James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 29 January 1808

Lisbon 29th. Jany: 1808


The last letter I had the honor to address to you was dated [  ] a copy of which, with the duplicates of such letters as copies only were before sent on will accompany it.

I was the other day told that the Prince Regent, although much alarmed at the advice of the entry of the French into Portugal, did not absolutely determine to leave the Kingdom, untill a Minoteur, I think of the 3rd. Novr. was shewn to him by the Marquis of Billas, in which was an observation to the effect that the House of Braganza ⟨s⟩hould become extinct in Europe. A report of the kind was in general ⟨c⟩irculation about the time. A ⟨re⟩port of this kind was in general cir⟨c⟩ulation about the time; but as ⟨I⟩ did not see that paper & it did not appear to come from any ⟨q⟩uarter on which much reliance ⟨c⟩ould be placed, I set it down as one of the idle reports of the day, hardly worth troubling you with untill I was a few days ago assur⟨ed⟩ of its authenticity by a Gentlema⟨n⟩ whose connection with persons in the palace afforded him opportunit⟨ies⟩ of Knowing. Every thing, as former⟨ly⟩ observed, indicated that the resol⟨u⟩tion to go was sudden & unexpect⟨ed.⟩ This may fairly be inferred, notw⟨ith⟩standing the preparation of the fl⟨eet,⟩ from the Prince Regent & Royal f⟨a⟩mily, Ministers & Nobility, havin⟨g⟩ left in their Palaces all their supp⟨   ⟩ & rich furniture, pictures, libraries, carr⟨ia⟩ges, horses & servants so that externally ⟨& in⟩ternally (at least of several I have ⟨been⟩ in) they are precisely as when the former Masters were here, wit⟨h⟩ the exception of some french Sol⟨diers⟩ standing Centinel before the doors ⟨of⟩ those now occupied by the French Gener⟨als.⟩ In the Queens palace there was fo⟨und⟩ about sixty thousand Crowns i⟨n⟩ silver Coin, besides many of her ⟨va⟩luable Jewells; and in one of the R⟨oyal⟩ deposits, about two thousand poun⟨d⟩ weight of Church plate ready pac⟨ked⟩ up for embarking which is now tu⟨rned⟩ into Coin.

It is not yet positively known, whether the Prince Reg⟨ent⟩ has gone to the Brazils or to Eng⟨land,⟩ but the general opinion is ⟨to⟩ the Brazils, which is corroborated ⟨by a⟩ll the information which has been ⟨o⟩btained here regarding the fleet.

Every thing remains perfectly quiet here, although Commerce manufactures & municipal industry are at an end. Since the Departure of the Prince it is estimated that about twenty thousand inhabitants have left the City & gone to the Country; and that from this cause together with the want of money to purchase ⟨it,⟩ the consumption of bread for the inhabitants of the City has lessened one third part. That the emigration has been great, there can be no doubt from the innumerable advertisements ⟨o⟩n the Houses of their being to Let. Whilst the Country remained Neuter no such thing was to be seen. New houses were starting up as by en⟨c⟩hantment & yet it was with the ⟨u⟩tmost difficulty that Houses could be obtained. Now every new building is stopped, rents have generally fallen to one half & no tenants offer. At a time too when the labour of the farmer is more needed than ever, its paralising effects have extended to the Country; the husbandman seems disheartened & more inclined to give up his farm than to continue his labour, although his very existence depends on it. Real estate in the Country has also fallen very much. This is a sad reverse for so short a time, bu⟨t⟩ it is only the forerunner of the misery ⟨&⟩ want the Country is likely to experienc⟨e⟩ should a general Peace be very remo⟨te.⟩ When I reflect on this change it giv⟨es⟩ rise to a fervent wish for the tranqu⟨il⟩ity & peace of my Country. I have se⟨en⟩ enought of the consequences of War, i⟨n⟩ a short space, where I am, not to pr⟨efer⟩ peace at a considerable Sacrifice⟨, rather than that⟩ its destructive hand should ever tou⟨ch⟩ the land of my nativity, but if th⟨e⟩ pride & interested policy of Gt Brita⟨in⟩ will not suffer us to remain qui⟨et,⟩ as an individual I must repine, ⟨but⟩ I should prefer defensive to offensive measures as more effectually striki⟨ng⟩ at the Source of her power & as less expensive to ourselves: but if the wisdom of Government should dec⟨ide⟩ both the one & the other the mos⟨t⟩ adviseable, I am satisfied that my fellow Citizens will act with the s⟨pi⟩rit & resolution of Men and wil⟨l⟩ teach our enemies that we have the power & the courage to retort ⟨upon⟩ them the evils they seem so well ⟨dis⟩posed to inflict on us.

Four thousand Fren⟨ch⟩ troops more entered this Country only a few days since. There are between 27 & 30.000. Only the Pro⟨vinces⟩ of Estremadura, Minha Duoro & Beira are in the possession of the French; the rest of Portugal is in the hands of the Spaniards, who decline receiving any orders from the French General in Chief.

By the last letters from Barcelona of the 14th. instant the ex-Queen of Etruria was shortly expected there. She was to enter that Kingdom as infanta of Spain. A number of french troops had reached Segovia; and as many had entered & were expected, as it was beleived would occupy all the Sea ports of Spain. There is little talk now of the marriage of the Prince of Asturies with a Mademoiselle de Tacher. Assuring you of my most entire Respect I have the honor to be Sir Yr. Mo. Ob. Sert.

William Jarvis

P. S. I have this moment learnt tha⟨t⟩ a Courier arrived the last even⟨ing⟩ confirming Genl. Junot, Genl. in Ch⟨ief⟩ of Portugal, & that the Spanish Gener⟨als⟩ are in future to receive instru⟨ctions⟩ from him.

It is said that another ⟨con⟩tribution of four million of cru⟨   ⟩ or two million of dollars is shortly ⟨to⟩ be levied.

The President of the Jun⟨ta⟩ of Commerce has just now acqua⟨inted⟩ me that the affair of the Schooner [  ] Captn. Asa Hooper was again ⟨de⟩cided in favour of the vessel, whi⟨ch⟩ I trust will enable Captn Hoop⟨er⟩ to obtain about 1500 $ which ⟨he⟩ has been kept out of for seven ⟨or⟩ eight years.

I have Sold a larg⟨e⟩ Cargo of flour belonging to Messrs. Jose⟨ph⟩ Lewis & Co. and Mordecai & Saml Lew⟨is⟩ of Philada. at the net price, clear of ⟨all⟩ charges, of $14 P barl., including some ⟨small⟩ benefit of Exchanges, & am happy ⟨to⟩ say, that the French Government, who w⟨ere⟩ the purchasers, have paid me w⟨ith⟩ the utmost punctuality.

From the present ⟨ap⟩pearances of European affa⟨irs⟩ & of Portugal in particular, I am persuaded that the Commerce of the United States to this Country will be daily lessening. France can & doubtless will supply the wants of Portugal with Grain; which now ⟨e⟩mploys by much the largest part ⟨o⟩f the capital of our Citizens engaged in the Commerce between the two Countries. The demand of Portugal for Bread will daily be lessening from the great number of artizans & Merchants which are likely to emigrate to the Brazils & from the encouragement which will doubtless be given to cultivate grain instead of the vine, with a view to open another channel to the vent of French Wines. Necessity too, will drive those who may remain to consume the smallest possible quantity which will serve for human Subsistence, for the Source from whence Portugal drew her riches being now cut off, & she having but few or no internal resources, she will not have the means of paying for more foreign productions & manufactures than are indispensibly necessary for her consumption, if so much. These considerations, with that of the property which my industry & close application to business has enabled me to ga⟨in⟩ not being adequate to mainta⟨in⟩ me without business, I should ⟨pre⟩fer a Consulate in the Brazils, whi⟨ch⟩ presents the prospect of considerable Commerce with the United Sta⟨tes,⟩ to my present Situation. Rio Janie⟨ro,⟩ St. Salvador (or as it is commonly called, Bahi⟨a⟩ & is in the Bay of all Saints) or Pernambuco are the po⟨sts⟩ which at this time offer the gr⟨eat⟩est advantages in a Commerci⟨al⟩ point of view, and to one of which ⟨   ⟩ I must take the liberty to Soli⟨cit⟩ the President for the appointm⟨ent⟩ of Consul. But as that Country may be deemed of sufficient ⟨im⟩portance to have a commis⟨sioned⟩ Charge d’Affaires, who is a Ma⟨n⟩ of considerable Talents & of an agr⟨ee⟩able address, & who will not ⟨be⟩ personally engaged in Comm⟨erce⟩ & on whom Govmt. may also thi⟨nk⟩ it adviseable to confer the titl⟨e of⟩ Consul General, I shall give u⟨p⟩ all thoughts of Rio Janiero as the Seat of Govm⟨t.⟩ & conf⟨ine⟩ my Solicitations particularly ⟨to⟩ Bahia (i. e. St. Salvador), and in the last resort to Pernambuco. In soliciting this ⟨of⟩fice, I shall not ve⟨nture⟩ to urge in my behalf the succ⟨ess⟩ that may have followed my ⟨of⟩ficial applications, althoug⟨h⟩ perhaps not much inferio⟨r⟩ to what was experienced by the two Ministers at this Court under the late Presidents, as I am sensible that it has been principally owing to the influence of the Presidents wise & steady Administration; and, had it been more personal, I should have no other claim than that of having done my duty. It may not however be amiss here to observe, that what has been effected through my instrumentality has been accomplished by fair & direct representation, in which I pretend to no other merit than that of having been faithful to my trust as a public officer, of having a desire to act in correspondence with the views of Government, and that of having done all in my power to promote the interest of my Country & Countrymen: and I think I can with propriety add, that my conduct as a Man has been as correct, mora⟨l⟩ & honorable as commonly fal⟨ls⟩ to the share of human nat⟨ure.⟩ I think too I may with justi⟨ce⟩ say that from the civility I have always experienced f⟨rom⟩ the late Ministry, I presume that my appointment wi⟨ll⟩ be perfectly Satisfactory to ⟨the⟩ Prince Regents Governmen⟨t.⟩ Should any doubts be ente⟨r⟩tained as to the propriety ⟨of⟩ an immediate appointme⟨nt⟩ of Officers to that Country, ⟨on⟩ a supposition of the return ⟨of⟩ the Prince Regent, or for wan⟨t of⟩ due Official Notice, and th⟨e⟩ President does not disapp⟨rove⟩ of my application, I hope Gov⟨ern⟩ment will do me the ho⟨nor⟩ to remember me when th⟨e⟩ doubts are cleared away. Respectfully

W Jar⟨vis⟩

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

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