« EelmineJätka »
ships; and those built by her were durable. The Lord Admiral Howard says, in one of his letters, that the Elizabeth Bonaventura in 1588 was twenty-seven years old (and must therefore have been launched in 1561); she had been, he says, employed on every voyage, and was good for twelve years more; and that the Triumph, the Elizabeth Jonas, the Bear, and the Victory were all ships of the first class, and built in the early part of Elizabeth's reign; and, being on the list of the navy at her death, they were then about forty years of age. Without docks to repair these ships—without their bottoms being protected by copper or other metallic sheathing to preserve them from the ravages of the worm (Teredo navalis), it is difficult to conceive what were the means made use of for their protection. Captain Richard Hawkins, in his well-written Voyage, describes the different processes, and particularly that practised by his father, Sir John Hawkins, one of the ablest navigators of the time; but they appear to be merely inadequate expedients.
In the year 1545, a large French fleet stood over to the Isle of Wight to attack the English fleet assembled at that anchorage. A fight ensued, and the Mary Rose was sunk, and, as the French say, the Great Harry had a narrow escape; but the English accounts affirm that the Mary Rose was upset by a roll of the sea, and, the ports being only sixteen inches from the water, she foundered.
King Henry, by Monson's account, dined on board that day, and witnessed the disaster from the shore. The Great Harry also, in the first year of Queen Mary, 1553, took fire, as is said, from the carelessness of the mariners, and was wholly consumed. The Sovereign now only remained of the four large ships, and Monson says that she too was burnt: one thing is certain, that none of the four large ships of Henry are found in the list of those, which were employed against the Spanish Armada, nor in any
other list during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
The manning of ships, whether of the navy or hired, was necessarily imperfect, and frequently required forcible means: the science of gunnery was then but little known, archery being a part of it. By the experience however acquired in the numerous expeditions, chiefly against the Spaniards, the greatest naval power then existing, British seamanship and gunnery were greatly advanced, and the determined bravery of our seamen then, as now, led them, on every occasion when it could be done, to the practice of boarding the enemy, in which they rarely failed. The happy result of the encouragement given by Elizabeth, to the improvement of her navy, acquired for her, as Camden tells us, the glorious title of the “Restorer of Naval Power and Sovereign of the Northern Seas.”
From her time down to the present, and throughout every reign, the naval service has regularly improved in all its branches, and the skill in seamanship was eminently displayed in the many brilliant examples of it, exhibited in the long-continued revolutionary war.
Fears, however, it would seem, are now occasionally apprehended by some persons, that the enormous and rapidly increasing extent of steam navigation will materially interfere with the employment of our old seamen, and put a stop to the growth of young ones. In a noted periodical journal this has been strongly put.
“ Alas! for the mutability of human affairs,” says the writer, “ and the wonderful changes effected by human invention! A boiler of water converted into steam impels a ship through the sea with a greater and more constant velocity than the winds can do, and the ship so impelled requires but few or no seamen. She is navigated by engineers, gunners, blacksmiths, and coalstokers, who usurp the place of seamen. What, then, is to become of our brave sailors ? and what is to become of our superiority of seamanship, of the glorious result of which we have just given so splendid an instance?* It may be said we too can steam equally with others; true, but the naval superiority of England, which has been asserted and maintained for the last three hundred years, admits not of equality.”+ This is quite true—insulated as this That of Faulkner in the Blanche against La Pique.
† Edinburgh Review.
country is, she must preserve her naval superiority, whether by sail or by steam.
In officers to command her fleet, Queen Elizabeth was equally deficient as in her ships. She had Frobisher, Hawkins, Drake, and Fenner, able and expert seamen; but for many years they had neither rank nor place in the navy, and at no time permanent; and the duty of Lord High Admiral, which was anciently confined nearly to his judicial functions, was now for the first time efficiently executed by Lord Howard of Effingham, in the true military character. The name of Admiral appears, indeed, to have been first introduced into England by Richard I. on his return from the crusades—a name that was probably derived from Ameer, a chief, or leader. The chief commander of every expedition, whether fitted out by the government or by private individuals, was styled admiral or general. Sir William Monson says—“ There have been often disputes whether the title of admiral or general was more proper for a sea commander; and though I dare not presume to conclude of either, yet I think it is as improper to call an admiral, general by sea, as to call a general, admiral by land." The impropriety consists only in the confusion that is likely to be created, for in other respects every leader or chief commander is Dux, which
may ral or admiral. But the titles of both these and of all subordinate officers ceased with the occasion
be either gene
on which they were employed. On the defeat of the Spanish Armada, for instance, the Lord High Admiral was the only naval officer in the Queen's ships that retained his rank, but its permanency was more owing probably to his judicial than his military character. Lord Henry Seymour, Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and Sir Martin Frobisher, were made flag officers on that important occasion, but retained their naval rank only pro hac vice.
The Lord High Admiral, however, had the power, which he made use of, to bestow the personally permanent honour of knighthood on Captain Frobisher, Captain Hawkins, and some others. The same power was granted by Henry VIII. when he gave a commission to Sir Edward Howard to prepare a fleet for sea, to which he appointed him Captain-General, with authority to confer knighthood, to make ordinances and statutes for the good government of the fleet, and to punish with life and limb. It is curious to see in what an anomalous state the navy then was. The same High Admiral was required to execute indentures with the King to provide a fleet, to be manned with 3000 men of the following descriptions; that is to say: Captains
1750 Mariners and Gunners.