London, South Kensington
25 September 2007
SHELVOCKE, George (1675-1742). A Voyage round the World by Way of the Great South Sea, Perform'd in the Years 1719, 20, 21, 22, in the Speedwell of London, of 24 Guns and 100 Men, (under His Majesty's Commission to cruize on the Spaniards in the late War with the Spanish Crown) till she was cast away on the Island of Juan Fernandes, in May 1720; and afterwards continu'd in the Reccvery [sic], the Jesus Maria and Sacra Familia, &c. London: Printed for J. Senex, W. & J. Innys, J. Osborn & T. Longman, 1726. 8° (193 x 120mm). Folding engraved map showing California as an island, 4 engraved plates, 2 folding. Contemporary blind-panelled calf, spine with gilt-lettered morocco label (minor wear to spine ends).
FIRST EDITION. This privately-funded privateering voyage sought to duplicate the success of Woodes Rogers' highly profitable voyage of 1708-1711. Shelvocke commanded the Speedwell and John Clipperton the Success on raids against Spanish shipping on the west coast of South America. Shelvocke soon slipped away to conduct his own raids in Peru and to sail up the coast to Cabo San Lucas where he remained for some months and wrote one of the earliest descriptions of the Indians of Baja California. He also was one of the first to suggest the possibility of finding gold in California. Controversies surrounding the voyage began with his unjustified attack on a Portuguese merchantman, desertions and mutiny. It was while rounding Cape Horn that one of his crew shot an albatross, reported here and later read by William Wordsworth who surely relayed it to Coleridge. It became an inspiration for his Rime of the Ancient Mariner. After a quick crossing of the Pacific to Guam and Canton where Speedwell was sold, Shelvocke seems to have awarded himself more than double his share of the plunder. His return to England brought charges of piracy and embezzlement, and the publication of his account in 1726 brought charges of libel from his shipmate William Betagh who duly published his own account and rebuttal in 1728. Provenance: Frank Streeter Collection. Alden & Landis 726/192; Barrett 2261; Borba de Moraes II:796; Cowan I pp.211-212; Cowan II pp.581-582; Hill 1557; Howes S-383; Leighly California as an Island 159; Sabin 80158; Wagner Northwest Coast 530; Wagner Spanish Southwest 88.
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