No sooner had this bustling little potentate been blown by a whiff of fortune into the seat of government than he called his council together to make them a speech on the state of affairs.
Caius Gracchus, it is said, when he harangued the Roman populace, modulated his tone by an oratorical flute or pitch pipe. Wilhelmus Kieft, not having such an instrument at hand, availed himself of that musical organ or trump which nature has implanted in the midst of a man’s face; in other words, he preluded his address by a sonorous blast of the nose; a preliminary flourish much in vogue among public orators.
He then commenced by expressing his humble sense of his utter unworthiness of the high post to which he had been appointed, which made some of the simple burghers wonder why he undertook it, not knowing that it is a point of etiquette with a public orator never to enter upon office without declaring himself unworthy to cross the threshold. He then proceeded, in a manner highly classic and erudite, to speak of government generally, and of the governments of ancient Greece in particular; together with the wars of Rome and Carthage, and the rise and fall of sundry outlandish empires which the worthy burghers had never read nor heard of. Having thus, after the manner of your learned orators, treated of things in general, he came by a natural roundabout transition to the matter in hand, namely, the daring aggressions of the Yankees.
As my readers are well aware of the advantage a potentate has of handling his enemies as he pleases in his speeches and bulletins, where he has the talk all on his own side, they may rest assured that William the Testy did not let such an opportunity escape of giving the Yankees what is called “a taste of his quality.” In speaking of their inroads into the territories of their High Mightinesses, he compared them to the Gauls, who desolated Rome; the Goths and Vandals, who overran the fairest plains of Europe; but when he came to speak of the unparalleled audacity with which they at Weathersfield had advanced their patches up to the very walls of Fort Goed Hoop, and threatened to smother the garrison in onions, tears of rage started into his eyes, as though he nosed the very offence in question.
Having thus wrought up his tale to a climax, he assumed a most belligerent look, and assured the council that he had devised an instrument potent in its effects, and which he trusted would soon drive the Yankees from the land. So saying, he thrust his hand into one of the deep pockets of his broad-skirted coat and drew forth, not an infernal machine, but an instrument in writing, which he laid with great emphasis upon the table.