call the lower, the gun deck, when, as in the case of two, or three decked ships, guns are also mounted upon the deck or decks above it, tends to confuse, rather than to distinguish; but to call that the gundeck, upon which no guns are mounted, is a gross absurdity. Yet, in official language, the lower deck of every ship is indiscriminately named the gun deck, and the cabin at the after-part of it, the gun room. So that the length of a modern frigate's "gun deck," so frequently published for our information, is not the length of the deck whereon she mounts her guns, but of the deck beneath it, on which she lodges her men.
It is, however, in the storey erected above the upper deck, so called, that we must look for the most glaring, and, as respects the armament of a ship, the most important, perversion of terms. The ancients were accustomed to build upon the short prow, or fore-deck of their galleys, a kind of turret, or small castle;* and the rudiments of this were plainly visible in the Venetian galleas, or greater war-galley, employed as late as 1571. The origin of the names, forecastle, with the English, castella di proa, with the Italians, gaillard d'avant, or, chateau de proa, with the French, as well as of the terms of similar import used by other nations, † is thus readily traced. The term "gaillards," taken alone, includes, apparently, all that part of a ship's upperworks intended for the accommodation of the principal officers. "Communément les logemens se pratiquent sur les ponts les plus élevés, pour avoir des jours dans l'accastillage : c'est cette combinaison d'ornrment et de commodité qui forme ce que l'on appelle les chateaux ou gaillards." ‡ The corresponding elevation at the after-part of the ship, was designated by substituting, either after for for, § or poop for prow, || except in England, where, in one instance, the term half-deck was used; ¶ but, in all others, quarter deck, in reference, probably, to that portion of the ship's length over which it originally extended. The quarter of a ship is that part of the side which lies towards the stern, or which is comprehended between the aftmost end of the main-chains, and the sides of the stern where it is terminated by the quarter-pieces ; but the quarter-deck is stated to extend all the way from the mainmast to the stern. This, however, applies to English ships only : the French usually,
* As early as the twelfth century, "towers" in ships are recommended, from which to use the spears and other arms of the time. See Antiquarian Repository, vol. iii., p. 62.
† Castillo de proa, Span. Castillo du proa, Portug. Voor-kastreel, Dutch. Skents, Swedish.
‡ Traite Elémentaire de la Construction des Bâtimens de Mer; par M. Vial du Clairbois, &c., à Paris, 1805, tom. i., p. 148.
§ Gaillard d'arrière, ou chateau de poupe.
|| Castella di poppa, Ital. Castille de: pope, Spatz. &c:
¶ See p. 3 ; also Charnock vol. ii., p.;.44 -where Admiral Sir Cloudesly Shovel, as late as 1690, uses the term in the same way.
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