To the best of my recollection, Fitzstephen is the first of our writers who speaks of an exercise of this kind, which he tells us was usually practised by the young Londoners upon the water during the Easter holidays. A pole or mast, he says, is fixed in the midst of the Thames, with a shield strongly attached to it; and a boat being previously placed at some distance, is driven swiftly towards it by the force of oars and the violence of the tide, having a young man standing in the prow, who holds a lance in his hand with which he is to strike the shield: and if he be dexterous enough to break the lance against it and retain his place, his most sanguine wishes are satisfied: on the contrary, if the lance be not broken, he is sure to be thrown into the water, and the vessel goes away without him, but at the same time two other boats are stationed near to the shield, and furnished with many young persons who are in readiness to rescue the champion from danger. It appears to have been a very popular pastime; for the bridge, the wharfs, and the houses near the river, were crowded with people on this occasion, who come, says the author, to see the sports and make themselves merry. The water quintain, taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century, in the Royal Library, where a square piece of board is substituted for the shield, is represented below.
Much of his hunting is done from his canoe or kayak. This is narrow, sharp-pointed at both ends, and light. It consists of a slight framework over which skins are tightly stretched. The opening above is but large enough for him to get his legs and body through. When he has crept in, he ties a collar of skin, that surrounds the opening, about his body, below his arms, to prevent the water dashing into the kayak, and paddles away. His different weapons are all fastened in their proper places on top of the canoe, where he can seize them when wanted. The Eskimo are wonderful boatmen and drive their kayaks over the waves like seabirds. If they tip over, they easily right themselves.
Messrs. Forest and Son received a design and order for the construction of a steel boat 28 ft. long, 6 ft. beam, and 2 ft. 6 in. deep. It was to be built of Siemens steel galvanized, and divided into twelve sections, each weighing about 75 lbs. The fore and aft sections were to be decked and watertight, to give buoyancy in case of accident.
Ships the British navy might have had! Freaks of marine architecture that have not been officially adopted.
We illustrate here some curious designs for war-ships by various inventors.
No. 1 is McDougal's Armoured Whale-back, with conning-towers, a design of 1892 for converting whalebacks into war-vessels.
No. 2 is an American design of 1892, Commodore Folger's Dynamite Ram, cigar-shaped, with two guns throwing masses of dynamite or aerial torpedoes.
No. 3 is a design by the Earl of Mayo in 1894 and called "Aries the Ram," built round an immense beam of steel terminating in a sharp point,
No. 4 is Gathmann's boat for a heavy gun forward, designed in 1900. She was to be of great speed, and the forward gun was to throw 600 lb. of gun-cotton at the rate of 2000 feet per second. A formidable Armada this, had it been practicable.
Our afternoon cruise was not further remarkable except for the sight of various immense ferry-boats swinging across the stream attached to wire guys and bearing two great loads of hay, cattle and all, and for a visit to Ingolstadt, a military post of great importance and correspondingly unattractive aspect.
On the Tile-boat
Country Market-boat, Budapest
A Hungarian Ferry
On the morning of the 26th, the captain, who had been to Oparrée with some of his officers, to make a formal visit to the king, observed a fleet of more than 300 pirogues, drawn up in order on the shore. They were all completely equipped. At the same time a number of warriors assembled on the beach.
The officers' suspicions were excited by this formidable armament, collected in one night, but they were reassured by the welcome they received.
This fleet consisted of no less than sixty large double pirogues, decorated with flags and streamers, and 170 smaller ones, intended for the transport of provisions, and the flotilla was manned with no fewer than 7760 men, warriors or paddlers.
New Zealand war canoe
Brawl among boatmen ... (From tomb of Ptah-hetep——Pyramid Age)
Boats on Nile about 2500 B.C.
Britons with Coracles
A Flat Boat
Another illustration of his [Robert Fulton] inventive gift belongs to his boyhood days. He and one of his playmates used to go out fishing in a flat boat which they propelled by the use of long poles. Getting tired of this method of navigation, Robert made two crude paddle-wheels, one for each side of the boat, connecting them by a sort of double crank, which the boys united in turning. They could then easily propel the boat in their fishing trips to various parts of the lake, and keenly enjoyed this novel and easy way of going a-fishing.
Fulton returned in 1806 to America, where, with money furnished by his friend Livingston, he began to construct another steamboat which he called the Clermont, after the name of Livingston's home on the Hudson. This boat was 130 feet long and 18 feet wide, with a mast and a sail, and on each side a wheel 15 feet in diameter, fully exposed to view.
One morning in August, 1807, a throng of expectant people gathered on the banks of the North River at New York, to see the trial of the Clermont. Everybody was looking for failure. People had all along spoken of Fulton as a crack-brained dreamer, and had called the Clermont "Fulton's Folly." "Of course the thing would not move." "That any man with common-sense might know," they said. So while Fulton was waiting to give the signal to start, these wiseacres were getting ready to jest at his failure.
Finally, at the signal, the Clermont moved slowly, and then stood perfectly still. "Just what I have been saying," said one onlooker with emphasis. "I knew the boat would not go," said another. "Such a thing is impossible," said a third. But they spoke too soon, for after a little adjustment of the machinery, the Clermont steamed proudly up the Hudson.