FIRST EDITION OF ELSMIE’S THIRTY-FIVE YEARS IN THE PUNJAB, 1908
ELSMIE, George Robert. Thirty-Five Years in the Punjab. 1858-1893. Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1908. Octavo, original blue cloth, uncut. $700.
First edition of this autobiographical narrative of Elsmie’s life in the Punjab, “reconstructed from letters to his mother and a personal diary… a significant account of his administrative, judicial, and fiscal duties at numerous stations throughout the Punjab” (Riddick), with frontispiece portrait, four additional portraits, and double-page map of the Punjab.
In 1855, while at school in German, George Robert Elsmie was nominated to a writership in India by his maternal uncle, John Shepherd. Shepherd had a long history in South Asia, having served as a director and three-time chairman of the East India Company. Elsmie was one of the last men to enter the East India College at Haileybury and finished his studies just as it was abolished. In 1858, Elsmie was appointed assistant commissioner in the Punjab and later promoted to judge of the small causes courts at Lahore, Delhi, and Simla. He held a number of other mid-level administrative and political positions in the years that followed, before deciding to return to school in order to secure law credentials. Afterward, he immediately returned to India and took on greater judicial responsibilities, attempting to reform and improve the Indian justice system. In April 1882, Elsmie was appointed permanently to the chief court bench. His reputation in the Punjab was impeccable and he ultimately “attained the highest positions in the province, short of the lieutenant-governorship, on both the judicial and executive sides” (DNB). Elsmie eventually returned to the British Isles at the end of his life and turned to literary pursuits such as this one. “In his pleasant Thirty-Five Years in the Punjab (Edinburgh, 1908) Elsmie threw much light on the contemporary history of his province” (DNB). This book is considered one of the best and most accurate works on the region, particularly notable for the valuable information it offers about the civilian administration of India during the period in question.
A few isolated spots of foxing to interior, only slight rubbing to binding. A handsome copy in near-fine condition.