Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 422 pages of information about Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete.
declare outright that they were omens of a disastrous administration; an event that came to be lamentably verified, and which proves beyond dispute the wisdom of attending to those preternatural intimations furnished by dreams and visions, the flying of birds, falling of stones, and cackling of geese, on which the sages and rulers of ancient times placed such reliance; or to those shootings of stars, eclipses of the moon, howlings of dogs, and flarings of candles, carefully noted and interpreted by the oracular Sibyls of our day, who, in my humble opinion, are the legitimate inheritors and preservers of the ancient science of divination.  This much is certain, that Governor Stuyvesant succeeded to the chair of state at a turbulent period, when foes thronged and threatened from without, when anarchy and stiff-necked opposition reigned rampant within; when the authority of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, though supported by economy, and defended by speeches, protests, and proclamations, yet tottered to its very center; and when the great city of New Amsterdam, though fortified by flag-staffs, trumpeters, and windmills, seemed, like some fair lady of easy virtue, to lie open to attack, and ready to yield to the first invader.


   [39] See the histories of Masters Josselyn and Blome.


The very first movements of the great Peter, on taking the reins of government, displayed his magnanimity, though they occasioned not a little marvel and uneasiness among the people of the Manhattoes.  Finding himself constantly interrupted by the opposition, and annoyed by the advice of his privy council, the members of which had acquired the unreasonable habit of thinking and speaking to themselves during the preceding reign, he determined at once to put a stop to such grievous abominations.  Scarcely, therefore, had he entered upon his authority, than he turned out of office all the meddlesome spirits of the factious cabinet of William the Testy; in place of whom he chose unto himself councillors from those fat, somniferous, respectable burghers who had flourished and slumbered under the easy reign of Walter the Doubter.  All these he caused to be furnished with abundance of fair long pipes, and to be regaled with frequent corporation dinners, admonishing them to smoke, and eat, and sleep for the good of the nation, while he took the burden of government upon his own shoulders—­an arrangement to which they all gave hearty acquiescence.

Nor did he stop here, but made a hideous rout among the inventions and expedients of his learned predecessor—­rooting up his patent gallows, where caitiff vagabonds were suspended by the waistband; demolishing his flag-staffs and windmills, which, like mighty giants, guarded the ramparts of New Amsterdam; pitching to the Duyvel whole batteries of Quaker guns; and, in a word, turning topsy-turvy the whole philosophic, economic, and windmill system of the immortal sage of Saardam.

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Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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