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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
NO. LII-SEPTEMBER, 1854-VOL. II
HIGH upon the walls of the governor's room in the capitol of the Knickerbockers, among the grave chief magistrates of state and city hangs a small, dingy canvas, in a tarnished frame of antique workman . ship. Upon it was depicted, mor.; than two hundred years ago, perhaps by the Vandyke-taught pencil of Van der Heist, a broad-ruffled, short-haired portrait, with an expansive intellectual forehead, and a countenance fdl of the dignity and courtly bearing of an honorable gentleman in tlu time of the First King James of England. They are the features of a navigator, whose history is like a
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by Harper and Brothers, tn the Clerk's Offlc ot the
meteor, brief and brilliant, but whose fame is as enduring as the hills from which gush the fountains of the loveliest stream of our New World, bearing his name. He was the discoverer of the River of the Mountains, at whose ocean-entrance sits the Queen City of America—the commercial metropolis of the Western Continent.
The picture of that bold navigator is seldom seen, and more seldom noticed, except when some human lion of the hour is caged there for exhibition by the paternal guardians of the town. Most of the children of the Dutch burghers of New Amsterdam are as blissfully ignorant of that work of art (and, perchance, of the subject of it too), as if it hung in the bamboo palace of the "King of the Cannibal Islands." Think you, good cousins of Manhattan, that such a counterfeit of Captain Jones of the Mayflower, or the earlier Sir Humphrey of the Squirrel, would long remain unnoticed in Pilgrim Hall at Plymouth? Would not its advent there be telegraphed to "all creation" as quick as Puck could put a girdle 'round the earth? And would not every fragment of Plymouth rock,
"Wandering through the Southern countries, teaching
roll thither in haste, with or without accumulated moss, to pay reverence, in the Mecca of New England, to the likeness of the sea-king whose vessel bore the precious seeds' of free institutions to a virgin soil 1 Yes! Well, then, let us not be insensate to family distinction. We, too, have Pilorim Fathers worthy of our reverence; and a braver sea-king than Henry Hudson never launched his vessel in a fiord of Scandinavia, to traffic where he might, and conquer where he could. Come, then, go with me up to the capitol this pleasant morning, and, standing before the portrait of the venerated mariner, ponder that exceedingly interesting episode in the chronicles of the world's progress, the story of The Dutch On Manhattan.
When the mind of Europe began to awaken from its medieval slumbers at the birth of the intellectual Messiah—the Printing-Press—it had magnificent dreams of the long caravans of Iran bearing rich merchandise from far-distant Ind, and of Sultan Solomon's " navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram," "bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes, and peacocks" from afar. While Western Europe had been slumbering longer and more profoundly than the central and Oriental regions, the merchants of the Adriatic had been meeting those caravans on the Eastern borders of the Euxine; and, growing rich and powerful, had made the traffic of their continent tributary to themselves. Newly-awakened Portugal, Spain, Holland, and Britain, coveted their wealth and power; but the ships of the West were not allowed to float eastward of the Tyrrht te Sea, nor approach nearer the portals of India ban the island whereon St. Paul was shipwrecked. What must be done? The African coast stretched away to the fancied region of fire under the equator, and no man had passed beyond Cape Baja
dor. A bold Prince of Portugal sent a bolder navigator in that direction. The tropical sea was traversed, and Bartholomew Dial perished off the Cape of Tempests, which De Gama named Good Hope, as, eleven years later, he doubled it on his way to the waters of the East Indies.
Yet it was a long way around that southern headland to the wealthy Cipangi and Cathay of Marco Polo, from whence came the rich merchandise that filled the warehouses of Venice and Genoa; and Columbus, big with a magnificent theory concerning a shorter route, went to Lisbon in search of instrumentalities to prove its truth. He was foiled by ignorance in power. Widowed, disappointed, and poor, he tock his little son, Diego, by the hand, turned his back on Portugal, and, through the good offices of a friar of Rabida, he gained the ear of the pious Isabella, Queen of Spain. Her generous, womanly heart beat responsive to his own. She gave him money, and counsel, and friends; and, on a brilliant August morning, in the year one thousand four hundred and ninety-two, he worshiped in the Church of St. George, at Palos, and before meridian he left that port for the unknown regions of the stormy Atlantic. Faith and Hope sat at his prow, and earnest Will at his helm; and seventy days after he left the fields of Andalusia behind him, the perfumes of flowers, home upon the evening breeze from the shores of a New World, gave their incense to his aspirations, and he was happy.
Columbus went back to Europe with a gospel more acceptable to the human heart than that of the Nazarene, which he proposed to carry to the heathen of the West. It was the glad tidings of Farther India (as he supposed) found in the western wave. The missionaries of mammonworship spread the news over Europe, and very soon ships were speeding with the course of the sun from the seaboard countries of the Old World, from Cape Trafalgar to the Bristol Channel. Ojeda and Vespucci went down the coast of South America, from the Caribbean Sea; and Cabot, after creeping along the fields of pack-ice in Baffin's Bay, touched Labrador and Newfoundland, and looked into the estuaries and inlets along the shores of our Republie, away to the sunny land of the Carolinas. Verazzani sounded at the mouth of the Cape Fear, sailed northward, cast anchor in the bays of New York. Newport, and Boston, and gave the natives on Manhattan aqua vita, almost eighty year s before Hudson "rode in five fathoms, oozy ground, and saw many salmons and mullets, and rays very great" within Sandy Hook.
Then the Huguenots—the precious seeds of the French Reformation—were home hither upon the bitter winds of persecution, and sought root in the free soil of Florida. And Walter Raleigh, the gayest ornament of Elizabeth's court, sent men and ships to explore, plant colonies, and dig gold in the beautiful middle region of America; while Cortoreal, and De la Roche, and Roberval, Champlain, Gilbert, Gosnold, Pring, and others, traversed the coast, from Cape Cod to Labrador, in search of a northwest passage to India and the fancied gold regions of the Occident. The great river of Canada was discovered, and almost every bay and inlet of our Atlantic border had been explored; and yet, until the very year when fortyseven learned men commenced the translation of the Bible into our common version, there was no permanent settlement in America between Newfoundland and St. Augustine.
It was in that remarkable year, one thousand six hundred and seven, that "certaine worshipfull Merchants of London" assembled in the parlor of a son of Sir Thomas Gresham, and bargained with Henry Hudson to go in search of a north-east passage to India, around the Arctic shores of Europe between Lapland and Nova Zembla, and ice-ribbed Spitzbergen. Hudson was a resident of London, a friend of the famous Captain John Smith, a bold and skillful mariner and man of science, and a pupil, it may be, of Drake, or Frobisher, or Grenville, in the navigator's art. He had ardently desired the opportunity for adventure and renown now offered. On May-day morning he knelt at the chancel in the old Church of St. Ethelburge, in Bishopgatc Street, and partook of the sacrament, and soon afterward he left the Thames for the circumpolar waters. During two voyages he battled the icepack manfully, off the North Cape, but without success. Boreal frosts were too intense for the brine, and cast impenetrable ice barriers across the eastern pathway of the sea. His employers praised his skill and courage, but losing faith in their scheme, abandoned the undertaking. The navigator, though foiled, was not disheartened. Finding no encouragement in England he went to Holland, then the first maritime power on the earth. The Dutch East India Company, then sending its uncouth argosies to every clime, gladly employed "the bold Englishman, the expert pilot, and the famous navigator," of whose fame they had heard so much; and his thoughts and hopes were again with the perils of the Arctic »eas.
A yacht of ninety tons, called the Half Moon, was placed at Hudson's disposal, and with a choice crew he sailed from Amsterdam on the twenty-fifth of March, sixteen hundred and nine, for the coast of Nova Zembla. On the meridian of Spitzbergen, ice, fogs, and tempests disputed his passage, and he turned westward, passed the lower capes of Greenland, and made soundings on the banks of Newfoundland, on the second of July. He sailed along the coast to Charleston Harbor, in search of adtorthwest passage " below Virginia," spoken of by his friend Captain Smith. In disappointment lte turned his prow northward, discovered Dsla.vare Bay, ani on the t.nrJ of September anchored " at two cables' length from the shore," within Sandy Hook. He passed through the gateway of the Narrows on the eleventh, and, from his anchorage in the beautiful New York Bay, he gazed in wonder and hope up the noble Mahicannittuck, whose waters came rolling from the high hills in the north. Toward evening the next day, he entered the broad stream, and at twilight cast anchor at Yonkers. A strong
tidal current placed the stem of his vessel upstream during the night. This event, and the assurances of the natives, who flocked to his vessel in canoes, with oysters and vegetables, thn. the waters came from far beyond the mountai: .?, inspired him with great hope, for he doubted not that the river on which he was borne flowed from ocean to ocean, and would conduct him to the long-sought Cathay.
With a glad heart Hudson voyaged on. The magnificent Highlands were passed, and then hope failed, for the stream narrowed and the water became fresh. Yet there was enough to make his heart beat with highest pulsations of joy. He was voyaging in the midst of a paradise of beauty, on which the eye of a white man had never before gazed. Deputations of dusky men came to visit him, in wonder and awe, from the forest courts of the sachems. The new pathway to Cathay was yet undiscovered by him, but he had penetrated a world undreamed of by European minds, and he had revealed a mystery greater than that of the polar highway. He pressed onward. The stream became narrower and fresher, and the shores lower, when suddenly the blue domes of the lofty Kaatsbergs, encircled with the glories of an autumnal sunset, enchanted him with visions of wondrous beauty. The yacht-voyage ended at Albany, but a boat's cr w went on, and gazed upon the foaming Cohoes :.t the mouth of the Mohawk. Had they penetrated the wilderness a few leagues further, they might have met Champlain, who was then exploring the banks of the lake in northern New York which bears his name.
Hudson returned to New York Bay, and, after a parting salutation with the Manhattans, and taking formal possession of the country in the name of the government of Holland, he hastened to Europe to carry the glad intelligence of his discoveries to his employers at Amsterdam. He first landed in England, and told his story of the glorious land beneath the parallels of the North Virginia Charter. The bigoted Scotch monarch on the throne of Elizabeth, jealous of the advantages which the Dutch might derive from these discoveries, would not allow Hudson to leave England, and for a long time the Half Moon lay idle in the harbor of Dartmouth. But the key to those advantages was already in the hands of the Dutch; for the navigator had sent his log-book, charts, and a full account of his voyage, to his Amsterdam employers. And so the " cunning, covetous, wasteful, idle, drunken, greedy, dirty, cowardly, great swearer, and most conceited man on earth," as Dickens calls King James, was foiled in his narrow policy, and tnc newly-discovered region was possessed by a population tenfold more worthy, as materials for the foundation of a state, than the idle and dissolute men who were, at that moment, lounging and half starving on the fertile banks of the Powhattan, in Virginia.
The fact---that the new region discovered by Hudson abounded in beavers, otters, and other fur-bearing animals, excited the keenest commercial cupidity of the Dutch, for they had recently
COMMERCIAL sEGINNING OF NEW YORE.
established a fur-trade with the people of Northern I had been named Mauritius, in honor of the StadtRussia, and had realized large profits. As soon j holder of the Netherlands, and Manhattan had as the Half Moon reached the Texel she was re- | become a central place of deposit of the winnings fitted, and, with a part of the same crew, was of skillful Indian trappers, who came from the sent, with beads and other trinkets, to open a j Delaware, the Housatonie, and even from the fartraffic in furs with the Indians on Manhattan and i off Mohawk, with furs, the Dutch government its vicinity. Private adventurers sent vessel after , began to perceive the importance of Hudson's vessel on the same errand, and within two years 1 discoveries, and thought of political jurisdiction after Hudson's return a regular and profitable fur- ' King James, too, had begun to growl, for he trade was established. It was unrestrained, for ' claimed the whole country from Acadie to Florida no government took cognizance of the matter for 1 as English domain.
some time. The Hongers, and Pelgroms, and The little seed of empire, less promising than Tweenhuysens were getting rich on enormous ^ that of Dido, of Cecrops, or of Romulus, but with profits derived from the trade, and Captains De- i a destiny far surpassing them in grandeur, was witt and Christiansen, Block and Mey, were be- i planted on Manhattan five years after Hudson's coming famous navigators, before the free cities of i departure from the Narrows. Adrian Block, one Amsterdam, Hoorn, Rotterdam, and Enckhuysen, | of the boldest of the Dutch navigators of his time, had cast a serious political glance toward the new i had filled his good ship Tiger with bear-skins, country. But when the River of the Mountains | and was about to depart for Amsterdam, when
fire reduced his vessel to a wreck. December snows had already fallen, and thick ice was gathering in the coves. The small store-house of the associated traffickers was an insufficient shelter for his crew, and the wigwams freely offered promised cold comfort for the winter. So the Dutchmen built themselves some rude log huts where the stately warehouses of Beaver Street now stand; and before the Spring blossoms of sixteen hundred and fourteen appeared, the oaks which sheltered bears on the slopes where Wall Street bulls are to-day struggling in the stocks, were fashioned into a trim yacht of sixteen tons. Block named it the Onrust—the " Restless"—a title prophetic of that unresting commerce of which it was the tiny germ. Such was the beginning of the city and trade of New York two hundred and forty years ago.
The Onrust became a famous explorer. Block
guided her through the eddies of Heli Gate and the waters of the Sound, discovered and explored the Quon-eh-ta-cut River, and then visited the shores and islands of the coast to Nahant beach, beyond Boston harbor. Then Captain Hendrickson took her helm, and " discovered and explored certain lands, a bay, and three rivers, situated between thirty-eight and forty degrees of latitude;" and in mid-August, one thousand six hundred and sixteen, he stood before an oval table in the Binncuhof of the palace of the ancient Counts of Holland, at the Hague, at which sat twelve "high and mighty lords" of the States General Before the learned Bameveldt, at that councilboard, he spread a " figurative map" of his discoveries, and asked their High Mightinesses to give his Amsterdam employers special trading privileges in the New World. Twenty months before, the Greffin Aersson had drawn a charter