And after that, Sir John Norris marched from Peniche in Portugal with a handful of soldiers to the gates of Lisbon, being above 40 English miles: Where the earl of Essex himself, and other valiant gentlemen, braved the city of Lisbon, encamping at the very gates: from whence, after many days abode, finding neither promised parley nor provision wherewith to batter, they made their retreat by land, in spite of all their garrisons both of horse and foot. In this sort I have a little digressed from my first purpose, only by the necessary comparison of their and our actions: the one covetous of honour, without vaunt or ostentation; the other so greedy to purchase the opinion of their own affairs, and by false rumours to resist the blasts of their own dishonours, as they will not only not blush to spread all manner of untruths, but even for the least advantage, be it but for the taking of one poor adventurer of the English, will celebrate the victory with bonefires in every town, always spending more in faggots than the purchase they obtained was worth. Whereas, we never thought it worth the consumption of two billets, when we have taken eight or ten of their Indian ships at one time, and twenty of their Brazil fleet. Such is the difference between true valour and vain ostentation, and between honourable actions and frivolous vain-glorious boasting. But to return to my purpose:
The Lord Thomas Howard, with six of her majestys ships, six victuallers of London, the bark Raleigh, and two or three pinnaces, riding at anchor near Flores, one of the western islands called the Azores, on the last of August 1591, in the afternoon, had intelligence by one captain Middleton, of the approach of the Spanish armada. This Middleton, being in a very good sailing ship, had kept them company for three days before, of good purpose, both to discover their force, and to give the lord admiral advice of their approach. He had no sooner communicated the news, when the Spanish fleet hove in sight; at which time, many belonging to our ships companies were on shore in the island of Flores, some providing ballast for the ships, others filling water, and others refreshing themselves from the land with such things as they could procure either for money or by force. Owing to this, our ships were all in confusion, pestered, rummaging, and every thing out of order, very light for want of ballast; and what was most of all to their disadvantage, the half of the men in every ship was sick and unserviceable. For in the Revenge, there were ninety sick; in the Bonaventure, not so many in health as could hand her mainsail, insomuch, that unless twenty men had been taken from a bark of Sir George Careys which was sunk, and appointed into her, she had hardly been able to get back to England. The rest of the ships for the most part were in little better state.