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.

At length the mighty tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt was drawn into the vortex of that tremendous whirlpool called the Pot, where it was whirled about in giddy mazes, until the senses of the good commander and his crew were overpowered by the horror of the scene, and the strangeness of the revolution.

How the gallant squadron of Pavonia was snatched from the jaws of this modern Charybdis has never been truly made known, for so many survived to tell the tale, and, what is still more wonderful, told it in so many different ways, that there has ever prevailed a great variety of opinions on the subject.

As to the commodore and his crew, when they came to their senses they found themselves stranded on the Long Island shore.  The worthy commodore, indeed, used to relate many and wonderful stories of his adventures in this time of peril; how that he saw specters flying in the air, and heard the yelling of hobgoblins, and put his hand into the pot when they were whirled round, and found the water scalding hot, and beheld several uncouth-looking beings seated on rocks and skimming it with huge ladles; but particularly he declared with great exultation, that he saw the losel porpoises, which had betrayed them into this peril, some broiling on the Gridiron, and others hissing on the Frying-pan!

These, however, were considered by many as mere phantasies of the commodore, while he lay in a trance, especially as he was known to be given to dreaming; and the truth of them has never been clearly ascertained.  It is certain, however, that to the accounts of Oloffe and his followers may be traced the various traditions handed down of this marvelous strait—­as how the devil has been seen there, sitting astride of the Hog’s Back and playing on the fiddle—­how he broils fish there before a storm; and many other stories, in which we must be cautious of putting too much faith.  In consequence of all these terrific circumstances, the Pavonian commander gave this pass the name of Helle-gat, or, as it has been interpreted, Hell-gate;[30] which it continues to bear at the present day.


   [27] It is a matter long since established by certain of our
        philosophers, that is to say, having been often advanced and
        never contradicted, it has grown to be pretty nigh equal to a
        settled fact, that the Hudson was originally a lake dammed up by
        the mountains of the Highlands.  In process of time, however,
        becoming very mighty and obstreperous, and the mountains waxing
        pursy, dropsical, and weak in the back, by reason of their
        extreme old age, it suddenly rose upon them, and after a violent
        struggle effected its escape.  This is said to have come to pass
        in very remote time, probably before that rivers had lost the art
        of running up hill.  The foregoing is a theory in which I do not
        pretend to be skilled, not withstanding that I do fully give it
        my belief.

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