James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 14 November 1804

From William Jarvis

Lisbon 14th. Novr 1804


I had the honor to address to you a detailed letter dated the 8th. Instant,1 which I forwarded by the Brig Mary & Allen Captain Dodge for George Town Ptk2 & inclosed a Copy of a letter I wrote to the Providor Mor of Health3 to extend the arrangement regarding the quarantine of Vessels from the United States to Porto & Figueira & a Copy of a Note to Mr. de Araujo4 & his answer:5 under the same cover I sent the semiannual List.6

By the Post of last evening I received the inclosed four letters from Messrs. Pinckney, Simpson, Gavino & Baker: also go inclosed a duplicate Recapitulation of the semi-annual List7 and duplicates of the Monies advanced & received for Seamen, & the Account Current & of the protections granted.8

The notice for the Packets sailing yesterday at 10’o’Clock A.M. was only put upon Change at 1 o’Clock P.M. the preceeding day. Three days is the usual Notice given, sometimes four & five. It has not Transpired why she was ordered to sail so suddenly but is beleived to be owing to dispatches received by the Post from Spain the evening of the 10th. A Spanish Courier reached here from Madrid about four hours before she sailed & embarked in her. I think it probable it was caused by the Post bringing the information that he was coming.

A report was circulated yesterday that a Spanish Frigate bound to South America from Cadiz with a large quantity of quick Silver had been captured by the English but I could not trace it to any source, altho: it was spoken of as a thing about which there was no doubt. Several extravagant reports have been in circulation for a number of days past relative to the Royal family of Spain, such as the King having offered to abdicate in favour of the Queen, but she refused, that he was coming to this Kingdom to remain untill the disturbances in his Kingdom was settled, that the Prince of Asturies was at the head of 60,000 Men to force the King to abdicate, but abdication9 was finally softened down to a peremptorily [sic] demand that the King should dismiss the Prince of Peace: and absurd as these stories are they have all in turn found many beleivers. The story which was in existence yesterday and the day before was, that the Prince of Asturies had represented to the King in strong terms that it was indispensibly necessary to discharge the Prince of Peace. The only thing I have heard, that seems deserving of any Credit is, that the people of Madrid are very much dissatisfied & restless because the Government have refused to comply with a Custom, that has existed for a great length of time; to pay out of the public Treasury the excess that Bread is at over a certain price, which refusal is Said to be imputed to the Prince of Peace & has rendered him very unpopular. Possibly these reports owe their existance to the misunderstanding which took place between the Prince of Peace & Mr. Freire.10 I should not have thought them worth mentioning had I not yesterday heard from a quarter that I have some reliance on, that Spanish Affairs a few days since became the subject of conversation amongst the Officers of Government at Mafra, where the Prince Regent has been for some time past & all talk on the subject was at once hushed up.

The Packet which arrived the 12th. confirms the capture of three & the explosion of a fourth Spanish frigate.

The day before yesterday the Moorish Admiral was released from quarantine having lain 20 days.

I cannot learn that Ben Taleb has yet been making any purchases of any kind or any one for him. He a long time resided in Lisbon in the capacity of a Merchant & left here about three years ago under some pecuniary embarrassments: from which claim it is understood his present station will protect him. He is much more a Man of the world than the Moors generally are.11 As the Frigate probably will be up to day or to-morrow I shall pay the most pointed attention to obtain a perfect knowledge of what they are about. The other Frigate is still laying at St. Ubes without having had any thing done to her. With the highest Consideration & Respect I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedient and most Hble Servt

Wm Jarvis

P.S. On change I learnt that the British Messenger or Courier arrived the last evening, that the Packet only dropped a little below Bellem yesterday that the Courier was sent immediately on board & that she sailed early this morning. As this is the second in the same Packet, the ultimate decision of Peace or War is likely to be contained in the dispatches of which they are the bearers & of course the first knowledge of either is to be looked for from London. But War seemed to be the prevailing opinion of the day.

W Jarvis

RC, two copies, and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Lisbon, vol. 2). First RC marked “Duplicate”; in a clerk’s hand, except for Jarvis’s interlinear addition (see n. 11), second postscript, and signatures; written above Jarvis to JM, 16 Nov. 1804; docketed by Wagner as received with Jarvis’s 16 Nov. dispatch on 7 Jan. [1805]. Second RC in Jarvis’s hand; docketed by Wagner as received 31 Jan. 1805. Minor differences between the RCs have not been noted. For surviving enclosure, see n. 7.12 Also docketed by Wagner as enclosed in this dispatch are copies of Richard O’Brien’s 5 and 12 Sept. 1804 letters to Jarvis (5 pp.) that are almost identical in wording to O’Brien to John Gavino, 5 and 12 Sept. 1804, copies of which were enclosed in Gavino to JM, 25 Oct. 1804.

1Letter not found.

2The second RC includes “or Norfolk in case the River is frozen” here.

3Filed with this dispatch is a copy of Jarvis to João Anastacio Ferreira Raposo, 24 Oct. 1804 (3 pp.; printed in Knox, Naval Documents, Barbary Wars description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1939–44). description ends , 5:95–96), in which Jarvis stated that the American vice-consuls at Oporto and Figueira da Foz had complained that quarantine there was dangerous, as U.S. vessels were forced to anchor on the coast beyond the mouths of the Douro and Mondego rivers, where there was no shelter. He added that two American ships had recently lost anchors and asked that the vessels be allowed to perform their quarantine within the river, observing that depriving the residents of the two provinces of foreign produce would cause them great inconvenience.

4The second RC includes “of the 23 Octr.” here. In his 23 Oct. 1804 letter (1 p.; filed with this dispatch), Jarvis told António de Araújo de Azevedo that an American vessel was sailing shortly to Bordeaux and back and offered his services for any orders Araújo might have.

5The second RC includes “of the 24th:” here. In his 24 Oct. 1804 reply (1 p.; in French; filed with this dispatch), Araújo thanked Jarvis, enclosed a letter for the Portuguese commissary general at Bordeaux, and suggested that the commissary general might have some items for the return trip.

6The second RC includes an additional sentence: “That letter was closed with Wax & sealed with the Consular seal, as hereafter will be all my letters to Government.”

7Jarvis enclosed a copy of the 30 June 1804 “Recapitulation” (1 p.; marked “Duplicate”; docketed by Wagner as enclosed in Jarvis’s 14 Nov. dispatch), which listed six American ships entering at Lisbon, one at Oporto, one at Figueira da Foz, and one at Setúbal, during the first six months of 1804.

8Enclosures not found. The second RC includes “and of a letter from Mr Richd. O Brien” here.

9The second RC includes “in this report” here.

10For British minister John Hookham Frere’s quarrel with Godoy, see Charles Pinckney to JM, 8 Apr. 1804, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 7:17, 18–19 n. 31.

11In the first RC the preceding sentence is added interlinearly in Jarvis’s hand; it is not included in the second RC.

12Jarvis also enclosed copies of Richard O’Brien’s 5 and 12 Sept. 1804 letters to him (5 pp., docketed by Wagner as “rec’d in W. Jarvis / 14 Novr. 1804”) that are almost identical in wording to O’Brien to John Gavino, 5 and 12 Sept. 1804, copies of which were enclosed in Gavino to JM, 25 Oct. 1804.

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