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A Code of Gentoo Laws by Nathaniel Halhed

A Code of Gentoo Laws by Nathaniel Halhed

Regular price $519.98 USD
Regular price Sale price $519.98 USD

The Code of Gentoo Laws, or Ordinations of the Pundits
From a Persian Translation, made from the original, written in the Shanscrit Language

Second printing. This is the 1777 edition, London, which is said to be a pirated edition. The book was originally published in 1776, privately printed by the East India Company, and an official second edition came out in 1781. The book was commissioned by Warren Hastings of the East India Company, and was compiled with the help of eleven pandits/Brahmin scholars, and translated by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, with the aim of being used by members of the East India Company.

Includes several plates of selected Sanskrit writings, some of which fold-out. The printing "ghosts" through most of these pages to some extent, unsurprisingly, as the print is dark and heavy.

General notes: There is a modern pencil notation in the front that claims the book is "Henry Buckle's copy according to earlier bookseller notations". These notations must have been on a separate slip of paper and are now lost. There are some notes/marginalia scattered throughout the book, and a couple pages of notes bound-in at the front. The subject of the book and the marginalia therein do seem to coincide with the studies of Henry Thomas Buckle, who wrote "A History of Civilization in England" and worked on, but never finished, a broader work on the subject of the history of civilization, for which "A Code of Gentoos" would have served as reference. If this was Buckle, the notes would likely have been made in the 1840s-1850s.

Whoever the previous owner was, there are some curious notations, particularly on page LV of the preface. The paragraph to which the note refers concludes: "...but it is everywhere expressly ordained that a Brahmin shall not be put to death upon any account whatsoever." To which is written in the margin: "I was however permitted to kill a Brahmin in an ____(?) case of self defence." (see photo) That was a surprising bit of marginalia to come across!

Condition: Modern rebinding with leather spine and raised bands, decorated paper covers, in beautiful condition with minimal noticeable wear to edges. The page edges are gilt, which remain nice and bright. Binding is firm and tight. The text has some minor foxing/discoloration throughout, but nothing excessive. Besides the ghosting from the plates, the most notable discoloration is around the edges of the title page. An exceptionally presentable copy the likes of which you likely won't see again.

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