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I do but follow the example of our ingenious neighbours of Connecticut; who at their first settlement proclaimed, that the colony should be governed by the laws of God-until they bad time to make better.
One thing, however, appears certain—from the unanimous authority of the before quoted philosophers, supported by the evidence of our own senses, (which, though very apt to deceive us, may be cautiously admitted as additional testimony), it appears, I say, and I make the assertion deliberately, without fear of contradiction, that this globe really was created, and that it is composed of land and water. It further appears that it is curiously divided and parcelled out into continents and islands, among which I boldly declare the renowned ISLAND OF NEW-YORK will be found by any one who seeks for it in its proper place.
And now the infant settlement having advanced in age and stature, it was thought high time it should receive an honest Christian name, and it was accordingly called New-Amsterdam. It is true there were some advocates for the original Indian name, and many of the best writers of the province did long continue to call it by the title of “ The Manhattoes,” but this was discountenanced by the authorities, as being heathenish and savage. Besides, it was considered an excellent and praiseworthy measure to name it after a great city of the old world; as by that means it was induced to emulate the greatness and renown of its namesake—in the manner that little snivelling urchins are called after great statesmen, saints, and worthies, and renowned generals of yore, upon which they all industriously copy their examples, and come to be very mighty men in their day and generation.
The thriving state of the settlement and the rapid increase of houses gradually awakened the good Oloffe from a deep lethargy, into which he had fallen after the building of the fort. He now began to think it was time some plan should be devised on which the increasing town should be built. Summoning, therefore, his counsellors and coadjutors together, they took pipe in mouth, and forthwith sunk into a very sound deliberation on the subject.
At the very outset of the business an unexpected difference of opinion arose, and I mention it with much sorrowing, as being the first altercation on record in the councils of New-Amsterdam. It was a breaking forth of the grudge and heartburning that had existed between those two eminent burghers, Mynheers Tenbroeck and Hardenbroeck, ever since their unhappy altercation on the coast of Bellevue. The great Hardenbroeck had waxed very wealthy and powerful from his domains, which embraced the whole chain of Apulean mountains that stretch along the gulf of Kip's Bay, and form part of the district from which his descendants have been expelled in latter ages by the powerful clans of the Joneses and the Shermerhornes.
An ingenious plan for the city was offered by Mynheer Tenbroeck, who proposed that it should be cut up and intersected by canals, after the manner of the most admired cities in Holland. To this Mynheer Hardenbroeck was diametrically opposed, suggesting in place thereof that they should run out docks and wharfs by means of piles, driven into the bottom of the river, on which 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 in Europe.” To this proposition Tenbroeck (or Ten Breeches) replied, with a look of as much scorn as he could possibly assume. He cast the utmost censure upon the plan of his antagonist as being preposterous, and against the very order of things, as he would leave to every true Hollander. “ For what," said he, “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.” Tough Breeches, on the contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his antagonist, who was somewhat of an arid, dry-boned habit ; he remarked, that as to the circulation of the blood being necessary to existence, Mynheer Ten Breeches was a living contradiction to his own assertion; for every body knew there had not a drop of blood circulated through his wind-dried carcass for good ten years, and yet there was not a greater busy-body in the whole colony. Personalities have seldom much effect in making converts in argument; nor have I ever seen a man convinced of error by being convicted of deformity. At least, such was not the case at present. Ten Breeches was very acrimonious in reply, and 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 the greatest volubility, but Tough Breeches had that invaluable coat of mail in argument called obstinacy— Ten Breeches had, therefore, the most mettle, but Tough Breeches the best bottom-so that though Ten Breeches made a dreadful clattering about his ears, and battered and belaboured him with hard words and sound arguments ; yet Tough Breeches hung on most resolutely to the last. They parted, therefore, as is usual in all arguments where both parties are in the right, without coming to any conclusion ; but they hated each other most heartily for ever after, and a similar breach with that between the houses of Capulet and Montague did ensue between the families of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches.
I would not fatigue my reader with these dull matters of fact, but that my duty as a faithful historian requires that I should be particular; and, in truth, as I am now treating of the critical period, when our city, like a young twig first appeared, the twists and turns that have since contributed to give it the present picturesque irregularity, for which it is celebrated, I cannot be too minute in detailing their first causes.
After the unhappy altercation I have just mentioned, I do not find that any thing further was said on the subject worthy of being recorded. The council, consisting of the largest and oldest heads in the community, met regularly once a week, to ponder on this monstrous subject; but either they were deterred by the war of words they had witnessed, or they were naturally averse to the exercise of the tongue, and the consequent exercise of the brain-certain it is, the most profound silence was maintained—the question, as usual, lay on the table—the members quietly smoked their pipes, making but few laws, without ever enforcing any, and in the mean time the affairs of the settlement went on -as it pleased God.
As most of the council were but little skilled in the mystery of combining pothooks and hangers, they determined, most judiciously, not to puzzle either themselves or posterity with voluminous records. The Secretary, however, kept the minutes of the council with tolerable precision, in a large vellum folio, fastened with massy brass clasps; the journal of each meeting consisted but of two lines, stating, in Dutch, that “the council sat this day, and smoked twelve pipes on the affairs of the colony.” By which it appears that the first settlers did not regulate their time by hours, but pipes, in the same manner as they measure distances in Holland at this very time; an admirably exact measurement, as a pipe in the mouth of a true born Dutchman is never liable to those accidents and irregularities that are continually putting our clocks out of order.
In this manner did the profound council of NewAMSTERDAM smoke, and doze, and ponder, from week to week, month to month, and year to year, in what manner they should construct their infant settlement: meanwhile, the town took care of itself, and like a sturdy brat which is suffered to run about wild, unshackled by clouts and bandages, and other abominations, by which your notable nurses and sage old women cripple and disfigure the children of men, increased so rapidly in strength and magnitude, that before the honest burgomasters had determined upon a plan, it was too late to put it in execution—whereupon they wisely abandoned the subject altogether.
THE LITTLE MAN IN BLACK.
The following story has been handed down by a family tradition for more than a century. It is one on which my cousin Christopher dwells with more than usual prolixity; and, being in some measure connected with a personage often quoted in our work, I have thought it worthy of being laid before my readers.
Soon after my grandfather, Mr Lemuel Cockloft, had quietly settled himself at the Hall, and just about the time that the gossips of the neighbourhood, tired of prying into his affairs, were anxious for some new teatable topic, the busy community of our little village was thrown into a grand turmoil of curiosity and conjecture -a situation very common to little gossiping villages by the sudden and unaccountable appearance of a mysterious individual.
The object of this solicitude was a little black-looking man, of a foreign aspect, who took possession of an old building, which having long had the reputation of being haunted, was in a state of ruinous desolation; and an object of fear to all true believers in ghosts. He usually wore a high sugar-loaf hat with a narrow brim, and a little black cloak, which, short as he was, scarcely reached below his knees. He sought no intimacy or acquaintance with any one-appeared to take no interest in the pleasures or the little broils of the village nor ever talked, except sometimes to himself in an outlandish tongue. He commonly carried a large book, covered with sheep-skin, under his arm, appeared always to be lost in meditation and was often met by the peasantry, sometimes watching the dawning of the day, sometimes at noon seated under a tree poring over his volume, and sometimes at evening gazing, with a look