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Chapter 11

  • There is something exceedingly sublime and melancholy in the spectacle whic_he present crisis of our history presents. An illustrious and venerabl_ittle city—the metropolis of a vast extent of uninhabited country—garrisone_y a doughty host of orators, chairmen, committee-men, burgomasters, schepens,
  • and old women—governed by a determined and strong-headed warrior, an_ortified by mud batteries, palisadoes, and resolutions—blockaded by sea,
  • beleaguered by land, and threatened with direful desolation from without;
  • while its very vitals are torn with internal faction and commotion! Never di_istoric pen record a page of more complicated distress, unless it be th_trife that distracted the Israelites during the siege of Jerusalem, wher_iscordant parties were cutting each other's throats at the moment when th_ictorious legions of Titus had toppled down their bulwarks, and were carryin_ire and sword into the very  _sanctum sanctorum_  of the temple!
  • Governor Stuyvesant having triumphantly put his grand council to the rout, an_elivered himself from a multitude of impertinent advisers, despatched _ategorical reply to the commanders of the invading squadron, wherein h_sserted the right and title of their High Mightinesses the Lords State_eneral to the province of New Netherlands, and trusting in the righteousnes_f his cause, set the whole British nation at defiance!
  • My anxiety to extricate my readers and myself from these disastrous scene_revents me from giving the whole of this gallant letter, which concluded i_hese manly and affectionate terms:——
  • > "As touching the threats in your conclusion, we have nothing to answer, onl_hat we fear nothing but what God (who is as just as merciful) shall lay upo_s; all things being in His gracious disposal, and we may as well be preserve_y Him with small forces as by a great army, which makes us to wish you al_appiness and prosperity, and recommend you to His protection.—My lords, you_hrice humble and affectionate servant and friend,
  • >
  • > "P. STUYVESANT."
  • Thus having thrown his gauntlet, the brave Peter stuck a pair of horse-pistol_n his belt, girded an immense powder-horn on his side, thrust his sound le_nto a Hessian boot, and clapping his fierce little war-hat on the top of hi_ead, paraded up and down in front of his house, determined to defend hi_eloved city to the last.
  • While all these struggles and dissentions were prevailing in the unhappy cit_f New Amsterdam, and while its worthy but ill-starred governor was framin_he above quoted letter, the English commanders did not remain idle. They ha_gents secretly employed to foment the fears and clamors of the populace; an_oreover circulated far and wide through the adjacent country a proclamation,
  • repeating the terms they had already held out in their summons to surrender,
  • at the same time beguiling the simple Nederlanders with the most crafty an_onciliating professions. They promised that every man who voluntaril_ubmitted to the authority of his British Majesty should retain peacefu_ossession of his house, his vrouw, and his cabbage-garden. That he should b_uffered to smoke his pipe, speak Dutch, wear as many beeches as he pleased,
  • and import bricks, tiles, and stone jugs from Holland, instead o_anufacturing them on the spot. That he should on no account be compelled t_earn the English language, nor eat codfish on Saturdays, nor keep accounts i_ny other way than by casting them up on his fingers, and chalking them dow_pon the crown of his hat; as is observed among the Dutch yeomanry at th_resent day. That every man should be allowed quietly to inherit his father'_at, coat, shoe-buckles, pipe, and every other personal appendage; and that n_an should be obliged to conform to any improvements, inventions, or any othe_odern innovations; but, on the contrary, should be permitted to build hi_ouse, follow his trade, manage his farm, rear his hogs, and educate hi_hildren, precisely as his ancestors had done before him from time immemorial.
  • Finally, that he should have all the benefits of free trade, and should not b_equired to acknowledge any other saint in the calendar than St. Nicholas, wh_hould thenceforward, as before, be considered the tutelar saint of the city.
  • These terms, as may be supposed, appeared very satisfactory to the people, wh_ad a great disposition to enjoy their property unmolested, and a mos_ingular aversion to engage in a contest, where they could gain little mor_han honor and broken heads: the first of which they held in philosophi_ndifference, the latter in utter detestation. By these insidious means,
  • therefore, did the English succeed in alienating the confidence and affection_f the populace from their gallant old governor, whom they considered a_bstinately bent upon running them into hideous misadventures; and did no_esitate to speak their minds freely, and abuse him most heartily, behind hi_ack.
  • Like as a mighty grampus, when assailed and buffeted by roaring waves an_rawling surges, still keeps on an undeviating course, rising above th_oisterous billows, spouting and blowing as he emerges, so did the inflexibl_eter pursue, unwavering, his determined career, and rise, contemptuous, abov_he clamors of the rabble.
  • But when the British warriors found that he set their power at defiance, the_espatched recruiting officers to Jamaica, and Jericho, and Nineveh, and Quag,
  • and Patchog, and all those towns on Long Island which had been subdued of yor_y Stoffel Brinkerhoff, stirring up the progeny of Preserved Fish an_etermined Cock, and those other New England squatters, to assail the city o_ew Amsterdam by land, while the hostile ships prepared for an assault b_ater.
  • The streets of New Amsterdam now presented a scene of wild dismay an_onsternation. In vain did Peter Stuyvesant order the citizens to arm an_ssemble on the Battery. Blank terror reigned over the community. The whol_arty of Short Pipes in the course of a single night had changed into arran_ld women—a metamorphosis only to be paralleled by the prodigies recorded b_ivy as having happened at Rome at the approach of Hannibal, when statue_weated in pure affright, goats were converted into sheep, and cocks, turnin_nto hens, ran cackling about the street.
  • Thus baffled in all attempts to put the city in a state of defence, blockade_rom without, tormented from within, and menaced with a Yankee invasion, eve_he stiff-necked will of Peter Stuyvesant for once gave way, and in spite o_is mighty heart, which swelled in his throat until it nearly choked him, h_onsented to a treaty of surrender.
  • Words cannot express the transports of the populace on receiving thi_ntelligence; had they obtained a conquest over their enemies, they could no_ave indulged greater delight. The streets resounded with thei_ongratulations—they extolled their governor as the father and deliverer o_is country—they crowded to his house to testify their gratitude, and were te_imes more noisy in their plaudits than when he returned, with victory perche_pon his beaver, from the glorious capture of Fort Christina. But th_ndignant Peter shut his doors and windows, and took refuge in the innermos_ecesses of his mansion, that he might not hear the ignoble rejoicings of th_abble.
  • Commissioners were now appointed on both sides, and a capitulation wa_peedily arranged; all that was wanting to ratify it was that it should b_igned by the governor. When the commissioners waited upon him for thi_urpose they were received with grim and bitter courtesy. His warlik_ccoutrements were laid aside; an old Indian night-gown was wrapped about hi_ugged limbs; a red nightcap overshadowed his frowning brow; an iron-gre_eard of three days' growth gave additional grimness to his visage. Thrice di_e seize a worn-out stump of a pen, and essay to sign the loathsome paper;
  • thrice did he clinch his teeth, and make a horrible countenance, as though _ose of rhubarb-senna, and ipecacuanha, had been offered to his lips. A_ength, dashing it from him, he seized his brass-hilted sword, and jerking i_rom the scabbard, swore by St. Nicholas to sooner die than yield to any powe_nder heaven.
  • For two whole days did he persist in this magnanimous resolution, during whic_is house was besieged by the rabble, and menaces and clamorous reviling_xhausted to no purpose. And now another course was adopted to soothe, i_ossible, his mighty ire. A procession was formed by the burgomasters an_chepens, followed by the populace, to bear the capitulation in state to th_overnor's dwelling. They found the castle strongly barricaded, and the ol_ero in full regimentals, with his cocked hat on his head, posted with _lunderbuss at the garret window.
  • There was something in this formidable position that struck even the ignobl_ulgar with awe and admiration. The brawling multitude could not but reflec_ith self-abasement upon their own pusillanimous conduct, when they behel_heir hardy but deserted old governor, thus faithful to his post, like _orlorn hope, and fully prepared to defend his ungrateful city to the last.
  • These compunctions, however, were soon overwhelmed by the recurring tide o_ublic apprehension. The populace arranged themselves before the house, takin_ff their hats with most respectful humility; Burgomaster Roerback, who was o_hat popular class of orators described by Sallust as being "talkative rathe_han eloquent," stepped forth and addressed the governor in a speech of thre_ours' length, detailing, in the most pathetic terms, the calamitous situatio_f the province, and urging him, in a constant repetition of the sam_rguments and words, to sign the capitulation.
  • The mighty Peter eyed him from his garret window in grim silence. Now and the_is eye would glance over the surrounding rabble, and an indignant grin, lik_hat of an angry mastiff, would mark his iron visage. But though a man of mos_ndaunted mettle—though he had a heart as big as an ox, and a head that woul_ave set adamant to scorn—yet after all he was a mere mortal. Wearied out b_hese repeated oppositions, and this eternal haranguing, and perceiving tha_nless he complied the inhabitants would follow their own inclination, o_ather their fears, without waiting for his consent; or, what was still worse,
  • the Yankees would have time to pour in their forces and claim a share in th_onquest, he testily ordered them to hand up the paper. It was accordingl_oisted to him on the end of a pole, and having scrawled his hand at th_ottom of it, he anathematised them all for a set of cowardly, mutinous,
  • degenerate poltroons—threw the capitulation at their heads, slammed down th_indow, and was heard stumping downstairs with vehement indignation. Th_abble incontinently took to their heels; even the burgomasters were not slo_n evacuating the premises, fearing lest the sturdy Peter might issue from hi_en, and greet them with some unwelcome testimonial of his displeasure.
  • Within three hours after the surrender, a legion of British beef-fed warrior_oured into New Amsterdam, taking possession of the fort and batteries. An_ow might be heard from all quarters the sound of hammers made by the ol_utch burghers, in nailing up their doors and windows, to protect their vrouw_rom these fierce barbarians, whom they contemplated in silent sullenness fro_he garret windows as they paraded through the streets.
  • Thus did Colonel Richard Nichols, the commander of the British forces, ente_nto quiet possession of the conquered realm, as  _locum tenens_  for the Duk_f York. The victory was attended with no other outrage than that of changin_he name of the province and its metropolis, which thenceforth wer_enominated New York, and so have continued to be called unto the present day.
  • The inhabitants, according to treaty, were allowed to maintain quie_ossession of their property, but so inveterately did they retain thei_bhorrence of the British nation that in a private meeting of the leadin_itizens it was unanimously determined never to ask any of their conquerors t_inner.
  • > NOTE.
  • >
  • > Modern historians assert that when the New Netherlands were thus overrun b_he British, as Spain in ancient days by the Saracens, a resolute band refuse_o bend the neck to the invader. Led by one Garret Van Horne, a valorous an_igantic Dutchman, they crossed the bay and buried themselves among th_arshes and cabbage gardens of Communipaw, as did Pelayo and his follower_mong the mountains of Asturias. Here their descendants have remained eve_ince, keeping themselves apart, like seed corn, to repeople the city with th_enuine breed, whenever it shall be effectually recovered from its intruders.
  • It is said the genuine descendants of the Nederlanders who inhabit New Yor_till look with longing eyes to the green marshes of ancient Pavonia, as di_he conquered Spaniards of yore to the stern mountains of Asturias,
  • considering these the regions whence deliverance is to come.