The History of Yachting/Chapter 3

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CHAPTER III

KING CHARLES II. RETURNS TO ENGLAND

Prince Henry's pleasure ship Disdain, 1604—Shipbuilding, an "art or mystery"—Famous ships of this period—Origin of the frigate—Naval wars—Embarkation of Charles II., 1660, in a yacht owned by the Prince of Orange—Thirteen yachts in the cortège—The King re-embarks and lands in England—The Restoration.

IN 1603 King James I., son of Mary Queen of Scots, succeeded Queen Elizabeth. England and Scotland then became united under one flag, the red cross of St. George combining with the white cross of St. Andrew. This flag became known as the "Union Jack," a corruption of "Jacques," and so called in compliment to King James. In 1801, when Ireland was taken into the Union, the red diagonal cross of St. Patrick was added, the flag thus continuing to the present day.

In 1604 Phineas Pett, a member of the distinguished ship-building family, received instructions from Lord High-Admiral Howard to "build in all haste a miniature pleasure ship" for Prince Henry, the eldest son of King James. An account of this little vessel is given in a monograph of Phineas Pett, the manuscript being still preserved in the British Museum. The author thus describes the progress of this little ship:

"About January 15, 1604, a letter was sent

A Admiraliteit Jaght, or Admiralty Yacht.

143 The History of Yachting.png
haste to Chatham from my Honorable Lord Admiral Howard, commanding me with all possible speed to build a little vessel for the young Prince Henry to disport himself in about London bridge and acquaint his Grace with shipping and the manner of that element; setting me down the proportions and the manner of garnishing, which was to be like the work of the Ark Royal, battlementwise. This little ship was in length 28 feet by the keel, and in breadth 12 feet, garnished with painting and carving, both within board and without, very curiously, according to his Lordship's directions."

Pett "wrought night and day by torch and candle," and the little ship was launched March 6th, "with noise of drums, trumpets, and such like ceremonies." He was made captain of this royal vessel, which was "manned with almost all the boatswains of the navy, and other choice men," and was then sailed round into the Thames, where she arrived March 22d, and anchored off Blackwall. By order of the Lord Admiral, she was taken "right against the Tower before the King's lodgings," where she was visited by Prince Henry and the Lord High Admiral, who "took pleasure in beholding the ship, being furnished at all points with ensigns and pennants." A day or two later the Prince, with the Lord High Admiral and other noblemen, came on board, and Pett "weighed anchor and dropped down the river as low as Paul's Wharf where we anchored, and his Grace, according to the manner in such cases used, with a great bowle of wine christened the ship and called her by the name of Disdain."

Pett was attached to the court of King James as Keeper and Captain of this craft. The young Prince Henry became fond of him, and before his death—in 1612—he interested himself in Pett's promotion. Nothing further is recorded concerning the Disdain, except that she appears in the Navy List of 1618, and is rated as being of thirty tons burden.

In the early part of the reign of King James I. the mercantile marine of England was much reduced, nearly all the commerce being carried on by foreign vessels. The English East India Company found in the merchants of Holland more formidable rivals than they had found in either the Portuguese or the Spaniards, but the merchants of London were so inspired by the profits of their voyages to India that the East India Company thereupon obtained a new charter in 1609 for fifteen years, and constructed a new vessel of 1200 tons burden, named the Trades Increase—the largest merchant-ship hitherto built in England. When she was launched, the Company gave a grand banquet, at which the dishes were of chinaware, a great novelty then in England, and "the King came down to a banquet on board of it, and put a chain of gold round the neck of the Governor."

The Trades Increase was commanded by Sir Henry Middleton, and had a pinnace attached to her, named the Peppercorn, of 250 tons burden, and a "victualling barque" of 180 tons; also a

The Royal Prince. Built 1610.

149 The History of Yachting.png
tender named the Darling, of 90 tons. This fleet sailed for the East Indies, and the Trades Increase was wrecked and lost at Bantam; Middleton died on board of her. The English East India Company, however, persevered, and, among other vessels, sent the Globe, Hector, Thomas, New Years Gift, Merchants Hope, and Solomon upon prosperous India voyages, until the profits of the Company in one year amounted to 236 per cent, on the capital invested.

In 1610 the Royal Prince was launched, at that time the largest ship that had been built in England. She is thus described by Stow: "A most goodly ship for warre, the keel whereof was 114 feet in length, and the cross-beam was 44 feet in length; she will carry 64 pieces of ordnance, and is of burthen 1400 tons. The great workmaster in building this ship was Master Phineas Pett, Gentlemen, some time Master of Arts at Emanuel College, Cambridge."

In 1612 the Shipwrights Company was incorporated by a charter granted to the "Master Warden and Commonalty of the Art or Mystery of Shipwrights"; and Phineas Pett was the first Master.

It is interesting to note that shipbuilding was regarded as "an art or mystery," and so continued for a considerable time. The first glimmering of science appeared during the reign of Charles II., and largely through the exertions and influence of the King.

In 1637 the Sovereign of the Seas, of 1637 tons burden, built by Peter Pett, son of Phineas, was the first three-decker built in England. Her length over all was 232 feet, and her main breadth 48 feet; she carried 126 guns. Later she was cut down one deck, and remained in the service till 1696, "with the character of the best man-of-war in the world." She was accidentally burned at Chatham. It appears to have been regarded as a remarkable coincidence, that the tonnage of this vessel was the same as the date of the year of her launching.

In 1646 Peter Pett built the Constant Warwick, of 315 tons burden, and 32 guns. This was the first frigate built in England, and Pett caused the fact of his being the inventor of the frigate to be engraved upon his tomb. Evelyn, in his diary, relates this conversation: "Sir Anthony Deane mentioned what exceeding advantage we of this Nation had by being the first who built frigates, the first of which ever built was that vessel which was afterwards called the Constant Warwick, and was the work of Pett at Chatham, for a trial of making a vessel which would sail swiftly. It was built with low decks, the guns lying near the water, and was so light and swift of sailing, that in a short time she had, ere the Dutch war was ended, taken as much money from privateers as would have laden her."

The dimensions of the Constant Warwick are given in Pepys Miscellanies, as follows: Length of keel, 85 feet; breadth, 26 feet 5 inches; depth, 13 feet 2 inches; carrying a crew of 140 men.

The Constant Warwick was, no doubt, the first

The Sovereign of the Seas. Built 1637.

155 The History of Yachting.png
frigate built in England, but the name was of earlier origin as well as the vessel, and was first used in the Mediterranean. The English word frigate is from the Italian Fregata, which was originally a swift vessel without decks, used by the Rhodians, and propelled by sails and oars.

As we have seen, the Disdain was built during the reign of James I., whereas, the above mentioned are the principal ships built during the reign of King Charles I., and the period of the Commonwealth. No records of "pleasure-ships" appear during those gloomy and tempestuous years of England's history. The nation was occupied with other things. During 1652-53 and 1665-66 the naval wars between England and Holland comprise some of the most desperate sea-battles that history records. In each of these wars the ultimate victory was with England's fleets, although it is probable that England was never so hard pressed on the sea as during those periods. Indeed, the defeat of the Armada was a parade compared to these sea-battles.

During the former of these wars (1652), the Dutch Admiral Tromp sailed down the English Channel with a broom at his mast-head, in token of his intention to sweep the flag of England from the seas. There is a tradition in the Isle of Thanet that the English Admiral Blake replied by hoisting the first long narrow pennant ever set: "A coach-whip to flog the Dutchmen home again," he called it. This is believed to have been the origin of this pennant. If England had her Blake, Rupert, and Penn, Holland also had her Ruyter, Tromp and Evertsens, and the names and exploits of these great admirals live, and will continue to endure side by side with the illustrious seamen in all ages that have commanded fleets.

During the interval of peace between these great naval wars, Charles II. was called from Holland to ascend the throne of England. On May 1, 1660, Parliament, by acclamation, resolved upon this measure; and Pepys remarks that this day "will be remembered for the happiest May-day that hath been for many a year in England."

Charles was at Breda when the welcome invitation reached him, accompanied, as it was, with £50,000 voted by Parliament "for his present supply," the Guilds of London also sending £1000 each. These tangible tokens of loyalty were quite as acceptable, no doubt, as the crown; for King Charles, whether in exile or upon the throne, was always in need of money, a natural consequence of his habit of scattering gold with a lavish hand.

During his exile Charles had become a favorite with all classes in Holland. His cheerful, kindly ways, had gained him many devoted friends; so much so that when the news of his accession to the throne became known, the Prince of Orange, afterward King William III. of England, and many noblemen, determined to make his departure the occasion of a magnificent ovation. The finest yacht in Holland was placed at his disposal, on board of which he made the passage, from near Breda to Delft.

A Staaten Jaght, or State Yacht.

161 The History of Yachting.png
An account of the various ovations that Charles received was published by Adrian Vlackett, In Craven's Hage, 1660. Passing over the speeches addresses, banquets, and military displays, we turn to the yachting trip:

"The yacht on board of which the King sailed had been built for himself by the Prince of Orange, but now belongs to the Board of Admiralty of Rotterdam, and it was without doubt the finest of the little fleet, which consisted, without other ships, almost countless, of thirteen large yachts, which the persons of rank use in the rivers and on the sea, to pass from one province to another, for necessity as well as for pleasure.

"The King found his yacht so convenient and comfortable, that he remarked, while discoursing with the Deputies, that he might order one of the same style, so soon as he should arrive in England, to use on the River Thames. Mr. Van Vlooswyck, Burgermaster of Amsterdam, and one of the Deputies of the province of Holland, taking occasion to do a considerable service to his fatherland, said to the King that lately a yacht has been built in Amsterdam which was almost of the same size, and at least as handsome, and he took the liberty of presenting it to his Majesty, praying him to do a favor to the Magistrate by accepting it.

"The King did not absolutely accept it, but at the same time did not refuse, so that on the advice which Mr. Van Vlooswyck gave to the Magistrate of what had passed, the yacht was bought, which the Board of Admiralty has now received from the East India Company, and has been brought to an excellent state for giving pleasure to the great King, and to give it greater brilliancy, the Magistrate has had the interior of the cabins decorated and gilded, while some of the best artists have been engaged in making beautiful paintings and sculptures with which to embellish it within and without.

"No one would take upon himself the responsibility of distributing the yachts among the gentlemen of the Court, as it would have been impossible to please all equally, therefore, Mr. Van Beverweert prayed the King to have the goodness to make the distribution, leaving the deputies no other course than to obey the commands of his Majesty, which on this occasion was necessary. The King consented to take upon himself this trouble, and commanded that his brother, the Duke of York, should assume the function of Admiral, distributing the yachts as he might consider best, under authority, and at his pleasure.

"The Duke of York accordingly selected the yacht of the Princess Donariere of Orange for himself. The Duke of Glouster had the yacht of the States of Holland. The Princess Royal one of the yachts of the Council of State, and the Deputies of the States General had another. The Deputies of the States of Holland went in the yacht belonging to Mr. Van Beverweert, who also took with him Dom Esteven de Gamarra, who met the King at Breda, not in his official capacity of Ambassador, but as a personal friend of his Majesty; also the Earl of the Rhine, My Lord Craft, and many other English gentlemen.

"The Chancellor of England, with his family, and Mr. Edward Nichols, one of the Secretaries of State, embarked on board the yacht Power of Zealand. The Marquis of Ormond, Viceroy of Ireland, had the yacht of Captain Brouwer, and the Marquis of Worcester the yacht Post of Zealand. My Lords St. John and Belles the yacht of the Lord of Wassenaer; Sir de Charles, brother-in-law of General Monk, and his company, consisting of the Deputies of the Army, had the yacht of the town of Dortrecht. My Lord Gerard, and many English gentlemen, took the yacht of the Lord of Noortwyck, while the thirteenth yacht, belonging to the Prince of Orange, was reserved for the Princess Royal as her bed-chamber.

"Each yacht had her own steward, cooks, and officers, who were in charge of the pantry, kitchen and wines, and those yachts which had not suitable kitchens on board, were accompanied by other vessels, wherein stoves for the kitchen had been provided, also ovens for baking, and there had been made provisions of so great a quantity of all kinds of food, game, comfitures, and wines, and all the tables were so fully served, that the stewards of the English lords, though accustomed to abundance, were astonished thereat, and confessed that they could not conceive by what means twenty or twenty-five great dishes for each table could be prepared on board the yachts and with the motion of the water. "It was the intention of the King to dine when he came on board his yacht, and the steward, who was on board, in the service of the States of Holland, had the dinner prepared, but the wind was so strong that the Princess Royal, not being able to endure the motion of the yacht, was obliged to retire, whereupon the King asked the Captain if there was no way by which they might come under the lee of the land, in order to refresh the Princess, but the Captain answered that there was no shelter to be found before Dortrecht, where he expected he could come by half past one or two in the afternoon, so the squadron of yachts got under way and all sail was carried in this hope.

"Nevertheless, it was nearly four o'clock in the afternoon when Dortrecht was passed; the walls and quay were full of Burgers, who were placed there under arms, and a battery of heavy artillery, with which many salutes were given, as well as with the musketry, as long as the fleet was passing, and also afterwards, as long as the flags of the yachts could be seen, which carried the person of the King and the whole Royal House."

The yachts stopped for a short time at Rotterdam, and a picture is here given of the fleet, taken from the celebrated painting by Verschuring. No reproduction, however, can convey the beauty of this picture. The yacht that carried King Charles is in the foreground, near the centre of the picture, her stern and quarters superbly ornamented with sculpture, embellished with gold, blue, orange, and red. Charles landed at Delft and proceeded to Scheveningen, where he and his numerous attendants boarded the fleet, which was to convey them to England, and a beautiful state barge was provided for the King to go on board the Royal Charles, 80 guns.

The Royal Charles was escorted by a large fleet, and the King landed at Dover May 25th. He entered London May 29, 1660—his birthday, also—"the ways strew'd with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, and fountains running with wine, and 20,000 horse and foot brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy."