The Dutch Republic and American Independence

By Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt; Herbert H. Rowen | Go to book overview

Epilogue

Although I can not say with Jacob that my years have been few and bad--yet, was it possible, I could not wish to run once more the same course.

FRANÇOIS ADRIAAN VAN DER KEMP

WHAT remains to be told? The historian who realizes that his work is a story, a story he has loved to tell, must of course bring it to an end. Isn't that what every story is meant to have, an ending, a conclusion? But, on the other hand, history never ends. As Ecclesiastes said: "The thing that hath been it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done." Even if we believe in more change than the Preacher in his wisdom was allowing for, it is clear to all of us that there are things which remain.

Perhaps we might say that the friendship between the Netherlands and the United States is a story that is not over, a tale of wonder and misunderstanding and friendship and mutual help for two hundred years. To tell it all would require another book, or many books. Here we have been dealing only with its beginnings, and as to the end, "who shall bring us to see what shall be after us?" May it be far away!

But there is something still to say about the people in the drama that I have recounted, the players on that broad stage, what happened to them, and to their work, whether it was preserved or destroyed.

First, to the nobleman with whom we began our tale, Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol. Only a short time was granted to him, or rather, he wore himself out. He was always busy, always passionately involved in the events of his time, and yet always yearning for a peace that was elsewhere. He played with the suggestion of his friend Valck to come to America as a visitor. "Do not reckon it chimerical that I may come to visit you in your new Fatherland--I remark more and more that I need a change of subject. My ailment lies chiefly in the soul." But nothing came of the suggestion. He found no rest and tortured himself without end,

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