Having in the trifling digression which concluded the last chapter discharge_he filial duty which the city of New York owed to Communipaw, as being th_other settlement; and having given a faithful picture of it as it stands a_resent, I return with a soothing sentiment of self-approbation to dwell upo_ts early history. The crew of the Goede Vrouw being soon reinforced by fres_mportations from Holland, the settlement went jollily on increasing i_agnitude and prosperity. The neighboring Indians in a short time becam_ccustomed to the uncouth sound of the Dutch language, and an intercours_radually took place between them and the new comers. The Indians were muc_iven to long talks, and the Dutch to long silence; in this particular,
therefore, they accommodated each other completely. The chiefs would make lon_peeches about the big bull, the wabash, and the Great Spirit, to which th_thers would listen very attentively, smoke their pipes, and grunt yah, myn-
her; whereat the poor savages were wondrously delighted. They instructed th_ew settlers in the best art of curing and smoking tobacco, while the latte_n return, made them drunk with true Hollands, and then taught them the art o_aking bargains.
A brisk trade for furs was soon opened. The Dutch traders were scrupulousl_onest in their dealings, and purchased by weight, establishing it as a_nvariable table of avoirdupois that the hand of a Dutchman weighed one pound,
and his foot two pounds. It is true the simple Indians were often puzzled b_he great disproportion between bulk and weight, for let them place a bundl_f furs never so large in one scale, and a Dutchman put his hand or foot i_he other, the bundle was sure to kick the beam; never was a package of fur_nown to weigh more than two pounds in the market of Communipaw!
This is a singular fact; but I have it direct from my great-great-grandfather,
who had risen to considerable importance in the colony, being promoted to th_ffice of weigh-master, on account of the uncommon heaviness of his foot.
The Dutch possessions in this part of the globe began now to assume a ver_hriving appearance, and were comprehended under the general title of Nieu_ederlandts, on account, as the sage Vander Donck observes, of their grea_esemblance to the Dutch Netherlands, which indeed was truly remarkable,
excepting that the former was rugged and mountainous, and the latter level an_arshy. About this time the tranquillity of the Dutch colonists was doomed t_uffer a temporary interruption. In 1614, Captain Sir Samuel Argal, sailin_nder a commission from Dale, Governor of Virginia, visited the Dutc_ettlements on Hudson River, and demanded their submission to the Englis_rown and Virginian dominion. To this arrogant demand, as they were in n_ondition to resist it, they submitted for the time, like discreet an_easonable men.
It does not appear that the valiant Argal molested the settlement o_ommunipaw; on the contrary, I am told that when his vessel first hove i_ight, the worthy burghers were seized with such a panic that they fell t_moking their pipes with astonishing vehemence; insomuch that they quickl_aised a cloud, which, combining with the surrounding woods and marshes,
completely enveloped and concealed their beloved village, and overhung th_air regions of Pavonia—so that the terrible Captain Argal passed on, totall_nsuspicious that a sturdy little Dutch settlement lay snugly couched in th_ud, under cover of all this pestilent vapor. In commemoration of thi_ortunate escape, the worthy inhabitants have continued to smoke almos_ithout intermission unto this very day, which is said to be the cause of th_emarkable fog which often hangs over Communipaw of a clear afternoon.
Upon the departure of the enemy our magnanimous ancestors took full six month_o recover their wind, having been exceedingly discomposed by th_onsternation and hurry of affairs. They then called a council of safety t_moke over the state of the provinces. At this council presided one Oloffe Va_ortlandt, who had originally been one of a set of peripatetic philosopher_ho passed much of their time sunning themselves on the side of the grea_anal of Amsterdam in Holland; enjoying, like Diogenes, a free an_nencumbered estate in sunshine. His name Kortlandt (Shortland or Lackland)
was supposed, like that of the illustrious Jean Sansterre, to indicate that h_ad no land; but he insisted, on the contrary, that he had great lande_states somewhere in Terra Incognita; and he had come out to the new world t_ook after them.
Like all land speculators, he was much given to dreaming. Never did anythin_xtraordinary happen at Communipaw but he declared that he had previousl_reamt it, being one of those infallible prophets who predict events afte_hey have come to pass. This supernatural gift was as highly valued among th_urghers of Pavonia as among the enlightened nations of antiquity. The wis_lysses was more indebted to his sleeping than his waking moments for his mos_ubtle achievements, and seldom undertook any great exploit without firs_oundly sleeping upon it; and the same may be said of Oloffe Van Kortlandt,
who was thence aptly denominated Oloffe the Dreamer.
As yet his dreams and speculations had turned to little personal profit; an_e was as much a lackland as ever. Still he carried a high head in th_ommunity: if his sugar-loaf hat was rather the worse for wear, he set it of_ith a taller cock's tail; if his shirt was none of the cleanest, he puffed i_ut the more at the bosom; and if the tail of it peeped out of a hole in hi_reeches, it at least proved that it really had a tail and was not a mer_uffle.
The worthy Van Kortlandt, in the council in question, urged the policy o_merging from the swamps of Communipaw and seeking some more eligible site fo_he seat of empire. Such, he said, was the advice of the good St. Nicholas,
who had appeared to him in a dream the night before, and whom he had known b_is broad hat, his long pipe, and the resemblance which he bore to the figur_n the bow of the Goede Vrouw.
Many have thought this dream was a mere invention of Oloffe Van Kortlandt,
who, it is said, had ever regarded Communipaw with an evil eye, because he ha_rrived there after all the land had been shared out, and who was anxious t_hange the seat of empire to some new place, where he might be present at th_istribution of "town lots." But we must not give heed to such insinuations,
which are too apt to be advanced against those worthy gentlemen engaged i_aying out towns and in other land speculations.
This perilous enterprise was to be conducted by Oloffe himself, who chose a_ieutenants, or coadjutors, Mynheers Abraham Harden Broeck, Jacobus Van Zandt,
and Winant Ten Broeck—three indubitably great men, but of whose history,
although I have made diligent inquiry, I can learn but little previous t_heir leaving Holland. Nor need this occasion much surprise; for adventurers,
like prophets, though they make great noise abroad, have seldom much celebrit_n their own countries; but this much is certain that the overflowings an_ffscourings of a country are invariably composed of the richest parts of th_oil. And here I cannot help remarking how convenient it would be to many o_ur great men and great families of doubtful origin, could they have th_rivilege of the heroes of yore, who, whenever their origin was involved i_bscurity, modestly announced themselves descended from a god, and who neve_isited a foreign country but what they told some cock-and-bull stories abou_heir being kings and princes at home. This venal trespass on the truth,
though it has been occasionally played off by some pseudo marquis, baronet,
and other illustrious foreigner, in our land of good-natured credulity, ha_een completely discountenanced in this sceptical, matter-of-fact age; and _ven question whether any tender virgin, who was accidentally an_naccountably enriched with a bantling, would save her character at parlo_iresides and evening tea-parties by ascribing the phenomenon to a swan, _hower of gold, or a river god.
Had I the benefit of mythology and classic fable above alluded to, I shoul_ave furnished the first of the trio with a pedigree equal to that of th_roudest hero of antiquity. His name, Van Zandt—that is to say, from th_irt—gave reasons to suppose that, like Triptolemus, Themis, the Cyclops, an_he Titans, he had sprung from Dame Terra or the Earth! This supposition i_trongly corroborated by his size, for it is well known that all the progen_f Mother Earth were of a gigantic stature; and Van Zandt, we are told, was _all, raw-boned man, above six feet high, with an astonishingly hard head. No_s this origin of the illustrious Van Zandt a whit more improbable o_epugnant to belief than what is related and universally admitted of certai_f our greatest, or rather richest, men, who we are told with the utmos_ravity did originally spring from a dunghill!
Of the second of the trio but faint accounts have reached to this time, whic_ention that he was a sturdy, obstinate, worrying, bustling little man; and,
from being usually equipped in an old pair of buckskins, was familiarly dubbe_arden Broeck, or Tough Breeches.
Ten Broeck completed this junto of adventurers. It is a singular but ludicrou_act, which, were I not scrupulous in recording the whole truth, I shoul_lmost be tempted to pass over in silence, as incompatible with the gravit_nd dignity of history, that this worthy gentleman should likewise have bee_icknamed from what in modern times is considered the most ignoble part of th_ress. But, in truth, the small-clothes seems to have been a very dignifie_arment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors, in all probability from it_overing that part of the body which has been pronounced "the seat of honor."
The name of Ten Broeck, or, as it was sometimes spelt, Tin Broeck, has bee_ndifferently translated into Ten Breeches and Tin Breeches. The most elegan_nd ingenious writers on the subject declare in favor of Tin, or rather Thin,
Breeches; whence they infer that the original bearer of it was a poor bu_erry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest, and who,
peradventure, may have been the author of that truly philosophical stanza:——
"Then why should we quarrel for riches,Or any such glittering toys?A ligh_eart and thin pair of breechesWill go through the world, my brave boys!"Th_igh Dutch commentators, however, declare in favor of the other reading, an_ffirm that the worthy in question was a burly, bulbous man, who, in shee_stentation of his venerable progenitors, was the first to introduce into th_ettlement the ancient Dutch fashion of ten pair of breeches.
Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by Oloffe the Dreamer to accompany hi_n this voyage into unknown realms; as to the names of his crews they have no_een handed down by history.
Having, as I before observed, passed much of his life in the open air, amon_he peripatetic philosophers of Amsterdam, Oloffe had become familiar with th_spect of the heavens, and could as accurately determine when a storm wa_rewing or a squall rising as a dutiful husband can foresee, from the brow o_is spouse, when a tempest is gathering about his ears. Having pitched upon _ime for his voyage, when the skies appeared propitious, he exhorted all hi_rews to take a good night's rest, wind up their family affairs, and mak_heir wills; precautions taken by our forefathers, even in after times whe_hey became more adventurous, and voyaged to Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, o_roodt Esopus, or any other far country, beyond the great waters of the Tappe_ee.