The Commissioners to E. F. van Berckel
Passi near Paris, Ocr. 29th. 1778
Upon maturely considering the Letter and declaration which we have had the honor of receiving from you,1 we are of opinion that there are some propositions relative to that <
proposed treaty> business which can only be properly discuss’d2 in a personal interview. We therefore wish that you, or a person authorizd by you, woud meet one of us at Aix la Chapelle, or any other place which you may judge more convenient for conducting this business with the most perfect Secrecy.
Shoud this proposal meet with your approbation, you will have the goodness to apprize us of the time and place you think proper for the interview. It may be proper that we shoud enquire for one another, wherever we meet, under fictitious names; the fixing upon which we also wish to leave to you.
We shall be glad of an answer as soon as is convenient for you; and have the honor to be, with great respect Sir most Obedt. & most humb Servts.3
LbC in the hand of Arthur Lee (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 95–96).
2. This word was interlined, for insertion at this point, above a word that was deleted and is illegible.
3. In a letter to Dumas of 22 Sept. (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 30 Oct., note 5, below), Benjamin Franklin indicated that JA and Arthur Lee had proposed that he undertake a mission to The Hague in the hope of cementing an alliance with the Netherlands and requested Dumas’ advice. Dumas replied on 16 Oct. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), indicating that the time was not yet ripe for such an effort and that it would be better if he remained the conduit for American initiatives. No later letter from Dumas to either Franklin or the Commissioners indicates any change in that opinion. That and the absence of a reply by van Berckel to this letter or any mention of it in any from Dumas, the logical means of transmission, makes it likely that this letter was a new proposal by Arthur Lee that was not approved by the other two Commissioners and, therefore, was never sent.