Hudson Valley Dutch and Their Houses

Chapter II.
Education and Child-Life.

As soon as the little American baby was born in New Netherland, he was taken to the church by his Dutch papa, and with due array of sponsors was christened by the domine from the doop-becken, or dipping-bowl, in the Dutch Reformed Church. New Yorkers had a beautiful silver doop-beeken in 1695, and the church on the corner of Thirty-Eighth Street and Madison Avenue has it still. It was made in Amsterdam from silver coin and ornaments brought by the good folk of the Garden Street Church as offerings. For it Domine Henricus Selyns, “of nimble faculty,” then minister of that church, and formerly of Breuckelen, and the first poet of Brooklyn, wrote these pious and graceful verses, which were inscribed on the bowl:

                    “Op’t blote water stelt geen hoot
                            ’T was beter noyt gebooren.
                    Maer, ziet iets meerder in de Dorp
                            Zo’ gaet nien noÿt verlooren.
                    Hoe Christús met sÿn dierhaer Bloedt
                            Mÿ reÿniglt van mÿn Zonden.
                    En door syn Geest mÿ leven doet
                            En wast myn Vuyle Wonden.”

Which translated reads:—

“Do not put your hope in simple water alone, ’t were better never to be born.
But behold something more in baptism, for that will prevent your getting lost.
How Christ’s precious blood cleanses me of my sins,
And now I may live through His spirit and be cleansed of my vile wounds.”

This christening was the sole social or marked event of the kindeken’s infancy, and little else do we know of his early life. He ate and slept, as do all infants. In cradles slept these children of the Dutch, — deep-hooded cradles to protect from the chill draughts of the poorly heated houses. In cradles of birch bark the Albany babies slept; and pretty it was to see the fat little Dutchmen sleeping in those wildwood tributes of the Indian mothers’skill to the children of the men who had driven the children of the redmen from their homes.


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