[dateline] The Hague, 16 June 1778
The enclosed sheet was written piecemeal yesterday and while coming and going today.1
A copy, omitting what is in brackets, has been sent to Mr. Lee in Vienna.2
The treaty, which the Grand Facteur asked to copy, has not yet been returned to me. He may plan to keep it until permission to send it on to its true destination arrives. I asked him if he had had it copied; he told me not yet. I shall, therefore, wait for him to mention it again.
I am, with the utmost respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
I know it for a fact that the Grand Facteur wrote to his House today concerning the enclosed article that appeared here yesterday in the Gazette.
PPAmP: Franklin Papers
addressed: “A Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plenipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amerique à Paris.”; docketed: “Dumas 16 June 1778.”
1. The enclosure (MH-H
: Lee Papers) includes an extract from an article that appeared in the Gazette de la Haie
of 15 June, a partial text of a dispatch from Count Degenfeld, the Dutch representative at Vienna, and brief comments on dispatches from the Dutch representatives at Hamburg and London. Of particular importance was the extract, whose author claimed authority not only to deny that William Lee, under the auspices of the French ambassador, had been received by the Austrian Court, but also to declare that the Austrian Emperor would receive Lee neither in public nor in private. The article conflicted with Degenfeld's dispatch of 27 May, received at The Hague on 9 June, which described William Lee's arrival in Vienna and his presentation by the French ambassador to the Chancellor, Prince Kaunitz, and all the foreign ministers.
At first Dumas believed that the article could have been the work of either the Austrian or the British ambassador at The Hague because it seemed to be an effort to counteract the effect of Degenfeld's dispatch. After some investigation, however, Dumas was able to report, in a note immediately following the extract, that the son of the Gazette de la Haie's publisher had told him that the article had been furnished by Sir Joseph Yorke, who was unconcerned whether his role was known or not. Dumas stated that he and the French ambassador had resolved to force the publisher to explain in his next issue that the article was not authorized by anyone connected with the Austrian Court. This, he believed, would indicate the real author to all interested parties.
2. That is, Dumas sent William Lee the extract from the Gazette de la Haie, his identification of Yorke as its author, and the portion of Degenfeld's dispatch relating to Lee's reception in Vienna; but not the portion of Dumas' note dealing with the action decided upon with the French ambassador, the part of Degenfeld's dispatch dealing with the impending Austro- Prussian war, or Dumas' comments on the Hamburg and London dispatches. No letter to Lee containing this information has been found.