Item #38471 THE DYING NEGRO, A POEM. NEW EDITION, CORRECTED AND ENLARGED. Thomas Day, John Bicknell.

THE DYING NEGRO, A POEM. NEW EDITION, CORRECTED AND ENLARGED.

London: Printed for W. Flexney... 1787. Quarto. [2], x, 24 pp, in contemporary drab plain wrappers. Engraved title vignette of a slave in chains. Stitched. Title page dusted; with an expertly repaired margin tear [no text affected]. A few spots. Else Very Good.

A slave, who had planned to marry his former fellow servant (a white woman), was sold to the captain of a vessel bound for the West Indies. He escaped and, after having himself baptized to prepare for the marriage, was captured and returned to the ship. Rather than be parted from his love, he killed himself. These events are said to have occurred in 1773.
ESTC records the first printing, also by Flexney, in 1775; that printing calls itself the "third printing, corrected and enlarged." Ours, the scarcest of the recorded editions, has the same collation as the 1775 and is the poem's second printing. Evidently Bicknell started this work, and his friend Day helped to finish it. Lonsdale calls it "one of the first and most successful poems on what would become a familiar theme before the end of the century." Appropriately dedicated to Rousseau, it describes "innocent, noble, and manly Africans trapped and enslaved by arrogant avaricious, degenerate, if supposedly 'civilized' Europeans" [Wellek, Essays in Memory of James Marshall Osborne 297-300].
ESTC T2409 [10 locations, four of them in England, six in the U.S.]. Work 309. Sabin 18987 and LCP 2983 (1793 ed. only). Item #38471

Price: $1,000.00