To Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol
Amsterdam April 6. 1782
Monsieur Le Baron
Upon my Return to Town, to day I found your Favour of the 5th. instant: that of 31. Ult I had recd before.
Am curious to know what Use will be made in the States of overyssell of the Memorial of the Russian Ministers. Will it be used as a Pretext for delay? It is really a Serious Thing, that great affairs should be thus obstructed by little ones. This Memorial promises more than Mr Fox’s Letter authorizes. The armistice proposed is but a proposal of a Breach of Faith already pledged to France.1
Will this Republick abandon France and america, and throw themselves alone upon the Mercy of England? Is there one Regent in the Republick that would advise it?
As to the affair of your Friend Valk, I can only Say that I should be happy to have it in my Power to serve, any Man upon your Recommendation: but in this Case I have no Power.
If a Treaty should be made, I presume Congress will send a Consul to this Republick: but that Consul will be an american. This I take to be the fixed Resolution of Congress, to Send as Ministers and Consuls abroad her own Sons and she expects to receive from her allies as Ministers and Consuls, their own native Citizens. This, you will readily agree is the best Policy on both Sides, and indeed the only Policy that can give mutual Satisfaction. Congress will not certainly multiply Agents, and will have no occasion, probably for more than one Consul, in this Republick. This Consul may have occasion for a correspondent in each maritime City, but the Choice will lie with him, and it will necessarily be Sometime before he is appointed and can arrive. But alass are We not Speculating before the Time. An Ecclesiastical order, which is a Non Entity, can delay the Measures that are judged necessary by the Cities and Nobles in Utrecht. The Nobles, perhaps in overyssell may delay matters there. A Single City, or a first Noble in Zealand, may obstruct the Decision of that Province. And of Groningen We hear nothing at all.
Patience upon Patience is necessary. When a Resolution appears upon the Point of being taken, Some new Device appears to throw all aback. But when one Magazine of Patience is exhausted We must open a new one, untill the last fails.2
With great Respect I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant
RC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, Papers of van der Capellen, No. 29A, p. 278).
1. On 29 March, Charles James Fox informed the Russian ambassador at London that Britain was willing to agree “to an immediate cessation of hostilities” with the Netherlands and negotiate a peace treaty based “on free navigation according to the treaty of 1674.” This effort to separate the Dutch from the French represented a reversal of the British policy toward the League of Armed Neutrality. The Russian ambassador immediately wrote to Gallitzin and Markov, his colleagues at The Hague, and on 3 April the two men submitted a memorial to the States General that contained the new British offer. Fox’s proposal failed because the French opposed a separate Anglo-Dutch peace and because the offer was made on the day the States of Holland voted to recognize the United States. By the time Fox renewed the offer in May, the States General had made the recognition official (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780 description begins Isabel de Madariaga, Britain, Russia and the Armed Neutrality of 1780, New Haven, 1962. description ends , p. 387–388, 396–397; Edler, Dutch Republic and Amer. Rev. description begins Friedrich Edler, The Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1911. description ends , p. 200; Dumas to Robert R. Livingston, 10 May, 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 , 5:408–410).
2. When JA published this letter in the Boston Patriot of 13 March 1811, he inserted the following note:
“N. B. in 1810. I heard a gentleman in the Senate Chamber ask my friend Mr. Izzard, who upon some occasion was somewhat impetuous, ‘have you no patience?’ Izzard replied, very quickly, “I believe I have a great deal for I have never used any of it.”
“I am somewhat apprehensive that posterity will think the reverse of this true with regard to me: and that I had occasion for so long a course of years to draw so largely on my magazine, that in the latter part of my public life it became scarce and almost exhausted.”