The life of any man in great place, like Warren Hastings, is three-dimensional; the State he serves, his own life, and a third area where these two meet and interact. This book is mainly concerned with the second and third arenas, and is based primarily on Hastings' own papers, the three hundred volumes of which have still left much that seems untold. It does not attempt any fully documented account of his manifold policies, the content of which must embrace intricacies of revenue and land tenure, diplomatic relations ranging from Egypt to Tibet and from the Sikh confederacy to Pondicherry, military campaigns over vast theatres, and problems of Brahmin and Moslem learning. Many more special studies must, I think, be written, before one hand could grasp and judge the whole.
In a book which seeks original authority throughout, precise reference would involve a numeral and a footnote every four or five lines. I have therefore given in an appendix a classified list of the manuscript sources used, together with the chief printed authorities; followed by a series of notes, to provide exact reference on a number of points which seemed specially significant or controversial, or sometimes ignored.
Unless the context shows a clear indication to the contrary, quotations come from Hastings' letters and despatches, and since his power and historic legacy were largely the achievement of his pen, quotation must be substantial. In spelling Indian names, I have conformed to recent practice; adopting the forms of standard authorities such as the Imperial Gazetteer, except in the case of words which long tradition has made part of our common history.
The names of those who have allowed me to use or reproduce original manuscripts, pictures, or busts in their possession will be found on pages xi and 402. To all of these I acknowledge my very grateful obligations; and especially to Miss Vansittart Neale, who gave me the use of Hastings' letters to his familiar friend . . .