Title Page
 List of Illustrations
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X

Title: Book of boats
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00003558/00001
 Material Information
Title: Book of boats
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: William Clowes and Sons, printers
Publication Date: 1854
Copyright Date: 1853
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00003558
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aaa4930 - LTQF
alg2608 - LTUF
46568306 - OCLC
002222366 - AlephBibNum

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    List of Illustrations
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Chapter I
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Chapter II
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Chapter III
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
    Chapter IV
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Chapter V
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
    Chapter VI
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
    Chapter VII
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    Chapter VIII
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
    Chapter IX
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
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        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
    Chapter X
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
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Full Text














S. 173
S 187
S 188
S 191
S .194
S 205
S. 223
S. 245
S. 304
S 306
S 319
S. 321



BUT a few years, comparatively speaking, after
the Ark had rested upon Ararat, and Noah and
his sons had chosen their place of residence, the
increasing number of their descendants must
have made it necessary that some should quit
the first settlement and seek a more distant
And no doubt as they journeyed eastward
towards that plain of Shinar, where they pre-
sumptuously and wickedly hoped "to make to
themselves a name," they must occasionally have
been stayed for awhile in their progress by some
broad swelling stream, which presented no ford-


ing-place. We can easily imagine their dismay
at this unexpected hindrance, and how anxiously
they would gaze at the flowing water which they
wanted to pass, but for the effecting of which they
saw no present means.
Perhaps while looking at its onward course,
a drifted tree, or a bundle of dried grass, or an
empty gourd, might have floated by on its surface,

and have given the first hint to that ingenuity
which enabled them to overcome the difficulty
which distressed them. Or, what is more pro-
bable, a traditionary knowledge of their fore-
fathers' miraculous preservation from the world


of water in the Ark would lead them to attempt
to form something after its model, to suit their
present wants. That vessel, it is true, was not
formed to enable its occupants to pass from
one place to another, but was merely a vast
shelter rendered capable of floating on the water;
built, too, under the immediate direction of the
Omnipotent to effect a saving purpose in the
midst of the destruction of the human race, when
no power or skill of man would have been of
the least avail.
Of the means employed for this purpose by
these early wanderers we know nothing; but
we have learned from ancient writers and from
modern travellers in different parts of the world,
the various contrivances invented by man to pass
these seeming barriers. The most curious of these
we intend to present to our readers, showing the
gradual progress from the simplest form of boat
to the complicated perfection of the largest ship
of war.
The make and build of all early structures
depended simply on the use they were put to,
and the materials at hand for their formation.


In many parts of Arabia and Persia bundles
of reeds, or dried grass, were sufficient to sup-
port the buoyant body of the swimmer. These


bundles were afterwards sewed up into bullocks'
hides, which rendered them impervious to the
water, and kept their floating property unin-


Herodotus describes a vessel for conveying
goods down the Euphrates to Babylon. A frame-
work of wicker was covered with skins, forming,
when complete, a sort of large tub, without any
regard to stem or stern, which was managed by
two men with long poles. These were of va-
rious sizes, and carried an ass besides the mer-
chandize; the animal was employed in conveying
the vessel home by land, when taken to pieces,
as the downward force of the river's current pre-
vented them from sailing up the stream. Major
Rennell describes this vessel as still being in use
in the lower parts of the river, under the name of
Kugah, or round vessel."
Very similar to this is the Coracle, consisting
of a large wicker basket, over which a hide is
stretched; this was found in use by the ancient
Britons when the Romans invaded the island,
and is even now employed by the people of
South Wales: but it requires some art and
practice to enable the person to steady himself
in it
A man, not long since, for a wager, crossed
the estuary from Bristol to Chepstow in one of


these frail basket-boats without meeting with




Xenophon, in his History of the Expedition

of Cyrus, relates that the soldiers passed over the

Euphrates on floats, or rafts, supported by the

skins of which their tents were made; either

---x-:;;~--- --
-- -- ----
c~- ,-J


stuffed with herbage, or inflated with air. The
same method was afterwards practised at Canae
on the Tigris; and a similar kind of conveyance
is in use at the present day. Individuals use
a single skin for the transportation of themselves
and their wares across the rivers. Alexander the
Great, in his expedition to India, crossed the
Hydaspes in a similar manner.
This mode of transit seems to be available only
in calm and narrow rivers: but when a wider
stream was to be crossed, and a greater burden
to be transported, something as buoyant as the
covered bundle of hay, but capable of bearing a
heavier weight, was necessary ; and a tree, or two
or three joined together, would naturally be sug-
Wooden boats, however, from the difficulty
of constructing them, and the trouble of launch-
ing them, would not soon be invented. A readier
substitute was found in the bark of the tree.
Captain Fitzroy tells us, in his account of the
voyage of the Beagle, that the canoe of the in-
habitants of Terra del Fuego, is made of several
large pieces of bark sewed together. Its shape


is nearly that which would be taken by the strong
bark of a tree (twelve to twenty feet in length,
and eighteen inches or two feet in diameter)
separated from the solid wood in one piece,
joined at the end, but kept open by sticks in
the middle. It is ballasted by clay, and always
carries a small fire."
In ancient times a vessel was in use on the
Nile, made from the planks, if they may be so
termed, of the Acanthus, lapping over each other
like tiling, fastened together with wooden pegs,
the seams being tightened with leaves. It was
also covered with flags of the papyrus, and pro-
perly cemented to keep out the water. This
was the cradle of the infant Moses; And when
she could no longer hide him, she took for him an
ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with
pitch, and put the child therein." (Exod. ii. 3.)
And to such also the prophet Isaiah alludes,
when denouncing "Woe to the land shadowing
with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethi-
opia; that sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even
in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters." Isa
xviii. 1, 2.


In later times we find Juvenal describing the
boats of the Egyptians as if they were earthen-
ware. We are told, that earthenware ships floated
on the Nile; that in the Delta navigation was
so simple that some employed boats of baked
earth, and that such were used in some of the
other canals of Egypt, and that they are called
pictse (painted), because these boats of baked
earth were marked with various colours. Now we
can easily understand that earthenware may be
made to swim but that a boat, of a size to be
of any use to the Egyptians, should be formed
of such materials, when a mere trifle would de-
molish it, appears almost incredible.
Modern travellers, however, have thrown a new
light on the subject, by telling us that the Egyp-
tians frequently make use of rafts, which are made
to float, by having empty vessels of earthenware
fastened underneath them.
In order to cross the Nile," Norden tells
us, "the inhabitants have recourse to the con-
trivance of a float, made of large earthen pitchers,
tied close together, and covered with leaves of
palm-trees. The man that conducts it has com-


only in his mouth a cord, with which he fishes
as he passes on." Egmont and Heyman saw
some small rafts, used by the Egyptian fishermen,
which consisted of bundles of reeds floated by
calabashes. The sails of such rafts, when they
used any, were of course very small; and short
oars were used merely to paddle along, or to steer
the raft.
Norden mentions a "float of straw on which
two men were sitting, and which was dragged
across the Nile by a cow, he that sat behind
steering with a little oar, by means of which,
he at the same time preserved the balance.
The Egyptian clay is very porous; the vessels
therefore are rubbed with a thick greasy compo-
sition, which prevents the water from penetrating
them. This probably gave rise to the notion of
their being painted. At the present day large
rafts of this description are continually to be seen
on the Nile, not so much intended for the con-
veyance of passengers and goods, as to carry the
earthenware from Upper Egypt to Cairo, where,
when the float arrives, it is taken to pieces and
sold to the inhabitants. These jars are placed



in the shape of the letter V, and fastened well
together, with twigs and cords, and with their
mouths upwards. A kind of floor is then laid
over them, formed of bulrushes closely fastened
down. The whole is then launched into the Nile,
and two or three men may be carried on it safely,
as the raft floats down the stream with the cur-
The South American "balza" is another spe-
cies of raft, admirably adapted to the purposes
for which it is required, extremely simple in its
contrivance, but perfectly successful in its ap-
plication. The use of this appears to be con-
fined to the descendants of the Spaniards on
the coast of Peru; though most probably it was
an invention of the natives, and employed by
them long before their intercourse with Euro-
peans. The whole of that coast is exposed to
a continual surf from the waves of the vast
Pacific; and were it not for the assistance of
the balza, any communication with the vessels
in the various roadsteads would be difficult, if
not impossible. This vessel is made of seal-skins
sewed together so as to form a bag about


eight feet long, terminating in two points, and

very much resembling the shape of the North

American birch canoe, except that it is en-

tire, instead of being open in the upper part.


--~ -------
-- ~-------
: ~L=
-" cr.
_t7c~-~T I~-=T-ZLi- -~~
-=C-~%- f


Being sewed perfectly tight, it is easily in-

flated through a tube at one end, which is se-

cured by fastenings. Two of these bags are

-. I---
~----- ; ;~
--- ~ ~LL~
- --------
---X--- ---ili-2~L
--`-- ~ _=i`-~----~-~ 5


then placed together, so as to make a considerable
angle with each other, the ends that meet being
firmly fastened together to form the prow of the
balza. At a short distance from the ends a small
plank is placed across the bags, for the person
whose duty it is at once to guide and propel the
balza through the water, which he does with a
piece of wood formed as a paddle at each end.
The raft is then completed by small pieces of
wood, covered with matting, secured across the
whole as far as the other extremity, which serves
not only as seats for passengers and goods, but
also to keep the two principal parts in their
proper position. Thus constructed, the balza is
ready for service, and when on water is so
buoyant, that it floats on the very surface of the
wave. It is, however, an unwieldy machine, and
difficult to launch through the surf, should there
be much wind; but when once on the waves,
with its load of goods and passengers, a safe
landing may be effected at any time. In doing
this, the person who has charge of the balza
paddles it towards the shore, and having reached
the edge of the surf within a few fathoms, he



watches for the highest wave, and manages, as it
comes on, to keep the balza on the top of it, with
her bow to the shore. In a moment the frail raft
is hurried onwards, and in consequence of its
buoyancy is washed fairly to the very extent that
the surf reaches on the beach, and as the wave
retires it is left on terra firma. The opportunity
is immediately taken, the passengers and goods
land in an instant, and all are quickly out of the
reach of the next wave. A flat sandy beach
is generally chosen to land on, and for such situa-
tions it is particularly adapted, as a boat cannot
approach such localities within a considerable
The balza will easily carry three persons be-
sides him who guides it, and is employed in con-
veying the merchandize from the vessels to the
shore. Large quantities of dollars, and bars of
silver, are also shipped off by means of this slender
Another species of raft much employed in
South America, and which is also called a "balza,"
is built of dimensions proportionate to the use for
which they are intended; some being only for



fishing, others for the river trade, bringing fruits
and all sorts of merchandize: others are yet
more commodiously contrived for carrying fami-
lies, with all their furniture, &c., to their planta-
tions or country-houses. They are built chiefly
of the puero-trees, the trunks of which are from
sixty to sixty-five feet long, and about two feet
in diameter, so that the whole breadth of nine
logs, of which some of them consist, is between
twenty and twenty-four feet. These logs are
fastened together by withies, with which the cross
logs are also lashed to them. Frail as these fas-
tenings seem to be, they rarely give way, if not
worn out by long use. But it too often happens
that the natives neglect to examine the withies
before the balza puts to sea, the lashing breaks,
the logs separate, and both cargo and passengers
The larger sort of these vessels usually carry
about twenty-five tons, without damaging the
cargo, in consequence of its being too near the
water's edge; for the sea never breaks over them,
nor does the water swell between the logs, or ever
rise above them, because the whole body of the



vessel accommodates itself to the motion of the
water in all weathers. The wood of which it is
made is white, and so very light that a boy can
easily carry a log four yards long, and a foot in

..... ..



THE terms "canoe" and "boat," though not
exactly convertible, are frequently employed by
writers to designate the same kind of vessel; and
it would be difficult to give a definition of either
word which would correctly correspond with the
description given by voyagers.
When a simple canoe is spoken of, it seems
more generally to mean a vessel made of slighter
materials than those employed for a boat: but
this would not be always proper, as some of the
larger canoes of the South Sea Islands are well
and strongly put together. Their size and shape
differ materially, and vary according to the peo-
ple who make them, and the purpose for which
they are used.
The canoes used by the inhabitants of the
South Sea Islands may be divided into two general


classes; one

of which they call "ivahahs," the

other "pahies." The


is used for short

excursions to

sea, and

is wall-sided and


;_ ._ff7
7 7-

- 7Is~-



tomed: the pahie for longer voyages, and
sided and sharp-bottomed. The ivahahs
of the same figure, but of different si

is bow-
Sare all
zes, and



used for different purposes. Their length is from
seventy-two feet to ten, but the breadth is by no
means in proportion; for those of ten feet are
about a foot wide, and those of more than seventy,
three or four.
In one of these islands Captain Cook met with
a canoe that was sixty-seven feet in length, six in
breadth, and four in height; her bottom, which
was sharp, consisted of three trunks of trees, and
the sides and head were curiously carved. Their
favourite figure is a volute or spiral, which is
sometimes single, double, and triple, and is formed
with great exactness, though the only instruments
seen by Captain Cook were, an adze made of
stone, and a chisel. The stone which makes the
blades of their adzes is a kind of basaltes of a
blackish, or grey colour, not very hard, but of
considerable toughness; they are formed of differ-
ent sizes; some, that are intended for felling trees,
weigh from six to eight pounds; others, that are
used for carving, not more than so many ounces;
but it is necessary to sharpen both almost every
minute; for which purpose a stone and a cocoa-
nut shell full of water are always at hand. The


task that requires most labour is felling a tree:
this requires many hands and the constant labour
of several days. When it is down, they split it
with the grain into planks from three to four
inches thick, the whole length and breadth of the
tree, many of which are eight feet in the girth,
and forty in the branches, nearly of the same
thickness throughout. The tree generally used
is, in their language, called avie," the stem of
which is tall and straight, and the entire tree
sometimes attaining the height of a hundred
feet. Some of the smaller boats are made of the
bread-fruit tree, which is a light spongy wood,
and easily wrought. They smooth the plank
very expeditiously and dexterously with adzes,
and can take off a thin coat from a whole plank
without missing a stroke.
As they have not the art of warping a plank,
every part of the canoe, whether hollow or flat,
is shaped by the hand. The ivahahs, as we have
remarked, are used for different purposes,-there
is the fighting, the fishing, the travelling ivahah.
The first is by far the longest, and the head and
.stern are considerably raised above the body in



a semicircular -form; the stern is sometimes seven-

teen or eighteen feet high. These canoes never

go to sea single, but are fastened together side

by side, at the distance of about three feet, by

strong poles of wood, which are laid across them

~--~---~i-;~i~:~:f3~~T~ ---~--:
- .= c
''~--"j-nl~~-~~r~~=_~= -=~---~-S
--u.i_..~r- nr;s
r ,,,~_;~c3'5~r
- ~--- I



and lashed to the gunwales. Upon these, in the

fore-part, a stage or platform is raised, about

ten or twelve feet long, and somewhat wider than

the boats, which is supported by pillars about six


feet high; upon this stage stand the fighting men,
whose missile weapons are slings and spears; for,
among other singularities in the manners of the
people, their bows and arrows are used only for
diversion, as we throw quoits: below these stages
sit the rowers, who receive from above those that
are wounded, and furnish fresh men to ascend in
their room. The fishing ivahahs vary in length
from ten to forty feet, those that are above twenty-
five feet carry sail, like all the other canoes.
The travelling ivahah is always double, and fur-
nished with a small neat house, about five to six
feet broad, and six to seven feet long, which is
fastened upon the fore-part for the convenience of
the principal people who sit in them by day, and
sleep in them at night.
The pahie is also of different sizes, but, like
the ivahah, very narrow; one of fifty-one feet in
length will be but a foot and a half wide at the
top. In the middle it is wider, but does not
widen by a gradual swell, but the sides being
level and parallel for a little way below the
gunwale, it swells abruptly and draws to a
ridge at the bottom, so that a transverse sec-



tion of it has somewhat the appearance of the
mark upon cards called a spade, the whole being
much wider in proportion to its length. These,
like the largest ivahahs, are used for fighting, but



principally for the long voyages from one island
to another. These are generally double, and the
middle size are said to be the best sea-boats.



They are sometimes out a month together, going
from island to island, and remain a fortnight or
three weeks at sea; in fact, they could keep at sea
longer than even this period, if they had more
stowage for provisions, and conveniences for fresh
water. When any of these boats carry sail single,
they make use of a log of wood, which is fastened
to the end of two poles that lie across-the vessel,
and project from six to ten feet (according to
the size of the boat) beyond its side, somewhat
like what is used by the flying proa of the
Ladrone Islands, and called in the account of
Lord Anson's voyage an outrigger. To this out-
rigger the shrouds are fastened, and it is essen-
tially necessary in trimming the narrow boat when
the wind blows fresh. Some of them have one
mast, and some two, they are made of a single
stick, and when the length of the canoe is thirty
feet, that of the mast is about four-and-twenty:
it is fixed to a frame that is above the canoe, and
receives a sail of matting about one-third longer
than itself; the sail is pointed at the top, square
at the bottom, and curved at the side, somewhat
like the shoulder-of-mutton sail used for a man-


of-war's boat. It is placed in a frame of wood,
which surrounds it on every side, and has no con-
trivance for either reefing or furling; so that if
either should become necessary, it must be cut
away. This, from the evenness of the climate, is
but rarely necessary. At the top of the mast
ornaments of feathers are fastened slanting for-
wards. The oars and paddles that are used with
these boats have a long handle and a flat blade,
not unlike a baker's peel. Of these every per-
son in the boat has one, except those that sit
under the awning or house, and they push her
forward with them at a good rate. These boats,
however, admit so much water at the seams, that
one person at least is constantly employed in
baling it out. They excel our boats in the facility
of landing, and putting off from the shore in a
surf. By their great length, and high sterns,
they land and put off dry, where our boats could
scarcely venture at all.
The first stage, or keel, of these boats, is made
of a tree hollowed out like a trough, the next is
formed of straight plank. The third stage is, like
the bottom, made of trunks hollowed into its



bilging form: the last is also cut out of trunks,
so that the moulding is of one piece with the
upright. To form these parts separately, without

N. 7" i,- 2
-5 ~-'2I%. .-.
;~ -3


saw, plane, chisel, or any other iron tool, may
well be thought no easy task; but the great diffi-
culty is to join them together. They are actually



sewed or clamped, with strong plaited thongs,
which are passed several times through holes that
are bored with a gouge or auger of bone ; and the
nicety with which this is done, may be inferred
from their being sufficiently water-tight for use
without caulking. As the plaiting soon rots in
the water, it is renewed at least once a. year ; for
which purpose the vessel is taken to pieces. The
head and stern are rudely designed, but very
neatly finished and highly polished. These pahies
are kept with great care in a kind of house built
on purpose, formed of poles set upright in the
ground. The tops of these are drawn towards each
other, and fastened together with their strongest
cord, so as to form a kind of Gothic arch, which is
completely thatched quite to the ground, being
open only at the ends; they are sometimes fifty or
sixty paces long.
At Otaheite Captain Cook had an opportunity
of seeing a regular fleet of war canoes, consisting
of a hundred and sixty large double war canoes,
very well equipped, manned, and armed. The
chiefs, and all those on the fighting stages, were
dressed in their war habits, that is, in a great



quantity of cloth, turbans, and helmets. Some
of the latter were of such a height, as greatly to
incommode the wearer. Their whole dress, in-
deed, seems but ill calculated for combat, de-
signed more for show than use, the lower part of
the figure being entirely unprotected. The ves-
sels were decorated with flags, streamers, &c., and
were ranged close along the shore, with their
heads ashore and their sterns to the sea; the
admiral's vessel being nearly in the centre. Be-
sides the vessels of war, there were 170 sail of
smaller double canoes, all with a little house on
them, and rigged with mast and sail, which the
war canoes had not. These were designed to carry
provisions, &c. In these 330 canoes there were
no less than 7760 men, allowing to each war
canoe forty men, troops and rowers, and to each
of the small canoes eight. This fleet was destined
to go against another island which had thrown off
the yoke of the King of Otaheite. At another
time Captain Cook saw a smaller fleet consisting
of forty sail. These were coming round a head-
land, and as they approached the land, they formed
into divisions of three to four lashed square, and



close to each other. They then paddled in for
the shore with great swiftness, and with such
certainty, that they formed and closed a line along
the shore to an inch. The rowers were encouraged
to exert their strength by their leaders on the
stages, and directed by a man who stood with a
wand in his hand in the fore-part of the middle-
most vessel. Attending on this fleet were some
small double canoes, having on the fore-part a
kind of double bed-place laid over with green
leaves, each just sufficient to hold one man; these
were to lay their dead chiefs upon. When the
war canoes return home, the instant they touch
the shore the rowers leap out, drag the canoe
on land to her proper place, and walk off with
their paddles. This rarely occupies more than five
The use of single trees for the purpose of making
boats, or canoes, is found to have existed among
nations who could have had no connexion with
each other, but who had all recourse to the
readiest means at hand to effect the purpose they
desired. Ancient authors and modern voyagers
give exactly similar descriptions :-" the German



robbers," says Pliny, "navigate in single hollow
trees, some of which are so large, as to be capable
of containing thirty persons." The Gauls," says
Livy, "began to form other vessels out of single
trees, which they cut down and hollowed." "One
of the savages," writes Velleius Paterculus, "ad-
vanced in years, of a noble stature and dignified
mien, having entered a boat formed out of a hollow
tree, according to the method practised by that
people, worked it alone into the middle of the
The coracle of Britain bears a strong resem-
blance, if not in size, at least in material, to the
skin-covered canoe of the Esquimaux.
The canoe of the North American, which serves
him as a fishing-boat on the coast, and with which
he trades and travels along the rivers, is made of
bark. The aborigines of Canada used the bark
of the birch, and sometimes constructed them of
sufficient size to hold four or five persons. When
the French had settlements in that country, they
learned to manage these canoes with as much
adroitness as the natives themselves. In the com-
merce which they carried on, visiting the houses



of the Americans with European merchandize, two
men travelled with each canoe; and when the
falls of the rivers stopped their progress, they
lifted the vessel, together with its freight, upon
their shoulders, and carried the whole burden
above or below the falls, according as their voyage
was up or down the stream.
The canoe of the Caribbee is the simple trunk
of a tree, hewn on the outside to the desired form,
and hollowed within by means of fire. Its size
depends, of course, upon that of the trees. It is
rowed with paddles and oars, and sometimes has
the assistance of a little sail. The lading is placed
in the bottom ; but, as the canoe is not ballasted,
it frequently oversets.
The negro on the coast of Guinea also makes
his canoe by merely hollowing the trunk of a
tree: it is of a long figure, and swims with but
a very small part of its body above the surface
of the sea; so that he who sits behind, and
guides the canoe, is frequently half covered with
water. It is only wide enough for one man,
but long enough to contain seven or eight. The
men are seated on round pieces of wood, and


half their bodies are below the gunwale. Each
man has an oar of very large wood; and all pull
together with such force, that the whole seems
to fly along the water, and cannot be overtaken
by any European vessel. When the surf oversets
them, they turn their boat in the water, empty
it, re-embark without running the slightest dan-
ger, swimming all the time like fish. They do
not leave their canoes in the water, but draw
them on shore, and place them on four tressels;
when the canoe is dry, two men can carry it on
their shoulders.
The canoes of Terra del Fuego, and the Straits
of Magellan, are of a peculiar construction. The
natives take the bark of the largest trees, and
bend it into shape with so much skill, that the
vessels have a very considerable resemblance to
the gondolas of Venice. For this purpose they
place the bark on a piece of wood, and when it
has taken the necessary form and bend, they line
the bottom and sides with upright pieces of thin
wood, in the same manner as the frames of a ship
are put together.
The canoes of Davis' Straits are made of pliant



branches, bent and interlaced like a hurdle, and
covered with the skins of seals, &c. Each carries
but one man, who, seated in a hole formed
in the middle of what appears to be a deck
is enabled to fish, or to transport himself, with-
out much apparent danger, from one coast to
The natives of Oonalashka, an island near
Kamtschatka, are described by Captain Cook as
using the smallest canoes he had anywhere
seen on the American coast. They resemble
those of the Esquimaux and Greenlanders, the
framing being of slender laths, the covering of
seal-skins. They occasionally carry two persons,
one of whom is stretched at full length in the
canoe, and the other sits on the seat under the
round hole in the middle. These canoes are
impelled at such a rate, that two or three of
them kept way with the Resolution" for some
time, though she was going at the rate of seven
miles an hour.
The canoes of New Holland are, on the south-
ern coast, simply a piece of bark, about twelve
feet long, tied together at the ends, and kept



open in the middle by 'small bows of wood: in
this frail bark three or four people will often
venture on fishing excursions. Mean as they
are, they have some advantages ;-they draw but
little water, and are so light, that the natives
can go in them on the mud banks to pick up
shell-fish. In the middle of these canoes there
is generally a heap of sea-weed, and upon this
a small fire, so that the fish may be cooked
and eaten the moment it is caught. On the
northern coast the canoes are made of the trunk
of a tree, hollowed out by means of fire.
The canoe of the Esquimaux is rowed with
such swiftness and dexterity, that an English ten-
oared boat is not able to keep up with it. The
young natives in their exercise are taught to
overset their canoes, and when the bottom is up-
ward, to recover, by the dexterous management of
their paddles, their former upright position, the
men rising again either on the side by which they
went down, or on the contrary, as they please.
There are two kinds of boats in use among
the Esquimaux, the caiak," or man's boat, and
the "oomiak," or woman's boat, which are admir-


ably adapted to meet the circumstances in which
they are placed.
Division of labour is not, nor is ever likely
to be, established amongst this isolated family :
every man, therefore, is his own boat-builder;
and it is no mean test of intelligence, to find it
admitted by all, that the most practised civilized
artisan could not surpass them either for symme-
try or execution. The caiak was first described
by William Baffin, who, while a youth, wrote the
account of James Hall's voyage of discovery in
1607, and whose subsequent career entitled him
to have a very considerable bay of the Atlantic
named after him. The length is from sixteen
to twenty feet, and the breadth at the centre
from a foot and half to two feet, and the depth
about one foot, the head and stern gradually
inclining to a point from the centre; it has,
therefore, been very justly compared, in shape,
to a weaver's shuttle. The bottom is rounded,
and has no keel. Twenty-two little beams, or
cross-pieces, keep the frame on a stretch above;
and two strong battens run, one from the stem,
and the other from the stern, towards the centre,



where they are attached to a hoop of bone or
wood, of sufficient size to admit the body. The
frame is entirely covered, with the exception of
a circular hole in the centre, with fresh-dressed
seal or walrus parchment; and when complete it
weighs about sixty pounds, which, by the force of
the rim, can be carried on- the head without the
assistance of the hands. There is a difference in
the form of the caiak, according to the locale of
the people, which lies in the shape or elevation of
the rim, and in the greater or lesser curvature of
the extremities. Throughout Esquimaux-land
comfort versus custom is the motto of some few
of the inhabitants in relation to the rim, which,
instead of being of a uniform height, is raised
at the back, the better to support the body.
At Prince William Sound, according to Captain
Cook, the bow curves somewhat like the head
of a violin; a peculiarity of form which answers
for one figured by Mr. Henry Ellis, as in use
at Hudson's Bay.
The caiak of Greenland has a knot of ivory
at each end, to protect the sharp point of the
extremity; it is possible, therefore, that the cur-



vature described by Captain Cook and Ellis had
a protective use.
At Prince William Sound the caiak is built
with two, and even three circular openings, so
as to bold two or three men ; in which instances
a single, instead of the usual double, paddle is
used : and it is worthy of remark that Thorwold,
who fell mortally wounded on the coast of Green-
land in 1003, whilst leading an uncalled-for and
rost brutal attack on this peaceful nation, states
that the boats there held three persons.
Necessity frequently obliges the Esquimaux
to lash together various little scraps of wood,
ivory, and bone, for paddles; but when wood is
at hand they are well formed, and the broad
blades are neatly shod with hone, to enable them
to bear the compression of the ice.
The oomiak, called baidar" at Ochotsk and
Kamtschatka, is from twenty to tweoty-five feet
long, by eight broad, and is capable of accom-
modating twenty persons. At Hudson's Straits
and Greenland it is navigated by women ; and
at the north-west corner of America by men.
the women occasionally assisting. The one is



of superior workmanship; and is propelled by
men with single paddles, the rowers facing the
bow; the other, by women with rudely-shaped
oars, resembling spades at the water end, the
rowers facing the stern. These family boats
all agree in the general framework, and in
being covered with seal or walrus skin; but
they vary in form. The oomiak of Hudson
Straits and Greenland is flat-sided and flat-
bottomed; about three feet high, and nearly
square at the bow and stern, and contains from
five to six seats secured to the gunwales by
thongs. The sail is what sailors call lug-shaped,
and is formed of walrus gut, sewed together
with great neatness, in breadths of about four
inches, and weighs but three pounds and three
quarters. The mast, which is placed well for-
ward, is made of wood, and has a very neatly-
formed ivory sheave for the halyards to run on.
Considerable taste is bestowed on the stern and
bow of the oomiak; but the Esquimaux more par-
ticularly prides himself in the neat appearance of
his caiak, and has a warm skin placed in its
bottom beneath the rim for a seat. The dex-



terity with which it is rowed, the velocity of its
way, and the extreme elegance of its form, renders
an Esquimaux, when sitting independently, and
urging his course towards his prey, an object
of the greatest, interest; and it is really wonder-
ful that in so frail a bark he can defy the raging
storm, and give battle to the polar bear, and the
mighty monsters of the deep.



BY the term "boat" we commonly understand
a small vessel, generally without a deck, managed
by sails or oars, or drawn by men or horses upon
rivers, canals, &c.,. for the purpose of conveying
passengers aad goods from one place to another.
The form, equipment, and names of boats are
different, according to the purpose for which
they are intended, or the country where they
are built.
One of the simplest, perhaps, is that which was
used by the early inhabitants of South America.
The tree was brought to the ground by fire
kindled at the bottom; the upper part and the
branches were removed in a similar manner; and
that part of the trunk which was deemed sufficient
for the size of the boat was hollowed out by the
iarge sharp-edged shells found on the shore.



Such vessels, however rude, enabled the maker

to cross the streams near his dwelling, and even

to go out to sea to catch fish, one chief article

'~' '~


of his food. However rude the savage may be,

we generally find that he acquired very early the

necessary skill to avail himself of the bountiful


supply of provision with which the Almighty had
stocked the waters. Most of the fishing of the
Batavians was carried on during the night; and
in order to attract the fish to the surface, a fire
was kindled in the boat, the sides of which had
holes through which a blaze of light was thrown
upon the water. In some cases the fisherman held
a torch in one hand, and a fishing-spear in the
other, ready to transfix the fish as soon as it
came to the surface of the water. The sails of
the boats of burden of the same nation were
made of reeds, something like the matsails of the
The following description of the kind of boat
used in Ceylon for the palanquins is given by
Lord Valentia in his travels in that island :-" We
arrived," says his lordship, "at the river before
sunset, where a boat was ready to take over the
palanquins. It was formed of three of their canoes
fastened together, with a platform over them.
Mr. North had given orders for every attention
to be paid to me, and I was consequently honoured
with an awning of white cloth, and a chair covered
with the same; a mark of distinction reserved



for his Excellency and the King of Candy. The
posts which sustained the awning, and the rail-


ing which went round the boat, were fancifully
ornamented with the young leaves of the cocoa-
nut split into pieces, which had altogether a pretty


effect. The river was clear, and the bank was
covered with jungle to the water's edge. We
here took "leave of our very kind friends, and
proceeded in our palanquins to Hamblamgodee,
where we arrived about eight o'clock. The country
the whole way was undulated, and occasionally
broken by the most picturesque rocks; the vege-
tation as rich as ever, and the sea continually
close on our left hand. When it was dark
they made torches of the dead branches, or rather
leaves, of the cocoa-nut; these burnt with rapidity
and brilliancy, and had a beautiful effect, when
reflected by the closely-interwoven roof of lofty
cocoa-nut trees, under which we were travel-
Mr. Wilson, in a paper on the state of art in
Italy, read before the Society of Arts in Scotland,
in 1840, was particularly struck with the boats
used at Ortobello, which stands.upon a peninsula
running out into a shallow lagoon. The boats are
flat-bottomed, and rise considerably at the bow
and stern, being lowest at midships; across which
part of the vessel a beam is fastened, about four
inches thick each way, which projects about two


feet six inches over each side. On each of the
ends of this beam an oblong piece of plank is
laid, the longest sides being horizontal; and a
stout pier rises from each of these. The oars are
of considerable length in proportion to the boat,
and of great breadth in the blade, and rest upon
the pieces of board at the end of the cross-beam
I have described, being attached to the pin by
means of a piece of cord; in this last respect
resembling a mode adopted in boats on our own
shores. The blade of the oar slightly overbalances
the portion within the fulcrum on which-it rests;
the handles nearly touch each other, meeting amid-
ship. By this contrivance one man can manage
a pair of very powerful oars, and drive a boat,
which is apparently but little adapted from its
form for speed, with surprising rapidity through
the water; he can arrest its progress, or turn it,
with equal rapidity and certainty, and with very
little exertion.
This suggests ideas as to the probable mode
in which the ancients managed their triremes,
well worthy of the attention of the antiquary;
especially if he will combine the hint thus ob-



trained with the modes of rowing followed in the
Bay of Naples, on board the Sorrentine boats,
which, as I have been led to imagine from an ex-
amination of pictures in Pompeii, are much the
same in every respect as the galleys which in old
times navigated the sea.
The gondola, or boat used in Venice to traverse
the marine streets or canals of that remarkable
city, is about thirty feet long and five broad. It
affords accommodation for six passengers, besides
the two rowers. Some of these boats are, how-
ever, smaller, and are rowed by one person. The
form is very light and elegant. The gondola
is flat-bottomed; and its sides slope away con-
siderably, particularly towards the after part,
which, when the boat is empty, rises high out
of the water. The seats, which are placed at
a distance of something less than two-thirds of
the length of the boat from its head, have a tilt
over them, with windows and curtains. This tilt,
which is extremely light and elegant, and re-
moveable at pleasure, is of frame-work covered
with black cloth, ornamented with tufts of the
same colour. The head is furnished with a flat



iron beak, or prow; similar to what is seen in
the representation of ancient galleys. This is
never painted, but kept highly polished. The


stern has a wooden beak not so elevated as that
at the head. The seats in the cabin, or covered
part, are usually covered with plush, and the floor


is furnished with carpets. The gondolas of pri-
vate persons, as well as those let for hire, are
invariably painted black; no distinction of orna-
ments being allowed except on the gondolas of
foreign ambassadors, or those used on occasion of
public ceremonies. Formerly there was great
rivalry among the Venetians in the splendour of
their gondolas; and so much inconvenience was
found to result from this, that a sumptuary law
was issued, prescribing the size, form, and colour,
in which the gondola now appears. The black
colour gives them a very sombre, funereal appear-
ance; and their first effect on strangers is quite
at variance with our notions of Venetian gaiety
and elegance. Our sailors call them queer
craft," and "floating coffins;" this last appella-
tion is not very inappropriate, as they have
somewhat of a hearse-like character about them.
When the black is allowed to become brown
and dusty, they look particularly shabby and
In such a city as Venice, intersected in every
part by canals, with only a few places where the
inhabitants are able to walk a hundred yards



without coming to a high steep bridge, generally
built, not in an inclined plane, but with steps
rising over an arch, horses and carriages would be
of little use. The gondola takes the place of these ;
it is the. sole equipage of the noble Venetian.
In this he is carried on his visits, for his amuse-
ment, or to his business, and in this a consider-
able part of his time is passed. His head gondo-
lier is to him what the head coachman and
groom are to an English gentleman, and some-
thing more. When he wishes to go out, he does
not order the "horses to be put to," but the
gondola to be got ready. And as the fare of
those for hire is low, even the poorest people
make frequent use of these boats; and on a
saint's day, or other holiday, they are seen gliding
in all directions; their occupants sometimes con-
versing or listening to stories, or playing at their
favourite game of cards,-tarocco.
In rowing, the gondolier stands on the ex-
treme edge of the vessel; the master, or prin-
cipal gondolier on the right side, with his face
towards the head of the boat, and his companion
on the left side, behind the company. On the



after part, where the back rower is placed,
there is a flat piece of wood over the gunwale
of the boat, on which he stands. Thus placed,
the gondolier seems to strangers in imminent
danger of falling overboard. But this is an
event which rarely happens; they balance them-
selves with apparent ease, and even elegance,
pushing their oars forward, and giving them, by
a movement of the wrist, a turn in the water,
resembling what is called "feathering." The oars
are made of a very light sort of fir; the blade
is not bent as in the English oar, but more in
the form of a paddle: they do not use rollocks,
but employ a single fixed thowell, of a crooked
form, and about a foot long, against which they
hold the oar by pressure only.
Previously to turning a corner from one canal
to another, the gondoliers have a peculiar cry,
rather musical and agreeable, designed to give
warning to gondolas which may be approaching
in an opposite direction. The gondoliers were
formerly a very interesting portion of the Vene-
tian populace, and enjoyed a degree of considera-
tion beyond that which persons in a similar



station of life receive amongst ourselves. They
still are a civil and well-behaved body of men,
and act as guides to travellers in showing them
the curiosities of Venice. Formerly they made
the city vocal, for in gliding through its canals
they sang to one another alternate stanzas, chiefly
from Tasso, translated into the Venetian dialect.
The melody thus sung had a peculiarly pleasing
effect. But this interesting practice has declined
with the prosperity and independence of Venice;
and although some old gondoliers remember the
usual verses, and can execute the chant, it is
never voluntarily undertaken :-

In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier."

The city of Brunai is truly a city built upon
the waters; and although it does not offer a very
apt similitude to Venice, yet it reminds one some-
what of the "glorious city in the sea," for at
No trace of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates."


The gondola is represented by the rude canoe,
and the marble palaces by a mass of houses
built on piles. Persons entering its watery
streets may see the platforms thronged with
swarms of swarthy beings, half naked, dirty, and
exceedingly lazy. One of the most amusing
features of the place is the floating bazaar, com-
posed of many hundred boats, which commence
in small numbers at one end of the city; increas-
ing gradually as they proceed, and finally ex-
hibit a dense mass of enormous conical hats,
entirely concealing the female traders, who, thus
protected from the sun, dispose of their small
wares. The circulating medium consists of flat,
square pieces of iron, as heavy and cumbrous
as the money with which Lycurgus supplied
the Spartans. The appearance of Brunai, as
seen from the summit of the Kianggi mountains,
is very novel and curious, particularly at high-
water, when there is no communication with
the dense mass of houses in the middle of the
river, except by boats. At low-water numer-
ous mud banks appear, on which are also great
numbers of rush-roofed houses; many dwellings,



moreover, are situated on the firm banks of
the river.
The proas of the Celebes are about twenty
to twenty-five tons' burden, and so very slightly
constructed, that it seems extraordinary they
trust their lives to such frail machines. Many
have no timbers, and the sides are only kept
apart by cross-beams; the planks are dowelled
together with wooden pegs; and yet their crews
consist of twenty or thirty individuals; for
whom they carry provisions for six months.
The water is carried in joints of bamboo.
They are armed with muskets, and some have
The flying proa of the Ladrone Islands is a
name given to a vessel used in the- South Seas,
on account of the swiftness with which it sails:
with a brisk wind, its speed is nearly twenty
miles an hour. The head and stern of the proa are
exactly alike; but her two sides are very different:
that intended to be always on the lee-side is flat.
The windward side is rounded like that of other
vessels; and to prevent her oversetting, which
from the small width, and the straight run of her


leeward side, would without this precaution
infallibly happen, a frame is laid out from wind-
ward, to the end of which is fastened a log,

* T-T



in the shape
The weight
the proa, and

of a small boat and made
of the frame is. intended to
the small boat, being always


in the water, by its buoyancy prevents her over-
setting to windward: this frame is usually called
an outrigger." The body of the proa is made of
two pieces joined endways, and sewed together
with bark. The vessel is about two inches thick
at the bottom, which at the gunwale is reduced
to less than one: the sail is made of matting, and
the mast, yard, boom, and outriggers, are all made
of bamboo. The proa generally carries from six
to seven Indians; two of whom are placed in the
head or stern, and alternately steer the vessel
with a paddle: the others are employed either
in baling out the water which she accidentally
ships, or in setting and trimming the sail. These
vessels are extremely well fitted for ranging the
collection of islands, where they are common,
as the Ladrones bear nearly north and south of
each other, and are all within the limits of the
trade winds. The proas, therefore, can run from
one of these islands to another, and back again,
by merely shifting the sail; and by the flatness
of their lee-side, and their small breadth, are ca-
pable of lying much nearer the wind than any
vessel known.



Little adapted as these boats seem for a length-
ened voyage, they have sometimes been known
to accomplish extraordinary distances.
Perhaps the most remarkable voyage ever
effected in an open boat was that of Captain
Bligh, who, after the mutiny of the men in the
Bounty, 1789, was committed with seventeen
others of the crew to an open boat twenty-
three feet in length, with a quantity of pro-
visions equal only to about nine days' ordinary
allowance; with water for little more than three
days; and with what proved of the very utmost
importance,-eight bottles of wine and rum. With
this small stock of provisions Captain Bligh dar-
ingly undertook to conduct his crew to the Molucca
Islands, a distance of 3600 miles, in the hope of
reaching their native country from thence. Of
this distance 2600 miles lay through the vast
Pacific Ocean; the waves of which, through the
frequent stormy weather, often curled over their
heads, and threatened them with instant destruc-
tion. At the end of forty-eight days they arrived
at the Island of Timor, having still remaining in
store eleven days' provisions, which the provident



attention, the resolute discipline, and the patient

example of the commander, had induced them

to reserve; that, in the event of their missing

Timor, they might be enabled to reach Batavia.

An instance of courage and perseverance un-


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THE materials used by the ancients in building
their vessels is a subject of some interest, as we
are naturally curious to know the difference which
there is between the rudiments of any art and
its ultimate approximate perfection. The wood
employed in the construction of the vessels de-
pended almost, if not entirely, on the productions
peculiar to each territory, and varied in propor-
tion to the abundance or scarcity of certain trees.
The experience of the different qualities of the
wood also had some influence in their use. The fir
was found to be the lightest and the easiest
worked; the oak, on the other hand, though
more difficult in application, proved the strongest
and most durable; besides these the elm, the
cypress, the cedar, the pitch pine, the ilex, the
ash, and even the alder, were tried. The oak and


the fir were those most generally employed in the
construction of large vessels, or those employed
in war. The ancients had certain rules respect-
ing the felling of trees, which appear to us un-
accountable and absurd. Hesiod informs us,
that it was deemed improper to fell any timber
for the purpose of ship-building, except on the
17th day of the moon's age, because it being
then in the wane, the sap, which is the grand
cause of early decay, would be sunk, or at least
considerably lessened. Some persons were fool-
ish enough to think, that timber felled on
the day of the new moon was actually incor-
ruptible. They were also attentive to the quarter
from which the wind blew, and the rule varied
with different seasons of the year.
Next to the timber employed, the means to
fasten the planks together is of importance. At
first, perhaps, the nails and bolts were formed of
iron, on account of its abundance: but experience
soon proved the disadvantages arising from the
use of this metal for such a purpose. Its pro-
pensity to rust, and its early decay, rendered some
substitute necessary which should be free from



these drawbacks. Brass was next employed,
which not being affected by corrosion, was much
more lasting and serviceable. Another most
material object in building the vessels was the
capability of rendering them water-tight. For,
close as the joining of the planks might be, the
water still forced its way between them. To
obviate this great inconvenience the operation now
known by the name of "caulking was adopted.
The first substance made use of for this purpose,
with which we are acquainted, consisted of sea-
shells reduced to a fine powder, and made into
a paste with water. This, when first applied,
answered the purpose tolerably well; but having
no strong adhesive properties, it soon cracked and
fell out of the crevices in which it had been
placed. Burning the shells, and converting them
into lime, was then tried; but this produced
but little improvement. Wax and pitch were
afterwards substituted for the same purpose, but
without effectually producing a cure. Next fol-
lowed the practice, which has been continued with
little or no variation down to the present time.
By whom or when this was introduced we do not



know. Pliny explains the whole system: "The
coarse part of flax, which is nearest the bark,
being bruised by beating it with a mallet, is driven
in between the planks and seams of vessels, which
would otherwise have admitted the water." In
addition to this care and attention, it was custom-
ary to pay or coat over the whole of the bottom
with melted wax or pitch. Some of the nations
of antiquity were accustomed to use hides pro-
perly prepared for this purpose, which being
stretched, and firmly attached to the bottom, and
afterwards covered with pitch, proved a very con-
siderable protection to it against those injuries,
which would arise from its being constantly in
contact with salt water. The mode adopted by
the Romans in the time of Trajan has been made
known to us by the discovery of that emperor's
galley, which was rescued from the lake Nemi,
where it had remained under water for more than
thirteen hundred years. Leone Battista Alberti,
who saw this, says that the pine and cypress wood
which was in it had remained surprisingly sound.
It was covered on the outside with double planks,
done over with Greek pitch, to which stuck a



number of pieces of linen cloth, and that again
was plated over with sheets of lead fastened on
with brass nails. Soon after the restoration of
Charles II., a project was introduced to public
notice for sheathing English ships with lead ; but
it was never carried into execution; copper being
found to answer the purpose much more effica-
The vessels employed by the early Greeks, like
those of most other nations at the commencement
of the art of boat or ship building, were small in
size and without decks. At least such is supposed
to have been the case before the Trojan war, and
even for many years after that event. The Co-
rinthians are said to have been the first among
the Greeks who devoted particular attention to
naval architecture, and built their vessels of pe-
culiar strength, that they might the better en-
dure both the perils of the sea and the attacks of
their enemies in battle. The trireme, or galley,
with three benches of oars, was of their inven-
tion; and the first naval action of which we have
any account in history was fought between them
and their colonists, the inhabitants of Corcyra,



now Corfu. There may have been, and probably
were, contests at sea before this battle, which
took place about 600 years before the birth of
our Saviour, but no record of them has come
down to us.
The Athenians appear to have had no vessels
of importance till the time of Themistocles and
Cimon. The latter caused platforms to be con-
structed above the rowers from the stem to the
stern, on which the soldiers stood and fought. We
find something very similar to this contrivance in
the war-canoes of some of the islands in the Paci-
fic. This invention of Cimon was of the utmost
importance, as we find from Plutarch that the
Athenian triremes, at the battle of Salamis, were
capable of containing only eighteen soldiers, in
addition to the persons who were occupied in
working the galley. The small number of fighting
men which these vessels could accommodate ac-
counts for what has puzzled so many,-the numer-
ous vessels composing the fleets which the early
nations brought into action. The number of men
employed on these occasions would not be found
to equal the complement of the ships in one of



our large naval engagements. These galleys, too,
we should remember, were generally drawn on
shore for the night; and on one occasion their
size proved of great importance to the Spartans.
Having attacked and carried the city of Corcyra,
they retired to the isthmus which joins Leucate
to the mainland of Acarnania. In the meanwhile
an Athenian armament, consisting of thirty tri-
remes, despatched in quest of the plunderers,
arrived in the opposite sea, being separated from
their enemies only by the narrow isthmus just
mentioned. The Athenians instantly proceeded
round the promontory to attack them; but some
time being necessarily required to effect this pur-
pose, the Spartans, by mere manual labour, con-
veyed their vessels over the low narrow neck of
land, and, sailing with the utmost expedition to
their own country, made their escape. The ] 200
vessels which, according to Thucydides, conveyed
the Greeks to the siege of Troy, though differing
in size, were all of them of no higher description
than open boats. The shortness of the passage
from one country to another, occasioned by the
frequency of islands in those seas, rendered the



want of a covering no material impediment to the
service in which they were employed.


As we have no scientific treatise on the con-
struction of the vessels of the Greeks and Romans,
there is considerable difficulty in describing them
with tolerable correctness. The galleys were
named according to the number of the banks of



oars employed in propelling them, biremes, tri-
remes, &c.; but the manner in which the rowers
sat in the larger vessels has never yet been satis-
factorily explained. The liburni were a class of
vessels of great swiftness; the victory at Actium,
gained by Augustus Cesar over Antony, is sup-
posed to have resulted mainly from the use of
these vessels.
In the time of action the success of every
manoeuvre, and the event of the battle itself, in
great measure depended upon the discipline and
strength of the rowers. But still, when the wind
was fair, sails were constantly used in the galleys;
and the vessels were worked with these only, or
with the supplementary assistance of the oars. But
in battle it was necessary that the galleys should
not merely be directed with swiftness, but with a
great degree of exactness and force; and these
purposes were to be attained by no other means
than by the use of oars. The instrument of as-
sault uniformly used, so far as a naval contest
depended upon the particular management of
the vessel itself, was the rostrum, or beak; and
particular attention was paid so as to render it


capable of injuring the enemy, and of being
formed in such a manner as to be able to resist
the most furious assaults. The wood of which it


was made was elm, ash, or oak, though every
other part of the hull might be built of fir; it
was shod also with iron, or some other hard metal,
to render it more formidable.



The mode of attack generally practised was
either to steer up so close alongside the enemy,
that the stroke of the rostrum, or prow, might
shatter the oars, or the greater part of them, on
the side attacked, and by that means render the
vessel, in a great measure, unmanageable; or, by
striking the enemy with the greatest possible
force near the midship, cause the beak to penetrate
the side of the enemy's vessel, which in ancient
times was extremely thin; or to overset them,
in case they were strong enough, or fortunate
enough, to resist the first injury. Sometimes
the enemy attempted to steer round the stern,
and by a sudden swift stroke demolish or injure
the rudder. The prow, indeed, was that part of
the vessel to which the ancients attached the most
importance, as by it they considered themselves
principally able to annoy their enemies or return
their attack.
Considerable attention was also paid to the
ornamenting and painting their vessels. Red ap-
pears to have been most generally used, perhaps
from the gaudiness of the colour. Blue was used
for their scout-ships, as more nearly resembling



the hue of the sea than any other primitive colour,
and- therefore most proper to prevent their being
discovered at any consider-
able distance. White was
also much employed. The
extremities of the prow
were frequently enriched
by a peculiar species of or-
nament, of which a repre-
sentation has come down to
us on coins and sculpture.
The decorations of the stern
differed very materially from
those of the head, and were
much more magnificent. It
was customary, also, to affix
at the extremity of it a staff STER OR T.
or pole, to which were tied
streamers of various colours, which being blown
out by the wind, produced that species of orna-
ment which has been continued, with little or no
variation, in many countries down to the present
day. It was also by no means unusual to gild a
considerable part of the vessel, particularly the



head; the awning, and a great part of the internal
work, were frequently inlaid with ivory, and some-
times studded with precious stones.
The sails were striped of various colours; on
board vessels which conveyed persons of conse-
quence they were entirely purple, as being the
colour which was esteemed most sumptuous.
Flame-coloured sails were occasionally used; and
in the time of Alexander we read of some being
formed of silk, tinged with different dyes, which
being seen in varied directions produced a
changeable appearance. In the reign of Trajan
the name of the emperor was embroidered on the
sails in gold or silver. The oars of the emperor's
galleys were most generally gilt, and the ropes
stained with various colours.
But of all the ships which have been built,
either in ancient or modern times, none can com-
pete with those made for Ptolemy Philopater,
King of Egypt, and Hiero, King of Syracuse.
That built by the former was called "the Bed-
chamber Ship," and was used as a pleasure-yacht
for sailing up and down the Nile. It was about
320 feet long, and forty-five broad; her height,



including that of the pavilion on her deck, was
ninety feet; her structure was adapted to the
shallow waters of the Nile, being flat-bottomed
and broad below. In her upper part she was lofty
and roomy: the stern was very prominent, and
beautifully and richly ornamented. She had two
prows, and as many sterns, both of which extremi-
ties were raised to a considerable elevation, the
better to withstand the impetuous flow of the river.
In the middle of the vessel there were the dining-
room and the bed-chambers, with all other need-
ful conveniences and luxuries of high-life ashore.
All round the two sides and sterns were double
walks or galleries one above the other, so that
the whole circuit for walking was not less than five
acres. The form of the lower walk was a peri-
style or piazza; the higher was fenced in, covered
and diversified with windows: the first walk had
its entry near the poop; and in that part of it
which was opposite the prow was a vestibule,
formed of ivory, and other precious materials.
Adjoining to those galleries was the great dining-
hall, or grand cabin of the ship, surmounted with
columns, and furnished with reclining couches for


dinner. The greater part of this room was finely
wainscoted with cedar and cypress-tree of Mile-
tus; the twenty doors entering into it were pa-
nelled with wood of the thyia-tree, and decorated
with ivory; the hinges, rings, bolts, and other fur-
nishings of these doors were of brass, burnished
so as to resemble gold: the shafts of the columns
were of the cypress-tree; the capitals were of fine
Corinthian workmanship, embellished with ivory
and gold. The beams conjoining pillar with pillar
were all of gold or gilt; upon them was a frieze-
work, having little animals embossed, greater than
a cubit in size, admirable in their material and
general effect. Over the grand hall was a roof of
cypress-wood, of quadrangular form, with gilt or-
Adjoining the dining-room was a bed-chamber
containing seven beds; divided from which by a
small space was that part of the ship which was
appropriated to the ladies, consisting of a dining-
room with nine couches, similar in magnificence
to the great hall, and of a bed-chamber containing
five beds. On ascending the stairs, near the
aforesaid bed-room, there was another hall con-



training five dinner-couches; and near it was a
temple of Venus, arched in the roof, in which
was a marble statue of the goddess. Opposite
to this was another sumptuous dining-hall, co-
lumned all round, the pillars being of fine Indian
marble, and attached to it were bed-rooms with
furniture like the former. Nearer to the prow
was the grand hall of Bacchus, having likewise
pillars all round, with capitals garnished with gold.
In this hall, towards the right hand, there was a
grotto, the colour and appearance of which were
as if it had been constructed of real stones, all
variegated and interspersed with gold. It con-
tained statues of the king's family sculptured in
Parian marble.
Above all these there was another dining-apart-
ment, built on that part of the deck which lay
above the roof of the grand hall, having the form
of a tent. Over this, and attached to it, purple
hangings were expanded, serving, when the ship
sailed up the stream, as sails to receive the wind.
A small court adjoined this pavilion, from which
a winding stair led down to the concealed gallery,
and to a dining-apartment below, fashioned after



the Egyptian mode; its pillars being round, and
alternately black and white, with their capitals
also round, and decorated with tufts of roses
apparently half-blown, cups of the river lotus,
flowers and fruit of the palm-tree just blown, and
flowers and twisted leaves of the Egyptian bean
Besides these chambers there were many others
of less size throughout the body and sides of the
ship. The sails were made-of the finest linen and
worked with ropes of purple. Such was Ptolemy's
"Bed-chamber Ship," of which the least that can
be said is, that it was worthy of the land of the
Next to Ptolemy Philopater in ambitious ship-
building was Hiero, King of Syracuse, who de-
lighted in conceiving vast designs, was a lover
of magnificence in temples and public edifices,
and possessed a peculiar taste for naval architec-
ture. The magnificent vessel of which we shall
give the description was built under the direc-
tion of the celebrated mathematician Archimedes,
by a ship-builder from Corinth, a city renowned
in those times for the superiority of its naval
architecture. The wood of which the ship was



framed was cut down from Mount Etna, and
would have sufficed to build sixty large galleys.
At the same time that he got ready his timber,
he went on also with other preparations, collecting
pitch, hemp, ropes, and spars, from all parts of
Europe. Over the congregated workmen Archias,
the Corinthian shipwright, presided, subject to
the direction of Archimedes; while the king him-
self controlled all the operations, and by his per-
sonal inspection infused zeal into the workmen.
When the vessel was finished, she was drawn
down into the sea by a powerful piece of mecha-
nism invented by Archimedes. She had twenty
banks of oars. Three entrances led into her hull;
the lowest to that space which contained the
ballast, descending by many stairs, the second to
the dining-apartments; the last into the space
allotted for the soldiers or guards of the ship.
On each side of the middle entrance were the
dining-rooms for the men, thirty in number, each
with four dinner-couches. In the division allotted
for the sailors was a dining-apartment, with fif-
teen couches, and three bed-chambers. The floors
of all these various apartments were paved with


small square tiles, on which was depicted the
whole story of Homer's Iliad with wonderful art.
The roof and doors were embellished in a similar
manner. At the highest entrance was a gymna-
sium, or exercising school, containing gardens
planted with all kinds of herbs, to which water
was supplied by conduits of lead and tile-work.
The walks through this were overshaded by ivy
and vine branches, the roots of which received
nourishment from vessels filled with earth, which
were irrigated by the same leaden canals. Near
this was the dining-room of Venus, which was
paved with agates and other gems; the walls and
roof were of cypress, the doors of ivory and thyia
wood; this room also was furnished with statues,
vases, and paintings. Near to this was a library,
its walls and doors being of box, having the ap-
pearance of the sky by night, with the con-
stellations embossed upon its roof. There was a
bathing-room also, with three brass hot-baths;
and another of Tauromenian stone, holding forty
gallons. Besides these there was on each side
of the ship ten stalls for horses, with the fodder
and offices for the grooms. A water-cistern was



also on the prow, made of planks closely joined
with pitch and linen, capable of holding fifteen
thousand gallons. Adjoining this was a fish-pond,
partly made of lead, partly of wood, full of sea-
water, in which fish were fed and preserved. That
nothing might be wanting, there were kitchens,
ovens, mills, and a store of fire-wood; eight
fortified towers, and a balista constructed by
Archimedes, which could throw a stone weigh-
ing three hundred pounds, and a heavy javelin
eighteen feet long, the distance of a furlong. The
ship had four anchors of wood and eight of iron.
After this gigantic vessel had been built and
rigged, Hiero found that scarcely one harbour in
his dominions had sufficient water to admit her.
She was sent, therefore, with a cargo, as a present
to Ptolemy, King of Egypt, to whose subjects,
then labouring under a scarcity of corn, she was a
most acceptable gift.



AMAZING as is the number and size of British
vessels of the present time, we have little or no
evidence to prove that the early inhabitants of
these islands possessed shipping either for the
purposes of war or commerce. Satisfied with the
productions of their own country, they do not
seem to have sought for foreign luxuries; though
other nations gladly traded with them for such
things as the island possessed. The Phoenicians,
we know, came to Cornwall for tin; and no doubt
an intercourse was kept up by the inhabitants of
the opposite country,-Gaul; but we do not find
that, either for attacking other countries or for
trading with them, our ancestors at the period
of the Roman invasion had any vessel dignified
with the name of "ship." Boats, indeed, they had,
such as would enable them to cross the numerous


rivers which intersected the country, or afford
them means of fishing at a short distance from the
shore. Caesar and Lucan describe these as having
a keel and frame formed of light wood, with a
sufficient number of elastic twigs interwoven be-
tween the ribs to give strength to the sides, which
were afterwards covered with hides. A know-
ledge of this kind of vessel was of great import-
ance to Caosar when in Spain. The cavalry and
infantry of Afranius' army had so occupied all the
passes, that he was unable to make bridges to
cross the river Sicoris: to obviate this difficulty,
he directed his soldiers to prepare a certain num-
ber of ,vessels, the use and construction of which
he had learned in Britain. It is curious, and
perhaps without a parallel in the history of na-
tions, that a boat formed in the very same manner
is still used by the inhabitants of South Wales,
called a coracle. This frail vessel possesses a
peculiar interest. The sight of it carries us back
for nearly nineteen hundred years, and forms a
link, connecting the present age, advanced as it is
in every refinement of luxury and every perfec-
tion of art, with the time when the stain of woad


was the only ornament of the person, and a low
hut or cavern in the rock, the dwelling of the
semibarbarous inhabitants, placing-in juxtaposi-
tion, and belonging to the same people, the
wondrous ship of war, with its hundred guns, and
its thousand men, and the frail hide-covered wicker
Two circumstances induce us to suppose that
the early Britons had no vessels of even ordinary
size: First, because no attempt was made at sea
to prevent the landing of Caesar, though he was
valiantly resisted when he had landed; and fur-
ther, when the British monarch Caractacus was
brought before Claudius, he mentions that he once
had arms, horses, and wealth, but does not name
ships. Cesar has given us a description of the
vessels of a people, at that time, who inhabited
the south of the present province of Brittany
in France, then called the Veneti. "Their ships,"
says he, were built and fitted out in this manner;
-their bottoms were somewhat flatter than ours,
the better to adapt them to the shallows, and to
sustain without danger the ebbing of the tide.
Their prows were very high and erect, as likewise



their stern, to bear the hugeness of the waves,
and the violence of tempests. The hull of the
vessel was entirely of oak, to stand the shocks and
assaults of that tempestuous ocean. The benches
of the rowers were made of strong beams, about a
foot in breadth, and were fastened with iron bolts,
an inch thick. Instead of cables they fastened
their anchors with chains of iron; and used skins
and a sort of thin pliant leather for sails, either
because they wanted canvas, and were ignorant
of the art of making sail-cloth, or, which is more
probable, because they imagined that canvas sails
were not so proper to bear the violence of tem-
pests, the rage and fury of the winds, and to
propel ships of that bulk and burden. Between
our fleet and vessels of such a construction the
encounter was thus :-in agility and a ready com-
mand of oars, we had the advantage; but in other
respects, regarding the situation of the coast, and
the assault of storms, all things ran very much in
their favour: for neither could our ships injure
them with their prows-so great was their strength
and firmness; nor could we easily throw in our
darts, because of their height above us; which


also was the reason that we found it extremely
difficult to grapple with the enemy, and bring
them to close fight. Add to all this, that when
the sea began to rage, and they were forced to
submit to the winds, they could both weather
the storm better, and more securely trust them-
selves among the shallows, because they feared
nothing from the rocks and cliffs upon the ebbing
of the tide."
The artifice employed by Caesar to overcome
the superior advantages which the ships of the
Veneti possessed was as follows:-" The Roman
sailors affixed scythes to long poles, and, having
fastened them in the enemy's rigging, rowed off
their galleys. The ropes by which the yard of
each vessel was suspended were thus cut away, the
sail falling, their vessels became unserviceable, be-
cause the Gauls depended entirely upon their sails
and rigging. Thus disabled, the Veneti tried in
vain to escape; a dead calm ensued, and the
Romans obtained a complete victory."
The next vessels which we must mention as
connected with the naval history of our island are
those of the Anglo-Saxons, of which four kinds



are made known to us by representations in the
illuminations of manuscripts. They are called
in Saxon writings, ships," "l ong-ships," hulks,"
and "boats." The largest of these ships were most
probably only deep, open, undecked boats, none
exceeding fifty tons in burden. Their prows
and sterns were considerably elevated; and one or
both were usually ornamented with effigies of
men, birds, lions, or other animals; which were
sometimes gilded. A large square sail was sus-
pended from a single,mast, which could only have
been used when going before the wind: in con-
trary winds, or in calms, their sole dependence
must have been on their oars. As the rudder was
unknown, they were steered by paddles: the
steersman held the paddle in one hand, and kept
the sheet of the sail in the other, thus guiding and
providing for the safety of his vessel at the same
time. These vessels carried about fifty or sixty
men; and, when not used, were drawn up on the
The accompanying woodcut represents the
form and construction of one of the larger ships
of the Saxons, when they began to build with



planks of wood, and deck them over. The stern
is richly ornamented with the head and neck of
a horse; the two bars which appear at the stern

were for steering the ship instead of a rudder.
In the middle near the mast is erected the cabin,
in the form of a house, for the commodious re-



ception of the passengers. The keel runs from
the stern, increasing in breadth to the prow or
head of the ship, which gradually decreases to
a point, to enable the ship to cut the water the
better in her course. When the vessel had re-
ceived her full burden, she was sunk at least to
the top of the third nailed board; so that the
prow was nearly under water. Over the prow
is a projection, used either for the convenient
fastening of the rigging, or to hold the anchor.
The sail being furled up, we cannot so well judge
of the method used to fasten and work it, while
the ship was under way. It would seem, that
this was a sailing-vessel only, as there are no
holes or places made for oars. The length of
the ship does not bear the least proportion to
its height, so that unless the breadth was more
answerable, it was impossible for her to weather
up a side wind. The drawing was made from an
old manuscript, and the illuminator was pro-
bably cramped for room, and, willing to represent
the ship on as large a scale as possible in a
confined space, he took from the length, with-
out diminishing the breadth.



The Northmen are the next. persons who ven-
tured to attack England. These we find in the
year 794 ravaged several parts of Northumber-
land, and, after plundering a monastery at the
mouth of the Don, lost some of their vessels
by shipwreck. The Saxon Chronicle also informs
us, that in 833 a Danish and Norwegian fleet
arrived on the southern coast of England; and
King Egbert was defeated in a sanguinary battle
with the crews of thirty-five Danish ships at
Charmouth. Few, if any, of the numerous con-
tests with the Danes appear to have taken place
in the open sea; the place of engagement was
generally in some haven, or at the mouth of a
The accession of Alfred forms a memorable
epoch in the affairs of the navy of England. He
paid great attention to the building of ships,
an object of importance to him, on account of
the attacks of the Danes, the East-Anglians, and
the Northumbrians. To resist these ships of
his enemies, he directed some to be built which
were twice as long as those he had to oppose;
some had sixty oars, and some more; they were



also swifter, steadier, and higher than any vessels
ever before seen. As he is supposed to have been
the first English sovereign who commanded his
own fleet in battle, he has been called the first
English admiral.
Several engagements with the Danes had taken
place, and generally with success on the part of
Alfred; but the invasion of 893 called forth all
the energies of his character. Hasting, the most
able and enterprising chief which his country
had produced, was desirous of becoming, if not
entire master of England, at least King of the
Anglo-Danes, and had for this purpose col-
lected -his forces at Boulogne. Having con-
structed a fleet of two hundred and fifty ships,
Hasting embarked the whole of his soldiers and
horses, and, making only one passage, arrived at
the mouth of the Lymene, in East Kent. The
Danes then towed part of their ships four miles
up the river, as far as the Weald; and, having
stormed a newly-erected fortress, took up their
position at Appledore. Hasting himself, how-
ever, proceeded with eighty ships to the Thames,
landed at Milton, and formed a camp. The


following year he crossed the Thames, and erected
a fortification at South Benfleet, in Essex.
About the same time a fleet of about forty
sail, which had come northward into the British
Channel, landed on the north coast of Devon-
shire; while another, of one hundred ships, pass-
ing down channel, laid siege to Exeter.
Alfred, undismayed by so many enemies,
divided his army, and sending part, which was
reinforced by the Londoners, against Hasting,
conducted the other in person into the west.
After various unsuccessful efforts, Hasting in
897 disbanded his army, some going to East-
Anglia, and others to Northumberland, when
such of his soldiers as were moneyless procured
ships, and went to France.
In 931, Harold, king of Norway, presented to
Athelstan a ship adorned with a golden prow,
having a purple sail, with a complete bulwark
of golden shields.
In the reign of Ethelred the Unready, an at-
tack was made upon London by ninety-four ships,
in September 994, under Anlaf and Swain, but
they were beaten off by the inhabitants with



great loss; and to the honour of the Londoners,
the Saxon annalist says, the enemy "there sus-
tained more harm and evil than they ever incur-
red that any townsmen would be able to do
unto them." Repulsed at London, the Danes
devastated Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire; plun-
dering, burning, and murdering wherever they
went, both on the coast and inland. Their pro-
ceedings created so much terror to the king,
that he submitted to the disgraceful condition
of finding provisions for their forces in winter-
quarters at Southampton, and paying sixteen thou-
sand pounds to Anlaf as the price of his depar-
ture, he having promised never again to invade
England. The respite thus purchased proved as
brief as it was dishonourable. Within three
years the western parts of England were again
The Danish ships, which made a descent upon
the coast of Norfolk in 1104, are thus minutely
described in the Saxon Chronicle :-" Each vessel
had a high deck, and bore the peculiar flag of its
commander. The prows of the ships were orna-
mented with figures of lions, bulls, dolphins,


or men made of copper, gilt; and at the mast-
heads of others were vanes in the shape of birds
with expanded wings. Their sides were painted
with various colours; and the shields of the
soldiers, of polished steel, were placed in rows
round the gunwales. Swain's own ship, which
was called the Great Dragon," is said to have
been built in the form of the animal whose name
it bore; its head forming the prow, and its tail
the stern. The mysterious standard of white
silk, bearing a raven with extended wings and
open beak, which had been embroidered by three
of Swain's sisters in one night amidst charms
and magical incantations, was on board his
ship, but was not displayed until he landed in
On this occasion he burnt Norwich; and, while
the people were in treaty with him, he marched
stealthily to Thetford, which place he also sacked
and burnt. Ulfcytel, the king's principal officer,
met the Danes on their return, and after a despe-
rate battle, in which he was slain, and which
the Danes described as "the worst hand-play"
they had experienced from the English, they



embarked; and the following year their fleet
returned to Denmark.
The next important event connected with the
navy of England is the invasion by William the
Conqueror. It is singular, that, though Harold
was well aware of the design, he, although within
three weeks of the sailing of the Conqueror's
fleet, laid up his own ships, and allowed the crews
to return to their homes. The number of ships
employed in this expedition is not known; his-
torians vary so much in their accounts, that even
an approximation to truth cannot be arrived
at. There is no doubt, however, that William
invaded England with a large army, both of
cavalry and infantry; and, as only one passage
was made, the small vessels of which it consisted
must have been very numerous.
The fleet is said to have consisted of nearly
nine hundred ships. These were slight vessels,
hastily constructed, fitted only for a short voyage,
and built with an especial view to the transporta-
tion of his army. The rudeness of their con-
struction may be easily conceived, since his whole
naval armament was completed within the space


of about nine months. A representation of the
particular vessel in which William himself set sail
from Normandy may be seen in the celebrated


"Bayeux tapestry." All, however, that we can
expect from the needlework of the Empress
Matilda and her ladies, is not, perhaps, a correct



delineation of the vessel, but a general represent-
ation of the ships of the period. They appear
to have had one mast only, which was kept
steady by ropes fastened both to the head and
stern of the vessel. A paddle answered the pur-
poses of a rudder; and the pilot seems to hold
the rope of the sail in his hand.
William placed little reliance on his shipping;
he did not expect to be encountered at sea; the
battle for the kingdom was to be fought on land;
and, to give his men additional motives for cou-
rageous bearing, he burnt his ships as soon as
he had landed.
The Conqueror's ship was distinguished by
having at its mast-head a sort of square white
banner, charged with a gold cross within a blue
border, surmounted by another cross of gold,
which is supposed to have been the gonfalon
given him by the Pope. His ship is larger
than any of the others, and contains ten men.
The prow is ornamented with a lion's head;
and at the stern is the image of a boy blow-
ing a horn, and holding in his hand a gon-
falon. This ornament is referred to in an ac-



count given of William's armament, of which
the following is a translation of that part re-
lating to the Duke's ship. "Matilda, afterwards
Queen, wife of the Duke, in honour of the said
Duke, caused-a ship to be built, called Mora,
in which he was conveyed. On the prow of
which ship the same Matilda caused a golden
boy to be placed, pointing to England with his
right forefinger, and pressing an ivory horn to
his mouth with his left hand; in return for
which the Duke granted to the said Matilda
the county of Kent." Wace likewise notices this
figure, and also says it was placed at the prow.
The embroideress, however, has placed it in the
stern, and has put a small flag in its hand. At
the top of the mast also, according to Wace,
was a gilt brass vane, and a lantern; but neither
appears on the ship in the tapestry. The sail
is in three stripes, red (or brown), yellow, and
red, and the steersman holds the sheet in one
hand, and in the other the paddle, which answers
the purpose of a rudder. It does not appear
which of the men was intended for the Duke,
unless it be the one who is standing up, with



his hand round the mast: but his dress is pre-
cisely similar to that of the steersman and
some of the crew. Round the gunwale, on one
side, thirteen shields are placed; and, assuming
that there were the same number on the oppo-
site side, the vessel must have carried more
men than the fair artists have introduced, and
which may be safely presumed from other circum-
stances. Two other ships of the Conqueror's
fleet are also represented: they differ from the
Duke's in being smaller, by the sails being
divided into horizontal compartments, by their
being laden with horses, by the absence of any
ornament at the stern, and in one of them also
at the prow, and by their being no shields round
the gunwales.
The description of the other ships in this work
may also be desirable, as it affords the best, if
not the only, contemporary representation. The
first vessel introduced is that in which Harold
sailed for Normandy in 1065. He appears in
a large boat, with seven men and one mast, but
without a sail: it is being pushed off the shore
with oars, and has an anchor over the bows.



A smaller boat is near it. He next appears in a
ship with one mast, and a very large green sail,
going before the wind, containing fourteen men
with shields round the gunwales; and one shield
is suspended over the bows. He is next seen
landing from another representation of his ship,
the sail of which is of four cloths, party-co-
loured, and the prow and stern are ornamented
with lions' heads. A boy is at the mast-head,
apparently on the look-out; two men are pull-
ing, and a man holds an anchor in his hand over
the bow.
The Conqueror's fleet is represented as contain-
ing twelve ships of different sizes; and some have
from three to eight horses on board. On reaching
England the mast was struck by being lowered
forwards, and the horses were landed by leaping
over the gunwale; which proves that the vessels
were of very small size, and---very low in the
water. All the ships were marked horizontally by
four or more lines, perhaps to represent planks;
and these divisions were always differently co-
loured. The Conqueror's vessel was painted alter-
nately brown and blue.


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