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ployed, not a life was lost, not a drop of blood was shed, not a gun fired, nor a sabre unsheathed.
The island of Iceland, from its climate and situation, and from the exceeding barrenness of its soil, is necessarily compelled at all times to depend for a considerable part of its supplies of provisions upon foreign countries; so that, even in those seasons which may be accounted the most favorable, it does not produce sufficient for the maintenance of its scanty population; and, as often as an unusually severe winter proves destructive to the cattle of its inhabitants, or an unproductive fishery prevents them from laying up their winter stores of dried cod and salmon, nothing but the most abundant imports can avert an actual famine. Such imports in time of peace the parent state of Denmark has found no difficulty in
though he did so, not only without any intention of serving against Great Britain, but, as was shewed by the event in the first instance, and in the second by the proclamation issued in Iceland, with the full determination of returning to England.
furnishing from her numerous ports in Norway, as well as from Copenhagen, but since the breaking out of the present unfortunate war between this country and Great Britain, the naval superiority of the latter has rendered all communication between the former and her colonies most precarious, and the wretched Icelanders have experienced the greatest difficulty in procuring even the poor supplies necessary for their bare subsistence. Sensible of the miserable and defenceless state of this island, it has therefore been the generous wish of the British government that it should be suffered to remain in a state of virtual neutrality, and they have of late gone much farther, and even granted licences to protect vessels belonging to the Danes employed in the conveyance of provisions and other articles of necessity, and to permit English ships to carry similar cargoes thither. "An humane interest," to use the words of Count Tramp, "has been shewn by the English in the fate of the inhabitants, for which they will ever with gratitude remember the exalted philanthropist, Sir Joseph Banks, who on this occasion undertook to advocate their cause."
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.
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