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at the conclusion of a treaty with one of the petty Barbary powers. In this stately chair would he sit, and this magnificent pipe would he smoke, shaking his right knee with a constant motion, and fixing his eyes for hours together upon a little print of Amsterdam, which hung in a black frame against the opposite wall of the council chamber. Nay, it has even been said, that when any deliberation of extraordinary length and intricacy was on the carpet, the renowned Wouter would absolutely shut his eyes for full two hours at a time, that he might not be disturbed by external objects; and at such times the internal commotion of his mind was evinced by certain regular guttural sounds, which his admirers declared were merely the noise of conflict made by his contending doubts and opinions.
It is with infinite difficulty, I have been enabled to collect these biographical anecdotes of the great man under consideration. The facts respecting him were so scattered and vague, and divers of them so questionable in point of authenticity, that I have had to give up the search after many, and decline the admission of still more, which would have tended to heighten the colouring of his portrait.
I have been the more anxious to delineate fully the person and habits of the renowned Van Twiller, from the consideration that he was not only the first, but also the best governor that ever presided over this ancient and respectable province; and so tranquil and benevolent was his reign that I do not throughout the whole The very
of it, a single instance of any offender being brought to punishment;—à most indubitable sign of a merciful governor, and a case unparalleled, excepting in the reign of the illustrious King Log, from whom, it is hinted, the renowned Van T'willer was a lineal descendant.
The very outset of the career of this excellent magistrate, like that of Solomon, or to speak more appropriately, like that of the illustrious governor of Barataria, was distinguished by an example of legal acumen, that gave flattering presage of a wise and equitable administration. morning after he had been solemnly installed in office, and at the moment that he was making his breakfast from a prodigious earthen dish, filled with milk and Indian pudding, he was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of one Wandle Schoonhoven, a very important old burgher of New Amsterdam, who complained bitterly of one Barent Bleecker, inasmuch as he fraudulently refused to come to a settlement of accounts, seeing that there was a heavy balance in favour of the said Wandle. Governor Van Twiller, as I have already observed, was a man of few words; he was likewise a mortal enemy to multiplying writings, or being disturbed at his breakfast. Having listened attentively to the statement of Wandle Schoonhoven, giving an occasional grunt, as he shovelled a mighty spoonful of Indian pudding into his mouth-either as a sign that he relished the dish, or comprehended the story: he called unto him his constable, and pulling out of his breeches pocket a huge jacknife, despatched it after the defendant as a summons, accompanied by his tobacco box as a warrant.
This summary process was as effectual in those simple days as was the seal ring of the great Haroun Alraschid among the true believers. The two parties, being confronted before him, each produced a book of accounts, written in a language and character that would have puzzled any but a high Dutch commentator, or a learned decipherer of Egyptian obelisks, to understand. The sage Wouter took them one after the other, and having poised them in his hands, and attentively counted over the number of leaves, fell straightway into a very great doubt, and smoked for half-an-hour without saying a word; at length, laying his finger beside his nose, and shutting his eyes for a moment, with the air of a man who has just caught a subtle idea by the tail, he slowly took his pipe from his mouth, puffed forth a column of tobacco smoke, and with marvellous gravity and solemnity pronouncedthat having carefully counted over the leaves, and weighed the books, it was found that one was just as thick and as heavy as the other—therefore it was the final opinion of the court, that the accounts were equally balanced—therefore Wandle should give Barent a receipt, and Barent should give Wandle a receipt-and the constable should pay the costs.
This decision, being straightway made known, diffused general joy throughout New Amsterdam; for the people immediately perceived, that they had a very wise and equitable magi:trate to rule