Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 December 2021
The above is a description of the fictional character Captain Percy, given from the perspective of the eponymous ‘Hindoo Rajah’ in Elizabeth Hamilton’s 1796 epistolary novel, Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah. This ‘English officer’ was modelled on Hamilton’s deceased brother Charles (1753–92), who had authored several Persian manuscript translations. As Captain Percy, he thus represented what was by then the familiar archetype of the East India Company orientalist. The account of India laid out in Hamilton’s novel offers a literary reflection of British constructions of Hindoo religion and history, and their relationship to the politics of empire in India, as they stood towards the end of the eighteenth century.