[ Sir John William Kaye, historian of British India. ] Volume of Autograph Drafts of passages from the opening chapters of his 'History of the War in Afghanistan', with transcriptions by him of source material..

Sir John William Kaye (1814-1876), military historian of British India and civil servant [ Afghanistan; Afghan War; the India Office; East India Company ]
Publication details: 
[ Composed before the first publication of the book by Richard Bentley, London, 1851. ]
SKU: 20462

The present item presents an opportunity to observe a leading Victorian historian at work, and the evolution of one of his major texts. For information on Kaye see his entry in the Oxford DNB, and his obituary in The Times, 27 July 1876. Educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, he served for some years as an officer in the Bengal Artillery. On the transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the British Crown, he succeeded John Stuart Mill as Secretary in the Political and Secret Department of the India Office, receiving the Star of India for his services. He was the leading historian of India during the period, praised for his 'well-ordered and comprehensive' writing. The present item is in good condition, lightly-aged, in a contemporary quarto half-binding, with brown marbled boards and calf spine and corners. Rebacked, with new gilt title on spine. A handwritten label by Kaye on the front cover, reads 'Afghanistan I', with the 'I' amended to 'Material'. The material within the volume consists of, on the one hand, early drafts of passages reprinted in a recast and finished form in the opening chapters of the first volume of the 1851 first edition of Kaye's 'History of the War in Afghanistan', and on the other hand, transcriptions of source material used in the preparation of the work, including Elphinstone's 'Kingdom of Caubul' (1815). The text of Kaye's drafts is in a small neat hand over 18pp., 4to, with two more leaves loosely inserted. The text is arranged throughout in double column, with the left-hand columns on each page generally containing the transcriptions of source material, and the right-hand columns usually consisting of Kaye's own composition, lightly scored through throughout, presumably on revision. The eighteen pages are on the rectos of eighteen leaves, with three of the leaves neatly torn vertically down the middle, so that only the left-hand column of quotations is present on the three pages. The first four of these bound leaves carry text printed in a revised form on pp.9-20 of the first volume of the 1851 edition; leaves 5-9 carry material forming the basis of Chapter IV of the first volume; leaf 10 carries material printed on pp.90-91. Loosely inserted are two leaves. The first, in 4to, is worn with fraying to extremities. It carries one full page of text, again in two columns, headed '(rough sketch)' and comprising an early draft of the end of the first chapter and beginning of the second of the work. It is discussed in detail at the end of this description, in order to give an impression of Kaye's working practises as revealed in the present item. The second loose leaf (1p., 12mo) carries a five-line fragment regarding 'The great subject of cotton cultivation'. The eighteen bound leaves are preceded by a flyleaf carrying a contemporary ink drawing of a Victorian gentleman (the rear pastedown carries drawings of five heads in a similar style), with a memorandum by Kaye regarding 'Queries' to be dealt with in the composition of the early part of the first volume of the book, mostly scored through: 'A | Page 1 - “This was in 1797 &c' [printed on p.2 of vol.1 of 1851 edition] | 4. “Considerable acquaintance with the Oriental languages” [printed p.5 without the word 'Considerable'] | 5 “Move an army upon Herat.” [printed on p.6] | 7-8 “Terms of treaty with Persia relatg. To Afghann.” [printed on pp.9-10] | 16 - “Meer Akher or [blank] [printed on p.21 as 'Meer Akhoor'] | B – Conclusion of chapter – condensation and completion | C 9 – Zizianoff - “certain ferocity of character.” [printed on p.46]'. An example of Kaye's methods in the present volume is given by the loose 4to leaf mentioned above, carrying a full autograph page headed '(Rough Sketch)', being an early draft of text printed on pp.21-25 of vol.1 of the 1851 edition, comprising the end of Chapter I and beginning of Chapter II. In two columns, but different in arrangement from the bound leaves, in that both columns contain original material by Kaye. The first column begins with a thirteen-line quotation: '[…] is the deference paid by the Afghans & Kuzzilbashes to the Blood Royal, that none of them would draw on him […]' This corresponds to p.21 of the printed version: '[…] when the weapons of the Kuzzilbashes had fallen from their hands, palsied by the mysterious presence of the blood royal'. The rest of the page consists of original narrative by Kaye, beginning: 'Futteh Khan, with 40 or 50 men escaladed the fort, near the Shikarpoor gate; the Meer Akhoor and his party were panic-struck and fled. Shah-zadah Hyder betook himself for sanctuary to the tomb of Ahmed Shah – Mahmoud thus obtained possession of the place […]'. The printed version, on p.21, begins 'Futteh Khan, with a handful of resolute men, escaladed […]' and works up rest of the page between pp.21 and p.25. As an example of Kaye's reworking, a passage in the manuscript reads: 'At this time Zemaun Shah was on his way towards India – but whether with any real intention of invading the country appeared to be very doubtful. He had advanced as far as Peshawar when intelligence of the fall of Candahar reached his camp. It was said that his real object in visiting that place was partly to endeavour to enforce the payment of the Scinde tribute – partly to overawe the Sikhs […]'. On p.22 of the printed version this passage is reworked into: 'At this time Zemaun Shah was on his way towards the borders of Hindostan. He had advanced as far as Peshawur, when intelligence of the fall of Candahar reached his camp. It was believed that he had little actual design of advancing beyond Sutlej. Partly with a view of enforcing the payment of the Sindh tribute – partly to overawe the Sikhs […]'. Later in the manuscript Kaye writes: 'The minister and his master were ['destroyed' deleted here] consigned one to a real the other to a political death. Wuffadar Khan was executed and Zemaun Shah's eyes were put out.' This is rendered in print on p.23: 'The minister and his master fell into the hands of the enemy. Wuffadar, with his brothers, was put to death. Death, too, awaited the king – but the man was suffered to live. They doomed him only to political extinction. There is a cruel, but a sure way of achieving this in all Mahomedan countries. Between a blind king and a dead king there is no political difference. The eyes of a conquered monarch are punctured with a lancet and he de facto ceases to reign. They blinded Shah Zemaun, and cast him into prison; […]'. The short passage that follows is not present in the printed version (although Shah Mahmoud is described as 'Weak and unprincipled, indolent and rapacious' on p.26): 'Then began the reign of Shah Mahmoud. It disappointed the expectations of the public. Weak, unprincipled, indolent &c &c &c.' The final eight lines on the page, relating to Soojah-ool-Moolk, have been totally recast as the beginning (p.25) of Chapter II of the printed version.