James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 2 October 1803

From William Jarvis, 2 October 1803

Lisbon 2d. October 1803.


On the evening of the date of my last letter (i.e. 27h. Septr.) the British Factory were called together by the Consul General, relative to a Sale of some of their funded Stock, for the support of the Hospital and the poor widows and orphans of deceased Members of the Factory, as from the decrease of the British Trade to this port, the income for several Months past had not been adequate to these purposes; when some of the Members took occasion to ask the Consul, whether in the opinion of the Minister, this Country and England were likely to continue on friendly Terms. He replied, his Lordship knew nothing to the contrary, but it would be prudent to circumscribe their affairs, that they might be prepared for the worst. This, and the Prince Regent and Princess having stood Godfather and Godmother, to Genl. Lannes’s Child that was christened St. Michael’s day (the 29th.) has caused the greatest alarm amongst them; but it appears to me without sufficient reasons, for the Minister’s advice was simply precautionary, and as to the Prince standing Godfather to the child, it has been publicly talked of as his intention for two Months past. Not satisfied however with giving to both the most unfavorable construction their fears can suggest, those things have given rise to a number of reports, each more inconsistent than the preceding; but the two which are insisted ⟨upon⟩ with the most pertinacity, are, that the Minister of foreign affairs, has given notice to Lord Fitzgerald, that this Government will be under the necessity of taking whichever part the Spanish do in the present contest, and the other, that the Prince had passed his Word to His Lordship, that in case of danger, the British might ship their goods out of ⟨the⟩ Kingdom, Duty free, and that he had promised to pass ⟨an⟩ order to this effect to-day. Notwithstanding the improba⟨bility⟩ of these reports, and of the forced constructions put upon ⟨the⟩ Minister’s suggestion & the Christening, the consternation could not be greater if a French Army was just entering the Country, every one exerting himself to close his ⟨accounts⟩ as fast as possible, and several of the richest having d⟨ete⟩rmined to leave the Country with all Speed: in fact ⟨never did⟩ report of a diabolic popish plot, cause more ter⟨ror⟩ among their gullible brethren of London. In relation ⟨to⟩ the Christening, there appears to be some resentment mi⟨xed⟩ with their fears, for the English have been so long ⟨in the⟩ habit of swaying this Court, that they do not view ⟨with⟩ much patience, the influence of France; or the public attention paid by the Prince to the French Minister Mrs. Lannes made a present of an elegant Brussels ⟨Lace⟩ Gown to the Princess, & She and His Highness made ⟨several⟩ valuable presents to her and the General.

No answer has been given to my last two notes concerning the Moor, nor do I believe they will; nor have I heard any thing farther from the Streights regarding them. The Moorish Ship has got his Mast in. I should suppose she will sail in a day or two. If deemed necessary I shall try to obtain a Convoy for such of our Countrymen as are in Port who sail after his departure.

My last letter, by the Bark Elizabeth, Captn. Larson, via New York, inclosed my letter and the reply relative to the men impressed in this Port, and a letter from Messrs. Pinckney and Kirkpatrick, two from Messrs. Simpson and Willis, a copy of two letters from Mr. Gavino and of mine of the 7th. September. I have the Honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant,

William Jarvis

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