9 December 2009
ANSON, George (1697-1762). -- WALTER, Richard (ca 1716-1795), compiler. A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740-1744. Compiled by Richard Walter, Chaplain to his Majesty's Ship the 'Centurion.' London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748.
4o (273 x 222 mm). 42 engraved maps, plates and charts (all but one folding), list of Subscribers. (Some light spotting or offsetting, a few tears to folds.) 19th-century calf gilt (rebacked, upper cover detached).
FIRST EDITION of one of the landmark 18th-century English circumnavigations, made not so much for discovery and exploration but as an armed naval expedition to cut off Spanish supplies of wealth from South America after the outbreak of war between Britain and Spain in 1739. Indeed, Anson succeeded in doing this by taking a number of Spanish prize ships and a laden Manila galleon near the Philippines, but at heavy cost. Six of his fleet's vessels were sunk or wrecked on the South American coast or in rounding Cape Horn after their passage through the Strait of Le Maire, many men died of scurvy, and surviving crew were forced to litigate for their share of the prize money. Some of the fame of the expedition lies in the published accounts of survivors of Anson's ship Wager, wrecked off the Patagonian coast and vividly described by Bulkeley and Cummins, John Byron, Young, and Campbell. Anson's voyage laid the groundwork for the British voyages of exploration in the Pacific of the latter half of the 18th century, and Walter produced a masterpiece of descriptive travel that became the most popular book of maritime adventure of the time. Although generally accepted that the work was written by Walter, it seems to have been revised and edited by Benjamin Robins. Cox I p.49; Headland 109; Hill 1817; Sabin 101175.
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