Foul weather had been expected, and from his flagship, the Ramillies, Admiral Graves warned the scattered fleet to close in and snug down. They came straggling in from the cloudy horizon, upper sails furled, decks streaming, until at sunset the anxious flock was within sight of the shepherd, and the fluttering flags passed the word to make ready for the worst.
The Ramillies, a majestic seventy-four-gun ship, was almost overwhelmed before daylight, mainmast gone by the board, all her upper spars splintered, rudder torn away, and the seas washing clean over her. The admiral took it with unruffled courage, although he was flooded out of his cabin, and arrived on deck with one leg in his breeches and his boots in his hand. For all he knew, the ship was about to go to the bottom.
but he ordered two of the lieutenants to examine into the state of the affairs below, and to keep a sufficient number of people at the pumps, while he himself and the captain kept the deck to encourage the men to clear away the wreckage which, by beating against the sides of the ship, had stripped off the copper sheathing and exposed the seams so much to the sea that the decayed oakum washed out and the whole frame became at once exceedingly porous and leaky.
The situation of the Ramillies seemed bad enough, but dawn disclosed other ships which were