Page images
PDF
EPUB

to retract, whatever may be the consequence to me, and sure am I no one proof or document can appear to shew that I have in anyway interfered in the government; but I beg leave briefly to state to you how far I have been concerned, and to add at the same time that, not understanding the Danish language, it is possible that I may in some instances have been deceived.—In January last, myself and my partners sent a cargo of provisions and other necessaries under a British licence, to relieve the inhabitants of Iceland. The cargo was landed, but, through the artifice and intrigue of the Danes, instead of returning a cargo of Iceland produce, as the licence specified, the vessel was returned in ballast with stones which our agent was obliged to pay for, although the then constituted Danish authorities had granted us a free trade, and the warehouses were full of Iceland goods. Severe proclamations were also afterwards published to obstruct our trade, all of which I shall take home.—On finding that the same conduct prevailed on my arrival here with another cargo on the 21st of June last, and that I must again return in ballast, unless I pursued strong measures, I ventured to make Count Tramp prisoner, partly on this account, and partly on hearing that he had come here under a fictitious name and character. Being requested by many of the native inhabitants to issue some proclamations, to satisfy the minds of the people, and being also requested and entreated by them to remove the Danes from the island, who had reduced them to the greatest state of misery, I declined interfering, or taking any part in the government, and refused to hoist the English flag, not knowing that I should be correct in so doing, until the will of his Majesty's ministers could be known.—Upon farther applications being sent to me, which expressed the wishes of the people that Mr. Jorgensen would stand forward to protect the island and the natives against the Danes, I certainly acquiesced, and gave him my concurrence and advice to act as the natives thought best, unless some of them would take the management of the island (ad interim) till the will of the British government could be known; and I agreed that the island should be declared free and independent of Denmark, but only in suspension, until his Majesty's pleasure could be known. I have in no other respect interfered in the government here, farther than in protecting our property and persons. It has also been impossible for me to transmit an account of these transactions before to England, as there have been no vessels fit for the navigation of these seas; of which you can easily assure yourself. You will find, Sir, that there are two parties in this island; the Danish party and the Icelandic, or English, party. I hope I have listened to and favored that party which will be most approved of by his Majesty's ministers; but, if it should not prove to be so, I have erred unintentionally.

I have the honor to be,
Sir,

Your most obedient and humble Servant,

Samuel Phelps.

To the Honorable Alexander Jones,
Captain of His Majesty's Ship
Talbot, Reikevig Harbor.

N° 8. COPY OF A LETTER

FROM THE HONORABLE CAPTAIN JONES TO REAR-ADMIRAL SIR EDWARD NEAGLE, COMMANDER IN CHIEF, S,c, Ssc, lsc.

His Majesty's Sloop, Talbot, Reikevig Bay, . .Iceland, August 23rd, 1809.

Sir,

I have to acquaint you that, owing to extremely bad weather, I had no communication with this island until the 5th of August, when I anchored for a few hours in Oreback Bay. I was there informed that there were three English vessels at this place and that an English merchant had become governor of the island. On the 8th I anchored in Havnfiord Bay to water, when I learned that Mr. Phelps, an English merchant, and the owner of the Margaret and Anne letter of marque, had made Count Tramp, the Danish governor of the island, prisoner, and that Mr. Jorgensen (a Danish gentleman brought from England by Mr. Phelps) had taken upon him the government of the island; but that it was not satisfactory

to the inhabitants, in consequence of his former situations in life. I came here on the 14th from Havnfiord, for the purpose of being better informed upon this subject, as well as for the sake of repairing my rigging. On entering the harbor I found at anchor the Margaret and Anne privateer with two or three other vessels, and saw a blue flag, with three white fish in the upper quarter, flying over the town: this I was told was the new Iceland colors. Count Tramp, who was a prisoner on board the privateer, requested to have an interview with me, during which he stated that he had been extremely ill used, and in a manner that was contrary to the laws of nations; that Mr. Jorgensen was a traitor to his own country (Denmark); that he had first served Great Britain; then fought against it; and was now, by hoisting the above-mentioned flag, and by declaring the island free, neutral, and independent, and at peace with all nations, acting in rebellion to both. I therefore thought it necessary to inquire of Mr. Phelps by what authority he acted. That gentleman having first declined to give any explanation to me, and after- VOL. II. H

« PreviousContinue »