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of his crew with arms, and, stationing them at the door of the governor's house, entered, together with Mr. Phelps, the room in which he was sitting with Mr. Koefoed, and made him his prisoner, without any resistance on his part: then locking the door of his office, to which he allowed the count to affix his own seal*, he conducted him under an armed escort on board the Margaret and Anne. The whole of this was done without any attempt at concealment in the most public time of the most public day of the week, a Sunday afternoon, after divine service, so that it affords the strongest evidence in favor of Mr. Jorgensen's assertion, that the transaction itself could not be displeasing to the natives, many of whom were loitering about the plain before the house, with their long poles in their hands spiked with iron, which they use for walking upon the snow, and which they might have now employed as offensive weapons; instead of which they looked on with the most perfect indifference, though they were in such
* This was shortly afterwards broken open, and all the papers subjected to examination.
numbers that one half of them could with ease have overpowered the invalids who were stationed to guard the door; for it is sufficiently known, that in time of war the crews of merchant-ships consist of such men only as are unfit for the service of his Majesty. Mr. Phelps, having taken this step, was aware that, as a British subject, he had it not in his power to establish or even to maintain in the island any form of government without the consent of his own; but he was at the same time fully sensible of the necessity of some regular authority being constituted, till more decisive measures could be taken for the welfare of the country; and it was therefore determined that Mr. Jorgensen, not being a subject of the crown of Great Britain, or responsible to it for his actions, should assume for the present the chief command. Conformably to such a determination, this gentleman immediately commenced the exercise of his power by issuing a proclamation*, which in the first
* The extracts from this as well as the two following proclamations published by Mr. Jorgensen I have thought it best to insert almost verbatim from Count article declares, that all Danish authority is dissolved in Iceland: in the fourth that arms and ammunition of all kinds are to be given up; in the sixth that the keys of private warehouses and shops, money, accounts and papers, belonging to, or concerning, the interests of the king of Denmark or Danish merchants, shall, likewise, be delivered*; in the second third and fifth articles, it orders
Tramp's statement of them, with many of his comments, that I might be the less liable to be accused of partiality; but I have printed literal translations of the originals in the Appendix B. (See Nos. 1, 2, and 5.) Nos. 3 and 4 are copies of other proclamations of less importance, and not noticed by Count Tramp.
* This was preparatory to the confiscation of all Danish property in the island; upon which subject I must beg leave to make use of Mr. Jorgensen's own words. "This," he observes, "was absolutely necessary, for, if such property had been permitted to have been taken away, the country would have been extremely impoverished, since all goods, property, and merchandize on the island belonged to the Danes, as well all that lay in the store-houses, as even what the poor peasant had in the field; for the lower classes were generally deeply in debt to the Danish factors. It was likewise just and proper to detain all such property, whether public or private; for Iceland had certain funds all Danes to remain within their own houses, and prohibits every one from holding communication with them: the ninth article threatens those who act contrary to this decree with being brought before a military court and shot within two hours; while by the eighth tenth and eleventh articles, are promised to all native Icelanders undisturbed tranquillity and a felicity hitherto unknown *.
in Copenhagen, for which it might be considered a sort of equivalent. Some years ago, a great eruption took place from Mount Hecla, which destroyed a number of people and ruined many. In Denmark and other countries a large sum of money was collected by subscription for the relief of the suffering inhabitants on the island, and deposited in Copenhagen. The sums procured in such a manner have positively never been paid to the Icelanders, but detained by the Danish government. Also, to indemnify Danish merchants for their losses by property confiscated, the court at Copenhagen has nothing to do, but to order them to be paid from the Icelandic funds; and so could the merchants not be sufferers, and there would still remain a surplus, which would more than indemnify government for what public property was seized."
* Perhaps with a view of obtaining his share in the general felicity held forth by this proclamation, a poor
On the evening of the same day, appeared also a second proclamation, proceeding much farther than the other, and decreeing in its first article, that Iceland should be independent of Denmark; and in the fifth, that a republican constitution should be introduced, similar to that which existed before the country was united to Norway in the thirteenth century, but, till this could be
peasant presented a brief to his Excellency, Governor Jorgensen, who favored me with the following translation:
"A Petition from Biarne Thorlevsen, Sheweth,
"That in the year 1805, my wife Thorunn Gunnlaugdatter was sentenced to two years labor in the Icelandic work-house, only for the simple thing of stealing a sheep, which besides was nothing at all to me. The separation which took place accordingly, occasioned that I was compelled to take a young girl as my housekeeper, who otherwise much recommended herself by her ability and fidelity. The consequence of these circumstances was that the girl produced two little girls, after each other, whose father I am. We were then separated by order of the magistrates, and in this manner must the education of two innocent, but at the same time right handsome little girls, remain neglected, unless she as mother, in conjunction with me as father,