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Dutch days is not his joke at the expense of the Dutchman. It lies chiefly in the romantic glamour that he has given to the whole Hudson River. He has not only brought out its natural beauty, as you may see in many descriptions which you can realize for yourself whenever you can take a two-days' outing, but he has given it a curiously imaginative, fairy-like character, so that even though now it is so changed, even though we know there is nothing of the old time left, save the great river and the eternal hills, yet as we go up the Hudson to-day, even in the railroad train, there is a certain witchery in the very names of the stations.
This is really the thing we should feel in reading these sketches. It is but a poor thing to do no more than laugh with the clever humorist at his hits on an old popular fancy ; it is something far better to recognize the power and the beauty which the romancer has discovered for us in the great river of eastern New York.
III. THE DUTCH PERIOD IN THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK.
It was more than a century after Columbus discovered America before the northern nations of Europe began seriously to colonize the New World. Spain and Portugal at once made settlements in Central and South America, but although some exploration was made of the northern coast, it was not till the seventeenth century that the northern powers began to appreciate the opportunities offered to them.
Spain, the great power of that earlier day, had naturally turned her attention to the milder and warmer regions. The gold mines of Mexico and Peru made her possessions immensely valuable. The northern countries were more severe in climate and had no gold. Yet in time they, too, were settled. When the northern nations began to plant colonies in the new country, France looked farthest north to the regions watered by the St. Lawrence. England came next them on the south, the Dutch were nex then the Swedes, and finally, in Virginia, the English again. We must remember that the Dutch, at first, laid claim to a considerable stretch of country, extending even from the Connecticut to the Delaware.
Holland was at this time (1600–1650) one of the great maritime powers of Europe. By the very nature of their little country a
large proportion of the inhabitants lived by some sort of connec. tion with the sea-some by the fisheries, some by foreign trade. The commercial power of the United Provinces was immense. They did business for themselves between the north countries of Europe and the far East, and their ships did a great part of the carrying trade of the other European countries. They were also extending their commercial power by colonization. In 1602 was formed the East India Company, which traded with the countries of the far East from the Cape of Good Hope to Japan, and seized many territories which had belonged to Portugal. The little nation was powerful; its energy, cramped at home in narrow boundaries, flowed abroad on the sea. It was natural that the Dutch should turn their attention to the new world both for trade and commerce. The West India? Company, formed in 1621, working for colonial advantage, not only colonized the New Netherlands, but had also settlements and factories in the north coast of South America and in the West India Islands.
It was the voyage of Henry Hudson that started settlement of the country along the great river that bears his name.
He was an Englishman in the service of the Dutch Company. In 1609 he sailed up “the Great North River of New Netherland" in search of a passage to Asia, and brought back report of a country rich in furs and fit for settlement. There had been already projects of colonization, and the Dutch soon established themselves in small numbers on the river, but not till 1623 was an important expedition sent out. In that year the West India Company sent expeditions to the South River, now called the Delaware, and the North River, now the Hudson. In 1626 the island of Manhattan was purchased of the Indians for a sum amounting to about twenty-four dollars, and the town of New Amsterdam was settled.
The Dutch power lasted till 1664. At one time or another they held Fort Good Hope and some points on the Connecticut, a good part of western Long Island, the country on the Hudson and a little way west on the Mohawk, some of what is now New Jersey, and several points on the Delaware. But only up and down the Hudson, and in the country adjoining, did they make strong settlements, and when we think of the Dutch in America we think chiefly of eastern New York.
1 It must be remembered that this name, now confined to a few islands, was in earlier times vaguely given to a great part of the western continent.
At first the Dutch regarded the New Netherlands merely as a means of obtaining a share in the profitable fur trade. North America existed commercially at this time as a country which produced furs, just as Mexico and Peru had existed as countries which produced gold. The Dutch at first settled only for purposes of trade. Here they were at a disadvantage: the English, in New England on one side and in Virginia on the other, had settled in earnest. But at first the Dutch looked on New Amsterdam and the other towns as mere trading posts. They did not therefore give the people the independent government which made the strength of New England. They sent out directors to manage colonial affairs, and the proof of good management lay to their mind in substantial profits. This was a narrow policy, and hindered the early growth of the colony.
The first director sent out to govern the New Netherlands was Peter Minuit, who came in 1626, and remained six years. He was followed by Wouter van Twiller, who proved incompetent and , untrustworthy. He was succeeded in 1637 by William Kieft, who was nearly all the time in difficulties with the colonists, the Indians and the English. He was followed in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant.
As time went on, the New Netherlands became ss and less a collection of trading stations and more and more of a real colony. Settlements extended up the river. They were made not only under the direction of the West India Company, but in another manner also. Under the charter of the company several of the directors were allowed to purchase great tracts of land of the Indians, and to settle and govern them independently of the company. Of these the most noteworthy was Kilian van Rensselaer, whose large territory was in what is now Albany county. Of this vast estate he was himself the immediate ruler, and received the title of patroon. Other patroons were also named and, besides the settlements which belonged to the jurisdiction of the company, the country was settled under the authority of these great landed proprietors.
Peter Stuyvesant was the last of the Dutch governors and, the whole, the best. He was a man of strong character, upright
and just. But he was also imperious and obstinate, and he could never feel that the colonists had any right to self-government or the slightest measure of independence. He was sent to govern them, and he would do it to the best of his ability. The people, however, desired more self-government than the home authorities would allow, and there were frequent misunderstandings.
By Stuyvesant's time the town of New Amsterdam had become a place of some importance. The province had become smaller; that is to say, the Dutch claim to the Connecticut had not been sustained and their settlements on the Delaware had met with a check. The New Englanders had settled permanently on the Connecticut River and all along the Sound toward New Amsterdam. And on the Delaware the Swedes had succeeded in establishing colonies which were continually encroaching on the Dutch. In 1656 th Dutch succeeded in obtaining control of the Swedish settlements, but not soon enough to make themselves strong on the Delaware.
The town of New Amsterdam, however, had flourished. It had attracted not only settlers from Holland more substantial than those who had first come over, but also people from other countries-English, New Englanders, French Huguenots, Germans. The town was no longer a mere trading post, and could not be governed as one. This was recognized by Stuyvesant to some degree: he caused New Amsterdam to be incorporated as a city, with burgomasters and council. Further than this he was unwilling to go, and in his term of office, like Kieft, he had many quarrels with the people. Finally, after constant broils, he gave his consent to a sort of representative government. Had he had time to carry out the experiment, it might have saved the colony to the Dutch for many years.
But the colony was not destined to develop under the protection of the United Provinces. To Holland the New Netherlands were not as valuable as some of her other colonies—Guiana, the Gold Coast, Java. Nor had the Dutch policy built up a strong, independent colony. The English, on the other hand, valued their American possessions, and the colonies of Virginia and New England had by force of events become powerful neighbors. Under these circumstances it was not unnatural that at one time or another the New Netherlands should fall into the hands of England. There was frequent friction, and in September, 1664, although Holland and England were then at peace, English ships of war appeared before New Amsterdam, and joining the New Englanders who had settled in Long Island, demanded its surrender. Stuyvesant had hardly any soldiers, but he would have defended the town had he been able. As it was, the people, who felt that under English rule they would be granted more independence than the Dutch had given them, insisted on surrender. The English seized the whole province.
The Treaty of Breda in 1667, which ended the war that soon followed, confirmed the English in possession, giving the Dutch the province of Surinam. The name was changed to New York in honor of the Duke of York, except for the territory between the Hudson and the Delaware, which was called New Jersey. New Amsterdam received the name of the province. Fort Orange became Albany, Esopus became Kingston. In 1673 the Dutch seized the province, but were able to retain it less than a year, when it returned permanently to the English, who thereby gained control of the whole coast. The French were to the north, the Spaniards to the south; between Acadia and Florida all was English.
IV. INTRODUCTIONS TO THE STORIES.
Broek. This is but a slight humorous sketch contributed by Irving to the “Knickerbocker Magazine.' It need not be taken as an account of an actual visit ; it is really no more than an embodiment of one or two of Irving's fancies as to Dutch character. The calm tranquillity carried to extreme dulness and stupidity, the absurd affectation of shrewdness and wisdom, the cleanliness pushed to an absurd extreme—these elements were the main staple of the Dutch character in Knickerbocker's “History," and these Irving presented in the sketch. It does not appear that Irving ever had any very great interest in the Dutch people. In all the twenty years of his stay abroad he visited Holland but once, so far as I can learn, and then remained but four days. He may of course have visited some village which gave him the main lines of the present sketch, but on the whole we may well regard “Broek” as little more than a fancy.