James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 9 October 1806

Lisbon 9th: Octr 1806.


The foregoing are Copies ⟨o⟩f my two last; the latter went by the Ship Hare, Captn Stephenson, ⟨v⟩ia New York. I have conversed ⟨w⟩ith several well informed Englishmen, one of which was very inti⟨m⟩ate with Lord Rosslyn, & every mem⟨be⟩r of his Family, & who has generally ⟨fre⟩ely favoured me with what in⟨fo⟩rmation he was possessed of, on ⟨po⟩litical subjects; and can learn ⟨no⟩thing more than the conjectu⟨ra⟩l observations already given ⟨in⟩ my several letters relative ⟨to⟩ the Squadron’s or His Lordship’s coming here; nor not a Satisfacto⟨ry⟩ sentence tending to explain ⟨the⟩ cause of their sudden departu⟨re.⟩ The only observation they ma⟨de⟩, (for him speculation is Sile⟨nt)⟩ is that the British Govmt. i⟨s⟩ satisfied as it regards this C⟨oun⟩try or that every thing is we⟨ll⟩ as to Portugal: so that you wi⟨ll⟩ perceive all is still mystery relative to this transaction. ⟨This⟩ is somewhat singular, & it m⟨ust⟩ certainly be set down as a⟨n⟩ affair deserving the merit of ⟨se⟩crecy even if it cannot lay claim to any other Kind of Praise. In the dearth of all ⟨   ⟩ of fact I must beg you wi⟨ll⟩ allow me to make one m⟨ore⟩ conjecture. It is confident⟨ly⟩ said here, I presume on th⟨e⟩ strength of the English pa⟨pers⟩, that a new coalition betw⟨een⟩ Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Hesse & probably Saxony is actually formed, or on the point of being concluded. If this is the fact will it not reasonably account for the departure of the Lords St. Vincents & Rosslyn; owing to a beleif that the Emperor Napoleon will have so much work on his hands to the Northward that this Country will not immediately occupy his attention. But if a new Coalition is formed why does Lord Lauderdale remain at Paris? For it is certain that none could be formed without Gt. Britain, as British Subsidies must be the Sinews of Action. To gain time: this does not appear probable, for the Vigilance & penetration of Napoleon & Talleyrand a⟨re⟩ not likely to be so easily deceived. I hope that in all these contests our tw⟨o⟩ Negotiations will be atte⟨n⟩ded with success.

This will be acc⟨o⟩mpanied by a dup: copy of my letter to Mr. de Araujo, re⟨la⟩tive to the Powder, (it is n⟨ow⟩ done), a copy of a letter ⟨to⟩ His Excy. relative to Cap⟨tn⟩ Hooper’s touching into Far⟨o⟩ with a Cargo of twelve hu⟨n⟩dred & seventy three quin⟨tals⟩ of Cod-fish & going out again without breaking bulk. The excuse he offered was not according to the franquia Law, which is precise that it shall be from distress of some kind or other; but is now so relaxed, that offering as a reason a want of provisions or water or contrary winds, is admitted without any farther examination of any Kind; so that I am in hopes that I shall get the duties remitted on the Cargo. I was charged with it only a few months Since.

I beleive I have omitted hitherto to mention to you that about fifteen or ⟨e⟩ighteen months ago, another additional duty of four %pr%Cent was laid on Tonnage on all Vessels indiscriminately: and that at the solicitation of the Tobacco Contract about the same time or a little before, a Contract Visit is allowed to be mad⟨e⟩ on all Foreign Vessels; & for attending as interpreter a Broker receives upon each Vessel 240 reis. By another reg⟨u⟩lation allowed the Contra⟨ct⟩, all Vessels coming from Fra⟨nce⟩ are obliged to have a contract guard on board, for which the Vessel pays 600 ⟨reis⟩P day. Inclosed are tw⟨o⟩ letters, one from Erving & th⟨e⟩ other from Mr. Simpson With entire Respect I have the honor ⟨to be⟩ Sir Yr. Mo. Ob. St.

Wm. Ja⟨rvis⟩

P. S.

Since writing the foregoing it has been Stated to me by the Gentleman whom I mentioned was intimate with the Earl of Rosslyn, but Simply offered in the way of opinion, that the fleet &c coming here was owing to a desire intimated to Lord Lauderdale on the part of the French Cabinet, that Gt. Britain would leave this Country to the will of France; which being refused, that it was intimated on the part of that Cabinet that it was impossible for England to protect it, of course it must of necessity fall into the hands of France that this indication of an intention to possess it, wa⟨s⟩ also corroborated by inform⟨a⟩tion of some Negotiations to this effect was carrying on between France & Spain and finally it w⟨as⟩ feared that M. Jerome Bonaparte’s Squadron wou⟨ld⟩ come here, which wou⟨ld⟩ have effectually have secured this Country both ⟨by⟩ Sea & land; and that the cau⟨se⟩ of their going away was ow⟨ing⟩ to ⟨the⟩ positive assurance ⟨of⟩ the French Govmt. to this, th⟨at⟩ the Emperor had no hostile intentions against Portug⟨al,⟩ of which Lord Lauderda⟨le⟩ was then likewise Satisfi⟨ed.⟩ This Gentleman had certain⟨ly⟩ more opportunities of Knowing than any person in Lisbon and I have generally found him pretty candid: after Stating which I shall leave it to your better judgment to determine what Credit ⟨o⟩ught to be given to these observations. He was not certain, but beleived the Sub⟨s⟩idy had ceased, and was of opinion that a very large present had been made in Diamonds to Several members of the F. Govmt. Dis⟨c⟩ount on paper 18 %pr%Cent. With great Respect I have the honor to be Sir Yr very Ob:. St

Wm. Jarvis

Lisbon 15th. Octr. 1806


The foregoing letter went by ⟨the⟩ Brig Hannah, Captn Macey for Boston; Since which nothing worth⟨y⟩ of Notice has occurred. Inclose⟨d⟩ I have the honor to hand you ⟨a⟩ letter from Mr Erving & a copy ⟨of⟩ a letter to His Excy. Mr d Arauj⟨o⟩ accompanying Mr Dabney⟨s⟩ Commission Respectfully

Wm Jarv⟨is⟩

DNA: RG 59--CD--Consular Despatches, Lisbon.

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