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Chapter 12

  • It was asserted by the wise men of ancient times who had a nearer opportunit_f ascertaining the fact, that at the gate of Jupiter's palace lay two hug_uns, one filled with blessings, the other with misfortunes; and it woul_erily seem as if the latter had been completely overturned, and left t_eluge the unlucky province of Nieuw Nederlandts; for about this time, whil_arassed and annoyed from the south and the north, incessant forays were mad_y the border chivalry of Connecticut upon the pig-sties and hen-roosts of th_ederlanders. Every day or two some broad-bottomed express rider, covered wit_ud and mire, would come floundering into the gate of New Amsterdam, freighte_ith some new tale of aggression from the frontier; whereupon Anthony Va_orlear, seizing his trumpet, the only substitute for a newspaper in thos_rimitive days, would sound the tidings from the ramparts with such dolefu_otes and disastrous cadence, as to throw half the old women in the city int_ysterics; all which tended greatly to increase his popularity, there bein_othing for which the public are more grateful than being frequently treate_o a panic—a secret well known to modern editors.
  • But oh, ye powers! into what a paroxysm of passion did each new outrage of th_ankees throw the choleric little governor! Letter after letter, protest afte_rotest, bad Latin, worse English, and hideous Low Dutch, were incessantl_ulminated upon them, and the four-and-twenty letters of the alphabet, whic_ormed his standing army, were worn out by constant campaigning. All, however,
  • was ineffectual; even the recent victory at Oyster Bay, which had shed such _leam of sunshine between the clouds of his foul weather reign, was soo_ollowed by a more fearful gathering up of those clouds and indications o_ore portentous tempests; for the Yankee tribe on the banks of th_onnecticut, finding on this memorable occasion their incompetency to cope i_air fight with the sturdy chivalry of the Manhattoes, had called to their ai_ll the ten tribes of their brethren who inhabit the east country, which fro_hem has derived the name of Yankee land. This call was promptly responded to.
  • The consequence was a great confederacy of the tribes of Massachusetts,
  • Connecticut, New Plymouth, and New Haven, under the title of the "Unite_olonies of New England;" the pretended object of which was mutual defens_gainst the savages, but the real object the subjugation of the Nieu_ederlandts.
  • For, to let the reader into one of the greatest secrets of history, the Nieu_ederlandts had long been regarded by the whole Yankee race as the modern lan_f promise, and themselves as the chosen and peculiar people destined, one da_r other, by hook or by crook, to get possession of it. In truth, they are _onderful and all-prevalent people; of that class who only require an inch t_ain an ell; or a halter to gain a horse. From the time they first gained _oothold on Plymouth Rock, they began to migrate, progressing and progressin_rom place to place, and land to land, making a little here and a littl_here, and controverting the old proverb, that a rolling stone gathers n_oss. Hence they have facetiously received the nickname of "The Pilgrims,"
  • that is to say, a people who are always seeking a better country than thei_wn.
  • The tidings of this great Yankee league struck William Kieft with dismay, an_or once in his life he forgot to bounce on receiving a disagreeable piece o_ntelligence. In fact, on turning over in his mind all that he had read at th_ague about leagues and combinations, he found that this was a counterpart o_he Amphictyonic League, by which the states of Greece attained such power an_upremacy; and the very idea made his heart quake for the safety of his empir_t the Manhattoes.
  • The affairs of the confederacy were managed by an annual council of delegate_eld at Boston, which Kieft denominated the Delphos of this truly classi_eague. The very first meeting gave evidence of hostility to the Ne_ederlanders, who were charged, in their dealings with the Indians, wit_arrying on a traffic in "guns, powther, and shott—a trade damnable an_njurious to the colonists." It is true the Connecticut traders were fain t_abble a little in this damnable traffic; but then they always dealt in wha_ere termed Yankee guns, ingeniously calculated to burst in the pagan hand_hich used them.
  • The rise of this potent confederacy was a death-blow to the glory of Willia_he Testy, for from that day forward he never held up his head, but appeare_uite crestfallen. It is true, as the grand council augmented in power, an_he league, rolling onward, gathered about the red hills of New Haven,
  • threatening to overwhelm the Nieuw Nederlandts, he continued occasionally t_ulminate proclamations and protests, as a shrewd sea captain fires his gun_nto a water spout, but, alas! they had no more effect than so many blan_artridges.
  • Thus end the authenticated chronicles of the reign of William the Testy, fo_enceforth, in the troubles, perplexities, and confusion of the times, h_eems to have been totally overlooked, and to have slipped for ever throug_he fingers of scrupulous history. It is a matter of deep concern that suc_bscurity should hang over his latter days; for he was in truth a mighty an_reat little man, and worthy of being utterly renowned, seeing that he was th_irst potentate that introduced into this land the art of fighting b_roclamation, and defending a country by trumpeters and windmills.
  • It is true that certain of the early provincial poets, of whom there wer_reat numbers in the Nieuw Nederlandts, taking advantage of his mysteriou_xit, have fabled that, like Romulus, he was translated to the skies, an_orms a very fiery little star, somewhere on the left claw of the crab; whil_thers, equally fanciful, declare that he had experienced a fate similar t_hat of the good King Arthur, who, we are assured by ancient bards, wa_arried away to the delicious abodes of fairyland, where he still exists i_ristine worth and vigor, and will one day or another return to restore th_allantry, the honor, and the immaculate probity, which prevailed in th_lorious days of the Round Table.[[37]](footnotes.xml#footnote_37)
  • All these, however, are but pleasing fantasies, the cobweb visions of thos_reaming varlets the poets, to which I would not have my judicious reade_ttach any credibility. Neither am I disposed to credit an ancient and rathe_pocryphal historian, who asserts that the ingenious Wilhelmus was annihilate_y the blowing down of one of his windmills, nor a writer of later times, wh_ffirms that he fell a victim to an experiment in natural history, having th_isfortune to break his neck from a garret window of the stadthouse i_ttempting to catch swallows by sprinkling salt upon their tails. Still les_o I put my faith in the tradition that he perished at sea in conveying hom_o Holland a treasure of golden ore, discovered somewhere among the haunte_egions of the Catskill mountains.[[38]](footnotes.xml#footnote_38)
  • The most probable account declares, that what with the constant troubles o_is frontiers—the incessant schemings and projects going on in his ow_ericranium—the memorials, petitions, remonstrances, and sage pieces of advic_f respectable meetings of the sovereign people, and the refractor_isposition of his councillors, who were sure to differ from him on ever_oint, and uniformly to be in the wrong—his mind was kept in a furnace heat,
  • until he became as completely burnt out as a Dutch family pipe which ha_assed through three generations of hard smokers. In this manner did h_ndergo a kind of animal combustion consuming away like a farthing rushlight,
  • so that when grim Death finally snuffed him out, there was scarcely lef_nough of him to bury!