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The Maharajah Duleep Singh and the Government. A Narrative.

Published: London: Printed by the Ballatyne Press "For Private Circulation", 1884

Stock code: 101661

Price: £2,250

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First edition, decidedly uncommon, just 5 copies on Copac, OCLC adding perhaps 8 more. The child king Duleep Singh, (1838–1893), maharajah of Lahore,was carried into exile following defeat in the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–9), converting to Christianity in 1854, obtaining a royal audience and becoming “an immediate success” with the Queen, and eventually settling in Elveden, Suffolk with Bamba Müller, his “part-Ethiopian, part-German” (ODNB) wife, who he had met in Cairo when returning from his mother’s funeral in India; “Duleep Singh loved Elveden and rebuilt the church, cottages, and the school. His fame as a shooter of game was revived in the grounds of the great estate”. However, “amid European glamour, the spirit that had tasted sovereignty was hibernating somewhere in the mind of Duleep Singh. Prompted initially by his mother, then by his cousin Thakur Singh Sandhanwalia, and finally by the supposed prophecies of the tenth Sikh guru, Duleep Singh began a battle with the British government asserting the illegality of the annexation of the Punjab, and he demanded to be reinstated as maharaja. In 1886 he tried to return to India to place himself as the prophesied head of the Sikh people, but was arrested at Aden. Here he was received back into the Sikh faith”. From Paris, he made himself the centre of various plots to overthrow British rule in the Punjab, scheming with Russian and Irish revolutionaries to force the Khyber Pass, but all of these conspiracies came to nothing. Increasingly dogged by ill health, he sought a reconciliation with Victoria, who “responded with a full pardon through the secretary of state on 1 August 1890”. He died in Paris in 1893, and was carried back to his beloved Elveden and buried in the graveyard of St Andrew’s and St Patrick’s Church. The present work was part of his campaign for reinstatement to the throne, and was distributed solely to those who he felt could be of influence to that end. It was “compiled, partly from historical sources, and partly from private information and documents furnished” by Duleep Singh himself, and encompasses a sketch of the early history of the Punjab; a biographical narrative of the Maharajah; and an explanation “of the peculiar Relations in which the Maharajah stands towards the Government, and the causes of the differences between them”. An excellent copy of this fragile, fugitive, and highly desirable work.

Octavo. Original black pebble-grained skiver over flexible boards, title gilt to the front cover, single fillet blind panel to both covers, all edges gilt, grey-blue decorative endpapers. Just a little rubbed at the extremities, endpapers lightly browned, a scatter of light foxing front and back, but overall a very good copy indeed.

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