STEDMAN, John Gabriel (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[oseph] Johnson, 1796.
2 volumes, 4° (263 x 207mm). Engraved frontispiece, engraved titles with vignettes, and 80 plates, 2 folding, 16 by William Blake. (Plate 20 torn through, plate 73 with small repair at margin, some browning of plate margins, some imprints cropped.) Contemporary half calf and marbled boards (extremities rubbed, joints split).
FIRST EDITION of 'one of the richest contemporary accounts of a plantation society in the Americas' (Sabin), made the more interesting since the author's 'field of curiosity embraced not only all branches of natural history, but also economical and social conditions. His description of the cruelties practised 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' (DNB). Plate 31 is an aquatint, the remainder line or line-and-stipple engravings. The subject of plate 9, Joanna, is known to have become Stedman's wife. Blake himself produced 'powerful images indeed, with the dense cross-hatching on the bodies of the slaves intensifying the effect of their tortured figures against an unengraved background' (P. Ackroyd, Blake, p. 169). Abbey Travel II, 719; Bentley 499; Sabin 91075. (2)