Page:The Clipper Ship Era.djvu/25

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American Shipping up to 1812

were those captured from the French. The frigate was indeed invented in England, the first being the Constant Warwick, launched in 1647, by Peter Pett, who caused the fact of his being the inventor of the frigate to be engraved upon his tomb; but in the improvement of the type, England had long been outstripped by her neighbor across the channel. William James,[1] the well known historian of the British Navy, makes mention of the French forty-gun frigate Hebe which was captured by the British frigate Rainbow in 1782, and records that "this prize did prove a most valuable acquisition to the service, there being few British frigates even of the present day (1847) which, in size and exterior form, are not copied from the Hebe." As late as 1821 the Arrow, for many years the fastest yacht owned in England, was modelled from the lines of a French lugger, recently wrecked upon the Dorset coast, which proved to be a well known smuggler that had for years eluded the vigilance of H. M. excise cutters, always escaping capture, although often sighted, through her superior speed.

  1. A frigate was a ship designed to be a fast, armed cruiser and mounted from twenty to fifty guns; when a naval vessel mounted less than twenty guns she became a sloop of war, and when she mounted more than fifty guns she became a line-of-battle ship. The frigate was always a favorite type of vessel with the officers and men of the navy, as she was faster and more easily handled than a line-of-battle ship, and was at the same time a more powerful fighting and cruising vessel than a sloop of war. Frigate-built means having the substantial construction, arrangement of the decks, masts, spars, rigging, and guns of a frigate.