James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George William Erving, 6 January 1808

No 3⟨   ⟩. Private

Madrid Jany 6th. 1808

Dear Sir,

My last official letter (dated Decr. 28) communi⟨ca⟩ted the arrangement made by Coll. Lear with the dey ⟨of⟩ Algiers, the one previous, (that of Decr. 22) was upon ⟨sev⟩eral subjects & the unofficial letter which accompanied ⟨it⟩ related principally to the affairs of Portugal, & ⟨the⟩ relations between this country & france.

⟨It⟩ appears that the Emperor of France his decree dated ⟨und⟩er 17 Decr. was published instantly on Receiving the ⟨Bri⟩tish decree to which it refers; it woud surely have ⟨been⟩ most judicious not to have proceeded with such ⟨rapi⟩dity, to have attended the effect which the british ⟨mea⟩sure was likely to produce in our country. The ⟨same⟩ delays & difficulties have not been made here to ⟨the⟩ adoption of the Emperors views on this occasion, as ⟨were⟩ experienced on the issuing the first blockade decree; ⟨   ⟩ have been assumed as soon as Received, & special care has been taken that there shoud be nothing Equivoca⟨l⟩ in the mode. This alacrity arises from the apprehen⟨sion⟩ (no longer a mystery or matter of concealment) which this government feels for its own security. The aff⟨air⟩ of the marriage is suspended; tho Portugal is occupie⟨d⟩ still an immense number of french troops is pourin⟨g⟩ into this country, & they extend themselves even to the passes of the mountains of Castile: The Queen of Etru⟨ria⟩ who as is stated abdicated her throne in virtue of a convintion made at Paris, & by that convintion was Secured an indemnity in Portugal; has not yet received Such indemnity, & remains at present only an Infan⟨ta⟩ of Spain; the King who was also by the same conv⟨ention⟩ promised another part of Portugal, for the purpose ⟨of⟩ establishing in it the prince of peace, has not yet ha⟨d⟩ his portion set off to him; The Emperor tho Return⟨ed⟩ to Paris is most unquestionably coming as far as Bourdeaux, & it is beleived Bayonne; it may be further.

The part of Portugal said to be destined for the ⟨Pr⟩ince of Peace is Algarvia, & this beleif is supported by the ⟨cir⟩cumstance of that province being actually occupied ⟨   ⟩ by Spanish troops.

The number of french troops actually entered ⟨   ⟩ here by way of Bayonne, above what I have ⟨spe⟩cified in former letters; is I think about 80.000; ⟨a⟩ marshall of france commands the last portion ⟨wh⟩ich has arrived; & prince Murat being at Bourdeaux ⟨it⟩ may be expected that he will come also; It does ⟨not⟩ appear that any troops have Entered as yet by ⟨way⟩ of Catalonia.

The Queen of Etruria has been continually ⟨expe⟩cted here, & the necessary relays to bring her from ⟨Bar⟩celona have been sent; yet, by fresh advices ⟨she⟩ was still at Milan. The kingdom of Italy has ⟨been⟩ extended by the addition of some parts of ⟨Tus⟩cany, & the Emperor has declared the Vice Roy ⟨Pri⟩nce Eugene Beauharnois (son of the Empress) heir ⟨to⟩ that throne, & has created him prince of Venice; ⟨this⟩ arrangement so far from discouraging, perhaps rather confirms the report referred to in my letter ⟨of⟩ Decr. 10. Meltzi is created duke of ⟨   ⟩ Venice Lucien Buonaparte had an intervie⟨w with⟩ his brother, so that no longer doubt is Entertaine⟨d of⟩ the reconciliation mentioned in a former let⟨ter,⟩ but that a suitable provision will be made for him I have heard (but nothing can be wholly Relied on) th⟨at⟩ the Emperors mother will be made Queen of Rome & Lucien her successor With sincere Respect & Es⟨teem I am⟩ Dear Sir Your very obliged & obt. St.

George W Erving


You will be struck with the omission of Some impo⟨rtant⟩ words in this spanish translation of the french decre⟨e.⟩ In the 3d. Article the words "ou allant en Angleterre ou ⟨dans⟩ les colonies anglaises ou dans les pays occupes par les troupes anglaises ." But this in all probability is attribu⟨table⟩ only to their not being used to do things in such a hur⟨ry.⟩


The omission referred to is the more curious as the same Madrid ⟨Gazette⟩ which contains the spanish decree contains also the french; in the translation of which no omission is made. I send the whole gazette as you will find in it the interesting news from Italy hereinbefore referred to.


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

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