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their feet with a vigor that prodigiously accelerated their move ments; nor did the renowned Michael Paw himself fail to receive divers grievous and dishonorable visitations of shoe-leather.
But what, O Muşe! was the rage of Peter Stuyvesant, when irom afar he saw his army giving way! In the transports of his wrath he sent forth a roar, enough to shake the very hills. The men of the Manhattoes plucked up new courage at the sound, vr, rather, they rallied at the voice of their leader, of whom they stood more in awe than of all the Swedes in Christendom. Without waiting for their aid, the daring Peter dashed, sword in hand, into the thickest of the foe. Wherever he went, the enemy shrank before him.
One aimed a blow full at his heart; but the protecting power which watches over the great and good turned aside the hostile blade and directed it to a side-pocket, where reposed an enormous iron tobacco-box, endowed, like the shield of Achilles, with supernatural powers, doubtless from bearing the portrait of the blessed St. Nicholas. Peter Stuyvesant turned like an angry bear upon the foe, and, seizing him, as he fled, by an immeasurable queue, "Ah, vile caterpillar," roares je," here's what shall make worms' meat of thee!" So saying, he whirled his sword and dealt a blow that would have decapitated the varlet, but that the pitying steel struck short and shaved the queue forever from his crown.
Thus waged the fight, when the stout Risingh, surveying the field from the top of a little ravelin, perceived his troops banged, beaten, and kicked by the invincible Peter. Drawing his fal-. chion and uttering a thousand anathemas, he strode down to the scene of combat. When the rival heroes came face to face, each made a prodigious start in the style of a veteran stage-champion. Then did they regard each other for a moment with the bitter aspect of two furious ram-cats on the point of a clapper-clawing. Then did they throw themselves into one attitude, then into another, striking their swords on the ground, first on the right side, then on the left; at last at it they went with incredible ferocity. :
At length the valiant Peter, watching his opportunity, aimed at blow, enough to cleave his adversary to the very chine; but Ri. singh, nimbly raising his sword, warded it off so narrowly, that, glancing on one side, it shaved away a huge canteen in which he carried his liquor—thence pursuing its trenchant course, it severed off a deep coat-pocket, stored with bread and cheese-which provant, rolling among the armies. occasioned a learful
scrambling between the Swedes and Dutchmen, and made tho great battle to wax more furious than ever.
Enraged to see his military stores laid waste, the stout Risingh, collecting all his forces, aimed a miglity blow full at the hero's crest. In vain did his fierce little cocked hat oppose its course. The biting steel clove through the stubborn ram beaver, and would have cracked the crown of any one not endowed with supernatural hardness of head; but the brittle weapon shivered in pieces on the skull of Hardkoppig Piet, shedding a thousand sparks, like beams of glory, round his grizzly visage.
The good Peter reeled with the blow, and turning up his eyes beheld a thousand suns, besides moons and stars, dancing about the firmament; at length, missing his footing, by reason of his wooden leg, down he came with a crash which shook the surrounding hills. The furious Risingh, in despite of the maxim cherished by all true knights, that“ fair play is a jewel,” hastened to take advantage of the hero's fall; but, as he stooped to give a fatal blow, Peter Stuyvesant dealt him a thwack over the sconce with his wooden leg, which set a chime of bells ringing triple bob-majors in his cerebellum.
The bewildered Swede staggered with the blow, and the wary Peter seizing a pocket-pistol, which lay hard by, discharged it full at the head of the reeling Risingh. Let not my reader mistake; it was not a murderous weapon loaded with powder and ball, but a little sturdy stone pottle charged to the muzzle with a double dram of true Dutch courage, which the knowing Antony Van Corlear carried about him by way of replenishing his valor, and which had dropped from his wallet during the furious encounter. The hideous weapon sang through the air, and true to its course as was the fragment of a rock discharged at Hector by bully Ajax, encountered the head of the gigantic Sweda with matchless violence.
This heaven-directed blow decided the battle. The wonderous pericranium of General Jan Risingh sank upon his breast; his knees tottered under him: a deathlike torpor seized upon his frame, and he tumbled to the earth with such vielence, that old Pluto started with affright, lest he should have broken through the roof of his infernal palace.
His fall was the signal of defeat and victory: the Swedes gave way, the Dutch pressed forward; the former tack to their heels, the latter hotly pursued. Some entered with them, pell-mell, turough the sally-port; others stormed the bastion, and others scrambled over the curtain. Thus in a little while the fortress of Fort Christina, which, like another Troy, had stood a siege of full ten hours, was carried by assault, without the loss of a single man on either side. Victory, in the likeness of a gigantic ox-fly, sat perched upon the cocked hat of the gallant Stuyvesant; and it was declared by all the writers whom he had hired to write the 1 istory of his expedition, that on this memorable day he gained a sufficient quantity of glory to immortalize a dozen of the greatest heroes in Christendom!
Irving's next production was the Sketch-Book, which was first published in pamphlet form in New York, in 1819, and the next year, through the kindly services of Sir Walter Scott, in London, England. It consists of a series of articles descriptive of English life, mainly, both rural and city, and, besides a few of our author's happiest strokes at humor, it contains some of the noblest and tenderest reflections in the language. To particularize, “ His stories of Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy Hollow are perhaps the finest pieces of original fictitious writing that the country has produced, next to the works of Scott."*
RIP VAN WINKLE. (His RETURN AFTER THE LONG SLEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS.) He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange children ran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his gray beard. The dogs, too, not one of which he recognized for an old acquaintance, barked at him as he passed. The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange names were over the doors —strange faces at the windowseverything was strange.
His mind now misgave him; he began to doubt whether he and the world around him were not bewitched. Surely this was his native village, which he had left but the day before. There blood the Kaatskill mountains—there ran the silver Hudson
* Chambers's Cyclopædia of American Literature.
at a disiance—there was every hill and dale precisely as it had always been. Rip was sorely perplexed. "That flagon last night,” thought he, “has addled my poor head sadly !”
It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house, which he approached with silent awe, expecting every moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. He found the house gone to decay—the roof fallen in, the windows shattered, and the doors off the hinges. A half-starved dog that looked like Wolf was skulking about it. Rip called him by name, but the cur snarled, showed his teeth, and passed on. This was an unkind cut indeed. “My very dog," sighed poor Rip, “has forgotten me!"
He entered the house, whích, to tell the truth, Dame Van Winkle had always kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and apparently abandoned. This desolation overcame all his connubial fears—he called loudly for his wife and children—the lonely chambers rang for a moment with his voice, and then all again was silence.
He now hurried forth, and hastened to his old resort, the village inn—but it too was gone. A large rickety wooden building stood in its place, with great gaping windows, some of them broken and mended with old hats and petticoats, and over the door was painted, “The Union Hotel, by Jonathan Doolittle.” Instead of the great tree that used to shelter the quiet little Dut inn of yore,
eared a tall naked pole, with something on the top that looked like a red night-cap, and from it was fluttering a flag on which was a singular assemblage of stars and stripes ;-all this was strange anu incomprehensible.
He recognized on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George, under which he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe; but even this was singularly metamorphosed. The red coat was changed for one of blue and buff, a sword was held in his hand instead of a sceptre, the head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was painted in large characters, General Washington.
There was, as usual, a crowd of folk about the door, but none that Rip recollected. The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity. He looked in vain for the sage Nicholas Vedder, with his broar! face, double chin, and fair long pipe, uttering clouds of tobacco
snioke instead of idle speeches; or Van Bummel, the school. master, doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. In place of these, a lean, bilious-looking fellow, with his pockets full of handbills, was haranguing vehemently about rights of citizens - elections — members of Congress — liberty - Bunker's Hill — heroes of Seventy-six — and other words, which were i perfect Babylonish jargon to the bewildered Van Winkle.
The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard, his rusty fowling-piece, his uncouth dress, and an army of women and children at his heels, soon attracted the attention of the tavern. politicians. They crowded round him, eyeing him from head to foot with great curiosity. The orator bustled up to him, and, drawing him partly aside, inquired, "On which side he voted ?" Rip stared in vacant stupidity. Another short but busy little fellow pulled him by the arm, and, rising on tiptoe, inquired in
“Whether he was a Federal or Democrat?” Rip was equally at a loss to comprehend the question; when a knowing, self-important old gentleman, in a sharp cocked hat, made his way through the crowd, putting them to the right and the loft with his elbows as he passed, and planting himself before Van Winkle, with one arm akimbo, the other resting on his cane, his keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating, as it were, into his very soul, demanded, in an austere tone, What brought him to the election with a gun on his shoulder and a mob at his heels, and whether he meant to breed a riot in the village ?” “ Alas! gentlemen,” cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, “I am a poor quiet man, a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the king, God bless him !"
Here a general shout burst from the by-standers—“A tury! a tory! a spy! a refugee! hustle him! away with him!” It was with great difficulty that the self-important man in the cocked hat restored order; and, having assumed a tenfold austerity of brow, demanded again of the unknown culprit, what he came there for, and whom he was seeking? The poor man humbly assured him that he meant no harm, but merely came there in search of some of his neighbors, who used to keep about the tavern.
“Well—who are they !-name them.” Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired, “Where's Nicholas Vedder ?” There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replicd,