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"the winders cut their own thumbs off to get out of their crippling obligations."
This raises more questions in my mind as it answers. It seems questionable that a significant number of spinners would make such a choice. How many people are capable of cutting off their own thumb? Sending their families away first and then leaving after work and not returning would seem more likely. However, it could also be blame shifting by the perpetrators. "They did it to themselves."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 12:37:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the one and only contemporary claim of thumb-cuttings, without specific details on when and where it was supposed to have happened and how the author learned of it (it only narrows it down in time to the rule of Shuja-ud-Daula until the book's publication, that is 1754-1772), hence the scepticism expressed by an Indian author referenced upthread. If we are to speculate on the basis of this scant evidence, then blame shifting is unlikely in a tract critical of the Company, it would be more likely that the author gave credibility to unchecked rumours.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 12:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did say blame shifting by the perpetrators.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 01:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bolt was an independent spirit and it appears he might have been planning on becoming an 18th Century whistle-blower. From wiki:
He spent some time working in Lisbon in the diamond trade, according to a deposition he made in 1801, before he went out to Bengal in 1759 where he was employed in Calcutta as a factor in the service of the English East India Company. He learned to speak Bengali, an addition to his other languages, English, Dutch, German, Portuguese and French. Later he was appointed to the Company's Benares (Varanasi) factory, where he opened a woollens mart, developed saltpetre manufacturing, established opium works, imported cotton, and promoted the trade in diamonds from the Panna and Chudderpoor (Chhatarpur) mines in Bundelkhand.

He fell foul of the East India Company in 1768, possibly because diamonds were a favourite means for Company employees to secretly remit to Britain the ill-gotten gains of private trade in India which they were officially forbidden to engage in. He announced in September of that year that he intended to start up a newspaper in Calcutta (which would have been India's first modern newspaper), saying that he had "in manuscript many things to communicate which most intimately concerned every individual", but he was directed to quit Bengal and proceed to Madras and from thence to take his passage to England. Company officials declared him bankrupt, "to the irretrievable loss of his Fortune", he later claimed. He never seems to have been able to redeem himself in the eyes of the Company, and in London and elsewhere fought a rearguard action against his many opponents within it. In 1772 he published Considerations on India Affairs, in which he attacked the whole system of the English government in Bengal, and particularly complained of the arbitrary power exercised by the authorities and of his own deportation. The book was translated into French and enjoyed wide circulation, which contributed to his fame on the Continent.


Sounds like he was planning on busting some of the EIC operatives based on what he knew from the diamond trade and they retaliated. But he did learn to speak Bengali in addition to his several European languages. The above summary does not indicate that he was ever posted where he would have had direct contact with weavers or spinners but indicates that he dealt in woolen goods and diamonds. This inquiry into the 'cutting of thumbs' issue seems like paleontology, where one is at the mercy of the fossil record.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 08:38:09 PM EST
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