12 years on

Today (somewhat to my disbelief) marks the 12th anniversary of this blog. Although this project has always been an exercise in slow scholarship, it was never my expectation when I began that I would still be blogging a dozen years later. On one hand, this is a very positive consequence on the endlessly rich and fascinating story that my research is uncovering; on the other hand, it is a reflection of the fact that my progress, especially in the last year, has been slower than I would have liked.

While slow scholarship has always represented a small and symbolic (but also privileged) act of resistance to dominant modes of fast-paced academic production, it does feel even more difficult to sustain in the context of the present financial and ideological crisis in UK higher education, where barely a day passes without news of new rounds of redundancies. As one academic commentator recently put it, “it’s essentially amazing that anyone in UK universities—bar a couple of institutions—is producing any research at the moment…I genuinely wonder how anyone is doing anything”.

Once again, the anniversary of this blog gives me the opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to slow scholarship and to seeing this project through to its conclusion, day by day, word by word.

The ends of the line

The unequal destiny of Macintosh’s children—Betsey, Polly, and William—is something on which I often reflect, particularly so when the snatches of time I have for research are more suited to chasing down genealogical sources than doing concentrated writing. The tragic suicide of William in 1784 contrasts, for example, with the frustratingly mysterious terminus of Betsey, whom I have failed to trace beyond a final reference to her (as the married Elizabeth Bromley) in June 1806. A rich, and in a genealogical sense, complete story exists only for Polly, the youngest of the three.

Polly lived a long life and died, well in to her 80s, as the Comtesse de Colleville, the well-to-do matriarch of a large French family. None of this was predestined, and the elegant townhouse she occupied at the time of her death, on the rue des Réservoirs in Versailles, would have seemed a world away from the plantation house in Grenada where she spent her first months of life. The route between these two biographical-cum-geographical points in her life was not straightforward, however, and she weathered significant disruptions, not least the French Revolution which turned her and her husband into émigrés. Subsequently abandoned by her husband, Polly raised four girls—Macintosh’s only grandchildren that I have been able to identify—who, for the most part, lived equally long lives and forged advantageous marriages.

Those who have worked with French genealogical sources will be familiar with their incredible abundance, particularly so for the nineteenth century, and the fact that many have been indexed and digitised in ways that make searching and consultation relatively straightforward. I have spent some time in these online archives recently, piecing together the key sources—records of births, marriages, and deaths—that map out the life course of Polly’s children. There is, of course, a whole story to be written (à la Emma Rothschild’s An Infinite History) about Macintosh’s descendants and their lives across nineteenth-century France—a story that is, equally obviously, beyond the scope of my book. That said, it has been important to me to have a sense of what happened next, particularly so for Polly, following her father’s death in 1813, and being able to hint at that familial trajectory will be an appropriate way to round off my book, when the time comes.

When Polly—Madame Maria Macintosh, Comtesse de Colleville as she then was—died in November 1855, she was mourned by an extended patrician family of diplomats and high-ranking army officers. Her funeral was held, “a 11 heures précises du matin,” at the splendid seventeenth-century Église Notre-Dame de Versailles. She was buried, later that day, in the Cimetière Notre-Dame de Versailles. Three of her four daughters outlived her and traversed most of the nineteenth century. The last, Anne-Esther-Isaure, died, like her mother, in Versailles, in 1884—a full century after her tragic uncle William had taken his own life.

The Église Notre-Dame de Versailles, where Polly’s funeral was held in 1855.

Polly left behind not only daughters, but many grandchildren. It would be quite easy to get lost in following their lives and destinies (perhaps I’ll save that for a retirement project), not least because doing so holds in prospect the possibility of finding living descendants in modern-day France. At least one of Polly’s grandchildren gained widespread fame in their own time and has garnered biographical attention subsequently: Georges-Fernand Dunot de Saint-Maclou, founder of the Bureau des Constatations Médicales at Lourdes, and son of Polly’s daughter Augusta-Elizabeth-Matilda. Often referred to as the “Doctor of the Grotto”, Dunot’s work at Lourdes focused on establishing the medical basis to the cures claimed by pilgrims. His life has been the subject of an absolute doorstop of a book by Andrea Brustolon, Georges Fernand Dunot De Saint-Maclou: Il dottore della grotta (2014). At almost 800 pages in length, and a kilo in weight, Brustolon’s book certainly give me something to aim for with mine!

Polly’s grandson, Georges-Fernand Dunot de Saint-Maclou (1828–1891).

The rough with the smooth

I learned this week that I (along with 92% of other applicants) had been unsuccessful in applying for a particular research fellowship. The scarcity of such fellowships, and the high demand for them, means that applications always represent the very longest of longshots. I was disappointed nevertheless, knowing that the fellowship would have provided the time and focus I need to finish the book. For now, though, I keep on keeping on.

This week also brought more positive things. On Monday I attended a presentation by Margaret Schotte, delivered as part of the Prize Papers Lunch Talks series. Margaret’s paper, “Sailing with the Prince de Conti: Recovering individual stories in the Prize Papers”, told a very interesting story about the seizure of the French ship Prince de Conti during the Seven Years’ War. During her talk, Margaret mentioned a resource that I was totally unaware of: digitised crew and passenger lists from French East India Company ships. These lists were primarily digitised by a volunteer organisation, the Association des Amis du Service Historique de la Défense à Lorient. As soon as Margaret’s talk was finished, I immediately delved into the collection and was able to find Macintosh (albeit transcribed as (“MACINTORF”) in the passenger list for the Brisson, along with his fellow Briton, the Reverend Thomas Yate.

Macintosh (or “MACINTORF”) in the Rôle du Brisson (1778-1780).

These listings are really useful since they give a much fuller picture of the cast of characters within whom Macintosh interacted on the Brisson, some of whom he refers to in Travels by rank or role rather than by name. Being able to connect the two—between text and archive—is potentially very beneficial.

Shortly after Margaret’s talk I discovered, for the fist time, a really interesting podcast, Drafting the Past, that focuses on the art and craft of historical writing. Each episode focuses on the work of one academic and invites them to reflect on the approach they take, practical and conceptual, to writing history. The most recent episode features an interview with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, discussing his new book, The Age of Revolutions: And the Generations Who Made It. Since listening to this episode I have been working my way slowly back through earlier episodes, taking inspiration from the stories of all those who have carved out the time and maintained the drive to get their books over the line.

Miss Robertson of the Cyprian order

I have written before about the press speculation that followed the shocking and widely publicised suicide of Macintosh’s son, William, in December 1784. Amid the various causes on which the London press speculated, one that had escaped my attention until this week was the possibility that William had been spurned by a lover. According to a report in the London Chronicle (30 December 1784–1 January 1785), William had—on his return from India, where he had acquired a sum of money—”entered into all the fashionable vices of the times”. “During his race of folly,” the Chronicle continued, William “formed a connexion with a Miss Robertson, of the Cyprian order, who no sooner found his circumstances were in the wane, than she bid him adieu for one who was more likely to support her in style”. “This infidelity of his mistress,” the Chronicle concluded, “in great measure led him to commit this rash act; young and inexperienced, he had set his affections upon her, and foolishly concluded he should have a continuance of pleasure and happiness in the arms of a prostitute”.

Framed here as a gendered morality tale, William’s sad fate is seen to be the combined outcome of naivety and deception. It is a story, in the Chronicle‘s telling, that seems to combine the characteristic elements of a morality play: temptation, in the form of alcohol, gambling, and the company of women; a fall, in the form of debt and betrayal; and redemption, of a sort, in the form of a final “fatal act [designed] to save himself from shame, remorse, and upbraidings”. Accurate or not, it was an account that sought to give some logic to what otherwise seemed a tragic and illogical event.

The Miss Robertson, whom the Chronicle casts as the femme fatale in its account, would doubtless have been familiar to contemporary readers of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies, a catalogue or directory of London’s female sex workers, published annually in the second half of the eighteenth century. Given its ephemeral nature, not all editions of the List have survived, although new copies continue to come to light. Neither the 1784 nor 1785 editions of the List exist in publicly accessible collections, so I may never be able to learn more about the Miss Robertson on whom William “fixed his love, and lavished his fortune”. At the time of his death, the 1785 edition of the List was readying for publication on New Year’s day. Indeed, the day before William was buried at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, the Morning Herald carried an advertisement for the new List, copies of which could be had at no. 9 Little Bridges Street, a two-minute walk away on the other side of the piazza.

Advertisement for Harris’s List in The Morning Herald, and Daily Advertiser (29 December 1784).

Back on the trail

After a gap of five-or-so months, I had the opportunity last week to return to the book. Although I had anticipated that a busy term of new teaching in the autumn would eat up a lot of time—and had done my best to leave the book in a state that would make returning to it easier—it was still a daunting prospect to get back into the swing of things, and to pick up the various threads of the story. In the end, it was not as bad as I had feared and I was able to get the narrative moving again. I am hopeful, but perhaps not optimistic, that I will be able to keep a day, or half a day, aside each week to maintain the momentum of research and writing. In preparation for this, I have enacted all the usual best-practice advice, having blocked out my calendar and cleared my diary for the days in question, but know from experience that it is hard to guard writing time in the face of short-term priorities, like marking, which tend to win out when time is limited.

“East India Company’s Packet Swallow”, 1788, by Thomas Luny.
From Adventures By Sea From Art of Old Time, by Basil Lubbock (1925).

My focus remains, for the foreseeable future, on Macintosh’s time in Calcutta. This was a pivotal moment in his life when he forged a political friendship with Philip Francis and first articulated the criticisms of Warren Hastings that would characterised his later travel narrative. Those political alliances and oppositions developed against a more practical context: how was Macintosh going to find his way back to Britain and what was he going to do to make sure that his journey to India had not been a waste of time? Macintosh’s archive reveals that these logistical-cum-financial concerns were ever present during the closing months of 1779. His first idea, and certainly his most outlandish, was to raise funds to buy a ship (of 600 to 800 tons), fill it with saleable goods (muslin and silk, coffee and saltpetre), and sail it under Danish flag to France. It was a plan that ultimately went nowhere, but illustrates how keen Macintosh was to make good on the failure of his earlier experiment in importing goods from France to India.

When that idea fell from view, Macintosh pivoted his ambitions and secured permission from the Bengal Council to return to Britain, via Suez, on an East India Company packet, the Swallow (shown above in triple portrait). The Swallow was an attractive option; it was to be captained by Stephen Macleane, the cousin of Macintosh’s friend and patron Lauchlin Macleane; it would give Macintosh the opportunity to visit Cairo, which he ached to do; and it would provide him with a welcome source of income, since he had been promised 2,000 rupees to take charge of Company dispatches during the overland portion of the journey. Like the Danish scheme, however, Macintosh’s plan to return on the Swallow proved ill-fated. Stephen Macleane died unexpectedly and there were repeated delays in finding someone to replace him. Hastings asked Macintosh’s emerging nemesis, Joseph Price, to take on the role, but Price declined; he did not like the look of the Swallow‘s crew and would only considered the role if he were to be given a military commission and thereby carry the necessary authority to discipline the crew effectively. Although Macintosh subsequently intervened, writing to the Council to recommend the Bengal mariner William Tomkins for the role, it ultimately came to naught. Macintosh was eventually forced to take a longer and less-profitable journey home on the Ganges, via the Cape of Good Hope.

As much as Macintosh’s anxieties over his route home are small beer when set against his evolution, during the same period, as a political thinker and commentator on Indian affairs, they provide an important context to his developing views. Macintosh came to see the delays over the Swallow as deliberately calculated to frustrate his ambitions, and laid blame for that at the door of Hastings. His opposition to Hastings was not simply an abstract intellectual exercise emerging from an evaluation of claims and counterclaims over his abilities, but emerged also from increasingly tense personal interactions in Calcutta during the last months of 1779.

For now, though, it feels good to be back on the trail, however briefly or intermittently, and I look forward ultimately to seeing Macintosh safely back to Britain where the next chapter of the book will follow the authorship, publication, and reception of his best-selling travel narrative.

In the long term

The gingko grove outside the Queen’s Building at Royal Holloway, University of London.

An ever-present challenge in a long-term project like writing a book is how best to sustain momentum when other priorities demand your time and attention. Although I approached the new academic year this September in the hopeful expectation that I might be able to set aside some regular time for writing the book, this failed to materialise (quelle surprise). As is often the case, the academic term brought unexpected challenges that—on top of the task of writing a significant number of new lectures—meant that the book has been in a state of hibernation, and will likely remain so until the new year.

Frustrating and a little anxiety-inducing as this lack of progress is, I did manage to carve out space this term to apply for a research fellowship that, if awarded, would give me the opportunity to bring the book to its conclusion. At the same time, I feel more optimistic that I will be able to dedicate regular days to book writing from January, largely because I am teaching existing material and won’t be on the energy-sapping treadmill of producing new lectures each week. I do hope this won’t be a case of famous last words!

2024 will also see a new editor taking over responsibility for my book at McGill-Queen’s University Press. My current editor, Richard Baggaley (who has been a supportive and enthusiastic advocate for the book since we first discussed it in 2019) will be moving on to a freelance role. Although changes of acquisitions editor for an academic book are par for the course, especially when the writing of one extends over many years(!), I am aware that I will need to re-pitch the book to whomever inherits Richard’s portfolio. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course; being prompted to reconsider the case for one’s book can only be to its ultimate benefit.

Last of the summer writing

Memorial to Joseph Price (1726–1796) in the Priory Church of St Mary the Virgin in Monmouth

To mark the end of another summer of work on my book, I recently made a pilgrimage of sorts to the Priory Church in Monmouth to see the memorial to Joseph Price, the East India Company captain and prolific pamphleteer with whom Macintosh clashed in the London press in 1781 and 1782 over the reputation of Warren Hastings.

Price was deeply significant in shaping Macintosh’s experience in (and of) India and his published criticisms—including the allegation that Macintosh was mixed race—have shaped the subsequent historiography in important, albeit distorted, ways. The relationship between Price and Macintosh, one based on claim and counter claim, does make it difficult to separate truth from fiction in writing about Macintosh’s time in India, but it’s also a useful reminder about the partiality of all historical sources and the necessity of verifying and triangulating truth claims.

As the new academic year comes into view, and I prepare to deliver new teaching, progress on the book will inevitably slow, settling into the term-time rhythm of writing snatched in half-day chunks here and there. Although the fits-and-starts approach to writing that the academic calendar (or my endurance) demands, having time to pause and reflect is helpful, not just frustrating, giving me an opportunity to look up from the empirical detail to the wider story and the book’s trajectory as a whole. Onward, ever onward.

The “Musquitto fleet” and “Mac, the Historian”

The long and ignominious personal conflict between Philip Francis and Warren Hastings is well known to historians of the East India Company, but the parallel proxy war that played out between perhaps their closest adherents—William Macintosh and Captain Joseph Price—is much less familiar. Although Macintosh and Price did not fight a literal duel, as Francis and Hastings did in 1780, they nevertheless engaged in a vociferous exchange of “paper bullets” throughout 1781 and ’82 in the London press, as each pressed the case of their ally.

The first salvo in this “inky warfare” (as the Monthly Review described a similar print conflict in which Macintosh was involved) came in a series of pseudonymous letters published in The London Courant between March and May 1781. The first of these—from Junius Asiaticus, a pseudonym that had appeared nearly a decade earlier in the Public Advertiser in letters critical of Robert Clive—set out a score of charges illustrative of Warren Hastings’ alleged corruption and mismanagement. For weeks thereafter, a near-daily stream of letters appeared attacking or supporting the original criticisms, from various noms de plume including “No BLACKLEGGS,” “Philo-Junius Asiaticus,” “CONSISTENCY,” “SIMPLICITY,” “No Party Man,” and “NAUTICUS.”

Joseph Price was in no doubt that Macintosh was Junius Asiaticus (and the other likeminded aliases) because the original letter had contained a term that Price believed bore Macintosh’s fingerprint: “Musquitto fleet”. The reference here was to a commission Price had received from Hastings in 1778 to fit out two merchant vessels, the Resolution and the Royal Charlotte, as 40-gun warships to use in a planned assault on Pondicherry. The commission was widely criticised at the time by Francis who called it “a most infamous job” and lambasted its inflated costs. As chance would have it, Macintosh secured a passage on the Royal Charlotte during its return voyage to Calcutta in 1779 and came to know Price during the journey. At least in Price’s recollection, the pair came instantly to dislike one another; Macintosh struck Price as bookish and arrogant while Price struck Macintosh as uncritical and besotted with Hastings. Price later alleged that when Macintosh arrived in Calcutta, he immediately started to refer to Price’s ships as the “Musquitto fleet”—a disparaging name intended to undermine the pride Price took in his role as commodore.

Although the pseudonymous nature of the letters means that there is always some room for uncertainty over their authorship, it is likely—perhaps even probable—that the letters were co-authored by Macintosh and Philip Francis’s cousin, Major Philip Baggs. Baggs had left India at the same time as Macintosh, carrying a bundle of documents from Francis and the advice that “Facts cannot be made too Public”.

Price was sufficiently certain of Macintosh’s role that he felt confident in satirising him in one letter, signed “Mac, the Historian“. Here, Price posed as a penniless Macintosh keen to earn a crust as a writer-for-hire to Junius Asiaticus:

If you will but send me three half crowns to No. 8, Fumigating-ally, just to raise my spirits, and buy materials to begin with, I will soon silence No Blackleggs [a pro-Hastings letter writer] for you.

Really Sir, I have great funds of knowledge in manuscript; I have five and twenty times crossed the Atlantic Ocean, to study West-Indian and American politics. Lord North and other Lords have felt the weight of my hand a thousand times—but mum for that. I am now very poor. My last excursion was to the East-Indies. If you will but use your influence with the editor of this paper, to give me some small matters, he shall have the history of my voyage to Bengal—a very good thing, I do assure you.

The London Courant, 23 April 1781.

The print conflict between Price and Macintosh accelerated when Macintosh published a long pamphlet, The origin and authentic narrative of the present Marratta War (1781), and his two-volume Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa (1782). The pair were also locked in a real-world cat-and-mouse game as Price tried to confront Macintosh in London. Having presented himself at the Piccadilly bookshop of Almon and Debret (issuers of Macintosh’s pamphlet), Price obtained an address for Macintosh—an apartment above a grocer’s shop on Queen Anne Street East—but found him gone to Bath. The publication of Travels ultimately triggered Price’s most vigorous counterblast: an excoriating pamphlet, Some observations and remarks on a late publication (1782), that exposed Macintosh’s identity and sought to undermine his credibility by portraying him as a mixed-race blowhard and Price’s puppet.

All of this excitement is, in the narrative of my monograph, still to come. I have just begun work on a new chapter of the book: the one that will detail Macintosh’s experiences in Calcutta, including, crucially, the emergence of his friendship with Francis and how that laid the foundation for the print and pamphlet war of 1781–82. Quite how much of that I will manage to write this summer is, of course, an open question. If I can find a spare day, however, one thing I would like to do is to visit the parish church in Monmouth where Price is buried and where his command of the “Musquitto fleet” is commemorated. It is the same church were, in 1763, two Black slaves belonging to Price—Andrew Davis and Joseph Monmouth—were baptised.

The uncertain terminus of John Whitehill

Of all the friendships that William Macintosh cultivated on his arrival in India, that with the sometime governor of Madras, John Whitehill, was perhaps the most unlikely. An archetypal nabob, Whitehill embodied many of the traits that Macintosh would go on to criticise in his 1782 book. The pair were also temperamentally different; the phlegmatic Macintosh contrasting with the classically choleric Whitehill. For all their apparent differences, however, the pair developed a friendship that eventually spanned Madras, London, and Paris, and endured parliamentary efforts in the early 1780s to prosecute Whitehill for his actions, or inactions, whilst governor.

For much of the last month I have been researching and reflecting on the nature of this unlikely friendship, the unexpected factors that encouraged and sustained it, and the influence it ultimately had on Macintosh as he made his third major geographical pivot, from the East Indies to France, in the 1780s. At the same time, I have been curious about Whitehill’s life after his friendship with Macintosh had ended, and his uncertain fate in post-Revolutionary France. Part of my interest reflects a basic curiosity about what happened in the end, but also stems from the coincidental fact that the personal archives of Whitehill and Macintosh both have their origin in revolutionary seizures.

While Macintosh’s archive was never considered strategically important by the revolutionary authorities, Whitehill’s papers and maps were—given his former role in the governing structures of the East India Company—seen as vital geopolitical resources, and special instructions were issued for their seizure in Chantilly and onward transport to Paris, where they remain today in the Archives nationales as the “Papiers de John Whitchill [sic], ancien gouverneur de Madras“. These papers have been examined by the UCL historian Simon Macdonald in researching his eagerly awaited (by me, among others) book, Enemies of the Republic: Policing the British in Revolutionary Paris. Simon has been kind enough to share with me material from the collection that concerns Whitehill’s personal, political, and financial relationship with Macintosh.

What Whitehill’s papers don’t reveal, of course, is what happened to him after their seizure, and the details of his subsequent life are rather obscure as a result. There are some clues, however, in the secondary literature. Writing in 1807, for example, Frederick Lynch—a prominent critic of Whitehill’s former confidant, John Sullivan—noted that Whitehill had by then “died in exile in France.” Three years later, however, Lewis Goldsmith, chronicler of Napoleonic France, framed Whitehill as a still-living but penniless octogenarian, supported in his Chantilly home by an annual annuity from Catherine Grand, Princesse de Bénévent. It is difficult to know how much stock to place in either account; Whitehill would not, for instance, have reached his 80th birthday until 1815.

Recent research in Chantilly by Patrice Valfré, a scholar of ancient ceramics, has revealed more about Whitehill’s family connections to the city. Valfré shows that Whitehill’s daughter (or stepdaughter), Sophie, was married there at the age of 20 (in 1799 or 1800) to the wonderfully, not to say improbably, named Orledge White Penny, the 25-year-old son of a British merchant at Calais, Christophe Penny. Although this information does not resolve the issue of Whitehill’s uncertain terminus, it does show that the family continued to live in Chantilly after the Revolution. Given the fact, moreover, that Whitehill never reclaimed his seized papers—something that became possible following the Treaties of Paris (1814–15)—it would seem likely that he had died beforehand.

Doubtless the answer to the puzzle is out there somewhere amid the vast civil registers of post-Revolutionary France and their corresponding genealogical websites. As with Macintosh, however, Whitehill’s surname was rendered in a variety of distinctive ways—including “Whitil”, “Witchill”, and “Whittal”—that make searching and finding that bit more tricky. For now, however, I leave the story unresolved and hope that the clues here might eventually lead someone even more curious than I am to the answer.

11 years on

Today marks the eleventh birthday of On the archival trail of William Macintosh. If I had known when I began the blog in 2012 that, more than a decade later, I would still be deeply engaged in the same research project, I might never have started it. The logics of the neoliberal academy tend not to encourage or reward long-term activity, particularly so when the ultimate output—a book that might have taken fifteen years to write—will, in the great REF balance, equate to two journal articles at most. At the same time, I have been supremely fortunate to have been able to pursue this project without ever having come under institutional pressure to do otherwise; the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway has, in this respect, been an infinitely patient and encouraging home for this work. Increasing casualisation and precarity across the sector does mean, however, that the opportunity to pursue long-term and slow scholarship has become a privilege, rather than the necessary condition of deep and insightful inquiry.

The anniversary of the blog does, also, prompt me to reflect on my goals for the next twelve months and the pace of my writing. As far as the narrative chronology of the book goes, I am now dealing with perhaps the most interesting and consequential period of Macintosh’s life: the nine-or-so months that he spent in India between 1779 and 1780. Macintosh arrived in India after an incredibly convoluted journey from France that had taken nearly a year and a half and which had seen him held as a prisoner of war. His initial intention to establish himself as a private trader had failed when he lost his cargo of tradable goods during the siege of Pondicherry in 1778. When he finally arrived in India in July 1779, he had lost everything and found that his two on-the-ground contacts—Lauchlin Macleane and Alexander Elliot—were dead. Although a despondent Macintosh tried initially to arrange for an immediate return to Europe, he quickly developed new friendships in Madras and Calcutta, particularly so with Philip Francis, whose combative relationship with Warren Hastings had a significant influence on Macintosh’s political analysis of British India.

One of the first things Macintosh did on arrival in India, however, was to write a long and heartfelt letter to his son, William, setting out a series of life lessons and maxims that he had been unable to impart in person due to their long separation. Inspired by Lord Chesterfield’s recently published book of letters to his own son, Macintosh’s letter to William set out his views on what William should be reading, what he should be eating, which sports and activities he should be pursuing, and how, more generally, he should be conducting himself in society. William would have then been 14 years old when the letter was written and it is difficult to read it without thinking about how little time William would have had to put any of this advice into practice; within five short years, his life would end tragically in a lonely hotel room in Covent Garden.

As things currently stand, my plan for the spring and summer is to advance the book to the point at which Macintosh returns to Britain from India and begins to publish his findings. Although his views on British India were most fully articulated in his 1782 travel narrative, he actually published two earlier pamphlets in London, neither of which has previously been attributed to him. At the same time as he was working up his narrative—a task largely completed by the Grub Street writer for hire William Thomson—Macintosh was busily engaged in London and Paris dealing with the personal-cum-financial concerns of Thomas Lewin and John Whitehill—friends he had acquired in India in 1779, whose complex and disputatious affairs consumed much of Macintosh’s attention in the months following his return to Britain.

I also hope to put in an application this summer for a recently launched grant scheme from the Royal Historical Society, that would potentially provide funding for a one-day workshop in 2024 focusing on the draft book manuscript. The scheme is an interesting one in that it is aimed at mid-career scholars who might otherwise rely only on informal peer networks for support in the writing of a book. The scheme acts to formalise and recognise those informal support structures by providing funds to cover participants’ expenses and a small honorarium. The reason the scheme appeals to me—notwithstanding the slightly terrifying thought of a day-long critique from up to six expert readers—is the benefit of having the perspective of area specialists. Following Macintosh’s global life has necessarily meant following him through and between what are often geographically distinct areas of historiographical specialism, such as the Caribbean, British India, and Europe during the French Revolution. Being able to feel confident about the contribution that I am making to each of these fields, whilst drawing appropriate connections between them, would be a real boon. More prosaically, the workshop would act as a helpful spur to the completion of the next two chapters of the book; it would be a hard deadline that I could not miss!