"careering through the public prints, in my decapitated state, like Irving’s Headless Horseman"


This is an allusion to Washington Irving’s short story, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ which was first published in 1820 as part of the Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. collection. Drawing on European folklore, it tells of a young schoolmaster whose bids to win the hand of his beloved are interrupted by a headless horseman, who pursues him in a headlong chase through the forest. (This bloodthirsty apparition may or may not be his romantic rival in disguise.) The tale has experienced enduring popularity and seen countless adaptations, including Tim Burton’s 1999 film starring Christopher Walken as the decapitated night rider.  

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858)
Public DomainThe Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) - Credit: John Quidor