From Nicholas Simon van Winter and Lucretia Wilhelmina van Winter
Leydan in Holland 10th April 1784
From the Extremity of the Earth, Deign to accept, the Sincere Hommages of Two Persons more closely united by the Bonds of Mutual Affection than by those of Hymen; Admirers of Virtue, we were impelled by an irrestistable desire to testify to you our Veneration, as Soon as we were informed that your magnanimity of Soul had Shewn forth So conspicuously, in your relinquishing the Honourable charge of the Chief Command in the Armies of the Thirteen United States of North America, & in Preferring a rural life, to all the Charms that could allure an ambitious mind, a resolution worthy of the Grand Liberator of his Country, & which has raised you in the Eyes of the World above the most illustrious Monarchs. But how can we make you Sensible of our admiration Since probably you are a Stranger to the Dutch Language? The zeal of my Spouse has Surmounted that embarrassing obstacle. She has ventured for the first time of her life to make Verse in a foreign language,1 for to make herself understood by the American Heroe, but She laments that She could not avail herself of her native language, Since in it She might have expressed herself with more Sublimity of Stile. Have the Goodness, Noble Sir, to let our Sentiments plead as an excuse for the faults of her Poetry; Last year about the latter end of Octr we Sent the original of the Inclosed Verses, to our Friend Mr Vogels, who Boasts an alliance with Mr Hillegas the Treasurer, & who has Since Married a Daughter in Law of Colo. Moulden’s at Philadelphia,2 but having never received any account of it from that time, we were apprehensive that the letter never arrived,3 this Consideration has induced us to take the liberty of Sending this by another Conveyance, Wishing to lose no opportunity of Demonstratg the Veneration that your Virtue, & that of your Illustrious & Dear Companion, has inspired us with, & which we though far Behind, will endeavour to follow, Preferring it to all the Grandeurs of the Earth, being content with a Happy independance in our own Country, & having no other ambition but that of Boasting one Day, that the Illustrious Washington has Deigned to Receive the Sincere Hommages of two persons, who will always be with the Most Profound Respect Noble Sir Your Very Hble Servts
Nicholas Simon Van Winter
Lucretia Wilhelmina Van Winter
Translation, DLC:GW; LS, PHi: Gratz Collection; ADf, Amsterdam: Collectie Six. For a transcription of the LS, see CD-ROM:GW.
Lucretia van Mercken van Winter, who was married to Nicolas Simon van Winter and lived in Leyden, was a Dutch poet who wrote a number of popular tragedies in the late eighteenth century. In 1781 she published a poem of thirty-five stanzas, “To the British,” which includes these lines:
Oppressed America makes your glory fade,
A new star is rising in our skies,
Washington strong with his French allies
Freed his country from your tyranny.
(Quoted in Reitz, “An Unpublished Correspondence of George Washington.” description begins S. C. Bosch Reitz. “An Unpublished Correspondence of George Washington.” Journal of American History 24 (1930): 48–58. description ends ) On 19 Oct. 1783 she sent a poem directed to GW and written in his praise to Gerard Vogels who forwarded it to GW through Michael Hillegas on 22 March. See Vogels to GW, 10 Mar., and notes.
2. The van Winters wrote: “et qui depuis peù, comme nous croyons, s’est mairé a une des filles de feu Monsieur le Collonel Moulders.”