(London: J. Hatchard and Son, Piccadilly, 1844).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS EXTREMELY WELL WRITTEN CHRONICLE OF INDIA DURING THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY, a time when the English were fully engaged on the sub-continent, especially through the affairs of the East India Company and before the English Colonial period had set in. Over the years, the East India Company transformed from a trading company to a ruling one. The powers of the East India Company grew until 1858 when it was dissolved. After the Revolt of 1857 the British Crown took direct control of India to begin the long period of British rule. Sleeman's writing style is engaging and extremely well researched and recorded. His views of the culture and people are sympathetic and respectful, his historical writing and style is flowing and informative.
'Sleeman was a British soldier and administrator in British India. In 1820 he had been selected for civil employ, and became junior assistant to the Governor-General's agent in the Saugor and Nerbudda territories. In 1822 he was placed in charge of Narsinghpur District. He was gazetted to the rank of Captain in 1825, and in 1828 assumed charge of Jubbulpore District. In 1831 he transferred to Sagar district where he continued with magisterial duties until 1835. He displayed a facility for languages, becoming fluent in Hindi-Urdu and developing a working knowledge of many other languages of the subcontinent. Later in his life, Sleeman was described as "probably the only British officer to address the King of Oudh in correct Urdu and Persian." His 800-page report on Oudh is still highly regarded as among the most accurate and comprehensive studies of the kingdom during the 1800's.
Sleeman became the earliest discoverer of dinosaur fossils in Asia when in 1828, while serving as a Captain in the Narmada valley region, he discovered in Jabalpur, the holotype specimen of the sauropod dinosaur Titanosaurus indicus. By digging around in the Bara Simla Hills, part of the Lameta formation near Jabalpur, he unearthed several petrified trees, as well as dinosaur fossil specimens. He is highly regarded for his work from the 1830s in suppressing the organized criminal gangs known as Thuggee.
Sleeman served as Resident at Gwalior from 1843 to 1849, and at Lucknow from 1849 to 1856, where he survived three assassination attempts. Sleeman believed that British authorities should annex only regions of India that were plagued by violence, unjust leadership or poor infrastructure and thus maintained that the indigenous leadership should be left in place when the rule was even-handed.
Sleeman wrote about wild children who had been raised by wolves with his notes on six cases. This was first published in the first volume of his Journey through the kingdom of Oude in 1849-1850 (1858), and reprinted as An Account of Wolves Nurturing Children in Their Dens, by an Indian Official. This caught the imagination of many and ultimately inspired Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli in The Jungle Book.
While Sleeman maintained a belief in the superiority of British culture, he simultaneously held an insatiable curiosity about the people and cultures of India and demonstrated some uncommonly liberal views for a European of his time. Unlike the vast majority of British officers, he was never known to have used slurs to describe his Indian household servants or sepoy soldiers. When traveling, Sleeman made a point of meeting the local peoples in each city or district to understand their customs and opinions – including regarding British occupation. Sleeman also developed an abiding sympathy and respect for "respectable peasants" who he described as "some of the best men I have ever known".' He rose to the rank of Major-General. Item #31109
2 volumes. First Edition. Beautifully illustrated throughout with 9 very finely painted original watercolours, 2 chromo-lithograph frontispieces and 30 chromo-lithograph plates, including renderings of some of the most famous sites in all of India, including the Taj Mahal from many vantage points, the tomb of the Emperor Akbar and others, six of the plates are of fine ornaments and flowers, beautifully coloured. Royal 8vo, very handsomely bound by Bayntun-Riviere, Bath, England in three-quarter polished red calf over red cloth covered boards, the spines with raised bands gilt ruled and gilt stopped, the compartments with gilt shields at their centers, the shields each decorated with four roses within the ornament, two compartments lettered in gilt, marbled end-leaves, top edges gilt, bound into the volumes are the original red cloth covers emblazoned with elaborate gilt framework in Indo-Islamic design, at the center of the upper covers a figure holds a tampura, the central device on the rear covers, a medallion gilt, the spine panel lettered and similarly decorated in gilt. xii, 478; vii, , 459 pp. A very fine set, the bindings strong and tight and in very pleasing condition, the text-blocks, original paintings and chromo-lithograph plates are all very well preserved.
(London: J. Hatchard and Son, Piccadilly, 1844).