C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation
The Hague, 5 February 1782
The reason that I did not write sooner1 is that I had planned to spend last week with you during our friends’ absence here. But my domestic affairs prevented me from leaving, for one reason or another, and now our friends have returned, which requires my presence.
A week ago Thursday, before the adjournment, the resolution with France very nearly happened. Only the town of Brille, which agrees with the nobility that the resolution should come at the same time as the acceptance of the mediation, prevented a unanimous vote. Nothing was resolved as a result. Before dispersing, Dordrecht and six other principal cities protested very strongly against the unconstitutional conduct of the high mightinesses by maintaining correspondence with the Court of Vienna regarding the abolition of the treaty of barriers and demolition of the cities in this treaty, without consulting the provinces on this point. They threatened to recall their deputies to the states general if this action continues to move forward. This unexpected proceeding humiliated and scared the deputies. Perhaps it will make them less complaisant and more circumspect in the future. This week, the accord will probably be decided upon, as well as the mediation, which will only be accepted with strong limitations, and which will thwart the views of the Anglomanes.2
It is unfortunate that we do not yet know when you will have your first audience. There is a very nice house for sale here that would suit you perfectly, sir, and that is going for 12,000 florins but is worth at least 16,000. The rent for it is ƒ1000. I saw it out of curiosity. It is in a nice neighborhood that is one of the most desirable. It is spacious, elegant, well appointed and modern, and would be more profitable to buy than to rent. It certainly would be a house fit for an American minister, and if it goes, it will be hard to find another one that is comparable. If we were closer to a denouement, I would advise you to come see it for yourself. You would like it very much and we would have an American residence at the Hague for a good price.3
According to your orders, I have commissioned a bookshop here to obtain Gesner’s edition of Robert Stephanus’ excellent Latin dictionary from Germany. I also asked for Fabri’s Latin thesaurus by Gesner. These two works are the best of their kind.4 I also asked that they obtain the three books that I lent to you.
We are awaiting the French ambassador’s arrival any moment now.
I am sure that something interesting will happen here in the next weeks and I will keep my eyes open for anything to pass on to you.
I received a letter from Mr. Robert R. Livingston, secretary for foreign affairs,5 that I would very much like you to read when we see each other.
Please extend my cordial wishes to Mr. Thaxter.
I am with great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
It is whispered here that the Prince has already promised the American ambassadorship to two people successively, first, to Mr. Van Citters, Zeeland’s deputy to the states general, and then, to Mr. Rendorp. It is being said that the latter will have it. But I only have inferior sources for this information. It could be that the Prince is joking with these promises.6
At the present moment, it is time for this letter to you, dear sir, to be sent.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “à Son Excellence Monsieur Adams, Ministre Plenipo: des Etats-Unis d’Amérique, sur le Keyzersgragt près du Spiegelstraat, Amsterdam.”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Dumas 5th. Feby. 1782.”
3. This is the first mention of Dumas’ actions on JA’s behalf in the purchase of a house at The Hague. On the Fluwelen Burgwal, it was the first legation building owned by the United States. For an illustration of the site about 1830, just before the house was razed, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:ix–x, 65.
4. The works by Robert Estienne (Latinized to Robertus Stephanus) and Basilius Faber that are mentioned in this letter had long been available in a variety of editions. Dumas specifically refers to the versions edited by Johann Matthias Gesner, which appeared at various times and places, of Estienne’s Thesaurus Linguae Latinae and Faber’s Thesaurus Eruditionis Scholasticae. JA purchased an edition of Estienne’s work in March 1780 and it is in JA’s library at MB (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:437, 441; Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ). Editions of Faber’s work are in both JA’s and JQA’s libraries (same; Catalogue of JQA’s Books description begins Worthington C. Ford, ed., A Catalogue of the Books of John Quincy Adams Deposited in the Boston Athenaeum. With Notes on Books, Adams Seals and Book-Plates, by Henry Adams, Boston, 1938. description ends ).
5. Livingston to Dumas, 28 Nov. 1781 (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:30–32). Livingston approved of Dumas’ efforts on behalf of the United States, called for his continued correspondence, remarked on the absence of letters from JA regarding the presentation of his memorial to the States General, and noted the opportunities offered the Dutch by the victory at Yorktown. Livingston also informed Dumas that Congress would not increase his allowance.
6. The first Netherlands minister to the United States, Pieter Johan van Berckel, was appointed in May 1783 (PCC, No. 129, f. 21; Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence description begins Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt, The Dutch Republic and American Independence, transl. Herbert H. Rowen, Chapel Hill, 1982. description ends , p. 252–253).