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and his dog are absent, and the wolf is prowling round the fold. Far from finding relief, however, they only increased each other's terrors. Each man looked ruefully in his neighbour's face, in search of encouragement, but only found, in its wo-begone lineaments, a confirmation of his own dismay. Not a word now was to be heard of conquering Great Britain, not a whisper about the sovereign virtues of economy—while the old women heightened the general gloom, by clamorously bewailing their fate, and incessantly calling for protection on St. Nicholas and Peter Stuyvesant.
Oh, how did they bewail the absence of the lion-hearted Peter !—and how did they long for the comforting presence of Anthony Van Corlear! Indeed, a gloomy uncertainty hung over the fate of these adventurous heroes. Day after day had elapsed since the alarming message from the governor, without bringing any further tidings of his safety. Many a fearful conjecture was hazarded as to what had befallen him and his loyal squire. Had they not been devoured alive by the cannibals of Marblehead and Cape Cod? Were they not put to the question by the great council of Amphyctions ? Were they not smothered in onions by the terrible men of Pyquag? In the midst of this consternation and perplexity, when horror, like a mighty night-mare, sat brooding upon the little, fat, plethoric city of New-Amsterdam, the ears of the multitude were suddenly startled by a strange and distant sound-it approached-it grew louder and louder -and now it resounded at the city gate. The public could not be mistaken in the well known sound. A shout of joy burst from their lips, as the gallant Peter, covered with dust, and followed by his faithful trumpeter, came galloping into the market-place.
The first transports of the populace having subsided, they gathered round the honest Anthony, as he dismounted from his horse, overwhelming him with greetings and congratulations. In breathless accents he related to them the marvellous adventures through which the old governor and himself had gone, in making their escape from the clutches of the terrible Amphyctions. But though the Stuyvesant manuscript, with its customary minuteness where any thing touching the great Peter is concerned, is very particular as to the incidents of this masterly retreat, yet the particular state of the public affairs will not allow me to indulge in a full
recital thereof. Let it suffice to say, that, while Peter Stuyvesant was anxiously revolving in his mind how he could make good his escape with honour and dignity, certain of the ships sent out for the conquest of the Manhattoes touched at the eastern ports, to obtain needful supplies, and to call on the grand council of the league for its promised co-operation. Upon hearing of this, the vigilant Peter perceiving that a moments delay were fatal, made a secret and precipitate decampment; though much did it grieve his lofty soul, to be obliged to turn his back even upon a nation of foes. Many hairbreadth 'scapes and divers perilous mishaps did they sustain, as they scoured, without sound of trumpet, through the fair region's of the east. Already was the country in an uproar with hostile preparation, and they were obliged to take a large circuit in their flight, lurking along, through the woody mountains of the Devil's Backbone: from whence the valiant Peter sallied forth one day, like a lion, and put to rout a whole legion of squatters, consisting of three generations of a prolific family, who were already on their way to take possession of some corner of the New Netherlands. Nay, the faithful Anthony had great difficulty at sundry times to prevent him, in the excess of his wrath, from descending down from the mountains, and falling sword in hand upon certain of the border-towns, who were marshalling forth their draggle-tailed militia.
The first movements of the governor, on reaching his dwelling, was to mount the roof, from whence he contemplated with rueful aspect the hostile squadron. This had already come to an anchor in the bay, and consisted of two stout frigates, having on board, as John Josselyn, Gent. informs us, “three hundred valiant red coats.'' Having taken this survey, he sat himself down, and wrote an epistle to the commander, demanding his reason of anchoring in the harbour without obtaining previous permission so to do. This letter was couched in the most dignified and courteous terms, though I have it from undoubted authority, that his teeth were clenched, and he had a bitter sardonic grin upon his visage all the while he wrote. Having despatched his letter, the grim Peter stumped to and fro about the town, with a most war-betokening countenance, his hand thrust into his breeches pockets, and whistling a low Dutch Psalm tune, which bore no small resemblance to the music of a north
east wind, when a storm is brewing. The very dogs, as they eyed him, skulked away in dismay-while all the old and ugly women of New-Amsterdam ran howling at his heels, imploring him to save them from murder, robbery, and pitiless ravishment!
The reply of Col. Nicholas, who commanded the invaders, was couched in terms of equal courtesy with the letter of the governor-declaring the right and title of his British majesty to the province; where he affirmed the Dutch to be mere interlopers, and demanding that the town, forts, &c. should be forthwith rendered into his majesty's obedience and protection--promising at the same time, life, liberty, estate, and free trade, to every Dutch denizen, who should readily submit to his majesty's government,
Peter Stuyvesant read over this friendly epistle with some such harmony of aspect as we may suppose a crusty farmer, who has long been fattening upon his neighbour's soil, reads the loving letter of John Styles, that warns him of an action of ejectment. The old governor, however, was not to be taken by surprise, but thrusting the summons into his breeches pocket, he stalked three times across the room, took a pinch of snuff with great vehemence, and then loftily waving his hand, promised to send an answer the next morning. In the mean time he called a general council of war of his privy counsellors and burgomasters, not for the purpose of asking their advice, for that, as has been already shown, he valued not a rush; but to make known to them his sovereign determination, and require their prompt adherence.
Before, however, he convened his council, he resolved upon three important points; first, never to give up the city without a little hard fighting, for he deemed it highly derogatory to the dignity of so renowned a city, to suffer itself to be captured and stripped, without receiving a few kicks into the bargain. Secondly, that the majority of his grand council was composed of arrant poltroons, utterly destitute of true bottom; and, thirdly, that he would not therefore suffer them to see the summons of Col. Nicholas, lest the easy terms it held out might induce them to clamour for a surrender.
His orders being duly promulgated, it was a piteous sight to behold the late valiant burgomasters, who had demolished the whole British empire in their harangues ; peeping ruefully out of their hiding places, and then crawl
ing cautiously forth, dodging through narrow lanes and alleys; starting at every little dog that barked, as though it had been a discharge of artillery—mistaking lamp-posts for British grenadiers, and in the excess of their panic, metamorphosing pumps into formidable soldiers, levelling blunderbusses at their bosolis! Having, however, in despite of numerous perils and difficulties of the kind, arrived safe without the loss of a single man, at the hall of assembly, they took their seats and awaited in fearful silence the arrival of the governor. In a few moments the wooden leg of the intrepid Peter was heard in regular and stout hearted thumps upon the staircase.--He entered the chamber arrayed in full suit of regimentals, and carrying his trusty toledo, not girded on his thigh, but tucked under his arm. As the governor never equipped himself in this portentous manner, unless something of martial nature were working within his fearless pericranium, his council regarded him ruefully, as a very Janus, bearing fire and sword, in his iron countenance, and forgot to light their pipes in breathless suspense.
The great Peter was as eloquent as he was valorous; indeed, these two rare qualities seemed to go hand in hand in his composition; and, unlike most great statesmen, whose victories are only confined to the bloodless field of argument, he was always ready to enforce his hardy words by no less hardy deeds. His speeches were generally marked by a simplicity approaching to bluntness, and by truly categorical decision. Addressing the grand council, he touched briefly upon the perils and hardships he had sustained, in escaping from his crafty foes. He next reproached the council for wasting in idle debate and party feuds that time which should have been devoted to their country. He was particularly indignant at those brawlers, who, conscious of individual security, had disgraced the councils of the province, by impotent hectorings and scurrilous invectives, against a noble and powerful enemy—those cowardly curs who were incessant in their barkings and yelpings at the lion, while distant or asleep, but the moment he approached, were the first to skulk away. He now called on those who had been so valiant in their threats against Great Britain, to stand forth and support their vauntings by their actions—for it was deeds, not words, that bespoke the spirit of a nation. He proceeded to recall the golden days of former prosperity, which were only to be gained by manfully withstanding their enemies; for the peace, he observed, which is effected by force of arms, is always more sure and durable than that which is patched up by temporary accommodations. He endeavoured, moreover, to arouse their martial fire, by reminding them of the time, when, before the frowning walls of fort Christina, he had led them on to victory. He strove likewise to awaken their confidence, by assuring them of the protection of St. Nicholas, who had hitherto maintained them in safety, amid all the savages of the wilderness, the witches and squatters of the east, and the giants of Merry-land. Finally, he informed them of the insolent summons he had received, to surrender; but concluded by swearing to defend the province as long as heaven was on his side, and he had a wooden leg to stand upon. Which noble sentence he emphasized by a tremendous thwack with the broad side of his sword upon the table, that totally electrified his auditors.
The privy counsellors, who had long been accustomed to the governor's way, and in fact had been brought into as perfect discipline as were ever the soldiers of the great Frederick, saw that there was no use in saying a word so lighted their pipes and smoked away in silence like fat and discreet counsellors. But the burgomasters being less under the governor's control, considering themselves as representatives of the sovereign people, and being moreover inflated with considerable importance and self-sufficiency, which they had acquired at those notable schools of wisdom and morality, the popular meetings were not so easily satisfied. Mustering up fresh spirit, when they found there was some chance of escaping from their present jeopardy, without the disagreeable alternative of fighting, they requested a copy of the summons to surrender, that they might show it to a general meeting of the people.
So insolent and mutinous a request would have been enough to have aroused the gorge of the tranquil Van Twiller himself—what then must have been its effects upon the great Stuyvesant, who was not only a Dutchman, a governor, and a valiąnt wooden-legged soldier to boot, but withal a man of the most stomachful and gunpowder disposition. He burst forth into a blaze of noble indignation, to which the famous rage of Achilles was a mere pouting fit-swore not a mother's son of them should see a syllable of it—that they deserved, every one of them, to be banged, drawn, and quartered, for traitorcusly daring to