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their own lives, and her majesty's future safety. The earl excused himself, and laid it to the lord admiral, who, he said, would not consent to enter with the fleet till the town were first possessed. All the commanders and gentlemen present besought me to dissuade the attempt; for they all perceived the danger, and were resolved that the most part could not but perish in the sea, ere they came to set foot on ground; and if any arrived on shore, yet were they sure to have their boats cast on their heads; and that twenty men in so desperate a descent would have defeated them all. The earl hereupon prayed me to persuade my lord admiral, who, finding a certain destruction by the former resolution, was content to enter the port. When I brought news of this agreement to the earl, calling out of my boat unto him, Intramus, he cast his hat into the sea for joy, and prepared to weigh anchor.
The day was now far spent, and it required much time to return the boats of soldiers to their own ships; so as we could not that night attempt the fleet, although many (seeming desperately valiant) thought it a fault of mine to put it off till the morning; albeit we had neither agreed in what manner to fight, nor appointed who should lead, and who should second, whether by boarding or otherwise; neither could our fleet possibly recover all their men in before sunset: but both the generals being pleased to hear me, and many times to be advised by so mean an understanding, came again to an anchor in the very mouth of the harbour: so that night, about ten of the clock, I wrote a letter to the lord admiral, declaring therein my opinion how the fight should be ordered; persuading him to appoint to each of the great galleons of Spain two great fly-boats to board them, after such time as the queen's ships had battered them ; for I knew that both the St. Philip and the rest would burn, and not yield; and then to lose so many of the queen's, for company, I thought it too dear a purchase, and it would be termed but a lamentable victory.
This being agreed on, and both the generals persuaded to lead the body of the fleet, the charge for the perform
ance thereof was (upon my humble suit) granted, and assigned unto me. The ships appointed to second me were these: the Mary Rose, commanded by sir George Carew; the Lion, by sir Robert Southwell; the Rainbow, by the marshal sir Francis Veare; the Swiftsure, by captain Cross; the Dreadnought, by sir Conyers, and Alexander Clifford; the Nonparilla, by Mr. Dudley; the twelve ships of London, with certain fly-boats.
The lord Thomas Howard, because the Mere-Honour, which he commanded, was one of the greatest ships, was also left behind with the generals; but being impatient thereof, pressed the generals to have the service committed unto him, and left the Mere-Honour to Mr. Dudley, putting himself into the Nonparilla. For mine own part, as I was willing to give honour to my lord Thomas, having both precedency in the army, and being a nobleman whom I much honoured, so yet I was resolved to give and not take example for this service, holding mine own reputation dearest, and remembering my great duty to her majesty. With the first peep of day therefore, I weighed anchor, and bare with the Spanish fleet, taking the start of all ours a good distance.
Now, sir, may it please you to understand, that there were ranged under the wall of Cales, on which the sea beateth, seventeen galleys, which lay with their prows to flank our entrance, as we passed towards the galleons. There was also a fort called the Philip, which beat and commanded the harbour. There were also ordnance, which lay all along the curtain upon the wall towards the sea: there were also divers other pieces of culverin, which also scoured the channel. Notwithstanding, as soon as the St. Philip perceived one of the admirals under sail approaching, she also set sail, and with her the St. Matthew, the St. Thomas, the St. Andrew, the two great galleons of Lisbon, three frigates of war, accustomed to transport the treasure, two argosies, very strong in artillery, the admiral, vice-admiral, and rear-admiral of Nueva Espana, with forty other great ships bound for Mexico, and other places. Of all which, the St. Philip, the St. Matthew, the St. Andrew, and the St. Thomas, being four of the royal ships of Spain, came again to anchor under the fort of Puntall, in a strait of the harbour which leadeth toward Puerto Reall. On the right hand of them they placed the three frigates; on the back the two galleons of Lisbon and the argosies; and the seventeen galleys, by three and three, to interlace them, as occasion should be offered. The admiral, vice-admiral, and rear-admiral of Nueva Espana, with the body of the fleet, were placed behind them towards Puerto Reall; hoping with this great strength to defend the entrance, the place being no broader from point to point than that these did in effect stretch over as a bridge, and had besides the fort of Puntall to their guard. But the seventeen galleys did not at the first depart with the rest, but stayed by the town with all their prows bent against us as we entered; with which, together with the artillery of the town and forts, they hoped to have stumbled the leading ship, and doubted not thereby but to have discouraged the rest.
Having, as aforesaid, taken the leading, I was first saluted by the fort called Philip, afterward by the ordnance on the curtain, and lastly by all the galleys in good order. To show scorn to all which, I only answered first the fort, and afterward the galleys, to each piece a blur with a trumpet; disdaining to shoot one piece at any one or all of those esteemed dreadful monsters. The ships that followed beat upon the galleys so thick as they soon betook them to their oars, and got up to join with the galleons in the strait, as aforesaid ; and then, as they were driven to come near me, and enforced to range their sides towards me, I bestowed a benediction amongst them.
But St. Philip, the great and famous admiral of Spain, was the mark I shot at ; esteeming those galleys but as wasps in respect of the powerfulness of the other; and being resolved to be revenged for the Revenge, or to second her with mine own life, I came to anchor by the galleons ; of which the Philip and Andrew were two that boarded the Revenge. I was formerly commanded not to board, but was promised fly-boats, in which, after I had battered a while, I resolved to join unto them.
My lord Thomas came to anchor by me, on the one hand, with the Lion; the Mary Rose, on the other, with the Dreadnought; the marshal toward the side of Puntall ; and towards ten of the clock my lord general Essex, being impatient to abide far off, hearing so great thunder of ordnance, thrust up through the fleet, and headed all those on the left hand, coming to anchor next unto me on that side; and afterward came in the Swiftsure, as near as she could. Always I must, without glory, say for myself, that I held single in the head of all.
Now after we had beaten, as two butts, one upon another almost three hours, (assuring your honour that the volleys of cannon and culverin came as thick as if it had been a skirmish of musketeers,) and finding myself in danger to be sunk in the place, I went to my lord general in my skiff, to desire him that he would enforce the promised fly-boats to come up, that I might board; for as I rid, I could not endure so great a battery any long time. My lord general was then coming up himself; to whom I declared that if the fly-boats came not, I would board with the queen's ship; for it was the same loss to burn or sink, for I must endure the one. The earl finding that it was not in his power to command fear, told me that whatsoever I did, he would second me in person upon his honour. My lord admiral, having also a disposition to come up at first, but the river was so choked as he could not pass with the Ark, came up in person into the Nonparilla, with my lord Thomas.
While I was thus speaking with the earl, the marshal, who thought it some touch to his great esteemed valour, to ride behind me so many hours, got up ahead my ship; which my lord Thomas perceiving, headed him again, myself being but a quarter of an hour absent. At my return, finding myself from being the tirst to be but the third, I presently let slip anchor, and thrust in between my lord Thomas and the marshal, and went up further ahead than all them before, and thrust myself athwart the channel, so as I was sure none should outstart me again for that day. My lord general Essex, thinking his ship's sides stronger than the rest, thrust the Dreadnought aside, and came next the Warspite on the left hand, ahead all that rank but
my lord Thomas. The marshal, while we had no leisure to look behind us, secretly fastened a rope on my ship’s side towards him, to draw himself up equally with me; but some of my company advertising me thereof, I caused it to be cut off, and so he fell back into his place; whom I guarded, all but his very prow, from the sight of the enemy.
Now if it please you to remember, that having no hope of my fly-boats to board, and that the earl and my lord Thomas both promised to second me, I laid out a warp by the side of the Philip to shake hands with her: (for with the wind we could not get aboard :) which when she and the rest perceived, finding also that the Repulse (seeing mine) began to do the like, and the rear-admiral my lord Thomas, they all let slip, and came aground, tumbling into the sea heaps of soldiers, so thick as if coals had been poured out of a sack in many ports at once, some drowned and some sticking in the mud. The Philip and the St. Thomas burnt themselves: the St. Matthew and the St. Andrew were recovered by our boats ere they could get out to fire them. The spectacle was very lamentable on their side; for many drowned themselves; many, half-burnt, leaped into the water ; very many hanging by the ropes' ends by the ships' sides, under the water even to the lips; many swimming with grievous wounds, strucken under water, and put out of their pain; and withal so huge a fire, and such tearing of the ordnance in the great Philip, and the rest, when the fire came to them, as, if any man had a desire to see hell itself, it was there most lively figured. Ourselves spared the lives of all after the victory; but the Flemings, who did little or nothing in the fight, used merciless slaughter, till they were by myself, and afterward by my lord admiral, beaten off.
The ships that abode the fight in the morning till ten o'clock, were the Warspite, the Nonparilla, the Lion, the