Monday, March 1, 2010

The More Things Change . . .

In the aftermath of David Paterson's announcement that he will not seek election to a full term, there's been a brief flurry of talk about politicians and sex scandals. Concurrent with the talk, I was reading The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto's extraordinary book about Dutch Manhattan, and learned this about Cornelis Van Tienhoven, the man sent to The Hague in 1650 to represent Peter Stuyvesant and the West India Company before the States General.

Then, astonishingly, in the middle of this high-politicking that was surely the most important work of his life, Van Tienhoven vanished. . . . As information about his disappearance began to trickle out, the facts proved not only to be a blow to Stuyvesant and the West India Company, but an embarrassment as well. Despite being grossly overweight, "of red and bloated visage," and sporting a prominently juicy cyst--not to mention having a wife and children in New Amsterdam--Van Tienhoven fancied himself a lady's man, and his vanishing had at its root, in addition to growing doubts over the chances of his mission at The Hague, sex. The girl, Lysbeth Croon, was the daughter of an Amsterdam basketmaker, and Van Tienhoven had assured her that he was single and wanted to marry her on Manhattan. The matter blossomed into a full-fledged sex scandal, with witnesses dragged before notaries to give testimony of prurient behavior observed.

The Island at the Center of the World (2004), pp. 240-241

1 comment:

  1. ah spring; when a young mans fancy lightly turns to thoughts of ...