A most prodigious poop

In 1809 a young New York writer named Washington Irving published to great acclaim a satirical history of his city entitled A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Poking good-natured fun at the expense of the Dutch colonial families, Irving introduced his reader to Saint Nicholas as the local patron and guardian. It was St Nicholas whose image was carved on the prow of the vessel which brought the colonists to the New World, a ship which Irving claimed was built “by the ablest ship carpenters of Amsterdam, who, it is well known, always model their ships after the fair forms of their country-women. Accordingly, it had one hundred feet in the beam, one hundred feet in the keel, and one hundred feet from the bottom of the sternpost to the tafferel … full in the bows, with a pair of enormous cat-heads, a copper bottom, and withal a most prodigious poop!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *