Page images
PDF
EPUB

I must here beg leave to observe that, though I would be far from questioning the good intentions and the sincerity of the count, or the correctness of his statements, still, admitting them to be strictly true, some strange neglect had certainly taken place; for the convention had not been printed at the period of our arrival, though five days had elapsed from its signature, the half of which would have been sufficient for the purpose, even supposing it to have been sent by land; and, what is of most consequence, but is omitted in his narrative, a proclamation had been dispersed over the

equally treacherous and shameful. They have, under the mask of hypocrisy, stolen into his country, to rob him of his fleet, and to plunder his kingdom, which was of all in Europe the most happy, owing to nearly an hundred years' peace. They have captured a number of Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic merchant-ships. With violence and treachery have they provoked the wellmerited hatred of our nation, and roused us to arms, in defence of our king, our country, and our liberty. They have surrounded our coasts with ships of war, to destroy our commerce, and to prevent all importation of the most common necessaries into our countries, thereby to the utmost of their power causing misery and the loss of lives ."

country, and was found by us still posted up in the town, forbidding any native to trade with the English, under pain of death. This proclamation had been printed during the absence of the count, but kept in a chest till his arrival, and was certainly issued by his special direction.

While things were in this state in Iceland, Mr. Phelps had been planning a second expedition, prepared with more care than the former, and upon a more extensive scale, with the hope of accomplishing his favorite project, and of repairing the losses he had sustained. He therefore, early in the summer, got ready in London the Margaret and Anne, a fine ship carrying ten guns, provided with a letter of marque, and loaded with a cargo of such articles as had been pointed out by Mr. Savigniac as most likely to be saleable, and he, at the same time, dispatched the Flora, a brig, with grain for the use of the island. So much had he this object at heart, that he determined himself to sail in the former of these vessels, to avoid all mistakes, and see that nothing might interrupt the harmony he hoped to find

established; and he took with him Mr. Jorgensen, whose acquaintance with the transactions that had taken place during the winter, added to his knowledge of the Icelandic merchants and of the Danish language, with which they are all acquainted, rendered him of the highest importance to the success of the undertaking.

On the 21st of June, only two or three days after the departure of the Rover, the Margaret and Anne came to an anchor in Reikevig harbor, and Mr. Savigniac immediately proceeded on board, where he informed Mr. Phelps of the obstructions * to the trading with the British, of the arrival

* I feel myself bound to mention that Count Tramp, in his narrative, expressly denies any obstructions of this nature, referring to a document, which I have never seen, signed by five of the established merchants of Reikevig, dated the 1st of September, 1809, " by which," he says, "it is evidently proved that the accusations against the civil officers and citizens of the country are unfounded, and that they were invented and set afloat by the managers of the concern, only with a view of providing a cloak for themselves in the account they were going to render to their principals for the losses occasioned by their own misconduct."

of Count Tramp, and of the convention between Captain Nott and the latter.

Mr. Phelps, on hearing that such a convention had been entered into, remained several days without landing any part of his cargo, in the expectation that it would be delivered to him in an official manner, or would, at least, be posted up in different parts of Reikevig. No such thing, however, happened, but, on the contrary, the proclamation before alluded to was still regarded as continuing in force, nor was it ever, at any subsequent time, publicly repealed; so that in the month of June, a season of the year when by far the greater number of the natives make a journey to Reikevig for the sake of barter, scarcely an individual of this description was seen; all naturally dreading to expose themselves to the severe punishment threatened by such a proclamation, and knowing that, except from the English, nothing of what they wanted was to be procured.

Such then being the situation of Mr. Phelps' affairs, and the convention remaining unpublished as late as the 25th of the month, this gentleman felt that longer delay would be materially prejudicial to his interests, and that he must consequently be under the necessity of having recourse to measures, no more consonant to his inclination than to his feelings. He therefore gave orders to Captain Liston, the master of the Margaret and Anne, by virtue of the power granted him by his letter of marque, to seize the person of the governor, and detain him as his prisoner; directing him, also, immediately before he took such a step, to make a prize of the Orion, a brig belonging to Count Tramp, provided with a licence from the British government, which she had, according to Mr. Jorgensen, forfeited, by first carrying her cargo to Norway, and there disposing of it, and taking in another* for Iceland. Mr. Liston, in pursuance of these directions, landed twelve

* A part of this cargo, according to Count Tramp, consisting of goods to the value of six thousand rixdollars of Danish currency, was intended to have been distributed gratis among the distressed Icelanders, a circumstance of which I am persuaded Mr. Phelps and Mr. Jorgensen were ignorant, or they would not have allowed so benevolent a design to have been frustrated.

« PreviousContinue »