Simon's Family History
Mr John Galbreath,
at Messrs Everett, Walker, Maltby, Elis & Co.,
Manscon Ho. Street,
Gibraltar 6th Jan 1812
My Dear John,
I wrote you on the 3rd with postscript dated 18th ulto, per cutter Echo, and in duplicate by the packet. The Malvina arrived, without any communication. But on the 27th December I received your letter of 18th November last by the packet, with enclosure and annexing the copy of a letter from Mr Andrew Mitchell dated at New York 8th October confirming the death of my late dear son Thomas!
May we be resigned unto the will of our Heavenly Father under this bereavement, and duly prepare ourselves for such important change through Christ. The trunk and baggage had best remain in the hands of Mr Mitchell till farther advised.
I received the account of Mrs Fiddes having being safely delivered of a healthy daughter, with great satisfaction, tender my hearty congratulations for that happy event to Mr and Mrs Fiddes, and I hope the dear child may be long preserved, a blessing and true comfort to her parents.
I thought that your mails to this quarter had been made up in London, on the 1st and 15th of every month, but I am now told it is upon every third Wednesday in regular succession.
I experienced some difficulty in getting any suitable accommodation here, no private room could be obtained, and the idea of a private Lodging House is not known at Gibraltar. Therefore some Inn or Hotel must be reported to for board and lodgings. In such, my bedroom is very small, and at the walls became dripping wet during a heavy rain that continued for several days and nights. I caught a cold, and yet the weather here is generally as pleasant in December as the month of May in England. Expenses however are very high indeed.
I have perused American papers to 23rd November, consider the Presidents speech to Congress as unfriendly, and the official letters between Messrs Foster and Munroe of a nature, unpromising to present adjustment of differences. I do not expect that they will either declare War against Great Britain, or pass a general embargo Act, but think they will continue the non importation Act, and enforce the same with a rigidity to actually prevent the indirect admission and passage of any considerable quantity of British manufactory through the N. Brunswick or Canadian lines.
The Declaration of Independence on 5th July last by the confederated States of Venezuela, Cumana, Carraccas etc. in Spanish N. America will probably extend farther and may soon become highly interesting in its consiquency to England. This political occurrence is evidently alluded to in President Madison's speech and plainly proves it high time for Great Britain to interpose. The Cortes at Cadiz are so shamefully venal and supine, and the population of the country so indifferent to their fate that I think old Spain will fall.
Therefore I would be glad to find that England turned her immediate attention to a countervailing interest in the fates of a rising Western World, and I conceive that she would be honorably justified in most openly inviting the people of Spanish America to declare generally their own independence under the quarantine of Great Britain, and they with conciliatory manner seeking only certain commercial preferred benefits in treaty as remuneration.
To give you essentially my remarks upon business here, as written to Messrs B. & I. Gray & Co., have stated as follows : "That I was extremely vexed on arrival to find the Gibraltar market in a most dull depressed state. Proceeding from the Land Commission being shut, the quarantine continued on all vessels from the Eastern ports in Spain etc., together with the precarious tenure of Valentia, Alicant etc. That 216 packages of their goods remain unsold, 173 packages being prints; that on examination I considered the stock as generally higher charged than the prices were in England in October last. That I had seen sundry prime and staple articles of goods recently purchased from other houses here, and at such low prices as would have proven a material loss on any of their goods of the like description. From which I concluded :- that in the attempt at effecting present sales it would be useless to ask more than cost and charges. Accordingly I offered the stock at such estimated rates to a number of persons deemed respectable here, but not one of them would give near the price. The stock is still proffered on same terms, yet the sales effected are so small that I have requested Messrs B. & I. Gray to determine and advise me soon as possible whether they will leave the stock to await an improved state of trade at Gibraltar, or direct them forward to Malta, attended with additional expense and without distinctly learning anything encouraging of the latter market."
Depending upon Messrs Gray & Co.'s determination will rest the obligation of my either proceeding to Malta, or remaining here to dispose of the stock should such an opportunity be afforded during the limited period agreed upon between them and myself. And as I called upon Messrs Gray & Co. in letter of 18th ulto for such their determination. It will be encumbent on your part to immediately ascertain in proper deferential way what their reply instructions upon that point have been to me, and such information may be almost instantly obtained by your waiting on Mr Dunsmure at No 50 Lathbury, and provided Mr Benjamin Gray should happen to be then in London, otherwise by either Mr Dunsmures writing at your instance, or you personally to the House at Liverpool, but whether application be made verbally or in writing, would have you remark that the information required is merely to regulate the address of letters to your father.
On 4th instant the quarantine was taken off all vessels from ports in Spain in consequence of Carthagina being reported in healthy state, this circumstance would soon have operated favourably to the trade of Gibraltar had not serious occurrences intervened to the Eastward; it being here most confidently believed that the French have taken the important city of Valencia, with ?? and his Army are. If so may expect they will soon possess Alicant & Carthagina. Their disposable force before Tariffa is likewise so great that a prolonged defence may be considered doubtful. Should they succeed against the latter place they probably would soon after appear opposite to us at St Rocque & Algeciras. I hope the shirts may soon arrive here, a letter may in a short time appear from Messr Gray & Co. directing my departure for Malta, an injunction that I must in course obey, but would rather dispense with.
As you have not named Mr Elmes presume he had not arrived in England, nor any letter been received from him; and being silent as to 2nd agreement with Messrs Gray & Co. presume also that said paper had reached your hands & been duly stamped. Of instructions or enquiries for Mr Adcock do not hear anything.
With love to Cornelia, David and all the family, I am my dear John your affectionate father.
(I have punctuated the transcription so as to make it more easily read.)
Kind acknowledgments to Kay Clarke for providing me with this letter.
Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath