A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11
by Robert Kerr
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[Footnote 1: Caleo Negro, in lat. 16 deg. 20' S. on the coast of Africa, is the nearest part of the continent, and is probably what is referred to in the text under the name of Augusta.—E.]

They sailed from hence for the island of Ascension, which lies in lat 8 deg. N. and long. 14 deg. 20' W. about 200 leagues N.W. from St Helena. This is much of the same size, but the shore is excessively rocky, and the whole island absolutely barren, having neither trees nor grass, and the entire surface seems as it were rent asunder, whence some have conceived, and not without great show of reason, that it had been formerly a volcano, or burning mountain. In the middle of the island there is a high hill, on one side of which water has been found. At one season of the year, the whole surface of the island is covered with sea-fowl. What chiefly induces ships to put into the only harbour of the island, is the great plenty of excellent turtle to be found here. When these animals come on shore in the night to lay their eggs, the sailors turn them over on their backs till they have leisure to carry them on board. These creatures will live above a month without any kind of sustenance, having only a little salt water sprinkled over them three or four times a-day. The sailors never weary of eating them, believing that they make a perfect change of their juices, freeing them entirely from the scurvy and other diseases of the blood.

As this island is a very miserable place to live in, it is common to leave malefactors here when they do not incline to put them to death. This was done not long before our author passed this way, to a Dutch book-keeper, who was convicted of sodomy; though perhaps this may be considered as a worse punishment even than death, considering the miseries that must be endured in the hottest climate of the world, on a place that does not afford even the slightest shelter. After leaving this island, they began to approach the line, which they crossed without feeling any excessive heat, as the sun was then towards the north, and they had the benefit of pretty fresh gales, which moderated the heat extremely. They now also began to see the north-star at night, which they had not done for a year and a half and it is impossible to express how much the seamen were rejoiced at this circumstance.

Coming into the latitude of 18 deg. N. we found that part of the sea which is generally so covered with grass that it looks at a distance like a meadow. This grass has a yellowish cast, being hollow within, and on being pressed it yields a clammy viscous juice. In some years none of this grass appears, while in other years it is found in prodigious quantities. Some imagine that it comes from the bottom of the sea, as divers report that the bottom is in many places covered with grass and flowers. Others conceive that it comes from the coast of Africa: But our author disapproves both of these opinions, because, if it came from the bottom, there is no reason why the same appearance should not be found elsewhere; whereas, if it came from the coast of Africa, it ought to be found in other situations, especially near that coast. His opinion, therefore, is, that it comes from the coast of America, and particularly from the Gulf of Bahama, or Mexico, where it is known to grow in great abundance, and where, when it comes to maturity, it breaks off; and is carried away by the currents.[2]

[Footnote 2. In the old Portuguese maps and voyages, this part of the Atlantic is called Mar de Sargasso, or the Sea of Cresses; Sargasso signifying water-cresses, which these weeds which spread over the sea nearly resemble.—Harris.]

Nothing is more difficult than to account for the motion and course of currents in the ocean, which, in some places, run for six months in one direction, and six in another, while in other places they run always one way. There are instances also where they run one way for a day or two after full moon, and then run strongly in the opposite direction till next full moon. Seamen also observe, that in places where the trade-winds blow, the currents are generally influenced by them, moving the same way with the winds, but not with equal force in all places; neither are they so discernible in the wide ocean, but chiefly about islands, where their effects are more or less felt according as they are influenced by being more or less in the way of the trade-winds. It would be of great service to navigation if sensible men would take notice of these currents, and enquire into the reason of their appearances. In old books of voyages we find many more wonders than in those of later date, not because the course of nature is at all changed, but because nature was not then so well understood. A thousand things were prodigious a century ago, which are not now at all strange. Thus the storms at the Cape of Good Hope, which make so great a figure in the histories of the Portuguese discoveries, are now known to have been merely the effect of endeavouring to double that Cape at a wrong season of the year.

In the East and West Indies, the natives are able to foretell hurricanes and tornadoes, not from any superior skill, but by observing certain signs which usually precede them. There is often so little apparent connection between the sign and the event, that men who value themselves on their wisdom are apt to slight such warnings as impertinent and absurd. But they had better enquire diligently into facts, and neither receive nor reject them too hastily. In the present case, it is a clear matter of fact that the sea, in the latitude of 18 deg. N. between Africa and America, is frequently covered with weeds to a great extent, and there is good reason for enquiry as to whence these weeds come. In the first voyage made by the famous Columbus for the discovery of the new world, he met with this grass or sea-weed floating on the sea, without which he could not have prevailed on his sailors to continue the voyage; and it is very remarkable, that, by pursuing his course through these weeds, he arrived in the Gulf of Bahama, the place whence our present author supposes this sea-grass to come.[3]

[Footnote 3: In his first voyage, Columbus kept the parallel of about 37 deg. N. but was considerably farther south in his subsequent voyage.—E.]

Continuing their course to the north, they encountered hard gales of wind, by which they were driven into lat. 37 deg. N. where they fell in with two islands, which proved to be Flores and Corres;[4] and as their fresh provisions were now nearly spent, they stopped three days at the larger island to procure refreshments. There are two of the islands named Acores by the Spaniards, which signifies the islands of hawks. The Dutch call them Vlanneische eslanders, or Flemish islands, because Fayal was first peopled by Flemings, and their descendants remain in the island to this day, and are easily distinguished from the other inhabitants by their shape and air. They dwell upon a little river running down a mountain, called Ribera dos Flamenas by the Portuguese, or river of the Flemings.

[Footnote 4: Flores is in lat. 39 deg. 10', Corvo in 39 deg. 35', both N.]

The nine islands of the Acores, or Wester Islands, are Tercera, San Michael, Santa Maria, St George, Gratiosa, Pico, Fayal, Corvo, and Flores. Tercera is the chief island, being fifteen or sixteen leagues in circumference, and so high and steep in many places that it is almost impregnable, and they have built forts in such places as are accessible. The only port is before the capital, named Angra, and as it is in the form of a half-moon, it is called the Half-Moon of Angra. At each horn of this half-moon there is a mountain, which are called the Brazils, which project out into the sea, appearing from a distance as if two islands; and these mountains are so high that one may see at any time ten or twelve leagues off, and fifteen in clear weather. Angra has a fine cathedral, and is the residence of a bishop, and of a governor and council, whose authority extends over all the nine islands. There is another town three leagues from Angra, called Praya, or the town of the shore, situated on a shore which cannot be approached by ships, so that it has no trade, and the town seems a kind of desert, though well built and walled round.

The inhabitants raise sufficient provisions on the island for all their wants, being pleasant and fertile, and all covered with corn-fields; and so abounds with flesh, fish, and all sorts of victuals, that even in times of the greatest scarcity, there is enough for all the inhabitants. It produces wine also, but very small, and does not keep well, wherefore the richer people provide themselves from Madeira and the Canaries. They want oil, salt, lime, and potters ware, which they have to import from other countries. They have abundance of peaches, apples, pears, oranges, and lemons, with all sorts of vegetables and garden stuffs, and among these a plant called batatas, which grows like a vine stock, but the leaves are different. These produce roots, weighing a pound more or less, and are so plentiful that they are despised by the rich, though of a sweet pleasant taste and very nourishing. There is another root in this country as large as a man's two fists, covered over with filaments of a golden yellow colour, and as smooth as silk. The inhabitants stuff beds with this, instead of feathers, but skilful workmen could certainly manufacture it into fine stuffs.

There are but few birds, except canaries, quails, ordinary poultry, and turkies, which are numerous. Several parts of this island are very hilly, and full of thick and almost impervious woods; and travelling is rendered very difficult, as you often find rocks a league in length, so rugged and sharp that they cut the shoes at every step; yet these rocks are so full of vines that they are not to be seen in summer, being covered over by the vine leaves. These vines spread their roots among the crannies and crevices of the rocks, which are so small and devoid of soil, that it is wonderful how they should find any nourishment; yet if planted in the good soil of the country, the vines will not grow. The corn and fruits of this island will not keep above a year; and unless the corn is buried under ground, it spoils in four months. On this account, every inhabitant has a pit without the town, the mouth of which is round, just large enough to admit a man, which is covered by a flat stone and secured by a lock. Some of these pits are so large as to contain two or three lasts of corn, the last containing 108 bushels Amsterdam measure, and each bushel weighing forty pounds or more. They put their corn into these pits in July, and cover the stone with earth to exclude the air, and take it out at Christmas, or considerably later, finding it then as good as when put in. The oxen in Tercera are the largest and finest that can be, equal to any in Europe, and have prodigiously wide horns. Every one has his name, like our dogs, and they are so familiar, that when the master calls one of them by his name, though among a thousand others, he will presently come to him.

One would think the ground of this island were hollow, as the rocks sound like vaults when walked on; and indeed the thing is not at all improbable, as the island is much subject to earthquakes. In many places of the island of San Michael there are holes and cracks, out of which there comes a great smoke, and the ground seems as if burnt all around. This is not uncommon also in all the islands, as they all have sulphur mountains. There are also fountains of water so hot as to boil eggs. Three leagues from Angra there is a petrifying spring, which changes wood into stone; and there was formerly a tree having some of its roots in that water, which were stony and as hard as flint. This island produces excellent timber, especially cedar, which is so common that their carts and waggons are made of it, and it is even used as fuel. The island of Pico, twelve leagues from Tercera, has a sort of wood called teixo, as hard as iron, and of a shining red colour when wrought. It becomes always better and finer as it grows older; for which reason no person is allowed to cut any of these trees, unless for the king's use, and by virtue of a special order from the royal officers. The chief trade of Tercera consists in woad, of which they have great quantities. The fleets of Spain and Portugal, bound for the East Indies, Brazil, Cape Verd, Guinea, and other countries, usually come here for refreshments, to the great profit of this and the other islands, the inhabitants selling to them their various articles at good prices.

The island of San Michael is seven or eight leagues S.E. of Tercera, and is about twenty leagues in length, having several towns and villages. The capital of this island is Ponta del Guda, which drives a considerable trade in woad, sent to Tercera, producing about 200,000 quintals[5] every year. This island also produces such abundance of corn, that it is transported to the other islands; but it has no harbours or rivers to give shelter to ships.

[Footnote 5: This is perhaps an error for 2000, as the larger quantity would amount to 10,000 tons.—E.]

Santa Maria, twelve leagues S. of San Michael, is ten or twelve leagues in circumference, its only trade being in earthen ware, with which the inhabitants supply the other islands. It also produces plenty of all manner of provisions for its own inhabitants. The island of Gratiosa, seven or eight leagues N.N.W. of Tercera, is only about five or six leagues in circumference, but abounds in provisions of all sorts. St George, eight or nine leagues N.W. of Tercera, is twelve leagues in length by two or three in breadth. This is a wild mountainous country, producing very little woad. The inhabitants subsist by cultivating the ground and keeping cattle, and export considerable quantities of cedar to Tercera. Fayal, seven German leagues S.S.W. of St George, is seventeen or eighteen leagues in circumference, and is the best of the Acores, after Tercera and San Michael. This island has plenty of woad, with abundance of fish, cattle, and other commodities, which are exported to Tercera and the other islands. Its chief town is called Villa Dorta. Most of the inhabitants of this island are descended from Flemings, but now speak the Portuguese language; yet they continue to love the Flemings, and use all strangers kindly.

Three leagues S.E. of Fayal is the island of Pico, so called from a peaked mountain, which some believe to be higher than the Peak of Teneriffe. The inhabitants cultivate the soil, and have plenty of cattle and other provisions, growing also better wine than in any other island of the Acores. This island is about fifteen leagues in circumference. Seventy leagues W.N.W. from Tercera is the island of Flores, and to the N. of it lies Corvo, the former about seven, and the latter not above two or three leagues in circumference. They both produce woad, especially Flores, which also abounds in provisions. The winds at all these islands are so strong, and the air so piercing, especially at Tercera, that they in a short time spoil and consume the stones of the houses, and even iron.[6] They have a kind of stone, however, that is found within high-water mark, which resists the air better than the other sorts, and of which the fronts of their houses are generally built.

[Footnote 6: This effect on the iron is obviously occasioned by the muriatic acid in the sea spray; and were it not that the author expressly says they have no lime, one would be apt to believe that the stones so affected were limestone. There are, however, some cilicious sand-stones, in which the grit, or particles of sand, are cemented together by a calcareous infiltration, which may be the case in these islands.—E.]

Leaving the Acores, and getting into Spanish sea, or mouth of the bay of Biscay, the weather proved so bad that the Advice-ship lost her rudder, which obliged her to go through the Channel in order to purchase a new one on the coast of England. The French, Danish, and other ships, generally go that way; but the Dutch ships generally go round Ireland and north about, from an idea, if they should happen to meet with stormy weather in the channel, so as to be obliged to go into an English port, that this might occasion several inconveniences. Such ships, however, as have sustained any damage at sea, are permitted to take their way through the channel. The rest of the Dutch fleet followed the north-about course; and after three weeks, during which they were involved in perpetual mists and fogs, they had sight at length of the Orkney islands, where some Dutch ships were still engaged in the herring fishery. In the latitude of 60 deg. N. they met some ships of war that waited for them, and convoyed them to the coast of Holland, where all the ships got into their destined ports in safety. Those on board of which were our author, and the other prisoners, came into the Texel on the 11th of July, 1723; and arrived five days afterwards at Amsterdam, the very same day two years after sailing on their voyage.

The West-Company immediately commenced a law-suit against the East-India Company, in behalf of themselves and all the persons engaged in their service in the foregoing voyage, to obtain satisfaction for the injury and injustice done them at Batavia. After a long litigation, the States-General decreed, that the East-India Company should furnish the West-India Company with two new ships, completely fitted for sea in every respect, better than those which had been confiscated by their officers in India, and should pay the full value of their cargoes. Also, that the East-India Company should pay the wages of the crews of both ships, up to the day of their landing in Holland: Together with the entire costs of suit; besides a considerable sum by way of fine, as a punishment for having abused their authority so egregiously.[7]

[Footnote 7: Harris has given a report of this law-suit at some length, but it did not seem necessary to give any more than the result, as quite uninteresting at the present day.—E.]




Though of considerable length, the importance of this narrative forbids all attempts to alter it in any respect; except that it has been necessary to leave out the explanations of several engraved views of coasts and harbours, inserted in the original, but which were greatly too large for admission, and would have been rendered totally useless by being reduced to any convenient use for the octavo form of this collection. Indeed, to have introduced all the engravings of plans and views, necessary for the illustration of this and many other voyages and travels, would have been utterly incompatible with the nature and circumstances of this work; as nothing less than a complete Atlas and entire Neptune of the whole globe could have sufficed, attended by an enormous expence, and at the same time inadmissible into octavo volumes. It has therefore been indispensably requisite, on all occasions, to confine our illustrations of that kind to a few reduced charts, merely sufficient to convey general notions of geographical circumstances, and occasionally sketch plans of harbours, straits, islands, and capes, explanatory of particular and important places. Such of our readers, therefore, as require more complete illustrations of geography, topography, and hydrography, must have recourse to Atlasses, Neptunes, and coasting pilots.

[Footnote 1: Voyage, &c. by George Anson, Esq. afterwards Lord Anson; compiled from his papers and materials by Richard Walter, M.A. chaplain of H.M.S. Centurion in that expedition—fifteenth edition, 4to, Lond. 1776.]

This narrative was originally published under the name of Richard Walter, chaplain to H.M.S. Centurion in the expedition, dedicated by him to John Duke of Bedford, and said to have been compiled by that gentleman from papers and materials furnished for the purpose by Commodore Anson.

As the object of this expedition was of an extensive political nature, intended to humble the power of Spain, in her most valuable yet most vulnerable possessions, by injuring and intercepting the great source of her public treasure, it has been thought proper, on the present occasion, to give a transcript of the reflections made upon the policy and expedience of this important voyage, very soon after its completion, by Dr John Harris, by way of Introduction to his abridged account of this circumnavigation, in his Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. i. p. 337.

* * * * *

"It is a thing that has been generally taken for granted, ever since Spain has been possessed of her American dominions, and has made use of the riches derived from these to disturb the peace and invade the liberties of her neighbours, that the best way to reduce her strength, and to prevent the bad effects of her evil intentions, would be to attack her in the South Seas. This was pursued with great diligence, and in some measure with success, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, [as has been already shewn in the circumnavigatory voyages of Drake and Candish, almost solely devoted to that object.] In that of her successor, when a new quarrel broke out with that crown, in the year 1624, the first thing thought of by our patriots, who were equally willing to humble the king's enemies and to save the money of the nation, was an expedition to the South Seas, to be carried on at the expence of, and for the benefit of the people; which scheme was entitled The West-India Association.

"It may be thought I look a great way back when I offer to the view of the reader the reasons which were then suggested in parliament in support of that scheme. But whoever considers that it is not only the most effectual, but the safest method, to instruct the present age from the sentiments of the last, will readily enter into the reasons which induce me, upon this occasion, to produce the speech of an eminent patriot, in which the nature and scope of that Association, as well as the motives on which it is grounded, are very fully and pathetically set forth; and this in such terms, as, if the reader were not told that this was a speech to Sir Dudley Diggs, then chairman of a committee of the whole house, by Sir Benjamin Rudyard, he might mistake it for a speech made only a few years since, so agreeable is it, in language and sentiments, even to our present occasions.

"Sir,—I do profess that as my affections, my reason, and my judgement go strongly with the scope and drift of this proposition, so shall good part of my fortune when it comes to execution. For, to my understanding, there was never propounded in parliament a design more proper for this kingdom, nor more pregnant with advantages to it, whether we consider the nature of our situation or the quality of our enemy's forces. As we are an island, it concerns our very being to have store of ships to defend us, and also our well-being by their trade to enrich us. This Association for the West Indies, when it shall be regulated and established by act of parliament, and thereby secured from the violence and injury of any intruding hand, will certainly give many men encouragement and confidence voluntarily to bring in large and liberal contributions towards so noble and so profitable an enterprize; so that, in short, we shall see many new ships built, many brave men employed, and enabled to act for the service of their country. None of this money shall be carried out of the kingdom, but laid out in shipping, which is the defence of it, and bestowed upon our own men, who must be fed and maintained though they stay at home. For this, we shall reap the fruit of whatsoever benefit plantation, traffic, or purchase can procure us, besides honour and security.

"Now, let us a little consider the enemy we have to encounter, the king of Spain. They are not his great territories which make him so powerful and so troublesome to all Christendom. For it is very well known that Spain itself is but weak in men, and barren of natural commodities, and as for his other territories, they lie divided and asunder, which is a weakness in itself. Besides, they are held by force, and maintained at an extraordinary charge; insomuch, as although he be a great king, yet he is like that giant who was said to have an hundred hands, but had fifty bellies to feed, so that, rateably, he had no more hands than another man. No, sir, they are his mines in the West Indies which minister fuel to feed his ambitious desire of universal monarchy. It is the money he hath from thence which makes him able to levy and pay soldiers in all places, and to keep an army on foot ready to invade and endanger his neighbours, so that we have no other way but to endeavour to cut him off at the root, and seek to impeach or to supplant him in the West Indies; by part of which course that famous queen, of glorious memory, had heretofore almost brought him to his knees. And this our undertaking, if it pleases God to bless it, most needs affect it sooner and quicker, the whole body of the kingdom being united, and concurring in a perpetual supply to this action, so that he shall have no free time given him to rest.

"Moreover, this will be a means not only to save, but to fill his majesty's coffers, enabling the people to give him liberally and often. The king's ships will have little to do but to guard the coasts; for the sea-war will be chiefly made at the charge of the subjects. This I doubt not but that, in a short time, both king and people shall be safe at home, and feared abroad. To conclude, I shall be very glad to hear any man make objection against this design, so that he do so with an intention to refine and perfect the work; but if any shall speak against it with a mind to hinder and destroy it, I must entreat him to pardon me, if I do scarce think him to be a good Englishman.

"That project of the West India Association had the same fate with most other bold and honest projects in that reign, which was, after being talked of a little, it sunk into oblivion. Our next difference with Spain was under the protectorate of Cromwell, who encouraged Father Gage to publish his account of the Spanish West Indies, which formed the foundation of his attempt upon Hispaniola, and conquest of Jamaica; but I do not know of any design formed by him to attack the Spaniards in the South Seas. After the Restoration we were upon good terms with Spain, as certainly was our interest. Yet Charles II. did not absolutely neglect this navigation, but sent Sir John Marborough, one of the best seamen this nation ever bred, in the Sweepstakes, in the latter end of the year 1669, by way of the Straits of Magellan, into the South Seas. To say the truth, our privateers, under the command of Captains Sharpe, Davis, Swan, &c. were continually in these seas, during all that reign and the next; so that, in those days, our seamen were no strangers to any of the passages into the South Seas; and, as the reader may have already observed, from the voyage of Captain Cowley, it was then no unusual thing for the traders of London to fit out ships for these parts, but whether with a view to traffic or privateering, is a point not easy to determine at this distance of time. But whatever the purpose they were sent upon, thither they went, and no complaints were ever heard of with respect to extraordinary hardships in the voyage, which is sufficient to shew how much depends upon keeping all branches of navigation open, in order to be constantly in a condition to secure and extend our trade, and to preserve our reputation as a maritime power.

"After the Revolution, several proposals were made in relation to the establishment of a commerce in the South Sea, which were received with approbation; and it is certain that king William gave instructions to Admiral Benbow, when he went out last to the West Indies, to enquire how far any of these projects were feasible. After the breaking out of the last general war, all the world expected that the first thing the maritime powers would have done, would have been sending a squadron to these seas, either for the service of the prince whom they owned as king of Spain, or for their own advantage. The people of this nation, in particular, were so desirous of seeing the war carried on this way, and on this side, that, to give them hopes, and to shew, at the same time, that the legislature approved their sentiments, a bill was brought in and passed, in the House of Lords, for the better carrying on the war in the West Indies, which was lost, however, by a kind of ministerial craft, in the House of Commons; and soon after, for reasons which have never yet been explained to the public, all designs of this nature were laid aside. The only expedition of this nature, during the whole war, was that of the Duke and Duchess, under the command of Captain Woods Rogers, already related, which was fitted out at the expence of some private merchants of Bristol. On the change of ministry, a prodigious clamour was raised on this head, and all of a sudden a resolution was taken to secure all the advantages that could be wished for to this nation from the trade of the South Seas, which ended, however, only in erecting a company under that title. The nation very soon became sensible that this would not do, and therefore, as soon as our disputes with the king of Spain came to a height, in the reign of the late king, George I. a design was immediately set on foot for sending privateers once more into that part of the world, which ended in the expedition of Captain Shelvocke and Captain Clipperton, already related at large.

"By this short deduction of facts, I think it is demonstrably proved, that, in the judgement of this nation, the most probable way of humbling Spain, in case of a war, is to send a squadron into the South Seas, and I will venture to say, that there is one reason why this is now become more expedient than ever, which is, that we are now no longer at liberty to send ships thither in time of peace, as we were before the South Sea Company was erected. It is not therefore at all strange, that as soon as the present war broke out with Spain, the general voice of the nation dictated such an expedition, or that, when they saw it resolved on, and a squadron actually equipped for that service, they very loudly testified their approbation of the scheme. I believe also, my readers will readily give credit to the assertion, when I affirm, that, during the time this squadron lay at Portsmouth, there was a more general expectation of its performing things of the highest consequence for the service of Great Britain, and reducing the enemy to reason.

"It was in the midst of summer, in the year 1740, that this squadron was formed at Portsmouth, at the same time that a great embarkation was preparing for the West Indies, by which the siege of Carthagena was afterwards undertaken, which turned the eyes of the whole world upon that sea-port. At London, every person spoke of the intended expedition to the South Seas as a design that must necessarily be attended with highly advantageous consequences, if properly conducted; and of this there was not made the least doubt, when it was known that Captain Anson was named to the command, because he had shewn himself upon all occasions equally vigilant in his duty, and moderate in the exercise of power, more ready to correct by his own example than by any other sort of reproof, and who, in the course of his services, had acquired the respect of the officers, and the love of the sailors; qualities that rarely meet in one person, and qualities which, without the least contradiction, were ascribed to him.[2]

[Footnote 2: The sequel of these observations, by Harris, are extracted from his supplementary reflections at the close of the expedition, vol. 1, p. 364, et sequ. In these, however, we have used much retrenchment, as the observations that may have been exceedingly applicable in 1745, when Spain was in a great manner identified with France, have now lost much of their force, in consequence of the passing events, well known to all, but which do not admit of being discussed in a note.—E.]

"Though this expedition was not attended by so great success in the South Seas as was expected, yet the nation in general was far from believing that its comparative failure ought to deter us from the thoughts of such expeditions for the future, since it plainly appeared, that, if the whole squadron had got round along with the commodore into the South Seas, he would have been able to have performed much greater things than any of our commanders had hitherto done in these parts. Neither is it at all clear that the Spaniards are there in a better condition, their coasts better fortified, their garrisons more numerous, or the country in any respect better provided, than when our privateers had formerly so great success in those parts. The sacking of Payta in this expedition proves the contrary, since it was then actually in a worse condition, and less capable of making any resistance, than when formerly taken by Captain Shelvocke. If this expedition had never taken place, we might have been told that it was impracticable, that the Spaniards were grown wiser, that all their ports were well fortified, and any attempt of this kind would be only to sacrifice the lives of such as might be employed in the expedition. But we now know the contrary, and that the Spaniards remained as unguarded, and as little apprehensive as ever; perhaps even the fate of this expedition may have made them less so, insomuch, that were a new project of the same kind to be put in execution, either at public or private expence, there seems next to a moral certainty that it would succeed. Another expedition might, and probably would be attended by fewer difficulties; at least, it certainly might be undertaken at much less expence; and, besides all the advantages resulting to such private persons as became proprietors, this inestimable advantage would accrue to the public, that we should once more have a number of able marines, well acquainted with the navigation of the South Seas, which we never can have by any other means.

"I would not be understood at all to lessen the miseries and distresses of these who were employed in this voyage; and all I would endeavour to aim at is to convince the reader that the difficulties and discouragements met with in this voyage are not sufficient to ground a decisive opinion by the few in opposition to the sentiments of the many, that all attempts on this side ought to be abandoned. And I really think that the setting the difficulties and discouragements encountered by the Centurion in the strongest light, will serve my purpose much better than lessening or extenuating them. For, if after being ruined in a manner by storms, diseases, and hardships, they landed rather skeletons than men, on the island of Juan Fernandez; if, after their long cruize in the South Seas, their distresses came to be as great when they took shelter in the island of Tinian; if the lying at Macao was attended with many inconveniences; if the taking of the Spanish galleon be a thing almost incredible, considering the small number of men, and the condition they were in, who attacked her in the Centurion; if the difficulties they afterwards met with in the river of Canton, and the hazards run by the commodore in visiting the viceroy, and thereby putting himself into the hands of such a people as the Chinese, who could not but be displeased with his proceedings, are circumstances which aggravate the matter: If so perilous a navigation as that from Canton, through the Straits of Sunda, and thence to the Cape of Good Hope, with little or no refreshment, with a crew that wanted it so much, is still more amazing; and if the bringing the ship home from thence, with a crew composed of so many different nations, in the midst of a French war, and without the least assistance from home, swell the whole into a kind of miracle, what does all this prove? Since all this, under God, was entirely owing to the prudence, moderation, and wise conduct of the commanding officer, it certainly proves, if a right choice be made of commanders, that there are no difficulties which may not be overcome, and therefore that the adverse circumstances attending this voyage ought not at all to discourage us.

"For, with the help of the example afforded by Commodore Anson, I presume that there are many officers who would undertake and execute such an expedition, to the honour of their country, and to the advantage of their employers, supposing them to be employed by private persons. This is the right use that might be made of this expedition: an expedition difficult, dangerous, and in a manner impracticable, considered in one light, but equally glorious and successful when considered in another point of view; An expedition that has demonstrated to the whole world that a train of unforeseen and most disastrous accidents may be remedied, and even turned to advantage, by an honest, skilful, brave, experienced, and well-meaning officer; An expedition which shews that there are no hazards, no difficulties, no distresses capable of depressing the courage of English seamen under a proper commander; an expedition which makes it evident that discontent, sedition, and mutiny, do not arise from the restless tempers, intractable dispositions, and unruly behaviour of the English sailors, but purely from the want of prudence, and right management, and, in short, from the want of experience and capacity of such as are entrusted with the command of them; an expedition, in a word, that puts it beyond all doubt that the British nation is, at this day, as capable of undertaking as great things, and of performing them as successfully, as ever were done by their ancestors; and, consequently, an expedition that must convince not only us, but all Europe, that if our maritime force be not employed in undertakings of the most important nature, it is not owing to the degeneracy or our seamen, nor to be imputed to our want of able or daring commanders, which is not my business, and which indeed surpasses my abilities, to discover.

"We are now to close this general subject of circumnavigations, which relates to the whole world. It is true, that all the circumnavigators did not propose, and that several of them did not make, any discoveries; yet all their voyages are of great, though not of equal importance, down to this last. For, by comparing that by Magellan, which was the first, with this by Mr Anson, we shall find them to differ in many respects, especially in the conclusion; that by Mr Anson being by far the longer of the two. Some of them, also, took quite a different route from others. As, for instance, Le Maire and Roggewein, who never ran at all into the northern latitudes, but sailed directly through the South Seas to the coast of New Guinea, and thence to the island of Java; which is a much shorter course than by way of California to the Philippines. From hence it very clearly appears, that the passage to the East Indies by the South Seas is shorter than that by the Cape of Good Hope;[3] of which the reader will be convinced by considering the following particulars. Captain Woods Rogers, in the Duke, sailed From the coast of Ireland and doubled Cape Horn in four months; and Le Maire sailed from Juan Fernandez to New Guinea and the Moluccas in three months; so that this voyage takes up but seven months in the whole; whereas the Dutch, when the chief emporium of their eastern commerce was fixed at Amboina, thought it a good passage thither from Holland, if performed in ten or eleven months.[4] It is from these stupendous voyages, that not only the greatest discoveries have been made in general geography, but from which all future discoveries must be expected; and therefore this ought to be considered as one of the strongest arguments for encouraging such voyages.[5]—Harris.

[Footnote 3: It is not easy to conceive how Harris should have fallen into this enormous error. To say nothing of the greater length and difficulty of passing round Cape Horn, rather than the Cape of Good Hope, the difference in longitudes is sufficient to establish the absolute contrary of the position in the text. The longitude, for instance, of the island of Ceylon, by the eastern passage, is only 80 deg. E. whereas by the western passage it is 280 W. an excess of 200 degrees. Even Canton in China, is only in 113 deg. E. but in 247 deg. W. an excess of 134 degrees.—E.]

[Footnote 4: To say nothing of the absurdity of the partial instances adduced, it may be mentioned that, only a few years ago, an English East Indiaman performed the voyage from England to Madras, delivered his outward-bound cargo, took on board a new cargo, and returned to England, all within nine months.—E.]

[Footnote 5: The remaining observations of Harris, supplementary to his abbreviated account of this expedition, have no manner of connection with the subject in hand, and are therefore omitted.]

* * * * *

George Anson, the commodore on this expedition, was born in 1697, being the third son of William Anson, Esq. of Shuckborough, in the county of Stafford. Taking an early inclination for the naval service, and after passing through the usual inferior steps, he was appointed second lieutenant of the Hampshire in 1716. He was raised to the rank of master and commander in 1722, and obtained the rank of post captain in 1724, with the command of the Scarborough man-of-war. Between that time and the year 1733, he made three voyages to North Carolina; and having acquired considerable wealth, he appears to have purchased an estate in that colony, where he erected a small town of his own name, which gave the name of Anson County to the surrounding district. In the years 1738 and 1739, he made another voyage to America and the coast of Africa; and, without proceeding to hostilities, removed certain obstructions under which the English trade on the coast of Guinea had suffered from the French.

In the War of the Merchants, as it was called by Sir Robert Walpole, which broke out in 1739 between Britain and Spain, Captain Anson was appointed to the command of the expedition, the narrative of which forms the subject of the present chapter. Immediately after his return to England from this circumnavigation, Captain Anson was made rear-admiral of the blue, and shortly afterwards, one of the commissaries of the Admiralty. In 1746 he was farther promoted to the rank of Vice-admiral; and in the winter of 1746-7, was entrusted with the command of the channel fleet. In May 1747, off Cape Finisterre, he captured six French ships of the line under the command of Admiral Jonquiere, which had been dispatched for the protection of the merchant ships destined for the East and West Indies. On this occasion, when Mons. St George, one of the French captains, surrendered his sword to Admiral Anson, he addressed him in the following terms: Vous avez vaincu L'Invincible, et La Gloire vous suit.—"You have defeated the Invincible, and Glory follows you:" alluding to two of the French ships, the Invincible and the Gloire, which had surrendered to him.

For this important service to his king and country, he was created a peer of the realm, by the title of LORD ANSON; and, in 1749, on the death of Admiral Norris, he was appointed Vice-admiral of England. In 1751, he succeeded to Lord Sandwich, as first Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty; but, incurring censure for the loss of Minorca, he resigned this situation in 1756. But, having been acquitted of all blame relative to that disgraceful affair, after a parliamentary enquiry, he was reinstated in that high office, which he continued to fill, with honour to himself and advantage to his country, during the remainder of his life. While attending upon the Duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, brother to our present queen, to shew him the naval arsenal at Portsmouth, and the fleet which was then about to sail on the expedition against the Havannah, he caught a violent cold, of which he died, at Moor-Park in Hertfordshire, on the 6th of June 1762, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. Having no issue by his lady, the daughter of Lord Hardwicke, whom he married in 1748, he left the whole of his property to his brother.

Lord Anson appears to have been remarkable for the coolness and equanimity of his temper. Amid all the dangers and successes of his circumnavigation of the globe, he never expressed any strong emotion, either of sorrow or joy, except when the Centurion hove in sight of Tinian. He was a man of few words, and was even reckoned particularly silent among English seamen, who have never been distinguished for their loquacity. He introduced a rigid discipline into the English navy, somewhat resembling that of the Prussian army; and revived that bold and close method of fighting, within pistol-shot, which had formerly been so successfully employed by Blake and Shovel, and which has fostered that daring courage and irresistible intrepidity in our British seamen, which anticipate and secure success to the most daring and hazardous enterprizes.

In some reflexions, towards the conclusion of Betagh's circumnavigation, Harris,[6] a former editor of a collection of voyages and travels, breaks forth in the following laudatory strain:—

"Happy, happy, for us, that we have still a SEAMAN left, who has shewn that the race of heroes is not yet extinct among us, in ADMIRAL ANSON, that great and fortunate commander; who enjoys the singular felicity, in an age of sloth, luxury, and corruption, that his ease is the result of his labour, his title the reward of his merit, and that his wealth does honour to his country."

[Footnote 6: Harris, Voy. and Trav. I. 253.]

How much more happy is it for us in the present day, somewhat more than half a century later, and while every energy is required to the utmost stretch, that we still have a race of transcendent heroes, who have annihilated the navy and trade and colonies or our arch enemy, have vindicated and preserved our glory and freedom and prosperity, and bid fair to restore the honour and independence of the civilized world, threatened with subversion by the modern Atilla—Ed.


Notwithstanding the great improvement of navigation within the last two centuries, a voyage round the world is still considered as an enterprize of so very singular a nature, that the public have never failed to be extremely inquisitive about the various accidents and turns of fortune with which this uncommon attempt is generally attended. And, though the amusement expected in these narratives is doubtless one great source of that curiosity with the bulk of readers, yet the more intelligent part of mankind have always agreed, that, from accounts of this nature, if faithfully executed, the more important purposes of navigation, commerce, and national interest, may be greatly promoted. For every authentic description of foreign coasts and countries will contribute to one or more of these great ends, in proportion to the wealth, wants, or commodities of these countries, and our ignorance of these coasts; and therefore, a voyage round the world promises a species of information, of all others, the most desirable and interesting; since great part of it is performed in seas with which we are, as yet, but very imperfectly acquainted, and in the neighbourhood of a country renowned for the abundance of its wealth; though it is, at the same time, stigmatized for its poverty in the necessaries and conveniences of a civilized life.

These considerations have occasioned the compiling the ensuing work; which, in gratifying the inquisitive disposition of mankind, and contributing to the safety and success of future navigators, and to the extension of our commerce, may doubtless vie with any narration of this kind hitherto made public; since, as to the first of these heads, it may well be supposed that the general curiosity hath been strongly excited, by the circumstances of this undertaking already known to the world; for, whether we consider the force of the squadron sent on this service, or the diversified distresses that each single ship was separately involved in, or the uncommon instances of varying fortune which attended the whole enterprize; each of these articles must, I conceive, from its well-known rude outlines, appear worthy of a completer and more finished delineation: And, if this be allowed with respect to the narrative part of the work, there can be no doubt about the more useful and instructive parts, which are almost every where interwoven with it; for I can venture to affirm, without fear of being contradicted, on a comparison, that no voyage, hitherto published, furnishes such a number of views of land, soundings, draughts of ports, charts, and other materials, for the improvement of geography and navigation, as are contained in the ensuing volume; which are the more valuable too, as the greatest part of them relate to such islands or coasts as have been hitherto not at all, or erroneously described; and where the want of sufficient and authentic information might occasion future enterprizes to prove abortive, perhaps with the destruction of the ships and men employed therein.

Besides the number and choice of these marine drawings and descriptions, there is another very essential circumstance belonging to them, which much enhances their worth; and that is the great accuracy with which they were executed. I shall express my opinion of them, in this particular, very imperfectly, when I say that they are not exceeded, and perhaps not equalled, by any thing of this nature that hath, as yet, been communicated to the world: For they were not copied from the works of others, or composed at home from imperfect accounts given by incurious and unskilful observers, a practice too frequent in these matters; but the greatest part of them were delineated on the spot, with the utmost exactness, by the direction and under the eye of Mr Anson himself; and where, as is the case in three or four of them, they have been done by less skilful hands, or were found in possession of the enemy, and consequently their justness could be less relied on, I have always taken care to apprize the reader of it, and to put him on his guard against giving entire credit to them; although I doubt not but these less authentic draughts, thus cautiously inserted, are to the full as correct as those which are usually published upon these occasions. For, as actual surveys of roads and harbours, and nice and critical delineations of views of land, take up much time and attention, and require a good degree of skill, both in planning and drawing, those who are defective in industry and ability supply these wants by bold conjectures and fictitious descriptions; and, as they can be no otherwise confuted than by going on the spot, and running the risk of suffering by their misinformation, they have no apprehension of being detected; and therefore, when they intrude their supposititious productions on the public, they make no conscience of boasting, at the same time, with how much skill and care they have been executed. But let not those who are unacquainted with naval affairs imagine, that the impositions of this kind are of an innocent nature; for, as exact views of land are the surest guides to a seaman, on a coast where he has never been before, all fictions, in so interesting a matter, must be attended with numerous dangers, and sometimes with the destruction of those who are thus unhappily deceived.[7]

[Footnote 7: It must be quite obvious to all who are in the least degree acquainted with the nature of these draughts and views of land, in the nature of a coasting pilot, that it is utterly impossible to reduce them within the compass of an octavo size, and at the same time to render them of the smallest degree of usefulness; while large plates must have been necessary, and speedily destroyed by opening and refolding.—E.]

Besides these draughts of such places as Mr Anson, or the ships which he commanded, have touched at in the course of this expedition, and the descriptions and directions relating thereto, there is inserted, in the ensuing work, an ample account, with a chart annexed to it, of a particular navigation, of which hitherto little more than the name has been known, except to those immediately employed in it: I mean the tract described by the Manilla ship, in her passage to Acapulco, through the northern part of the Pacific-ocean. This material article is collected from the draughts and journals met with on board the Manilla galleon, founded on the experience of more than an hundred and fifty years practice, and corroborated in its principal circumstances by the concurrent evidence of all the Spanish prisoners taken in that vessel. And as many of their journals; which I have examined, appear to have been not ill kept, I presume the chart of that northern ocean, and the particulars of their routes through it, may be very safely relied on by future navigators. The advantages which may be drawn from an exact knowledge of this navigation, and the beneficial projects which may be formed thereon, both in war and peace, are by no means proper to be discussed in this place; but they will easily offer themselves to the skilful in maritime affairs. However, as the Manilla ships are the only ones which have ever traversed this vast ocean, except a French straggler or two, which have been afterwards seized on the coast of Mexico; and as, during near two ages, in which this trade has been carried on, the Spaniards have secreted with the utmost care all accounts of their voyages from the rest of the world; these reasons would alone authorize the insertion of those papers, and would recommend them to the inquisitive, as a very great improvement in geography, and worthy of attention, from the singularity of many circumstances therein recited.

I must add what, in my opinion, is far from being the least recommendation of these materials, that the observations of the variations of the compass, which are laid down in the chart from these Spanish journals, tend greatly to complete the general system of the magnetic variation, of infinite importance to the commercial and sea-faring part of mankind. These observations were, though in vain, often publicly called for by our learned countryman, the late Dr Halley, and to his immortal reputation they confirm, as far as they extend, the wonderful hypothesis he had entertained on this head, and very nearly correspond, in their quantity, to the predictions he published about fifty years since, long before he was acquainted with any one observation made in those seas. The ascertaining the variation in that part of the world is just now of more than ordinary consequence, as the editors of a new variation chart, lately published, for want of proper information, have been misled by an erroneous analogy, and have even mistaken the very species of variation in that of the northern ocean; for they make it westerly where it is easterly, and have laid it down 12 deg. or 13 deg. different from its real quantity.

This much it has been thought necessary to premise, with regard to the hydrographical and geographical part of the ensuing work; which, it is hoped, the reader will find, on perusal, much ampler and more important than this slight sketch can well explain. But, as there are hereafter interspersed, occasionally, some accounts of Spanish transactions, and many observations relative to the dispositions of the American Spaniards, and to the condition of the countries bordering on the South Seas; and as herein I may appear to differ greatly from the opinions generally established; I think it behoves me particularly to recite the authorities I have been guided by in these matters, that I may not be censured as having given way, either to a thoughtless credulity on the one hand, or, what would be a much more criminal imputation, to a wilful and deliberate misrepresentation on the other.

Mr Anson, before he set sail upon this expedition, besides the printed journals to these parts, took care to furnish himself with the best manuscript accounts he could procure of all the Spanish settlements upon the coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico. These he carefully compared with the examinations of his prisoners, and the informations of several intelligent persons who fell into his hands in the South Seas. He had likewise the good fortune, in some of his captures, to possess himself of a great number of letters and papers of a public nature, many of them written by the viceroy of Peru to the viceroy of Santa Fee, to the presidents of Panama and Chili, to Don Blass de Lezo, admiral of the galleons, and to divers other persons in considerable employments; and in these letters there was usually inserted a recital of those they were intended to answer, so that they contained no small part of the correspondence between these officers, for some time previous to our arrival on the coast. We took, besides, many letters, sent from persons entrusted by the Spanish government, to their friends and correspondents, which were frequently filled with narrations of public business, and sometimes contained undisguised animadversions on the views and conduct of their superiors. From these materials those accounts of the Spanish affairs ore drawn, which may appear, at first sight, the most exceptionable. In particular, the history of the various casualties which befel Pizarro's squadron is, for the most part, composed from intercepted letters; though, indeed, the relation of the insurrection of Orellana and his followers is founded on rather a less disputable authority; for it was taken from the mouths of an English gentleman then on board Pizarro, who often conversed with Pizarro; and it was, upon enquiry, confirmed in its principal circumstances by others who were in the ship at the same time: so that the fact, however extraordinary, is, I conceive, not to be contested.

And, on this occasion, I cannot but mention, that, though I have endeavoured with my utmost care to adhere strictly to truth, in every article of the ensuing narration, yet I am apprehensive that, in so complicated a work, some oversights must have been committed, by the inattention to which, at all times, all mankind are liable. However, I am conscious, as yet, of none but literal and insignificant mistakes; and if there are others more considerable, which have escaped me, I flatter myself they are not of moment enough to affect any material transaction; and therefore I hope they may justly claim the reader's indulgence.

After this general account of the ensuing work, it might be expected perhaps, that I should proceed to the work itself; but I cannot finish this introduction without adding a few reflections on a matter very nearly connected with the present subject, and, as I conceive, neither destitute of utility nor unworthy the attention of the public: I mean the animating my countrymen, both in their public and private stations, to the encouragement of all kinds of geographical and nautical observations, and of every species of mechanical and commercial information. It is by a settled attachment to these seemingly minute particulars, that our ambitious neighbours have established some part of that power with which we are now struggling: and as we have the means in our hands of pursuing these subjects more effectually than they can, it would be a dishonour to us longer to neglect so easy and beneficial a practice. For, as we have a navy much more numerous than theirs, great part of which is always employed in very distant stations, either in the protection of our colonies and commerce, or in assisting our allies against the common enemy, this gives us frequent opportunities of furnishing ourselves with such kind of materials as are here recommended, and such as might turn greatly to our advantage either in war or peace; since, not to mention what might be expected from the officers of the navy, if their application to these subjects was properly encouraged, it would create no new expence to the government to establish a particular regulation for this purpose; as all that would be requisite would be constantly to embark, in some of our men of war which are sent on those distant cruizes, a person who, with the character of an engineer, and the skill and talents necessary to that profession, should be employed in drawing such coasts, and planning such harbours, as the ship should touch at, and in making such other observations, of all kinds, as might either prove of advantage to future navigators, or might any ways tend to promote the public service. Persons habituated to these operations, which could not fail at the same time of improving them in their proper business, would be extremely useful in many other lights besides those already mentioned, and might tend to secure our fleets from those disgraces with which their attempts against places on shore have been often attended. And, in a nation like ours, where all sciences are more eagerly and universally pursued, and better understood, than in any other part of the world, proper subjects for these employments cannot long be wanting, if due encouragement were given to them.

This method, here recommended, is known to have been frequently practised by the French, particularly in the instance of Mons. Frezier, an engineer, who has published a celebrated voyage to the South Seas: for this person was purposely sent by the French king, in the year 1711, into that country, on board a merchant ship, that he might examine and describe the coast, and take plans of all the fortified places; the better to enable the French to prosecute their illicit trade, or, on a rupture between them and the court of Spain, to form their enterprizes in those seas with more readiness and certainty. Should we pursue this method, we might hope that the emulation amongst those who were commissioned for these undertakings, and the experience which, even in the most peaceable intervals, they would thereby acquire, might at length procure us a proper number of able engineers, and might efface the national scandal which our deficiency in that species of men has sometimes exposed us to: and surely every step to encourage and improve them is of greater moment to the public, as no persons, when they are properly instructed, make better returns in war for the distinctions and emoluments bestowed on them in times of peace: of which, the advantages the French have reaped from their dexterity, too numerous and recent to be soon forgot, are an ample confirmation.

Having mentioned engineers, or such as are skilled in drawing and the other usual practices of that profession, as the properest persons to be employed in these foreign enquiries, I cannot but lament, as it offers itself so very naturally to the subject in hand, how very imperfect many of our accounts of distant countries are rendered by the relators being unskilled in drawing, and in the general principles of surveying, even where other abilities have not been wanting. Had more of our travellers been initiated in these acquirements, and had there been added thereto some little skill in the common astronomical observations, all which a person of ordinary talents might attain with a very moderate share of application, we should, by this time, have seen the geography of the globe much correcter than we now find it; the dangers of navigation would have been considerably lessened, and the manners, arts, and produce of foreign countries would have been better known to us than they are. Indeed, when I consider the strong incitements that all travellers have to pursue some part at least of these qualifications, especially drawing; when I consider how much it would facilitate their observations, assist and strengthen their memories, and of how tedious, and often unintelligible, a load of description it would rid them; I cannot but wonder that any person who intends to visit distant countries, with a view of informing either himself or others, should be wanting in so necessary a piece of skill. And, to enforce this argument still farther, I must add, that, besides the uses of drawing already mentioned, there is one which, though not so obvious, is yet perhaps of more consequence than all that has been hitherto urged; I mean the strength and distinguishing power it adds to some of our faculties. This appears from hence, that those who are used to draw objects observe them with more accuracy than others who are not habituated to that practice. For we may easily find, by a little experience, that when we view any object, however simple, our attention or memory is scarcely at any time so strong as to enable us, when we have turned our eyes away from it, to recollect exactly every part it consisted of, and to recall all the circular stances of its appearance; since, on examination, it will be discovered, that in some we were mistaken, and others we had totally overlooked. But he who is accustomed to draw what he sees, is, at the same time, accustomed to rectify this inattention; for, by confronting his ideas, copied on the paper, with the object he intends to represent, he finds out what circumstance has deceived him in its appearance; and hence he at length acquires the habit of observing much more at one view than he could ever have done without his practice and proficiency in drawing.

If what has been said merits the attention of travellers of all sorts, it is, I think, more particularly applicable to the gentlemen of the navy, since, without drawing and planning, neither charts nor views of land can be taken; and without these it is sufficiently evident that navigation is at a full stand. It is doubtless from a persuasion of the utility of these qualifications, that his majesty has established a drawing-master at Portsmouth, for the instruction of those who are presumed to be hereafter entrusted with the command of his royal navy; and though some have been so far misled as to suppose that the perfection of sea officers consisted in a turn of mind and temper resembling the boisterous element they have to deal with, and have condemned all literature and science, as effeminate and derogatory to that ferocity, which, they would falsely persuade us, was the most unerring characteristic of courage, yet it is to be hoped that such absurdities have not at any time been authorized by the public opinion, and that the belief daily diminishes. If those who adhere to these mischievous positions were capable of being influenced by reason, or swayed by example, I should think it sufficient for their conviction to observe, that the most valuable drawings inserted in the following work, though done with such skill that even professed artists can with difficulty imitate them, were taken by Mr Piercy Bret, one of Mr Anson's lieutenants, and since captain of the Lion man-of-war, who, in his memorable engagement with the Elizabeth, [for the importance of the service, or the resolution with which it was conducted, inferior to none this age has seen,] has given ample proof that a proficiency in the arts I have been recommending, is extremely consistent with the most exemplary bravery, and the most distinguished skill in every function belonging to a sea officer.

Indeed, when the many branches of science are considered, of which even the common practice of navigation is composed, and the many improvements which men of skill have added to this practice within these few years, it would induce one to believe that the advantages of reflection and speculative knowledge were in no profession more eminent than in that of a naval officer; for, not to mention some expertness in geography, geometry, and astronomy, which it would be dishonourable for him to be without, as his journal and his estimate of the daily position of the ship are founded on particular branches of these sciences, it may well be supposed, that the management and working of a ship, the discovery of her most eligible position in the water, usually called her trim, and the disposition of her sails in the most advantageous manner, are articles in which the knowledge of mechanics cannot but be greatly assistant. And, perhaps, the application of this kind of knowledge to naval subjects may produce as great improvements in sailing and working a ship, as it has already done in many other matters conducive to the ease and convenience of human life; since, when the fabric of a ship and the variety of her sails are considered, together with the artificial contrivances for adapting them to her different motions, as it cannot be doubted but these things have been brought about by more than ordinary sagacity and invention; so neither can it be doubted but that, in some conjunctures, a speculative and scientific turn of mind may find out the means of directing and disposing this complicated mechanism much more advantageously than can be done by mere habit, or by a servile copying of what others may have, perhaps erroneously, practised in similar emergencies. But it is time to finish this digression, and to leave the reader to the perusal of the ensuing work, which, with how little art soever it may be executed, will yet, from the importance of the subject, and the utility and excellence of the materials, merit some share of the public attention.


Of the Equipment of the Squadron, and the Incidents relating to it, from its first Appointment to its setting Sail from St Helens.

The squadron under the command of Mr Anson, of which I here propose to recite the most material proceedings, having undergone many changes in its destination, its force, and its equipment, during the ten months between its original appointment and its final sailing from St Helens, I conceive the history of these alterations is a detail necessary to be made public, both for the honour of those who first planned and promoted this enterprize, and for the justification of those who have been entrusted with its execution; since it will from hence appear, that the accidents the expedition was afterwards exposed to, and which prevented it from producing all the national advantages the strength of the squadron and the expectation of the public seemed to presage, were principally owing to a series of interruptions, which delayed the commander in the course of his preparations, and which it exceeded his utmost industry either to avoid or get removed.

When, in the latter end of the summer 1739, it was foreseen that a war with Spain was inevitable, it was the opinion of some considerable persons, then trusted with the administration of affairs, that the most prudent step the nation could take, on the breaking out of the war, was attacking that crown in her distant settlements; for by this means, as at that time there was the greatest probability of success, it was supposed that we should cut off the principal resources of the enemy, and should reduce them to the necessity of sincerely desiring a peace, as they would be deprived of the returns of that treasure by which alone they could be enabled to carry on a war.

In pursuance of these sentiments, several projects were examined, and several resolutions were taken by the council. And, in all these deliberations, it was from the first determined, that George Anson, Esq. then captain of the Centurion, should be employed as commander-in-chief of an expedition of this kind: and, he at that time being absent on a cruize, a vessel was dispatched to his station so early as the beginning of September, to order him to return with his ship to Portsmouth. And soon after he came there, that is, on the 10th November following, he received a letter from Sir Charles Wager, directing him to repair to London, and to attend the board of Admiralty; where, when he arrived, he was informed by Sir Charles, that two squadrons would be immediately fitted out for two secret expeditions, which, however, would have some connection with each other; and that he, Mr Anson, was intended to command one of them; and that Mr Cornwall, who hath since lost his life gloriously in defence of his country's honour, was to command the other; that the squadron under Mr Anson was to take on board three independent companies of an hundred men each, and Bland's regiment of foot; that Colonel Bland was likewise to embark with his regiment, and to command the land-forces; and that, as soon as this squadron could be fitted for sea, they were to sail, with express orders to touch at no place till they came to Java-Head in the East-Indies; that they were there only to stop to take in water, and thence to proceed directly to the city of Manilla in Luconia, one of the Philippine islands; that the other squadron, of equal force with this commanded by Mr Anson, was intended to pass round Cape Horn into the South Seas, to range along that coast; and, after cruizing upon the enemy in those parts, and attempting their settlements, this squadron, in its return, was to rendezvous at Manilla, there to join the squadron under Mr Anson, where they were to refresh their men, and to refit their ships, and perhaps receive orders for other considerable enterprizes.

This scheme was doubtless extremely well projected, and could not but have greatly advanced the public service, and the reputation and fortune of those concerned in its execution; for, had Mr Anson proceeded to Manilla at the time and in the manner proposed by Sir Charles Wager, he would in all probability have arrived there before they had received any advice of the war between us and Spain, and consequently before they had been in the least prepared for the reception of an enemy, or had any apprehensions of their danger. The city of Manilla might well be supposed to have been at that time in the same defenceless condition with all the other Spanish settlements, just at the breaking out of the war; that is, their fortifications neglected, and in many places decayed; their cannon dismounted, or rendered useless by the mouldering of their carriages; their magazines both of military stores and provisions, all empty; their garrisons unpaid, and consequently thin, ill affected, and dispirited; and the royal chests of Peru, whence alone all these disorders could receive redress, drained to the very bottom. This, from the intercepted letters of their viceroys and governors, is well known to have been the defenceless state of Panama, and the other places on the coast of the South Sea, for near a twelvemonth after our declaration of war. And it cannot be supposed that the city of Manilla, removed still farther by almost half the circumference of the globe, should have experienced from the Spanish government a greater share of attention for its security than Panama, and the other important ports in Peru and Chili, on which their possession of that immense empire depends. Indeed, it is now well known that Manilla was at that time incapable of making any considerable defence, and, in all probability, would have surrendered only on the appearance of our squadron before it. The consequence of this city, and the island it stands on, may, in some measure, be estimated from the known healthiness of its air, the excellence of its port and bay, the number and wealth of its inhabitants, and the very extensive and beneficial commerce it carries on to the principal ports in the East-Indies and China, and its exclusive trade to Acapulco; the returns for which alone, being made in silver, are, upon the lowest calculation, not less than three millions of dollars yearly.

On this scheme Sir Charles Wager was so intent, that, on the 18th December, a few days only before this first conference, Mr Anson received an order to take under his command the Argyle, Severn, Pearl, Wager, and Tryal sloop; and other orders were issued to him, in the same month and in December, relating to the victualling of this squadron. But, on attending the Admiralty in the beginning of January, 1740, Mr Anson was informed by Sir Charles Wager, that, for reasons with which he was not acquainted, the expedition to Manilla was laid aside. It may well be conceived that Mr Anson was extremely chagrined at losing the command of so infallible, so honourable, and in every respect so desirable an enterprize; especially as he had already, at a very great expence, made the necessary provision for his own accommodation in this voyage, which he had reason to expect would prove very long. However, to render this appointment more tolerable, Sir Charles Wager informed him that the expedition to the South Sea was still intended; and that he, Mr Anson, and his squadron, as their first destination was now countermanded, should be employed in that service. And, on the 10th January, 1740, he received his commission, appointing him Commander-in-chief of the before-mentioned squadron, the Argyle being in the course of preparation exchanged for the Gloucester, with which he sailed above eight months afterwards from St Helens. On this change of destination, the equipment of the squadron was still prosecuted with as much vigour as ever; and the victualling, and whatever depended on the commodore, was soon so far advanced, that he conceived the ships might be capable of putting to sea the instant he should receive his final orders, of which he was in daily expectation.

At length, on the 28th June, 1740, the Duke of Newcastle, principal secretary of state, delivered to him his majesty's instructions, dated on the 31st of January preceding, with an additional instruction from the lords justices, dated 19th June. On the receipt of these, Mr Anson immediately repaired to Spithead, with a resolution to sail with the first fair wind, flattering himself that all his difficulties were now at an end: for though he knew by the muster that his squadron wanted three hundred men of their complement, a deficiency he had not, with all his assiduity, been able to get supplied, yet as Sir Charles Wager had informed him that an order from the board of Admiralty was sent to Sir John Norris to spare him the numbers which he wanted; he doubted not of its being complied with. But, on his arrival at Portsmouth, he found himself greatly mistaken and disappointed in this persuasion: for, on application, Sir John Norris told him he could spare him none, as he wanted men for his own fleet. This occasioned an inevitable and very considerable delay, and it was the end of July before this deficiency was by any means supplied, and all that was then done was extremely short of his necessities and expectation; for Admiral Balchen, who succeeded to the command at Spithead, after Sir John Norris had sailed to the westward, instead of three hundred sailors which Mr Anson wanted of his complement, ordered on board the squadron an hundred and seventy men only, of which thirty-two were from the hospital and sick-quarters, thirty-seven men from the Salisbury, with three officers and ninety-eight marines of Colonel Lowther's regiment; and these were all that were ever granted to make up the forementioned deficiency.

But the commodore's mortification did not end here. It has been already observed, that it was at first intended that Colonel Bland's regiment, and three independent companies of an hundred men each, should embark as land-forces on board the squadron. But this disposition was now changed; and all the land-forces that were to be allowed were five hundred invalids, to be collected from the out-pensioners of Chelsea College. As these consisted of soldiers, who, from their age, wounds, and other circumstances, were incapable of serving in marching regiments, Mr Anson was much chagrined at having such a decrepid detachment allotted to him; for he was fully persuaded that the greatest part of them would perish long before they could arrive at the scene of action, since the delays he had already experienced necessarily confined his passage round Cape Horn to the most rigorous season of the year. Sir Charles Wager joined in opinion with the commodore, that invalids were by no means proper for this service, and strenuously solicited to have them, exchanged. But he was told, that persons who were considered better judges of soldiers than he or Mr Anson, thought them the properest men that could be employed on this occasion; and, upon this determination, they were ordered on board the squadron on the 5th of August. But, instead of five hundred, there came no more on board than two hundred and fifty-nine; for all those who had limbs and strength to walk out of Portsmouth deserted, leaving only those behind who were literally invalids, most of them being sixty years of age, and some upwards of seventy. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive a more moving scene than the embarkation of these unhappy veterans: they were themselves extremely averse from the service in which they were engaged, and fully apprized of all the disasters they were afterwards exposed to, the apprehensions of which were strongly marked by the concern which appeared in their countenances, which was mixed with no small degree of indignation to be thus hurried from their repose into a fatiguing employ, to which neither the strength of their bodies, nor the vigour of their minds, were any way proportioned; and in which, without seeing the face of an enemy, or in the least promoting the success of the enterprize, they would in all probability uselessly perish by lingering and painful diseases; and this, too, after they had spent the activity and strength of their youth in the service of their country.

I cannot but observe, on this melancholy incident, how extremely unfortunate it was, both to this aged and diseased detachment, and to the expedition in which they were engaged, that, amongst all the out-pensioners of Chelsea College, which were supposed to amount to two thousand men, the most crazy and infirm only should be called out for so laborious and perilous an undertaking; for it was well known, however unfit invalids in general might be for this service, yet, by a prudent choice, there might have been found amongst them five hundred men who had some remains of vigour; and Mr Anson fully expected that the best of them would have been allotted to him; whereas the whole detachment sent seemed to be made up of the most decrepid and miserable objects that could be collected out of the whole body; and by the desertion already mentioned, even these were cleared of the little strength and health which were to be found among them, and he had to take up with such as were much fitter for an infirmary than for any military duty.

It is here also necessary to mention another material particular in the equipment of this squadron. After it was determined that Mr Anson should be sent to the South Sea, it was proposed to Mr Anson to take with him two persons under the denomination of agent-victuallers. Those mentioned for this employment had been formerly in the Spanish American colonies, in the service of the South-Sea Company, and it was supposed, that, by their knowledge and intelligence on that coast, they might often procure provisions for the squadron by compact with the inhabitants, when they were not to be got by force of arms. These agent-victuallers were, for this purpose, to be allowed to carry to the value of fifteen thousand pounds in merchandize on board the squadron, as they represented that it would be much easier to procure provisions in exchange for goods, than for the value of the same goods in money. Whatever colours were given to this scheme, it was difficult to persuade the generality of mankind that it was not principally intended for the enrichment of the agents, by the beneficial commerce they proposed to carry on upon that coast. From the beginning, Mr Anson objected both to the appointment of agent-victuallers and to allowing them to carry a cargo on board the squadron; for he conceived that in those few amicable ports where the squadron might touch, he needed not their assistance to contract for any provisions these places afforded; and, when on the enemy's coast, he did not imagine they could ever procure him the necessaries he should want, unless the military operations of his squadron were to be regulated by the ridiculous views of their trading projects, with which he was resolved not to comply. All that he thought the government ought to have done, of this kind, was to put on board, to the value of two or three thousand pounds, of such goods only as were suitable for the Indians, or the Spanish planters on the less cultivated parts of the coast, as it was in such places only that he considered it might be worth while to truck with the enemy for provisions, and it was sufficiently evident that a very small cargo would suffice for such places.

Although the commodore objected both to the appointment of these officers and to their project, of the ill success of which he had no question, yet, as they had insinuated that their scheme, besides victualling the squadron, might contribute to the settling a trade on that coast which might afterwards be carried on without difficulty, and might become of very considerable national advantage, they were much listened to by several considerable persons; and, of the fifteen thousand pounds, which was to be the amount of their cargo, the government agreed to advance them ten thousand pounds upon imprest, and the remaining five thousand they raised on bottomry bonds, and the goods purchased with this latter sum were all that were put on board the squadron, how much soever their amount might be afterwards magnified by common report. This cargo was shipped at first in the Wager store-ship, and one of the victuallers, no part of it being admitted on board the men-of-war; but, when the commodore was at St Catharine's, he considered, in case the squadron might be separated, that it might be pretended that some of the ships were disappointed of provisions for want of a cargo to truck with, wherefore he distributed some of the least bulky commodities on board the men-of-war, leaving the remainder principally on board the Wager, in which it was lost, and more of the goods perishing, by various accidents to be recited afterwards, and as no part of them being disposed of on the coast, the few that came home to England, when sold, did not produce above a fourth part of the original cost. So true was the commodore's judgment of the event of this project, which had been considered by many as infallibly productive of immense gain.

We return to the transactions at Portsmouth. To supply the place of the two hundred and forty invalids who had deserted, there were ordered on board two hundred and ten marines, drafted from different regiments. These were raw and undisciplined men, just raised, and had scarcely any thing more of the soldier than their regimentals, none of them having been so far trained as to be permitted to fire. The last of these detachments came on board on the 8th August, and on the 10th the squadron dropped down from Spithead to St Helen's, there to wait for a wind to proceed on the expedition. The delays we had already suffered had not yet spent all their influence; for we were now advanced to that season of the year when the westerly winds are usually very prevalent and violent; and it was thought proper that we should put to sea in company with the fleet commanded by Admiral Balchen, and the expedition under Lord Cathcart. As we now made up in all twenty-one sail of men-of-war, and one hundred and twenty-four sail of merchant ships and transports, we had no hopes of getting out of the channel with so large a fleet, without the continuance of a fair wind for a considerable time, and this was what we had every day less and less reason to expect, as the time of the equinox drew near; wherefore our golden dreams and ideal possession of the Peruvian treasures grew every day more faint, and the difficulties and dangers of the passage round Cape Horn, in the winter season, filled our imaginations in their room. It was forty days from our arrival at St Helens to our final departure from that place; and even then, having orders to proceed without Lord Cathcart, we tided down the channel with a contrary wind. But this interval of forty days was not free from the displeasing fatigue of often setting sail, and being as often obliged to return, nor exempt from dangers greater than have been sometimes undergone in surrounding the globe. For the wind coming fair for the first time on the 23d August, we got under sail, and Admiral Balchen shewed himself truly solicitous to have proceeded to sea; but the wind soon returned to its old quarter, and obliged us to put back to St Helens, not without considerable hazard, and some damage received by two of the transports, which ran foul of each other when tacking. We made two or three other attempts to sail, but without any better success; and, on the 6th September, being returned to anchor at St Helens, after one of those fruitless attempts, the wind blew so fresh that the whole fleet had to strike yards and topmasts to prevent drifting: Yet, notwithstanding this precaution, the Centurion drove next evening, and brought both cables a-head, when we were in no small danger of getting foul of the Prince Frederick, a seventy-gun ship, which was moored only a small distance under our stern, but we happily escaped, in consequence of her drifting at the same time, by which she preserved her distance, yet we did not think ourselves safe till we at last let go our sheet anchor, which fortunately brought us up.

We were in some measure relieved from this lingering and vexatious situation on the 9th September, by an order then received by Commodore Anson, from the lords justices, to put to sea on the first opportunity, with his own squadron only, if Lord Cathcart should not be ready. Being thus freed from the troublesome company of so large a fleet, our commodore resolved to weigh and tide it down channel, as soon as the weather should become sufficiently moderate, and this might easily have been done by our squadron full two months sooner, had the orders of the Admiralty for supplying us with seamen been punctually complied with, and had we met with none of those other delays mentioned in this narration. Even now, our hopes of a speedy departure were somewhat damped, by a subsequent order which Mr Anson received on the 12th September, by which he was required to take under his convoy the St Albans and the Turkey fleet, and to join the Dragon and the Winchester, with the Straits and American trade, at Torbay or Plymouth, and to proceed with them to sea as far as their way and ours lay together. This encumbrance of convoy gave us some uneasiness, fearing it might lengthen our passage to Madeira: However, having now the command to himself, Mr Anson resolved to tide down channel with the first moderate weather; and, that the junction of the convoy might occasion as little loss of time as possible, he immediately sent directions to Torbay that the fleet he was there to take charge of should be in readiness to join him instantly on his approach. And at last, on the 18th September, he weighed from St Helens, and, though the wind was at first contrary, had the good fortune to get clear of the channel in four days, as will be more particularly related in the ensuing section.

Having thus gone through the respective steps taken in the equipment of this squadron, it must be sufficiently obvious how different an aspect the expedition bore at its first appointment in the beginning of January, from what it did in the latter end of September, when it left the channel, and how much its numbers, its strength, and the probability of its success were diminished by the various incidents which took place in that interval. For, instead of having all our old and ordinary seamen exchanged for such as were young and able, which the commodore was at first promised, and having our complement complete to its full number, we were obliged to retain our first crews, which were very indifferent; and a deficiency of three hundred men in our numbers was no otherwise made up than by sending on board an hundred and seventy men, the greatest part of whom were discharged from hospitals, or new-raised marines who had never been at sea before. In the land-forces allotted to us, the change was still more disadvantageous; as, instead of Bland's regiment of foot, which was an old one, and three independent companies of an hundred men each, we had only four hundred and seventy invalids and marines, one part of whom were incapable of action, by their age and infirmities, and the other part useless, by ignorance of their duty. But the diminution of the strength of the squadron was not the greatest inconveniency which attended these alterations; for the contests, representations, and difficulties which they continually produced, as we have seen above that the authority of the Admiralty in these cases was not always submitted to, occasioned a delay and waste of time, which, in its consequences, was the source of all the disasters to which the enterprize was afterwards exposed. For, owing to these circumstances, we were forced to make our passage round Cape Horn at the most tempestuous season of the year, whence proceeded the separation of our squadron, the loss of numbers of our men, and the imminent hazard of oar total destruction. By this delay also, the enemy had been so well informed of our designs, that a person who had been employed in the service of the South-Sea Company, and arrived from Panama three or four days before we left Portsmouth, was able to relate to Mr Anson most of the particulars of the destination and strength of our squadron, from what he had learnt from the Spaniards before he left them. This was afterwards confirmed by a more extraordinary circumstance; for we shall find, that when the Spaniards, fully satisfied of our expedition being intended for the South Seas, had fitted out a squadron before us, which had so far got the start as to arrive before us at the island of Madeira, the commander of this squadron was so well instructed in the form and make of Mr Anson's broad pendant, and had imitated it so exactly, that he thereby decoyed the Pearl, one of our squadron, within gun-shot of him, before the captain of the Pearl was able to discover the deception.


The Passage from St Helens to the Island of Madeira, with a short Account of that Island, and of our Stay there.

As observed in the preceding section, the squadron weighed from St Helens with a contrary wind on the 18th of September, 1740, our commodore proposing to tide down the channel, as he less dreaded the inconveniences we might have thereby to struggle with, than the risk he should run of ruining the enterprize by an uncertain, and, in all probability, a tedious attendance for a fair wind. The squadron allotted for this expedition consisted of five men-of-war, a sloop of war, and two victuallers. These were, the Centurion of 60 guns, and 400 men, George Anson, Esq. commander; the Gloucester, of 50 guns, and 300 men, Richard Norris, commander; the Severn, of 50 guns, and 300 men, the Honourable Edward Legg, commander; the Pearl, of 40 guns, and 250 men, Matthew Mitchell, commander; the Wager, of 28 guns, and 160 men, Dandy Kidd, commander; the Tryal sloop, of 8 guns, and 100 men, the Honourable John Murray, commander. The two victuallers were pinks, the largest of about four hundred tons burden; and these were to attend us till the provisions we had on board were so far consumed as to make room for the additional quantity they carried, which was then to be taken into our ships, and they were to be discharged. Besides the before-mentioned complements of men borne by the ships as their crews, there were embarked in our squadron about 470 invalids and marines, as particularly mentioned in last section, under the denomination of land-forces, which were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Cracherode.

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