The author of the "Dictionnaire de la Marine," published at Amsterdam in 1739, is the earliest writer we know of that treats on the frigate. He says, "The word frégate derives its origin from the Mediterranean, where it was usual to designate as frigates long vessels, that used both sails and oars, and carried a deck, of which the top-side, being higher than that of galleys in general, had openings resembling portholes, for the oars to pass through." __" Ce mot de frégate tire son origine de la Méditerranée, où l'on appeloit frégates de longs bâtimens à voile et à rame, qui portoient couverte, et dont le bord, qui étoit beaucoup plus haut que celui des galères, avoit des ouvertures, comme des sabords, pour passer les rames." ‡ What occasioned these sailing galleys to be named frégata § is not very clear ; but, at all events, we may safely conjecture, that the principal quality for which they were famed was swiftness of sailing.

The contiguity of France, by her Mediterranean frontier, to the waters that gave birth to the " frégata," renders it easy to conceive that, ere many years had elapsed, vessels of a somewhat similar form, bearing the same name, appeared in the channel. Augmented size and a bluffer body would diminish the rate of sailing, but were requisite, nevertheless, to counteract the storms and swells of a northern sea. Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, the generality of English merchant-ships were called frigates; some of which, towards the latter part of the

* Fuller in his worthies, Pepys, Raleigh, &c. Mr. Derrick, whenever he quotes passages from these and other English writers, alters the language to the modern standard. This is highly improper ; as, were the reader not aware that such a liberty had been taken, he might justly doubt the authenticity of the quotations.

† Johnson. Mr. Todd, also, spells it in the same manner. We may here remark, that Johnson, or rather his printer, has mispelt the French word, calling it Frigate instead of Frégate. Both in Mr. Todd's edition, and Mr. Chalmers's Abridgement, the same error prevails.

‡ Dict. de la Marine, p. 498.

§ "Frégata ; Picciol navilo tia remo." Baretti.

The French give the name of frégate to a very swift-flying sea-gull.






century, were, as we are informed, hired from the merchant, to serve in the British navy. Accordingly, in a list of 1588, we find, among the "ships serving with Sir Francis Drake," the "frigat Elizabeth Fonnes," of 80 tons and 50 men; but how armed does not appear. A merchant-vessel, requiring the greater part of her hull for the stowage of her cargo, would carry her guns in a single tier; and there can be no doubt that the merchant-ships of those days were far better sea-boats than the men-of-war; the tier-upon-tier of cannon and lofty upper works of which rendered them fitter to be gazed upon in harbour, than to withstand the rough weather they must have been expected to encounter on the ocean.

Towards the close of the sixteenth century, Sir Robert Dudley, commonly called the Duke of Northumberland, prepared draughts of seven distinct classes of ships of war: the Galleon; Rambargo, Galizabra, Frigata, Gallerone, Galerata, and Passa-volante. The accounts are not very satisfactory, as to the number and nature of guns which it was intended for each to mount.* Among them was a ship, measuring 160 feet in length, and 24 in breadth, and constructed to carry a tier of guns on a single whole deck, besides other guns on two short decks, that resembled the quarterdeck and forecastle, or rather, not being united by gangways, the poop and topgallant-forecastle. Here, the disposition of the guns is the same precisely, as that which characterizes the modern frigate; and it is a singular fact, that this ingenious nobleman named his vessel, thus constructed and armed, Frigata. Sir Robert, early in the ensuing century, submitted his draughts to government; but, although some beneficial hints may have been taken, it does not appear that his proposition met a favourable reception. To prove his own confidence in his plan, Sir Robert, in the year 1594, caused a vessel to be built at Southampton, of a similar form to his intended Galleon, but measuring only 300 tons. With this vessel, which mounted 30 guns (of small calibers, no doubt), the inventor made a voyage to India; and, according to his report, the vessel fully answered his expectations. †

The author of the " Dictionnaire de la Marine" states, that the English were the first to name as frigates, upon the ocean, ‡ long vessels, armed for war, having the deck much lower than that of galleons and ordinary ships. § This undoubtedly refers to single-decked vessels ; but it is not clear whether, by "bâtimens armés en guerre," is meant regular king's ships, or armed ships hired of the merchants, and to which, as we have

* For the draughts, see Charnock, vol. ii., p. 177.

† See Charnock, vol. ii., p. 177.

‡ As distinguished from the Mediterranean sea.

§ " Les Anglais sont les premiers qui aient appelé frégates, sur l'océan, les bâtimens longs, armés en guerre, qui ont le pont beaucoup plus bas que celui des galions et des navires






already shown, the name frigate was commonly applied. The probability, that the latter were those alluded to, is strengthened by the fact, that the first list of king's ships, one of 1604, in which any frigate appears, contains only " a French frigat." This vessel stands the last but one in the list, and, from her burden, 15 tons, must have been little better than a boat. The next list of king's ships, in which the frigate appears, is one of 1633. There the two last vessels are the " Swann frigat." and "Nicodemus frigat," each of 60 tons, 10 men, and 3 guns. In a subsequent list, they each appear with a different tonnage, number of men, and guns. One may conjecture that, as Charles I made frequent visits of inspection to his different naval depots, the Swan and Nicodemus were elegant, fast-sailing little ships, built to attend him thither; and it is not unlikely, that the diminutive French Frigate of the former list had also been constructed for pleasurable purposes.

Fuller, who wrote in or about the year 1660, says, " We fetched the first model and pattern of our friggots from the Dunkirks, when, in the days of the Duke of Buckingham, then admiral, we took some friggots from them, two of which still survive in his Majesties navy, by the names of the Providence and Expedition." * Now, the Duke of Buckingham appears to have filled the office of Lord High Admiral from 1619 to about 1636, and the names Providence and Expedition occur; both in the list of 1633, and in that of 1652, which is the next that appears in print. But the figures denoting the tonnages, men, and guns of the ships, in these early lists, are too contradictory to enable us to state more, than that the Providence and Expedition were small ships, mounting from 20 to 30 guns, the chief of them on a single deck. Mr. Pepys, also, whose authority in all matters respecting the ships of the British navy stands very high, says thus: "The Constant-Warwick was the first frigate built in England. She was built in 1649, by Mr. Peter Pett, for a privateer for the Earl of Warwick, and was sold by him to the States. Mr. Pett took his model of a frigate from a French frigate which he had seen in the Thames; as his son, Sir Phineas Pett, acknowledged to me." Mr. Pepys, in his "Memoirs of the Navy," invariably, we observe, spells frigate, frigat ; but Mr. Derrick's correcting hand, and our inability to get a sight of the "Miscellanies" and " Naval Minutes" (stated by Mr. D. to be in Magdalen College, Cambridge), compels us, in quotations purporting to be from them, to spell the word, and indeed all the words, as if they had been written at the close of the eighteenth; rather than of the seventeenth century.

Mr. Pett may have taken his model some years before be was called upon to build a vessel from it; and there is no reason to

* Fuller's Worthies of England, vol. ii., p.. 342.







suppose that the French frigate was a national frigate. She was most probably, a privateer; and may have been one of the many that the enterprising " Dunkirks," as Fuller calls them, had fitted out. Both writers refer to a model, or pattern, as if there were something in their frigate to distinguish her from the generality of ships of war ; and yet neither has taken the pains to give the faintest description of what that peculiarity, whether of form, or of armament, or of both, consisted. We may gather that the prototype, as she was a privateer, was a swift-sailer, and not of very large dimensions or force. To arrive at any further particulars, we must grope a little deeper into the records of these early times.

The name of the Constant-Warwick occurs in several lists between 1652 and the end of the century; but in scarcely any two of those lists, does the ship appear with the same tonnage and number of guns. Both the year in, and the place at which, and even the person by whom, she was built are differently stated ; yet there was, undoubtedly, but one ship of the name in the British navy. Without quoting from so many contradictory authorities, we shall briefly state the result of our very careful researches on the subject.

The Constant-Warwick was built in 1646, at Ratcliffe, by Mr. Peter Pett the elder, for the use of the Earl of Warwick, as a privateer, or, in softer language, as a sort of private-armed cruising yacht. She measured, in the modern way of computing the tonnage, from 380 to 400 tons, and mounted 26 guns ; consisting of 18 light demi-culverins, or short 9-pounders, on the main deck, six light sakers, or short 6-pounders, on what was virtually the quarterdeck, and two minions on what, as being of no greater extent than was requisite for a roof to the chief officer's cabin, may be called the poop. We have seen several draughts of English fifth and sixth rates, as they were constructed in the latter half of the seventeenth century, that correspond exactly with this arrangement of the guns. The deck on which the sakers are mounted is really a whole deck, reaching from stern to stern; but the bulwark, or barricade, commences only where that of the modern quarterdeck does, at the after side of the gangway-entrance. A ship, of the size and armament of the Constant-Warwick, well formed in her carène, or lower body; lightly but handsomely ornamented in her upperworks, and rigged according to the most approved plan of the day, did no discredit to the name of frigate, now first applied in England to any determinate form of vessel.

The earl subsequently disposed of his frigate to the commonwealth, but not, as it would appear, until she had afforded decided proofs of her superiority of sailing. At what precise time the transfer took place is uncertain ; but the first list, in which the Constant-Warwick appears as a national ship, is one of 1652. There she classes as a fifth-rate; of 28 guns. In another







list of the same year, her guns are stated at 32 : a difference to be explained, perhaps, by one being the lowest, the other the highest, number of guns assigned to the ship in her new employ.

The English were always fond of over-gunning their vessels; and it generally happened, when an English ship of war was taken by the French, that the latter, before they sent her forth as a cruiser; reduced, sometimes by a full sixth, the number of her guns. One instance may suffice. The Pembroke, when captured by the French, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, mounted 64 guns ; but, when recaptured shortly afterwards, had on board only 50 guns, and these as the whole of her establishment.

An addition of six guns to the Constant-Warwick's original number was, perhaps, no improvement; but what shall we say to an increase of 20, or, at all events, of 16 guns? Our suspicion that this had taken place was excited by seeing the name of the Constant-Warwick, as one of the six fourth-rate 42-gun ships, enumerated at No. 30 in the abstract of 1677. There the ship, having her two bow-ports filled, carries 20, instead of 18 demi-culverins on, what is now, in truth, the first gundeck ; and, having her quarterdeck bulwark continued forward on each side to her stem, readily finds room for a second whole tier of guns. The number first mounted on this second deck was probably 20, the same as on the deck below. Afterwards, 18 were considered enough ; especially as the guns were not sakers, but demi-culverins, the same as on the first gundeck. The poop, by this new operation, and, perhaps, by a little extension forward, becomes the quarterdeck, and is armed, at first probably, with six, but afterwards, with four minions; making 46 guns as the temporary, and 42 as the permanent, establishment of the ship.

When, to the increased weight of the, guns, their carriages and shot, is added the weight of wood and iron, consumed as well in the barricade to the second gundeck, as in strengthening the ship in every part, we may well give credit to a writer of 1665, who, in complaining that ships of the British navy are "over-gunned," instances, among others, "the Constant-Warwick, from 26 gunns and an incomparable sayler, to 46 gunns and a slugg." § The worst is, that the Constant-Warwick, although thus changed in her form and qualifications, although, from an "incomparable sayler," converted to a "slugg," was allowed to retain her original appellation. So that, according to the loose accounts handed down to us, "the first frigate built in England" was an over-gunned, top-heavy, two-decker, instead of, as a little investigation now proves her to have been, a properly armed, snug, one-decker.

§ "Gibson's Observations on Military Management," as copied into Charnock's second volume.






There was, however, one part of the Constant-Warwick's peculiarity of construction that could not be altered, without a complete rebuild from the keel upwards: it was the sharpness of her lower body, or, as the naval draughtsman would call it, the fineness of her lines. This sharpness of form appears to have been the only characteristic of the frigate which the English builders thought worthy to be retained. It seemed to them a most convenient property, that suited all sizes and classes of ships; and, accordingly, between the years 1646 and 1653, upwards of 60 "frigates" were built, or building. One, among the latter, was to carry "from 50 to 80 guns." The, remainder were variously classed, from 56 down to 12 guns; and the first was the only rate, from which they appear to have been excluded.

One natural effect of this extraordinary degree of sharpness, when applied to an overloaded ship carrying 60 or 70 guns, was so to increase the immersion of the vessel, that her lower battery approached too near to the water to be useful. This evil we shall explain in the words of Mr. Pepys. "In 1663 and 1664," says he, "the Dutch and French built ships with two decks, which carried from 60 to 70 guns, and so contrived, that they carried their lower guns four feet from the water, and to stow four months' provisions ; whereas, our frigates, from the Dunkirk-built, which were narrower and sharper, carried their guns but little more than three feet from the water, and but ten weeks' provisions."  Mr. Pepys then states, that five frigates (three of 70, one of 66, and one of 64 guns, according to the list of 1677 ) were ordered to be built of such dimensions, as to obviate those defects. In eight or ten years afterwards, we find Mr. Pepys still complaining of this want of buoyancy in the British frigates ; as appears by another of his statements, already quoted to illustrate a point in our inquiries.

Thus had the "first frigate," in less than 20 years, spread her name, if not her qualifications, over nearly the whole of the British navy. From the time, however, that the first and second rates excluded all two-decked ships, as was certainly the case at the date of the abstract of 1677, and may have been the case a year or two earlier, the frigate-classes were confined to the third, and the three inferior rates. When, too, at the close of the seventeenth century, the classes within the first four rates assumed the name of line-of-battle-ships, the frigate became further restricted to the fifth and sixth rates; which, as the fifth-rate by the new regulation, was confined to classes below the 50-gun ship, afforded but a very limited range. So that, by the year 1727, as already shown, the frigate-classes were reduced to three, the 40, the 30, and the 20 gun ship.

Our next object is to show, to a certain extent, what classes. Have





emanated from these three; but, as some foreign, particularly French, frigate-classes may occasionally come before us, it may render the subject more intelligible, if we here introduce a few general remarks on the system of classification adopted in the principal foreign navies.

It is difficult to say, whether the English or the French were the first to divide their navy into rates. We can only state, that in the year 1670, the French navy appears to have consisted of five rangs, or rates, each composed of several ordres, or classes ; and that their first-class first-rates mounted 120 guns, and measured 1500 tons French; which, allowing for the difference both of weight and of casting the tonnage in the two countries, may be about equal to 1800 tons English. As a substitute for their sixth-rate, they had a class which they called frégates légères, or little frigates. Probably the name, without an adjunct, was applied to some ships of the fifth-rate, whose exterior form and manner of carrying their guns may have justified the appellation. Next to frégates légères were fireships ; then barcalongas, and pinks. Of the composition of the Spanish navy, in these early times, we can say nothing: we can only remark upon their ships, as they appeared at sea, or in English ports.

The Dutch seem to have divided their navy into six (some accounts say, seven) rates. Their heaviest ships, of which there were but a few, are represented to have mounted 92 or 94 guns, of which a portion were probably swivels. The shallowness of their waters cramped the Hollanders in the dimensions of their ships, and compelled them to adopt, in their larger vessels especially, a flatter floor and bluffer contour than characterized the vessels of other nations, of their southern neighbours in particular.

The great fault attributed to British men-of-war, at the latter part of the seventeenth, and early part of the eighteenth century, was their insufficient size, in reference to the guns they were forced to carry. Hence, their lower batteries could seldom be used in blowing weather; and they sailed and worked heavily. But even this had its advantages; for the British generally recaptured their ships; whenever they formed part of an enemy's chased fleet: and it is remarkable that, of the Comte de Forbin's fleet, which, in 1708, attempted a descent on Scotland, the only ships, which perished in the gale that happened, were such as had been taken from the English.

The foreign builders appear to have allowed a greater width to the portholes, and to the spaces between them. This, in a given number of portholes and spaces, necessarily added to the length of the vessel; and as that increased length required a proportionate breadth, a general increase of bulk, and thence of tonnage, became the consequence. The ship was thus rendered more buoyant, and her lower battery stood higher from the water; advantages which were sensibly felt by the British, in





almost every encounter attended by a rough sea, or a wind fresher than common. In the form of the lower body of their ships, the French greatly surpassed the English; but, in point of materials and workmanship, the advantage was, and perhaps is to this day, on the side of the latter. To the British, however, is certainly due the merit of having been the first to introduce the curved form to that part of the stern against which the sea beats: on the other hand, they were among the last to abandon the immoderate contraction of the upper decks of their ships, and the consequent low position of their chain plates.

The Spaniards appear to have taken the lead, even of the French, in the proportion between the size and the numerical force of their ships. As a sense of pride had induced Spain to build her ships higher, a sense of safety had impelled her to build them broader, than those of any other nation. When, therefore, the example of other states permitted her to ease her ships of a part of their cumbrous superstructure, Spain continued, for a while at least, to give them their former breadth. They undoubtedly possessed the advantages of greater stability, and of sides less penetrable by an enemy's shot. If the increased thickness of the sides added to the intrinsic weight of the ship, a counterbalancing property was found in the superior buoyancy derived from her increased width. One example will suffice, to show the difference that prevailed between the builders of Spain and of England. The following are the dimensions of a Spanish, and an English ship, of the same class, or denomination; the one built, the other captured, in 1740.


Length of first deck.

Breadth extreme.

Depth of hold.



ft. in.

ft. in.

ft. in.


Princessa 70

165' 1"

49' 8"

22' 3"


Bedford 70

150' 10½"

43 7½

17' 10"


We may now resume our inquiries relative to the various frigate-classes that followed the three of 1727. * Two new classes were added in 1740: the one a 44-gun ship, averaging about 710 tons, and established with 40 guns on her two decks, similar to No. 7 in the short abstract at p. 10, but with 18 and 9, instead of 12 and 6 pounders ; also with four 6-pounders on the quarterdeck. The other class was a 24-gun ship, averaging about 440 tons, and established with two 9-pounders only on the first deck, and twenty of the same caliber on the second deck, with two 3-pounders on the quarterdeck. Before nine years had elapsed, 38 individuals of the 44-gun class, several of them of increased dimensions, had been built, and such of the old







is as could bear them, had been allowed four sixes for then quarterdecks; which made them also 44-gun ships, although of a weaker description. The remaining 40s were few in number ; and, by the year 1755, the class became extinct. In 1748 a 28-gun ship was added, measuring about 585 tons, and constructed to carry twenty-four 9-pounders on the main deck, and four 3-pounders on the quarterdeck. This was a decided improvement on the 24, as well as on the old 30 gun class: moreover, the 28 is the first ship that, in the arrangement of her guns, conveys any idea of the modern frigate.

In the year 1757 the following five frigates of the 28-gun class were built of fir instead of oak, as had hitherto been the general practice:







sold as unserviceable




ditto ditto




captured by the French




taken to pieces




sold as unserviceable


So that the four of these fir-built ships, not cut off by capture, lasted, upon an average, nine years.

In the year 1757, also, were added two classes, of no mean importance ; one a 32, the other a 36 gun ship. The first of these merits a particular account. On the 29th of March, 1756, the Navy Board agreed with Mr. Robert Inwood, of Rotherhithe, at the rate of £9. 17s. per ton, to build a fifth-rate ship, according to a draught proposed by Sir Thomas Slade, one of the surveyors of the navy. The ship was to measure 671 tons, and to mount twenty-six 12-pounders on the main deck, four 6-pounders on the quarterdeck, and two 6-pounders on the forecastle. She began building in the succeeding April ; and, after being named the Southampton, was launched on the 5th of May, 1757. Another ship from the same draught, named the Diana, and built by Messieurs Batsons, on the Thames, was launched in August of the same year: she was sold out of the service in 1793.

The Southampton may be considered as the first genuine frigate, built in England; that is, as the first English ship, constructed to carry her guns on a single whole deck, a quarterdeck, and a forecastle, the characteristic, in the opinion of all the maritime nations, of the proper frigate. A naval writer of France, M. Lescallier, thus describes the frigate : "Frégate navire de guerre, grée de même que les vaisseaux de ligne, qui leurs ressemble en tous dans ses manoeuvres, et qui ne diffère d'eux qu'en ce qu'il est plus petit, et qu'il n'a qu'une batterie de long era long. Les frégates ont le plus souvent depuis vingt-six jusqu'à quarante canons, dont les calibres sont de 12 ou de 18, pour ceux en batterie, et du 6 ou du 8 sur les gaillards." * The * Vocabulaire des Termes de Mariner







frigates of the celebrated Chapman are all of the same form; and, indeed, no modern naval architect recommends any other. The Southampton always bore the character of a good sea-boat and a prime sailer, and reigned as such for 56 years ; when a reef of rocks in the Crooked Island passage put a stop to her career. The 36-gun frigate carried the same number and nature of guns on the main deck as the 32, with four additional 6-pounders on the quarterdeck. The class, which consisted but of three individuals, averaged about 720 tons. The first launched was the Pallas. She was ordered in July, 1756, and launched August 30, 1757. The two others were the Brilliant and Venus.

We may notice in passing, that it was upon one of the 32-gun class of frigates, the Alarm, that, in November, 1761, copper sheathing was first employed in the British navy. Like most other innovations, this seems to have had a weight of prejudice to remove. It was not until April, 1764, that a second ship, the Dolphin, of 24 guns, underwent the same operation. In nine months afterwards the Jason, of 32 guns, was coppered ; and in March, 1776, the new ship, Daphne, of 20 guns. In that year four ships were coppered ; in 1777, 10 or 12 ; and, before the termination of hostilities in 1783, there was scarcely a ship in the British navy, that had not received the benefit of this highly important invention. In November, 1783, after various vain attempts to counteract the effects of the copper sheathing upon the iron bolts, and in consequence of the success of several experiments made with 44-gun ships, and others of the smaller classes, it was ordered that copper bolts should in future be used, under the load-draught of water, in all the ships of the navy.

In the same year in which the above new classes, the 32 and 36 gun frigate, made their appearance, the British captured a French ship, the Bon-Acquis, of 946, tons, mounting eight 18-pounders on the first deck, twenty-eight 12-pounders on the second deck, and two 6-pounders on the forecastle ; total, 38 guns. In 1758 the British also captured the French 36-gun frigate Mélampe, of 747 tons, and armed the same as the 36-gun class, already described; and, in the following year, the Southampton, assisted by the Mélampe, captured the French 36-gun frigate Danaé, of 941 tons, mounting twenty-eight 12-pounders on her main deck, six 6-pounders on her quarterdeck, and two 6-pounders on her forecastle. Between 1759 and 1761 the British took three French 32-gun frigates, armed like the Southampton, and averaging about 700 tons. It appears, therefore, that the English, if not beforehand with, were very little behind, the French, in the construction of that justly celebrated class of ship, the modern one-decked, or proper frigate.

In or about the year 1756 the British 50-gun ship, being found too weak to cope with any ship which the enemy usually admitted into his line of battle, was reduced to an under-line







class. The ship, however, although armed much in the same way as the two-decked 44, was not considered as a frigate, but continued to be called, as formerly, 50-gun ship,

In 1744 some newly-discovered virtues in the British 44-gun ship caused 29 individuals to be added to a class, which would otherwise have been extinct in a third of the time. The ships, like the old ones, were complained of as crank, and as carrying their guns too near the water. Some attempts were made to render a few of the latter-built ships more stiff and buoyant; but all would not do, and the greater number being deprived of their lowerdeck guns and fitted with poops, were converted into store-ships. A few individuals remained to attend convoys; but, although a provoking durability, common to the class, continued them for years in the service, they lost the appellation of frigates, and took that of the "old two-decked 44-gun ship;" a name, the very mention of which raises a smile among modern men-of-war's-men.

In 1780 the 38-gun frigate appeared, for the first time, as a British-built class. Before 1782 five individuals were launched, averaging 946 tons. These were named, Arethusa, Latona, Minerva, Phaëton, and Thetis. The Minerva appears to have been the first afloat. She was built at Woolwich dock-yard, and launched June 3, 1780. The ships had ports for mounting, and were ordered to carry twenty-eight 18-pounders on the main deck. The first admiralty order for establishing them with guns is dated September 30, 1779. There the quarterdeck and forecastle armament stands at ten 6-pounders, eight 18-pound carronades, and 14 swivels, and the complement of men at 270. On the 25th of the succeeding April 9-pounders were ordered in lieu of the sixes, and the complement was increased to 280 men. Subsequently the, two forecastle 9-pounders were exchanged for twelves (afterwards again altered to nine), and the swivels ordered to be omitted. For these, carronades were substituted, a new kind of sea-service ordnance, of which we shall presently give an account. In 1780, also, the old 36-gun frigate was revived, but in a highly improved state, the average size of the ships being 880 tons, and the calibers of the guns changed from 12 and 6, to 18 and (first 6, then) 9 pounders. This increase of the maindeck calibers, from 12 to 18 pounders, was a very great improvement, and appears to have been adopted about the same time by the French; from whom were captured, in 1782, two 40-gun frigates, the Aigle and Hébé. The first measured 1003 tons, and mounted twenty-six, the second, 1063 tons, and mounted twenty-eight 18-pounders on the maindeck, with each of them 8-pounders on the quarterdeck and forecastle. The Spaniards, also, appear to have built, in 1781, one 40-gun 18-pounder frigate, the Santa-Sabina. Of 12-pounder 34s, they had built several, of very large dimensions. The Santa-Margarita, for instance, captured in 1779, measured 993 tons,







and long proved herself a capital ship; and the Santa-Leocadia, captured in 1781, measured 952 tons. Indeed, such even still continued to be the difference of ideas in England and foreign countries, as to the due proportion to be observed between the size of the ship and the armament she was destined to carry, that all the French 12-pounder 32s, built since 1761, were about equal in tonnage to the British 18-pounder 38s.

Having already disencumbered the frigate classes of the 44-gun ship, we must now step a little back, to clear them of some minor classes which, owing to their insignificant size and force, in comparison with the frigates we have just been describing, were not worthy of so high a rank. Between 1757 and 1760 four ships were built, and four captured, by the British, averaging about 312 tons, and mounting from 14 to 18 guns on a single deck. In an abstract of 1760, and in another of 1762, these eight ships were classed by themselves as "frigates." Immediately afterwards, however, they were stripped of that name, and placed among the sloops; giving rise to a since well known sub-class, the ship-rigged sloop.

In the year 1775 a new 24-gun class commenced, averaging about 520 tons, and carrying twenty-two 9-pounders on the main deck, with four 3-pounders (in 1780 exchanged for sixes) on the quarterdeck. In or about the year 1735 a 20-gun frigate-class was built, measuring about 430 tons, and mounting 9, instead of 6 pounders. This was undoubtedly an improvement upon No. 9 in the abstract of 1727 ; but, notwithstanding two successive proposals of increased dimensions (one of 1741, to measure 498, and the other of 1745, to measure 508 tons), no subsequent improvement was made in the class. The great difference in size and force, between the 20 and the 28 gun frigate, occasioned the former, at what precise time is uncertain, to take the name of 20-gun post ship; signifying, that she was of the lowest class to which a post-captain could be appointed. Subsequently, the 24-gun frigate became also called a post-ship.

The French adopted a somewhat similar plan; when we are unable to say, but probably about the year 1760. They called all their frigates, from 24 guns downwards, corvettes, a word derived from corvettare, to leap or bound. M. Lescallier, when treating on the frigate, says, "A vingt canons, on au dessous, ce ne sont plus des frégates : on les appelle corvettes, et leur calibre est ordinairement du 8 ou en dessous." In another place he says, " Corvette; espèce de bâtiment fait pour la guerre, de même forme a peu près, et portant le même gréement qu'une frégate, a la réserve qu'il est plus petit. Les corvettes ont depuis six jusqu'à vingt canons." * Subsequently, the French applied the name to ships of 24 guns. In later times the French have constructed very large flush corvettes, and they






certainly possess many advantages. To mount all their guns in a single tier, their dimensions require to be increased; and this enables them to carry heavier metal than ships of the same nominal force, that mount a part of their guns on a quarterdeck and forecastle.

So that the term post-ship was applied to ships of 24, 22, and 20 guns, and ship-sloop, to ships of 18, 16, 14, and any less number of guns; while the French term corvette comprehended both divisions of classes. The French named their armed brigs simply brigs (bricks, or brigantines, and commonly avisos), surprised, no doubt, that the British should apply the term sloop to any vessel, no matter how rigged or constructed, provided she was commanded by a master and commander. For instance, a 74-gun ship, if reduced in her armament, and a master and commander appointed to her, registers as a sloop; that is, unless fitted for, and expressly classed as a hospital; prison, or store ship. It should be observed that the French, notwithstanding they commonly call their own men-of-war brigs of the largest class, bricks or avisos, do not hesitate to apply the term corvette (although, it has just appeared, originally restricted to ship-rigged vessels, or vessels "portant le même grément qu'une frégate") to British brigs of war of the smallest class. To meet this, we shall designate all French brigs of war, above an acknowledged gun-vessel so rigged, brig-corvettes.

The proper frigate, therefore, is a ship that mounts 24 guns, at the least, on a single deck, besides other guns on a quarterdeck and forecastle. So long as this arrangement of the guns is adhered to, the denomination will, we conceive, apply to a ship of any force; but, when once the waist becomes barricaded and filled with guns, the vessel is no longer a frigate, but a flush two-decked ship. It may here be observed, that the term flush cannot, with propriety, be applied to a frigate, because, according to the above definition, a frigate must have a quarterdeck and forecastle. The term can only be used in reference to such real single-decked vessels as are to be found among the post-ship and ship-sloop classes; and this is the restriction to which we alluded at a former page. *

We, may gather from what has been stated, that the expression, one, two, or three decked ship, is as vague in respect to the real number of battery-decks, as it undoubtedly is in respect to the number of guns mounted on those decks; and that, when the number of decks and of guns is ascertained, no accurate judgment can be formed of the ship's force, until the nature of those guns be also communicated. But, and a remarkable fact it is, let the number and nature of the guns once be known, and owing to the long-established practice of mounting no guns of a dissimilar caliber on the same deck, the number of decks instantly presents itself ; as, from the necessity of placing the heavier guns nearest to the water, does the manner in which all the guns are distributed.