YOUNG, Gavin, Major.
Reflections on the Present State of British India.
First and only edition. Uncommon, just ten copies on Copac. A contribution to the debate on the governance of India, from which the arch-opponent of the EIC, and promoter of colonial self-rule, James Silk Buckingham extracted two whole chapters for publication in his journal The Oriental Herald and Journal of General Literature, describing the book as offering a “picture drawn by a carefully discriminating, as well as an able hand … full of such details as must satisfy the most scrupulous of the conscientious care with which the information has been collected, compared, and revised. It is not an injured person or an inflammatory writer who says all this; but a witness who gives abundant evidence of his calmness as well as of his knowledge of the subject … we strongly recommend this work as one of the best that has been published on India for a very long period” (Vol. XX, Jan.-arch, 1829, p.112). He also draws attention to the lengthy chapter “On the Danger to which British India is exposed from Russian Invasion” which represents a very early warning of the first stirrings of the Great Game, believing that “many of our readers will be gratified by the opportunity of perusing the Reflections of this able writer on the dangers to which our own magnificent Asiatic Empire may perhaps ere long be exposed to from the all-grasping ambition of Russia; and few, who give due attention to the following pages, will venture to maintain that such dangers are altogether imaginary” (p.269). The author served in the army in India from 1806 when he was posted lieutenant in the 17th Native Infantry, until his death at Calcutta in 1841, during that time holding a number of significant administrative positions including Accountant to the Military Board, 1830-5, and Judge Advocate General, 1835-41. Hodson notes Young’s publication of “An Enquiry into the Expediency of applying the Principles of Colonial Policy to the Government of India” (Calcutta, 1822), and “An Essay on the Mercantile Theory of Wealth” (1832), but not the present work (Hodson, List of the Officers of the Bengal Army). Published in the same year as de Lacy Evans’s On the Designs of Russia, and at a time when the author believed that Russian successes in the current war with the Ottoman Empire had put their army “in full march upon Teheran”, this is a significant, and largely overlooked premonishment of the Great Game.
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Octavo. Original red combed cloth, paper label to the spine, panels in blind incorporating elaborate arabesques to both boards. A little rubbed and soiled, spine a touch sunned, front pastedown slightly marked by the removal of a bookplate, inked accession stamp verso of the title and once in the margins of the text, light browning, else very good.