The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Washington Irving
1820 – short story

This is available lots of places online so …
Public Literature


A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,  Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,  For ever flushing round a summer sky.

A few annotations:

This book was first published in 1835 but the events take place some years prior – some time has passed since the American Revolution,  so maybe in 1800?  I think people reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1836 would have been quite familiar with all of this.

Numbers indicate paragraph:  (Bartleby)

1. Tappan Zee,
1. St. Nicholas
1. Tarry Town

3.  Sleepy Hollow

5.  Hessian trooper   (1776? – Chatterton Hill)
“The Old Dutch Church”  (lots of good stuff -scroll down and read) 

9.  Ichabod – the name –  the brother of Ahitub per the Book of Samuel (OT) Ahitub means good – there are several Ahitubs in the Bible. 

9.  Crane – the name –  sounds gawky – like the bird.

10.   eel-pot –  A kind of basket for catching eels, having fitted into the mouth a funnelshaped entrance, like that of a wire mouse-trap, composed of flexible willow rods converging inward to a point, so that the eels can easily force their way in, but cannot escape.

10 and on –  “spare the rod and spoil the child”  – King James Version of the Bible, Book of Proverbs, 13:24

“Teachers thought that each printed page was so important that it should be memorized. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” describes discipline in those days.”   From Colonial Students.   Also see American Elementary Schools in the 1600s. 

16.  Cotton Mather’s history of New England Witchcraft
his book of Crane’s  must be 50+ years old because if the Revolution has ghosts then it’s after 1778 and Cotton Mather died in 1728 – the Salem witch trials were in 1692 and he wrote about them in Wonders of the Invisible World (1692).  It seems he wrote about witchcraft prior to the trials also.  From Amazon!   

17.   The whip-poor-will is a bird which is only heard at night. It receives its name from its note, which is thought to resemble those words.

21.    She was withal a little of a coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms.

21.   Saardam – A city of western Netherlands,  west-northwest of Amsterdam

22.   her paternal mansion  (very near Terrytown)

22.   Old Baltus Van Tassel –  Baltus – short for Balthazar = The Biblical Baltazars are rich

And here we come to the story of the quest for the maiden’s heart.  I’m laughing out loud.

27.  Brom Bones – short for Abraham – more Biblical –

36.   Hans Van Ripper – farmer – sounds ominous but this was prior to Jack the Ripper

LOTS of birds mentioned – why?

A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth to the dark-gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast; and as the reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water, it seemed as if the vessel was suspended in the air.   41

Yeah? Is this sexual?

Also lots and lots of food!

the woman in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock,
Woman in White (Collins – 1859 – later) –  The Raven  (Poe – 1845, later)

Favorite lines:

“In this by-place of nature, there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane; who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, “tarried,” in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity. He was a native of Connecticut; a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its legions of frontier woodsmen and country schoolmasters. The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.”

Other links:

The legend of the Headless Horseman begins in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Horseman was a Hessian of unknown rank, one of many hired to suppress the American Revolution. During the war, the Horseman was one of 51 Hessians killed in a battle for Chatterton Hill, wherein his head was severed by an American cannonball. He was buried in a graveyard outside a church. Thereafter he appears as a ghost, who presents to nightly travelers an actual danger (rather than the largely harmless fright produced by the majority of ghosts), presumably of decapitation.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance … the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.
—Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

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