An extremely rare First Edition anti-slavery play by the Belgian, Louis Delmer. L'Esclave (The Slave, an abolitionist dramatic play, in four acts). Printed Brussels & Paris 1890. What makes this particular book scarce is that it was signed by Delmer in 1890 to the explorer, Henry M. Stanley (famous for the 1871 question, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?") Contemporary red half-morocco leather with the original printed wrappers bound-in, 140 pages.
BACKGROUND: Delmer was fiercely anti-slavery abolitionist which is borne out here and in his other limited writings. Delmer was secretary to the anti-slavery society in Belgium which seems to have had it’s heartland in the Dutch part of the country. A bit odd as he carried a French name. He may also be the same Louis Delmer that wrote on early autos, bicycles etc. We are checking into this bit of trivia. While a rare an important piece penned during the time of the Belgian atrocities in the Congo, this copy must be the most desirable of all in that it is a presentation copy inscribed by Delmer to Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), the man who explored Africa. The inscription is in French and roughly translates as "To Henry M Stanley: intrepid explorer and witness to the horrors of the enslavers. Humbly and respectfully Louis Delmer, Brussels 24 April 1890." Books with a Stanley provenance are extremely difficult to find commercially. The British antiquarian bookseller who sold this book to us stated, "In all my years of bookselling I have never come across such a bold and confidant inscription." This is quite an exciting item as Stanley spent his early working life in the deep South which is probably where he developed his distaste for slavery. What is ironic is that in later years Stanley spent much energy defending himself against charges that his African expeditions had been marked by callous violence and brutality. Stanley's opinion was that "the savage only respects force, power, boldness, and decision." Stanley would eventually be held responsible for a number of deaths and was charged with being indirectly responsible for helping establish the notoriously wicked rule of Léopold II of Belgium over the Congo Free State.