James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 18 December 1802

From William Jarvis, 18 December 1802

Lisbon 18th. December 1802.


My last dated 26th. November, which I had the Honor to address to You was by the Brig Washington, Captn. Dyer, via Province-town Massats. It was under Cover with a dispatch I received from Mr. Pinckney. By the Ship Hare Captn. North, via New York, I forwarded a dispatch from the same Gentleman, and another by the Venus Captn. Bunce, for the same Port. I have now the Pleasure to inclose one I received from Mr. Graham: & shall send by this Conveyance one forwarded by Mr. Kirkpatrick from Captn. Murray, to the Secretary of the Navy. I shoud recommend this Country as one of the finest Schools in World for the Study of Philosophy or Christianity, if by learning Patience We were taught the one or made the other. After waiting 8 or 10 Weeks on Mr. Herbert’s friend, who at least promised Mr. Dunbar twice a Week that in a day or two he woud get the Papers, Mr. H. a few days since informed me that his friend coud not get them here, but that he woud write to the Brazils for them, which offer I very readily dispensed with, and have written to the Minister for them, A Copy of which is inclosed. I concluded for the present that it was best to write only for a Copy of the proceedings against the Vessels, Having no doubt for Reasons assigned in mine of 22d. Septr. that if I sent in a Copy of the Commission, a refusal to comply with it would have been the Consequence; & it possibly might have caused a refusal to grant a Copy of the documents, but when those are once obtained the Communication is so worded that the Application can be then made to him if it is deemed necessary. Another Motive which had much Weight with me in withholding the Commission was, the Injury the Causes of the Samuel & Pilgrim would sustain from the Interrogatories; the Tendency of them being to prove that the Aurora & Four Sisters had broken through the Laws of this Realm for the Purposes of Illicit Trade, & had actually been Concerned in it; and entertaining some Hopes of a favorable Termination to those Suits, I considered it highly injudicious to risk injuring them without any probable prospect of benifit to the others.

Inclosed is the Translation of an order sent by the Minister of Health to the Health Office. The Ship in Question is a Portugese, loaded with Corn and flour; who put into Vigo and was ordered immediately out, for the alledged Reason of several of the Crew having died of the Yellow fever. But this may not be a fact, the real Cause probably being some general Instructions that may have been issued by that Government from a similar Circumstance taking place at Cadiz without any such Reason being assigned. I am afraid the Consequences will be a rigorous Quarantine on Vessels from those ports. At present I am totally destitute of any Information that may tend to lessen the unfavorable Impression such a Circumstance is likely to have, therefore shall do nothing until some Vessels arrive. I take the liberty of submitting to Your Judgement whether it woud not be advisable for the Collectors of such Ports as are Subject to Contagious Disorders, the Moment the Disorders Subside to forward to the Consul in the Principal Ports, the Notice thereof published in the Gazettes accompanied with a formal Certificate to the same Effect from themselves and the Naval Officers, Having observed that the Health Officers pay more Attention even to the Speculations in the Newspapers on the Subject than they do to the Bills of Health; owing I presume to their belief that for the purposes of Trade, We might deceive them in our Bills of Health; but that we certainly shoud not lead our fellow Citizens into an Error that might be attended with such Serious Consequences.

I have received the Circular of the 26th. August, & had complied with it’s Contents in such advances as I have made (which are trifling) by a reference to the laws.

I have nothing new relative to Algerine Affairs. The British King’s Speech & the Debates on it has excited much Sensibility here. It seems to be the general Opinion that Hostilities are likely to be renewed. Some Gentlemen who came out in the last packet, say that the Sentiment of the People of England is in general for War, but it is possible, they may have substituted their own for that of the public; I can hardly believe after being a witness to the real distresses of the middling and lower Classes of the People of England during the two last Years of the War that they have so soon forgot them as willingly to be involved in another.

By the last Mail I received a Letter from Mr. Simpson, who desired me to get 4 pieces of extremely fine Sheer muslin, he having wrote for it at the request of the Emporers Secretary, whom he says is very much our friend of late; as none of the kind so good in Quality coud be got here I forwarded the order and Pattern to Mr. Erving to execute. I have the honor to be With the greatest Respect Sir Yr. Mo. Hble. Servt.

William Jarvis

PS. 21st. Sir 2 days since arrived here the Liberty from Philada. with clear Bills of Health. I did not send in a petition for her on the day of her arrival, in hopes to get some Newspapers, with the official Communication from the boa⟨rd⟩ of Health of the disorder having subsided. In this I was disappointed, the Captn. not having any later than the 7 Novr. in which was mentioned 9 adults & 8 children therefore can make no use of them⟨.⟩ If it should not be thought necessary to send the papers with an official attesta⟨tion⟩ as before mentioned, it might be pruden⟨t⟩ in all cases for the Collectors t⟨o⟩ desire the Captains to bring such Ga⟨zettes⟩ with them as the Official Notice fro⟨m⟩ the board of Health is publish’d [. . .] in haste Sir Yr. Mo. Obdt. Se⟨rvt.⟩

W. Jarvis

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