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Full text of "The Diary Of John Evelyn Vol-2"

1690                             JOHN  EVELYN

other discourse, and deploring the sad condition of our
navy, as now governed by inexperienced men since this
Revolution, he mentioned what exceeding advantage we
of this nation had by being the first who built frigates,
the first of which ever built was that vessel which was
afterward called c<The Constant Warwick,y> and was the
work of Pett of Chatham, for a trial of making a vessel
that would sail swiftly; it was built with low decks, the
guns lying near the water, and was so light and swift of
sailing, that in a short time he told us she had, ere the
Dutch war was ended, taken as much money from priva-
teers as would have laden her; and that more such being
built, did in a year or two scour the Channel from those
of Dunkirk and others which had exceedingly infested it.
He added that it would be the best and only infallible
expedient to be masters of the sea, and able to destroy
the greatest navy of any enemy if, instead of building
huge great ships and second and third rates, they would
leave off building such high decks, which were for noth-
ing but to gratify gentlemen-commanders, who must have
all their effeminate accommodations, and for pomp; that
it would be the ruin of our fleets, if such persons were
continued in command, they neither having experience
nor being capable of learning, because they would not
submit to the fatigue and inconvenience which those who
were bred seamen would undergo, in those so otherwise
useful swift frigates* These being to encounter the great-
est ships would be able to protect, set on, and bring off,
those who should manage the fire ships, and the Prince
who should first store himself with numbers of such fire
ships, would, through the help and countenance of such
frigates, be able to ruin the greatest force of such vast
ships as could be sent to sea, by the dexterity of work-
ing those light, swift ships to guard the fire ships. He
concluded there would shortly be no other method of
seafight; and'that great ships and men-of-war, however
stored with guns and men, must submit to those who
should encounter them with far less number. He repre-
sented to us the dreadful effect of these fire ships; that
he continually observed in our late maritime war with
the Dutch that, when an enemy's fire ship approached,
the most valiant commander and common sailors were in
such consternation, that though then, of all times, there And whosoever threatens to in-