ABOUT THE BOOK:
The History of India went into four editions in Elphinstone's lifetime; it was republished after his death to remain, ‘the best standard work' for over half a century. In 1910, Alfred Lyall praised Elphinstone as still ‘the best and, most readable of Anglo-Indian historians'. Elphinstone's History of India was read and appreciated by the intellectual class, who were broad minded and imperial enough to acknowledge that it was better than the prejudiced account of India by Mill who had never visited it. Elphinstone was then sometimes called the "Tacitus of Modern Historians". The merit of Elphinstone's work is obvious from the following reviews of his book : "One of the principal advantages which the author has enjoyed over Mill lies in this, that he has largely examined for himself the native materials and their oriental authorities. Mr. Elphinstone appears to us to have grasped the Indian character fully, and to have fairly described it, that is, with due allowance for all circumstances, so as to give a tolerating interpretation to many things, which strangers would pronounce to be deliberately gross vices. His inferences, just as do his principles and grounds of constructions, differ widely from those of Mill. His representations upon the whole are favourable to the people". (The Monthly Review, May 1841) "... Elphinstone possesses the superior merit not only of having examined the native Indian materials, but of having penetrated into the Hindoo mind and grasped the principles which give unit and vitality to their entire social system ..." (The Athenaeum). "Book is entitled to unreserved commendation-style admirable ... Mr. Elphinstone has the good fortune to have written under the guidance of impressions received in India ...." (The Examiner)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mountstuart Elphinstone was undoubtedly one of the best and noblest administrators of the Raj. He was the pioneer of modernity in Western India. He was a reformer who respected tradition and a ruler who respected the ruled. With a unique combination of conservatism and progressivism, he left an indelible mark on the social, cultural and intellectual life of Western India. His great vision is evident from what he writes to his close friend Starchey in 1824 that "the belief that our Indian Empire will not be long lived is reason and not prejudice". In 1827 Mountstuart Elphinstone retired from the service of the East India Company and spent the rest of his life in retirement. He refused the offers of the Governor Generalship of India on at least two occasions. During much of his retirement he was engaged in writing a History of India which was published in 1841.