1796. London: J. Johnson, 1796.
Vol I only. 4to, xviii, 407 (i.e. 415), (7, index, plates, errata) pp., with 40 hand-coloured plates as called for including hand-coloured frontispiece and title page vignette. Very good in contemporary brown calf with gilt rules, decoration, and titling to spine with five raised bands. Internally good: some offsetting and very occasional foxing; front endpaper torn but expertly repaired.
§ First edition. Sixteen of the plates (and per a recent discovery the vignettes on the title-pages, one of which has the miniscule signature “Blake”) were engraved by Blake after Stedman’s drawings. This book had a substantial impact on Blake, who refers specifically to one of the illustrations that he engraved (that of a slave branded with his owner’s initials, ironically those of Stedman himself) in his Visions of the Daughters of Albion: “Stampt with my signet are the swarthy children of the sun”. As Forum noted in their catalogue 105 item 265: “Most impressive however, and very modern, are his vivid descriptions of the brutal treatment of the negroes, and his enlightened reflections upon the moral perversions of the slave-owners, leading him to pronounce the strongest possible indictment against slavery ever raised… His observations gave rise to a storm of protest in liberal Europe… his unexpurgated version was only recently published.” Abbey, Travel, 719. Bentley 499A. Essick, William Blake’s Commercial Book Illustrations, XXXIII. Kress Library 16679. Ray, Illustrator and the Book in England, 2. Volume 1 aquired from Chelsea Rare Books: Vol 2 was sadly stolen from their shop. Item #108734