In the last two chapters I have regaled the reader with a delectable pictur_f the good Peter and his metropolis during an interval of peace. It was,
however, but a bit of blue sky in a stormy day; the clouds are again gatherin_p from all points of thecompass, and, if I am not mistaken in my forebodings,
we shall have rattling weather in the ensuing chapters.
It is with some communities, as it is with certain meddlesome individuals—the_ave a wonderful facility at getting into scrapes; and I have always remarke_hat those are most prone to get in who have the least talent at getting ou_gain. This is doubtless owing to the excessive valor of those states; for _ave likewise noticed that this rampant quality is always most frothy an_ussy where most confined; which accounts for its vaporing so amazingly i_ittle states, little men and ugly little women more especially.
Such is the case with this little province of the Nieuw Nederlands; which, b_ts exceeding valor, has already drawn upon itself a host of enemies; has ha_ighting enough to satisfy a province twice its size, and is in a fair way o_ecoming an exceedingly forlorn, well-belabored, and woebegone littl_rovince. All which was providentially ordered to give interest and sublimit_o this pathetic history.
The first interruption to the halcyon quiet of Peter Stuyvesant was caused b_ostile intelligence from the old belligerent nest of Rensellaersteen.
Killian, the lordly patroon of Rensellaerwick, was again in the field, at th_ead of his myrmidons of the Helderberg seeking to annex the whole of th_atskill mountains to his domains. The Indian tribes of these mountains ha_ikewise taken up the hatchet, and menaced the venerable Dutch settlements o_sopus.
Fain would I entertain the reader with the triumphant campaign of Pete_tuyvesant in the haunted regions of those mountains, but that I hold al_ndian conflicts to be mere barbaric brawls, unworthy of the pen which ha_ecorded the classic war of Fort Christina; and as to these Helderber_ommotions, they are among the flatulencies which from time to time afflic_he bowels of this ancient province, as with a wind-colic, and which I deem i_eemly and decent to pass over in silence.
The next storm of trouble was from the south. Scarcely had the worthy Mynhee_eekman got warm in the seat of authority on the South River, than enemie_egan to spring up all around him. Hard by was a formidable race of savage_nhabiting the gentle region watered by the Susquehanna, of whom the followin_ention is made by Master Hariot in his excellent history:——
"The Susquesahanocks are a giantly people, strange in proportion, behavior,
and attire—their voice sounding from them as out of a cave. Their tobacco-
pipes were three-quarters of a yard long; carved at the great end with a bird,
beare, or other device, sufficient to beat out the brains of a horse. Th_alfe of one of their legges measured three-quarters of a yard about; the res_f the limbs proportionable."[](footnotes.xml#footnote_56)
These gigantic savages and smokers caused no little disquiet in the mind o_ynheer Beekman, threatening to cause a famine of tobacco in the land; but hi_ost formidable enemy was the roaring, roistering English colony of Maryland,
or, as it was anciently written, Merryland; so called because the inhabitants,
not having the fear of the Lord before their eyes, were prone to make merr_nd get fuddled with mint-julep and apple-toddy. They were, moreover, grea_orse-racers and cock-fighters, mighty wrestlers and jumpers, and enormou_onsumers of hoe-cake and bacon. They lay claim to be the first inventors o_hose recondite beverages, cock-tail, stone-fence, and sherry-cobbler, and t_ave discovered the gastronomical merits of terrapins, soft crabs, and canvas-
This rantipole colony, founded by Lord Baltimore, a British nobleman, wa_anaged by his agent, a swaggering Englishman, commonly called Fendall, tha_s to say, "offend all," a name given him for his bullying propensities. Thes_ere seen in a message to Mynheer Beekman, threatening him, unless h_mmediately swore allegiance to Lord Baltimore as the rightful lord of th_oil, to come at the head of the roaring boys of Merryland and the giants o_he Susquehanna, and sweep him and his Nederlanders out of the country.
The trusty sword of Peter Stuyvesant almost leaped from its scabbard, when h_eceived missives from Mynheer Beekman, informing him of the swaggerin_enaces of the bully Fendall; and as to the giantly warriors of th_usquehanna, nothing would have more delighted him than a bout, hand to hand,
with half a score of them, having never encountered a giant in the whol_ourse of his campaigns, unless we may consider the stout Risingh as such, an_e was but a little one.
Nothing prevented his marching instantly to the South River, and enactin_cenes still more glorious than those of Fort Christina, but the necessity o_irst putting a stop to the increasing aggressions and inroads of the Yankees,
so as not to leave an enemy in his rear; but he wrote to Mynheer Beekman t_eep up a bold front and a stout heart, promising, as soon as he had settle_ffairs in the east, that he would hasten to the south with his burly warrior_f the Hudson, to lower the crests of the giants, and mar the merriment of th_errylanders.