Imágenes de páginas

times, the continual clatter bore no small resem. blance to the music of a cooper hooping a flour barrel.

A summons so peremptory, and from a man of the governor's mettle, was not to be trifled with; the sages forth with repaired to the council chamber, where the gallant Stuyvesant entered in martial style, and took his chair, like another Charlemagne, among his Paladins. The counsellors seated themselves with the utmost tranquillity, and lighting their long pipes, gazed with unruffled composure on his excellency and his regimentals; being, as all counsellors should be, not easily flattered, or taken by surprise. The governor, looking around for a moment with a lofty and soldier-like air, and resting one hand on the pummel of his sword, and flinging the other forth, in a free and spirited manner, addressed them in a short but soul-stirring harangue.

I am extremely sorry that I have not the advantages of Livy, Thucydides, Plutarch, and others of my predecessors, who were furnished, as I am told, with the speeches of all their great emperors, generals, and orators, taken down in short hand by the most accurate stenographers of the time; whereby they were enabled wonderfully to enrich their histories, and delight their readers with sublime strains of eloquence. Not having such important auxiliaries, I cannot possibly pronounce what was the tenor of Governor Stuyvesant's speech. Whether he with maiden coyness hinted to his hearers, that “there was a

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

speck of war in the horizon ;” that it would be necessary to resort to the “unprofitable trial of which could do each other the most harm,”-orany other delicate construction of language, whereby the odious subject of war is handled so fastidiously by modern statesmen; as a gentleman volunteer handles his filthy saltpetre weapon with gloves, lest it should soil his dainty fingers.

I am bold, however, to say, from the tenor of Peter Stuyvesant's character, that he did not wrap his rugged subject in silks and ermines, and other sickly trickeries of phrase ; but spoke forth, like a man of nerve and vigour, who scorned to shrink in words from those dangers which he stood ready to encounter in very deed. This much is certain, that he concluded by announcing his determination of leading on his troops in person, and routing these costardmonger Swedes from their usurped quarter at Fort Casimir. To this hardy resolution, such of his council as were awake gave their usual signal of concurrence, and as to the rest, who had fallen asleep about the middle of the harangue (their “ usual custom in the afternoon ”)—they made not the least objection. And now was seen in the fair city of New Amsterdam a prodigious bustle and preparation for iron war. Recruiting, parties marched hither and thither, calling lustily upon all scrubs, and runagates, and tatterdemalions of the Manhattoes and its vicinity, who had any ambition of sixpence a-day, and immortal fame into the bargain, to enlist in the cause of glory. For I would have you note, that your warlike heroes who trudge in the rear of conquerors, are generally of that illustrious class of gentlemen who are equal candidates for the army or the bridewell—the halberts or the whipping-post: for whom dame fortune has cast an even die, whether they shall make their exit by the sword or the halter; and whose death shall, at all events, be a lofty example to their countrymen.

Notwithstanding all this martial rout and invitation, the ranks of honour were but scantily supplied; so averse were the peaceful burghers of New Amsterdam from enlisting in foreign broils, or stirring beyond that home which rounded ali their earthly ideas. Upon beholding this, the great Peter, whose noble heart was all on fire with war and sweet revenge, determined to wait no longer for the tardy assistance of these oily citizens, but to muster up his merry men of the Hudson; who, brought up among woods and wilds and savage beasts, like our yeomen of Kentucky, delighted in nothing so much as desperate adventures and perilous expeditions through the wilderness. Thus resolving, he ordered his trusty squire, Anthony Van Corlear, to have his state galley prepared and duly victualled ; which being performed, he attended public service at the great church of St. Nicholas, Îike a true and pious governor, and then leaving peremptory orders with his council to have the chivalry of the Manhattoes marshalled out and appointed against his return, departed upon his recruiting voyage up the waters of the Hudson.


« AnteriorContinuar »