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As yet, however, no commercial communication had taken place between the English and Icelanders, and it unfortunately happened that the first visit they were destined to receive from our countrymen was of a nature but ill calculated to impress them with favorable sentiments towards us; for, benevolent as were the intentions of our government, no public notification had been made of them, and they were consequently of no avail in preventing the depredations of our privateers; one of which, in 1808, under the command of Captain Gilpin, came to the island, and landed an armed force, which took away from the public chest upwards of thirty thousand rix-dollars that were appropriated to the maintenance of the schools and the poor. 9
Far different from this was the object of Mr. Phelps, an eminent and honorable merchant in London, who, having accidentally learned from Mr. Jorgensen that a large quantity of Icelandic produce, and particularly of tallow, was lying ready for exportation in the ports of that island, conceived the project of opening a direct communication, likely to prove equally beneficial to both parties; and, without delay, freighted a vessel called the Clarence, at Liverpool, for the purpose, in doing which, to avoid all possible cause for umbrage, he, according to Mr. Jorgensen, applied to government for permission to export no other articles but such as were absolutely necessary for the subsistence of the inhabitants, as barleymeal, potatoes, and salt, with a very small proportion of rum, tobacco, sugar, and coffee, not exceeding ten tons; taking especial care not to send out any British manufactured goods, and thereby give room for a charge that he merely wished to make the island a depository for prohibited articles, which might thence be afterwards smuggled into the continent. This ship was furnished with a letter of marque, but still, in order to prove the honorable intentions of the merchant, it was expressly stipulated with the owner, that the captain, Mr. Jackson, should not seize or capture any vessel, either in the ports of Iceland or in sight of its coasts; and in case that he should in any way violate the agreement, the owner should be liable to the forfeiture of ^8,000. In this ship Mr. Jorgensen himself, whose knowledge of the Danish language and general acquaintance with affairs of this nature made him eminently serviceable, embarked, together with Mr. Savigniac, an Englishman employed as supercargo; and, setting out in the latter end of December, they arrived at Iceland in the beginning of the following month, January, 1809; having performed the voyage at a time of the year considered so dangerous for such an attempt, that Mr. Phelps was unable to find any underwriters that would consent to insure the whole of the cargo. The idea having occurred to them that the government of the island would find less difficulty in permitting a free and open trade to be established between the inhabitants and the supercargo, could an appearance be made of the property belonging to neutrals, it was judged expedient to hoist American colors, and to exhibit a set of papers of the same nation; but such an attempt availed nothing, for permission was still peremptorily refused for any part of the cargo to be landed, although it was acknowledged that the country was in extreme want of various articles that were on board. Such being the case, the British colors were displayed, and the licence produced, but to no purpose *; and Mr. Savigniac, unwilling to proceed to extremities, was upon the point of returning to England, when the natives expressed so strongly their anxiety for the landing of the goods, that, in order to bring the government to a sense of its duty and interest, he thought proper to release Captain Jackson from the clause in the charter-party which prevented him from making prizes in Iceland, and to commence hostilities, by taking possession of a Danish brig, which had just arrived from Norway with provisions. The officers of
* Upon the subject of permitting a commercial intercourse, Count Tramp remarks, that, " the existing laws of the country strongly prohibiting all trade with foreign nations, it was the duty of the officers in whose hands he had, at that time, during his absence to Copenhagen, left the management of public affairs, to refuse this application."—It may be so; but, surely, a nation which had conducted itself with so much lenity and forbearance as ours had done towards this island, might have expected to have received a better return for its kind offices.
the government now seeing their real situation, and fearing lest farther acts of a similar nature should be committed, found themselves under the necessity of concluding a convention, permitting a mercantile connection to be opened between the inhabitants of Reikevig and Mr. Savigniac, a measure that in reality was but of little importance, as the natives were still intimidated by the threats of those in power, and dared not purchase of the English; so that every thing went on, as before, through the hands of the Danish factors, who bought only just enough for their own immediate use. How hard this was, will immediately be seen, when it is known that of all the various articles on board the Clarence two only were on any terms to be procured in Iceland, salt and grain, the latter of which was entirely monopolized by government, and not to be purchased at a lower rate than twenty-two dollars per barrel, a price that virtually amounted to a prohibition, as it rendered it quite out of the reach of many even of the higher classes of the inhabitants. Mr. Savigniac, on the contrary, offered his at considerably less