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: J. Johnson and Thomas Payne, 1806. 2 volumes, 4° (256 x 230mm). Engraved titles with hand-coloured vignettes, 81 hand-coloured engraved plates and maps, some heightened with gum arabic, 3 folding and one double-page, by William Blake, Bartolozzi and others after Stedman. (Some light browning and off-setting from plates.) Contemporary diced Russia gilt, boards with gilt borders, board-edges and turn-ins, modern calf spines, gilt in compartments, lettered in two, gilt edges, marbled endpapers (extremities lightly rubbed, rebacked). Provenance: Francis Hurt Esq., Alderwasley (1803-1861, bookplate on upper pastedowns).
LARGE PAPER, COLOURED COPY of the second edition. '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' (ODNB). The first editon (London: 1796) was followed by numerous foreign editions or versions published in, amongst other places, Halle (1797), Hamburg (1797), Milan (1818) and Boston (1838): 'the number of editions, abridgements, and versions which were published of this book shows the impact made at the time by Stedman's unaffected Narrative of his experiences in Guiana (Abbey). Sixteen of the plates are engraved by William Blake and have 'long been recognized as among the best executed and most generally interesting of all his journeyman work' (Keynes). Cf. Abbey Travel 719; Sabin 91075; Bentley Blake Books 499B. (2)