JOHN GABRIEL STEDMAN (1744-1797)
Narrative, of a five years' expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of south America; from the year 1772, to 1777. London: for J.Johnson, 1796. 2 volumes, 4° (270 x 215mm). 8pp. list of subscribers, 2pp. errata. Engraved titles with integral vignettes, frontispiece and 80 plates and maps (including 16 by William Blake, 3 folding maps, one folding aquatint plate). (Most plates spotted, the first folding map with additional creasing and light old dampstaining.) Contemporary speckled calf, covers with gilt decorative roll border, the flat spines divided into six compartments by gilt fillets and decorative rolls, red/brown morocco labels in the second and fourth compartments lettered in gilt, the other compartments with repeat neo-classical decoration of a small gilt urn surrounded by scrolling stylised foliage and swags, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, marbled edges (the upper joint to vol.I slightly split, small chips to head and foot of spines).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION IN A HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY BINDING. "In 1772 [Stedman] volunteered to accompany an expedition sent out by the States-General to subdue the revolted Negroes in Surinam, or Dutch Guiana. This service, in which he was employed for five years, gave him the opportunity of his life. His narrative of it is a model of what such a book should be. The field of his curiosity embraced not only all branches of natural history, but also economical and social conditions. His description of the cruelties practiced on the Negroes, and of the moral deterioration resulting to their masters, forms one of the most vivid indictments of slavery that have been penned. Not the least curious thing in the book is the story of his relations with Joanna, a beautiful mulatto, who nursed him when sick, and bore him a son" (DNB). Bentley 499; cf.Abbey Travel 719 (coloured issue); Sabin 91075. (2)