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.
less alarming aspects of rheumatism, ciatics, and lumbagos; and the good people of New England, abandoning the study of the occult sciences, turned their attention to the more profitable hocus pocus of trade, and soon became expert in the legerdemain art of turning a penny.  Still, however, a tinge of the old leaven is discernible, even unto this day, in their characters; witches occasionally start up among them in different disguises, as physicians, civilians and divines.  The people at large show a keenness, a cleverness and a profundity of wisdom, that savors strongly of witchcraft; and it has been remarked, that whenever any stones fall from the moon, the greater part of them is sure to tumble into New England.


   [43] Hazard’s State Papers.

   [44] New Plymouth Record.

   [45] Mather’s Hist.  New Eng. b. vi. ch. 7.


When treating of these tempestuous times, the unknown writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript breaks out into an apostrophe in praise of the good St. Nicholas, to whose protecting care he ascribes the dissensions which broke out in the council of the league, and the direful witchcraft which filled all Yankee land as with Egyptian darkness.

A portentous gloom, says he, hung lowering over the fair valleys of the east; the pleasant banks of the Connecticut no longer echoed to the sounds of rustic gayety; grisly phantoms glided about each wild brook and silent glen; fearful apparitions were seen in the air; strange voices were heard in solitary places, and the border towns were so occupied in detecting and punishing losel witches, that for a time all talk of war was suspended, and New Amsterdam and its inhabitants seemed to be totally forgotten.

I must not conceal the fact, that at one time there was some danger of this plague of witchcraft extending into the New Netherlands; and certain witches, mounted on broomsticks, are said to have been seen whisking in the air over some of the Dutch villages near the borders; but the worthy Nederlanders took the precaution to nail horse-shoes to their doors, which it is well known are effectual barriers against all diabolical vermin of the kind.  Many of those horse-shoes may be seen at this very day on ancient mansions and barns, remaining from the days of the patriarchs; nay, the custom is still kept up among some of our legitimate Dutch yeomanry, who inherit from their forefathers a desire to keep witches and Yankees out of the country.

Project Gutenberg
Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook