James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 21 December 1807

Lisbon 21st. Decr 1807.


Inclosed I have the honor to hand you a copy of my letter of the 29th Ulto. mentioning the circumstances which occurred at & immediately preceding the departure of the Prince Regent; and I shall now take the liberty to detail those which have occurred subsequent to that event. About twenty four hours after the sailing of the squadron the first division of the French Army, consisting of six thousand Men, reached here, and were immediately marched toward the mouth of the Tagus, taking quiet possession of several of the forts. As the Army continued to March in they took possession of the rest; and have now garrisoned Lisbon & all the strong places about it. A considerable body of Spanish troops have also marched in, who it is understood are to have possession of all the Country South of the Tagus, while the Fren⟨ch⟩ occupy that to the North. There ⟨are⟩ supposed in all to be about tw⟨enty⟩ five thousand french troops in Portugal, beside a considerable body of Spanish.

General Junot ⟨took⟩ possession of the Government ⟨on the⟩ 4th. instant by publishing some Laws in the name of the Emp⟨eror.⟩ All the changes took place with⟨out⟩ the least disturbance in any quarter, and every thing remai⟨ned⟩ quiet untill the 13th: instant, ⟨when⟩ the French colours were gener⟨ally⟩ hoisted instead of the Portugue⟨ze.⟩ This excited some ferment ⟨in⟩ the minds of the people & towa⟨rds⟩ night they grew very rioto⟨us⟩ throwing Stones at some Fre⟨nch⟩ Soldiers on guard, dischargi⟨ng⟩ some pistols or guns, Killing ⟨one⟩ French Soldier & much bruisi⟨ng⟩ several others; when the M⟨ob⟩ was fired on the guards bei⟨ng⟩ called out, and after a whi⟨le⟩ it was dispersed, two or three ⟨be⟩ing killed ⟨&⟩ about 20 or 30 take⟨n &⟩ sent to prison: but again c⟨ol⟩lecting the next morning they ⟨were⟩ again immediately dispersed ⟨after⟩ the death of one or two, severa⟨l⟩ french Soldiers being much ma⟨im⟩ed. Since then double guar⟨ds⟩ have been set & every thing remains quiet, and will doubtless continue so. The Portugueze Soldiery took no part with the people & have since been put on the same pay of the French, which with the rations is more than double their ⟨   ⟩ ⟨p⟩ay. The french Soldiery have been very orderly, and much credit is due to General Junot for his moderation on that occasion & for his ⟨g⟩eneral conduct since here. A contribution of a million of dollars has been levied, payable in four instalments during this month; three of which have been already paid in. This however is understood to be only the first. I understood yesterday that the accounts rendered in of British debts, property & manufactures, amounted to about three millions of dollars, in six of Cou⟨   ⟩sadas. So hurried & hard pressed was the Prince to get away that the quays were left full of cases &c after his departure, which were intended for embarkation. The Se⟨c⟩retaries of State & of Marine as well ⟨as⟩ the Nobility who went with him, have left all their ⟨f⟩urniture behind, even to their fine paintings, taking with them only their Cloth, Jewells, plate & least bulky & most valuable articles; so that the French Generals who now occupy their palaces found them ready furnished, with their Horses, Mules, carriages, and Servants in livery, all whi⟨ch⟩ they now use. There was also lef⟨t⟩ four line of battle Ships two r⟨e⟩pairable, one doubtful & one unfit for service, but without Masts, spars, rigging or sails; eig⟨ht⟩ frigates, two fine ones, four repairable & two unfit for Sea, ⟨one⟩ sloop of War, a brig of War & a Schooner, which went to Sea wi⟨th⟩ the fleet but returned owing ⟨to⟩ tempestuous weather, 13 or 14 gu⟨n⟩ boats & a floating battery. An immense number of pie⟨ces⟩ of brass & iron ordinance ⟨   ⟩ was likewise left in the fort⟨s and⟩ Arsenals, beside small arms & other implements of War The Ribs of a 74 is also le⟨ft⟩ in the Stocks. It is not kno⟨wn⟩ what is to be done with the Crown lands nor the estates of the Nobility but the valu⟨e⟩ of them is immense. Mo⟨st⟩ of the convents in Lisbon ar⟨e⟩ occupied by the Soldiers. The friars are not without the⟨ir⟩ fears of the whole being app⟨ro⟩priated to the public use The fate of this Country is ⟨not⟩ known, but it is supposed that it is some what conn⟨ec⟩ted with the proposed marri⟨age⟩ of the Prince of Asturies to ⟨Ma⟩demoiselle Tascher, neice ⟨to⟩ the Empress.

When I made my Visit to his Excy. General Junot, he spoke about provisions to me, particulary Bread Stuffs. I mentioned to him the article of Rice and he said that he would admit of its entry, but desired me to address him in writing on the subject, as well as about our vessels, which had been detained in common with all others. Inclosed will go a copy of my letter. I was yesterday told by a Gentleman high in Office, that not only orders would be given to day or to morrow for their departure, but also for the introduction of Rice. Tobacco must unquestionably ere long follow. Vessels with the products of ⟨our⟩ Country will be admitted here without any certificate of Origin. I have the most positive verbal assurance of this, but no public declaration to this effect, it was thought, could consistently be given.

I received two days since, the Presidents Message from Mr Erving, & about two hours after, the British orders inclosed a Letter several days since received, enclosed in one to me, from Mr Erving A later from Mr Montgomery; a copy of my letter to General Jun⟨ot⟩ & a copy of my letter to Mr Herm⟨an⟩ relative to passports; & copies of the notice of the Blockade of Lisbon of 22nd., my letter of the 24⟨th⟩ notice of the Blockade of St. U⟨ber⟩ of 25th. & Sir Sidney Smith’s answ⟨er⟩ of 27 to my letter of the 24th:, a cop⟨y⟩ of Mr Gambier’s certificate to all the american vessels which ha⟨d⟩ gone to England; and the se⟨ve⟩ral orders which have been published by General Junot

Had there been any prospect of our ⟨Flag⟩ remai⟨n⟩ing neuter; or at least of our being able to carry on trad⟨e⟩ with some degree of safety, ⟨I⟩ intended to remove my Office to Figueira, which not being actually blockaded, & which being the most central, & presenting g⟨reater⟩ advantages to our Commerce than any other port in Portuga⟨l⟩ after Lisbon & St Uber, must ha⟨ve⟩ commanded the principal pa⟨rt⟩ of our Commerce With entire Respect I have the honor ⟨to be⟩ Sir Yr Mo. Obt. Serv⟨ant⟩

William Jarv⟨is⟩

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

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