STEDMAN, John Gabriel.
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.
Large paper copy of the second edition “corrected”, superbly hand-coloured throughout, some heightening with gum arabic. The first edition of 1796 was not issued in a coloured state. “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 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. 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). Sixteen of the plates are engraved by William Blake, and which Geoffrey Keynes considered to be the artist’s “most interesting and important book illustrations” (in Ryskamp, William Blake, Engraver: a Descriptive Catalogue, 1969, p.10).
2 volumes, quarto (292 231 mm). Contemporary diced half russia, title gilt direct to spines, low bands framed by single gilt rules, single gilt fillets to spine and corner edges, marbled boards and edges, flat green-grey endpapers. Housed in a leather entry slipcase. Engraved title pages with hand-coloured vignettes, hand-coloured frontispiece to volume I and 80 hand-coloured engraved plates and maps, 3 of them folding and one double-page, by William Blake, Bartolozzi and others after Stedman. A little rubbed, some judicious restoration to the joints and spines, binder’s blanks foxed, clean split to the frontispiece of volume I with careful professional archival tissue repair verso, mild toning throughout, some scattered light foxing, and pale off-setting from the plates as usual, overall a very good copy indeed.
Bibliography: See Abbey Travel 719; Bentley Blake Books 499B; Sabin 91075.Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary