From Dennis DeBerdt
London Feby: 6th: 1784
I have now the Honor to forward you a letter from my friend Mr: Edward Browne of Ostend, which respects the business we had the Honor to converse on when you was last in London
Shoud the contents of his letter meet your Ideas, I am confident no Gentleman residing at Ostend more eligible for the purpose, & I beg leave to recommend the business to your particular attention1
My Brother Mr Reed is safe arrived in England, & shoud you return to this Place, ere he goes again to the Amn: Continent I shall hope for the pleasure of your company to dinner2
Mr Laurens is confined to his Room wth: the Gout in his Head, & very unwell
We have as yet no Ministry!! Mr Fox’s party has outvoted Mr Pitt & his friends, & the Lords & Commons are at variance in the arrangement of a New Ministerial Union—& God only knows what awaits this distracted Kingdom3
My earnest wish is, that while the Sun of Glory & greatness in this Country is setting it may be rising in the Western World, & shine More & More to a perfect Day—
I have the Honor to be / sir Your Most Obedt: Servt:
Dennis De Berdt4
RC (DLC:Charles Thomson Papers); addressed: “The Honble: John Adams Esqr / American Minister / at the Hague”; internal address: “The Honble: John Adams”; endorsed: “M Dennis de Berdt / London Feby. 6th: 1784 / ansd 27 March.”
1. Edward Browne, about whom nothing else is known, wished to be appointed the American consul at Ostend. His letter of 27 Jan. has not been found, but JA indicated in his 27 March replies to Browne and DeBerdt that he was enclosing Browne’s letter and DeBerdt’s recommendation with his 27 March letter to Benjamin Franklin and John Jay (both LbC’s, APM Reel 107). There JA requested that his colleagues, if they approved, send the letters to Congress. Franklin replied on 16 April, below, that he would do so, but there is no indication that Congress took any action regarding Browne’s request or DeBerdt’s recommendation.
2. For the mission of Joseph Reed, DeBerdt’s brother-in-law, to England in company with John Witherspoon, president of Princeton College, to raise money for the institution, see Reed’s 30 Jan. letter to JA, vol. 15:472–473, and JA’s 11 Feb. letter to Reed, below.
3. For the constitutional crisis to which DeBerdt refers, namely that while William Pitt had formed a ministry, forces allied with Charles James Fox retained a majority in the House of Commons, see John Stockdale’s letter of 20 Jan., note 3, vol. 15:466, and William Bingham’s letter of 19 Feb., and note 2, below. The crisis was resolved only with Parliament’s dissolution on 25 March and new elections that resulted in a majority for Pitt (Parliamentary Hist., description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends 24:774–775; Cannon, Fox-North Coalition, description begins John Cannon, The Fox-North Coalition: Crisis of the Constitution, 1782–4, London, 1969. description ends p. 206–227).
4. DeBerdt was a London merchant and son of Dennys DeBerdt, the London colonial agent for Delaware and Massachusetts at the time of the Stamp Act (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).