James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 31 October 1807

Lisbon 31st: Octr. 1807.


The Ann & Mary, being detained a couple of days affords me an opportunity to inform you by her that the warmest impressment took place yesterday & the day before, that has hitherto been. Men for Soldiers & Sailors were indiscriminately taken. Renewed exertions too are making to compleat the Vessels of War that are still under repair. It is said that this has been owing to an express (Courier) which reached here on the night of the 27th: Still little is said about the Prince Regents or the Prince of Beira’s going. It is certainly very difficult to determine with precision from any thing one sees. On one hand the batteries at the mouth of the river are putting in the best state of defence, field artillery is planting along the Sea shore, the Soldiery are called from all parts of the interior to line the coast, Men are daily impressing to fill up the Regiments On the other hand considerable exertion is making to f⟨it⟩ out the Navy & to prepare the vesse⟨ls⟩ for Sea, Seamen are also impress⟨ed⟩ for this Service, the Ships remain off Lisbon when they could not afford the least assistance in case of a Naval attack. One has a right to conclude from the first that a Naval attack was apprehended, or at lea⟨st⟩ that it was deemed prudent to guard against one, from the Seco⟨nd⟩ that some expedition was intend⟨ed.⟩ If the last is intended, that is, the fleet is to be sent to the Brazils there is no indication of person⟨s⟩ of consequence going in it It is true that considerable prep⟨a⟩ration is making for the Prin⟨ce⟩ of Beira’s embarkation, but as before observed the general op⟨in⟩ion is, that he will not go; th⟨at⟩ beside his & the commencement of the two or three Noblemen ⟨who⟩ were to accompany him, no⟨t⟩ the least preparation is maki⟨ng⟩ for leaving this Country eith⟨er⟩ by the Nobility or any class of people. This certainly looks as if the Prince Regent meant to Stay, for if he was going, many ⟨o⟩f the Nobility, at least, would accompany him. The greater part of the English who did not go in the Convoy are still here, but they begin to be very desirous of getting away, entertaining fears for their personal Safety. Some few whisper that the Church plate is all called in & deposited in Lisbon, but this I doubt, for a measure of this kind could not have executed with so much Secrecy but that it must have been much more generally known. Some Small bodies of the French Army entered Spain the 19th: It is said the general rendevous is Salamanca; but it still seems to be doubted whether they will enter this Country. Part of the Spanish forces are said to be just on the borders of Portugal. It is certain they are marching toward it & is beleived that they will enter. After the arrival of the post yesterday paper fell from 24 PCt. to 29. With great Respect I have the honor to be Sir Yr Mo: Ob: St.

Wm Jarvis

P. S. If I can be allowed to form an opinion from ⟨what⟩ I see & hear, I cannot but be persuaded that it is th⟨e⟩ P. R. determination not to depart from the land ⟨of⟩ his Ancestors if he can remain with safety & that ⟨he⟩ would be content strictly to enforce the policy ⟨barring⟩ British Commerce from the Shores of this Kingd⟨om⟩ if he thought that this would suffice; but bein⟨g⟩ doubtful that the French Government has some ⟨other⟩ object regarding this Country, than merely shutting the ports, has made it necessary that the good will of Gt. Britain should be cultivated, so at least as not to take any harsh measures toward her, for fear that if it became ⟨ne⟩cessary to embark for the Brazils that the B⟨ri⟩tish Squadrons would intercept him: but I must do the Prince Regent the justice to say that I do ⟨not⟩ beleive that the moderation which he has shew⟨n⟩ has been owing to this motive; I imagine ⟨he⟩ has been a good deal influenced by a much mo⟨re⟩ virtuous principle, the obligation which his fam⟨ily⟩ are under to the British Nation for the support afforded when claiming this Crown & from t⟨he⟩ close connection subsisting between the two ⟨Nations⟩ since. Perhaps the conduct which has been pursu⟨ed⟩ here in this trying Situation has been the effect of these opposite feelings & considerations. The fleet ⟨has⟩ been preparing partly in hopes that the beleif of ⟨the⟩ departure of the Prince would deter the Briti⟨sh⟩ from proceeding to extremities, or rather from send⟨ing⟩ an Army here & in case matters were final⟨ly⟩ amicably adjusted with France, that it Shoul⟨d⟩ be sent to the Brazils as a place of safety if the differences were not adjusted that it Sho⟨uld⟩ be in a state of readiness to transport the Roy⟨al⟩ family to the Brazils: that after the departure ⟨of⟩ the British Convoy the shutting of the ports ag⟨ainst⟩ the British flag & the reports daily given out ⟨of⟩ steps being intended Against their persons & ⟨pro⟩perty are in hopes to Satisfy France, but ⟨if⟩ this fails the Prince will then leave here I however do not beleive he would go, even ⟨if⟩ a French Army was to come, provided he ⟨felt⟩ perfectly Secure that nothing was intended against his person & European dominion⟨s.⟩ Several persons which have come ashore ⟨from⟩ a packet, which is off, State, that the British Go⟨vt.⟩ have complied with the demands of ours & that the differences between the two Countries are adjusted & that Mr Rose the New Minister is going out with Mr Munroe. The latter I have no doubt of, & I sincerely hope the former is true; but whatever line of policy that Nation may think proper to pursue I am perfectly Satisfied that the wisdom of Govmt. will adopt such measures as are the most conducive to the honor & best interests of our Country Respectfully

W— J—

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

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