The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
Washington Irving

Part 7 out of 7

melancholy diffuses round the form, they would make way for her
as for something spiritual, and looking after her, would shake
their heads in gloomy foreboding.

She felt a conviction that she was hastening to the tomb, but
looked forward to it as a place of rest. The silver cord that had
bound her to existence was loosed, and there seemed to be no more
pleasure under the sun. If ever her gentle bosom had entertained
resentment against her lover, it was extinguished. She was
incapable of angry passions, and in a moment of saddened
tenderness she penned him a farewell letter. It was couched in
the simplest language, but touching from its very simplicity. She
told him that she was dying, and did not conceal from him that
his conduct was the cause. She even depicted the sufferings which
she had experienced, but concluded with saying that she could not
die in peace until she had sent him her forgiveness and her

By degrees her strength declined that she could no longer leave
the cottage. She could only totter to the window, where, propped
up in her chair, it was her enjoyment to sit all day and look out
upon the landscape. Still she uttered no complaint nor imparted
to any one the malady that was preying on her heart. She never
even mentioned her lover's name, but would lay her head on her
mother's bosom and weep in silence. Her poor parents hung in mute
anxiety over this fading blossom of their hopes, still flattering
themselves that it might again revive to freshness and that the
bright unearthly bloom which sometimes flushed her cheek might be
the promise of returning health.

In this way she was seated between them one Sunday afternoon; her
hands were clasped in theirs, the lattice was thrown open, and
the soft air that stole in brought with it the fragrance of the
clustering honeysuckle which her own hands had trained round the

Her father had just been reading a chapter in the Bible: it spoke
of the vanity of worldly things and of the joys of heaven: it
seemed to have diffused comfort and serenity through her bosom.
Her eye was fixed on the distant village church: the bell had
tolled for the evening service; the last villager was lagging
into the porch, and everything had sunk into that hallowed
stillness peculiar to the day of rest. Her parents were gazing on
her with yearning hearts. Sickness and sorrow, which pass so
roughly over some faces, had given to hers the expression of a
seraph's. A tear trembled in her soft blue eye. Was she thinking
of her faithless lover? or were her thoughts wandering to that
distant churchyard, into whose bosom she might soon be gathered?

Suddenly the clang of hoofs was heard: a horseman galloped to the
cottage; he dismounted before the window; the poor girl gave a
faint exclamation and sunk back in her chair: it was her
repentant lover. He rushed into the house and flew to clasp her
to his bosom; but her wasted form, her deathlike countenance--so
wan, yet so lovely in its desolation--smote him to the soul, and
he threw himself in agony at her feet. She was too faint to
rise--she attempted to extend her trembling hand--her lips moved
as if she spoke, but no word was articulated; she looked down
upon him with a smile of unutterable tenderness, and closed her
eyes forever.

Such are the particulars which I gathered of this village story.
They are but scanty, and I am conscious have little novelty to
recommend them. In the present rage also for strange incident and
high-seasoned narrative they may appear trite and insignificant,
but they interested me strongly at the time; and, taken in
connection with the affecting ceremony which I had just
witnessed, left a deeper impression on my mind than many
circumstances of a more striking nature. I have passed through
the place since, and visited the church again from a better
motive than mere curiosity. It was a wintry evening: the trees
were stripped of their foliage, the churchyard looked naked and
mournful, and the wind rustled coldly through the dry grass.
Evergreens, however, had been planted about the grave of the
village favorite, and osiers were bent over it to keep the turf

The church-door was open and I stepped in. There hung the chaplet
of flowers and the gloves, as on the day of the funeral: the
flowers were withered, it is true, but care seemed to have been
taken that no dust should soil their whiteness. I have seen many
monuments where art has exhausted its powers to awaken the
sympathy of the spectator, but I have met with none that spoke
more touchingly to my heart than this simple but delicate memento
of departed innocence.


This day Dame Nature seem'd in love,
The lusty sap began to move,
Fresh juice did stir th' embracing vines,
And birds had drawn their valentines.
The jealous trout that low did lie,
Rose at a well-dissembled flie.
There stood my friend, with patient skill,
Attending of his trembling quill.

IT is said that many an unlucky urchin is induced to run away
from his family and betake himself to a seafaring life from
reading the history of Robinson Crusoe; and I suspect that, in
like manner, many of those worthy gentlemen who are given to
haunt the sides of pastoral streams with angle-rods in hand may
trace the origin of their passion to the seductive pages of
honest Izaak Walton. I recollect studying his Complete Angler
several years since in company with a knot of friends in America,
and moreover that we were all completely bitten with the angling
mania. It was early in the year, but as soon as the weather was
auspicious, and that the spring began to melt into the verge of
summer, we took rod in hand and sallied into the country, as
stark mad as was ever Don Quixote from reading books of chivalry.

One of our party had equalled the Don in the fulness of his
equipments, being attired cap-a-pie for the enterprise. He wore a
broad-skirted fustian coat, perplexed with half a hundred
pockets; a pair of stout shoes and leathern gaiters; a basket
slung on one side for fish; a patent rod, a landing net, and a
score of other inconveniences only to be found in the true
angler's armory. Thus harnessed for the field, he was as great a
matter of stare and wonderment among the country folk, who had
never seen a regular angler, as was the steel-clad hero of La
Mancha among the goatherds of the Sierra Morena.

Our first essay was along a mountain brook among the Highlands of
the Hudson--a most unfortunate place for the execution of those
piscatory tactics which had been invented along the velvet
margins of quiet English rivulets. It was one of those wild
streams that lavish, among our romantic solitudes, unheeded
beauties enough to fill the sketch-book of a hunter of the
picturesque. Sometimes it would leap down rocky shelves, making
small cascades, over which the trees threw their broad balancing
sprays and long nameless weeds hung in fringes from the impending
banks, dripping with diamond drops. Sometimes it would brawl and
fret along a ravine in the matted shade of a forest, filling it
with murmurs, and after this termagant career would steal forth
into open day with the most placid, demure face imaginable, as I
have seen some pestilent shrew of a housewife, after filling her
home with uproar and ill-humor, come dimpling out of doors,
swimming and curtseying and smiling upon all the world.

How smoothly would this vagrant brook glide at such times through
some bosom of green meadowland among the mountains, where the
quiet was only interrupted by the occasional tinkling of a bell
from the lazy cattle among the clover or the sound of a
woodcutter's axe from the neighboring forest!

For my part, I was always a bungler at all kinds of sport that
required either patience or adroitness, and had not angled above
half an hour before I had completely "satisfied the sentiment,"
and convinced myself of the truth of Izaak Walton's opinion, that
angling is something like poetry--a man must be born to it. I
hooked myself instead of the fish, tangled my line in every tree,
lost my bait, broke my rod, until I gave up the attempt in
despair, and passed the day under the trees reading old Izaak,
satisfied that it was his fascinating vein of honest simplicity
and rural feeling that had bewitched me, and not the passion for
angling. My companions, however, were more persevering in their
delusion. I have them at this moment before eyes, stealing along
the border of the brook where it lay open to the day or was
merely fringed by shrubs and bushes. I see the bittern rising
with hollow scream as they break in upon his rarely-invaded
haunt; the kingfisher watching them suspiciously from his dry
tree that overhangs the deep black millpond in the gorge of the
hills; the tortoise letting himself slip sideways from off the
stone or log on which he is sunning himself; and the panic-struck
frog plumping in headlong as they approach, and spreading an
alarm throughout the watery world around.

I recollect also that, after toiling and watching and creeping
about for the greater part of a day, with scarcely any success in
spite of all our admirable apparatus, a lubberly country urchin
came down from the hills with a rod made from a branch of a tree,
a few yards of twine, and, as Heaven shall help me! I believe a
crooked pin for a hook, baited with a vile earthworm, and in half
an hour caught more fish than we had nibbles throughout the day!

But, above all, I recollect the "good, honest, wholesome, hungry"
repast which we made under a beech tree just by a spring of pure
sweet water that stole out of the side of a hill, and how, when
it was over, one of the party read old Izaak Walton's scene with
the milkmaid, while I lay on the grass and built castles in a
bright pile of clouds until I fell asleep. All this may appear
like mere egotism, yet I cannot refrain from uttering these
recollections, which are passing like a strain of music over my
mind and have been called up by an agreeable scene which I
witnessed not long since.

In the morning's stroll along the banks of the Alun, a beautiful
little stream which flows down from the Welsh hills and throws
itself into the Dee, my attention was attracted to a group seated
on the margin. On approaching I found it to consist of a veteran
angler and two rustic disciples. The former was an old fellow
with a wooden leg, with clothes very much but very carefully
patched, betokening poverty honestly come by and decently
maintained. His face bore the marks of former storms, but present
fair weather, its furrows had been worn into an habitual smile,
his iron-gray locks hung about his ears, and he had altogether
the good-humored air of a constitutional philosopher who was
disposed to take the world as it went. One of his companions was
a ragged wight with the skulking look of an arrant poacher, and
I'll warrant could find his way to any gentleman's fish-pond in
the neighborhood in the darkest night. The other was a tall,
awkward country lad, with a lounging gait, and apparently
somewhat of a rustic beau. The old man was busy in examining the
maw of a trout which he had just killed, to discover by its
contents what insects were seasonable for bait, and was lecturing
on the subject to his companions, who appeared to listen with
infinite deference. I have a kind feeling towards all "brothers
of the angle" ever since I read Izaak Walton. They are men, he
affirms, of a "mild, sweet, and peaceable spirit;" and my esteem
for them has been increased since I met with an old Tretyse of
fishing with the Angle, in which are set forth many of the maxims
of their inoffensive fraternity. "Take good hede," sayeth this
honest little tretyse, "that in going about your disportes ye
open no man's gates but that ye shet them again. Also ye shall
not use this forsayd crafti disport for no covetousness to the
encreasing and sparing of your money only, but principally for
your solace, and to cause the helth of your body and specyally of
your soule."*

I thought that I could perceive in the veteran angler before me
an exemplification of what I had read; and there was a cheerful
contentedness in his looks that quite drew me towards him. I
could not but remark the gallant manner in which he stumped from
one part of the brook to another, waving his rod in the air to
keep the line from dragging on the ground or catching among the
bushes, and the adroitness with which he would throw his fly to
any particular place, sometimes skimming it lightly along a
little rapid, sometimes casting it into one of those dark holes
made by a twisted root or overhanging bank in which the large
trout are apt to lurk. In the meanwhile he was giving
instructions to his two disciples, showing them the manner in
which they should handle their rods, fix their flies, and play
them along the surface of the stream. The scene brought to my
mind the instructions of the sage Piscator to his scholar. The
country around was of that pastoral kind which Walton is fond of
describing. It was a part of the great plain of Cheshire, close
by the beautiful vale of Gessford, and just where the inferior
Welsh hills begin to swell up from among fresh-smelling meadows.
The day too, like that recorded in his work, was mild and
sunshiny, with now and then a soft-dropping shower that sowed the
whole earth with diamonds.

* From this same treatise it would appear that angling is a more
industrious and devout employment than it is generally
considered: "For when ye purpose to go on your disportes in
fishynge ye will not desyre greatlye many persons with you, which
might let you of your game. And that ye may serve God devoutly in
saying effectually your customable prayers. And thus doying, ye
shall eschew and also avoyde many vices, as ydelness, which is
principall cause to induce man to many other vices, as it is
right well known."

I soon fell into conversation with the old angler, and was so
much entertained that, under pretext of receiving instructions in
his art, I kept company with him almost the whole day, wandering
along the banks of the stream and listening to his talk. He was
very communicative, having all the easy garrulity of cheerful old
age, and I fancy was a little flattered by having an opportunity
of displaying his piscatory lore, for who does not like now and
then to play the sage?

He had been much of a rambler in his day, and had passed some
years of his youth in America, particularly in Savannah, where he
had entered into trade and had been ruined by the indiscretion of
a partner. He had afterwards experienced many ups and downs in
life until he got into the navy, where his leg was carried away
by a cannon-ball at the battle of Camperdown. This was the only
stroke of real good-fortune he had ever experienced, for it got
him a pension, which, together with some small paternal property,
brought him in a revenue of nearly forty pounds. On this he
retired to his native village, where he lived quietly and
independently, and devoted the remainder of his life to the
"noble art of angling."

I found that he had read Izaak Walton attentively, and he seemed
to have imbibed all his simple frankness and prevalent
good-humor. Though he had been sorely buffeted about the world,
he was satisfied that the world, in itself, was good and
beautiful. Though he had been as roughly used in different
countries as a poor sheep that is fleeced by every hedge and
thicket, yet he spoke of every nation with candor and kindness,
appearing to look only on the good side of things; and, above
all, he was almost the only man I had ever met with who had been
an unfortunate adventurer in America and had honesty and
magnanimity enough to take the fault to his own door, and not to
curse the country. The lad that was receiving his instructions, I
learnt, was the son and heir-apparent of a fat old widow who kept
the village inn, and of course a youth of some expectation, and
much courted by the idle gentleman-like personages of the place.
In taking him under his care, therefore, the old man had probably
an eye to a privileged corner in the tap-room and an occasional
cup of cheerful ale free of expense.

There is certainly something in angling--if we could forget,
which anglers are apt to do, the cruelties and tortures inflicted
on worms and insects--that tends to produce a gentleness of
spirit and a pure serenity of mind. As the English are methodical
even in their recreations, and are the most scientific of
sportsmen, it has been reduced among them to perfect rule and
system. Indeed, it is an amusement peculiarly adapted to the mild
and highly-cultivated scenery of England, where every roughness
has been softened away from the landscape. It is delightful to
saunter along those limpid streams which wander, like veins of
silver, through the bosom of this beautiful country, leading one
through a diversity of small home scenery--sometimes winding
through ornamented grounds; sometimes brimming along through rich
pasturage, where the fresh green is mingled with sweet-smelling
flowers; sometimes venturing in sight of villages and hamlets,
and then running capriciously away into shady retirements. The
sweetness and serenity of Nature and the quiet watchfulness of
the sport gradually bring on pleasant fits of musing, which are
now and then agreeably interrupted by the song of a bird, the
distant whistle of the peasant, or perhaps the vagary of some
fish leaping out of the still water and skimming transiently
about its glassy surface. "When I would beget content," says
Izaak Walton, "and increase confidence in the power and wisdom
and providence of Almighty God, I will walk the meadows by some
gliding stream, and there contemplate the lilies that take no
care, and those very many other little living creatures that are
not only created, but fed (man knows not how) by the goodness of
the God of Nature, and therefore trust in Him."

I cannot forbear to give another quotation from one of those
ancient champions of angling which breathes the same innocent and
happy spirit:

Let me live harmlessly, and near the brink
Of Trent or Avon have a dwelling-place:
Where I may see my quill, or cork, down sink
With eager bite- of Pike, or Bleak, or Dace;
And on the world and my Creator think:
Whilst some men strive ill-gotten goods t' embrace:
And others spend their time in base excess
Of wine, or worse, in war or wantonness.

Let them that will, these pastimes still pursue,
And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill;
So I the fields and meadows green may view,
And daily by fresh rivers walk at will,
Among the daisies and the violets blue,
Red hyacinth and yellow daffodil.*

On parting with the old angler I inquired after his place of
abode, and, happening to be in the neighborhood of the village a
few evenings afterwards, I had the curiosity to seek him out. I
found him living in a small cottage containing only one room, but
a perfect curiosity in its method and arrangement. It was on the
skirts of the village, on a green bank a little back from the
road, with a small garden in front stocked with kitchen herbs and
adorned with a few flowers. The whole front of the cottage was
overrun with a honeysuckle. On the top was a ship for a
weathercock. The interior was fitted up in a truly nautical
style, his ideas of comfort and convenience having been acquired
on the berth-deck of a man-of-war. A hammock was slung from the
ceiling which in the daytime was lashed up so as to take but
little room. From the centre of the chamber hung a model of a
ship, of his own workmanship. Two or three chairs, a table, and a
large sea-chest formed the principal movables. About the wall
were stuck up naval ballads, such as "Admiral Hosier's Ghost,"
"All in the Downs," and "Tom Bowling," intermingled with pictures
of sea-fights, among which the battle of Camperdown held a
distinguished place. The mantelpiece was decorated with
sea-shells, over which hung a quadrant, flanked by two wood-cuts
of most bitter-looking naval commanders. His implements for
angling were carefully disposed on nails and hooks about the
room. On a shelf was arranged his library, containing a work on
angling, much worn, a Bible covered with canvas, an odd volume or
two of voyages, a nautical almanac, and a book of songs.

* J. Davors.

His family consisted of a large black cat with one eye, and a
parrot which he had caught and tamed and educated himself in the
course of one of his voyages, and which uttered a variety of
sea-phrases with the hoarse brattling tone of a veteran
boatswain. The establishment reminded me of that of the renowned
Robinson Crusoe; it was kept in neat order, everything being
"stowed away" with the regularity of a ship of war; and he
informed me that he "scoured the deck every morning and swept it
between meals."

I found him seated on a bench before the door, smoking his pipe
in the soft evening sunshine. His cat was purring soberly on the
threshold, and his parrot describing some strange evolutions in
an iron ring that swung in the centre of his cage. He had been
angling all day, and gave me a history of his sport with as much
minuteness as a general would talk over a campaign, being
particularly animated in relating the manner in which he had
taken a large trout, which had completely tasked all his skill
and wariness, and which he had sent as a trophy to mine hostess
of the inn.

How comforting it is to see a cheerful and contented old age, and
to behold a poor fellow like this, after being tempest-tost
through life, safely moored in a snug and quiet harbor in the
evening of his days! His happiness, however, sprung from within
himself and was independent of external circumstances, for he had
that inexhaustible good-nature which is the most precious gift of
Heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of
thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest

On inquiring further about him, I learnt that he was a universal
favorite in the village and the oracle of the tap-room, where he
delighted the rustics with his songs, and, like Sindbad,
astonished them with his stories of strange lands and shipwrecks
and sea-fights. He was much noticed too by gentlemen sportsmen of
the neighborhood, had taught several of them the art of angling,
and was a privileged visitor to their kitchens. The whole tenor
of his life was quiet and inoffensive, being principally passed
about the neighboring streams when the weather and season were
favorable; and at other times he employed himself at home,
preparing his fishing-tackle for the next campaign or
manufacturing rods, nets, and flies for his patrons and pupils
among the gentry.

He was a regular attendant at church on Sundays, though he
generally fell asleep during the sermon. He had made it his
particular request that when he died he should be buried in a
green spot which he could see from his seat in church, and which
he had marked out ever since he was a boy, and had thought of
when far from home on the raging sea in danger of being food for
the fishes: it was the spot where his father and mother had been

I have done, for I fear that my reader is growing weary, but I
could not refrain from drawing the picture of this worthy
"brother of the angle," who has made me more than ever in love
with the theory, though I fear I shall never be adroit in the
practice, of his art; and I will conclude this rambling sketch in
the words of honest Izaak Walton, by craving the blessing of St.
Peter's Master upon my reader, "and upon all that are true lovers
of virtue, and dare trust in His providence, and be quiet, and go



A pleasing land of drowsy-head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye,
And of gay castles in the clouds that pays,
For ever flushing round a summer sky.
Castle of Indolence

IN the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the
eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river
denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and
where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the
protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small
market-town or rural port which by some is called Greensburg, but
which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry
Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days by the
good housewives of the adjacent country from the inveterate
propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern
on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact,
but merely advert to it for the sake of being precise and
authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles,
there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high
hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A
small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull
one to repose, and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping
of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon
the uniform tranquillity.

I recollect that when a stripling my first exploit in
squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut trees that shades
one side of the valley. I had wandered into it at noontime, when
all Nature is peculiarly quiet, and was startled by the roar of
my own gun as it broke the Sabbath stillness around and was
prolonged and reverberated by the angry echoes. If ever I should
wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the world and its
distractions and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled
life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.

From the listless repose of the place and the peculiar character
of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch
settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name
of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy
Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy,
dreamy influence seems to hang over the land and to pervade the
very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High
German doctor during the early days of the settlement; others,
that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe,
held his powwows there before the country was discovered by
Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues
under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the
minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual
reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are
subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights
and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood
abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight
superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the
valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare,
with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of
her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region,
and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air,
is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is
said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper whose head had
been carried away by a cannonball in some nameless battle during
the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the
country-folk hurrying along in the gloom of night as if on the
wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but
extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the
vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the
most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful
in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this
spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried
in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle
in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with
which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight
blast, is owing to his being belated and in a hurry to get back
to the churchyard before daybreak.

Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which
has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of
shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides by
the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned
is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is
unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time.
However wide awake they may have been before they entered that
sleepy region, they are sure in a little time to inhale the
witching influence of the air and begin to grow imaginative--to
dream dreams and see apparitions.

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in
such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed
in the great State of New York, that population, manners, and
customs remain fixed, while the great torrent of migration and
improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other
parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved. They
are like those little nooks of still water which border a rapid
stream where we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly at
anchor or slowly revolving in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by
the rush of the passing current. Though many years have elapsed
since I trod the drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet I question
whether I should not still find the same trees and the same
families vegetating in its sheltered bosom.

In this by-place of Nature there abode, in a remote period of
American history--that is to say, some thirty years since--a
worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as
he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow for the purpose of
instructing the children of the vicinity. He was a native of
Connecticut, a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for
the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its
legions of frontier woodmen and country schoolmasters. The
cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was
tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and
legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that
might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely
hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge
ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snip nose, so that it
looked like a weathercock perched upon his spindle neck to tell
which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of
a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering
about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of Famine
descending upon the earth or some scarecrow eloped from a

His school-house was a low building of one large room, rudely
constructed of logs, the windows partly glazed and partly patched
with leaves of old copybooks. It was most ingeniously secured at
vacant hours by a withe twisted in the handle of the door and
stakes set against the window-shutters, so that, though a thief
might get in with perfect ease, he would find some embarrassment
in getting out---an idea most probably borrowed by the architect,
Yost Van Houten, from the mystery of an eel-pot. The school-house
stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation, just at the foot
of a woody hill, with a brook running close by and a formidable
birch tree growing at one end of it. From hence the low murmur of
his pupils' voices, conning over their lessons, might be heard in
a drowsy summer's day like the hum of a bee-hive, interrupted now
and then by the authoritative voice of the master in the tone of
menace or command, or, peradventure, by the appalling sound of
the birch as he urged some tardy loiterer along the flowery path
of knowledge. Truth to say, he was a conscientious man, and ever
bore in mind the golden maxim, "Spare the rod and spoil the
child." Ichabod Crane's scholars certainly were not spoiled.

I would not have it imagined, however, that he was one of those
cruel potentates of the school who joy in the smart of their
subjects; on the contrary, he administered justice with
discrimination rather than severity, taking the burden off the
backs of the weak and laying it on those of the strong. Your mere
puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of the rod, was
passed by with indulgence; but the claims of justice were
satisfied by inflicting a double portion on some little tough,
wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelled
and grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch. All this he called
"doing his duty by their parents;" and he never inflicted a
chastisement without following it by the assurance, so
consolatory to the smarting urchin, that "he would remember it
and thank him for it the longest day he had to live."

When school-hours were over he was even the companion and
playmate of the larger boys, and on holiday afternoons would
convoy some of the smaller ones home who happened to have pretty
sisters or good housewives for mothers noted for the comforts of
the cupboard. Indeed it behooved him to keep on good terms with
his pupils. The revenue arising from his school was small, and
would have been scarcely sufficient to furnish him with daily
bread, for he was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the
dilating powers of an anaconda; but to help out his maintenance
he was, according to country custom in those parts, boarded and
lodged at the houses of the farmers whose children he instructed.
With these he lived successively a week at a time, thus going the
rounds of the neighborhood with all his worldly effects tied up
in a cotton handkerchief.

That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of his
rustic patrons, who are apt to consider the costs of schooling a
grievous burden and schoolmasters as mere drones, he had various
ways of rendering himself both useful and agreeable. He assisted
the farmers occasionally in the lighter labors of their farms,
helped to make hay, mended the fences, took the horses to water,
drove the cows from pasture, and cut wood for the winter fire. He
laid aside, too, all the dominant dignity and absolute sway with
which he lorded it in his little empire, the school, and became
wonderfully gentle and ingratiating. He found favor in the eyes
of the mothers by petting the children, particularly the
youngest; and like the lion bold, which whilom so magnanimously
the lamb did hold, he would sit with a child on one knee and rock
a cradle with his foot for whole hours together.

In addition to his other vocations, he was the singing-master of
the neighborhood and picked up many bright shillings by
instructing the young folks in psalmody. It was a matter of no
little vanity to him on Sundays to take his station in front of
the church-gallery with a band of chosen singers, where, in his
own mind, he completely carried away the palm from the parson.
Certain it is, his voice resounded far above all the rest of the
congregation, and there are peculiar quavers still to be heard in
that church, and which may even be heard half a mile off, quite
to the opposite side of the mill-pond on a still Sunday morning,
which are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of
Ichabod Crane. Thus, by divers little makeshifts in that
ingenious way which is commonly denominated "by hook and by
crook," the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was
thought, by all who understood nothing of the labor of headwork,
to have a wonderfully easy life of it.

The schoolmaster is generally a man of some importance in the
female circle of a rural neighborhood, being considered a kind of
idle, gentleman-like personage of vastly superior taste and
accomplishments to the rough country swains, and, indeed,
inferior in learning only to the parson. His appearance,
therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir at the tea-table
of a farmhouse and the addition of a supernumerary dish of cakes
or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver tea-pot.
Our man of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the smiles
of all the country damsels. How he would figure among them in the
churchyard between services on Sundays, gathering grapes for them
from the wild vines that overrun the surrounding trees; reciting
for their amusement all the epitaphs on the tombstones; or
sauntering, with a whole bevy of them, along the banks of the
adjacent mill-pond, while the more bashful country bumpkins hung
sheepishly back, envying his superior elegance and address.

From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling
gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to
house, so that his appearance was always greeted with
satisfaction. He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of
great erudition, for he had read several books quite through, and
was a perfect master of Cotton Mather's History of New England
Witchcraft, in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently

He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple
credulity. His appetite for the marvellous and his powers of
digesting it were equally extraordinary, and both had been
increased by his residence in this spellbound region. No tale was
too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow. It was often
his delight, after his school was dismissed in the afternoon, to
stretch himself on the rich bed of clover bordering the little
brook that whimpered by his school-house, and there con over old
Mather's direful tales until the gathering dusk of the evening
made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes. Then, as he
wended his way by swamp and stream and awful woodland to the
farmhouse where he happened to be quartered, every sound of
Nature at that witching hour fluttered his excited
imagination--the moan of the whip-poor-will* from the hillside;
the boding cry of the tree-toad, that harbinger of storm; the
dreary hooting of the screech-owl, or the sudden rustling in the
thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The fire-flies,
too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and
then startled him as one of uncommon brightness would stream
across his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle
came winging his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet
was ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that he was struck
with a witch's token. His only resource on such occasions, either
to drown thought or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm
tunes; and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their
doors of an evening, were often filled with awe at hearing his
nasal melody, "in linked sweetness long drawn out," floating from
the distant hill or along the dusky road.

* The whip-poor-will is a bird which is only heard at night. It
receives its name from its note, which is thought to resemble
those words.

Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long
winter evenings with the old Dutch wives as they sat spinning by
the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the
hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and
goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted
bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless
horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes
called him. He would delight them equally by his anecdotes of
witchcraft and of the direful omens and portentous sights and
sounds in the air which prevailed in the earlier times of
Connecticut, and would frighten them woefully with speculations
upon comets and shooting stars, and with the alarming fact that
the world did absolutely turn round and that they were half the
time topsy-turvy.

But if there was a pleasure in all this while snugly cuddling in
the chimney-corner of a chamber that was all of a ruddy glow from
the crackling wood-fire, and where, of course, no spectre dared
to show its face, it was dearly purchased by the terrors of his
subsequent walk homewards. What fearful shapes and shadows beset
his path amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With
what wistful look did be eye every trembling ray of light
streaming across the waste fields from some distant window! How
often was he appalled by some shrub covered with snow, which,
like a sheeted spectre, beset his very path! How often did he
shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the
frosty crust beneath his feet, and dread to look over his
shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close
behind him! And how often was he thrown into complete dismay by
some rushing blast howling among the trees, in the idea that it
was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scourings!

All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of
the mind that walk in darkness; and though be had seen many
spectres in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in
divers shapes in his lonely perambulations, yet daylight put an
end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life
of it, in despite of the devil and all his works, if his path had
not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal
man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put
together, and that was--a woman.

Among the musical disciples who assembled one evening in each
week to receive his instructions in psalmody was Katrina Van
Tassel, the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch
farmer. She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen, plump as a
partridge, ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of her
father's peaches, and universally famed, not merely for her
beauty, but her vast expectations. She was withal a little of a
coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a
mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off
her charms. She wore the ornaments of pure yellow gold which her
great-great-grandmother had brought over from Saardam, the
tempting stomacher of the olden time, and withal a provokingly
short petticoat to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the
country round.

Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex, and
it is not to be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon found
favor in his eyes, more especially after he had visited her in
her paternal mansion. Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture
of a thriving, contented, liberal-hearted farmer. He seldom, it
is true, sent either his eyes or his thoughts beyond the
boundaries of his own farm, but within those everything was snug,
happy, and well-conditioned. He was satisfied with his wealth but
not proud of it, and piqued himself upon the hearty abundance,
rather than the style, in which he lived. His stronghold was
situated on the banks of the Hudson, in one of those green,
sheltered, fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers are so fond
of nestling. A great elm tree spread its broad branches over it,
at the foot of which bubbled up a spring of the softest and
sweetest water in a little well formed of a barrel, and then
stole sparkling away through the grass to a neighboring brook
that bubbled along among alders and dwarf willows. Hard by the
farmhouse was a vast barn, that might have served for a church,
every window and crevice of which seemed bursting forth with the
treasures of the farm; the flail was busily resounding within it
from morning to night; swallows and martins skimmed twittering
about the eaves; and rows of pigeons, some with one eye turned
up, as if watching the weather, some with their heads under their
wings or buried in their bosoms, and others, swelling, and
cooing, and bowing about their dames, were enjoying the sunshine
on the roof. Sleek, unwieldy porkers were grunting in the repose
and abundance of their pens, whence sallied forth, now and then,
troops of sucking pigs as if to snuff the air. A stately squadron
of snowy geese were riding in an adjoining pond, convoying whole
fleets of ducks; regiments of turkeys were gobbling through the
farmyard, and guinea-fowls fretting about it, like ill-tempered
housewives, with their peevish, discontented cry. Before the
barn-door strutted the gallant cock, that pattern of a husband, a
warrior, and a fine gentleman, clapping his burnished wings and
crowing in the pride and gladness of his heart--sometimes tearing
up the earth with his feet, and then generously calling his
ever-hungry family of wives and children to enjoy the rich morsel
which he had discovered.

The pedagogue's mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous
promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind's eye he
pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a
pudding in his belly and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were
snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie and tucked in with a
coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy;
and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married
couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers
he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon and juicy
relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up,
with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of
savory sausages; and even bright Chanticleer himself lay
sprawling on his back in a side-dish, with uplifted claws, as if
craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask
while living.

As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his
great green eyes over the fat meadow-lands, the rich fields of
wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards
burdened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of
Van Tassel, his heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit
these domains, and his imagination expanded with the idea how
they might be readily turned into cash and the money invested in
immense tracts of wild land and shingle palaces in the
wilderness. Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and
presented to him the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of
children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household
trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath, and he beheld
himself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels,
setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord knows where.

When he entered the house the conquest of his heart was complete.
It was one of those spacious farmhouses with high-ridged but
lowly-sloping roofs, built in the style handed down from the
first Dutch settlers, the low projecting eaves forming a piazza
along the front capable of being closed up in bad weather. Under
this were hung flails, harness, various utensils of husbandry,
and nets for fishing in the neighboring river. Benches were built
along the sides for summer use, and a great spinning-wheel at one
end and a churn at the other showed the various uses to which
this important porch might be devoted. From this piazza the
wondering Ichabod entered the hall, which formed the centre of
the mansion and the place of usual residence. Here rows of
resplendent pewter, ranged on a long dresser, dazzled his eyes.
In one corner stood a huge bag of wool ready to be spun; in
another a quantity of linsey-woolsey just from the loom; ears of
Indian corn and strings of dried apples and peaches hung in gay
festoons along the walls, mingled with the gaud of red peppers;
and a door left ajar gave him a peep into the best parlor, where
the claw-footed chairs and dark mahogany tables shone like
mirrors; andirons, with their accompanying shovel and tongs,
glistened from their covert of asparagus tops; mock-oranges and
conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings of
various-colored birds' eggs were suspended above it; a great
ostrish egg was hung from the centre of the room, and a corner
cupboard, knowingly left open, displayed immense treasures of old
silver and well-mended china.

From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of
delight the peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study
was how to gain the affections of the peerless daughter of Van
Tassel. In this enterprise, however, he had more real
difficulties than generally fell to the lot of a knight-errant of
yore, who seldom had anything but giants, enchanters, fiery
dragons, and such-like easily-conquered adversaries to contend
with, and had to make his way merely through gates of iron and
brass and walls of adamant to the castle keep, where the lady of
his heart was confined; all which he achieved as easily as a man
would carve his way to the centre of a Christmas pie, and then
the lady gave him her hand as a matter of course. Ichabod, on the
contrary, had to win his way to the heart of a country coquette
beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which were forever
presenting new difficulties and impediments, and he had to
encounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood,
the numerous rustic admirers who beset every portal to her heart,
keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other, but ready to
fly out in the common cause against any new competitor.

Among these the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roistering
blade of the name of Abraham--or, according to the Dutch
abbreviation, Brom--Van Brunt, the hero of the country round,
which rang with his feats of strength and hardihood. He was
broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair
and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air
of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame and great powers
of limb, he had received the nickname of BROM BONES, by which he
was universally known. He was famed for great knowledge and skill
in horsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar. He
was foremost at all races and cockfights, and, with the
ascendancy which bodily strength acquires in rustic life, was the
umpire in all disputes, setting his hat on one side and giving
his decisions with an air and tone admitting of no gainsay or
appeal. He was always ready for either a fight or a frolic, but
had more mischief than ill-will in his composition; and with all
his overbearing roughness there was a strong dash of waggish
good-humor at bottom. He had three or four boon companions who
regarded him as their model, and at the head of whom he scoured
the country, attending every scene of feud or merriment for miles
around. In cold weather he was distinguished by a fur cap
surmounted with a flaunting fox's tail; and when the folks at a
country gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance,
whisking about among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by
for a squall. Sometimes his crew would be heard dashing along
past the farm-houses at midnight with whoop and halloo, like a
troop of Don Cossacks, and the old dames, startled out of their
sleep, would listen for a moment till the hurry-scurry had
clattered by, and then exclaim, "Ay, there goes Brom Bones and
his gang!" The neighbors looked upon him with a mixture of awe,
admiration, and good-will, and when any madcap prank or rustic
brawl occurred in the vicinity always shook their heads and
warranted Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming
Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and, though
his amorous toyings were something like the gentle caresses and
endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that she did not
altogether discourage his hopes. Certain it is, his advances were
signals for rival candidates to retire who felt no inclination to
cross a line in his amours; insomuch, that when his horse was
scene tied to Van Tassel's paling on a Sunday night, a sure sign
that his master was courting--or, as it is termed,
"sparking"--within, all other suitors passed by in despair and
carried the war into other quarters.

Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to
contend, and, considering all things, a stouter man than he would
have shrunk from the competition and a wiser (*)man would have
despaired. He had, however, a happy mixture of pliability and
perseverance in his nature; he was in form and spirit like a
supple jack--yielding, but although; though he bent, he never
broke and though he bowed beneath the slightest pressure, yet the
moment it was away, jerk! he was as erect and carried his head as
high as ever.

To have taken the field openly against his rival would have been
madness for he was not man to be thwarted in his amours, any more
than that stormy lover, Achilles. Ichabod, therefore, made his
advances in a quiet and gently-insinuating manner. Under cover of
his character of singing-master, he made frequent visits at the
farm-house; not that he had anything to apprehend from the
meddlesome interference of parents, which is so often a
stumbling-block in the path of lovers. Balt Van Tassel was an
easy, indulgent soul; he loved his daughter better even than his
pipe, and, like a reasonable man and an excellent father, let her
have her way in everything. His notable little wife, too, had
enough to do to attend to her housekeeping and manage her poultry
for, as she sagely observed, ducks and geese are foolish things
and must be looked after, but girls can take care of themselves.
Thus while the busy dame bustled about the house or plied her
spinning-wheel at one end of the piazza, honest Balt would sit
smoking his evening pipe at the other, watching the achievements
of a little wooden warrior who, armed with a sword in each hand,
was most valiantly fighting the wind on the pinnacle of the barn.
In the meantime, Ichabod would carry on his suit with the
daughter by the side of the spring under the great elm, or
sauntering along in the twilight, that hour so favorable to the
lover's eloquence.

I profess not to know how women's hearts are wooed and won. To
me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some
seem to have but one vulnerable point, or door of access, while
otheres have a thousand avenues and may be captured in a thousand
different ways. It is a great triumph of skill to gain the
former, but still greater proof of generalship to maintain
possession of the latter, for the man must battle for his
fortress at every door and window. He who wins a thousand common
hearts is therefore entitled to some renown, but he who keeps
undisputed sway over the heart of a coquette is indeed a hero.
Certain it is, this was not the case with the redoubtable Brom
Bones; and from the moment Ichabod Crane made his advances, the
interests of the former evidently declined; his horse was no
longer seen tied at the palings on Sunday nights, and a deadly
feud gradually arose between him and the preceptor of Sleepy

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature, would
fain have carried matters to open warfare, and have settled their
pretensions to the lady according to the mode of those most
concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore--by
single combat; but Ichabod was too conscious of the superior
might of his adversary to enter the lists against him: he had
overheard a boast of Bones, that he would "double the
schoolmaster up and lay him on a shelf of his own school-house;"
and he was too wary to give him an opportunity. There was
something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific system;
it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic
waggery in his disposition and to play off boorish practical
jokes upon his rival. Ichabod became the object of whimsical
persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders. They harried
his hitherto peaceful domains; smoked out his singing school by
stopping up the chimney; broke into the schoolhouse at night in
spite of its formidable fastenings of withe and window stakes,
and turned everything topsy-turvy; so that the poor schoolmaster
began to think all the witches in the country held their meetings
there. But, what was still more annoying, Brom took all
opportunities of turning him into ridicule in presence of his
mistress, and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whine in the
most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod's, to
instruct her in psalmody.

In this way, matters went on for some time without producing any
material effect on the relative situation of the contending
powers. On a fine autumnal afternoon Ichabod, in pensive mood,
sat enthroned on the lofty stool whence he usually watched all
the concerns of his little literary realm. In his hand he swayed
a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of justice
reposed on three nails behind the throne, a constant terror to
evildoers; while on the desk before him might be seen sundry
contraband articles and prohibited weapons detected upon the
persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples, popguns,
whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little paper
gamecocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of
justice recently inflicted, for his scholars were all busily
intent upon their books or slyly whispering behind them with one
eye kept upon the master, and a kind of buzzing stillness reigned
throughout the school-room. It was suddenly interrupted by the
appearance of a negro in tow-cloth jacket and trowsers, a
round-crowned fragment of a hat like the cap of Mercury, and
mounted on the back of a ragged, wild, half-broken colt, which he
managed with a rope by way of halter. He came clattering up to
the school door with an invitation to Ichabod to attend a
merry-making or "quilting frolic" to be held that evening at
Mynheer Van Tassel's; and, having delivered his message with that
air of importance and effort at fine language which a negro is
apt to display on petty embassies of the kind, he dashed over the
brook, and was seen scampering away up the hollow, full of the
importance and hurry of his mission.

All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet school-room. The
scholars were hurried through their lessons without stopping at
trifles; those who were nimble skipped over half with impunity,
and those who were tardy had a smart application now and then in
the rear to quicken their speed or help them over a tall word.
Books were flung aside without being put away on the shelves,
inkstands were overturned, benches thrown down, and the whole
school was turned loose an hour before the usual time, bursting
forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing about
the green in joy at their early emancipation.

The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half hour at his
toilet, brushing and furbishing up his best, and indeed only,
suit of rusty black, and arranging his locks by a bit of broken
looking-glass that hung up in the school-house. That he might
make his appearance before his mistress in the true style of a
cavalier, be borrowed a horse from the farmer with whom he was
domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman of the name of Hans Van
Ripper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth like a
knight-errant in quest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in
the true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks
and equipments of my hero and his steed. The animal he bestrode
was a broken-down plough-horse that had outlived almost
everything but his viciousness. He was gaunt and shagged, with a
ewe neck and a head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were
tangled and knotted with burrs; one eye had lost its pupil and
was glaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a
genuine devil in it. Still, he must have had fire and mettle in
his day, if we may judge from the name he bore of Gunpowder. He
had, in fact, been a favorite steed of his master's, the choleric
Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very
probably, some of his own spirit into the animal; for, old and
broken down as he looked, there was more of the lurking devil in
him than in any young filly in the country.

Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed. He rode with
short stirrups, which brought his knees nearly up to the pommel
of the saddle; his sharp elbows stuck out like grasshoppers'; he
carried his whip perpendicularly in his hand like a sceptre; and
as his horse jogged on the motion of his arms was not unlike the
flapping of a pair of wings. A small wool hat rested on the top
of his nose, for so his scanty strip of forehead might be called,
and the skirts of his black coat fluttered out almost to his
horse's tail. Such was the appearance of Ichabod and his steed as
they shambled out of the gate of Hans Van Ripper, and it was
altogether such an apparition as is seldom to be met with in
broad daylight.

It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day, the sky was clear
and serene, and Nature wore that rich and golden livery which we
always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put
on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer
kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange,
purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild-ducks began to make
their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might
be heard from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, and the
pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring

The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the
fulness of their revelry they fluttered, chirping and frolicking,
from bush to bush and tree to tree, capricious from the very
profusion and variety around them. There was the honest cock
robin, the favorite game of stripling sportsmen, with its loud
querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds, flying in sable
clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker, with his crimson crest,
his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar-bird,
with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail and its little
monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb,
in his gay light-blue coat and white under-clothes, screaming and
chattering, bobbing and nodding and bowing, and pretending to be
on good terms with every songster of the grove.

As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way his eye, ever open to every
symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the
treasures of jolly Autumn. On all sides he beheld vast store of
apples--some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees, some
gathered into baskets and barrels for the market, others heaped
up in rich piles for the cider-press. Farther on he beheld great
fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their
leafy coverts and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty
pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up
their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects
of the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant
buckwheat-fields, breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he
beheld them soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty
slapjacks, well buttered and garnished with honey or treacle by
the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel.

Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and "sugared
suppositions," he journeyed along the sides of a range of hills
which look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty
Hudson. The sun gradually wheeled his broad disk down into the
west. The wide bosom of the Tappan Zee lay motionless and glassy,
excepting that here and there a gentle undulation waved and
prolonged the blue shadow of the distant mountain. A few amber
clouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air to move them.
The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a
pure apple green, and from that into the deep blue of the
mid-heaven. A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the
precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater
depth to the dark-gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop
was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the
tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast, and as the
reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water it seemed as
if the vessel was suspended in the air.

It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of the
Heer Van Tassel, which he found thronged with the pride and
flower of the adjacent country--old farmers, a spare
leathern-faced race, in homespun coats and breeches, blue
stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles; their
brisk withered little dames, in close crimped caps, long-waisted
shortgowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and pincushions
and gay calico pockets hanging on the outside; buxom lasses,
almost as antiquated as their mothers, excepting where a straw
hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of
city innovation; the sons, in short square-skirted coats with
rows of stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued
in the fashion of the times, especially if they could procure an
eel-skin for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout the
country as a potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.

Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come to
the gathering on his favorite steed Daredevil--a creature, like
himself full of metal and mischief, and which no one but himself
could manage. He was, in fact, noted for preferring vicious
animals, given to all kinds of tricks, which kept the rider in
constant risk of his neck, for he held a tractable, well-broken
horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit.

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst
upon the enraptured gaze of my hero as he entered the state
parlor of Van Tassel's mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom
lasses with their luxurious display of red and white, but the
ample charms of a genuine Dutch country teat-able in the
sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped-up platters of cakes of
various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced
Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tenderer
oily koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and
short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family
of cakes. And then there were apple pies and peach pies and
pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover
delectable dishes of preserved plums and peaches and pears and
quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens;
together with bowls of milk and cream,--all mingled
higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with
the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the
midst. Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss
this banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my
story. Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his
historian, but did ample justice to every dainty.

He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in
proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer, and whose
spirits rose with eating as some men's do with drink. He could
not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and
chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of
all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor. Then,
he thought, how soon he'd turn his back upon the old
school-house, snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper and
every other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue
out of doors that should dare to call him comrade!

Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a face
dilated with content and good-humor, round and jolly as the
harvest moon. His hospitable attentions were brief, but
expressive, being confined to a shake of the hand, a slap on the
shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing invitation to "fall to and
help themselves."

And now the sound of the music from the common room, or hall,
summoned to the dance. The musician was an old gray-headed negro
who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more
than half a century. His instrument was as old and battered as
himself. The greater part of the time he scraped on two or three
strings, accompanying every movement of the bow with a motion of
the head, bowing almost to the ground and stamping with his foot
whenever a fresh couple were to start.

Ichobod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his vocal
powers. Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to have
seen his loosely hung frame in full motion and clattering about
the room you would have thought Saint Vitus himself, that blessed
patron of the dance, was figuring before you in person. He was
the admiration of all the negroes, who, having gathered, of all
ages and sizes, from the farm and the neighborhood, stood forming
a pyramid of shining black faces at every door and window, gazing
with delight at the scene, rolling their white eyeballs, and
showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear. How could the
flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and joyous? The
lady of his heart was his partner in the dance, and smiling
graciously in reply to all his amorous oglings, while Brom Bones,
sorely smitten with love and jealousy, sat brooding by himself in
one corner.

When the dance was at an end Ichabod was attracted to a knot of
the sager folks, who, with old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end
of the piazza gossiping over former times and drawing out long
stories about the war.

This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of
those highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great
men. The British and American line had run near it during the
war; it had therefore been the scene of marauding and infested
with refugees, cow-boys, and all kinds of border chivalry. Just
sufficient time had elapsed to enable each storyteller to dress
up his tale with a little becoming fiction, and in the
indistinctness of his recollection to make himself the hero of
every exploit.

There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-bearded
Dutchman, who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron
nine-pounder from a mud breastwork, only that his gun burst at
the sixth discharge. And there was an old gentleman who shall be
nameless, being too rich a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who,
in the battle of Whiteplains, being an excellent master of
defence, parried a musket-ball with a small sword, insomuch that
he absolutely felt it whiz round the blade and glance off at the
hilt: in proof of which he was ready at any time to show the
sword, with the hilt a little bent. There were several more that
had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was
persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to
a happy termination.

But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions
that succeeded. The neighborhood is rich in legendary treasures
of the kind. Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these
sheltered, long-settled retreats but are trampled under foot by
the shifting throng that forms the population of most of our
country places. Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in
most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish
their first nap and turn themselves in their graves before their
surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood; so
that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds they have
no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why
we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established Dutch

The immediate causes however, of the prevalence of supernatural
stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of
Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew
from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of
dreams and fancies infecting all the land. Several of the Sleepy
Hollow people were present at Van Tassel's, and, as usual, were
doling out their wild and wonderful legends. Many dismal tales
were told about funeral trains and mourning cries and wailings
heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major
Andre was taken, and which stood in the neighborhood. Some
mention was made also of the woman in white that haunted the dark
glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter
nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow. The
chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favorite
spectre of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman, who had been
heard several times of late patrolling the country, and, it was
said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the

The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have
made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a
knoll surrounded by locust trees and lofty elms, from among which
its decent whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian
purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope
descends from it to a silver sheet of water bordered by high
trees, between which peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the
Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams
seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the
dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a
wide woody dell, along, which raves a large brook among broken
rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the
stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden
bridge; the road that led to it and the bridge itself were
thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it
even in the daytime, but occasioned a fearful darkness at night.
Such was one of the favorite haunts of the headless horseman, and
the place where he was most frequently encountered. The tale was
told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how
he met the horseman returning from his foray into Sleepy Hollow,
and was obliged to get up behind him; how they galloped over bush
and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached the bridge,
when the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old
Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree-tops with a
clap of thunder.

This story was immediately matched by a thrice-marvellous
adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the galloping Hessian
as an arrant jockey. He affirmed that on returning one night from
the neighboring village of Sing-Sing he had been over taken by
this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a
bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the
goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came to the church
bridge the Hessian bolted and vanished in a flash of fire.

All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men
talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and
then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep
in the mind of Ichabod. He repaid them in kind with large
extracts from his invaluable author, Cotton Mather, and added
many marvellous events that had taken place in his native state
of Connecticut and fearful sights which he had seen in his
nightly walks about Sleepy Hollow.

The revel now gradually broke up. The old farmers gathered
together their families in their wagons, and were heard for some
time rattling along the hollow roads and over the distant hills.
Some of the damsels mounted on pillions behind their favorite
swains, and their light-hearted laughter, mingling with the
clatter of hoofs, echoed along the silent woodlands, sounding
fainter and fainter until they gradually died away, and the late
scene of noise and frolic was all silent and deserted. Ichabod
only lingered behind, according to the custom of country lovers,
to have a tete-a-tete with the heiress, fully convinced that he
was now on the high road to success. What passed at this
interview I will not pretend to say, for in fact I do not know.
Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for he
certainly sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an
air quite desolate and chop-fallen. Oh these women! these women!
Could that girl have been playing off any of her coquettish
tricks? Was her encouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere
sham to secure her conquest of his rival? Heaven only knows, not
I! Let it suffice to say, Ichabod stole forth with the air of one
who had been sacking a hen-roost, rather than a fair lady's
heart. Without looking to the right or left to notice the scene
of rural wealth on which he had so often gloated, he went
straight to the stable, and with several hearty cuffs and kicks
roused his steed most uncourteously from the comfortable quarters
in which he was soundly sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn
and oats and whole valleys of timothy and clover.

It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod,
heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travel homewards along
the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and
which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was
as dismal as himself. Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its
dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the
tall mast of a sloop riding quietly at anchor under the land. In
the dead hush of midnight he could even hear the barking of the
watch-dog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so
vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this
faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn
crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far
off, from some farm-house away among the hills; but it was like a
dreaming sound in his ear. No signs of life occurred near him,
but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps
the guttural twang of a bull-frog from a neighboring marsh, as if
sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.

All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the
afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew
darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky,
and driving clouds occasionally had them from his sight. He had
never felt so lonely and dismal. He was, moreover, approaching
the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost-stories had
been laid. In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip tree
which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the
neighborhood and formed a: kind of landmark. Its limbs were
gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary
trees, twisting down almost to the earth and rising again into
the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the
unfortunate Andre, who had been taken prisoner hard by, and was
universally known by the name of Major Andre's tree. The common
people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition,
partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake,
and partly from the tales of strange sights and doleful
lamentations told concerning it.

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree he began to whistle: he
thought his whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping
sharply through the dry branches. As he approached a little
nearer he thought he saw something white hanging in the midst of
the tree: he paused and ceased whistling, but on looking more
narrowly perceived that it was a place where the tree had been
scathed by lightning and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly he
heard a groan: his teeth chattered and his knees smote against
the saddle; it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another
as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in
safety, but new perils lay before him.

About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the
road and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen known by the
name of Wiley's Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side,
served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road
where the brook entered the wood a group of oaks and chestnuts,
matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw a cavernous gloom over
it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this
identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured, and under
the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen
concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered
a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy
who has to pass it alone after dark.

As he approached the stream his heart began to thump; he summoned
up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of
kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the
bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal
made a lateral movement and ran broadside against the fence.
Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins
on the other side and kicked lustily with the contrary foot: it
was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it was only
to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of
brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both
whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who
dashed forward, snuffing and snorting, but came to a stand just
by the bridge with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider
sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp by
the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In
the dark shadow of the grove on the margin of the brook he beheld
something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It stirred not,
but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster
ready to spring upon the traveller.

The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with
terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late;
and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin,
if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind?
Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in
stammering accents, "Who are you?" He received no reply. He
repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there
was no answer. Once more he cudgelled the sides of the inflexible
Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary
fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm
put itself in motion, and with a scramble and a bound stood at
once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and
dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be
ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions and
mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of
molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the
road, jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had
now got over his fright and waywardness.

Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion,
and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the
Galloping Hessian, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving
him behind. The stranger, however, quickened his horse to an
equal pace. Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking to
lag behind; the other did the same. His heart began to sink
within him; he endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his
parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth and he could not
utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged
silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and
appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a
rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller
in relief against the sky, gigantic in height and muffled in a
cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was
headless! but his horror was still more increased on observing
that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was
carried before him on the pommel of the saddle. His terror rose
to desperation, he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon
Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the
slip; but the spectre started full jump with him. Away, then,
they dashed through thick and thin, stones flying and sparks
flashing at every bound. Ichabod's flimsy garments fluttered in
the air as he stretched his long lank body away over his horse's
head in the eagerness of his flight.

They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow;
but Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of
keeping up it, made an opposite turn and plunged headlong down
hill to the left. This road leads through a sandy hollow shaded
by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crosses the
bridge famous in goblin story, and just beyond swells the green
knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

As yet the panic of the steed bad given his unskillful rider an
apparent advantage in the chase; but just as he had got halfway
through the hollow the girths of the saddle gave away and he felt
it slipping from under him. He seized it by the pommel and
endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain, and had just time to
save himself by clasping old Gunpowder round the neck, when the
saddle fell to the earth, and he heard it trampled under foot by
his pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper's wrath
passed across his mind, for it was his Sunday saddle; but this
was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on his haunches,
and (unskilled rider that he was) he had much ado to maintain his
seat, sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and
sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse's back-bone with
a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.

An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the
church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver
star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken.
He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees
beyond. He recollected the place where Brom Bones' ghostly
competitor had disappeared. "If I can but reach that bridge,"
thought Ichabod, "I am safe." Just then he heard the, black steed
panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he
felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old
Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the
resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod
cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according
to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the
goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his
head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile,
but too late. It encountered his cranium with a tremendous crash;
he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black
steed, and the goblin rider passed by like a whirlwind.

The next morning the old horse was found, without his saddle and
with he bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his
master's gate. Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast;
dinner-hour came, but no Ichabod. The boys assembled at the
school-house and strolled idly about the banks of the brook but
no schoolmaster. Hans Van Ripper now began to feel some
uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod and his saddle. An
inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they
came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading to the
church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of
horses' hoofs, deeply dented in the road and evidently at furious
speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a
broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was
found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a
spattered pumpkin.

The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was not
to be discovered. Hans Van Ripper, as executor of his estate,
examined the bundle which contained all his worldly effects. They
consisted of two shirts and a half, two stocks for the neck, a
pair or two of worsted stockings, an old pair of corduroy
small-clothes, a rusty razor, a book of psalm tunes full of dog's
ears, and a broken pitch-pipe. As to the books and furniture of
the school-house, they belonged to the community, excepting
Cotton Mather's History of Witchcraft, a New England Almanac, and
a book of dreams and fortune-telling; in which last was a sheet
of foolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless
attempts to make a copy of verses in honor of the heiress of Van
Tassel. These magic books and the poetic scrawl were forthwith
consigned to the flames by Hans Van Ripper, who from that time
forward determined to send his children no more to school,
observing that he never knew any good come of this same reading
and writing. Whatever money the schoolmaster possessed--and he
had received his quarter's pay but a day or two before--he must
have had about his person at the time of his disappearance.

The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on the
following Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were collected in
the churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and
pumpkin had been found. The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a
whole budget of others were called to mind, and when they had
diligently considered them all, and compared them with the
symptoms of the present case, they shook their heads and came to
the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by the galloping
Hessian. As he was a bachelor and in nobody's debt, nobody
troubled his head any more about him, the school was removed to a
different quarter of the hollow and another pedagogue reigned in
his stead.

It is true an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a
visit several years after, and from whom this account of the
ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence
that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the
neighborhood, partly through fear of the gob in and Hans Van
Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly
dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a
distant part of the country, had kept school and studied law at
the same time, had been admitted to the bar, turned politician
electioneered, written for the newspapers, and finally had been
made a justice of the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones too, who
shortly after his rival's disappearance conducted the blooming
Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly
knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always
burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which
led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he
chose to tell.

The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these
matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by
supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about
the neighborhood round the interevening fire. The bridge became
more than ever an object of superstitious awe, and that may be
the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so as to
approach the church by the border of the mill-pond. The
schoolhouse, being deserted, soon fell to decay, and was reported
to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue; and the
plough-boy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has
often fancied his voice at a distance chanting a melancholy psalm
tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.



THE preceding tale is given almost in the precise words in which
I heard it related at a Corporation meeting of the ancient city
of Manhattoes, at which were present many of its sagest and most
illustrious burghers. The narrator was a pleasant, shabby,
gentlemanly old fellow in pepper-and-salt clothes, with a sadly
humorous face, and one whom I strongly suspected of being poor,
he made such efforts to be entertaining. When his story was
concluded there was much laughter and approbation, particularly
from two or three deputy aldermen who had been asleep the greater
part of the time. There was, however, one tall, dry-looking old
gentleman, with beetling eyebrows, who maintained a grave and
rather severe face throughout, now and then folding his arms,
inclining his head, and looking down upon the floor, as if
turning a doubt over in his mind. He was one of your wary men,
who never laugh but upon good grounds--when they have reason and
the law on their side. When the mirth of the rest of the company
had subsided and silence was restored, he leaned one arm on the
elbow of his chair, and sticking the other akimbo, demanded, with
a slight but exceedingly sage motion of the head and contraction
of the brow, what was the moral of the story and what it went to

The story-teller, who was just putting a glass of wine to his
lips as a refreshment after his toils, paused for a moment,
looked at his inquirer with an air of infinite deference, and,
lowering the glass slowly to the table, observed that the story
was intended most logically to prove--

"That there is no situation in life but has its advantages and
pleasures--provided we will but take a joke as we find it;

"That, therefore, he that runs races with goblin troopers is
likely to have rough riding of it.

"Ergo, for a country schoolmaster to be refused the hand of a
Dutch heiress is a certain step to high preferment in the state."

The cautious old gentleman knit his brows tenfold closer after
this explanation, being sorely puzzled by the ratiocination of
the syllogism, while methought the one in pepper-and-salt eyed
him with something of a triumphant leer. At length he observed
that all this was very well, but still he thought the story a
little on the extravagant--there were one or two points on which
he had his doubts.

"Faith, sir," replied the story-teller, "as to that matter, I
don't believe one-half of it myself."
D. K.


Go, little booke, God send thee good passage,
And specially let this be thy prayere,
Unto them all that thee will read or hear,
Where thou art wrong, after their help to call,
Thee to correct in any part or all.
CHAUCER'S Belle Dame sans Mercie.

IN concluding a second volume of the Sketch Book the Author
cannot but express his deep sense of the indulgence with which
his first has been received, and of the liberal disposition that
has been evinced to treat him with kindness as a stranger. Even
the critics, whatever may be said of them by others, he has found
to be a singularly gentle and good-natured race; it is true that
each has in turn objected to some one or two articles, and that
these individual exceptions, taken in the aggregate, would amount
almost to a total condemnation of his work; but then he has been
consoled by observing that what one has particularly censured
another has as particularly praised; and thus, the encomiums
being set off against the objections, he finds his work, upon the
whole, commended far beyond its deserts.

* Closing the second volume of the London edition.

He is aware that he runs a risk of forfeiting much of this kind
favor by not following the counsel that has been liberally
bestowed upon him; for where abundance of valuable advice is
given gratis it may seem a man's own fault if he should go
astray. He only can say in his vindication that he faithfully
determined for a time to govern himself in his second volume by
the opinions passed upon his first; but he was soon brought to a
stand by the contrariety of excellent counsel. One kindly advised
him to avoid the ludicrous; another to shun the pathetic; a third
assured him that he was tolerable at description, but cautioned
him to leave narrative alone; while a fourth declared that he had
a very pretty knack at turning a story, and was really
entertaining when in a pensive mood, but was grievously mistaken
if he imagined himself to possess a spirit of humor.

Thus perplexed by the advice of his friends, who each in turn
closed some particular path, but left him all the world beside to
range in, he found that to follow all their counsels would, in
fact, be to stand still. He remained for a time sadly
embarrassed, when all at once the thought struck him to ramble on
as he had begun; that his work being miscellaneous and written
for different humors, it could not be expected that any one would
be pleased with the whole; but that if it should contain
something to suit each reader, his end would be completely
answered. Few guests sit down to a varied table with an equal
appetite for every dish. One has an elegant horror of a roasted
pig; another holds a curry or a devil in utter abomination; a
third cannot tolerate the ancient flavor of venison and
wild-fowl; and a fourth, of truly masculine stomach, looks with
sovereign contempt on those knick-knacks here and there dished up
for the ladies. Thus each article is in condemned in its turn,
and yet amidst this variety of appetites seldom does a dish go
away from the table without being tasted and relished by some one
or other of the guests.

With these considerations he ventures to serve up this second
volume in the same heterogeneous way with his first; simply
requesting the reader, if he should find here and there something
to please him, to rest assured that it was written expressly for
intelligent readers like himself; but entreating him, should he
find anything to dislike, to tolerate it, as one of those
articles which the author has been obliged to write for readers
of a less refined taste.

To be serious: The author is conscious of the numerous faults and
imperfections of his work, and well aware how little he is
disciplined and accomplished in the arts of authorship. His
deficiencies are also increased by a diffidence arising from his
peculiar situation. He finds himself writing in a strange land,
and appearing before a public which he has been accustomed from
childhood to regard with the highest feelings of awe and
reverence. He is full of solicitude to deserve their approbation,
yet finds that very solicitude continually embarrassing his
powers and depriving him of that case and confidence which are
necessary to successful exertion. Still, the kindness with which
he is treated encourages him to go on, hoping that in time he may
acquire a steadier footing; and thus he proceeds, half venturing,
half shrinking, surprised at his own good-fortune and wondering
at his own temerity.


Back to Full Books