Page:Pyrotechnics the history and art of firework making (1922).djvu/76

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St. George and Dragon device, which is merely scenic, the figures being of wickerwork and canvas with slight firework effects. At this time, according to a "History of Colleges in and arround London," there were "many men very skilful in the art of pyrotechny and fireworks."

In a book on fireworks, published in the same year, by John Bate, the author concludes by saying: "I might have been infinite in the describing of such like with Ships, Towers, Castles, Pyramides. But, considering that it would but increase the price of the book and not better your understanding, since all consist of the former workes, which are so plainly described as that the most ignorant may easily conceive thereof, and (if any whit ingenious) thence contrive others, of what fashion they list," From this it would appear that firework displays were by that date a well-established institution.

Pepys, in his account of the coronation of Charles II, 1661, says: "We staid upon the leads and below till it was late, expecting to see the fireworks, but they were not performed to-night." He seems to have looked upon fireworks as a matter of course on such an occasion. However, a display of considerable size did take place, conducted by Sir Martin Beckman, later Firemaster to James II, who was responsible for most of the important displays until 1706. One of the earliest prints of an English firework display is that depicting the fireworks on the Thames at Whitehall for the coronation of James II, 1685, in which the artist appears to have drawn somewhat on his imagination.

Three years later an elaborate display was given on the Thames to celebrate the birth of an heir to the throne, who was afterwards known as the Old Pretender. In the same year we again see fireworks on the Thames, this time to celebrate the reception of the Prince of Orange.