Frederic de Coninck Letters
Marie Camin hastily closes down her boutique in Amsterdam
that has been operating for 8 years; Frederic is in anguish
over the carefree spirit of his youngest son, Francois;
Trouble selling canes and dishes to raise enough money to send to Batavia;
Frustration over a lawsuit involving a pair of church officials
There are few letters which span the period from 1710-1718. In this period we see that Marie Camin has spent at least eight years in Amsterdam running a boutique (variety shop) that was originally intended to employ their children. First mention of the boutique is made in a letter dated 1 January 1710, therefore it must have been in existence as early as 1709. Now in 1718 we see the shop being closed and the inventory hastily being sold off.
Their oldest child, Frederic, died in Amsterdam, age 20, in 1710. Their next oldest son, Jean, has gone to Batavia [now Djakarta, Indonesia] in the Dutch East Indies. He was working to become a successful jute dealer. We also see that the nicknames 'Catin' and 'Mayon' have been adopted by the children of Frederic and Marie Camin: 'Mayon' = Marie de Coninck; 'Catin' = Catherine de Coninck.
During this period, Frederic's sister, Catherine, the widow of Jean Camin and formerly of Rotterdam, was living with a son on Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam. And this is where Marie Camin also took up residence while she operated her Amsterdam boutique. Warmoesstraat is the oldest street in Amsterdam and still exists today. It is a long and narrow street filled with all manner of specialty shops, taverns, restaurants and small hotels. Meanwhile Frederic remained in Schiedam where he bravely struggled to operate several decrepit leather tanneries which he and his late brother-in-law, Jean Camin, had acquired over the years.
From our vantage point it is sad to see the hardship and struggle that dogged Frederic de Coninck throughout his life. We would hope that in his final years he would have found some peace and prosperity in retirement but, sadly, this was not to be. Undaunted, Frederic never wavered in his faith in God while remaining upright and true to his family until the bitter end. Surely his life was exemplary and an inspiration for those of us who are faced with lesser challenges in life.
Frederic de Coninck in Schiedam to his wife, Marie Camin, in Amsterdam.
DSC_2065.JPG - Address cover- To Madam de Coninck at the home of the Widow Camin [Catherine de Coninck] and Son in the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam. DSC_2066.JPG - 1718-11 -15-ToMarieCamin
15 November 1718
I write you, my dear wife, to let you know the state in which I find myself. On Sunday I stayed in bed until noon. After dinner I went to church. I wasn't well the whole day. The pain in my side troubled me. It was only the cold because I was stiff all along the left side. It is better now, and I hope that in a little while it will be gone.
We looked and looked for the poultry plate without being able to find it. If you know where it is, please let me know. I write you in great haste because that girl has just arrived about the tea... She took 30 pounds after plenty of arguments. But in the end I had to reconcile myself to giving her 1 pound extra. We'll have to keep the rest for a long time so this sale seems better than having dust on our hands. Now she's gone to the scales with Esther [daughter, age 22, 1696-1762, Batavia] to have it weighed. I hope we'll be able to get rid of the rest. Tomorrow I'm going to send a boxful to 'Mayon' [daughter, Marie, age 27, 1691-1741, The Hague].
I'm really annoyed that Mr. Meusnier no longer wants to sell our embroidery. [Philippe Meusnier, husband of Frederic's younger half-sister, Esther Oursel, born 1670. They settled in Amsterdam and had no children.] This no doubt was Frans' handiwork [Francois, Frederic's youngest child, now age 20]. I think that in the end he'll give up on everything. First he was opposed to selling the canes, now it's the embroidery. The haughty and unbearable attitude of this boy will cause me to die of displeasure. You still speak about having him go to the Hague. Well, I'm sure that Mr. Brun doesn't want that [to hire Frans], nor does he want Mr. Brun. He'd rather go on being a free libertine spirit. He doesn't see what his attitude will do to him.
I think it would be good for you to see Mr. Burri and ask his advice regarding our canes. There's no time to lose. I'm sure that he'll help you, and also about our dishes. Goodbye. I write you in great haste, and I don't know what else to say.
Frans sent you a roll of muslin and you didn't say anything about it. What's this all about if you don't sell anything? Please make an inventory of the embroidery that Frans should have, and see if this tallies with the account that I gave him. He has to make some money to pay off his debts. I embrace you.
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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[Apparently Marie Camin is now closing her business in Amsterdam after running it for over 8 years, and now she's working hard to sell off her inventory.]
19 November 1718
My dear wife, I wrote the day before yesterday to our son-in-law. I hope that all goes well with him - something I'd indeed like to know. Apparently he will present the baby for baptism with you. [The baby of Abraham Camin and Catherine de Coninck. They were married in 1716.]
I'm sending you some canes and dishes. There are 148 ordinary canes and 107 that are ornate, so that reduces everything, but 9 or 10 of the latter are still missing. You'll have to see what became of them.
Papavoine came here the day before yesterday. He offers f500 for everything. You can see Mr. Burri who will advise you and who perhaps knows various merchants. It seems to me that among the ornate canes I note quite a shortage. They must have disappeared since I last looked at them. The ladies Thiens can buy the plates. I sent you everything so that you can sell them quickly. There's no time to lose.
Papavoine told me of a good opportunity he has through a man of integrity who is leaving for the House of Rotterdam [Chambre de Rotterdam] in 15 days or 3 weeks. He can be contacted through Mr. Ab. Godefroy who knows him. He should be able to make us some money. He will send me the money for Miss Louise's tea. This lady from Rotterdam took 28 pounds of tea. The boxes produced no net profit yet he still had to throw in an extra 1 pound into the bargain. I sent a box to Mayon who sold 6# to Madam Charon. I hope that we can get rid of the rest.
I won't forget to settle the account with Mr. Roger [of Rotterdam who purchased a lot of green tea from Frederic on credit]. Time is pressing. I hope you received the letters from Jean. If he sent you the accounts of Causid, he will have to receive the money promptly. Ester sent you some embroidery. Mayon didn't return the account book from the workers, so you'll have to put down the price taken from a copy of the invoice. Have you received any news yet from Mr. Causid in Leipzig? If there isn't any before you leave, he'll have to bring the money here. You'll have to tell me how many ducatons have been charged to our son-in-law so I can write this part in our account book, and this I can't do without it. You will also have to stop the account with him. Also, I don't know how much he should be deducted for what he has provided for Ester.
It saddens me that you quote St. Paul on the subject of Frans. I'll be able to rebuke him with what you say, in addition to how the laws of nature and the Decalogue show how he must learn to do his duty. You torment yourself in vain over him. What can one expect of a boy who doesn't want to receive any counsel; who doesn't appreciate how well off he is; who has an insufferable pride, and a deep and frightful
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laziness? You think that such a boy can go on staying here, and that we will have to go on putting up with him? One who is obnoxious to the supreme degree? You fool yourself, my dear. [Their youngest son, Francois, is now 20 years old.] Also he's leaving here with great joy believing the situation [with Mr. Brun] has fallen through. He told me quite candidly that he would rather walk the streets at night than work at the home of Mr. Brun. I don't even want to bother myself over what might benefit him. My heart is so incensed that I can't get over it. There isn't the least thing that he's done that doesn't bother me. You would also do well not to involve yourself in his affairs, for assuredly you will only reap sorrow and dishonour. Rid yourself of his account with you. Has he paid for my oil? As I said before, he also has to send me the money from Madam Louise. I'm right to make him responsible for this because Mr. Meusnier no longer wants to involve himself with our embroideries.
Have you seen Madam Godefroy? How were you received? Mr. Isaac du Long, have you seen him? We owe him f53:15. I paid to Mr. Vandergon f129 on his order to pay. He owes us f75:5. Goodbye. I embrace our children. Kiss them for me, and my greetings also to our friends.
Jean, Frederic, and Francois
In the letters between Catherine Crommelin (1632-1694) and her son, Frederic de Coninck, written in the late 1680's and early 1690's, we become aware of the trials that Catherine underwent because of the difficult nature of her eldest son, Francois. He was named after his father, Francois de Coninck, a successful Rouen lawyer who died prematurely causing Catherine to re-marry to Robert Oursel Sr. who was a whale and fish products dealer in Le Havre.
In her last years, Catherine was sorely afflicted by her son, Francois de Coninck (1657-1695). In fact her years may actually have been shortened by the difficulties that he heaped upon her, including a lawsuit. On the other hand, her youngest son, Jean, was a gentle, kind, considerate and hard-working family man who struggled to become a successful lace trader in London, England where he had sought refuge from the persecution against Huguenots that was taking place in France. Unfortunately his life too ended prematurely when he accidentally fell into a canal in Rotterdam while on a lace buying trip on the European continent in 1690. This accident left two orphaned girls to be cared which his brother, Frederic, and his wife, Marie Camin, struggled to do while living in Schiedam, Holland and raising their own ever-growing family.
Amongst their children was a Jean de Coninck (1692-1774) who, like his uncle and namesake, also became a hard worker and considerate son. He lived for many years in Batavia (Dutch East Indies, now Djarkarta, Indonesia) where he became a successful jute dealer before returning to Holland and marrying there.
Frederic's youngest son, born in 1698, was reluctantly named Francois in memory of his father, the successful Rouen lawyer, but of course it raised eyebrows because of the connection with the shiftless Francois - Frederic's older brother who had caused their mother, Catherine Crommelin, so much grief and anxiety in her latter years. Would this new youngster grow up with the same admirable character and qualities as the rest of the family, or would he exhibit similar traits as his uncle Francois who became a shiftless n'ere-do-well?
Like the other Francois who sent his mother to an early grave, Frederic lamented the very same thing about his youngest son. In letters written in 1718 we see the extreme frustration that Frederic underwent because of his lazy son. Was history repeating itself in the next generation? Indeed, Frederic had a difficult time with Francois but after Frederic died in 1720, his son turned into a very loving and responsible individual.
We know that Jean eventually returned to Holland from Batavia and in his middle age married a daughter of the famous historian Paul de Rapin, Seigneur de Thoras and Marie Anne Testart. (Marie Anne Testart was a daughter of Pierre Testart and his third wife, Anne Baullier). Jean and Suzanne Esther de Rapin-Thoyras had children and one of their grandchildren, also named Frederic de Coninck, lived in Copenhagen, Denmark where he established a huge shipping conglomeration that bore his name and became renowned world-wide.
It is likely that the voluminous correspondence of the de Coninck/Crommelin family survived for three centuries because the letters were safely stored in Copenhagen, Denmark - far away from the strife that pulverized northern France during conflicts such as the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII. Now the letters are archived at the French Protestant museum in Paris.
And what became of the 'black sheep of the family - Francois de Coninck, the son who caused Frederic de Coninck so much grief in his latter years? Francois established his own business and married Gertrude Lanius. They had a son whom they thoughtfully named Jean Frederic de Coninck (1731-1786).
Jean, Frederic, Francois de Coninck as depicted in the translation project
Marie Camin and Catherine Crommelin as depicted in the translation project
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin in Amsterdam.
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26 November 1718
I received your two letters, my dear wife. I'm very pleased that our new mother is doing well, and because she's a good wet nurse, that the little ones will become a miracle. May God bless them, keep them, and cause them to believe in his grace. [This suggests the birth of twins.] I thank our son-in-law for all the bonbons that he sent. Please convey my affectionate greetings to all.
Ester was in Rotterdam two days at a party which my aunt [Esther Duchemin-Crommelin] gave for the youth. There were Messieurs Cassagnole, Cartier, the young doctor Lusnen, Miss Legendre, Superville, and my cousin Crommelin who did her duty and took her handkerchiefs [to sell]. But since she needed money from the tea sales to send it to Utrecht, because it had to be replaced, there isn't very much left.
Madam de Larrey [wife of their pastor] asks you not to forget the ointment that she wants. She bids you affectionate greetings. Miss Bellevue brought over her skirts which I'm sending to you. She asks that it be sold for not less than f20, but more if possible. My aunt gave us a gift of some nuts and turnips. There's an invoice in the basket for my sister Camin.
I'm glad that we have some letters from our Indien [their son, Jean, in Batavia, East Indies], but most upset that Frans was silly enough to leave behind the last will and testament of Causid to his brother. Obviously he didn't have the common sense to bring it back with him. Now if Mr. Causid wants to see the will of his brother, a copy has to be made at his expense. Apparently Frans knew that he had made a blunder since he didn't say anything about it. I don't know whether messieurs T., the directors, would like to pay without seeing the will, or knowing how to retrieve it since Causid doesn't give us any news. Maybe he did, but it's lost. I have read the two parts. There's mention of the fact that there is an estate. I don't know whether there is need of a power of attorney. That's what we'll have to know and then, without losing time, to go to the Chambre des Indies to request payment. I have signed them. Perhaps that will suffice. If not, he'll have to send them to me again and I'll send him quickly a power of attorney.
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I do think that tea will become more expensive, but I don't think it will be much since the English and the people at Ostende stock quantities of it which they manage to get rid of, and it comes right from China. Please let me know if you've done any business, or if any merchants have come for the canes and dishes, and how much you've been offered for it.
I don't know if there's any point in having you send the chandelier stones. I'm annoyed that this Roger has to have his ears pulled to get him to pay anything [for the tea]. He doesn't want to pay for the delivery and then it's a pity to be addressed by such a man who perhaps will pay whatever he wants eventually.
Then there's Frans who's pleased that the situation with Mr. Brun fell through. He doesn't say so, because it's true, but he appears to make us believe the contrary. He's a boy who will cause me to die of grief. He plays the dandy to one to whom he must show humility. I'm not surprised that Mr. Brun doesn't want him. I don't know if I'm fooling myself, but Madam Duroc knew from the beginning that the situation wouldn't work. She told me that if Frans didn't display a certain manner that she knew of another who I suspect to be Liausuz. Indeed, he would be more suitable to Mr. Brun than Frans who is a lazy lout with an outrageous pride.
He's only fooling you when he says that he's up to date with Six. I believe to the contrary. He also promised to pay Guittard at the end of a month, which he didn't do. Also he paid nothing for my oil. In God's name be careful about this boy who will cause me to die of grief. He told me that he must receive the money for a 1/2 dozen calf hides that he sold. Let me know if he gave this to you. If on the contrary, which is what I suspect since he doesn't say anything about it, then he must send it to you.
I'm sending you the money for the oil. I have to have 4 tonnes sent to me before it gels, but not sooner. Mayon hasn't received any money for the tea from my cousins. I don't know why since they wanted to do it. However the
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time is approaching for making the mailings [to Batavia]. I will go next week to receive the money for the green tea. I will learn with pleasure what you have been able to sell.
Messieurs de l'Hopital have sent word that they won't give us anything more in the future for the Reader [of the church] and the Synod. These men are strange. It is said for certain that Tissandier and his son, Pieter, are returning shortly. Good Lord, what will we do! Goodbye. I embrace you. The clock is chiming...
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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Letter to Miss de Coninck [Marie Camin], residing with the widow Camin and son [Frederic's sister, Catherine de Coninck] in the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam.
28 November 1718
My dear wife, I take the opportunity to reply since you have written me 3 times, and also to say that when Frans leaves for the Hague [for a job interview with Mr. Brun], he doesn't have to come here, but can go straight there and make his own agreement because I really don't want to get involved with him in any way. Besides, his presence doesn't please me. All his attitudes I find so repugnant that I can't stand him.
He told me positively, and I have seen by all his manners, that he definitely will be taken on [perhaps as a butler or servant]. Ester told me that it wouldn't be a big loss if he didn't enter into domestic service. You told me almost the same thing, and that Mr. Brun didn't do enough business. Besides, who would want a boy like him, moody and lazy as he is; one whom you can't rouse out of bed, and one who retorts quickly when he talks? There's a big difference between a boy who lives in a home where we can see his faults in a wink, and a boy who doesn't stay there. In a word, I simply wouldn't want to get mixed up with him.
I'll cut this short because Mr. de Larrey [pastor] has just come by to pick me up so that we can go and visit some men to discuss some church business. Mr. du Long will not give for the canes what another merchant will pay for them. Do what you think is best. I advise that you get all our business done before returning. Goodbye. Mr. de Larrey is pressing me to hurry...
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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30 November 1718
Your letter, my dear wife, has plunged me into more despair than ever. You want him [Francois] to enter into service at Mr. Brun. This I want also, but does he want this? His attitude, his words, and his actions indicate that he doesn't. On the contrary, he told me that he would rather walk the streets at night, or be a pikeman for the King of Prussia, than enter into service at Mr. Brun, at least for six years.
A boy with a lofty pride; one who has a high opinion of his physique; one who wants no advice or correction, not even from those closest to him; one who considers himself perfect, and one who can't be torn out of bed - are these the right qualities for someone to be placed into service? And by someone who isn't aware of his irrascibility and ignorance? I'm astounded when I think that we have a child of his demeanor! He will remain there like he stayed at the residence of Douilhar. His behaviour there so completely turned off the paternal love I had for him in my heart, that I now look upon him as a stranger. So now comes another blow. I simply don't want to get mixed up in his affairs. He has the grandiose visions and simplicity of mind that a ten year old child wouldn't display. However, he's going to the Hague. If he wants to make his contract to go into service, he can send it to me afterward and I'll sign it, which would be the right thing to do, provided that I'm not placed into too high a responsibility. It's a last effort that I'll do with a lot of misgivings, and one that he'll have to consider well before executing it. At least then I'll know what plans he has promised, and if he doesn't fulfill them, I don't ever want to see him again. As for the money he owed to Guittard at the end of a month, I haven't heard anything more about it, nor about other things yet. It weighs heavily upon my spirit. It's another distress from such a boy.
I'm not surprised that you won't be able to sell the canes. How many times did he tell me the above. Despite that, it still didn't diminish his enthusiasm to take away the nicest ones, which he did, but didn't bother to settle his account even after changing the quantity which rather surprised me. After that, one mustn't be surprised about anything he does. If we can't sell them, what can we do but send them to Batavia? Jean is the only one who can deal with what isn't sold. Embrace my children and give my regards to all...
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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3 December 1718
I sent you a letter, my dear wife, for Mr. Causid which you will be sure to send him shortly. I have just received one from Frans who tells me that he'll be leaving shortly for the Hague and that Mr. Brun wants to discuss things with me. Of course this upset me beyond measure. I'll be leaving tomorrow, however this will be a terrible strain on me because I just don't have the heart. Upon his return, he'll have to come back with you because of the mood I'm in. I won't be able to do anything worthwhile because I can't listen to anything about this boy without feeling an intense aversion.
We torment ourselves over sending money to Batavia, but if you can't sell the canes, then at least we won't be sending over a great deal. Yesterday I was at Rotterdam to pick up the money for the tea, but he said he'd pay me another time. Still no talk about paying me all of it though. Of course I found this rather disheartening. I'm glad that Jean is prospering but I would like it even more if he would serve God as I do.
Roger, has he paid, and will Frans pay for the tea of Miss Willet? I'm afraid that he'll pay neither this, nor anything else. He's an unfortunate wretch who I can't even bear to think about.
I don't know if you have arranged anything with Isaac du Long. Yesterday I went to see Mr. Ab. Godefroy. He doesn't know what is going on with the young man who Papavoine spoke to me about. He doesn't know anything about him other than that he's the son of a skipper. You can speak to Papvoine about him, but if we can send the stuff in a trunk from the company, that would be a better way of doing it. Have you received the stuff from Jean, or when will it be done? As you see, there's no time to lose.
Van Travers has had a dispute with the boarder of Mr. Godefroy. He is a foolish man, this Van Travers, and his wife is even more silly. These people are contributing greatly to their ruin. More on this another time. Ester has been invited next week for a get-together at the home of Miss Legendre. She will go at the same time to the home of our tea merchant. I heard that the father Chatelain has returned from England and that
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Jean Jr. has absolutely refused to come. I don't know if our young minister will go in his place. He is appointed to undertake the laying on of hands to the minister of la Brille which will take place tomorrow at eight. We travelled around for two days, he and I, with our men for affairs pertaining to our churches. Those of the old party were very well received but those of the new, very poorly. Among others, this Pitre de G. who flatly refused us. Thus our church remains on tenterhooks, at least until some changes take place.
You say that the Ruffaus have to work. Jeanne is at Rotterdam and the other is a fool who has no common sense. She does nothing worthwhile. She doesn't earn 1 guilder per day. Madam Petit was at Rotterdam. There's nothing going on between her son and Miss Susan Godefroy. It would be nice if there was. I hope that you'll be able to finish all our affairs before returning. Give my love to our children and our other friends...
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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10 December 1718
I wrote you on Wednesday, my dear wife, upon my return from the Hague. Frans didn't come here. Apparently he'll be coming back with you, and no doubt he has already amply informed you verbally. Now he only has to see what he wants to do. I refer to what I have already written on this subject. Ester has been working a lot on the cravattes and linen. She has no time to write you. Of the cravattes, she's sending you a small sample along with six others for Miss Coullez. Ester didn't have the time to hem them up, so this is the sample for you.
You are asked to send over the stone used for cleaning the chandeliers and also the coffee. Madam Herve gave birth yesterday to a boy. I think that the old father Le Bati will be there tomorrow and his son will undertake the laying on of hands on Mr. Comperat at la Brille. If you see Mr. Caille, tell him that I've been many times to the home of Mr. Tam but received no money. He'll hand it to me on Wednesday provided that he keeps his word, which I doubt. I don't like having to run these kinds of errands.
I don't know what you've done for the Indies. When should we write? By whom? And how shall we send the money? Let me know if you have sold the canes and dishes, and received the money. As for Roger, the man who has the tea in Rotterdam, he promised me the money next week. Let's see if he keeps his word. I still don't believe he'll pay anything. It's a mystery if these gentlemen, the directors, have paid the debts of Causid. I'm going to work according to the account of Mr. Bosset. I don't know how much commission has to be paid, and also how it should be placed in these boxes that were bought. The ladies Coullez said that they used to give 12 guilders for the cravattes. They requested 10 at present. You'll have to tell me how much I have to put them down for on the books. Mayon has a terrible stomach ache. She writes that if it continues, she'll have to return. This has really upset our relative [Esther Duchemin (Crommelin)]. The good woman is still the same. Perhaps a little worse.
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I don't know if I mentioned to you that the husband of Annetie Guerrits spoke at Bordeaux to Madelentie, and to her husband. They are there with three children hoping to return here. They'll leave their fourth child with an aunt. They are in a poor state. It kills me when I think about them. I'm sending you the cradle without legs [likely for the new baby of Catherine de Coninck and Abraham Camin]. I hope that all are doing well. My greetings to all. Goodbye madam; do as you please with your son. I think that I'm right for having written as I did.
PS - Have you arranged anything with Isaac du Long or Madam Vauquier?
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Frederic de Coninck to daughter, Marie, residing with his aunt Ester Duchemin [Crommelin] in Amsterdam.
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17 December 1718
My dear daughter ['Mayon', Marie], La Bourde will tell you that he saw me yesterday at Rotterdam where I had gone to get the money for the tea, which I didn't get because the man was out of the city. He'll have to come here next week to pay me. At least that's what his wife promised. I don't like all these delays, and they're against our agreement. I went to the father of Ab. Godefroy where I had dinner. I chatted with him about the lawsuit that he has with Van Travers regarding the Blackall brothers who left there - ones who gave us a lot of trouble. This was an affair that's too long to recount. They are strange people, as are the Van Travers, who I absolutely no longer want to see. Nothing more needs to be said. I'll be in better shape when your mother gets back.
I had all the intention in the world to see you yesterday, but it became impossible for me for fear of missing the boat. I would have said to you to go quickly to our cousins to collect the money, and now I'm writing this to ask you to kindly send this sum to Amsterdam, if possible, because I just received a letter from your mother which informs me that Petit has just been given a job. I don't know if it's to become a bookkeeper or secretary. He leaves on Wednesday [for Batavia]. Mlle du Long advises to give him the money to carry. Therefore it would be nice to settle the account with my cousins, asking them to please remit what they owe to your mother who I believe won't be going back there again, so she'd be happy to settle this matter before returning here. It isn't necessary to pay in ducatons because the money will be used to pay Petit in the same way that we paid Mr. du Bois. The money will have to be sent on Monday for sure, or sooner if possible.
Our sincere greetings to all. Your sister is sending you six blouses for Ester Duchemin [Crommelin] and promises the others
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soon. We have no handkerchiefs here since you inquired. Your sister has written to Amsterdam to see if they have any. If they send them, you'll have them on Tuesday. She's sending f3 that she owes you, and she thanks you for your credit. So here's a portion of your linen. We'll send you the rest along with the handerkerchiefs if there are any.
I hope that you don't have any more stomach pain. Our regards to our uncle [Pierre Duchemin], aunt [Esther Crommelin], cousins and (female) cousin. I embrace you, my dear, and am your loving father, Frederic de Coninck
PS - Your mother isn't here. Your sister can't send you the rocker.
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[Additional note enclosed, probably written a day later...]
I indeed regret, my dear daughter, that you ran after me when I passed by the market. I assure you that if I had known, I would have waited for you. You know that I'm not free when I go to visit my uncle. If it weren't for that I would see you more often. It indeed bothers me that I didn't see you.
I'm really pleased that my cousins remitted the money to your mother which I expect on Wednesday.
I've had a few more comings and goings here on the subject of van Travers who hasn't relented a bit in his writ for claims despite all that I was able to say to him. The father of Abraham had to get involved because he wanted that. These are people that I no longer want to keep company with.
What is Madam du Roi doing, and what will become of the Tissendiers [church people]? They said they were coming here, but there's nothing for them to do. I'm sending you the f3:4 that you paid the cousins more than was necessary. I hope that my (female) cousin takes a lot of the embroidery because your mother needs the money.
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I'll be happy to learn that you are doing well. Please convey my regards and affection to all. We were greatly bothered by that terrible wind storm. A few tiles were blown off the top of Belami's chimney. Goodbye. I embrace you wholeheartedly and am...
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17 December 1718
My dear wife, as I was getting ready to leave for Rotterdam yesterday, I received your letter and that of Frans. I was going there specifically to get the money for the tea, but I found that he wasn't in town. His wife told me that her husband would show up here on Monday or Tuesday to hand over the money. God willing, because these people displease me with their incessant delays.
This morning I was at the notary to have a power of attorney made up, but there's no way to do that without having the one that Jean sent from Batavia on which the one that I will be sending must be based. Therefore you must send it to me immediately by the post. If I receive it on Monday morning, I'll have mine made up quickly and have it sent back the same evening so that you'll have it back on Tuesday morning. Still I don't know if it can be done in the name of Frans because it says that in the event of my absence, our son-in-law [Abraham Camin] must receive the power of attorney. We'll have to see what the notary says.
I had intended to see Mayon yesterday, but it became impossible for me because I had a lot to do at the home of Mr. Ab. Godefroy, and I only had enough time to catch the boat back. I'm upset that Mayon neglected to receive the money from our cousins. I'm about to write her this afternoon so that she asks the cousins to please pay immediately to Amsterdam what they owe. I'm sending you exactly f201 which is all that I have. Madam de Lieure still owes something.
I don't know what you should do about Petit. Talk it over with Madam Godefroy and do what friends advise you to do, and take the best measures that you find possible. And if you write to Jean, let him know that the first 100 ducatons we sent are for the account of Mr. Bosset, and any sent via Petit must also be for the account of the said Bosset. It would be better to send things to Jean in the trunk of the company since you were given the opportunity to do that. Has Frans given you the money from Madam Willet? With everything scraped together, it won't make up a goodly sum if we receive the obligations of Causid.
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This week I had the comings and goings, and even nightmares, over the matter of Mr. Blackall, boarder that Mr. Godefroy procured at van Travers, and who left in anger with still another. Van Travers went after me over this. He's a big brute and his wife isn't worth anything in all her manners. These people don't want to follow anybody's advice and they're running at a gallop to their ruin. I don't want to see these people again, nor will I go to their home unless it's necessary. It would take a sheet in a folio to recount their story. I intercepted the f13:15 that Frans sent to them and at the same time I wrote them an irate letter to which he didn't say a single word to me. I think it's all that we'll have about it. Since I wasn't able to have the Joncourts, it made me angry. I wanted to have them with Willet. In the end they became junior men making it difficult to remove the men. This didn't surprise me because he's a pain in the neck. There's trash in that house and no order. I don't know why we have supported for such a long time these people who are incapable of doing the job that they have. There will be a lawsuit over the Blackall claim which will give me trouble, but which I should be able to handle alright.[Apparently lodgings for the Blackall brothers, the Reader and Synod of their church, was found at a residence in Rotterdam operated by van Travers and his beligerant wife. Another churchman, Ab. Godefroy, may have signed a lease which obligated him when the pair left angrily because the home had become filthy. They then moved into the home of Ab. Godefroy but this too became unsatisfactory because the Blackall brothers were strange people who did a poor job in their official church function. Attempts were underway to have the Blackall brothers replaced. Ab. Godefroy then became the defendent in a lawsuit raised by van Travers for unpaid rent for the duration of the lease. Van Travers also went after Frederic for payment to avoid court costs. Pastor de Larrey later stepped in to negotiate a settlement in which van Travers was paid all that he demanded.]
I can't get the money for Mr. Caille. I'm about to go to the home of Mr. Tam. I'll try once or twice more, but if he doesn't pay me then I'll have to return to Mr. Caille his notice to pay.
Yesterday I learned at Rotterdam that Mr. Bilbaut had been to Leyden. He stayed two days in Rotterdam. However, Mr. de Larrey, the father, said to me on Sunday that the men of Leyden decided to call Mr. Dumont of Leipzig [to become the new pastor], and to induce him to come they offered him the position of assistant at the academy of Leyden, the position formerly occupied by Mr. Bernard but who has become a Professor. This Mr. Dumont accepted the offer. Thus our young pastoral candidate is excluded. He therefore left for la Brille but had to come back because of the difficult times over there. Therefore he still hasn't been able to fulfill his commission.
So, we still can't sell our canes. God knows when that will be, and at what price. So that's where all the boasting and unbearable attitudes of our young rascal [Frans] has led. I admit that I'm in despair over his wayward conduct.
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What has he done with the best of the canes that he took, and where's the money he got for them? And what's become of Guittard's money that he solemnly promised to pay back after one month? We are very unfortunate to have such a boy who has so much hubris and so little courage. If he had any, he would have left for the other side of the world when you began to shut down your boutique. That would have been better than having him ruin us like he's doing now. We'll have to give him another uniform and see what happens. He'll need it to go into service with Mr. Brun, and he'll have to promise to stay there for six years with joy, or not go into service at all. I find it despicable that he wants to go on negotiating indirectly with Six. This can't go on any longer. He has the audacity to fool this man who is too good. I suspect that he's in arrears with him and if you believe as I do, you also won't give him any more embroidery. At least, if you do, it won't be with my approval. He has to apply himself solely to the affairs of his master. He always has the visions of a madman swilling his beer. I'll cut this short because I might say tomorrow that he was able to get a job like Petit. Anyhow, that's his business.
Heemskerk, his wife, and that great ungainly maidservant of Marianne are all going to the Indies. I wonder where they'll get the money to pay her wages. I'm absolutely resolved not to send them any.
This boy [Frans] is costing us more than the rest of the family put together. Sending him the money which I owe him bothers me, but I'll send what I can in eight days. You'll do well not to take all, but only a few of the muslins. I'm not happy that he'll have to use the canal of Schiedam for his business with Six. Then I would likely have to play some part which I don't want to do, as you can imagine. The clock chimes... Goodbye.
PS - The 100 ducatons were sent via Willem van Beusecom, bosun on the vessel Amsterveen.
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Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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19 December 1718
My dear wife, as soon as I received your letter I went to the notary who made up the power of attorney that I'm sending you. The one which was at Amsterdam was necessary to prepare this one. I hope you won't encounter any more difficulties.
I wrote to Mayon on Saturday so that she would contact my cousins asking them to please remit to Amsterdam what they owe. I hope that's been done. With regard to giving money to Petit, I suggest you talk it over with friends, and then do what they think appropriate. If they assure you that there's nothing to fear then the more, the better. But be cautious. Then write to Jean advising him that from now on he should address whatever he sends to Mr. Amiot. This will be more reliable and advantageous than remitting to us. I've got enough troubles without having more over this.
If one were to look into my heart, one would see the printed canes - the ones which Frans wasn't able to sell despite a dazzling amount of boasting. God knows if we won't regret having refused f500 for the lot recently. They will never be sold before Easter and after that I fear nobody will want them at any price. It won't be a big deal to send them in the trunk of the company if it can be done.
Once again, what has the boy done with the money of Guittard, and the money from the canes and the tea? Aren't I already sufficiently ruined without having him complete the job? It's a very great misfortune that he knew Six because without that he would have entered into service with Mr. van Meel, a place which would have suited him well and without extreme commuting problems. I maintain that if he were to stay for 6 years with Mr. Brun that he would rarely come here. He'd quit any kind of trading. Not only would I not have to get his wares but I'd have even less to do on his books. Therefore I'd rather write to Mr. Six so that he withdraws his job offer. In a word, I can't endure his horrible pride. Better that he completes his grounding than wield this wretched sword. I'm so upset that I die a little every day. Hopefully God will have mercy on me and shorten my days. After that you can do what you want with your dear son. If he had any heart he would leave tomorrow for the Indies.
I'm sending you the account for Isaac du Long. This must be settled while you're still there otherwise it will never be settled. The Tissendiers have arrived. They aren't here yet. I have again received a letter from Mr. Ab. Godefroy who is ready to plead against van Travers. We've never seen such a brute. If I were a little younger, you wouldn't find me here any longer. I would have left for the Indies, if only to become a soldier.
Frederic de Coninck to Marie Camin
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24 December 1718
My dear wife, I write you in a bit of a hurry because Mr. Godefroy and Blakall are here since yesterday evening for the lawsuit of van Travers which is giving us a lot of trouble. Upon your return we'll have to see what's to be done with the Joncourts. These are people like the van Travers with whom I don't want any further communication. Mr. de Larrey who is here now just told me that the said van Travers is coming here this afternoon to complete the payment of his account, but I'll drive down the expectations he has made.
I hope that you have received the inheritance of Causid and that the directors did no trickery, and that the certification of Magdeburg and the receipt of Mr. le Blanc will be more than sufficient to prove that the said Causid wasn't married. If you have received this money, I estimate that you will have received more than f200. Won't you be able to give all this money to Petit? It may be good for 100 ducatons, or even 200.
If nobody has counselled you on this, then you've done well, but as long as you're there, aren't you able to find someone trustworthy to whom you'll be able to give the rest? Please think about it because I suspect that we'll have a lot of difficulty mailing things in the future. Are you quite sure that one will be able to send a parcel in the trunk of the company, and for how much?
We'll never be able to sell the canes in the short amount of time left. It's up to you to become informed on this. Who will you leave them with, or bring this about - you alone. Besides, is there any likelihood that they could be sold for a little more than the offer which we already have at present? Perhaps by waiting any longer, sales would be even worse. Look into this because Papavoine has offered me f500. You can give them to him if you have been counselled to do that. Just consider that if the most ornate ones are removed, this would break up the appeal for the whole lot. Please pay attention to what I'm saying.
Yesterday I went to Rotterdam again expressly to pick up the money for the
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green tea, but I could only get f150:10. I don't like these people a bit.
Before you leave there, please mention to Martin that I'm really upset that he doesn't consider the prices at the butcher's shop when he receives them [a shipment of hides] - that they are priced so low as to make one tremble; that he gets only the ones that are so small and so slashed that they're a bargain; that he doesn't have to receive these hides; that he has to complain not only to the boys but also to the bosses. Say this in a friendly way, if possible, because I'm afraid that he won't be able to get anything by force. In a word, you'll have to suggest that he takes great caution in everything and that he redoubles his care.
As for Frans, I'm always of the opinion that he shouldn't involve himself in any kind of trading and that he must apply himself with all his heart in serving his master. Otherwise this will always be a subject of contention between us. His manner of negotiating cannot continue. It is to mislead Six and certainly I believe it to be behind his back. If you would open your eyes, you would see it clearly by his way of evading everything that he can. This boy is ruining us. If he had any heart, he would have sought his fortune elsewhere during the period that you were leaving Amsterdam as many family sons have done, and not attaching oneself to a false tenderness which will be his loss and ours as well.
But for God he never would have known Six. He would be in service at the home of Mr. van Meel, a place which would have suited him well. Now he'll have to reform and change his attitude otherwise I won't be able to put up with him, nor Mr. Brun either. He must be more diligent in getting up in the morning. All this troubles my spirit and makes my life bitter. Enclosed is his commission on the sale of some leather. I'm sending f44 which together with the f25:10 that he received from Mr. Isaac du Long total f69:10 to pay his commission. That's all that I can do, and more than I'm able to do. If he would only consider our miserable condition he would now go to the other end of the world. If he had the courage he wouldn't be dependent upon us, but he's a lackey who is too much in love with his
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comforts, and who does only what is beautiful and easy. I can't understand the wisdom in this. If I can't be the master to prevent him doing his alleged trading, then he only has to choose some other place than Schiedam in which to do it. [Francois seemed to be exhibiting an interest or aptitude in trade which his father obviously overlooked. Later Francois got married to a wealthy lady and started his own business.]
Mr. de Larrey has finished the affair of Mr. Godefroy with van Travers. He did what I wasn't able to do. He had to comply with everything that he wanted, and he never wanted any of my input. When you return we'll see what to do about the Joncourts of whom the younger is spiteful.
Frans has to get a testimonial from Amsterdam. He only has to expect to come here a lot less often.
Mr. Dumont has declined the position at Leyden, so they have called the young Rodens to have his apprenticeship at Walonnisme. This will be followed at Amsterdam. Since this young man will be overseen by Leyden, he will become an understudy in order to be better equipped for Amsterdam.
Mr. Tam still hasn't paid Mr. Caille's money. I'll keep his order to pay for a few more days after which, if I'm still not paid, then I'll return it without waiting any longer.
PS- I gave Soldate f4 for the chessboard, but she wasn't satisfied with that. [Perhaps Ester de Coninck's handwriting...]