A View of Naval affairs in Charles the Second's Reign.
On the 18th of February, 1663, he says that he finds “the true charge of the navy” to be “after the rate of 374,743 pounds a-year.”
On the 14th of April Sir George Carteret tells him that Parliament “will call all things in question; and, above all, the expenses of the navy;” “and into the truth of the report of people being forced to sell their bills at 15 per cent, losse in the navy.”
On the 23rd of May Sir George says that Parliament intend to report 200,000 pounds per annum as the ordinary charge of the navy.
The importance of having wet-docks in which ships could be fitted out was well understood. He speaks of finding certain creeks at Portsmouth, and mentions Commissioner Pett’s design to form a wet-dock in Saint Mary’s creek, “which can be done at no great charge, and yet no little one; he thinks, towards 10,000 pounds;” and that the place is likely to be a very fit one when the king has money to do it with.
He mentions a letter of Sir William Petty, “wherein he says that his vessel, which he hath built upon two keels (a model whereof, built for the king, he shewed me), hath this month won a wager of 50 pounds, in sailing between Dublin and Holyhead, with the pacquett-boat, the best ship or vessel the king hath there; and he offers to lay with any vessel in the world. It is about 30 ton in burden, and carries 30 men, with good accommodation (as much more as any ship of her burden), and so any vessel of this figure shall carry more men, with better accommodation by half, than any other ship. This carries also ten guns of about five tons weight. In their coming back from Holyhead they started together, and this vessel came to Dublin by five at night, and the pacquett-boat not before eight the next morning; and when they come they did believe that this vessel had been drowned, or at least behind, not thinking she could have lived in that sea.” He concludes, “I only affirm that the perfection of sailing lies in my principle, find it out who can.”
By his account we find that machines to perform the same service as torpedoes were thought of in those days. He tells “Dr Allen,” with whom he had “some good discourse about physick and chymistry, what Dribble, the German Doctor, do offer of an instrument to sink ships he tells me that which is more strange, that something made of gold, which they call in chymistry aurum fulminans, a grain, I think he said, of it, put into a silver spoon and fired, will give a blow like a musquett, and strike a hole through the silver spoon downward, without the least force upward.”
He gives an amusing account of a trial about the insurance of a ship, before Lord Chief-Justice Hide. “It was pleasant to see what mad sort of testimonys the seamen did give, and could not be got to speak in order; and then their terms such as the judge could not understand; and to hear how sillily the counsel and judge would speak as to the terms necessary in the matter, would make one laugh; and, above all, a Frenchman, that was forced to speak in French, and took an English oath he did not understand, and had an interpreter sworn to tell us what he said, which was the best testimony of all.”
On the 3rd of December, 1663, he gives us the satisfactory intelligence “that the navy (excepting what is due to the yards upon the quarter now going on) is quite out of debt; which is extraordinary good news, and upon the ’Change, to hear how our credit goes as good as any merchant’s upon the ’Change is a joyfull thing to consider, which God continue!”
The next day he remarks, “The King of France, they say, is hiring of 60 sail of ships of the Dutch, but it is not said for what design.”
On the 22nd of January he went down to Deptford, “and there viewed Sir William Petty’s vessel; which hath an odd appearance, but not such as people do make of it.”
On the 4th of March he “saw several people trying a new-fashion gun, brought by my Lord Peterborough this morning, to shoot off often, one after another, without trouble or danger.” This must have been something of the fashion of a revolver of the present day.
One of the first entries regarding the Dutch war is on the 21st of November, 1644. “This day, for certain, news is come that Teddiman hath brought in eighteen or twenty Dutchmen, merchants, their Bourdeaux fleet, and two men-of-war to Portsmouth. And I had letters this afternoon, that three are brought into the Downes and Dover; so that the warr is begun: God give a good end to it!”
On the 31st of December he says: “My Lord Sandwich at sea with the fleet at Portsmouth, sending some about to cruise for taking of ships, which we have done to a great number.”