« EelmineJätka »
If the several subjects, which are brought forward in this volume, were not all of them of a date far anterior to any records that exist among those of the Admiralty (which, with very few exceptions, commence only with the Restoration, when the Duke of York held the office of Lord High Admiral), my official situation in that department would scarcely have required any apology for undertaking to treat of naval subjects ; though the manner of treating them might, perhaps, have required it. Having, however, fortunately met with flattering encouragement, in a previous attempt to delineate the character and adventurous deeds of one of the most distinguished naval officers, among the many who flourished under
the patronage of Elizabeth, it occurred to me that a separate Memoir of each of these officers-at the head of all was that faithful, honest, and brave servant of the Queen, Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral of England even in that early and nascent state of our Navy, would most assuredly not meet with an unfavourable reception by its officers of the present day, or prove unacceptable to the general class of readers. On this assumption I ventured to proceed.
It will be said, perhaps, that the merits of all, or most of the Naval Worthies of Queen Elizabeth's reign, have been recorded by contemporary historians by the learned, correct, and cautious Camden
—the diligent, faithful, and patriotic Hakluytthe credulous, rambling, and facetious, but indefatigable Purchas—and by some others, whose ponderous and costly folios can only be consulted in great public repositories, or in the libraries of the wealthy --mostly inaccessible, and always inconvenient, to the general mass of readers, and still more so to the majority of country residents. Our old chroniclers, it is true, have bequeathed to their pos
terity the noble deeds of the heroes of their times, each faithfully recited, but most commonly in detached fragments, and rarely brought together under one connected view. My principal aim therefore has been to collect and arrange, into one connected Memoir, the scattered notices, with a brief history of the life and character, the exploits and the general services of each individual Worthy, with specimens of his written correspondence, where such could be obtained, of which materials the old Chronicles are almost wholly deficient.
Disclaiming all pretension to authorship in the compilation of the present volume, I am still disposed to think it will not be found deficient in interest, or wanting in variety. The numerous copies of autograph letters, and other manuscript papers that have not hitherto met the public eye, cannot, I conceive, considering the many years that have passed away since the eventful period of which they treat, fail to be received as documents possessing more than ordinary interest; they may, at least, lay some claim to that which they certainly possess—novelty and originality: while, at the same time, they convey the sentiments and feelings of the writers, expressed in their own vernacular idiom of the age in which they were written.
I have nothing further to add, on my own behalf, than to avail myself of this occasion to express the lively gratification I feel in thus publicly acknowledging, with filial affection and gratitude, the able and willing assistance afforded to me, in the compilation of this work, by my most respected and esteemed father.