James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 22 December 1807

In the Cypher of the Legation

Madrid Decr. 22. 1807

Dear Sir

In my last unofficial letter (which was dated ⟨   ⟩ Inst) I mentioned a certain supposed project of the Emperor ⟨wi⟩th respect to the Empress. Since then nothing more is ⟨sa⟩id on the subject; it is Somewhat remarkable however ⟨tha⟩t the Emperor shoud be so long from home (not commanding his army) without his wife who has been used ⟨al⟩most always to travel with him. It is also observable ⟨tha⟩t since his departure from Paris the Gazettes ⟨   ⟩ have not as usual been full of the Empress ⟨   ⟩; hence I infer that what has been said is not destitute ⟨of fo⟩undations. I am really inclined to beleive also that the ⟨Emp⟩eror will hold a circuit Court here what has lately ⟨   ⟩ in Italy on the Project of sending a large french ⟨arm⟩y into Spain by way of Catallonia ⟨   ⟩ professed intention of laying seige to ⟨   ⟩. The delay of the marriage (⟨   ⟩ had most undoubtedly agreed on, the absolute Necessity in ⟨   ⟩ views of his personal presence; all these added to the minor circumstances stated in the accompany⟨ing⟩ official Letter strongly support the Conjecture. Most important changes in the political face of Countries Eve⟨ry⟩ where attend his step. Therefore you will anticipate what may be the ⟨   ⟩ effects of a visit to this. The marriage offers one of the most plausible pleas for such a visit. The Emperor has found and as ⟨is⟩ said declared that as the Prince of Asturias st⟨ands⟩ charged with the black Crime of treas⟨on⟩ against his Father he coud not pursue his intention ⟨of⟩ allying him by marriage to the Royal family of France till he had been fully ⟨ac⟩quitted from that charge. The half of Portugal it seems to me will be held out as a temptation to the ⟨Prince ⟩ of Peace to keep him quiet till the A⟨   ⟩ of the Emperor but I cannot suppose it possib⟨le⟩ that that or any thing else will be given him nor do I think that he himself can be so ⟨   ⟩, moreover it is not the second time that he ⟨has⟩ been offered a Kingdom and been dis⟨   ⟩. Upon the whole it may be concluded that ⟨   ⟩ marriage proposition and the Reserve ⟨   ⟩ Portugal are quite of the nature of Limas ⟨m⟩ission to his own court at Lisbon mentioned in a former ⟨le⟩tter to lull into security and that ⟨the⟩ object of the visit may be estimated by the ⟨   ⟩ngs in Italy. Add to this we have had here for two ⟨mon⟩ths past in obscurity, but working with the Embassador a certain Confidential secretary of Tall⟨ey⟩rands a man of the antient Regime one ⟨gro⟩wn Grey in diplomacy. Except him the ⟨Am⟩bassador Employs no secretary Tho he has ⟨sev⟩eral he confides in nobody & withall this has ⟨rece⟩ived and dispatched 50 Couriers during these ⟨pa⟩st six weeks. Unluckily for the Operations in question ⟨he⟩ is altogether such a man so ungracious ⟨so⟩ impetuous ⟨   ⟩ so presumtuous so ⟨dev⟩oid of management tho ostentatiously ⟨   ⟩ that perhaps a worse coud not be chosen ⟨unle⟩ss the plan be to get at the object by means of an ⟨   ⟩ quarrel. Then indeed he is precisely the ⟨man.⟩ Something is intended for Lucien. He is ⟨   ⟩torily reconciled to his Brother Some ⟨   ⟩ Rome & as he was formerly ambassador ⟨   ⟩ like in this country, and supposed to be ⟨   ⟩ liked in it he may be established here however. With respect to the present affairs of this Country & the future prospects of its government, nothing can be said on which any considerable reliance is to be placed, because in all probability the Emperors plans must be changed or varied according as new circumstances present themselves; nor is likely that he communicates more of his intentions to his ministers or agents than is Neces⟨sary⟩ for present Operations. Thus I find that the Opinions of the best informed people here are continually fluctuating & are regulated by the most trifling circumstances. Every word which falls from the Ambassador, Every movement & gesture is supposed to be of importance, & in fact generally speaking no calculation ought to be m⟨ade⟩ on any thing which comes from a man in his situat⟨ion⟩ yet there are moments in which ⟨his⟩ vanity ⟨   ⟩ him into indiscretion ⟨   ⟩ Yesterday after some dispatches just Received from Italy he said "⟨If the⟩ queen of Etruria had followed my advice ⟨when⟩ he was ambassador there she would not be in ⟨this⟩ situation. I did all I could to save her ⟨in⟩spite of my advice she would ally ⟨herself with⟩ the Enemy of ⟨   ⟩. See what has become of her. In the same manner I ⟨   ⟩ have exerted myself to save this Court, and to promote its happiness. However I am determined to save it in spite of itself. This is the ⟨   ⟩. The immediate ⟨co⟩nclusion of those who before despaired of ⟨   ⟩ is that he had just learnt from his dispatches of ⟨so⟩me change in the Emperors plan but it is just as reasonable ⟨to⟩ suppose that he intended thus to deceive ⟨or⟩ otherwise that he himself is deceived and ⟨th⟩is after all perhaps the most correct judgement ⟨as⟩ to the future is to be formed, not upon what is ⟨sa⟩id or appears to be doing but upon the known motives ⟨   ⟩ plausible if not justifiable causes ⟨   ⟩ change upon the well pronounced character of the Embassador ⟨an⟩d upon the example which lay before us. Dear Sir with sincere Respect & Regard Your very obliged & obt. St.

George W Erving

⟨P. S.⟩ I observe that Mr. George Rose has sailed for the ⟨Uni⟩ted States When we were both about 17 years old ⟨we⟩ were at Winchester College together. He was not there distinguished as a scholar; perhaps rather otherwise He bears the character of a man of good sense & good Mo⟨rals⟩ but nothing more. He was brought forward into public by his fathers interest with Mr. Pitt, but has I beleive v⟨ery⟩ little talents in that way & certainly not much Experi⟨ence.⟩


DNA: RG 59--DD-Diplomatic Despatches, Spain.

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