Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing the whole truth, I should almost be tempted to pass over in silence as incompatible with the gravity and dignity of history ; that this worthy gentleman should likewise have been nicknamed from what in modern times is considered the most ignoble part of the dress. But in truth the small clothes seems to have been a very dignified garment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors, in all probability from its covering that part of the body which has been pronounced “the seat of honor.”

The name of Ten Broeck, or as it was sometimes spelled Tin Broeck, has been indifferently translated into Ten Breeches and Tin Breeches. Certain elegant and ingenious writers on the subject declare in favor of Tin, or rather Thin Breeches; whence they infer that the original bearer of it was a poor but merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest, and who, peradventure, may have been the author of that truly philosophical stanza:

“Then why should we quarrel for riches,

Or any such glittering toys ;
A light heart and thin pair of breeches

Will go thorough the world, my brave boys!"

The more accurate commentators, however, declare in favor of the other reading, and affirm that the worthy in question, was a burly, bulbous man, who, in sheer ostentation of his venerable progenitors, was the first to introduce into the settlement the ancient Dutch fashion of ten pair of breeches.

Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by Oloffe the Dreamer, accompany

him in this voyage into unknown realms; as to the names of his crews they have not been handed down by history,

Having, as I before observed, passed much of his life in the

to

open air, among the peripatetic philosophers of Amsterdam, Oloffe had become familiar with the aspect of the heavens, and could as accurately determine when a storm was brewing or a squall rising, as a dutiful husband can foresee, from the brow if his spouse, when a tempest is gathering about his ears. Having pitched upon a time for his voyage, when the skies appeared propitious he exhorted all his crews to take a good night's rest; wind up their family affairs and make their wills; precautions taken by our forefathers even in after times when they became more adventurous, and voyaged to Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, or Groodt Esopus, or any other far country, beyond the great waters of the Tappaan Zee.

CHAPTER IV.

HOW THE HEROES OF COMMUNIPAW VOYAGED TO HELL-GATE,

AND HOW THEY WERE RECEIVED THERE.

And now the rosy blush of morn began to mantle in the east, and soon the rising sun, emerging from amidst golden and purple clouds, shed his blithsome rays on the tin weathercocks of Communipaw. It was that delicious season of the year, when nature, breaking from the chilling thraldom of old winter, like a blooming damsel from the tyranny of a sordid old father, threw herself, blushing with ten thousand charms, into the arms of youthful spring. Every tufted copse and blooming grove resounded with the notes of hymeneal love. The very insects, as they sipped the dew that gemmed the tender grass of the meadows, joined in the joyous epithalamium—the virgin bud timidly put forth its blushes, “the voice of the turtle was heard in the land," and the heart of man dissolved away in tenderness. Oh! sweet Theocritus ! had I thine oaten reed, wherewith thou erst did charm the gay

Sicilian plains-Or Oh! gentle Bion! thy pastoral pipe, wherein the happy swains of the Lesbian isle so much delighted, then might I attempt to sing, in soft Bucolic or negligent Idyllium, the rural beauties of the scene—but having nothing, save this jaded goose quill, wherewith to wing my flight, I must fain resign all poetic

[ocr errors]

disportings of the fancy, and pursue my narrative in humble prose; comforting myself with the hope, that though it may not steal so sweetly upon the imagination of my reader, yet it may commend itself, with virgin modesty, to his better judgment. clothed in the chaste and simple garb of truth.

No sooner did the first rays of cheerful Phæbus dart into the windows of Communipaw, than the little settlement was all in motion. Forth issued from his castle the sage Van Kortlandt, and seizing a conch shell, blew a far resounding blast, that soon summoned all his lusty followers. Then did they trudge resolutely down to the water side, escorted by a multitude of relatives and friends, who all went down, as the common phrase expresses it, “ to see them off.” And this shows the antiquity of those long family processions, often seen in our city, composed of all ages, sizes, and sexes, laden with bundles and bandboxes, escorting some bevy of country cousins, about to depart for home in a market-boat.

The good Oloffe bestowed his forces in a squadron of three canoes, and hoisted his flag on board a little round Dutch boat, shaped not unlike a tub), which had formerly been the jolly-boat of the Goede Vrouw. And now, all being embarked, they bade farewell to the gazing throng upon the beaclı, who continued shouting after them, even when out of hearing, wishing them a happy voyage, advising them to take good care of themselves, not to get drowned—with an abundance other of those sage and invaluable cautions, generally given by landsmen to such as go down to the sea in ships, and adventure upon the deep waters. In the meanwhile the voyagers cheerily urged their course across the crystal bosom of the bay, and soon left behind them the green shores of ancient Pavonia.

* ocean.

And first they touched at two small islands which lie nearly opposite Communipaw, and which are said to have been brought into existence about the time of the great irruption of the Hudson, when it broke through the Highlands and made its way to the

For in this tremendous uproar of the waters, we are told that many huge fragments of rock and land were rent from the mountains and swept down by this runaway river, for sixty or seventy miles; where some of them ran aground on the shoals just opposite Communipaw, and formed the identical islands in question, while others drifted out to sea, and were never heard of more! A sufficient proof of the fact is, that the rock which forms the bases of these islands is exactly similar to that of the Highlands, and moreover one of our philosophers, who has diligently compared the agreement of their respective surfaces, has even gone so far as to assure me, in confidence, that Gibbet Island was originally nothing more nor less than a wart on Anthony's nose.t

Leaving these wonderful little isles, they next coasted by Governor's Island, since terrible from its frowning fortress and grinning batteries. They would by no means, however, land

* It is a matter long since established by certain of our philosophers, th at is to say, having been often advanced, and never contradicted, it has grown to be pretty niga equal to a settled fact, that the Hudson was originally a lake dammed up by the mountains of the Highlands. In process of time, however, becoming very mighty and obstreperous, and the mountains waxing pursy, dropsical, and weak in the back, by reason of their extreme old age, it suddenly rose upon them, and after a violent struggle effected its escape, This is said to have come to pass in very remote time, probably before that rivers had lost the art of running up hill. The foregoing is a theory in which I do not pretend to be skilled, notwithstanding that I do fully give it my belief.

+ A promontory in the Highlands.

« AnteriorContinuar »