Notes Relative to the Late Transactions in the Marhatta Empire
Wellesley, Richard (1st Marquess)
The fish device was used in the banner or mahi maratib of the Moguls as a symbol of sovereignty or authority emanating from the ruler. It also featured in the elaborately lacquered book bindings which they favoured. In the late C18th – early C19th, during the period of Mogul decline, the tools of their craftsmen fell into the hands of British book binders working in Calcutta. British craftsmen incorporated this device into elaborately gilt-tooled European-style bindings for their wealthiest clients.
An account of the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805) by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley (1760-1840) who served as Governor-General at the time of publication. Wellesley's campaign against the Marathas, though costly and unpopular at home, left Britain as the dominant power in India. Forces were led by General Lake, who captured Delhi and Agra, and Wellesley's brother, Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, who defeated the formidable Maratha chieftain, Daulat Rao Sindhia, Maharaja of Gwalior, at Assaye.
Printed in Fort William, Calcutta, in 1803 with five appendices printed over the following two years. The maps, all beautifully hand-coloured, show the Battles of Assye (Assaye), Delhi, Allyghur (Aligarh) and Lasswarry. A manuscript chart showing the arrangements of General Lake's forces at Secundra is drawn and hand-coloured by J. Retso, Captain in the 76th Regiment (who also hand-coloured and signed three of the maps).
The appendices are (A) 'Notes relative to the History and Constitution of the Marhatta Empire and to the Principal Chieftans composing the Marhatta Confederacy'; (B) Estimated Strength of Scindiah's Regular Infantry....'; (C) 'Treaty of Bassein'; (D) 'Calcutta Gazettes Extraordinary'; (E) 'return of Ordnance, Ammunition, and Colours taken from the Enemy...'.
Inscribed by Wellesley to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 'This Narrative is humbly presented to his Royal Highness The Duke of York by His Most Dutiful and Faithful Servant, Wellesley.' Prince Frederick (the second son of George III) was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army in 1798 and remained so until 1809. This is a significant association, Wellesley, as Governor-General, presenting his own account of a war which confirmed Britain's pre-eminent position in India to the head of the military.
Rare. OCLC (unified on-line access to the catalogues of the world's great libraries) locates just four copies. This, the first edition, is not to be confused with the subsequent London edition printed by Stockdale in 1804.