The enlightened inhabitants of the Manhattoes, therefore, being divided into parties, were enabled to hate each other with great accuracy. And now the great business of politics went bravely on, the Long Pipes and Short Pipes assemblings in separate beer-houses, and smoking at each other with implacable vehemence, to the great support of the state and profit of the tavern-keepers. Some, indeed, went so far as to bespatter their adversaries with those odoriferous little words which smell so strong in the Dutch language; believing, like true politicians, that they served their party and glorified themselves in proportion as they bewrayed their neighbors. But, however they might differ among themselves, all parties agreed in abusing the governor, seeing that he was not a governor of their choice, but appointed by others to rule over them.
Unhappy William Kieft! exclaims the sage writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript, doomed to contend with enemies too knowing to be entrapped, and to reign over a people too wise to be governed. All his foreign expeditions were baffled and set at naught by the all-pervading Yankees; all his home measures were canvassed and condemned by “numerous and respectable meetings” of pot-house politicians.
In the multitude of counsellors, we are told, there is safety; but the multitude of counsellors was a continual source of perplexity to William Kieft. With a temperament as hot as an old radish, and a mind subject to perpetual whirlwinds and tornadoes, he never failed to get into a passion with every one who undertook to advise him. I have observed, however, that your passionate little men, like small boats with large sails, are easily upset or blown out of their course; so was it with William the Testy, who was prone to be carried away by the last piece of advice blown into his ear. The consequence was that though a projector of the first class, yet, by continually changing his projects, he gave none a fair trial; and by endeavoring to do everything, he, in sober truth, did nothing.
In the meantime the sovereign people, having got into the saddle, showed themselves, as usual, unmerciful riders; spurring on the little governor with harangues and petitions, and thwarting him with memorials and reproaches, in much the same way as holiday apprentices manage an unlucky devil of a hack-horse; so that Wilhelmus Kieft was kept at a worry or a gallop throughout the whole of his administration.
If we could but get a peep at the tally of Dame Fortune, where like a vigilant landlady she chalks up the debtor and creditor accounts of thoughtless mortals, we should find that every good is checked off by an evil; and that however we may apparently revel scot-free for a season, the time will come when we must ruefully pay off the reckoning. Fortune, in fact, is a pestilent shrew, and, withal, an inexorable creditor; and though for a time she may be all smiles and courtesies, and indulge us in long credits, yet sooner or later she brings up her arrears with a vengeance, and washes out her scores with our tears. “Since,” says good old Boethius, “no man can retain her at his pleasure, what are her favors but sure prognostications of approaching trouble and calamity?”