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not go immediately on board the boat, we will burn you together with the vessel. I repeatedly asked them to ransom me but in vain. About four in the afternoon we were obliged to quit our vessel in such distress, as to have nothing left us but what we had on our backs, which was of very little value. We all arrived about seven o'clock in the evening at Kleven near Mandahl. Some of the American crew told us, the vessel was called the Norfolk, that she belonged to the congress at Philadelphia, and that she came from Maelstrand.
CHARLES LINES. Roval Simonds, William Goldsmith, Thomas Reiley, William Urquhart, William Fairweather.
The aforesaid reports having been read in the English language before all the parties present, both captains and crews, each of them took their corporal oath, that all that was contained in the said two reports was the exact truth. Afterwards the two coasting pilots, Gabriel Jorgensen and Nicholas Govertsen of Kleven, presented themselves as witnesses, who, after having taken oath, declared unani. mously.
That on Sunday last the 2d December about noon, the former went as a coasting pilot on board of captain Lines, and the latter on board of captain Ray, in the port of Kleven, and that they put these two vessels out to sea with the wind at north east, as soon as they left them they returned ashore in their boats, and observed coming from the eastward along the coast a ship and two brigs, which they thought were English; that shortly after the witnesses saw these vessels bear down on the two English brigs, they had piloted out, captain Ray's vessel being three quarters of a Norwegian league without the shoals, captain Lines being close aboard of them after which, these witnesses observed that the vessels coming from the eastward, fired several guns, which led them to conclude that they were enemies, as they were afterwards convinced, when they saw them board and search them.
The witnesses arrived afterwards at Kleven, and from the rocks they noticed that the vessels remained for some time together, until the evening that they saw the two brigs in fames, driving at the mercy of the wind, then at north east, and that they were burning late at night. These witnesses moreover declare, that on the evening of the said Sunday, the captains Lines and Ray, came to the port of Kleven in their boats with their crews, being sixteen persons, and that they went to the syndic Peter Johnson, to whom they bitterly complained of the violence and barbarity with which they had been treated, as set forth in the two reports. The Sieur Giertsen, afterwards presented as witnesses the three coasting pilots, belonging to Osmend, Pedersen, Olae, Srendsen, and Martin Carlsen, Tragde, each of whom in particular, took their personal oath, to tell the truth and to conceal nothing. After which they unanimously declared, that on Sunday last the 2d, December about noon, after having piloted out a ship from the port of Tragdeford, and on their return with their boat, they saw coming along the coast from the eastward, with the wind at north east, a ship and two brigs, and at the same time, they saw two brigs going out of the port of Kleven, that these vessels on coming near each other, the witnesses saw the vessels from the eastward, fire several guns at the two brigs which came out of Kleven, the foremost of which, being about three quarters of a Norway league, outside of the shoals, and the other close aboard of them; that thereupon the witnesses approached these vessels in their boat, and having come under the sternmost of the two brigs from Kleven, they saw a boat put over the side of the ship from the eastward, whose people boarded captain Lines' brig, after which, one of them got on the poop of the said vessel, and called to the witnesses in the English language, and told them that if they offered to come along side, or aboard, that they would fire on them. The witnesses saw at the same time, a boat from one of the brigs from the eastward, go on board the furthest brig from Kleven ; they also observed the two brigs from Kleven, hoist English colors, which
they struck shortly after. The witnesses have likewise de. clared, that to the best of their judgement, they believe that the three vessels from the eastward are American. The witnesses finally say, that after having left these vessels and gone ashore, that they know and have heard, that the two brigs from Kleven were set on fire, and that their crew had come on shore in their boats at Kleven.
Afterwards appeared as witness, the syndic of the coast. ing pilots, Peter Johnson of Kleven, who after taking personal oath, declared, that on Sunday last, the 2d Deo cember, about noon, the two English brigs commanded by captains Charles Lines and David Ray, went out of the port of Kleyen, and had on board of them the two coasting pilots, David Jorgensen and Nicholas Govertsen, and that shortly after these two brigs left the port of Kleven, he saw from the rocks, the same as the two coasting pilots have declared ; so that his testimony entirely agrees with theirs. The witness, moreover, declares that he observed the two brigs burning very late at night, until they disappeared, as also, that on the evening of the same day, the two captains Lines and Ray, came with their crews, sixteen persons in all, rowing towards the port of Kleven, and came to the house of the witness, to whom they related with many complaints what had happened to them, agreeable to the reports presented and read before the witness.
The Sieur Giertsen afterwards declared, that not being able to obtain any explanations respecting the names of these American vessels, and captains, he had nevertheless, heard to day, that these three vessels had been in the port of Flekeroe, situated about four leagues from this to the eastward, and that they sailed from there on Sunday last in the morning; and that he proposes, by means of the syndic of the pilots to make inquiry after the names of the vessels and captains, and of the other circumstances, and for this purpose, has requested that the conclusion of this deposition be deferred till next Saturday, which has been granted. . On the 8th December following, this tribunal extraordi. nary was continued at the house of Madam Bierson, at: tended by a sufficient number of justices, before whom the Sieurs Giertsen presented himself, who declared that having taken the most exact information at the port of Flekeroe, he learnt that of the three American. vessels, the ship was called the Norfolk, Captain Lines; and the two brigs the Ariel, captain Maller, and the Virginia, captain Hodgkinson, all from Philadelphia: but in the last place arrived from Maelstrand in the port of Flekeroe, which place they left on Sunday last in the morning, the 2d December; and as this information exactly corresponds with the reports of the English confirmed by oaths; and as the port of Flekeroe is situated about four Norway leagues to the eastward of Kleven; and that these Americans sailed on the same Sunday morning with the wind at north east along the coast, consequently the outrages must have been evidently committed by them and by no others. The appellant therefore hopes that he has given sufficient testimony that these three American vessels have committed the said outrages and barbarity, on the subjects and vessels of his Britannic majesty within his Danish majesty's territory, and against the rights of nations.
After which the appellant requested this juridical deposition to be concluded, and demanded the act and formal copies thereof.
It was accordingly done, passed and made out at the bailiwic, by virtue of these presents, which I hereby certify under my signature, and have affixed my seal the day and year aforesaid.
P. FREDRICKSEN. (L. s.)
I the undersigned interpreter to the king and the council of prizes for the northern languages, certify that this translation is actually conformable to the original Danish compared by me. In testimony of which, I have signed the - present at Paris, February 5, 1782.
Dr. Franklin to the Count de Vergennes.
Passy, March 3, 1782.
I RECEIVED the letter your excellency did me the honor of writing to me, the 24th past, enclosing an official paper on the part of the Danish court, relating to the burning of some English vessels on the coast of Norway, by three American ships. I shall not fail to transmit the same immediately to the congress, who will, I make no doubt, enquire into the facts alleged, and do thereupon, what shall appear to be just and right, it being their constant and earnest desire, to avoid giving any offence to neutral nations, as will appear by their instructions to all armed vessels, of which I have the honor to present a copy.
In the mean time, as it is natural to expect, that those who exact a rigorous observation of the laws of nations, when their own interest or honor seems affected, should be themselves ready to show an example of their own regard for those laws, where the interest of others is concerned; I cannot but hope, the court of Denmark will at length attend to a demand, long since made by me, but hitherto without effect; that they would restore to the United States, the value of three vessels amounting to fifty thousand pounds sterling.
These vessels were fair and good prizes, which had been made by our ships of war, not on the coast of Denmark, but far distant on the high seas, and were sent into Bergen as into a port truly neutral, but there contrary to the laws of hospitality, as well as the other laws of nations, they were forcibly wrested out of our hands by the government of that place, and delivered back to our enemies. The congress, have not lost sight of this violence, but constantly expected justice, from the equity and wisdom of his Danish majesty. I am with the greatest respect, &c.