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Chapter 2

  • Jan Claudius Risingh, who succeeded to the command of New Sweden, loom_argely in ancient records as a gigantic Swede, who, had he not been rathe_nock-kneed and splay-footed, might have served for the model of a Samson or _ercules. He was no less rapacious than mighty, and withal, as crafty as h_as rapacious, so that there is very little doubt that, had he lived some fou_r five centuries since, he would have figured as one of those wicked giants,
  • who took a cruel pleasure in pocketing beautiful princesses and distresse_amsels, when gadding about the world, and locking them up in enchante_astles, without a toilet, a change of linen, or any other convenience. I_onsequence of which enormities they fell under the high displeasure o_hivalry, and all true, loyal, and gallant knights were instructed to attac_nd slay outright any miscreant they might happen to find above six feet high;
  • which is doubtless one reason why the race of large men is nearly extinct, an_he generations of latter ages are so exceedingly small.
  • Governor Risingh, not withstanding his giantly condition, was, as I hav_inted, a man of craft. He was not a man to ruffle the vanity of General Va_offenburgh, or to rub his self-conceit against the grain. On the contrary, a_e sailed up the Delaware, he paused before Fort Casimir, displayed his flag,
  • and fired a royal salute before dropping anchor. The salute would doubtles_ave been returned, had not the guns been dismounted; as it was, a vetera_entinel who had been napping at his post, and had suffered his match to g_ut, returned the compliment by discharging his musket with the spark of _ipe borrowed from a comrade. Governor Risingh accepted this as a courteou_eply, and treated the fortress to a second salute, well knowing its commande_as apt to be marvelously delighted with these little ceremonials, considerin_hem so many acts of homage paid to his greatness. He then prepared to lan_ith a military retinue of thirty men, a prodigious pageant in the wilderness.
  • And now took place a terrible rummage and racket in Fort Casimir, to receiv_uch a visitor in proper style, and to make an imposing appearance. The mai_uard was turned out as soon as possible, equipped to the best advantage i_he few suits of regimentals, which had to do duty, by turns, with the whol_arrison. One tall, lank fellow appeared in a little man's coat, with th_uttons between his shoulders; the skirts scarce covering his bottom; hi_ands hanging like spades out of the sleeves; and the coat linked in front b_orsted loops made out of a pair of red garters. Another had a cocked ha_tuck on the back of his head, and decorated with a bunch of cocks' tails; _hird had a pair of rusty gaiters hanging about his heels; while a fourth, _ittle duck-legged fellow, was equipped in a pair of the general's cast-of_reeches, which he held up with one hand while he grasped his firelock wit_he other. The rest were accoutred in similar style, excepting thre_agamuffins without shirts, and with but a pair and a half of breeches betwee_hem; wherefore they were sent to the black hole, to keep them out of sight,
  • that they might not disgrace the fortress.
  • His men being thus gallantly arrayed—those who lacked muskets shoulderin_pades and pickaxes, and every man being ordered to tuck in his shirttail an_ull up his brogues—General Van Poffenburgh first took a sturdy draught o_oaming ale, which, like the magnanimous More, of Mor_all,[[47]](footnotes.xml#footnote_47) was his invariable practice on al_reat occasions; this done, he put himself at their head, and issued fort_rom his castle like a mighty giant just refreshed with wine. But when the tw_eroes met, then began a scene of warlike parade that beggars all description.
  • The shrewd Risingh, who had grown grey much before his time, in consequence o_is craftiness, saw at one glance the ruling passion of the great Va_offenburgh, and humored him in all his valorous fantasies.
  • Their detachments were accordingly drawn up in front of each other, the_arried arms and they presented arms, they gave the standing salute and th_assing salute, they rolled their drums, they flourished their fifes, and the_aved their colors; they faced to the left, and they faced to the right, an_hey faced to the right about; they wheeled forward, and they wheele_ackward, and they wheeled into echelon; they marched and they countermarched,
  • by grand divisions, by single divisions, and by subdivisions; by platoons, b_ections, and by files; in quick time, in slow time, and in no time at all;
  • for, having gone through all the evolutions of two great armies, including th_ighteen manoeuvres of Dundas; having exhausted all that they could recollec_r image of military tactics, including sundry strange and irregula_volutions, the like of which were never seen before or since, excepting amon_ertain of our newly-raised militia, the two commanders and their respectiv_roops came at length to a dead halt, completely exhausted by the toils o_ar. Never did two valiant train-band captains, or two buskined theatri_eroes, in the renowned tragedies of Pizarro, Tom Thumb, or any other heroica_nd fighting tragedy, marshal their gallows-looking, duck-legged, heavy-heele_yrmidons with more glory and self-admiration.
  • These military compliments being finished, General Van Poffenburgh escorte_is illustrious visitor, with great ceremony, into the fort, attended hi_hroughout the fortifications, showed him the horn-works, crown-works, half-
  • moons, and various other outworks, or rather the places where they ought to b_rected, and where they might be erected if he pleased; plainly demonstratin_hat it was a place of "great capability," and though at present but a littl_edoubt, yet that it was evidently a formidable fortress in embryo. Thi_urvey over, he next had the whole garrison put under arms, exercised, an_eviewed, and concluded by ordering the three Bridewell birds to be hauled ou_f the black hole, brought up to the halberds, and soundly flogged for th_musement of his visitors, and to convince him that he was a grea_isciplinarian.
  • The cunning Risingh, while he pretended to be struck dumb outright with th_uissance of the great Van Poffenburgh, took silent note of the incompetenc_f his garrison, of which he gave a wink to his trusty followers, who tippe_ach other the wink, and laughed most obstreperously in their sleeves.
  • The inspection, review, and flogging being concluded, the party adjourned t_he table; for, among his other great qualities, the general was remarkabl_ddicted to huge carousals, and in one afternoon's campaign would leave mor_ead men on the field than he ever did in the whole course of his militar_areer. Many bulletins of these bloodless victories do still remain on record,
  • and the whole province was once thrown in amaze by the return of one of hi_ampaigns, wherein it was stated, that though, like Captain Bobadil, he ha_nly twenty men to back him, yet in the short space of six months he ha_onquered and utterly annihilated sixty oxen, ninety hogs, one hundred sheep,
  • ten thousand cabbages, one thousand bushels of potatoes, one hundred and fift_ilderkins of small beer, two thousand seven hundred and thirty-five pipes,
  • seventy-eight pounds of sugar-plums, and forty bars of iron, besides sundr_mall meats, game, poultry, and garden stuff: an achievement unparallele_ince the days of Pantagruel and his all-devouring army, and which showed tha_t was only necessary to let Van Poffenburgh and his garrison loose in a_nemy's country, and in a little while they would breed a famine, and starv_ll the inhabitants.
  • No sooner, therefore, had the general received intimation of the visit o_overnor Risingh, than he ordered a great dinner to be prepared, and privatel_ent out a detachment of his most experienced veterans to rob all the hen-
  • roosts in the neighborhood, and lay the pigstyes under contribution: a servic_hich they discharged with such zeal and promptitude, that the garrison tabl_roaned under the weight of their spoils.
  • I wish, with all my heart, my readers could see the valiant Van Poffenburgh,
  • as he presided at the head of the banquet: it was a sight worth beholding:
  • there he sat in his greatest glory, surrounded by his soldiers, like tha_amous wine-bibber, Alexander, whose thirsty virtues he did most ably imitate,
  • telling astounding stories of his hair-breadth adventures and heroic exploits;
  • at which, though all his auditors knew them to be incontinent lies an_utrageous gasconades, yet did they cast up their eyes in admiration, an_tter many interjections of astonishment. Nor could the general pronounc_nything that bore the remotest resemblance to a joke, but the stout Rising_ould strike his brawny fist upon the table till every glass rattled again,
  • throw himself back in the chair, utter gigantic peals of laughter, and swea_ost horribly it was the best joke he ever heard in his life. Thus all wa_out and revelry and hideous carousal within Fort Casimir, and so lustily di_an Poffenburgh ply the bottle, that in less than four short hours he mad_imself and his whole garrison, who all sedulously emulated the deeds of thei_hieftain, dead drunk, with singing songs, quaffing bumpers, and drinkin_atriotic toasts, none of which but was as long as a Welsh pedigree or a ple_n Chancery.
  • No sooner did things come to this pass, than Risingh and his Swedes, who ha_unningly kept themselves sober, rose on their entertainers, tied them nec_nd heels, and took formal possession of the fort and all its dependencies, i_he name of Queen Christina of Sweden, administering at the same time an oat_f allegiance to all the Dutch soldiers who could be made sober enough t_wallow it. Risingh then put the fortifications in order, appointed hi_iscreet and vigilant friend Suen Schute, otherwise called Skytte, a tall,
  • wind-dried, water-drinking Swede, to the command, and departed, bearing wit_im this truly amiable garrison and its puissant commander, who, when brough_o himself by a sound drubbing, bore no little resemblance to a "deboshe_ish," or bloated sea-monster, caught upon dry land.
  • The transportation of the garrison was done to prevent the transmission o_ntelligence to New Amsterdam; for much as the cunning Risingh exulted in hi_tratagem, yet did he dread the vengeance of the sturdy Peter Stuyvesant,
  • whose name spread as much terror in the neighborhood as did whilom that of th_nconquerable Scanderbeg among his scurvy enemies the Turks.