But there are, when all is said and done, some things which a fifth-rate painter knows which a first-rate art critic does not know; there are some things which a sixth-rate organist knows which a first-rate judge of music does not know. And these were the things that Browning knew. He was, in other words, what is called an amateur.
They have been purchased of some wretched supernumeraries, or sixth-rate actors, and are now offered for the benefit of the rising generation, who, on condition of making certain weekly payments, amounting in the whole to about ten times their value, may avail themselves of such desirable bargains. Let us take a very different quarter, and apply it to the same test.
There is a large army of educated men who can talk art with artists; but Browning could not merely talk art with artists he could talk shop with them. Personally he may not have known enough about painting to be more than a fifth-rate painter, or enough about the organ to be more than a sixth-rate organist.
Charnock supplies an illustration of a sixth-rate of the time, and the picture is a familiar one to all who have taken even a slight interest in the ships of a couple of centuries ago. She had one deck and a poop and forecastle, the former extending from either end of the ship to the waist.
So from these particulars we can take it as correct that the Roebuck in 1699 was a sixth-rate. Her armament is a matter of interest, for just about her time that is, between the years 1685 and 1716 the naming of guns after beasts and birds of prey went out of fashion, and they were distinguished by the weight of the shot fired.
In the course of a few years after this, sloops, bombs, fire-ships, and yachts are spoken of as among the unrated classes; but in the sixth-rate were comprised vessels mounting only two guns. Towards the end of the century such small craft were classed by themselves as sloops. In 1675 fire-ships first appear in a list of the navy.
The small arms were matchlocks, snaphainces, musketoons, blunderbusses, pistols, halberts, swords, and hangers. From this it will be seen that the Roebuck's guns, considering the peaceful service she was upon, were probably known to her company as "sakers" and "falcons." In a sixth-rate the sakers were carried all on the one deck, and the minions on the quarterdeck.
Starr. "Dot, please don't interrupt Daddum with silly questions again," said Lavinia to her little sister. "When I got off the train at Grand Forks, on that trip, I expected to meet an old friend at the station, but he was not there. I stopped at the best hotel in the town, which would have been about sixth-rate anywhere else, and the next morning my friend Dean came in.
Dampier has left very little description of his ship, but it is not difficult to picture her, for by this time the ratings of ships had been settled upon certain lines, and the meaning of the word "rating" as used at this period is easily ascertainable. According to Charnock's Marine Architecture, the Roebuck, lying at Deptford in June, 1684, was a sixth-rate of 24 guns and 85 men.
There was probably a mess-room under the poop common to all the officers. What they had to eat and drink, as we have said, was the same for all ranks. Here is a scale of provisions for eighty-five men of a sixth-rate of 1688 for two months, taken from Charnock: In 1690 flour and raisins were added, and an effort made to condense water.