It now remains for me to inform your majesty of what things I saw during my fourth voyage. But, both because I have already satiated your majesty by long narration, and because this last voyage had an unlucky end, owing to a great misfortune which befel us in a certain bay of the Atlantic ocean, I shall be brief in my present account. We sailed from Lisbon with six ships under the command of an admiral, being bound for a certain island towards the horizon, named Melcha, famous for its riches and as a station for vessels of all kinds trading between the Gangetic and Indian seas, as Cadiz is the great intermediate harbour for the ships of all nations sailing between the west of Europe and the Levant. To this port of Melcha the course is by the famous emporium of Calicut, from which Melcha is farther to the east and south.
Departing from Lisbon on the 10th of May 1508, we sailed to the Cape Verd islands, where we remained twelve days taking in various accessaries for the voyage, when we set sail with a S.E. wind, the admiral, contrary to all our opinions, merely that he might presumptuously shew himself to be commander over us and our six ships, insisting upon going to Sierra Leone, in southern Ethiopia, which was altogether unnecessary. On arriving in sight of that place a dreadful storm arose in a direction opposite to our course, so that during four days, we were not only unable to attain our destined object, but were forced to retrace our former course. By this wind at S.S.W. we were driven 300 leagues into the ocean, insomuch that we got almost three degrees beyond the line, when to our no small joy we came in sight of land distant twelve leagues. This was a very high island in the middle of the ocean, rather exceeding two leagues long and about one league broad, in which no human being had ever been, yet was it to us most unfortunate, as on it our commander lost his vessel by his own folly and bad management. This happened on the night of St Lawrence, or 10th of August, when his ship struck upon a rock, and soon after sunk with every thing on board, the crew only being saved. This ship was of 300 tons burthen, and in it we lost the main power of all our hopes. While all were plying about the sinking vessel, and using our endeavours to save her, I was ordered by the admiral to go in a boat to the island, to see if any good harbour could be found for the reception of our ships. He would not allow me, however, to use my own ship on this service, which was manned by nine of my sailors, because it was required for aiding his own ship, so that I had to go in another boat with only four or five men, the admiral engaging to restore my own when I had found a harbour. I made the best of my way to the island, from which we were now only four leagues, and soon found an excellent harbour which could have contained our whole fleet. I remained here eight days, anxiously looking for the arrival of the admiral