In the account of that voyage, which his Chaplain, Mr. Walter, wrote under his supervision, everything is told so straightforwardly, and seems so reasonable and simple, that one is apt to underestimate the difficulties which he had to face, and the courage and skill which alone enabled him to overcome them. Seldom has an undertaking been more remorselessly dogged by an adverse fate than that of Anson. Seldom have plain common sense, professional knowledge, and unflinching resolution achieved a more memorable triumph.
On his return from the great voyage he was promoted rear-admiral, and in 1746 he was given command of the Channel fleet. In 1747 he engaged and utterly overwhelmed an inferior French fleet, captured several vessels, and took treasure amounting to 300,000 pounds. For this achievement he was made a peer. In 1751 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, and to his untiring efforts in the preparation of squadrons and the training of seamen is due some part, at any rate, of the glory won by English sailors during the famous days of Pitt’s great ministry. He died in 1762.
No finer testimony to his skill in choosing and in training his subordinates can be found than in the list of men who served under him in the Centurion and afterwards rose to fame. “In the whole history of our Navy,” it has been said, “there is not another instance of so many juniors from one ship rising to distinction, men like Saunders, Suamarez, Peircy Brett, Keppel, Hyde Parker, John Campbell.”
He was a man who had a thorough knowledge of his profession. No details were beneath him. His preparations were always thorough and admirably adapted to the purpose in view. Always cool, wary, resourceful, and brave, he was ready to do the right thing, whether he had to capture a town, delude his enemies, cheer his disheartened crew, or frustrate the wiliness of a Chinese viceroy.
Though without anything of the heroic genius of a Nelson, he is still one of the finest of those great sailors who have done so much for England; one of whom she will ever be proud, and one whose life and deeds will always afford an example for posterity to follow.
ANSON’S VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD.
CHAPTER 1. PURPOSE OF THE VOYAGE.—COMPOSITION OF THE SQUADRON—MADEIRA.
The squadron sails.
When, in the latter end of the summer of the year 1739, it was foreseen that a war with Spain was inevitable, it was the opinion of several 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. It was from the first determined that George Anson, Esquire, then captain of the “Centurion”, should be employed as commander-in-chief of an expedition of this kind. The squadron, under Mr. Anson, was intended to pass