"Camp Nusseerabad, India." 1859-1860. pp. of manuscript text, about 15,500 total words. Original three-quarter calf and marbled boards. Boards edgeworn and lightly rubbed. Internally quite clean, neat, and legible. Very good. Item #WRCAM39351
An interesting unpublished manuscript, this is a novel in the form of an autobiography, purportedly written by an American-born soldier in the British Army stationed in India in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The author describes his youth and early adulthood, culminating with an account of his adventures hunting grizzlies in Gold Rush-era California. The chapter on Grizzly hunting in California, called "Westward Ho," is copied (with a few small adaptations) from an article that appeared in the November 1857 issue of HARPER'S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, called "The Grizzly Bear of California." The remainder of the text develops several themes over the course of the work, including the author's strained relationship with his wealthy father, his youthful disillusionment with a career as a lawyer, his friendship with a charming rogue named "Twadle," and his unsuccessful pursuit of love. The work also gently lampoons the character of the idle rich. It is unknown whether these other portions of the manuscript are also adapted from other published works, or whether they are the product of the author's own imagination. Either way, this manuscript is a very interesting example of mid-19th- century imaginative fiction and literary adaptation, and worthy of further study.
According to prefatory material, this text was written in 1859-60 by Douglas D. Lindsay, who identifies himself as a member of Company 7 of Her Majesty's 83rd Regiment, stationed in East India at "Camp Nusseerabad." On a preliminary page he writes:
"These 'Reminiscences of Auld Lang Syne' were written and presented by the author to his friend and gossip, Thomas Smith of Her Majesty's 83rd Regiment and who, in times to come, as he glances over these pages, will recall to mind the writer and 'wish him well, wherever fate may have led him'; and he, in turn, will often think of his quondam friend, while far at sea or in the deep piney woods of his native land."
In several instances in the text, Lindsay disrupts the narrative to offer asides to Smith, providing a sort of post-modern authorial commentary on the proceedings. In a letter at the end of the text, dated July 23, 1860, Lindsay promises Smith that he will write a second volume "in which I propose giving you a few more passages from my experience in America - North - West and South, intermixt with some jottings about the sea, slavers, smugglers, etc. etc." It is not known whether "Lindsay" ever wrote this second volume.
In the prefatory chapter Lindsay gives a sketch of his early life, claiming to have been born "of a very ancient family who are said to be descended in right line from the Prodigal Son." He writes that he did not have a good relationship with his father, and most of the assistance in his life was given to him by his deceased mother's brother. Lindsay says he eventually went to "the law school of old Y..." (later revealed to be Yale), from which he graduated with a lofty idea of the law and jurisprudence. These beliefs were quickly deflated when he moved to the unnamed state's capitol city and set to work as a lawyer. Finding himself quickly in debt and unhappy, he quit the law and moved back home. The next chapter in the book is entitled "A Screw Loose" and begins with Lindsay arguing with his father and being kicked out of the house. He departs, leaving behind him most of his expensive wardrobe, and ventures out in search of a friend named Twadle:
"A young literary gentleman who was continually occupying the handsomest apartments he could find which he invariably vacated after a month of luxury. He was of a sanguine temperament and I will do him the justice to say that he always intended at the time of taking his rooms to pay for them. But so many extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances intervened between the day of his induction and pay-day, that when that period arrived he regularly found himself in a state of unprecedented pecuniary depletion."
Twadle was living in New York at the time, and he and Lindsay decide to have a meal at Delmonico's. Of course, they do not have enough money to pay the bill, but Lindsay is rescued by his ever-helpful uncle, who just happened to be dining there that evening. His uncle then takes Lindsay to his home, welcomes him as a part of the family, and gives him a job in his engineering firm. In the next chapter, titled "Love Struck by Lightening," Lindsay describes his landlady's attempts to introduce him to eligible young women, and his courtship with Sophia Walter, daughter of a former governor. The romance fails when Lindsay discovers that his love has false teeth, which horrifies him.
The penultimate chapter (comprising forty- one pages of the manuscript), entitled "Westward Ho," is set in California during the Gold Rush era, and is largely copied or adapted from a HARPER'S article of November 1857 called "The Grizzly Bear of California." Large portions of the manuscript are copied verbatim from the published article, while in other places Lindsay makes adaptations or particularizes the story to himself. For example, he mentions a "Hindoo Bear" in one passage, and changes the name of the Grizzly hunter from "Colin Preston" in the published article to "Nathan Walker" in his manuscript. He also intersperses original passages which add to the story, among the copied text.
The section begins with Lindsay and a friend leaving Manhattan aboard a steamer bound for Chagres, and then crossing the Isthmus of Panama. Lindsay then goes up the coast to Acapulco, where he "secured passage in a crazy old polacca rigged schooner which was bound direct to San Francisco." The schooner is wrecked off the California coast, with Lindsay as the only survivor. Next comes a long discussion of the California Grizzly, and the "coastal range" in which it dwells, followed by a recounting of Lindsay's providential escape from the shipwreck. He is rescued by a bear hunter called "Nathan Walker" ("Colin Preston" in the original HARPER'S story), a native of Arkansas, who is described at great length. The rest of the chapter is filled with tales of Walker's bear- hunting exploits, discussions of the nature of the Grizzly, and the recollection of bear hunts in which the author participated with Walker, often at great risk to his own life.
In the final chapter (comprising twelve pages and called "The Man in the Drab Coat") Lindsay tells a story of meeting an old Yale classmate of his in the Russian River gold diggings. His friend, Robert, had been quite successful in the mines, saving some $5000, but was gravely ill and soon died. Lindsay promises him that he will collect all his money and deliver it to Robert's mother in the East. On his way home, Lindsay stops in New Orleans and loses all of his own money in the gambling halls, and leaves the city saddled with debt. Back in Troy, New York he considers drawing on his friend Robert's money, using it as a gambling stake to win back the money he lost in New Orleans. Late one night, cold and seemingly hallucinating, he is visited by a devilish figure, "the man in the drab coat," who so frightens Lindsay that he resolves to give all Robert's money to his family, as he had promised.
An interesting work of adaptive and imaginative fiction, meriting further research.