BROUGHTON, Thomas Duer.
Letters written in a Mahratta Camp during the Year 1809,
descriptive of the Character, Manners, Domestic Habits,
First edition. Edited from a sequence of “thirty-two letters to his brother … filled with his observations of the Marathas while serving as commander of the British Resident’s escort … in Broughton’s narrative the Marathas move through a portion of the Rajputana despoiling the countryside, laying siege to forts and burning villages, and fighting amongst themselves much to the dismay and disgust of the author. Of more interest to Broughton, however, were the various festivals and religious ceremonies, both Hindu and Mohammedan, which he recorded in his letters with detail and sympathy” (Riddick). Broughton (1778-1835) was educated at Eton, commissioned Ensign in 1796 and posted to the Bengal Army the following year; “having chosen the profession of arms he followed it with ardour, and whilst yet a subaltern was actively engaged in the memorable siege of Seringapatam, which the 4th of May 1799, overthrew the dynasty of Tippoo Saib, and conquered his empire. He was afterwards appointed Commandant of the Cadet Corps, a sort of college formed to receive the cadets, and teach and discipline them on their first arrival in the country, an office obviously requiring sound judgement and discreet management” (The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year 1836, p.441). He was then appointed Military Resident to the Mahrattas, and was subsequently briefly commander of Java. In 1797, he was promoted to lieutenant, transferring to the Madras establishment, captain 1805, major in 1816, lieutenant-colonel in 1822, and colonel in 1829, after which he returned to England. He was made Honorary Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society, was “an active manager of the Mendicity Society and of the Marylebone schools” (ODNB), and pursued the life of a “literary man” (Annual Biography), publishing Edward and Laura, a “free translation of a French novel written by a warm admirer of Rousseau”; some “interesting and often beautiful Persian poetry, and also some specimens of Hindu poetry”, and the present epistolary account a “very valuable work … written during his residence with these extraordinary people, in which he has thrown much light on their personal and curious history” (p.442). His health undermined by his time in India, he died aged 57 in 1835. Another point of interest is that this is “The only British book on India to be illustrated entirely after drawings by an Indian artist, ‘Deen Alee’, whose ‘Company’ style can still be discerned through the embellishments of the English etcher, T. Baxter” (R.W. Lightbown in Archer & Lightbown, India observed, p.111), a minor cavil being that the first and last plates are in fact after James Atkinson, who also etched three of the plates. Reimposed armorial bookplate of John Cave-Brown author of Indian infanticide: its Origin, Progress, and Suppression (1857), and The Punjab and Delhi in 1857 (1861).
Quarto (252 202 mm) Recent half diced calf, marbled boards, by Trevor Lloyd, title gilt to spine, double-bands, wavy line roll gilt to the bands, and a greek key in blind between, attractive foliate tool to the first, third and fifth compartments, double gilt fillet to the spine and corner edges. Hand-coloured aquatint frontispiece and 9 other similar plates, half-title and directions to the binder bound in. Couple of short, professional repairs to the half-title and title, light browning throughout, and some foxing to the plates as usual, but overall a very good and attractively-presented copy.
Bibliography: Abbey Travel 435; Colas 454; Riddick 28; Tooley 114Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary