Frederic de Coninck Letters
Frederic and Jean Camin launch their lace lottery in Rotterdam; Peace concluded on September 20;
Another appeal to Daniel; Marie Oursel plans to visit Frederic
11 February 1697
Mademoiselle Marie Oursel
One cannot be more touched than I am by all the gestures of friendship which you express through your letter of last month, and all the good wishes that you send me. I admit that I had to reread it several times with pleasure. In doing this I must be like the lover who has no greater joy than hearing it frequently said that one is loved, above all when such tenderness comes from one who I esteem and honor as much as I do you. How lovely is such a relationship! It reminds me of Psalm 133 and it would almost take me away into dreamland to write a reply, but since the hour is late I had better send you these pious thoughts another time. I had also better hurry so that my letter is ready to be sent along with one from our sister Camin who tells me that she will write you today.
But after saying this word to make you smile, I will say sincerely that as long as I live I will do all that I possibly can to make this relationship last, and that you will have no cause to complain about me in the midst of so little peace and so little fairness. But appropriate peace I long for more than ever. I will hear the end of conflict only when I know what's at the end of our destiny, and if there wouldn't be some way to repulse those proud and evil scoundrels who sought only to covet the goods of others. It is still necessary to have patience a little while longer. I hope that we will see it soon this time.
As I must leave space for my wife to pay you her compliment, I will finish by wishing you as many and more blessings than you yourself can ever wish for, not only for the coming year but for all the days of your life. Praying you to believe that I will always be sincerely and with all my heart...
23 March 1697
Monsieur Pierre Godefroy - [at Amsterdam]
At last, monsieur, after a long wait, much patience and plenty of shares that I had taken, our lace lottery will take place. I'm told it may even be next Monday. To participate you must send today to Rotterdam two shares. In one there are numbers and on the other there are blanks and the price of each roll, and wheels with great exactness. Therefore if you could act quickly you will have them. Although I'm quite persuaded that you are a thorough individual, nevertheless to be ready to finish the affair and avoid committing any abuse, I bid you before anything else to get the lace and see that the numbers are well attached on every piece according to the list that you made so that nothing can change or be misinterpreted. After the lottery is drawn do the same for the distribution by mademoiselle your wife. When you draw the said lottery have 2 tickets, one for the numbers and the other for the prices and blanks which you can have recourse to in case of need as there is also a writer who jots down the prices according to their row which continues to be the practice in the big lotteries.
This is of no special interest to me but since Mr. Camin and I are looked upon as the authors of this lottery, we are quite satisfied to see that all is being done in order and fidelity for those who have been early persuaded, while those who will not be happy wouldn't be taking a chance on something...
unfavorable. This is the reason why I pray that you send, after the lottery is drawn, a copy of the tabulation of which I speak listing the prices and distribution of all the lace sold at Rotterdam and here, and to address this all to Mr. Camin. I sincerely regret, monsieur, the trouble this matter gives you but since you indeed were willing to begin it, I pray that you see it through. For me in particular, I would have the deepest and most perfect appreciation imaginable...
We learned with much joy, mademoiselle and most honored cousin, the good news of your wedding. As I have always had a lot of esteem for your personally, I also have much pleasure in all that pertains to you. I pray God with all my heart that He gives you much joy and contentment in your new status. May He cause you to prosper and bless you abundantly. Hopefully in the beginning of next year we can wish the same for you as we do presently for my cousin, your sister, for the happy deliverance of a baby which is her heart's desire.
I look forward to the continution of your friendship and remembrance. I pray also that my cousin, your husband, grant me the honor of his. I myself rejoice in advance in the hope that you pay us a visit in this country. I can then express verbally better than I can by writing how much I am...
PS - My wife participates much in your joy. We bid you most humbly to assure all our relatives of our deepest respects.
24 August 1697
Monsieur Pierre Godefroy - [at Amsterdam]
I greatly regret learning of your illness and I hope to learn with joy of your recovery which I pray God with all my heart that He sends you. In due time I received the honor of your 2 letters of the 8th and 19th of this month. By the first one you give me notice that I can dispose of the commodities in my short letter at Abbeville which climbed to f80:17 and the second one sending me an amount for lace which again sold for f36:8. Thus the 2 sums together amount to f117:1. I pray you, monsieur, before you do anything please deduct your provision which I think is appropriate because I know that you took a lot of trouble over my unfortunate lace, and without you and your wife, I would have lost a lot. I would have been left with an estimated loss of about f100: considering what remains with me here which I'll have to unload for about f60. Therefore please deduct your provision which you consider fair and I will always be happy with that.
Please also send me the left-over stock by our boat on Monday provided your health permits, and all the hides you have since I need them. I hope this lot will be more beautiful than the last one which I found quite disappointing and against my expectation. Those 3 samples that you say cost only 20F are worthless. If there are some in this lot it would spoil the shipment even at this price. Incidentally, I hope your man will be able count properly just once in his life, and then we won't have any disputes this time at this end. I am entirely...
9 September 1697
I don't know what you will say, monsieur, if I'm considered impudent for posting a letter. I would have saved the trouble if I had known that Miss Coullez had to pass through your city, but I was absent when she left. Thus not finding another opportunity, I believed that I must not lose the benefit of responding to all the courtesies you extended through your letter of the 3rd of last month. I am touched and I thank you very humbly for all the expression of friendship which you convey. I do hope that this will continue and that you will keep me in mind. I will be pleased...
by all manner of means to render worthy service and to make you aware that one can have no more esteem than what I have for you. Please be convinced of that. If ever my sales trip allows me to pass through your neighborhood, I can assure you verbally better than by writing, but I don't know when I might have that pleasure! The same applies to you. While on your way back from The Hague, pass by here on any or every trip. You worried us by saying that we didn't have the honor of meeting for a long time. How, monsieur, is it possible that the anger of your uncle was able to make you utter such a word? Ah! Don't even think about it! Have you already forgotten me? And don't you know that I have a room at your service? Although it's only a bedroom you will nevertheless be comfortable in spite of your size. Therefore take back what you said and come stay with us to do reparation. In fact, you couldn't do better than agreeably coming by surprise.
It's time to talk to you about our charming and agreeable Mr. T. I will say before anything that I don't believe the handbills any more than you do. I know nothing about the subject and cannot understand how he came to implicate me in your disgrace. Perhaps in conformity to his attitude? Although there be some, I believe that we would do well to console ourselves and to mock fickleness. I will say to you again that the said monsieur no longer remained with his hotel trade since his return from Amsterdam which is to say about a month ago. I won't relate to you the way things transpired. It's a story that would take too long. I will give you a faithful summary on our first encounter.
You will know only that the said monsieur is presently lodged at a cheap inn with the signboard showing The Three Herrings. While there he sells copies galore. Everbody was surprised that the scandal of such conduct isn't talked about. I wanted to take it from him with the help of a more honest innkeeper but he wasn't able to agree on the price. Indeed, he would like to be lodged as a pope for almost nothing. These manners which are not very obliging have shocked the people that were his former employees. Besides that his unusual behavior is known amongst our inhabitants. Therefore I fear that in the end he won't be obliged to stay any longer in that inn. The hotel keeper, however, wants to keep him because he's beginning to draw attention. Furthermore I still haven't decided to pay my respects to him in a place so unsuitable and where everyone talks so much. Therefore he is always alone, but this is why he doesn't put himself to a lot of trouble. Admit to me, my dear sir, that here is a behaviour most extraordinary. I have some serious anguish and what's even more worriesome is that there's no way for him to change the announcement. It will die down, and the quickest way is to simply leave it alone.
His former hostess praises God to be parted from him because of his precarious economy and his haughty and messianic attitude which wearied her so much that she was delighted when he no longer stayed at her place. Aside from that, they are involved in a lawsuit which I fear Mr. T. won't lose. It will make him still more popular. He wants her to reimburse him for various trips but she doesn't want to do that and even seized a part of his used clothing. I offered my services but he didn't want me to mediate.
To conclude, I will say that the aforementioned monsieur is at the senate as a deputy and I'm told that he always perseveres in any resolution which he fancies in spite of what anyone says. So I don't know what the outcome will be, but I'm afraid it will cause quite a bit of commotion. When we learn the outcome, sir, I'll disturb you again. I will finish by offering you my most humble services and pray you to have me do whatever you think I can to be of use to you.
I don't have any news to give you. I'm told by some that peace has been made while others presently say it is distant. I'm also told that little or nothing is spoken about us [Huguenots]. Thus we were wise to store our gold in Holland and happy to be able to recover our wealth. Madame Den Braeder, her daughters and my wife bid me to greet you affectionately. All those who have spoken to me about you do so with a great deal of esteem. We are all agreed that we would be most happy if there were a way to make the exchange which you proposed. Your uncle complains that someone removed his mistress, a mademoiselle Logerie. You know that he only wanted young and beautiful ones, and because of that he is most displeased...
13 December 1697
Monsieur Daniel Crommelin
The last letter I wrote you was on 16 November 1696 from which I received no response. I had imagined that the rationale of what I said to you would have been able to make some impression on your affairs, and that at least you might have given us some hope. Apparently, however, I fooled myself. Allow me to say that this behaviour will do irreparable harm to your reputation. You want people to do business with you, but who would trust you in the future since, contrary to both divine and human laws, you seized and keep an estate which you could keep only until it could be immediately sent to this country in compliance with the instructions you received from my mother who was to get hold of it according to the instructions of the will. Up till now you would have respected and religiously executed the last wishes of dying people but you've done nothing, and now you place your own interest above things that are more sacred. Without putting yourself to any trouble, you impede my ability to maintain the children and against the promise which you made to let them have something. Indeed, it's well to serve yourself by going to far away places without worrying about what anyone says about it, but if these ways are advantageous to you on one hand, they give on the other the idea that you are prejudicial in the spirit of honest men. Believe me, monsieur my uncle, return to your former self by giving satisfaction to every relative who has been appealling to you for such a long time through their letters, as well as several others who have written you on this subject.
Please don't suggest that I or Mr. Camin have been declared guardians for if you did, it's an indication that you not only want to keep the estate for yourself, but seize it. Mr. Camin seems to want nothing to do with this matter and leaves it all to me as the closest relative. I indeed wish to assume the burden in all that I'm possibly able to do, which is to say to contribute to their care. This is all that I can do, and in truth it would only have been for conscience' sake because assuming guardianship would have angered the French side. Besides, it would have burdened me with a legion of children who already restrict me. It simply wouldn't have been wise. I am an honest man and don't at all want money that would evaporate in my hands - something I would regret deeply. But after all, you have no authority at all to deny me such a thing, and I've said before this is nothing but an excuse that you cover yourself with. Indeed, I have more right in asking you why you don't follow the orders of my late mother without looking for so many evasive maneuvers, and why you don't execute all the appeals and exhortations that I and others have made to you on this subject.
Isn't it enough that you have already had their money in your hands for nearly 5 years without bothering to express any concern for how these children are doing or writing them? Again this is a blow that isn't Christian. As before, I appeal to you once more to return this money into the hands of my cousin, Pierre Testart. You know that he figures prominently in Amsterdam having married a wealthy heiress. Not long ago I spoke with him. He mentioned having written about this affair and promised me that if you remitted the money to him that he would quickly put the net revenue in order by buying government bonds ['obligations'] on the province of Holland which is a stronger state now than it's ever been.
I will say it again, and doubtless you already know, that peace [between France and the Anglo/Dutch alliance] was concluded last September 20. Thus all is quiet and navigation is unrestricted. Your own requirement was to keep this money until peace had been attained under the pretext that it would have cost too much to pay for insurance. Now things have changed and have returned to their former tranquility. I therefore remind you to execute your promise to remit immediately, as I have stated, to our relative, Mr. Testart. We leave it to your conscience and your honour to add what it pleases you in the way of interest. In God's name, monsieur my uncle, be sensitive and give us that satisfaction which we have been demanding for so long. It is the most honorable and equitable thing to do and which, besides, will draw the blessings of God and men who can't understand how you...
could ignore what we asked of you so often. If you do this your reputation will remain intact and anyone would be willing to do business with you. Meanwhile I will wait anxiously the outcome of your promises, and I hope to report to my said cousin that you have honored me with a word of response.
The peace didn't produce anything for us. In other words, the refugees got nothing with regards to the return and re-establishing of their estates. On the contrary, the persecution continues more than ever. May the good Lord console the afflicted. May He give you all manner of prosperity in your enterprises, believing that I am...
13 December 1697
Monsieur Francois de la Chambre
I continue to address to you my letters for our uncle Daniel Crommelin and send you duplicate copies as you told me to do before. I don't doubt that you forwarded the one I sent to him last year and that you added your exhortations and appeals to mine as various other relatives did in order to expedite justice for the children of my late brother Jean de Coninck. Nevertheless despite all that I do, I don't see that the said monsieur is bothered by anything that we have written him. He gives no reply, and he doesn't even seem concerned whether the children have the means to live or not. Indeed I must have endless patience. The most barbaric nations, and nature itself, give evidence of having more charity and justice. Nevertheless to hear what would have been lost without him, Ah! My goodness, if he didn't get himself confused. What is stranger still is that he quarreled with the men, and now he wants forcefully that I negotiate with him and would like to do that haughtily. Good God! If he had desired to do a good work, he certainly wouldn't have made things more difficult than for those who trusted him. Although there are some, I dare say this matter will do great harm to his reputation for, as I have already said, the will of my late brother Robert declared that he must return quickly this money that my late mother instructed him, on several occasions before her death, to remit to Mr. Camin or me.
Mr. Camin himself deferred to me as the closest of kin and I, who don't at all want to have the money in my hands for fear of having it disappear, was told to write him bidding him to send it to Pierre Testart. I asked the latter about Mr. Crommelin to see if he had followed the instructions that I had given him. He hasn't said a word, and so he also participates in the silence. It's fine to use the great distances between places as a way to commit with impunity all that one wants to do. I confess, however, that apart from that, if I had been able to leave here, I would have done what's right, or would have died trying, because in the end I could not imagine behaving that way without mounting the ramparts of trickery.
Furthermore, since the aforementioned monsieur availed himself of the pretext of the war to keep and use this money, now that peace has been concluded, and navigation and commerce have been re-established, we will see if he doesn't come up with any other excuses, or whether he has at last come to his senses. I have previously seen in one of his letters that he asked to be left with what he had in his hands until the end of the war. I pray you, monsieur my cousin, to join your appeals to mine to have our said uncle carry out what we wish him to do. I don't doubt that you will grant my request and that you will take care of my letters.
I spoke a little while ago with our cousin Testart who said that he wrote of this matter to our uncle and promised me that if he remitted the money to him, he will take all the necessary precautions, and that he would buy the government bonds [obligations] on the province of Holland. It's true this interest might not be quite as much, but at least one can sleep peacefully knowing this to be as good as gold. All the relatives approve this plan and this is also the best course one can take. I finish, monsieur my cousin, praying you to believe that I will be at all times...
19 December 1697
Mademoiselle Marie Oursel
Some time ago my sister Camin showed me one of your letters which gave us the hope that you might be coming here next year to pass with us a beautiful season. It gave us all a lot of joy. for one would have to made of marble or bronze not to feel that way after having been so sadly separated some 13 years ago. Good heavens! How is it possible that we can find ourselves all together again for some days, no longer suffering from such separation! This is when we will be able to...
speak of the future but at present I am satisfied simply to revel in the knowledge of your coming and in order to hasten that prospect I am presently writing you this. You know that my wife is pregnant and expects to deliver about mid-March. If she is late, she wishes, and I also, that you be our godmother. It's been a long time since we could pay you this compliment, but the war made travel troublesome. It prevented us from doing so sooner but now things have changed. Therefore I hope you will not refuse, and that you will indeed favour us with this token of your affection.
We long to see you in person and to help advance your trip a little, if our uncle de Chemin returns soon, you could accompany him or else he could recommend some honest man on a Schipper boat. If you prefer to travel on the ground, you could take a coach to Brusselles where you can take a small boat to Amsterdam, and from there to Rotterdam. The trip isn't that long. When you know how you will go, we will pray for a happy and swift passage.
I saw by your letter that our uncle Jacob requested the votes of those interested in selling a remainder of our grandmother's heritage. We learned almost at the same time that without even waiting for that, he sold the said places although they weren't even on the forms. I hope that he will behave well and that he won't resemble his brother Daniel who, despite every appeal I made to him, seized the estate of our nieces de Coninck with impunity and doesn't want to return them the least justice. Since you undoubtedly correspond more with our said uncle Jacob than I do, I bid you you to recommend to him your interests, and speak to him also about ours so that everyone can get what belongs to him. Although the amount may be small, nevertheless I'm loaded with commitments. The nursery is full and especially not being any wealthier this term, 'the butcher is left without a hole' so to speak, and consequently I'm not doing too well.
I don't know how the lawsuit with Durand and his companion is going or whether it's true that the goods of the said Durand were seized for his debts. If so, that would be a divine punishment from on high. He well deserves it.
As we change to a new year, I wish, my dear sister, that the one we are about to enter is favorable to you. I pray God that He showers you with an abundance of blessings and makes you to prosper in all things. I don't expect that for myself because I hope to see you soon, and then I can express myself better with my kisses than by my letters the esteem and affection that I have for you, and how much I am...
PS - I also greet the entire household and extend to them a great number of good wishes.
PPS - It just occurred to me that we could appeal to our uncle Jacob to withold the portion of benefits going to our uncle Daniel following the succession of our grandmother [Rachel Tacquelet] because at last this is a charity that can do something for the children of our brother Jean. I have bothered myself enough over this matter without being able to get anything while our uncle Daniel acted as a very dishonest man. This is the reason why I pray you, my dear sister, to also do something at your end by writing to our uncle Jacob, reminding him of the theft by his brother and bidding him to remit this money into the hands of our cousin Pierre Testart of Amsterdam. This will be like a trap. I will indeed write him also. I can't think about this knavery without a terrible sadness. Perhaps through him we can also get a copy of the last will and testament of our late brother Oursel. Please get one for me if you can.