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he appears to have bidden adieu to this world, and to have set his thoughts altogether on things above; and he has swelled and inflated himself to such a degree, that his friends are under apprehensions that he will one day or other explode and blow up like a torpedo.
A warlike Portrait of the great Peter-and how General Von Poffenburgh distinguished himself at Fort Casimir.
HITHERTO, most venerable and courteous reader, have I shown thee the administration of the valorous Stuyvesant under the mild moonshine of peace, or rather the grim tranquillity of awful expectation; but now the wardrum rumbles from afar, the brazen trumpet brays its thrilling note, and the rude clash of hostile arms speaks fearful prophecies of coming troubles. The gallant warrior starts from soft repose, from golden visions, and voluptuous ease; where, in the dulcet "piping time of peace," he sought sweet solace after all his toils. more in beauty's siren lap reclined, he weaves fair garlands for his lady's brows; no more entwines with flowers his shining sword; nor through the live long lazy summer's day, chants forth his love-sick soul in madrigals. To manhood roused, he spurns the amorous lute; doffs from his brawny back the robe of peace, and clothes his pampered limbs in panoply of steel. O'er his dark brow, where late the myrtle waved-where wanton roses breathed enervate love he rears the beaming casque and nodding plume; grasps the bright shield, and shakes the ponderous lance; or mounts with eager pride the fiery steed, and burns for deeds of glorious chivalry!
But soft, worthy reader! I would not have you imagine, that any preux chevalier, thus hideously begirt with iron, existed in the city of New-Amsterdam. This is but a lofty and gigantic mode in which heroic writers always talk of war, thereby to give it a noble and imposing aspect; equipping our warriors with bucklers, helmets, and lances, and such like outlandish and obsolete weapons,
the like which, perchance, they had never seen or heard of; in the same manner that a cunning statuary arrays a modern general or an admiral in the accoutrements of a Cæsar or an Alexander. The simple truth, then, of all this oratorical flourish is this-that the valiant Peter Stuyvesant, all of a sudden, found it necessary to scour his trusty blade, which too long had rusted in its scabbard, and prepare himself to undergo the hardy toils of war, in which his mighty soul so much delighted.
Methinks I at this moment behold him in my imagination-or rather, I behold his goodly portrait, which still hangs up in the family mansion of the Stuyvesants, arrayed in all the terrors of a true Dutch general. His regimental coat of German blue, gorgeously decorated with a goodly show of large brass buttons, reaching from his waistband to his chin. The voluminous skirts turned up at the corners, and separating gallantly behind, so as to display the seat of a sumptuous pair of brimstonecoloured trunk breeches-a graceful style still prevalent among the warriors of our day, and which is in conformity to the custom of ancient heroes, who scorned to defend themselves in rear. His face rendered exceeding terrible and warlike by a pair of black mustachios; his hair strutting out on each side in stiffly pomatumed earlocks, and descending in a rat-tail queue below his waist; a shining stock of black leather supporting his chin, and a little, but fierce cocked hat, stuck with a gallant and fiery air over his left eye. Such was the chivalric port of Peter the Headstrong; and when he made a sudden halt, planted himself firmly on his solid supporter, with his wooden leg inlaid with silver, a little in advance, in order to strengthen his position, his right hand grasping a gold-headed cane, his left resting upon the pummel of his sword; his head dressing spiritedly to the right, with a most appalling and hard favoured frown upon his brow -he presented altogether one of the most commanding, bitter-looking, and soldier-like figures that ever strutted upon canvass. Proceed we now to inquire the cause of this warlike preparation.
The encroaching disposition of the Swedes, on the
south or Delaware river, has been duly recorded in the chronicles of the reign of William the Testy. These encroachments, having been endured with that heroic magnanimity which is the corner-stone, or, according to Aristotle, the left hand neighbour of true courage, had been repeated and wickedly aggravated.
The Swedes, who were of that class of cunning pretenders to Christianity, who read the Bible upside down, whenever it interferes with their interests, inverted the golden maxim; and when their neighbour suffered them to smite him on the one cheek, they generally smote him on the other also, whether turned to them or not. Their repeated aggressions had been among the numerous sources of vexation that conspired to keep the irritable sensibilities of Wilhelmus Kieft in a constant fever; and it was only owing to the unfortunate circumstance that he had always a hundred things to do at once, that he did not take such unrelenting vengeance as their offences merited. But they had now a chieftain of a different character to deal with; and they were soon guilty of a piece of treachery that threw his honest blood into a ferment, and precluded all further sufferance.
Printz, the governor of the province of New-Sweden, being either deceased or removed, for of this fact some uncertainty exists, was succeeded by Jan Risingh, a gigantic Swede; and who, had he not been rather knockkneed and splay-footed, might have served for the model of a Samson or a Hercules. He was no less rapacious than mighty, and withal as crafty as he was rapacious; so that, in fact, there is very little doubt, had he lived some four or five centuries before, he would have been one of those wicked giants, who took such a cruel pleasure in pocketing distressed damsels, when gadding about the world; and locking them up in enchanted castles, without a toilet, a change of linen, or any other convenience. In consequence of which enormities, they fell under the high displeasure of chivalry, and all true, loyal, and gallant knights, were instructed to attack and slay outright any miscreant they might happen to find above six feet high; which is doubtless one reason that the
race of large men is nearly extinct, and the generations of latter ages so exceeding small.
No sooner did Governor Risingh enter upon his office than he immediately cast his eyes upon the important post of Fort Casimir, and formed the righteous resolution of taking it into his possession. The only thing that remained to consider, was the mode of carrying his resolution into effect: and here I must do him the justice to say, that he exhibited a humanity rarely to be met with among leaders, and which I have never seen equalled in modern times, excepting among the English, in their glorious affair at Copenhagen. Willing to spare the effusion of blood, and the miseries of open warfare, he benevolently shunned every thing like avowed hostility or regular siege, and resorted to the less glorious but more merciful expedient of treachery.
Under pretence, therefore, of paying a neighbourly visit to General Von Poffenburgh, at his new post of Fort Casimir, he made requisite preparation, sailed in great state up the Delaware, displayed his flag with the most ceremonious punctilio, and honoured the fortress with a royal salute, previous to dropping anchor. The unusual noise awakened a veteran Dutch sentinel, who was napping faithfully at his post, and who, having suffered his match to go out, contrived to return the compliment, by discharging his rusty musket with the spark of a pipe, which he borrowed from one of his comrades. The salute, indeed, would have been answered by the guns of the fort, had they not been unfortunately out of order, and the magazine deficient in ammunition-accidents to which forts have in all ages been liable, and which were the more excusable in the present instance, as Fort Casimir had only been erected about two years, and General Von Poffenburgh, its mighty commander, had been fully occupied with matters of much greater importance.
Risingh, highly satisfied with this courteous reply to his salute, treated the fort to a second, for he well knew its commander was marvellously delighted with these little ceremonials, which he considered as so many acts
of homage paid unto his greatness. He then landed in great state, attended by a suite of thirty men—a prodigious and vainglorious retinue for a petty governor of a petty settlement, in those days of primitive simplicity; and to the full as great an army as generally swells the pomp and marches in the rear of our frontier commanders at the present day.
The number in fact might have awakened suspicion, had not the mind of the great Von Poffenburgh been so completely engrossed with an all-pervading idea of himself, that he had not room to admit a thought besides. In fact, he considered the concourse of Risingh's followers as a compliment to himself-so apt are great men to stand between themselves and the sun, and completely eclipse the truth by their own shadow.
It may readily be imagined how much General Von Poffenburgh was flattered by a visit from so august a personage; his only embarrassment was, how he should receive him in such a manner as to appear to the greatest advantage, and make the most advantageous impression. The main guard was ordered immediately to turn out, and the arms and regimentals (of which the garrison possessed full half a dozen suits) were equally distributed among the soldiers. One tall lank fellow appeared in a coat intended for a small man, the skirts of which reached a little below his waist, the buttons were between his shoulders, and the sleeves half way to his wrists, so that his hands looked like a couple of huge spades; and the coat not being large enough to meet in front, was linked together by loops, made of a pair of red worsted garters. Another had an old cocked hat, stuck on the back of his head, and decorated with a bunch of cock's tails-a third had a pair of rusty gaiters hanging about his heels-while a fourth, who was a short duck-legged little Trojan, was equipped in a huge pair of the general's cast-off breeches, which he held up with one hand, while he grasped his firelock with the other. The rest were accoutred in similar style, excepting three graceless ragamuffins, who had no shirts, and but a pair and half of breeches between them, wherefore they were sent to the black-hole,