Abbildungen der Seite

expatriated friends ; and could not blame a caution which had become as necessary for their safety as his own. To the exile, indeed, nothing could be more gratifying than the belief that he was totally forgotten by all the world; every arrival was to him a subject of fresh apprehension ; the very sight of a letter agitated his nerves, and shook his soul to its foundations ; and the deathlike quietude and monotony of Haelbeck would have, perhaps, soothed him into a more patient endurance of his miseries, could he have chased away the phantoms that gave horror to the night, and rendered unavailing all the tranquillity of the day.

There were reasons, however, for the silence of the worthy Burgomaster, of a much more serious description than entered into their conjectures. It has been mentioned, that, at the period of Jocelyn's sudden departure from his house, he had been summoned to Amsterdam, to answer certain charges of a political nature ; charges, which he had treated with indignant contempt, declaring that he would not be satisfied with mere acquittal, but must have an ample revenge upon his perjured accusers. In the confidence of his power, and the consciousness of his innocence, he had anticipated a triumph which the result of his examination did not, by any means, justify; for he had neither made sufficient allowance for the virulence of party feeling, which then embittered

with envy

the different political factions ; nor for the rancour of that jealousy which was entertained towards himself personally. In all countries the worshippers of Plutus regard with an evil eye the brother who enjoys the smiles of the deity in a superior degree to themselves, thinking, perhaps, that their own portion would be larger were it not for the accumulations of this favoured individual : on the present occasion this feeling was aggravated by difference of political opinion. Beverning was of the Republican party, at the head of which was the celebrated Pensionary De Witt; many of those, before whom he was summoned, were of the Orange faction, and almost all regarded him

His invariable success in his adventures to the Indies and elsewhere, his superior opulence, his magnificent establishment, even his extensive charities, were subjects of sore jealousy to the merchant-magistrates of Amsterdam, who, now that they had got this successful rival in their clutches, seemed determined to exert their superior power, by humiliating and insulting, even if they could not legally condemn him.

In the exercise of this vindictive jealousy they questioned and cross-questioned him with an arrogance, which the proud and bold-spirited Burgomaster was the last man to bear with patience. He did, however, command himself so far as to explain and utterly refute every thing that was laid to his charge ; but when he was told that his

eonniving at Jocelyn's escape, however innocent he might be, was an act of contumacy towards

their High Mightinesses, that merited condign i punishment; when he was twitted with the undue sumptuousness of his establishment, and jeeringly informed that the rich cargo of the Vrouw Roosje had turned his head; when he was desired to answer the frivolous and vexatious questions put to him, with the respect due to his superiors,the wrath, which had for a long time been gathering heat, at length boiled over in a loud slap of his hand upon the table, and a furious exclamation of: " Donder ende Blixem ! Superiors !" This startling exordium was instantly followed by a torrent of vituperative eloquence, wherein their High Mightinesses were told they were pettifogging hucksters, and paltry pedlars, and cozening costermongers, fitter for the shop-board than the Council-board, and much better qualified to cure red herrings than the diseases of the state : at · the conclusion of which harangue, he snapped his fingers at them in scorn, and sate down fuming with indignation.

The Philistines were not more astounded when Samson shook their own temple about their ears, than were these Cæsars of the Counting-house at the storm they had brought down upon their heads. To beard them thus in their own hall, was to deny Diana at Ephesus; the sacrilegious offender was ordered instantly to quit their pre

sence, which he obeyed with angry dignity, lifting up his ample figure, puffing out his cheeks, surveying them with that sort of look which a lion may be supposed to cast at the barking curs whom he had just felled with a blow of his paw; and ejaculating, as he got to the door : “ Hey, Slapperloot ! Superiors !" No sooner had he disappeared than a furious debate ensued as to the punishment to be inflicted for so daring an outrage on the constituted authorities. Not contemplating that their High Mightinesses could ever be pelted with such opprobrious epithets, the law had provided no penalty for the offence. Under these circumstances they undertook to supply the omissions of the Statute Book, by condemning him to a smart fine and a month's imprisonment, claiming to themselves the praise of egregious magnanimity, for not visiting him with a much heavier judgment.

To the month's imprisonment, although he knew it to be perfectly illegal, and it prevented his superintending the unlading of his darling Vrouw Roosje, he might have submitted with that sort of patience which arises from consoling oneself with projects of future revenge ; but they touched the apple of his eye when they fingered his cash. Lavish as he was in expenditure, he could not bear to witness the waste of a single stiver; to be robbed of it was ten times worse ; and this was a wholesale instance of both, combined with insult,


1 *

ilegality, and oppression. He paid the money, however, still considering them his debtors, and looking forward with something of a Shylock satisfaction to the moment when they should give him blood for his gold.

At the time of his examination, his illustrious friend, De Witt, who was no less distinguished as a commander than as a statesman and patriot, had been absent at sea, successfully fighting the battles of his country. He was now returned, and the worthy Burgomaster immediately confided to him the wrongs he had suffered, and the plans he meditated for humbling the pride of his oppressors. Both were staunch Republicans; conceiving the war with England unnecessary, as well as impolitic, they had strenuously opposed it from the beginning; and they were now, more than ever, anxious to terminate it, as they saw that it was throwing all the influence into the hands of the Orange faction, whose designs were well known to be inimical to the liberties of Holland. For the accomplishment of their first object, a peace between the two countries, they employed as their agent a Frenchman named Buat, who had originally been appointed, by the Prince of Orange, a captain of the Horse Guards; and having subsequently married a Dutch woman of fortune, and appearing to be well affected to the States, was by them confirmed in his command. In vivacity, quickness of parts, and a remarkable aptitude for intrigue,

« ZurückWeiter »