MALCOLM, Sir John.

Observations on the Disturbances in the Madras Army in 1809.

In Two Parts.

London: John Miller and John Murray, 1812 Stock Code: 143555
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First and only edition of Malcolm's defence of his actions during the "White Mutiny" among the officers of the Madras Army. Sparked by the abolition of the "tent contract" moneys for controlled by regimental commanding officers, but fed on accumulating grievances in the East India Company's military the mutiny led to a near complete breakdown of order in the army in southern India. Malcolm successfully suppressed the rising at one particularly disturbed garrison, but his methods stirred controversy typical of the Byzantine workings of the Company.

Sir George Barlow, governor of Madras, sent to Malcolm to Marsulipatam where the garrison had revolted. When he arrived "the mutinous regiment was on the point of marching to Hyderabad, where the company's forces were also about to mutiny. Mutineers vaguely talked of a declaration of independence, emulating their erstwhile colonial cousins in America. Faced with this situation, Malcolm negotiated freedom for the commander (Colonel Innes), convened a meeting of company officers, and persuaded the mutineers to abandon plans for marching to Hyderabad" (ODNB). Malcolm had bought time, and soon the rebellion collapsed following a brief outbreak of violence at Seringapatam. However, Barlow was incensed at Malcolm's seeming capitulation, and following his recall to London in 1810 Barlow delivered a dossier to the House of Commons which included his Secret Report to the Court of Directors of the HEIC "a scathing indictment of Malcolm's conduct, stopping only just short of accusing him of fomenting mutiny" (Malcolm, Malcolm: Soldier, Diplomat, Ideologue of British India). Barlow came very close to suggesting that Malcolm had disobeyed orders, perhaps the ultimate offence for a serving officer, and maybe worse still, he had at no point informed Malcolm of these accusations which he had presented to the Directors. Before returning to England, after a troubled spell in Tehran at odds with Sir Hartford Jones the ambassador, Malcolm composed the present detailed defence for publication and which included a "sustained attack on Sir George Barlow... 'experience seems to me to have most fully proved that the very qualities which eminently fit a man for subordinate situations may unfit him for the supreme'" (Harrington, No longer Merchants, but Sovereigns of a Vast Empire: The writings of Sir John Malcolm and British India, 1810 to 1833, p. 80). This inevitably initiated a brief and vitriolic pamphlet war. That on his return Malcolm was knighted and made a KCB, and his opinion sought on the future of the Company's army and the renewal of its charter, clearly illustrates how skilful he was at navigating the cross currents swirling around the governance of the sub-continent at time.

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Octavo (210 x 128 mm). Twentieth-century mid-tan quarter morocco by Frost of Bath, sand buckram boards, title gilt longitudinally to the spine.


A touch rubbed, particularly on the joints, light soiling to the boards, pale toning of the text, very good.


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