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SLEEMAN, Sir William Henry.

A Report on the System of Megpunnaism,

or the Murder of Indigent Parents for their Young Children (who are sold as Slaves) as it Prevails in the Delhie Territories and the Native States of Rajpootana, Ulwar and Bhurtpore.

Published: Serampore: From the Serampore Press, 1839

Stock code: 99195

Price: £3,250

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First edition. Account of a lesser-known branch of Thuggee by the nemesis of the Thugs. “Sleeman’s most memorable achievement was the extirpation of thuggee. The thugs were professional hereditary murderers who worshipped the Hindu goddess Kali and preyed in organized bands on innocent travellers. Thug can be translated as ‘deceiver’, and the bands’ operations were shrouded in secrecy … At first Sleeman received little support in his anti-thuggee campaign, but this changed in 1835 when Lord William Bentinck became governor-general. He made Sleeman head of a commission for the suppression of thuggee and dacoity (1839–42). During the next two years Sleeman investigated and repressed criminal organizations in upper India. Between 1826 and 1840 more than 14,000 thugs were hanged, transported, or imprisoned for life. Much depended on Sleeman’s painstaking collection of evidence regarding thuggee, which included both Hindus and Muslims … By 1848 thuggee had virtually ceased. J. W. Kaye stated the contemporary British view: ‘The extirpation of Thuggee is an exploit worthy to be celebrated by every writer who seeks to chronicle the achievements of the English in the East’ ” (ODNB). An uncommon, and elusive, book, just nine locations on OCLC, no copies traced at auction. Particularly pleasing in the publisher’s binding.

Octavo. Original green moiré cloth with the title in gilt on the spine between fleurons; the original finely diaper-textured green surface-paper endpapers bear the small stamp, ” Martin Binder Calcutta “. Folding genealogical chart. Some gatherings are a little proud at the fore-edge and consequently a little tired at the edge but this is an excellent copy in the original cloth, the title page has a contemporary pencilled signature ” H.W. Edwards”

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