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.