“We are persuaded the reader will feel a secret joy in contemplating the great figure this nation made in these heroic times; owing to that universal zeal to promote the commerce and glory of England, which then prevailed among the ministers of the crown, as well as the people at large. We presume likewise, that this pleasure will be not a little enhanced by the consideration that these particulars were written by a foreigner, who is held in great reputation for his judgment and fidelity, and who has sounded the praise of our countrymen even beyond what has been done by our own historians. On the other hand, the reader will be no less concerned to find what immense treasures some of our adventurers lost, by unaccountably missing the fleets of which they went in search, when at the same time they were so near them, that it seemed almost impossible they should escape. This shews, after all, how uncertain is the meeting of ships at sea, and that two great fleets may sail almost close to one another, without having the least suspicion.”—Astley.
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The 22d of July 1589, about evening, being near the islands of Flores and Corvo, we perceived three ships making towards us, which came from under the land and put us in great fear, for they came close to our admiral and shot diverse times at him and at another ship of our company, whereby we perceived them to be English, for they bore the English flag at their main-tops, but none of them seemed above 60 tons burden. About evening they followed after us, and all night bore lanterns with candles burning at their sterns, although the moon shined. That night we passed hard by the island of Fayal; and next morning, being between the isle of St George on our right and the small isle of Graciosa on our left, we espied the three English ships still following us. They consulted together, upon which one of them sailed backwards, as if one ship had followed after us without company, and for a time that ship was out of sight; but in no long time afterwards, it returned to the other two, when they consulted again, and came all three together against our ship, because we were to leeward of all our ships, having the island of St George on one side instead of a sconce, [fort] thinking so to deal with us as to force us to run on shore, to which we were very near. In that manner they came bravely towards us, with their flags displayed, sounding their trumpets, and sailed at least three times about us, discharging at us their muskets and calivers and some pieces of great ordnance, doing us no harm in the hull of our ship, but spoiled all our sails and ropes, and so plagued us that no man durst put forth his head. When we shot off a piece of ordnance, we had at the least an hours work to load it again, there being a great noise and cry in our ship, as if we had been all cast away, whereupon the English began to mock us, calling out to us with many taunting words.