water it is as pacific as any other stream. As the tide rises, it
begins to fret; at half tide it rages and roars as if bellowing for
more water; but when the tide is full it relapses again into quiet, and
for a time seems almost to sleep as soundly as an alderman after
dinner. It may be compared to an inveterate hard drinker, who is a
peaceable fellow enough when he has no liquor at all, or when he has a
skin full, but when half seas over plays the very devil.
This mighty, blustering, bullying little strait was a place of great
Difficulty and danger to the Dutch navigators of ancient days;
hectoring their tub-built barks in a most unruly style; whirling them
about, in a manner to make any but a Dutchman giddy, and not
unfrequently stranding them upon rocks and reefs. Whereupon out of
sheer spleen they denominated it Hellegat (literally Hell Gut) and
solemnly gave it over to the devil. This appellation has since been
aptly rendered into English by the name of Hell Gate; and into nonsense
by the name of Hurl Gate, according to certain foreign intruders who
neither understood Dutch nor English. May St. Nicholas confound them!
From this strait to the city of the Manhattoes the borders of the Sound
are greatly diversified; in one part, on the eastern shore of the
island of Manhata and opposite Blackwell's Island, being very much
broken and indented by rocky nooks, overhung with trees which give them
a wild and romantic look.