to Sir William Coventrye; desiring to know whether he should fight the Dutch, in case they should happen to meet him, before he had compleated his fleet to the number of seventy saile.
Sir William wrote him in answere, the next day, that he had delivered his letter to his Royall Highness, that his Royall Highness shewd it the King, that his Majestie had communicated it to the councill: where it was unanimously agreed, that it should be wholly left to his discretion.
Upon Thursday the 10th of June, the Generall sailed out of the Dowues, and the next day discovered the Dutch fleet, rideing at anchor in a long line, on the coast of Flanders. The Generall had the wind, and it was at his choice to fight, or to saile to the Swin where he before intended; he might compell the enemy to fight, but they could not compell him. He immediately called a councill of the flag-officers and debated the matter, where some were against fighting: urgeing, that the Dutch in probability had all their fleet together and wee had newly parted with so considerable a Squadron of ours, and if his Grace would fight, yet it would be convenient to defer it a little, the wind at that time blowing so hard a gale that wee could not bear out our lower tire of gunns; but the Generall being resolved upon a battell, every one prepared himself for it accordingly.
The Dutch seeing us bear upon them with a fresh gale, cut or slipt their cables and got under saile. About two a clock wee began the fight; Sir William Berkley, vice admirall of the white, led the van, and venturing in too far among the enemy, lost his life, and his ship was taken, and two fourth rates that seconded him, the Seven Oaks and Loyall Georye.
The Henry, rear admirall of the same squadron, was disabled, two fireships boarded her at once, and singed both her sides and her sailes, above 40 of the men leaped overboard, and drowned themselves for fear of burning; but by the skill and courage of captain Harman and the rest of his men, both the fireships were put off: and the ship saved. The Rainbow, another second rate, commanded by captain John Hart, was also disabled and saved herself by getting into Ostend.
The Royall Charles, wherein the Generall fought, was forced to come to au anchor in the middle of the battell, to bring new sails to her yards, and mend the taltered rigging; and Sir Robert Holmes, his rear admirall, anchor'd soon after close by the Generall in like condition; and being both refitted, feil like Lions again into te fight, sending death on all sides wherever they came. At this rate the two fleets contended, the English to maintain the honour they had got, and the Dutch to regain what they had lost the last summer; continuing so long as there was light enough to distinguish friends from enemies.