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Arthur Tollemache, BEIC Troubleshooter WiP
Posted: Jun 18 2018, 07:58 PM
Caregiver. Liberal. Aggressive. Architect.
Player: Byronic Hero
Contact: PM or Discord
Came From: Already here
Full Name: Arthur Octavius Tollemache
Age and Birthdate: 38 (July 25, 1759)
Family & History
“In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty, than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human affairs, we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil.”
– David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
Arthur Tollemache (pronounced TOL-mash) was born on July 25, 1759 into one of the most historic and prestigious families in England. Those men of the family not born into the peerage tended to go into the military or the Anglican church, and Arthur’s father Michael chose the former path. There is little doubt he would have done credit to God and country had he not died in a duel that arose over a drunken quarrel over a dog. Raised by a procession of nannies and governesses, Arthur eventually went away to a series of public schools, capped with the required years at Eton College. In his teenage years, he was an awkward and slothful boy who worried his widowed mother whether he would amount to much. She sighed for relief when, upon finishing his studies, he took a commission in the Army, gazetted ensign in 1775 and assigned to the 63rd Regiment of Foot before its departure for North America as reinforcements due to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. As befitted his class, he acted as an aide-de-camp to Lieutenant General Francis Grant at the outset, seeing action (from a safe distance) at Bunker Hill, Monmouth, and Charleston. He was much more at home in occupied New York or Philadelphia, where he oversaw that his commander’s orders regarding garrison duties were carried out. He became the toast of colonial society, for it was soon revealed in the New England salons that he was sympathetic to their complaints, if not their violent methods of addressing them. What was more, he was literary, handsome, young, and charming, the very stereotype of the refined English officer, but with liberal ideas. While unpopular in the army itself, he nevertheless climbed the ranks to captain before all was said and done, mostly due to his name and undeniable talent as a planner and administrator. He was more than just an affable clerk, however; he was a philosopher.
In school, he had soaked up the writings of the Enlightenment, especially Montesquieu and Voltaire, and then the works of his fellow Englishmen: Hume, Hobbes, and Locke, as well as a sensational recent publication, The Wealth of Nations. Increasingly, the great thinkers of Europe were arguing that absolute monarchy was a relic, a trespass against the natural rights of humanity. Arthur was inclined to agree; England had shown that herself in the past century with its civil war of Cavaliers and Roundheads, who in the end did nothing but wreck royal supremacy forever. The monarchy remained, but increasingly as a figurehead (despite the efforts of the deranged George III to shape foreign policy). True power lay in the law, the constitutional framework that ensured order and stability, that protected the rights of men. He did not believe in absolute equality or democratic government; any consideration of the working rabble rendered that dubious. The middle classes, however, those owners of mills and factories, wielded substantial economic muscle in the 18th century, and it was only right that their interests be safeguarded in Parliament by elected representatives.
Upon returning to England, he resigned his commission in the army and began seeking a wife. He soon found one, the beautiful but dim Charlotte Cavendish, whose dowry was meager but whose company Arthur found tolerable; she went whole hours sometimes without saying a word. He dedicated most of his energies to running for Parliament, challenging for a seat for Bury St. Edmunds in the 1784 general election. He won in a tight race and, predictably, sat with the Whigs. He soon became ingratiated with that faction belonging to Edmund Burke, the famous political leader and orator, who did not want to change English society; just to catch up the state to that society, in as orderly and rational way as possible. The public appetite for such reform was intense in the years after the loss of the American colonies, and it just so happened that Burke was looking east to India, where he argued that the East India Company was becoming a national disgrace.
Burke sought to impeach the former Governor-General of Bengal, William Hastings, and the shocking behavior of the East India Company in the subcontinent. He publicly derided the phenomenon of English men going East and then coming back with their plundered loot, seeking to buy their way into high society. These parvenus were called “nabobs,” an English corruption of “nawab,” the term used for governors of provinces in the Mughal Empire. In Parliament, Burke (and Arthur as one of his apostles) warned of nabobs marrying into the families of the old gentry, using their ill-gotten gains to buy their way into Parliament, and finally destroy the stable patterns of investment and economy. The conscience of London agreed, and the Tory Prime Minister William Pitt introduced an act to rein in Company excesses. As Burke proceeded with his sensational trial of Hastings, Arthur decided that his time would be better spent in the field in India as an agent of the reforms he supported. In 1787, after just five years in Parliament, he took the Chiltern Hundreds and procured a commission in the Company’s army, starting out at the rank of major. As he boarded the ship bound for Madras, something was germinating in his imagination, a vision taking shape, of his work to come.
This vision was the transformation of Company rule into British imperium. The wars in India had to become national wars; Company rule had to become synonymous with English rule. The Company itself had to become an elite civil service, staffed by efficient and innovative bureaucrats who would build the structures of liberalism and capitalism all over the subcontinent. Native Indians would become Christians, consumers, even someday citizens. The suffering of imperialism had to be equal or less than the good it generated, and this was only possible if it had a civilizing mission. This meant taking a paternalistic, even autocratic approach to the natives, indulging them in their cultural tropes while subtly deconstructing their old reality and replacing it with a new one: a fusion of East and West, with all that was good and modern grafted onto this primitive people. In this way, imperialism would not be the tyranny of the feudal past but enlightened empires on the same level as ancient Greece and Rome. He fancied himself a secular and progressive St. Thomas, coming to India to spread a gospel of new ideas. He soon found himself working under a familiar name: Lord Cornwallis, whom he had met in America. Although neither man liked the other personally, there was sufficient mutual respect that Cornwallis gave Arthur an assignment to show his skill.
The criminal and civil codes under Company rule had become a tangle, and so Arthur oversaw the distribution of judicial offices to Company employees and later the foundation of circuit courts. He personally participated in the translating of Muslim and Hindu law into English, working closely with priests and imams to gain a variety of opinions. Projects Arthur worked on became part of the Cornwallis Code that streamlined Company governance. He also offered input in the Permanent Settlement that created a native landed gentry that would naturally support British rule, while keeping the British themselves at the top of the political hierarchy. When Cornwallis left India in 1792, Arthur was considered one of his foremost advisers. Without Cornwallis' patronage, however, Arthur fell out of favor with the new Governor-General John Shore, an old friend of Hastings who remembered Arthur's friendship with Burke. While retaining his rank, Arthur has endured a series of demotions in position. Where he once had the ear of the Governor-General himself, now he is persona non grata, forever consigned to the margins. India has become America all over again: invitations pour in seemingly every night but in the officers' clubs he is shunned as a dreamer, a proto-Cromwell.
Furious at first, Arthur has adapted to his shrinking influence and continues to affect as much change as he can from whatever role he is assigned. Presently, he works as a Company troubleshooter, a safe pair of hands when problems arise, however complicated or technical. He has hunted bandit gangs in the Bengali jungles. He has audited the personal expenses of corrupt Company officials. He has gathered intelligence on the military strength of Tipu Sultan. Now, he has come to Coastal Andhra to deal with a smuggling ring. His investigation has led him to Waltair...
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