"Penelope," Ascension, April 5, 1845.
I HAVE the honour to report my arrival at this island on the 2nd instant, and to resume the account of the proceedings of this ship, subsequent to my letter to you of the 1st of March.
I left the Gallinas station on the 2nd March, and proceeded in the first place to land several military officers for the garrison of Cape Coast Castle, where I arrived on the 6th, and on the following morning went on towards the Bight of Benin. Calling at Acra for information, I visited Whydah and Lagos, and successively fell in with the 'Cygnet' and 'Star,' which vessels I completed with provisions. I had the satisfaction to find that the division under Commander Layton had recently had considerable success in the capture of slave vessels.
On the l3th I arrived at Princes Island, and took in a supply of water, which is there very good, and 13 tons of coal, which occupied two days. I then proceeded to Fernando Po, where I anchored on the 16th, and speedily experienced the superior advantages of that place for coaling and watering, In three days we took in 300 tons of coal, and 90 tons of water. During my stay at Clarence Cove, I received much useful information from Captain Beacroft, the Governor. I had the satisfaction to learn from him, that no Slave Trade had recently been carried on in the Bight of Biafra.
I left Fernando Po on the 19th, and rejoined the cruizers in the Bight of Benin on the 22nd and 23rd. I left the 'Cygnet,' 'Star,' and 'Sealark,' completely supplied with provisions, and then proceeded to Acra for a supply of cattle for this island. Having on the 25th taken on board 20 head of oxen, I came away, and during my passage to this place fell in with the 'Ranger,' which I directed to come here, having reason to believe that I should want her assistance. But the 'Lily' arrived here the same day that I did, (the 2nd instant,) and I was enabled to send away the 'Ranger' on the same evening, with Mr. Gabriel, to Loanda. On the next day, the 'Lily' was sent to the northward, in quest of Lieutenant Stupart, of the 'Wasp,' who had been sent to Sierra Leone in a prize, but whose presence I considered indispensable here as a witness in the case of the piracy and murder committed on a prize crew from the 'Wasp,' and which I will detail, as fully as I can, in a separate report.
I can now venture to express my thankfulness that through Divine favour the operations in the rivers of Gallinas and Seabar, in the course of February, have had no ill effect on the health of the men employed in the boats. Every precaution was taken at the time, but the unavoidable exposure to pestilential air left me under much anxiety until the several weeks had elapsed during which the coast fever is said to be latent under similar circumstances.
On my arrival here, I was gratified to find that the affairs of the island were, upon the whole, in a satisfactory state.
The public works, under the skilful directions of Captain Frazer, had made a good progress; the catch of turtle had been this season uncommonly abundant, and the island had been well supplied with cattle. My only ground of concern was, as to the state of the water, which, for want of rain, has fallen below what I could consider a safe stock to rest upon; being, by this day's return 560 tons. We are in hopes of rain, but with last year's experience in mind, I consider it my duty to take prompt measures, during the momentary leisure which enables me to give my attention to this matter. Having other business at St. Helena, I have taken on board 100 tons of tanks, which I mean to fill at that island, and to bring back here; and I have taken on board 200 tons of casks in shakes, which I can leave in the commissariat store at St. Helens, and which can be readily set up any time, upon notice being given, and a vessel freighted to bring them on reasonable terms, under the direction of Mr. Gulliver, the Harbour Master, who I believe to be a good and honest officer. By this means, Government will not be exposed to such an infamous act of extortion as was attempted last year in the case of the schooner 'Eliza Scott.' Their Lordships may rest assured, that I will exert myself to place that matter on a proper footing, and to do what is just and necessary, according to their directions.
With that view I shall proceed to St. Helena to-morrow morning, and I expect to return here on the 22nd. By that time I hope to find the witness in the case of the "Wasp's' prize collected here, and ready to proceed to England in the 'Rapid,' which vessel I have sent the 'Lily' to relieve, and to send here forthwith.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W. JONES,
Commodore, and Senior officer commanding.
Captain W.A.B. Hamilton