James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Pinkney, 9 May 1808

London. May. 9th. 1808.

⟨Dr Sir⟩

I had a Conversation with Mr. Canning on ⟨Fri⟩day last, in Consequence of the Arrival of the Osage. As it was obviously expected that I should seek ⟨an⟩ Interview with him, I went to Downing Street on the ⟨5⟩th. with that Object. He had been indisposed, and ⟨wa⟩s not at the office; but, in Answer to a Note which ⟨I⟩ sent him in the Evening, he asked to see me next ⟨Day⟩ at his House in Bruton Street.

The Osage had for some Time been looked ⟨for⟩ with considerable Anxiety, and the Government ⟨ha⟩d apparently anticipated a Communication (and ⟨per⟩haps a Proposal) of some Importance from me, ⟨as⟩ soon as my Dispatches should be received. ⟨A⟩s I had in Fact no Communication to make, ⟨it⟩ seemed to be proper that I should render the ⟨dis⟩appointment of as little Moment as possible by the ⟨ma⟩nner of announcing it, without however, putting ⟨any⟩ Thing to Hazard by an indiscreet Manifestation ⟨of⟩ unnecesssary Solicitude.

The little which I supposed it requisite ⟨to⟩ say on this occasion appeared to be very well ⟨rec⟩eived; and, if any disagreeable Impression was ⟨mad⟩e on the Mind of Mr. Cannning, it certainly was not ⟨visi⟩ble. A Feeling of Regret was perhaps percept⟨ibl⟩e, and a Hope was intimated that the Time was ⟨not⟩ far distant when I should be enabled to do what ⟨at⟩ present was out of my Power; but nothing occurred ⟨whi⟩ch could be construed into a Symptom of Impatience, Jealousy, or Dissatisfaction. There ⟨was⟩ undoubtedly, no real Ground for any Thing of this ⟨kind⟩ but it was, notwithstanding, quite possible that the Importance which it had become a Habit to ⟨attach⟩ to the Arrival of the Osage, from Circumstances p⟨rincipally⟩ accidental, might have produced a Disposition ⟨to think⟩ otherwise.

I thought it adviseable to make Use ⟨of⟩ this opportunity (although the Topic was in man⟨y⟩ Views more delicate than it had been) to su⟨ggest⟩ the Propriety of yielding, as the Moment was favorable to such a Course, upon the Sub⟨ject⟩ of the late Orders in Council, of which I had ⟨seen⟩ nothing to change my original Opinion. ⟨There⟩ was Reason to apprehend, however, that it migh⟨t be⟩ worse than useless to press the Suggestion, up⟨on⟩ my own Authority merely, while I could say nothing of the French Decrees: and accord⟨ingly⟩ I forbore to do so.

An Idea has evidently gone forth, ⟨since⟩ the Osage arrived, founded upon Rumour⟨s of⟩ a doubtful Description, that our Relations ⟨with⟩ France have grown to be extremely precar⟨ious,⟩ and that we are consequently about to ⟨come⟩ to an Understanding of a very friendly kind ⟨with⟩ Great Britain. It is not improbable that ⟨the⟩ Government has, in some Degree at least, ⟨adopted⟩ this Idea.

I have the Honor to enclose a Copy of a ⟨Noti⟩fication, recently received from Mr. Canning, ⟨of⟩ the Blockade of Copenhagen & of the other Ports ⟨in⟩ the Island of Zealand, which I have caused ⟨to⟩ be Communicated in the usual Manner ⟨to o⟩ur Consuls & Citizens.

In Consequence of a Misapprehension of a ⟨subo⟩rdinate Revenue officer at Falmouth, ⟨som⟩e of the Stores of the Osage were seized ⟨as⟩ a Forfeiture soon after she anchored ⟨in⟩ that Port. I made this Impropriety the ⟨Subj⟩ect of an immediate Application to the ⟨Gove⟩rnment, and it will doubtless be promptly redressed.

There being no particular Inducement ⟨for⟩ detaining the Osage, Lieutenant Lewis, ⟨who⟩ will be charged with my Letters, will ⟨leav⟩e Town the Day after Tomorrow; and ⟨the⟩ Ship will sail as soon after he reaches ⟨Fal⟩mouth as possible. I have the Honor to be with sincere Esteem and perfect Consideration, Sir, your Most Obedient humble Servant,

Wm: Pinkney

May 10th. 1808. Mr. Canning having ⟨Se⟩nt me an Answer to my Note relative to the Osage, ⟨I⟩ have now the Honor to enclose Copies of those Papers, together with a Copy of Capt. Duplex’s Letter, referred to in my Note⟨,⟩ and of a Letter from the American Con⟨sul⟩ at Falmouth to me on the same Subjec⟨t.⟩

Wm: Pinkney

DNA: RG 59--DD-Diplomatic Despatches, Great Britain.

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