James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George William Erving, 29 January 1808

No. 31

Madrid Jany 29t. 1808

⟨D⟩ear Sir

My last unofficial letter was of the 6. Inst. ⟨I ha⟩ve not any thing at present very particular to add ⟨to⟩ that, & what else I have lately written. Every ⟨mov⟩ement of the french Emperor seems to add to the ⟨appr⟩ehensions which prevail here; & every movement ⟨rende⟩rs any plan which may have been heretofore ⟨conte⟩mplated for counteracting his views, more & more ⟨despe⟩rate. They are brought into the predicament ⟨whic⟩h was Easily to have been anticipated for a govt. ⟨so m⟩anaged; one where there is neither talents, Energy, ⟨nor g⟩ood faith; now, all is apprehension, & uncertainty. The wedge was regularly inserted under plea of ⟨inv⟩ading Portugal; that object effected, pretexts have ⟨bee⟩n made use of, but no clear & satisfactory Explana⟨tion⟩s have been given: The ports of Spain are to ⟨be⟩ occupied; but it does not appear that Spain ⟨was⟩ asked for or wants troops for that purpose: as ⟨to⟩ the plan of attacking Gibraltar that begins to be considered as absurd: as a plea it is no longer necessary: Eve⟨ry⟩ thing that had been calculated to inspire confidence, such as the allottment of the Queen of Etruria; the Prin⟨ce⟩ of peace, & the marriage, is in a state of entire suspen⟨sion.⟩

As to our relations with this country, it is to be hoped that they will be improved by an increa⟨se⟩ of the influence of France; they cannot well deterior⟨ate.⟩ I have transmitted Regularly my correspondence wi⟨th⟩ Mr Cevallos, because from that you woud form the mo⟨st⟩ correct judgement; & I coud not presume that you wo⟨ud⟩ depend upon mine without an Examination of the detail.

The State prisoners still Remain in confinement & apparently the process is continuing; but I know fro⟨m⟩ the very best authority, that in fact it has concluded, that at first the kings fiscal declared that he coud not find in the matter Submitted to him any ground of accusation; but that he was afterwards induced to found a charge upon some Roman law (it is to be presumed in the times of Tiberius, Caligu⟨la⟩ or Nero) which constituted a conspiracy against the ⟨m⟩onarchs favorite, a high crime against the state; or upon ⟨so⟩me antient Castilian process of the same kind: be this ⟨as⟩ it may, the judges (men selected by the court) tho ⟨wi⟩lling to allow that a horse might be a very fit consul, ⟨ha⟩ve in this Case unanimously decided in favor of the ⟨pr⟩isoners: this is not satisfactory therefore pub⟨li⟩cation of the proceeding ⟨   ⟩ the Court does ⟨not⟩ take the summary course which it probably woud ⟨ha⟩ve taken under the same circumstances two years ⟨ago⟩ tho’ if events of higher importance admit, it will ⟨still⟩ take it. Dear Sir with perfect Respect & Esteem ⟨your⟩ very obliged & obedt. St.

George W Erving

⟨P S.⟩ Neither the proceedings or the Opinion of the Judges ⟨will⟩ be published; A Royal order will issue in a few days ⟨under⟩ which the Duke of Infantado will be banished 60 ⟨leag⟩ues from Madrid; The Duke will lose his rank of ⟨gene⟩ral & his place as Chamberlain.


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

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