Posted on: 31 January 2013

Digital Rare Book:
A History of the Mahrattas
By Edward Scott Waring
Printed for John Richardson, London - 1810

Excerpt from MARATHA HISTORY by S.R. Sharma

" The Mahrattas were once a mighty nation ", wrote Edward Scott Waring in 1810 ; " how they rose and how they fell may surely challenge enquiry."

The next in point of interest is the better known work of Edward Scott Waring, published in London in 1810. The author was for seven years attached to the English embassy at Poona and had greater opportunities of gaining information upon many points than usually fall to the lot of other persons. " I states, this," he records in his Preface, " to excuse the presumption of my undertaking, aware that I expose myself to the charge of having trifled with my time, and of having lost opportunities not to be recovered." Modestly conscious of his limitations, " yet, without arrogance," he adds, " I may assume the merit of having been the first to present the reader with a connected history of the Mahrattas, derived from original sources, and sources till lately not known to have existed. I am aware that some portions of Mahratta history are before the Public; none, however, derived from their own annals, and consequently neither so copious nor so authentic ". He particularly assumes merit 'of having considered his subject most fully, and of having spared no pains to procure every possible record that could add greater interest to his work, or justify the favourable opinion of his friends'. His appraisal of the comparative merits and demerits of the Persian and Marathi source materials is worthy of special attention.

Regarding the former, he writes, " None, so far as I can judge, can be more fallacious, or can less requite the diligence of patient investigation. Ferishta, who composed a general history of India, as well as a particular history of the Deccan, is almost the only historian who merits the praise of impartiality and accuracy. He died before the era of Mahratta independence, and his mantle has not fallen upon any of his brethren. The Mooslims, of course, view with animosity and anguish, the progress the Mahrattas have made in the conquest of their fairest provinces ; and which of late years must have been aggravated by the bondage of their king, the unfortunate representative of the house of Timoor. From such persons little that was favourable to the Mahratta character could be expected. The facts they give are garbled and perverted, while the slightest circumstance against them is seized upon, and extended to an immeasurable length. Their style is also a subject of just reprehension. Their forced and unnatural images, their swelling cadences and modulated phraseology, are as disgusting to a discriminating taste, as they must be inimical to historical truth. For in a history composed in verse, something will be sacrificed to measure, and much to rhythm. Although the Persian histories be not written in verse, yet they partake of all its faults. They abound in quaint similes and forced antithesis, while the redundancy of their epithets distract and bewilder attention. If this judgment to the Persian scholar seem harsh, I refer him to the history of the late Nizam of the Deccan, or, if he object, to the undisputed master of this prurient style, the celebrated Abul Fazil."

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By Henry Alken, 1785-1851

Original watercolor signed and dated by Alken; horseman in military dress, with shield and lance, riding towards left.

Credit: Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown Univerity

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Indian Glorious History of Patriotism and Power of Will !

Could just as well be a Pindari :) excellent painting

Pindaris always went about in hordes ... he looks magnificent anyway, a Sir Lancelot of India...

nice painting

Seems a Maratha lanceman from the Scinda's army.

@sushil he must be frm mahadji shinde-scindia's