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The "country trade" in late eighteenth century Bengal

[Price, Joseph] Five Letters from a Free Merchant in Bengal, to Warren Hastings, Esq., Governor General of the Honorable East India Company's Settlements in Asia; conveying some free thoughts on the probable causes of the decline of the export trade of that kingdom; and a rough sketch, or outlines of a plan, for restoring it to its former splendour. [bound with] A Letter from Captain Joseph Price, to Philip Francis, Esq., late a member of the Supreme Council at Bengal. [and] A Letter to the Proprietors and Directors of East India Stock. Together with an epistle dedicatory to Robert Gregory, Esq., Chairman of the Court of Directors for the management of the affairs of the East India Company. [and] Some Observations and Remarks on a late publication entitled Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in which the real author of that new and curious Asiatic Atalantis, his character and abilities, are fully made known to the public. [and (volume II)] A Letter to Edmund Burke, Esq., on the latter part of the report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the state of justice in Bengal, with some curious particulars, and original anecdotes, concerning the forgery committed by Maharaja Nundcomar Bahadar, on the proof of which he lost his life. [and] A second Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Esq., on the subject of the evidence referred to in the second report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to enquire into the state of justice in the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa. [and] A third Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Esq., on the subject of the evidence contained in the Reports of the Select Committee of the House of Commons. [and (volume III)] A Series of Facts shewing the present Political State of India, as far as concerns the powers at war; and the probable consequences of a general pacification in Europe, before we shall have decided our contests in the Carnatic. Addressed (for Form Sake) to the Earl of Shelburne,.. [and] A Vindication of Gen. Richard Smith, Chairman of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, as to his competency to preside over and direct an investigation into the best mode of providing the investment for the East India Company's homeward-bound ships. [and] The Saddle put on the Right Horse; or, an enquiry into the reason why certain persons have been denominated Nabobs; with an arrangement of those gentlemen into their proper classes, of real, spurious, reputed, or mushroom Nabobs. [and] A Letter to Sir Phil. Jen. Clerke, Chairman of the Committee of the House of Commons, to whom the petition of Benjamin Lacam, sole proprietor of New Harbour in Bengal, was referred. London [for the author] 1781-1783
Eleven works bound in three volumes, pp.[iv], 218; 34; iii, 25; [iv], 140: [iv], 227; [ii], 65; [iv], 52, 95: [iv], 51; [iv], 144; [iv], 111; [iv], 192, 28. A superb set bound in contemporary speckled calf, spines richly gilt. Occasional light spotting. Minor wear to extremities.

Joseph Price, c.1727-1796, was a Welsh merchant. He first went to India in 1750 to participate in the 'country trade' between Asian ports. Initially based in Bombay, he moved in 1767 to Calcutta where he became a prominent member of the European community, and was known known as a 'man of spirit'. He took over an extensive trading businessfrom Richard Gregory who had returned UK with large fortune. Price made nine voyages as captain or managing agent to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and was also involved in the China trade shipping cargoes insured for £36,000 to Canton on Warren Hastings' behalf in 1774. His fortunes then declined, and he was unable to pay his creditors in India and Britain. In 1780 he returned to Britain to pay off debts but in 1784 he was appointed by the East India Company as Marine Storekeeper in Bengal and returned to India. While at home he found a new vocation as a pamphleteer. Fourteen tracts published between 1781 and 1783 were attributed to him. Most were extremely polemic, extolling his friends, i.a. Hastings, and roasting his enemies, i.a. Charles Grant. These tracts also contain vivid vignettes of British society in Bengal and his 'Letters from a free merchant' provide valuable information on the working of the 'country trade'. Price was promoted in 1786 to become Marine Paymaster, but six years later he was found to be insane, suspended from office, and returned to Britain. The four papers bound in the third volume are first editions. Others are reprints shortly after first publication.