ANSON, George (1697-1762). A Voyage round the World in the years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV ... compiled... by Richard Walter, M.A.. London: John and Paul Knapton for the Author, 1748. 4° (256 x 198mm). 40 (of 42) folding plates, List of Subscribers (title and two dedication leaves detached, the latter also torn across without loss, final three leaves detached, some spotting, short tears/repairs to some plates, dates added neatly to some margins). Contemporary calf, contrasting spine label (boards detached, worn). FIRST EDITION. Provenance: Israel Mauduit (1708-87) (signature on title); Robert Willis Blencowe (bookplate and label). WITH A THREE-AND-A-HALF PAGE TIPPED-IN MANUSCRIPT IN MAUDUIT'S DISTINCTIVE HAND DISCUSSING THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE BOOK AND THE CIRCUMSTANCE'S OF ANSON'S VOYAGE.
AN UNPUBLISHED ACCOUNT OF ANSON'S FAMOUS VOYAGE. The precise authorship of the Voyage has long been a subject of debate. Although the title-page states that the book was "compiled" by Richard Walter, chaplain of Anson's flagship the 'Centurion', Sir John Barrow's 1839 Life of George, Lord Anson claimed that it was written by Colonel Benjamin Robins, "an engineer officer of great talent and celebrity": "Walter drew the skeleton, and Robins clothed it with flesh and warmth of imagination."
Mauduit's manuscript is both a vindication of, and an attack upon, Robins. While confirming his authorship of the book and praising his "Style & Language", it offers a detailed contradiction of some of Robins' claims, particularly his ascribing "all the miscarriages of the Voyage to the delays in [Sir Robert Walpole's] Government" -- of which, Mauduit notes, Robins was an "eager" opponent. Mauduit recalls a conversation in which Robins vented his anger at Anson's alleged ingratitude for the "pains" he took over the book (" ... he has rewarded me for it in the same manner as Lord Gage did his whore ...").
A brilliant mathematician, Benjamin Robins (1707-51) came to Anson's attention because of his pioneering work in ballistics. (His New Principles of Gunnery was published in 1742.) Mauduit's maritime interests were largely mercantile: in 1763 he was appointed customer of Southampton and he had a peripheral role in the political skirmishing that led to the loss of the American states through his brother, Jaspar, who had been appointed agent for Massachusetts Bay the previous year. Mauduit's many political pamphlets include an Enquiry into the loss of Minorca to the French in 1756, one of the few blemishes on Anson's distinguished service with the Admiralty following his celebrated voyage around the world. Sabin 1626.