Papers of John Adams, volume 14

Sir The Hague, 23 May 1783

Last Tuesday we went to dine in Rotterdam at Mr. Van Berckel's, who had invited us with your son.1 The minister's departure is set for around the 15th of next month, on the new copper-bottomed vessel the Overijssel 489of 68 cannon and commanded by the brave and patriotic Captain Riemersma.2 If you are certain, sir, of returning to America this year, it is unfortunate that the slow pace of the general pacification is depriving you both of the pleasures of each other's company.

I recommend that I receive a copy of the treaty with Sweden and your permission, if it is appropriate, to publish it and favor our good friend Luzac with the fruits of this publication—or at least to be able to give a copy to Mr. Van Berckel, who would like to take one with him.

Your son is well and cheers us all with his good humor. We are amusing ourselves reading together Suetonius’ Caligula, Plautus’ Pseudolus, and of Dido falling in love and dying in Virgil, Book IV. Your son has an exceptional feeling for what he reads, which makes it a great pleasure to read with him.3

Our friends are requesting, sir, that when the occasion presents itself, and without compromising yourself, you suggest in your conversations with the British ministers that the rumored return here of Sir Joseph Yorke would prove neither agreeable to this nation nor useful to the two powers in question, since it would serve only to stir up all the old intrigues and thereby exasperate people all the more.4 The Duc de La Vauguyon was asked to do the same.

Yesterday we all went to have dinner in the dunes of Scheveningen. One of the dunes served as table and chair, the sounds of the sea provided a symphony, the vast horizon served as dining room, and the pure air as cook, seasoning to each one's taste the little dishes we had brought.5

On returning Tuesday from Rotterdam, we found your favors of 16 May.6 The past makes me think that your shoulders will be no more burdened with the responsibilities you seem to dread than will your temples with the honor that is owed them by your fellow citizens. Your peace of 1782, ’83, ’84, etc., makes me rejoice and will gladden the hearts of our friends, who return on Tuesday.

For the past nine years I have suffered the torments of Tantalus at home. Platonic love, which is the only kind I am allowed and is as comfortable from afar as it is near, gives us neither the same claim to heroism pro bono publico enjoyed by Mr. and Mrs. Adams nor the same rewards, which Madame Dumas and I warmly wish them.

In accordance with your orders of 19 May, I have opened the packet containing the enclosed letter from Mr. Livingston and the treaty and convention of 8 October last, complete with their ratifications, a copy of which I also enclose. As instructed, I shall keep the ratified treaty and convention under lock and key until you honor me with further orders. I shall simply add, as my own opinion, and unless you have a better idea, that it seems to me that those documents should be delivered, the sooner the better.7 That is the expectation here, and if it is not your excellency who does so, then at least I should on your behalf—not only because the six-month limit for the exchange of ratifications elapsed almost two months ago, but because it seems proper that this matter be entirely concluded before Mr. Van Berckel departs.


I am, with great respect, your excellency's very humble and very obedient servant

C.w.f. Dumas