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.