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SMYTH, George Carmichael.

A History of the Reigning Family of Lahore,

with some Account of the Jummoo Rajahs, their Seik Soldiers and their Sirdars; edited by … with notes on Malcolm, Prinsep, Lawrence, Steinbach, McGregor, and the Calcutta Review.

Calcutta: W. Thacker and Co. 1847 Stock Code: 76975
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First edition. Institutionally well-represented, but only one copy at auction in the last 40 years. Smyth "had been in India for twenty-six years and could claim to be well-informed" (Khurana, British Historiography on the Sikh Power in the Punjab, p. 96). He explains in his introduction that he was encouraged to write the book by George Broadfoot, at the time Agent to the Governor-General of the North West Frontier, an appointment which "was partly the cause and partly the result of the conviction that a war with the Sikhs could no longer be avoided," the purpose of the work being to promote the idea of the inevitability of conflict.

The war broke out before Smyth could complete the book, Broadfoot had been killed at Ferozeshahr, so the context at the time of its publication was inevitably entirely altered. Smyth's personal experiences of the war were such that he "wrote his account of the proceedings of the British with the same acid pen as he had used against the Sikhs. This rendered the book 'infamous', but at the same time it went a long way to exposing the hollowness of the British victory in the First Anglo-Sikh War " Smyth was thorough in his research, he had spoken with Broadfoot on the subject, obtained translations of a number of indigenous sources, and had read Malcolm, Prinsep, Lawrence, and Steinbach, also being "conversant with some of the leading journals." But his main source were "the notes of a Captain Gardner Alexander Gardner, Gordana Khan of the Seik Artillery, who has for several years past supplied important information to the British Government" (Introduction). The questionable accuracy of parts of Smyth's account can be explained "by his undue reliance on Gardner who, though never as wicked as the Calcutta Review tried to make out, was never so dependable as Smyth projects him to be" (Khurana). However, as a document of the development of British understanding of the Sikhs it remains an important historiographical source. This copy somewhat enhanced by copious, contemporary highly opinionated, marginal pencilled comments. The hand is difficult and sometimes the notes slightly faded, but they were evidently added by a soldier familiar with the events and personalities described, and are almost equally acerbic about the British - particularly John Company and the Government - and the Sikhs. The author of the comments was almost certainly with the 50th Regiment, who were in the thick of the action at Mudki, Ferozeshahr, Aliwal and Sobraon, each of the officers of that regiment being marked off in impressive subscribers list. Carmichael Smyth has a claim to great notoriety in being the man whose action in insisting on the issue of the new cartridge cases at Meerut in 1857 struck the first sparks of the Indian Mutiny. A scarce and highly desirable contemporary source on Anglo-Sikh relations.

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Octavo (224 x 137 mm). Recent half calf to style, red morocco label, raised bands with gilt milled roll, gilt lozenges to the compartments, marbled sides, brown endpapers.


Folding map frontispiece and 5 plates, double-sided folding genealogical table.


Contents a little browned, but overall very good.


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