A new Machine (or Raft)...
This is another variation on the supposed raft being built by the French for the invasion of Britain in early 1798 (for example, see PAH7433). Unlike other prints produced during this wave of paranoia in London, which represent the vessel as an excessively fantastic contraption more appropriate to the tales of Baron MÃ”Ã²Ã¡_nchhausen, this print pares it down to a severe geometric symmetry to assert its claim to being based in fact. Indeed, a greater air of authority is lent by the claim that the engraving is made after an original drawing by a French prisoner of war, and by the wealth of statistical detail in the caption. The machine is described as: 'Flat; 2,100 Feet long, and 1,500 Feet broad; has 500 Cannon round it, 36 and 48 Pounders; at each end is two Wind Mills, which turns Wheels in the Water at every point of the Wind to Navigate; in the middle is a Fort enclosing Mortars, Perriers, &c. It carries 60,000 Men, Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery.' Nonetheless, this does not disguise the unseaworthiness of the 'new machine', and neither is there any firm evidence that such a vessel was being constructed on the north French coast at this time.
Original size: 269 mm x 392 mm
- Image reference: PY7426
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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