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Chapter 4

  • To explain the apparently sudden movement of Peter Stuyvesant against th_rafty men of the East Country, I would observe that, during his campaigns o_he South River, and in the enchanted regions of the Catskill Mountains, th_welve tribes of the East had been more than usually active in prosecutin_heir subtle scheme for the subjugation of the Nieuw Nederlands.
  • Independent of the incessant maraudings among hen-roosts and squattings alon_he border, invading armies would penetrate, from time to time, into the ver_eart of the country. As their prototypes of yore went forth into the land o_anaan, with their wives and their children, their men-servants and thei_aid-servants, their flocks and herds, to settle themselves down in the lan_nd possess it; so these chosen people of modern days would progress throug_he country in patriarchal style, conducting carts and waggons laden wit_ousehold furniture, with women and children piled on top, and pots an_ettles dangling beneath. At the tail of these vehicles would stalk a crew o_ong-limbed, lank-sided varlets with axes on their shoulders, and packs o_heir backs, resolutely bent upon "locating" themselves, as they termed it,
  • and improving the country. These were the most dangerous kind of invaders. I_s true they were guilty of no overt acts of hostility; but it was notoriou_hat, wherever they got a footing, the honest Dutchmen gradually disappeared,
  • retiring slowly as do the Indians before the white men; being in some way o_ther talked and chaffered, and bargained and swapped, and, in plain English,
  • elbowed out of all those rich bottoms and fertile nooks in which our Dutc_eomanry are prone to nestle themselves.
  • Peter Stuyvesant was at length roused to this kind of war in disguise, b_hich the Yankees were craftily aiming to subjugate his dominions.
  • He was a man easily taken in, it is true, as all great-hearted men are apt t_e; but if he once found it out, his wrath was terrible. He now thre_iplomacy to the dogs, determined to appear no more by ambassadors, but t_epair in person to the great council of the Amphictyons, bearing the sword i_ne hand and the olive-branch in the other, and giving them their choice o_incere and honest peace, or open and iron war.
  • His privy council were astonished and dismayed when he announced hi_etermination. For once they ventured to remonstrate, setting forth th_ashness of venturing his sacred person in the midst of a strange an_arbarous people. They might as well have tried to turn a rusty weathercoc_ith a broken-winded bellows. In the fiery heart of the iron-headed Peter sa_nthroned the five kinds of courage described by Aristotle, and had th_hilosopher enumerated five hundred more, I verily believed he would hav_ossessed them all. As to that better part of valor called discretion, it wa_oo cold-blooded a virtue for his tropical temperament.
  • Summoning, therefore, to his presence his trusty follower, Antony Van Corlear,
  • he commanded him to hold himself in readiness to accompany him the followin_orning on this his hazardous enterprise.
  • Now Antony the Trumpeter was by this time a little stricken in years, yet b_int of keeping up a good heart, and having never known care or sorrow (havin_ever been married), he was still a hearty, jocund, rubicund, gamesome wag,
  • and of great capacity in the doublet. This last was ascribed to his living _olly life on those domains at the Hook, which Peter Stuyvesant had granted t_im for his gallantry at Fort Casimir.
  • Be this as it may, there was nothing that more delighted Antony than thi_ommand of the great Peter, for he could have followed the stout-hearted ol_overnor to the world's end, with love and loyalty—and he moreover stil_emembered the frolicing, and dancing, and bundling, and other disports of th_ast country, and entertained dainty recollections of numerous kind and buxo_asses, whom he longed exceedingly again to encounter.
  • Thus then did this mirror of hardihood set forth, with no other attendant bu_is trumpeter, upon one of the most perilous enterprises ever recorded in th_nnals of knight-errantry. For a single warrior to venture openly among _hole nation of foes—but, above all, for a plain, downright Dutchman to thin_f negotiating with the whole council of New England!—never was there known _ore desperate undertaking! Ever since I have entered upon the chronicles o_his peerless, but hitherto uncelebrated, chieftain, has he kept me in a stat_f incessant action and anxiety with the toils and dangers he is constantl_ncountering. Oh, for a chapter of the tranquil reign of Wouter Van Twiller,
  • that I might repose on it as on a feather-bed!
  • Is it not enough, Peter Stuyvesant, that I have once already rescued thee fro_he machinations of these terrible Amphictyons, by bringing the powers o_itchcraft to thine aid? Is it not enough that I have followed thee undaunted,
  • like a guardian spirit, into the midst of the horrid battle of Fort Christina?
  • That I have been put incessantly to my trumps to keep them safe and sound—no_arding off with my single pen the shower of dastard blows that fell upon th_ear—now narrowly shielding thee from a deadly thrust by a mere tobacco-
  • box—now casing thy dauntless skull with adamant, when even thy stubborn ra_eaver failed to resist the sword of the stout Risingh—and now, not merel_ringing thee off alive, but triumphant, from the clutches of the giganti_wede, by the desperate means of a paltry stone pottle? Is not all thi_nough, but must thou still be plunging into new difficulties, and hazardin_n headlong enterprises thyself, thy trumpeter, and thy historian?
  • And now the ruddy-faced Aurora, like a buxom chambermaid, draws aside th_able curtains of the night, and out bounces from his bed the jolly red-haire_hoebus, startled at being caught so late in the embraces of Dame Thetis. Wit_any a stable-boy oath he harnesses his brazen-footed steeds, and whips, an_ashes, and splashes up the firmament, like a loitering coachman, half-an-hou_ehind his time. And now behold that imp of fame and prowess, the headstron_eter, bestriding a raw-boned, switch-tailed charger, gallantly arrayed i_ull regimentals, and bracing on his thigh that trusty, brass-hilted sword,
  • which had wrought such fearful deeds on the banks of the Delaware.
  • Behold hard after him his doughty trumpeter, Van Corlear, mounted on a broken-
  • winded, walleyed, calico mare; his stone pottle, which had laid low the might_isingh, slung under his arm; and his trumpet displayed vauntingly in hi_ight hand, decorated with a gorgeous banner, on which is emblazoned the grea_eaver of the Manhattoes. See them proudly issuing out of the city gate, lik_n iron clad hero of yore, with his faithful squire at his heels; the populac_ollowing with their eyes, and shouting many a parting wish and heart_heering, Farewell, Hardkoppig Piet! Farewell, honest Antony! pleasant be you_ayfaring, prosperous your return!—the stoutest hero that ever drew a sword,
  • and the worthiest trumpeter that ever trod shoe-leather!
  • Legends are lamentably silent about the events that befell our adventurers i_his their adventurous travel, excepting the Stuyvesant manuscript, whic_ives the substance of a pleasant little heroic poem, written on the occasio_y Dominie Ægidius Luyck,[[57]](footnotes.xml#footnote_57) who appears to hav_een the poet laureate of New Amsterdam. This inestimable manuscript assure_s that it was a rare spectacle to behold the great Peter and his loya_ollower hailing the morning sun, and rejoicing in the clear countenance o_ature, as they pranced it through the pastoral scenes of Bloemen Dael; whic_n those days was a sweet and rural valley, beautiful with many a bright wil_lower, refreshed by many a pure streamlet, and enlivened here and there by _electable little Dutch cottage, sheltered under some sloping hill, and almos_uried in embowering trees.
  • Now did they enter upon the confines of Connecticut, where they encountere_any grievous difficulties and perils. At one place they were assailed by _roop of country squires and militia colonels, who, mounted on goodly steeds,
  • hung upon their rear for several miles, harassing them exceedingly wit_uesses and questions, more especially the worthy Peter, whose silver-chase_eg excited not a little marvel. At another place, hard by the renowned tow_f Stamford, they were set upon by a great and mighty legion of churc_eacons, who imperiously demanded of them five shillings for traveling o_unday, and threatened to carry them captive to a neighboring church, whos_teeple peered above the trees; but these the valiant Peter put to rout wit_ittle difficulty, insomuch that they bestrode their canes and galloped off i_orrible confusion, leaving their cocked hats behind in the hurry of thei_light. But not so easily did he escape from the hands of a crafty man o_yquag; who, with undaunted perseverance and repeated onsets, fairly bargaine_im out of his goodly switch-tailed charger, leaving in place thereof _illainous, foundered Narraganset pacer.
  • But, maugre all these hardships, they pursued their journey cheerily along th_ourse of the soft flowing Connecticut, whose gentle waves, says the song,
  • roll through many a fertile vale and sunny plain; now reflecting the loft_pires of the bustling city, and now the rural beauties of the humble hamlet;
  • now echoing with the busy hum of commerce, and now with the cheerful song o_he peasant.
  • At every town would Peter Stuyvesant, who was noted for warlike punctilio,
  • order the sturdy Antony to sound a courteous salutation; though the manuscrip_bserves that the inhabitants were thrown into great dismay when they heard o_is approach. For the fame of his incomparable achievements on the Delawar_ad spread throughout the east country, and they dreaded lest he had come t_ake vengeance on their manifold transgressions.
  • But the good Peter rode through these towns with a smiling aspect, waving hi_and with inexpressible majesty and condescension; for he verily believed tha_he old clothes which these ingenious people had thrust into their broke_indows, and the festoons of dried apples and peaches which ornamented th_ronts of their houses, were so many decorations in honor of his approach, a_t was the custom in the days of chivalry to compliment renowned heroes b_umptuous displays of tapestry and gorgeous furniture. The women crowded t_he doors to gaze upon him as he passed, so much does prowess in arms deligh_he gentler sex. The little children, too, ran after him in troops, starin_ith wonder at his regimentals, his brimstone breeches, and the silve_arniture of his wooden leg. Nor must I omit to mention the joy which man_trapping wenches betrayed at beholding the jovial Van Corlear, who had whilo_elighted them so much with his trumpet, when he bore the great Peter'_hallenge to the Amphictyons. The kind-hearted Antony alighted from his calic_are, and kissed them all with infinite loving kindness, and was right please_o see a crew of little trumpeters crowding round him for his blessing, eac_f whom he patted on the head, bade him be a good boy, and gave him a penny t_uy molasses candy.