a badly interrupted circumnavigation.
BYRON, John. Narrative of the Honourable John Byron (Commodore in a Late Expedition round the World) containing An Account of the Great Distresses suffered by Himself and His Companions on the Coast of Patagonia...also a Relation of the Loss of the Wager Man of War, one of Admiral Anson's Squadron. London, printed for S. Baker and G. Leich [sic], in York-Street ; and T. Davies, in Russel-Street, 1768.
8vo. Modern calf with raised bands, modelled on the worn and discarded original binding, retaining red morocco lettering-piece; pp. , viii, 257, beautifully engraved frontispiece; apart from light brown-spotting to frontispiece, a very good copy; contemporary engraved bookplate inside front cover.
First edition. This harrowing narrative was written by a survivor of one of the ships of Anson's circumnavition, wrecked on the southern coast of Chile. 'John Byron (1723-86) died a vice-admiral, having earned the nickname Foulweather Jack after much experience on rough seas. In 1741 he was a midshipman aboard HMS Wager in a squadron sent to attack Spanish ships off Chile. Shipwrecked in a storm after rounding Cape Horn, the majority of the survivors turned on their captain and attempted to make their own way home. Byron was among the group who stayed with the commanding officer. In 1768, now a commodore, he published this account of the five harrowing years it took to get back to England, by which time he was one of only four survivors. Although no doubt written to give his side of the story, it appealed to a public eager for tales of dramatic endurance against the odds. Aboard the Beagle on Darwins voyage, the book also informed the shipwreck in Don Juan by the authors grandson' (Cambridge UP reprint of the 1st edition, blurb).
'Admiral Byron’s narrative of the loss of the Wager is one of the most thrilling accounts in the language, and supplied his illustrious descendant with many particulars for the shipwreck in Don Juan' (Sabin).
ESTC T144869; Hill 2, 233; Sabin, 9732.