An association copy of Stuart’s Letter to the Directors of the HEICo, 1787


Stuart, Major General James: A Letter to the Honourable the Directors of the East India Company, from Major General James Stuart. [July 3, 1787]. No publicatdion details given, 4to. 47pp, xxiv [Appendix 1], xlvii [Appendix II], xxviii [Appendix III]. Late 20th century half calf with incomplete detached labels, sound but externally unattractive, contents a little browned but the thick paper sound and not at all brittle, a single small worm hole through the wide fore-edge margin of later pages. This copy probably originated in the Stuart family if not with the General himself. Internal evidence would suggest that it is most likely that it is the copy given by General Stuart to his father in law, Hugh 3rd Earl of Marchmont. There are several additional pages to those listed above, on paper bearing the same watermark, written in a very neat secretarial copperplate hand. The first addition is a page pasted to the reverse of a marbled paper which may have been the original covering, bearing a dedication “To the Earl of Marchmont From Major General Stuart”. The facing page in the same hand on paper lined in red is headed ‘The Contents’ and repeatedly confirms that the information in the Appendices “are by M General Stuart”. The ms page before Appendix 1 notes these matters can now be passed over “as The Court of Directors have [‘at last’ added above] agreed to Indemnify … for the real Loss incurred”. A ms note at the end of this chapter repeats the statement at the beginning adding, somewhat triumphantly, “and thus have admitted the Principle [sic & underlined] of the preceding Statement.” The additional ms sheet before Appendix II about the state of the Carnatic notes that “The Remarks p. XXXIV-V and all the notes are added by Major General Stuart since in England.” A similar ms page stressing the General’s personal contribution to the work is added before Appendix III. Stuart’s original letter had been sent in 1784. There are very few copies that seem to survive with these later appendices, printed just a few years before his death. The short titles of the appendices are: I – Demands made upon Major General Stuart for the Price of Grain sent by his Orders to Pulicat; Correspondence …with Major Lysaght, &c; II – Proofs of the Distress felt in the Settlement of Madras, from the Scarcity of Rice and other Grain , in the Year 1782, when Major General Stuart interposed his Credit for the Purpose of increasing the Quantity of Provisions in the Vicinity of Madras…; III – Extract of the President Lord MACARTNEY’S MINUTE of 1st February 1783. James Stuart began his military career in the 56th Foot in 1755 and after reaching India in 1775 had what could at least be called a colourful career. After commanding on the Coromandel Coast he arrested the Governor of Madras at the behest of the majority of the Council. This led to his suspension as c-in-c by the HEICo Directors when news reached London. When he finally faced a Court Martial four years later he was acquitted honourably. He distinguished himself under Eyre Coote at Porto Novo, lost a leg at Pollilore, challenged the Governor of Madras over the degree of authority he was allowed, was confined in Madras and then sent home to England. There, despite his shortage of limbs, he fought a duel with Lord Macartney in Hyde Park and succeeded in wounding him. He died in 1793. An exceptionally interesting and unique association copy of a scarce work.

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