History Of Hindostan

Alexander Dow (1736-1779) was a Scottish infantry officer in the employ of the East India Company. Born in Perthshire, Dow left Scotland in 1757 under a cloud, possibly fleeing the repercussions of a duel. He served for a few years as a midshipman before landing in Bengal in 1760 where he signed on as a cadet in the East India Company. Both intelligent and ambitious. He rose quickly within the ranks and as lieutenant was assigned with raising a battalion of native troops in 1763. Despite promotion to captain in the following year, Dow's fiery temperament and outspoken nature eventually caused a rift with the army elite when he complained over wages, a move that left him relegated to Britain by 1768. Here he published a translation of old Persian tales and the first two volumes of this history of India derived from the works of the Persian scholar Ferishtam.

Dow eventually returned to Bengal to continue his career, but further unpleasantness with the Company administration left him back in England by 1772 where he published the third volume of this history. Appending a biting attack on the governance of Bengal. Dow was critical of entrenched corruption, cronyism and self-interest within the East India Company that stifled the possibility of wealth for generations of merchants. His essay examines monopoly licenses, property law, the injustices of the resident princes and appalling poverty of the peasant classes. Dow proposed a thorough revision of the status quo, including the introduction of new banking systems to provide credit and the circulation of paper money to alleviate the shortage of minted currency. Dow's History of Hindostan remains a crucial source of information on the region. In addition to his essay on the East India Company, the work contains a treatise of over 80 pages on the Hindu gods, festivals and myths that includes a fine engraved plate of the alphabet in Sanskrit.


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