Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
Peter in England 1698

THE experience of being at sea in a large warship was new to Peter. The weather was stormy, but he stayed on deck throughout the voyage. He watched the handling of the Yorke with intense interest, asking endless questions, and could not be restrained from going aloft to examine the rigging.

The squadron sighted the shores of Suffolk on the morning of 10 January. A mile from the mouth of the Thames he went on board the yacht Mary, accompanied by Admiral Mitchell. The warships, Yorke and Romney, which could not navigate the river, fired salutes and made for Chatham, while the yachts, Mary and Henrietta and Isabella, moved up the Thames. Early on the following morning they anchored near the Tower of London, and Peter and his party were rowed under the bridge and upriver to a landing stage near York Buildings, off the Strand.

A house had been prepared for him in Norfolk Street, which at his express request was small, unpretentious, and had direct access to the river.1 He hoped by living unobtrusively to avoid a repetition of the crowds that had distressed him in Holland. Soon after his arrival a chamberlain came with a message of welcome. Admiral Mitchell, who spoke Dutch, interpreted for Peter who usually relied on his broken Dutch and German while abroad. In fact Peter had already taken a liking to Mitchell and he was gratified when the King appointed Mitchell to attend on him.

Two days later William himself called, coming in a modest car-

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