Frederic de Coninck Letters
Frederic longs to hear some news about his shipment of lace; Catherine expects to be expelled from France; Frederic appeals to have her come to Holland; A baby boy for Frederic who survives, unlike the other two; Frederic suggests that Jean look for a wife amongst the Ammonet family; Ireland looks attractive to Frederic as a new destination
8 March 1689
Monsieur Jeremie le Blanc
I received your letter of 19 February in which I see that you have finally found an opportunity to sell my lace by means of a substantial percent discount and payable in 6 months. I also see that you wish to accept this proposition and ask for my input. I would say that even though the loss is substantial, I consent to what you propose since it wouldn't be better to go on keeping the merchandise. Therefore, monsieur, do what you think is best.
With regard to your commission, I hope you would be willing to accept 3 percent on the final price considering that you indicate the buyer is very serious. If you agree to this, please send me a note of approval. I'm obliged for your offers of service. I remain entirely yours...
23 August 1689 - Received Letter #125 from Mother at Le Havre. Replied 15 September.
17 August 1689
My very dear and devoted girl [Marie Camin]
I received yours of 21 July sent under cover of your sister's letter. I had begun to think I was outside your memory. As for me I cannot forget my offspring. I'm not able to do what you desire [emigrate to Holland]. It's beyond my ability. My affection is so deep that if there were any way to do this I would do so wholeheartedly and to be able to speak to you in person. However, we must leave everything in God's hands. He will bring things to pass in His good time. This is what I hope for through his bounty and grace. Please pray for me that He might give me the patience under all my adversity because I have so much of it and can't rise above it. No doubt your sister mentioned the situation regarding her brother [Francois]. He refused to join the army.
If the declaration is general which the king passed on July 30, all the married men and brothers who are in foreign lands and who took up arms against him, the rest of the family will be expelled from the kingdom and have all their goods confiscated. Apparently the declaration is quite extensive and that we'll have to leave. As for me, I couldn't be happier although I'm coming to the age when I can't do much. May God have His way with us as he sees fit. There's plenty of misery here and I don't know what work I could do to earn a living.
My dear girl, no doubt you are pregnant again. May God give you a happy deliverance and joy in your children if it be His will, but in all things we must resign ourselves to his holy will because I know well that He knows best what we need. As for me, I pray that it pleases God to keep you in his fear and to protect the father and mother.
I'm very sorry that you are not doing as well as you would like in your enterprise. May God's will be that it should go better in the future. I embrace you and my son. Your sisters send their greetings. Your affectionate mother...
15 September 1689
Madame Caterine Crommelin
We received your letter of 17 August with much joy considering we haven't received news from you for such a long time.
You know the reasons why I've been so late in writing you. It's been a year since I've written. My reasons are still there but they aren't something that worrying can fix. I must have patience in spite of myself. If my wife wrote you and because I'm writing you now, don't consider it a personal solicitation. It comes from a pure motive. It's to express my inviolable affection for your dear person. The affliction you have tears me apart. I grieve over it and pray God every day for your deliverance but, alas, what can be done? You never wanted to do a thing to bring this about. If you were serious about wanting to get away from the persecution and to be amongst your children, you would be in our midst right now. You would have given us joy; you would have been happy in every way; and we would have the good fortune to possess you.
However, far from that, you allowed yourself to be reduced to a pitiful state by my cruel enemy [Robert Oursel Sr.] who doesn't fail to drag you over the precipice with him. If you aren't careful, he'll do everything in the world to keep you back. No doubt it's him who counselled you to engage in the business that you're now doing in order to keep you rooted there. The way he gains mastery over your spirit is incredible. Nobody can believe it, and we just shrug our shoulders. As for me especially, I'm crushed by it. It seems you don't regard me as a son but as a stranger if I tell you something that you don't want to hear, and all that I say appears suspicious. Aren't I just a nuisance - I, who have always shown so much attachment, and who never lacked any respect for you? Come away, in God's name, and bring justice to us all.
I greatly fear not having a good stronghold such as my uncle, Daniel Crommelin, and so many others who I took at their word in good faith - all the more because he [Robert Oursel Sr.] never bothered to settle the receipts which he extorted from me. He brushed them off by simply claiming that he had risks to run which I see are many. He won't rest until he finally has in hand all he can take from me and until I am entirely at his mercy. I observe in this matter the usual wisdom which is to never be engaged in anything and to be at arm's length with everybody. He always wrote me via his daughter and this task is now being done by you in making me deceitful promises. Besides, he's profiting from the upheaval of the times to persecute me which is an unpardonable crime. God give me the grace to pardon him in a manner befitting the way he treats me. After all, he won't be able to satisfy me until he returns in good faith all that I sent him or at least makes one last effort to pay off the loan.
Besides, I have extreme need of it right now. The business in which I'm a partner isn't going at all well. On the contrary, I'm entirely ruined and at the point of being reduced to final misery if God doesn't take pity on me. This is the plain truth that I'm telling you. However it seems that you don't want to know about it. I repeat once more my appeal which is that you do whatever you can to put an end to this affair with me which has been going on for nearly ten years. My dear mother, if I come across a bit stern, it's not you that I'm addressing. It's not you I regard in any way when I write you about this matter. In fact when I write you I try to restrain myself as much as possible. But it's him who has made life so difficult for me and because of my hardship which I can tell you about. After all, the one who loses his assets loses his life's blood.
If my older brother had a bit more courage he would have joined the army a long time ago. I can't figure him out. I have no idea what he does in Rouen to pass the time. I don't even know if he still remembers me.
On August 24 my wife delivered a baby boy. He was presented for baptism the following Sunday by Mr. Du Chemin [Pierre du Chemin, husband of Esther Crommelin, was a Dutch national] and by Madame Camin. He was named Frederic. I thought he was dying 2 or 3 times, but right now he is doing well enough, thank God, as is the mother who humbly greets you affectionately. She's having a difficult time feeding her baby on one side. [Frederic Jr. lived from 1689-1710.]
I will close by appealing once more that you be reunited with us and to continue your love and blessing. Despite the distance between us, it won't erase us from your memory. Try to bring peace back into the family by doing whatever you can so that everyone can enjoy somewhat that which God and nature had given them. Above all, this would be a great help to me considering the state in which it has pleased God to reduce me and my family. We always pray fervently for your conservation and deliverance. God willing we will see you soon. In that anticipation and hope I am always with profound respect and submission entirely yours...
Monsieur Jean de Coninck
I can justifiably reflect back to you the nasty reproaches you make against me for my long silence. If you gave it some thought, you'd find that it was you who first tumbled into this oversight since it was I who wrote you last! At least, if you have written me since, I didn't get your letters. Besides, you have the convenience of traffic and a major post office which I rather lack in this corner of the city which I regard as a desert. Anyway, by this letter you can see that I'm still here. I would have doubts about you if it weren't for Mr. Camin to whom I've inquired for news about you. Besides, if I haven't written you for a long time it doesn't alter one bit the affection I have for you. It is so strong that there's little or anything that could diminish it in the least. And I don't doubt the same applies to you. Thank you for your interest in what touches me.
I'm not that firmly established here and I wouldn't mind going elsewhere with what little I have left as soon as I could see myself relocated some place where I could earn a quiet living. To tell you the truth, I'm quite unhappy here, especially since the company that I'm part of hasn't lived up to expectations. That's because of the bad management and the few contacts we have in this business. Now that I've taken over the management I can see more clearly but it comes rather late. The war has brought about our ruin. Of all the leather that went to England and France, none is going there now. This cuts our throat, at least for me who has nothing else. If you know of some situation for me where I could do something in peace, you would do me a great service by letting me know. There are times when I really regret having left England. At least I wouldn't like to stay here. I don't know what shape your affairs are in, but I don't doubt that they're incomparably better than mine. That's why I'd like to know how you're doing.
It's been more than a year since mother wrote me last. I wrote her a short while ago about my dismal situation and my interest in collecting on the wonderful promises that were so deceitfully made because no sooner did he [Robert Oursel Sr.] have my document [loan] in his hands than he began to mock me. I confess that this saddened me in a manner I would have trouble believing. Although it wasn't a lot, it would, however, do much to lift me from the situation in which I now find myself. Besides, I'm not able...
to swallow the harsh and fraudulent manner in which he treated me. If you are also at his mercy, I pity you.
A year ago I wrote to our older brother [Francois] but I received no response. I think if he had an ounce of courage he would have joined the army and he'd now be in Ireland with the others.
My wife delivered a baby boy for the third time on the 24th of August. He's been named Frederic. Several times I thought he would have the same fate as the two precedents but, thank God, he's doing alright now, as is his mother who sends you her best regards. I'm sad to hear of the illness of one of your little girls and rejoice at the good health of the other. May God keep and protect them both.
I'm aware that you are lonely and that you wish to have another mate to be with. How is that going? Try to catch the attention of our other cousin, Amonnet. Perhaps she's also as tired of being single as her sister. Anyway, I hope that you'll be able to meet up with a suitable mate. This is what I hope to learn with joy. I wish you all manner of prosperity, knowing that I am entirely behind you and that I always will be...
[Jeanne Crommelin, daughter of Adrien Crommelin and Suzanne Doublet, married Francois Amonnet in Paris in 1669. Amonnet was from London but they lived in Paris where they established a business of French embroidery (poins) which made them very wealthy. Forseeing the persecution they fled to London in 1681 where he died a few year later, leaving 3 daughters, Susanne, Jeanne, and Marthe. It is these girls to whom Frederic is referring as a possible mate for Jean de Coninck. The daughters went on to marry others, and Jeanne Crommelin's immense fortune was dissipated by her second husband, Jacques Dufay, through his ruinous business dealings. (Ref. - Scheffer, P. 176)]
Monsieur Robert Oursel Jr. [in London]
I received with pleasure your letter of 30 August. I thought that you had forgotten me and that I no longer had any place in your memory. Thanks for the kindness that you express. Rest assured that my regard for you is no less.
The tannery is going badly. Not since your departure has it been so bad. To tell you the truth, it's never done well. Perhaps you already know that the nasty Braux brothers were fired some time ago. If these men had conducted the business up to now, our capital would have gone down the drain which is where they went. We have now in their place a foreman who is more like a doctor and who knows his trade better than they did.
Other than that I am entirely the general manager of business and I do as I think best. Since then business hasn't been too brisk which will be difficult to fix. The war has put us in turmoil. In a word, it's a nasty enterprise which is impossible to make successful unless there's a lot of leather going to England. Some time ago Mr. de Rochefort left the company which made me very happy. It's only me and Mr. Camin who undertake the business now. My intention is to not get involved any further until I'm able to quickly locate another situation for myself. Ireland I find most attractive when it settles down. It would be a logical place to go for a man like me who has become ruined. Especially since I read in one of our gazettes that one gives 12P for a cow. If ever King William encourages French Protestants to go there and provides them some benefits, please let me know promptly when it happens exactly.
Things here are still the same as when you left. That is to say that the trustworthy ones are still the same as ever and the untrustworthy ones are also. At Le Havre my arch foe with regard to my interests hasn't changed because since I sent him my parchment, for which I was given all manner of promises, it hasn't produced any effect. I'm treated as though I don't even exist. I admit that it causes me inconceivable grief. I still find you better situated and to gain, as you say, the essentials to feed your face. As for me, it's a struggle.
My wife gave birth to a baby boy on 24 August. This is the third, the previous two having died. This one is doing fine right now. I don't know what has become of the rascal Durand. I fear much that his debt to me is lost. Please ask him from time to time and try to get something from him. I wish you all manner of prosperity and hope that you are content living with your bosses. When you come to this country, we would be most pleased to see you. Until then rest assured that I am entirely yours...
3 October 1689
Monsieur Jeremie le Blanc [in Hamburg]
I haven't received any letter from you since the one you wrote me on 19 February saying that you had found a merchant for my lace who would pay in 6 months. I replied to you on 8 March that since you couldn't do otherwise, I approved under the conditions that you mentioned. Although I haven't received a reply since that time, I don't doubt the transaction has gone through and that the money has been received. That being the case, please send me an accounting and remit the net revenue to my best advantage in a letter of credit as soon as you can. Eagerly waiting, I humbly salute you and am...
1 December 1689
Monsieur Jeremie le Blanc
I wrote you on 3 October. I told you that I had no doubt that my lace has been settled. At the time I asked that you send me an accounting and to remit the net revenue in a letter of credit at my greatest advantage. However, I have received no reply. Therefore it's been more than 9 months since I've received any letter from you. I confess that this long period of silence is beginning to worry me.
Please, monsieur, take my interests to heart as I do for yours in consideration of our old acquaintance and friendship. So please do something as soon as you can. Remit the money or I'll withdraw from you because I have no doubt that the stuff was sold two months ago. Besides, you told me that the buyer was very reliable. I will wait impatiently for news from you. Otherwise I can only offer you my humble services. You know that I am wholeheartedly yours...