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deluge it with water! Surely, as I have already observed, comets were bountifully provided by providence for the benefit of philosophers to assist them in manufacturing theories.
And now, having adduced several of the most prominent theories that occur to my recollection, I leave my judicious readers at full liberty to choose among them. They are all serious speculations of learned men—all differ essentially from each other—and all have the same title to belief. It has ever been the task of one race of philosophers to demolish the works of their predecessors, and elevate more splendid fantasies in their stead, which, in their turn, are demolished and replaced by the air-castles of a succeeding generation. Thus it would seem that knowledge and genius, of which we make such great parade, consist but in detecting the errors and absurdities of those who have gone before, and devising new errors and absurdities, to be detected by those who are to come after us. Theories are the mighty soapbubbles with which the grown-up children of science amuse themselves; while the honest vulgar stand gazing in stupid admiration, and dignify these learned vagaries with the name of wisdom! Surely Socrates was right in his opinion, that philosophers are but a soberer sort of madmen, busying themselves in things totally incomprehensible, or which, if they could be comprehended, would be found not worthy the trouble of discovery.
For my own part, until the learned have come to an agreement among themselves, I shall con
tent myself with the account handed down to us by Moses; in which 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 Goduntil they had 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.
DUTCH LEGISLATORS. 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 Harden
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 descendauts 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