Vestiges of Old Madras (4 Volumes)
This is a classic study of the history of Fort St. George and the urban area of Madras covering a period of hundred and sixty years from the founding of the settlement in 1640 till the final year of the eighteenth century. Erected, in fact, before Bombay was ceded or Calcutta founded, Madras enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest of the three presidential cities and the first Corporation in the east to be granted (1687) a charter under the East India Company’s seal. The work is based substantially on the voluminous official records preserved in singular detail in the preserved in singular detail in the Madras Archives. Owing to the method adopted of allowing the records of tell, in the main, their own story, these masterly volumes of exuberant proportions remain the most authentic and elaborate study of the growth and development of Madras which possesses a peculiar interest as constituting the first territorial acquisition of the English in India. The mode of treatment is thematic Extracts relating to a single topic during a governorship or other convenient period are grouped together. This imparts the work a measure of unity and cohesion which is unavailable in earlier works – Wheeler’s for instance – in which a strict adherence to chronological order has rendered the transition from one subject to another often abrupt and occasionally violent. A large number of transcripts are printed verbatim which are connected by a slender thread of explanation and narrative. Material obtained from other sources – India Office Records, Bodleian Library, Kings Library of the British Museum, War Office, Pondicherry Archives and the Bibliotheque Nationale – has been used to fill the gap in the original series. The subjects treated a work of such proportions are naturally of great variety, but in the choice of documents and transcription attention has been paid chiefly to the growth of the town and its environs, to the origin and development of localinstitutions and to the manners and modes of life of the inhabitants. About 50 exquisite illustrations and an extensive bibliography add immensely to the value of the book. A comprehensive reference work which lights up a whole epoch of the history of modern India, Vestiges of Old Madras is invaluable for all those who are interested in the political, economic and social history of the period.
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