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Chapter 3

  • Now it came to pass, that while Peter Stuyvesant was busy regulating th_nternal affairs of his domain, the great Yankee league, which had caused suc_ribulation to William the Testy, continued to increase in extent and power.
  • The grand Amphictyonic council of the league was held at Boston, where it spu_ web which threatened to link within it all the mighty principalities an_owers of the east. The object proposed by this formidable combination wa_utual protection and defence against their savage neighbors; but all th_orld knows the real aim was to form a grand crusade against the Nieu_ederlandts and to get possession of the city of the Manhattoes—as devout a_bject of enterprise and ambition to the Yankees as was ever the capture o_erusalem to ancient Crusaders.
  • In the very year following the inauguration of Governor Stuyvesant, a gran_eputation departed from the city of Providence (famous for its dusty street_nd beauteous women) in behalf of the plantation of Rhode Island, praying t_e admitted into the league.
  • The following minute of this deputation appears in the ancient records of th_ouncil.[[40]](footnotes.xml#footnote_40)
  • "Mr. Will. Cottington and Captain Partridg of Rhoode Island presented thi_nsewing request to the commissioners in wrighting——
  • > "Our request and motion is in behalfe of Rhoode Iland, that wee the ilander_f Rhoode Iland may be rescauied into combination with all the united colonye_f New England in a firme and perpetual league of friendship and amity o_fence and defence, mutuall advice and succor upon all just occasions for ou_utuall safety and wellfaire, etc.
  • > "WILL COTTINGTON.
  • > "ALICXSANDER PARTRIDG."
  • There was certainly something in the very physiognomy of this document tha_ight well inspire apprehension. The name of Alexander, however mis-spelt, ha_een warlike in every age, and though its fierceness is in some measur_oftened by being coupled with the gentle cognomen of Partridge, still, lik_he color of scarlet, it bears an exceeding great resemblance to the sound o_ trumpet. From the style of the letter, moreover, and the soldier-lik_gnorance of orthography displayed by the noble Captain Alicxsander Partrid_n spelling his own name, we may picture to ourselves this mighty man o_hodes, strong in arms, potent in the field, and as great a scholar as thoug_e had been educated among that learned people of Thrace, who, Aristotl_ssures us, could not count beyond the number four.
  • The result of this great Yankee league was augmented audacity on the part o_he moss-troopers of Connecticut, pushing their encroachments farther an_arther into the territories of their High Mightinesses, so that even th_nhabitants of New Amsterdam began to draw short breath, and to fin_hemselves exceedingly cramped for elbow-room.
  • Peter Stuyvesant was not a man to submit quietly to such intrusions; his firs_mpulse was to march at once to the frontier, and kick these squatting Yankee_ut of the country; but, bethinking himself in time that he was now a governo_nd legislator, the policy of the statesman for once cooled the fire of th_ld soldier, and he determined to try his hand at negotiation. _orrespondence accordingly ensued between him and the great council of th_eague, and it was agreed that commissioners from either side should meet a_artford, to settle boundaries, adjust grievances, and establish a "perpetua_nd happy peace."
  • The commissioners on the part of the Manhattoes were chosen, according t_mmemorial usage of that venerable metropolis, from among the "wisest an_eightiest" men of the community; that is to say, men with the oldest head_nd heaviest pockets. Among these sages the veteran navigator, Hans Reinie_othout, who had made such extensive discoveries during the time of Oloffe th_reamer, was looked up to as an oracle in all matters of the kind; and he wa_eady to produce the very spy-glass with which he first spied the mouth of th_onnecticut river from his masthead, and all the world knows that th_iscovery of the mouth of the river gives prior right to all the lands draine_y its waters.
  • It was with feelings of pride and exultation that the good people of th_anhattoes saw two of the richest and most ponderous burghers departing o_his embassy; men whose word on 'Change was oracular, and in whose presence n_oor man ventured to appear without taking off his hat: when it was seen, too,
  • that the veteran Reinier Oothout accompanied them with his spy-glass under hi_rm, all the old men and old women predicted that men of such weight, wit_uch evidence, would leave the Yankees no alternative but to pack up their ti_ettles and wooden wares, put wife and children in a cart, and abandon all th_ands of their High Mightinesses on which they had squatted.
  • In truth, the commissioners sent to Hartford by the league seemed in no wis_alculated to compete with men of such capacity. They were two lean Yanke_awyers, litigious-looking varlets, and evidently men of no substance, sinc_hey had no rotundity in the belt, and there was no jingling of money in thei_ockets; it is true they had longer heads than the Dutchmen; but if the head_f the latter were flat at top, they were broad at bottom, and what wa_anting in height of forehead was made up by a double chin.
  • The negotiation turned as usual upon the good old corner-stone of origina_iscovery; according to the principle that he who first sees a new country ha_n unquestionable right to it. This being admitted, the veteran Oothout, at _oncerted signal, stepped forth in the assembly with the identical tarpauli_py-glass in his hand with which he had discovered the mouth of th_onnecticut, while the worthy Dutch commissioners lolled back in their chairs,
  • secretly chuckling at the idea of having for once got the weather-gauge of th_ankees, but what was their dismay when the latter produced a Nantucket whale_ith a spy-glass, twice as long, with which he discovered the whole coast,
  • quite down to the Manhattoes: and so crooked that he had spied with it up th_hole course of the Connecticut river. This principle pushed home, therefore,
  • the Yankees had a right to the whole country bordering on the Sound; nay, th_ity of New Amsterdam was a mere Dutch squatting-place on their territories.
  • I forbear to dwell upon the confusion of the worthy Dutch commissioners a_inding their main pillar of proof thus knocked from under them; neither wil_ pretend to describe the consternation of the wise men at the Manhattoes whe_hey learnt how their commissioner, had been out-trumped by the Yankees, an_ow the latter pretended to claim to the very gates of New Amsterdam.
  • Long was the negotiation protracted, and long was the public mind kept in _tate of anxiety. There are two modes of settling boundary questions, when th_laims of the opposite parties are irreconcilable. One is by an appeal t_rms, in which case the weakest party is apt to lose its right, and get _roken head into the bargain; the other mode is by compromise, or mutua_oncession—that is to say, one party cedes half of its claims, and the othe_arty half of its rights; he who grasps most gets most, and the whole i_ronounced an equitable division, "perfectly honorable to both parties."
  • The latter mode was adopted in the present instance. The Yankees gave u_laims to vast tracts of the Nieuw Nederlandts which they had never seen, an_ll right to the island of Manna-hata and the city of New Amsterdam, to whic_hey had no right at all; while the Dutch, in return, agreed that the Yankee_hould retain possession of the frontier places where they had squatted, an_f both sides of the Connecticut river.
  • When the news of this treaty arrived at New Amsterdam, the whole city was i_n uproar of exultation. The old women rejoiced that there was to be no war,
  • the old men that their cabbage-gardens were safe from invasion; while th_olitical sages pronounced the treaty a great triumph over the Yankees,
  • considering how much they had claimed, and how little they had been "fobbe_ff with."
  • And now my worthy reader is, doubtless, like the great and good Peter,
  • congratulating himself with the idea that his feelings will no longer b_arassed by afflicting details of stolen horses, broken heads, impounded hogs,
  • and all the other catalogue of heart-rending cruelties that disgraced thes_order wars. But if he should indulge in such expectations, it is a proof tha_e is but little versed in the paradoxical ways of cabinets; to convince hi_f which I solicit his serious attention to my next chapter, wherein I wil_how that Peter Stuyvesant has already committed a great error in politics,
  • and, by effecting a peace, has materially hazarded the tranquillity of th_rovince.