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    Warren Hastings's Own Account of the Benares Insurrection

    [Warren Hastings]. A Narrative of the Insurrection which happened in the Zemeedary of Banaris in the Month of August 1781, and of the Transactions of the Governor-General in that District; with an Appendix of Authentic Papers and Affidavits. Calcutta: Printed by Order of the Governor General, Charles Wilkins Superintendant of the Press, 1782.

    First edition. Quarto (12.0625 x 8.8125 inches). [8], 70, [2], 213, [1, blank] pages.

    Contemporary half calf over marbled boards (rubbed). Spine in six compartments with five raised bands and black leather label ruled and lettered in gilt. Marbled endpapers. Edges stained yellow. Some light foxing and occasional soiling, faint dampstaining in the upper corner, a few minor marginal paper flaws. A very good copy.

    Warren Hastings (1732-1818) "joined the East India Company in 1750. He rose quickly in its service, being a member of the Bengal Council by 1757 when Robert Clive achieved his first military victories. He was at the heart of the subsequent intrigues surrounding the nawabi of Bengal. In 1764 he retired to England with a large fortune which he rapidly lost. He returned to India in 1769 and, three years later, was appointed governor of Bengal. In 1773, he became the first governor-general of India. In office, he reformed the company's revenue and commercial systems and extended its influence across the Ganges valley. He retired with a second fortune after the establishment of a parliamentary Board of Control for east India affairs, which subsequently impeached him for murder and extortion. The prosecution was led by Edmund Burke and the proceedings lasted from 1788 until 1795, when Hastings was acquitted, but left impoverished and discredited" (The Oxford Companion to British History).

    "The narrative refers to the case of Chait Singh, Raja of Benares, who from 1778 onwards (because of the war with France) was obliged to pay additional tribute to the East India Company. After the Raja failed to pay in full in 1780, Hastings sent troops to Benares to put him under arrest but the small British force was massacred by the Raja's men" (Graham Shaw, Printing in Calclutta to 1800, 13).

    "Chait Sing, raja of Benares, the greatest of vassal chiefs who had grown rich under the protection of the British rule, lay under the suspicion of disloyalty. The wazir of Oudh had fallen into arrears in the payment due for the maintenance of the Company's garrison posted in his dominions, and his administration was in great disorder. In his case the ancestral hoards were under the control of his mother, the begum of Oudh, into whose hands they had been allowed to pass at the time when Hastings was powerless in council. Hastings resolved to make a progress up country in order...bring back all the treasure that could be squeezed out of its holders by his personal intervention. When he reached Benares and presented his demands, the raja rose in insurrection, and the governor-general barely escaped with his life. But the faithful Popham rapidly rallied a force for his defence. The insurgents were defeated again and again; Chait Sing took flight, and an augmented permanent tribute was imposed upon his successor. The Oudh business was managed with less risk. The wazir consented to everything demanded of him. The begum was charged with having abetted Chait Sing in his rebellion; and after the severest pressure applied to herself and her attendant eunuchs, a fine of more than a million sterling was exacted from her. Hastings appears to have been not altogether satisfied with the incidents of this expedition, and to have anticipated the censure which it received in England. As a measure of precaution, he procured documentary evidence of the rebellious intentions of the raja and the begum" (The Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh Edition)).

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