but he, either out of kindness to the merchants, or to himself, ventured beyond his bounds, almost as far as the rock of Lisbone, untill at last discrying a fleet at a distance, and severall great ships among them, he durst not stay to examine what they were: his fear suggested to him they were the French fleet, and with that apprehension he flew homewards with top and top-gallant, and sent up express to Whitehall of the French fleets approach: which finding'easy credit for the reasons aforesaid, Sir George Carteret and Sir William Coventrye were sent down to the admiralls, while they were getting the fleet out to sea. The truth of that intelligence was not suspected by the
Prince (who knew the Streights very well), nor by any other of his
most judicious commanders. So resolutions were taken, and the fleet
divided, as is before related.
The fleet which captain Talbot supposed to be the French, was
the Spanish Armada from New Spaine. Then as to the Dutch news:
Tf our latest intelligences from Holland said the Dutch were not ready, it was no strange thing at all, for those who sent advice, could not be in Zealand, and the Maze, Holland and Friezlaud alltogether. Most likely they resided at the Hague, being the court, and took upon trust what they sent to England for news. And the Dutch might dissemble the forwardness they were in, and stop the posts when their fleets were really out, to the end no notice should be given, that being a policy usually practieed, by the English, and all our neighbour nations, in extraordinary cases. '
But to speake more home to the point. The dividing of the fleet was an error of the two admiralls, and they themselv's were cheifly blameable.
They had some weeks before sent Robert Clarke, captain ot the Gkcester, with four or five other frigats, to range alongst the coast of Holland: principally to learn the state and readiness of their fleet; who returning tó the Buoy of the Nore, with some small vessells prize, the masters thereof affirm'd that the Dutch were not near ready to come out. Upon which intelligence the admiralls depended too much; when it would have been more adviseable, to send three or four frigatts once a weeke, alternatively, on so important an erraud, to continue their station untill they should be releev'd, or have made a discovery of the enemies motion. No danger of the surprize of such scouts can excuse the omission of sending them, for there were always in our fleet many friagts nimble enough to outsaile the best of the
eUGThe Dutch were abroad 2, or 3 days before the English saild from the Buoy of the Nore. And therefore, if any English ships had been upon the scout, to give the admiralls timely notice, no intelligence from