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miles, three hundred sail might be anchored at the distance of 100 fathoms from each other, for although the coast from the fort round to South-west Bay be rocky with foul ground extending about half a milt into the sea, as marked on the chart, yet I found the bottom perfectly clear, without the depth of ten fathoms.
I have already stated that upwards of forty craters have in former times been in a state of activity. Now the island lying within the limits of a constant brisk south-east trade wind, the ashes and pommiee dust, &c. ejected by the volcanoes, have been carried by the wind into the sea to leeward of the island, and formed an excellent anchorage: the bank thus formed has in the course of time been augmented by vast quantities of small shells ground up together, and polished by the action of the waves; and it is those fine pieces of shells that form the various beaches on the lee side of the island where the sea-turtle deposits her eggs to be hatched by the heat of the sun.
Wherever there is a prevailing current in the air or ocean, at an island, the dust in the air, or the mud in the sea, is carried by the current and deposited to leeward, where a bank is formed on which ship may anchor; this is the case at St. Helena, Ascension, the Madeiras, the Canaries, and Cape de Verd islands, &c.
Ascension is visited by the sea-turtle between Christmas and Midsummer, and it is supposed that during the above period each female makes three or four nests. The animal remains on the coasts of the island till fifty or sixty eggs are fit for being deposited in the sand. She then lands on the beach, between ten o'clock at night and four in the morning, and going sometimes 150 or 200 yards above high-water mark, digs a large pit about eight or ten feet in diameter, and two or three feet deep, where the eggs are deposited and carefully covered with sand; she then leaves them to Nature. In about nine or ten weeks lie young turtle breaks its prison, and working its way upwards through the sand gains the surface, and proceeds directly to the sea. Should this journey happen in daylight many of the young animals are picked up and devoured by the man-of-war bird, who may be seen hovering over the turtles' nests. For this species of warfare in destroying th* young turtle, the man-of-war bird is shot, or otherwise destroyed bj the officers of the garrison.
There are abundance of excellent fish to be caught among the rocks throughout the year, such as rock cod, conger, cavalhois, &c.; they are so plentiful that a boat's crew may catch enough for a frigate's ship*company. The best place for fishing is on the reef near the anchorage, beginning with a piece of salt pork fur a bait, and afterwards cutting up fish for bait. Cray fish are also caught near the mouths of caverns among the rocks towards English Bay, the method is as follows:— Hang a piece of fish or pork by a string a short distance below th' surface of the water at the mouth of a cavern, the cray fish observing it will rise to the bait, and may be taken by hand.
The coast l^ leeward of the island is bold and clear from English Bay to the fort near Tartar Stairs. About a mile to the north-east of the fort there is a small bay with a spot of sand on it, on which a boat may land among wild and irregular climpers: this spot has been dignified by the name of Comfort Cove, aud extolled very much above i» rpal merit. From the foot of Fort Cockburn round to trie westward as far as South-west Bay, the coast is, as has been already observed, rocky. The reef runs out about seven-tenths of a mile from the fort in a northwest direction, it is composed of uneven masses of hard pointed lava with spots of white sand in the hollow places; there are many of these pointed rocks on which a ship would strike, and on some of which ships have actually struck ; and to prevent such accidents for the future a large buoy is now moored near the extremity of the reef on a rock having thirty feet water on it—the following are its marks :—The flagstaff on the fort in a line with the north-east corner of the jetty, near the crane at Tartar Stairs, and the peak of Green Mountain just touching the edge of Red Cross Hill. Should the buoy be gone by keeping in ten fathoms a ship will avoid all the dangers on the reef.
It sometimes happens that a very heavy swell sets in from the southwestward occasioned by gales of wind without the limits of the trade winds in the South Atlantic. The long swell rolling in against the wind, and meeting with shoal water, and the uneven rocky bottom of the reef breaks high, and with violence, sweeping away thousands of tons of sand from the beach into deep water: this sand is again thrown on shore in fine smooth water.
These rollers* are heaviest when the sun is in the Northern Hemisphere, and storms and tempests in the South Atlantic, in the neighbourhood of Cape Horn.
Two pair of moorings are laid down near the landing-place for the use of H.M. ships: one pair abreast of the middle of the sandy bay to the eastward of the fort, and as near the weather shore as possible. The groundwork is Iine-of-battle ship's chain, and the bridles are tapered from line-of battle ship's chain to sloop's; the small end being suspended to the buoy for the convenience of being taken without lighters. The other pair is laid down near the edge of the reef, one of the anchors being among the rocks, thereby leaving the best of the anchorage unoccupied.
At the inner mooring, in case of necessity, one vessel might be hove down by means of another.
About half a mile inland from South-west Bay, and behind the lava currents, lying near the beach, there is a tract of land of comparatively smooth surface, and of considerable dimensions; the soil is very rich, but so dry and dusty as seldom to exhibit any other verdure than a little purslane. A little further to the south-eastward, and behind some high conical hills there is a sandy plain having an area of, perhaps, twenty or thirty acres. This level is surrounded by the above mentioned conical hills on the north, and on every other side by high ridges of lava, through which the rains have worn flnmari, or water courses, by which considerable quantities of sand and pummice have been discharged into the plain. I could trace very distinctly a line of pummice and other floating materials on the foot of the hills along the
• An interesting account of these rollers will be found in the Voyage of H.M.S. Chanticleer, Capt. Foster, by Mr. Webster, her surgeon, who attributes them to the weak south-east trade being unable to keep the surface water of the ocean from flowing down from the northward, and being interrupted by the islands, washing up their beaches.—Ed.
lee side of the plain, left as the last high-water mark, and shewing nw* clearly that at times there has been a depth of several feet of iroa water in the valley, a quantity sufficient to supply the island for oar? years. This affords the strongest proof of the occasional heavy raua that must fall at Ascension, aud points out the propriety of coastmoing tanks in eligible situations. „
The principal supply of fresh water is obtained on the Green Mooatain, where there are several drips of water, which yield froTM*°°" 1,500 gallons daily, according to the wetness of the season. 1M »» falling on the mountain is absorbed by the porous and light soil, a*l descends by its gravity till it meets with a thin stratum of puwmjce dust, which, in the course of time has been in a manner petrified: tta arrests the water in its progress downwards, and being generally '"d,a<* to the horizon, the water glides along and appears on the surface <t a cliff in the shape of a spring. It is to be regretted that the strata above mentioned a.re faulty in so many places that much water passes through the rents, and is lost in the soil below.
There are two very good stone tanks built in the mountain, in cootact with and parallel to rocky cliffs. The surface of the rock has beta cleaned and gutters cut, by which means all the water that is not absolutely absorbed during rains, on a very considerable surface, nsmt run into tanks. The tanks in the mountain are to be connected with others below, near the landing place at Tartar Stairs, by means of cat iron pipes, the distance between them being five miles.
There are at present tanks of solid masonry, capable of containing 2,400 tons of water, so that the time is not far distant when a ship may obtain a supply of water, vegetables, fruit, fish, and turtle, together with good and wholesome provisions, for the air is so dry and pure that no condemnation of provisions has yet taken place, a circumstance nighty favourable for the island as a victualling depot; and if we estimated* value of her anchorage by the degree of security afforded to shipping, then, that of Ascension will be one of the very best, for here the constant south-east wind blows in a moderate breeze. There is neither calm, gale, squall, nor change of wind; so that a ship might licit single anchor with half cable for any length of time, "in perl'ect
The Skerries Light.
It will be remembered that, in December last, an action was brought in the Court of Queen's Bench, Dublin, by Messrs. Richardson and Boyce, against the proprietors of the Skerries light-house, for trespass. The latter having seized the steamer Mercury, the property of the plaintiffs, for the non-payment of dues which it was alleged had been incurred by that vessel on a voyage from Cork to Dublin. The plaintiffs obtained a verdict; and we refer to the case because, in the course of the trial, it was clearly shown that under the royal grant which empowered the levy of one penny per ton on shipping by the owners of the Skerries, a large revenue was produced, which was every year augmented; and that it was highly necessary that commerce should be relieved of the tax. The Trinity Board, taking this view of the matter, have since (acting upon the authority given them by an Act of Parliament,) called upon the owners of the Skerries to transfer their right to the corporation; and, as might have been anticipated, a question arose about the value of the rock, light, and revenue, so to be transferred. To decide this question a precept was issued by the High Sheriff of Anglesey, and a special jury was empnnnelled on the 20th instant, when the property was assessed at 444,000/., this sum being estimated as twenty years' purchase.
This is purchasing the destruction of an imposition at a very heavy rate; but heavy as it is, we had rather, even at this price, have the purchase made now, than suffer such a property to remain longer in the hands of irresponsible possessors, without hope of a reduction in the charges levied on shipping. ■ The value fixed, by the verdict of the jury, on the Skerries light-house, may be referred to hereafter as a positive lesson on the evils of procrastination in matters which concern commerce; and it is an example of the injustice of granting, without the protection of ample provisionary considerations, the right to private persons to exact toll or tax for anything contrived, and necessary for the public convenience. The Skerries light was erected in the reign of Queen Anne, 1713, by one William Trench, who received a patent for sixty years, which enabled him to collect one penny per ton from certain vessels. This right was made perpetual, seventeen years after, by George the II., a monarch dear to memory, as the introducer of the excise system of taxation, and other grievous impositions; but neither the king nor his minister, Walpole, could by any possibility have contemplated that the profits to be derived from the grant, would ever have increased to the vast sum they at present amount to. It was proved, that during tlie last year 20,000/. was received as light dues for the Skerries ;—this led to the verdict. Eight years ago, the value would have been adjudged, by the very same process, at something more than half the sum; the net annual revenue arising out of the Skerries, taking the average of seven years ending 1833, being 12,524/. 15s. 2d. .
At the end of the last war, when trade began to increase, and merchant ships to multiply, the Trinity Company should.have acquired possession of all private lights; and the trick of granting patents to the projectors of new ones should have ceased. But the Brotherhood of that day had no forethought; they did not possess the intelligence and energy that an efficient discharge of their important duties required of them; there arc few of these left now; and it will he for the corporation itself, and for the shipping interest especially, if at future Trinity elections those candidates are always rejected who are described in the Nautical Magazine as "Dead-reckoning,—this-here-buoy men,"—and whom we consider as the ordinary seamen of the establishment; for we are persuaded that all the good that has lately, or may be hereafter achieved, will, as it has, originate and be accomplished by the superior officers connected with the corporation,—who alone save it from falling into impotence and ridicule. A naval and an East India officer delivered a judgment in a case the other day in the Admiralty Court, as Trinity masters, which the fraternity may refer to, and be gratilied in exhibiting so good a proof that there are some sailors amongst them; 'while the general body of shipowners and masters may take it as earnest of better things to come.
Had the same ability, and the same desire, to benefit the marine existed fraand-twerty years ago, amongst the members of the Trinity Corporation, list has begun to develope itself now, its funds would have been the richer, asd there would have been some million or more of money saved, merely by die timely purchase of private light-houses, to be expended now in the execution of other improvements.—Shipping Gazette.
The following brief report of the proceedings in the important matter is which we have referred, we take from the North iPalu Chronicle :—
"On the morning of the 26th instant, in virtue of a precept issued to the High Sheriff of Anglesey, a court was held at the Shire-hall, Beaumaris, to adjudicate and decide between the owners of the Skerries light and ruck and the Trinity Board, pursuant to the act of parliament, empowering the Bretons to purchase and govern all light-houses within the United Kingdom.
"The question was one of considerable importance, involving property to the amount of 4 or 500,000/.; and from the circumstance of the first men of die bar being employed, the inquiry attracted a very crowded court, amongst whoa there was a very fair sprinkling of ladies.
"Mr. Earle presided as assessor; and there appeared as counsel far die plaintiffs, (the descendants and residuary legatees of the late Morgan Jones, Esq.,) the Attorney-General, Sir Thomas Wylde, Mr. Fitxroy Kelly, Mr. Jerri*, and Mr. Vaugban Williams. For the Trinity Board,—Sir William Foliett, Sk Frederick Pollock, Mr. Cresswell, and Mr. Frederick Ruby.
"The precept having been read, the following special jury was sworn :— Hon. William Owen Stanley; William Pritchard Lloyd, Esq.; John Hughes, merchant; Edward Jonathan, merchant; John Davies, merchant; James Ti»week, Esq.; John Williams, Esq.; Nicholas Treweek, Esq.; Hugh Beaver, Esq.; and John Boggie, Esq.
"The Attorney-General, in an argumentative and effective speech, stated the case for the plaintiffs, in support of which he called the collectors of the Skerries light dues at the ports of Liverpool, London, Dublin, and their outsorts, from whose testimony ne proved that the net receipts for the last year exceeded 20,000/.; also several surveyors and land agents, who agreed that from twentyeight to thirty years' purchase was a fair equivalent for the property in question, —adding one year's income for compulsory selling.
"The greater number of the witnesses were cross-examined, but the reexamination tended to do away with very little impression made by the gentlemen on the other side.
"The plaintiffs' case closed at three o'clock, at which period the assessor granted an indulgence of a quarter of an hour for refreshment.
"Sir William Foliett would address the jury for the defendants; and upon the effect of that address, we believe, the defendants meant to rely.
"[We understand that the verdict was for the owners of the light-house 444,000/., and some odd pounds, being considered twenty years' purchase.]"
The following extract from a private letter, 'which has just bee/n received here from one of the members of the Royal Artillery Corps, engaged in the China expedition, assigns a different cause for the sicklies which prevailed than any yet made public:—
"We left Chusan on the 14ih of November, in company with the Melville and Wellesley, and several smaller croft; and I may say, I was not sorry at leaving a place where sickness was making great havoc among our people.