by BARRY, James
Single sheet, folded, 2 leaves. 2pp. of text, approx. 320 words, addressed on last integral leaf to John Stoughton, Esq., His Catholick Majesty's Consul Gen'l. for the State of Massachusetts, Boston, and sent by ship, via an acquaintance of Stoughton's, a Mr. Thaxter [or Thayher?]. Old fold lines, chip to one leaf from broken seal, but no loss of text, deaccession stamp from the Connecticut Hist. Society on last leaf. James Barry, from his residence on the Island of Tenerife, mentions that he had read that the war [with Napoleon] was on the verge of a peaceful settlement in July and August, according to the English papers he had seen. By the time of this letter he and his fellow citizens had realized that was a false hope. He says that the "Court in these Islands look upon us as perfect Aliens, since the Commencement of the War." He also mentions that "that fellow Miranda's ideas have been upset how happy is it for the Spanish Colonys he seemingly did not meet the warmth he expected among the colonists." Barry also discusses his wine business: "Many of our wines for India have gone this year for America, only considering the difference between their prices & those of Madeira is what can carry hopes of much success in the speculations & yet I believe in some measure ours will answer better than those of that Island, at less than half the price they are obtainable here & the disparity in qualitys is not near so much every unprejudiced person will allow." Barry encloses a price current [not present here] for the perusal of Stoughton's mercantile friends for "our Cargo wine... as our vintage is commencing & promises tolerably." Tenerife was part of the Spanish Canary Islands. Spain had aligned itself with Napoleon during what is referred to as the "War of the Third Coalition" between 1803-1806, against Britain, the Russian Empire, Holy Roman Empire, and several other European countries. Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan, had attempted to overthrow Spanish rule in his country and appealed to both the British and American governments for help, putting together a filibustering expedition in early 1806. He was unsuccessful.
Wine production in the Canary Islands was centered in Tenerife, which contributed over half of the islands' output. In Elizabethan times, Canary sack was well known in England. By 1852, however, the vines fell victim to the oidium fungus and were nearly destroyed. James Barry addressed his letter to John [Juan] Stoughton (c.1745-1820), Spain's first consul to New England, following Pinckney's Treaty of 1795, a post he held until his death. Like many of his fellow consuls, Stoughton had been in the mercantile trades before joining the diplomatic service, and continued to promote strong ties with merchants on both sides of the Atlantic. Stoughton's lettercopy books from 1795-1820 are part of the collections at the New York Historical Society (1795-1800) and the Baker Library, Harvard Business School (1800-1820) [see: Sean Perrone's article, "Spanish Consuls and Trade Networks between Spain and the United States, 1795-1820." Bulletin of Spanish & Portuguese Historical Studies, Vol. 38, Issue 1, Article 5, 2013].
(Inventory #: 65705)