Page images
PDF
EPUB

the principal ones resigned their situations, though some few * in private expressed their dissatisfaction at the republican form of government about to be established; it seeming to them absurd that an island, to which nature had denied all internal resources, should be proclaimed in a state of independence which it necessarily wanted the means of supporting. The bishop, however, and many of the clergy, at a yearly meeting-^ of the synod, signed a document, in which they expressed their satisfaction at

high anarchy here. Very indebted officers, being misled by fair promises of more salaries, did submit or approve the altered form, to their lasting shame for having dispensed with that homage and duty they owed to their native soil. Many good officers resigned their situations, the most did not give in the least declaration. We (Magnus and Stephen StephensenJ, the Etatsroed and Amptman of the western part of the island, declared our wish to administer our offices only for the present year and according to the laws of our country."

* These persons, however, it must be confessed, were equally averse to their former government.

f Count Tramp asserts that this meeting was attended only by a few of the clergymen of the neighborhood, "who were surprised into a declaration in favor of VOL. II. . D

the present situation of affairs, and declared their willingness to support it, exhorting all classes of people to do the same.

Many, likewise, of the natives, came forward, conformably to the tenth article of the last proclamation, with an offer of their services, for the purpose of forming a body

Jorgensen, while all the rest in the island remained unshaken in their allegiance;" and he adds in other parts of his narrative that, "though the proclamation of the 26th of June had struck a dread into the minds of people that could not easily be removed, and though means were taken to keep it up, partly by daily scenes of violence and partly by an armed force from the crew of the Margaret and Anne perpetually patrolling the streets, still the new state was by most people considered a bubble, and the public officers in particular, who ought to have been the first to have paid their homage, did not do it, but some laid down their offices, and others declared they would only hold them for the good of the country by virtue of the same authority under which they had hitherto acted!"—He likewise stigmatizes the motives as well as the conduct of those who attached themselves to Mr. Jorgensen, calling them "a contemptible band of idle persons and men of ruined fortunes, attracted by his being beyond measure lavish of the sums of money amassed by his plunder, and by the pompous promises that he daily retailed on paper or held forth in his harangues."

of soldiers; but, for want of a sufficient supply of arms, as, though a search had been made in the houses at Reikevig the day after Count Tramp's deposition, only twenty or thirty old fowling-pieces, most of them useless, and a few swords and pistols had been found, the number of those engaged was necessarily restricted to eight men, who, dressed in green uniforms, armed with swords and pistols, and mounted on good ponies, scoured the country in various directions, intimidating the Danes, and making themselves highly useful to the new governor in securing the goods and property that were to be confiscated. As a farther act of authority, and to shew the clemency intended to be pursued, four prisoners confined in the Tught-huus, or house of correction, one of the most considerable buildings belonging to the town, were released, and the place itself converted into barracks for the soldiers. Some of the troop were soon employed in seizing the persons of two of the civil officers, the Landfogued, Mr. Frydensberg, and Assessor Einersen*,

* See journal, vol, i. page 89, for a farther account of this transaction.

who were kept in confinement, the former for one night, the latter for eight or ten days, both upon a charge of being at the head of a conspiracy to raise a number of men, who were, after securing the English in the town, to have attacked the Margaret and Anne and made prisoners of her crew. The shops and warehouses in Reikevig belonging to Danes not resident in Iceland were from the first day put under guard, and the goods confiscated, and persons were sent to the distant towns to execute the same errand.

Mr. Jorgensen, having now fixed himself in the possession of supreme power, with the title of His Excellency, the Protector of Iceland, Commander in Chief by Sea and Land, posted up, on the 11th of July, another proclamation *, in which it was declared in the first article, " We Jorgen Jorgensen have taken upon ourselves the government of the country until a regular constitution can be established, with power to make war and conclude peace with foreign potentates;" in the second it is stated that

* See Appendix B., No. 5.

the soldiery (consisting as just mentioned of eight natives) had chosen him to be their leader, and to conduct the whole military department: by the third article a new flag is appointed for Iceland, the honor of which Mr. Jorgensen promises to defend with his life and blood: the fourth abolishes the ancient seal of the country and determines that his own private one is to be used until the representatives of the people shall have fixed upon a new one: in the fifth the time granted to the civil officers for declaring their obedience or resignation is prolonged to ten days for the nearest, and four weeks for the most distant parts of the country, after the expiration of which period all who have not given in their declarations are to be suspended from their employments: the sixth article announces that all officers who shall resign are to repair to Westmannoe (Westman's Isles), until an opportunity is found to convey them to Copenhagen: the seventh promises to that part of the clergy who are willing to declare themselves in his favor, that their circumstances shall be bettered: the eighth repeats the intention of placing the island in a state of defence: the

« PreviousContinue »