James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 5 July 1805

From William Jarvis

Lisbon 5 July 1805.


I should have done myself the pleasure to have answered your private favour of the 12th. May1 by the Aurora (by which Vessel my Official letter of the 28th. Ulto. went)2 had want of time not prevented. But there being only three Vessels in port bound to America, I without delay set about fulfilling your Commission; and by the Ship Robert, Captn Alcorn, for Baltimore, have shipped a pipe of old Bucellos & another of Termo Wine,3 which I hope will prove to your satisfaction. As I expected the Vessel would sail the 2nd., time would not allow of cases being made, but this will be of less consequence as the Captain appears to be a very honest Man & has promised to be very careful of them. I have sent a small bottle out of each Cask, sealed with the initials of my name, in a small box also sealed, to your address. Inclosed goes a Bill of Lading.4 The cost of the Bucellos is one hundred & the Termo ninety Milreis, which I shall draw for the first occasion that offers, agreeable to your wishes. There not being any good Port here, except at a high price, (for the feudal custom of paying duties from one province to the other still prevails in this Kingdom) I have written to Mr Clamouse Brown of Porto5 to send by the first conveyance a quarter Cask of the best.

Do me the favour Sir to make my respects to Mrs Madison, and assure her that I feel myself much indebted to her politeness for accepting the trifles I took the liberty to send the last fall.6 Assuring you of my very great Respect & Esteem I am sir Your Mo: Ob: Servt.

William Jarvis

RC and enclosure (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). RC cover marked “(Private)”; docketed by Wagner as received 30 Aug. For enclosure, see n. 4.

1On 12 May 1805 JM wrote Jarvis about the importation of dry Portuguese wines, as well as best red port (Parke-Bernet catalogue No. 939 [1–2 Mar. 1948], item 289).

2The letter has not been found, but the Aurora, Webb, arrived at Salem, Massachusetts, on 18 Aug. 1805, in forty-five days from Lisbon (New York Mercantile Advertiser, 23 Aug. 1805).

3Bucellas is a white wine produced from the Arinto grape in a region north of Lisbon. In JM’s time it was frequently fortified with brandy. Termo is a dry white wine also produced in the vicinity of Lisbon. The Robert, Alcorn, arrived in Baltimore about 28 Aug. 1805, forty-eight days after leaving Lisbon (John Hailman, Thomas Jefferson on Wine [Jackson, Miss., 2006], 276, 279; New York Morning Chronicle, 2 Sept. 1805).

4The enclosure (1 p.) is a 6 July 1805 bill of lading from Jarvis for “One Pipe Bucellos Wine, & one Ditto Lisbon” and “1 small Box with 2 Sample bottles” shipped on the Robert to JM’s account at Baltimore. The shipping charge was $14. plus five per cent primage.

5Jarvis probably referred to Peter de Clamouse Brown, the U.S. vice-consul at Oporto, or his father, a British merchant (Rogers, Evolution of a Federalist, 322).

6See Jarvis to JM, 6 Oct. 1804 (first letter), PJM-SS, 8:128.

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