This is a book which no student of Indian history can afford to neglect. It introduces the readers to some of the most important and most interesting of the races and tribes of India. It traces the origin and development of the native states, and of the protected state system. And, it illustrates in a lucid style the causes which led to the extension of British influence and control.
First published in 1823, the book is partly a history and partly an official report. Its official nature provides an authenticity of information that is hard to get in historical accounts of detached historians whose access to official records and files is limited. It was written by a man peculiarly qualified for such a task both by reason of his wide experience of the oriental affairs and his intimate knowledge of the region of Central India and its people. He served in the area as an extremely successful soldier, a diplomat and an administrator.
From the time of the beginning of the second Maratha war (1803) to the defeat of Holkar at his hands (1817) at the battle of Mehidpur and the signing of the treaty at Mandsor (1818) he won one laurel after another. And this adds great value to his memoirs.
The present volume presents the historical portion of the book in an abridged form, and the entire material organised and edited to facilitate its study by students of colleges and schools, by Christopher Harrison Payne (1848-1925), a distinguished administrator of the Bhopal State and a historian of note.
The favourable reception which my abridged edition of Tod's Annals of Rajasthan has met with in India would seem to show that the reason why many of India's greatest historians are fallen into neglect to-day is that the books they wrote are either out of print, or are procurable only in editions unsuited alike to the pocket and the requirements of the modern student. I make no apology, therefore, for attempting to rescue from obscurity another notable work which, if it has less claim than the Rajasthan to literary distinction, is a contribution to Indian history of the highest importance. .
Sir John Malcolm's Memoir of Central India was first published in 1823. "In January, 1818, the author was placed by the Marquis of Hastings in the military and political charge of Central India; and during the four years he filled that station, his own attention, and that of the public officers under his authority, was directed to the object of collecting materials for the illustration of its past and present condition. These he formed into a report, which was transmitted to Calcutta, where it was printed by order of the Government. Several copies were sent to England from which copious extracts found their way into periodical publications. This report having been drawn up amid the hurry of other duties, and when the author was in a bad state of health, had many imperfections that required to be corrected; he therefore solicited from the Honourable Court of Directors permission to make it the groundwork of this Memoir, which in consequence contains the substance of that official document." .
Like the Rajasthan, the Memoir, in its original form, is not a book to appeal to the general reader; nor is it suitable for use as a text-book. It is, as the author indicates in his preface, partly a history, and partly an official report; a combination which has not enhanced the attractiveness of either aspect of the work. The historical matter, with which alone this volume deals, is much scattered, and the continuity of the narrative is, in consequence, seriously interrupted.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (810)
Emperor & Queen (494)
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