This important travel engraving is from Lord George Anson’s A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1740-1744. This is the fifth edition of the work published by John and Pual Kanpton in London in 1749. The work was compiled by Richard Walter from Anson’s papers and materials. The work was first published in 1748 and was the official account of Anson’s famous circumnavigation of the world.
It is considered a “masterpiece of descriptive travel” and was the “most popular book of maritime adventure of the eighteenth century.” (Hill) Anson’s voyage inspired a great age of British voyages in the Pacific including Captain Cook’s travels. Anson’s circumnavigation was strictly a military expedition though, and its intent was to disrupt Spanish commerce. “Ansons voyage is remembered as a classic tale of endurance and leadership in the face of fearful disasters, but to the British public of 1744 it was the treasure of the galleon, triumphantly paraded through the streets of London, which did something to restore national self-esteem battered by an unsuccessful war.” (ODNB)
This famous and unfortunate expedition, consisting at the start of eight ships, was sent under the command of George Anson at the beginning of the war with Spain, to harass the Spaniards on the western coast of South America. Seven ships were lost around Cape Horn and on the coast of Chile and out of 900 men, 600 perished. The primary object of the expedition was not attained, but by the capture of the Manila Galleon near China, Anson and the surviving members of his crew reached England much the richer. This account is the official one It is a model of what such literature should be. (Cox I, 49)