PUBLISHER’S PERSONAL COPY

Lectures on British India, delivered in the Friends’ meeting-house, Manchester, England, in October, 1839.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island, William and Robert Adams, 1840.

12mo, pp. 206; some occasional spotting, else a good copy in the original publisher’s roan-backed marbled paper boards; spine ruled and direct-lettered gilt, joints and spine ends rubbed, endpapers foxed; contemporary autograph of the publisher Robert Adams to the fly-leaf.

£450

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US $629€510

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First edition of this collection of six lectures, examining the working and living conditions of the natives of the British Indian empire, the connection between the improvement of the Eastern Empire and the presence of Empire, and the prosperity and future development of Great Britain.

‘The archetype of the mid-Victorian professional reformer’, due to his concerns over conditions in the British Indian empire (in 1833 he had guided the Slavery Abolition Act through Parliament) Thompson took part in a number of highly publicized debates with Peter Borthwick, who at that time was the agent of the West Indies. ‘From being an agent of the Aborigines’ Protection Society in 1838-9, he developed an interest in land reform in India, which eventually led him into taking an agency for the new British India Society, and successively the editorship of the British India Advocate and a seat on the Court of East India Proprietors. His visit to India in 1843 was widely publicized in Britain, especially among abolitionists, who were quick to see the close connexion between plans to produce cheap free cotton in India and the downfall of American slavery.’(Rice, p. 19)

A Quaker, Thompson had first gained popular attention in America in 1834 when he made a visit to the US during which he spoke out vehemently against slavery, cutting his visit unexpectedly short when he was obliged to make his escape from fomenting Boston on the New Jersey packet. ‘He was the only one of British abolitionist visitors to the United States in this period who was specifically delegated and financed as the agent of the British anti-slavery societies’ (Rice). While opinion came down very firmly in support or opposition to his cause, his proclamations were of significant interest to the Americans, hence this publication.

American imprints 40-6534; Sabin 95498: ‘Relate to the anti-slavery movement for British India, and contain many references to American slavery.’

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