who was considered by the old women almost as brave a man as the governor himself, actually had two one-pound swivels mounted in his entry, one pointing out at the front door and the other at the back.
But the most strenuous measure resorted to on this awful occasion, and one which has since been found of wonderful efficacy, was to assemble popular meetings. These brawling convocations, I have already shown, were extremely offensive to Peter Stuyvesant; but as this was a moment of unusual agitation, and as the old governor was not present to repress them, they broke out with intolerable violence. Hither, therefore, the orators and politicians repaired, and there seemed to be a competition among them who should bawl the loudest, and exceed the others in hyperbolical bursts of patriotism, and in resolutions to uphold and defend the government. In these sage and all powerful meetings it was determined, nem.con. that they were the most enlightened, the most dignified, the most formidable, and the most ancient community upon the face of the earth. Finding that this resolution was so universally and readily carried, another was immediately proposed, Whether it were not possible and politic to exterminate Great Britain ? Upon which sixty-nine members spoke most eloquently in the affirmative, and only one arose to suggest some doubts, who, as a punishment for his treasonable presumption, was immediately seized by the mob, and tarred and feathered ; which punishment being equivalent to the Tarpeian Rock, he was afterwards considered as an outcast from society, and his opinion went for nothing. The question, therefore, being unanimously carried in the affirmative, it was recommend ed to the grand council to pass it into a law, which was accordingly done; by this measure the hearts of the people at large were wonderfully encouraged, and they waxed exceedingly choleric and valorous. Indeed, the first paroxysm of alarm having in some measure subsided, the old women having buried all the money they could lay their hands on, and their husbands daily getting fuddled with what was left—the community began even to stand on the offensive. Songs were manufactured in low Dutch, and sung about the streets, wherein the English were most wofully beaten, and shown no quarter; and popular ad
dresses were made, wherein it was proved to a certainty, that the fate of Old England depended upon the will of the New-Amsterdammers.
Finally, to strike a violent blow at the very vitals of Great Britain, a multitude of the wiser inhabitants assembled, and having purchased all the British manufactures they could find, they made thereof a huge bonfire; and, in the patriotic glow of the moment, every man present, who had a hat or breeches of English workmanship, pulled it off
, and threw it most undauntedly into the flames --to the irreparable detriment, loss, and ruin of the English manufacturers. In commemoration of this great exploit, they erected a pole on the spot, with a device on the top intended to represent the province of Nieuw Nederlandts, destroying Great Britain, under the similitude of an Eagle picking the little Island of Old England out of the globe ; but either through the unskillfulness of the sculptor, or his ill timed waggery, it bore a striking resemblance to a goose vainly striving to get hold of a dumpling.
In which the Troubles of New-Amsterdam appear to thick
en-Showing the bravery, in Time of Peril, of a Poo
ple who defend themselves by Resolutions. LIKE as an assemblage of politic cats, engaged in clamo rous gibberings and catterwaulings, eyeing one another with hideous grimaces, spitting in each other's faces, and on the point of breaking forth into a general clapperclawing, are suddenly put to scampering, rout, and confusion, by the startling appearance of a house-dog-50 was the no less vociferous council of New-Amsterdam amazed, astounded, and totally dispersed, by the sudden arrival of the enemy. Every member made the best of his way home, waddling along as fast as his short legs could fag under their heavy burthen, and wheezing as he went with corpulency and terror. When he arrived at his castle, he barricadoed the street door, and buried him. self in the cider cellar, without daring to peep out, lest be should have his head carried off by a cannon ball.
The sovereign people all crowded into the marketplace, herding together with the instinct of sheep, who seek for safety in each other's company, when the shepherd and his dog are absent, and the wolf is prowling round the fold. Far from finding relief, however, they only increased each other's terrors. Each man looked ruefully in his neighbour's face, in search of encouragement, but only found, in its wo-begone lineaments, a confirmation of his own dismay. Not a word now was to be heard of conquering Great Britain, not a whisper about the sovereign virtues of economy_while the old women heightened the general gloom, by clamorously bewailing their fate, and incessantly calling for protection on St. Nicholas and Peter Stuyvesant.
Oh, how did they bewail the absence of the lion-hearted Peter —and how did they long for the comforting presence of Anthony Van Corlear! Indeed, a gloomy uncertainty hung over the fate of these adventurous heroes. Day after day had elapsed since the alarming message from the governor, without bringing any further tidings of his safety. Many a fearful conjecture was hazarded as to what had befallen him and his loyal squire. Had they not been devoured alive by the cannibals of Marblehead and Cape Cod? Were they not put to the question by the great council of Amphyctions? Were they not smothered in onions by the terrible men of Pyquag? In the midst of this consternation and perplexity, when horror, like a mighty night-mare, sat brooding upon the little, fat, plethoric city of New-Amsterdam, the ears of the multitude were suddenly startled by a strange and distant sound—it approached—it grew louder
and louder -and now it resounded at the city gate. The public could not be mistaken in the weli known sound. A shout of joy burst from their lips, as the gallant Peter, covered with dust, and followed by his faithful trumpeter, came galloping into the market-place.
The first transports of the populace having subsided, they gathered round the honest Anthony, as he dismounted from his horse, overwhelming him with greetings and congratulations. In breathless accents he related to them the marvellous adventures through which the old governor and himself had gone, in making their escape from the clutches of the terrible Amphyctions. But though the Stuyvesant manuscript, with its customary minuteness where any thing touching the great Peter is concerned, is very particular as to the incidents of this masterly retreat, yet the particular state of the public affairs will not allow me to indulge in a full
recital thereof. Let it suffice to say, that, while Peter Stuyvesant was anxiously revolving in his mind how he could make good his escape with honour and dignity, certain of the ships sent out for the conquest of the Manhattoes touched at the eastern ports, to obtain needful supplies, and to call on the grand council of the league for its promised co-operation. Upon hearing of this, the vigilant Peter perceiving that a moments delay were fatal, made a secret and precipitate decampment; though much did it grieve his lofty soul, to be obliged to turn his back even upon a nation of foes. Many hairbreadth 'scapes and divers perilous mishaps did they sustain, as they scoured, without sound of trumpet
, through the fair regions of the east. Already was the country in an uproar with hostile preparation, and they were obliged to take a large circuit in their flight, lurking along, through the woody mountains of the Devil's Backbone; from whence the valiant Peter sallied forth one day, like a lion, and put to rout a whole legion of squatters, consisting of three generations of a prolific family, who were already on their way to take possession of some corner of the New Netherlands. Nay, the faithful Anthony had great difficulty at sundry times to prevent him, in the excess of his wrath, from descending down from the mountains, and falling sword in hand upon certain of the border-towns, who were marshalling forth their draggle-tailed militia.
The first movements of the governor, on reaching his dwelling, was to mount the roof, from whence he contemplated with rueful aspect the hostile squadron. This had already come to an anchor in the bay, and consisted of two stout frigates, having on board, as John Josselyn, Gent. informs us, “three hundred valiant red coats." Having taken this survey, he sat himself down, and wrote an epistle to the commander, demanding his reason of anchoring in the harbour without obtaining previous permission so to do. This letter was couched in the most dignified and courteous terms, though I have it from undoubted authority, that his teeth were clenched, and he had a bitter sardonic grin upon his visage all the while he wrote. Having despatched his letter, the grim Peter stumped to and fro about the town, with a most war-betokening countenance, his hand thrust into his breeches pockets, and whistling a low Dutch Psalm tune, which bore no small resemblance to the music of a north