Beatson, Robert.


6 Vols., Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, 2nd ed., (greatly extended), 1804. Vol. I : Xv + 525 pp. Vol. II : Vi + 609 pp. Vol. III : Xv + 448 pp. Vol. IV : Xvi + 577 pp. Vol. V : Xvi + 715 pp. Vol. VI : Xx + 494 pp. All bound in contemporary full tree calf ; black calf title-pieces to spines ; gilt lettering & gilt lines (to spines & boards) ; speckled edges. 22 x 13cm. Some shelf-wear to edges of bindings & rubbing of joints but overall firm & strong ; light marks to bindings where labels were once placed ; some general foxing as usual, o/w an attractive & V.G. set. Dr. Nicholas Rodger’s copy, First Volume signed & inscribed : "Nicholas Rodger. Acton, St. Roger’s Day, 1998." The remaining five volumes are all signed "Nicholas Rodger." Robert Beatson (1742-1818), was a writer of miscellaneous works but is best remembered for his Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain appearing in two editions : the first in 1790, in three volumes ; and the second in 1804, in six volumes. Beatson’s background was military rather than naval – he accompanied the Royal Engineers against Rochefort in 1757 and to the West Indies in 1759 – but in this work, he demonstrates his firm grasp on matters naval and only records military transactions where they are related to naval affairs, described by Bruce as "Particularly useful for the army’s campaigns in America." He retired in 1766 to devote himself to writing and agriculture in Fifeshire. Beatson opens with the year 1727 as this was the year Dr. Campbell left off in his original study and continues down to 1783 and the War of American Independence. (The original edition ended in 1763). He records the operations of the fleets and actions during this period, including every action fought by single ships. The style is easy and flowing, leaving such matters as naval returns, lines of battle, etc., to the copious Appendices contained in two of the volumes. Beatson had ample understanding of the political background of the 18th century and he intersperses his narrative with parliamentary affairs that relate to the Royal Navy and those that are essential to the full picture. The first volume covers the years 1727, the succession of George II, and the war with Spain ; down to 1756 and the execution of Byng. The second volumes cover the years 1757 to 1762 and the naval actions of that era with Suckling, Anson, Wolfe, Pocock, Hawke, etc. The third volume is one of useful and informative Appendices, providing over 200 lists and descriptions of ships, squadrons, fleets, etc., between 1728 and 1859. Volume Four picks up again in 1763 and takes the work down to 1779. Includes the deeds of Byron, Hughes, Cornwallis, Howe, Parker, Keppel, Vernon, Palliser, Cook, etc. Provides extensive coverage of the opening moves in the American War. The fifth volume covers the years 1780 to 1783 and the remaining story of the American War, with the deeds and actions of Rodney, Cook, Hughes, Cornwallis, Darby, Parker, Hood, Pigot, Hyde Parker, Howe, Kempenfelt, Barrington, Bickerton, etc. The sixth and final volume is again one of Appendices, 338 in all with lists and other useful information from 1769 to 1783. The six volumes also provide details of the promotions of admirals ; anecdotes of shipwreck ; the treatment of prisoners of war ; and naval support of the army, plus all the actions and operations – large and small – in home waters, North America, West Indies, Mediterranean, East Indies, etc. Full sets of this superior Second Edition are SCARCE. Sabin 4145. Bruce 2844.

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