'Penelope,' Ascension, April 23, 1845
I HAVE the honour to report to you the arrival of this ship at St. Helena on the 10th inst., after a passage of four days from this Island.
I immediately landed 200 tons of coals in shakes, which I placed under cover in the commissariel store, with the consent of Mr. Bovel, the Deputy-Assistant Commissary General. This measure will, I hope, render Ascension in future independent of the mercenary speculations of the traders of St. Helena.
I proceeded to take on board 100 tons of water for the use of this island, which I have placed on board the 'Tortoise,' on my arrival here.
I also took on board a quantity of young fir trees, furnished to me by the kindness of Governor Trelawney. These plants were landed here in good condition; they were forthwith sent up to the Green Mountain, where I have reason to hope they will do well; and I will endeavour to keep up such a supply, by means of the southern cruizers, which always touch at St. Helena, before they come here, as may in time produce beneficial effects. I am concerned to find that the plants which their Lordships had been pleased to send out here by the naval transport, were, on opening the cases, found to have perished. From what I can learn, it appears that this result was owing to careless or very unskilful packing, which circumstance I take leave to mention here, because I do not think it is sufficiently indicated in Commander Morrell's letter to you upon the subject, No. 51, of the 8th instant.
I received at St. Helena, a report from M. Gulliver, the Harbour Master, that spontaneous combustion had recently occurred in two instances in the store of Government coals at that place. As I thought there was great reason to impute this accident to the want of that shelter from the action of the sun and rain, the necessity for which I had previously pressed upon the Governor's notice, I felt it to be my duty to recall the subject to his Excellency's attention, and I have reason to believe that this very desirable work will not be much longer delayed.
During my stay at St. Helena, I took great pains to ascertain the facts which would enable me to lay before their Lordships the real character of the transaction in which Mr. Mapleton and his partners stated themselves to have sent a supply of water to the relief of this island last year, from 'motives of humanity and zeal for Her Majesty's service.' I regret to state it as my opinion, that this pretension is untrue, and that the conduct of those persons, in making the enormous demand which they have done upon their Lordships, is not only without just grounds, but that their charges are wholly untenable. For the reasons, upon which this opinion is formed, and the proofs by which it is supported, I have the honour to refer their Lordships to my separate report upon the matter.
On the 13th instant, Her Majesty's sloop 'Alert' arrived at St. Helena, having been three weeks working up from this island; and on the 15th instant, the 'Ringdove' arrived from the coast. I supplied each of these sloops with six weeks' provisions, and dispatched them to their stations.
After a stay of seven days, having refreshed this ship's company with leave on shore, a relaxation which they stood much in need of, I left St. Helena on the 17th, and arrived here, after a passage of five days under sail, on the 22nd.
During my absence, the 'Pantaloon,' 'Waterwitch,' 'Heroine,' and 'Wasp,' had arrived; the first two proceeded to their several stations, the 'Heroine' to Sierra Leone, on her way to England, and the 'Wasp' remains, refitting for the Bights.
The supply of 100 tons of water which we brought, proved to be desirable, very little rain having fallen, and the stock in hand having gradually fallen off to 490 tons. But I have now no fear of any serious distress on this account in future, for, in addition to the other precautions on this score, I have confident hopes that the works now in progress, a[t] Dampier's spring [one of the few springs on the island, reputedly discovered by Dampier], will, before long, render this island independent of any other assistance.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W. JONES,
Commodore, and Senior Officer commanding.
Captain W.A.B. Hamilton