An Accompt of some Books.

1. SCHEEPS-BOVW en BESTIER, that is, NAVAL ARCHITECTURE and CONDUCT; by N. Witsen, printed at Amsterdam, 1671. in Fol.

THe Ingenious and Industrious Author of this Work having considered with himself, that his Country-men, though so flourishing in Navigation and Naval Architecture, had yet published nothing of that subject, except what De Heer Tjassens had written of the Politie of Shipping, did resolve with himself to break that silence, and to communicate unto the World a History both of the Ancient and Modern way of Building, Equipping, and Governing of Ships; which design having been by him put in execution in this Book, he therein largely treateth not only of the Manner of the Naval Architecture used by the Greeks and Romans, together with their Naval Exercises, Battles, Discipline, Laws and Customs; but also of the Method and Way used at this day both in his own Country, England, France, and the Indies, together with the difference there is between the Manner of Building Ships, practised by Others, from that of the Dutch, and particularly of the Indian way of Equipping their Ships, and the manner of Building Galleys: All inriched with an ample Seamans Dictionary, and a great number of Illustrating Diagrams.

The whole Work is divided into Two main Parts; The First contains XIX Chapters; whereof,

1. Giveth an account of the first Builders of Ships, and in general of the Building of the Antients, both before and after the Deluge; where the Author particularly discourseth of Noah's Ark; of divers Ships found deep under ground; of the structure of the Ship Argo; of the Navigation of the Phenicians, Rhodians, Corinthians, Ægyptians, Tyrians, Cretians, &c.

2. Delivers the Way of the Naval Architecture of the Greeks and Romans, both for War and Commerce, together with the manner of Equipping their Ships row'd with Oars, both of single and manifold ranks, and the sitting of the Rowers: Where he treats of the Biremis Pistrix; the Biremis Vallata Oneraria Cerealis Siracusia; the Biremis and Tiremis turrita; the Triremis vallata, &c.

3. Discourseth of several sorts of the Ancients Structure of Ships, and chiefly of the great Vessels built by Philopater and Hiero, the pompous make of both which is here represented; as also of the numerousness and launching of their Ships.

4. Enumerateth divers un-common Observables in Ships both of Ancient and Later times, as in Noah's Ark, the Ships of Argo, Theoris, Paralon, Salamine, Magellan, Drake, &c. To which he adds that Noble Fregat built in England A. 1637, called the Soverain, of 1637 Tuns, having a keel that was to be drawn by 28 oxen and 4 horses; as also a Description of the Spanish Armada of 1588, called the Invincible; not forgeting the Bucentoro of the Venetians; nor the Mageleza of the Suedes, a Man of war, appearing at Sea about 100 years since, and having sides of that thickness, that all bullets stuck within her boards. In this Chapter is inserted a Relation of a Ship found in the time of Pius II. in the Numidian Sea, 12 fathoms under water, 30 foot long and of a proportionable breadth, built of Cyprus and Larix wood, and reduced to that hardness, that it would hardly burn; as it was also very hard to cut: No signs in it of any rottenness any where; its deck cover'd with paper, linnen and leaden plates, fastned with guilt nails, as also were the boards; the whole ship so close, that not a drop of water was found soaked through into any close room. The Author concludeth it to have lain there about 1400 years.

5. Relateth, what great Fleets were anciently set out, and what far voyages undertaken: where he taketh particular notice of the Expedition of the Argonautes, of Xerxes, of Alexander M, of Rome, and Cartage, of the Saxons, Britons, &c.

6. Describeth what the Antients observed in Building their Ships, and how they closed, rigged and beautified them; where occur several relations of divers ways of cementing, caulking, pitching; and defending ships from rottenness and worms; of which I shall only mention, what occasionally he alledgeth of a certain cement now used by the Indians, made of finely beaten reeds, chalk, and oyl, with which their Ships are over-laid to keep them from rotting.

7. Rehearseth the State of Naval Architecture after the Ruine of the Roman Empire; especially amongst the Scyhians, and Saracens, invading Italy, Spain, France, &c; together with the endeavors of the Romans under Justinian and others, to defend themselves against those Barbarians: Not omitting, what was done by the Danes, Huns, English, Saxons, and particularly by that Brave and Vigilant King Edgar, who maintained a Fleet of 3600 sail, which he divided into three Squadrons, called the Eastern, Western and Northern, sailing in them himself every year round about England and Scotland. To this he annexeth, at what time Shipping was at the lowest ebb, and how it began to be restored by some Kings of Portugal, the Frieslanders, and his Countrymen in general, about 200 years since.

8. Giveth an ample and very particular account of the present way of Building Ships, both for War and Trade, in Holland. Where are represented not only the Parts of a Ship in their several Figures, together with their Names, and Uses; but also a whole Ship, perfectly rigg'd, and on it the parts marked, with reference to the annexed Discourse, wherein they are described.

9. Contains a particular Description of the Proportions of all the Parts of a Dutch ship, and the Measures of some peculiar sorts of Vessels of that Country: Where he instanceth in several Ships of different lengths, as of 134, 160, 150, 140, 125, 130, feet long; as also in a Frigot, 130 feet long; and assigneth the measures and proportions of the respective parts thereof; Adding withall an account of divers Frigots and other Ships, there built by some of their most famous Shipwrigths, to the number of Twenty six.

10. Declareth the Make and Weight of all sorts of Ankers, and the bigness and weight of Cables in general, and in particular of certain Ships built there; as also the measures and proportions of Masts, and Sails, of divers Vessels, and how Sails may be best ordered to take in most wind, mathematically shown: Where Occasion is taken to insert considerable remarks about the several sorts of Hemp, and the best way of working Cables, and the care to be had in the manner of tarring them, and in the degree of heating the tar for that purpose, &c.

11. Delivers the Method of conjoyning the parts of a Ship one after another, used by Dutch Ship wrights; together with a representation of a Ship upon the Stocks, and their manner of Launching ships: Adding their way of redressing a ship that lieth on her side, as well as of laying her on her side for re-pairing or cleansing; and intimating also, that amongst them a ship 180 or 185 feet long, can conveniently be built up, by 50 men, in 5 months; and that the charges of building a ship, 165 feet long, 43 feet broad, and 31 feet high, built of the best timber, amounts to 74152 gilders; besides its ironwork, which together with its rigging comes to 19483 gilders more, without the warlick equipage: Judging withall, that such a ship, well built and kept with care, may last 20, 30, 40, to 50 years; mentioning also, that he had seen a certain English vessel, of 70 years old, and not yet altogether useless.

12. Speaks of the measures and proportions of several other Sea-vessels, that are of a structure and use different from that of the former; such as are Flutes, Green-land-vessels for Whale-fishing, Advice-yachts, Boyars, Galliots, Fire-ships, Pinks, Busses, &c.

13. Treats of other sorts of Vessels, as Coasters, Yachts, Challoups, Lighters, Boats, Skiffs, Double-bottom'd Vessels, ships rising without being unladen, and such as move, under water, or against the stream, and especially of a Vessel used at Amsterdam, whereby in one day may be fetch'd up 50 or 60 boats of mud, performed by the means of a big wheel and large spoons. In the same Chapter, instructions are given concerning the Choice of Ship-Timber; where are to be found many necessary and very useful Observations and Directions relating to the purpose in hand, and a particular commendation of the English and Irish Oak for ships. To all which is added an Enumeration of all sorts of Tools and Engins requisite for this kind of building.

14. Considers the Structure of Galleys and Galleasses in particular, and what is peculiar in them and different from other ships; taking also notice in brief of Galeasses, Brigantines, Feluccas, &c.

15. Discourseth of the Proportions observed by the English and French in the building of their respective ships: Where he taketh special notice of Four Frigats of four distinct rates; exhibiting and describing there as they are to be found in the Duke of Northumberland, Robert Dudley, his Arcano del Mare, printed at Florence; and concluding this Chapter with a description of the Frigat called the Royal Charles, (some years since fallen into Dutch hands,) and an Encomium of the English Orders at Sea.

16. Maketh a Narrative of the Indian way of framing ships: Where first of all occur the Canoe's and their Structure out of one only Tree, hollow'd by burning. Next, the Chinese Yonks of Nankin (a sort of flat bottom'd Boats,) and other Vessels of the same Country; among which those are described, that are as big as little Islands, and hold many houses and families, floating upon the waters, and going up and down through all the parts of China that have the conveniency of navigable rivers: To which is added a description of a Royal Chinese boat, of a Serpentin shape, sent to receive the Dutch Ambassadors in those parts. Then the ships of Malabar, Ternate, Sumatra, Japan, Terra del Fuego, (in which last are made very artificial boats of the Barks of the thickest Trees, as in Malabar some are made of large Canes, called Bambu;) Moreover of Borneo and Calecut. After this, the Author returns to China, and relateth, that ships are found there, which upon rollers sail over Land; and giveth a large account of the vast number of ships; both warlike and markantile, maintained in that Empire; together with the odd Architecture of the same, and the skil of that people in Navigation; as also an intimation taken out of Martinius, touching the Ancientness of the Chinese Shipping, and their Colonies found setled in Madagoscar, and their Sailing in old times even as far as to the Red Sea. He concludeth this Chapter with describing the ships of Madagascar, Bengala, Macassar, Siam, Pegu, Maldives, Ormus, Congo, Russia, Lapland, Virginia, &c.

17. Demonstrates, how much weight of water there lieth against a Ship moving at Sea; having first laid down certain propositions made out by Stevinus in his Hydrostaticks; which Writers foot-steps our Author acknowledgeth to have follow'd herein. Besides he examins also the Center of Gravity of a Ship; which being known, it may be certainly concluded. How a Ship is to lye upon the water, and how heavy it is when 'tis floating, whether loaden or unloaden. Lastly he imparts the way of the Excellent Hudde, of calculating exactly, what burthen a ship can carry either in Salt or Sweet water? Where he also examins the weight of the water; in which a Ship is floating; for which purpose he caused to be made a Cube of Copper-plates, of half an Amsterdam-foot a side, fitted after a certain manner, too particular to be here related, whereby he found, that upon the 15th of March, a foot of Rain water weighed 49lb. 14 ounces; and Y-water, 46lb. 2 1/8 ounces; and Texel-water, 46 lb. 9 ounces. To all which he adds the way of measuring the Quantity of a Ship's burthen, that hath been agreed upon between the King of Denmark and the States of the United Provinces; as also several ways of doing the same, used by other Nations, and particularly that of the English and French.

18. Explains and gives reasons for the several sizes and shapes of the parts of a ship; as why the Masts ought just to be of such a hulk and height? Why some of them must incline backward, some stand upright? Why a small Rudder can turn a great Ship; and a little Anker stay it? What maketh Ships not feel the Rudder? Why Vessels too broad are weak and prove inconvenient in high Winds? Why long and moderately narrow Ships endure the Sea better, than short and broad ones? How the Keel ought to be placed? Why Gallions and the parts of them are fram'd as they are? Why a Ship is to be broader before, then abaft? That Fregats, built long, narrow and low, sail best. What hinders well-sailing? Why Turkish Vessels are excellent Sailers? And many questions more, considered by this Author.

19. Reckons up the particulars of the loose apparatus neccessary in a moderately far Voyage for an hundred men, in a ship 134 foot long, both for her conduct and defence, and the Food of the Marriners.

And so much of the First Part of this Book.

The Second part comprehends the EQUIPPING and Conduct of Ships, and Navies, as well by the Antients as Moderns; couched in IV. Chapters.

1. Discourseth of the Equipping and Ordering of Ships and Sea-men, practised by the Greeks and Romans; as also of the Old rights and Laws of Marriners, their Victuals, Encouragements, Punishments, and Arms, together with their manner of Fighting, and Triumphing upon a victory obtained where are related several Sea-battels and their Events; as also divers famous Pirats, recorded in the Roman History.

2. Describeth the present Conduct and Government of the States General of the United Provinces in ther Warlike Fleets; together with their Orders for Convoy-ships. Where are inferred the particular Commands and Instructions given by the said States in the late War between England and that Republick; as also their Placaet concerning Prizes. To all which is subjoined the Ship-masters and Stiermans way of disciplining the Sea-men, and the manner and form of commanding them to perform their part according to the several occasions at Sea. Which Chapter is concluded with several remarks concerning the Load-stone and the Sea-Compass, and especially with what care the Needle for the Compass is to be touch't by the, Magnet.

3. Observeth the Ordering of Merchant-ships, and the Conduct of Admiralties; as also how they man and arm their Trade-ships in general, and in particular those that navigate Nord ward, and their Herring-Busses; as also those that saile to the Mediterranean. Further, how things are managed amongst them on Ship-board, in reference to the Seamen, Officers, Souldiers, &c. in their Navigation to the East and West-Indies, Greenland, &c. In this Chapter 'tis also represented, what benefits redound to a Country by Shipping, as to the increase both of its Power and Wealth.

4. Contains a Sea-Dictionary, explaining, the Names of the parts of a ship, and the words and phrases used among Seamen for all sorts of naval concerns.

An Accompt of some Books.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, 1671, pp 3006-3012.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.

The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Shipbuilding | Search.

Copyright © 2007 Lars Bruzelius.