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3.17. Of the nauie of England. Chap. 17.

EEBO page image 200

Of the nauie of England. Chap. 17.

_THere is nothing that hath brought me into more admi|ration of the power and force of antiquitie, than their dili|gence and care had of their nauies: wherein, whether I consider their spéedie build|ing, or great number of ships which some one kingdome or region possessed at one instant; it giueth me still occasion, either to suspect the historie, or to thinke that in our times we come verie farre behind them. For what a thing is it to haue a ship growing on the stub, and sailing on the sea within the space of fiue and fiftie daies? And yet such a nauie was to be séene in the first war of Carthage, led thither by Duellius the Romane. In the warres also against Hieron two hundred and twentie tall ships bare leafe & saile within fiue and fortie daies. In the second warre of Carthage the nauie that went with Scipio was felled in the wood, and séeme to saile on the sea fullie furnished in sixe weekes: which vnto them that are ignorant of things doth séeme to be false and vnpossible. In like maner for multitude, we find in Polybius, that at one skirmish on the sea the Romans lost seauen hundred vessels, which bare ech of them fiue rowes of ores on a side, and the Carthaginenses fiue hun|dred. And albeit the formes and apparell of these ves|sels were not altogither correspondent to our ships and gallies made in these daies: yet the capacitie of most of them did not onelie match, but farrre excéed them, so that if one of their biremes onlie contei|ned so much in burden as a ship of ours of six hun|dred tun: what shall we thinke of those which had seauen rowes of ores walking on a side? But least I should séeme to speake more of these forren things than the course of the historie doth permit without licence to digresse: giue me leaue (I be séech thee gen|tle reader) to wade yet a little further in the report of these ancient formes & kinds of vessels. For albe|it that the discourse hereof maketh little to the de|scription of our present nauie in England: yet shall the report thereof not be vnprofitable and vnplea|sant to such as shall reade among the writings of their capacities and moulds. It shall not be amisse therefore to begin at the nauie of Xerxes, of which ech meane vessell (as appéereth by Herodot) was able to receiue two hundred and thirtie souldiers, and some of them thrée hundred. These were called triremes, and were indéede gallies that had thrée rowes of ores on euerie side; for the word Nauis is indifferentlie applied so well to the gallies as ship, as to the conuersant in histories is easie to be found. In old time also they had gallies of foure rowes, fiue rowes, six, seauen, eight, nine, twelue, yea fifteene rowes of ores on a side; iudge you then of what quantitie those vessels were. Plinie lib. 7. noteth one Damasthenes to be the first maker of the gallies with two rowes called biremes: Thucidi|des referreth the triremes to Ammocles of Co|rinthum; the quadriremes were deuised by Aristo|tle of Carthage; the quinquiremes by Nestchthon of Salamina; the gallie of six rowes by Xenago|ras of Syracusa: from this to the tenth Nesigiton brought vp; Alexander the great caused one to be made of twelue; Ptolomeus Soter of fiftéene; Demetrius the sonne of Antigonus of thirtie; Pto|lom Philad of fortie; Ptol. Triphon of fiftie: all which aboue foure were none other (in mine opinion) than vnweldie carts, and more seruing for pleasure and to gaze vpon, than anie vse in the wars for which they should be deuised. But of all other I note one of fortie rowes, which Ptolo. Philopater builded, conteining 200 and eightie cubits in length, and eight and fortie cubits in breadth: it held also foure thousand ores, foure hundred mariners, and three thousand souldiers, so that in the said vessell were seauen thousand and foure hundred persons: a report incredible, if truth and good testimonie did not con|firme the same. I must needs confesse therefore, that the ancient vessels far exceeded ours for capacitie: neuerthelesse if you regard the forme, and the assu|rance from perill of the sea, and therewithall the strength and nimblenesse of such as are made in our time, you shall easilie find that ours are of more va|lue than theirs: for as the greatest vessell is not al|waies the safest, so that of most huge capacitie is not alwaies the aptest to shift and brooke the seas: as might be seene by the great Henrie, the hugest vessell that euer England framed in our times. Neither were the ships of old like vnto ours in mould and maner of building aboue the water (for of low gallies in our seas we make small account) nor so full of ease within, sith time hath ingendred more skill in the wrights, and brought all things to more perfection than they had in the beginning. And now to come vnto our purpose at the first in|tended.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 The nauie of England may be diuided into three sortes, of which the one serueth for the warres, the o|ther for burden, and the third for fishermen, which get their liuing by fishing on the sea. How manie of the first order are mainteined within the realme, it passeth my cunning to expresse; yet sith it may be parted into the nauie roiall and common fleete, I thinke good to speake of those that belong vnto the prince, and so much the rather, for that their number is certeine & well knowne to verie manie. Certes there is no prince in Europe that hath a more beautifull or gallant sort of ships than the quéenes maiestie of England at this present, and those gene|rallie are of such exceeding force, that two of them being well appointed and furnished as they ought, will not let to encounter with thrée or foure of those of other countries, and either bowge them or put them to flight, if they may not bring them home.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Neither are the moulds of anie forren barkes so conuenientlie made, to brooke so well one sea as another lieng vpon the shore in anie part of the con|tinent as those of England. And therefore the common report that strangers make of our ships a|mongst themselues is dailie confirmed to be true, which is, that for strength, assurance, nimblenesse and swiftnesse of sailing, there are no vessels in the world to be compared with ours. And all these are committed to the regiment and safe custodie of the admerall, who is so called (as some imagine) of the Gréeke word Almiras a capiteine on the sea, for so saith Zonaras in Basilio Macedone & Basilio Porphyrioge|nito, though other fetch it from Ad mare the Latine words, another sort from Amyras the Saracen ma|gistrate, or from some French deriuation: but these things are not for this place, and therefore I passe them ouer. The quéenes highnesse hath at this pre|sent (which is the foure and twentith of hir reigne) al|readie made and furnished, to the number of foure or fiue and twentie great ships, which lie for the most part in Gillingham rode, beside thrée gallies, of whose particular names and furnitures (so far foorth as I can come by them) it shall not be amisse to make report at this time.

The names of so manie ships belong|ing to hir maiestie as I could come by at this present.

    Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 3
  • The Bonaduenture.
  • Elizabeth Ionas.
  • White Beare.
  • Philip and Marie.
  • Triumph.
  • Bull.
  • Tiger.
  • Antlope.
  • Hope.
  • Lion.
  • Victorie.
  • Marie Rose.
  • Foresight.
  • Swift sute.
  • Aid.
  • Handmaid.
  • Dread nought.
  • Swallow.
  • Genet.
  • Barke of Bullen.
  • Achates.
  • Falcon.
  • George.
  • Reuenge.

It is said, that as kings and princes haue in the yoong daies of the world, and long since framed themselues to erect euerie yeare a citie in some one place or other of their kingdoms (and no small woon|der that Sardanapalus should begin & finish two, to wit, Anchialus and Tharsus in one daie) so hir grace dooth yearelie build one ship or other to the bet|ter defense of hir frontiers from the enimie. But as of this report I haue no assured certeintie, so it shall suffice to haue said so much of these things: yet this I thinke worthie further to be added, that if they should all be driuen to seruice at one instant) which God forbid) she should haue a power by sea of about nine or ten thousand men, which were a notable com|panie, beside the supplie of other vessels apperteining to hir subiects to furnish vp hir voiage.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Beside these hir grace hath other in hand also, of whom hereafter as their turnes doo come about, I will not let to leaue some further remembrance. She hath likewise thrée notable gallies: the Spéed well, the Trie right, and the Blacke gallie, with the fight whereof and rest of the nauie roiall, it is incredible to saie how greatlie hir grace is delighted: and not without great cause (I saie) sith by their meanes hir coasts are kept in quiet, and sundrie forren enimies put backe, which otherwise would inuade vs. The number of those that serue for burden with the other, whereof I haue made mention alreadie, and whose vse is dailie séene, as occasion serueth, in time of the warres, is to mée vtterlie vnknowne. Yet if the re|port of one record be anie thing at all to be credited, there are 135 ships that exceed 500 tun, topmen vnder 100 and aboue fortie 656: hoies 100: but of hulkes, catches, fisherboats, and craiers, it lieth not in me to deliuer the iust account, sith they are hard|lie to come by. Of these also there are some of the quéenes maiesties subiects that haue two or three, some foure or six, and (as I heard of late) one man whose name I suppresse for modesties sake, hath bene knowne not long since to haue had sixtéene or se|uentéene, and emploied them wholie to the wafting in and out of our merchants, whereby he hath reaped no small commoditie and gaine. I might take occa|sion to tell of the notable and difficult voiages made into strange countries by Englishmen, and of their dailie successe there: but as these things are nothing incident to my purpose, so I surcease to speake of them. Onelie this will I ad, to the end all men shall vnderstand somewhat of the great masses of treasure dailie emploied vpon our nauie, how there are few of those ships, of the first and second sort, that being apparelled and made readie to sale, are not woorth one thousand pounds, or thrée thousand du|cats at the least, if they should presentlie be sold. What shall we thinke then of the greater, but espe|ciallie of the nauie roiall, of which some one vessell is woorth two of the other, as the ship wrights haue often told me? It is possible that some couetous person hea|ring this report, will either not credit it at all, or sup|pose monie so emploied to be nothing profitable to the queenes coffers: as a good husband said once when he hard there should be prouision made for ar|mor, wishing the quéenes monie to be rather laid out to some spéedier returne of gaine vnto hir grace, bi|cause the realme (saith he) is in case good enough, and so peraduenture he thought. But if as by store of ar|mour for the defense of the countrie, he had likewise vnderstanded that the good kéeping of the sea, is the safegard of our land, he would haue altered his cen|sure, and soone giuen ouer his iudgement. For in times past, when our nation made small account of nauigation, how soone did the Romans, then the Saxons, & last of all the Danes inuade this Iland? whose crueltie in the end inforced our countrumen, as it were euen against their wils, to prouide for ships from other places, and build at home of their owne, whereby their enimies were offentimes di|stressed. But most of all were the Normans therein to be commended. For in a short processe of time af|ter the conquest of this Iland, and good consider at i|on had for the well kéeping of the same, they supposed nothing more commodious for the defense of the countrie, than the maintenance of a strong nauie, which they spéedilie prouided, mainteined, and there|by reaped in the end their wished securitie, where|with before their times this Iland was neuer ac|quainted. Before the comming of the Romans, I doo not read that we had anie ships at all, except a few made of wicker and couered with buffle hides, like vnto the which there are some to be seene at this present in Scotland (as I heare) although there be a little (I wote not well what) difference betwéene them. Of the same also Solinus speaketh, so far as I remember: neuerthelesse it may be gathered by his words,The Bri|tons fasted all the while they were at the sea in these ships. how the vpper parts of them aboue the wa|ter onelie were framed of the said wickers, and that the Britons did vse to fast all the whiles they went to the sea in them: but whether it were doone for poli|cie or superstition, as yet I doo not read.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 In the beginning of the Saxons regiment we had some ships also, but as their number and mould was litle and nothing to the purpose, so Egbert was the first prince that euer throughlie began to know this necessitie of a nauie, and vse the seruice thereof in the defense of his countrie. After him also other princes, as Alfred, Edgar, Ethelred, &c: indeuoured more and more to store themselues at the full with ships of all quantities, but chieflie Edgar, for he pro|uided a nauie of 1600 aliàs 3600 saile, which he diui|ded into foure parts, and sent them to abide vpon foure sundrie coasts of the land to keepe the same from pirats. Next vnto him (and worthie to be re|membred) is Etheldred, who made a law, that euerie man holding 310 hidelands, should find a ship furni|shed to serue him in the warres. Howbeit, and as I said before, when all their name was at the greatest, it was not comparable for force and sure building, to that which afterward the Normans prouided; neither that of the Normans anie thing like to the same that is to be séene now in these our daies. For the iourneies also of our ships, you shall vnderstand, that a well builded vessell will run or saile com|monlie thrée hundred leagues or nine hundred miles in a wéeke, or peraduenture some will go 2200 leagues in six wéekes and an halfe. And suerlie, if their lading be readie against they come thither, there be of them that will be here, at the west Indies, & home againe in twelue or thirteene wéekes from Colchester; although the said Indies be eight hun|dred leagues from the cape or point of Cornewall, as I haue beene informed. This also I vnderstand EEBO page image 202 by report of some trauellers, that if anie of our ves|sels happen to make a voiage to Hispaniola or new Spaine, called in time past Quinquezia and Haiti, and lieth betwéene the north tropike and the equa|tor, after they haue once touched at the Canaries, (which are eight daies sailing or two hundred and fiftie leages from S. Lucas de Barameda in Spaine) they will be there in thirtie or fourtie dates, & home a|gaine in Cornewall in other eight wéekes, which is a goodlie matter, beside the safetie and quietnesse in the passage. But more of this elsewhere.

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