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Chap. XII.--Containing the rise of the great Amphictyonic Council of the
THE AUTHOR'S APOLOGY
The following work, in which, at the outset, nothing more wis contem. plated than a temporary jeu d'esprit, was commenced in company witii my brother, the late Peter Irving, Esq. Our idea was to parody a small hand-book which had recently appeared, entitled “A Picture of NewYork." Like that, our work was to begin with an historical sketch; to be followed by notices of the customs, manners, and institutions of the city; written in a serio-comic vein, and treating local errors, follies, and abuses with good-humored satire.
To burlesque the pedantic lore displayed in certain American works, our historical sketch was to commence with the creation of the world; and we laid all kinds of works under contribution for trite citations, rele. vant or irrelevant, to give it the proper air of learned research. Before this crude mass of mock erudition could be digested into form, my brother departed for Europe, and I was left to prosecute the enterprise alone.
I now altered the plan of the work. Discarding all idea of a parody on the Picture of New-York, I determined that what had been originally intended as an introductory sketch, should comprise the whole work, and form a comic history of the city. I accordingly moulded the mass of citations and disquisitions into introductory chapters forming the first book; but it soon became evident to me that, like Robinson Crusoe with bis boat, I had begun on too large a scale, and that, to launch my history sitccessfully, I must reduce its proportions. I accordingly resolved to l'ontine it to the period of the Dutch domination, which, in its rise
progress, and decline, presented that unity of subject required bf classic rule. It was a period, also, at that time almost a terra incognita in history. In fact, I was surprised to find how few of my fellow-citizens were aware that New-York had ever been called New-Amsterdam, or had heard of the names of its early Dutch governors, or cared a straw about their ancient Dutch progenitors.
This, then, broke upon me as the poetic age of our cy; poetic from its very obscurity; and open, like the early and obscure days of ancient Rome, to all the embellishments of heroic fiction. I hailed my native city, as fortunate above all other American cities, in having an antiquity thus extending back into the regions of doubt and able; neither did I conceive I was committing any grievous historical sin in helping out the few facts I could collect in this remote and forgotten region with figments of my own brain, or in giving characteristic attributes to the few names connected with it which I might dig up from oblivion.
In this, doubtless, I reasoned like a young and inexperienced writer, besotted with his own fancies; and my presumptuous trespasses into this sacred, though neglected, region of history have met with deserved rebuke from men of soberer minds. It is too late, however, to recall the shaft thus rashly launched. To any one whose sense of fitness it may wound. I can only say with Hamlet,
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
I will say this in further apology for my work : that if it has taken an unwarrantable liberty with our early provincial history, it has at least turned attention to that history and provoked research. It is only since this work appeared that the forgotten archives of the province have been rummaged, and the facts and personages of the olden time rescued crom
the dust of oblivion and elevated into whatever importance they may o du.