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this man was admirably adapted to their purpose ; but he had one besetting sin, which at times utterly disqualified him for an enterprise that required vigilant secrecy and self-possession. Such was his addiction to wine, that he occasionally suffered its treacherous influence to obtain complete mastery of his reason; and indeed he was often heard to praise the cold and foggy climate of Holland, as the best in the world; since it was constantly necessary to repel its chilling assaults by the generous warmth of the grape-juice; adding, -that no one could now accuse him of living to drink, as they had done in France, when, in fact, he was only taking medicine, and drinking to live.
This acute, but slippery and dangerous man, entered into a correspondence with Lord Arlington, the British Secretary of State, sounding him as to the conditions on which peace might be expected, carrying on the correspondence in cypher, and showing the letters as he received them to De Witt. During the progress of this secret negociation, the Burgomaster of Rotterdam incautiously communicated with Buat by letter, darkly alluding to what was going on, but indulging in open and not very measured abuse of the parties in power at Amsterdam.
Either from his natural predilection or for intrigue, or from an apprehension that De Witt and the Republican party would be dispossessed of all power, the Frenchman despatched his friend Silvius to
London, with a second private cypher for carrying on a correspondence with the Orange party in Holland, thus intending to supplant De Witt, by whom he had been originally employed. But this plot upon plot could not be conducted with impunity, by one who suffered wine to get into his head when it should have been kept clear for these ticklish and complicated machinations.
Returning home one night in a state of intoxication, singing with much more glee than distinctness of articulation his favourite song
lle couleur est plus vermeille,
Quand on en boit, sa douce flamme
just as he concluded his chanson à boire, he was encountered by De Witt, who asked him whether he had received any fresh letters from England. “ Yes,” replied Buat, “I have one in my pocket, and you shall see it immediately if you will lend me your arm, for my eyes are so bad at night that the houses seem to be turning round, and I may tumble into one of the canals ere I reach my own door, which is the last death I should wish to die, having a most pious abhorrence of water.”
At these words he took a letter from his pocket, looked at the superscription, and handed it to De Witt, who opening it, and seeing at a glance that it was in a different cypher, requested him to walk on a few paces as he had some orders to give at the guard-house, but would overtake him presently. This promise he performed, but he came accompanied by a file of soldiers, who placed the Frenchman under arrest, and then proceeded to his house, and seized his cabinet, where all his letters and the new cypher were discovered. А court of justice was hastily erected for his trial, and in three days the unfortunate Buat was beheaded.
By a most unlucky chance for the Burgomaster, his letters remained in the cabinet at the time of its seizure. The dark allusions to the secret negociations with England, the abuse of the Dutch Government, the former charge of his harbouring an English spy in his house, the recent punishment he had suffered for his audacious contumely, all seemed to conspire in proving him to be a traitor and an enemy to his country. A thousand exaggerations were instantly circulated through the city, and the popular fury being artfully inflamed by his political and commercial adversaries, a tumultuous and ungovernable rabble hurried towards his residence, swearing that they would be satisfied with nothing but his immediate destruction. De Witt, however, found means to apprise
his friend of his danger, urging him to instant flight, and counselling him to conceal' himself till the storm had blown over, and the populace could be disabused of their error. The Burgomaster knew the blind and brutal character of a Dutch mob, and saw that not a moment was to be lost. Hurrying with Constantia into his cutter, he was soon sailing down the river with a favourable breeze. As he intended passing over to England, where Winky Boss might prove useful from his knowledge of the language, while his fidelity, under any circumstances, entitled him to a preference in selecting a servant to accompany him in his flight, he communicated to him in a few words the imminency of his present peril, directing him to put up in a valise some papers of importance which he instructed him where to find, and follow him without delay to Maaslandsleys, at which place he should await his arrival. To avoid suspicion he was ordered to leave the city in an opposite direction, and make a considerable detour before he reached the appointed place of meeting.
All this did Winky Boss perform with his usual deliberate and accurate observance of orders. The papers were carefully secured, the valise was strapped to his back, he was equipped in his travelling garb, mounted upon the back of Punchinello, smoking his pipe, and proceeding out of the city at an easy trot, when upon turning the corner of a street he found himself in the very
midst of the infuriated mob, who were hurrying towards the Boompies for the purpose of arresting the Burgomaster. Being recognized by some of these worthies, he was seized, pulled from his horse, and his valise torn from his back before he had time to prepare for defence, even could it have availed him against such a formidable host of assailants. The contents of the valise, which was hastily ransacked, not only confirmed the rumours of the Burgomaster's escape, which now began to reach them from other quarters, but sufficiently betrayed that the bearer was proceeding to join his master, wherever he had concealed himself.
( Whither has the traitorous Burgomaster betaken himself?” cried a fierce-looking fellow, who seemed to be the leader of the rabble.
“I do n't know any such person,” calmly replied Boss.
“I mean your villanous master," resumed the same party..
“ I have no villanous master," answered Boss. “ I am no servant of
yours ?" “ Saucy scoundrel! you will not deny that you serve Adrian Beverning."
“ No; I am too proud of such a master to deny him.”
“ And you know where he is at this moment.”
“ Ja, Ja," replied Boss, with a familiar nod of his head.
“ Then why did you not tell us so in the first instance ?"