A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
them to many vacant offices under his government, in direct opposition to repeated instructions from the Company, to bestow the principal offices on Dutchmen or other Europeans.  After carrying on his designs with much dexterity, and having acquired by gifts a vast number of dependants, ready to support his purposes, some of the faithful servants of the Company sent such clear and distinct information of his proceedings to Holland, as sufficiently evinced his real intentions, in spite of all his arts to conceal them.  At length the Company sent out Mr Versluys to supersede him in the government of Ceylon, with orders to send him prisoner to Batavia.  As soon as he arrived there, abundance of informations were preferred against him, for a variety of crimes both of a private and public nature, into all of which the council of justice made strict inquisition, and were furnished with abundant proofs of his guilt.  In the end, he freely confessed that he had caused nineteen innocent persons to be put to death, having put them all to the torture, extorting from all of them confessions of crimes which they had never even dreamt of committing.  He was accordingly sentenced to be broken alive on the wheel, his body to be quartered, and his quarters burnt to ashes and thrown into the sea.

Such was the deserved end of the traitor and tyrant Vuist; yet Versluys, who was sent expressly to amend what the other had done amiss, and to make the people forget the excesses of his predecessor by a mild and gentle administration, acted perhaps even worse than Vuist.  Versluys was by no means of a cruel disposition, wherefore, strictly speaking, he shed no blood, yet acted as despotically and tyrannically as the other, though with more subtilty and under a fairer appearance.  His great point was not the absolute possession of the country, but to possess himself of all that it contained of value.  For this purpose, immediately on getting possession of the government, he raised the price of rice, the bread of the country, to so extravagant a height that the people in a short time were unable to purchase it, and were soon reduced to beggary and a starving condition.  Their humble representations of the great and general misery which reigned among all ranks of people throughout the island made no impression on his avaricious disposition; but all things went on from bad to worse, till an account of his nefarious conduct was transmitted to Holland.  When informed of the distressed situation of the inhabitants of Ceylon, the States-general sent out Mr Doembourgh as governor, with orders to repair all past errors, and to treat the natives with all possible tenderness and indulgence.  On his arrival, Versluys, after beggaring the whole nation, took it into his head that they would defend him against his masters, and absolutely refused to resign the government; and had even the insolency to fire upon the Company’s ships as they lay at anchor in the road of Columbo.  Doembourgh, however, immediately landed, and his authority was readily recognised by all the Company’s servants, and submitted to by the people.  He caused Versluys to be immediately arrested and sent to Batavia, where a long criminal process was instituted against him, but which was not concluded when our author left India.

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