The next best government belonging to the Dutch East India Company, after Batavia, is that of the island of Ceylon. The governor of this island is generally a member of the council of the Indies, and has a council appointed to assist him, framed after the model of that in Batavia, only that the members are not quite such great men. Though the governor of Ceylon be dependent upon the Council of the Indies at Batavia, he is at liberty to write directly to the directors of the Company in Holland, without asking permission from the governor-general, or being obliged to give any account of his conduct in so doing. This singular privilege has had bad effects, having even tempted some governors of Ceylon to endeavour to withdraw themselves from their obedience to the Company, in order to become absolute sovereigns of the island. There have been many examples of this kind, but it may be sufficient to mention the two last, owing to the tyranny of two successive governors, Vuist and Versluys, which made a considerable noise in Europe.
When Mr Rumpf left the government of Ceylon, his immediate successor, Mr Vuist, began to act the tyrant towards all who were not so fortunate as to be in his good graces, persecuting both Europeans and natives. Having from the beginning formed the project of rendering himself an independent sovereign, he pursued his plan steadily, by such methods as seemed best calculated to insure success. He thought it necessary in the first place to rid himself of the richest persons in the island, and of all having the reputation of wisdom, experience, and penetration. In order to save appearances, and to play the villain with an air of justice, he thought it necessary to trump up a pretended plot, and caused informations to be preferred against such persons as he intended to ruin, charging them with having entered into a conspiracy to betray the principal fortresses of the island into the hands of some foreign power. This scheme secured him in two ways, as it seemed to manifest his great zeal for the interest of the Company, and enabled him to convict those he hated of high treason, and to deprive them at once of life and fortune. To manage this the more easily, he contrived to change the members of his council, into which he brought creatures of his own, on whose acquiescence in his iniquities he could depend upon. The confiscations of the estates and effects of a number of innocent persons whom he had murdered by these false judicial proceedings, gave him the means of obliging many, and gained him numerous dependants.
Vuist was born in India of Dutch parents, and had a strong natural capacity which had been improved by assiduous application to his studies. His dark brow, and morose air, shewed the cruelty of his disposition: Yet he loved and protected the Indians, either from a natural disposition, or because he deemed them fit instruments to forward his designs. In order to gain the natives in his interest, he preferred