The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, 1820
This is an excerpt from the novel published in 1820
1. Found among the papers of the late Diedrech Knickerbocker.
2. A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
3. Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
4. And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
5. Forever flushing round a summer sky.
6. Castle of Indolence.
7. In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the
8. eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river
9. denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee,
10. and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the
11. protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small
12. market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh,
13. but which is more generally and properly known by the name of
14. Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by
15. the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate
16. propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on
17. market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but
18. merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not
19. far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley
20. or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest
21. places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just
22. murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of
23. a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever
24. breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.
25. I recollect that, when a stripling, my first exploit in squirrel-shooting
26. was in a grove of tall walnut-trees that shades one side of the valley.
27. I had wandered into it at noontime, when all nature is peculiarly quiet,
28. and was startled by the roar of my own gun, as it broke the Sabbath
29. stillness around and was prolonged and reverberated by the angry
30. echoes. If ever I should wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the
31. world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a
32. troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.
33. From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its
34. inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this
35. sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY
36. HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys
37. throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence
38. seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.
39. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor,
40. during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian
41. chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there
42. before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson.
43. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some
44. witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good
45. people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are
46. given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs; are subject to trances
47. and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music
48. and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with
49. local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars
50. shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in
51. any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her
52. whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her
54. The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region,
55. and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air,
56. is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said
57. by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had
58. been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle
59. during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen
60. by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if
61. on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the
62. valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially
63. to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain
64. of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been
65. careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning
66. this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper having been
67. buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of
68. battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed
69. with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a
70. midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get
71. back to the churchyard before daybreak.
72. Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which
73. has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of
74. shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides, by
75. the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
The narrator can be best described as