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Chapter 8

  • The land being thus fairly purchased of the Indians, a circumstance ver_nusual in the history of colonization, and strongly illustrative of th_onesty of our Dutch progenitors, a stockade fort and trading house wer_orthwith erected on an eminence in front of the place where the good St.
  • Nicholas had appeared in a vision to Oloffe the Dreamer; and which, as ha_lready been observed, was the identical place at present known as the Bowlin_reen.
  • Around this fort a progeny of little Dutch-built houses, with tiled roofs an_eathercocks, soon sprang up, nestling themselves under its walls fo_rotection, as a brood of half-fledged chickens nestle under the wings of th_other hen. The whole was surrounded by an enclosure of strong palisadoes, t_uard against any sudden irruption of the savages. Outside of these extende_he corn-fields and cabbage-gardens of the community, with here and there a_ttempt at a tobacco plantation; all covering those tracts of country a_resent called Broadway, Wall Street, William Street, and Pearl Street, I mus_ot omit to mention, that in portioning out the land a goodly "bowerie" o_arm was allotted to the sage Oloffe, in consideration of the service he ha_endered to the public by his talent at dreaming; and the site of his
  • "bowerie" is known by the name of Kortlandt (or Cortland) Street to th_resent day.
  • And now the infant settlement having advanced in age and stature, it wa_hought high time it should receive an honest Christian name. Hitherto it ha_one by the original Indian name of Manna-hata, or, as some will have it, "Th_anhattoes;" but this was now decried as savage and heathenish, and as tendin_o keep up the memory of the pagan brood that originally possessed it. Man_ere the consultations held upon the subject without coming to a conclusion,
  • for though everybody condemned the old name, nobody could invent a new one. A_ength, when the council was almost in despair, a burgher, remarkable for th_ize and squareness of his head, proposed that they should call it Ne_msterdam. The proposition took everybody by surprise; it was so striking, s_pposite, so ingenious. The name was adopted by acclamation, and New Amsterda_he metropolis was thenceforth called. Still, however, the early authors o_he province continued to call it by the general appelation of "Th_anhattoes," and the poets fondly clung to the euphonious name of Manna-hata;
  • but those are a kind of folk whose tastes and notions should go for nothing i_atters of this kind.
  • Having thus provided the embryo city with a name, the next was to give it a_rmorial bearing or device, as some cities have a rampant lion, others _oaring eagle; emblematical, no doubt, of the valiant and high-flyin_ualities of the inhabitants: so after mature deliberation a sleek beaver wa_mblazoned on the city standard as indicative of the amphibious origin an_atient persevering habits of the New Amsterdamers.
  • The thriving state of the settlement and the rapid increase of houses soo_ade it necessary to arrange some plan upon which the city should be built;
  • but at the very first consultation on the subject a violent discussion arose;
  • and I mention it with much sorrowing as being the first altercation on recor_n the councils of New Amsterdam. It was, in fact, a breaking forth of th_rudge and heart-burning that had existed between those two eminent burghers,
  • Mynheers Ten Broeck and Harden Broeck, ever since their unhappy dispute on th_oast of Bellevue. The great Harden Broeck had waxed very wealthy and powerfu_rom his domains, which embraced the whole chain of Apulean mountains tha_tretched along the gulf of Kip's Bay, and from part of which his descendant_ave been expelled in latter ages by the powerful clans of the Joneses and th_chermerhornes.
  • An ingenious plan for the city was offered by Mynheer Harden Broeck, wh_roposed that it should be cut up and intersected by canals, after the manne_f the most admired cities in Holland. To this Mynheer Ten Broeck wa_iametrically opposed, suggesting in place thereof that they should run ou_ocks and wharves, by means of piles driven into the bottom of the river, o_hich the town should be built. "By these means," said he, triumphantly,
  • "shall we rescue a considerable space of territory from these immense rivers,
  • and build a city that shall rival Amsterdam, Venice, or any amphibious city i_urope." To this proposition Harden Broeck (or Tough Breeches) replied, with _ook of as much scorn as he could possibly assume. He cast the utmost censur_pon the plan of his antagonist, as being preposterous, and against the ver_rder of things, as he would leave to every true Hollander. "For what," sai_e, "is a town without canals?—it is like a body without veins and arteries,
  • and must perish for want of a free circulation of the vital fluid."—Te_reeches, on the contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his antagonist, wh_as somewhat of an arid, dry-boded habit; he remarked, that as to th_irculation of the blood being necessary to existence, Mynheer Tough Breeche_as a living contradiction to his own assertion; for everybody knew there ha_ot a drop of blood circulated through his wind-dried carcase for good te_ears, and yet there was not a greater busybody in the whole colony.
  • Personalities have seldom much effect in making converts in argument; nor hav_ ever seen a man convinced of error by being convicted of deformity. At leas_uch was not the case at present. If Ten Breeches was very happy in sarcasm,
  • Tough Breeches, who was a sturdy little man, and never gave up the last word,
  • rejoined with increasing spirit; Ten Breeches had the advantage of th_reatest volubility, but Tough Breeches had that invaluable coat of mail i_rgument called obstinacy; Ten Breeches had, therefore, the most mettle, bu_ough Breeches the best bottom—so that though Ten Breeches made a dreadfu_lattering about his ears, and battered and belabored him with hard words an_ound arguments, yet Tough Breeches hung on most resolutely to the last. The_arted, therefore, as is usual in all arguments where both parties are in th_ight, without coming to any conclusion; but they hated each other mos_eartily for ever after, and a similar breach with that between the houses o_apulet and Montague did ensue between the families of Ten Breeches and Toug_reeches.
  • I would not fatigue my reader with these dull matters of fact, but that m_uty as a faithful historian requires that I should be particular; and, i_ruth, as I am now treating of the critical period when our city, like a youn_wig, first received the twists and turns which have since contributed to giv_t its present picturesque irregularity, I cannot be too minute in detailin_heir first causes.
  • After the unhappy altercation I have just mentioned, I do not find tha_nything further was said on the subject worthy of being recorded. Th_ouncil, consisting of the largest and oldest heads in the community, me_egularly once a week, to ponder on this momentous subject; but, either the_ere deterred by the war of words they had witnessed, or they were naturall_verse to the exercise of the tongue, and the consequent exercise of th_rains—certain it is, the most profound silence was maintained—the question,
  • as usual, lay on the table—the members quietly smoked their pipes, making bu_ew laws, without ever enforcing any, and in the meantime the affairs of th_ettlement went on—as it pleased God.
  • As most of the council were but little skilled in the mystery of combinin_ot-hooks and hangers, they determined most judiciously not to puzzle eithe_hemselves or posterity with voluminous records. The secretary, however, kep_he minutes of the council with tolerable precision, in a large vellum folio,
  • fastened with massy brass clasps; the journal of each meeting consisted but o_wo lines, stating in Dutch that "the council sat this day, and smoked twelv_ipes on the affairs of the colony." By which it appears that the firs_ettlers did not regulate their time by hours, but pipes, in the same manne_s they measure distances in Holland at this very time; an admirably exac_easurement, as a pipe in the mouth of a true-born Dutchman is never liable t_hose accidents and irregularities that are continually putting our clocks ou_f order.
  • In this manner did the profound council of New Amsterdam smoke, and doze, an_onder, from week to week, month to month, and year to year, in what manne_hey should construct their infant settlement; meanwhile the town took care o_tself, and, like a sturdy brat which is suffered to run about wild,
  • unshackled by clouts and bandages, and other abominations by which you_otable nurses and sage old women cripple and disfigure the children of men,
  • increased so rapidly in strength and magnitude, that before the hones_urgomasters had determined upon a plan it was too late to put it i_xecution—whereupon they wisely abandoned the subject altogether.