Romantic Representations of British India (Routledge Studies in Romanticism)

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Romantic Representations of British India (Routledge Studies in Romanticism)

Romantic Representations of British India The years 1780–1850 witnessed the synchronous growth of imperialism, Romantic

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Romantic Representations of British India

The years 1780–1850 witnessed the synchronous growth of imperialism, Romanticism and Orientalism in Britain, together with the emergence of ideas of nationhood in both colony and metropolis. Romantic Representations of British India charts the complex cultural engagement of Britain with the subcontinent, offering illuminating answers to the interconnected questions of how Britain changed India and how India changed Britain. This collection of essays by a variety of leading scholars effectively maps out a relatively new field of interdisciplinary study, providing some fascinating insights into one of the most remarkable eras of imperial expansion. Although Occidental representations preponderate here as at the time, the discourses of subordinated élites, both Muslim and Hindu, also receive counterpointed cultural readings, in which even subaltern voices, normally silenced by official historiography, are occasionally heard. The book shows how Western notions of cultural hegemony were substantially bolstered by imperial rhetoric but profoundly challenged by intercultural translation or mutual misrepresentation. Cultural readings of texts from metropolitan and colonial cultures reveal intellectual encounters marked by a mutual exchange of knowledge and a mutual adaptation of self-perception. The European Romantic imagination was saturated with Orientalism, and the writers represented here reflect a persistent ambivalence concerning the East, complicated in Britain by colonial anxiety and imperial guilt. This volume focuses upon the collision (and collusion) of fictionality and historicity as India continued to problematize Romanticism’s preoccupations with the building and overthrow of empires. These essays build upon and intensify the renewed interest in Orientalism, colonial and post-colonial discourse which has necessarily involved critical reassessment of Romantic representations of ‘British’ India. The contributors to this book offer discriminating and nuanced readings of Romantic Orientalism and its role in the hegemonic constructions of race, gender and empire. Michael J. Franklin teaches in the English department of University of Wales, Swansea.

Routledge Studies in Romanticism

1. Keats’s Boyish Imagination Richard Marggraf Turley 2. Leigh Hunt Life, poetics, politics Edited by Nicholas Roe 3. Leigh Hunt and the London Literary Scene A reception history of his major works, 1805–1828 Michael Eberle-Sinatra 4. Tracing Women’s Romanticism Gender, history and transcendence Kari E. Lokke 5. Metaphysical Hazlitt Bicentenary essays Uttara Natarajan, Tom Paulin and Duncan Wu 6. Romantic Genius and the Literary Magazine Biography, celebrity, politics David Higgins 7. Romantic Representations of British India Edited by Michael J. Franklin

Romantic Representations of British India

Edited by Michael J. Franklin

First published 2006 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2005 Michael J. Franklin, selection and editorial matter; the contributors, their own chapters

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to” All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Romantic representations of British India / edited by Michael Franklin p. cm. 1. British–India–Historiography. 2. British–India–Historiography. 3. Orientalism–Great Britain–History–19th century. 4. Orientalism– Great Britain–History–18th century. 5. Romanticism–Great Britian–History–19th century. 6. Romanticism–Great Britain– History–18th century. I. Franklin, Michael J., 1949– DS428.R66 2006 303.48⬘25404109–dc22 ISBN10: 0–415–37827–3 (Print Edition) ISBN13: 978–0–415–37827–7


For Caroline, Geraint and Helen, Ieuan and Céline


List of figures Notes on contributors Acknowledgements 1 General introduction and [meta]historical background [re]presenting ‘The palanquins of state; or, broken leaves in a Mughal garden’

ix x xiii



2 British–Indian connections c.1780 to c.1830: the empire of the officials



3 Torrents, flames and the education of desire: battling Hindu superstition on the London stage



4 Between mimesis and alterity: art gift and diplomacy in colonial India



5 Poetic flowers/Indian bowers



6 ‘Where . . . success [is] certain’?: Southey the literary East Indiaman



7 Radically feminizing India: Phebe Gibbes’s Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) and Sydney Owenson’s The Missionary: An Indian Tale (1811) MICHAEL J. FRANKLIN


viii Contents 8 The strains of empire: Shelley and the music of India



9 From ‘very acute and plausible’ to ‘curiously misinterpreted’: Sir William Jones’s ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ (1792) and its reception in later musical treatises



10 ‘Travelling the other way’: The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan (1810) and Romantic Orientalism



11 Conquest narratives: Romanticism, Orientalism and intertextuality in the Indian writings of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Orme



12 Orientalism and religion in the Romantic era: Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)






4.1 Sir Joshua Reynolds Warren Hastings (1766–8), oil on canvas 4.2 Richard Brittridge, after Johann Zoffany, Warren Hastings, line engraving 4.3 Anonymous British satirist, The Knave of Diamonds (1786), etching 4.4 Anonymous Mughal artist, Nizam Ali Khan (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections 4.5 Anonymous Mughal artist, Warren Hastings (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections 4.6 Anonymous Mughal artist at Lucknow, Nawab Asaf ud-Daula in his Bara Imambara (c.1795), Add. Or. 2595, Oriental and India Office Collections 6.1 Bernard Picart, The Ceremonies and Religions Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World 6.2 James Gillray, ‘The Nabob Rumbled’ (1783) 9.1 Sir William Jones, ‘An Old Indian Air’ 9.2 C. R. Day, Jones’s ‘An Old Indian Air’

90 91 92



100 134 142 201 208


Natasha Eaton is Lecturer in the History of Art at University College, London. She is currently completing a book concerned with visual exchanges between eighteenth-century Britain and South Asia. Her publications include articles in Eighteenth-Century Studies, The Journal of Material Culture, Comparative Studies in Society and History and in William Hodges: The Art of Exploration, ed. Geoff Quilley and John Bonehill (Yale University Press, 2004). Michael J. Franklin teaches in the English Department of University of Wales, Swansea. Since editing Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works (1995), and writing the critical biography, Sir William Jones (1995), he has been investigating colonial representations of India and their various interfaces with Romanticism. He has edited Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control in Eighteenth-Century British Orientalist Discourse (Routledge, 2000) and The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism (Ganesha, 2001), and has written a series of articles on key members of the Hastings circle, the current focus of his research. Tim Fulford is a Professor in the Department of English at Nottingham Trent University. He is a Romanticist with interests in many aspects of the period’s culture: science, landscape, life-in-London, Native Americans. He has written several books, the most recent being a study of Romantic Indians (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is currently working on editions of the correspondence of Robert Bloomfield and of Robert Southey. Nigel Leask is Regius Professor of English Language and Literature at Glasgow University. He has published widely in the areas of Romantic literature, Orientalism and travel writing. His books include British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing 1770–1840: From an Antique Land (Oxford University Press, 2002). He is currently working on a study of Robert Burns and British Romanticism. He has taught at the universities of Cambridge, Bologna and the UNAM (Mexico City) and lectured widely in Britain, France, Italy, India, the United States and Mexico. P. J. Marshall is Emeritus Professor of History at King’s College, London. He became Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King’s College, in 1981, and from

Contributors xi 1997 to 2001 he was President of the Royal Historical Society. In the four decades between his first book, The Impeachment of Warren Hastings (1965) and his latest The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750–1783 (Oxford University Press, 2005) he has produced a series of monographs, editions and articles on Britain’s eighteenth-century empire, including: East Indian Fortunes: the British in Bengal in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1976), Bengal: the British Bridgehead: Eastern India 1740–1828 (Clarendon Press, 1987), three volumes of The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke (Clarendon Press, 1981, 1991, 2000). He edited The Oxford History of the British Empire: vol. II: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 1998) and The Eighteenth Century in Indian History: Evolution or Revolution? (Oxford University Press, 2003). Tilar J. Mazzeo is an Assistant Professor of English at Colby College and the author of Plagiarism and Literary Property in the Romantic Period (University of Pennsylvania, 2006) and numerous articles on intellectual property in the Romantic period. She has written extensively on the subject of Romantic travel writing and colonialism, in its transatlantic, Middle Eastern and Indian political contexts, and has recently edited Mary Shelley’s critical work on Italian literature, Lives of the Most Eminent . . . Literary Men of Italy (Pickering and Chatto, 2004). Daniel O’Quinn is an Associate Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. He is the author of Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770–1800 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). He is currently dividing his time between co-editing the Cambridge Companion to British Theatre 1730–1830 with Jane Moody, and writing a study of Romantic masculinity and racial performance entitled Other Things. He is also editing The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan for Broadview Press. His articles on the intersection of sexuality, race and British culture have appeared in numerous journals including Theatre Journal, Romantic Praxis, ELH, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Studies in Romanticism, European Romantic Review and October. Douglas M. Peers is currently a member of the History Department and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calgary. He is the author of Between Mars and Mammon: Colonial Armies and the Garrison State in EarlyNineteenth Century India (1995), co-editor (with David Finkelstein) of Negotiating India in the Nineteenth Century Media (2000), co-editor (with Martin Moir and Lynn Zastoupil) of J.S. Mill’s Encounter with India (1999) as well as numerous articles and book chapters on the military in India and their impact on the political, cultural and social history of the British Raj. Together with Nandini Gooptu he is editing India and the British Empire for publication in the companion series to The Oxford History of the British Empire. Lynda Prat is Reader in Romanticism, Director of the Centre for Regional Cultures, at the University of Nottingham. She was general editor of Robert Southey: Poetical Works, 1793–1810 (Pickering and Chatto, 2004), for which she also edited three volumes. She has published widely on the Southey circle and her edited collection Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism will appear in 2006. She is

xii Contributors currently working on a monograph on ‘Romanticism and the Provinces’ and is co-general editor (with Tim Fulford) of forthcoming editions of the collected letters of Southey and of Robert Bloomfield. Amit Ray is an Assistant Professor of English at Rochester Institute of Technology in Western New York. This article is derived from a chapter of his forthcoming book, Negotiating the Modern: Orientalism and ‘Indianness’ in the Anglophone World (Routledge, 2007). Bennett Zon is Reader in Music, and director of the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Music, at Durham University. He is General Editor of Nineteenth-Century Music Review and the Ashgate book series ‘Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’. His books include The English Plainchant Revival (Oxford University Press, 1999), Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology (Ashgate, 2000) and the forthcoming Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain.


The editor gratefully acknowledges the kind permission of Pyms Gallery, London to use William Hodges, A Camp of a thousand Men formed by Augustus Cleveland three miles from Bhagalpur, with his Mansion in the distance (1782) as the Jacket Illustration. Sir Joshua Reynolds Warren Hastings (1766–8), oil on canvas, and James Gillray’s ‘The Nabob Rumbled’ (1783) are reproduced by permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Richard Brittridge, after Johann Zoffany, Warren Hastings, line engraving, is reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Anonymous British satirist, The Knave of Diamonds (1786), etching is reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London. Anonymous Mughal artist, Nizam Ali Khan (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections, anonymous Mughal artist, Warren Hastings (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections, and anonymous Mughal artist at Lucknow, Nawab Asaf ud-Daula in his Bara Imambara (c.1795), Add. Or. 2595, Oriental and India Office Collections, are reproduced by kind permission of the British Library, London. Natasha Eaton’s chapter was previously published in Comparative Study of Society and History and is reprinted here by the permission of the editor and Cambridge University Press.


General introduction and [meta]historical background [re]presenting ‘The palanquins of state; or, broken leaves in a Mughal garden’ Michael J. Franklin

‘in the details of history, truth and fiction are so blended as to be scarce distinguishable’ (Sir William Jones)

Among the ‘Principal Occurrences’ for 7 June 1790 listed by the New Annual Register, and sandwiched between items of news concerning ‘lieut. Bligh’, new military regulations of parity for ‘king’s and company officers in India’, and a debate in the Court of the King’s Bench, is to be found the following description of the retinue of Mubarak ud-Daula (1757/8–93), Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa: The procession of the nabob from Chitpore to Calcutta, in order to pay his compliments to earl Cornwallis, on his arrival in India, is worthy of description, as it gives an idea of the style of magnificence of eastern princes. Seven elephants of the first magnitude were led by their keepers, in like manner as our sumpter horses; seated on the back of one of which, on a throne of indescribable splendour, was the nabob, with a man behind him holding a superb fan, in the very act of collecting the breezes in his service. The throne was composed of gold, pearls, and brilliants; and the nabob’s dress was worthy a sovereign: nor was ever animal more grandly caparisoned than the no less honoured than exulting animal on which he rode. His state palanquin followed. Four pillars of massy silver supported the top, which was actually encrusted with pearls and diamonds; and, instead of verandas, fine glass plates on every side, as well as the back and front, to shew his mightiness’s person to the greatest advantage. Arrived at the entrance of the governor’s house, down knelt the half-reasoning animal for his illustrious master to alight, who proceeded with an immense retinue dressed all in new turbans and uniforms, to a breakfast that had been prepared for this princely guest.1


Michael J. Franklin

The mushroom magnificence of returned ‘nabobs’ had been satirized since Clive’s victory at Plassey (1757) over an earlier Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daula, but here was an attempt to represent the unrepresentable, the ‘indescribable splendour’ of the genuine article: a real nawab enthroned upon a Popean elephant.2 Readers of New Annual Register might morally condemn or mentally gawp at this admiring paean to conspicuous consumption and Asiatic luxury. They could even bask in the reflected glory, bright as the reflections from the plate-glass, of British suzerainty emblematized in the state palanquin, empty of its native ruler. Subscribers and coffee-house perusers of this authoritative publication were accustomed to a high standard of accuracy for, on the recommendation of its founder, Dr Andrew Kippis, William Godwin had been employed since 1784 to write the British and foreign history section.3 India news generally took five or six months to arrive in London, but more attentive readers might have been puzzled at why the Nawab had taken almost four years (until 7 June 1790 according to the New Annual Register) to present his compliments to the new governor-general as Cornwallis had arrived in Calcutta in the September of 1786. Only those readers with tastes sufficiently catholic to extend to the novel of sensibility would have noticed that the description of the Nawab’s procession was lifted virtually verbatim from Phebe Gibbes’ Hartly House, Calcutta (1789), and would have missed the excised ‘romantic’ elements to be found there, such as the heroine Sophia Goldborne’s enthusiasm for the ‘fine-looking’ black guards; her intertextual thrill at becoming, like Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in Constantinople, the object of an Eastern potentate’s attention; or her overwhelming desire to have an elephant at her command.4 In representing India, fiction and news become, it would seem, inextricably mixed into a species of eighteenth-century metahistory.5 The author of a brief 1784 resumé of the affairs of the East India Company pointed to ‘The novelty of the subject, the difficulty of obtaining satisfactory information, and the various and contradictory accounts of the situation of the Company’, as elements which had ‘hitherto left India, in a manner, an unknown country to the bulk of Englishmen’.6 Despite the parliamentary attention, successive India bills, the recall of Warren Hastings and the compulsive drama of the ongoing impeachment proceedings, it would appear that seven years later in 1791 subcontinental ‘novelty’ and metropolitan ignorance encouraged journalistic recourse for ‘satisfactory information’ to a sentimental epistolary novel. Sophia’s romantic representation of India is a heady dream of ‘state palanquins, thrones, elephants, and seapoys’ which – egocentrically if not Eurocentrically – conflates political conquest of India with emotional conquest of her ‘Nabob of Nabobs’, but the ‘poetical’ plagiarism of the New Annual Register journalist reinforces the fact that representation itself is inevitably misrepresentation. Naturally there are enormous problems attendant upon the representation of any culture and its very multifariousness necessitated that India was imagined or indeed invented in multifarious ways. Though Edward Said has been taken to task for erecting a somewhat unitary concept of Orientalism which failed to encompass the multiplicity of Orientalisms reflecting changing historical contingencies,

The palanquins of state 3 his groundbreaking book effectively problematized the politics of identity and representation: We must be prepared to accept the fact that a representation is eo ipso implicated, entwined, embedded, interwoven with a great many other things beside the ‘truth’, which is itself a representation. What this must lead us to methodologically is to view representations (or misrepresentations – the distinction is at best only a matter of degree) as inhabiting a common field of play defined [. . .] not by some inherent subject matter alone, but by some common history, tradition, universe of discourse.7 With the romanticizing discourse of Hartly House, Calcutta, we can contrast another representation of an important meeting between Governor-General Cornwallis and Nawab Nazim Mubarak ud-Daula. The Times of Tuesday, 9 October 1787 carried an ‘Extract of a letter from Calcutta, Jan. 28’ reporting that: The Nabob of Bengal has been to visit the Governor-General and was much surprized at his Lordship’s refusal of a Nuzzer (present) of eight thousand rupees; as, on the other hand, was Lord Cornwallis, at the Nabob’s requesting he might be permitted to spend his pension of sixteen lacks of rupees a year as he chose, which his Lordship immediately ordered. Mr. Colebrooke was imprudent enough to let his Moonshea (Persian clerk) take a present from the Nabob of ten thousand rupees, for which he lost his appointment of Persian Translator to the Council. All this is such a strange reverse in Bengal, that Nabobs, Rajahs, &c. are making daily application for leave to come to Calcutta, to visit the phœnomenon (p. 3). This representation of English and Mughal aristocracy is clearly ‘entwined’ with the political stance both of The Times and its ‘Indian correspondent’. Here Asiatic magnificence is reduced to a monetary munificence conscientiously rejected by the noble lord, and this stark conjunction of Oriental and Occidental surprise redounds to Cornwallis’s benefit in a number of ways at a time when the question of Warren Hastings’s acceptance of presents from various nawabs and revenue farmers was being closely examined by a Commons committee.8 Such reformist rectitude as would make a nawab’s jaw drop is plainly phenomenal in Calcutta, and the summary dismissal of James Edward Colebrooke (future Resident at Delhi, son of a former East India Company Director and brother of H. T. Colebrooke, who was to become the foremost Orientalist in India) displays authoritarian principle as opposed to despotic whim.9 Furthermore, Cornwallis’s surprise at the Nawab’s request for financial autonomy glances at the question of Hastings’s ‘interference’ in the affairs of native rulers.10 That a much more sympathetic political construction might be placed upon Hastings’s treatment of the young Nawab Mubarak ud-Daula by an Indian historian of aristocratic Iranian origin demonstrates not only the complexity of political representation, but the fact that, pace Said, the Orient certainly could represent itself.11


Michael J. Franklin

The reputation (and indeed, the self-representation) of Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai (1727–1806) rests upon his intellectually ambitious history of India from the time of Aurangzeb down to 1781, the Sëir Mutaqharin [View of Modern Times] (1789).12 Ghulam Husain informs us that Hastings spent ten weeks at Murshidabad, the former Mughal capital of Bengal, in 1772, ‘putting in order the affairs of the country. [. . .] He reduced the Nazem’s, or Nominal Nawab’s allowance, from twentyfour lacs a year to sixteen; and out of regard to Mubarec-ed-döwlah’s tender age, he left the disposal of that sum to Menny-begum’s discretion’.13 Ghulam Husain’s account of Mubarak ud-Daula is interesting to read both in the context of Sophia Goldborne’s desire to be a ‘Nabobess’, and against the persistent Orientalist stereotyping of feminized Hindoo and virile Muslim which her own text perpetuates. More importantly, the Sëir can be seen as a political act of selfrepresentation, in which the portrait of the current Nawab constitutes part of a discourse of decline from admirable Mughal and nawabi concepts of governance, based upon personal responsibility, moral principle, and the well-being of their subjects.14 For, according to Ghulam Husain, honourable Indian rulers have always obeyed the precept of Sa‘dl: The subject is a tree, if you cherish it; You will eat of its fruit, to your heart’s desire. (Sëir, 2: 585) In many ways a Mughal man of feeling, the young Mubarak ud-Daula might seem an Asiatic and suitably sentimental counterpart to Sophia’s sensibility. Ghulam Husain compliments the Nawab for his civility and compassion, but elements of criticism soon predominate in his narrative: Naturally tender-hearted, he listens with patience to those that are unfortunate or oppressed, and he is always disposed to relieve them. But his time is not well distributed; and he is always dissolved in all kinds of effeminating delices [voluptuous delights], and always immersed in the pleasures of the table, or in the company of dance-women. (Sëir, 2: 533)15 He inspires little respect and lacks moral authority; even his liberal generosity is misdirected. Whereas the Mughal nobility was famed for its encouragement of artists and intellectuals, this modern aristocrat is a scholar only of dancing and singing. His patronage of Hindu festivals such as Divali or Holl is not in that tradition, greatly respected by Ghulam Husain, of religious syncretism inspired by Akbar or Dmra Shiknh; instead he uses these ceremonial occasions to draw attention to himself and his own lavish prodigality. In one of these Hölies I happened to be at Moorshood-abad, when Mubareced-döwlah was circumcising his children: a ceremony in which he spent thirtyseven thousand rupees in clothes and presents to his slave-girls, to his favourite women, to his principal eunuchs, and to those of his mother, Babboo-begum. (Sëir, 2: 535–6)

The palanquins of state 5 Such effete sensuality is seen as both cause and symptom of the inqilab (reversal of fortune, revolution) effected by the East India Company as these former private traders consolidated colonial hegemony in Eastern India.16 The Persian histories, of which the Sëir Mutaqharin is an outstanding example, constitute an attempt to understand a world changed utterly, involving the displacement of Mughal nobility and customary authority. As the prestigious Mughal poet of Urdu, Mlr Taql ‘Mlr’ (1722–1810) observed: This age is not like that which went before it. The times have changed, the earth and the sky have changed.17 When Ghulam Husain seeks to record a period of just and equitable government in Bengal and Bihar, the nawab that he singles out for unstinting praise is Ali Vardi Khan (1740–56), to whom his mother was related, and in whose court he and other family members had served.18 In such self-legitimizing, there seems in one respect little difference between the subordinated elite and the successful subaltern, between an aristocratic bureaucrat such as Ghulam Husain and the scion of a Murshidabad family of lower-ranking nawabi officials, Din Muhammad (1759–1851). For fifteen years he served as a subaltern officer in the Bengal Army, before emigrating to Ireland in 1784 where he became a Protestant, married into the AngloIrish gentry and wrote The Travels of Dean Mahomet, a Native of Patna in Bengal, through Several Parts of India, while in the Service of the Honourable the East India Company Army (1794).19 This second-generation Company soldier (his father was a sepoy in the Bengal Army) demonstrates the radical self-division of hybridity in highlighting the military strength of the East India Company, ‘The refractory were awed into submission by the terror of our arms’, and in his representations of moral weakness at the heart of the declining Mughal dynasty.20 Yet despite his criticisms of dissolute Indian aristocrats, he is eager to evade his own subaltern status (in both Gramscian and Company terms) by representing his family as distantly related to the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus Muhammad’s portrayal of his near contemporary, Mubarak ud-Daula, stresses splendour and magnificent display, evoking, as Michael H. Fisher has shown, both profound nostalgia and a sense of his own marginality.21 He presents himself, not unlike the fictional Sophia Goldborne, as a dazzled onlooker of the nawab’s procession: They formed in the splendor and richness of their attire one of the most brilliant processions I ever beheld. The Nabob was carried on a beautiful pavillion, or meanah, by sixteen men, alternately, called by the natives, Baharas, who wore a red uniform: the refulgent canopy covered with tissue, and lined with embroidered scarlet velvet, trimmed with silver fringe, was supported by four pillars of massy silver, and resembled the form of a beautiful elbow chair, constructed in oval elegance; in which he sat cross-legged, leaning his back against a fine cushion, and his elbows on two more covered with scarlet velvet, wrought with flowers of gold (XI).22

6 Michael J. Franklin The ‘infinite pleasure’ afforded by this spectacle, together with Muhammad’s appropriation of the genre of the English travel narrative and the intimate potential of epistolary form, heighten the similarities with Sophia’s sentimental discourse in tone as well as content. Fictionality and historicity blend both in Muhammad’s narrative and in his life-long attraction to the appurtenances of power; skilful manipulation of the patronage of his British contacts ultimately lead this distant subaltern relative of Mubarak ud-Daula to Brighton and royal appointment as ‘Shampooing Surgeon’ to their Majesties George IV and William IV. If self-legitimation forms one link between the differing narrative representations of the subaltern travel-writer Din Muhammad and the Mughal scholar-historian Ghulam Husain, the ambivalence of their relationships with colonial government represents another. The Persian histories, such as Sëir Mutaqharin, were sometimes encouraged if not commissioned by East India Company officials. Consequently, these histories have their own specific political agendas and frequently demonstrate a reluctance to express outright political condemnation of the British as actual or potential patrons. Kumkum Chatterjee nevertheless detects a certain balance in Ghulam Husain’s representations of power: ‘The Sëir contains many instances when Ghulam Husain praised the English, and yet this history also contained one of the strongest critiques of East India Company rule to be voiced in the later eighteenth century’.23 Empire was consolidated and extended through information, and the Sëir Mutaqharin allows us to witness the process by which what Edward Said was to term ‘a dialectic of information and control’ was established. The following representation of the ‘sly civility’ (to appropriate and re-apply Homi Bhabha’s phrase24) of the English deserves to be quoted at length: It was observed at this period [1769–70] that the English of some rank spent their time merrily and in pleasures, and lived upon terms of much friendship and intimacy with the noblemen and other persons of distinction, natives of this country. They were endeavouring to engage them in conversation, especially upon the politics of the country; and so soon as an Englishman could pick up any thing relative to the laws or business of this land, he would immediately set it down in writing, and lay it up in store for the use of another Englishman; nor had they any other view in taking notice of a Moghul or a native, or in courting an acquaintance with him. No wonder then, if some persons, who in these times of half-knowledge, had come by mere chance to the helm of affairs and Government, should prove fearful, lest others by imparting more knowledge and affording more lights, might bring them under the imputation of neglect or infidelity, and thereby lessen their importance in the estimation of the English. No wonder, if they made haste to initiate them in those whatever little arts of oppression and rapine, which they had themselves employed through thick and thin, and through wet and dry; or which had been devised by vile men, and set up as standing rules and established customs. It was upon such customs that they gave lessons to the English, doubtless to the end that not a jot of former tyranny might be abated, or lost by disuse. (Sëir, 2: 404–5)

The palanquins of state 7 Times of change, times of ‘half-knowledge’ spread tyrannical practices from incompetent Mughal rulers to corrupt Company officials eager to maximize their personal fortunes. This is how Burke would represent Hastings in Westminster, but this is not how Ghulam Husain represents him in Bengal. In many respects, each was constructing a narrative of self-legitimation and of self-interest, and both discourses point to the practical impossibility of accessing any sort of ‘objective’ knowledge about Indian governance. It is perhaps safest to be wary of imperial representations of Indian rulers, Eastern or Western, whether they issue from Mughal or British sources. Sir William Jones had been in a position to know both the Irish politician and the Indian historian on personal terms. A fellow-member of Dr Johnson’s Turk’s Head Club of ‘glitterati’, Jones had been close to Burke, despite his reservations about Burke’s politics, and had assisted him on select committees concerning India and Muslim law.25 In Calcutta, Jones had sent Burke a twenty-point document entitled ‘The Best Practicable System of Legislature’, but their valued friendship had been broken by Jones’s indignant response to learning that Burke had been threatening to have Jones recalled if he ‘hear[d] of my siding with Hastings’.26 There are mordant ironies in this impugning of Jones’s impartiality for Burke’s animus against Hastings encouraged him to represent ‘the Saviour of India’ as an envious Satan in the Eden of Rohilkund, a type of ‘Antichrist’.27 Burke’s representation of India displayed the historical archive’s potential for fictionality, as he constructed a narrative enlisting the imaginative and sensationalist discourses of the Gothic and the sublime.28 It would seem that Jones was more convinced by narratives written in Persian and on the spot by Mughal historians. Addressing the Asiatic Society of Bengal on 28 February 1793, in his presidential ‘Tenth Anniversary Discourse, On Asiatick History, Civil and Natural’, he singles out the Sëir Mutaqharin for special praise: GHULÁM HUSAIN, many of us personally know, and whose impartiality deserves the highest applause, though his unrewarded merit will give no encouragement to other contemporary historians, who, to use his own phrase in a letter to myself, may, like him, consider plain truth as the beauty of historical composition. From all these materials, and from these alone, a perfect history of India (if a mere compilation, however elegant, could deserve such a title) might be collected by any studious man, who had a competent knowledge of Sanscrit, Persian, and Arabick; but, even in the work of a writer so qualified, we could only give absolute credence to the general outline; for, while the abstract sciences are all truth, and the fine arts all fiction, we cannot but own, that in the details of history, truth and fiction are so blended as to be scarce distinguishable.29 Jones’s sure grasp of the interplay of ‘true’ and ‘fictive’ elements within any historical discourse, and of what might be termed the poesis of history, demonstrates a postmodern awareness within this Enlightenment thinker and Romantic poet. Furthermore, it provides a timely reminder of the politics of representation, whether Burkean or Mughal. With reference to the questions of the ‘unrewarded merit’ of Ghulam Husain, the textual history of the Sëir Mutaqharin and the ‘Romanticism’ of representations of India, the ‘Translator’s Preface’ and Appendix reveal some fascinating insights.


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The Sëir was translated and edited by the pseudonymous ‘Nota Manus’ (‘the hand is known’), but this writer, though well-known in Calcutta, was no ‘India hand’ in Company employ. ‘Nota Manus’ was M. Raymond, a French Creole born in Constantinople, who had assumed the Muslim name Hmjl Mustafm along with his conversion to Islam.30 Dedicated to Warren Hastings, sections of Mustafm’s rough manuscript were hurried to London two years before its publication, ‘through the channel of Colonel Allan Macpherson’, in order ‘to afford some timely assistance to that great man, by elucidating upon so competent and so unconcerned an evidence as our historian’.31 Like Jones, Mustafm sees Ghulam Husain as an ‘unconcerned’ or impartial historian, but the translator’s own partiality to Hastings (who had left India in February 1785) was hardly likely to lead to personal reward, whatever the merits of his translation.32 In the preliminary ‘Proposals’, Mustafm refers to a thirty-year sojourn in Bengal, and hints at his reasons to be grateful to the British, by whom he had been rescued from shipwreck and poverty. Though describing himself as a ‘Semi-Englishman’, it is clear that he has few illusions about this brave new British empire. Not content simply to echo Ghulam Husain’s gentlemanly complaints concerning the apathy and inaccessibility of colonial administrators, Mustafm represents their credo in stark postcolonial terms: ‘We are come in India to gather taxes, kill people, and make conquests, – and – and – and – care little about the rest’ (Sëir, 2: Appendix, p. 25). To balance this negative representation of the British, Hmjl Mustafm portrays Murshidabad as a hot-bed of Mughal time-serving and corruption. In his Appendix (p. 19) he refers to ‘my large Pamphlet of 90 pages’ concerning his difficulties in obtaining justice from the Muslim civil and criminal courts in the former capital. This pamphlet, which I have managed to identify as the anonymously published Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad, in a Letter to Capt. John Hawkshaw, at Behrampore, of the 30th May 1789, constitutes another thesaurus of information on the social, cultural and legal history of Bengal. Mustafm was aggrieved by the interference, in various legal disputes (ranging from the theft of money and property to matters concerning house-sale and the building of an extension), of Muhammad Reza Khan, an influential minister and deputy to the Nawab of Bengal, whose power Hastings himself, hampered by opponents on the Council, had earlier been unable to control. In a letter to Governor-General Cornwallis, printed in this pamphlet, Mustafm outlines the dangers attendant upon being an ‘impartial’ historian, or even upon being the translator of such a history. His offence had been to aid and abet offensive representations: My crime, Mylord, is a great one, an irremissible one: in my last sojourn at Calcutta in December last, I have chanced to appear in the Gazette as the Editor of an history of India in which Mubarec-ed-Döalah is pourtrayed in the most despicable, most ridiculous colors; and Mahmed-Reza-Khan, in the most odious ones.33 Considering the tortuous narratives of Mustafm’s frequent recourse to the law, one is reminded not so much of the common contemporary complaints that the project

The palanquins of state 9 to govern Indians by their own law had rendered them extremely litigious, as of the earlier plight of James Augustus Hicky, who had been imprisoned for daring to represent Governor-General Hastings in ‘most ridiculous colors’ as the ‘Great Moghul’ within the pages of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, the first newspaper produced in India.34 Mustafm’s use of the histrionic trope for his translation of Husain’s history: ‘to expose them [Indian rulers] on the Theatre of an English world’ underscores the dramatic elements in his own life and judicial misfortunes, while the less fortunate but equally colourful Hicky continued publishing his ‘Poet’s Corner’ satires of the ruling Calcutta clique from the unsalubrious environs of Fort William Gaol. Neither the Irishman Hicky nor French Creole Mustafm was, of course, a native, but the perils of representing powerful rulers, Mughal or British, in other than a favourable light can be seen to link these subaltern or middling figures.35 Their represented life-narratives blur the distinctions between experienced ‘actuality’ and textual ‘romanticism’, between lived and written history. If Hicky, though allotted his rightful place in the history of Indian newspaper publishing, may be seen as something of an unsung hero of the Calcutta counter culture, Mustafm’s selfrepresentation within the preliminary pages of the Sëir Mutaqharin provides vivid insights into the liminal social and racial spaces of Bengal. The Translator’s Preface (so often the space for a dry linguistic discourse) becomes at the hands of Hmjl Mustafm a remarkable representation of British India in its mingling of political Orientalism and Oriental romance. He begins by presenting himself as an avid Orientalist and collector of curios: ‘I was master of an Eastern Library, and of a Cabinet of Eastern Curiosities’, stressing the priority of his scholarship in a scholarly footnote.36 His library, Oriental miniatures and antiquities were sadly plundered ‘at Djeddâh and Mecca in 1770’ and on his return to India he resolved to abandon book-collecting: ‘I had even taken a dislike to them, I mean to Oriental books; when an event happened that reconciled me to them again’. In the tale of this occurrence, ‘truth and fiction’ (to adapt the Jonesian definition of history earlier) ‘seem so blended as to be scarce distinguishable’: ‘Such a narrative, I acknowledge, would figure pretty well at the end of the one thousand and one nights, but it is nevertheless true, and to my sorrow, but too true’ (Sëir, 1: 18). With all the hybridity of which Hmjl Mustafm is compounded, the Calcutta Orientalist manqué metamorphoses into a stereotype of the despotic Oriental male. The ‘Indian cabinet of curiosities’ with which he now diverts himself is a seraglio which he assembles by means of discreet trips to Lucknow.37 The cool and deliberate fashion in which he represents his new venture of enclosing carefully selected living ‘objects’, not within cabinets or bookcases but behind elaborately carved harem lattices, is instinct with Asiatic otherness.38 Mustafm highlights this troubling equivalence of collections, being troubled himself only by physical disparities, which inevitably lead to ‘a beloved girl of mine’ falling in love with one of his servants.39 With the help of a match-maker, Mustafm procures a husband (a ‘man of Mogul origin, a trooper’) for the girl in Lucknow and, despite her protests, ‘ “You want then to turn me out of the house, and to chain me to that man”? – “Be it so,” added the girl, – after a pause – “But you shall one day repent of it” ’, she is carried off, with a dowry of 300 Rupees, by her husband. Within two months she returns, bitterly


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complaining of her Mughal husband’s cruelty and threatening, with a vehemence which ‘would have melted a statue of stone, and puzzled a man of sense’, to throw herself into a well. Mustafm arranges for her to be secretly transported – doubly contained within a hamper inside a covered coach – to Benares where she might start a new life, and they ‘parted with tears on both sides’. Seven days after, as I was getting out of my house at day-break to take an airing, I perceived a bag close to my door; and on my ordering one of my people to see what it could be, I went to look at it myself, and the first object that caught my sight, was an arm with a mole and an elegant hand, on a small finger of which I soon recollected a ring made of hair and gold wire. There was no standing such a spectacle. I returned into the house, and my troubled imagination made me see in the hall, right before me, the girl in tears, and saying: ‘be it so – but you shall repent’. (Sëir, 1: 20–1) Thus is the object d’art returned to the collector. Unanswerable questions are raised by this ‘Oriental tale’: is she killed by a cruel husband or by a family member according to an honour-code incomprehensible to Western understanding? And what does it say of the self-division or indeed the culpability of Hmjl Mustafm himself, as purchaser and sexual predator turned unsuccessful paternal protector?40 While the hierarchies of race and the gendering of races are somewhat blurred, the hierarchy of gender is reinforced, for, at one level, the story simply confirms Eurocentric stereotypes of the capricious and arbitrary power of the Asiatic male and the corresponding victim-like powerlessness of woman. How completely is the female subaltern effaced – identified ultimately not by an arm with a mole, or an elegant hand, but by ‘a ring made of hair and gold wire’, entwining human with economic value, and symbolizing her former beauty and commercial worth.41 In another way, this disturbing narrative of containment and imprisonment hints darkly at collusion between the elite ‘native’ and the colonial project. For if colonial imagination gendered both territory and peoples as feminine spaces to be violated, controlled and plundered, Mustafm’s collection symbolizes incrimination in imperial subjugation, graduating from textual control (Orientalist library) to political control of woman/land (seraglio). Certainly, the silenced objectified woman is allowed to speak as a desiring ‘subject’ only via the imagination of the repenting colonizing male. Furthermore, the binary opposition of colonizing self/colonized other is undermined as Mustafm moves between the roles of Oriental actor and Orientalist commentator. The news, a few weeks later, that Governor-General Hastings, ‘the principal author of my well-being’ was departing for Europe ‘completed the unhinging of my mind, as if by some unexpected stroke’. The return of this seraglio-slave/silenced wife (whatever, apart from her sad self, she might be taken to represent) and the recall of Warren Hastings are arrestingly juxtaposed in the poetic construction of Mustafm’s narrative and in the temporary dislocation of his senses.42 The ‘Oriental’ presents himself as talking to a representation of Hastings, ‘a picture of striking likeness, by

The palanquins of state 11 the inimitable Zophani’, and his distraction was only relieved by a fortunate accident which restored him to his former avocation and his mimicry of the Calcutta Orientalists: On my going into one of the Nawab’s seats, an old woman, among other articles of sale, offered me some broken leaves of a decayed book, in which the author talked with encomiums of the English Parliament in Europe, and with some asperity of the English Government in Bengal. A Persian discourse upon English Politics! strange indeed! I took the broken leaves, and perused some of them in the Garden. (Sëir, 1: 21) Thus he discovered the Sëir Mutaqharin, resolving to translate Ghulam Husain’s history with a mingling of Oriental and colonialist motives: as a means of abating the sorrow of his seraglio tragedy, and with the intention of providing funds to send two of his children to school in England.43 The translator’s ‘cure’ is represented as a textual one: the ‘broken leaves’ serve to restore a sense of wholeness and a measure of integrity. Apart from the ‘romantic’ aspects of this chance meeting with ‘an old woman’ and her ‘decayed book’ in a Mughal garden, it is not difficult, considering the critical tone of the author’s comments upon Mubarak ud-Daula, to see why the Sëir Mutaqharin was thrown out from ‘one of the Nawab’s seats’. It is, however, Ghulam Husain’s criticism of the imperial British rather than of modern Mughals that Mustafm desires to underline in his prefatory remarks; the translator feels he owes it to his ‘adopted Countrymen (the English)’ to provide some timely warning: The general turn of the English individuals in India, seems to be a thorough contempt for the Indians (as a national body). It is taken to be no better than a dead stock, that may be worked upon without much consideration, and at pleasure: But beware! that national body is only motionless, but neither insensible, nor dead. – There runs throughout our author’s [i.e. Ghulam Husain’s] narrative, a subterraneous vein of national resentment, which emits vapours now and then, and which his occasional encomiums of the English, can neither conceal nor even palliate; and yet he is himself but a voice that has spoken among a million of others that could speak, but are silent. (Sëir, 1: 22–3) This admonitory representation of both the colonists and the colonized issuing from the liminal pen of Hmjl Mustafm is rendered more powerful by his choice of trope and the reader’s recollection of a fair body in a bag. The elegant hand is no longer the signifier of wanton destruction, but is transformed into that contemporary printer’s device, its finger extended to mark crucial content. For this body, though motionless, is neither insensible, nor dead, and will not be contained by representations out of Mille et une nuits. It is a national body, an imagined community that looks forward, beyond even Bengali renaissance, to throwing off the shackles of imperialism. In 1789, this was by no means unthinkable, and Mustafm is convinced of the indicative


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power of the narrative mode of representation: ‘I hope it is admitted on all hands, that small accidental stories, and unpremeditated expressions on an important event, will better point out the national turn of mind, however dormant, than any professed reasoning’ (Sëir, 1: 23).44 He refers to Murshidabad reaction to the insurrection at Benares in 1781 where Hastings had faced significant personal danger as a result of which rumours of his death had abounded.45 According to one of Mustafm’s footnotes, Mubarak ud-Daula offered a thousand rupees to anyone bringing information that he had seen Hastings, and when one of the ten hircarras (messengers) sent out returned to report that he had ‘seen his head and right hand hanging at the gate of Bidjäigur’, the Nawab (ever the man of sensibility) shed tears.46 [N]umbers were deeply affected (and to be affected for an European governor, or indeed for any European at all, is a very novel matter in India) and they used to say: ‘Pity! a great pity! the father of the Hindostanies is gone – we shall never see such another man.’ But others, and this was the majority, left the person out of the question; and minded only the crisis. ‘What! are we not men as well as ChëytSing’s People? and what could prevent me from giving a slap to one or two of his chairmen? (the Governor’s) they would have dropped his palanquin, as by a signal, and any man could have killed him with ease. I saw him at Barwa: he had not an armed man by him; and his chairmen were but a dozen of people; and this would have at once produced a revolution [. . .] we are such multitudes here – with each a brick-bat in our hands, we could knock them down to a man’. (Sëir, 1: 23–4) It is fascinating to read this representation of the Indian colonized, of many subaltern voices crying ‘Afsoos, Afsoos’ (‘Alas, Alas’), but even more inciting rebellion, speaking out of the silence imposed by colonialism and its ‘official’ discourses. This early evocation of the nationalist aspirations of the subaltern also provides an intriguing insight into the apparently precarious nature of British power.47 Their thoughts of revolution are aided by the perceived vulnerability of the supreme colonial power in the area, whose team of palanquin-bearers (chairmen) number a mere dozen, contrasting starkly with Mubarak ud-Daula’s ceremonial processions, his elephants, and regiments of sepoys.48 Hastings himself was well aware of how his own vulnerability seemed to represent that of empire itself. Reflecting on the insurrection, he significantly provides an Oriental characterization for the metonymy: Let it not be thought, that I attribute too much Consequence to my own Person, when I suppose that the Fate of the British Empire in India connected with it. Mean as its Substance may be, its accidental Properties were equivalent to those which, like the magical Characters of a Talisman in the Arabian Mythology, formed the Essence of the State itself; Representation, Title, and the Estimate of Public Opinion.49 It would seem that the rank and file of Murshidabad had thought the unthinkable – of overturning the palanquin of state, and of the end of British

The palanquins of state 13 colonial control. But Hastings himself had thought it, although he understandably chose to imagine the event more safely in the future. In his celebrated letter to Nathaniel Smith, Director of the East India Company, prefixed to one of the founding works of Indology, Charles Wilkins’s translation of the Bhagavadgitm (1785), Hastings conceived of a postcolonial reality with British India forgotten and Indian literature celebrated: Every accumulation of knowledge, and especially such as is obtained by social communication with a people over whom we exercise a dominion founded on the right of conquest, is useful to the state: it is the gain of humanity: . . . it attracts and conciliates distant affections; it lessens the weight of the chain by which the natives are held in subjection; and it imprints on the hearts of our own countrymen the sense and obligation of benevolence. Even in England, this effect of it is greatly wanting. It is not very long since the inhabitants of India were considered by many, as creatures scarce elevated above the degree of savage life; nor, I fear, is that prejudice wholly eradicated, though surely abated. Every instance which brings their real character home to observation will impress us with a more generous sense of feeling for their natural rights, and teach us to estimate them by the measure of our own. But such instances can only be obtained in their writings: and these will survive when the British dominion in India shall have long ceased to exist, and when the sources which it once yielded both of wealth and power are lost to remembrance.50 Here we may perhaps begin to understand why some Murshidabad voices had pronounced Hastings ‘the father of the Hindostanies’. Hastings thought the Bhagavadgitm ‘almost unequalled in its sublimity of conception, reasoning, and diction; a work of wonderful fancy’. But what had the publication of a theological text exploring profound conceptions of universal spirituality to do with the government of India? It is easy to see the practical political rationale behind Hastings’s establishing authoritative texts of both Hindu and Muslim law: this was part of Hastings’s Judicial Plan to ‘found the authority of the British Government in Bengal on its ancient laws’. In his establishment of rigorous Orientalist policies, however, Hastings was looking beyond the merely utilitarian; he saw that the publication of the Bhagavadgitm, that seminal section of the Mahmbhmrata, respected alike by Hindu and Muslim, was of intrinsic world-cultural significance. Its usefulness to the state lay in its manifesto-like revelation of the intellectual riches of the colony. Here was cultural capital shipped, courtesy of the Company, from the colonial capital to enrich metropolitan Enlightenment and Romanticism. It was also more than useful from a governmental perspective in its contribution to the destruction of Eurocentric stereotypes and in its creation of reconciliation and respect.51 As he wrote to his Persian Translator, Jonathan Scott, on 9 December 1784: My letter to Mr Smith introducing Mr. Wilkins’s Translation of the Gheeta is also Business, though began in Play. It is the effect of part of a System which I long since laid down, and supported for reconciling the People of England to the Natives of Hindostan.52


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In his patronage of the publication of Indian literature and his encouragement of the founding of Sir William Jones’s Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784, Hastings was playing a major role in the struggle for the representation of India for the translations and discoveries that proceeded from Calcutta would serve to allow India to represent itself.53 The very processes of research depended upon close collaboration with Muslim and Hindu scholars and informants.54 Winning the confidence of native intellectuals, and arranging Company or personal patronage for able Company servants, he pioneered substantial intercultural cooperation. Furthermore, reconciliation within the colony was advanced by Hastings’s determination to govern in the mantle of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the best indigenous traditions of government as outlined in Ghulam Husain’s Sëir Mutaqharin: And although the Gentoos seem to be a generation apart and distinct from the rest of mankind, and they are swayed by such differences in religion, tenets, and rites, as will necessarily render all Musulmen aliens and profane, in their eyes; and although they keep up a strangeness of ideas and practices, which beget a wide difference in customs and actions; yet in process of time, they drew nearer and nearer; and as soon as fear and aversion had worn away, we see that this dissimilarity and alienation have terminated in friendship and union, and that the two nations have come to coalesce together into one whole, like milk and sugar that have received a simmering. (Sëir, 2: 584)55 Thus an earlier colonial representation of the Hindus as ‘a generation apart’ and the mutual estrangement of the two main religions of India are reconciled in Ghulam Husain’s trope of the mingling of milk and sugar, resulting in a coalescent and coherent ‘national body’ (to borrow Hmjl Mustafm’s term). Hastings realized that an understanding of Hindu tradition and Mughal precedent was essential if he was to govern in the respected tradition of Emperor Akbar. A similarly strong emphasis upon syncretism was central in Sir William Jones’s attempts to problematize and reconfigure the binaries of imperialism. Jones shared Ghulam Husain’s admiration for the scholarly eldest son of Shah Jahmn, Dmra Shiknh, who had inherited the syncretic mantle of his great-grandfather, Akbar. Dmra Shiknh had translated some of the Upanixads, and composed a Persian text entitled Majma ’al-bahrayn or ‘The Mingling of the Two Oceans’ which maintained that the fundamental tenets of Hinduism were essentially monotheistic and identical with those of Islam.56 The foregoing foregrounding of Muslim voices and Muslim perspectives attempts to adjust a frequent misrepresentation of Orientalist representations: the persistent idea that Jones and the other Asiatic Society members were exclusively concerned with ancient classical Sanskrit literature.57 The very same number of the New Annual Register which had featured the plagiarized account of Mubarak ud-Daula contained an appreciative review of the London edition of Jones’s translation of Sacontalá; or the Fatal Ring (1790). It referred to the translator’s ‘laudable desire to throw light on the history of India before the conquest of it by the savages of the North’. Exactly which invaders the reviewer intended by this description is unclear, but it is perhaps more

The palanquins of state 15 likely that he meant the tribes of Babur rather those of Clive. Such denigration of the Mughal dynasty was not characteristic of Calcutta Orientalists. Jones was naturally delighted by his ‘discovery’ of Kmlidmsa’s Ôakuntalm or Jayadeva’s Gltagovinda because he saw that such writings were unknown to world understanding and that they would radically affect the ways in which India would be represented. His fascination with classical Sanskrit Gupta culture or twelfth-century bhakti literature was balanced, however, by his enthusiasm for contemporary Hindustani poets such as Mlr Taql ‘Mlr’, Sauda (1713–80), Mirza Zainuddin ‘Ishqi and Mir Muhammad Husain (d. 1790).58 His ideas concerning both Indo-European linguistics and the common identity of the Platonic, Vedantic, Sufistic and deistic traditions blurred European and Asian cultural margins, and his translation of the macaronic lyrics of the Indo-Persian Sufi poet Amir Khusrau revealed both his delight in intellectual/ linguistic play, and his sympathy for a syncretic ideology.59 Jones’s fascination with Sufism was at least as old as his love for Hmfiz and Sa‘dl, and such love was not overshadowed by his realization of the priority and preeminence of Sanskrit writings. For the majority of the Calcutta Orientalists Sanskrit remained something of a closed book, but their knowledge of Persian, acquired for administrative purposes, encouraged a profound appreciation of Persian and IndoPersian Literature.60 Many of the Hastings circle studied the writings of the contemporary intelligentsia, both Hindu and Muslim, and patronage was extended to a wide variety of indigenous poets, painters and musicians. The textual construction of India achieved by Jones’s comparative philological, historical and literary researches can be viewed against the backdrop of a pre-existent subcontinental pluralism in which a multiplicity of beliefs co-existed and sometimes coalesced. For as the whole impetus of Jonesian Indology was the discovering of similitude rather than otherness, Nehru, in his Discovery of India (1946) would represent the inherent difference of India as the dynamism of cultural synthesis. *



Our ‘Indian Tale’ has illustrated representations sentimental, subcontinental and subaltern, all of which problematize central questions concerning the fictionality of the historical archive and the historicity of the fictional archive. Though Hastings might have established a British monopoly in salt production, we have seen that there was no European monopoly upon representations of India. Said’s notion that colonialism and Orientalism created the reality in which Indians had to live is in itself an Orientalist fallacy that denies Indians agency in constructing their own societies. We have seen something of the intricate interplay of Western and Indian discourses in the ‘contact zone’ of Bengal.61 For British representations of India were not exclusively the product of a colonial imaginary, but frequently derived from Indian texts and the Indian intelligentsia. Christopher Bayly’s groundbreaking study, Empire and Information, has stressed manifold aspects of continuity between Mughal and British India; it was not so much a question of British constructions of India, as British appropriation of existing sources and structures of information.62 A bewildering variety of knowledge systems from both Muslim and Hindu public and private spheres therefore contributed to the colonial understanding and representation of India.


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Colonialism has been seen on the one hand as a violent suppressor of subcontinental heterogeneity or, on the other, as the ingenious inventor of indigenous traditions. Nicholas B. Dirks has suggested that colonialism was responsible for ‘much of what is now accepted as Indian “tradition”, including an autonomous caste structure with the Brahman clearly and unambiguously at the head’. Such a notion, however, as Declan Quigley has pointed out, was convincingly demonstrated by G. G. Raheja to constitute yet another modern [mis]representation.63 Ronald Inden’s Imagining India (1990) critiques essentialist depictions of India since the Enlightenment, attempting to restore agency to the people and structures of India by emphasizing India’s precolonial political institutions. But texts such as Francis Gladwin’s translation of that valuable record of the influential pragmatism of the Mughal administration, the M’ln-i Akbarl, or ‘Institutes of Akbar’ (1783–6), patronized by Hastings, or indeed Ghulam Husain’s Sëir Mutaqharin, had effectively accomplished this two centuries earlier. On the question of agency, it is instructive to read a letter of November 1790 to the editor of The Western County Magazine, entitled ‘Asiatic Fortunes’, which outlines the advice given to ‘every youth of spirit, who has interest’, and is thus capable of aspiring to an East India Company writership. Thus the youth’s relations advise him: See what a fortune Hastings has made; he only learnt ciphering and writing, like you, beside some Latin at Westminster school.—Look at Major Scott!—he hardly knew the multiplication table when he left Shrewsbury—now he is a Parliament man, and can speak about what he does not understand for a month together! Get money, my boy in the East, and you may be a Lord in the West.[. . .] He [the young EIC writer] arrives in India, and walking out into the streets of Calcutta, he cannot afford to ride; there he sees youths not much older than himself riding in state on fine horses, or carried about in sumptuous palanquins. Home he comes to his banyan, and tells him what a figure his old acquaintances make. ‘And what hinders you,’ replies his banyan, ‘from equaling them in splendour: I have money, here, take it.’ Money is advanced—the youth has his horses, his coach, his palanquin, his haram; and while in pursuit of one fortune, spends three. How is the banyan indemnified? Under the sanction of the young man, who is rising in the state, he rises likewise, as he is protected by him, in committing every oppression with impunity, the practice being so general as to afford him perfect security. The youth, after a few years, less or more, accumulating a fortune in India, by every method of rapacity, returns to England, buys a borough seat, lives in splendour, and votes in favour of the oppressor and the peculator, because in doing that, he prudently imagines he is securing his own wealth. This is the outline of the manner in which fortunes have been made in India for the last thirty years.64 The letter is simply signed ‘Middleton’ in large capitals; if it was indeed written by Nathaniel Middleton (1750–1807), Hastings’s representative at the court of the

The palanquins of state 17 nawab wazir of Oudh, Shuja ud-Daula, in Lucknow, ‘Memory Middleton’ had obviously forgotten that his own fortune had been made in a remarkably similar fashion as he penned this moralistic contribution from the comfort of his splendid Hampshire estate, named with perfect macaronic Anglo-Indian poise: ‘Midanbury’.65 More importantly, this representation of impetuous and avaricious youths, recently characterized by Burke’s rhetoric as ‘birds of prey and passage’, highlights essential native involvement in colonial capitalism.66 Nabob creation, as Middleton depicts it in his admonitory narrative, is a symbiotic process of mutual enrichment, empowerment and corruption; an Asiatic fortune is dependant upon more than a Company writership, it is reliant upon the agency of the ‘banian’ (an Indian broker, or indeed agent) and the ‘indigenous’ capital he controls.67 Colonized subjects are not passively produced by hegemonic projects, but are active agents whose choices and discourses are of fundamental importance in the formation of their societies. The years 1780–1850 witnessed the synchronous growth of imperialism, Romanticism and Orientalism, together with the emergence of ideas of nationhood in both colony and metropolis. The importance of Raymond Schwab’s 1950 redefinition of Romanticism in terms of an ‘Oriental Renaissance’ was hailed by two of the most influential studies in this area, Nigel Leask’s monograph, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (1992), and Alan Richardson’s and Sonia Hofkosh’s edited collection, Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834 (1996), and both texts pointed to the fact that Schwab had been largely overlooked.68 This insight into the reciprocal relationship between colonialism and literary representation, however, has been ignored for much longer. Indeed it was Schwab who reminded us that the term ‘Oriental Renaissance’ was coined by Edgar Quinet as a chapter title in his Génie des réligions (1841), in which he maintained that this second renaissance marked the decline of neoclassicism as the earlier renaissance had concluded the medieval age. Quinet was in turn drawing upon Friedrich Schlegel who, as early as 1808 had outlined the idea of a second renaissance in European thought. The concept of ‘Oriental Renaissance’, then, is in itself a profoundly and inherently Romantic formulation, and furthermore Schlegel, in a manner which has obvious resonance for the concerns of this volume, views it as a specifically ‘Indian Renaissance’: The study of Indian literature requires to be embraced by such students and patrons as in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries suddenly kindled in Italy and Germany an ardent appreciation of the beauty of classical learning, and in so short a time invested it with such prevailing importance, that the form of all wisdom and science, and almost of the world itself, was changed and renovated by that re-awakened knowledge. I venture to predict that the Indian study, if embraced with equal energy, will prove no less grand and universal in its operation, and have no less influence on the sphere of European intelligence.69 The rapturous and idealizing response of German Romanticism to the representations of India communicated by the Calcutta Orientalists may have had much to do with the fact that Germany was not implicated in external colonialism.70 This is not


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to devalue the significant talents of Wilkins and Jones in cultural translation as India became the blue flower of Herder’s imaginings, a spiritualized morgenland, and the key to universal religion. Goethe’s ecstatic ‘Nenn ich, Sakontala, dich, und so ist Alles gesagt’ (‘When I name you, Sacontalá, everything is said’) marked European approval for this Indian weave of the mystic and the sensual, the divine and the erotic. Similarly, Friedrich Schlegel, having read Sacontalá in 1797, declared India the source of all human wisdom and the following year he produced his celebrated Athenäumsfragment 116 which theorized the progressive and universal character of Romantic poetry as the apotheosis of process; the highest Romanticism must be sought in the East: ‘Im Orient müssen wir das höchste Romantische suchen’. But even amidst all this Orientalizing joy and intellectual fulfilment, the reflections of Sheldon Pollack return us to important metropolitan questions: Trying to conceptualize in larger terms the meanings and functions of German Orientalism invites us to think differently, or at least more expansively, about Orientalism in general. It directs our attention momentarily away from the periphery to the national political culture and the relationship of knowledge and power at the core – directs us, potentially, toward forms of internal colonialism, and certainly towards the domestic politics of scholarship.71 Like the East Indiamen, Romanticism charted and enabled cultural encounters with India via a two-way passage of ‘transculturation’ which was to modify both the centre and the periphery, in some ways reversing their roles and polarities. Here it is as well to remember Marshall’s tempering of the current emphasis upon ‘the defining role of empire in the evolution of a sense of Britain’ (see p. 60). It is against this heavily interwoven backdrop of ‘deep Orientalism’, complicated by questions of imperial guilt, subaltern resistance and mutual mimicry, that the critics contributing to this volume explore the dimensions of the dialectic. Arranged in a broadly chronological order, the chapters collected here examine multifaceted representations of India serving a diverse range of political, cultural and ideological purposes. Their contrapuntal reading (to borrow Said’s phrase) of works from metropolitan and colonial cultures record intellectual encounters which were marked by a mutual exchange of knowledge and a mutual adaptation of self-perception. Peter Marshall’s chapter supplies a detailed contextualizing of Romantic representations of India in the decades from the 1780s to the 1830s, tracing an evolution in the imperial relationship from Indomania to Indophobia (to use Trautmann’s terms). He argues that India occupied something of a central role in British cultural and intellectual preoccupations in the late eighteenth century but in the early nineteenth century it got marginalized as an issue, its affairs increasingly relegated to an increasing cohort of bureaucrats and ‘officials’, to specialists outside the mainstream of British culture. When Hastings in 1784 referred to his introductory letter to Wilkins’s translation of the Bhagavadgitm as ‘Business, though began in Play’ (p. 13), he was not only asserting the political importance of representations of India, but also reflecting the research culture of the Asiatic Society. Such erosion of the distinction between work

The palanquins of state 19 and leisure, politics and aesthetics, ‘Business’ and ‘Play’ united the enthusiasm of the amateur with the discipline of the professional. Indology has been seen as a field in which British amateurism led the way, and much of the research facilitating new representations of the subcontinent was pursued in the intervals between the authors’ duties. As Jones made clear in a letter of 12 August 1787 to his former pupil, the second Earl Spencer: It is not here, as in Europe, where many are scholars and Philosophers professedly, without any other pursuit: here every member of our Society is a man of business, occupied in his respective line of revenue, commerce, law, medicine, military affairs and so forth: his leisure must be allotted, in great part, to the care of his health, even if pleasure engage no share of it. What part of it remains then for literature? Instead, therefore, of being surprized, that we have done so little, the world, if they are candid, will wonder that we have done so much. (Letters, 2: 747) A decade later, Jones’s societal self-congratulation is validated by Alexander Hamilton (who had taught Friedrich Schlegel Sanskrit in Paris. In reviewing Dissertations and miscellaneous pieces relating to the history and antiquities, the arts, sciences, and literature, of Asia, Hamilton also seems to echo Hastings in the proto-postcolonialist contemplation of the end of Company rule; for both men, Orientalist research ‘will survive the existence and illustrate the memory of our Eastern dominion’. After the contingent circumstances to which we owe our present preponderance in that country shall have ceased to operate, and the channels of Indian knowledge and Indian wealth shall have again become impervious to the western world, the Asiatick Researches will furnish proof to our posterity, that the acquisition of the latter did not absorb the attention of their countrymen to the exclusion of the former; and that the English laws and English government, in those distant regions, have sometimes been administered by men of extensive capacity, erudition, and application.72 If Marshall is correct in detecting a falling-off of interest in Indian culture and Indian affairs generally in the first half of the nineteenth century, this might have something to do with the increase of more narrowed specialization, furnishing reams of dry statistical information which largely failed to capture a wider public interest.73 It would be a falsification to posit an earlier ‘empire of the amateurs’ against Marshall’s later ‘empire of the officials’, not least because Jones was stressing the very engrossment of Asiatic Society members in their strictly professional avocations. But in highlighting the vast opportunities India presented for far-reaching research as well as financial reward, a sense of their privileged position in being (to use William Hodges’s term) ‘on the spot’ to produce ‘accurate representations’ frequently animates and enlivens their desire to communicate the fruits of their labours to a metropolitan readership. Hodges himself opens the Preface to his Travels in India (1793) in the confidence of addressing, with his travel writing as with his canvases, a most


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receptive audience: ‘The intimate connexion which has so long subsisted between this country and the continent of India, naturally renders every Englishman deeply interested in all that relates to a quarter of the globe which has been the theatre of scenes highly important to this country.’74 Though economic and political connexions were reinforced, such ‘deep interest’ was not sustained by the drier information issuing from subcontinental specialists, in Marshall’s words, ‘a self-contained service community who spoke to one another rather than to a wider public’.75 If an element of excitement was sometimes lacking as discourses of continuity, discovery and interpretation were replaced by discourses of modernization, regularization and improvement, James Mill at least demonstrated a certain liveliness in his degradation of Hindus. His trenchantly utilitarian History of British India (1817) provided a secular rationale for aggressive Westernizing policies to complement Charles Grant’s Evangelicalism. This ‘hegemonic text’, eleven years in the writing, enabled Mill to become Examiner of East India Company correspondence, and allowed him, with an objectivity born of his ignorance of native languages and his never having been to India, to represent Hinduism as an abomination and Hindu civilization an oxymoron.76 Hastings in 1785 had referred to ‘dominion founded on the right of conquest’ (p. 13), but for some, empire represented a God-given responsibility, as Clive Dewey maintains: ‘the evangelical revival convinced countless Anglo-Indians that they had a divine right to rule Indians sunk in superstition and sin’.77 If distance leant objectivity rather than enchantment to the representational view, then while the metropolitan readership was finding India more remote, within the colony itself social and cultural distancing, as Marshall shows, ‘became both official policy and the aspiration of most members of the Indian services’. The remoteness between governors and governed that Ghulam Husain had lamented was reinforced by what Sudipta Sen characterizes as a state-sanctioned ‘decline in intimacy’, and interracial marriages such as those between Colonel William Palmer, the Resident at Pune, and his Mughal wife Begum Faizh Baksh or between Colonel James Kirkpatrick, Resident at Hyderabad, and Khair un-Nissa were to become an increasingly rare feature of British–Indian relationships.78 At the level of fiction, the tacit approval of interracial desire in texts such as Phebe Gibbes’s Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) or Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar (1791) was not to be tolerated as the biblical account of race was hijacked by those who sought to work the degeneracy theories of thinkers such as Lord Kames, Oliver Goldsmith, and J. F. Blumenbach into the ‘new science of human taxonomy’.79 As Daniel O’Quinn demonstrates, such interracial romantic desires were seen to represent if not a ‘vulgar’, then an overly simplistic, solution to the colonial problematic; they ‘became the sign of obsolete governance’ and had to be educated and regulated out of existence. A deepening awareness of the political consequences of cultural contact ensured that ‘scientific’ processes of colonial ordering were more rigorously applied to concepts of sameness and difference.80 A representational sign of the times was indicated in the September of 1827 when the brig Louisa made history as the first vessel to voyage direct from Calcutta to Leith. The Times report detailed a number of ‘natural and artificial curiosities’ brought

The palanquins of state 21 home by its master, Mr Mackie (who has ‘a high opinion of Indian sculpture’) which included a variety of representations of Hindu deities: But the Captain has brought home another collection, highly interesting to all classes of learned men: that is, forty-two statues of the castes and grades into which the inhabitants of that great continent are divided. They are all in the costumes in which they appear, when following their avocations, or discharging the public duties of their orders.81 In contemplating the contents of the staunchly middle-class Captain Mackie’s cabinet of Oriental curiosities, in some respects we are inevitably returned to the earlier (miniatures/antiquities) and later (harem) collections of Hmjl Mustafm. In both, sexual or social control is predicated upon an ordering that goes hand in hand with segregation and physical/political containment, and with the creation of hierarchies (of skin colour/beauty or general utility) modified by erotic or ethnographic classification, whether the ‘contents’ be female flesh to be ravished by ‘Oriental’ consumption, or a traditional agrarian society to be increasingly impoverished by British commercial capitalism. With caste seen as a more rigidly stratified version of class, British models were projected on to India and vice versa. In the colony, the strict Company rule of seniority eventually solidified protocol into a caste system of hereditary rank, deference and precedence so that princely Asiatic otherness might be seen as a florid version of aristocratic British similitude. In the metropolis, the volatile and potentially dangerous masses of new industrial cities of the 1830s and 1840s were compared in their poverty and ‘blackness’ with the unstable natives of empire.82 Daniel O’Quinn is alert to such imperial–domestic analogies. Through a detailed consideration of the representations of the disturbing gynophobic practices of satl and female infanticide in Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar (1791) and William Thomas Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges! (1823), his deeply nuanced historicizing explores how aspects of British imperial policy could be seen reflected in contemporary metropolitan drama. The complex politics of imperial desire reveal anxieties of relativism and reciprocity attendant upon regulatory practices within the colony and at the centre, where questions of aristocratic blood, the marriage market or bourgeois conjugal virtue might blur distinctions between British and Indian social structures. O’Quinn’s juxtaposition of ‘wishful thinking’ (Cornwallis’s Anglicist solution of creating subcontinental landed gentry) and ‘misrecognition’ (Grant’s Evangelical missionary dream of displacing Hinduism) recalls the enormous complexities of Indian representation and of imperial positionings in the years surrounding the 1813 renewal of the East India Company Charter.83 If Southey’s pro-Evangelical position is of a piece with his political stance, it is more puzzling to find the relativist Byron presenting proEvangelical petitions to the House of Lords, or the atheistical Shelley maintaining that ‘the zeal of the missionaries . . . will produce beneficial innovation’ in India.84 By 1823, a review of Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges reveals on the part of the Times’s theatre critic not only a significant degree of knowledge concerning


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political developments in the subcontinent, but also the scholarly aspects of Orientalism’s textualization of India: ‘This custom [female infanticide], which is not authorized by any passage in the Vedas, or sacred books of the Hindus, has been greatly checked, if not entirely put down, by the efforts of the British Government in India’.85 This had been the approach of Hastings, Charles Wilkins, Jonathan Duncan, and H. T. Colebrooke, whose erroneous enquiries into Sanskrit devotional texts convinced them as to the validity of the laws of satl.86 The authority of such reports was such that some pandits actually cited Colebrooke’s ‘On the Duties of a Faithful Hindoo Widow’ as evidence that the Vedas enjoined the practice, and Anglicist reformers argued in an Orientalist idiom by denying that there was scriptural authority for satl in the authoritative texts on dharma.87 The dilemma of the Orientalists torn between an abhorrence of satl and a fear of the deleterious effects of Westernization upon Indian agency is perhaps best illustrated by the shifting intellectual position of Horace Hayman Wilson who, having earlier defended Hindu petitions against its abolition, subsequently abandoned the role of medieval apologist, writing in 1856: ‘that the text of the Rig Veda cited as authority for the burning of widows enjoins the very contrary, and directs them to remain in the world’.88 What O’Quinn reveals about metropolitan metaphorization of suttee is further complicated by the fact that there is some evidence that in Vedic times, satl was a subcontinental metaphor, a purely mimetic representational ceremony in which the widow lay down beside her dead husband on the funeral mound, perhaps to mime a final act of copulation, and was then enjoined, as in the R.g Veda Burial Hymn, to ‘Rise up, woman, into the world of the living’, before the corpse was buried or cremated.89 In the years before and after satl was declared ‘illegal and punishable by the criminal courts’ by Governor-General Lord William Bentinck on 4 December 1829, India experienced impassioned debate on the subject with Mritunjoy Vidyalankar, a powerful Sanskrit scholar and Supreme Court pandit, declaring that ‘A thousand Shastras are not capable of inducing death; for that is an event universally dreaded by the human species’.90 Vidyalankar’s arguments were subsequently advanced by Rammohan Ray in his Abstract of the Argument regarding the Burning of Widows, considered as a Religious Rite (1830).91 In Benares, William Hodges had witnessed a sati the proceedings of which he relates in disturbing detail. The painter was later to depict the ceremony but the roles of observer and observed, of painter and subject, become reversed as he is implicated through passive involvement in her ritual observances: She held in her hand a cocoa nut, in which was a red colour mixed up, and dipping in it the fore-finger of her right hand she marked those near her, to whom she wished to shew the last act of attention. As at this time I stood close to her, she observed me attentively, and with the colour marked me on the forehead.92 While it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by such a ‘dreadful custom’, there was a clearer political agenda behind Hodges’s representations of thriving districts in

The palanquins of state 23 Bengal and Bihar which linked benign Company administration with earlier Mughal government: The care that was taken in the government, and the minute attention to the happiness of the old people, rendered this district, at this time, a perfect paradise. It was not uncommon to see the manufacturer at his loom, in the cool shade, attended by his friend softening his labour by the tender strains of music. There are to be met in India many old paintings representing similar subjects, in the happy times of the Mogul government. (p. 27) For Hodges was also about Hastings’s business as he depicted the principal cities, forts and monument associated with Akbar’s regime, and such commissions, together with the Governor-General’s encouragement of Francis Gladwin’s translation of the M’ln-i Akbarl, or ‘Institutes of Akbar’ (c.1590), confirmed his emulation of enlightened Mughal rule.93 Natasha Eaton’s chapter reveals both the centrality of representational art in the colonial encounter, and Hastings’s deep understanding of Mughal gifting as central to transcultural negotiations. Convinced, as we have seen, that the ‘accidental Properties’ of his person ‘like the magical Characters of a Talisman in the Arabian Mythology, formed the Essence of the State itself; Representation, Title, and the Estimate of Public Opinion’, Hastings syncretically dovetailed Mughal gifting with British portrait-exchange. For the traditional Mughal gift of khil’at (rulers’ robes) was substituted the gift of his own portrait. Eaton reminds us of Ghulam Husain’s description of the Occidental inscrutability of Hastings by which his ‘physiognomy acts as a metonymy for the impenetrable colonial archive’; if the ‘face-to-face relations’ of Mughal governance were to become rarer, at least one might, like Hmjl Mustafm, talk to a Zoffany portrait of the Governor-General. ‘Persian’ Jones, having never travelled to Persia, was forced to enquire of Harford Jones, the East India Company Joint Factor at Basra, as to ‘what sort of presents I should carry for the Khan of Shiraz and his Vazir’ on his projected overland return home.94 In India, Hastings needed no advice and his reconfiguration of elements from British and Mughal systems of gifting demonstrated both his abilities as a politician in negotiating the Regulating Act of 1773 and his avocations as a patron.95 Natasha Eaton clearly demonstrates that it is in such density of representations and such mutual mimicry of Company administrators and indigenous rulers that the complexities of British India reside. Tim Fulford traces how Jones was instrumental in replacing outmoded generic representations of Oriental paradises or pleasure grounds via his study of the allegorical gardens of the Persian poetic tradition and the fertile imaginations of pre-Islamic Arab poets. This reinvigoration of the pastoral genre tradition was accomplished by rendering the locus amoenus more geographically and culturally specific. During a period of convalescence in 1784, Jones was forbidden ‘all intense application’, but John Fleming, his doctor and an expert botantist, ‘permitted me to examine flowers, and lent me Linnæus, with whose system I was delighted’.96 By 1793, Jones termed


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botany ‘the loveliest and most copious division in the history of nature’, and was busily extending his gardening expertise from the hortus conclusus to hortus Indicus medicus. Fulford claims that ‘Jones’s dual engagement in Linnaean botany and Hindu mythology transformed Orientalist poetry’. He shows how Jones’s acquisition of indigenous knowledge, in the tradition of Heinrich van Rheede the Dutch naturalist author of Hortus Indicus Malabaricus (1678–1703), blended poetry and practicality, providing authentic ‘costume’ for Romantic representations of what Herder was to describe as ‘the garden of India’, whilst sending seeds and medical information to friends such as Sir George Younge and Sir Joseph Banks.97 Fulford suggests that Coleridge’s dream-vision of a paradise garden in ‘Kubla Khan’, might reflect aspects of Jones’s ‘The Palace of Fortune: An Indian Tale’ (1772). A certain lurid light is thrown upon the role of Indian empire as a facilitator of the visions of Romanticism when it is remembered that the production of opium was one of the Company’s three main sources of revenue.98 While Erasmus Darwin was arguably the most popular poet of 1790s Britain, ‘The Botanic Garden’ and ‘The Economy of Vegetation’ possessed more than poetic resonances in Bengal. Ultimately, as Fulford demonstrates, the ‘infections’ of the East, whether erotic or fanatic, were to be rejected by a post-Revolutionary metropole. Even Linnaean science might be polluted by Hindu mythology, and Robert Southey came to adopt the Burkean view of ‘Indianism and Jacobinism’ as ‘the two great Evils of our time’.99 Lynda Pratt interrogates Robert Southey’s world-mythological project which was to transport Southey from Arabia Felix and the beautiful Qu’ranic legend of the ‘Garden of Irem’, via his attraction to Avestan and Zoroastrianism, to what he conceived as the ‘abhorrent’ aspects of Hinduism. As Southey converted the ‘selfmoving Car of the Gods, into a Ship’, Pratt converts Southey into an East Indiaman sailing over the depths of his own fluvial imagery and the submarine gardens of Yama (the Hindu god of death), attempting to navigate the abyss of his own ambivalence concerning the representation of India. Alexander Hamilton had separated ‘the channels of Indian knowledge and Indian wealth’ but, in seeing the subcontinent ‘a lucrative source of raw materials’ (to adopt Byron’s phrase), Southey’s attempt to make cultural capital out of Hinduism eschewed a Jonesian model. In rejecting Charles Watkin Williams Wynn’s suggestion concerning subcontinental career opportunities, he abandoned the prospect of representing Indians at the ‘East Indian bar’, devoting himself to poetic representations which many have deemed ‘unjust’.100 India had always been seen as possessing the power of contamination, and reviewers of The Curse of Kehama (1810), as Pratt makes clear, implied that ‘Southey had been corrupted by what he affected to despise and had the potential to corrupt susceptible readers’. Pratt usefully problematizes the rebarbative effects of Southey’s ethnocentric commitment to ‘conquest and conversion’ and ‘making the world English’ as she examines how the representations and realities of Indian empire impacted on concepts of national identity. ‘Respectable’ representations of India should contribute to ‘the augmentation of our national splendour’, but Kehama was neither in the national interest, nor to the ‘national taste’, and in the Eclectic Review John Foster comes as close as a respectable Baptist minister might to suggesting that the poem was a crock of shit. The troubling ambivalence apparent in the poem’s

The palanquins of state 25 self-divided ‘attempt to provide pleasure by promoting disgust’101 distorted its value as either a work of cultural translation or as Anglicist and pro-Evangelical polemic. Sydney Owenson’s representation of India in The Missionary (1811) was arguably the product of significantly less laboured research but considerably more empathetic insight than Southey had devoted to The Curse of Kehama. Her substantial reliance upon the Jonesian vision which Southey had so comprehensively rejected allowed her novel of Sensibility to participate in the Orientalist’s cultural tact, born of genuine appreciation of Hindu and Indo-Persian culture.102 The novel also displayed a remarkably empathetic understanding of the concept of tapas (the heat generated by ascetic practices). Whereas Southey had described in crudely monetarist terms the dramatic potential of such ‘drafts upon Heaven, for which the Gods cannot refuse payment’ in creating ‘Man Almighty’, Owenson demonstrated a subtle understanding of the Hindu symbolism of the interaction of ascetic and erotic heat. In all her novelwriting career, Owenson had received reviews which ranged from the excoriating to the condescending, but her Indian novel received praise for its cultural relativism and its sympathetic representation of the Hindu pantheon.103 Like Hartly House, Calcutta (1789), The Missionary represented both a feminization of India introducing an assimilable and sentimentalized version of the Indological scholarship which facilitated Romantic Orientalism, and a powerfully topical political intervention. Percy Shelley, subject to something of a political and sentimental ‘juggernaut’ of Indian representations, was forced to provide some species of neo-Platonic synthesis between those afforded by his ‘favourite poem’ (Kehama) and what he termed Owenson’s ‘divine’ novel to fuel the ‘ethereal car’ of his own imagined India.104 Building upon John Drew’s important insight that the fourth act of Prometheus Unbound may represent a Shelleyan attempt to ‘give shape and form to “the most pleasing invention of the ancient Hindus,” the raginis, the aerial beings which allegorize Hindu melodies’, Tilar Mazzeo extends this thesis to the poem as a whole. She explores the imaginative nexus in which magically feminized Indian music might represent ‘the colonial relationship as a sympathetic enchantment of the colonizer by the colonized’. According to Mazzeo’s reading, the Hindustani airs of his Orientalized muse figure of Jane Williams focused Shelley’s accommodation of ‘the idealized and essentially poetic world of forms’ to ‘the landscape of Romantic India’. Southey and Owenson had associated Cashmere with Indian music, but both these texts led Shelley’s Platonism to a purer Vedantic source in Jones’s ‘Hymns to Hindu Deities’. For the ‘Indian enchantress’ or the veiled maid from the vale of Kashmir was ‘Primeval Máya’ (the spell-binding power of illusion), the mother of Kmma (the god of love and created nature) and associated with the ‘empyreal train’ of Indra whose ‘veil of many-colour’d light’ is woven of ‘song and sacred beauty’ and ‘mystic dance’.105 Significantly it is with ‘a Cashmirian’ informant that Jones discusses the concept of mmym, and the goddess Sarasvatl, ‘the Minerva Musica’ of India, who symbolizes the integration of the sister arts of illusion/perception, having both the power to wake to melody ‘the fretted Vene’ and ‘To fix the flying sense / Of words’.106 Bennett Zon also touches upon ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’ in an examination of the accuracy and reception of Jones’s representation of Indian music which charts his contribution to the foundation of ethnomusicology. If his transcriptions of Hindu


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music were few and flawed, they were nonetheless path-breaking, and Zon explores Jones’s fascinated and often field-working investigations as to where Indian music and music theory fitted in his proto-Romantic emotionalist theory of the arts. In his conviction that the greatest effect of poetry and music was in the expression, rather than the representation or imitation, of passion, he was approaching that central question of the Indian sister arts concerning the relationship between the complex musical concept, rmga (‘which I translate as mode, properly signifies a passion or affection’) and the theory of rasa (aesthetic emotion), involving the extent to which ‘pure’ music can communicate a specific effect and affect from performer to listener. Jones was delighted by the mingling of music, poetry and painting in the graphic illustration of the modes ‘represented by delicate pencils in the Rágamálás (garland of ragas), which all of us have examined, and among which the most beautiful are in the possession of Mr. R. Johnson and Mr. Hay’.107 Indian cultures delight in the confluence of various streams and these traditional paintings counterpoint the ways in which North Indian music represents a hybrid fusion of cultures, instruments and techniques. Akbar, himself of Turkic, Mongol and Indic ancestry, facilitated and celebrated a syncretic musical culture, and the Mughal Nawab Ali Vardi Khan, whose good government Ghulam Husain had praised, commissioned several rmgammlms.108 The apocryphal but enduring idea that the sitar with its sympathetic strings was invented by the Indo-Persian poet Amir Khusrau in the thirteenth century highlights the cross-cultural nature of Indian music. Zon contrasts Burney’s rejection of non-Western ‘noise and jargon’ with Jones’s description of Indian music as ‘a happy and beautiful contrivance’, and it is interesting to read that the Baptist missionary John Fountain, whose cultural and religious imperialism had rejected ‘the horrid music’ of a Hindu ceremony (see n. 83), was delighted by the Hindustani melody to which William Carey’s pandit, Ram Ram Boshoo, sings a Bengali hymn to Christ. When divorced from heathen ‘superstition’, a new openness to Indian song can be seen to operate within the missionary; the prospect of capitalizing upon its attractive powers effectively transforms Fountain into an early and conscientious ethnomusicologist, communicating strict instructions to his co-religionist in England: The tune although it appeared strange to me at first being so unlike any English air, and sung to words unintelligible to me, yet was very pleasant after hearing it two or three times in worship. I got the pundit to sing it over to me, and so wrote it out. Every sound is right. There are no English words that will go to it, I wish there were. It is the joint wish of myself and brother Carey that you would put a counter and bass to it, and send a copy over the first time you write. As it is perhaps the first Indian tune that perhaps was ever wrote out, we request that you will not alter a note.109 While Carey and Fountain were setting Christian hymns to ‘Hindoostanie airs’, some three years later in Dublin it was the musicality of Mlrzm Abn Tmleb Khmn’s rendition of a Hmfiz ode that delighted a senior fellow of Trinity College; in London

The palanquins of state 27 the ‘Persian Prince’ himself hymned English society ladies with parodies of Hmfiz and the Sufistic tropes of calling for wine and renouncing all but the religion of love.110 His ‘Praise of her Mole’, addressed to Miss Julia Burrell, recalls (apart from the lifeless arm of Mustafm’s seraglio slave) Jones’s literal translation of ‘A Persian Song of Hmfiz’, ‘I would give for the mole on her cheek the cities of Samarcand and Bokhara’, and the Sufi ‘mystical allegory’ by which ‘a black mole’ might represent ‘the point of indivisible unity’.111 Despite such beatific unity, margins and identities were being destabilized by such visitors, illustrating Said’s concept of the ‘voyage in’, reversing the colonizer’s ‘voyage out’.112 The counterflow of colonized peoples into Britain revealed the two-way traffic of empire in which the metropolis joined the colony as a site of cultural representing and self-representing. Mlrzm I‘tismm ud Din, in London in the late 1760s, had described the process exactly: ‘The young and old gazed at my countenance and shape and I stared at their beauty and faces. I journeyed for a spectacle and became a spectacle myself’.113 The authors of such texts played a crucial role in adjusting the stereotyped metropolitan construction of India as irrational, static, female, passive and backward, illustrating that the intellectual traffic between dominant and subject cultures is not exclusively in one direction. The contraflow of empire brought Mlrzm Abn Tmleb Khmn, an Indo-Persian poet and munshi, on a three-year visit to Britain where he was feted by the Duchess of Devonshire and the cream of English high society. As Nigel Leask demonstrates, Abn Tmlib Khmn’s Travels (1810) represents a document of cultural translation, undermining Eurocentric notions, and heightening anxieties concerning masculinity, sexuality and questions of authority. As we have seen, the effects of such ‘reverse ethnography’ may be explored in processes of transculturation occurring both in the colony and the metropolis. Courteously invited by Lady Spencer (whose epithalamium Jones had penned when she married Viscount Althorp, his former pupil) to be candid about the English, Abn Tmlib itemizes a twelve-point list of their demerits, many of which mirror those generally assigned to Orientals. Such subcontinental enlightened relativism also characterizes his essay, ‘Vindication of the Liberties of Asiatic women’.114 In this context, as Leask has shown, it is instructive to counterpoint with Abn Tmleb Khmn’s Travels, the epistolary novel, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah (1796), by the Scots-Irish writer, Elizabeth Hamilton. In this way, we can appreciate the ways in which the ‘Persian Letters’ genre of European Occidentalism (by no means the binary of Orientalism), and to which her novel belongs, was effectively superseded by an ‘authentic’ Shi‘ite Muslim representation of the metropolis.115 The collision (and collusion) of fictionality and historicity is disturbingly reflected in what Leask has termed ‘the ever-receding hall of mirrors which characterizes colonial representation’. Piquant ironies are compounded when, having met Din Muhammad at the house of Captain William Massey Baker, Abn Tmlib attended one of the more spectacular aspects of imperial representation: a ‘colonial’ Dublin performance of Astley’s The Siege and Storming of Seringapatam. Ultimately, the ‘Persian Prince’ acquired an additional and metropolitan appellation; on his return to Bengal he became known as Mlrzm Abn Tmleb Londony.


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The collusion of documented history and Romantic fiction is comprehensively interrogated in Douglas Peers’s essay. Reading Walter Scott’s novella, ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ together with Robert Orme’s A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan (1769) demonstrates just how subtly interwoven were strands of Orientalism, Romanticism and militarism in the textual fabric(ation) of the conquest of India. In the dedication of his The History of Hindustan (1768) to George III, Alexander Dow, ‘Lieutenant-Colonel in the Company’s Service’, had announced: ‘The success of your Majesty’s arms has laid open the East to the researches of the curious’, revealing the integral relationship between hegemony and historiography, between ruling and imagining India, at a time when so many representations of British Hindustan were provided by soldiers.116 Captain Doveton’s recollection of a time when ‘The Arabian Nights and Orme’s noted works were our main sources of information relative to those interesting regions’ can thus counterpoint Scott’s definition of India as a ‘realm of imaginative licence’, as Orme negotiated the apparent binaries of epic sweep and minute archival detail. For both the muse of fiction and the sons of Scotland might prosper in the picturesque medievalism of India as they contributed to what J. W. Kaye was to term ‘the poetry of Indian warfare’. Peers’ counterpointed reading of Orme and Scott demonstrates how this military emphasis enabled ‘representations of Scottishness, along with Scottish Enlightenment ways of explaining historical evolution, to become integral elements in the dominant colonial culture’. By examining the interwoven tropes of history and Romanticism, we can begin to understand how empire produced Romanticism and Britain itself. Peers reminds us of Sir Walter Scott’s reluctance to meet Raja Rammohan Ray while on a visit to London in 1831, whereas writers and intellectuals such as Lucy Aikin, Jeremy Bentham, William Godwin and Robert Owen were positively anxious to make the acquaintance of this ‘wandering knight’ of Hindu monism. Back in 1777, Mrs [Jemima] Kindersley had declared: No Martin Luther has arisen to open their eyes; and was it possible for any Brahmin by translating the Shastah from the Sanscrit to the vulgar tongue, or by explaining it according to common sense, was to endeavour to free them from their absurdities, they are too ignorant, and too indolent, to be benefited by it.117 Over forty years later, in a letter of 31 January 1819 to Southey, Coleridge announced the arrival of Rammohan Ray as ‘the Luther of Brahminism’ and socialists and socialites vied with each other to meet this celebrity Brahman.118 The ‘forbidden’ voyage westward allowed Raja Rammohun Ray to emerge as the representation of an Indian identity exemplary in his links with high-caste and ancient texts. As a Brahman ennobled by a Mughal Emperor to represent him at the English Court, Rammohun Ray was speaking out of the Hindu and Muslim traditions; furthermore, through his writing and publishing in Sanskrit, Bengali, Persian and English, his undermining of essentialist representations of India was effectively communicated to Hindu, Muslim and Christian audiences. Amit Ray’s chapter explores the importance of this ‘Hindu deist’ or ‘Hindu Unitarian’ to the development

The palanquins of state 29 of religious radicalism in the metropolis. The intellectual prestige of the Vedas allowed Indians to represent themselves to the West as possessing an ancient tradition of rational philosophy, with no need for the importation of European reason. Though the West had no monopoly on rationalism, Unitarianism, that most rational form of rational dissent, allowed Rammohun Ray to fend off the Serampore Baptists while associating himself with its tradition of radical, intellectual and political reform. In Rammohun Ray’s hands, Hindu Vedanta, Muslim rationalism and radical Unitarianism represented a powerfully enabling intellectual triad for India in its quest to become a self-determining, modern pluralistic society. As Amit Ray puts it: ‘The combination of textual past and print present was a brand new form of social power’, and Rammohun Ray appreciated how the Orientalists were making available in the secular public domain texts formerly subject to exclusive Brahmanical control. Governor-General Marquess Wellesley’s establishment of Fort William College in 1799 led to innovations in translation and publishing through some most productive cooperation between H. T. Colebrooke, the Asiatic Society and the Serampore Baptist Mission Press set up in 1801 to produce a Bengali version of the New Testament. But that was not all. The Serampore ‘trio’, William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward, approached the College and the Society for financial support for the translation and publication of central Sanskrit texts, and Carey began the work of editing Vmlmlki’s epic, the Rmmmyana, which was published during 1806–10.119 The dissemination of Vedantic writings by means of a new print culture would encourage the revitalizing of Hindu learning and philosophy, accomplishing Oriental renaissance in the West and enabling the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj to effect cultural revolution in India. These texts were subsequently seized upon by the Hindu national movement as symbols of Hindutva (Hindu-ness), ultimately constituting defining symbols of Indian resistance to British rule. *



In October 1786, Lt Colonel Allan Macpherson, who was entrusted with Hmjl Mustafm’s ‘29 quires’ of Ghulam Husain’s Sëir Mutaqharin, was making his preparations for returning to England. He booked passages for himself, his family and Sir John Macpherson in the Berrington, the notably fast East Indiaman in which Hastings had sailed home in February 1785. Among the supplies taken aboard, which included ‘65 pairs of stockings, superfine white crape and white ribbons bought from Mrs Eliza Fay, the letter writer and milliner’; 183 shirts at eight rupees each; a pipe of Madeira, and ‘6 dozen English claret’, was loaded ‘264 bhangies of Seetacoon water’ which had been dispatched to Calcutta from Monghyr ‘in 70 earthern jars, with covers’.120 Sitacoon water was generally regarded as the water of choice in north India; Captain Charles Madan, an aide-de-camp to Cornwallis, declares: ‘Every body drinks the Seetacoon water in preference to all others’, describing its special property of ‘keep[ing] sweet a long time [. . .] superior far to any other water I have tasted in India, in sweetness and transparency’.121 The source of this water lay in the beautiful


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countryside outside Monghyr (Munger) which greatly impressed Cornwallis’s party, as it had inspired some of Hodges’s most dramatic paintings several years earlier.122 Madan’s representation of the scene specifically links the picturesque with the political: The road from the fort to the well, lies through the pleasantest country I’ve seen in India, on one side the roughest rocks towering to the skies form a scene romantic in the extreme, on the other, rich fields of cultivation, among which are here and there interspersed, in the happiest manner, numberless cottages, a few large bungalows belonging to Europeans, and clusters of the choicest mango trees, that form the most delightful shade, ever impervious to the sun’s meridian rays.123 Madan also records the remarkable fact that the cool well from which it is drawn is adjacent to an ‘exceedingly hot spring’, but, in his propagandizing stride, omits to mention that this scene of mild Company government was also a most sacred Hindu space. The geological thermodynamics of the spot had drawn a group of gentleman to investigate two years earlier.124 They indeed remarked on the number of Hindu temples in the area, for Sitm-Kund was, and remains, a famous pilgrimage site on account of its connections with Sitm, the wife of Rmma (an avatar of Vixn.u) and heroine of Vmlmlki’s Rmmmyana. After having been abducted by the lecherous king Rmvana, Sitm undergoes Agni Pariksha (ordeal by fire) to demonstrate her chastity. Such is the concentrated spiritual heat of her tapas, accumulated through her self-control and faithfulness, that she scorches the god of fire (Agni) himself, and simultaneously purifies and boils the water in which she performs her spiritual ablutions. The scientific gentleman-investigators, unlike Sydney Owenson, know nothing of tapas, but their fascination with the ‘very romantic scene’ was intensified by their discovery of ‘a quantity of water issuing out of the side of the rocks, and a blue flame covering the whole surface of the water [. . .] the scene was really frightful’ (p. 210). In the same way Owenson was to use the Gothic effect of this blue flame in The Missionary (1811) to emphasise the terror of her Brahman priestess enduring the ‘excommunication’ of loss of caste: ‘the faint blue light [. . .] issued from the earth, in a remote part of the cavern, and which seemed to proceed from a subterraneous fire, which burst at intervals into flame, throwing a frightful glare upon objects in themselves terrific’.125 Jones, in adapting a narrative of the feisty polyandrous heroine Draupadl from the Mahmbhmrata, had also demonstrated his familiarity with that other great Hindu epic, the Rmmmyana, through his annotated use of an image concerning Sitm’s purifying purity. In his mock-heroic ‘The Enchanted Fruit; or, The Hindu Wife’ (1784) Draupadl, making confession of her youthful vanity, admits that she had chosen droplet earrings of such brilliance and transparency that they reflected the pellucid water of Sitm-Kund: What Condals† should emblaze my ears, Like Seita’s waves‡ or Seita’s tears;§

The palanquins of state 31 † Pendents. ‡ SEITA CUND, or the Pool of Seitá, the wife of RAM, is the name given to the wonderful spring at Mengeir, with boiling water of exquisite clearness and purity. § Her tears, when she was made captive by the giant Rawán.126 Some eighty years later, Govin Chunder Dutt (1828–84), a member of the bhadralok elite of Bengal, an eminent linguist and great admirer of Wordsworth, was also drawn by the beauty of Monghyr to depict the pool of Sitm; in English he penned the following sonnet: ‘Seetakoond, Monghyr’ A hot and steaming spring, as crystal clear, Up-bubbles from the bowels of the earth; No eye has seen the cradle of its birth, Far underground ’mid caverns dark and drear. Unshapely temples all around appear, And banians huge, rough-gnarled, of ample girth; A sacred spot, by pilgrims held in worth, Who come from far to bathe and worship here. They say that Seeta, fairest of the fair, Once laved in this her limbs when roaming free, And hence the waters have received a share Of her warm heart and stainless purity; A sweet romance, a legend quaint and rare, But marred by taint of foul idolatry.127 The blue light, like the blue lotos, is absent from the picture; Dutt represents belief as reduced to legend, the legend to quaintness, a narrative somehow irrelevant, if not ‘unshapely’, like the temples. The legend, if not the water, is tainted, polluted by the very Hinduism which created it, for Govin Chunder Dutt had embraced another Oriental religion, Christianity, together with his whole family, including his daughters Toru and Aru, who were to become the first female Indian poets in English. The religious and cultural self-division reflected in the tensions between ‘sweet romance’ and ‘foul idolatry’ in the father’s sonnet is magnified in Toru Dutt’s poem ‘Sita’ which depicts herself, one of ‘Three happy children in a darkened room’, weeping tears of sympathy with Sitm as their mother reads from the Rmmmyana.128 One might refer to self-divided otherness, but such cultural hybridizing was not cultural betrayal, nor was it exclusively the product of religious conversion; certainly the Dutts, father and daughter, are torn between reproducing Romantic representations of a spiritualized India and underwriting Hegelian notions of its irrationality. Such are the frequently uncomfortable positionings imposed by postcolonialism, and the contents of this volume will address the complex, diverse and evolving specificities of Orientalism over the Romantic period. In some respects,


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we have travelled a long way from the slightly decaying grandeur of a nawab’s garden in Murshidabad to the pool of Sitm outside Monghyr, but it is, in effect, only some 180 miles according to Rennell’s table of roads;129 the representations of passages to and from ‘British’ India that follow will involve more substantial mental journeys.

Notes 1 The New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1790, 1791, pp. 21–2. 2 The term ‘nabob’ was commonly used for a nawab, or Mughal provincial governor, as well as for an East India Company employee whose large fortune enabled him to rival such an Eastern potentate in splendour. ‘half reas’ning elephant’, Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, London: Lawton Gilliver, 1734, l. 214, p. 17. 3 Godwin relinquished this duty in the summer of 1791, after completing his contribution to this very number of New Annual Register, though Godwin’s responsibility does not seem to have extended to the ‘Principal Occurrences’ listings. See Jack W. Marken, ‘William Godwin’s Writing for the New Annual Register’, Modern Language Notes, 68(7), 1953, 477–9. 4 Hartly House, Calcutta, 3 vols, London: Dodsley, 1789, vol. 3, pp. 149–52. Gibbes’ allocation to the Nawab of seven elephants is interesting in the light of the fact that the question of ‘how many elephants were necessary to the state of the Vizier of the Empire’ was raised under Article XVI of the impeachment charges against Hastings; Articles of Charge of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, against Warren Hastings, Esq. . . . presented to the House of Commons, on the 4th day of April, 1786. By . . . Edmund Burke, London: Stockdale, 1786, p. 168. 5 Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973; see also his Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, on ‘the essentially provisional and contingent nature of historical representations’ and ‘the fictive nature of historical narrative’. 6 Short State of the Present Situation of the India Company, London: Debrett, 1784, pp. 1–2. 7 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (1978), Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995, pp. 272–3. 8 Minutes of the evidence, taken before a committee of the whole House of Commons; on the articles of charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, presented to the House, against Warren Hastings, Esq., London: Debrett, 1787, pp. 103, 108, 116. On Hastings’s adaptation of Mughal concepts of gifting, and Cornwallis’s lack of sympathy with, and/or understanding of, these traditions; see Natasha Eaton, p. 168. 9 Some 42 years later in 1829, Sir James Edward Colebrooke fell foul of representatives of a later generation of reformers: Charles Edward Trevelyan and Lord William Bentinck. The receipt of gifts/bribes totalling a million rupees led to a second, and more serious, dismissal; see Katherine Prior, Lance Brennan and Robin Haines, ‘Bad Language: The Role of English, Persian and other Esoteric Tongues in the Dismissal of Sir Edward Colebrooke as Resident of Delhi in 1829’, Modern Asian Studies, 35, 2001, 75–112. See also Peter Marshall, p. 105. 10 In fact, Hastings had argued that Mubarak ud-Daula ‘be permitted to dispose of his own stipend’ as early as 7 July 1781; see Ninth Report from the Select Committee, appointed to take into consideration the State of the Administration of Justice in the Provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, London, 1783, p. 61. 11 ‘From the beginning of Western speculation about the Orient, the one thing the Orient could not do was to represent itself’, Said, Orientalism, p. 283. 12 For important biographical material on Ghulam Husain, see Gulfishan Khan, Indian Perceptions of the West During the Eighteenth Century, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 84–92. 13 Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai, A Translation of the Sëir Mutaqharin; or, View of Modern Times, being an History of India, from the Year 1118 to the Year 1195 (this year answers to the Christian year

The palanquins of state 33 1781–82), 3 vols, Calcutta: James White, 1789 [1790], vol. 2, pp. 425–6. He also takes pains to point out that none of this money benefits the pensioners of Murshidabad: [T]heir rulers and administrators, regardless of the tears of mankind, and unmindful of the fear of God, remain entirely insensible: being themselves incapable of any kind of honour, [. . .] whilst [. . .] they spend thousands and thousands, nay lacs and lacs, and never abate from their vanities and misdemeanours. (Ibid., p. 427) 14 See the valuable article by Kumkum Chatterjee, ‘History as Self-Representation: The Recasting of a Political Tradition in Late Eighteenth-Century Eastern India’, Modern Asian Studies, 32(4), 1998, 913–48. 15 It is interesting to see how closely Ghulam Husain’s representation of Mubarak ud-Daula resembles that provided by a later ‘official’ discourse: John Shore’s report of 11 June 1787 to Cornwallis’s Secret and Political Department: As it may perhaps be useful to know the Nabob’s real Character, I shall give my Idea of it. That he possesses many good Qualities cannot be distrusted; he is good-natured, benevolent and humane; his Understanding is naturally good, and might have been equal to the Management of his own Affairs, but it has not acquired much Improvement from Education, nor Vigor from Exercise. The Nabob, as my situation formerly allowed me to learn, fell early into Habits of Dissipation, and from that Period he no longer attended to improve himself. At present a great Portion of his Time is spent in the Haram, where he daily retires from the Importunities of Supplicants, or Complainants, who surround him in the Morning. All Access is denied to them while he is there, except through the Intervention of the Eunuchs [. . .] In the management of his own Affairs, notwithstanding his solemn Assurances pledged to Mr. Hastings, he is no Oeconomist, but is ready to gratify his Inclinations for any Expence, without Thought or Consideration whence the Fund for it is to be supplied. (Minutes of the evidence taken at the trial of Warren Hastings Esquire, late Governor General of Bengal, at the bar of the House of Lords, 11 vols, London: 1788–95, 8: 55–6) 16 The Nawab’s tastes, it would seem, were early formed for him: ‘The present Nabob of Bengal, Mobareck al Dowlah, when a child, was furnished with a seraglio, in order it is supposed to accelerate the weakness and infirmities of old age, by the premature enjoyment of venery’, Charles Caraccioli, The Life of Robert Lord Clive, Baron Plassey, 4 vols, London: T. Bell [1775–7], vol. 1, p. 386. 17 Cited by Rajat Kanta Ray, ‘Indian Society and the Establishment of British Supremacy, 1765–1818’, in The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. II, The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 508–29, at p. 508, from Khurshidul Islam and Ralph Russell, Three Mughal Poets: Mir, Sauda, and Mir Hasan, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 22. 18 Here is a typical representation of Mughal good government: This treaty of peace restored tranquillity and security to all the campaigns in Bengal; and as no apprehension remained of any invader, or of any commotion from abroad. Aaly-verdy-qhan made a great reduction in his army; and then turned his views entirely towards rebuilding villages, tilling abandoned lands, cherishing the husbandmen, and recalling to their homes the inhabitants of an infinity of towns, plundered and ruined by the Marhattas. He made the ease of the people as well as of the nobility the foremost care of his mind. (Sëir, vol. 1, pp. 635–6)


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19 See The Travels of Dean Mahomet: An Eighteenth-Century Journey Through India, ed. Michael H. Fisher, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997; idem, The First Indian Author in English, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996; idem, ‘Representations of India, the English East India Company, and Self by an Eighteenth-Century Indian Emigrant to Britain’, Modern Asian Studies, 32(4), 1998, 891–911. See also Kate Teltscher, ‘The Shampooing Surgeon and the Persian Prince: Two Indians in Early Nineteenth-century Britain’, Interventions, 2(3), 2000, 409–23. See also Leask, p. 411. 20 Fisher, The Travels of Dean Mahomet, pp. 123, 92. 21 Fisher, ‘Representations of India, the English East India Company, and Self’, p. 906. 22 Fisher, The Travels of Dean Mahomet, pp. 60–1. It is instructive to read this account against Burke’s comments on ‘the beggary of the Nabob of Bengal’, Speech on Mr Fox’s East India Bill, 1 December 1783, The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. V, India: Madras and Bengal 1774–1785, ed. P. J. Marshall, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981, p. 400. Significantly, Hastings described Mubarak ud-Daula as ‘a mere Pageant without the Shadow of Authority’, Fifth report from the select committee, appointed to take into consideration the state of the administration of justice in the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, London, 1782, p. 24. Consider also the representations of Mubarak ud-Daula’s palace as decidedly shabby (see Natasha Eaton, p. 176 below) although the exaggeration of ruin or decay might have decidedly political rather than Romantic motives. 23 Chatterjee, ‘History as Self-Representation’, p. 940. 24 Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Sly Civility’, October, 34, Fall 1985, 71–80; see also his ‘Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse’, October, 28, Spring 1984, 125–33. 25 On their differing representations of India, see my ‘Accessing India: Orientalism, “Anti-Indianism” and the Rhetoric of Jones and Burke’, in Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire 1780–1830, ed. Tim Fulford and Peter Kitson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 48–66. 26 The Letters of Sir William Jones, ed. Garland Cannon, 2 vols, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970, vol. 2, pp. 642–5. 27 Rohilla War Speech, 1 June 1786, The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. VI, India: The Launching of the Hastings Impeachment, 1786–88, ed. P. J. Marshall, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 110. Paul Langford, ‘Edmund Burke’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. See also Leask, p. 401. 28 See Frans De Bruyn, ‘Edmund Burke’s Gothic Romance: The Portrayal of Warren Hastings in Burke’s Writings and Speeches on India’, Criticism, 29(4), 1987, 415–38; Sara Sulieri, The Rhetoric of English India, Chicago, IL and London: University Press of Chicago, 1992. 29 The Works of Sir William Jones, ed. Anna Maria Jones, 13 vols, London: Stockdale and Walker, 1807, vol. 3, pp. 214. Jones had sent home a copy of the Sëir Mutaqharin, with warm recommendations, to C. W. Boughton Rouse, Secretary to the Board of Control for India, in an attempt to secure financial security for the ‘venerable old man’, Ghulam Husain. He described it as ‘an excellent impartial modern History of India [. . .] containing very just Remarks on the Administration of Government and Justice by our Nation, but sine irâ aut odio’ (without anger or hatred), see Letters, vol. 2, pp. 723–4; 805–6. 30 See W. H. Carey, The Good Old Days of Honourable John Company, 2 vols, Calcutta: Cambray, 1907, vol. 2, p. 238. 31 Sëir, ‘Proposals’, vol. 1, p. 3. ‘[M]y only real aim at first was, to bring up a great deal of information, which I conceived might greatly conduce to clear Governor Hastings’s character’, Sëir, vol. 2, Appendix, p. 2. Colonel Allan Macpherson was Quartermaster General in Bengal from 1781–7 and private secretary and Persian translator to Sir John Macpherson, Governor General of Bengal 1785–6; both men were cousins of James ‘Ossian’ Macpherson. He was a member of the Asiatic Society, and departed Calcutta with Mustafm’s manuscript on 24 January 1787; see The Bengal Calendar & Register, for the Year 1790, Calcutta: James White, 1790, pp. 67, 106. Extracts from his letters and journals were edited in Soldiering in India 1764–1787, ed. W. C. Macpherson, Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1928.

The palanquins of state 35 32 Mustafm’s Appendix, in the form of a letter to a Junior Merchant of the Company, William Armstrong (who had evidently both sniped at the literary quality of the translation and implied a mercenary motive), detailed the project’s costs at 8,700 Rupees, little of which he would recoup from subscribers returned to England, and attacked extortionate and inefficient printing in Calcutta, Sëir, vol. 2, Appendix, pp. 3ff. 33 Mustafm continues in a vein of heavy sarcasm: and as the great ones of this land, after having been for ages together insensible and quite callous to every thing like character, have learned of the English to pay some regard to it, just as they have learned the use of China-tea, Mohogany chairs, and Buff-breeches; so, it is natural to think that those men, who have left it as a legacy to their children and sons-in-law, to wreck hereafter by every means in their power their vengeance upon the author of that work, have likewise conceived an inconquerable prejudice against the man that has presumed, by his translation, to expose them on the Theatre of an English world: and this, Mylord, over and above the natural influence which Eunuchs have over immured Ladies, and immured Ladies, immensely rich, over men in power in general, and over Mahmed-Reza-Khan in particular, proves to be the key of that sentence in which an innocent man is undone. (Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad, Calcutta: printed for the author, 1789, pp. 67–8) 34 The attornies, who have followed the judges in search of prey, as the carrion crows do an Indian army on its march, are extremely successful in supporting the spirit of litigation among the natives’, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Genuine Memoirs of Asiaticus, in a Series of Letters to a Friend, during Five Years Residence in Different Parts of India, London: Kearsley, 1784, p. 53. On Hicky and the counter-public sphere in Calcutta, see my ‘ “The Hastings Circle”: Writers and Writing in Calcutta in the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century’, in Authorship, Commerce and the Public: Scenes of Writing, 1750–1850, ed. Emma Clery, Caroline Franklin and Peter Garside, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002, pp. 186–202. 35 As Mustafm powerfully puts it to Cornwallis: Do you really believe that among ten thousand low or middling people, oppressed, there can be ten men who have right notions enough of the English Government to think that redress may be had, if applied for? And of these ten do you believe there is one single of them that can muster either money enough, or courage enough, or patience enough, to attempt it? None: assuredly none will ever think of it, unless he be an Armenian, a Bengalee connected with the principal Bengalees of Calcutta, or possibly, but I doubt much of it, a man dependant on the two Nawabs of Moorshoodabad [Mubarak ud-Daula and Muhammad Reza Khan], or on the Djagatseats [powerful Murshidabad bankers]. If you be new in Jerusalem it is to no purpose to argument this matter with you; and if you be not, it would be needless to take that trouble. (Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad, pp. 84–5) 36 ‘Governor Vansittart and Mr. Hastings excepted, I was the only European that understood a little Persian; and of course, when Persian and Indian books, miniatures, and curiosities bore their own price in common with all other objects of commerce and no more; and when likewise I was the only man that ever thought of such a collection’, Sëir, vol. 1, p. 17. 37 He is amused at the misinterpretation of his collecting expeditions by many of his English acquaintances ‘who fancy I never travel without some mighty scheme in my head, thought I was actually upon the wing for some political project’, Sëir, vol. 1, p. 18. 38 Further insights into his seraglio selection are provided by his pamphlet. In 1787 he sent his servant to Lucknow to sell various articles, including sabres, pistols, fowling


Michael J. Franklin pieces and – significantly – ‘an Encyclopedical Dictionary’, in order ‘to purchase four girls from Sixteen to twenty five, tall and slender’. The servant received ‘a box on the ear’ for acquiring two black children, and two other women as small as children, very ugly [. . .] It appeared that, as he like a true Indian, was fond of small bodied things, and with all his countrymen set a high value upon the coal-black color. (Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad, p. 25)

39 ‘But men on the decline of life, who after abandoning the scheme of making a collection of books, jump at once into the project of making a collection of Female Beauties, must lay their account with cutting now and then a capital figure in certain adventures, which never fail to spring up in a house where youth and beauty are jumbled together with old age and wrinkles’, Sëir, vol. 1, pp. 18–19. His use of the Anglicism, ‘cutting a capital figure’ emphasises the disjunctions of East and West in this self-divided self-representation. 40 Of course, the question of slavery encouraged a certain self-divided response for Europeans in Bengal. Sir William Jones, who abhorred the sight of ‘large boats filled with such children coming down the river for open sale at Calcutta’, confessed ‘I have slaves, who I rescued from death or misery, but consider them as other servants’, ‘Charge to the Grand Jury, June 10, 1785’, Works, vol. 3, pp. 15–16. Mustafm suggests that British attempts to subdue the trade ‘caused in the years 1787, 88, and 89, the death of three hundred thousand boys and girls that have died of famine in Bengal’, Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad, p. 35. 41 Mustafm demonstrates both his commercial acumen and his connoisseurial tastes in his representation of sexual slavery: Habissinian men and women bear the highest price for their unshaken integrity and their exemplary fidelity [. . .] there are some secret reasons that render the women, especially so highly valuable, although they are by no means comparable to Indians in beauty: they have long unhandsome faces betwixt the tawny and olive, and hair just hanging in ringlets as far as the shoulder, and never farther: But then they make up for this by three qualifications that set them above all the women of the two continents, save perhaps the Negroes: to wit, a mobility and versatility of body that amazes a philosopher; and an animal warmth, and personal elasticity, that surpasses all belief; hence eight hundred Mohurs have been offered in India for an Habissinian virgin of sixteen, and refused. (Ibid., p. 16) 42 Ironically, at Westminster Burke had represented Hastings as ‘employ[ing] his Researches in the Seraglio’ when he selected Munni Begam to be the guardian of Mubarak ud-Daula, and thus failing to maintain in the Nawab ‘the Dignity necessary to carry on the Representation of political Government’, Eleventh Report of Select Committee, Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. V, pp. 361–2. 43 Sëir, vol. 1, p. 22. Mustafm subsequently determined to direct any profit from the sale of his translation to ‘British insolvent debtors in Bengal’ (Sëir, vol. 1, p. 5). In this also there might well have been an element of mimicry of the British Orientalists, for Sir William Jones, who helped Mustafm translate some of the more ornate Persian of the Sëir, donated the proceeds of his translation of Kmlidmsa’s Ôakuntalm (1789), published in Calcutta a few months earlier, to insolvent debtors. 44 Tlpn Sultmn, ruler of Mysore, would shortly be in communication with the French Republic who addressed him as ‘Citizen Sultaun Tippoo’; see Copies and extracts of advices to and from India, relative to . . . the late Tippoo Sultaun, London: East India Company, 1800, p. 169.

The palanquins of state 37 45 P. J. Marshall’s account is useful here: During the eighteenth century the rulers of Benares had carved out a domain for themselves which came under British authority in 1775 by an arrangement carried by Hastings’s opponents against him. Chet Singh, the raja of Benares, was required to pay a subsidy which, in line with the company’s increasing needs, Hastings forced him to augment. On the pretext that he was evading legitimate demands, Hastings proposed to exact a large fine from him on a personal visit in 1781. The raja’s retainers resisted the demand and forced Hastings to flee from the city. With considerable coolness he organized military measures to crush the uprising and eventually imposed a settlement that fully incorporated Benares into British territory. The episode left, however, a strong impression that Hastings had acted tyrannically as well as subjecting himself to needless risks. ‘Warren Hastings’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. See also P. J. Marshall, The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750–1783, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 265; Warren Hastings, A Narrative of the Late Transactions at Benares, London: Debrett, 1782. 46 The footnote continues: If ever an European has been regretted by the Natives, it is this man. Possibly my Testimony may appear suspicious, but I protest that I speak here without any bias: I do not believe that the assertion can admit of a doubt: a general regret has pervaded all ranks, since that man’s departure; and I am much mistaken, if the English themselves, among whom there was once a violent party against him, are not now pretty unanimous in praising and regretting him. (Sëir, vol. 1, p. 23) 47 These subaltern voices from Murshidabad, which by means of Mustafm’s Preface and Appendix virtually frame Ghulam Husain’s history, would seem of inherent interest to the Subaltern Studies project, founded by the Bengali Ranajit Guha. This significant intervention into South Asian historiography has recently been accused of forsaking the subaltern in favour of postcolonial discourse analysis; see Vinayak Chaturvedi, Mapping Subaltern Studies and Postcoloniality, London and New York: Verso, 2000; and Reading Subaltern Studies: Critical History, Contesting Meanings, and the Globalization of South Asia, ed. David Ludden, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001. Murshidabad discourse, as represented by Mustafm, also throws interesting side-lights upon the much-debated relationship between Orientalism and nationalism. David Ludden has maintained that: In nationalism we find the vitality of Orientalism today [. . .] Today, Orientalism is most defensible on the ground that people in India and elsewhere believe its imagery to represent the truth about themselves’, ‘Orientalist Empiricism: Transformations of Colonial Knowledge’, in Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament, ed. Carol Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993, pp. 250–78, at p. 271. Gyan Prakash, on the other hand, has claimed: ‘[N]ationalism reversed Orientalist thought, and attributed agency and history to the subjected nation’, ‘Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism’, The American Historical Review, 99(5), December 1994, 1475–90, at 1475. The following year Partha Chatterjee argued that: ‘Orientalist scholarship was extremely important in the construction of nationalist history’, ‘Claims on the Past: The Genealogy of Modern Historiography in Bengal’, in Subaltern Studies, vol. 8, ed. David Arnold and David Hardman, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 29.


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48 Mustafm returns to the subject of this ‘revolutionary’ moment in his Appendix: [I]f ever an European was beloved in India, it must have been Hastings; and if ever a man had a chance of rendering the English government tolerable at least, if not acceptable, to the natives, it must have been Hastings; and yet, behold: hardly is this man supposed killed, than all, all Sir, (it is the very word;) all, think of rising on the English. Our Zemindars [landholders] stand-up: keep correspondences with Chéyt Sing: our Sipahis talk irreverently of their masters and desert in shoals: the very old Begums of Fáiz-abad raise their drooping heads; and Middleton and Colonel Martin are obliged to barricade their quarters, and to place cannon: in one word the country proves unanimously ripe for a revolution: (these being the very words used by the Supreme Council to the Court of Directors). (Sëir, vol. 2, Appendix, p. 26) 49 Minutes of the evidence taken at the trial of Warren Hastings, vol. 1, p. 120. Significantly, the printer’s device of the pointed finger appears to mark this paragraph in the right-hand margin. 50 The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon (1785), reprinted in The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism, ed. Michael J. Franklin, 6 vols, London: Ganesha Publishing/Edition Synapse, 2001, vol. 1, p. 3. 51 It was not only Eurocentric stereotypes that were being radically adjusted by Orientalist publications. Din Muhammad cites Francis Gladwin’s translation of the M’ln-i Akbarl: ‘The native Indians, or Hindoos, are men of strong natural genius, and are, by no means, unacquainted with literature and science, as the translation of the Ayeen Akberry into English, has fully evinced’, Travels of Dean Mahomet, p. 83. 52 Hastings to Jonathan Scott, 9 December 1784, BL Add MS. 29129, f. 275. 53 Ultimately, Orientalist knowledge might be used to challenge European dominance; in the following century it was deployed by Indian nationalists against British hegemony. 54 See Rosane Rocher, ‘Weaving Knowledge: Sir William Jones and Indian Pandits’, in Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), ed. Garland Cannon and Kevin Brine, New York: New York University Press, 1995, pp. 51–79. 55 A significant example of mutual respect is provided by Din Muhammad: The first baptism is performed at the time of the birth, by a Bramin who, though of different religious principles, is held in the utmost veneration by the Mahometans, for his supposed knowledge in astrology, by which he is said to foretell the future destiny of the child. (The Travels of Dean Mahomet, p. 63) 56 See Sëir Mutaqharin, vol. 3, pp. 348–9. 57 ‘Even British orientalist scholars who are known for their admiration of Indian culture and traditions confined their interests to ancient India and specifically to the achievements of the Aryans’, Chatterjee, ‘History as Self-Representation’, pp. 945–85. For a fuller refutation of this idea, see my ‘Pluralism Celebrated and Desecrated: A Mughal and British Imperial Romantic Legacy’, delivered to the Asiatic Society on 8th February 2006. 58 Jones records both his gratitude and his excitement at being introduced to the Dabistan: A fortunate discovery, for which I was first indebted to Mír MUHAMMED HUSAIN, one of the most intelligent Muselmàns in India, has at once dissipated the cloud, and cast a gleam of light on the primeval history of Iràn and of the human race, of which I had long despaired, and which could hardly have dawned from any other quarter. (The Sixth Anniversary Discourse, On the Persians’, Works, vol. 3, p. 110. See also Leask, p. 412)

The palanquins of state 39 59 See BL MSS Eur C 274, a collection of papers reflecting some of Jones’s Persian studies. 60 For example, a single number of Francis Gladwin’s Calcutta periodical, New Asiatic Miscellany (1789), reveals an almost exclusive focus upon Persian and Arabic literature, including Captain William Kirkpatrick’s ‘History of the Persian Poets’, and Gladwin’s own translation of sections of the Dabistan. In fact the only ‘Hindu’ piece is Jones’s own ‘Hymn to Lacshmi’, a Pindaric representation of the beauteous goddess of prosperity. 61 Mary Louise Pratt’s useful term; see Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992. 62 Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 63 N. B. Dirks, ‘The Invention of Caste: Civil Society in Colonial India’, Social Analysis, 25, 1989, 42–52, at 44. G. G. Raheja, The Poison in the Gift: Ritual, Presentation, and the Dominant Caste in a North Indian Village, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988. ‘There are thousands of Brahman castes, some supplying priests, some not, but all continually disputing each other’s status’, Declan Quigley, ‘Deconstructing colonial fictions?’ in After Writing Culture: Epistemology and Praxis in Contemporary Anthropology, ed. Allison James, Jenny Hockley and Andrew Dawson, London: Routledge, 1997, pp. 103–21, at p. 113. 64 The Western County Magazine, 1790, vol. IV, pp. 316–17. 65 His friend, the irrepressible William Hickey, recalled that when Middleton appeared in the impeachment proceedings ‘his total want of recollection respecting any fact or circumstances which he conceived could tend to the prejudice of his patron was so very marked and determined that he acquired the nickname “Memory Middleton” ’, Memoirs of William Hickey, ed. A. Spencer, 4 vols, London: Hurst and Blackett, 1913–25, vol. 3, p. 155. 66 ‘Animated with all the avarice of age and all the impetuosity of youth, they roll in one after another; wave after wave; and there is nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new flights of birds of prey and passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that is continually wasting. Every rupee of profit made by an Englishman is lost forever to India’, Speech on Mr Fox’s East India Bill, 1 December 1783, The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. V, p. 402. Burke had similarly warned of their pollutant powers: ‘This day the Commons of Great Britain prosecute the delinquents of India. – Tomorrow the Delinquents of India may be the Commons of Great Britain’, Speech On The Fourth Day Of Impeachment (7 May 1789), The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. VII, India: The Hastings Trial 1789–1794, ed. P. J. Marshall, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000, p. 61. 67 On the key role of the bania[n], see P. J. Marshall, ‘Masters and Banians in EighteenthCentury Calcutta’, in The Age of Partnership: Europeans in Asia before Dominion, ed. Blair B. King and M. N. Pearson, Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1979, pp. 191–213, and Lakshmi Subramanian, ‘Banias and the British: The Role of Indigenous Credit in the Process of Imperial Expansion in Western India in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century’, Modern Asian Studies, 21(3), 1987, 473–510. 68 Though not by Edward Said who supplied the Foreword to Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680–1880, trans. Gene Patterson-Black and Victor Reinking, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. 69 On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians, reprinted from The Aesthetic and Miscellaneous Works of Frederick von Schlegel, trans. E. J. Millington (1849), in The European Discovery of India, vol. 4, p. 427. 70 According to Alex Aronson, ‘Germany responded “spiritually”, because she had no material interests in India’, Europe Looks at India (1946); Calcutta: Riddhi, 1979, p. 49. Consider Peter Marshall’s important corrective that in the longer term, ‘Indian cultural influences did not take deep root in Britain’; see p. 81. 71 Sheldon Pollock, ‘Deep Orientalism?’ in Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, ed. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993, pp. 76–133, at pp. 81–2.


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72 Monthly Review, NS 23 (August, 1797), 408. On the Scottish Orientalist, see Rosane Rocher, Alexander Hamilton (1762–1824): A Chapter in the Early History of Sanskrit Philology, New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1969. 73 Bayly stresses how the government increasingly relied upon statistical surveys rather than human intelligence after 1830; see Empire and Information, pp. 212ff. On the continuing debate concerning the degree of public interest in the imperial project in the heyday of British Empire, between the 1830s and the 1950s, see Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists. What the British really thought about Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; Paul Gilroy, After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture, London: Routledge, 2004; David Cannadine, Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire, London: Penguin, 2002. 74 Travels in India, during the years 1780, 1781, 1782, & 1783, reprinted in The European Discovery of India, vol. 3, p. iii. 75 Cf. ‘The old Orientalist, buried in texts, and devoted to learning Sanskrit and Persian, was replaced by the official, the scholar and the modernizer’, Gyan Prakash, ‘Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Perspectives from Indian Historiography’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 32(2), 1990, 383–408, at 387. 76 The Times reviewer of the 1840 edition of History of British India praised Horace Hayman Wilson’s editorial correction of some of Mill’s more egregious representations of the Hindus: It is of great importance that the British public should be furnished with accurate views respecting the people of India, because exertions are making in this country with the benevolent design of ameliorating their condition, and misapprehension upon this point will assuredly thwart such a design, and may produce a fatal reaction upon the native community of our eastern empire. (The Times, Thursday, 25 June 1840, p. 6) 77 ‘The everyday religious convictions of large numbers of middle-class Victorians not arcane theories of Aryan diasporas were the motive force behind the civilizing mission’, ‘Looking Back at the Raj’, review of Thomas R. Metcalf, The New Cambridge History of India, III. 4: Ideologies of the Raj, TLS, 14 July 1995. 78 See Sudipta Sen, Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India, New York: Routledge, 2002; William Dalrymple, White Mughals; Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India, London: HarperCollins, 2002. 79 See Nicholas Hudson, ‘From “Nation” to “Race”: The Origins of Racial Classification in Eighteenth-Century Thought’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 29, 1996, 247–64. See also Richard H. Popkin, ‘The Philosophical Basis of Eighteenth-Century Racism’, in Racism in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol. 3, ed. H. E. Pagliaro, Cleveland and London: Case Western Reserve University Press, 1973, pp. 245–62; Londa Schiebinger, ‘The Anatomy of Difference: Race and Sex in Eighteenth-Century Science’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 23, 1990, 387–405; Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context, New York and London, Routledge, 1995. 80 On ‘The Ordering of Difference’, see Thomas R. Metcalf, The New Cambridge History of India, III. 4: Ideologies of the Raj, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 113–59. See also Thomas R. Trautmann, Aryans and British India, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977; William R. Pinch, ‘Same Difference in India and Europe’, [review article] History and Theory, 38(3), October, 1999, 389–407. 81 The Times, 12 September 1827, p. 3. Cf. John Fountain’s ‘boxing-up’ of Hinduism in Note 80. 82 In these ways, ‘hierarchy’, according to David Cannadine, ‘homogenized the heterogeneity of empire’, Ornamentalism, pp. 5–6, 85. 83 Before William Carey’s 1800 move to the Danish settlement of Serampore, north of Calcutta, Baptist missionaries had to keep a low profile in the face of Company disapproval. A committed Baptist’s letter from Mudnabatty, 50 miles north of Malda, stresses

The palanquins of state 41 both the misguided dream and the fantasy of containment: I fully intend however to send a box by the ships of next season, containing some of the implements, utensils, and idols, of the Hindoos; which may serve as useful illustrations when the present customs, manners, and superstitions of these tribes shall be known only in history. In what he terms an ‘ideal excursion’ he continues: ‘I see Hindoo pagoda’s and Mohammedan mosques all destroyed! Where they stood Christian temples are erected, in which Jehovah is worshipped in the beauty of holiness! The horrid music is heard no more! The frantic dance has ceased!’ John Fountain to Mr Morris, 12 May 1798, Periodical accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society, Clipstone: J. W. Morris, 1800, vol. 1, p. 423. 84 ‘Several Petitions for facilitating the introduction of Christian Knowledge into India, were presented by Viscount Lord Sidmouth and Lord Byron’, Morning Chronicle, Wed. 2 June 1813. On Shelley, see Franklin, p. 177, n. 39. 85 The Times, Tuesday, 28 October 1823, p. 2. This critic is, perhaps, a little too sanguine about its eradication. Within a year, parliamentary discussion papers were contrasting British and Mughal imperial government to the advantage of the latter: The Mahometan conquerors of India had courage and humanity enough to abolish this detestable practice in all the countries subject to their rule: why should we [. . .] be reluctant to follow their noble example?’, ‘Papers Upon Hindoo Infanticide. (The Times, Monday, 25 October 1824, p. 3) 86 See The European Discovery of India, vol. 6, pp. x–xii. Jonathan Duncan, the resident at Banaras, successfully eradicated female infanticide among the Rajputs though appeal to Hindu scriptures pragmatically supported by government compensation, see V.A. Narain, Jonathan Duncan and Varanasi, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhay, 1959. 87 Lata Mani, ‘Production of an Official Discourse on Sati in Early Nineteenth Century Bengal’, Economic and Political Weekly, 31(17), 1986, 32–40, and her ‘Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, Cultural Critique, 7, 1987, 119–56. 88 See The Correspondence of Lord William Cavendish Bentinck, Governor-General of India 1828–1835, ed. C. H. Philips, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 337–39, at p. 377. H. H. Wilson, ‘On the Supposed Vaidic Authority for the Burning of Hindu Widows, and on the Funeral of the Hindus’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 16, 1856, 201. See Franklin, p. 175, n. 21. 89 R.g Veda, X.18.8, cf. Atharva-Veda Samhitm, XVIII.3.1. 90 See Nemai Sadhan Bose, Indian Awakening and Bengal, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhay, 1976, p. 199. 91 English Works of Raja Rmmmohun Roy, ed. K. C. Ghose, Calcutta: E. C. Bose, 1901, vol. II, pp. 187–90. 92 Travels in India, reprinted in The European Discovery of India, vol. 3, p. 82. 93 Ayeen Akbery: or, The Institutes of Emperor Akber (1783–6), reprinted in Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control in Eighteenth-Century British Orientalist Discourse, ed. Michael J. Franklin, 9 vols, London: Routledge, 2000, vols 5 and 6. 94 See my ‘I burn with a desire of seeing Shiraz: A New Letter from Sir William Jones to Harford Jones’, Review of English Studies, N. S. 56(227), 2005, 748–56. 95 See P. J. Marshall, ‘Warren Hastings as Scholar and Patron’, in Statesmen, Scholars, and Merchants. Essays in Eighteenth-Century History Presented to Dame Lucy Sutherland, ed. Anne Whiteman, J. S. Bromley and P. G. M. Dickson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, pp. 242–62. 96 Letters, vol. 2, p. 752.


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97 We can discern the relative priorities of philology, poetry, physic and presented opportunity to out-Pandit the Pandits: [U]nless we can discover the Sanscrit names of all celebrated vegetables, we shall neither comprehend the allusions, which the Indian poets perpetually make to them, nor (what is far worse) be able to find accounts of their tried virtues in the writings of Indian physicians; and (what is worst of all) we shall miss an opportunity, which never again may present itself; for the Pandits themselves have almost wholly forgotten their ancient appellations of particular plants. (Tenth Anniversary Discourse: On Asiatick History, Civil and Natural’, Works, vol. 3, pp. 223–5) 98 Jones’s Dr Fleming was experimenting in raising varieties of cannabis in the Company’s botanical garden in Calcutta, and there was apparent admiration for the way in which this ‘plant has been laid under certain regulations and restrictions by Tippoo Sultaun, as affording a revenue on the best principles’, James Anderson, Recreations in Agriculture, Natural-history, Arts, and Miscellaneous Literature, 6 vols, London: Walsh, 1799–1802, vol. 3, p. 232. There was, however, a limited measure of parliamentary opposition for Cornwallis’s plans to increase opium production: ‘Mr [Philip] Francis reprobated the extension of the cultivation of opium, and declared that poppies were the most noxious weed that grew’, The New Annual Register, for the Year 1790, 1791, 110. 99 The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, ed. Thomas W. Copeland, 10 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965, vol. 7, p. 553. 100 What Constantin-François Volney termed ‘the too famous peninsula of India’ (The ruins, or a survey of the revolutions of empires, London: A. Seale [1795], p. 28) seems to have exerted a powerful pull upon the poets of canonical Romanticism who remained fascinated by the world historical dimensions of British imperial culture. Byron had written to the Tory prime minister, the duke of Portland, in an attempt to get the necessary EIC permissions for travel to India; Shelley had approached his friend Thomas Love Peacock who was doing well in the examiner’s office of the EIC in order to get employed by an Indian nawab or maharajah; Keats had thought of enlisting as a surgeon on an East Indiaman. 101 See Balachandra Rajan, Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1999, p. 154. 102 Cf. John Drew’s groundbreaking reading of The Missionary ‘as a perfectly extraordinary fictionalization of the psyche of William Jones’; see India and the Romantic Imagination, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 253. 103 ‘And, what is more, she makes us as familiar and sociable with those gay gentlemen, Brahma, Vishnu, and Co. as if we had been brought up under the same firm all our lives; as well as with Monsieur Camdeo, the god of mystic love, and a long et cetera of personages which make up the Indian mythology’, Critical Review, 23, June 1811, p. 183. 104 Tilar Mazzeo reminds us that ‘Mary Shelley had noted that Thalaba was Shelley’s ‘favourite poem’’; see p. 332. 105 See ‘A Hymn to Náráyena’ (1785), 11, 29–36; ‘A Hymn to Indra’ (1785), 11, 9–17; The Hymn to Bhaváni (1788), 11, 17–24 in Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Michael J. Franklin, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995, pp. 109; 136; 80–1. 106 ‘MÁYA, or delusion, has a more subtile and recondite sense in the Védánta philosophy, where it signifies the system of perceptions, whether of secondary or primary qualities, which the Deity was believed by EPICHARMUS, PLATO and many truly pious men, to raise by his omnipresent spirit in the minds of his creatures, but which had not, in their opinion, any existence independent of mind’, ‘On the Gods of Greece, Italy and India’, Ibid., p. 349. ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’ (1785), 11, 29–42, ibid., p. 117. 107 ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, Works, vol. 4, p. 194. 108 Musical performance is frequently and specifically depicted in Mughal art, and Bonnie C. Wade has shown how music served as a visible and audible reminder of the harmonious

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109 110


112 113

114 115

116 117 118

presence of the Mughal ruler; see Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998. John Fountain to a friend at Oakham, 17 November 1796, Periodical accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society, pp. 324–5; see also pp. 82–4. ‘I had the pleasure of hearing a native of Lucknow, but born of Persian parents, who was lately at Dublin, Abu Talib Khan, read an ode of Hmfiz; accent and quantity went always together: Bedéh Sakée mei Bakée &c: with respect to the position of the accent, Sir W. Jones remarks, that the Persians, like the French, usually accent the last syllable of the word, and the strength of accent which he has noted was remarkable in the gentleman I have mentioned, and almost amounted to recitative’, Arthur Browne, ‘Some Observations upon the Greek Accents’, Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, 7, 1800, 370–1. See ‘Ode to London’ cited by Leask, pp. 413–15. Abu Talib Khan, Masnavl: Poem in Praise of Miss Julia Burrell, trans. George Swinton, London, [1802], pp. 9–11; Jones’s poetic version excises the beloved’s mole; see Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 186; ‘On the Mystical Poetry of the Persians and Hindus’, Works, vol. 3, pp. 211–68, at p. 227. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto and Windus, 1993, pp. 239–61. Translated from the Persian of Óigarf-nmma-e Vilmyat (‘Wonder Book of England’) [BL MS O.C. 13663, f. 58] and cited by Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and Historiography, London: Palgrave, 2001, p. 83. [Though it fails to appear in the BL Catalogue, I feel sure that as a child I was handed down an Edwardian publication entitled ‘Wonder Book of Empire’.] See also Simon Digby, ‘An Eighteenthcentury Narrative of a Journey from Bengal to England: Munshl Ismm‘ll’s New History’, in Urdu and Muslim South Asia: Studies in Honour of Ralph Russell, ed. Christopher Shackle, London: SOAS, 1989, pp. 49–65; Juan Cole, Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi’ite Islam, London: Tauris, 2002. See Michael H. Fisher, ‘Representing “His” Women: Mirza Abu Talib Khan’s 1801 “Vindication of the Liberties of Asiatic Women” ’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 37(2), 2000, 215–37. The complexity of the representations of colonial discourse can be illustrated by the fact that Elizabeth Hamilton, though the loving sister of Charles Hamilton, seems to have ignored her brother’s remarks concerning the rationale of his labours in translating the Muslim law-code: that of ‘uniting us still more closely with our Mussulman Subjects’, The Hedàya, London: T. Bensley, 1791, vol. 1, p. ii. Cf. his earlier declaration: ‘an universal toleration seems (with few exceptions) to have been the characteristick of the Mussulman rules throughout India’, An historical relation of the [. . .] Rohilla Afgans [. . .] Compiled from a Persian manuscript and other original papers [London]: G. Kearsley, Fleet-Street, 1787, p. 7. The History of Hindostan, reprinted in Representing India, vols 2 and 3. Letters from the island of Teneriffe, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and the East Indies, London: Nourse, 1777, p. 138. Collected Letters of S. T. Coleridge, ed. E. L. Griggs, 6 vols, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1956–71, vol. 4, p. 917. This very term would have appeared oxymoronic to many metropolitan minds in 1788 when Colonel Isaac Barré, the colourful parliamentarian and expert on the India question, revealed by means of a telling rhetorical flourish his opinion of Hindus: [I]f the Board of Controul were suffered to proceed as it had done, the Directors would soon consist of men possessing neither consequence nor character. They would be no better than Gentoos, and the Honourable Gentleman to whom he had before alluded [Henry Dundas, President of the Board of Control] might pay them a visit in his palankeen’, ‘Report of Parliamentary Debate. (The Times, Friday, 7 March 1788, p. 2)

119 There are ironies in the fact that the Jonesian project of propagating ancient Hindu texts was taken up by Carey who had described Sanskrit and its literature as ‘a golden casket exquisitely


120 121



Michael J. Franklin wrought, but in reality filled with pebbles and trash’; see Michael A. Laird, Missionaries and Education in Bengal 1793–1837, Oxford; Clarendon Press, 1972, pp. 55–6. In 1802, John Gilchrist and William Hunter established a Hindoostanee Press; in 1805 Matthew Lumsden, a Persian Press; and in 1807, through Colebrooke’s initiative, a Sanskrit Press was established. Printing in the vernacular languages led to the establishment of Indian-owned presses, and no fewer than 15,000 Bengali texts were printed between 1810 and 1820. On this ‘printing and information revolution’, see See A. E. Salahuddin Ahmed, Social Ideas and Social Change in Bengal, 1818–1835, Calcutta: Rddhi, 1976, p. 90; Rajat Kanta Ray, ‘Indian Society and British Supremacy’, p. 527; European Discovery of India, vol. 6, pp. xix–xxi. Soldiering in India 1764–1787, pp. 351, 356. Charles William Madan, Two private letters to a gentleman in England, from his son who accompanied Earl Cornwallis, on his expedition to Lucknow in the year 1787, Peterborough: J. Jacob, 1788, p. 65. Captain Madan, also represents meetings of August 1787 between Cornwallis and Nawab Mubarak ud-Daula ‘in state aboard the governor’s budgerow’, and at the nawab’s palace in Murshidabad ‘where an elegant entertainment in the English stile was prepared’, ibid., pp. 6, 9. In the Spring of 1781, Hodges had painted ‘A View of the Hill of Seetacoon’, ‘Peer Pahar Hill, Munghyr’, and ‘Monghyr Fort’, all sadly now untraced; see Isabel Stuebe, The Life and Works of William Hodges, New York: Garland, 1979, p. 251. For an aquatint with etching of ‘A View of the Fort of Mongheer’; see plate 29 of Hodges, Select Views in India, Drawn on the Spot, 2 vols, London: Edwards, 1785–8. On this trip, Hodges met at Bhagalpur the liberal Collector and magistrate Augustus Clevland whose fearless dedication to curbing the martial traits of the mountain tribes’ internecine feuding with the plains tribes had won him the lasting affection of both Indians and Hastings; see Travels in India, p. 89. See Jones’s tribute in ‘A Hymn to Gangá’ (1785), vol. ll, pp. 124–30, Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 131; and his cousin, Sir John Shore’s ‘Monody on the Death of Augustus Cleveland’ (1786), Asiatic Annual Register, 1, 1798–9, 202. See also Madan’s eulogy, Two Private Letters, pp. 15–18. Madan, Two Private Letters, p. 66. Cf. What a glorious comparison the English traveller may make on revisiting the Company’s provinces, after observing the state of those belonging to other powers! How much to the honour and credit of our government! – how highly to the dignity and importance of the British Empire! In our own dominions we have the satisfaction of beholding people, protected in their persons and property, by a mild and just government, reaping the fruits of industry in peace and happiness! (Ibid., pp. 52–3)

124 ‘Account of the Burning Well at Barrahcoon’, The Oriental magazine; or, Calcutta amusement, Calcutta: John Hay, 1785, pp. 209–11. 125 The Missionary: An Indian Tale, ed. Julia M. Wright, Peterborough, ON and Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2002, p. 186. 126 Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 93. On this poem, see Fulford, p. 194. 127 Govin Chunder Dutt, Omesh Chunder Dutt, Greece Chunder Dutt and Hur Chunder Dutt, The Dutt Family Album, London: Longmans, Green, 1870, pp. 142–3. See also his ‘Kala Pahar (Black Rock at Monghyr)’, The Dutt Family Album, London: Longmans, Greens, 1870, pp. 78–9. Although they were contemporaries at Hindu College, the Anglophone poetic rivals, Govin Chunder Dutt and Michael Madhusudan Dutt, were not related. 128 Toru Dutt, Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan: With an Introductory Memoir by Edmund Gosse, London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co., 1885, pp. 122–3. Toru Dutt (1856–77), who came under the profound influence of Lamartine and French Romanticism, produced English translations of contemporary French poetry, an unfinished romance, and a novel in French. She died at the age of 21, younger than Keats, and like him, of consumption; her genius, a model of synthesis and hybridity, is currently the subject of significant critical reappraisal. Literature Online, where much of her poetry is available, lists ten recent studies. 129 James Rennell, A Description of the Roads in Bengal and Bahar, London: East India Company, 1779, p. 132.


British–Indian connections c.1780 to c.1830 The empire of the officials P. J. Marshall

This essay will attempt to outline the shifting contours of the British–Indian connection, which provided the context for Romantic representations of India in the decades from the 1780s to the 1830s. These years were the formative decades for the creation of a British empire in India. By the 1830s, British domination extended across northern India and throughout the peninsula. This extended Indian empire had become by then the most important of Britain’s imperial assets. Britishmanufactured exports to India were at last beginning to take off and with the decline of the West Indies, the volume of British trade with India was outpacing trade with any other part of the empire. The huge British–Indian army, largely maintained by Indian revenues, was becoming available to support Britain’s interests in other parts of the world. In the view of Patrick Colquhoun, writing in 1815, India with its 40 million people under British rule and its revenue of £18 million was an asset ‘the value of which cannot be sufficiently appreciated’. It benefited all concerned with ‘trade, commerce, shipping, manufactures or agriculture’ and gave ‘liberal incomes’ to some 6,000 people in India.1 That there was a close connection between the rise and consolidation of empire and the trajectory of British cultural involvement with India is surely self-evident. Raymond Schwab offered a compelling interpretation of that connection in his La Renaissance orientale of 1950. Their military success in the later eighteenth century, in his view, gave the British both primacy over other Europeans in India and a unique access to the sources of Indian culture. For some years, a handful of British people made exemplary use of their opportunities in interpreting India to Europe. But the European ‘Oriental Renaissance’, that Schwab invokes, ‘had only an ephemeral career in that same England to which it owed its origin. . . . It was England’s great disgrace to be too self-seeking in India . . . . The conquerors felt obligated to defend their conquest, which meant exalting their own race and religion.’2 The pressures of empire stifled deep cultural engagement. The home of the Oriental Renaissance was to be in Germany and France, both unencumbered by empire. This essay does not aim to take issue in any significant way with Raymond Schwab’s general line of argument, even if it is now recognized to be somewhat ‘overstated’.3 Schwab’s definition of a renaissance, whereby ‘an unimagined mass of knowledge’ changed ‘the entire mental landscape within a few years’, may be an unrealistic one, 4 but Indian cultural influences did not take deep root in Britain and the growth


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of empire in India certainly marked British responses. The imperatives to legitimize colonial rule by stressing Indian backwardness did much to stimulate an ‘Indophobe’ hostility to Indian culture, in Thomas Trautmann’s phrase.5 What will be attempted here will be a closer examination of the imperial context and of its possible cultural effects. The conclusions that will be suggested are that while it can hardly be doubted that British responses to India were stunted in the manner that Schwab and Trautmann imply, the imperial relationship evolved in a way that induced public ignorance and indifference as well as outright hostility. There was no depth of public engagement with India, either as an object for admiring wonder or as a great task for reformation. The involvement of British society with India in the early nineteenth century was a relatively narrow one, perhaps paradoxically, rather narrower, in spite of the growth of empire, than it had been in the early phases of conquest in the later eighteenth century. By 1830, India was largely the concern of special British interests, by far the largest of which was those serving the Company in India or who had served there, the ‘officials’ of the title of this essay. Indian interests were considerable and important ones, but they were not central to British politics and culture. India was seen as a valuable appendage of Britain, but for British society as a whole it remained a detached appendage from the early nineteenth century until 1947.

I For most people in Britain, the first stages in the acquisition of a territorial empire in India, signaled by news of the grant of the diwani of Bengal to the East India Company in 1765, had been cause for astonishment. In 1783, in reflecting on ‘the inconstancy of human greatness, and the stupendous revolutions that have happened in our age of wonders’, Edmund Burke asked how a previous generation could have conceived that the House of Commons ‘should be employed in discussing the conduct of those British subjects who had disposed of the power and the person of the Grand Mogul’.6 Hopes for great gains were mixed with deep apprehensions. Early expectations that huge sums could be transferred from India to restore the nation’s finances and, in Lord Chatham’s words in 1767, to ‘fix the ease and preeminence of England for ages’,7 quickly proved delusory. National gains depended on the longterm expansion of Asian trade fuelled by the resources made available by conquest. This took time. In the meanwhile, the huge costs being incurred by the East India Company in its new role as an Indian power threatened to bankrupt it in 1772–3 and again ten years later. The bankruptcy of the Company would, it was believed, bring down the whole credit system on which British commerce depended. By contrast with the Company’s difficulties, individuals seemed to be able to extract wealth from India at will. Great ‘nabob’ fortunes were apparently being made by corruption and cruelty; Indians were being despoiled and the Company and the nation were being cheated. Frustrated expectations together with fears that the exercise of despotic power in Asia and the mushroom fortunes being made by individuals would corrupt both the social order and the political system prompted intense public debate. In the early

The empire of the officials


years of George III’s reign, it is a plausible claim that ‘India took up more time in public and private deliberation than America, certainly up to 1774’.8 In the 1780s, India again became a bitterly contentious public issue with the great political crisis that raged round Fox’s India bills and with the attacks on Warren Hastings that culminated in his impeachment. Major political figures, most notably Edmund Burke and Henry Dundas, made themselves experts on India in recognition of its great national importance. Many others turned to India primarily as the means to a fortune. Competition for places in the Company’s civil and military services became intense. Political influence on appointments brought people to India sometimes of a higher social status and with more aspiring cultural ambitions than those of the young men drawn through the established channels of recruitment. Government nomination, for instance, sent Sir William Jones, a scholarly polymath, to the royal Supreme Court at Calcutta. Outside official service, a number of the most eminent contemporary painters, including Hodges, Zoffany and Devis, went to India in search of lucrative commissions. A minority of those who went to India sought not only financial enrichment but to win reputations for themselves as transmitters of knowledge to a curious and expectant Europe. British dominance gave them a unique opportunity to enlighten ‘the republic of letters’ about Hindu India on which existing knowledge was recognized to be seriously deficient. The British would become the interpreters of India as the French and other European Jesuits had been the interpreters of China. ‘The acknowledged antiquity of the civilization of the Hindus, their ancient literature, and the mystery attached to writings locked up in a dead language, excited the imagination of all who took an interest in the history of human progress.’9 Knowledge of India would help to answer great questions about the origins of peoples and the early history of the world, the relations of languages to one another, the diversity of religions and the evolution of forms of government and legal systems. India would thus take its place in the history of mankind. Warren Hastings, through his patronage of scholars and painters, and Sir William Jones, through the creation of the Asiatic Society, had every intention of fulfilling such a role. In his anniversary discourses to the Society, Jones systematically explored India’s history and its culture. The sympathetic reworking of much of their material in his Historical Disquisition of 1791 by William Robertson, the most esteemed contemporary historian after Gibbon, is an indication of the success of the selfappointed interpreters of India in engaging the interest of the learned. Robertson was convinced that ‘The natives of India were not only the most early civilized, but had made more progress in civilization than any other people.’ The Hindus were still ‘a knowing and ingenious race of men’, even if modern Europeans found them in a ‘state of society and improvement far inferior to their own’.10 Hastings and Jones also had aesthetic agendas. European art and literature had much to gain in their view from India. William Hodges’s landscapes painted under Hastings’s patronage were intended to enrich the ‘tradition of moral landscape that rendered art and nature both didactic and poetic’.11 Sir Joshua Reynolds considered that Hodges’s images of the ‘barbarick splendour of those Asiatick buildings’ might be a stimulus to European architects.12 Depictions of Indian monuments, especially


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by Thomas and William Daniell, were later to be reflected in a number of buildings in Britain. In his introductory letter to Wilkins’s translation of the Gita, Hastings commended it as ‘a performance of great originality; of a sublimity of conception, reasoning and diction, almost unequalled’ and worthy of comparison with Milton’s Paradise Lost.13 Jones had been extolling the merits of Arabic and Persian poetry long before he went to India. There he wrote poems with Hindu themes and in 1789 published his major translation of a Sanskrit literary text, Sacontalá; or, the Fatal Ring, of Kmlidmsa. This was a sample of a literature inspired by a ‘fertile and inventive genius’ and including epics ‘magnificent and sublime in the highest degree’.14 Awareness of this rich vein would, he hoped, widen the horizons of European poetry.

II In the very last years of the eighteenth century, British India began a new phase of war and territorial expansion that was to continue for much of the first half of the next century. In the 1770s, and 1780s, wars and the conquest of new territory had been denounced as ‘repugnant to the wish, the honour and the policy of this nation’.15 By the early nineteenth century, there was a lively public appetite for military success in India. All wars were to continue to be in some degree contentious, but they were tacitly accepted as the inevitable price of an empire, the possession of which had ceased to be a matter for wonder or fear. Public acceptance of an autocratic regime in India resting on military power and engaged in frequent wars, an outrage to earlier concepts of national virtue, is clear evidence that the anxieties and anguished questioning of the later eighteenth century had largely been laid to rest. Debate about India was generally muted by comparison with the high excitement of the later eighteenth century. Indian issues no longer featured prominently in parliament and great political figures had little incentive to become Indian experts. The Duke of Wellington, who had served in India at a crucial point in his career, was the obvious exception. By the 1850s, the extent to which India had been insulated by the East India Company’s regime from the pressures of parliamentary politics and the exploitative demands of an ignorant public had come to be seen as a positive virtue. As John Stuart Mill argued, Indian policy should be made by experts in India, whose work would be scrutinized by experts in the Company’s India House in London; it should not, nor generally did it, emerge from British political processes.16 Indian debates in the Commons were largely occasions on which Members with previous Indian experience or with direct commercial interests there could air their views and push their particular concerns.17 Indian news was reported in great detail in specialist periodicals, such as the Asiatic Annual Register or the East India United Services Journal, but whether such publications attracted any wide general readership seems doubtful. Intellectual periodicals, such as the Edinburgh Review or the Westminster Review sometimes carried substantial articles on Indian issues or long reviews of books about India.18 Sydney Smith, for instance, contributed a famous article on Indian missions in the Edinburgh Review of 1808. In the present state of knowledge, generalizations about the coverage of India in British newspapers in the

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period must be tentative. Regular correspondents in India seem only to have been appointed by leading papers towards the middle of the century. Before that, the British press evidently relied on a mass of unsolicited communications from individuals, on official gazettes, and on material that had appeared in the Indian newspapers. James Silk Buckingham claimed on launching of his Oriental Herald in 1824 that ‘the press in England is too much occupied with matters near home’ to give India adequate coverage.20 Wars in India were an obvious exception. They were extensively covered. The British public was kept well supplied with news about the wars of the 1790s against Tipu Sultan, who had been demonized in the British press as a cruel, implacable and fanatical opponent of Britain. Accounts of the suffering of British prisoners at his hands were given much publicity.21 Tipu’s defeat in 1792 and death in 1799 were effusively celebrated. ‘Tipoo’ seems to have entered into British popular mythology.22 Later wars in India also attracted much public attention in Britain. They were the stimulus for numerous publications, including illustrated accounts and maps of the ‘seat of war’. Astley’s Amphitheatre put on in 1826 The Burmese War a Grand Naval and Military Melo-Drama in Three Acts.23 The disasters of the first Afghan War inevitably provoked dismay and recrimination. Captivity stories again aroused intense interest and clamour for revenge.24 The scale of the carnage in the massive battles of the Sikh Wars gave a dreadful resonance for a wide public to names like Chillianwallah. The prospect of the renewal of the Company’s charter in 1813 was the stimulus for by far the largest popular engagement with an Indian issue before 1857, that of missionary access. Permission for Protestant missionaries to reside in India was at the discretion of the Directors of the East India Company. This came to be regarded as an intolerable obstruction to Britain’s fulfilling its Christian obligations to India, particularly by Protestant nonconformists. A petitioning movement for easing restrictions was mounted on the scale of those unleashed against the slave trade. From April to June 1813, some 500,000 people signed 900 petitions. In the years after 1813, the missionary societies continued to urge the public to agitate and petition, especially on the issue of the Company’s apparent patronage, as secular ruler, of temples and ‘idolatrous’ festivals.25 Petitions could also be incited from commercial and manufacturing interests opposed to the East India Company’s monopoly, especially on the occasions when the Company’s charter was due to be revised by parliament in 1813 and again in 1833. Such petitions were countered, if ultimately ineffectually, by representations from some of the considerable economic interests that benefited from the Company’s trade. Arguments about the pros and cons of the Company’s monopoly deeply concerned groups which already had an interest in the trade of India or which envisaged the possibility of creating one. They did not, however, attract a large attendance in the House of Commons. This seems to have been characteristic of involvement with India in the first half of the nineteenth century. India was of absorbing concern to particular groups with particular interests, but wider public engagement was at best superficial and intermittent. The Indian services, Colquhoun’s six thousand enjoying ‘liberal incomes’, together with their families, those who had served in India and those who intended to serve


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there, were the core of the active constituency that linked Britain and India. In the long hiatus between the age of plunder in the later eighteenth century and the effective penetration of the Indian economy by private British enterprise in the later nineteenth century, British society in India assumed a distinctive pattern. It was primarily sustained not by commercial enterprise but by the redistribution of Indian revenues in the form of the salaries paid by the Company. These went to the covenanted members of the commercial and administrative services, to surgeons and to a small number of civilian technical specialists, to the officers of the Indian maritime service and to a very large number of army officers, some 4,000 of them in 1830.26 The Company also paid the salaries of the officers of the royal regiments in India, many of whom served there for long periods, becoming acculturated to British India in the process. The British in India had already in the late eighteenth century become what Edmund Burke had perceptively called, ‘a nation of placemen’.27 They were to remain that for much of the nineteenth century. The early nineteenth-century Registers, Directories and Calendars, published in London, Calcutta, Madras and Bombay recorded year by year the proliferation of civilian offices and the everincreasing establishments of the three presidency armies. Tables of precedence set this great community of office-holders into a hierarchy from the governor general to the newest arrived cadet. Seniority within ranks was strictly observed. Commentators on the mores of British India often reflected with wonder on the dominance of ‘rank’ and ‘the formality and stateliness it imparts to every circle’. ‘It is astonishing what love of rank will effect on the coteries of Anglo-India’, wrote one. ‘I verily believe, there are some ladies that would rather crawl on their hands and feet, than not be allowed to go first into a room.’28 The bulk of the white presence in India in fact consisted of the rank-and-file of the Company’s European regiments and of the royal regiments. They were, however, a largely silent presence, taken for granted in India and apparently merging back into British society when they returned home in much diminished numbers. A considerable number of ‘poor whites’ was another silent presence. The respectable ‘unofficial’ European element of merchants, planters or professional people was growing, but its numbers were still limited until the marked expansion in the 1860s and 1870s.29 Until then, members of the services essentially constituted British India in their own eyes and for the British public. On their retirement, they, together with their connections, constituted ‘India’ in Britain. Indians from the subcontinent were present in the British Isles. Some very distinguished individuals came on visits, but apart from the lascar seamen, concentrated for the most part in East London, their numbers were very small.30 The Indian services had acquired certain characteristics. They tended to be recruited young. Strict regard for seniority in promotion made it difficult for outsiders of mature years to break in. Successive generations of the same family often followed one another to India, making the services something of a hereditary profession. Up to 40 per cent of the civil servants were likely to have fathers with Indian experience.31 Not ungenerous salaries and the prospect of pensions, rather than windfall profits by dubious means, were the lure for competing for Indian employment. This made India less attractive than it had been in the eighteenth century for desperate adventurers or

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bold speculators. George Chinnery, who came to Bengal in 1802 and stayed there until 1825, was the last of the portrait painters with a national reputation who sought wealth in India. India also had few charms for scions of the aristocracy. Well-connected royal officers would often seek transfers out of regiments bound for India. The result was that contemporaries were unanimous in describing the members of the services as predominantly ‘middle class’, although the term was imprecise and covered quite a wide range. In general, the more prestigious civil service and part at least of the military service were likely to be drawn from lesser landed gentry, commercial and professional families, heavily concentrated on London and the south of England and from Scotland. Many army officers could not, however, attain to this level. They have been described as coming from the ‘genteel poor’, usually with no real connection to land, or as ‘marginal middle-class Englishmen’, who were ‘peripherally rather than securely identifiable as gentlemen’.32 Was a contraction of the social base of British India matched in the early nineteenth century by a contraction of its intellectual and cultural aspirations by comparison with the expansiveness of the later eighteenth century? To some contemporaries, the outlook of those who served the Company in India did indeed seem to be unduly narrow. Macaulay thought that ‘There is always a peculiar narrowness and Orientalism’ about men who had spent all their working lives in India.33 The naturalist William Sykes, who had Indian experience, believed that the civil service had become too much of a ‘caste’ and that they were not ‘enough men of the world’ among them.34 Later writing often implies that British India was coming to resemble the European community of E. M. Forster’s Chandrapore, remote from Indians and philistine in its tastes. Accusations about growing distance from Indians have some substance; allegations about narrowness and philistinism have less. While the degree of integration with Indian society in the eighteenth-century British settlements can easily be exaggerated, distancing from Indians certainly became both official policy and the aspiration of most members of the Indian services. Official policy was committed to restricting the British community in India to a body of temporary residents, assimilated as closely as possible to metropolitan society. The alternative of a large community of private white settlers, likely to develop a creole consciousness of their own, was generally regarded as entirely unacceptable. When the Company undertook the education of its civil servants, all shades of opinion insisted that proper British values must be instilled into them. Wellesley intended that his Fort William College should turn out tractable ‘instruments in the hands of government’ with ‘powerful affections and inducements’ to return to Britain rather than to try to ‘establish themselves permanently in India’.35 The Principal of Haileybury explained in 1832 that the products of the College should resemble ‘English gentleman educated at our great national schools and universities’, seeing themselves as ‘Englishmen; or I should say, perhaps, considering the large proportion of students from Scotland, as Britons’.36 Assimilation to metropolitan values seems to have been what most articulate British people in India also wanted. They deeply resented earlier assumptions in the era of hostility to nabobs that they were monsters of luxury and depravity or the frequent current allegations of boorishness and provincial backwardness, such as


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those made by Maria Graham. ‘The avarice, the prodigality, the ignorance, and the vulgarity of most of the white people’, she wrote, ‘seem to place them all on a level, infinitely below that of the least refined nations of Europe.’37 Their civility and refinement were stressed again and again by those who spoke for British–Indian society. There is ‘much less difference between the English in India and the English in England, than unthinking people are prone to suppose’, wrote a contributor to Calcutta Review in 1846. ‘The points of distinction are merely accidental . . . [A]s time has advanced, we have become more and more nearly assimilated to our brethren in the west: and our intellectual improvement has advanced contemporaneously with our moral improvement.’38 ‘Intellectual improvement’ meant creating learned societies, reading the latest books and periodicals from London, which were imported in vast quantities, purchasing prints of pictures admired at home, staging serious plays and performing or listening to the latest European music. The British in India fully shared in the Romantic aesthetic. Walter Scott, whose works were provided by the Company for libraries ‘in remote stations’,39 enjoyed an enormous following in India. Even small European communities rigged up theatres. Large numbers of men and women sketched and painted Indian landscapes, usually within the established conventions of the Picturesque. Talented amateurs followed the lead of a small number of visiting professionals, so that it has been claimed that ‘at no other time has one country been so extensively and minutely observed by artists from another’.40 A small corpus of Anglo-Indian poetry appeared in print.41 Macaulay might complain of the ‘vile acting’ and viler singing in Calcutta’s operatic performances and that the conversation of its high society was ‘the most deplorable twaddle that can be conceived’,42 but by less exacting standards, the presidency cities and even the large garrisons were not cultural deserts. ‘Moral improvement’ implied philanthropy and church attendance, but it also implied distance from Indians and from things Indian. Wellesley had written darkly about the ‘temptations and corruptions with which the nature of the climate and the peculiar depravity of the people of India will surround and assail’ the young civil servant.43 Financial corruption through the temptations of bribery or indebtedness to Indian moneylenders, which was extremely common throughout the Company’s service, was one danger. Sexual corruption was another. An article of 1844 recalled with distaste that Williamson’s Vade Mecum to life in India of 1810 had included fifty pages on keeping a native mistress. ‘These connexions’, it observed, were now ‘fortunately every year becoming more rare’.44 Such comments are indicative of one of the most abiding anxieties of whites in India, concern about how they were perceived at home. A truly British community must have a British pattern of domestic life, whose principle was the marriage of equal companions based on mutual affection. Connections with Indians or with what were dismissed as ‘vain, and silly, and somewhat vulgar’ mixed-race women could not involve ‘any bond of sympathy or attachment’.45 Earlier traditions of British–Indian marriage between rich bachelors who had taken their pick of the penniless adventuresses shipped out on their own to India on speculation were also matters for shame. Women now went to India, either already married or going out

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‘to join their parents, brothers, sisters, or other relations’ who were resident in India.46 The ideal of companionable marriage involved, not inane idleness, of which European women in India were already being accused, but an active life for the wife. Her children might be taken early from her and sent to Britain and the Indian poor might be less accessible to direct charitable ministrations than the poor at home, but still she should read, draw, play musical instruments, ride and garden.47 Evolving patterns of European settlement tended of themselves to produce distancing from Indians. White towns with the amenities and patterns of social life of considerable towns in Britain grew up in the presidency ports, physically separate from the black towns. The spread of the army across India into large cantonments also created new self-sufficient European communities. They too created assembly rooms, libraries and racecourses. ‘The distant cantonments’ were said to have become ‘miniature presidencies’.48 Formal Indian participation in these self-contained European worlds was limited, although Bombay was something of an exception. All writers noted the adaptability of the Parsis and their willingness to play a full role in the white town’s activities. In Madras and Calcutta, sociability between the Indian and European elites was largely confined to Indian invitations to Europeans to attend certain festivals, where alcohol and other abominations would be provided for them and they would be required to listen to music and to watch dancing which seemed to them to be barbaric and incomprehensible. In return, selected Indian notables would be invited to government house. Such occasions were said to result in ‘no interchange of kindness and good feeling’.49 At centres where token neo-Mughal courts survived, there was more mixing. Small numbers of Europeans continued for a time to immerse themselves in a Persianized culture that they found attractive. William Dalrymple’s White Mughals; Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-century India50 movingly evokes the world of Anglo-Mughal Hyderabad. General David Ochterlony, who lived at Delhi until 1823, was long the patron of would-be white Mughals there. A study of a scandal that came to a head in Delhi in 1829 with the conviction for bribery of the long-serving resident, Sir Edward Colebrooke, seems, however, to be indicative of a parting of the ways even at Delhi. Colebrooke himself certainly thought so. In future, he wrote, no Englishman would ‘dare to accept the entertainment from a native gentleman . . . and the new reformers will have to congratulate themselves on the thorough establishment of the favorite system of total estrangement and alienation’.51 Social distancing from Indians was accompanied by cultural distancing. Jones thought that Hindu music, ‘formed on truer principles than our own’, merited sympathetic study.52 A taste for a certain kind of Indian music had become widespread among British men and women living in northern India in the late eighteenth century. Adaptations of ‘Hindostannie Airs’ had even enjoyed something of a vogue in London.53 Such tastes went out of fashion, as did enthusiasm for purchasing or commissioning Indian paintings, beyond those ‘Company paintings’ that recorded human types or natural history subjects.54 Oriental scholarship, on the other hand, showed no diminution. Societies were set up in the other presidency towns in emulation of the still flourishing Asiatic Society at Calcutta. In Calcutta, H. H. Wilson and


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above all Henry Thomas Colebrooke did more than maintain the tradition of Sanskrit learning of Wilkins and Jones, while British Sanskritists studied in Benares and Delhi. In the Madras Presidency, A. D. Campbell, Francis Ellis and Robert Caldwell in their grammars of south Indian languages demonstrated the separation of Dravidian languages from Sanskrit roots.55 Oriental scholarship with its grammars, dictionaries and translations of texts, particularly those deemed to be of legal significance, merged with the passion for the accumulation of exact knowledge about the Company’s territories and their peoples. Very ambitious mapping projects were launched. Statistics were compiled. Histories were written. Collections of objects were made. Surveys were conducted of population, natural history, products and resources. The first attempts were made to produce compendiums of knowledge in the form of gazetteers. All this activity often passes under the generic name of ‘colonial knowledge’, that is, knowledge defined by the needs of a new regime to order and control its new dominions for its own ends. It was certainly knowledge garnered in a colonial context and sometimes at the direct instigation of colonial authorities. Much scholarship was, however, undertaken, as in the eighteenth century or indeed at any other time, by men driven by their own private obsessions and by their desire for reputation. A taste for learning about India and an ability to make ‘representations of man and animals, of architecture and landscape’ was thought to befit an officer in the Indian army. Officers prided themselves on being scholars as well as gentlemen.56 In the accumulation of knowledge, Indians generally had either a subordinate role or no role at all. Europeans were increasingly confident in their unaided capacity to know and explain India. With some exceptions, like Colonel Colin Mackenzie’s assistants in his great project for accumulating material on the history of South India,57 learned Indians were no longer regarded as indispensable partners as had been the case, albeit with a clear sense of Western superiority and imperial purposes, with William Jones.58 ‘Institutional knowledge’, committed to paper in books or archives, or the ‘office memory’ of the white officials were replacing the ‘embodied knowledge’ of Indian informants.59 Knowledge about India was becoming much more abundant, but it was knowledge narrowly encased within a framework of European needs and preconceptions. The intellectual vitality and creativity of British–Indian society in the early nineteenth century should not be underestimated. Yet, as the British presence grew larger it became increasingly self-contained. This implied distancing not only from Indian society, culture and knowledge, but, paradoxically, for all the ardent desire of most of the elite for British India to reproduce British ways of life as exactly as possible in a very different environment, it also implied distancing from metropolitan Britain. The British in India increasingly spoke to one another about their own particular concerns rather than about universal concerns to a curious British public, as an earlier generation had been able to do. This was in part because a government with such enormous commitments and responsibilities stimulated a huge output of what was narrowly colonial knowledge. Much that was written about land tenure, revenue resources or the ethnography of particular peoples was highly specialized and inaccessible to readers who had no direct concern with Indian administration. Beyond

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that, however, British India and British Indians in Britain now constituted a sufficiently large and affluent market for books of memoirs about Indian service, histories of military operations and engravings of topographical subjects to be directed largely at them. ‘The literature of India produced in England’ became ‘a literature intended for that specialist public which had lived and worked in India’.60 Critics in the quarterlies at home argued that when British people long resident there wrote about India, they assumed too much common knowledge in their readers and wrote in a way ‘to destroy curiosity rather than to stimulate it’.61 Public interest in Oriental learning seems to have been contracting. The age of the pioneers and of ‘great discoveries’ was thought to have passed. India had been given its place in the history of the world. There were violent disagreements about how Hinduism should be assessed, but the outlines of its beliefs and practices were assumed, however mistakenly, now to be well known. The links between IndoEuropean languages, revealed by the study of Sanskrit, had won acceptance. An attempt by Francis Wilford to establish an even closer historic link between Britain and India through Sanskrit texts that showed ancient Hindu awareness of ‘Sacred Isles of the West’ aroused some excitement until the texts were found to be supposititious.62 The sense of the ‘immediacy, accessibility and disposability’ of Asia, created, as E. S. Shaffer puts it, by the ‘wide-ranging mind and graceful, flowing prose’ of the urbane Jones,63 was being replaced by the rigour of men like H. T. Colebrooke, Alexander Hamilton and H. H. Wilson. A new wave of ‘discoveries’ about South Indian language, the decipherment of the Brahmi script and the Buddhist inscriptions or even Colebrooke’s writing on the Vedas attracted relatively little attention in Britain. Orientalist writing on India became an increasingly specialized genre in which scholar spoke to scholar within the restricted ambit of the Indian Asiatic societies or increasingly to scholars and literati in other European countries. ‘Careless and indifferent as our countrymen are’, Colebrooke concluded in 1827, it was now left ‘to foreigners, . . . to complete the outline we have sketched’.64 Oriental learning specifically stimulated by India only slowly took root in Britain and was, in intention at least, mainly directed to the needs of empire. The study of Hebrew, Arabic and some Persian, largely for elucidating the Bible, was long established in the universities. In the late 1760s, Warren Hastings had tried to create a chair in Persian at Oxford, but nothing came of it. When a chair of Sanskrit was eventually founded at Oxford in 1832, its purpose was to facilitate ‘the conversion of the natives of India in the Christian religion’.65 Sanskrit, Hindustani and Bengali as well as Persian began, however, to be systematically studied and taught in Britain from early in the nineteenth century at the colleges established for the education of civil servants at Haileybury and for military cadets at Addiscombe. Teaching was provided by men who had served in India and until the 1830s by one or two Indians.66 At Haileybury, students were to be instructed in the rudiments of at least two Indian languages. At Addiscombe only Hindustani was taught. Private academies taught Hindustani, again as a preparation for those going to India. The staff at Haileybury included distinguished scholars, notably the Sanskritist, Alexander Hamilton, who published texts through the College press,67 but languages were to be learnt for the strictly practical purposes of equipping young men to take


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their places in the Indian services. The needs of empire were also reflected in the founding of the Royal Asiatic Society in London in 1823. In his inaugural address, H. T. Colebrooke sounded a similar note to that of Sir William Jones in his launching of the Bengal Society. In 1784, Jones had called for Asia to be studied as the nurse of sciences, the inventress of delightful and useful arts, the scene of glorious actions, fertile in the production of human genius, abounding in natural wonders, and infinitely diversified in the forms of religion and government, in the laws, manners, customs and languages, as well as in the features and complexions of men. 68 For Colebrooke in 1823, ‘It is the history of the human mind which is most diligently to be investigated: the discoveries of the wise, the inventions of the ingenious, the contrivances of the skilful.’69 The Society should be committed to investigating ‘the sciences’ and ‘the arts of Asia’ together with its languages and literature.70 Money was raised for a translation fund to render into English ‘works of fiction’, as well as books that would ‘increase historical and general information’ about India.71 Colebrooke in his inaugural address, however, also felt it necessary to set out practical objectives. It was the duty of British people to convey knowledge to India in its own languages for its benefit and improvement and thus to contribute to ‘Britain’s prosperity as connected with Asia’. He accepted that Britain could learn things of advantage and interest in return, but this would be a limited flow by comparison with what Britain had to impart.72 The Society established links with the Mechanics Institute and through it with ‘the great mechanical geniuses of this country’ with a view to informing ‘the people of Asia of such of the modern improvement of machinery as may be applicable to their present situation’.73 The most ambitious early nineteenth-century attempt to reassess India’s place in the world was what is taken as a monument of Indophobia, James Mill’s History of British India published in 1817. Mill notoriously sought to controvert what he regarded as the grossly over-optimistic account of India’s past in the work of those who thought like Jones. Indians had always been backward. His statement that it was not necessary to have been to India to write its history, has been endlessly reviled. Nevertheless, he was making an attempt to rescue India’s past from the professed Indian experts and to place it in the mainstream of writing human history. What was needed in an historian of India, Mill wrote, was not ‘mere observation’, that is local knowledge, but the intellectual ‘powers of combination, discrimination, classification, judgement, comparison, weighing, inferring, inducting, philosophizing in short’, that distinguished all good history.74 The matter of India was too important to be left to the ‘Indians’. To have been in India was a positive disadvantage in writing about it. Mill’s history of India was intended also to be a critique of ‘the ruling ideology’ of Britain itself.75 Bleak as his picture of India’s past as well as its present condition may have been, he was using it to try to establish universal propositions about human societies. Later histories of India were much less ambitious. They were mostly written by men in India for men either in India or going there. India only came to have a significant place in British historiography in the later twentieth century.

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III As the services grew in numbers and as mortality rates among those above the rank-and-file of the army fell, more and more people with Indian experience returned to Britain. They came to embody an Indian presence in Britain. Its institutional heart was the East India Company’s headquarters at Leadenhall Street. There the Directors of the Company, up to half of whom were likely to have spent time in India, considered policy and made appointments. Secretaries and clerks analysed incoming correspondence and drafted dispatches to India embodying the Company’s orders. The East India Company’s role in Britain extended, however, far beyond supervision of the government of India. It maintained warehouses, dockyards, barracks, colleges, such as Haileybury and Addiscombe, asylums and a museum. There was also a growth of private institutions serving the needs of the increasing community of people in Britain with Indian concerns. Academies in London, such as that set up in 1818 by J. B. Gilchrist, the pioneer of teaching Hindustani in India, offered basic linguistic instruction. Specialized outfitters advertised extensive lists of clothing and equipment appropriate to ladies and gentlemen bound for India in various capacities. A firm of booksellers near the Company’s headquarters offered reading matter to instruct the tyro and kept a stock of Oriental literature and books about India. ‘A Returned Exile’ commented that ‘Old Indians’ at home ‘after a long absence find themselves almost as much estranged, and as much a particular caste among their countrymen, as they were at first among the natives of India’.76 This sense of alienation from society at home, as Elizabeth Buettner’s illuminating researches have confirmed, was to endure for the whole imperial period. In the early nineteenth century, as later, returned ‘Indians’ tended to try to counter their sense of being in a strange land by seeking out one another’s company. They frequented the same parts of London and Cheltenham was already acting as a magnet for them.77 Clubs served their needs. The enterprising Dean Mahomed opened the Hindoostanee CoffeeHouse in London in 1810, where aficionados could smoke their hookahs and eat curries ‘unequalled to any curries ever made in England’.78 The Oriental Club began its long life in 1824. Its early membership, drawn largely from the Company’s service with a great preponderance of army officers, seems to have been a reflection of British society in India.79 A year earlier, a group of men with scholarly interests in Asia had launched the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Its model was the Bengal Asiatic Society, of which its first director, H. T. Colebrooke, had been president. The Society’s initial membership seems overwhelmingly to have been from men with Indian connections rather than from scholars who had never left Britain. In his opening address, Colebrooke expressed the hope that the Society would enable retired Indian ‘public functionaries’ to pursue the scholarly projects for which their official duties had left them too little time.80 Periodicals were published which specialized in retailing Indian news and debate for the ‘convenience and gratification of that extensive portion of the British public which either at home or abroad are connected with our Indian dominions’, as The Asiatic Journal put it in its opening number in 1816.81 The Journal replaced


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The Asiatic Annual Register or View of the History of Hindustan and of the Politics, Commerce and Literature of Asia that had run from 1799 to 1811. In 1824, a rather similar Oriental Herald or Colonial Review was issued as a mouthpiece for the contentious views of the embattled James Silk Buckingham. The British with Indian connections were, in short, becoming something of a distinct community in their own country with their own institutions and their own press. The influence of this community on British public life seems to have been a limited one in the first half of the nineteenth century. Returned ‘Indians’ were no longer seen as a threat to the social or political fabric by their spending and style of life. Some brought back with them a lifetime of military or administrative experience, but this was not greatly valued as a potential national asset. It was not easy for individuals to start a new official career in Britain, even if they wished to do so rather than to retire from public life. Officers in the East India Company’s armies had virtually no chance of entering the British army. On the other hand, royal officers who had spent time in India could rise to high positions in the army. In India they were likely to have had experience of active service denied to their contemporaries who had stayed at home. The empire has been called ‘the principal agent for the army’s acquisition of professionalism’82 and India provided most of the imperial experience of large-scale warfare. Arthur Wellesley was the most illustrious graduate of service in India. In his own words, he ‘understood as much of military matters, when I came back from India, as I have ever done since’.83 It might reasonably have been supposed that a returned Indian civil servant had potentially important lessons that he too might impart to his home country. He would have been a member of a bureaucracy in many respects more interventionist and ambitious than the contemporary British state machinery. The Company’s administration faced problems of poverty, economic backwardness, environmental deterioration, periodic famine and types of crime of a quite different order to those in Britain. Its responsibilities included regulating land tenure, reforming and codifying law, the provision of education and the encouragement of agricultural improvement. Close connections have indeed been suggested between ‘the projects of state building’ in Britain and British India, which ‘often reflected theories, experiences and practices worked out originally in India and then applied in Great Britain’.84 In reality, little use seems to have been made of Indian civil servants or of their experience and expertise, at least in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was not common for former East India Company civil servants to enter the British public service. Charles Trevelyan, who passed from the Bengal Sudder Board of Revenue to becoming, in 1840, Assistant Secretary to the British Treasury, is the most famous example of one who did make the change. The fate of the great majority was very different. In Macaulay’s words, the ex-civil servant would have been a man of consequence in the East. In Europe he knows he will be considered as an old, yellow-faced bore, fit for nothing but to drink the Cheltenham water and to ballot at the India House. He has acquired, it may be, a great deal of valuable information on Indian affairs, – is an excellent Oriental scholar, – knows intimately all the interests of the native courts, – is as well acquainted with

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the revenue system of Bengal as Huskisson was with the revenue system of England, – is as deeply read in Hindoo and Mahometan jurisprudence as Sugden in the law of England. He knows these acquirements which make him an object of admiration in Calcutta will procure for him no applause – nay not the smallest notice – in London. . . . He was powerful. He was eminent. He was comfortable. He is utterly insignificant.85 If Indian experience could be assumed to have been of little relevance to the government of England, Ireland was surely another matter. The common ‘colonial’ predicament of Ireland and India is a staple of much recent writing. The ‘family resemblance’ between measures to govern both countries and the emergence in both of ‘local partiotisms’, seems clear in retrospect.86 Although such resemblances were much less clear to contemporaries, there was general recognition that in Ireland and India the problems of an impoverished rural population dependent on a backward agriculture had underlying similarities. John Stuart Mill, for instance, who was later to give serious attention to such similarities, saw ‘no slight resemblance’ in 1834.87 Both governments had of necessity to pursue a more ambitious role than in England. There seems, however, to have been very little attempt to apply Indian lessons to Ireland in this period. By the time of the great Irish famine, governments in India had much famine experience and, most unusually, an old India hand, Charles Trevelyan, was in control at the British Treasury. Evidence that he drew in any way on Indian famine practice has yet to emerge. Mill saw Indian examples of peasant proprietorship as relevant to Ireland. To Trevelyan, peasant proprietorship was a dead end for Ireland and India was a prime example of what was wrong with it; ‘there is no country in which destructive famines have been so common’.88 The social structure of rural England was the only appropriate model for Ireland. While government in both Ireland and India regarded themselves as equally constrained by the iron dictates of political economy, the north Indian famine of 1837–8 had induced the Company’s administration to adopt extensive policies of relief and public works, culminating in the great Ganges canal project. The British–Indian state was assuming a far more ambitious role than anything as yet attempted in Ireland.89 Had there been awareness of such things among those taking decisions for Ireland during the famine, they would presumably have been regarded as inapplicable.

IV Any assessment of the quality of Romantic representations of India in this period is beyond the scope of this essay. Much recent writing does, however, attest to the continuing vitality of literary Orientalism in the early decades of the nineteenth century,90 and thus supports Marilyn Butler’s contention that writing about Asia was ‘an intellectually ambitious strand of Romanticism’, dealing with themes of high seriousness, including soul searching about British imperialism.91 Indian themes, as depicted by British artists, were also taken up by architects and in interior decoration, influencing a number of notable buildings, most conspicuously the Brighton Pavilion.92


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Ultimately, however, it would be difficult to make a case that Indian cultural influences had sunk deep roots in Britain, still less that they had brought about an ‘Oriental renaissance’ in Raymond Schwab’s sense. The argument that cultural sympathy had to contend with the priorities of empire and had lost to them can hardly be refuted. Many British people did indeed feel the need to exalt ‘their own race and religion’, as Schwab put it, by denigrating things Indian. Missionary denunciation of Hindu idolatry and James Mill’s assault on what he saw as wishful thinking about the merits of Hindu civilization were powerful statements of Indophobia. The growing identification of British nationalism with empire, as stressed in much recent writing, was likely to reinforce this Indophobia.93 Britain’s national mission in India, increasingly defined in terms of bringing ‘improvement’, rested on assumptions of Indian backwardness. This essay has, however, tried to suggest that any explanation of the failure of the British public to engage with Indian culture at any depth by the mid-nineteenth century requires rather more than invoking a strident imperial nationalism. What has also to be accounted for is ignorance and indifference to all things Indian. The narrowing of the awareness of India communicated to Britain by the British community there materially contributed to this. The British in India increasingly distanced themselves from Indians and immersed themselves in their own concerns. British officials prided themselves on accumulating a great body of recondite knowledge, daunting and rebarbative to the laity, who had to master a welter of unpronounceable names and strange terms. As Indian issues, apart from war and foreign policy, played a diminishing role in British political life, by comparison with what had been the case in the eighteenth century, there was little incentive for public men to try to master this knowledge. ‘[N]othing is so rare’, wrote Mill, ‘as to meet with a man who can with propriety be said to know any thing of India and its affairs. A man who has any considerable acquaintance with them, without having been forced to acquire it by the offices he has filled, is scarcely to be found.’94 Scholarship about India also became increasingly technical and inaccessible. Macaulay’s returned Bengal civilian might be an ‘excellent Oriental scholar’, but that still did not prevent him from being regarded as an ‘old, yellow-faced bore’. Robert Southey believed that the ‘mythology’ in his Curse of Kehama ‘explains itself as it is introduced; yet because the names are not familiar, people will fancy there is difficulty in understanding it’. Only those who had read Jones would have ‘heard of my divinities’, but those who had read his poems ‘do not remember them’.95 Stimulating as is current emphasis on the defining role of empire in the evolution of a sense of Britain, it still has to be tempered by recognition of the barriers that insulated Britain’s greatest imperial possession from full integration with Britain. Economically, politically and culturally, India was seen as a world on its own. It was the empire of the officials. For much of the nineteenth century, this empire was the concern of a large but self-contained service community who spoke to one another rather than to a wider public. This public was certainly committed to empire in India and accepted that India was an indispensable prop to Britain’s status as a great power, but beyond that its involvement was superficial and generally ill-informed. Empire was taken for granted. Indifference as much as hostile rejection produced a barren soil for an Oriental Renaissance to sink roots.

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Notes 1 A Treatise on the Wealth, Power and Resources of the British Empire, 2nd edn, London: J. Mawman, 1815, Appendix, pp. 42–5. 2 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East 1680–1880, trans. G. Patterson-Black and V. Reinking, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984, p. 43. 3 Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 10. 4 Schwab, Oriental Renaissance, p. 16. 5 Thomas R. Trautmann, Aryans and British India, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997. 6 Speech on Fox’s India Bill, P. J. Marshall, ed., The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. V, India: Madras and Bengal 1774–1785, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 392. 7 Cited in P. J. Marshall, The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750 to 1783, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 209. 8 Philip Lawson, ‘The Missing Link: The Imperial Dimension in Understanding Hanoverian Britain’ in A Taste for Empire and Glory: Studies in British Overseas Expansion, 1660–1800, ed. Lawson, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997, no. I, p. 748. 9 T. E. Colebrooke, The Life of H. T. Colebrooke, London: Trubner, 1873, p. 52 10 An Historical Disquisition concerning the Knowledge which the Ancients had of India, 7th edn, London: Cadell and Davies, 1817, pp. 218, 287, 288. 11 Natasha Eaton, ‘Hodges’s Visual Genealogy for Colonial India’ in William Hodges, 1774–1797: The Art of Exploration, ed. Geoff Quilley and John Bonehill, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2004, p. 37. 12 Partha Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, p. 172. 13 P. J. Marshall ed., The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970, pp. 187–8. 14 The Third Anniversary Discourse ‘On the Hindus’, The Works of Sir William Jones, 13 vols, London: John Stockdale, 1807, vol. III, p. 44. 15 Journals of the House of Commons, 28 May 1782, XXXVIII, 1032. 16 For Mill on India, see J. M. Robson, M. Moir and Z. Moir, eds, Writings on India (The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill), vol. XXX, Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1990, and Lynn Zastoupil, John Stuart Mill and India, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. 17 On ‘Indian’ representation in the Commons, see R. G. Thorne, ed., History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790–1820, vol. I, Introductory Survey, London: HM Stationery Office, 1986, p. 325. 18 Professor D. M. Peers has kindly supplied me with a list of such articles for the 1830s. 19 There is as yet no equivalent for the earlier nineteenth century of Chandrika Kaul’s Reporting the Raj: The British Press and India c.1880–1922, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003, but see material in David Finkelstein and Douglas M. Peers, eds, Negotiating India in the Nineteenth Century, Houndmills: Macmillan, 2000. 20 Oriental Herald or Colonial Review, 1824, 1, 4. 21 Linda Colley, Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600–1850, London: Jonathan Cape, 2002, ch. 9. 22 C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780–1830, Harlow: Longman, 1989, p. 114. 23 D. M. Peers, Between Mars and Mammon: Colonial Armies and the Garrison State in Early Nineteenth-Century India, London: I. B. Taurus, 1995, p. 3. 24 Colley, Captives, p. 363. 25 P. S. E. Carson, ‘Soldiers of Christ: Evangelicals and India, 1784–1833’, London University PhD thesis, 1988. For numbers of petitions, see p. 282. 26 Parliamentary Papers, 1831–2, XIII, xiii.


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27 P. J. Marshall, ed., The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, vol. VI, The Launching of the Hastings Impeachment 1786–1788, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 285. 28 ‘English Society in India’ in Anglo-India: Social, Moral and Political. Being a Collection of Papers from the Asiatic Journal, 3 vols, London: W. H. Allen, 1838, vol. I, pp. 25, 118. 29 Raymond K. Renford, The Non-Official British Community in India to 1920, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, ch. I. 30 Michael H. Fisher, Counterflows to Colonialism: Indian Travellers and Settlers in Britain, 1600–1857, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004. 31 Bernard S. Cohn, ‘The Recruitment and Training of British Civil Servants in India, 1600–1860’ in Cohn, An Anthropologist among the Historians and Other Essays, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 515. 32 John Bourne, Patronage and Society in Nineteenth-century England, London: Edward Arnold, 1986, pp. 87–9, 94; Peter Stanley, White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India 1825–1875, London: Hurst, 1998, pp. 26, 27. 33 To C. Macaulay, 11 December 1836, Thomas Pinney, ed., The Letters of Thomas Babington Macaulay, 6 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974–81, vol. III, p. 205. 34 Evidence to Select Committee; Parliamentary Papers, 1852, X, 175. 35 M. Martin, ed., The Despatches, Minutes, and Correspondence of the Marquess Wellesley, 5 vols, London: W. H. Allen, 1836–7, vol. II, p. 342. 36 Evidence of J. H. Batten, Parliamentary Papers, 1831–2, IX, 236–7. 37 Journal of a Residence in India, Edinburgh: George Ramsay, 1812, p. 134. 38 ‘English Literature in India’, Calcutta Review, 1846, 5, 207. 39 Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing, 1770–1840, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 192n. 40 G. H. R. Tillotson, ‘The Indian Picturesque: Images of India in British Landscape Painting, 1780–1880’ in The Raj: India and the British 1600–1947, ed. C. A. Bayly, London: National Portrait Gallery, 1990, p. 141. 41 Nigel Leask, ‘Towards an Anglo-Indian poetry? The colonial Muse in the Writing of John Leyden, Thomas Medwin and Charles D’Oyly’ in Writing India 1757–1990, ed. Bart Moore-Gilbert, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, pp. 52–85. 42 Pinney, ed., Macaulay Letters, vol. III, p. 162. 43 Wellesley Despatches, vol. II, p. 330. 44 ‘The English in India: Our Social Morality’, Calcutta Review, 1844, 1, 322. 45 An East India Sketch Book, 2 vols, London: Richard Bentley, 1832, vol. I, pp. 77, 81. 46 Real Life in India. By an old Resident, London: Hoyleston and Stoneman, 1847, p. 144. 47 ‘Married Life in India’, Calcutta Review, 1845, 4, 411–13. 48 Anglo-India, vol. I, p. 118. 49 [H. Bevan], Thirty Years in India or a Soldier’s Reminiscences of Native and European Life in the Presidencies, 2 vols, London: Pelham, Richardson, Cornhill, 1839, vol. I, p. 17. 50 London: HarperCollins, 2002. 51 Katherine Prior, Lance Brennan and Robin Haines, ‘Bad Language: The Role of English, Persian and Other Esoteric Tongues in the Dismissal of Sir Edward Colebrooke as Resident of Delhi in 1829’, Modern Asian Studies, 2001, 35, 105. 52 ‘Second Anniversary Discourse’, Works, vol. III, p. 17. 53 Ian Woodfield, Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late EighteenthCentury Anglo-Indian Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 54 For the decline of collecting, see Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London: HM Stationery Office, 1981, pp. 30–1. For ‘Company’ painting, see Mildred Archer, Company Paintings: Indian Painting of the British Period, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 55 Thomas Trautmann, ‘Inventing the History of South India’ in Invoking the Past: The Uses of History in South Asia, ed. Daud Ali, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 36–54. 56 Douglas M. Peers, ‘Colonial Knowledge and the Military in India, 1780–1860’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2005, 33, 157–80, see p. 158.

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57 Nicholas B. Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001, pp. 99–109. 58 See the assessment in Rosane Rocher, ‘Weaving Knowledge: Sir William Jones and Indian Pandits’, in Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), ed. Garland Cannon and Kevin Brine, New York: New York University Press, 1995, pp. 51–79. 59 C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India 1780–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 143–4. 60 R. W. Lightbown, ‘India Viewed’ in India Observed: India as Viewed by British Artists 1760–1860, ed. Mildred Archer and Ronald Lightbown, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982, p. 125. 61 Robert Southey in the Quarterly Review, 1809, cited by Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing, p. 157. 62 C. A. Bayly, ‘Orientalists, Informants and Critics in Benares, 1790–1860’ in Perspectives of Mutual Encounters in South Asian History 1760–1860, ed. Jamal Malik, Leiden: Brill, 2000, pp. 103–11. 63 E. S. Shaffer, ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘The Fall of Jerusalem’. The Mythological School in Biblical Criticism and Secular Literature 1770–1880, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 117. 64 To H. H. Wilson, 24 December 1827, Life of Colebrooke, p. 356. 65 Richard Symonds, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? Houndmills: Macmillan, 1986, pp. 103–5. 66 For them, see Fisher, Counterflows to Colonialism, pp. 112–34. 67 Rosane Rocher, Alexander Hamilton (1762–1824): A Chapter in the Early History of Sanskrit Philology, New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1968, ch. V. 68 Jones Works, vol. III, p. 2. 69 Discourse, 15 March 1823, reprinted in Life of Colebrooke, p. 391. 70 Ibid., pp. 390–3. 71 ‘Prospectus of a Plan’, Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1830, vol. II, Appendix, p. xxiii. 72 Life of Colebrooke, p. 395. 73 ‘Report of the Committee of Correspondence’, Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1830, vol. II, Appendix, p. xliv. 74 The History of British India, 4th edn, ed. H. H. Wilson, 8 vols, London: James Madden, 1840, vol. I, p. xxi. 75 Javed Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s ‘The History of British India’ and Orientalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992, p. 198. 76 Anglo-India, vol. I, p. 340. 77 Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; for Cheltenham, see pp. 219–27. 78 Rozina Visram, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History, London: Pluto Press, 2002, pp. 39–40; for a full account of Dean Mahomed, see Michael H. Fisher, The First Indian Author in English: Dean Mahomed in India, Ireland and England, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996. 79 Stephen Wheeler, ed., Annals of the Oriental Club 1824–58, London: privately printed, 1925; Denys Forrest, The Oriental: Life Story of a West End Club, London: Batsford, 1968. 80 Life of Colebrooke, p. 394. 81 The Asiatic Journal or Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies, 1816, vol. I, p. iii. 82 Hew Strachan, The Politics of the British Army, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 74. This theme is elaborated in Strachan, From Waterloo to Balaclava: Tactics, Technology and the British Army, 1815–1854, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 83 Jac Weller, Wellington in India, London: Longman, 1972, p. 262. 84 Bernard S. Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 3–4. 85 To Charles Macaulay, 11 December 1836, Pinney, ed., Macaulay Correspondence, vol. III, p. 204.


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86 The phrase is C. A. Bayly’s in ‘Ireland, India and the Empire: 1780–1914’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser., 2000, 10, 377–97, see p. 380. 87 ‘Notes on the Newspapers’, 25 April [1834], J. M. Robson ed., Essays on England, Ireland and the Empire (Collected Works of John Stuart Mill), vol. VI, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982, p. 217. 88 C. E. Trevelyan, The Irish Crisis, London: Longman, 1848, p. 176. 89 S. K. Sharma, Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State: North India in the Early Nineteenth Century, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001. 90 For example, John Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987; Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East; Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings; Shaffer, Kubla Khan. 91 ‘Orientalism’, in David Pirie ed., The Romantic Period, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1994, pp. 397–447, see pp. 393, 426. 92 Raymond Head, The Indian Style, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1986. 93 C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian, pp. 108–9; Sudipta Sen, Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India, New York: Routledge, 2002. 94 History of India, vol. I, p. xvii. 95 To W. S. Landor, 20 May 1808, C. C. Southey, ed., Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols, London: Longman, 1850, vol. III, p. 147.


Torrents, flames and the education of desire Battling Hindu superstition on the London stage Daniel O’Quinn

It is difficult to overstate the importance of British representations of suttee and of female infanticide in the Rajput and the campaigns against the practices to emergent definitions of British civility and constructions of Hindu ‘depravity’. The theatrical productions discussed in this essay – Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar (1791) and William Thomas Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges! Or, The Rajah’s Daughter (1823) – are particularly rich sites not only for establishing the function of these practices in the imperial imaginary, but also for indicating key transitions in British colonial relations over the thirty-year period following Cornwallis’s accession to the post of Governor-General of Bengal. Shifts in British governmental strategy have eerie counterparts in the dramaturgical practices of the London theatres at this historical juncture. The demonstration of such a relationship implies that British imperial policy and British cultural production are suffused by similar self-consolidating fantasies of rule. The language of fantasy is crucial to this essay because I suggest that the attribution and subsequent governmental ‘extirpation’ of ostensible Hindu superstition is accompanied by the generation and dissemination of rather different forms of British superstition in the theatre of metropolitan life.

I The period traversed by this essay is one of extraordinary transformation in British governmentality. 1791 marks the beginning of a crucial shift in the fortune of the British military in its struggles with Tlpn Sultmn, which would culminate in triumphalist declarations of supremacy following Tlpn’s death in 1799. The victories over Tlpn put much of the residual anxiety generated by the first two Mysore wars and by the loss of the American colonies into abeyance and by 1803 military conflict was superceded by what Lefebvre and others have described as the warfare of everyday life.1 But it is important to recognize that by the late 1780s, a complex war against the self, in which desires and social practices were strictly regulated, was well underway both in the metropole and the colony. Much of the East India Company’s activities during this period attempted to distance themselves from the excesses alleged in the Hastings impeachment.2 The initial phases of ‘postdespotic’ rule fell to Cornwallis and he immediately set about reforming the military through what amounted to a policy of racial purification.3 These reforms, which resulted in a shift


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in military supremacy in India, were later accompanied by the Permanent Settlement. As Dirks summarizes, the Permanent Settlement was an attempt to erase Hastings’s legacy in more ways than one. As formulated initially by [Philip] Francis and implemented by Cornwallis, it was meant to regularize Company revenues through a steady tax rather than by extortion, to normalize administration by setting high public standards for the service of the Company officers, and to create a loyal elite based on landed property rather than military alliance, by restoring putatively traditional landholders to their rightful position . . . .Cornwallis . . . was intent on reproducing the landed gentry of England, in a dramatic enunciation of imperial policy that seemed a denial of the entrepreneurial origins of Indian empire even as it sought to stabilize a new kind of Indian elite.4 Aside from the tortuous problems of re-configuring property relations in India and of inventing an Indian landed class, the ideological investment in the Permanent Settlement also required an erasure of the preceding thirty years of British economic history which had demonstrated that landed property could no longer be understood as unrelated to mercantile commerce.5 To pretend that the problems of imperial sovereignty would be rectified by establishing a landed elite was to indulge in a misrecognition of the stability of the metropolitan landed classes and of the ‘natural’ accommodation of liberty and property. C. A. Bayly characterizes this misrecognition as ‘a massive effort of wishful thinking’.6 The maintenance of ‘tradition’ through its forced implementation elsewhere had significant implications not only for those on whom it was foisted, but also for those in whose name it was perpetrated. At the same time that this phantasmatic project was unravelling, figures such as Charles Grant were laying the ground work for what would become Britain’s civilizing mission. In Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, Grant characterized the Hindu population as one sunk in irrevocable depravity and argued vociferously for the Anglicization and Christianization of the ‘Asiatic subjects of Great Britain’.7 Crucial to that argument was the rather naive suggestion that thousands of years of religious tradition and social custom, which in the rhetoric of the essay had fully enveloped Hindu society, would simply dissolve through governmentally promulgated acts of Christian enlightenment. In Grant’s terms, Hindu superstition was both monumental and yet prone to almost immediate displacement. This amounts to a double misrecognition. The idea that Indian society could be condensed into a brief roster of rhetorical figures and catachreses was a necessarily enabling fantasy for a governmental entity intent on the domination of everyday life. The very belief that such a form of domination was possible downplayed previous reversals of policy and failures of application in order to sustain emergent forms of paternal imperial identity. A British fire: marital identities in The Widow of Malabar As Dorothy M. Figueira has argued, the sexual economy of continental representations of suttee is markedly different from the eye-witness British accounts which played such an important role in the legislative discussion of the practice in the early nineteenth century.8 Le Mierre’s popular tragedy La Veuve du Malabar (1770) is

Hindu superstition on the London stage 67 indebted to Voltaire’s writings on the subject in that the sati figure is the victim of religious superstition and social custom. This effectively casts the sati-figure as ‘an exemplar of bourgeois conjugal virtues and as a courageous rebel against social rigidity’.9 In Mariana Starke’s adaptation of the play, The Widow of Malabar, the struggle between reason and superstition is staged as an intra-caste conflict between a Young and an Old Bramin.10 These two characters take opposing sides on the morality of immolating a recently widowed woman. The audience is asked to sympathize with the Young Bramin’s enlightened arguments against suttee, but much of the play’s theatrical power is tied to the spectacular staging of the burning funeral pile in the third act. The Young Bramin’s reasonable arguments and sentimental tears are no match for the visual thrill of flames and Oriental pageantry. The victory of superstition over reason is averted when Raymond, the General of the English Forces, saves the potential sati and discovers that she is the long lost Indamora whom he loved in his youth. Thus the attractions of Oriental spectacle, however horrifying, are trumped by the combination of military action and sentimental love. The reception of the play in the press reveals a great deal not only about the social function of the sati-figure at this juncture in metropolitan culture, but also about the political significance of genre. The play’s generic instability is captured in the English Review’s catalogue of the play’s faults: the plot discovers itself in the first act; . . . it is unnatural, in many respects, and contrary to the customs it pretends to describe in that the widow, instead of requesting to be burnt, is forced to comply; and . . . the bramins are supposed to have no object in view but her jewels. This makes the thing new and pretty, but neither interesting nor instructive. On the whole, the piece is well calculated to please a modern audience since comedy is become pantomime, and tragedy a kind of sentimental comedy.11 The combined suggestion that the play diverges from the ‘customs’ it pretends to describe and that it is not a tragedy but rather a sentimental comedy subtly indicates that the widow presented in the play is quite literally calculated ‘to please a modern audience’, because her predicament is really that of an English widow. Indamora has been married to an older man not of her choosing, in part to foil an interracial attachment with Raymond, and in part to secure an alliance with the family of her husband. Despite The Widow of Malabar’s allegorical attempts to analyse the place of custom in the regulation of female subjectivity, the press used the play as an occasion for scrutinizing upperclass women and the threat their sexual agency posed to the maintenance of ‘tradition’. The allegorical connection between potential sati and English widow nascent in the play and exploited by the press was forestalled by the play’s much publicized proto-ethnographic gestures.12 Many of the reviews recognized that this presentation of elements of ostensibly authentic Hindu culture was not an incidental concern of the play: The Widow of Malabar . . . is the production of Miss Starke, whose father was formerly the governor of the country where the scene of the tragedy lies, of course the costume of the piece is preserved with great truth. The procession is extremely magnificent, and affords a very striking picture of Oriental manners.13


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Establishing Starke as one or two steps removed from a native informant tenuously clings to the play as a representation of Hindu social practice whose divergence from tragedy is compensated for by a self-consolidating celebration of masculine British humanity. This interpretation also accepts the idealized interracial and inter-class sexual union between Raymond and Indamora as a necessary step in the enlightened suppression of superstition. However, most reviewers countered this interpretation by arguing that the play was a sentimental comedy about aristocratic love veiled behind a surface of distorted Oriental detail. And this argument conveniently suppressed the question of interracial desire between Raymond and Indamora in a manner symptomatic of the racialization of class relations in the early 1790s. When the The Widow of Malabar was given a thorough run in the winter of 1791, the daily newspapers imply a certain level of commutability between the sexual desires of prominent women in the audience and Indamora’s love for Raymond that ultimately re-interprets Indamora’s reluctance to become a sati as a sign of adulterous proclivities. This suggestion of commutability and the implied metaphorization of suttee surface in almost all the papers. The Whig organ The Morning Chronicle was the most insistent, offering nuggets such as the following: ‘The Widows by no means find the fiery ordeal in the new Tragedy so formidable as they had imagined. Having warm constitutions, they find the flame, which succeeds the death of a first Husband, a kindred element.’14 The puns on burning and on flames proliferate and culminate in perhaps the most telling contribution from The Morning Chronicle: A BRITISH FIRE In India’s climes when ancient husbands die, Their youthful Widows to a bonfire fly, Ascend the pile–and ‘midst surrounding fire, In honour of their dear good man–expire. In Britain’s Isle the case is much the same, An old man’s wife retains a secret flame; And when he dies–a few short days past over, The flame burst forth, and fires–a youthful LOVER.15 In the second verse, the English widow figuratively burns on the occasion of her husband’s death but not with him. By the slippage inherent to the metaphorization of suttee, the English widow burns with desire for a youthful lover. However, the second verse also describes Indamora’s situation on the London stage to the letter, for she not only retains a secret flame for Raymond throughout her marriage, but also unites with him a few short days after her husband’s death. As the Morning Chronicle aptly summarizes, The new Tragedy conveys a most excellent moral, which is sanctioned by the authority of scripture, and will, we dare say, meet the approbation of all widows, that it is better to marry than to burn. Every body will agree that if, after the death of a first husband, a widow should be destined to the flame, her best security is in the arms of a second.16

Hindu superstition on the London stage 69 Both the play and its satirical reception put the colonial practice of suttee into abeyance by retroactively sexualizing the widow. In the play, this happens at the level of plot, but in the papers this is achieved by less than subtle figural substitutions of British widows for potential satis. This shifts the locus of ‘entertainment’ from the theatrical spectacle afforded by Oriental superstition to the voyeuristic pleasure afforded by the promulgation of scandal in the press. The figural cancellation of the potential sati in the press responds to a series of anxieties activated by Starke’s play. Most obviously, cultural difference is simply relegated to figural oblivion. But more importantly, the press’s actions obviate the play’s threatening suggestion that interracial desire is not only admirable, but also necessary for resolving the social conflict between rational British imperialists and ostensibly superstitious Hindu subjects. And nestled within the relationship between Indamora and Raymond is a further complication: their union appears to be between an aristocratic woman and a bourgeois soldier. With caste understood as translatable to class, the sexual resolution of the play’s social and cultural conflict turns on the mixing not only of ethnically distinct characters, but also of Town and City. The papers quickly contain this gesture and direct readers’ attention to specifically intraclass sexual relations by focussing not only on aristocratic marriage, but also on specific women of fashion in the audience. A number of papers list notable Ladies in the boxes and discuss their approbation of the play.17 The St. James Chronicle produces an extensive list and suggests that the play will ‘become a favourite of the town’.18 The New London Magazine subtly damns the play when it suggests that considering ‘the Present State of Covent Garden Theatre, . . . [The Widow of Malabar] may probably draw a few fashionable houses to it’.19 A subsequent letter to the editor of the Public Advertiser recognizes the implied criticism – that such a production could only interest the dissipated upper orders. The insinuation that the play is only suitable to the corrupted tastes of the aristocracy implies not only that women of fashion are desiring subjects, but also that interracial sexuality does not constitute a contravention of fashionable identity, but rather is a symptom of the aristocracy’s social decay. Just as the papers substitute fantasies of metropolitan sexuality for equally phantasmatic constructions of Hindu subjectivity, so the middling elements of the audience indulge in fantasies about the dissolution of the very class they are in the process of displacing in the consolidation of national identity. And yet, this displacement requires a phantasmatic investment in a now iconic landed elite whose political and economic power have long since passed their prime. It is thus that the derogation of ‘fashionable’ identities participates in the complex ideological manoeuvre wherein the increasingly economically dominant middle classes eventually find themselves operating behind a national fantasy of benevolent country landlords. In the former substitution, the body of the sati disappears from view in favour of a negative example of metropolitan female desire. In the latter substitution, the bodies of the fashionable women catalogued in the audience of Starke’s play become negative examples of class and gender identity. The adequation of these two substitutions is possible because Indamora and the women of fashion are linked by more than rank in the eyes of the bourgeois audience. They are being understood as racially distinct from normative national identity, and


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thus in reception, the play precipitates a consolidation of the social contrary to that put forward in the play and its epilogue. Starke’s allegorical attempt to redress the problem of aristocratic decay through the sexual accommodation of upper and middle ranks, here figured by the marriage of Indamora and Raymond, was rejected by the papers who preferred to shore up emergent middle-class power by turning the play into an occasion for the ridicule of fashionable vice. The papers’ intervention regulated class relations not only through the specious deployment of racialized Oriental figures, but also through the very real scrutiny of metropolitan social and sexual practices in the theatre. And these forms of metropolitan social regulation paralleled developments in colonial administration. The idea of the Permanent Settlement, like Starke’s allegory of class amelioration, was compelling in its simplicity, but limited in its application. Through the work of administrators such as Thomas Munro, who is credited with the invention of the ryotwari system of revenue collection, the Permanent Settlement was displaced by micrological processes of social control which relied on and called forth the extraordinary proliferation of knowledge practices regarding Indian social life that would eventually be the hallmark of British governmentality during the Raj.20 And these governmental imperatives, like those exerted by the dailies when Starke’s play dared to suggest that middle-class power might effectively operate in conjunction with a fantasy of benevolent landed property, not only targeted inter-racial and inter-class sexual relations, but also began to suture emergent middle-class identities with notions of racial superiority.

II These micrological processes were deeply engaged in what Foucault would famously describe as ‘biopolitics’ – a form of social regulation aimed less at individuals than at populations. The East India Company’s collection of anecdotal and statistical information regarding subject populations in the early nineteenth century targeted sex as the interface between private life and public policy and were supplemented by racial fantasies which legitimated increasingly simplistic solutions to problems in colonial rule. If the peace with the Marathas signalled the end of actual warfare, then the play of dominations simply transferred itself to what is conveniently designated everyday life. In the metropole, under the veil of a mystified constitution, the state was increasingly militarized and disciplinary power suffused the social fabric through a range of institutions. As Stoler has argued, it is crucial that we do not separate these two locales, because the regulatory practices instituted and refined in one jurisdiction were often transferred to another where they were modified and subsequently re-imposed.21 In short, the regulation of class relations and the manipulation of racial norms was happening across the empire and thus must be understood as the result of inter-cultural negotiation whose dynamics are far from equitable, but clearly not modelled on any simple application of dominant ideology. Like suttee, the practice of female infanticide was well known to British observers long before it became the target of governmental action. And like suttee, it generated a contradictory response from early colonial administrators. As the East India

Hindu superstition on the London stage 71 Company gained control of the Ceded and Conquered Provinces from Nawabi Awadh, it became clear to governmental observers that the power of Rajput lineages or clans, who constituted the locally dominant elites, was defined not only by ongoing territorial conflicts, but also through marriages of political alliance. Thus the legitimation of local power was carried out through the combined practice of warfare and marriage that would have been reminiscent of periods of Britain’s own political past. It may be this surreptitious identification that lies behind the valorization of the ‘masculinity’, ‘pride’ and courage of these martial lineages in the early nineteenth century.22 Despite, or perhaps because of, this valorization, ‘the East India Company . . . attempted, through pacification, demilitarization and disarmament to delimit conflicts between elite lineages over territoriality and authority on the one hand, and tear the linkages binding land and service to political power on the other’.23 This demilitarization and the incursion on territorial service generated a crisis in the articulation of Rajput masculinities and literally unhinged the formerly fluid social structure of the region. According to Malavika Kasturi, this was because upwardly mobile Rajput biradaris affirmed their position in the ‘imagined Rajput community’, and negotiated their position and power through cultural strategies of collective violence called bhumeawat. Bhumeawat may be described as the fight for identity, status and territory arising out of a sense of commitment to the homeland, or bhum.24 British attempts to rein in bhumeawat accelerated as the nineteenth century unfolded, but even in the early nineteenth century, British policy instantiated: a fundamental shift in the arenas in which power was articulated by Rajput elites. Increasingly, as Rosalind O’Hanlon suggests, as a result of ‘declining opportunities for the expression of martial masculinity’ . . . their attention was ‘focused more closely on the indoor realm of household and family’ . . . In this scenario, cultural practices such as marriage, which had always fixed, symbolized and transmitted relations of power among Rajput elites in pre-colonial kingdoms, came under especial scrutiny.25 By default, marriage practices and dowries became the site of conspicuous consumption and expenditure, and, despite long-standing abhorrence of female infanticide, the British focused first on the problem of ritual expenditure. But excessive expenditure and female infanticide were intimately connected because marriageable daughters became the primary currency through which social status was achieved or maintained. A surplus of daughters constituted not only a financial drain, but also a devaluation of their status as currency in the marriage market. In the early decades of the century, the East India Company recognized unequivocally that female infanticide was a ‘deviant activity subversive of the principles of the natural and revealed Christian religion’,26 but were initially reluctant to intervene in a practice which occurred within the private sphere. However, the British interest in policing the ‘inner world’ coincided with the transformation of social relationships and cultural strategies within the Rajput family. In short, British interventions and ongoing attempts by Rajput elites to stabilize their social identities were inextricably


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entwined and often reciprocally connected. This entanglement is important because William Thomas Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges is permeated by the anxiety that the distinction between British and Indian social structures is neither clear nor absolute, especially if one allows for any kind of allegorical connection between social transformations in represented Rajput elites and those which swept through British elites from the Restoration onward. Demonstrating this in Moncrieff’s after-piece may seem like a tall order, but our clues lie in the very dramaturgical practices for which it was both praised and condemned. ‘Real Water and Real Horses!’: martial phantasms in The Cataract of the Ganges In 1811, Matthew Lewis’s play for live horses, Timour the Tartar, was staged at Covent Garden. Horse theatre had long been the rage at Astley’s Royal Amphitheatre, but staging this kind of entertainment in one of the patent houses precipitated a crisis of legitimacy from which the London theatre would not recover.27 Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges participates in this revolution in theatrical culture and reviewers of the play still felt compelled in 1823 to comment upon the corruption of the theatre. The bulk of the reviews both testify to the ‘tumultuous applause’ elicited by the spectacle28 and attempt to distance themselves from the play’s ability to drag the audience down into a shared vulgarity of taste.29 Lingering discomfort with horse drama twelve years after the controversy surrounding Timour the Tartar may be simply a matter of dissatisfaction with the excessive commodification of entertainment or nostalgia for the ostensibly higher motives of tragedy and laughing comedy. No doubt both concerns are at work. But in a play such as The Cataract, whose political problematics, although physically distant from the metropole, are ongoing and not buried in the past as in Timour the Tartar, the aesthetic shift away from actors and dialogue to machines and animals hints at the precariousness or the artifice of imperial fantasy. In short, the reviews’ anxiety regarding theatrical and hippodramatic excess may be displaced expressions of ongoing anxieties regarding phantasmatic solutions to tangible economic and political problems in the empire. The Cataract is an altogether different species of entertainment from The Widow of Malabar, and yet the plays share significant elements. Both plays feature a Hindu woman who is threatened with immolation by a corrupt and power-hungry Brahman. Both plays are fascinated by the scene of immolation and focus a significant amount of attention on the marriage customs of the Hindu family. And in both plays, the woman is saved by the intercession of the British military. Here is the Morning Post’s adumbration of the plot: The business of this piece is founded upon an ancient Hindu custom, which devotes to death the female children of the Rajahs. The Rajah of Guzerat has saved his daughter, Zamine, by bringing her up as one of the other sex. The Emperor of Delhi proposes a marriage between the supposed Prince and his daughter. This match is favoured my Mokarra, a Brahman, who hurries it on in the absence of

Hindu superstition on the London stage 73 the Rajah. The father however makes his appearance before the last ceremony is performed, and truly describes the situation in which he is placed. The nuptials being thus prevented, Zamine is claimed under the ancient law by Mokarra. He promises the father that her blood shall not be shed, and this promise he afterwards renews to Zamine, but complying with the condition that she shall be his. Zamine proves untractable, and she is then devoted by the Brahmin to be sacrificed to the idol of her worship. Jack Robinson, the servant of an English Officer, endeavours to release her, but fails in the attempt. The Rajah and his friends come to her relief, and after a tremendous conflict, in which the Brahmin is slain, Zamine is delivered, and, we believe, rewards with her hand the heroism of the British Officer, who has particularly exerted himself in the cause of the Rajah.30 There is an error in this summary to which we will return later but, as virtually all the reviews stated, the flawed plot and the thin dialogue of the play are largely aside from the point. As Bell’s Life in London stated, The Cataract ‘is altogether a dashing, splashing, kicking, prancing, raree show’.31 The Cataract’s real objectives lie in the realm of scene painting, hippodramatic spectacle and the management of vast numbers of ‘embrowned’ actors and actresses in all manner of processions. Thus the reviews provide detailed descriptions of the paintings and mechanisms and offer next to no discussion of the performers’ acting or singing. The New Times is typical in this regard: The incidents, dialogue, and situations, are altogether despicably conceived and wretchedly executed. To the scenery, show, and music, the Manager has looked for triumph, and to these we will turn our attention. The opening scene is beautiful: it is by far the handsomest scene in the whole piece, and does the painter, STANFIELD, infinite credit. It is a field of battle by moonlight, viewed after a conflict. There are a number of figures in the foreground, and distributed over the stage, which are grouped with admirable taste and effect: the landscape also and distance are finely executed, and the light which is cast upon the whole is wonderfully true to nature.32 The opening scene generated instantaneous applause, but accounts of audience satisfaction with the play’s picturesque military scenes exist in marked contrast to what the reviewers saw as the gaudiness of the play’s interior scenes and processions. The Rajah’s palace, where the political ambitious Brahman, Mokarra, devises and enacts most of his schemes, is described as ‘more remarkable for glitter than for elegance or genuine beauty’.33 Another paper stated sarcastically that: Gilding has not been spared–but taste has not been consulted. The remark does not apply to one or two of the landscapes, but it is perfectly true wherever architecture has been attempted. The artist seems to have had in his mind’s eye Dennis Brulgruddery’s kitchen, with his brass skillets and pewter dishes shining through a smoky atmosphere.34


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These infractions on good taste represent precisely the private spaces of family and religion that posed problems for colonial officials intent on regulating Rajput lineages: British policymakers . . . saw the family as the repository of indigenous ‘tradition’, religious norms and values, a site that was alternately left alone or reformed. While Company officials believed that intrusion into the ‘domestic proceedings’ of its subjects would lead to resistance, they also gave into the need to monitor and normalize those subjects’ private lives whenever their ‘traditions’ were deemed threatening to new normative definitions of civilization.35 If we recognize that domestic and religious spaces constitute sites of governmental ambivalence, anxiety or uncertainty at this historical juncture, then the breakdowns in the tactics of ‘interior’ display mark the moments of most intense ideological concern. But it is the act of marriage, where familial and religious practices meet most visibly and powerfully, that generates the moment of most anxious representation in the play. To British observers, Rajput marriages were the occasion for excessive expenditure, but it would appear that Elliston, the manager at Drury Lane, would not be out spent: The first act closes with a grand procession, of an immense number of soldiers and females, accompanied with bands of music. They rise from a subterraneous entrance, under the gates of a fortress: and, though some architectural objections might be taken, the stage effect is grand in the extreme. After the infantry have arranged themselves, the cavalry appear; and are followed by a triumphal car of great dimensions, and drawn by six horses, richly caparisoned. The skill with which the horses are managed almost exceed belief, and no stage ever presented so imposing an appearance.36 The reviews were fascinated not only by the extraordinary expense of such a scene, but also by the technical feat of bringing the horses up through the floor of the stage. The scene ties militarism and excessive marital expenditure together and ties them explicitly to Mokarra and the Emperor of Delhi’s political corruption. In a very real way, the procession enacts not only the political and social ‘excesses’ targeted by the East India Company, but also turns them into one of the play’s primary attractions. This sets up an ambivalence where the play’s governmental objectives seem at odds with its objectives as entertainment. However, the threatening excess exhibited by the bridal procession has already been tamed not only by the Rajah’s prior renunciation of female infanticide, but also by the public association of the marriage with Mokarra. Thus the ostensible causes of social instability among the Rajput lineages – that is excessive expenditure and Brahmanical interference in familial relation – are obliterated by a prior repudiation of their effect – namely, female infanticide. This obliteration is supplemented by a similar repudiation in the few aesthetically successful domestic scenes in the play. In these scenes, the audience is presented with

Hindu superstition on the London stage 75 iconic spaces of primitive domesticity, first in the form of the Hindu cottage (1.2) and second, in the form of a simulacrum of Robinson Crusoe’s habitation (1.6).37 But unlike the ‘dangerous’ domestic spaces of the Rajputs where unwanted girls were either killed or simply left to die, these spaces are intimately connected to the protection of Zamine. Zamine’s very existence in this domestic space obviates the ‘internal’ threat to Zamine’s life, such that infanticide, at least in the play’s plot, will be staged outside the home and will be carried out by figures politically and genealogically distant from the Rajah’s family. This effectively restructures the problem of female infanticide as the intervention of corrupt Brahmanical culture in normative filial relations, rather than as a compensation for the status vacuum left after colonial policy hollowed out Rajput martial masculinities. By having the Rajah privately renounce infanticide, Moncrieff not only gets Britain off the hook for any part it may have had in the escalation of these practices, but also retroactively projects Britain’s ‘civilizing mission’ into the Rajah, thus establishing ‘civility’ not as something imposed, but rather nurtured. As many of the reviews indicate, British interest in female infanticide in the early nineteenth century was split between ascertaining the origin of the practice and devising a policy for its eradication.38 The primary source for information was Edward Moor’s Hindu Infanticide, An Account of the Measures Adopted for Suppressing the Practice of the Systematic Murder by their Parents of Female Infants (1811) and much of the documentation presented in this text makes its way into the Parliamentary Papers on the subject that were published within a year of of Moncrieff’s melodrama. As reviews of Moor’s text emphasize, reports of infanticide ran counter to widely held stereotypes of Hindus as ‘the most mild and benevolent of mankind’ and thus threatened a highly useful construction of Hindu docility.39 Thus the almost frantic attribution of a cause for this ‘aberration’ needs to be read as a containment strategy. Significantly, in Moor’s text and the reviews, any suggestion that the practice may have political roots is subordinated to a systematic attack on Brahmanical corruption and by extension, on the susceptibility of the superstitious Hindu population to religious manipulation. The extremity of this rhetoric is evident in the following passage from the Quarterly Review: Whatever a Brahman inculcates is implicitly followed by the deluded multitude . . . . We entertain so bad an opinion of the whole fraternity of Brahmans, as to be persuaded that there is no act, however atrocious, no vice, however odious, no extravagance, however preposterous, which they might not be induced to commit . . . . Yet these are the people who, while they affect to take away the life of no living creature, encourage child-murder.40 By constructing the Rajput clans as dupes of malevolent power-hungry Brahmans, the text not only clearly locates blame, but also raises the possibility of ideological substitution in which Christian British functionaries will simply replace those who inculcate delusion. The same reviewer suggests that if ‘by proper management on our part, [the Brahmans could] be prevailed upon to substitute the Old and New Testaments, for the Vedas and the Puranas, it would be easy to persuade


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sixty millions of souls that Christianity is the true religion contained in their sacred books’.41 Despite such moments of wishful thinking, Moor’s text and the reviews indicate that it was only through political pressure and direct threats that the British were able to force some lineages to give up female infanticide. The hero of Moor’s text is Major Walker, who managed to procure an agreement with the Jerejah Chief, Jehaji and other leaders, to abandon the practice in 1807. In the negotiations, Jehaji makes it clear he will give up the practice if the British agree to use their military power to attack clan rivals. Thus, female infanticide becomes a bargaining chip in the political relationship between not only the rival lineages in the region, but also with the ascendant British power. But throughout the text, political accommodation is rhetorically transformed into moral triumph and the slow struggle for political power is figured forth as the enactment of immediate subordination.42 As this obfuscation unfolds, immediacy is supplemented with permanence. Narrating a later visit to the region by the now-promoted Colonel Walker, the reader is informed that he had all the neighbouring Jarejahs who had preserved their children brought to his tent . . . . ‘the Jarejah fathers,’ says Mr. Moor, ‘who a short time back, would not have listened to the preservation of their daughters, now exhibited them with pride and fondness. The mothers placed their infants in the hands of Col. Walker, calling on him and their gods to protect what he alone had taught them to preserve. These infants were emphatically called “his children;” and it is likely that this distinction will continue to exist for some years in Guzzerat.’43 The entire scene is reminiscent of the attribution of benevolent paternalism to Cornwallis following the transfer of Tlpn Sultmn’s sons as hostages following the Third Mysore War, but that paternalism is supplemented by an accession to divinity.44 Walker is set up as a god more beneficial to Jarejah lineages than all the gods they traditionally invoke. The Quarterly Review essay not only shows the mystifications at play in Britain’s ostensible ‘civilizing mission’, but also shares a great deal with Moncrieff’s play.45 It is difficult to imagine a more faithful rendering of the evil Brahman than Moncrieff’s Mokarra. After the revelation that Zamine is a girl and not the male heir to the Rajah’s throne, Mokarra invokes the necessity of infanticide and literally separates the Rajah from his daughter. The physical abduction of Zamine at the end of Act I ends in a tableau-like delineation of power on stage. The bereft father is suddenly left in the ‘care’ of Mordaunt, Matali, Mokajee and Ubra. By positioning Col Mordaunt with the domestic servants whose former task was to raise Zamine, he emerges as the parental guardian of the now infantilized Rajah. This dramaturgical relationship is elaborated upon as soon as the curtain rises on the second Act. Mordaunt, now in the Mahratta encampment, immediately entwines internal and external politics: Gallant Mahrattas, welcome to these shores, the Rajah, your ally, approaches, and more than ever needs your friendly aid. He wars not now for conquest only – but for his child – for nature – and humanity . . . . Welcome, noble Rajah, in

Hindu superstition on the London stage 77 yielding to my prayer, in rooting female murder from thy realms . . . . Our brave allies will, to the last, support us. We will pursue the ruffian Priest – dispel the mists of bigotry – give a new triumph to humanity, and yield the Hindoo a new source of joy. (2.1) This declaration is met with immediate praise from the Marathas, and thus the key military alliances are secured around the extirpation of female infanticide. Despite Mordaunt’s praise of the Rajah’s combination of realpolitick and humanity, Moncrieff underlines that it is the Colonel who issues the edict banning infanticide not the Rajah. As in the story of Major Walker, this turns the military transaction into a scene of moral instruction and patriotic exemplification, for the Rajah is not convinced that the practice can be overcome and is thus uncertain about the reception of the edict. The ensuing speeches, like the passages discussed earlier, not only emphasize the immediate acceptance and the permanence of social reform, but also figure the benevolence of British rule as a species of parental care. As Mordaunt declares: ‘Our England, Rajah, is an equal parent. Her swarthy children of the east, alike partake of her regard, with her more favored offspring of the west’ (2.1). However, this fantasy of the benevolent imperial ‘family’ is qualified by the fact that the play features not one but two examples of British care. Mordaunt’s protection is contrasted to his servant Jack Robinson’s failure to effectively rescue Zamine in the Pagoda of Juggernaut. This scene is full of song and gestural acting, complete with moments of drunkenness, dancing girls and swordfighting. Robinson hides behind a statue of ‘Brama’ while Mokarra attempts to coerce Zamine into marrying him. When she refuses, he vows to immolate her and she charges him with hypocrisy and corruption. While Mokarra sleeps, Robinson almost rescues Zamine, but he drops the light and the entire scene falls into darkness. In light of the verbal struggle between Zamine and Mokarra over the power of superstition, it is difficult not to read Robinson’s actions as a failed form of enlightenment. If we are to understand the scene as one of failed strategy, then it becomes clear that proper enlightenment, or release from superstition, will not be effected by the violent actions of individuals, but rather by the corporate actions of governmental/military entities. And these new strategies of ‘enlightenment’ will be wielded not by working-class subjects mired in obsolete imperial fictions, but rather by bourgeois soldiers working through or in association with subordinate populations. This implicit argument against Robinson’s form of care is intimately tied to the satire on his obsession with Robinson Crusoe and thus to a larger argument about the obsolescence of certain styles of imperial representation. He has his own rude cottage and, as he states early in the play, he ‘sailed all over the world, in hopes of being cast away on some uninhabited Island, and finding a Man Friday’ (1.2). This imitation of an iconic figure from the first British empire proves to be inappropriate to Britain’s territorial empire in India. Significantly, the insinuation of interracial sexual desire between Robinson and Ubra, a female Hindu servant in the Rajah’s household, is used to distinguish between appropriate forms of Anglo-Indian relations. Their banter fits into a larger strategy of simultaneously hyper-sexualizing Robinson and


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de-eroticizing Mordaunt. This splitting of desire across class lines is important not only because it picks up on earlier deployments of sexuality in colonial dramas of class consolidation, but also because Robinson’s desires are explicitly critiqued.46 This is most tangible in the second Act when he states that he wishes Ubra was his Friday: You’re my idol, you jade, you are – with whom I could conceal myself from all the cares and perils of life! Oh, you are too interesting! What a pity it is you an’t black, and that you hav’n’t got thick lips, and woolly hair, and a humpty dumpty nose. (2.2) That Robinson desires Ubra not as a Hindu woman, but as a male Caribbean slave, engages a host of non-normative social relations. The invocation of idolatry, the explicit assertion of interracial desire and the gender shift in the comparison cast suspicion on sexualized forms of inter-cultural sociability. Unlike Robinson, Mordaunt has almost no contact with women. This distinction between Mordaunt and Robinson fits the emerging interdiction against interracial sexual relations and effectively figures forth the two characters as icons for two distinct governmental regimes. As Sudipta Sen has recently argued, the transformation in sovereignty which swept through the East India Company following the suppression of the Mysorean and Maratha threats in the early nineteenth century was marked by a shift from deeply entangled social and sexual relations between British and Indian subjects to forms of social and sexual segregation. In what Sen describes as a state-sanctioned ‘decline in intimacy’, interracial sexual practices and interracial offspring became the sign of obsolete governance at variance with the increasingly regulatory mechanism of state utilitarianism.47 Robinson’s familiarity with Hindu servants and his desire for Hindu women, his class mobility, his lightly veiled desire for slaves, his relative disconnection from Christian morality and his reliance on individual agency render him a quaint, humorous and ultimately obsolete imperial subject. Mordaunt on the other hand, is distanced from any hint of desire and instead becomes the embodiment of martial masculinity, loyalty, benevolent paternalism and a form of systematic Christian enlightenment that is not only immediately persuasive, but permanent because affiliated with universal Nature and Humanity. After Robinson’s failure in the Pagoda of Juggernaut, the play leaves the pleasures of low humour, dancing and singing behind in favour of the thrill of simulated battle, spectacular horsemanship and technical virtuosity that made the play famous. One way of thinking about this shift in dramaturgical strategy is to suggest that the heavily embodied forms of entertainment which characterized the Pagoda scene were deployed to stigmatize one model of British engagement with Hindu superstition. This performance style is then superceded by a form of drama which utterly subordinates actors and the elicitation of emotion to the spectacular effects of the burning forest and the cataract: The change which presented the [final scene] was striking, it was from the Wood of Sacrifice to a view of the Ganges, rushing with all its might down a prodigious

Hindu superstition on the London stage 79 cataract. The water was real, and it tumbled with headlong fury and in great quantities from the height of the proscenium to the level of the stage. The effect was fresh, dashing, and highly interesting. In the midst of the engagement the heroine mounted a charger and ascended the cataract with wondrous velocity and invincible resolution, to the inexpressible delight of the Galleries, Pit and Boxes.48 The kind of approbation described here comes in response to a different kind of theatrical experience than that staged in the Pagoda of Juggernaut. Here the audience is drawn together by the operation of the theatrical mechanism and the rigorous discipline of horses. As in Astley’s horse shows of the late 1790s, the audience becomes itself involved in the simulation of war. Even the primary object of desire in the play, Zamine, gets refigured as little more than an appendage to a remarkable feat of horsemanship. What gets lost in this consolidation of the audience into a patriotic amalgam is the sense of paternalism expressed at the beginning of the second Act. That earlier expression of benevolent British care could only temporarily screen the violence, both real and projected, of British rule in India. The continual assertion of a civilizing mission must always already be supplemented by ever more improbable fantasies of supremacy. And it is here that the improbability of the horse climbing the cataract becomes so resonant. As a resolution to the play’s political problematic, it brings together Iran and Zamine and effectively puts the evils of Brahmanical ‘superstition’ in abeyance. A real horse climbing real water is clearly not outside the realm of dramaturgical possibility, but it constitutes an improbable and extravagant answer to the governmental and social problematics represented in the play. The audience’s reaction suggests that they were susceptible to such an improbable, or rather ideological, misrecognition. And we are thus left with a key problem. If the play’s most crowdpleasing moment is also its moment of most extravagant obfuscation, then what separates the aforementioned ‘extravagance’ of Bramanical intervention in Rajput sociability from Moncrieff’s and Elliston’s perpetration of extravagance in the theatre of metropolitan life? The mythic quality of Zamine’s escape is not at all distant from the trope of walking on water, and in this light, the play’s spectacular closure becomes a cryptic sign of Christian benevolence that is foreshadowed by Mordaunt’s remarks on charity and peace. But such a gesture is unsettling because, as in the case of Major Walker discussed earlier, the sudden turn to the supernatural, to that which seems to go beyond the realm of possibility, blurs the line between secular governance and religious ritual. In this context, the audience becomes reconfigured as the dupes of theatrical delusion whose effects seem to generate suspect forms of enthusiasm, known as ‘universal acclamation’ in the theatre, but designated superstition in the colonies.49 All of a sudden, the reviews’ almost unanimous remarks on the vulgarity of hippodrama take on a rather different meaning, for they suggest a certain discomfort with the play’s mythic, dare we say superstitious, resolution to the political problem of female infanticide and of territorial conflict among lineages in the Rajput. The Weekly Dispatch’s review is especially resonant because it casts the problem of degraded taste


Daniel O’Quinn

in terms of barbarism and idolatry: There are certain few, however, who will inwardly mourn over the success of this and similar prostitutions of taste . . . some few who will not fear publicly to arraign the barbarous spirit of innovation that has usurped the classic stage. He, the first (not ‘the last’) of the Goths, must not be permitted to break like a despoiler into the sanctuary of the temple, to lay a rude unholy hand on the very horn of the altar, to pluck down from their recesses those splendid statues that have reposed so long and so majestically there, and erect the image of some idol god in their stead.50 The resistance to the play’s deployment of spectacle may not be simply a matter of nostalgia for the lost vigour of legitimate theatre, but rather an implicit questioning of the increasingly ‘superstitious’ qualities of imperial ideology. If the only way to resolve a key problem in colonial governmentality is to indulge in triumphalist fantasies of martial splendour and improbable notions of immediate and enduring hegemonic control of subject populations, then perhaps the empire is not as solid as Britons might hope or desire. Despite the susceptibility of the audience to ideological regulation and the play’s attempt to literally drown out lingering investments in interracial sexuality and former modes of governmentality embodied by the figure of Jack Robinson, the question of desire proves to be exceedingly resilient. In the final scene, the marital union of Iran and Zamine is matched by the martial union of the Rajah’s forces, the British and the Mahrattas.51 The co-deployment of the martial and the marital is vital to the play’s politics, and to the politics of governance in the Rajput, but it was no doubt lost in the extraordinary technical effects of the final scene. Perhaps because the play leaves the question of Robinson’s desire hanging, the suppression of interracial sexuality seems to have been lost on at least some audience members, for The Morning Post erroneously states that Zamine and Mordaunt are married at the end of the play. What may be simply a misreading of the physical movements of the actors on stage, is revealing because it shows that Mordaunt may not be that different from Iran, Zamine’s warrior husband. By nostalgically reconstructing the plot so that Mordaunt marries Zamine rather than Iran, the paper inadvertently suggests that the figures may be analogous. This analogy has purchase because the eventual cessation of violent conflict in favour of the rule of law that lies nascent in the combined interdiction against infanticide and the defeat of the Emperor of Delhi has its counterpart in that moment in British history, not at all distant, when aristocratic identity shifted from one based on militarism to one based on marital alliance and domestic leisure. In short, the Morning Post’s misrecognition phantasmatically projects an earlier metropolitan solution to the problem of rampant militarism among social elites onto the ‘present’ state of affairs in India. What is so resonant about this error is that it requires a re-configuration of the play’s plot that brings it more in line with what The Weekly Dispatch described as the legacy of ‘genuine’ English theatre – a legacy implicitly connected to social and political formations no longer operative in metropolitan

Hindu superstition on the London stage 81 governmentality except as fantasies of class propriety. It is a form of ‘wishful thinking’, not unlike the Permanent Settlement, that the play’s investment in spectacle argues against, but which it can never fully eliminate.

Notes 1 See H. Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life trans. J. Moore, London: Verso Press, 1991 and M. de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. S. Rendall, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988. 2 N. B. Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001, p. 123. 3 See F. and M. Wickwire, Cornwallis: The Imperial Years, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1980, pp. 107–16, and C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830, London: Longman, 1989, pp. 133–62. 4 Dirks, Castes of Mind, p. 111. 5 See R. Guha, A Rule of Property for Bengal: An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement, New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1981. 6 Bayly, Imperial Meridian, p. 186. 7 C. Grant, Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, particularly with respect to Morals; and on the means of improving it in Parliamentary Papers, 15 June 1813, p. 25. Grant’s essay was first composed and circulated in 1797. 8 For a discussion of these eye-witness accounts see P. B. Courtwright, ‘The Iconographies of Sati’ in Sati, the Blessing and the Curse, ed. J. S. Hawley, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 27–49, L. Mani, Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998, F. Nussbaum, Torrid Zones: Maternity, Sexuality and Empire in Eighteenth-Century English Narratives, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995 and M. Fludernik, ‘Suttee Revisited: From the Iconography of Martyrdom to the Burkean Sublime’, New Literary History, 1999, 30, 411–37 for discussions of the representation of suttee in the late-eighteenth century. 9 D. M. Figueira, ‘Die Flambierte Frau: Sati in European Culture’ in ‘Sati, the Blessing and the Curse Hawley, pp. 55–72; p. 62’. Le Mierre’s tragedy inspired at least two notable adaptations. Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar is discussed in detail in this essay, but it was preceded by an adaptation entitled The Widow of Malabar, or, The Tyranny of Custom, New York: Hodges, Allen and Campbell, 1790, by the early American poet David Humphreys. Humphreys is best known for his patriotic verse and the play was composed while he was residing with George Washington at Mount Vernon in 1787–8. Humphreys’ adaptation uses the example of suttee to rhapsodize on the civility and freedom of men and women in the newly formed United States. 10 All references are to Mariana Starke, The Widow of Malabar, London: William Lane, 1791, and will be included parenthetically in the text. For a comparative discussion of the French original and Starke’s adaptation, see M. A. Dakessian, ‘Envisioning the Indian Sati: Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar and Antoine Le Mierre’s La Veuve du Malabar’, Comparative Literature Studies, 1999, 36(2), 110–30. 11 The English Review, May 1791, p. 387. 12 Indamora’s use of the mirror and the dagger, ritual accessories of the sati which rarely appear in eighteenth-century accounts, indicates a substantial ethnographic imperative. For a discussion of the iconographic qualities of these objects see C. Weinberger-Thomas, Ashes of Immortality: Widow Burning in India, trans. J. Mehlman and D. G. White, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 52–84. 13 Gazetteer and Daily Advertiser, 12 January 1791. 14 Morning Chronicle, 15 January 1791. 15 Morning Chronicle, 19 January 1791. The poem also appears in the Public Advertiser for 20 January 1791.

82 16 17 18 19 20


22 23 24 25 26 27

28 29

30 31 32 33 34

35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Daniel O’Quinn Morning Chronicle, 17 January 1791. See The World, 13 January 1791, The Star, 13 January 1791. St. James Chronicle, 20 January 1791. The New London Magazine, January 1791, p. 46. For a succinct account of the emergence of the ryotwari system and the displacement of Cornwallis rules see Dirks, Castes of Mind, pp. 111–16. For a more extended discussion of this issue see B. Stein, Thomas Munro: The Origins of the Colonial State and His Vision of Empire, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989. See A. L. Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, Durham: Duke University Press, 1995 and M. Foucault, ‘Governmentality’ in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 87–104. M. Kasturi, ‘Taming the “Dangerous” Rajput: Family, Marriage and Female Infanticide in Nineteenth Century Colonial North India’ in Colonialism as Civilizing Mission, ed. H. Fischer-Tiné and M. Mann, London: Anthem Press, 2003, p. 118. Kasturi, ‘Taming the “Dangerous” Rajput’, p. 118. Ibid., p. 118. Ibid., pp. 123–4. Ibid., p. 130. See J. Moody, Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770–1840, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 98–101 and M. Gamer’s essay on Timour the Tartar, ‘A Matter of Turf: Romanticism, Hippodrama, and Legitimate Satire’ Nineteenth Century Contexts, 28, 2006 (forthcoming). For discussions of the cascade of Tlpn plays at Astley’s Royal Amphitheatre, see D. O’Quinn, Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770–1800, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Morning Post, 28 October 1823. This ambivalence is felt throughout the newspapers. The most comprehensive expression of dissatisfaction with the Cataract’s hippodramatic elements comes from The Weekly Dispatch, 2 November 1823, which fears that ‘our antique theatre [will] be trampled under horse into the dust of the circus’. Morning Post, 28 October 1823. The equivocation at the end of this summary is telling, for, in the printed text, Zamine’s hand is given to Iran, a noted warrior in his company. Bell’s Life in London, 2 November 1823. The New Times, 28 October 1823. Ibid. The London Times, 28 October 1823. The Temple of Hindu in Act 1, scene 6, where Mokarra attempts and fails to marry Zamine to the Emperor of Delhi’s daughter, and the Pagoda of Juggernaut in Act 2, where Mokarra fails to marry Zamine himself are similarly derided. Kasturi, ‘Taming the “Dangerous” Rajput’, p. 119. The Statesman, 28 October 1823. All references are to William Thomas Moncrieff, The Cataract of the Ganges! Or, The Rajah’s Daughter, London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1823 and will be included in the text by act and scene number. See for example, The London Times, 28 October 1823. Quartlerly Review, 1811, 6, 212. Ibid., 215–17. Ibid., 215. Ibid., 220. Ibid. See K. Teltscher, India Inscribed: European and British Writings on India 1600–1800, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 248–52. It is also possible to argue that this review of Moor’s text provides many of the plot details for The Cataract. Beyond the demonization of the Brahmans, there is an account of the

Hindu superstition on the London stage 83


47 48 49 50 51

preservation of girl children by dressing them as boys, both of which are key elements of Moncrieff’s play. See Quartlerly Review, 1811, 6, 217. The most important precursor here is George Colman’s Inkle and Yarico and it is worth noting that Colman had a hand in composing Moncrieff’s play. See D. O’Quinn, ‘Mercantile Deformities: George Colman’s Inkle and Yarico and the Racialization of Class Relations’, Theatre Journal, October 2002, 54(3), 389–410. See S. Sen, Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India, New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 119–49. The New Times, 28 October 1823. The Star, 28 October 1823. The Weekly Dispatch, 2 November 1823. Many of the reviews commented on the historical anachronism of such a military alliance. See The London Times, 28 October 1823. Betsy Bolton has provided a superb reading of the political and dramaturgical implications of this historical discontinuity in ‘Saving the Rajah’s Daughter: Spectacular Logic in Moncrieff’s Cataract of the Ganges’. I am grateful to her for allowing me to read this paper and to Tracy Davis and Michael Franklin for their helpful suggestions.


Between mimesis and alterity Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India Natasha Eaton

What I mean by mimesis . . . [is] a ‘space between’, a space permeated by the colonial tension of mimesis and alterity, in which it is far from easy to say, who is the imitator and who is the imitated, which is copy and which is original. (Michael Taussig)

Today cultural thingness is on the agenda. What Appadurai called ‘methodological fetishism’ has become the byword for a new type of inquiry into the ontology (the various ontologies) of possession and circulation of things.1 Of these, the Maussian ‘gift’ has emerged as an organizing topos for other institutions of exchange not structured by the contractual rationality of commodity.2 Unfortunately, there is a persistent tendency in the recent literature on gift to conflate it with one-sided generosity: the ‘true’ gift is anti-economic, gratuitous – ‘expenditure’.3 Derrida has written that in order for there to be a gift, ‘there must be no reciprocity, return, exchange, countergift or debt. If the other gives me back or owes me or has to give me back what I give him or her, there will not have been a gift’; the gift ‘is annuled each time there is restitution or countergift’.4 Whatever be the philosopher’s reason for thinking that the radical, albeit ‘impossible’ gift is beyond presence and therefore, beyond discourse and representation (it supposedly has ‘the structure . . . of Being . . . and of time’5), it needs to be emphasized that real gift institutions are based on intricate calculation which, though very different from utilitarian calculus, is nevertheless wholly irreconcilable with what Bataille calls dépense (absolute giving, loss, expenditure).6 At the very least, its empirical correlate, potlatch, does not warrant the view of gift as transgressive destruction for its own sake.7 And if the real cannot be mined to generate cases to fit the Bataillian dépense or the Derridaian gift-as-excess, the inescapable (empiricist) conclusion is that these are involutions generated by the very economy of (post-Romantic) thought which these thinkers claim to have sublated. If gift is no longer what it used to be (amongst avant-garde French philosophers), the category of commodity is also undergoing radical rethinking. When commodity, following Appadurai, is defined in terms of a situation, a state from which things can flow in and out in course of their ‘social’ lives, the categorical bipolarity of gift versus commodity becomes difficult to hold on to. This is more so when most of the gifts

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 85 are gifts of commodities – as in today’s world. It follows that gift and commodity exchanges are not mutually exclusive: there are conventions everywhere about what can properly be bought and sold and what cannot: the line of demarcation between the two is determined not by the categorical bipolarity of ‘expenditure’ versus ‘economy’8 but by the specific cultural–institutional strategies of singularization. Mauss’s architext on gift says as much, in harping repeatedly on the composite (‘total’ social phenomena, ‘total services’ etc.) character of archaic gift institutions. Pure, disinterested gift is a phantasm of modernity.9 It seems to me that the distinction between alienable and inalienable possessions, proposed by Annette Weiner, is the most effective way of grappling with the variable cultural strategies of singularization demarcating things-as-gifts as opposed to freely exchangeable commodities. In her thesis, highly prized things are valued more if they are suspended from circulation – as they are imbued with the charisma of the giver that is hard to return, difficult to give away, even hazardous to receive.10 Inalienable possessions like the Maori taonga or titles or heirlooms in the West, acquire their force and scarcity-value descent group, having an exclusive and cumulative identity with a particular series of owners and second, from their ties to cosmological forces – the dead, ancestors, gods or sacred places. The crucial fact about such possessions is that they cannot, under most circumstances, be freely exchanged: their authority makes them a key source of social and political prestige and hence of social hierarchy. This is why these are objects of intense competition. My concern in this essay is to explore the intercultural negotiations around ‘gift’ in early colonial India. Most ethnographies of gift would have us believe that its locale is the non-occidental world, blatantly disregarding the fact that the west has its own gift institutions, whose negotiation with its non-western counterparts has rarely been studied. I attempt to show that in early colonial India, ‘gift’ created a forum for transcultural negotiations, which, far from being a homogenous totality, instead constructed an arena where heterogeneity was determined. What sustains the narrative is my claim, against the grain, that gift cannot be taken as an analytical resource to be counterposed against commodity in such a way as to make these two a principle of comprehensive periodization, producing the stabilities of a now and a then, as in so many accounts of colonial modernity.11 Gift, I hope to demonstrate in the following passages, is ontologically heterogeneous, possessing different valences in different contexts. In late eighteenth-century India, the English East India Company wanted to replace the quintessential Mughal gift of khil’at (rulers’ robes) and nazr (tribute of valuables) with their own form of gift – symbolically potent portraits. Portrait-gift presupposed a certain relationship between the donor and the recipient underpinned by a mimetic ideology of presence unrelated with the Mughal idea of tribute-gift. Both were highly personalized – ‘inalienable’ – transactions that aimed to transmit the ‘presence’ of the donor to the recipient. Yet ‘presence’ signified very differently for these two regimes and as such, one of the aims in this essay is to signpost their crossings and negotiations. Examining the interface between these two ‘regimes of inalienability’, this paper documents how the ‘image-gift’ became central to Anglo-Indian diplomacy. It analyses


Natasha Eaton

the construction of colonial portraits as both gift and tribute – a practice initiated by the first Governor-General Warren Hastings (1772–85). Ordered by the Directors of the East India Company to impose direct rule on the kingdom of Bengal, Hastings was instrumental in extending the Company’s suzerainty to other Indian states, annexing the wealthy kingdoms of Mysore, Awadh, the Carnatic and the Deccan to become one of the most powerful rulers in South Asia. As part of his aggressive foreign policy, Hastings dispatched British portraitists to native courts where they were to paint the likenesses of Indian rulers, to be sent to the Company authorities as ‘gift’. My focus here is on the colonial hybridization of the metropolitan practise of gifting portraits and its imbrication with other diacritics. It is in this connection that I draw on Taussig’s idea of mimesis and colonialism as a privileged site for mimetic encounter.12 He revives the very ancient idea of the mimetic aptitude as a conditio humana – as an anthropological constant, suggesting that the ability to mime and mime well is the capacity to Other. Taussig injects into this concept an extraordinary analytical depth: far from being an inferior mode of cognition typical of ‘savage thought’ (as in Frazer’s ‘sympathetic magic’), he makes it the basis of knowledge about the Other. He establishes the idea of ‘sentient knowing’ through mimetic acts by which the copy acquires power over the original. Through a subtle reading of colonial copies of metropolitan originals, he arrives at the notion of ‘mimetic excess’ – mimesis turned on itself leading to mimetic self-awareness – which I propose to use here. Just as Hastings wanted to emulate Mughal Emperors as part of the Company’s legitimization exercise (see later), so indigenous rulers wanted to ‘copy’ the British by incorporating British art into their collections. In exploring this politics of circulation of mimesis in alterity, I want to bring out the centrality of ‘art’ in the colonial encounter – its ability to format novel kinds of agencies, institutions and subjectivities. In this sense, alterity is best understood not through the narrative disjuncture between two pre-existing essences, implying the ‘linear equivalence of event and idea’,13 but through the entanglement of unequal times – of contingent, shifting and unstable orderings. Alterity is enacted and performed rather than scripted beforehand in seamless discursive closures.

Likeness as presence: governing gift in colonial India ‘Gift’ was fundamental to the formation and maintenance of a multi-layered patrimonial Mughal polity: subordinates offered valuable tributes – nazr, and received in return khil’at – robes minutely graded in terms of rank and occasion from the wardrobe of the ruler, signifying a certain incorporation into the king’s body as well as the body politic.14 Kingly charisma consisted in giving ‘excessively’ – kings styled themselves as the ‘embodiment of hospitality’.15 Drawing on ideas of sovereignty from Turkish, Persian, Hindu and other local practices, the nawabs of the Mughal successor states negotiated with variegated symbols, both sacred and profane. In the late 1760s, the Company’s Court of Directors started to view the entanglements of its employees with Mughal gifting practices with anxiety and suspicion, dismissing these as bribery and extortion innate to ‘Oriental despotism’.16 At the heart of the matter lay the Company officials’ abuse of the Mughal gift. It became a regular practice to accept bribes and make threats against the persons and property

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 87 of indigenous rulers and traders unless they ‘gave’ generously. Responding to these escalating charges of corruption, the Regulating Act of 1773 prohibited British officials from receiving land, money and jewels from Indians.17 This measure had curious repercussions: the Indo-Persian chronicler Ghulam Hussain Tabataba’i deplored the fact that as a result of the Act, Calcutta’s Supreme Council ‘constantly refuse the nazrs presented them in compliance with a custom peculiar to India and they returned untouched even presents of fruit’.18 The refusal of fruit qua gift signified the ultimate transgression of Mughal civility (adab), when gifts were returned to the sender.19 Under the post-1773 ‘reformed’ gift regime, ‘gifts [were] allowed . . . to have legal validity . . . only if they were given for reasons deemed satisfactory in British courts of law, which proposed new taxonomies of gifts and new ideas of political expediency’.20 Hastings tried to devise a new kind of gift, reconfiguring elements from Mughal and British gifting practices. Although his own accounts and the Calendar of Persian Correspondence reveal that on occasion he would still present khil’ats and receive nazr, these isolated instances increasingly became marginal.21 Instead, Hastings wanted to replace the erstwhile gift of land grants, jewels and money with a symbolic and highly personal form of gift – the painted portrait. In eighteenth-century Britain, portraits played a key role in strengthening kinship networks: two-dimensional images were believed to convey a certain presence of the absent donor through the mediation of likeness.22 The dissemination of portraits extended to the diplomatic realm – no ambassador quitted Britain without likenesses of King George III. Whilst these canvases evoked his presence, they did not stand in legally for the absent sovereign (as in France), a practice that the British abhorred as ‘despotic’. George III disseminated multiple versions of his own likeness to the Crown’s colonies in America, the West Indies and Minorca and at the suggestion of Lord Pigot (former Governor of the Company’ settlement in Madras), he even sent his likeness to the nawab of Arcot. By the 1750s, Arcot had come under indirect Company rule, although the ruler still played off the French and the British against each another so as to assert his power. To reciprocate George III’s image-gift, nawab Muhammad Ali (under pressure from the Company) ordered his own portrait from the first British professional artist to visit India – Tilly Kettle ( fl.1768–76) – then stationed at nearby Madras.23 The nawab wrote to the English king: I have Your Majesty’s picture night and day before me, endeavoring to console myself by imagining that I have the honor of being ever in your Majesty’s Presence. I was desirous of attending in person Your Majesty to return my grateful thanks for the favor of Your Majesty’s picture . . . I have sent Your Majesty the picture of myself and my children, together with some cloths and some rosewater, hoping that the picture may have that honor of being affixed in Your Majesty’s royal sight.24 Surely the ‘presence’ Muhammad Ali is describing is very different from the presence immanent in western portraits (more on this later). The initial ‘success’ of this image-gift must have prompted Hastings to incorporate the protocol of gifting of portraits in his diplomatic repertoire. Due to his lack of contacts in London’s royal circles, George III could not be called upon to gift his portrait to every nawab. So Hastings substituted his own portrait for that of the king.


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Mughal Emperors occasionally disseminated their likenesses and collected European art, but these practices were peripheral to their practices of sovereignty. Akbar distributed his own miniature portrait to select ‘disciples’ in votive ceremonies associated with the worship of the sun known as shast wa shabah. Neophytes declared four decrees of devotion, placing their heads at the ruler’s feet in extreme prostration, before he presented them with a turban, a medallion embossed with a sunburst, pearl earrings and a tiny portrait to be worn in the turban.25 Akbar and his successor Jahangir also received Jesuit and British envoys, who used art as a diplomatic gift in their ploys for religious and trade sanctions with varying degrees of success. Whilst the English ambassador Sir Thomas Roe (1616–19) speculated that Jahangir seemed pleased with a miniature portrait of James I, he warned his English contacts that only the highest quality pictures would do.26 In spite of the many altarpieces commissioned in Goa, Lisbon and Rome, or engravings sourced from the Netherlands, the Jesuit fathers failed to use images to convert the Mughal court; in effect this was an ‘Indian conquest of Catholic art’.27 At the same time, the East India Company attempted to introduce British art as both gift and commodity across the Mughal Empire, but its Factory Records expose the lack of Indian enthusiasm for European pictures and the controversies surrounding their circulation, payment and profits.28 The situation further deteriorated when Emperor Aurangzeb condemned shast wa shabah as idolatrous and ordered the defacement of the Jesuit-inspired frescoes of Christian saints in his predecessors’ palaces at Lahore and Agra.29 Although Company officials occasionally received albums of images from the important public men – even from the current Emperor Shah Alam, art was not axiomatic to Mughal diplomacy.30 Consequently, the gifting of pictures between the Company and Indian princes had made little progress by the 1750s. Hastings (when Resident at the Nawab of Bengal’s court) used other artifacts (wax figurines, china, glassware and pistols) to mediate social relations with regional rulers.31 So on becoming GovernorGeneral, why did he promote his own portraits-as-gift? He ‘believed that the British rulers of Bengal must conduct a foreign policy within a diplomatic system comparable to that of Europe’, whilst simultaneously upholding at least some outward appearance of Indian diplomacy based on ‘face-to-face relations’.32 As part of this ambivalent gesture, Hastings supplemented English ideas of diplomacy with his idea of Akbar’s munificent artistic practices. Akbar’s chronicler Ab’l Fazl recorded that His Majesty himself sat for his likeness and also ordered to have the likenesses taken of all of the grandees in the realm. An immense album was thus formed; those who had passed away have received new life and those who are still alive have immortality promised them.33 Again, this practice had little to do with portrait exchange. Hastings ordered the translation of the sections on art from Akbar’s chronicle, the Ain-i-Akbari, he collected as many miniatures from Akbar’s studio as possible and sent the English landscape painter William Hodges to portray the forts, cities and monuments from Akbar’s reign. Hastings’s emulation of Akbar ended here. Pictorially, according to Mughal convention, the king was usually represented in

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 89 action (conversation, warfare, hunting and other courtly rituals) while in his own portraits Hastings is seated alone except for those objects (a chintz waistcoat and a Persian seal) that contribute to the construction of his ‘Oriental’ identity (Figure 4.1). He sat to every British portraitist passing through Calcutta and commissioned the distribution of resultant portraits as prints amongst his political allies in Britain and India who in (re)turn, penned odes to these likenesses – the picture becoming Hastings in his absence.34 One of his acolytes in north India, the French creole Haji Mustapha, sighed: To no purpose do I search for solace in roaming from seat to seat, garden to garden . . . nothing is green for me now; these once pleasing spots have become so many dreary deserts . . . some people observed that I was talking to his picture, a picture of striking likeness by the inimitable Zophani [sic].35 But how did Hastings’ portraits signify in Indian courtly contexts? The Indo-Persian practice of royal letter writing (insha) was grounded on the writer’s desire to be in the presence of the reader. This affective investment on letter as a mediator of absence could extend to the perception/reception of western portraits (as seen in the case of the nawab of Arcot’s correspondence with George III).36 Yet, for the nawabs caught up in the network of Hastings’ designs, British portraits-as-gifts also assumed more ominous significations that were not reportable in their correspondence with the British. By the 1780s, Indian officials at the independent court of Hyderabad believed that when the Company contrived to annex an Indian kingdom, they would send messages of friendship, accompanied by European novelties offered as gifts, before asking for a land grant so as to establish a small factory, which would then be armed ready for strategic interventions into the kingdom’s affairs.37 So as much as the artifacts themselves, the strategic timing of giving, obliging and receiving, also constituted their agency. Richard Johnson, the Company Resident (envoy) at Hyderabad, tried to compare the giving of portraits with the exchange of ‘inalienable’ Indian objects. On his arrival in the summer of 1784, he failed to assert Hastings’ influence at court where the dominant external force was Nana Phadnavis, Prime Minister of the Marathas – the Company’s arch enemy. To gain favour, assisted by gifts, Johnson drew the Hyderabad ruler Nizam Ali Khan into far-reaching plans to give him a dominant position in south India if he allied with the British. Nizam Ali Khan’s authority was to be established over the Carnatic territory held by Muhammad Ali and in return the Nizam would make huge payments to the British, paying off Arcot’s debts and maintain a British brigade in the Carnatic at his own expense.38 During these negotiations, Johnson wrote to Hastings: I presented your picture (Figure 4.2) handsomely framed to the soubah [the Nizam] as a peculiar mark of friendship requiring his in exchange, a mode which I said amongst us was familiar to your interchange of turbans. He accepted it as such and is making up a picture in return. You will see how much this pleased him by his particular mention of it in his letter as what he prized much above all the other valuable presents to be laid before him by me from you.39


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Figure 4.1 Sir Joshua Reynolds Warren Hastings (1766–8), oil on canvas, is reproduced by permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The inalienability elicited by pictorial mimesis helped to mediate transactions between Johnson, Hastings and the Nizam. The following spring, the Nizam entrusted Hastings (who was about to resign and return to London) with a diamond ring to be gifted to George III. But in the eyes of the British public, this gift (lacking the element of inalienable presence of portraits) was not truly ‘singular’; Hastings was

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 91

Figure 4.2 Richard Brittridge, after Johann Zoffany, Warren Hastings, line engraving, is reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

accused by his metropolitan opponents of trying to bribe the English king. He became the butt of graphic satire as a base, calculating official seeking royal favour through gifts, as satirists (Figure 4.3) deliberately distorted the pose and physiognomy of two of Hastings’ most famous portrait prints (Figures 4.1 and 4.2), playing


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Figure 4.3 Anonymous British satirist, The Knave of Diamonds (1786), etching, is reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London.

on the idea of likeness as an extension of the person whilst simultaneously exposing his ‘inherent corruption’. By this time, political relations between the Company and the Nizam had deteriorated. No return image is recorded in Johnson’s letters or in the Calendar of Persian Correspondence, perhaps due to the Resident’s swift recall in February 1785, the subsequent dissolution of any alliance plans and the difficulty in tracing images from

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 93 Hastings’ disbursed art collection. However, a likeness of the Nizam in one of Johnson’s albums suggests that the ruler did compose a return image, which perhaps due to his own increasingly strained relationship with Hastings, Johnson decided to keep (Figure 4.4). Painted by one of his court artists, Nizam Ali Khan is seated cross-legged in profile on a Persian rug with a mosque behind him projecting a very different presence to Hastings’ direct gaze and life-size visage which demands ‘immediate engagement’ with the viewer (Figure 4.2).40 Johnson’s album also included his own portrait, that of Hastings (after Zoffany Figure 4.5) and the likeness of the ruler of Awadh, all painted by provincial Mughal artists. Both Hastings and Johnson were collectors of Mughal art, competing over rare images from Delhi, Hyderabad and especially from the north Indian city of Lucknow, the capital of the still semi-independent state of Awadh. A wealthy cultural centre, Lucknow had been the target of Company expansion since the 1770s where Hastings and the Supreme Council dispatched several Political Residents to implement the Company’s agenda of gradual annexation. Like Arcot, Lucknow became the hotbed of European intrigue, as traders, soldiers, diplomats and later artists sought to make their fortunes there.41 The nawab of Lucknow, Asaf ud-daula (1775–97) threatened to write to George III if the Company did not reduce his payments and remove its Resident. Hastings had to spend five months in Lucknow in 1784 to sort out the Company’s relations with Asaf.42 He invited one of George III’s former favorites, Johann Zoffany, as his ‘official’ artist, instructing him to take the likenesses of the nawab. Although portrayed by Tilly Kettle when heir apparent in 1771, Asaf expressed no subsequent desire to patronize British artists.43 Shortly after Hastings’ arrival, the heir to the Mughal throne, Jawan Bakht, fled from Delhi to take refuge at Lucknow, where he sat to Zoffany prompting Asaf to do the same.44 But Asaf quickly disposed of his portrait by giving it to a disgraced Company official, as a gesture of contempt for the Company’s policy. The GovernorGeneral left Lucknow in August 1784 having failed to reach a new agreement and horrified at the lavish entertainments Asaf had organized for him – which had the effect of increasing Awadh’s debts to the Company.45 Yet, in the eyes of one of the court’s poets, this had been a fabulous epoch characterized by lavish gifting: ‘At the time of his [Hastings’] departure, the exalted nawab gave gifts to Hastings’ men in such large numbers that no one could ever imagine. Every person of any note was given a horse, an elephant and a fine robe’.46 Asaf wanted to project the image of an exalted emperor who gives to his subordinates and allies in dazzling, potlatch–like public display of munificence which was at loggerheads with Hastings’ ‘parsimonious’ governance. This was an implicit critique of British manners and style of governance. In other instances, it even implicated Hastings’ political ‘physiognomy’: The English are a race of men who are keen sighted, full of policy and secrecy. But none more so than the governor whose breast is a casket full of inaccessible secrets and a repository of impenetrable views and projects . . . Who can tell from his features, his air or his actions at any of the secrets locked up in that impenetrable breast? It is out of any man’s power, it is utterly impossible.47

Figure 4.4 Anonymous Mughal artist, Nizam Ali Khan (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections, is reproduced by permission of the British Library, London.

Figure 4.5 Anonymous Mughal artist, Warren Hastings (c.1784–5), gouache and gold leaf, Add. Or. 6633, Oriental and India Office Collections, is reproduced by permission of the British Library, London.


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Read in the context of Ghulam Hussain’s wider criticism of the Company, Hastings’ physiognomy acts as a metonymy for the impenetrable colonial archive and imperial rule through abstract ‘principles’ as opposed to indigenous face-to-face interaction. In Ghulam Hussain’s view, the English avoid at all costs, presenting their physical (as opposed to painted) selves to their Indian subjects: They hate appearing in public audiences; and whenever they come to appear at all it is to betray extreme uneasiness, impatience and anger, on seeing themselves surrounded by crowds . . . hence multitudes of people remain deprived of the sight of their rulers and never see anything of that benignity and that munificence which might be expected from people that now sit on the throne of kings and figure as representations of Emperors.48 Throughout the Company’s dominions, kingly displays of charisma were eroded, seemingly leaving little in their place. Hastings’ attempts to introduce British portraits and portraitists at Lucknow and Hyderabad were only partially successful. Although Zoffany would spend three years at Lucknow, he had few commissions from the court and no British artist visited Hyderabad until the 1800s. The Nizam accepted Hastings’ likeness with at least outward pleasure and Asaf agreed to sit repeatedly to Zoffany, so that colonial art and artists could provoke ‘events’ – Anglicized rituals that demanded nawabi participation. Although both Hastings’ and Johnson’s missions ultimately failed, in other contexts art and politics were already being entangled in more ominous ways.

The devastation of the gift: colonial painters at Arcot and Lucknow Whilst Hastings tried to deploy the exchange of portraits at the still-independent court of Hyderabad as a means for negotiating cultural difference, at courts already coming under indirect Company control, colonial likenesses began to subvert indigenous gifting and patterns of artistic patronage. Hastings’ peculiar mimicry of the Mughal gift grafted on the British custom of portrait-exchange had a cutting edge: it operated as de facto tribute from the indigenous rulers for which no return gift was made. At Lucknow and Arcot, Hastings and his successors dispatched British artists to take the likenesses of these nawabs, but did not reciprocate with their own portraits. Instead, they annulled or at least mystified the notion of art as gift, anticipating that these princes would send their likenesses to the GovernorGeneral and pay the British painter for this ‘privilege’. In effect, the portrait-gift was a species of ‘tribute’. Colonial portraits may not have been objects to be exchanged, but they did possess a type of inalienability that these rulers could use to their advantage. Although the idea of a beneficial material return was destroyed, as the Company tried to bleed these courts white, the reciprocation in the gift was not entirely obliterated. The difference between British and Indian ideas of inalienability and obligation now structured the image-gift. During a diplomatic mission to Lucknow in 1797,

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 97 Governor-General Sir John Shore described these conflicting interests to his wife: This day I had a private audience with the nawab . . . I have refused a fortune . . . my answer . . . was this; that a barleycorn from him was equal in my sight to a million rupees; but I could not but express my concern that he and his people were ignorant of our customs and my character to make such an offer . . . I added that I had seen in his shusha khana [sic] [‘mirror room’] – some pictures of his . . . of which I begged to have one as a memorial of our friendship . . . I took one about fifteen inches square done by Zoffany, not set in diamonds, which is a strong resemblance to the nawab and for which to say truth, I would not give two pence. It pleased him.49 Shore claimed that a single grain outstrips a million rupees, and that this singular token alone could embody the nawab’s exalted presence: it is gift enough. Yet his private correspondence deflates the ‘inalienable’ image-gift into little more than a banal souvenir. In cases such as this, what happens to the return demanded by gift? It is usually argued that the donor acquires superiority over the receiver and in the process creates indebtedness, but here the ‘recipient’ solicited the gift through a covert exercise of his power over the giver, by forcing him to part with what Shore perceived to be an ‘inalienable possession’.50 Anticipating this colonial pressure to give, Asaf invited British officials to the ‘anglicized’ spaces of his palace or presented his colonial-painted likenesses to colonial governors, hoping to deflect the scopic drive of the Company from the inner lives of his court and from his preferred definition of ‘inalienable possessions’ – Mughal and Persian art. During the same period, Company officials voraciously ‘collected’ rare illuminated Mughal manuscripts, which on return to Britain they frequently claimed were presents, or which they gifted to George III as part of their desire for personal accolades.51 That Asaf’s portrait was ‘not set in diamonds’ indicates that soliciting diamond-studded portraitgifts was as a common practice. From a colonial perspective, to ask for a picture in a diamond frame (legal and reportable in colonial documents) contained a crucial subtext as the nawab himself wanted such pictures to act as tools so as to foist a sense of personal obligation onto the recipient. What happened to these colonial pictures once they left the confines of nawabi courts? Apart from gifting his portrait to George III, the nawab of Arcot, Muhammad Ali, also sent his likenesses to the Governor of Madras, to the Company’s Court of Directors and to Hastings. Writing to thank him, Hastings bestowed the image an iconic importance: For want of a better place to put it, it will hang in the Court House along with the portraits of the King and Queen of England. As this is the room where all public ceremonies are held, as well as the court of justice, the portrait will become the object of attention.52 Hastings ‘orientalizes’ the Court House in Calcutta to provide an ‘occidentalized’ version of the Mughal ‘hall of audience’, wanting to create an arena of political and


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civic importance that did not in reality exist. The court and the assembly room were on different floors – there could not possibly be a British equivalent of a nawab’s palace. These display strategies became entangled in the difficult negotiations between artists, nawabs and governors. Towards the end of his stay at Arcot ( fl. 1774–80), the Scottish portraitist George Willison complained to Hastings: For a portrait of the nawab . . . I have ever since been soliciting the payment of this picture that was sent you and having now the space of four years been assured with repeated promises of the nawab . . . but I find myself as distant from my reward as I was the first day and I am afraid it will be my hard fate to submit to the necessity of putting up with the loss . . . even after repeated intentions that I have given him of the necessity that he had put me under of applying to you and repeated requests on his part that I would not do so, as he would pay me himself. You will easily see how unwilling I was to trouble you with this demand.53 The noted art historian Mildred Archer suggests that Muhammad Ali, for ‘having the honor’ of a British artist at his court, should have paid for the portrait and send it as gift to Hastings in Calcutta.54 Yet in Britain, portraits were rarely paid for by their sitters: rather the picture’s recipient, eager to have the likeness of the person portrayed, paid the painter’s fee. The East India Company was demanding as much as half the annual revenue of kingdoms such as Awadh. Their refusal to pay for portraits of the nawabs underscores the ambivalence of the Company’s foreign policy even in the ‘petty’ domain of face painting. British portraitists such as Willison, Zoffany and Ozias Humphry charged their Indian sitters as much as they could (Willison wanted ‘double at the durbar’, whilst Humphry increased his prices by 100 per cent, billing Asaf ud-daula one thousand pounds for a miniature). However, nawabs did lavish money on Mughal art and artists. Asaf accumulated a priceless collection of Mughal imagery from war-torn Delhi, purchasing thousands of manuscripts such as the Padshahnama (King of the World chronicle) for twelve thousand rupees and paying thirty thousand rupees for a single portrait of Jahangir.55 Nawabs rewarded their own painters with land grants (in part to encourage artists from Delhi to settle in the successor states), as well as with elephants, titles and money in line with the treatment of army officers and poets.56 Their posts often being hereditary or at least long term (even if at times they went unpaid), their status differed radically from itinerant colonial painters who were recommended but not directly patronized by the Company. Portraitists such as Humphry, Willison and Zoffany hoped to capitalize on their ‘novelty’ status and on their support from Company Residents. On arrival at Lucknow and Arcot they were presented to the nawabs by the Resident and then symbolically ‘incorporated’ in the court through their presentation of nazr in return for khil’at.57 Yet their position, caught between the Company and court, remained precarious. Although Hastings maneuvered British artists across India, his successors Sir John Macpherson (1785–6) and Lord Cornwallis (1786–93) maintained a far more ambivalent attitude towards these portraitists. Given this lack of official interest

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 99 coupled with the reforms of the Parliamentary India Act of 1784 and economic recession, Calcutta’s colonial portrait market had collapsed by 1786. Desperate painters left in search of either exotic landscapes as the inspiration for print schemes, or for portrait commissions at Indian courts. This exodus of artists reached a crisis point at Lucknow in the later 1780s, where Johann Zoffany, Charles Smith and Ozias Humphry all sought to make their fortunes. The Resident, Colonel Harper, complained to Macpherson that: I know not what to do about Mr. Humphry and Mr. Smith the painters. If the nawab should sit to be painted, the Lord knows when they will reap the advantage of their labours. If I were to wish my greatest enemy the most perplexing situation, I should for the present make him Governor-General’s agent at the courts of the Shahzada and the Vizier.58 Too many painters now encroached on the domain of diplomacy, especially as Asaf wanted to banish Europeans from his kingdom: It is particularly unlucky that Mr. Zophani is here too . . . [yet he has] had very little reward for his labors as yet, if any, and I fear the present nawab is not of a disposition to be very liberal. Though he is taught to believe Mr. Z a first rate artist, and is as much pleased with his pictures as he can be with any, yet I am persuaded that the nawab and his court prefer their own common country pictures to any Mr. Z can do.59 Throughout his reign Asaf, like his predecessors, favoured past and present Mughal art. In many of his indigenous portraits painted during his lifetime, the nawab is represented as slim and active – often hunting or else commemorating Muharram (Figure 4.6) – images that deliberately distance themselves from what Britons perceived as his ‘obese decadence’ captured by those full-face portraits by Kettle, Zoffany, Smith and Humphry. In his introductory letter for Ozias Humphry, Macpherson expressed his hope that the nawab would prove a generous patron: Mr. Zoffany and Mr. Smith are artists in different styles. I hope your Excellency will show them attention and favor. There is another style of painting, that of drawing perfect likenesses in small pictures, which is most agreeable, because the hand of friendship can always carry them as a remembrance. The most eminent gentleman in England in this line of painting is Mr. Humphry, whom I have deputed to the Presence to bring me pictures of Your Excellency, of the Shahzada, and of your son and of your ministers. He will show [not gift] your Excellency a picture of me, and it is a true resemblance. Till I have the pleasure of a personal interview with your Excellency, make me happy by sending me your picture, and by your attention and favor to Mr. Humphry, who has drawn pictures of some kings of Europe and who has met with favor from the king of England. It is worthy of princes to favor men who are eminent in the fine arts. What can I say more?60

Figure 4.6 Anonymous Mughal artist at Lucknow, Nawab Asaf ud-Daula in his Bara Imambara (c.1795), Add. Or. 2595, Oriental and India Office Collections, is reproduced by kind permission of the British Library, London.

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 101 ‘Favour’ signified a calculated colonial ambivalence; neither the Company nor the nawab agreed to these painters’ exorbitant demands. Macpherson did not ‘gift’ Asaf his own likeness and Humphry would later force him into a lengthy litigation in Calcutta for not paying his fees. Humphry had initially sought payment from the nawab, but on falling he changed his argument by stating that Macpherson had employed him first to paint his likeness and then to make portraits of the Lucknow court. Humphry tried to use the ambiguities of colonial patronage to his own advantage, but ended up with nothing but a huge legal bill.61 Both the nawabs of Arcot and Awadh played British artists at their own game. By promising to meet their extravagant fees, but then delaying once the pictures were finished, Muhammad Ali and Asaf ud-daula used deferral as a strategy which had its own cost. Although these colonial artists left indigenous courts unpaid, they later tried to claim payment through Company intervention. Willison’s bill at Arcot was eventually settled when incorporated with the nawab’s debts that the Company recuperated through tankhwah – the assignment of revenue on a tract of land or its annexation to the Company. By the 1770s, tankhwahs had been used by both the Company and private traders in their attempts to recover loans from the Nawab of the Carnatic, as well as providing a way of paying for mercenary troops stationed in foreign kingdoms. At Arcot, the internal order of revenue collection and the unity of the nawab’s court had been destroyed by this system which created a network of Company interests across of the Carnatic.62 Likewise in 1780s Awadh, the Resident at Lucknow initially promised Humphry a tankhwah to the value of £4,830 for the following year at 12 per cent interest, although Humphry did not want to wait. At the same time, the Resident at Benares negotiated the oil portraitist Charles Smith’s Lucknow fees through the promise of yet another tankhwah in exchange for the pay-off of debts owed to Europeans.63 Nine years after his return to London, the miniaturist John Smart who worked for ten years at Arcot, complained that his bill of £1,600 remained unpaid and so he submitted several affidavits to the Company, for principal and interest of £2,504 6s and 7d, ‘for which a tunka [sic] was granted on the Tinnevelly Provinces, but of which no part has been paid’, whilst Zoffany applied to the Court of Directors to return to India in 1811 in search of his fees promised through another tankhwah.64 Although Smith and Willison were paid the money they ‘owed’, the fate of Humphry, Smart and Zoffany indicate that the Company used tankhwahs to appropriate their fees for itself.65 The demands of a few European artists may have been one amongst several motives for implementing land annexation, but their pleas were ultimately ignored by the Company’s aggressive military and financial expansion into Indian kingdoms. Despite these wrangles, the ambivalent agency of British portraiture did make a difference to Indian ideas of sovereignty. The very act of portrayal made new demands on painter and subject, as commissions were determined by complex encounters. The best-documented instance of these delicate negotiations is the Scottish portraitist James Wales’ encounter with the Pune court in the early 1790s. Unlike Arcot and Lucknow (increasingly under threat from Company), this Maratha court (under the young Peshwa, his minister Nana Phadnavis and the formidable martial leader Shinde) was independent and powerful – in control of much of western India as well


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as Delhi. In the eyes of the British Resident at Pune, Shinde had preconceived notions of how he wished to be represented: Visited Mahajee Scindia and introduced him to Mr Wales a portrait painter to whom he was good enough to sit near two hours. He expressed a desire that his picture may be drawn on horseback, observing that everyman’s character and way of life should be painted in his picture and that his whole life had been present in the field.66 Yet Wales’ perception of Shinde emphasizes physical appearance above biography and action, observing that ‘although a chief of great powers [he is] nonetheless a person of mean appearance and rather low stature, fat and lame of one leg’.67 The court of the Peshwa wished to be represented within a specific iconography of finest robes and jewels and to meet their demands, Wales was instructed to work ‘in an uncommon state . . . as the natives are very fond of high finished pictures’.68 He also complained that ‘as people of distinction in India are fond of fine or rather rich dresses with watches and snuff boxes, rings etc. introduced, it is no easy matter for an artist to please them without sacrificing the best principles of his art’.69 Wales’ pictures of the Peshwa and his ministers were hung in a specially designed bungalow where they would later become ‘iconic’ by being adapted by local artists, Chinese painters and lithographers.70 The introduction of large-scale European canvases into Indian kingdoms redrew the boundaries between space and subject. Whilst Mughal illuminated chronicles had included representations of the emperors’ loyal allies gathered in palatial spaces, such imagery was not exposed to public view. Instead, the ruler presented his physical presence to his people, enframed by attendants and the jharoka-i darshan (the ceremonial window in the outer face of the palace that allowed crowds to experience the physical presence of their ruler). In contrast, a colonial canvas of the nawab standing alone before the viewer full-length and full-face was now integrated within the spatial actuality of the ruler’s palace. Here the portrait was made to give darshan whose role in the Indian scopic regime is central.71 Darshan’s mode of interaction mobilizes vision as part of a unified human sensorium and visual interaction can be physically transformative. In darshan, seeing is conceived as an outward-reaching process, as extrusive, a medium through which the seer and seen come into contact. So, designed for both Indian and British publics, colonial portraits acted as ‘doubled presences’. They were infused with the human and the divine as the iconic body signaled in and of the image. European realism becomes an attribute of Indian sovereignty, as the agency of both the Company and the painter is erased by the all-seeing eye of Indian kingship. Wales’ portrait of Shinde was displayed posthumously in the leader’s mausoleum, giving darshan to much wider audiences than the visitors to Indian courts. Here, his painted likeness was located alongside his body, creating a presence that entangled the image with the relic: It is a small pagoda where in the usual place of the principal deity is a picture of Scindia [sic] by Zoffany, very like that in Government House, Bombay. Before

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 103 the picture, a light is kept constantly burning and offerings daily made by an old servant of the maharajah . . . this portrait by Zoffany is probably the only work in European art which is now the object of adoration; it has obtained one honour refused the Transfiguration itself.72 Thus, Indian kingship managed to maintain a distinction despite the Company’s onslaughts. The changes in art patronage instigated by colonialism (whether portraits or collecting) had the unexpected effect of creating a highly visible public forum over which the Company had no direct control and of which it had limited comprehension. In spite of their negative comments about Indian uses of colonial artifacts, Company officials were ultimately confounded by this nawabi enchantment of British art.

From gift to collecting in nawabi India Whilst portraits of the nawabs were incorporated into the indigenous kingly repertoire, how did other British pictures (especially prints) signify in kingly contexts? Central to princely self-fashioning was the Mughal idea of the ‘Padshah’ – ‘the king of the world’ which implied a certain cosmopolitanism vis-à-vis rarities and artifacts, and the Mughal rulers were well known for their extensive collections drawn from Europe, China, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere. The successor states inherited this ‘cosmopolitanism’ and wanted to use this as part of their legitimation exercises. But the nature of rarity changed in the meantime due to intrusive colonial trade and politics as by the 1780s, things that even fifty years previously had been considered rare and exotic were found in abundance in transregional markets. Most descriptions of nawabi displays and collections were written by colonial governors, Company officers and occasionally by British painters, who framed their responses through a discourse of despotism and decadence. I wish to read this archive critically so as to reveal not just the limits of colonial understanding, but more importantly, to bring out the agency of British art in the construction of Indian sovereignty. There are two intersecting agendas to be explored: the extraction of kingly power from European things and the deconstruction of colonial tropes for denigrating nawabi comportment. Company officials necessarily imagined the indigenous appreciation of British art to exist at an inferior level to their own perception, thus questioning the endurance of those aesthetic values encoded in these artifacts as these crossed the border of cultural difference. Nawabi ‘exhibition spaces’ became embattled grounds for conflicting ontologies of art, display and possession. By the 1770s, markets for imported pictures – especially prints – were well entrenched in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, prints proving to be the most enduringly item of art consumption of the British diaspora.73 Relatively cheap (in comparison with Mughal manuscripts and colonial oil portraits) and arriving framed and glazed, these patriotic, disposable and portable things could weather economic recession, the heat and the humidity. The biggest collections of English prints were located in and around Indian courts such as Seringapatam, Arcot and Lucknow. Unlike oil portraits, prints could be pasted in albums alongside Mughal miniatures and they provided an ‘ethnographic’ view of England and other parts of the globe.


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At Lucknow, the French colonel Claude Martin trafficked in European art by creating a network of auctioneers and painters that extended as far as Paris and London. He not only constructed a massive personal collection of pictures totalling several thousand Mughal, Chinese and European images (which he displayed in his two Lucknow houses) but he also sold prints to Asaf ud-daula by lending him money at 3 per cent interest per annum.74 Unlike the rented colonial apartments in Calcutta, where usually only four or five prints were displayed ‘tastefully’ in the hall, Asaf’s enormous collection of prints both awed and repulsed the British visitors. Such metropolitan responses were undergirded by ideas of European collecting practices. By the 1780s, the idea of ‘the collection’ in Britain increasingly emphasized the cult of the collector’s personality: collectibles should manifest his individual sense of engagement with the world and his ability to order it as a unified, highly personal yet disinterested schema: ‘there is something of the harem about [western] collecting, for the whole attraction may be summed up as that of an intimate series . . . combined with a serial intimacy’.75 For Britons, prints signified differently at Indian courts. Framed and glazed, they became less individual works than reflecting surfaces to be either superimposed on or to replace elaborate marble and mica (metal/mirror) decoration. Colonial writers grappled with ways to comprehend such complex spaces. For instance, they described the display of European art in the glass house/treasure house of Asaf ud-daula’s Asafi Kothi palace as cluttered and incoherent: oil paintings and prints clamour for attention with French mirrors, chandeliers, hand organs and mechanical curiosities:76 The cabinet at the palace contains a great many costly articles but did you ever see such a heterogeneous arrangement? The first impression was so unfavorable that I could not even look at a few pieces with any pleasure . . . In short my plan was to a merchant’s warehouse or [to] enter an auction room and there it stayed several hours after I quitted the place.77 Boydell’s expression – ‘merchant’s warehouse or an auction room’ – alluded to the public sites where thousands of newly imported or else second-hand prints were displayed in Calcutta. For a colonial society conspicuously lacking a public art forum, salerooms provided useful surrogates. Yet, once pictures had passed into the realm of private possession, the comparison with a grand colonial space filled with other imported commodities problematizes this commercial analogy. Sir John Shore described the Lucknow ai’ nakhana as ‘literally a glass house but a complete Europe shop’, as conflicting spatial identities coexisted uneasily.78 The commercial analogy refers to the colonial warehouse-spectacle which is defined by unsold commodities and is not identified as a collection, yet the ai’ nakhana’s existence as a ‘glass house’ also evokes the Mughal display of rare glassware from Persia, Europe and China in apartments known as chini khana (china room). That Shore, an experienced Orientalist-administrator, cannot reconcile these different spaces admits the failure of colonial scopic drive and also of the metropolitan imagination to understand these collections as nawabi heterotopias, as counter-sites, as a kind of effectively enacted

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 105 utopia – the materialization of a certain cosmopolitical aspiration to the Padshah. As Bhabha put it cogently, ‘It is not that the voice of authority is at a loss for words. It is rather that colonial discourse has reached that point when, faced with the hybridity of its objects, the presence of its power is revealed as something other than what its rules of recognition assert’.79 This fundamental ambivalence was inscribed in the very location of imported art objects in nawabi collections: these objects had to become porous enough to absorb the ‘Padshah’ aura. Colonial accounts of the collection of Asaf observed that his own portraits play a vital role in these displays. In effect, it is this semi-divine agency that provides the organizing template for nawabi collecting. Instead of the Mughal Emperor represented by his painters standing on top of a globe, here the nawab uses his likenesses to convey his sovereignty-in-the-world: He had an immense room filled with all sorts of curiosities forming a ridiculous museum as perhaps could not be met with elsewhere in the world. Toys of all descriptions – Chinese, Dutch, English, huddling together with some of the finest pieces of mechanism ever made by man. Some of the finest paintings by the first masters [were] hanging promiscuously with China daubs. His own picture painted by natives, by Zoffany and others might be seen in different dresses at every few paces.80 In spite of Asaf’s omnipresence, Daniel Johnson returns to the usual colonial stereotypes of an incoherent display by paraphrasing earlier accounts of the Lucknow court, most importantly Lewis Ferdinand Smith’s article in the Asiatic Annual Register. Smith had written that contiguous to the palace there is a museum called the Inah Konnah [ai’ nakhana] . . . worthy of observation . . . not more so for its elegant pieces of mechanism, paintings and other articles by celebrated artists, than for its ridiculous assemblage of finery and trumpery jumbled together.81 For Smith, Asaf’s collection is a ‘museum’ that ‘is curious, rich and ridiculously displayed; you see a wooden cuckoo clock which perhaps cost a crown alongside a rich superb clock which perhaps cost the price of a diadem; an elegant landscape of Lorraine beside a deal board painting of ducks and drakes’.82 He tried to explain the royal collection through Asaf’s personality, extending European ideas of the collector to other contexts: Asaf ud-daula is absurdly extravagant and ridiculously curious, he has no taste and less judgment . . . but he is extremely solicitous to possess all that is elegant and rare; he has every instrument and every machine, of every art and science; but he knows none . . . [he is] a curious compound of extravagance, avarice, candor, cunning, levity, cruelty, childishness, affability, brutish sensuality, good humor, vanity and imbecility.83


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The heterogeneity of Asaf’s collection is stressed as Other, opposed to a projected coherence of the European self. The label applied to these different collecting practices was the ‘curious’ as English prints became curios in India through radical decontextualization. A rare ‘tourist’ (as opposed to colonial trader/official) to Lucknow – Lord Annesley – perceived Asaf’s art display as the place ‘where are deposited a part of the whimsical curiosities purchased by the late Asaf ud-daula . . . consisting of several thousand English prints framed and glazed’ and the artist William Daniell likewise categorized the ai6 nakhana as the repository for the ‘nawab’s curiosities’.84 By the late eighteenth century, the curious was increasingly articulated as infantile, irrational and effeminate, ‘licensed in the sense of licentiousness rather than authorization’ conveying an ‘over determination of intellect by corporeality’ defined by the sensual verbs ‘aroused’ or ‘gratified’.85 Edmund Burke condemned curiosity as ‘the first and simplest emotion which we discover in the mind’ associated closely with novelty in that it ‘has an appetite which is very sharp but very easily satisfied’ so that in effect it cannot properly be termed as an aesthetic way of seeing except in the most primitive or infantile sense.86 If ‘excess’ was the leitmotif for colonial denigration of Asaf’s collection, a rhetoric of impoverishment played a similar role in the case of the Bengali court of Murshidabad. Annexed in the 1760s, Murshidabad lost all power to the Company. The nawab’s palace was described by Britons as despicably shabby: ‘Nothing but a square plait of . . . poppies peeping through the uncut grass’ and the nawab’s apartment as ‘decorated with English furniture – two ill-painted pictures of two English ladies were hung at each end of the hall’.87 A later account represented it as ‘neglected beyond conception. Weeds and rubbish filled the corners . . . the walls whitewashed, arches ornamented with painted wood colored and carved with equal coarseness. A few English fox hunting prints of the secondary quality decorated one side’ – hardly the appropriate imagery for a prince.88 Unlike Lucknow, Murshidabad had no European-style palace: its open, multi-pillared, pre-colonial structure was not designed for the display of vast quantities of British art. The palace became the only space where the nawab retained direct jurisdiction. In colonial rhetoric, its neglect warns of bad native governance rather than the reality of ruthless household cuts imposed by the Company. Paradoxically, the same type of imagery was being consumed by the British in Calcutta. The British thought of their imagery as a ‘civilizing agent’ that possessed the apparent ability to act as a ‘litmus test’ so as to gauge the state of the society in which it found itself. According to European standards of taste, ‘a work of art has meaning and interest only for someone who possesses the cultural competence, that is the code, into which it is encoded’, and that a ‘beholder who lacks the specific code feels lost in a chaos of . . . colors and lines’, and is arrested at the primary stratum of meaning at a sensual level.89 For British critics, Asaf’s connoisseurship, or the lack of it, defined by his enormous expenditure on British art is indiscriminate, but at Murshidabad, with only limited funds to spend on pictures, ‘excess’ is stripped away to reveal that beneath eclecticism lay a debased taste. Yet these regional rulers did use British art in ways that suited their purposes: there remained an irreducible moment of agentive appropriation. Asaf filled his

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 107 ai’ nakhana with his own likenesses; he gave his miniature portraits to trusted allies, he rebuilt Lucknow as a magnificent city and he asserted a strong Shi’ite identity – all of which emphasized his sovereign cosmopolitanism at a time when the administration of his realm was being gradually undermined by the British. But at base, Asaf retained an ambivalent approach towards British art. No British painter was satisfied with his treatment in Awadh, as the nawab irrevocably favoured his own court art to anything British.90 However, inviting European visitors to the ai’ nakhana became a key diplomatic ritual.91 Other courtly spaces remained deliberately divorced from Europeanization. If colonial objects were sometimes present in these spaces, they usually signified as portable splendour: ‘chairs and sofas were produced when English visitors were expected’, only to be removed later so as to recover the space for nawabi habitation.92 The display of British art acted as a nawabi source of strength. Money lavished on European goods maneuvered revenue away from Company surveillance or control. Instead of paying off British debts, Asaf and his successor Sa’adat Ali Khan (1798–1814) built up commission networks with private traders whose relations with the Company were equivocal.93 Images participated within the game of bluff and counter-bluff as nawabs sought to exclude the British from surveillance, access or control of Awadhi resources, turning conspicuous consumption itself into an obstinate resistance.94

Conclusion: mimesis as alterity The unpredictable effect of introducing colonial art to Indian courts urges revision both of the view that the Company had minimal impact, and its inverse that colonialism was productive only of devastation on a large scale. In terms of material culture, the colonial encounter generated deep cultural meanings and productive ambivalences. The Regulating Act stipulated that some objects made implacable demands – such as land and money – which had to be eliminated from Anglo-Indian prestation. In contrast, Britons perceived portraits and prints to be symbolic gifts that seemingly transcended economic corruption, but which in fact generated equally potent and problematic conflicts. Whilst British journals and books emphasized the triumph of the Company’s art trade, the private papers of colonial officers, governors and artists expose nawabi hostility, indifference or at best ambivalence towards European imagery. Under Company pressure, nawabs may have given their British portraits as tribute, but this needs contextualization in their wider practices of artistic patronage whose mainstay was indigenous art, continuing well into the nineteenth century. Although the Company prohibited Awadh from interacting with other states, the indigenous elite sought to reclaim their Shi’ite ‘cosmopolitanism’ by transforming Lucknow into an important religious centre. The Shi’ite rulers of Murshidabad and Hyderabad also reformulated the strategy of displaying their kingly charisma, emphasizing the importance of a public realm where the British had little control. These then were no mere ‘theatre states’ – these rulers fashioned a critical multiculturalism that negotiated


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diverse political and artistic influences. Their ‘borrowings’ of European art never copied colonial practices but rather marked out their differences. Instead of anthropologizing these other meanings of ‘art’ as mere decontextualization, I want to strive for a ‘heteroglot’ art history – art as a site for dialogical engagement with the strange and the aporiatic: the twilight world of the nawabs. To that end, Taussig’s notion of ‘mimetic excess’ comes in handy to understand how stable identity-formations auto-destruct themselves to produce excesses of meaning unrecoverable through the problematic of ‘recognition’ and the kind of totalizing dialectic it entails. As the west gets everywhere, through goods and images, its own identity against which the mimetic alters can be constructed, notoriously eludes fixing. Hastings’ mimicry of metropolitan portrait exchange is further mimicked in its colonial incarnation as these images become emblematic at least partially, of Mughal tribute-in-gift. Western prints hang upsidedown in nawabi displays becoming auratic cult-objects, and colonial portraits of nawabs dither in their radical uncertainty between conflicting visual ideologies of presence. There is much more to these colonial excesses than just mimicry. Colonial excesses and ambivalences are productive in the sense that these are mimesis of mimesis, mimesis made aware of itself – self-reflexive mimesis. When mimesis itself is mimicked, as in nawabi displays of British art, it is not quite difference and not quite repetition. Paradoxically, this density of representation – representation of representation and representation within representation – problematises representation itself. It demands and yet disrupts ‘any possibility of mastering the circulation of mimesis in alterity’.95

Notes Research for this paper was funded by the British Academy, The Leverhulme Trust, Yale University and the Simon Fund. I am indebted to the following for their comments and suggestions: P. J. Marshall, C. A. Bayly, Linda Colley, Thomas R. Trautmann, Christopher Pinney, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Gautam Bhadra, Naby Avcioglu, Mark Crinson, Urmila De and Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay. The responsibilities for the remaining infelicities is mine. 1 Arjun Appadurai, ‘Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value’, in A. Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 3–63. Also, John Frow, ‘Gift and Commodity’, in John Frow (ed.), Time and Commodity Culture: Essays in Cultural Theory and Postmodernity, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997, pp. 55–110 2 Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. W. D. Halls, London: Routledge, 1990. 3 Jacques Derrida, Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf, Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1992. 4 Ibid., p. 12. 5 Ibid., pp. 27–8. 6 Georges Bataille, ‘The Notion of Expenditure’, in Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, trans. Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitts and Donald M. Leslie, Jr, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985, p. 118. 7 Bataille uses the institution of potlatch practiced by the Amerindian tribes of the northwestern coast to demonstrate the ‘social function’ of his principle of dépense. And yet, as Bracken has demonstrated so well, the recorded testemonies on potlash, even within the texts of a single European observer, ‘revolves from exchange to the gift and back to exchange again’, Christopher Bracken, The Potlatch People: A Colonial Case History, Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1997, p. 58.

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 109 8 See Scott Cutler Shershow, ‘Of Sinking: Marxism and the “General Economy” ’, Critical Inquiry, 27 (Spring 2001), 468–92. 9 Jonathan Parry, ‘The Gift, the Indian Gift and “The Indian gift” ’, Man (NS) 21 (1985), 453–573. 10 Annette B. Weiner, Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992. 11 For example, in the context of eighteenth century India, Sen has argued that British colonialism displaced the regime of gift with that of commodity and the market. See Sudipta Sen, An Empire of Free Trade: The East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. 12 Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Peculiar History of the Senses, New York: Routledge, 1993. 13 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, p. 140. 14 F. Buckler, ‘The Oriental Despot’, in M. Pearson (ed.), Legitimacy and Symbols, Ann Arbor, MI: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan 1992; Stewart Gordon and G. Hambly (eds), Robes of Honour: The Medieval World of Investiture, New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000. 15 Mir Muhammad Taqi ‘Mir’, Zikr-i Mir: The Autobiography of the 18th-century Mughal Poet: Mir, trans. C. M. Naim, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 p. 124, here referring to his patron Asaf ud-daula, nawab of Awadh, to be discussed later. See M. Brand, The Vision of Kings: Art and Experience in India, Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1997. 16 John McLane, Land and Local Kingship in 18th-century Bengal, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 43. 17 At the same date, the Company abolished the annual Puniyah ceremony at the prince (nawab) of Murshidabad’s court at Murshidabad. This had been a highly symbolic occasion when all the important land rentiers in the kingdom of Bengal offered tribute money in return for robes. 18 Ghulam Hussain Tabataba’i, Siyar al-muta’ akhkhirin: History of Modern Times, trans. Haji Mustapha, London: Oriental Trust Fund, 1832 edition (1789), vol. 2, 461. 19 Barbara Metcalf (ed.), Moral Conduct and Authority: The Place of Adab in South Asian Islam, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984. 20 Nicholas B. Dirks, ‘From Little King to Landlord’, in Dirks (ed.), Colonialism and Culture, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1992, p. 64. 21 Warren Hastings, Durbar Accounts, 1780–85, Hastings Papers British Library (hereafter BL): Add MS 29,092. 22 Louise Lippincott, ‘Expanding on Portraiture: The Market, the Public and the Hierarchy of Genres in 18th-century Britain’, in A.Bermingham and J.Brewer (eds), The Consumption of Culture: Image, Object, Text, London: Routledge, 1995. 23 For Arcot see J. D. Gurney, ‘The Nawab of Arcot’s Debts’, unpublished DPhil, Oxford, 1968; H. D. Love, Vestiges of Old Madras 1640–1800: Traced from the East India Company’s Records . . . for the Government of India, Madras: John Murray, 1913. 24 Muhammad Ali quoted in Court Correspondence, xviii, January 1770 cited in Love, Vestiges, p. 123 (my emphasis). 25 John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 45 26 Sir Thomas Roe, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to India, 1615–19 William Forster (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926, pp. 76–7. 27 Gavin Bailey, ‘Counter Reformation Imagery and Allegory in Mughal Painting’, (unpublished) PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1996, p. 134. 28 G. Forster (ed.), Early Factory Records of the East India Company, London: Thacker, 1902, vol. 5. 29 Bailey, ‘Counter Reformation Imagery’, p. 44. 30 Muzzafar Alam and Seema Alavi, A European Experience of the Mughal Orient: The I ‘jazi Arsalami – Persian Letters, 1773–9 of Antoine Polier, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001. 31 See C. R. Wilson, Early Annals of Bengal, London: Thacker, 1900, vol. 2, Appendix 22 and Warren Hastings, Residency Accounts at the Court of Murshidabad, Bengal, 1758, BL: Add


32 33 34

35 36 37 38 39 40

41 42 43

44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

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MS 29,092, f. 14 which records gifts for the nawab of Bengal consisting of China, broadcloth, ‘several glasses and things of small value which I shall endeavour to procure for him’. P. J. Marshall, ‘The Making of an Imperial Icon: The Case of Warren Hastings’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 27(3), 1999, 6. Ab’l Fazl, The À’ln-i Akbarl – The Institutes of Akbar, trans. H. Blochmann, London, 1873–96, vol. 1, p. 115. There are at least 19 British and 6 Indian paintings of Hastings, and yet no portrait of Hastings was hung in a public building during his governorship. For details of a mezzotint after Reynolds’ portrait of Hastings issued at a time of crisis in 1776, see Hastings Papers BL: Add MS 29,138, ff. 48, 245, 458; Add MS 29,173, f. 306; Add MS 29,159, f. 83 and J. J. Pratt, ‘On seeing a portrait of Warren Hastings’, Add MS 29,235 f. 174. Haji Mustapha, introduction to his translation of Ghulam Hussain Tabataba’i, Siyar al-muta’ akhkhirin, vol. 1, pp. 14–15. Alam and Alavi, A European Experience of the Mughal Orient, p. 123 Abd al-latif Shustari, Tuhfat al- ‘Alam, Pers. Ms. Elliot 382, Bodleiean Library Oxford 167–176 cited in Gulfishan Khan, Indo-Muslim Perceptions of the West in the 18th Century, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 58–9. P. J. Marshall ‘Richard Johnson: Career of a Collector’ (manuscript). I am grateful to the author for a copy of this paper. Richard Johnson to Hastings; Hastings Papers BL: Add MS 29,167, f. 253, 20 December 1784. These portraits acted as some of the illustrations to the work of the poet Mir Qamar Minnat (India Office and Oriental Collections – hereafter OIOC MS Or.6633) in Johnson’s possession; Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London: Sotheby Parke Barnet, 1981. Richard Barnett, North India Between Empires: Awadh, the Mughals and the British, 1720–1801, Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1980. Calendar of Persian Correspondence, Imperial Archives Series, 1911, vol. 5, 20 May 1781. Asaf wanted the resident Bristow to be recalled; if Hastings did not comply, he also threatened to write to the British prime minister. Following his work for the nawab of Arcot in the late 1760s, Kettle travelled to the city of Faizabad in Awadh where he took the likenesses of the nawab Shuja ud-daula and his sons. A French colonel noted that Shuja ordered his court artists to make miniature versions of these British canvases, which he preferred; Colonel Gentil, Memoirs sur l’Hindoustan, Paris, 1810, p. 43. It seems to have been Zoffany’s normal practice to take 5 or 6 sittings for a portrait, which was also continued at the court of Lucknow. See Hastings, Diary, Hastings papers, BL: Add MS 39,879. Hastings Papers, BL: Add MS 29,121, 3 May 1784. Mir Muhammad Taqi ‘Mir’, Zikr-i Mir, p. 124. Ghulam Hussain Tabataba’i, Siyar al-muta’ akhkhirin, vol. 3, pp. 329–30. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 597. V. Manners and G. Williamson, Life and Works of Johann Zoffany R. A., London: John Lane, 1920, p. 20. Mauss, The Gift, pp. 45–67. For instance, in 1799 John Shore again at Lucknow was ‘gifted’ the famous Padshahnama manuscript, now in Windsor Castle. Asaf ud-daula had died in 1797 and the politics of succession had been fiercely fought – the British pushing their candidate Saadat Ali Khan to accession. During this coup, the famous Padshahnama was ‘gifted’ along with five other Mughal manuscripts: ‘this is the most splendid Persian manuscript I ever saw . . . which was shown to me at Lucknow and I was there informed that the deceased Nabob Asophuddoulah purchased it for 12000 Rs., or about 1500 pounds’ (my emphasis); M. C. Beach and E. Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama Manuscript, London: Windsor Castle publications, 1997, p. 13.

Art gift and diplomacy in colonial India 111 52 Archer, Mildred, India and British Portraiture, 1770–1825, London: Sotheby Parke Barnet, 1979, p. 123. 53 George Willison to Hastings; Hastings Papers, BL: Add MS 29,145 f. 203. 54 Archer, India and British Portraiture, p. 45. 55 Madhu Trivedi, ‘The Cultural History of Awadh’, (unpublished) PhD thesis, Aligarh Muslim University, 1977, p. 50. 56 Ibid., p. 226. 57 Ozias Humphry, ‘Lucknow Diary’, Eur Ms Photo 43 (OIOC) 1786, f. 4. 58 Archer, India and British Portraiture, p. 192. 59 Ibid., p. 192 (my emphasis). 60 Ibid., pp. 190–1. 61 Ibid., p. 194. See also Ozias Humphry, ‘Lucknow Diary,’ p. 12. On arriving in India, Humphry was determined to make a fortune writing to his fiancée Mary Boydell: ‘I shall omit nothing that is in my favour to do to get money’; Humphry Papers HU/3/23, Royal Academy Library. For Humphry’s preparation of his court case see HU/5 and HU/8 and BL: Add MS 13,532, Brief Account of the Case of Ozias Humphry; Humphry Papers BL: Add MS 22,951. 62 Gurney, ‘Nawab of Arcot’s Debts’, pp. 112–56. 63 Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, A Very Ingenious Man: Claude Martin in Early Colonial India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 125. 64 Home Miscellaneous Series (OIOC) H/298, f. 1496; H/322, f. 469. 65 Both the Scottish artists Charles Smith and George Willison were well connected in London and Calcutta society – their relatives were politicians and Company Directors. This helped them to persuade high-ranking colonial officials to intervene on their behalf. Failing to settle issues of payment, Humphry, Smart and Zoffany returned to London, hoping that they would be able to continue their struggle for money by petitioning the Directors or making contact with important Company officials such as Hastings. 66 Charles Malet, Letter Book of Sir Charles Warre Malet, Eur Ms F149/65 (OIOC) 1792, f. 43. 67 James Wales, Diary, Sitters Book and Accounts, 1792–5, vol. 1, ff. 11–12, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT: Ms Fo. 21.7.1976. 68 Ibid., f. 31. 69 Ibid., f. 12. 70 Christopher Pinney, Photos of the Gods: The printed Image and Political Struggle in India, London: Reaktion, 2004, pp. 196–7. 71 Diana Eck, Darshan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. 72 The Scottish officer James Macintosh on a visit to Pune in 1808, cited in D. B. Parasnis, Poona in Bygone Days, Bombay: Times Press, 1921, pp. 66–7 (my emphasis). Whilst Hastings wrote to Muhammad Ali that his portrait was now an ‘object of attention’ in Calcutta’s colonial community, in Indian society Macintosh suggests that Shinde’s portrait has become an ‘object for adoration’, that transgresses the role for images in Catholicism and which blurs the boundaries between idol and fetish. 73 Natasha Eaton, ‘Excess in the City? The Consumption of Prints in Colonial Calcutta, c.1780–95’, Journal of Material Culture 8(1), 2003, 45–74. 74 Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, Engaging Scoundrels: True Tales of Old Lucknow, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 30. 75 Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects, trans., J. Benedict, London: Verso, 1996, p. 88. 76 Banmali Tandon, The Architecture of Lucknow and its Dependencies, 1722–1856, Delhi: Vikas, 2001, p. 88. 77 S. Boydell to Ozias Humphry, Humphry Papers Royal Academy HU/3/45, f. 98. 78 Lord Teignmouth, Memoirs and Correspondence of Lord Teignmouth, London: Hatchard, 1843, pp. 410–11. 79 Bhabha, Location of Culture, p. 112. 80 Daniel Johnson, Sketches of Field Sports in India, London: R. Jennings, 1822, p. 188 (my emphasis).


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81 L. F. Smith, Asiatic Annual Register, London, 1808, p. 100. 82 L. F. Smith, ‘Letter from Lucknow, 1795’, Asiatic Annual Register, London, 1804, pp. 97–101, at p. 98. 83 Ibid., p. 101. 84 Lord Annesley, Travels, London, 1809, p. 135; William Daniell, Diary, 1789, vol. 3, p. 12. 85 Nicholas Thomas, In Oceania: Visions, Artifacts, Histories, Durham: Duke University Press, 1997, p. 189. 86 Thomas, Entangled Objects, p. 116. 87 Anonymous, ‘Account of Murshidabad’, Calcutta Chronicle, 1 May 1788, pp. 1–2. 88 The Marchioness of Bute, The Private Journal of the Marques of Hastings, London: Saunders and Otley, 1858, vol. 1 pp. 81–2. 89 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. R. Nice, London: Routledge, 1999, p. 2. 90 No portrait painter was swiftly paid, and Ozias Humphry records that Asaf sat three times ‘without any apparent impatience’, which suggests expectations of the nawab’s aversion to British artists: Humphry, Diary, f. 6. 91 Asaf ud-daula, Asiatic Annual Register, p. 106. 92 William Knighton, Private Life of an Eastern King, London: Milford, 1921, pp. 241–2. 93 Llewellyn-Jones, A Very Ingenious Man, p. 126. 94 Barnett, North India Between Empires, p. 101. 95 Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity, p. 36.


Poetic flowers/Indian bowers Tim Fulford

As they were plodding on their winding way Through orange bowers, and jasmine, and so forth: (Of which I might have a good deal to say, There being no such profusion in the North Of Oriental plants, ‘et cetera’, But that of late your scribblers think it worth Their while to rear whole hotbeds in their works, Because one poet travell’d ‘mongst the Turks (Byron, Don Juan, V, xlii)

Since Milton’s time and earlier, British poets had handled the Orient with green fingers. Few, however, had been east of Italy; almost none had travelled to India. By 1800, that situation had begun to change, as a result of imperial expansion, and poetry and poetics began to change too. This essay charts the trajectory of that change by investigating the significance for poets of the language of flowers – not least the new discourse of botany as it was expressed in British Bengal. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, if poets looked eastwards, they conjured up verdant valleys, bowers of bliss and gardens teeming with luxuriant flowers. Symbolizing natural fertility and human sexuality, these ‘flowery plat[s]’ were pastoral idylls – classical utopias – transplanted to climes that were remote enough to be imagined as exotic and unspoilt.1 Where exactly they were to be found mattered little: they flourished in an idealized Orient whose function was to be the opposite of the familiar West and whose geographic position was almost literally immaterial. Oriental bowers were moveable fantasy zones, products of European desire for a free and fecund arcadia. They were always in prospect and were never quite physically tangible as they constantly retreated just ahead of the advance of knowledge. Imagined first in Palestine, they were relocated in Arabia, Persia, Kashmir, Tartary and Tibet, while remaining essentially unchanged in their nature and function. By the mid-eighteenth century, travellers’ tales, general histories and verse translations were giving more Britons than ever before exposure to the fabled gardens of Arabia and Persia, while Antoine Galland’s translation of the Arabian Nights Tales gave new popularity to the image of the East as a setting for fantastic events and


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exotic beliefs. And so it was that fertile valleys and gardens became favourite topoi in a vogue for Oriental poems and tales. William Collins’s Persian Eclogues (1742) epitomize this vogue. Derived from the young Collins’s knowledge of Latin pastorals, they simply relocated Ovidian motifs further east. Their Persian location was a veneer of local colour that Collins had applied from Salmon’s Modern History.2 He later admitted that the poems might as well have been called Irish as Persian Eclogues: their exoticism was non-specific, although it was important that there did at least seem to be a real location somewhere to which they corresponded, however nominally.3 That ‘real’ location was touched in lightly with a few Persian names, while the conventional diction ensured that the fantasyland did not seem alien. Where lilies rear them in the watery mead; From early dawn the livelong hours she told, Till late at silent ev’n she penned the fold. Deep in the grove beneath the secret shade, A various wreath of odorous flowers she made. Gay-motleyed pinks and sweet jonquils she chose, The violet-blue that on the moss-bank grows; All-sweet to sense, the flaunting rose was there; The finished chaplet well-adorned her hair. Great Abbas chanced that fated morn to stray, By love conducted from the chase away; Among the vocal vales he heard her song, And sought the vales and echoing groves among. At length he found and wooed the rural maid: She knew the monarch, and with fear obeyed. Be every youth like royal Abbas moved, And every Georgian maid like Abra loved. (Eclogue The Third, Abra; Or, The Georgian Sultana, lines 9–26)4 Such was poetic Orientalism in 1742 – a transplanted neo-classicism in which the East was a generalized exotic backdrop for pastoral. The East featured as pretty flowers and sensuous bowers rather than as distinct societies and cultures with their own traditions and their own landscapes. By 1820, all this had been transformed – and not just once but several times, in the wake of the new and detailed information being brought back from Britain’s lately-acquired Indian colonies. Indian empire, that is to say, changed the face of British Orientalism, and of Orientalist poetry, for ever. In what follows, I shall examine these transformations and the reasons for them, focusing on the very things that had epitomized the earlier, generalized, poetic Orient – flowers and gardens. I look first at Sir William Jones’s reworking of Oriental gardens in the light of his study of Arabic and Persian poetry; I then turn to consider Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ as a second kind of Orientalist poem, one that self-consciously exploits the artificiality and vagueness of Orientalist verse hitherto. I then weigh the impact, in

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the context of Bengal, of Linnaean botany (the sexual system), focusing on Jones’s translations from Sanskrit, and on Erasmus Darwin’s Loves of the Plants. Finally, I show how the changing reception of Darwin’s Indianized and sexualized poetic botany in the political aftermath of the French Revolution led conservatives to reject the new India-derived Orientalism, causing the poeticized East to be shifted to stylistically and socially safer ground.

‘Persian’ Jones and Arabian Edens The first transformation was the result of the beginning of extensive Orientalist scholarship. In France, Germany and Britain a new generation of scholars was translating Arabic and Persian poetry from manuscript.5 In doing so, they brought far more precise and historically aware versions of eastern cultures back to Europe than had previously been the case. These versions had their limitations since the scholars’ understanding of Persian and Arabic tradition was largely textual, made from European libraries rather than after immersion in the contemporary Middle East. And the scholars’ training in the classical poetry of Greece and Rome still led them to impose a pastoral and Ovidian framework upon their material. Nevertheless, they succeeded in combining the customary Orientalist fantasy of the pleasure garden with a nuanced understanding of the significance of flowers and bowers in Persian and Arabic verse, and with an appreciation of the social and geographical variety of these countries. In other words, even as they updated European stereotypes about the Orient as a pleasure garden, the new scholars also made them less tenable. Eastern gardens could now begin to be seen as individual productions of specific poets and patrons in particular places, rather than appearing to be the natural state of a generic and unlocated Orient. William Jones was the foremost scholar to bring about this transformation in Britain. ‘Persian’ Jones, as he was nicknamed, used his astonishing facility as a linguist to translate ancient Arabic and Persian poets. He combined this with detailed historical study and, as early as 1772, when he was only twenty-six, felt confident enough to locate the Eastern bower with geographical and historical precision. In ‘On the Poetry of the Eastern Nations’, an essay included in his Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatic Languages, he declared as follows: Arabia, I mean that part of it, which we call the Happy and which the Asiaticks know by the name of Yemen, seems to be the only country in the world, in which we can properly lay the scene of pastoral poetry; because no nation at this day can vie with the Arabians in the delightfulness of their climate, and the simplicity of their manners. . . . These are not the fancies of a poet: the beauties of Yemen are proved by the concurrent testimony of all travellers, by the descriptions of it in all the writings of Asia, and by the nature and situation of the country itself, which lies between the eleventh and fifteenth degrees of northern latitude, under a serene sky, and exposed to the most favourable influence of the sun; it is enclosed on one side by vast rocks and deserts, and defended on the other by a tempestuous sea, so that it seems to have been designed by providence for the most secure, as well as the most beautiful region of the East.6


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Aden, Jones suggested, was Eden: the pastoral bliss witnessed by the Ancient Greeks was alive and well in the modern Yemen. Jones quoted history books in support of his theory, but it was in fact Arabic poetry that provided him with his main evidence. For Jones, the exquisite ‘comparisons, metaphors, and allegories’ (322) of the Arab poets must have derived from the ‘sublime and beautiful’ ‘natural objects’ with which they were ‘perpetually conversant’ (322). Anticipating Wordsworth, Jones argued that it was pastoral life in a garden of nature, a life lost to ‘the inhabitants of cities’ (322), that produced a poetic figure of a ‘grace’ and ‘delicacy’ (323) that Europeans could only envy. This was epitomized by the pre-Islamic Mu’allaqat poems, and Jones cited the poets’ comparisons of their mistresses’ faces ‘to the blossoms of jasmine, the cheeks to roses or ripe fruit . . . their eyes to the flowers of the narcissus’ (323). If such figures seemed too rich for European taste, this was because Europeans were unlucky enough not to live in free contact with natural beauty as did the Arabs. Jones’s theory was clearly proto-Romantic and indeed we know from their tributes that Coleridge, Southey and Shelley were greatly influenced by him. But the theory was significant in its own right too, for it was the first comprehensive discussion of an eastern poetry as a tradition shaped by a particular culture and a specific environment. Jones was not only a translator, but a pioneering cultural historian and one, moreover, determined to show his British readers that Middle Eastern poetry was the product of skill and sophistication rather than simply the spontaneous overflow of noble primitives. Thus, he said that the Persian poet Sadi’s (Saidi’s) verses were ‘worthy of our most spirited writers’ (333) and compared an ode by Hafiz to a Shakespeare sonnet. Jones had transformed the reception of Oriental poetry. He had replaced Collins’s vague and generic Oriental garden with a sophisticated argument for the importance of Arabic and Persian poetry as intense art emerging from specific and distinct cultural traditions and geographic conditions. But he had not abandoned the fantasy that had fuelled Collins’s need to plant a sensual bower in an Oriental valley. On one level, at least, Jones’s rendering of eastern culture remained in 1772 an appropriation driven by the desire to escape western ‘civilization’ in favour of a luxurious bower of bliss. His poem ‘The Seven Fountains, An Eastern Allegory’ published in Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatic Languages, had as much in common with the Orientalism of Collins’s Persian Eclogues as it did with the Arabic manuscripts on which it was partly based. Collins and Milton stand behind Jones’s description of the luxuriant garden of enchantment: His ravished sense a scene of pleasure meets, A maze of joy, a paradise of sweets; But first his lips had touch’d th’alluring stream, That through the grove display’d a silver gleam. Through jasmine bowers, and violet-scented vales, On silken pinions flew the wanton gales, Arabian odours on the plants they left,

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And whisper’d to the woods their spicy theft; Beneath the shrubs, that spread a trembling shade, The musky rose, and fragrant civets, play’d.7 This is a composite Orientalist scene in which Jones’s new scholarship seems only to intensify an old European stereotype. Here, the Orient is largely an imaginary stage on which to imagine desire being acted out, or a libidinal projection of a fantasy that proves to be an illusion just as it is about to be grasped. The luxurious garden is, it turns out, a deception. It is only when the hero frees mind and body from its physical pleasures that he escapes to the heavenly paradise that is the reward of the religious. The poem ends with an apotheosis that nevertheless points a conventional moral. In 1772, then, Jones was engaged in the difficult balancing act of cultural translation. His poetry introduced new material to British readers, but concluded in a manner with which they were familiar. Thus it did not risk seeming radically innovatory or disconcertingly foreign. Readers would not be alienated, but lured into enjoyment of an eastern-style poetry that did not seem wholly different from their own. In practice, however, this tactful reluctance to scare readers made Jones’s verse less of a challenge to conventional taste than were his critical tenets. While his theory transformed study of eastern cultures, his verse still engaged the Orientalist stereotypes of eastern sensuality. At worst, his scholarship merely added the spice of historical detail to the already perfumed garden and indulged an unspecific sensual romance only to end with a traditional transcendence to a spiritual heaven.

Coleridge and the paradise garden Nevertheless, this approach was to be influential. Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ (1799) is a poem made possible by Jones’s transformation of traditional Orientalism. The most likely route of influence is via Southey, since it was from texts excerpted in Southey’s Commonplace Book, and from drafts of Thalaba that Coleridge developed his poem in 1799. And Thalaba, which Southey self-consciously conceived as a new kind of romance in which the exhausted European epic genre would be reinvigorated by the poetry and culture of the East, was a thoroughly Jonesian poem. Southey not only quoted Jones’s translations of Hafiz in the notes, but also made his hero, Thalaba, an uncorrupted rustic whose responses to nature are powerful because they are deep and sincere. Thus Southey’s Arab hero is an embodiment of the pastoral virtues that Jones had located in Yemeni shepherds as well as a cousin of the characters in Lyrical Ballads.8 And he speaks, as Jones’s Arabian peasants did, in a language informed by an intense relationship with nature – a primitive, rural, poetic language, of the kind that Wordsworth (responding to the arguments of Herder and Lowth as well as Jones9) called ‘the best part of language’.10 Southey’s romance brought a new level of accuracy and detail to British Orientalist poetry – detail derived from Jones’s example of scholarship. Southey cited authority after authority to demonstrate the fidelity of his representations of Arabia, and some of these authorities impressed themselves upon Coleridge. Hence in ‘Kubla Khan’


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the ‘pleasure dome’ is given a location – ‘Xanadu’ – deriving from a work of Orientalist scholarship quoted in Thalaba – Purchas’s Pilgrimage (1614).11 Yet Coleridge differed from Southey, using the Orientalist texts on which Southey relied for a distinct purpose. Whereas Southey used citation to insist upon his fidelity to an actual East, Coleridge used it to create an expectation of fidelity, only then to place that fidelity – and the supposed actuality of the East described – in doubt. In ‘Kubla Khan’, the details are apparently specific but ultimately unmappable. This disturbing blend of geographic exactitude and generic exoticism is not just a way of setting a moral tale in a notional East, but an essential part of the modus operandi: as Xanadu slips off the map into a ‘vision in a dream’ the cultural function, in Europe, of imagining a fantasy Orient is brought into focus. Orientalism, Coleridge tells us in Preface and poem, emerges from a Western state of mind, from the poet’s reverie consciousness, which converts his reading-matter into a dream-narrative in which his own creative hopes and fears can be viewed in dramatic form. The poet uses Orientalist books to feed his mind with material that it can turn into a story about his own poetic powers. The resulting Eastern tale is a projection – a sequence whose ostensible otherness allows the poet to recognize things about himself that he cannot usually see. And it is offered as such: Coleridge depicts his poem, that it to say, is a kind of magic mirror in which the dreaming poet, half believing in the reality of the Orient he dreams (‘its images rose up before me as things’), discovers what kind of dreamer he is – a khan, a demon lover, an inspired bard. The Orientalist exterior uncovers an occidental and psychological interior. In ‘Kubla Khan’, the fantasy garden disappears, lost in the poet’s broken dream. Here, perhaps, Coleridge echoes Jones’s ‘The Palace of Fortune: An Indian Tale’ (1772), in which a paradise garden is also viewed only in a dream-vision. In Jones’s work, ‘living rills of purest nectar flow / O’er meads that with unfading flowerets glow’ (65–6), while ‘A rising fountain play’d from every stream’ (83), ‘And on a rock of ice, by magic rais’d, / High in the midst a gorgeous palace blaz’d’ (99–100).12 Certainly, the Khan’s pleasure dome has many verbal similarities to the palace of fortune that Jones has his Indian heroine visit and it is possible that Coleridge was directly as well as indirectly influenced. If so, then Coleridge learnt from Jones only to use his Oriental exoticism for an ultimately different end, since, unlike his predecessor, he turned the dream-vision that is the poem proper into a commentary on the Orientalizing poet’s imaginative processes. The difference is not merely casual but reveals Coleridge’s more psychologically sophisticated understanding of the cultural purpose of Orientalist romance. The point was neither to trace the bower to a real Eastern spot nor to discover that it, and the culture that idealizes it, is unreal and therefore a deception. The point was, and always had been, to restage western desires with enough unfamiliarity for them to be recognized for what they are. But it is only by understanding this, only by acknowledging the part of himself that he portrayed as an Abyssinian maid, that the western poet would gain sufficient awareness of his own pleasures and pains to gain control of his creativity. Coleridge, in effect, made ‘Kubla Khan’ both an example of and a commentary upon the psychological function of the myth of creativity that he showed the Oriental tale to be.

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Science and sex – botany goes to India Jones’s revaluation of Arabic and Persian poetry helped make Coleridge’s critical distillation of Orientalist allegory possible. But Jones’s principal legacy came not from his transmission of Islamic and Middle Eastern culture but from his application of systematic methods to the study of Hindu texts. One of the methods he applied was the new scientific system created by Carl Linnaeus. This discourse ignored the cultural history and native traditions of places in which flowers grew. For Linnaeus aimed to make a universal classification of flora possible. Written in Latin, so that all educated Europeans could access it easily, Linnaeus’ Systemae Naturae (1748) applied a single standard criterion of classification to all plants. That criterion, arbitrary though it was, gave scientists a simple method with which to reduce the tangled mass of unfamiliar flora to order. They looked at the reproductive characteristics of each flower – counted the stamens and gynia – and allotted it to a sexual class based on the number of ‘male’ or ‘female’ parts it exhibited. By this method, scientists could place plants of different appearance and from different parts of the world in schematic relationship to each other. Their location and habitat mattered little: what counted as useful knowledge, most of all, was observation of their sexual characteristics. It was from this observation that their species and genera would be determined and that they would take their place in what Linnaeus saw as nature’s unchanging chain of being. Armed with Linnaeus’ universalizing discourse, European botanists aimed to bring every part of the known world’s flora into line. They soon turned their attention to the East with as much interest in the sexuality of Oriental flowers as European poets displayed. But whereas the poets treated those flowers as synedoches of Eastern sensuality, the scientists wanted to determine their place in a general scheme that was organized from Europe. And as the eighteenth century wore on and European empires in India and South East Asia waxed, they got their chance to do so. Botanists began to travel East in unprecedented numbers to collect, describe and classify the flora of whole countries. Back in Europe, they published their findings, often lavishly illustrated, allowing other European scientists to access, without ever themselves travelling, what was presumed to be the complete floral system of the whole geographical area. Thus Linnaeus’s system gave European thought confidence and power. It promoted that trend which Edward Said has seen to be characteristic of nineteenth-century academic Orientalism, that trend by which the nature of the East is defined and classified in Europe. What Europeans recognized as useful and universally valid knowledge about Oriental flora was, to some extent, an aspect of their desire for a system that empowered them, at a distance, to take command of a whole field. Chopping flowers into quantifiable segments, Linnaean botany transformed them into convertible data that the European scientist could manipulate, as no Indian was equipped to do, in the name of objective truth. Botanical classification, that it to say, was one of the new enlightenment discourses by which Europe took command of a world that, simultaneously, it was bringing under its colonial control. To argue this is not to deny that Linnaean systematization was (and is) useful as a technique for enquiring into nature. Clearly, as a pioneering schematization of investigation, it


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enabled the subsequent development of botany with all the social benefits – medical and agricultural – which that development has brought the world. Yet, at the same time, Linnaeus effectively uprooted knowledge of Oriental nature from the East. What Indians knew about the plants that they and their ancestors handled and used would no longer be regarded as scientific – and therefore as valid – knowledge. Linnaean botanists, in effect, did not simply uproot the flowers that they took back to Europe as specimens. They also uprooted their meaning, replacing it with an account of what they were that emanated from the systematic, but withered, collections of Europe. In doing so, they not only mirrored but assisted the colonial process in which the material wealth of the East was shipped to Europe, where its value was fixed in relation to European criteria of desirability. Linnaean classification, in effect, both advanced scientific progress by giving a single if arbitrary criterion for classification and participated in a commodification of the East that primarily involved the export of plants – cotton, coffee, pepper, tea and spice. But botany, to its eighteenth-century adherents, seemed pure enough. The heady scent of universal knowledge led them on and such was the appeal of Linnaeus’ system and so clear were his criteria that not only trained scientists but amateur enthusiasts began to botanize. One of those who did so was a colonial official who had gone to India in 1783 – Sir William Jones. ‘Persian’ Jones had been rewarded for his brilliant Orientalist scholarship with the position of judge in the Supreme Court in Britain’s colony in Bengal. Once established there, he began in-depth study of Indian culture that was to transform Orientalism – and Orientalist poetry – irrevocably. Having rapidly acquired Sanskrit, Jones had by 1786 made his ground-breaking contribution to philology and anthropology, showing that there was a common Indo-European language family and that Indian civilization and philosophy were a source of the Egyptian and Greek culture to which Europe traced its roots. But Jones’s studies were not only linguistic. With the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which he founded, he embarked upon a comprehensive assessment of India’s religion, poetry and natural history. This project, published annually in the Asiatick Researches from 1788, opened European eyes to the sophistication of Hindu culture. It produced a newly nuanced and detailed view of India for European readers, a view that did not simply follow the priorities of colonial conquest and administration. Jones, that is to say, studied Indian tradition both in order to facilitate colonial rule and because he was delighted by a culture that, in several respects, he thought superior to that of Britain. As a consequence, his Orientalism did not merely strengthen imperial authority nor solely move the so-called ‘truth’ about the East to Europe. It also put that authority in question, at least implicitly, by making European culture defer to Hindu. Nowhere is the ambivalent doubleness of Jones’s Orientalist version of India more apparent than in his study of flowers. For Jones was a botanist, who both studied Indian plants and described them for the benefit of science, relying on local collectors, artists and scholars to increase his own knowledge. Jones was not the first such botanist, for several Europeans trained in the sexual classification had already worked in the subcontinent. Jones admired the work of his predecessor Van Rheede, because

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it built upon, rather than ignoring, Indians’ own expertise: When his draughtsmen had sketched their figures, and his native botanists had subjoined their description, he submitted the drawings to a little academy of Pandits, whom he used to convene for the purpose from different parts of the country . . . [they] vied with each other in giving correct answers to all his questions concerning the names and virtues of the principal vegetables.13 For most European men of science, Linnaeus’s method was paramount and subsumed local efforts. Native plant collectors combed the forests and mountains for rare species; native draughtsmen and botanists represented them; native scholars interpreted them on the basis of ancient texts, all at the behest of the imperial scientist, who then inserted them in their Linnaean places, presenting Indian flora according to a schematization already elaborated in the West. Whether or not Linnaean botany comprehended plants’ comparative characteristics in as sophisticated a manner as did the different Indian traditions (and there is some evidence that it did not)14 was ultimately less important than the fact that it was both simple and already accepted in the West.15 The Swede’s botany was, at least until later botanists found its reliance on a single criterion too narrow and artificial, one of the European bodies of knowledge through which India could be put in order. Jones inherited the European reliance on Linnaeus, but, a keen student of the religious, anthological and practical significance of flora in Hindu culture, took a greater interest in Indian knowledge than other Westerners.16 In 1794 he published ‘Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants’ (As. Res. IV, 237–312), an essay in which he combined scientific observations with details of plants’ significance in Indian culture for their novelty, poetical fame, reputed use in medicine or supposed holiness.17 Jones appreciated the symbolic role that plants had played in a sophisticated Indian culture more ancient than British science and this led him to propose that their Indian names should be retained in preference to the Linnaean practice of naming plants after their first European ‘discoverer.’ He called this practice ‘the childish denominations of plants from the persons, who first described them’.18 Here his ambiguous position with regard to the India of which he was a colonial administrator was encapsulated. He preferred Indian names, impressed as he was by Indian culture and literature, and he rejected the imperial presumption of imposing Linnaean nominations. And although, as a man of science writing for the benefit of other European men of science, he organized his categories using Linnaeus’s arbitrary sexual classification, he also preserved the textual and oral descriptions of Indians themselves (some of them codifications of thousands of years’ of practical local knowledge). In Jones’s Orientalism, Indian scholarship was respected – and made available to the West – even if encapsulated within the categorizations of European science. It was not only by pursuing his own ‘Botanical Observations’ that Jones tightened that grasp. He also sent floral specimens to his old friend and mentor, the botanist Sir Joseph Banks.19 Banks, President of the Royal Society and de facto director of the Botanic Gardens at Kew, was the most powerful scientist in Europe. His own


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botanical collection, assembled on his voyage around the globe with Captain Cook, was described by Linnaeus as ‘astonishing’. Later, Banks was to negotiate the purchase of Linnaeus’s own collection and to sponsor Erasmus Darwin’s translation of his works into English. It was in the name of colonial prosperity and agricultural improvement that Banks turned botany into an imperial science. He made Kew the centre of a network of botanical gardens strung along the islands of Britain’s maritime empire. At St Helena, at St Vincent, in Botany Bay and elsewhere, superintendents of his choosing, some of them trained at Kew, applied Linnaean science for colonial purposes. They exchanged seeds and cultivated plants, hoping to make the empire prosperous by transferring valuable crops from one region to another. Ultimately, their efforts helped change world agriculture forever: bread-fruit went from Tahiti to the West Indies, vines from Kew to Australia. Date trees were brought from Persia to India with the aim of protecting Britain’s colonies from famine. They were to be nurtured in the botanic garden being established by the East India Company in Calcutta. The Company consulted Banks at every stage, and the memorandum he wrote for its Court of Directors reveals not just his hopes for the garden but his imperialist aims for his botanical network: It cannot fail of success, in bringing from other Countries such fruits and esculent vegetables as the soil & climate of Bengal is adapted to produce, & Kew if any intertropical plants have hitherto been observed to fail when transported into similar climates, tho’ nature has denied them to its inhabitants, nor can it fail of drawing from the jungles & desarts hitherto unexplored articles of Commerce, which Europe, China, & even Bengal itself now receives from other Countries, & promoting the cultivation of articles useful to the manufacturers of Great Britain & consequently important to the Investments of India.20 Banks’s botanic gardens were seedbeds for a newly global capitalism. They were designed for ‘the aggrandizement of the power and commerce of Great Britain,’ by giving the nation a commercial advantage over its trading rivals. Jones welcomed the Calcutta Garden, called botany a ‘bewitching study’ and termed Linnaeus’s Philosophica Botanica ‘a masterly work’.21 By 1788 he was a supplementary branch of Banks’s network, sending Dacca cotton seeds and roots of the medicinal ‘Pee-arunga’ plant to Kew. In reply, Banks asked for Jones’s help in procuring plants to send to the botanic garden at St Vincent, while Jones encouraged him to publish all the botanical manuscripts he had received from India. Publication mattered to Jones, for he was anxious that as much of Indian culture and nature should be represented to Europe as possible. In 1790, he published his own ‘Design of a Treatise on the Plants of India’ (As. Res. II, 345–64), sounding an imperialistic note at the outset: ‘Give us time . . . for our investigations, and we will transfer to Europe all the sciences, arts and literature of Asia.’22 For Jones the colonial administrator, botany was a means by which European knowledge could improve Indian agriculture, and so benefit both colony and motherland. It was, nevertheless, a science that served the colonialists’ definition of what ‘benefit’ was.

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Despite his involvement with colonial priorities, Jones did not suppress his continued fascination with plants’ Indian significances, and this fascination made his botany unusual in its partial affiliation to the culture it emerged from. Jones’s ‘Botanical Observations’ was poetic as well as scientific for it displayed not only his aesthetic delight at the plants so many Westerners found monstrous, but his love of the literature in which they figure. Of the Sara or Arrow-cane he wrote ‘This beautiful and superb grass is highly celebrated in the Purmnas, the Indian God of War, having been born in a grove of it, which burst into flame.’23 The Camalata’s ‘elegant blossoms are celestial rosy red, love’s proper hue, and have justly procured it the name of Camalata, or Love’s Creeper . . . Camalata may also mean a mythological plant, by which all desires are granted to such as inhabit the heaven of INDRA.’24 Jones presented these mythological significances as part of a credible religious system, part of an allegory of creation and redemption that was as worthy of respect as the Platonic philosophy to which it had given rise. Jones’s botanical writing was more respectful of Hindu traditions than most European natural history. But it was his poetry that gave his uneasy blend of European and Indian knowledge-systems impact back in Britain. Jones’s verse brought his love of Indian flora to the fore, presenting Oriental flowers not just as beautiful exotica in their own right, but as symbols as powerful in a foreign mythological tradition as were the violet and the rose in the West. What resulted from Jones’s determination to make his botanical and religious studies accessible to Europe in the entertaining form of poetry, was a kind of colonization-in-reverse. In other words, if on the one hand Jones was subjecting Indian discourses to the authority of Western science and law, on the other he was asking his British readers to develop a taste for Indian aesthetics and religion. And since the possession of taste (a developed aesthetic knowledge) was a defining characteristic of gentlemen and women, then what Jones was suggesting was that the mark of a truly civilized European should be aesthetic appreciation for the mythological literature of the East. To the central tradition of Greek and Latin he would add the traditions of India as objects of polite enjoyment rather than arcane study. Where most contemporary poetic landscapes alluded to those of Virgil and Ovid, his would refer to the Purmnas. For Ovid’s laurels and narcissae, Jones had the camalata. Oriental flowers were intended in his work to reinvigorate the fading poetic power that his contemporaries sought to discover in ancient Greece and Rome. ‘I cannot but think that our European poetry has subsisted too long on the perpetual repetition of the same images, and incessant allusions to the same fables’, he wrote. Eastem poetry, if studied, would ‘allow a more extensive insight into the history of the human mind; we should be furnished with a new set of images and similitudes’.25 His poetry, it follows, conformed to the gentlemanly convention of stylistic indebtedness and formal allusion to ancient texts that were taken to epitomize civilization – only to exchange classical texts for eastern ones. I call Jones’s poetry a kind of colonization-in-reverse. This does not imply that the process was in any sense a counterbalance to the seizure and domination of the subcontinent by the British and to the subsequent empire based on military force. But it does imply that Jones’s writing was not simply another means by which Britain extended its sway in the East. If Jones’s scholarship did assist imperial aims


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by rendering Oriental history and literature open to scrutiny, it nevertheless also asserted their value as traditions from which Europeans could learn the aesthetic and moral values they prided themselves upon and had formerly thought the exclusive legacy of Europe. The poetry of Jones’s Indian period reveals where he thought those aesthetic and moral values lay – in sexual allegory. Increasingly knowledgeable about the BhagavatGitm, which his friend Charles Wilkins was translating, Jones understood that, as in Ovid, the flowers and plants of Hindu verse were part of a complicated allegory in which the creation of nature was shown to be a result of the sexual interaction of the gods and goddesses. And for Jones, the gods and goddesses were themselves personifications of creative principles, so that at the root of Hindu mythology was a cosmological system akin to the Platonic account of the One, the true and the good. Jones’s dual engagement in Linnaean botany and Hindu mythology transformed Orientalist poetry. No longer, as in pre-Indian days, did he write updated versions of generic Oriental bowers. Instead, he combined the two precise systems of understanding, one European, one Hindu, with results that varied from the ridiculous to the revolutionary. It was Linnaeus himself who had first spiced his botanical narratives with humorous references to human promiscuity. Plants with many female parts but only one male were likened to a harem in which many wives ministered to a single Eastern Sultan. Jones adopted the converse of this analogy in his 1785 poem ‘The Enchanted Fruit, or, The Hindu Wife.’ Here it is one wife who commands many husbands: For India once, as now cold Tibet, A groupe unusual might exhibit, Of sev’ral husbands, free from strife, Link’d fairly to a single wife! Thus Botanists, with eyes acute To see prolifick dust minute, Taught by their learned northern Brahmen To class by pistil and by stamen, Produce from nature’s rich dominion Flow’rs Polyandrian Monogynian, Where embryon blossoms, fruits and leaves Twenty prepare, and ONE receives.26 (‘The Enchanted Fruit; or, The Hindu Wife’, ll. 61–72) In this passage, Jones reads the polygamy of ancient India as a form of sexual partnership that reveals itself to the acute student just as the sexuality of plants does to the Linnaean botanist. Linnaeus is the ‘learned northern Brahmen’ who shows pupils how to observe male polygamy in a flower; the narrator himself is the Brahman who acts as the reader’s guide to the polygamous customs of the Hindu past. And if this condescendingly reduces those customs to the level of a natural curiosity, Jones nevertheless has a serious purpose beneath his playfulness, for he asks readers to prefer the male polygamy of the Hindu past to the harems of the Muslim

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present on the grounds that women were then free from being ‘slaves to weak lust or potent rage’ (line 56). In other words, the uneasy humour produced by the Linnaean analogy between human and plant sexuality serves to displace Jones’s potential embarrassment about endorsing polygamy as a social virtue in the Indian context. It is not a wholly successful strategy and so it is not surprising to find him, in the ‘Botanical Observations’, rejecting such analogies ‘as unbecoming the gravity of men, who while they search for truth, have no business to inflame their imaginations.’27 Yet Jones neither abandoned Linnaean classification nor shrunk from exploring the sexual symbolism of flowers in poetry. In his own ‘Hymn to Camdeo’ (1784), he addressed the Indian ‘Eros’ whose ‘bow of sugar-cane or flowers, with a string of bees, and his five arrows, each pointed with an Indian blossom of a heating quality, are allegories equally new and beautiful’.28 He went on to give the exact names of these blossoms: He with five flow’rets tips thy ruthless darts, Which thro’ five senses pierce enraptur’d hearts: Strong Chumpa, rich in od’rous gold, Warm Amer, nurs’d in heav’nly mould, Dry Nagkeser in silver smiling, Hot Kiticum our sense beguiling, And last, to kindle Fierce the scorching flame, Loveshaft, which Gods bright Beta name.29 In his ‘Botanical Observations’ Jones classified these plants according to the Linnaean system: Amer, for example, displayed ‘leaflets mostly five-paired, eggoblong’.30 But he also discussed their significance in Indian medicine and mythology, noting of the Nagkeser that the tree is one of the most beautiful on earth, and the delicious odour of its blossoms justly gives them a place in the quiver of CÁMADÉVA. In the poem, called Naishadha, there is a wild, but elegant, couplet, where the poet compares the white of the Nágacésara, from which the bees were scattering pollen of the numerous gold-coloured anthers to an alabaster wheel, on which CÁMA was whetting his arrows, while sparks of fire were dispersed in every direction . . . a flower with petals like silver and anthers like gold.31 Here Jones had created a new hybrid, a botanical text in which European science is combined with what Michael Franklin has called an ‘ecological anthropology’ – a pioneering study of Indian culture and history by investigation of the social significance of plants through the ages. No other European scholar had, at this time, the foresight to see the benefits of such a study or the knowledge to pursue it. Jones continued his study in versions and translations of Hindu poetry. The ‘Hymn to Camdeo’ explores the importance of Camdeo’s flowers. It contains a detailed and accurate rendition of the Hindu myth including an explanation derived from the


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Purmnas of Camdeo’s significance: arrows of desire would maintain creation eternally by ensuring mortals remained enchanted. Jones had achieved more than a mere ‘nosegay of Oriental flowers’32 and more than a generic Eastern garden with added local colour, for he had rendered the mythological method of Hindu scripture with unprecedented precision and seriousness while preserving a familiar neo-classical form. Jones’s Latinate verse made the sexuality of Hindu myth no more strange and no less noble than the sexual myths recounted by Ovid. The effect of this, as Michael Franklin has argued, was to make Hinduism assimilable rather than alien, without eliding all its difference from Christianity. And Jones’s translations of the Gltagovinda and of Kalidasa’s drama Ôakuntalm were read all across Europe, introducing poets and scholars to a transformed version of the East, a version they admired for a philosophical wisdom and poetic brilliance that Jones had begun to reveal in detail. Jones did not reveal all the details of the Hindu myths that he had studied. He toned down most of the most sexually explicit passages, anxious not to vitiate the British reception of Oriental culture by venturing beyond the limits of gentlemanly taste into what might appear obscene.33 In particular, he eschewed making further suggestive analogies between Linnaeus’s sexual system and human polygamy. His acquaintance and fellow Linnaean botanist Erasmus Darwin had no such inhibitions, however, and, in 1789, published a poem derived (in part) from Jones’s ‘The Enchanted Fruit.’ Darwin’s ‘The Loves of the Plants,’ a versification of Linnaean botany in Latinate couplets, not only resembled Jones’s verse in style, but in its mixture of European science and Orientalist scholarship. And it was to popularize, only then to undermine, the reputation of both men, helping to turn Britons against the Eastern cultures about which Jones had enthused. Darwin was an admirer of Jones’s work; he did not intend to give either Linnaean botany or Hindu mythology dubious reputations. But he lacked Jones’s gentlemanly tact. A dissenter in religion and a radical in politics, Darwin took little trouble to disguise his deism or his advanced social views. His poem was sexy as well as scholarly, for he pushed the boundaries of taste to the limit, elaborating upon Linnaeus’s analogies between plant reproduction and human promiscuity. Anna Seward recorded that he proposed that she should write the verse, he the notes: ‘Ovid,’ he said, ‘made men and women into flowers, plants and trees. You should make flowers, plants and trees into men and women.’ Seward declined because she thought ‘the plan was not strictly proper for a female pen’.34 The Ovidian sexuality of the verse Darwin produced by himself was not ‘proper’ but seductively playful, especially since Darwin presented his verse as an amusement for ladies in their dressing rooms. Female plants were portrayed as independent and promiscuous: ‘Each wanton beauty, trick’d in all her grace,/Shakes the bright dew-drops from her blushing face;/In gay undress displays her rival charms,/And calls her wondering lovers to her arms.’35 Darwin’s verse was also – and this is crucial – deist or even atheist in that it implied that human love was a natural phenomenon explicable in materialist terms. The Loves of the Plants was a popular poem at the start of the 1790s. By the decade’s end, however, it was being attacked as the conservative backlash against all things associated with the French Revolution strengthened. Richard Polwhele’s poem

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‘The Unsex’d Females’ (1798) lambasted Darwin for giving dangerous knowledge and immodest desires to young ladies who With bliss botanic as their bosoms heave, Still pluck forbidden fruit, with mother Eve, For puberty in sighing florets pant, Or point the prostitution of a plant36 Polwhele singled out Mary Wollstonecraft as an example of the sexual and political sin into which the frank language of Darwin’s botany could lead women. His reactionary satire was matched in the Anti-Jacobin of 1798, where the Directory in France was depicted as a plant, in a parody of Linnaeus’s classificatory scheme: ‘It is singular, that this stalk of the Directoria, though leafless and rotten, has, in the Neologisme of the Moderns, acquired the name of a Tree; and, though without an inner bark (Liber), is called Arbor Liber tatis.’ Using Linnaeus’s Latin terms, the satire noted that when pollinated and mature, the anthers of this ‘Liberty tree’ spread seed explosively: thus the sexual act of pollination was linked to the spread of revolution across the continent.37 To conservative Britons, Darwin’s poem seemed to glory in applying to the world of plants the dissolute sexual practices of Oriental, as well as French, cultures. He seemed to approve of Eastern customs on which they looked with fascinated horror – the customs of the harem. That fabled place of luxury and despotism appeared when he described the Mimosa pudica (‘the sensitive plant’). The Mimosa was of the Linnaean class Polygamia (plants with many stamens), and Darwin illustrated it by imagining an Eastern bride preparing for her sexual initiation in a polygamous marriage: Alarm’d she trembles at the moving shade; And feels, alive through all her tender form, The whisper’d murmurs of the gathering storm; Shuts her sweet eye-lids to approaching night; And hails with freshened charms the rising light. Veil’d, with gay decency and modest pride, Slow to the mosque she moves, an eastern bride; There her soft vows unceasing love record, Queen of the bright seraglio of the Lord. (Canto I, lines 247–58) Darwin’s poem brought to the poetry-reading public the sexual connotations of Linnaean science as well as the supposed immorality of exotic societies. And this created difficulties for his readership – not least for William Jones – who found that he had to defend his own descriptions of Oriental flora from the imputation that he was encouraging Eastern immorality. Darwin’s Orientalist botanic garden threatened to undermine Jones’s more careful Orientalist effort to make Indian traditions aesthetically and morally powerful back in Europe. In the minds of conservative Britons, the culture of the Orient, with its despotic governments and its sexual


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promiscuity, had moved westwards to France. Linnaean botany and Indian mythology were assimilated to Jacobinism: the thought-systems Jones had worked so hard to make safely appealing were now associated with a revolutionary plague that must be kept out of Britain at all costs. By 1809, Southey was writing of Jacobinism as an infection of a mental fanaticism that resembled nothing so much as Hinduism. In the post-revolutionary anti-Orientalist climate, even botanists themselves moved to suppress the details of the Linnaean system, now afraid of the social threat posed by sexuality – especially the female sexuality that Jones and Darwin had shown to be such a powerful force in Eastern culture. William Smellie, writer of the entry on botany in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, claimed Linnaeus’s metaphors were so indelicate as to exceed the most ‘obscene romance writer’.38 Smellie’s contempt for romance writers was a common enough opinion to make most of Darwin’s and Jones’s followers hedge their bets, as the work of Southey, in particular, shows. More thoroughly steeped in Jones’s versions of Arabia and India, and more closely connected with Darwin’s opinions and allies than any other contemporary, Southey nevertheless steered as clear as he could of sexual allegory in the Orientalist poetry that he wrote after Jones’s example. His Indian romance, The Curse of Kehama (1810) watered down the sexual elements of the Hindu creation-story, derived from Jones’s translation. And in his letters, Southey took care to distance himself from Jones, declaring him overrated and shallow.39 Southey’s disavowal was of little use. Conservatives still associated him with Jones and reviled his Hindu imagery and mythology, viewing them as assaults on social decorum and established religion. His romance was simply too Indian for an era increasingly determined to dislike (and extirpate) the very elements of Indian culture that Jones had enthusiastically revealed. Chastened, Southey gave up writing romances and became a journalist-supporter of Evangelical efforts to spread Protestantism across British India. Later, younger poets including Thomas Moore would learn from Southey’s reception, borrowing new Oriental motifs from Jones while avoiding Jones’s detailed engagement with and explicit endorsement of Hindu culture. In their work, the Hindu Orient (if it figured at all) was again a matter of exoticism, now more specific in its references than Collins’s Persian Eclogues had been, now full of subcontinental images, but largely shorn of possibly offensive sexual, religious or social detail. There were exceptions to this trend – Shelley’s profound interest in Jonesian-rendered Hinduism is evident throughout Prometheus Unbound and was itself influenced by Owenson’s detailed rendition in The Missionary (1811). But Shelley, a self-proclaimed atheist, was a radical in exile. For the increasingly conservative public in Britain, Oriental verse became a decorous entertainment, enlivened by a touch of local colour but posing no threat to the assumption that Christianity, and the British civilization that Christianity supposedly fostered, was inherently superior to Hinduism and to Indian culture. Sadly, by 1813, when Parliament required the East India Company to aid Christian missionaries to proselytize in its subcontinental colonies, Romantic India was in retreat from the profound Jonesian encounter with Hinduism and from the poetry that, in the 1790s, writers such as Darwin had developed from that encounter. If this was a symptom of a failure of poetic courage (and it was), it was also a sign of

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the times: an increasingly reactionary age, shaped by war with France, engendered a newly nationalistic and puritanical set of attitudes and policies towards its colonies, an imperialist consensus in which Jonesian philology and botany had little place.

Notes 1 Paradise Lost, book IX, line 456. 2 Thomas Gray and William Collins: Poetical Works, ed. Roger Lonsdale, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977, p. 122. 3 Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Michael J. Franklin, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995, p. 14. 4 Gray and Collins, ed. Lonsdale, pp. 122–3. 5 The scholarship of men such as Sale, D’Herbelot, Galland, Erpenius, De Sacy and Pococke is discussed in Robert Irwin, ‘Oriental Discourses in Orientalism’, Middle Eastern Lectures, 1999, 3, 87–110, and Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680–1880, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. 6 Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Franklin, pp. 320–1. 7 Ibid., pp. 22–3. 8 On this dating, see my introduction to Thalaba, vol. 3 of Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols, London: Pickering and Chatto, 2004. 9 I discuss the primitivist and ruralist poetics of Herder and Lowth in my Coleridge’s Figurative Language, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991, pp. 83–6. 10 From the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 2nd edn (London, 1800), reprinted in Duncan Wu, ed., Romanticism: An Anthology, 2nd edn, Oxford: Blackwells, 1998, p. 357. 11 A compendium of travel narratives, Samuel Purchas’s Pilgrimages included descriptions of the subcontinent as well as the Mongol emperor’s Chinese gardens. 12 Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Franklin, pp. 36–51. 13 William Jones, ‘Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants’, in Anna Maria Jones (ed.), The Works of Sir William Jones, 13 vols, London: Stockdale, 1807, vol. 5, pp. 65–6. 14 See Rosane Rocher, ‘Weaving Knowledge: Sir William Jones and Indian Pandits’, in Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, And Influences Of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), ed. Garland Cannon and Kevin R. Brine, London and New York: New York University Press, 1995, pp. 51–79. 15 See Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992, pp. 36–53. 16 Here I echo Michael J. Franklin’s introduction to Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control in Eighteeth-Century British Oriental Disconrse, London: Routledge, 2000, vol. 7, p. xi. 17 Jones, ‘Botanical Observations,’ in The Works of Sir William Jones, vol. 5, p. 63. 18 Ibid., p. 3. 19 On Jones and Banks see Garland Cannon, ‘Sir William Jones, Sir Joseph Banks, and the Royal Society’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 1975, 29, 205–30. 20 Banks’s Correspondence in MS, in the library of the Natural History Museum, London (Dawson Turner Copies, vol. VII, f. 31). 21 Letter of 22 September 1787, The Letters of Sir William Jones, ed. Garland Cannon, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970, vol. 2, p. 776. 22 First published in the Asiatick Researches. I quote it here from The Works of Sir William Jones, vol. 5, p. 1. 23 Jones, ‘Botanical Observations’, in The Works of Sir William Jones, vol. 5, p. 77. 24 Ibid., p. 88. 25 Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Franklin, p. 336. 26 Ibid., p. 83 27 William Jones, ‘The Design of a Treatise on the Plants of India’, in The Works of Sir William Jones, vol. 5, pp. 5–6.

130 28 29 30 31 32 33

34 35 36 37 38 39

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The Argument; Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Franklin, p. 99. Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, ed. Franklin, p. 102. Ibid., p. 102n. Ibid. Ibid. For a detailed assessment of the issues involved in translating Hindu eroticism, see Michael J. Franklin’s introduction to Gitagovinda in The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism, 6 vols, London: Ganesha Publishing/Edition Synapse, 2001, vol. 3, pp. xxii–xxviii. Anna Seward, Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin, London: Joseph Johnson, 1804, pp. 130–1. Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden, A Poem. In Two Parts. Part I. Containing The Economy Of Vegetation, Part II. The Loves Of The Plants, 4th edn, London: Joseph Johnson, 1799, part II, canto I, lines 113–16. Richard Polwhele, The Unsex’d Females. A Poem, London: Cadell and Davies, 1798, p. 8. The Anti-Jacobin or Weekly Examiner, 2 July 1798, pp. 270–1. Smellie, ‘Botany’, p. 653, entry in Encyclopaedia Britannica; quoted in Londa Schiebinger, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1993, p. 30. In 1808 he denied Jones’s greatness, calling him ‘one of the show-books of fashion’ with a reputation ‘far above his deserts’ in Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, ed. J. W. Warter, 4 vols, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856, Vol. 4, pp. 75, 96.


‘Where . . . success [is] certain’? Southey the literary East Indiaman Lynda Pratt

In 1838, the Poet Laureate Robert Southey published a fifth and final edition of his Indian metrical romance The Curse of Kehama.1 Apart from a few minor verbal changes and the inclusion of a handful of new notes, the main text of the poem differed surprisingly little from the first edition of 1810.2 The major addition was a freshly composed ‘Preface’ that provided readers with copious information about the genesis and compositional history of this ‘Hindoo’ work. Originating in Southey’s childhood plan to exhibit ‘the most remarkable forms of Mythology which have at any time obtained among mankind, by making each the ground-work of a narrative poem’, Kehama had a lengthy and interrupted birth (RSPW, IV, p. 3n).3 Started in 1801, it was not finally completed until 1809. In spite of its fractured history, Kehama was, or so Southey claimed, both ‘more deliberately planned . . . [and] more carefully composed’ than any of his other works, ‘the only one of my long poems of which detached parts were written to be afterwards inserted in their proper places’ (RSPW, IV, p. 5). The ‘Preface’s’ almost confessional use of detail – including its cataloguing of dates and obligations – is significant. Cautioned by the critical response to the ‘Preface’ to the 1796 first edition of Joan of Arc, Southey had for most of his writing life adopted a policy of saying ‘as little as possible by way of preface[s]’ and earlier editions of Kehama had, accordingly, been much less forthcoming.4 The autobiographical and textual information found in the 1838 edition is therefore indicative of the testamentary nature of the enterprise and of the Laureate’s awareness that he was producing the final authorized version of his major poetic attempt at representing India. The 1838 Kehama (and the poems included in the remaining nine volumes of the Poetical Works), represent Southey’s acute awareness of his posterity and attempt to claim what he saw as his rightful place in literary history.5 Yet the autobiographical nexus he chose to weave around his Hindu romance (and indeed around other works, including Thalaba, Joan and Madoc) invites the reader to interpret it in a way that is potentially problematic. In choosing, in his final revised version, to stress Kehama’s origins, focusing on the poem’s beginning rather than on its final, achieved form, Southey decided to read it backwards, from the published text to its original conception. He also, simultaneously, encouraged, allowed and authorized his readers to do the same. In other words, he gave the composition and publication of what had been one of his most controversial works a logic and consistency that may have seemed believable from the perspective of the late 1830s but which did not necessarily hold true in


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the early 1800s, the decade in which the poem came into being. His 1838 prefatory reminder that in his own literary history Kehama came ‘next’ after Thalaba and Madoc glosses over a situation that was in fact much more complex (RSPW, IV, p. 4). The recent revival of critical interest in Kehama has provided many valuable and fascinating insights, but it has also helped both to perpetuate this habit of reading in reverse and to give it a postmodernist twist. In the hands of post-colonial critics, Kehama has rightly been recovered as a key romantic period text and located at the centre of a complex web of discourses of Orientalism and imperialism.6 The longneglected Indian romance has been vigorously rehistoricized and theorized, placed both in the wider contexts of Southey’s own writings and, perhaps even more significantly, those of his contemporaries such as Byron, James Mill and Shelley. Stimulating, revisionist and important though such reassessments are, they often overlook the poem’s torturous chronology. For example, Kehama has frequently been linked with the essays Southey published on India and British colonial policy in India, writings that (unlike his poem) appeared anonymously in the pages of the Annual and the Quarterly Reviews.7 Yet it is often overlooked that the roots of his major poetic representation of India – and Southey’s first attempt at writing it – lay in the period immediately before these essays were written. In other words, Southey’s interest in Indian subjects and in representing India predated the published Kehama by just under a decade and his essays on the subcontinent by three or so years, or even longer if his childhood dream of writing on the world’s mythologies is taken into account. This essay is going to take a different tack. It is an attempt to read Kehama forwards, and by concentrating on the poem’s origins to consider why it was written in the first place.

I Kehama was the work of a would-be poetic ‘Almighty Man’ (RSPW, IV, p. 182n), the product of one whose ambitions to be placed amongst the acknowledged greats of English literary history began early. As a middle-aged writer with an established (though deeply controversial) reputation, Southey recalled youthful dreams in which he entered ‘the Elysium of the Poets’ and assumed a place alongside poet-heroes such as Milton, Spenser and Homer (L&C, I, p. 120). It was during his childhood in the mercantile city of Bristol that he first encountered the author whose work provided the inspiration for his Oriental romances, Bernard Picart. Although it was to produce a series of textual extravaganzas, his first encounter with Picart’s Religious Ceremonies was via a visual – and not a verbal – medium. Southey first saw – rather than read – Picart as a child, when his attention was attracted by ‘some prints in the Christian’s Magazine, copied . . . from . . . [his] great work’ (L&C, III, p. 351). Viewing a selection of plates taken from the Religious Ceremonies was momentous enough, but his next encounter with it was to be crucial. When he was ‘about fifteen’ years old and a pupil at Westminster School, he managed to get hold of a complete edition of the Religious Ceremonies owned by his good friends the Bedford family. Southey devoured it. Reading Picart was a transformative experience. It allowed him, or so he later claimed, to indulge his nascent interest in comparative mythography, to become ‘as

Southey the literary East Indiaman 133 well acquainted with the gods of Asia and America, as with those of Greece and Rome’. The seven, lavishly illustrated volumes also fed his poetic imagination, leading him to ‘invent a plan to render every mythology, which had ever extended itself widely, and powerfully influenced the human mind, the basis of a narrative poem’ (L&C, III, p. 351) (Figure 6.1 [Picart]). The literary ambition nourished by Religious Ceremonies was potentially boundless. For example, in an undated Common-Place Book entry Southey noted all the ‘nations [that] offer a rich field of civil and religious costume’: ‘The Jews’, ‘The Scandinavians’, ‘The Persians’, accompanied by the Celts, Hindoos and Greenlanders.8 On other occasions he added ‘the Runic and Druidical systems – and the Japanese’ to his list (NL, II, p. 536). His avowed intention of putting as many world mythologies as possible into poetic form was to have a significant impact on his adult writing life. It fostered his enthusiasm for reading other poetic renditions of myth, such as Frank Sayers’s Dramatic Sketches of Northern Mythology (1790). It bore fruit in juvenile works such as poems about the Norse god Odin and lay behind Southey’s magnum opus Madoc, which was begun in 1789 around the time he first read Picart. In addition, it led directly to his oriental metrical romances: Thalaba the Destroyer (conceived in 1798 and published in 1801) and The Curse of Kehama (conceived c.1800–1 and published 1810). The ‘Arabian tale’ Thalaba, which emerged from Southey’s interest in the legend of the ‘Garden of Irem’, was his first published, extended excursion into Picartinspired mythological territory.9 The poem, with its experimental metre and plentiful footnotes, manifested Southey’s mapping out of a cultural land that he desired to make his own. It was also, as Diego Saglia has argued, a deeply embedded and significant engagement with a material Orient. It catalogued the riches and productions of oriental lands and was itself a calculated investment on Southey’s part in material culture, one that he hoped would reap its due financial reward.10 So confident was he in this Orientalist enterprise that in 1800, even before Thalaba had gone to press, he began to consider writing a successor to it in the hope of gaining further reward. The question was, what was this new poem to be about?

II Although his later accounts promoted the idea that Kehama was the logical and inevitable successor to Thalaba, matters were not so simple. In the years 1800–1 when he was searching around for the subject for a second mythological romance, another plan seemed to be much ‘nearer’ fruition than the still ‘distant’ prospect of his ‘Hindoo’ poem (L&C, II, p. 97). This was to centre on Zoroastrian mythology and the impetus for it was not Picart but Southey’s growing fascination with the ZendAvesta.11 He had acquired a copy of Anquetil-Duperron’s translation from his friend John May in autumn 1799, observing a year later that the Frenchman was ‘certainly a far more useful and meritorious Orientalist than Sir Wm Jones’ (L&C, II, p. 96).12 Confident, even before he had seen the volume, that he would ‘one day build upon the base of Zoroaster’, he was uncertain exactly what that structure would be (Warter, I, p. 82). It was to lead him in some unexpected directions.

Figure 6.1 Bernard Picart, The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World: Together with Historical Annotations, and Several Curious Discourses equally instructive and entertaining 7 vols, London: William Jackson, for Claude du Bosc, 1733–9, 3: 397.

Southey the literary East Indiaman 135 Southey was a dedicated literary multi-tasker, a writer whose professional commitments often meant working on several projects (poetry and prose) at the same time. His projected Zoroastrian poem offered a bridge between two generically and geographically disparate parts of his output: the epic and the romance, South America and the Orient. Southey’s interest in reading and using the Zend-Avesta coincided exactly with his abandonment of a long-cherished plan to identify Madoc, the hero of his as yet unfinished Welsh-American epic, with Manco Capac, the legendary progenitor of Incan Peru (L&C, I, pp. 20–1).13 By autumn 1799 he was in a quandary, desperate to versify the Inca’s story but unable to ‘make Mango [sic] Capac – Madoc’.14 He decided to look for other potential uses for his material. Determined that Capac would ‘serve me for the subject of a separate poem’, Southey conceived the idea of working him into a romance on Zoroaster (Ramos, p. 46). As he explained, he would combine ‘supernatural with philosophical narration’ and bring the Inca ‘from Persia’ to Peru (Warter, I, p. 82). Southey’s desire to make Capac the hero of a new poem – wherever it was set – was the product of a late Enlightenment historiography that saw much to admire about him, particularly after the 1780 rebellion of Tupac Amaru, who claimed to be a descendant of the last Incas. For example, John Britton described how Capac established ‘civilization and industry . . . [and] civil polity’ in Peru, a view echoed by Madame de Genlis, Sarah Trimmer and John Williams.15 The American radical Joel Barlow went further, including a laudatory twenty-four page ‘Dissertation on the Genius and Institutions of Manco Capac’ in his 1787 epic the Vision of Columbus. This asserted that: the system of Capac is the most surprising exertion of human genius to be found in the history of mankind. When we consider him as an individual emerging from the midst of a barbarous people . . . originating a plan of religion and policy never equalled by the sages of antiquity, civilizing an extensive empire, and rendering religion and government subservient to the general happiness of mankind, there is no danger that we grow too warm in his praise, or pronounce too high an eulogium on his character.16 Southey knew of Barlow’s work and he followed – and built on – these views, arguing as early as 1796 that Capac was the founder of a society in which ‘individual property . . . [was] annihilated’ and where ‘all motives for vice [thus] necessarily ceased’.17 The Inca’s mysterious origin thus allowed Southey to attempt to identify him with Madoc and with his own once-cherished idea of establishing a Pantisocracy in America. In the late 1790s, when the link between Inca and Welsh prince proved unsustainable, as ‘No one circumstance in the history of the Peruvian legislator is applied, or applicable to the Welshman’, this same indeterminacy allowed Southey to relocate Capac to Persia (NL, I, p. 196). It permitted Capac to be made over as a Zoroastrian, an exile from Islamic persecution. As Southey explained in a CommonPlace Book entry from 1799: About A.D. 1150 Mango [sic] Capac and Mama Oella, his sister-wife, appeared by the Lake Titiaca. At that time the Mohammedan superstition had triumphed


Lynda Pratt in the East; and the few followers of Zoroaster were persecuted, or safe only in obscurity. Here then the poem roots itself well. The father of these children is a Guebre, rather than a Sabean, one driven into mountain seclusion; the children necessarily become enthusiasts; if they see other human beings they at least find none who can feel as they feel or comprehend them – hence they love each other. The spirit of the sun, whom they adore, may drop them where he pleases. (CB, IV, p. 4)

Southey’s plan reveals his interest in – and sympathy with – the teachings of Zoroaster, listed in the same Common-Place Book entry alongside Confucius and Capac as having produced good, as opposed to the ‘evil’ engendered by Mohammed (CB, IV, p. 4). Indeed as late as 1825, he still found things to admire in ‘the Persian system’: The Greeks and Romans had separated religion from morals and from philosophy . . . But in the Persian system these things were united . . . Zoroaster succeeded in securing all the advantages which can be gained by presenting to the vulgar a visible and emblematic object of adoration, while he avoided the reproach and the absurdity of idolatry. His moral precepts deserve high – almost, it might be said, unqualified praise; purity of mind was enjoined by them as well as of word and deed.18 In Southey’s eyes, Zoroaster, like Capac, succeeded in promulgating and achieving a moral society. Given that his interest in mythography was inextricably linked to Southey’s perception of himself as a significant and radical poet, the two sages were also linked by their suitability for a revisionist poetics. Whether located in the Americas or Persia, the Inca was intended to be both the founder of a new, moral system and the hero of a new type of moral poem. As Southey explained as early as 1796 (at a time when he was first planning to write Capac into Madoc): ‘Warburton has said that the Epic is arrived at perfection & consequently incapable of improvement – for Homer is possessed of the province of Morality Virgil of politics & Milton of religion. All this I deny’.19 Capac would, then, have become the hero of a new Southeyan poetics, one that trumped Homer, Virgil and Milton. He would have been at the centre of a work that shrugged off the worn-out form of ‘Epic’ and the worn-out subjects of Europe in favour of new revisionist forms and of new worlds. Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism too, with their fusion of ‘morals and . . . philosophy’, were highly suitable subjects for a revisionist poem, one which blended ‘supernatural with philosophical narration’ in order to create a new genre. In 1799, Southey seriously entertained the possibility of connecting Persia and Incan Peru. Strange as this idea may seem, it is powerful evidence of the syncretist nature of his thinking and of his determination. In Capac (Welsh Capac or Zoroastrian Capac) resided the possibility of realizing some of Southey’s central plans, of forging a new kind of poetry that endorsed and embodied a new kind of society.

Southey the literary East Indiaman 137 As had been the case with Madoc, geography defeated the poet. The idea of a Persian Capac proved to be a non-starter, because, Southey claimed, the voyage from Persia to Peru was unfeasibly long (CB, IV, pp. 3–4). He briefly entertained the idea of making Capac Chinese, as the journey from China was ‘more practicable’, but soon gave this up, and instead passed the burden of writing about him onto Humphry Davy (CB, IV, p. 4).20 The idea for a Zoroastrianism poem, however, was not abandoned. Rather, it took a different direction. In 1800, after he had finally read the Zend-Avesta, Southey started to map out a work that, as he explained to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, his friend and patron, and a Whig MP, would introduce the powers of darkness persecuting a Persian, one of the hundred and fifty sons of the great king; every evil they inflict, becomes the cause of developing in him some virtue which his prosperity has smothered: an Athenian captive is a prominent character, and the whole warfare of the evil power ends in exalting a Persian prince into a citizen of Athens. I pray you be Greek enough to like that catastrophe, and forget France when you think of Attic republicanism. (L&C, II, p. 97)21 This new poem would have centred on a Prince who discovers by following Zoroastrian belief in the on-going struggle between good and evil forces, and in overcoming evil, that it is possible to achieve virtue. This realization leads him to reject his privileged royal life and a tyrannical political system in favour of republican Greece. Although Southey’s jocular aside to Charles Wynn asked him to think of republicanism in its classical rather than contemporary sense, there is no doubt that he intended his poem to be highly political. It would celebrate the abandonment of an old world of hierarchy, privilege and evil in favour of a new, democratized and good society. Tempting as it is to read the association of Persia with despotism and ‘oriental tyranny’ as yet another example of an orientalizing imagination, these plans actually show the kinship between Southey’s projected poem and another superficially very different work – Madoc, the third version of which had been completed in 1799.22 The Persian and Welsh-American poems both centre on princely subjects who reject the country and the political systems they are born into in favour of beginning life elsewhere: Madoc in America, the Persian in Athens. In addition, both heroes are politically re-educated by a male mentor: Madoc by the mysterious Cadwallon and the Persian by an Athenian captive, who Southey noted elsewhere (though not to Wynn), ‘could be as Jacobinical as heart could wish’ (CB, IV, p. 12). After emigrating, they (eventually) go on to participate in new worlds and new social systems, replacing evil with morality and good governance. As had been the case with his plans for Capac poems, it is possible too that this Persian work would have shared the generic revisionism of Madoc, with its repudiation of the epic and its attempts to find fresh ways of speaking about and celebrating a new society. It is possibly these latent similarities that in 1800–1 put paid to Southey’s intention of writing about the Persian prince. The poems were potentially too alike and,


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aware of the problems he had already faced in Madoc, Southey was possibly unwilling to encounter them again. His Zoroastrian poem was laid aside. Never forgotten, it kept re-emerging in different guises during the next decade or so.23 In its place he began to sketch out the idea for a new romance, a successor to Thalaba rather than a double of Madoc, one that was centred on Hinduism and would represent India. It was the poem that was eventually to become Kehama.

III Southey’s decision in 1800–1 to prefer Brahma and the Hindu gods over Zoroaster is at first puzzling. All the evidence suggests that he was significantly more interested in and sympathetic to Zoroastrianism than Hinduism and this was to remain the case throughout his life. As he explained in an essay published in the Quarterly Review, Zoroastrianism was ‘imaginative and coherent, less monstrous, less absurd, and, in all respects, less offensive than any other [religion] that has ever been promulgated by an imposter’.24 In contrast, in another essay for the Quarterly, Southey described Hinduism as the ‘most burthensome and most inhuman superstition’, more ‘heart-hardening’, ‘injurious to society . . . [and] pernicious to the moral nature of man’ than even ‘Mexican priestcraft’.25 Southey’s choice of what he abhorred over what he admired was characteristic. By the time he came to work on Kehama, the 1797–9 version of Madoc, with its detailed descriptions (drawn from Charles Cullen’s translation of Clavigero) of bloody Aztec rituals, provided potent (if in 1800 unpublished) evidence that he preferred writing about what he disapproved of.26 The Indian poem – engaging with a faith and a culture even more ‘monstrous’ than the Aztecas’ – would take this further.27 If engaging with the unsympathetic and the monstrous provided a challenge (though one Southey was prepared to rise to), his decision to versify an Indian subject presented a potential problem. From the very outset of his career, he had been a firm believer that poems – especially long poems – needed to be freighted with serious numbers of notes. Implicit in this was the belief that extensive reading – as well as extended writing – were essential to revitalized genres such as epic and romance. Yet by 1800, Southey’s knowledge of literature from and about India was not great, especially when compared with that of some of his contemporaries. Indeed, awareness of his defects as a scholar, his inability to read Indian texts in their original languages, could account for his constant sniping at Sir William Jones, the most celebrated British Indologist of the period. In 1799, Southey described him as an inferior scholar to Duperron (L&C, II, p. 96) and this antipathy increased as he got further into Kehama. For example, his response (in 1808) to receiving a handsome edition of Jones’ works from Neville Kirke White was to dismiss their author as one of the ‘show-books of fashion’ (Warter, II, p. 75). Whilst in the same year his brother Henry Southey was ordered: ‘Do not praise Sir Wm. Jones. No man, except Mr. Pitt, has a reputation so much above his deserts’ (Warter, II, p. 96). His dislike of Jones (and of his fame) did not prevent Southey from making use of his writings, which are quoted at some length in the notes to Kehama. However, the ‘Preface’ to the 1838 edition of his poem, plays a careful game of literary one-upmanship. Whilst acknowledging the Welshman as the person who was ‘first to introduce’ Hindu mythology into ‘English

Southey the literary East Indiaman 139 poetry’, it concluded with a comment that reflected Southey’s belief in his own skill as a more effective employer of Indological material: ‘I soon perceived that the best mode of treating it would be to construct a story altogether mythological’ (RSPW, IV, p. 4, my italics). If Southey felt the need to compare himself favourably to Jones in 1838, his anxious sense of an eminent (though recently deceased) competitor in a field of knowledge and poetic endeavour he wished to make his own was even sharper in 1800. Moreover, his knowledge of Jones (whose works he had read by the late 1790s) and his consciousness of his own defects as an Indologist highlight the strangeness of his decision to write a Hindu romance. By writing about India, Southey was not just colonizing someone else’s domain, he was also creating himself a lot of work. In order to meet his own requirements, the new poem would involve him in extensive reading and research and would therefore inevitably take much longer to produce than one on a subject with which he was more familiar. So why – given the obstacles of personal preference and relative ignorance – did he decide to engage in a work that represented India? The origins of Kehama could have lain in the topicality of the subject. By the turn of the century, British interest both in India and the East India Company’s activities was high.28 Impetus could also have come from his labours on his ‘History’ of another colonial power with Indian connections – Portugal.29 Southey was working on the ‘History’ in 1800–1 at the time he began seriously to consider a Hindu romance, using the opportunities presented by his second visit to Lisbon (1800–1) to conduct much-needed research. The ‘History’ was never finished, but it was intended to include a section on Portuguese involvement in India and a letter Southey wrote in 1801 makes it clear that he had been thinking of how this would fit in with the rest of the work. As he explained, this ‘Asiatic [section of the] history must be separately treated; La Clede’s example shows the impropriety of attempting to carry it on in parallel chronology’ (Warter, I, p. 135).30 Working on the ‘History’ could then have turned Southey’s thoughts in the direction of India. There was, in addition, another compelling reason why in 1800–1 he contemplated representing the subcontinent. In 1800, whilst he was in Portugal, Southey received a letter from his friend and patron Charles Wynn offering to help him ‘try . . . [his] fortune in the East-Indian bar, where . . . success [is] certain’ (NL, I, p. 229).31 Since 1796, Wynn had given Southey an annuity of £160, on the condition that he study law at the Inns of Court. Under the terms of their agreement, this would come to an end when Southey was able to earn a living from legal practice. Socially and politically well-connected, Wynn probably saw his offer to pull strings on his protégé’s behalf as a means of allowing the latter to achieve financial independence earlier than he might have done if he stayed in England. His suggestion fell on stony ground. Southey had never been more than a reluctant law student, observing terms as necessary, occasionally dipping into William Blackstone, but showing little if any inclination to take his studies seriously. He was determined to be (or rather to continue as) a poet not a lawyer,32 an ambition he signalled by starting a new version of Madoc, his poetic magnum opus, on the very day he began his first legal term in 1797 and by continuing to write and publish both poetry and prose (CB, IV, p. 45).33


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In October 1800, the lengthy reply Southey made to Wynn’s offer of procuring him something in ‘the East-India bar’ made his own career priorities clear, both in terms of what he wanted to do and where he wanted to do it: You have given me something to dream of – but my dreams take a wild course and instead of haranguing Sir T[homas] Strange – shake Strachey by the hand and return home thro Delhi and by old Persepolis and Ispahan and Bagdad. I would willingly go to India and make a fortune there and come home to enjoy it – but I would rather live in a Welsh cottage and fill the largest room with books – and enjoy the summer of life as blessed be God! I have enjoyed the spring . . . but there is a winter – and must be a harvest time. And if crops grow faster at Madras – and if the climate be certain – why a wish to see the Hindoos and old Brahma might tempt me to -. I have stopt there. The recollection of one friend and of another has come upon me – each would miss me – and I should miss all. And for what? To make thousands instead of the hundreds which England promises. – I have no ambition to rise in the world. – Intellectual rank satisfies my pride – and the object of life is happiness. – The climate of the East would probably suit me – but how it would blight and blast the mental powers, and the bitter feeling to pass so large a portion of the existence in the only society possible there – among men with whom I have nothing in common but language and the wants of nature! . . . But of India I can talk and think in England – England – the land of intelect [sic] and morality – my own dear country, where I grew up and where I would be cut down. (Cabral, pp. 125–6)34 Southey’s letter is a carefully worded acknowledgement and repudiation of Wynn’s suggestion, stressing the instinctive patriotism and dislike of living abroad that he had acknowledged as early as his first visit to Spain and Portugal in 1795–6. Its assertion of his own right to exist as an English (and English-based) writer is a rejection of the Jonesian model (of an Indian-based career combining law, scholarship and literature). Tempting though first-hand observation of Hindu culture might be, Southey had no inclination to be another William Jones, to risk any kind of physical engagement with the culture about which he wished to write. Like his nearcontemporary James Mill, as far as he was concerned, India was best observed and discussed from the vantage point of England.35 The foreign was best contemplated from the safe (and superior) harbour offered by the native and the known: ‘of India I can talk and think in England – England – the land of intelect [sic] and morality’ (Cabral, p. 126). Southey’s validation of his writing life and his refusal of a position on the East-India bar affirms his right to chose a career for himself rather than (as Wynn hoped) to have one chosen for him. Whilst he claimed to prefer ‘Intellectual’ before material prosperity and ‘rank’, Southey’s references to Sir Thomas Strange (Chief Justice of Madras) and George Strachey (Chief Secretary to the Government in Madras) reveal his awareness of the status and wealth attainable by those employed in the legal or civil service.36 He had been friends with Strachey at school, yet as

Southey the literary East Indiaman 141 adults they had drifted apart and he had no wish to emulate the latter’s material success. It had, or so the poet claimed, come at great personal cost. As he told Wynn earlier in 1800, Strachey was a man whose ‘talents and feelings [had] found no centre’, whose ‘genius will bring forth no fruits’, the implicit contrast being with Southey’s own growing literary productivity and reputation (L&C, II, p. 95). Moreover, as Strachey had revealed in his letters to Wynn, which Southey had read, his position was unhappy and unenviable.37 He was ‘disgusted’ with the country he found himself in and surrounded by the ‘English East-Indian’, ‘a very bad animal; they have adopted by force the luxury of the country, and its tyranny and pride by choice’. For Southey, the Chief Secretary’s experience showed that the ‘man who feels and thinks must be in solitude there [India]’, that the man who devoted the best years of his life to obtaining a ‘fortune’ was a fool (L&C, II, p. 98). It also allowed him to conjure up his own kind of demonic hybrid – the ‘East-Indianised Englishmen’ (Cabral, p. 136). The latter is an Englishman who is no longer English, whose indulgence in the material and political cultures of both India and of the East India Company, of the east and the west, had fatally contaminated his national identity and integrity. He was also the antithesis of the English, domestic patriot and poet Southey himself was claiming to be. Condemning servants of the East India Company was not unusual in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but how different was Southey from what he attacked with such characteristic venom? By attacking the Company’s employees, he was criticizing his own social class, even old school fellows and friends like Strachey.38 Moreover his vehemence was not the result of hostility to the idea of taking up a post in a colonial administration. In 1801 he accepted the Secretaryship to Issac Corry, the Irish Chancellor, procured for him by John Rickman.39 So what lay behind his antipathy to making money by representing legal interests in India? The wealth gained or expropriated, depending on your point of view, by servants of the Company was the stuff of legends, complaints and satire. As Gillray’s ‘The Nabob Rumbled’ (1783) (Figure 6.2) shows, the corrupt ‘East-Indianised’ Englishman was a stock figure in the late eighteenth-century political cartoon. Whilst there is no doubt that fortunes were still being made in India in the early 1800s, Southey’s observations failed to take into account that things had changed since the boom years of the eighteenth century when, as Peter Marshall has observed, ‘Men scrambled for posts in the Company’s civil service because they believed that they would get rich’.40 Cornwallis’ reforms of the 1780s and 1790s had managed ‘to insulate the service from the pressures of patronage’ and corruption and although the Madras and Bombay stations were still looked on with some suspicion, the situation was generally reckoned to have improved markedly.41 Moreover, Southey’s condemnations of East Indian fortunes were frequently made in the context of talking about his own decision not to become rich – to make a different kind of living through his chosen career of writing. He separates the man who went to India to gain wealth from the poet sitting in his book-filled cottage. However, such observations are also somewhat disingenuous. Southey may not have gone to India or entered the service of the Company, but that did not prevent him from making use of it – a use which was arguably as commercial as that made by those he condemned.


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Figure 6.2 James Gillray, ‘The Nabob Rumbled’ (1783) reproduced by permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

IV Southey’s rejection of potentially limitless colonial riches in favour of the relatively impoverished existence of the writer is not, of course, a repudiation of money or power. For him the wealth of India lay not in its financial but its cultural possibilities. Determination not to be an employee of the East India Company did not prevent Southey from becoming a cultural trader – a kind of literary East Indiaman – even though he would be a mercantilist who never ventured onto Indian shores. The commercial aspects of the literary Orientalist were undeniable. As Byron later realized, the poet who appropriated the riches of the east for his works was akin to the ‘Levantine or East India merchant who has tapped a lucrative source of raw materials in a newly opened up Orient’.42 In 1800–1 having laid the ground for what he hoped would be the rich rewards of Islamic culture by writing Thalaba, and having abandoned his poem on Persia, Southey turned to India, perhaps prompted by Wynn’s job offer. His realization that

Southey the literary East Indiaman 143 India was a land rich with poetic possibilities was not original. As well as the tricky (for Southey) example of Jones, there was also that of William Hayley, who in his 1782 Essay on Epic Poetry had reminded ambitious poets India yet holds a Mythologic mine, Her strength may open, and her art refine: Tho’ Asian spoils the realms of Europe fill, Those Eastern riches are unrifled still; Genius may there his course of honor run, And spotless Laurels in that field be won.43 Southey had read Hayley’s Essay and probably also knew of the use of India by a member of his own Bristol circle, the doctor Thomas Beddoes, whose Alexander’s Expedition down the Hydaspes and the Indus to the Indian Ocean had been published in 1792.44 Beddoes’ poem had used Alexander’s exploits to comment upon the imperial ambitions and political status quo of late eighteenth-century Britain. The genesis of Southey’s Indian romance – what became Kehama – seems to have been connected to his determination not to participate in the nascent imperial project and become an ‘East-Indianised’ Englishman. In the letter to Wynn of October 1800, in which he rejected the latter’s offer of a post in India, Southey laid claim to the country in a different way, including plans for a new poem: For a Hindoo tale I have set another seed. There is a singular absurdity in that system – prayers and penance have a sterling, not a relative, value. They are actual coin for which the Gods are obliged to sell their gifts even to the wicked: and thus have they often given such power to the Penitents, as they are called, as to endanger themselves. Now one of these Penitents would I take, and set him on an enterprize to get at the Amortam [amr.ta] – the food of immortality – and an injured Paria should meet him, just as he had arrived at the place where it was kept – and immortalize him in a more natural way. (Cabral, pp. 126–7) This was the ‘seed’ of what became Kehama.45 By late March 1801, Southey had ‘planned a Hindoo romance of original extravagance’ and by the time of his return to England in June, the poem, by now entitled ‘The Curse of Keradou’, was ‘completely sketched’ (Cabral, pp. 153, 177).46 From early on in the enterprise, he was anxious about the rewards his engagement with India would bring. He had before him the example of Camöens, whom Southey represented as going to India ‘to make a fortune’ but bringing back only an epic poem, ‘the Lusiad’. William Mickle’s translation of the poem, the one most widely used in the late eighteenth century, described it as ‘the Epic Poem of commerce’. For Southey, The Lusiad was not commercial enough or at least not commercial in the right way, presumably in terms of generating profits and cultural fame for its author.47 As he explained, he expected his own ‘fate would be more likely to resemble the Portugal’s than that of Sir William Jones’ (Cabral, p. 127).


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Southey was, however, clear that the new poem’s future was contingent ‘upon the success of “Thalaba” ’ (Cabral, p. 167 and L&C, III, p. 351). In other words, his Oriental romances had to survive within the commercial world, to participate in the system of cash-exchange just as the goods shipped from India to England did. Southey the Orientalist poet was also therefore the poet as a tradesman, and his grandiose plan for a series on world mythologies depended entirely on the revenue raised by his Arabian romance. As he had explained to John May in 1799, he would ‘write [Thalaba] with a view to publication & immediate emolument’ (Ramos, p. 46).48 Poetically, Thalaba proved to be innovative and extraordinarily influential, it blazed a trail soon to be followed by writers such as Byron, Shelley and Moore. 49 Yet, materially it did not prosper. The one thousand copies printed by Longman were slow to sell and the resulting small profits meant that Southey’s prophecies about the poem’s financial success were misplaced (see Appendix).50 It was, as Byron commented in 1813, ‘unsaleable’.51 Its failure led Southey to put his Indian romance aside and to return to Madoc, which was substantially reworked in 1802–4 and finally published in 1805. Unfortunately for Southey, his hopes for his poetic magnum opus were misplaced and, although it sold slightly better than Thalaba, Madoc was not a commercial success.52 Discouraged by the sight of ‘heaps of [his poems] piled up in the publishers’ cellars’ and conscious of having to support a growing family, Southey considered abandoning poetry altogether and turned increasingly to more profitable prose.53 As he explained to his confidante Mary Barker, he was by the mid-late 1800s a sorry spectacle, ‘a certain poor man who having written poetry till he could afford it no longer, was [now] engaged in humble prose among the Cumberland mountains’.54 His interest in continuing as a poet was only rekindled after a chance encounter with Walter Savage Landor, whose Gebir he had long admired, in Bristol in 1808. Southey told him about the planned ‘series of mythological poems’, but added that lack of money had forced him to abandon the project. Landor’s immediate response was to encourage him to continue, offering to ‘pay for printing . . . as many [poems] as you will write, and as many copies as you please’. Such an expression of faith did wonders for Southey’s confidence, awakening ‘old dreams and hopes which had been laid aside’ and generating ‘a stinging desire to go on’ (Forster, I, 209). He returned to Kehama, sending drafts of it to Landor (and other correspondents such as Anna Seward) for comments and criticism (eg. RSPW, IV, pp. 389–94). The poem that had, as Southey acknowledged, lain ‘by in an unfinished state for many years, and but for a mere accident, might, perhaps forever have remained incomplete’ was published in 1810 (L&C, III, p. 352).55 Compared to Thalaba, Southey’s Indian romance was successful going through three editions between 1810 and 1812 (see Appendix), though its sales were modest compared to those achieved by Byron, whose Oriental tales owed much to Southey’s romances. Even in terms of Southey’s poems, his next major work Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), was to prove significantly more popular, with four editions in two years (see Appendix). By the time he came to publish Kehama, Southey was both more fully versed in other writers’ representations of India and even more dogmatic in his opinions about

Southey the literary East Indiaman 145 Hinduism. His wide reading and his essays for the Annual Review had developed his knowledge base and allowed him to acquire the status of a commentator on India and on British policy there. For example, the very first article he wrote for the Annual Review was on the Periodical Accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1802).56 Despite his personal reservations about the Baptists, the essay praised them for preaching ‘the gospel in Hindostan, a duty shamefully neglected by the church of England’ and argued that Christianity would produce the greatest possible good, individual and general; because it would root out polygamy with its whole train of evils; because it would abolish human sacrifices, infanticide, and practices of self-torture; because it is a system best adapted for our happiness here as well as hereafter.57 The essay marked the beginning of Southey’s public participation in contemporary debates about the future of British India, an involvement that saw him treading an increasingly Anglicist and pro-Evangelical line. His growing confidence as a commentator on the subcontinent was timely – coinciding exactly with a decade that witnessed a fiercely raging debate on missionary activity in India and on the role of the East India Company (whose Charter was coming up for renewal), and also events such as the Vellore massacre of 1806. Such a climate only fuelled Southey’s sense of himself as intimately involved in national affairs. Ever more convinced that Britain’s imperial future could only be guaranteed by a rigorous policy of conversion, his propagandist zeal was such that it extended to encouraging other members of his family to get involved in what for him was a cause of vital national import. In 1804, for example, he urged his younger brother Henry, a student in Edinburgh, to consider submitting an entry for a university prize essay competition. The chosen subject was British involvement in India and Southey sent Henry a list of things he must ‘Read’ (books which, of course, he had himself been reading for Kehama and for the Annual Review) before writing his entry: the Institutes of Menu, the Asiatic Researches, Bernier, Pietro Valle, Picart, Sonnerat (even though he was too ‘systematic’ a traveller), Craufurd, Tennant, Hodges and Stavorinus (Warter, I, p. 301).58 In case he was deterred, the poet reassured him that he had probably inherited ‘the true Southey pace in reading’ (Warter, I, p. 301). Southey’s assistance does not just seem to have been that of a helpful older brother. He also gave Henry detailed instructions on how to approach the task at hand and advice on what to say. He should argue an Anglicist case, one that challenged more tolerant approaches to Indian culture and religion (like that of Jones) and that questioned the validity of East India Company policy, which saw attempts at conversion as a threat to commerce and to its authority: ‘that the best way of promoting the civilization of the Hindoos is by converting them’ and that the ‘great agent’ of conversion was the ‘civil government’ (Warter, I, pp. 299, 302).59 The Hindoos were not, he noted, ‘impossible to convert’; the ‘oppressed castes’ would quickly realise it was in their interest ‘to become Christians’ and ‘As for the Brahmins, let them alone; convert those who pay the Brahmins, and who support them, and the business is done’ (Warter, I, pp. 299, 301). Conversion, then, simply could not fail. Its attractions for


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Hindus were obvious – a means of accessing ‘the privilege of an Englishman’ – and for Britons of overwhelming national importance, a means of making ‘sure of . . . [the] children’ of converts, of a continued and secure future for British involvement in India (Warter, I, p. 302). Southey was himself to return to these themes in his work for the Annual and then the Quarterly Reviews and in poetic form in Kehama itself. As the ‘Preface’ to the first edition explained, the poet viewed ‘the religion of the Hindoos’ as ‘of all false religions . . . the most monstrous in its fables, and the most fatal in its effects’ and his anti-hero, the tyrant Kehama, was evidence of the fact that Hindu beliefs in the efficacy of ‘Prayers, penances, and sacrifices’ could lead to the ‘worst men, bent upon the worst designs’, achieving power (RSPW, IV, p. 3). The annotations Southey supplied to his poetic text reaffirmed these beliefs. Detailed accounts of suttee (drawn from European travellers) were intended to bring home the horror of the practice, whilst Europeans like Mark Wilks, who expressed doubts about ‘the reasonableness of interfering with’ Hindu custom were derided as ‘monstrous’ and ‘miserably futile’ (RSPW, IV, p. 195).60 ‘[O]riental titles’ were dismissed as absurd and readers of a description of the ‘Aswamedha, or sacrifice of a horse’ invited to ‘Compare this specimen of eastern sublimity with the description of the horse in Job!’ (RSPW, IV, pp. 218, 221). The literary status of the ‘Hindoo fables’ was similarly challenged by Southey’s observations that they made the constant ‘mistake of bulk for sublimity’ (RSPW, IV, p. 266). Yet in spite of his efforts to represent what he saw as a ‘monstrous’ religion and culture to an English audience, Southey realized that in themselves these were insufficient and that his choice of an ‘anti-picturesque’ and ‘less poetical’ Indian subject required defending (RSPW, IV, p. 3). Whilst he did his best to do so in the ‘Preface’, he could not avoid the simple fact that although he desired to be seen as a national writer and as a figure of major importance, he had (once again) written an ‘English poem’ for English readers about a place and a religion that were not English. Southey may have believed that Kehama’s condemnations of Hinduism were proof of his resistance to contamination by his Oriental subject and that his poem was suitable for an English audience. However, some of his contemporaries did not agree that it was (as Byron noted in his recipe for a successful Oriental poem) sufficiently ‘tailored to domestic tastes’.61 Charles Lamb wrote a characteristically playful account of how Kehama put him ‘out of the pale of my old sympathies’.62 For some reviewers, this sense of personal dislocation acquired a more national – and nationalistic – cast. The Monthly Mirror, for instance, described it as ‘a splendid specimen of a daring poetical imagination’ but added the telling observation that neither poem nor poet would ‘acquire all the fame’ they merited ‘until The Curse of Kehama be translated into Hindostanee’.63 (Madden, pp. 133–4). At least the Monthly Mirror recognized some merit in the poem. Another contemporary reviewer – the dissenter John Foster – saw it and its author as promoting national degeneration, of actively working against British interests, commercial and national. Foster’s review appeared in the Eclectic in 1811. He did not pull his punches, accusing Southey and his poem of promoting ‘heathenism’, exciting ‘pleasure and disgust, with the knowledge . . . that any attempt to prolong them both is infallibly certain to end in the ascendancy of the latter’ (Madden, pp. 140, 143). Whilst he

Southey the literary East Indiaman 147 acknowledged that the nation’s involvement in India would inevitably interest British writers in making use of its mythology, he argued that this needed to be accomplished with care and in a fashion that would glorify the nascent empire and not endanger national (English) integrity: It was to be foreseen that, sooner or later, one of the many enterprizes of genius would be a very formal and strenuous attempt to confer English popularity on the Hindoo gods. It was a thing not to be endured, that, while we are as proud as Kehama of possessing India, we should not be able to bring to the augmentation of our national splendour that which India itself deems its highest glory, its mythology. (Madden, p. 144) In Foster’s eyes, Southey had completely failed to do this. The result was a poem which was both ‘ludicrous’ and dangerous, a literal and literary Oriental monstrosity. Reading Kehama was, then, the equivalent of seeing a fine British fleet, in full equipment and appointment, sent out to India just for the purpose of bringing back, each ship, a basket of the gods of crockery, or some portions of that material with which the Lama of Tibet is reported to enrich the craving hands of his devotees, and at length coming into the channel with flags flying, and their cannon thundering, in celebration of the cargo. (Madden, p. 144) Foster presents Southey as a failed literary East Indiaman. The verbal extravagances and metrical pyrotechnics of Kehama could not, in his eyes, disguise the fact that the poet had brought back the wrong goods: false gods and shit.64 Yet Foster’s polemics and his employment of a commercial metaphor provide potent reminders that Southey and his poem were both participants in a kind of Orientalist trading enterprize, one entangled with the defence of national identity. Whilst the ships of the East India Company brought back with them crockery and other consumables, Southey’s poem imported another kind of freight, one that (as Foster feared) his contemporaries may have found equally buyable and seductive. For a poem begun because its author had abandoned a more-cherished plan to write about something else, Kehama was extraordinary relevant to romantic period concerns. As Foster’s polemic suggests, it was a poem contemporaries had trouble ignoring. A modest financial success, it influenced the works of Byron, Shelley and Moore, amongst others. It was also testimony to the part played by India (or rather by ideas and representations of India) in early nineteenth-century debates about both imperial policy and national identity. Southey’s refusal to rewrite and revise Kehama substantially – to update it for a mid-nineteenth-century audience – in a sense confirms its acute contemporaneity as a romantic period product. In its final version of 1838, the poem remained a peculiarly early nineteenth-century text, one that was perhaps more relevant to the interests of the past than to those of a nascent Victorian empire.


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Yet this does not mean that Kehama was insignificant or straightforward. Indeed in the ‘Preface’ to the 1838 edition, Southey chose to confront the national and moral ambiguities which some of his contemporaries had seen in the poem, including long extracts from the assessment of the first edition by the Monthly Review: Here [i.e. Kehama] is the composition of a poet not more distinguished by his genius and knowledge, than by his contempt for public opinion, and the utter depravity of his taste, – a depravity which is incorrigible, and, we are sorry to add, most unblushingly rejoicing in its own hopelessness of amendment. (RSPW, IV, pp. 5–6) The excerpts taken, Southey reminds his 1838 readers, from a now ‘defunct’ journal are presented as testimony of the staying power of Kehama in the face of combative and (or so he would have it) ridiculously unjust criticism. They also serve as reminder of the controversial nature of his poetic representation of India and of the identity crisis that impacted not just on British policy in India but also on notions of national identity, on ideas of Britishness (or Englishness – and the elisions and differences possible between the two terms are significant) itself. Southey may have thought that in representing what he saw as the horrors and monstrosities of Hinduism he was fulfilling his selfappointed role as a national poet, a position that was to receive official sanction when he was appointed Poet Laureate in 1813. But matters were not so simple. What the Monthly Reviewer referred to as the national ‘ “poetic taste” ’ (RSPW, IV, p. 5) was an illdefined, fought-over quality, a facet of a national character that was in its turn equally inchoate. Southey’s poem was intended to demonstrate the superiority of all things national and Christian over all things ‘Hindoo’, simultaneously feeding an appetite for the orient whilst demonstrating that ‘home’ was best. What he saw as a poetic blend of the commercial with the national interest, others saw as deeply worrying and threatening. For reviews such as the Monthly and the Eclectic, Southey had been corrupted by what he affected to despise and had the potential to corrupt susceptible readers. Kehama was unEnglish and utterly antipathetic (even perilous) to the national taste and to the nation’s well-being. The quarrel over whether Kehama was good or bad for you (a dispute which in the 1838 ‘Preface’ Southey claimed to have won), whether its representations of India were improving or degenerate, is not a literary spat. Instead, it says much about both the significance of Southey’s endeavours and the instabilities of early nineteenth-century national identities and representations of national identities, be they Indian or British.

Notes 1 Earlier editions had appeared in 1810, 1811, 1812 and 1818. It is included in Robert Southey: Poetical Works, 1793–1810, 5 vols, London: Pickering and Chatto, 2004, I: Joan of Arc, ed. Lynda Pratt; II: Madoc, ed. Lynda Pratt; III: Thalaba the Destroyer, ed. Tim Fulford; IV: The Curse of Kehama, ed. Daniel S. Roberts; V: Selected Shorter Poems, 1793–1810, ed. Lynda Pratt. Hereafter cited as RSPW. 2 The lack of changes made between the published versions of Kehama was not unusual for a mid-late career poem by Southey. The same was true of the published versions of Madoc

Southey the literary East Indiaman 149

3 4 5


7 8 9 10 11



14 15

(1805–38) and Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814–38). For Kehama see RSPW, IV, passim. The notes added to Kehama in 1838 included one responding to critics who had ‘censured . . . Ladurlad’s conduct in . . . forsaking his daughter’ as ‘inconsistent with his affection for her’. The note went on to imply that Henry Hart Milman’s ‘most characteristic specimen of Indian poetry’, Nala and Damayanti and other poems translated from the Sanscrit into English verse, with mythological and critical notes, Oxford, 1835, had not acknowledged its indebtedness to Southey’s poem, RSPW, IV, pp. 202–3n. Southey was in fact mistaken, for he had read Nathaniel Kindersley’s version of ‘Nala and Damayanti’ in Specimens of Hindoo literature (1794); see John Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 237 n.31. The same was also true of Madoc, see RSPW, II, passim. New Letters of Robert Southey, ed. Kenneth Curry, 2 vols, New York: Columbia UP, 1965, II, p. 195. Hereafter cited as NL. For Southey’s consciousness of his posterity see his observations to William Lisle Bowles and Charles Swain, Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, ed. C. C. Southey, 6 vols, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1849–50, VI, pp. 332–3, 362–3. Hereafter cited as L&C. See for example, Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East. Anxieties of Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992, pp. 95–8; Javed Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s ‘The History of British India’ and Orientalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992, pp. 47–86, hereafter cited as Majeed; Tim Fulford, ‘Plants, Pagodas and Penises: Southey’s Oriental Imports’ in Lynda Pratt (ed.), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 187–201. A listing of, these can be found in Jean Raimond, Robert Southey. L’homme et son temps. L’oeuvre. Le role, Paris: Didier, 1968, pp. 594–601. Southey’s Common-Place Book, ed. J. W. Warter, 4 series, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1849–50, IV, p. 11. Hereafter cited as CB. The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838, ed. C. Ramos, Austin, TX, 1976, p. 35. Hereafter cited as Ramos. Diego Saglia, ‘Words and Things: Southey’s East and the Materiality of Oriental Discourse’ in Pratt, Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism, pp. 167–85. See Bernard Picart, The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World Together with Historical Annotations, and Serveal Curious Discourses equally instructive and entertaining, 7 vols, London: William Jackson for Claude du Bosc, engraver, 1733–9, IV, esp. pp. 404–12. Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, ed. J. W. Warter, 4 vols, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856, I, pp. 78, 82. Hereafter cited as Warter. Southey was responding to Jones’ attack on the authenticity and reliability of Duperron’s materials. Elsewhere he accused Jones of ‘enviously abusing’ his fellow Orientalist, L&C, II, p. 96 and Majeed, pp. 47–8. See Lynda Pratt, ‘Revising the National Epic: Coleridge, Southey, and Madoc’, Romanticism, 1996, vol. 2.2, 149–63, esp. 156–61. Southey’s idea of identifying Madoc with the Inca was not an original one. It had already been promoted in John Williams’ The Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom, 2 vols, Edinburgh: T. Ruddiman for the author, 1789, II, pp. 424–8, see Gwyn Williams, Madoc The Making of a Myth, London, 1979, paperback edn, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987, p. 124. In 1800–1 it was versified in Anon, The Millennium, a Poem in Three Cantos, 2 vols, London: Carpenter and Co. T. Hurst and Murray and Highley, 1800–1, I, pp. 41 and 41–5 n.117. Lynda Pratt, ‘The Pantisocratic Origins of Robert Southey’s Madoc: An Unpublished Letter’, Notes & Queries, 1999, n.s. vol. 46, 37. John Britton, Sheridan and Kotzebue. The Enterprising Adventures of Pizarro, Preceded by a Brief Sketch of the Voyages and Discoveries of Columbus and Cortez, London: J. Fairburn, 1799, p. 20; Stéphanie Félicité, Comtesse de Genlis, A Selection from the Annals of Virtue, of Madame Sillery: contaning the most Important and Investing Anecdotis from the Histories of Spain PeAryal,


16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

27 28 29 30 31 32 33

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China, Japan, and America: with some account of the Manners, Customs, Arts and Sciences of France. Translated from the French by Elizabeth Mary James, Bath: S. Hazard for the author, 1794, p. 61; Sarah Trimmer, A Description of a set of prints of Ancient History; Contained in a Set of Easy Lessons. In Two Parts – Part II, London: John Marshall, 1795, pp. 118–19; Williams, Natural History, II, p. 426. A slightly less positive view of Capac as a benevolent deceiver of a gullible native population was advanced in John Adams, A View of Universal History from the Creation to the Present Time. Including an Account of the Celebrated Revolutions in France, Poland, Sweden, Geneva, 3 vols, London: G. Kearsley, 1795, III, p. 84. Joel Barlow, The Vision of Columbus: A Poem, in Nine Books, London: C. Dilly and J. Stockdale, 1787, pp. 77–8. For Southey’s knowledge of the poem, Pratt, ‘Revising’, 157, 159. Pratt, ‘Pantisocratic Origins’, 37. Robert Southey, ‘Church of England Missions’, Quarterly Review, 1825, vol. 32, 12–3. Pratt, ‘Pantisocratic origins’, 37. For Southey’s advice to Davy, see Pratt, ‘Revising’, 157–8. Southey may have been deferring to Wynn’s politics. An undated comment claims that the Athenian slave ‘may be as Jacobinical as heart could wish’, CB, IV, p. 12. The first version, a prose outline, was composed in 1789 and the second in c. 1794–5. See RSPW, II, pp. vii–viii. Southey was considering writing a Zoroastrian poem as late as 1814, see NL, I, p. 536 and L&C, III, p. 352. ‘Church of England Missions’, 13. Robert Southey ‘Account of the Baptist Missionary Society’, Quarterly Review, 1809, vol. 1, 217. D. Francesco Saverio Clavigero, The History of Mexico: Collected from Spanish and Mexican Historians, from Manuscripts and Ancient Paintings of the Indians. Illustrated by Charts and Other Copper Plates. To which are Added, Critical Dissertations on the Land, the Animals, and Inhabitants of Mexico, trans. Charles Cullen, 2 vols, London: G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1787. See for example Southey’s description of ‘The Aullay’, ‘This monster of Hindoo imagination’, RSPW, IV, p. 255, and his observation, ‘Throughout the Hindoo fables there is the constant mistake of bulk for sublimity’, RSPW, IV, p. 266. For comparisons between the published Kehama and Napoleon see Simon Bainbridge, Napoleon and English Romanticism, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995, pp. 119–25. Southey was one of the leading Hispanists of the period. He was not unique in being interested in Portuguese imperial activity in India. This also provided the backdrop to Sydney Owenson’s The Missionary: An Indian Tale published in 1811, a year after Kehama. Southey is referring to La Clede’s Historia geral de Portugal, 16 vols, Lisbon: no publisher, 1792–7. Wynn (1775–1850) had been at school with Southey. The younger son of a baronet, he was the M.P. for Old Sarum (1797–9) and later for Montgomeryshire (1799–1850). This was perhaps another reason for Southey’s resentment of Jones, who was lawyer, poet and Indologist. There is evidence that at least during the early days of his legal studies in 1797, Southey tried to keep his decision to continue writing poetry as secret as possible: Of this [his work on Madoc] it is needless to caution you to say nothing, as I must have the character of a lawyer; and, though I can and will unite the two pursuits, no one would credit the possibility of the union. (Southey to Joseph Cottle, [before 21 February 1797], L&C, I, p. 304)

34 Southey’s desire to visit Persia was, ironically, shared by Jones, see M. J. Franklin, ‘ “I burn with a desire of seeing Shiraz”: A New Letter from Sir William Jones to Harford Jones’, Review of English Studies, 2005, n.s. vol. 56, 227, 748–56. 35 For Mill see Majeed, pp. 123–50.

Southey the literary East Indiaman 151 36 Sir Thomas Strange (1756–1841), became Chief Justice of Madras in 1800, from 1804 he was Chief Justice of Calcutta. He was the author of Elements of Hindu Law (1825). Southey claimed to another friend, Charles Danvers, that he ‘would rather get two hundred a year in England than two thousand in India’, NL, I, p. 229. George Strachey (1776–1849) had been one of Southey’s collaborators on the schoolboy magazine The Flagellant. He was the subject of Southey’s sonnet ‘Fair be thy fortunes in the distant land’, published in the Morning Post, 28 December 1798, RSPW, V, p. 264. Their friendship later diminished. Southey ‘twice sent him books to India’ but never received a reply, NL, I, p. 381. Strachey returned to England in 1820 and retired from the East India service in 1824. 37 Strachey’s letters had been passed onto Southey by Wynn, L&C, II, p. 95. The text published in L&C deletes Strachey’s name, it is restored in K. Curry, ‘The Text of Robert Southey’s Published Correspondence: Misdated Letters and Missing Names’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 1981, vol. 75, 127–46. 38 Another example is Robert Henry Peckwell (later Blosset, 1776–1823), a contemporary of Southey’s at Westminster and Oxford, who became chief justice of the Supreme Court of Bengal and was knighted in 1822. See NL, I, p. 51 and n.7. In contrast, Peter Elmsley (1773–1825), Southey’s close friend, correspondent and dedicatee of The Book of the Church, declined to be the first bishop in India. NL, I, p. 46 and n.7. 39 Mark Storey, Robert Southey. A Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 146. 40 Peter Marshall, The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750–1783, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005, p. 224. See also his East-India Fortunes. The British in Bengal, Oxford: Clarendon, 1978. 41 Marshall, Making and Unmaking, p. 225. 42 Cited in Leask, Anxieties, p. 13. 43 William Hayley, An Essay on Epic Poetry; in Five Epistles to the Revd. Mr. Mason, London: J. Dodsley, 1782, p. 109. For Southey’s interest in Hayley’s notes to his poem, see Warter, I, pp. 26–7. 44 In the late 1790s, Southey consulted Beddoes over his health and participated in experiments at his Pneumatic Medical Institution. Beddoes also contributed to Southey’s Annual Anthology (1799), though the latter had reservations about his poetry. 45 For undated plans for the poem see CB, IV, pp. 12–15. The use of ‘Keradon [Warter’s mistranscription]’ CB, IV, pp. 12–14, indicates an early date (c.1800–1) for this material. 46 See RSPW, IV, pp. 273–394, for the version of the poem written by Southey in 1801–2 and other pre-publication drafts and fragments. The name ‘Keradou’ appeared in Pierre Sonnerat, A Voyage to the East-Indies and China, trans. Francis Magnus, 3 vols, Calcutta: Stuart and Cooper, 1788–9, I, p. 208. 47 Luis Vaz de Camoëns, The Lusiad, trans. William J. Mickle, 3rd edn, 2 vols, London: T. Cadell Jr. and W. Davies, 1798, I, p. [i]. The 1797–9 version of Madoc can be read as a reaction against The Lusiad, Pratt, ‘Revising’, 163 n.22. 48 This contrasted with Madoc, which was written without view to immediate publication and seen by Southey as a kind of poetic life-insurance policy. See for example his observation, ‘On a great work like Madoc I should think ten years labour well bestowed’, NL, I, p. 181 and NL, I, p. 332 for Southey’s account of the poem’s history. 49 For an account of its influence see Marilyn Butler, ‘Repossessing the Past: The Case for an Open Literary History’, in Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn, Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton (eds), Rethinking Historicism. Critical Readings in Romantic History, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989, pp. 79–81. 50 Longman Archive, University of Reading, Impression Books and RSPW, III, p. xxi. 51 Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie Marchand, 12 vols, London: John Murray, 1973–82, III, p. 101. 52 For the sales figures see RSPW, II, pp. xiv–xv. 53 J. Forster, Walter Savage Landor. A Biography, 2 vols, London: Chapman and Hall, 1869, I, p. 213.


Lynda Pratt

54 R.G. Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker from 1800 to 1826’, unpublished PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1967, pp. 328–9. 55 For an account of their relationship and for Landor’s side of their correspondence on Kehama and Roderick, the Last of the Goths, Forster, Landor, I, pp. 208–21, 247–70. 56 Robert Southey ‘Periodical Accounts relative to the Baptist Missioniary Society’, Annual Review for 1802, vol. 1, 1803, pp. 207–18. 57 Ibid., p. 207. 58 Southey is citing a list of books he would use in the notes to the 1810 Kehama: William Jones translation of The Institutes of Hindu Law; or the Ordinances of Menu, Calcutta: printed by order of the government,1794; Francis Bernier, Voyage dans les États du Grand Mogul, Paris: no publisher,1710; The Travels of Pietro della Valle in India, trans. G. Havers, London: J. Macock for Henry Herringman, 1665; Picart’s Religious Ceremonies; Sonnerat, A Voyage to the East-Indies and China; Quentin Craufurd, Sketches of the History, Religion, Learning, and Manners of the Hindoos, London: T. Cadell,1788; William Tennant, Indian Recreations, Consisting Chiefly of Strictures on the Domestic and Rural Economy of the Mahommedans and Hindoos, 3 vols, Edinburgh: printed by C. Stewart,1803; William Hodges, Travels in India, London: printed for the author by J. Edwards,1793; and John Splinter Stavorinus, Voyages to the East-Indies, 1768–1778, trans. Samuel H. Wilcocke, 3 vols, London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798. 59 For Southey’s belief in the need for government intervention see his 1809, ‘Account of the Baptist Missioniary Society’, 211. 60 Mark Wilks, Historical Sketches of the South of India, 3 vols, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1810–17. 61 Cited in Leask, Anxieties, p. 13. 62 The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, 1798–1817, ed. Edwin W. Marrs Jr, 3 vols, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975–8, II, p. 154. Lamb’s account was sent to Southey in 1815 and was a response to receiving a copy of Roderick, the Last of the Goths. 63 L. Madden (ed.), Robert Southey: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge, 1971, pp. 133–4. Hereafter cited as Madden. 64 Fulford, ‘Pagodas and Penises’.

Appendix Southey’s sales figures and profits The following tables give sales figures for long poems with an oriental focus either published or issued in new editions by Southey in the second decade of the nineteenth century: the first four editions of Kehama (1810–18), the second and third editions of Thalaba (1809–13), and the first four editions of Roderick (1814–16). Source: Longman Archive, University of Reading. 1. Sales figures for The Curse of Kehama, 1810–20 1810: First edition 500 copies printed 86 left unsold by June 1811 1811: Second edtion 750 copies printed 159 left unsold by June 1812

Southey the literary East Indiaman 153 1812: Third edition 1000 copies printed Sold out by late 1817 1818: Fourth edition 750 copies printed 590 left unsold by June 1820 Southey’s half year profits on the first edition amounted to £76 2s 5 1/2 d in June 1811. 2. Sales figures for Thalaba the Destroyer, 1809–16 1809: Second edition 750 copies printed 60 left unsold by June 1813 1813: Third edition 1000 copies printed 541 left unsold by June 1816 Southey’s profits on the second edition amounted to £62 12s and 11d by June 1813. 3. Sales figures for Roderick, the Last of the Goths, 1814–17 1814: First edition 500 copies printed 44 remaining by late 1814 1815 (April): Second edition 1500 printed 540 left unsold by June 1815 1815 (July): Third edition 2000 copies printed 1996 sold by late 1815 1816: Fourth edition 2000 printed 718 unsold by June 1817 Southey’s profits from first edition amounted to £272 14s 2d by June 1815.


Radically feminizing India Phebe Gibbes’s Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) and Sydney Owenson’s The Missionary: An Indian Tale (1811) Michael J. Franklin

In the successive summers of 1789 and 1790, when much of her attention was absorbed by the revolutionary activities across the English Channel, two anonymous publications passed across Mary Wollstonecraft’s desk at Joseph Johnson’s Analytical Review. These were very different works: the first, a three-decker novel published by Dodsley of Pall Mall in foolscap octavo, priced at seven shillings and six pence; the second, a scholarly translation from the Sanskrit of a fourth-century play by Kmlidmsa, printed for Edwards of Pall Mall by Joseph Cooper ‘with his new-invented ink’, quarto in boards, and slightly less expensive at seven shillings. The novel was Hartly House, Calcutta, for which Phebe Gibbes, struggling to support herself as a writer, had been paid £20 by James Dodsley; the play, Sacontalá, was a London reprint of the 1789 Calcutta edition, the proceeds of which Sir William Jones, remarkably comfortable with his £6,000 Supreme Court judge’s salary, had donated ‘for the benefit of insolvent debtors’.1 Many aspects link these differing texts from the respective pens of an indigent author and a celebrity scholar, but the first that must concern us is that Wollstonecraft, an exacting and not infrequently severe critic, liked them both. Their Calcutta orientation and their representations of India were sufficient to draw her analytical attention away from the political heats of continental passions to the sensual heats of subcontinental yearnings. Furthermore, India was extremely topical. Wollstonecraft’s review of Hartly House, Calcutta, was published in the June of 1789, a month that had seen Richard Brinsley Sheridan commanding all his rhetorical and histrionic skills to convince a Westminster Hall audience packed with highsociety ticket holders of the ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ authorized by Warren Hastings in the zenana (women’s apartment) of the Begums.2 Impeachment, like novel-writing, utilized the discourses of high sentimentalism and the Gothic, and had certainly aroused public interest as to what went on in Bengal. In some respects, therefore, it was fitting that a sentimental epistolary novel should appear at this highly charged juncture to present a contrasting picture of ‘the days of Warren Hastings’. Indeed Hartly House, Calcutta constitutes a significant political intervention in the contemporary debate concerning the nature of Hastings’s rule of India (he was Governor and Governor-General of Bengal from 1772 to 1785) by demonstrating that it was characterized by an atmosphere of intellectual sympathy and racial tolerance. In her 1804 petition to the Royal Literary Fund, Phebe Gibbes claimed that the novel was written as a celebration of the subcontinent, and that it was her intention

Radically feminizing India 155 to use a work of literature both to counter prejudice against India and to discuss the position of women in colonial society.3 Her personal stake in a novel which has frequently been seen as drawing heavily upon first-hand experience is revealed by the information that her only son had died in Calcutta.4 It is likely that Gibbes herself never made the passage to India and that in the novel’s composition she drew heavily upon treasured and eagerly awaited letters, which contained a wealth of documentary detail.5 Mary Wollstonecraft intuits the situation with remarkable perspicacity, beginning her review as follows: An entertaining account of Calcutta, and the different inhabitants of the country, apparently sketched by a person who had been forcibly impressed by the scenes described. Probably the ground-work of the correspondence was actually written on the spot, in various humours, that naturally sink or raise the spirits; but afterwards touched up, and stretched out by introducing quotations from our English poets – a little too often perhaps.6 The letter had been in the conventional genre of travel-writing, playing a key role in the Enlightenment processes of transmission of information and the familiarization of Otherness, and Wollstonecraft is naturally interested in such ‘on the spot’ reportage. The Critical Review had also praised the documentary accuracy of Hartly House: ‘We have been much pleased with these volumes: for, in the guise of a novel, they will convey much information’.7 Wollstonecraft, however, is more interested in the intimate association of women and letter-writing, and the ways in which the genre of the epistolary novel was more than a mere ‘guise’, but a cultural vehicle, a crucial tool in the construction of female subjectivity. Hartly House has a single female correspondent, Sophia Goldborne, whose thirtynine fictionalized personal letters from Calcutta are addressed to her close friend Arabella in England. A single letter-writer might not provide the stylistic diversity of an array of individual voices, but Gibbes handles the dramatic potential of the genre in creating the illusion of apparent spontaneity and immediacy. The geographical and chronological displacement of active letter-writer and passive (silenced) receiver both intensifies the readerly displacement attendant on the sense of voyeuristic intrusion produced by the fact that the text is not addressed to the novel-reader, and reflects a situation where ‘real’ letters from Bengal (separated from England by a one-way voyage of between five and eight months) frequently arrived when the senders, having succumbed to the Calcutta climate, were long dead. Despite these generic and oceanic difficulties, the fictionalized letters succeed in giving both Gibbes and her heroine Sophia a voice of sufficient power to mediate between ‘realism’ and Romanticism. Katherine Sobba Green writes of the courtship novel as ‘creating a feminized space – that is, by centring its story in the brief period of autonomy between a young woman’s coming out and her marriage’.8 ‘Coming out’ for Sophia means both voyaging to Calcutta and emerging into a very different cultural (and cross-cultural) space where her emotional development will be super-heated by her celebrity as that rare commodity – the unmarried woman in the East, and by the ubiquitous presence of a phalanx of adorers.


Michael J. Franklin

If the eighteenth-century novel, as Nancy Armstrong has maintained, ‘exercised tremendous power by producing oppositions that translated the complex and competing ways of representing human identity into a single binary opposition represented by male versus female’, we can begin to appreciate just how the colonial setting of Hartly House, Calcutta problematizes the binaries of gender.9 In Bengal the gendering of human identity is complicated by a racial dimension. Where the Hindu is not only conventionally colonized and cast in a subservient role (the domestic servants are all Gentoos), but traditionally subject to a feminized stereotype of lethargic passivity, the female colonist experiences a comparative empowerment.10 Sophia, faithful to her vow ‘never to marry in Indostan’ (6), refines her refusals by ‘ring[ing] unending changes on negative phrases’ (54–5), but the power of women in Calcutta is by no means limited to the power of no-saying. Significantly and symbolically, we are told that ‘stays are wholly unworn in the East’ (32–3), and Sophia informs Arabella that ‘controul is not an article of matrimonial rule at Calcutta’ (51). As Gibbes’s heroine negotiates the difficult territory dividing cultural knowledge and self-knowledge, she warms to the subject of gender representation in the colony: The manners of the ladies at Calcutta are somewhat contradictory – now all softness and femininity, and now all courage and resolution. [. . .] They take a particular pleasure, on the one hand, in obliging strangers – melt into tears at every tale of sorrow – and sweetly sympathize with those whose spirits are depressed; on the other hand, you behold them so little attentive to female decorum and so fearless of danger, that a scarlet riding dress, which gives them most the appearance of the other sex, enraptures them – and, to drive a phaeton and pair with a vivacity, a dégagement, or whatever may be the proper epithet, to mark their skill and unconcern, in the midst of numberless spectators, is their delight; [. . .] I must add, that the ladies of gaiety and ton always make a point on these occasions, of having a gentleman companion, who lolls at his ease; the office of managing the reins, etc., etc., being wholly assumed by the lady. (68–9) Travel writers such as Jemima Kindersley and William Hodges had been struck by the apparent effeminacy of the costume of Indian men, but Phebe Gibbes demonstrates how the intercultural effects of such gender confusion might prove liberating for colonialist English ladies.11 Felicity A. Nussbaum, thoughtfully examining the various interrelations between gender and colonialism, sees such relative liberty as predicated upon the subjection of others, arguing that ‘Indian men are the feminized binary against which Englishwomen can experiment with unorthodox femininity’.12 This lack of constraint and the concomitant ability to move between a sentimental passivity and an unbridled vivacity is heightened by the exhibitionist appeal of cross-dressing. And such appeal could cut both ways. When Sophia discovers, to her ill-concealed delight, that in Calcutta’s theatre there are no female actors to distract her beaus or compete with her own charms, she can hardly wait to attend. Not even a lengthy moralizing reflection upon the superiority of this situation in contrast with the ‘public seraglios’ of London playhouses can

Radically feminizing India 157 disguise her anticipation to witness ‘with what effect dress can bring forth (as ladies) the smart young fellows of Calcutta’ (91). In the event she rejoices in the ‘agreeable persons’ of the gentlemen who play ‘the Patty and Miss Sycamore of the Maid of the Mill, the Rosetta and Lucinda of Love in a Village’ (114), and later selflessly courts ‘young Beville’ of The Conscious Lovers, for Arabella. For Wollstonecraft, with her well-known interest in the instruction of the young, Sophia’s letters are at once entertaining and educative: ‘These letters indeed are written with a degree of vivacity which renders them very amusing, even when they are merely descriptive, and the young reader will see, rather than listen to the instruction they contain’.13 The ‘technicolour’ capacities of the novel to stir the visual imagination of the reader in some kind of progression from flights of fancy to the wiser reflections of morality are encapsulated in the onomastics of heroine’s name. In the opening letter, before the novel-reader has even encountered her signature, the heroine’s loving decision to accompany her father, a recently widowed captain of an East Indiaman, to India is instantly rewarded by the opening of his pocket-book. The wise Sophia reflects upon how readily Arabella will understand the alacrity with which she makes her purchases for the voyage: ‘for who has not heard of the all-creative power of gold, and the rapid movement of the wings of inclination?’ Thus her maiden name which, with her vaunted reluctance to be associated Calcutta with the mercenary hankerings of what was later to be termed ‘the fishing fleet’ (women making the passage to India in search of wealthy husbands), she was determined to keep, is nicely anticipated: Goldborne, a heroine who, if not born to wealth, is to be borne in its pursuit by ‘the wings of inclination’.14 The novel fairly chinks with mohurs (the main gold coin of British India), and the bright alluring power of gold is certainly ‘all-creative’ of the heroine’s more elaborate sexual fantasies. Initially Sophia would seem to connote sophistry and sophistication rather than sapience, and her endless inventories of consumer items, not to mention the exorbitant fees charged by various professionals, might seem to brand her as a materialistic and bourgeois young lady whose worldly wisdom apprehended the value of everything but the worth of nothing.15 There are obvious tensions here. Despite her championing of international commerce, and her obvious interest in Company wives spending 30,000 or 40,000 rupees (£3,600 or £4,800) in a morning’s shopping ‘for the decoration of their persons’ (51), Sophia is determined to stand apart from the collective and acquisitive tendencies of the colonial marriage-market. It is, after all, more credible that the emotional and moral development charted in Sophia’s bildungsroman are not always in tandem or even progressive, for the lure of gaudy palanquins or splendid trinkets often intrudes. Few ‘young readers’ or, for that matter, more mature ones, would find it in their hearts to censure this heroine for being dazzled by the riches of the East. Where Sophia is special, however, is in her susceptibility not to temptation, but to Hindu culture, an understanding of which effects some profound changes both upon her adolescent understanding and upon readerly expectations of the subcontinent. This openness to India is carefully and convincingly relayed by Gibbes whose young heroine’s curiosity is aroused at witnessing a Gentoo marriage procession.


Michael J. Franklin

Sophia describes the accompanying music and dancing, which so many Europeans had found repulsive or alien, as ‘the most lively tunes imaginable’, demonstrating ‘nearly as much taste and good effect as the figure dancers in your London theatres’ (87). The reflections upon reincarnation and the Hindu regimen which follow are couched in the language of sensibility to create a sympathetic picture of superiority to the barbarism of Western self-indulgence: They live, Arabella, (except from the austerities, in some instances, in their religion) the most inoffensively and happily of all created beings – their Pythagorean tenets teaching them, from their earliest infancy, the lesson of kindness and benevolence; nor do they intentionally hurt any living thing: – from their temperance they derive health, and from the regulation of the passions, contentment; (87) Within the same letter, only a page or so later, she mentions her ‘whim’ of being introduced to a young Brahman, a relation of her father’s ‘Sekar’ (sircar; servant in charge of household and business affairs), announcing in a rather tortuous sentence, which perhaps reveals the complexities of her emergent emotions, and her uncertainty in taking the initiative: ‘(shall I own to you a most extravagant piece of vanity which has recently sprung up in my mind?) an admirer, Arabella, of his character would be to me a proof of my attractions I should be proud of’ (89). Significantly, she arrogates to herself the inferior sins of vanity and pride, but, bored with European suitors who might term her ‘an angel’ merely to mask a physicality far from Petrarchan, she wishes her soul to be admired: to please a Bramin I must have perfections of the mental sort, little inferior to the purity and benignity of angels: – in a word, my good dispositions would be cultivated and brought forward by such a contact and my bad ones corrected; and, as celibacy is their engagement, the soul would be the only object of attachment and admiration. (89) Her driving ambitions at this point in the novel are ‘to converse with beings of so superior an order, and to become an humble copy of their exemplary and beautiful simplicity’, and the potential dangers of inter-racial attraction are arguably minimized by Sophia’s (and, possibly, the author’s) mistaken understanding that Brahmans are necessarily celibate. What is genuinely remarkable are the intercultural ramifications – in terms of gender, race and indeed class – of the burgeoning sentimental relationship between this subcontinental Sophie and her Vedantic St Preux. This dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter could only have occurred – even in fictional terms – in the relatively brief period ushered in by Warren Hastings’s Orientalist government of India. In its clear and unexpected focus upon the emergent feelings of a young Englishwoman for a Brahman employed to school her in the rudiments of Hinduism, currently the object of European intellectual fascination,

Radically feminizing India 159 the novel profoundly challenges pre-existent discourses of colonialism. The cultivation of the West by the East was indeed a daring concept in either colonial or metropolitan terms. Three years earlier, Sir William Jones’s ‘Third Anniversary Discourse to the Asiatick Society’ (1786), with its epoch-making remarks on the refined nature of Sanskrit and its close familial relationship with the classical languages of Europe had radically adjusted pre-conceptions of Western cultural superiority, introducing disconcerting notions of relationship between the rulers and their ‘black’ subjects.16 Few Europeans had expected to find either refinement or family in indigenous India and it is with a perceptive and daring subversiveness that Phebe Gibbes revises colonialist equations of knowledge and power, and contemporary constructions of gender and race. The Hastings circle of Orientalists were maintaining that Hindu civilization was not only worthy of respect, but had much to teach a tired and decadent West. Gibbes simply but conclusively underlined this fact by presenting a Christian being taught by a Hindu, a European woman cultivated by an Indian man. By means of her sentimental epistolary narrative, she translated the insights of Orientalist philology and early Indology into an easily accessible discourse, which could appeal to a larger novel-reading public. The implications of her plot, however, were to represent something of a shock, and in this respect it is important not to underestimate Phebe Gibbes’s contribution to the metropolitan domestication of Hinduism. In case we had almost forgotten that an other anonymous publication lay on Mary Wollstonecraft’s desk in the following summer of 1790; we should recall that Phebe Gibbes in her composition of Hartly House can have had no knowledge of Sir William Jones’s translation of Kmlidmsa’s Ôacontalá, which received only a Calcutta publication in 1789. Wollstonecraft’s considerable enthusiasm for the 1790 London edition of what was to prove Jones’s revolutionary contribution to Orientalism, only faintly anticipated the rapturous response with which the text was to be greeted in continental drawing-rooms: the whole of Europe fell under its spell. Novalis lovingly addressed his fiancée as ‘Sacontala’, and Goethe, Schiller and Herder rhapsodized about Ôacontalá as the ideal of feminine beauty. The literature of sensibility endorsed such male reactions to an Indian maiden, but the priority and originality of Gibbes’s contribution to cultural realignment must be recognized, for it was with a doubly disturbing reversal both of gender and racial polarities, that allowed her sentimental heroine to fall in love with her ‘black’ Bengali Brahman tutor. It might have seemed that such a revolutionary revision of the relationships of gender, race and culture could perhaps only have been contemplated in the brief Jonesian period of sympathetic and syncretic admiration for India termed by Raymond Schwab, ‘the Sacontala age’, but it must be remembered that Gibbes’s Hartly House was no Ôacontalá ‘spin-off.’17 Where Jones’s ‘Hymns to Hindu Deities’ (1784–8) had used the Pindaric ode to lend a classical dignity and respectability to his subjects in the minds of his drawingroom readers, Gibbes employs the affective potential of the sentimental letter to introduce Hinduism in a sympathetic fashion to a more extensive novel-reading public.18 What united the cultural translation of leading Orientalist and minor


Michael J. Franklin

novelist was a prevailing mood of Enlightenment relativity encouraged both in the colony and the metropolis by Warren Hastings’s belief in the political and cultural worth of Indology. Within a few decades the Evangelicals and Anglicists frequently condemned Brahmans as devious beneficiaries of a parasitic priestcraft, but Phebe Gibbes’s portrayal of Sophia’s Brahman and the religion he espouses represent a perception of India dignified by a sympathetic and tolerant attempt to dispel prejudice. Nor is the attempt vitiated by her use of a somewhat giddy correspondent, for the vain superficiality of the young heroine provides a lightly satiric foil to the profound seriousness of her tutor. Although Sophia is seduced by the grandeur and conspicuous consumption of colonial Calcutta, her Brahman preceptor encourages a growing apprehension of a very different India. As their relationship flourishes, Phebe Gibbes subtly plays with her reader’s expectations and fears concerning the fragility of the platonic aspect of their attachment. The implications of a possible sexual liaison between an English woman and an Indian male might be seen to jeopardize the constructions of race and gender which underpinned imperial power. Jones himself had written an elaborate and elegant mock-heroic entitled ‘The Enchanted Fruit; or, The Hindu Wife’ (1784) in which a woman had been tempted by her feelings for her inspired and inspiring Brahman pandit as he read to her of Krishna sporting with the milkmaids. The differences here, however, are all-important; apart from the fact that this Brahman takes the initiative by kissing the woman’s cheek, the female in question was no colonial miss but the redoubtable and polyandrous Mahmbhmrata princess, Draupadl.19 Many East India Company servants, including Jones’s friend, Colonel William Palmer, took Indian wives, but such an alliance as Gibbes’s novel contemplates was virtually unthinkable in India even under the Orientalist regime of Warren Hastings. The naïve Sophia, however, seems blithely unaware of such colonialist ramifications. A sentimentalized and feminized Hinduism is decidedly attractive to her bourgeois mentality, almost fashionable to her romantic and Orientalized notions. Whereas for Southey only twenty years later in The Curse of Kehama (1810) Hinduism was a foul cess of satl, thuggee and infanticide, it was for Sophia ‘the religion of humanity’, ‘delightful doctrine’, the ultimate sentimental religion: ‘For love, this young priest affirms, refines the sentiment, softens the sensibility, expands our natural virtues, . . . and unites all created beings in one great chain of affection and friendship’ (184). What Sophia, or rather Gibbes, has intuited – long before Hegel branded Hinduism as deficient in masculine world-ordering rationality – is that the ‘sweet’ religion of the Gentoos is not afraid to foreground ‘feminine’ elements of fantasy, imagination, and indeed submission, a disposition inherently attractive to those schooled in doctrines of Sensibility. In the interviews between Sophia and ‘her’ Brahman, sexuality and divinity become porous concepts, as indeed in Hinduism they are. In this light Kate Teltscher’s conclusion that the Brahman has ‘been admitted into the discourse of civility, mixing his theology with drawing-room compliments’ can be seen as suffering from a certain Eurocentricity, minimizing the extent to which Sophia is being admitted into an inevitably Oriental discourse (whether that of fin’ amour or Hinduism) in which the divine and the erotic are not necessarily oxymoronic.20 Sophia approves of the Brahman’s description of

Radically feminizing India 161 Hindu submission to the divine scheme of things: ‘This is very delightful doctrine in theory, Sir,’ returned I. ‘And salutary in practice, Madam’, replied he, ‘as the man before you is the living testimony: – for that he was born a Bramin, he submits to, as the will of Heaven – and that you are the loveliest of women, he acknowledges with pious resignation.’ (184–5) This response erodes the assumed borders between theory and practice, the delightful and the salutary, the erotic and the ascetic, ‘feminine’ submissiveness and assertive male compliment, resignation and aspiration, East and West, Hindu and Christian, and the human and the divine, into a cross-cultural hybridity constructed upon the asseverated ‘fact’ that she is the most beautiful of women. The effect is such as to astonish Sophia, silence the chaperoning Mrs Hartly, and to cause the Brahman to retire ‘with more emotion than quite accorded with his corrected temper, as if he felt he had said too much.’ Shortly after this, Sophia, placing a defiantly moral spin upon her ‘going native’, writes to her friend in England: Henceforth, Arabella, you are to consider me in a new point of view. Ashamed of the manners of modern Christianity, (amongst the professors of which acts of devotion are subjects of ridicule, and charity, in all its amiable branches, a polite jest) I am become a convert to the Gentoo faith, and have my Bramin to instruct me per diem. What a sweet picture would the pen of Sterne have drawn of this young man’s person! But such is the European narrowness of sentiment, that if I was to attempt to do it, you would instantly conclude, I love the precepts for the teacher’s sake. (191) She has found the dominating masculine discourse of the colonizer tedious, and ultimately neither the sentimentalism of Sterne, nor the wit of George Farquhar (the quotation is from the conclusion of his The Constant Couple (1700)) seem adequate to convey the apparent profundity of her ‘conversion’ as she embraces the gentle and sensitive religion of the subject Hindu. Sophia is steadfastly resistant to the traditional Eurocentric criticism of Hindu customs; although she is shocked by the information that the Gentoos lay the dying, as well as the dead, at the low-water mark of the Ganges, and has witnessed ‘alligators’ (crocodiles) feeding on mangled limbs, she seems to view this principally as a public health concern which should be remedied by the local police. On the abhorrent and aberrant gynophobic practice of satl, reports of which been received with horror in the West since the time of Alexander’s expedition to India, and for which even Orientalists of the stamp of Charles Wilkins and H. T. Colebrooke had erroneously concluded there was Vedic authority, Sophia is distressingly positive.21 Anxious to underscore the strength of female courage and devotion rather than to


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appear the apologist, she writes of ‘[T]hose wives, who, with a degree of heroism, that, if, properly directed, would do honour to the female world, make an affectionate and voluntary sacrifice of themselves upon the funeral pile of their departed husbands’, adding, as if to counter potential objections, ‘it is true, there have been instances of their shewing reluctance but those instances seldom occur’ (175–6). Sounding a lighter note in the same letter, the doctrine of metempsychosis, to which Sophia is both intellectually and sentimentally committed, provides elements of playful humour in her ‘courtship’ of ‘my Bramin’, as she invariably refers to him. ‘I asked my Bramin, on his making me his congratulation on my recovery, to tell me what transmigrations (according to the best of his opinion) would have been my fate, if I had died, as was expected in my illness’. His blushing and chivalrous response, perhaps not without a degree of flirtatiousness, that her ‘power of pleasing’ would never have been eradicated, evokes a self-deprecatory sally to the effect that she ‘should have figured away as a cockatoo, sung myself into somebody’s good graces in the form of a minho – or perhaps have been honoured with the person (if I may so call it) of a Bramine kite’ (177–8). Although in all this colourful and colour-blind sportiveness Sophia appears singularly free of the inhibitions of racial prejudice, her feelings about Islam are tinged with centuries-old Eurocentric animosity against ‘the impostor Mahomet’. It is true that early in the novel she half-jokingly suggests a match between Arabella and ‘a young smart fellow’, Mubarak ud-Daula, the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa: He has, it is true, several wives already; but you shall be his wife of wives; and as for his copper complexion, you are too wise to make that an objection. [. . .] I should rejoice to see you a Nabobess’ (67). Subsequently, however, the strength of her commitment to Hinduism seems to exacerbate her prejudice against what she sees as the more threatening masculinity of Islam. The religious processions of dancing, singing, benevolent Hindus are compared with Muslim rites in which ‘the custom of the sons of Omar is to exhibit sham fights [. . .] often productive of very fatal and barbarous consequence’ (191–2). Whereas she lauds the practice of Hinduism liberally to ‘bestow souls without number, and existence without end, on both sexes’, she cannot contain her spleen as she trots out that favourite and time-honoured anti-Muslim slur: ‘the proud Mussulmen make a monopoly of immortality in their own persons’. To her the contrast is absolute; the two chief faiths of India are effectively binaries: ‘[O]n my first knowledge of the light and darkness these religious shews are to each other, I felt myself in danger of becoming a Braminate, though all the wealth of Indostan could not bribe me to become a Mahometan’ (192). Her sympathetic reaction to Hinduism is intensified by her irritation at the clumsy and boorish attentions of European suitors to the extent that only the mistaken belief in Brahmanical celibacy, and more conclusively the Brahman’s death of the same fever from which Sophia recovered, save metropolitan sensibilities from the spectre of miscegenation. The containment of what Kate Teltscher terms ‘a potentially subversive situation’ is ultimately underlined by her wedding to Edwin Doyly, a well-connected young English official of the East India Company and by her return passage to England.22 Sophia, who had daringly declared herself ‘orientalised at all points’, thus eventually falls

Radically feminizing India 163 willing victim to the Calcutta marriage-market – the fate of all attractive single Englishwomen in Bengal – and is restored to metropolitan domesticity. The lasting impact of her Brahman’s death and of his Hindu teaching is somewhat ironically described. Hinduism, for Sophia, degenerates into a sentimental fashionaccessory; ‘I have settled with myself to affect the Gentoo air, which is an assemblage of all the soft winning graces priests or poets have yet devised a name for, and Doyly [at that time her fiancé] shall figure away as my Bramin’ (265). Her declared motto is now ‘simplex munditus’, and in all her elegant simplicity, she now figures as an instructress, teaching her pliant young man ‘every humane tenet of that humane religion, that he will not hurt a butterfly, nor can he despatch even a troublesome musketto without a correspondent pang’ (256).23 With this sentimentalized if not feminized fiancé she soon forgets her dead Brahman, and the legacy of his teaching only serves to disqualify her from the amusement of a fishing party, ‘for I cannot call by the name of pleasure what must be purchased at the high price of the suffering or death of any thing that exists’. She remembers that he termed her ‘a Christian by profession, but a Gentoo by nature; [who] would have done honour to the religion of Brumma’ (266). Her main profession, however, is that of the dizzy, self-centred sentimental heroine. Her lock of the dead Brahman’s hair she has ‘elegantly set’, for he ‘merited no less a compliment, in return for his unfeigned approbation of me’. Within a few lines she assures Arabella that ‘broken hearts will be the consequence of my departure’, but it would seem that Sophia cannot be allowed to leave Calcutta without her playing the starring role in a final magnificent sentimental drama. This Orientalizing incident totally occludes Hindu simplicity, dissolving her former determination that ‘all the wealth of Indostan’ could not persuade her to embrace Islam. Letter 37 dramatically announces ‘Alas, Arabella, I am undone!’ So dazzled is she by the splendour of the Nawab’s retinue, ‘so brilliant, so divine a spectacle’ (269), that all European colonialist and metropolitan opulence is rendered ‘so dimunitive and mean’ that it shrinks into Lilliputian insignificance. The richly caparisoned elephants, the bejewelled golden howdah, the silver, diamond-encrusted state-palanquin, resplendent in its plate-glass windows are all too much for her; despite her attempt at Hindu selfcontrol (‘I will endeavour to conquer and regulate my feelings’), she is captivated by this Mughal display. Sophia’s sexual interest having been aroused by the Nawab’s troops, ‘fine-looking fellows – and their complexions gave a grandeur to the scene’, their uniforms, turbans and sparkling matchlocks, the focus of her fantasy turns from the men to their master. Her former whim that Arabella might represent a suitable match for the Nawab is immediately forgotten: ‘I would have given the world on the instant to have been a Nabobess, and entitled to so magnificent a train. I whispered Doyly, and asked him what he thought of the London sights in such a moment?’ (270). As the procession draws close to Sophia’s position, all thoughts of Doyly and domesticity appear to evaporate under the approving Oriental gaze of Mubarak ud-Daula, Nawab of Bengal. Her conquest, rendering her ‘the envy of the women and the torture of the men’ was as clear ‘as the noon-day sun: and who could dream of a mortal female’s refusing an enthroned adorer, with the wealth of the Indies at his feet?’ Whereas the Grand Seignor merely noticed Lady Mary Wortley Montagu en passant, the Nawab, she


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maintains, has been deeply wounded, and the triumph of her powers of inter-racial attraction is highlighted by the increasing pallor of an envious and colourless Doyly. She feels sure that she will hear more of the Nawab, who might even attempt to carry her off to his zenana, but her playfulness is indicated by effusions such as: ‘I am dying, Arabella, to have one of these very Elephants at my command’,24 and it becomes clear that this complex erotic fantasy has been woven to pique a sexual jealousy in her fiancé: ‘That Doyly was frightened, is most certain; – but an Englishman was not born to fear giant knights, or enchanted castles; and the more especially, where an army would stand forth in her protection and defence’ (274). Sophia retreats from her abduction-fantasy into the safe (fire-)arms of superior Company military power, for she had already noted the Nawab’s ‘apparent astonishment’ at ‘how great a distance bomb-shells can be thrown’ (272) by a piece of English artillery. Occidental potency is thus symbolically reasserted, and the epistle ends with a return to Gentoo submissiveness: ‘I recollect my Bramin, and am myself again’. The final letter of the novel provides a stark contrast with the inter-racial power and rape fantasies inspired by the Nawab in the still-sentimentalizing brain of our heroine – the brutal rape of a young Indian girl by a Company army officer who has shot her father dead before her eyes. Earlier Sophia, in her delight with the attentions of military gentlemen, had confidently announced that ‘Mars in the East, like Hercules at the court of Omphale, has more gallantry than hostility about him’ (78). At this late stage the painful reality of colonial power is borne in upon her as, in the words of Felicity Nussbaum, ‘The very army she expects to defend her against the nabob’s abduction is [. . .] also the agent of sexual violence against an Indian woman’.25 Sophia’s education in the East might have convinced her that sentimental sorrow is ‘the bane of happiness’, but her idealizing tendencies had scarcely prepared her for this monstrous actualization of colonial rapaciousness in ‘a country where fiend-like acts are, I fear, much oftener perpetrated than detected’ (279). The reality of sexual violence is used both to expunge all adolescent Orientalizing fantasies from Sophia’s mind, and to strike a resonant Burkean note concerning the rape of Bengal. Certainly the juxtaposition of a sumptuous display of imperial magnificence (whether Mughal or British) with the village violation of a girl on a floor stained with her father’s blood moves beyond the mere problematizing of the hierarchies of colonial power, race and gender, forcing the reader, if not the heroine (who rushes into domesticity in the secure roundhouse of a returning East Indiaman), to confront the sordid truth of the rights/rites and wrongs of colonial conquest. Isobel Grundy’s uncertainty as whether to give the author or her correspondent/ heroine ‘political-correctness points’ for radicalism in raising the topic of inter-racial rape, or to subtract them for representing the rape in phallocentric patriarchal terms, demonstrates the multi-faceted ambivalence of the epistolary technique. This part of Gibbes’s narrative might be read as literary realism (a predictable response for a young, idealistic, inexperienced white girl) or political realism (rhetorical appeal to readers to repudiate the commonest form of sexual racist violence, or else an outcropping of orthodox gender ideology, which might stem from Gibbes herself or from her presumed informant, her son.26

Radically feminizing India 165 The incident of the rape introduces Sophia to the heights and depths of a more genuinely empathetic sensibility, ‘I am all indignation, terror, compassion, and agitation’, and it is true that its positioning prior to a hasty description of her wedding and departure from Calcutta might seem to indicate that this horror has precipitated a speedy return to England. However, Felicity Nussbaum’s emphasis upon Sophia’s ‘hasty retreat from the monstrous seductive Orient’ involves something of a torrid distortion of the events of the novel. The rape does not involve Sophia in plumbing the dark depths of the Indian sublime, but rather prompts her acknowledgement of the guilty and unacceptable face of British colonialism.27 The monstrosity and the monster are wholly Occidental. ‘[T]he Eastern world,’ as Sophia laments, ‘is the scene of tragedies that dishonour mankind’ (278), but the dishonour is upon British manhood, and Sophia has witnessed the wretch being conveyed to prison. She has learned the corruptive power of the precious metal that formed the first syllable of her maiden name and exercised her youthful attentions: ‘gold can unnerve the arm of justice’, but ultimately she feels confident that the rapist will be subjected to exemplary punishment: ‘Lord C[ornwallis] will not stain his noble deeds, by suffering such a villain to escape’ (279). Sophia’s faith in Cornwallis’s nobility is second only to her admiration for his predecessor Hastings, and one should not underestimate Gibbes’s determination to make a political intervention at the time of his impeachment. All the forces of sentimental approval are brought to bear in Hastings’s support: ‘The Governor’s dress gives you his character at once – unostentatious and sensible’ (104); even her attendant beau is described as ‘the best male companion I have met with at Calcutta, the Governor and Mr. Hartly excepted’ (153). Sophia characterizes opposition to Hastings in Calcutta as motivated by ‘envy, malice, and uncharitableness’, spurred by the fact that: ‘A change of Governor would introduce a change in European politics; and numbers blaze forth, that are now unremembered’ (105). The recall of Hastings is greeted with more sorrow than the news that Doyly has to voyage to England: ‘Doyly’s departure has only been a prelude to the loss of our Governor, and every creature is plunged into disconsolation’ (186).28 Furthermore, Sophia provides a lengthy tribute to the Governor-General’s abilities: The Company it is affirmed by those who appear well-informed, will, by this event, be deprived of a faithful and able servant; the poor, of a compassionate and generous friend; the genteel circles, of their best ornament; and Hartly House of a revered guest. [. . .] A more uniform good man, or so competent a judge of the advantages of the people, he will not leave behind him; nor possibly can a successor be transmitted, of equal information and abilities. For, Arabella, he has made himself master of the Persian language, that key to the knowledge of all that ought to constitute the British conduct in India, or can truly advance the British interest. (186–7)29 Such a blazon might be read in the context of the hundreds of testimonials which Hastings received from Company and government officials, from native merchants


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and Indian rulers throughout his long impeachment, most especially in its apprehension of the intimate connections between knowledge and power, and in its balancing of ‘British conduct’ and ‘British interest’. Furthermore, it underscores Gibbes’s informed understanding that Persian was essential for diplomacy; a full understanding of the nuances of Mughal etiquette; and the key areas of Mughal history and administration. Gibbes was no Orientalist, but Hartly House reveals a considerable awareness both of Indian detail, and of the rationale behind Hastings’s Orientalist regime. It certainly provides what is in many ways an accurate sociological picture of colonialist life in the Bengal of the 1780s which usefully complements the travel writing of Jemima Kindersley, the Original Letters of Eliza Fay, the Memoirs of William Hickey, and William Hodges’s Travels in India.30 Even more importantly the novel mirrors, if on a sentimental plane and in a minor key, the concern of the Orientalists whose researches were patronized by Hastings to adjust stereotyped metropolitan construction of India as irrational, static, female, passive and backward, illustrating that the intellectual traffic between dominant and subject cultures is not exclusively in one direction.31 Thus Hartly House, Calcutta, though subject to a certain cultural negotiation with the tastes of a novel-reading public, enhanced the socio-political aspects of epistolary fiction by providing a faithful and authoritative representation of India. Moving from 1789 to the publication date of The Missionary: An Indian Tale in 1811 involves more than a generational shift. Whereas Phebe Gibbes never seems to have escaped a penurious obscurity, novel-writing brought Sydney Owenson a species of celebrity even beyond the dreams of a Sophia Goldborne.32 If Gibbes’s ‘Indian’ novel was, to some extent, an attempt to make Orientalism pay the rent, overshadowed by the personal tragedy of a son who had not only failed to return a nabob, but who had failed to return at all, Owenson’s ‘Indian venture’ had very different and more bookish origins. In a letter to her close friend and former lover, the Dublin barrister Sir Charles Ormsby, Owenson acknowledged the weight of her obligation to his weighty tomes: I have at last, waded through your Oriental Library, and it is impossible you can ever feel the weight of the obligation I owe you, except you turn author, and some kind friend supplies you with rare books that give the sanction of authority to your own wild and improbable visions. Your Indian histories place me upon the fairy ground you know I love to tread, ‘where nothing is but what is not’, and you have contributed so largely and efficiently to my Indian venture, that you have a right to share in the profits, and a claim to be considered a silent partner in the firm.33 The fact that she completed the negotiations with her publisher, John Joseph Stockdale for the sale of her manuscript in the office of Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies again demonstrates how a fictional representation of India might be seen to have a pronounced political dimension.34 In his years as President of the Board of Control, Castlereagh had worked for reconciliation between Governor-General Marquess Wellesley and the directors of East India Company. His position in the developing Orientalist-Anglicist controversy

Radically feminizing India 167 concerning how and to what extent India should be modernized was indicated by his support for Wellesley’s establishment of Fort William College for the training of writers sent out to India, This Orientalist project to establish an acculturated civil service was opposed by the Westernizing tendencies of the Anglicists and Evangelicals, brought into an uneasy alliance through their fear that cultural pluralism might lead to the ‘Indianization’ of British youth. This debate became heated in the years leading up to the renewal of the East India Company’s Charter in 1813, increasingly focused in the issue of the so-called Pious Clause as to whether missionaries should be allowed to proselytize in India. At such a moment a novel entitled The Missionary: An Indian Tale was clearly making a timely commercial and political intervention, even more potent than that of Hartly House, Calcutta in the second year of Hastings’s impeachment.35 Sydney Owenson was a practised hand in the production of politicized sentimental discourses. Her technique of representing colonized nations with beautiful, enlightened and enlightening muse figures was developing into something of a formula as Glorvina, the eponymous The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale (1806) was followed by Woman: or, Ida of Athens (1809). Furthermore Glorvina’s use of the contemporary theory of Irish Phoenicianism to represent Ireland in Oriental tropes prepared her creator Owenson for an empathetic consideration of colonized India.36 In this way the novel of sensibility might adapt and problematize hypermasculine colonialist gendering as her new heroine, the Hindu priestess Luxima embodies the perfumed and yielding allure of Romantic Kashmir, beyond Company control. The Missionary was published within a year of Robert Southey’s The Curse of Kehama (1810) which announced in its Preface that he was considering: ‘(T)he religion of the Hindoos, which of all false religions is the most monstrous in its fables, and the most fatal in its effects’.37 The politics of Southey’s poem enlisted Oriental Gothic in the service of the Evangelical lobby, and its thrilling horrors delighted the impressionable Percy Shelley. The following year Shelley was vying with his arch-enemy Castlereagh in admiration of the Romantic Orientalism of a text implicitly opposed to cultural interventionism and missionary conversion. Shelley recommends Owenson’s novel to friends with a proselytizing zeal: Will you read it, it is really a divine thing. Luxima the Indian is an Angel. What a pity that we cannot incorporate these creatures of Fancy; the very thought of them thrills the soul. Since I have read this book I have read no other – but I have thought strangely.38 Despite this statement, reading The Missionary prompted Shelley to order and read the collected works of Sir William Jones in December 1812, the contents of which encouraged strange thoughts of future works such as Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, and Prometheus Unbound.39 The onomastics of ‘angelic’ Luxima skilfully combine connotations of Eastern luxuriance and luxury with a sense of light from the Orient, but the source of her name lies with the beautiful and sensual consort of Vishnu, the Hindu goddess Lakshml,


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whom Jones had depicted emerging like an Indian Venus from an ocean of milk: Her eyes, oft darted o’er the liquid way, With golden light emblaz’d the darkling main; And those firm breasts, whence all our comforts well, Rose with enchanting swell; (‘A Hymn to Lacshmí’, ll. 39–42) Owenson’s representation of her Vedanta priestess relies upon Jones’s reminder to the metropolitan reader that Lakshml and Vishnu are recreated in the persons of Radha and Vishnu’s avatar, Krishna, whose spiritual sexuality had been celebrated by Jayadeva’s Gltagovinda, which Jones had also translated to the delight of German Romanticism.40 Apart from Owenson’s use of this Vaisnavite tradition, her Luxima also borrows aspects from the Saivite strand of Hinduism, conveniently available in Jones’s portrayal of the gentle and devout Pmrvatl, the daughter of Himalaya and Lady of the Mountain, in his ‘Hymn to Durgá’ (1788): A vale remote and silent pool she sought, Smooth-footed, lotos-handed, And braids of sacred blossoms wrought; Not for her neck, which, unadorn’d, Bade envying antelopes their beauties hide: (II.1.8–10, II.2.1–2)41 The purity of the Himalyan Pmrvatl, devoted to the austere god Ôiva, is reflected in many aspects of the Kashmiri brahmacãrin (religious student, devoted to chastity) Luxima, but, of course, the divine eroticism and sensual spirituality of Pmrvatl and Lakshml, representing the two major strands of Hindu devotion, is further refracted through the narrative which Kmlidmsa had adapted from the Mahmbhmrata, concerning the aesthetic and erotic entrancement of King Dushmanta by the beauty of Ôakuntalm, the daughter of a rishi (seer) and an apsara (celestial courtesan). For Luxima in her beauty and modesty, adorned with fragrant buchampaca flowers, and hymning Camdeo (Kmma, god of love), beside a sacred tirtha (confluence) is Owenson’s authentic contribution to Ôakuntalm-fever, right down to the pet fawn. In this respect Shelley’s 1811 crush on Luxima may be seen as a somewhat a pale reflection of the German Romantic idolizing of Ôakuntalm in the 1790s. The success of Owenson’s representation pays tribute to her mediating role in introducing the cultural mediation of Jones to a wider novel-reading public. Like Mary Wollstonecraft, Sydney Owenson had discovered delicacy, refinement and a pure morality in Sacontalá and, although it might be claimed that her heroine Luxima is but a representation of a representation, she pays tribute to a text established as not merely evidence, but as the representational icon, of Indian civilization.42 The establishment in the West of this text as a characteristic delineation of Hindu culture was no Orientalist imposition but an exact mirroring of the judgement of the Indian poetic tradition itself, according to which, in the words of Edwin Gerow, ‘the Ôakuntalm is the validating aesthetic creation of a civilization’.43 In this way Owenson’s achievement lies in contributing to a Romantic image of India which was to reflect India’s own self-image.

Radically feminizing India 169 A species of Ôakuntalm-fever is also contracted by Owenson’s hero, an aristocratic and energetic Franciscan missionary for, on approaching Luxima, ‘his heart throbbed with a feverish wildness unknown to its former sober pulse’.44 Many contemporary critics were amused at such Minerva Press-like expressions and from a reputable publisher such as Stockdale as well.45 We should not, however, underestimate the subtlety of Sydney Owenson’s representations. Sentimentalism proved an enabling element in her radical feminization of India for, under cover of romantic extravagance, she masked her detailed research and made her political points. The onomastic symbolism of her hero’s name, for example, enables her to do more than play with binary oppositions of geography, race and gender, or simply to justify his febrile reaction.46 Hilarion, whose name he bears, was the most austere of the desert fathers, who triumphed over various fleshly temptations in his dusty Palestinian cave. As I have shown elsewhere, Owenson artfully problematizes the internal contrasts between south and north India, and the antithetical cultural and climatic elements with Kashmir itself: the burning plains south of Bimbhar and the snowy girdle of the Indian Caucasus.47 The sensual trials of Owenson’s Hilarion are to be undergone in a very different Oriental cave from that of his sainted predecessor. The cave which the Franciscan attempts to convert into a Christian sanctuary by erecting a rude altar with his golden crucifix is actually a Hindu shrine. Named by the Kashmiris the ‘grotto of congelations’, this is the sacred shrine of Amarnmth in Sonamarg, some 65 miles north-east of Srinagar where every year to this day as many as 500,000 pilgrims journey to worship an impressive ice-stalagmite in the phallic shape of a Ôivalinga. The symbolism and actuality of fire and ice can simply inhabit the binarism of Romantic Gothic, but Owenson’s researches lead her towards a far more nuanced representation of Hinduism, and this is apparent in her subtle treatment of the interrelationship between kmma (erotic love) and tapas (asceticism). In Hinduism two forms of heat coexist in profound symbiosis: kmma, the heat of sexual desire; and tapas, the heat generated by deep meditation and ascetic practices, especially chastity. The restraint of huge energies can prove dangerous; this is why Kmma was sent to give a love-wound to the ascetic Ôiva with his flower-tipped arrow and thus diffuse the accumulated heat. In the same way even mortals are capable of generating immense energies through performing austerities. It was the threatening power of the ascetic rishi Vi∆vmmitra that led the gods to send the irresistibly beautiful apsara Menakm to dispel his heat and she subsequently gave birth to Ôakuntalm. This concept of tapas, as productive of god-defying powers, is also at the heart of The Curse of Kehama, but whereas Southey was concerned only to represent the monstrosity of Hinduism in its potential to produce the ‘Man-Almighty’, Owenson’s Indocentric sentimentalism allows her to deal more empathetically with the ambivalences of kmma and tapas. We are told that Hilarion, a ‘soul of fire’ (81), is frequently taken for ‘a sanaissee, or pilgrim, of some distant nation, performing tupesya [i.e. tapas] in a strange land’ (106).48 The novel explores the dangers of self-restraint and dangers of submission to passion in a relativistic fashion which deconstructs the differences between Hindu and Christian asceticism.49 Whereas Southey’s Evangelical bias opens The Curse of Kehama with the widow-burning ritual of satl, the narrative climax of The Missionary involves the auto-da-fé of the Christian Inquisition; thus Owenson subjects the crude


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despotisms of Oriental and Occidental superstitions to the intellectual processes of Enlightenment relativism. By focusing, popularizing and dramatizing Jonesian syncretism for European readers of romance Owenson successfully dissolves the otherness of Hinduism, as Gibbes had attempted twenty years earlier in Hartly House, Calcutta. Sophia, in relaying to her friend what she has learned of the Gentoo religion, reflects her author’s concern that, in departing from the more concrete details she may have gleaned from her son’s letters, she might be found to have leaned somewhat too heavily upon her more scholarly sources: But me dear Arabella, I have one caution to give you, which is, not to set me down for a plagiarist, though you should even stumble upon the likeness, verbatim, of my descriptions of the Eastern world in print: at once presume to consider such printed accounts as other than honourable testimonies of my faithful relations: and certain it is, that true and genuine relations of objects and events admit of very little variation of language. This premised, I shall not doubt of informing or entertaining you (and perhaps both the one and the other) in repeated instances. (130) It becomes clear, however, that in Sophia’s reflections upon the nature of ‘Brumma’, for example, Gibbes was drawing verbatim upon William Guthrie’s popular A New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar (1770), who himself had heavily plagiarized a much more authoritative source, namely Reflections on the Government of Indostan (1763), by Luke Scrafton, an Orientalist colleague of Clive.50 Whatever this might reveal about the shortcomings of both scholarly (and predominantly male) historians and sentimental (and largely female) novelists, it is evident that accusations of plagiarism did not trouble Sydney Owenson, whose well-known predilection for the erudite footnote, was often sufficient to throw any potential source-hunter off the scent. She cites at least seventeen Orientalist texts, but it is in her frequent unacknowledged borrowings from Jones that she reveals her profound understanding of his syncretic vision. It is true that she relies heavily upon his collected works for the authenticity of her Kashmiri costume. A single page of The Missionary (121), reveals references to Jones’s ‘Hymn to Camdeo’, and two fragrant descriptions copied from facing pages of Jones’s groundbreaking ‘Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants’. The lattices of Luxima’s pavilion ‘were composed of the aromatic verani, whose property it is, to allay a feverish heat; and which, by being dashed by the waters of an artificial fountain, bestowed a fragrant coolness on the air’. The following paragraph depicts the priestess offering as incense to Camdeo ‘leaves of the sacred sami-tree’.51 The Missionary affords much more than colourful costume, however. Phebe Gibbes had been anxious to display the sentimental dimension of the Gentoo religion, but Owenson digs much deeper into the subcontinental psyche. Owenson aligns herself culturally with the Orientalists’ respect for indigenous Vedic traditions, and, by

Radically feminizing India 171 idealizing the ‘monotheism’ of her Hindu heroine, she can be seen to follow Jones in reading Hinduism as analogous to European deism, and discerning in Vedantic thought the comforting familiarity of Plato. The page following the description of Luxima’s pavilion has Hilarion, while pondering the similarities between Oriental and Occidental traditions of mysticism, sounding remarkably like Hmfiz: ‘The true object of soul and mind is the glory of a union with our beloved’ (122).52 Hilarion, like the Orientalist members of Hastings’s circle (and, indeed like Gibbes’s Sophia Goldborne) a century and a half later, consults a native informant, a Kashmiri Brahman pandit, to expound the fundamentals of Luxima’s religion.53 Owenson characterizes the pandit’s faith as ‘confirmed deism’, and his words also would strike a familiar chord with a reader of Asiatic Researches: ‘That matter has no essence, independent of mental perception; and that external sensation would vanish into nothing, if the divine energy for a moment subsided’(89). Thus the Brahman pandit parrots Jones, drawing his description of Vedantic thought from the Orientalist’s essay ‘On the Philosophy of the Asiaticks’.54 In the same way Luxima, in confirming the interchangeability of Hindu and Christian concepts of mystic love, speaks the words of Isaac Barrow, the theologian mathematician quoted by Jones: ‘we cannot cling to the hope of infinite felicity, without rejoicing in the first daughter of love to God, which is charity towards man’ (140).55 Jones had maintained that Barrow’s conception of divine love ‘differs only from the mystical theology of the Súfis and Yógis, as the flowers and fruit of Europe differ in scent and flavour from those of Asia’, and Owenson’s commitment to syncretism is underlined by her introduction of a most significant Mughal prince to problematize and reconfigure the binaries of imperialism. Owenson is obviously attracted to the blurring of European and Asian cultural margins represented by Jones’s arguments concerning the common identity of Platonic, Vedantic, Sufistic and deistic traditions.56 The introduction of the handsome young Mughal Prince Suleiman Shiknh facilitates a dramatic scene in which the agents of Occidental and Oriental imperialism (the ‘imperious passion’ of the Mughal prince nicely balanced by ‘imperious air’ of the Portuguese aristocrat) compete for the beautiful body of India. She creates a triangle of power, love and religion, but it is only the religious triad which is capable of acknowledging a degree of unity. For Prince Suleiman is the son of Dmra Shiknh, the eldest son of Shah Jahmn, who had translated some of the Upanisads; had authored what Jones termed ‘the pleasing essay, called The Junction of two Seas’ (Islam and Hinduism); and whose death at the hands of his austerely orthodox Sunni brother, Aurangzeb, seriously retarded such syncretic investigation.57 Suleiman, as son of this scholar-prince, would be likely to have inherited his father’s Sufi-oriented eclectic faith in the prospects of ultimate harmony between the two great religions of India, and such a syncretic approach would have aligned with that of Luxima had they eventually decided upon the mingling of the two bloods. Such speculation upon what might have happened is necessarily idle, but the choice of Suleiman Shiknh as Islamic rival suitor reveals just how deeply Sydney Owenson had ‘waded through’ Ormsby’s Orientalist library. Tracing Owenson’s ‘footsteps’ through the texts she borrowed, I have discovered the principal source of the Suleiman episode in Alexander Dow’s The History of Hindostan


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(1772), a work she frequently footnotes.58 Here she read of how Suleiman and his forces, hard pressed by the army of his uncle Aurangzeb, marched north into the fastnesses of Kashmir, where he gained the protection of Pirti Singh, the Hindu Rajah of Srinagar. Safe but isolated from news of his father and of the civil war, he was preoccupied in his seclusion; and here Dow’s narrative deserves to be quoted at length: He became anxious and thoughtful, and discovered neither pleasure nor amusement in the rural sports pursued by others through the romantic vallies which formed the dominions of the Raja. He loved to walk alone; to dive into the thickest woods; to mix his complaints with the murmur of torrents, which, falling from a thousand rocks, filled the whole country with an agreeable noise. One day, as the prince wandered from his party, he entered a narrow valley formed by one of the streams which fall headlong from the impassable mountains that environ Serinagûr. In the center of the valley there stood a mound almost covered with trees; through the branches of which appeared undistinctly what seemed an Indian pagod. The stream, divided into two, surrounded the mound, and appeared to have worn away the foundations of the rock, on which the building stood: which circumstance rendered it inaccessible on every side. Solimân, pleased with this romantic scene, rode forward, and found that what he had mistaken for a temple, was a house of pleasure belonging to the Raja. Thither that prince [the raja] often retired, with a few attendants, to enjoy the company of some Cashmirian women of exquisite beauty. Some of these were walking on the terrace when Solimân approached. He was struck with their persons; but he instantly retired. When he returned to the residence of the Raja, he mentioned his adventure to that prince. His countenance was suddenly overcast, and he remained for some time silent. He at length said, ‘All my dominion have I given up to Solimân, yet he has intruded upon one valley which I reserved for myself.’ Solimân excused his conduct by his ignorance: but though the Raja pretended to be satisfied, there appeared from that day forward a manifest change in his behaviour.59 Dow’s superbly ‘romantic’ historical narrative was obviously a gift to Owenson as she sketched out her novel. It obviously provided the thoughtful, sensitive and chivalric isolate which is Sulieman, but it might well have influenced her choice of Srinagar setting. The emphasis upon the sounds of water, and secret inwardness stresses a profoundly feminized and sexualized landscape, focused, like many ornamental eighteenth-century garden grottos, upon a natural mons veneris. Suleiman’s innocent mistake in confusing pleasure dome with temple might well have affected Owenson’s treatment of the blend of the divine and the erotic in Luxima. Dow, a talented dramatist as well as a historian, was obviously a key facilitating influence upon Owenson, but the master stroke of the syncretic/romantic triad, it must be remembered, is purely her own. Where Gibbes’s Sophia, though enchanted by Mughal magnificence, had found the religion of ‘the sons of Omar’ a repulsive contrast with that of the gentle Gentoo, the author of The Missionary avoids the pitfalls of Islamophobia. A more superficial

Radically feminizing India 173 view of the Hastings circle and his Asiatick Society might have presupposed an exclusive interest on their part in Sanskrit literature, but Owenson’s treatment of this Mughal prince reflects Jones’s fascination with the liberal syncretic tradition developed by Dmra Shiknh, his father. Gender and genre were in fact validating and authorizing elements in both these radical novelistic feminizations of India substantiated by careful research – whether from expensive Orientalist tomes or treasured letters on India paper. From the standpoints of both materialist feminist scholarship and postcolonial theory, Gibbes and Owenson problematize the intricate relationships between mercantile capitalism, colonial trade, issues of race and class, national identity, and British constructions of gender within the colony and the metropolis. The European Romantic imagination was saturated with Orientalism, but it reflected European ambivalence concerning the East, complicated in Britain by colonial anxiety and imperial guilt. Hartly House, Calcutta and The Missionary: An Indian Tale introduced readily assimilable and sentimentalized versions of the Indological scholarship which facilitated Romanticism’s preoccupation with an Orientalist other. Within these meetings of East and West gender relationships are reconsidered from an enlightened relativist and intercultural perspective, whereas in many later texts of colonial encounters women writers, despite their subjected femininity, experienced much difficulty in empathizing with a feminized and subject India. Intercultural translations proceeding from the Asiatick Society of Bengal naturally played the major part in problematizing Romanticism’s absorption with mythic and idealistic revaluation of human potential; in creating an Oriental renaissance in Europe, and the Bengal renaissance in the subcontinent. As we have seen, however, works of fiction from the pens of female novelists served as crucial mediating texts, constructing and deconstructing subjectivities, reconfiguring binaries, and eroding stereotypes at the level of sentimentalized imperialism. Endorsing an empire of passion, Phebe Gibbes and Sydney Owenson helped a wider novel-reading metropolitan public to make that leap of empathy which is to imagine India.

Notes 1 ‘On 24 February 1789, JD paid G. 20 pounds for Hartly House, Calcutta’, The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley: 1733–64, ed. James E. Tierney et al., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 561. A single volume 12mo edition, apparently pirated, of Hartly House, Calcutta appeared in Dublin (Printed for William Jones) in the same year, and a German edition appeared at Leipzig in 1791. The 1908 Calcutta reprint was subtitled A Novel of the Days of Warren Hastings, with notes by John Macfarlane, a prefatory note by H. E. A. Cotton, and an introduction by G. F. Barwick, published by Thacker, Spink and Co. has itself been the basis for two modern reprints, one in Calcutta (Gupta Press) in 1984 and the other by a small London press (Pluto) in 1989. (Textual references are to the Macfarlane edition.) 2 Earlier in the impeachment Edmund Burke, in relaying repulsive sexual tortures allegedly committed by Devi Singh, a revenue farmer appointed by Hastings, had plumbed graphic depths unknown even in the Gothic novel. A contemporary editor commented: ‘Mr. Burke’s descriptions were more vivid – more harrowing – than human utterance on either fact or fancy, perhaps, ever formed before. [. . .] Mrs. Sheridan was so overpowered, that she fainted. [. . .] Mr. Burke was here taken ill . . . too exhausted to be able to proceed’,


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The History of the Trial of Warren Hastings, Esq. [. . .] London: J. Debrett and Vernor and Hood, 1796, pp. 7–8. See my ‘Accessing India: Orientalism, “Anti-Indianism” and the Rhetoric of Jones and Burke’, in Romanticism and Colonialism, ed. Tim Fulford and Peter Kitson, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 48–66, 53–5. The little we know of Phebe Gibbes is indebted to her scrawled letters of petition for financial support to the Royal Literary Fund, see BL MSS, Royal Literary Fund 2: 74. BL MSS, Royal Literary Fund 2: 74. Sophia’s letters were cited as an authoritative source of information on Calcutta by H. E. Busteed, Echoes from Old Calcutta: Being Chiefly Reminiscences of the days of Warren Hastings, Francis, & Impey, Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co., 1882, where he attributes them to Mrs Fay; see nn. 11, 15. Interestingly, virtually the whole of Sophia’s lengthy Letter VI was reprinted, under the heading ‘Picture of the Mode of living at Calcutta. In a letter from a Lady to her friend in England’, in The Aberdeen Magazine, Literary Chronicle, and Review, XXIX, Thursday, 2 July 1789, pp. 416–21. No mention is made of its being extracted from a novel, and it is unlikely that Phebe Gibbes ever received any remuneration for it. Cf. the even more remarkable plagiarism of the New Annual Register, see above, pp. 1–3. Analytical Review, IV, June 1789, 145–7, reprinted in The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, ed. Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler, 7 vols, London: Pickering, 1989, 7: 111–12. In her letter of 18 Oct. 1804 to the Royal Literary Fund Gibbes claimed authorship of Elfrida; or Paternal Ambition (1786), enclosing a note to that effect from its publisher, Joseph Johnson. In view of Wollstonecraft’s close working relationship with Johnson, it is more than likely that she knew much more about Phebe Gibbes than we do. Critical Review, 68, August 1789, 614. Cf. the similar emphasis upon the depiction of the colonists rather than the colonized in William Enfield’s short notice: ‘These volumes contain a lively and elegant, and, as far as we are informed, a just picture of the manners of the Europeans residing in the East Indies’, Monthly Review, n.s. 1 March 1790, 332. Katherine Sobba Green, The Courtship Novel 1740–1820: A Feminized Genre, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991, pp. 2–3. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 253. An apt example of this stereotype, to which some Bengali servants allegedly acted up, is provided by Eliza Fay, in a letter of 20 July 1780: ‘I just now asked a man to place a small table near me; he began to bawl as loud as he could for the bearers to come and help him. “Why don’t you do it yourself?” said I, rising as I spoke to assist. Oh I no English. I Bengal man. I no estrong like English: one, two, three Bengal men cannot do like one Englishman’, Original Letters from India (1779–1815), with introductory and terminal notes by E. M. Forster, London: L. & V. Woolf, 1925, pp. 177–8. Mrs [Jemima] Kindersley, Letters from the Island of Teneriffe, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and the East Indies, London: Nourse, 1777, p. 197. William Hodges also unconsciously borrows from Eurocentric stereotypes of the feminized Hindu; the subcontinent seems to the European to represent confusion of gender: ‘The rustling of fine linen, and the general hum of unusual conversation, present to his mind for a moment the idea of an assembly of females. When he ascends upon the deck, he is struck with the long muslin dresses, and black faces adorned with very large gold ear-rings and white turbans [. . .] besides this, the European is struck at first with many other objects, such as women carried on men’s shoulders on pallankeens, and men riding on horseback clothed in linen dresses like women: which, united with the very different face of the country from all he had ever seen or conceived of, excite the strongest emotions of surprise!’ Travels in India (1793), reprinted in The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism, ed. Michael J. Franklin, 6 vols, London: Ganesha Press, 2001, 3: 2–4; henceforth The European Discovery of India. Torrid Zones: Maternity, Sexuality, and Empire in Eighteenth-Century English Narratives, Baltimore, MD and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1995, p. 176. Analytical Review, loc. cit.

Radically feminizing India 175 14 The alternative versions of ‘Goldsborne’ and ‘Goldsborn’ also occur in the novel; such variation might have resulted from the difficulty of interpreting Gibbes’s handwriting. 15 One may, for example, compare her listing of prices with that furnished by the equally bourgeois Eliza Fay, whose letters were written from Calcutta at almost exactly the same time as Sophia’s fictional ones. ‘Claret expensive indeed five rupees (twelve and sixpence) a bottle’ (63). ‘[S]ix fine ducks are sold for a rupee, two and sixpence. Bread is also good and cheap; fish both excellent and cheap. Likewise fowls, eggs, and milk, very cheap; butter dear – geese cheap, turkies – dear; and Arabella, half a sheep is often bought for one rupee’ (134). Mrs Fay’s shopping list in a letter of 29 August 1780 is remarkably similar: ‘[E]xcellent Madeira (that is expensive but eatables are very cheap) – a whole sheep costs but two rupees: a lamb one rupee, six good fowls or ducks ditto – twelve pigeons ditto – twelve pounds of bread ditto – [. . .] good cheese two months ago sold at the enormous price of three or four rupees per pound, but now you may buy it for one and a half – English claret sells at this time for sixty rupees a dozen’, Original Letters from India, pp. 181–2. 16 See my Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995, pp. 356–67; henceforth Selected Works. 17 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East 1680–1880, trans. Gene Patterson-Black and Victor Reinking, New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. 18 One distinguished reader of Hartly House was the bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu, who had earlier rhapsodized about the ‘Asiatick Luxury’ of William Jones’s Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Languages, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1772. No doubt intrigued by the mention of a full-length portrait of the author of ‘the Genius of Shakespear’ at Hartly Bungilo, not to mention the accompanying elegant paean to the ‘Queen of the Blues’, Montagu attempted to discover the name of the novel’s author; see Mrs. Montagu, ‘Queen of the Blues’, Her Letters and Friendships 1762–1800, ed. Reginald Blunt, 2 vols, London: Constable, 1923, 2: 256. 19 See Selected Works, pp. 80–97. 20 India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600–1800, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 136. It was A. L. Basham in his ‘Sophia and the “Bramin” ’ (in East India Company Studies: Papers Presented to Professor Sir Cyril Philips, ed. Kenneth Ballhatchet and John Harrison, Hong Kong, 1986, pp. 13–30, 17–18) who first raised the interesting point that the Brahman and Sophia at this stage no longer require an interpreter. This is despite the fact that his relation, her father’s Sekar, though an indispensable servant who ‘walks in and out of Hartly House at pleasure’, only ‘converses by signs with me’ (89). Earlier Sophia had announced: ‘I adore the customs of the East. Instead of having their servants [. . .] speaking in broken words [. . .] the Europeans [. . .] learn to ask for what they want in Gentoo phrases; [. . .] making English the vehicle only of polite conversation’ (57). This might seem to imply that language acquisition in Calcutta promoted exclusivity rather than communication, but ultimately it is left uncertain as to whether we are meant to view the Brahman’s rapid progress in English as a mark of superior caste, of superior intellect or as an indicator of his devotion to Sophia. 21 Mary Lloyd has shown that Hastings in the early 1780s had initiated at least two enquiries into the practice; ‘Both Hastings and Wilkins, and later Jonathan Duncan, were satisfied as to the validity of the laws of satl’, ‘Sir Charles Wilkins, 1749–1836’, India Office Library and Records, 1978, 9–39; 18. See also my introduction to Colebrooke’s Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus, in The European Discovery of India, 6: x–xii. 22 Kate Teltscher makes the important point that the reviews are silent upon the potential dangers of this inter-racial relationship, arguing ‘that this silence suggests, not so much that the reviewers find these issues too threatening to address, as that the author has managed to limit the sense of danger. [. . .] the narrative functions as a kind of enactment and resolution of anxiety, or, we might say, an exercise in constructing a safe colonial subject’, India Inscribed, p. 138


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23 It was said of Hastings at the time that the influence of Hinduism caused him studiously to avoid stepping upon a Daylesford ant; cf. Jones’s translation from Sa‘dl: ‘Crush nor yon ant, who stores the golden grain’, Letters, 2: 753. 24 It is, of course, quite possible that the following cynical comment was resonating in the author’s mind: ‘It is probable our present young Nabôb may prove the last of his family, and he may likewise wind up the bottom of this office, with respect to the human race. Whenever he dies, in any way, perhaps one of the state-elephants may be thought no improper successor, that being an animal of great shew, very long-lived, equally tractable, and not so expensive to maintain as the pageant parts of the human race’, William Bolts, Considerations on India Affairs, 3 vols, London: J. Almon, 1772–5, 1: 47. 25 Nussbaum, Torrid Zones, p. 189. 26 ‘ “The barbarous character we give them”: White Women Travellers Report on Other Races’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 22, 1992, 73–86; 80. 27 ‘When confronted with the dark sublime of India, having finally represented it as uncatalogable and unclassifiable, Sophia domesticates and simplifies race, class, and gender relations’, Nussbaum, Torrid Zones, p. 190. 28 Hastings’s departure from Calcutta in the notably fast Berrington East Indiaman on 8 February 1785, accompanied by a flotilla of elegant budgerows, is rendered in much fuller detail than that of Gibbes’s own heroine, see Letters XXIV–XXV. 29 The arrival of Lord Cornwallis prompts this further paean to the ‘self-ennobled’ Hastings from Sophia who will not ‘forget the Governor I have known [. . .] Hereditary advantages, however brilliant their effects, are but secondary recommendations; – the self-ennobled individual, and him who disgraces not the memory of his illustrious forefathers, being the only highly revered characters in this land of commerce and plain understanding (254–5). Unaccountably Felicity Nussbaum attempts to minimize the importance of such staunch and committed support for Hastings, commenting, ‘On several occasions Sophia weakly voices political opinions’, Torrid Zones, p. 190. 30 For a scholarly and accessible survey of such writings, see Ketaki Kushari Dyson, A Various Universe: A Study of the Journals and Memoirs of British Men and Women in the Indian Subcontinent, 1765–1856, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978, 31 Gibbes’s feminization of a Hindu India, of course, conforms to current cultural stereotypes, but this is balanced by a representation of Mughal potency in the portrayal of the Nawab. 32 The novel received four London editions and a New York edition in its year of publication; a French translation followed in 1812 and a German one in 1825. 33 Lady Morgan’s Memoirs: Autobiography, Diaries, Correspondence, ed. W. Hepworth Dixon and Geraldine Jewsbury, 2 vols, London: W.H. Allen, 1862; revised, 1863, 2: 388; henceforth cited as Memoirs. 34 Stockdale paid her £400, as opposed to the £20 Gibbes received from Dodsley. 35 See David Kopf, British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773–1835, Berkeley, CA and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1969, pp. 43–64. ‘Lord Castlereagh, who was handling the Charter Bill for the Government, thought that while this would satisfy the enthusiasts, it would do no harm, since he was convinced that despite the number of petitions, very few Englishmen were really anxious to go out to India as missionaries’, Ainslie Embree, Charles Grant and British Rule in India, London: Allen & Unwin, 1962, p. 272. On Owenson’s friend Thomas Moore’s satire on the making of ‘Company’s Christians’ in India, see my ‘The Building of Empire and the Building of Babel: Sir William Jones, Lord Byron, and their Productions of the Orient’, in Byron East and West, ed. Martin Prochazka, Prague: Charles University, 2000, pp. 63–78; 74–5. 36 The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale (1806), ed. Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 107; see also pp. 48, 88, 91 and 174. As Colonel Vallancey was enthusiastically linking ancient Irish with Persian and Sanskrit, radicals on both sides of the Irish Sea were drawing parallels between imperial despotism within the ‘internal colony’ of Ireland and the external colony of British India. See Katie Trumpener, Bardic

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47 48 49 50

Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997, pp. 128, 163. In 1853 Marx referred to India as ‘the Ireland of the East’, ‘The British Rule in India’, in Political Writings, vol. 2 Survey from Exile, New York: Random House, 1974, p. 301. On Jones’s use of Phoenicianism in his projected epic of British India, see my ‘ “And the Celt knew the Indian”: Sir William Jones, Oriental Renaissance and Celtic Revival’, in English Romanticism and the Celtic World, ed. Gerard Carruthers and Alan Rawes, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2003, pp. 20–37. Preface to The Curse of Kehama, The Poetical Works of Robert Southey, 10 vols, London: Longman, 1838, 8: xxiii. ‘Castlereagh was perhaps, the greatest admirer the Missionary ever found’, Memoirs, I: 424. Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Frederick Jones, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964, 1: 107. John Drew’s detailed and nuanced critique of Shelley’s image of India, which reads Prometheus Unbound (1820) in terms of Kashmiri mythology, has convincingly demonstrated that Jones and Owenson were the mediating figures; see India and the Romantic Imagination, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 254. The atheist Shelley, even more strangely, later wrote that in India ‘the zeal of the missionaries [. . .] will produce beneficial innovation’, ‘Philosophical View of Reform’, in Shelley’s Prose, ed. David Lee Clark, London: Fourth Estate, 1988, pp. 229–61, 238. ‘As when, through blest Vrindavan’s od’rous grove,/ They deign’d with hinds and village girls to rove,/ And myrth or toil in field or dairy shar’d,/ As lowly rustics far’d:/ Blythe Radha she, with speaking eyes, was nam’d,/ He Crishna, lov’d in youth, in manhood fam’d’, ‘A Hymn to Lacshmí’, ll. 85–90, Selected Works, pp. 153–63. Such emotional erotic worship was at the heart of the bhakti (loving devotion) movement in Bengal with which William Jones demonstrated a profound empathy. Selected Works, pp. 164–78, p. 170. Analytical Review, 7 August 1790, 361–73, 361. Sacontalá received, in the century following its publication, no fewer than 46 translations in 12 different languages. ‘The Ôakuntalm is not merely a document that provides evidence about culture, it is not just a cultural exemplar; it defines an integral part of an outlook and internal relationship of a civilization’, Edwin Gerow, ‘Plot Structure and the Development of Rasa in the Ôakuntalm’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Pt. 1, 99, 1979, 559–72; Pt. 2, 100, 1980, 267–82; 1.564 The Missionary: An Indian Tale, ed. Julia M. Wright, Peterborough, ON and Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2002, p. 91; subsequent references appear parenthetically in the text. See my ‘Representing India in Drawing-Room and Classroom; or, Miss Owenson and “those gay gentlemen, Brahma, Vishnu, and Co.” ’, in Interrogating Orientalisms: Theories and Practices, ed. Diane Long Hoeveler and Jeffrey Cass, Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2006, 247–87. Consider the binarism of this static tableau: ‘Silently gazing, in wonder, upon each other, they stood finely opposed, the noblest specimens of the human species as it appears in the most opposite regions of the earth; she, like the East, lovely and luxuriant; he, like the West, lofty and commanding: the one, radiant in all the lustre, attractive in all the softness which distinguishes her native regions; the other, towering in all the energy, imposing in all the vigour, which marks his ruder latitudes: she, looking like a creature formed to feel and submit; he, like a being created to resist and to command: while both appeared as the ministers and representatives of the two most powerful religions of the earth; the one no less enthusiastic in her brilliant errors, than the other confident in his immutable truth’ (109). See my ‘Passion’s Empire: Sydney Owensen’s Indian Venture, Phoenicianism, Orientalism, and Binarism’, Studies in Romanticism, forthcoming, 2006. Jonathan Duncan considers ‘Tupisya or modes of devotional discipline’, in ‘An Account of Two Fakeers, with their Portraits’, Asiatic Researches, 5, 1798, 37–52, 38 I have martialled evidence for this reading in ‘Passion’s Empire’, see n. 47 above. A brief comparison of relevant passages will here suffice. ‘The Bramins, however, affirm that he bequeathed them a book called the Vidam, containing all his doctrines and



52 53

54 55


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institutions; and that, though the original is lost, they are still possessed of a commentary upon it, which they name the Shahstah, written in the Shanscrita language; a dead language at this time, and known only to the priests who study it’, Hartly House, Calcutta, p. 128. Cf. ‘The bramins [. . .] pretend that he bequeathed to them a book called the Vidam, containing his doctrines and institutions; and that, though the original is lost, they are still possessed of a commentary upon it, called the Shahstah, written in the Sanscrit language; now a dead language, and known only to the bramins who study it’, William Guthrie, A New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar, London: J. Knox, 1770, p. 473. Cf. ‘The Bramins, say, that Brumma, their lawgiver, left them a book, called the Vidam, which contains all his doctrines and institutions. Some say the original language in which it was wrote is lost, and that at present they only possess a comment thereon, called the Shahstah, which is wrote in the Sanscrit language, now a dead language, and known only to the Bramins who study it’, Luke Scrafton, Reflections on the Government of Indostan, London: Strahan, Kearsley, and Cadell, 1763, p. 4 ‘68. VIRANI [. . .] implies a power of allaying feverish heat; [. . .] among the innocent luxuries of this climate, we may assign the first rank to the coolness and fragrance, which the large hurdles or screens in which they are interwoven, impart to the hottest air, by the means of water dashed through them; while the strong southern wind spreads the scent before it, and the quick evaporation contributes to cool the atmosphere. [. . .] (69). ÔAML [. . .] used by the Bráhmens to kindle their sacred fire’, The Works of Sir William Jones, ed. Anna Maria Jones, 13 vols, London: Stockdale and Walker, 1807, 5: 154–5. Hereafter cited as Works. Cf. Jones’s illustration of Sufi doctrine from Hmfiz: ‘ “The true object of heart and soul is the glory of a union with our beloved” ’, ‘On the Mystical Poetry of the Persians and Hindus’, Works, 3: 211–68; 225. It had been the experience of many eighteenth-century Europeans that Hindus in general and Brahmans in particular were reluctant to unlock the secrets of Hinduism to non-believers, with Brahmans jealously guarding their traditional and authoritative access to Sanskritic learning. That this situation gradually changed has largely been viewed as a personal success for Hastings’s scholarly empathy and Orientalist policies. See the General Introduction to Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control in Eighteenth-Century British Orientalist Discourse, ed. Michael J. Franklin, 9 vols, London: Routledge, 2000, 1: ix–x. Works, III: 239. In her edition Julia Wright’s thesis that Owenson’s representation of India is ‘de(anglo)centered’ (p. 51) is largely based upon her failure to realize the frequency of Owenson’s unacknowledged but important borrowings from Sir William Jones’s works. ‘[W]e cannot cleave to infinite felicity, without also perpetually rejoicing in the first daughter of Love to GOD, Charity toward men’, ‘On the Mystical Poetry of the Persians and Hindus’, Works, 4: 215. These are not isolated examples; what they reveal on Owenson’s part is a commendable commitment to syncretic method, if not to scholarly discipline. On Owenson’s assimilation of Jones, see Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, pp. 241–2. Balachandra Rajan’s assertion that when Luxima ‘accepts Christianity and prefers a platonic life with Hilarion to a fuller one with Suleiman Shiknh (with whom she would not have done any better) she surrenders herself to victimization’ (Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1999, p. 133), seems to distort one point – Luxima never does accept Christianity, and to miss another – the significance of Prince Suleiman’s parentage. On a separate point, although Rajan is right to stress Owenson’s thoughtful remembering of Milton (in this, also, she follows Jones), Luxima’s use of the phrase ‘a dark-spotted flower in the garden of love’ (213) in her dying words does not recall Comus, or indeed Hegel, (see p. 247n), but is a most apposite quotation from the narrative of Mejnún and Lailì: ‘He had seen the depradations of Grief through absence from his beloved object: he had plucked many a black-spotted flower from the garden of love’, cited in Jones, ‘On the Orthography of Asiatick Words’, Works, 3: 313. Perhaps modern critics should take particular care not follow Owenson’s contemporaries in impugning her scholarship.

Radically feminizing India 179 57 Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, p. 54. Cf. ‘The Sixth Anniversary Discourse’, reprinted in Representing India, vol. 8. Akbar S. Ahmed maintains that dominion over the Muslims of South Asia has always veered between the contrasting leadership styles of Dmra Shiknh’s Sufi-inspired syncretism and Aurangzeb’s fundamentalism, this polarity being reflected in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Zia respectively, see Pakistan Society: Islam, Ethnicity and Leadership in South Asia, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1986. 58 Owenson, however, does not reference this incident; as with her use of Jones, her footnotes acknowledge texts upon which she draws more heavily than her notes reflect. 59 Alexander Dow, The History of Hindostan, From the Death of Akbar, to the Complete Settlement of the Empire under Aurungzebe (1772), repr. in Representing India, 2: 272–3. The Rajah’s annoyance at intrusion into his private ‘pleasure dome’ was indeed a pretence; he had been suborned by Aurangzeb, to whom he eventually rendered up the unfortunate Suleiman. Owenson must also have been impressed by Dow’s praise of the 26-year-old Suleiman, ‘graceful in his person, and vigorous in his mind. [. . .] He was brave in action, sedate and possessing himself in the greatest dangers. He was generous in his disposition, liberal in his sentiments, pleasing to his friends, humane to his enemies. He possessed the fire and warmth of Dara without his weakness; the prudence of Aurungzêbe without his meanness and deceit’, ibid., 2: 231; or the description of his tragic fate: ‘The whole court were struck with the stately gracefulness of his person; they were touched with grief at his melancholy fate [being brought in chains to Delhi]. Many of the nobles could not restrain their tears; the ladies of the haram weeped aloud behind the screens’, ibid., 2: 338.


The strains of empire Shelley and the music of India Tilar J. Mazzeo

As several scholars have argued recently, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s relationship to the musical fashions of the early nineteenth century significantly influenced his poetry and his aesthetic principles.1 Because Shelley spent the last several years of his life in Italy and demonstrated a particular interest in Italian opera from 1817 onwards, the music from this national tradition has been read as central to appreciating the lyric investments of Shelley’s late verse compositions. Certainly, Shelley describes an intimate relationship between music and poetry in several of his works, maintaining directly and most famously in the Defence of Poetry (1821) that Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an Aeolian lyre . . . . But there is a principle within the human being . . . which acts otherwise than in the lyre, and produces not melody, alone, but harmony.2 This harmony and the metrical effects that it creates are the essence of poetry. Just as certainly, Italian music and the opera especially shaped Shelley’s exploration of this analogy and may have influenced, as Lawrence Kramer, Ronald Tetreault and Bernard Beatty have argued, the structure and compositions of poems including The Triumph of Life (1822) and Prometheus Unbound (1819).3 However, the importance of India and Indian music for Shelley and his poetry has been underestimated. Shelley was clearly interested in the topic at least as early as 1814, and his familiarity with contemporary European representations of Indian music is demonstrated in his early poem Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude (1816). Prometheus Unbound likewise reflects an obvious knowledge of Hindu mythology, but the only significant discussion of the poem’s relationship to the Indian musical tradition is the argument proposed by John Drew that the fourth act may have been an effort to ‘give shape and form to “the most pleasing invention of the ancient Hindus,” the raginis, the aerial beings which allegorize Hindu melodies’.4 However, Shelley’s interest in Indian music intensified during the period of his residence in Italy during 1818–22 and shaped not only major poetic efforts such as Prometheus Unbound but also the late lyrics associated with Jane Williams. There can, of course, be little doubt that verses such as ‘Lines to an Indian Air’ (1822) were influenced by an interest in Indian music; the point of this essay is not merely to remind readers of the musical exchanges

Shelley and the music of India 181 that Shelley shared with his intimates nor to track the poet’s reading through his works. Rather, my argument is that Shelley’s interest in Indian music functioned for him as a way of unifying disparate elements of his thinking about both poetry and empire in the final years of his career. Shelley’s attitude towards imperialism at this time was shaped by productively projecting the geography of India onto his vision of the idealized world of forms from which he believed poetry and other harmonic expressions emerged. Music came to represent the point of contact for Shelley between this idealized world and materiality, and it was Indian music, especially as sung by magical Oriental women, that formed the most powerful means of rapport. The result was a view of imperialism that placed the European subject under the ‘empire’ of the East and cast the colonial relationship as a sympathetic enchantment of the colonizer by the colonized. Shelley’s infatuation with Jane Williams – an Anglo-Indian, an accomplished musician in the Oriental style and the enchantress of his late lyrics – demonstrates this imaginative nexus clearly and parallels at the level of biography the metaphoric associations that Shelley was developing philosophically. For, in the final years of his career, Shelley increasingly understood poetry as a form of possession and as an essentially musical endeavour; poetry becomes in this analogy a form of subjection for the poet, who is controlled by harmonic powers with their source in a distant and fundamentally imaginative and allegorical world – a world that simultaneously represents both the place beyond the ‘painted veil’ of material existence that concerned Shelley in so many of his later works and India. I have suggested that Shelley’s interest in India and Indian music intensified during years in which he resided in Italy, and it is worth remembering that Shelley’s Italian circle was hardly Italian at all. The companions of Shelley’s final years as a poet were predominantly drawn from Anglo-Indian society. His domestic circle from 1820 to 1822 included his cousin, Thomas Medwin, who had been commissioned in India in 1813 and served from 1813 to 1818.5 Medwin introduced to the Shelley–Byron circle several of his Anglo-Indian acquaintances, including Edward Trelawny and Jane and Edward Williams. Trelawny had travelled in the East from 1805 to 1812 as a young naval officer, while Jane and Edward Williams both came from families with historical ties to the Anglo-Indian community. Jane’s father had served in the East India Company Army, and she spent several years in India as a young child and apparently spoke Hindustani quite fluently. As a young woman, she returned to India with her brother, who was commissioned in the Madras Army, and she subsequently married an East India Company captain.6 Later, of course, she met Edward Williams, the son of a captain in the Bengal Army and himself a cornet (i.e. a calvary officer who carried the colours) in the Eighth Light Dragoons from 1812 to 1818.7 Shelley’s most intimate friends during these years were people who had spent significant periods of their lives in India and who remained enthusiastic about those experiences, and Oriental topics were the subject of frequent discussion. The journals and letters from the period record that, in the evenings, Medwin and Edward Williams read from their Indian travel journals, which described conventionally exotic details that participated in the representation of Romantic India as a violent and sexualized culture – including Williams’ apparently explicit description of his trespass into a harem, an entry subsequently effaced by a more modest nineteenth-century reader.8 Trelawny told stories of


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his youth in the East, Mary Shelley and Jane Williams dressed for dinner in Oriental costumes and Jane played music for them all.9 Some of that music must have been the Indian airs for which Shelley sought to find words. While this social and domestic context accounts for much of Shelley’s late interest in Indian music, his interest in the topic was rekindled during this period rather than developed for the first time. Shelley had been fascinated with India since his adolescence, and, as Nigel Leask has argued in his study British Romantic Writers and the East (1992), Shelley was ‘already a confirmed Orientalist and liberal imperialist before Medwin’s arrival’ (70) in Pisa.10 Like so many other British writers and readers in the early nineteenth century, Shelley was particularly taken with the mythology of Romantic Cashmere, a region that was celebrated in contemporary representations for its richly supernatural musical traditions. Shelley’s early knowledge of the subject came from his reading of popular texts such as Sydney Owenson’s novel The Missionary: An Indian Tale (1811), Robert Southey’s epic Indian poem The Curse of Kehama (1810) and the researches of the renowned Orientalist Sir William Jones, whose collected Works (1799) Shelley ordered in 1812.11 Each of these texts emphasized the particular association of Romantic Cashmere with music. Owenson’s novel, for example, takes as its subject the religious conversion of a Brahman priestess of Cashmere and includes not only a description of the allegory of the ‘Raga Mala’ or ‘Necklace Melody’ (93) but also an extended scene in which Luxima, like a ‘lovely Rajini, or female Passion’ (122), entices Hilarion by ‘playing on the Indian lyre’ and singing ‘a hymn to Camdeo’ (121).12 Throughout the narrative, Owenson describes scenes of Indian music and associates it with the experience of intoxication and with ‘visionary trance[s]’ (213). Likewise, Southey’s poem posits the essential connection between enchantment and music in Indian culture, most memorably in the description of the maiden Kailyal, who ‘with an angel’s voice of song / Poured forth her melodious lays’ (13: 7, 117) and captivated wild animals. Under her influence, even ‘The Snake [came] gliding from the secret brake, / Himself in fascination forced along / By that enchanting song’ (13: 12, 120).13 As Southey’s notes to The Curse of Kehama explain, this imagery was inspired by the Indian tradition of musical snake charmers (298), an element of local culture documented by Jones in his essay ‘On the Musical Mode of the Hindus’ (1784).14 The cultural representation of wild beasts charmed by Indian music was popular in Orientalist texts – so popular, in fact, that a remarkably similar scene appears in Owenson’s novel, when the sleeping Luxima nearly falls victim to ‘a serpent of immense size’ (212) but is saved by the ‘vesper hymn of the Indian huntsman’ (213), which ‘operated with an immediate and magic influence on the organs on the reptile’ (213). The imagery of the snake charmed by Indian music appears to have captured Shelley’s imagination quite particularly. As John Drew observes, ‘Snake’ was Byron’s nickname for Shelley in Italy, and it is a name that Drew argues was based on Cashmerean mythology and on the description in Southey’s poem, although clearly there may have been other sources as well.15 At any rate, Byron was presumably teasing Shelley about his susceptibility to musical enchantment, especially where beautiful Indian maidens were concerned, and Jane Williams, who had precisely this effect on Shelley, was likely to have provided the occasion for this joke.

Shelley and the music of India 183 Both Owenson and Southey were indebted to the researches of Sir William Jones for many of their Oriental details, and Shelley is likely also to have read his work on Indian music directly, either in the first volume of the complete Works or by borrowing the text from the collection in Hookham’s Circulating Library.16 Jones argued that Indian music was at the heart of the culture and was essentially allegorical and supernatural. His most important work on the subject, the essay ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, focuses especially on the ‘Raga Mala’ tradition that Shelley had encountered in The Missionary. According to Jones, the ragas allegorized Indian melodies by correlating them with aspects of Hindu gods, and these melodies were at the centre of an extended network of associations linking musical modes with the control over emotional responses, heat and colour. Jones translates the term raga as ‘properly signif[ying] a passion or affection of the mind’, which operates by creating a union of voices, instruments, and action . . . such an alliance . . . may, from particular associations, operate so forcefully on very sensible minds, as to excite copious tears, change the colour and countenance, heat or chill the blood, make the heart palpitate with violence, or even compel the hearer to start from his seat with the look, speech, and actions of a men in a phrensy[.]17 The implication is that in Indian music there is a direct connection between a particular melody and its emotional and sympathetic response. These responses may escape the willed intention or control of the listener in a version of the trance. Importantly, each raga or ragini – literally the melodic modes that in different combinations constitute the essentials of classical Indian music – is personified as a deity or as the incarnation of a deity (male or female), each credited with evoking a particular emotion and associated with specific seasons and hours. This connection between Indian music and feeling is likewise the subject of Jones’ ‘Hymn to Sereswaty’ (1785), described by a contemporary commentator as a poem on ‘the Goddess of Harmony’ and on the ‘influence of music on the passions’ (481).18 In the hymn, Sereswaty – depicted with a vina in hand – is credited with having created the raginis, those ‘Sev’n sprightly Notes’ (l. 6) whose ‘Young passions at the sound, / In shadowy forms arose, / O’er hearts, yet uncreated, sure to reign’ (ll. 14–16). Here again is the suggestion that Indian music has the ability to conquer or to ‘reign’ over the passions of those who hear it. The association Jones made between the emotional effects of Indian music and contemporary European models of sensibility was itself indebted to recent researches into traditional Oriental musical instruments, notably Francis Fowke’s essay ‘On the Vina or the Indian Lyre’ (1788).19 Fowke described the vina in terms similar to the European Aeolian harp, an instrument that was, of course, particularly noted for its value in theories of sympathetic harmony. Shelley incorporated Indian lyres into several of his poems, including Alastor, and is likely to have encountered descriptions of the vina in his reading of Jones. The ragas tradition, as it was understood in the Romantic period, was also associated closely with contemporary representations of Cashmere, in large part due to the fashion that developed in the last several decades of the eighteenth century throughout Britain and in Anglo-Indian circles, especially around Calcutta and


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Lucknow, for what were called during the period either Indian or Hindustani airs.20 As N. A. Jairazbhoy has described them, these airs were Indian songs arranged for Western instruments, primarily by Anglo-Indian women associated with Jones in India, and, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, numerous collections of Indian musical arrangements for the harpsichord, flute and guitar were published in Britain.21 Most of the Hindustani airs that were popularized in Europe actually drew on the Indian tradition of the rekhti – love lyrics sung by women and often performed at nautch or notch dances – rather than on the ragas, but the distinction between the two genres was frequently lost in cultural translation, and Indian music remained associated generally in Britain with excessive sensibility, sympathy and often love.22 The collections of Hindustani airs that were published during the first part of the nineteenth century, including a volume with lyrics written by Amelia Opie, were particularly indebted to the music collected by the Anglo-Indian amateur musician, Sophia Plowden, whose researches attracted the attention of Jones and who was renowned for employing a ‘near legendary’ notch dancer from Cashmere named Kannum.23 In playing Indian music on the guitar that Shelley purchased for her in Italy, Jane Williams was, of course, participating somewhat belatedly in this popular fashion, which reached its peak in England at the turn of the century but continued to play an important role in Anglo-Indian domestic entertainment into the 1830s. Because the vogue for Hindustani airs was primarily inaugurated and sustained by British women, who frequently supplemented their private musical performances of Indian music with a more literal interest in Oriental fashion and, like Jane Williams and Mary Shelley, dressed for the occasion in Eastern costume, Indian music was not only associated with the mythology of Romantic Cashmere but was also gendered feminine in its European cultural context.24 Insofar as British representations of Hindu music emphasized its relationship to enchantment and to the irrational stimulation of the emotions, it dovetailed neatly with contemporary stereotypes of female identity, and Shelley is likely to have associated Hindustani airs with the seductive power of Orientalized women well before his acquaintance with Jane Williams. It is not impossible that Shelley would have heard Hindustani airs at home, performed by one of his sisters at the height of the fashion for this music; certainly, the presence of an Indian princess from Lucknow in Horsham village after 1804 would have increased local interest in Oriental culture at nearby Field Place.25 Likewise, Shelley’s fascination with Claire Clairemont’s musical abilities and his involvement in Leigh Hunt’s musical circle in London in 1817 – the period coming between the composition of Shelley’s two poems most directly engaged with Oriental music, Alastor and Prometheus Unbound – makes his ignorance of the contemporary musical vogue for these melodies unlikely. Regardless of whether Shelley had actually heard Hindustani airs performed before his acquaintance with Jane Williams, he was certainly familiar with Indian music generally by the time he came to write Alastor in 1815. The poem and its curious partner text, a fragmentary romance called The Assassins (1814) that Shelley began with Mary and Claire Clairmont during their first travels in France and Switzerland, mark a conscious engagement with Owenson, Southey and contemporary representations of Indian music in Cashmere. The central narrative of Alastor describes the

Shelley and the music of India 185 condition of a visionary poet who is devoid of human sympathy. A devoted Arab maiden, whose passion he appears not to recognize, cares for him, but, rather than returning her love, he images for himself the vision of a veiled maiden, who comes to him in the ‘vale of Cashmire’ and who sings to him in a voice ‘like the voice of his own soul, / Heard in the calm of thought; its music long, / Like woven sounds of streams and breezes / . . . . / . . . her fair hands / Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp / Strange symphony.’26 The ‘spirit of sweet human love’ (42) has sent the veiled maiden, presumably to serve as an alastor (avenging spirit), and the poet pursues his phantom vision throughout the East until he discovers sympathy and dies. His enchantment by Indian music, performed by a beautiful woman, is central to the poem; the poet of Alastor is, in a sense, beguiled by the rendition of a Hindustani air played on a ‘strange’ Indian harp, presumably the celebrated vina. Shelley’s associations of Alastor with Indian music come into sharper focus when the poem is considered in relationship to the fragmentary romance The Assassins, which functions at least in part as a draft version of the poem and as in intermediary text linking Alastor to its sources in the imagery of Orientalist poetry. The Assassins takes up much of the mythology and some of the language of Southey’s verse, particularly his ‘Arabian tale’ Thalaba the Destroyer (1801); at the same time, The Assassins is also an early attempt to work out some of the central themes of Alastor. The narrative of The Assassins focuses on an Arab family living after the fall of imperial Rome in the secluded vale of Bethzatanai, a valley described in language remarkably similar to the descriptions of Cashmere in Owenson’s The Missionary. The valley is explicitly characterized as musical and in terms that suggest images of the Aeolian harp: here ‘Nature . . . had become an enchantress . . . . The pine boughs became instruments of exquisite contrivance, among which every varying breeze waked music of new and more delightful melody.’27 The crucial event of the romance is the discovery of a youth impaled on the branches of a cedar tree, threatened by a snake and a vulture (50).28 The youth speaks to Albedir ‘in the spirit of sweet human love . . . . The tones were mild and clear as the responses of Aeolian music’ (50). Unable to resist the ‘magic impulse’ (50) or the voice of the ‘brother of his soul’ (50), Albedir frees the youth with feelings of sympathy and takes him into his home, and the fragment ends with the introduction of the youth to sight of Albedir’s children, especially his daughter, Maimuna, who is engaged at the side of a river in making toy boats for the tame snake which rests on her bosom. The emphasis in the romance on magic, sympathy, and the powers of Oriental musical expression recall the main themes of Alastor, and the repetition in the climactic scene of each work of ‘spirit of sweet human love’ suggests that Shelley was reworking important narrative elements of his romance in Alastor. The particularly close textual relationship of The Assassins to Thalaba the Destroyer also indicates how important Southey’s poem was for both Alastor and Shelley’s thinking about Indian music and its relationship to enchantment. In her note on Alastor published with the collected posthumous edition of Shelley’s works, Mary Shelley had noted that Thalaba was Shelley’s ‘favourite poem’ and that he was particularly taken with the description there of a river voyage much like the ones that feature prominently in Alastor and are alluded to at the end of his fragmentary romance.29 The correspondences between Shelley’s romance and Southey’s poem,


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however, extend beyond imagery and thematics. One of the central figures in Thalaba is a musical Oriental sorceress named Maimuna who binds the hero with silken threads while he is enthralled by her singing. Shelley had named the young girl in The Assassins Maimuna, as well, and she is described as having a particular rapport with the snake, much like the Indian charmers describe in Jones’ researches into Hindu music. The suggestion is that The Assassins is a prequel to the events described in Southey’s poem, perhaps intended to chronicle the transformation of Maimuna from a child to a bewitching sorceress. Insofar as Alastor is both a revision of The Assassins and a poem built upon Southey’s imaginative foundations, that poem also reconfigures the character of Maimuna and her magical/musical powers. Southey’s poem contrasts Thalaba’s enchantment by Maimuna with the idealized vision of Oneiza, whose image, in an important moment in the poem, ‘sw[ims] before his sight, – / His own Arabian Maid / . . . . / And nature for a moment woke the thought/ And murmured, that, from all domestic joys / Estranged he wandered o’er the world, / A lonely being, far from all he loved’ (6: 27).30 This description functions as a particularly apt summary of Shelley’s narrative in Alastor and of the effects of his mystical encounter with the veiled maiden. The point here is not to make overmuch of the relationship among Thalaba, The Assassins and Alastor, although both of the earlier texts clearly inform that later poem. Rather, the point is this: the climactic moment of Alastor is not characterized as musical by chance. The allusions to Indian music are deeply layered and reach back through both of the earlier texts on which Shelley’s poem draws for imagery. Alastor is essentially and importantly a poem about the ability of Indian music, especially as performed by a seductive woman, to evoke irrational sympathies and to overpower the will of the listener. If Leask is correct that Shelley was a ‘confirmed Orientalist’ long before Medwin’s arrival in Pisa, then at the heart of his early attitude towards the East was a fascination with the power of Indian culture and its subalterns to seduce the imperialist. The symbolism of the snake and the eagle/vulture in Shelleyean mythology has long been recognized as a figure for empire, and he directly invokes that comparison in the narrative of The Assassin.31 However, despite his idealized opposition to the Western (typically Roman) model of imperial tyranny that this image symbolizes, Shelley also imagines the revolutionary snake under the ‘empire’ of an Oriental enchantress who, liked the veiled maiden, wills him into her embrace. This image of the snake and eagle (or, alternatively, vulture) ‘wreathed in fight’ is most extensively developed in the first canto of Laon and Cythna; or, the Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century (1817), later titled The Revolt of Islam, where its connections both to symbols of empire and to representations of musical Oriental sorceresses are clearly delineated. Francis Wilford’s essay ‘On Mount Caucasus’, also published as part of the Asiatick Researches (vol. 6), was almost certainly one of Shelley’s sources for this imagery. In his account, Wilford describes ‘GARUD’A or the Eagle’ who ‘near the oracle of UMA or UMASA, which . . . is a name of the EARTH . . . married a beautiful woman; the snakes alarmed at his marriage waged war against him, only one escaping the general slaughter’ (515).32 This last snake is placed around the eagle’s neck, as a trophy, and because Garud’a is also associated with the persecution of Pramathah or Prometheus, there are important

Shelley and the music of India 187 parallels, as Stuart Curran has observed, with the central circumstances of Prometheus Unbound.33 Shelley, of course, does not adopt all the particulars of Wilford’s imagery; however, this important triangulation of the snake/eagle/oriental maiden imagery is central to the way in which he understands the conflict between the snake and the eagle and its symbolic value. As we have seen, this was an image that Shelley began experimenting with as early as The Assassins. I would like to suggest that it is repeated and further developed in Laon and Cythna, where the first canto of the poem is an extension of the Maimuna imagery that runs throughout The Assassins and that provides the basis for the figure of the veiled maiden in Alastor. The narrator of Laon and Cythna describes the ‘portentous fight’ in mid-air of an eagle and a snake, representing respectively tyranny and resistance (1: 246).34 Witness to this struggle is a ‘Woman, beautiful as morning’ (1: 262), who ‘Upon the sea-mark [with] a small boat did wait’ (1: 268–9), apparently waiting for the wounded snake.35 For, when she saw the wounded Snake make His path between the waves, her lips grew pale [. . .] Loosening her star-bright robe and shadowy hair Poured forth her voice; the caverns of the vale That opened to the ocean, caught it there, And filled with silver sounds the overflowing air. She spake in language whose strange melody Might not belong to earth. I heard, alone, What made its music more melodious be, The pity and the love of every tone; But to the Snake those accents sweet were known His native tongue and hers [. . .] And she unveiled her bosom [. . .] [. . .] the Serpent did obey, Her voice, and, coiled in rest in her embrace it lay. (1: 280–306)36 In this passage, the woman creates a supernatural rapport with the natural world through her musical powers. Like the veiled maiden of Alastor, she speaks in an untranslatable melodic language, and, like Southey’s Maimuna, she captivates and commands through her singing. Most importantly, however, like the young Maimuna in Shelley’s The Assassins, she harbors the snake at her breast and sails him about in a boat. This scene in Laon and Cythna is essentially a further rewriting of the final image of The Assassins – an image that in its first articulation looked backward to Thalaba and forward to Alastor but was fundamentally concerned in each instance with the power of Indian music. The repetition of this image, in a poem as directly concerned with the relationship between imperialism and sympathy as Laon and Cythna, suggests that the power ascribed to Oriental women and to their musical charms was associated for Shelley with contemporary questions of empire. And, in the poem,


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while the snake functions, on the one hand, as a symbol for the resistance to tyranny, it is also commanded by a musical summons that is part seduction. The implication is that Indian women productively intervene in the cycle of political and psychological violence but also bear responsibility for heightening Western colonial desire. The image in The Assassins of the impaled revolutionary youth and his torment by, in this instance, an imperial vulture, is likewise central to the development of Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, which describes the mythological hero Prometheus, bound to a rock in the Indian Caucasus (i.e. the region of Romantic Cashmere) and subject to daily attacks by ‘heaven’s winged hound’, perhaps an eagle or more likely a vulture.37 Like Shelley’s earlier compositions, Prometheus Unbound also develops important themes that are based on Shelley’s knowledge of Indian music. Described by Shelley as a ‘lyrical drama,’ a term intended to situate the poem in relation to other musical productions, the poem includes numerous ‘songs,’ most famously in the fourth act, which is apparently meant to be almost entirely sung.38 The lyrics there are some of Shelley’s earliest efforts at finding words for imagined Indian music. Drew argues that the fourth act of the poem demonstrates a considerable knowledge of the ragas tradition and was ‘inspired by Jones’s desire that an English poet should give shape and form to . . . the raginis’.39 However, in many ways the entirety of Prometheus Unbound can be better understood by appreciating Shelley’s interest in and knowledge of Indian music, and the setting of the poem in the Caucasus generally and the vale of Cashmere specifically suggests he intended his reader’s to recognize significant Orientalist elements in the poem. Extending Drew’s thesis to the poem as a whole, some curious features of the composition become less mystifying when taken in the context of the ragas tradition. Perhaps most curiously, Shelley’s interest in the ragas might provide a way of understanding the otherwise perplexing interpenetration of Indian and Italian landscape descriptions throughout Prometheus Unbound. The layering of the landscape descriptions was suggested as early as Mary Shelley’s note to the poem and has engaged the attention of several scholars, but the simultaneity of Eastern and Western geography has not been, to my mind, accounted for in a way that reads it as an integral element of the poem’s argument.40 However, as Shelley and his readers would have known, contemporary Orientalist research into Indian music drew direct parallels between it and the Italian musical tradition. Jones had explicitly compared the Indian ragas with ‘modern Italian dramas’ such as the opera and with the classical music of Greece and Rome, while also suggesting that the ‘Sanscrit language [was] equal to Italian in softness and elegance’.41 Thus, while Alexander the Great and Shelley’s readings in classical histories provided a political connection between Rome and northern India that placed both in the context of Western imperial history, the perceived similarities between the musical traditions of both countries create a shared cultural foundation. In the end, what connects India and Italy, for Jones and for Shelley, is the implied relationship between empire and music. Both cultures are stereotyped as essentially passionate and emotional. This excessive sensibility is demonstrated by the similarity of their musical traditions, which at their most heightened – in the frenzy of the ragas or in the trance of the improvvisatore – tend to result in the suspension of individual and national

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self-possession. In the extension of this metaphor to describe the body politic, both cultures are characterized as historically subject to repeated imperial domination, and the suggestion is that imperial subjection is related to excessive sensibility. Perhaps most importantly for Prometheus Unbound and for understanding Shelley’s interest in Indian music and its subsequent development, however, is the allegorical nature of the ragas, in which melodies simultaneously represented idealized abstractions of human emotional states. Shelley had associated Indian music with allegory as early as Alastor, a poem that he described in his preface as an allegory on the character of the poet and developed, as we have already seen, through the specific vehicle of his enchantment by a Hindustani air. Prometheus Unbound represents Shelley’s effort to write allegory in its purest and most abstracted form, and it is a poem that asserts throughout the ‘omnipotence of music’ in an Indian context.43 The central political allegory of Prometheus Unbound focuses on the psychological origins of tyranny, a topic closely related to the relationship between musical sensibilities and empire suggested by the overlapping Indian–Italian context that the drama develops. As Mary Shelley explained in her note to the poem, Shelley believed with conviction that ‘mankind only had to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none’, and Prometheus Unbound attempts to dramatize an essentially psychological revolution. However, the poem also represents Shelley’s first sustained effort to depict the reality beyond what he called in his famous 1818 sonnet, ‘the painted veil which those who live / Call Life’ (ll. 1–2).44 During the Italian years, Shelley became increasingly invested in articulating an ideal and abstract reality beyond the illusion of corporeal existence. The allegory of the ragas as the material resonances of spiritual forms provided particularly rich symbolism for understanding how music could bring these two experiences into harmony, and, in several of his late lyrics, music represents one of the most important points of contact between the material and the ideal. In Prometheus Unbound, that idealized, nearly Platonic world, which remains fundamentally musical, is given a concrete expression and is described as a vale in the Indian Caucasus. Shelley’s investment in describing this abstract reality and in understanding its relationship to the material and psychological conditions of imperialism is at the heart of his intensified interest in Indian music and his correlation of it with theories of animal magnetism after 1820. In his essay ‘Shelley’s “Magnetic Ladies”: Romantic Mesmerism and the Politics of the Body’ (1992), Nigel Leask argues that Shelley had been seriously interested in animal magnetism since at least as early as 1816 and that he compared the science of ‘artificial somnambulism’ with the sublime and paralyzing effects of female sexual power and with the production and control of lyric voice in a poetic text.45 However, while Leask delineates the chain of associations linking magnetism, the sexuality of the female ‘Other’ and aesthetics, it is necessary to add Indian music to this set of related metaphors. What associated Indian music and magnetism in Shelley’s mind particularly was the shared ability of each to enchant through sympathy and through what he often described, despite the essentially melodic nature of the ragas, as harmony, and we have already seen ample evidence of Shelley’s tendency to embody Indian music in the figure of the Oriental enchantress. The significant development in Shelley’s thinking about Indian


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music after 1820 was that he increasingly saw parallels between it and the theory of poetry-as-possession that his interest in magnetism (and to a lesser extent, in Plato’s Ion) had developed. Shelley’s intensified interest in Indian music and in pursuing its relationship to both animal magnetism and poetry owes a great deal to the arrival of Thomas Medwin, who quite naturally associated magnetism with his knowledge of Indian holy men and their ability to entrance their subjects. Medwin had arrived in Pisa in October of 1820, and, as Joan Rees observes, ‘In India, Medwin had become interested in the demonstrations of holy men, able to put even unwilling subjects into a trance-like sleep, and on his return had continued to study hypnosis or “animal magnetism” ’.46 This interest was, of course, part of the larger cultural fascination with the excessive sensibilities of Indian natives that include the researches into snake charmers and musical hypnosis that Jones had described in his studies, and Medwin had written an essay on the topic that he shared with Shelley in December.47 As Medwin would have discovered in the course of his researches, contemporary theories of ‘magnetic sleep’ made music an integral component of the practice. The notion was that there was a mutual influence between heavenly and animate bodies as a result of the magnetic properties of the fluids running through each. When this mutuality was in balance, bodies were thought to be in ‘harmonic rapport’ or in sympathy with each other; when they were in disharmony, various illnesses and symptoms would result. Thus, magnetism – a means of restoring rapport externally – was intended as a medical treatment, the central metaphor for which was musical. One of the propositions outlined by Franz Anton Mesmer in his Dissertation on the Discovery of Animal Magnetism (1779) was that magnetism ‘is communicated, propagated, and intensified by sound’, and music could have this result because the human body was also considered an instrument: one that occasionally needed to be ‘retuned’ through the practice of magnetic sleep.48 That Shelley understood magnetism as an essentially musical form of treatment with parallels for his thinking about aesthetics is demonstrated in the Defence of Poetry (1821) – a text that also had India and colonialism in the immediate background. After all, Thomas Love Peacock, whose essay on The Four Ages of Poetry (1820) provided the impetus for the Defence, was a civil servant in the East India Company, where he developed a close relationship with his Utilitarian colleague, James Mill, a career imperialist and most recently the author of a History of British India (1818).49 Shelley had been curious enough about Peacock’s post to enquire about it in several letters and even asked at one point about the possibility of obtaining employment in India himself, at the court of a native prince.50 In the Defence of Poetry, Shelley offers a political and aesthetic critique of Utilitarianism by advocating for a model of harmonic rapport that is simultaneously magnetic and musical. At the heart of Shelley’s critique of Utilitarianism is the contention that ‘There are two kinds of pleasure, one durable, universal and permanent; the other transitory and particular. Utility may either express the means of producing the former or the latter’, but Utilitarianism represents the latter alone. Pleasure is determinedly associated with poetry and harmony.51 For Shelley, poetry has its origins in musical expression and shares with it the ability to

Shelley and the music of India 191 transmut[e] all that it touches . . . every form moving within the radiance of its presence is changed by wondrous sympathy to an incarnation of the spirit which it breathes . . . .it strips the veil of the familiarity of the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty, which is that spirit of forms.52 This description of the transformative powers of sympathy is an extension of the claims with which he had begun the essay, in which Shelley characterized human beings as instruments capable of harmonic interpenetration rather than simple melodic expression. Mesmer had made precisely the same point, writing that ‘our bodies are harmonized, not in a uniform and monotonous manner, but as a musical instrument furnished with several strings’, and Shelley’s central contention in the Defence of Poetry – that poetry represents a harmonic impulse able to restore the world – was shaped by an interest in magnetism, the hypnotic powers of which became concretely tied by the arrival of Jane Williams to his long-standing investment in the image of the musical Oriental enchantress.53 The poems that Shelley wrote in the context of his infatuation with Jane Williams provide some of the most concentrated examples of the imaginative nexus connecting poetry with the intoxicated expression of an idealized world of forms that is essentially both musical and Indian. These verses develop further the recurring metaphor of the snake, reflecting Shelley’s attitude towards Oriental music at its most personalized but also returning to the themes of empire, colonization and seduction that complicate his political philosophy. In these poems, Jane Williams becomes a version of the Indian maiden who had figured so prominently in Shelley’s earlier Orientalist compositions, and he was invested in reading his passion for her allegorically. His infatuation was part and parcel of a love affair with India and, to some extent, with colonialism, as depicted in those earlier poems, and it is a relationship that Shelley continued to represent as an experience of sympathetic intoxication and a mesmerism of the West by the East. Two of the late lyrics associated with Jane return to the imperial metaphor of the snake in order to suggest that Shelley himself is under the ‘empire’ of her powers and is hypnotized by her Indian music.54 Most famously, of course, Shelley describes himself as a snake in that ‘too melancholy’ poem that begins ‘The serpent is shut out from paradise’ (1821) and that idealizes the relationship of Jane and Edward Williams in its verse lament. However, the poem that most fully develops the connections between Jane as an Oriental enchantress and as a musician is the short lyric fragment, ‘Music’ (1821): I pant for the music which is divine, My heart in its thirst is a dying flower; Pour forth the sound like enchanted wine, Loosen the notes in a silver shower; Like a herbless plain for the gentle rain. I gasp, I faint, till they wake again. Let me drink of the spirit of that sweet sound, More, O more!—I am thirsting yet, It loosens the serpent which care has bound


Tilar J. Mazzeo Upon my heart, to stifle it; The dissolving strain, through every vein, Passes into my heart and brain. As the scent of a violet withered up, Which grew by the brink of a silver lake, When the hot moon has drained its dewy cup. And mist there was none its thirst to slake— And the violet lay dead while the odour flew On the wings of the wind o’er the waters blue— As one who drinks from a charmed cup Of foaming, and sparkling, and murmuring wine, Whom a mighty Enchantress filling up, Invites to love with her kiss divine[.] (Shelley 1847: 299)

The poem describes the process of spiritual and emotional intoxication through music, and Shelley describes his heart as bound by the serpent with which he had associated himself in ‘The serpent is shut our from paradise’. However, read in the context of his earlier use of the serpent as an image of resistance to tyranny and in light of his negative characterizations of his relationship with Mary Shelley at this period, it is possible to read the snake metaphor in two directions. On the one hand, the serpent represents the conquest of his cares over him; they are the worries that bind and stifle his heart. On the other hand, however, the serpent can also be understood as the result of an act of will and of resistance; he has himself bound with care the serpent around his heart in order to stifle the presumably excessive feelings that her musical intoxication is now loosening. If the poem is read as expressing this ambivalence and of allowing for the possibility of an effort, albeit eventually unsuccessful, to resist the charms of his musical ‘Enchantress’, then these verses become a final rewriting of the serpent/eagle/maiden imagery that Shelley first explored as early as The Assassins. In that work and in poems such as Prometheus Unbound and Laon and Cythna, the Indian maiden represented an interruption in and a point of refuge from the cycle of violence that threatened to consume both the eagle and the serpent. In the biographical context of 1821 and 1822, Jane represented a similar interruption and retreat from the power struggle that Shelley characterized as his marriage. His relationship with Mary was a source of considerable anxiety for Shelley at this time, and he had described it in ‘The serpent is shut out from paradise’ in terms not unlike those used by Prometheus to describe his feelings towards Jupiter in the opening lines of Prometheus Unbound: hate, scorn and indifference. Prometheus chronicles the evolution of his enmity and defiance using words such as misery, scorn, despair, pain, hatred and pity. Shelley provides a more personal analogue which casts Mary as his tyrant, writing: ‘Of hatred I am proud,—with scorn content; / Indifference, that once hurt me, now is grown / Itself indifferent. / But, not to speak of love, pity alone / Can break a spirit already more than bent.’ (ll. 9–13).55 Jane becomes, by implication, his Asia. Yet, Shelley’s final deployment of the serpent

Shelley and the music of India 193 imagery describes an enchantment by a musical maiden that might save him from one conflict only to destroy him through its intensity. While the lyrical poems associated with Jane Williams invite biographical readings of this sort, the deployment of imagery and symbolism associated in Shelley’s earlier works with empire, India and music also have implications for understanding his attitude towards colonialism at a period in which he actively considered employment in the East. Most importantly, in these late lyrics Shelley continues to develop a representation of the idealized world beyond his lived material existence as characteristically Indian and as one that can be accessed only through possession or enchantment, either musical or poetic. The romanticized view of the East is complicated by his idealization of Orientalized women – of which Jane became a concrete if not entirely accurate exemplar – not as the familiar colonial object to be conquered by the Western imperial gaze but as the active agent of his seduction. British involvement in India (with its parallels in Prometheus and Asia, Shelley and Jane) is cast as a form of irresistible feminine enchantment, the performance of which depends upon instruments of harmony. Ironically, while the musical Indian maidens throughout Shelley’s poetry represent a positive alternative to the cycle of violence symbolized by the imperial struggle between the snake and the eagle, the alternative is colonialism in another guise: more passive and more sympathetic but also less conscious and less accountable. It is also an essentially musical and aesthetic colonialism. Poetry becomes a model of productive imperialism, in which the poet is enchanted by poetry and by the invisible world of forms from which it originates. In poems such as Prometheus Unbound, that world is allegorized as a musical vale in the Indian Caucasus, and the lyric poems written for Jane suggest that Shelley continued to imagine the ‘reality’ of India in musical and magical terms. In his poem ‘To Jane’ (1822), Shelley wrote of Jane and her musical powers: ‘No leaf will be shaken / Whilst the dews of your melody scatters / Delight. / Though the sound overpowers, / Sing again, with your dear voice revealing / A tone / Of some world far from ours / Where music and moonlight and feeling / Are one’ (ll. 16–24). That far world revealed through Jane’s music represented for Shelley the two geographies in which he was most invested in exploring after 1820: the idealized and essentially poetic world of forms and the landscape of Romantic India.

Notes 1 See especially Jean de Palacio, ‘Music and Musical Themes in Shelley’s Poetry’, Modern Language Review, 1964, LIX, 345–59. 2 The Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Mary Shelley, London: Edward Moxon, 1847, vol. 2, p. 1; hereafter WPBS. 3 Lawrence Kramer, Music and Poetry: The Nineteenth Century and After, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984; Ronald Tetreault, ‘Shelley at the Opera’, ELH, 1981, 48, 144–71; and Bernard Beatty, ‘Repetition’s Music: The Triumph of Life’, in Percy Bysshe Shelley: Bicentenary Essays, ed. Kelvin Ernest, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1992, pp. 99–114. 4 John Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 248. 5 For biographical details on Medwin, see Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, ed. Betty T. Bennett, 2 vols, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980; especially vol. 2, p. 179, n. 7.


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6 For biographical details on Jane Williams and her Anglo-Indian connections, see Joan Rees, Shelley’s Jane Williams, London: William Kimber, 1985; especially 35–7; Sylva Norman notes, in After Shelley: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Hogg to Jane Williams, London: Oxford University Press, 1934, that those who knew Jane in later life testified that ‘She never forgot her Hindustani, and was found delightedly conversing in that language, now with an Indian who was playing his tom-tom in the street, now the ayah who had accompanied General Cleveland’s grandchildren from the East’ (xxxvii). For details on Edward Trelawny, see especially Anne Hill, ‘Trelawny’s Family Background and Naval Career’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 1956, 5, 11–32. 7 For biographical details on Edward Williams, see The Journal of Edward Ellerker Williams: Companion of Shelley and Byron in 1821 and 1822, ed. Richard Garnett, London: Edkin Mathews, 1902; and Maria Gisborne and Edward E. Williams: Shelley’s Friends. Their Letters and Journals, ed. Frederick Jones, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951. 8 See Edward William’s ‘Sporting Sketches Written during a Short Stay in Hindustane’, ed. Tilar J. Mazzeo, Romantic Circles, Efforts to recover this deleted description of Williams’ trespass into the harem have been unsuccessful. 9 See especially the journal entries of Mary Shelley and Edward Williams from 1820–2. Mary’s journal, for example, records on 29 October 1820: ‘Medwin reads . . . a part of his Journal in India’ (Bennett 1980, 140). Williams’ journal notes that Jane and Mary passed the evening in ‘Hindoostanee’ and Turkish dress on 18 February 1822; see Williams, Journal of Edward Ellerker Williams, p. 39. 10 Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxiety of Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 11 Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, p. 242. 12 Sydney Owenson, The Missionary: An Indian Tale, ed. Julia M. Wright, Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002. Owenson’s source in this passage is Jones. According to Jones, his ‘Hymn to Sereswaty’ provided Western readers with an example of ‘a correct delineation of the RÁGMÁLÁ, or Necklace of Musical Modes, which may be considered as the most pleasing invention of the ancient Hindus, and the most beautiful union of Painting with poetical Mythology and the genuine theory of Musick.’ (Argument to the ‘Hymn to Sereswaty.’) 13 Robert Southey, The Poetical Works of Robert Southey, 10 vols, ed. Robert Southey, Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1864, pp. 117, 120; hereafter Southey. 14 Sir William Jones, Asiatick Researches; or, Transactions of the Society, Instituted in Bengal, Calcutta: Manuel Cantopher, 1788–99, vol. 3, pp. 55–87. Rpt. Sourindo Mohun Tagore, Hindu Music from Various Authors, Varnasi: Chowkhama Sanskrit Series/Vidya Vilas Press, 1965. 15 Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination, p. 242. 16 On Shelley’s subscription to the Hookham Library and on Orientalist works available in its collections, see particularly Stuart Curran, Annus Mirabilis: The Maturing of an Epic Vision, San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1975; and F. B. Curtis, ‘Shelley and the Hookham Circulating Library in Old Bond Street’, Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, 1982, 33, 25–32. 17 Tagore, Hindu Music from Various Authors, pp. 142, 128–9. 18 Anonymous ‘Asiatic Miscellany, No. II,’ The Monthly Review, June 1787, 76, 480–4. 19 Asiatick Researches, 1, 1788, 295–9, in Tagore, Hindu Music from Various Authors, pp. 191–7. 20 A point made by Ian Woodfield, who has extensively explored this musical fashion and its relationship to Romantic-era India in his Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 21 N. A. Jairazbhoy, The Rags of Northern Indian Music, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1971, p. 20. 22 A point developed in further detail by Michael Franklin, who identifies William Jones’ translation of the Hindu Sacontalá (1789) and the rasa tradition that it embodied with the cult of sensibility in the 1790s and with shaping European attitudes towards Romantic

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23 24 25

26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

46 47

India in fundamental ways; see The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism, ed. Michael J. Franklin, 6 vols, London: Ganesha Publishing/ Edition Synapse, 2001, vol. 3, pp. i–xxxvii. Ian Woodfield, ‘The “Hindostannie Air”: English Attempts to Understand Indian Music in the Late Eighteenth Century’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 1994, 119(2), 189–211, 202. Fowke, rpt. Tagore, Hindu Music from Various Authors, p. 3. I am grateful to Jeremy Knight, curator of the Horsham Museum, for supplying these and other details on Halima, the ‘Black Princess’ of Horsham, also known locally as Helen Bennett. According to the information provided by the museum, Halima was the daughter of a high-ranking military official in the service of the Moghul Emperor Shah Alam. She married a French mercenary soldier and converted to Catholicism. When deserted by her husband in Britain, she settled in Sussex. Her papers are held by the Horsham Museum. WPBS, p. 42. WPBS, p. 47. As Drew has observed, Shelley’s early Gothic poem ‘Zeinab and Kathema’ (1811) may represent his earliest engagement with Indian themes and with Cashmere specifically; Drew, pp. 254–5. WPBS, p. 47. Southey, pp. 183–4. Notably Charles E. Robinson, Shelley and Byron: The Snake and Eagle Wreathed in Fight. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976. Francis Wilford, ‘On Mount Caucasus’, Asiatick Researches, vol. 6, pp. 455–539. Stuart Curran notes that one of Shelley confirmed sources, Faber’s The Origins of Pagan Idolatry (1816), provides an extended summary of Wilford’s essay; see Curran, Annus Mirabilis, p. 78. WPBS, pp. 52–3. WPBS, p. 53. This imagery may also owe something to Sir William Jones’s ‘Hymn to Lacshmi,’ published in the first volume of The New Asiastic Miscellany, Calcutta: Joseph Cooper, 1789, in which Jones describes Seshanaga or Adi-Sesha, the cosmic serpent on which Vishnu the Preserver (Narayana) and Lacshmi make love. Drew argues that Lacshmi is a prototype for both Owenson’s Luxima and Shelley’s Asia; Drew, p. 266. WPBS, p. 53. WPBS, p. 100. On the choice of lyrical drama as a sub-title, see particularly Tetreault, ‘Shelly at the Opera’, pp. 149–50. Drew, p. 248. See, for example, Joseph Raban, ‘Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound: Why the Indian Caucasus?’ Keats-Shelley Journal, Winter 1963, XII, 95–106. William Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, Asiatick Researches, p. 3; rpt. Tagore, Hindu Music from various authors, pp. 142, 146. On the improvvisatore and its relationship especially to Shelley’s ideas on hypnosis and electricity, see particularly P. M. S. Dawson, ‘Shelley and the Improvvisatore Sgricci: An Unpublished Review’, Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, 1981, 32, 19–29. WPBS, p. 107. WPBS, pp. 126, 228. Nigel Leask, ‘Shelley’s “Magnetic Ladies”: Romantic Mesmerism and the Politics of the Body’, in Beyond Romanticism: New Approaches to Texts and Contexts, 1780–1832, Shelley’s Jane Williams, ed. Stephen Copley and John Whale, New York: Routledge, 1992, pp. 53–78, especially p. 64. Rees, p. 49. See Bennett, Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, vol. 2, p. 397; some portion of this treatise is presumably reprinted in Medwin’s late novel Lady Singleton (1842), in which he


48 49 50

51 52 53 54


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describes Shelley’s magnetic sensitivity; see Thomas Medwin, Lady Singleton; or, the World as it Is, ed. Tilar J. Mazzeo, Ann Arbor, MI: Scholars’ Facsimile and Reprints, 2000, especially vol. 3, pp. 36–62. George Bloch, Mesmerism: A Translation of the Original Scientific and Medical Writings of F. A. Mesmer, Los Altos, CA: William Kauffman, 1980, p. 67. On Peacock’s relationship to Mill, see particularly Javed Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s The History of British India and Orientalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. On his interest in Peacock’s post, see especially Shelley’s letters of 16 February 1821, 24 August 1819 and 6 April 1819. Shelley had expressed a specific interest in obtaining employment with the East India Company in letters both to Leigh Hunt on 22 October 1821 and to Peacock on 11 January 1822; Frederick Jones notes, in his edition of the Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2 vols, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964, that Peacock recorded this exchange in his Memoirs, writing that Shelley ‘had expressed a desire to be employed at the court of a native prince’; see Jones, Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, vol. 2, p. 361, n.5. WPBS, p. 11. WPBS, vol. 2, pp. 13. Adam Crabtree, From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic Sleep and the Roots of Psychological Healing, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 4. Some of the contemporary associations connecting animal magnetism with imperialism have been recently explored in Tim Fulford, ‘Conduction the Vital Fluid: The Politics and Poetics of Mesmerism in the 1790s’, Studies in Romanticism, Spring 2004, 43, 57–78. Fulford argues that magnetism was associated with the politics of revolutionary and postrevolutionary France and, as a practice predicated on controlling the will of the patient, occasioned particular anxieties about its risks to English feminine virtue. On magnetism in France, see also Robert Darnton, Mesmerism and Enlightenment in France, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968. WPBS, p. 300.


From ‘very acute and plausible’ to ‘curiously misinterpreted’ Sir William Jones’s ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ (1792) and its reception in later musical treatises Bennett Zon

Introduction From the early nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth, the transcription of Indian music in Western musicological writings is dominated by the name of William Jones. Debate about his ideas on Eastern music often appears in music journals of the time, as in the early pages of the Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review,1 and almost every nineteenth- to early twentieth-century book about the history of ancient or national music contains reference to him.2 He is also mentioned, in passing, in reviews of similar works in the pages of journals as diverse as The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, The Athenaeum and wartime publications of The Asiatic Review.3 Given such ubiquity, it is not surprising, therefore, that Jones’s work should appear in even greater concentration in subsequent writings most closely allied to his own, namely treatises on Indian music. It is the intention of this essay to examine such treatises, and to explore Jones’s reception within them. I do this principally by tracing the transcription and ideological context of a single Indian tune, from its appearance in Jones’s ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ (1792) through three subsequent writings on Indian music, including N. Augustus Willard’s A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan: Comprising a Detail of the Ancient Theory and Modern Practice (1834), C. R. Day’s, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan (1891) and A. H. Fox Strangways’s, The Music of Hindostan (1914). As will become clear in the following discussions, although Jones’s reputation as a pioneer of Indian music remained generally uncontested, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the accuracy of his material had begun to be severely questioned. This occurs for several reasons, not least because of changing attitudes towards the representation and study of non-Western music which had ensued from the late eighteenth century. Joep Bor attributes these changes to the ‘Oriental Renaissance’ of ethnomusicology,4 which Jones had initiated in contradistinction to prevailing prejudices towards non-Western music. Thus where the late eighteenth-century musicologist Charles Burney talks of non-Western music as ‘noise and jargon’,5 and his contemporary John Hawkins speaks of it as ‘hideous and astonishing sounds’,6 the early ethnomusicologist William Jones could remark that Indian music is ‘a happy and beautiful contrivance’.7 Nineteenth-century musicologists generally


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continue along the aesthetically biased lines of Burney and Hawkins. The supposedly more moderate William Stafford, author of A History of Music (1830), writes, for example, that What we learn of the natives of the islands of the Pacific, when they were discovered by Captain Cook, equally proves the rudeness and simplicity of the music of savage tribes [. . .] The music of the Friendly Islanders is as uncouth and barbarous now as when they were visited by Captain Cook.8 Late nineteenth-century musicologists see this attitude eroded by ethnomusicologists whose field-based work established anthropologically disinterested methodologies and increasingly disaggregated aesthetics from the study of non-Western musical cultures. The ethnomusicologist A. H. Fox Strangways, for example, founder of the journal Music and Letters and copious writer on Indian music, is often singled out in this regard, for debunking aesthetically delimiting concepts of the linguistic universalism of music in favour of a more culturally individuated methodology.9 This is most apparent in The Music of Hindostan (1914), where he claims that Music has been called a universal language, and no doubt, in the deepest sense, it is. But just as no one language can be really common to all peoples because it will be pronounced differently in different mouths, so the very same notes will be sung by different throats in such a way as to be unrecognizable to us.10 The development of British ethnomusicology from Jones to Fox Strangways is generally considered by historical ethnomusicologists to form part of a larger chronological movement in which Jones is perceived as significant yet transitional. Accordingly, ethnomusicology in Britain evolved through three distinct periods, including the early collection and study of indigenous folk song, the late eighteenthand nineteenth-century investigation of non-Western music within colonial holdings (e.g. Jones) and the scientific analysis of folk and non-Western music from the 1880s (e.g. Fox Strangways).11 As the following essay reveals, Jones’s reputation never really recovered from his own transitional status in the history of ethnomusicology, for although he was praised as the first ‘modern’ British ethnomusicologist, his musical transcription described in the following pages, and the ideas which it embodies, were gradually superseded by the more progressive ideologies of Willard, Day and Fox Strangways. Indeed, the notational content of Jones’s musical transcription seems to contradict the form of its own philosophical underlay – in itself transitional between earlier theories of music as the imitation of nature and later, more Romantic, theories of music as the expression – or voice – of nature itself. Later transcriptional practices are more conceptually harmonized in their approach. So whereas in 1834 Willard could write with impunity that Jones’s ‘observations are very acute and plausible’, some eighty years later, Fox Strangways was writing that Jones ‘curiously misinterpreted’ the tune. This essay tries to explore this relative fall from grace, and to chart some of the reasons for it.

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William Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ (1792) Although Indian music had been a source of some curiosity amongst the British since the early seventeenth century,12 it was not until later in the eighteenth century that interest in it was manifest in published music or theoretical treatises. The earliest published transcriptions of Indian music, of a more popular Westernizing type, are called ‘Hindostannie’ Airs, and they include The Oriental Miscellany (W. H. Bird, Calcutta, 1789; Edinburgh, 1805), Twelve Original Hindoostanee Airs: Compiled and Harmonized by T. G. W. (T. Williamson, London, c.1800), Lyric Airs: Consisting of Specimens of Greek, Albanian, Walachian, Turkish, Arabian, Persian, Chinese, and Moorish National Songs and Melodies (E. Jones, London, 1804), Specimens of Various Styles of Music (W. Crotch, London, c.1808–15), Indian Melodies: Arranged for Voice and Piano-Forte (C. Horn, London, 1813) and Twelve Hindoo Airs: with English Words Adapted to Them by Mr Opie, and Harmonized for One, Two or Three Voices (E. Biggs, London, n.d.).13 These were first published as separate collections and later sifted for publication into larger national compilations. As the ethnomusicologist Gerry Farrell points out, they are significant not only because they comprise the first published transcriptions of Indian music into musical notation suitable for performance on Western instruments, but also because they ‘initiated another level of interplay between Western and Indian music’.14 Not unrelated to these are details of various personal correspondence and diary entries of the time, such as Margaret Fowke’s (sister of Francis and daughter of Joseph), concerning her work in the area of musical transcription.15 The Fowke family was influential in the musical culture of Calcutta at the time, and as Farrell comments ‘Their letters reveal not only their interest in collecting Hindustani Airs, but also their general role in the musical life of Calcutta at the time.’16 Another important figure is Sophia Plowden, friend of Margaret Fowke, and collector of ‘the largest unpublished source of songs when she was at the court of Lucknow in 1786’.17 This comprises 77 songs collected by Plowden and written out by John Braganza, amongst which is the source for some published music, such as ‘Saki a faslah’ in William Crotch’s Specimens of Various Styles.18 The earliest scholarly writings on Indian music include Francis Fowke’s ‘On the Vina or Indian Lyre’, published in Asiatick Researches (1788),19 and the Orientalist Sir William Jones’s ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, published in Calcutta in 1792, but written originally in a shorter version in 1784.20 Like their counterparts in Hindostannie airs, the works of Fowke and Jones rely upon music taken from firsthand experience of Indian music in the field, but where Hindostannie airs provide overtly Orientalized arrangements for popular musical consumption, Fowke and Jones’s work is unreservedly academic in form, content and methodology. Fowke, for example, uses the harpsichord to gauge the tuning of the vina, writing to Jones that You may absolutely depend upon the accuracy of all that I have said respecting the construction and scale of this instrument: it has been done by measurements: and with regard to the intervals I would not depend upon my ear, but had the Been tuned to the harpsichord, and compared the instruments carefully note by note more than once.21


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Jones clearly approved of Fowke’s approach, and although arguably less is known about the methodology underlying Jones’s musical scholarship,22 he, like Fowke, is known to have conducted research of a comparative kind: I tried in vain to discover any difference in practice between the Indian scale, and that of our own; but, knowing my ear to be very insufficiently exercised, I requested a German professor of music to accompany with his violin a Hindu lutanist, who sung [sic] by note some popular airs on the loves of CRISHNA and RÁDHÀ; he assured me, that the scales were the same; and Mr. SHORE afterwards informed me, that, when the voice of a native singer was in tune with the harpsichord he found the Hindu series of seven notes to ascend, like ours, by a sharp third.23 In addition, Jones was also able to bring the full weight of his linguistic skills to bear on his exploration of Hindu music, and indeed his treatise reveals an unprecedented range and breadth of erudition. So exacting, in fact, was Jones’s critical approach that he purposefully limits his research of Hindu music to Sanskrit, rather than Persian, texts: that a man, who knows the Hindus only from Persian books, does not know the Hindus; and that an European, who follows the muddy rivulets of Muselman writers on India, instead of drinking from the pure fountain of Hindu learning, will be in perpetual danger of misleading himself and others.24 The text Jones consulted principally is Somanmtha’s early seventeenth-century music treatise Rmgavibodha25 (which the Swiss Orientalist Colonel Anthony Polier ‘preserved from destruction’),26 and elements of the thirteenth-century Sangltaratnmkara of Ômrngadeva27 cross-referenced within it. Ômrngadeva’s treatise was written in the first half of the thirteenth century, becoming the standard reference point for later authorities on music,28 and as Jones notes of Somanmtha, his work ‘is more than once mentioned in it’.29 For all his interest in Somanmtha and other Sanskrit authors, Jones nevertheless produces a treatise, curiously, with very little music, and in fact his treatise includes only one example (see Figure 9.1), ‘An Old Indian Air’ taken from Rmgavibodha.30 This is placed at the end of the treatise, with the following prefatory remarks: I have noted SÓMA’s air in the major mode of A, or sa, which, from its gaiety and brilliancy, well expresses the general hilarity of the song; but the sentiment of tender pain, even in a season of delights, from the remembrance of pleasures no longer attainable, would require in our music a change to the minor mode; and the air might be disposed in the form of a rondeau ending with the second line, or even with the third, where the sense is equally full, if it should be thought proper to express by another modulation that imitative melody, which the poet has manifestly attempted: the measure is very rapid, and the air should be gay, or even quick, in exact proportion to it.31

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Figure 9.1 ‘An Old Indian Air’. Source: Sir William Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus: Written in 1784, and since much enlarged, By the President [of the Asiatic Society of Bengal]’, in Sourindro Mohum Tagore, Hindu Music, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1882/1994, 159.

What emerges from this description, and descriptions elsewhere in Jones’s treatise, is not only a concern over music’s ability to express the sentiment of poetry, but the implication of music’s inferior position in relation to it. As he writes in ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’ (1772): ‘What has been said of poetry, may with equal force by applied to musick, which is poetry, dressed to advantage’.32 Unsurprisingly, this attitude often reappears in his musical treatise, not least in its opening paragraph: music only becomes a fine art when it is ‘allied nearly to verse, painting, and rhetoric; but subordinate in its functions to pathetic poetry, and inferior in its power to genuine eloquence’.33 This hierarchical view, that music


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is inferior to poetry, is indicative not simply of a concern over music’s ability to express the sentiment of poetry. It encapsulates traditional views out of which Jones would develop and situate his own more progressive and proto-Romantic philosophy, namely that whilst individually music and poetry were capable of imitating nature to varying degrees, united they rose to unprecedented levels of emotional expression. This same view is presaged in 1744 in the writing of James Harris, who says that whilst individually music and poetry subsist ‘in the mere raising of the affections’, the ‘two arts can never be so powerful singly as when they are properly united’.34 John Brown develops this in A Dissertation on the Rise, Union and Power, the Progressions, Separations, and Corruptions of Poetry and Music (1763),35 suggesting that as music and poetry were nascently conjoined, yet historically separated, their reunion would inveigh music with a heightened emotional content. Jones echoes this, claiming that ‘if the first language of man was not both poetical and musical, it is certain, at least that in countries where no kind of imitation seems to be much admired, there are poets and musicians both by nature and by art’.36 These ideas are set in particular relief when gauging Jones’s essay on imitation in relation to his other writings on music, confirming for Abrams and Wellek the essay’s status as a ‘locus for pre-Romantic literary criticism’,37 and for Michael Franklin as a rearrangement ‘of the aesthetic premises of neo-classicism into the poetics of Romanticism’.38 Jones encapsulates this in his intention to prove, that, though poetry and musick have, certainly, a power of imitating the manners of men, and several objects in nature, yet, that their greatest effect is not produced by imitation, but by a very different principle; which must be sought for in the deepest recesses of the human mind.39 What one finds in these deepest recesses are passions: as he says, ‘it will appear, that the finest parts of poetry, musick and painting, are expressive of the passions, and operate on our minds by sympathy’.40 Echoing Harris and Brown, amongst others, Jones suggests that music is not expressive of the passions in and of itself, however, but expressive only when it is conjoined to poetry: we may define original and native poetry to be the language of the violent passions, expressed in exact measure, with strong accents and significant words; and true musick to be no more than poetry, delivered in a succession of harmonious sounds, so disposed as to please the ear.41 In Jones’s later ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’ (1785), this conception of musical and poetical union is allegorized in the character of Sereswaty, consort of Brehma the Creator, and Hindu Goddess of music and rhetoric: In this character she is addressed in the following ode, and particularly as the Goddess of Harmony; since the Indians usually paint her with a musical instrument in her hand: the seven notes, an artful combination of which constitutes Musick and variously affects the passions, are feigned to be her earliest production; and the greatest part of the Hymn exhibits a correct delineation of the RÁGMÁLÁ,

Reception of Sir William Jones 203 or Necklace of Musical Modes, which may be considered as the most pleasing invention of the ancient Hindus, and the most beautiful union of Painting with poetical Mythology and the genuine theory of Musick.42 As Franklin points out, the hymn is as much a paean to Sereswaty, as it is a testimony to Jones’s widely erudite musical and literary knowledge. Using the extramusical associations of the Hindu modes (rmgas), such as colour, emotion, season and deity, Jones uses the modes as allegorical expressions of the union of the arts and senses, and attempts ‘to reproduce faithfully the graphic representation of the modes which he had examined in the ancient paintings of the Rmgmmlms’.43 This is evident from the opening stanza, when he describes the origin of the modes in a flurry of associative (what Franklin calls ‘synaesthetic’) ideas: Sweet grace of BREHMA’s bed! Thou, when thy glorious lord Bade airy nothing breathe and bless his pow’r, Satst with illumin’d head, And, in sublime accord, Sev’n sprightly notes, to hail th’auspicious hour, Ledst from their secret bow’r: They drank the air; they came With many a sparkling glance, And knit the mazy dance, Like yon bright orbs, that gird the solar flame, Now parted, now combin’d, Clear as thy speech and various as thy mind. (ll. 1–12)44 This integrated association of ideas, which in the hymn Jones envisions as an extension of Sereswaty’s power over music and poetry, forms a central feature of his proto-Romantic aesthetics of expression. But where in the essay and hymn Jones explores these ideas conceptually, in his musical treatise he actually attempts to treat them practically, by the inclusion of Somanmtha’s ‘air’, and in doing so, Jones speaks in the language of translation. He does this not to denote music’s traditionally inferior position in relation to poetry, but to reunify music with its original sister art: When such aids, as a perfect theatre would afford, are not accessible, the power of music must in proportion be less; but it will ever be very considerable, if the words of the song be fine in themselves, and not only well translated into the language of melody, with a complete union of musical and rhetorical accents, but clearly pronounced by an accomplished singer, who feels what he sings, and fully understood by a hearer, who has passions to be moved; especially if the composer has availed himself in his translation [Jones’s italics] (for such may composition very justly be called) of all those advantages with which nature, ever sedulous to promote our innocent gratifications, abundantly supplies him.45


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Here, and elsewhere, Jones writes of music specifically as an act of poetic translation – one which has the power to translate poetry ‘into the language of melody’ and thus speak to the passions in a listener. When speaking of the music of the ancient Greeks, for example, he writes somewhat wistfully that ‘this delightful art [music] was long in the hands of poets’.46 Indeed, for Jones, music, when translated from poetry, succeeds in overcoming its lower imitativeness of nature, and becomes the greater Romantic force of heightened emotional expression. Batteux intimates this when he remarks that the artist should ‘make a choice among the fairest parts of Nature and build up from these an exquisite whole which shall be more perfect than Nature herself, without, however, ceasing to be natural’,47 a comment which Lippman sees taking Batteux from the principle of the ‘imitation of nature’ to the ‘imitation of beautiful nature’48 – effectively from imitation to expression. Abrams, similarly, describes this progression in English contemporaries of Batteux as one from ‘real nature’ to ‘mature improved,’ or ‘heightened’, or ‘refined’, or in the French phrase, ‘la belle nature’.49 Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, Jones refers to Batteux at the opening of his essay on imitation and later seems to paraphrase him when writing of the Sapphic ode. Indeed, according to Jones, if the Sapphic ode with all its natural accents, were expressed in a musical voice (that is, in sounds accompanied with their Harmonicks), if it were sung in due time and measure, in a simple and pleasing tune, that added force to the words without stifling them, it would then be pure and original musick . . . not an imitation of nature but the voice of nature herself.50 What is important here is not the fact that music can aspire to being ‘the voice of nature herself’, but the fact that conjoined to poetry, music can only be pure and original and not an imitation of nature. There are, in other words, two types of music: the one inferior, in which music is an imitation of nature, and hence lacking in purity and originality; the other superior, in which music is not an imitation of nature, and hence pure and original. The word ‘original’ here is more than an epithet to connote quality, because it is only when music loses imitativeness that it can be expressive of its original passion, as Brown suggests. Accordingly, for Jones, music only loses its imitativeness, and gains its expressivity, to the extent that it has been successfully translated from poetry. Only then does it become what could be called a Romantic paradigm – ‘the voice of nature herself’. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Jones’s translations are in themselves significant as denominators of quality, for unlike Renaissance translators who use inkhorn (pedantic) terms, Jones relies on Asian, Persian and Sanskrit transliterations in his translations for the purposes of establishing authenticity or verisimilitude. As Cannon suggests, it was precisely this feature which gave Jones centrality in this history of Orientalism: ‘When the Romantics whom he inspired began to use such words and borrowed other words on their own, he further became a prime mover in the “Orientalizing” of Europe and America’.51 In musical terms it was this same attitude which gave Jones his centrality, for whilst in linguistic translation Jones sought authenticity by heightening its resemblance to the original (through the use

Reception of Sir William Jones 205 of transliterated terms), in musical transcription Jones sought authenticity by heightening its resemblance to poetry. This is particularly evident in the introductory remarks to his musical transcription in ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ in which Jones conflates terms of a poetical and musical kind into the likes of ‘poetical modulation’. He even italicizes this alongside the words metre and mode, just to reinforce the conjunction: the Hindu poets never fail to change the metre, which is their mode, according to the change of subject or sentiment in the same piece; and I could produce instances of poetical modulation (if such a phrase may be used) at least equal to the most affecting modulations of our greatest composers: now the musician must naturally have emulated the poet, as every translator endeavours to resemble his original.52 In such a description, it is clear that Jones intends to retain poetry within music in the same way a translator retains the original within his translation. And despite his own misgivings about the transcription and his acknowledgement of its imperfections, Jones’s larger philosophical intentions are clear. By introducing his readers to Hindu music in a way which they could comprehend – through conventional Western notation, and by means however flawed – he translated an otherwise closed musical world into something eminently comprehensible. Of course, what Jones did not realize was the extent to which his musical notation was at odds with his own Romantic philosophical viewpoints, and to what extent his transcription was imbued with socio-political ideologies of the time. As Farrell points out, in the late eighteenth century the decision to write down an Indian song . . . was merely a musical decision . . . by the end of the nineteenth century it was an ideological statement for both Europeans and Indians . . . Notation, as a means of reproducing or representing sounds on paper, was the only way by which Indian music could be apprehended and placed in conceptual display cases alongside other artefacts.53

N. Augustus Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan (1834) Amongst early nineteenth-century writers who would no doubt have concurred with Farrell is N. Augustus Willard, in his A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan (1834).54 Willard’s treatise is recognized as being important for its reliance on procuring information from performing musicians, rather than from written works on the subject – something for which Willard criticizes Jones.55 As he says: ‘The only way by which perfection in this can be attained is by studying the original works, and consulting the best living performers, both vocal and instrumental.’56 Willard also criticizes Jones implicitly, by suggesting that his ‘observations are very acute and plausible; they appear quite philosophical’.57 In fact, Willard can be quite harsh on Jones. In the preface to his treatise, for example, Willard comments that When, from the theory of music, a defection took place of its practice, and men of learning confined themselves exclusively to the former, while the latter branch was


Bennett Zon abandoned to the illiterate, all attempts to elucidate music from rules laid down in books, a science incapable of explanation by mere words, become idle. This is the reason why even so able and eminent an Orientalist as Sir William Jones has failed. Books alone are insufficient to the purpose – we must endeavour to procure solutions from living professors, of whom there are several, although grossly illiterate.58

What is telling here is Willard’s view that theory without reference to practice is effectively meaningless, and that a book about music, but without any music in it, is meaningless as well. His own treatise, as he says, will not allow itself to be subject to this type of criticism: Should the public consider this work as at all conducive to the end to which it achieves to aspire, it is the intention of the author to lay before them specimens of original Rags and Raginees, set to music, accompanied with short notices, which will serve to elucidate the facts advanced in this volume.59 (In fact it is not clear that Willard did complete this task.)60 Willard’s point is clear, however: there must be a means of bridging theory and practice, and within the confines of a book itself the only way of doing this is by amplifying theoretical considerations with musical examples. How one does this is another matter, for at the same time as being inaccurate in conveying musical nuance, conventional (i.e. Western) notation developed long after the music itself was composed: It is impossible to convey an accurate idea of music by words or written language; that is, the various degrees of acuteness or gravity of sounds, together with the precise quantity of the duration of each, cannot be expressed by common language, so as to be of any use to performers, and as the musical characters now in use, which alone can express music in the manner that could be desired, is a modern invention, of course all attempts to define music anterior to the invention of this elegant and concise method must have necessarily proved abortive.61 Despite these caveats, and his belief that it is notation which bridges theory to practice, Willard’s views go beyond the simple philosophical framework of musical transcription, because his intentions, like Jones, are also designed to expand the readers’ sense of beauty and Romantic Orientalism. He talks frequently of Indian music ‘possessing intrinsic claim to beauty in melody’,62 but wonders at the Europeans’ inability to perceive it. At the same time, however, Willard’s principal concern remains the secure foundation of theoretical knowledge and its implementation in practice, and in this regard he sets out a comprehensive programme of explication which mirrors that of Jones, albeit in a much more expanded, and possibly more epistemologically accurate, way. Thus, where Jones wishes to convey poetry into music, preserving its originality and purity and transforming it into the Romantic paradigm of ‘the voice of nature itself’, Willard wishes to convey theory into practice, preserving the original philosophical import of the Indian musical heritage: During the earlier ages of Hindoostan, music was cultivated by philosophers and men eminent for polite literature, for whom such general directions and rules for

Reception of Sir William Jones 207 composition sufficed, after a course of musical education acquired from living tutors; indeed, the abhorrence of innovation, and veneration for the established national music, which was firmly believed to be of divine origin, precluded the necessity of any other.63 For all of its flaws, Willard’s treatise does attempt to initiate a scholarly programme of reclamation, in which scholarship on Indian music (originating in the West or the East) sought imprimatur by reference to original theoretical sources, or what Farrell calls ‘the imagined purity of its Sanskrit sources’64 – a tendency found increasingly as the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries progressed.65

C. R. Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan (1891) Contemporaries, and later writers critical of Willard, still acknowledge their debt to him.66 One critic, for example, C. R. Day,67 author of The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan (1891), notes that despite his manifest achievements, Willard’s descriptions are apt to be vague and questionable in their didactic efficacy.68 Nevertheless, in setting out his own intentions, Day delineates the pedigree of his own scholarship by highlighting the importance of Jones and Willard: Sir William Jones, at the end of the last century, endeavoured to dispel ideas of this nature [that Indian music did not merit scholarly attention], and his learned essay upon The Musical Modes of the Hindus has formed the basis of almost all Indian musical research. Some forty years later Captain Augustus Willard . . . published an interesting little Treatise upon the Music of Hindustan . . . Notwithstanding the real interest of both these works they are, unfortunately, of comparatively small practical use to the ordinary music enquirer, unless, indeed, he is fortunate enough to possess a considerable previous knowledge of the subject.69 Day’s not uncritical deference for Jones is obvious more or less from the outset. He reinterprets, for example, the very same transcription that Jones gives and heads it ‘Translation of the Above’, referring to (and reproducing) Jones’s rendering of the song in its original Eastern notation70 (see Figure 9.2). In itself this is perhaps unremarkable, but in fact Day does not transcribe the music as it appears in Jones’s treatise. Instead, he omits the text which Jones very carefully situates beneath the music, and omits – possibly as inappropriate – the title, ‘An Old Indian Air’. He also criticizes Jones for adopting the key of A major, as opposed to C major, claiming that it would seem ‘to have been the most natural [key] that would have suggested itself’.71 In a footnote to the ‘translation’, moreover, Day writes that This translation must, of course, be more or less hypothetical; and as it is so entirely different in character and style to all modern Indian music, and airs


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Figure 9.2 Jones’s ‘An Old Indian Air’. Source: C. R. Day, The Music and Musical instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, London and New York, 1891; repr. Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1996, 29.

heard now in India which are said to be very ancient, its correctness appears to be very doubtful.72 More generally, Day’s comments on notation only reinforce his sense of their inadequacy. He admits that there is great difficulty in expressing such music correctly by means of ordinary notation. The peculiarity of the scales or modes employed in Hindu music, for example, often raises a difficulty in determining the real tonality of many of the melodies, the Hindu Sa, taken by native musicians as the ‘Khuruj’ or keynote of their scale, not necessarily corresponding to what is the real tonic of the scale.73 Here, as elsewhere, however, Day underplays the difference in Western and Hindu notational systems – as notation is the lynchpin to this process – and provides material with only a limited reference to transcriptional complications. When listing scales, for instance, he claims that the only difference between the original and his transcription is ‘that European notation has been substituted for the Indian’.74 Of course, because scales are rhythmically disembodied, this approach is somewhat understandable in Day’s terms (although the accuracy of pitch notation is considerably more complicated than Day perhaps allows).75 But as soon as he progresses to the issue of time, the system will not allow for mere substitution, as in scales. In fact, in relation to rhythm Day is forced to concede that the notational complications are so great as to necessitate oral, rather than literary, instruction: ‘Time, by which is implied the relative values of a succession of notes, cannot be expressed with any degree of accuracy without indeed so complicated an arrangement of signs as to be almost unintelligible.’76 Whilst Day acknowledges fully the musical inadequacies of transcription, he does not seem to engage in a particularly analytical way with its ideological implications, and neither does he present a philosophical backdrop to his treatise, as Jones or

Reception of Sir William Jones 209 Willard had done. Rather, he treats his topic as a manual of instruction designed to promote a practical outcome in advancing knowledge amongst Westerners, with the possible indirect bonus of increasing performance. And generally he leaves unquestioned the weaknesses of Western notation used in this context. Nonetheless, there is a parallelism which can be drawn between Day’s admitted difficulty in conveying Indian music in Western notation, and the larger problems associated with ‘translating’ Indian music into the larger cultural aesthetic of the West. There is, in effect, a systemic complication which, though not unique to Day, nevertheless affects his work from the beginning.77 In his preface, for example, Day starts by referring to the importance of Indian music as part of a larger, presumably home (English), interest in national music, but no sooner has he expressed this point than he claims that Europeans view Indian music as theoretically (i.e., scientifically) wanting: Of late years so many works of importance, dealing with the subject of National music, have appeared that for the publication of this book the author feels that some apology is necessary. The subject of Indian music, presenting, as it does, ideas so fresh and a musical system so distinct from what we in Europe are accustomed to, necessarily, offers an ever-widening field for research and study. It is curious to note that while so many works upon the arts or industries of India have, in recent times, appeared, the subject of Indian music has been generally thought devoid of all science and unworthy, therefore, of any serious consideration.78 Here Day elucidates the science of Indian music as a means of European aesthetic ingress, as if to suggest that European opinion has been impeded by an ingrained lack of theoretical understanding. Thus, at the same time as evincing a broadening cultural interest in ‘National music’,79 Europeans perceive Indian music as alien both culturally (in terms of national music), and as it were, scientifically (in terms of making sense of its theoretical system). In this regard, what Day hopes to achieve is something which attempts to translate music into science and science into knowledge. This same idea, of bringing Indian music to Western knowledge through the elucidation of scholarship, is something which I think one finds implicitly in A. J. Hipkins’s introduction to Day’s treatise. In fact, Hipkins not only takes Day’s same basic projection from music (as practice) to theory (as science) to knowledge (as cultural recognition), he also projects Day’s views further by suggesting that Day is not simply situating Indian music within the framework of Western national music scholarship. He is, in a way, attempting to universalize music by equalizing the Western perception of previously marginalized Eastern musics: He [Day] shows us the existence of a really intimate expressive melodic music, capable of greatest refinement of treatment, and altogether outside the experience of the Western musician. What we learn from such inquires [sic] is that the debated opinions of musical theorists, the cherished beliefs of those who devote themselves to the practice of the art, the deductions we evolve from historic studies – all have to be submitted to larger conceptions, based upon a recognition


Bennett Zon of humanity as evolved from the teachings of ethnology. We must forget what is merely European, national, or conventional, and submit the whole of the phenomena to a philosophical as well as sympathetic consideration.80

Conclusion: A. H. Fox Strangways and The Music of Hindostan Despite Day’s criticism of Jones, one cannot help observing a strong similarity between the wording of Hipkins’s praise of Day, and Jones’s pre-Romantic theories of expression. Where Day, for example, shows us the existence of ‘a really intimate expressive melodic music’ and initiates ‘a philosophical as well as sympathetic consideration’, Jones writes that ‘the finest parts of poetry, musick, and painting, are expressive of the passions, and operate on our minds by sympathy’.81 Perhaps this similarity is more than coincidental, and speaks, at some level, of a very real philosophical sympathy between the two – of a revival of the early Romantic Orientalism embodied in Jones’s treatise. On the surface, this would seem to have some validity, as Day admits, at the outset, that Jones’s work is the basis of all subsequent research on Hindu music. There are also some very clear similarities in their basic philosophical intention of bringing Eastern musical enlightenment to a largely uniformed Western audience. Jones consolidates this intention in the character of Sereswaty, for example, imploring her ‘Thy mystick wisdom teach; / Expand they leaves, and with ethereal light, / Spangle the veil of night.’,82 and Hipkins, in arguably less poetical terms, urges that knowledge has ‘to be submitted to larger conceptions’.83 But the philosophical, or methodological, tensions begin to appear as soon as Day speaks of Jones’s rather romanticized transcription. As we have seen, Day revises Jones’s transcription of ‘An Old Hindu Air’, and expresses concern over how one can translate music correctly ‘by means of ordinary notation’.84 His own response to this is, initially, to underplay the significance in the differing notational systems, but having done this, he recants and argues that Western notation must be supplemented by oral instruction if it is to be understood at all, particularly in relation to time values.85 This confusion is partially reflected in Day’s prefatory comment to the effect that whilst in Jones’s terms he ‘translates’ the tune, in fact the tune has actually been ‘rendered into the European notation’. Day’s hesitancy in using Jones’s term ‘translate’ is significant, because it suggests a resistance to what he perceives as the arguably romanticized subjectivity of Jones’s copy. Day, in his own terms, is unsatisfied that Jones has sufficiently maintained difference, and at the same time he reckons that Jones has not achieved a bridge between what is ‘translated from’ and what is ‘rendered into’. In other words, there is in Day’s estimation, an implicit gap between Jones’s Romantically orientalized philosophical conception of the tune, which aims to illuminate Eastern difference, and his Westernized and more ‘Hindustannie-air’ type notational representation of it, which contradicts this. It also signifies Day’s fundamental awareness that the signs of notation are in themselves insufficient for the purposes of transcription because they do not express difference in an intelligible way. Day’s solution – or compromise – is to suggest that conventional notation be

Reception of Sir William Jones 211 considered alongside verbal instruction, and in this rather commonsense prescription he would appear to acknowledge the need for some resistance to Jones’s type of domesticating transcription. He is, in essence, what Lawrence Venuti calls a ‘foreignizer’, who in his transcriptions of foreign music seeks to disrupt the cultural codes of the domestic environment in which it is placed.86 As Hipkins, perhaps rather curiously says in his introduction, Day ‘shows us the existence of really intimate expressive melodic music, capable of the greatest refinement of treatment, and altogether outside the experience of the Western musician’.87 Concerns over Jones’s transcription continue to be registered in later treatises, and for not dissimilar reasons to Day’s. In fact, the eminent ethnomusicologist, A. H. Fox Strangways,88 for example, shows his allegiance to Day by referring to him on the very first page of the preface to The Music of Hindostan (1914).89 He also proceeds, like Day, to begin his study by placing it in the broad context of national musics: The study of Indian music is of interest to all who care for song, and of special interest to those who have studied the early stages of song in mediaeval Europe or ancient Greece. For here is the living language of which in those we have only dead examples. It is hardly possible in the case of modern European Folk-song to study melody pure and simple, for we have no large body of such song of which we can certainly say that it was not influenced at all by the current conception of harmony. But here is melody absolutely untouched by harmony, which has developed through many centuries tendencies which have the force of laws; and the examination of these enables us to some extent to separate the respective contributions of melody and harmony to the final effect in our own music.90 Developing this idea well beyond Day’s more philosophically limited argument, Fox Strangways suggests that Hindu music represents a living fossil which can teach Europeans about their own musical history, and like Day, Willard and Jones, he believes that it is the development of European music into harmony which was decisive in separating the two musical cultures of East and West.91 Whereas Europe progressed into harmony, India remained unaffected, and its legacy of musical isolation (i.e., Western ignorance) owes its origin mainly to this historical phenomenon. This separation of harmony (Western music) and melody (Eastern music), is also emblematic of a cultural barrier, and something Fox Strangways wants to explain and reverse, so that Europeans can reflect on Eastern music without aesthetic prejudice. His means of doing so are, like Day’s, to attempt to minimize the significance of transcription as an emblem of cultural difference, but, like Day, he soon realizes that this is impossible. Martin Clayton reflects this in his comment on Fox Strangways’s transcriptions as ‘transnotations’: There are almost 500 music examples in The Music of Hindustan and, apart from a few quotations from Western pieces which serve as comparisons, most are of Indian music. Most of these appear to be transcriptions made in the field or transnotations from Indian sources.92


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Fox Strangways is, himself, very much aware of the problems of transcription, and he foregrounds these at the opening of his first chapter, where he describes his tour of India (1910–11) and gives an indication of his field methodology: It must be understood that though many of these melodies were in queer scales, no attempt has been made, beyond an occasional superscript #, ␤, or ␯, where the effect was characteristic, to represent niceties of intonation. Where such signs are not appended it does not necessarily mean that the songs were in the normal scale; perhaps the singers were finding their voice and the initial vagaries were not worth recording, or the tune only came once or twice . . . It would have been good to have been able to note the exact pitch in each case; but the absence of the proper means made this, except in a few instances, impossible . . . And, lastly in attacking a new subject, as for Europeans, in spite of Captain Day’s excellent book, this must be called, it is better to treat intonation by itself . . . It is but little, in any case, of language, whether spoken or chanted, that symbols can recreate for us; and when, as here, the choice lies between symbols which falsify but are understood and symbols which tell the truth but are not readily intelligible, there is no doubt which must be adopted to convey a first general impression.93 What is apparent by the end of this methodological précis is the fact that, although Fox Strangways would work towards a utilitarian solution, he, like Day, considers the problem of transcription intractable, owing to the inherent compromise which it represents. Similarly, he, like Day, returns to Jones’s transcription as an ideological contradiction, because its Westernizing transcription undermines the intention of its romantically orientalizing philosophical underlay. It is, in other words, in its completely unalloyed Western notation that Jones’s transcription fails: The example of Vasanta was selected mainly because this particular one was curiously misinterpreted in Sir William Jones’s article in Asiatic Researches, and has been so reprinted by others. It was written out in an ordinary major key (A major); no hint was given of a gamak from beginning to end; and on the strength of its rhythm (as not given in a book of 1609) it was suggested as the melody of three of the songs in the Glta Govinda of the eleventh century (whose musical rhythm was not established by the poetic metre).94 With this comment Fox Strangways effectively relegates Jones to history, for he realizes, along with Willard and Day, that Jones allows the foreign within Hindu music to become culturally camouflaged by its domestic contextualization, along the lines of contemporary orientalizing Hindostannie airs. Despite his intentions to show that Hindu music is ‘a happy and beautiful contrivance’,95 his Romantic translation of poetry into music, and Hindu music into Western notation makes the Indian in Indian music invisible, to use Lawrence Venuti’s terminology.96 For Fox Strangways, therefore, Jones had become an object of real criticism, a fact revealed not only in his comments about him, but also in his relative omission of Jones’s treatise from the

Reception of Sir William Jones 213 extensive bibliography at the back of his book.97 So whilst Jones was still respected as the first in a long line of influential ethnomusicologists, he had with Fox Strangways’s remarks been effectively superseded. Indeed, by the first decades of the twentieth century, with advances in the methodological import and philosophical framework of ethnomusicology, Jones had become translated into history, and his transcription – the very emblem of Romantic orientalism: the voice of nature itself – had gone from being ‘very acute and plausible’ to ‘curiously misinterpreted’.

Notes 1 See for example, F. W. H., To the Editor. F. W. H., ‘Oriental Music Considered, in Three Essays. With Anecdotes and Remarks on the Opinions of Sir William Jones, Dr. Brown, and others, on the Music of the Hindus, Persians, and Chinese’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 7 (1825), 456–7; ‘Oriental Music Considered. Essay the First. On the Music of the Hindus’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 7 (1825), 457–63; ‘Oriental Music’. Continuation of Essay the First. On the Music of the Hindus’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 8 (1826), 18–27; ‘Oriental Music Considered. Essay the Second. On the Music of the Persians’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 8 (1826), 190–8; ‘Oriental Music Considered. Continuation of Essay the Second. On the Music of the Persians’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 8 (1826), 417–21; ‘Oriental Music Considered. Essay the Third. On the Music of the Chinese’, The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 9 (1827), 27–36. 2 See for example, William C. Stafford, ‘Oriental Music – The Music of Hindostan, or India’, in William C. Stafford, ed., A History of Music, Edinburgh: Constable and Co. and London: Hurst, Chance, and Co., 1830, pp. 34–44; Carl Engel, The Music of the Most Ancient Nations, Particularly of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Hebrews; with Special Reference to Recent Discoveries in Western Asia and in Egypt, London: John Murray, 1864, p. 151; F. Weber, A Popular History of Music from the Earliest Times, London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd, 1891, pp. 71 and 87; and Richard Wallaschek, Primitive Music: An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of Music, Songs, Instruments, Dances, and Pantomimes of Savage Races, London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1893, 18. 3 See for example, William Dauney, ‘Observations with a View to an Inquiry into the Music of the East’, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, series 16 (1841), 3; ‘The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan. By Capt. C. R. Day. (Novello, Ewer & Co.)’ (review), The Athenaeum Journal of Literature, Science, The Fine Arts, Music, and The Drama (July–December 1891), 807; and H. M. Howsin, ‘The Music of India: A Classical Art’ (review), The Asiatic Review, 6/13–16 (January–May 1915), 99. 4 Joep Bor, ‘The Rise of Ethnomusicology: Sources on Indian Music c.1780–c.1890’, Yearbook for Traditional Music, 20 (1988), 51. The use of the term ‘ethnomusicology’ as applied to work before 1950 is hotly disputed. The term appears to have originated in Jaap Kunst’s Musicologica: A Study of the Nature of Ethno-musicology, its Problems, Methods and Representative Personalities, [Amsterdam]: Indisch Instituut, 1950, but it is used by many musicologists and ethnomusicologists, like Bor, loosely, to describe work from a much earlier date, in some instances as early as the 1550s. Other sources for this type of usage include Frank Harrison, Time, Place and Music: An Anthology of Ethnomusicological Observation c.1550 to c.1800, Amsterdam: Frits Knuf, 1973; Stephen Blum, ‘European Musical Terminology and the Music of Africa’, in Bruno Nettl and Philip Bohlman (eds), Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology, Chicago, IL and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 3–36; and Helen Myers, ‘Introduction’, in Helen Myers (ed.), Ethnomusicology: Historical and Regional Studies, The Norton/Grove Handbooks in Music, New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1993, pp. 3–15. Helen Myers writes (4) that ‘What we now call ethnomusicology began long before that


5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18



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term was invented’, citing reference to European folk, North American and Chinese music in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de Musique (1768), as well as in travel literature, missionary or civil servant reports including Chinese music by Jean-Baptiste du Halde (1735) and Joseph Amiot (1779); Arab music by Guillaume André Villoteau (1809–22) and Raphael Kiesewetter (1842); Indian music by Jones (1784) and Charles Russell Day (1891); and Japanese music by Francis Taylor Piggott (1893). Charles Burney, A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. To Which is Prefixed, a Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients, 4 vols, London: Printed for the Author, 2nd edn, 1789, vol. 1, p. 703. John Hawkins, preface, A General History of the Science and Practice of Music, London: T. Payne and Son, 1776. Sir William Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus: Written in 1784, and since much enlarged, By the President [of the Asiatic Society of Bengal]’, reprinted in Sourindro Mohun Tagore, Hindu Music, Delhi: Low Price Publications [1882] 1994, p. 131. Stafford, A History of Music, pp. 6–7. Anthony Seeger, ‘Styles of Musical Ethnography’, in Nettl and Bohlman, ed., Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991, p. 351. A. H. Fox Strangways, The Music of Hindostan, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914, p. 181. Helen Myers, ‘Great Britain’, in Myers ed., Ethnomusicology: Historical and Regional Studies, pp. 129–30. Ian Woodfield, Music and the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late EighteenthCentury Anglo-Indian Society: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 8. Woodfield also writes: ‘In the early seventeenth century, the sheer novelty of the experience seized the imagination, and interesting descriptions were written by such as the much-travelled Cornish sea captain Peter Mundy.’ See Ian Woodfield, English Musicians in the Age of Exploration, Sociology of Music 8, Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1995, p. 276. Woodfield, Music and the Raj, pp. 255–6. Gerry Farrell, Indian Music and the West, Oxford: Oxford University Press [1997] 1999, p. 31. Woodfield, Music and the Raj, pp. 159–62. Margaret is known to have corresponded with William Jones for linguistic assistance with the texts to her Hindostannie airs. (Woodfield, Music and the Raj, p. 13). Farrell, Indian Music and the West, p. 31. Ibid., p. 32. Woodfield, Music and the Raj, p. 164. The collection of Plowden’s songs is found in Cambridge, Fitzwilliam MS 380. For more information on the collection of the Hindustani air, see Ian Woodfield, ‘The “Hindostannie Air”: English Attempts to Understand Indian Music in the Late Eighteenth Century’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 119 (1994), 189–211 and ‘Collecting Indian Songs in Late 18th-Century Lucknow: Problems of Transcription’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 3 (1994), 73–88; and Bor, ‘The Rise of Ethnomusicology: Sources on Indian Music’, 51–73. For more general background information see Farrell, in the first two chapters of Indian Music and the West (‘Europeans and Indian Music in the Late Eighteenth-Century’, 15–44, and ‘Indian Music, Notation, and Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century’, 45–76); and Woodfield, Music and the Raj, in ‘The Art of Transcription’, pp. 159–69, and indirectly in ‘The Translation of Texts’, pp. 169–77. Woodfield, Music and the Raj, p. 256. Fowke’s essay was also reprinted as ‘An Extract of a Letter on the Vina From Francis Fowke, Esq., To the President of the Asiatic Society of Bengal’, Asiatick Researches, 1, 1788, in Tagore, Hindu Music, pp. 191–7, and appears in Michael J. Franklin (ed.), Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control in EighteenthCentury British Orientalist Discourse, 9 vols, London: Routledge, 2000, vol. 7, pp. 295–9. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, Asiatick Researches, 3 (1792), 55–87 in Tagore, Hindu Music, pp. 125–60. Farrell calls this ‘the first major English-language treatise on the music of India’, Farrell, Indian Music and the West, p. 23. Jones founded the Asiatic Society of

Reception of Sir William Jones 215

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35 36 37

38 39 40 41

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Bengal in 1784 and included Fowke’s essay in the first volume of Asiatick Researches, Calcutta, 1788. For more information on Jones and Indian music see Woodfield, Music of the Raj, passim; Woodfield, ‘The “Hindostannie Air” ’, 189–211; Woodfield, ‘Collecting Indian Songs in Late 18th-Century Lucknow’, 73–88; Peter Platt and Ian Woodfield, ‘Jones, Sir William (ii)’, in L. Macy, ed., Grove Music Online (Accessed 11 March 2005),; and Gerry Farrell, ‘Sir William Jones and C. R. Day: Two Early Researchers into the Music of India’, International Council for Traditional Music (UK) Bulletin, Spring (1986), 13–30. Fowke, ‘An Extract of a Letter on the Vina’, Asiatick Researches, 1 (1788), 295, in Tagore, Hindu Music, 193–4. Farrell writes, ‘It would be intriguing to know more about Jones’s “field-work” approach to Indian music’, Indian Music and the West, p. 26. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, pp. 141–2. Ibid., p. 136. See The Rmgas of Somanmtha, ed., Emmie Te Nijenhuis, 2 vols, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, 137. For further reference to Polier see Woodfield, Music of the Raj, 150, 152 and 162. See Sangltaratnmkara of Ômrngadeva: Sanskrit text and English translation with comments and notes, trans. R. K. Shringy, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1999. Emmie Te Nijenhuis, Musicological Literature, A History of Indian Literature, vol. VI, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977, 12. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 137. See The Rmgas of Somanmtha, vol. 1, pp. 95–6 and vol. 2, pp. 73–4. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 159. William Jones, ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’ (1772), in Michael J. Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995, p. 344. Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 125. James Harris, Three Treatises. The First Concerning Art, the Second Concerning Music, Painting and Poetry, the Third Concerning Happiness, London, 1744, chapter 6, section iii, in Peter Le Huray and James Day (eds), Music Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early-Nineteenth Centuries, Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, 39. John Brown, A Dissertation on the Rise, Union and Power, the Progressions, Separations, and Corruptions of Poetry and Music, Dublin: Printed by G. Faulkner, 1763. Jones, ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’ in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 338. Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 337. See Meyer Howard Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1953, and René Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism 1750–1950, 8 vols, London: Jonathan Cape; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1955–92. Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 337. Jones, ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’, in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 337. Ibid., p. 346. Ibid., p. 342. Inevitably, Jones’s theories of imitation and expression, and his hierarchical conception of poetry and music, bear similarities to other contemporary writings, such as Charles Avison’s An Essay on Musical Expression (1752) and Daniel Webb’s Observations on the Correspondence between Poetry and Music (1776). According to Lippman, however, it was Jones who first contradicted ‘the widespread identification of imitation and expression’, conceiving them as strategic opposites. (Edward Lippman, A History of Western Musical Aesthetics, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1992, p. 106). Jones, ‘The Argument’ preceding ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’ (1785), in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 114. Ibid. Ibid., ‘The Hymn’, p. 116.


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45 Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 130. 46 Ibid., p. 132. 47 Charles Batteux, Les Beaux Arts Reduits à un Même Principe (1746), cited in Enrico Fubini, A History of Music Aesthetics, trans. Michael Hatwell, Basingstoke and London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1964/1990, p. 186. (Fubini cites the work incorrectly as having first been published in 1747.) 48 Lippman, A History of Western Musical Aesthetics, p. 88. 49 Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp, p. 35. 50 Jones, ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’, in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 341. 51 Garland Cannon, ‘Oriental Jones: Scholarship, Literature, Multiculturalism, and Humankind’, in Garland Cannon and Kevin R. Brine (eds), Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), New York and London: New York University Press, 1995, p. 41. 52 Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 157. 53 Farrell, Indian Music and the West, p. 49. 54 N. Augustus Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan: Comprising a Detail of the Ancient Theory and Modern Practice, Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1834, reprinted in Tagore, Hindu Music, pp. 1–122. According to Bor, ‘The Rise of Ethnomusicology’, 59, Little is known about Captain Willard’s private life, except that he commanded in the service of the Nawab of Banda (now in U.P.). Reading his dedication to Lady Bentinck (wife of the reforming governor-general, Lord William Bentinck), in which he refers to ‘my countrymen’ and ‘of one of a community who he [W.B.] has laid under such important obligations’, one gets the impression that Willard was a Eurasian, a ‘half-caste’. This may explain why his name does not appear in the India Office Records. Was he perhaps the son of the musician A. Willard who died in 1825 in Oudh and whose name does appear in the India Office Records? 55 56 57 58

Farrell, Indian Music and the West, p. 50. Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 21. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 2–3. In another example of Willard’s disapprobation he refers to Jones’s notion, the nature of the several Rags and Raginees are such as to be really improved by the difference of temperature naturally incident to the varieties of seasons, even without making allowance for accidental variations, which constantly take place every year. (Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 68)

59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Ibid., p. 3. The Tagore reprint ([1882] 1994) of Willard does not include musical examples. Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan, in Tagore, Hindu Music, pp. 1–2. Ibid., p. 9. Ibid., p. 2. Farrell, Indian Music and the West, p. 51. Ibid. Bor, ‘The Rise of Ethnomusicology’, p. 59. The fullest biographical information on Day can be found in his obituary in The Musical Times, 1 April 1900, pp. 245–6. Major Charles Russell Day (1860–1900) was educated at Cheam and then Eton. He joined the 3rd Lancashire Militia in 1880 and was gazetted to the 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry in 1882. He left soon after for service in India where he remained for five years, during which time he gathered

Reception of Sir William Jones 217 material for The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan (London and New York, 1891; repr. Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1996). Having subsequently returned home due to injury, he was variously promoted, and continued his ethnomusicological work. In 1890, he organized a display of instruments for the Musical Division of the Military Exhibition at Chelsea, and for it published an extensive catalogue. He gave papers to various musical associations and served as a consultant in the British Section of the great Musical Exhibition at Vienna in 1892, amongst other exhibitions. He was gazetted Major in 1899 and died in South Africa from a war wound. Day produced spin-offs from his work (see ‘Notes on Indian Music’, Proceedings of the Musical Association, 20 (1893–4) 45–65, and his book was reviewed exhaustively (for a representative review see ‘The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan. By C. R. Day, Captain, Oxfordshire Light Infantry. With an Introduction by A. J. Hipkins, F.S.A. The plates drawn by William Gibb. [Novello, Ewer and Co., and Adam and Charles Black, 1891.]’ (review), The Musical Times, 1 December 1891, 741–2). Advertisements for Day’s book appear festooned with increasingly spectacular reviews in The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily News, St James Gazette, Pall Mall Gazette, Daily Graphic, Globe, Daily Chronicle, Saturday Review and Manchester Guardian (Bennett Zon, Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, forthcoming). 68 Day expresses considerable doubt concerning the validity of Willard’s treatise, which seems to typify attitudes towards his work. Day writes, for example: The actual size of the work, notwithstanding this lengthy table of contents, is but small. The book is very interesting, and affords much valuable information upon Northern Indian music. The descriptions are, however, incomplete in many cases, and the author’s meaning is in places rather vague, and apt to be misleading to those who have not studied the subject. (Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. 160)

69 70 71 72 73 74 75

For more information on Day as researcher on music see Farrell, ‘Sir William Jones and C. R. Day: Two Early Researchers into the Music of India’, 13–30. Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. xv. Ibid., p. 29. Ibid., p. 28. Ibid., p. 29 Ibid., p. 62. Ibid., p. 32. Day (in ibid.) does consider this issue, and claims that pitch on the piano and Indian instruments is the same: From my experiments I am led to believe that a wrong idea as to the temperament of the Indian scale – as practically employed – has hitherto been held. I played over all the various scales shown later upon a pianoforte – tuned to equal temperament – in the presence of several well-known Hindustani and Karnâtik musicians, all of whom assured me that they corresponded exactly to those of the vina. Upon comparing the two instruments this was found to be the case – as far as could be judged by the ear alone – in every instance. Native airs are played by the private band of H. H. the Maharajah of Mysore; and as far as melody is concerned they are acknowledged to be perfectly in tune, according to Indian ideas, by all. Native airs are also played by the band of H. H. the Gaeckwar of Baroda, the chief musician at whose court – ‘Professor’ Maula Bux – a man of considerable attainments, took pains to explain to me that the tempering of the modern Indian scales differed in no whit from the European.

76 Ibid., p. 36.


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77 This complication, resulting in part from the ground-up problem of transcription, is commented on by Farrell, who gives particular attention to the topic of notation as discussed by late nineteenth-century Indian musicologists writing on Indian music (Farrell, Indian Music and the West, pp. 65–76). In fact Day’s treatise, as Farrell points out, is a direct result of the cooperation between Western and Eastern scholars (73). 78 Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. xv. 79 The issue of advancing knowledge of national musics is something which, expectedly, permeates British musicology of the nineteenth century. For a sampling of historiographical material relating specifically to Britain see Bennett Zon, Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2000, pp. 179–93. 80 A. J. Hipkins, ‘Introduction’, in Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. xii. 81 Jones, ‘An Essay on the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’, in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 346. 82 Jones, ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’, 1785, in Franklin, ed., Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works, p. 122. 83 Hipkins, ‘Introduction’, in Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. xii. 84 Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. 62. 85 Ibid., p. 36. 86 Venuti claims that ‘Foreignizing the translation in English can be a form of resistance against ethnocentrism and racism, cultural narcissism and imperialism, in the interests of democratic geopolitical relations.’ Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility, A History of Translation, London and New York: Routledge, 1995, p. 20. For more information see also Lawrence Venuti, ‘The American Tradition’, in Mona Baker, ed., The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, pp. 305–15, and Jeremy Munday, ‘Translating the foreign: The (In)visibility of Translation’, in Jeremy Munday, ed., Introducing Translation Studies, Theories and Applications, New York and London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 144–61. 87 Hipkins, ‘Introduction’, in Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. xii. 88 According H. C. Colles and Frank Howes, Arthur Henry Fox Strangways (1859–1948) was an ‘English Musicologist, Critic and Editor’, (‘Fox Strangways, A(rthur) H(enry)’, H. C. Colles and Frank Howes, ‘Fox Strangways, A(rthur) H(enry)’, in Macy, Grove Music Online, (Accessed 17 March 2005), and to this description Fox Strangways’s frequent musical collaborator, Steuart Wilson, adds schoolmaster (Steuart Wilson, ‘Strangways, Arthur Henry Fox 1859–1948’, Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press CD Rom (1997)). Fox Strangways was educated at Wellington College and Balliol College, Oxford (MA, 1882), and studied subsequently at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. He returned from Berlin to take up a post as schoolmaster at Dulwich College (1884–6) and then as form master at Wellington (1887–1910). He retired from Wellington in 1910 and visited India twice, for reasons of health, and then, returning to Britain in 1911, he began a career as a music critic for The Times. In 1920 he founded Music and Letters, where he remained as sole proprietor and editor until 1936. From 1925 to 1939 he worked as a music critic for the Observer, and from the 1920s he published translations, with Steuart Wilson, of various songs. As a critic he wrote on a wide array of musical topics, as Steuart Wilson’s compilation of his Observer articles attest (see A. H. Fox Strangways and Steuart Wilson (selector), Music Observed, London: Methuen, 1936). Today he is generally remembered – in ethnomusicological circles – for his early magnum opus, The Music of Hindostan (1914), and his 1933 biography with Maud Karpeles, Cecil Sharp, London: Oxford University Press (Fox Strangways was a member of the Folk Song Society from 1908), and to a much lesser extent his occasional writings on Eastern music and various editions of music. For material of a more general nature, see Martin Clayton,

Reception of Sir William Jones 219 ‘Ethnographic Wax Cylinders at the British Library Sound Archive: A Brief History and Description of the Collection’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 5 (1996), 67–92, and ‘A. H. Fox Strangways and The Music of Hindostan: Revisiting Historical Field Recordings’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 124 (1999), 86–118. 89 Fox Strangways, The Music of Hindostan, p. v. 90 Ibid. 91 Day writes, for example, ‘The only harmony, if it can be called so, is a continuation as a pedal of the tonic or dominant, as was done in old “pastorals,” and which is still found in Scotch or Irish bagpipe music.’ (Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, p. 12.) Willard writes that Harmony, in the present acceptation of the word, is a plant whose native soil is Europe, when it has been transplanted to some other countries; but all the native culture of music has not been able to make it grow spontaneously in any other part of the world as in its indigenous soil and climate. Wherever else it is found, it is exotic. The only harmony which Hindoostanee music generally admits of, and indeed requires, if it can be called harmony is a continuation of its key note, in which respect it resembles very much the Scotch pastorals, or the instrument accompanies the voice in unison, as was the practice in Europe, until towards the end of St. Lewis’s reign in the thirteenth century. (Willard, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 54) Jones writes that ‘the Hindus . . . seem ignorant of our complicated harmony’ (Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 130), and goes on to compare Hindu modes to the modes of Plain Song: we must not confound them [Hindus] with our modern modes, which result from the system of accords [harmony] now established in Europe; they may rather be compared with those of the Roman Church, where some valuable remnants of old Grecian music are preserved in the sweet, majestic, simple, and affecting strains of the Plain Song. (Ibid., pp. 130–1) 92 Clayton, ‘A. H. Fox Strangways and The Music of Hindostan: Revisiting Historical Field Recordings’, 89–90. Clayton’s article revolves around the early recordings, found in the International Music Collection of the British Library National Sound Archive, of thirteen notated sources from The Music of Hindostan (Ibid., 90). 93 Fox Strangways, The Music of Hindostan, pp. 17–18. 94 Ibid., p. 187. Gltagovinda is actually a twelfth-century poem. 95 Jones, ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, in Tagore, Hindu Music, p. 131. 96 For more information on Lawrence Venuti and notions of ‘invisibility’ in translation see Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility, A History of Translation, and for a good general introduction to Venuti’s work, and its context in the field, see Jeremy Munday, ‘Translating the foreign: The (In)visibility of Translation’, in Munday, ed., Introducing Translation Studies, Theories and Applications, pp. 144–61. 97 Fox Strangways omits reference to Jones in what would be the obvious locations for it, such as under ‘General’, ‘Descriptive’, ‘Musical Examples’ and the like. Instead mention of Jones is tucked away under ‘Musicians and Styles’, under ‘S. M. Tagore: 1882’.

10 ‘Travelling the other way’ The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan (1810) and Romantic Orientalism Nigel Leask

In this chapter I shall be discussing a relatively unknown work of Romantic Orientalism which ‘travels the other way’ in narrating a journey from British India to the metropolis, rather than the more usual colonial version of the ‘passage to India’. Mirza Abu Taleb Khan’s Travels, written in manuscript in the Persian language at Calcutta in 1803–4, and first published in English translation in 1810, has recently been described as ‘one of the most comprehensive accounts of the West by an Indian Muslim . . . a successful translation of one cultural system into another’.1 As such it ranks as the first published travel narrative of Europe written by a native of South Asia, and one of the first widely available eye-witness accounts of Europe to reach literate Persian speakers in the nineteenth century. Quite apart from its interest in mediating European ideas and values to the Muslim world, Abu Taleb’s Travels also casts a foreign and, I will argue, often critical light on Georgian Britain during the era of its ‘imperial meridian’. Its critical tone is all the more remarkable considering that technically speaking its author was a colonial subject of Great Britain, sitting in judgement upon the familiar world of his colonial patrons. The very existence of a text such as this problematizes a common recent view of Romantic Orientalism as ‘advancing securely and unmetaphorically upon the Orient’, in Edward Said’s words.2 I’ll consider the extent to which the ‘reverse ethnography’ of Abu Taleb’s book raises a problem for the basic epistemology of Saidean Orientalism, famously expressed in the epigraph to Said’s book of the same title, adapted from Karl Marx’s ironic apophthegm on the nineteenth-century French peasantry; ‘They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented’. Of course the Saidean version of the story is well aware that many of the texts which ‘travel the other way’ in the eighteenth century were conceived as acts of cultural ventriloquism, fictions of the West seen through the eyes of its oriental Others. Highlights of this tradition, inaugurated by Marana’s Turkish Spy (1684), were Montesquieu’s Persian Letters (1721) Goldsmith’s Citizen of the World (1762) and, nearly contemporaneous with Abu Taleb, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah (1796) by the Scottish novelist Elizabeth Hamilton. The extent to which these texts of vicarious representation successfully contributed (along the Foucauldian axis of Said’s savoir/pouvoir) to the construction of European colonial hegemony is a more vexed question, and one which will be considered in this essay. First though, I want to touch briefly on the intriguing links between Abu Taleb’s book and Hamilton’s novel, which I have discussed at greater length elsewhere.3

Travelling the other way 221 Hindoo Rajah is preceded by a ‘Preliminary Dissertation on the History, Religion, and Manners of the Hindoos’ which draws heavily on Sir William Jones’s Orientalism in idealizing ‘the sublime and exalted notions of the Deity, taught by the Bramins . . . only equalled in that Gospel “which brought life and immortality to light” ’.4 Hindu culture is praised for its tolerance, and caste (usually singled out for attack by European commentators) is commended for suppressing selfish individualism, envy and social discontent. By contrast, the Prophet Mahomet is dismissed as ‘the imposter of Mecca’, and the Mughal conquest of India as ‘the restless fury of Fanatic zeal’.5 Vilification of Mughal India provides an opportunity to celebrate the advent of British rule in Bengal as a restoration of a Hindu golden age that unrelenting persecution, which was deemed a duty by the ignorant bigotry of their Musselman rulers, has, by the milder spirit of Christianity, been converted into the tenderest indulgence . . . their ancient laws have been restored to them . . . agriculture has been encouraged by . . . the security of property.6 and the pax brittanica. Both in the ‘Dissertation’ and the novel itself, Hamilton quotes from her late brother Charles Hamilton’s Historical Relation of the Rohillla Afghans, Compiled from a Persian Manuscript and other original papers (London, 1787) to vindicate the Company’s campaign against the Rohillas as an act of liberation, rescuing oppressed Hindus from the despotic yoke of Islam (in this particular case) Rohilla chieftains, or ‘banditti of the hills’.7 Hamilton’s Rajah Zaarmilla’s gratitude to the British for his deliverance from the Rohilla yoke has been converted into strong anglophilia by his conversations with the high minded, fatally injured Capt. Percy (a character modelled on Charles Hamilton), whom he has rescued from his Afghan captors after the battle of Cutterah, and who whets the Rajah’s curiosity to know more about distant Britain. This however, is where the novel’s critical project warms up: Zaarmilla’s starry-eyed idealization of British culture in the wake of his discussions with Percy adds to the pathos of his progressive disappointment when he embarks on his travels, as he personally encounters a very different reality on the ground. Hamilton’s pro-Hindu and Islamophobic novel, quite apart from its spirited defence of the Hastings phase of British colonial rule, works as colonial ideology in another sense. If, as we are told, the novel is written as an act of sibling pietas to commemorate Hamilton’s deceased brother, it is strange that its anti-Islamicist bias ignores her brother’s remarks concerning the rationale of his labours in translating the Hedaya or Islamic legal code, as being that of ‘uniting us more closely with our Mussulman Subjects’.8 The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan differs from Hamilton’s fictional narratives (and those of other exemplars of the Persian Letters genre) insofar as it relates the historical travels of its author, an Indo-Persian poet and munshi, in Europe in the years 1799–1803. Of course the distinction between travel writing and fiction in the European eighteenth century is far from being clear-cut, as Percy Adams’s 1983 erudite study Travel Writing and the Evolution of the Novel makes plain. The same could probably be said of the Indo-Persian literary tradition in which Abu Taleb wrote: the narrower European post-romantic equation of ‘literature’ with the creation of imaginative worlds


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seems in this respect to be a global exception, rather than a rule. While I’m definitely underqualified to illuminate this important subject from a comparativist perspective (having no skill in Persian), its notable that Abu Taleb’s English translator seems to have played down many of the literary qualities of the original Persian manuscript, entitled the Masir-I Talibi. Much of the poetry included in the original is quite literally ‘lost in translation’, as the translator sought to bring the text more into line with the descriptive and ‘factual’ parameters beginning to dominate European travel narrative by the early 1800s. Abu Taleb’s verse, written in the traditional Persian genres of qasidah, mathnawi and ghazal, embodies his desire to communicate an imaginative and affective impression of Europe, in order to complement the book’s analytic and descriptive tasks. Verses descriptive of London, Oxford and Cambridge, as well as of English society, and love poetry dedicated to various English women in the style of Hafiz, were later collected in Abu Taleb’s Diwan-I Talibi, and a translated selection appeared in 1807 entitled The Poems of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan.9 One reviewer of the Travels suggested that the translator had gone too far in toning down the original text, grumbled that ‘we are not sure whether [Abu Taleb’s] journal would not be more entertaining, if it had more of the Oriental leaven’.10 Contemporary European readers were nevertheless impressed by the book’s resemblance to the fictional genre of ‘Persian Letters’, a fact of which neither Abu Taleb himself (who had read widely in European literature by the time he came to write his travels), nor his English translator, were unaware. Such self-consciousness further complicates the question of the book’s transgression of generic as well as cultural boundaries. Lisa Lowe, writing of the Lettres Persanes (1721), underlines Montesquieu’s exposure of the corrupt French interregnum as a form of oriental despotism. Denying that the novel ‘colonizes’ its oriental protagonists, however, she argues that it sets out to question the act of cultural appropriation itself; ‘it inverts and destabilises the very category of observer and observed, ruler and ruled, or persan and parisien’.11 Ironically, Abu Taleb’s critical strictures on British society may well have been enabled by the moralizing agenda of the fictional Persian Letters tradition, although the Persian genre of the ‘Mirror of Princes’ (with which Abu Taleb’s book has some affinities), also required a deferential mixture of blame with praise in addressing sovereign power. Although it has only recently begun to be taken seriously by scholars outside Pakistan and Iran – it’s only beginning to be studied in India (an Urdu translation was published in 1904, but the most recent edition of the Masir-I Talibi, appeared in Tehran in 1974, edited by the Iranian scholar Husain Khadwija)12 – post-colonial readings have tended to polarise along two political axes. Either Abu Taleb’s book (and to an even larger extent, its English translation) is seen as an act of collaboration, pandering to the narcissism of the colonizer’s gaze, so that its critical elements can be written off as ‘legitimized dissent’; or else it’s taken as a proto-nationalist act of resistance to British colonial power – a case of ‘the empire writing back’.13 In what follows, I’ll resist both readings by suggesting that the book questions a binary notion of colonial discourse premised upon a hierarchical distinction between a European Self and its oriental Other, or the occidentalist mirror image of that configuration. Despite its colonial context, it embodies an altogether less schematic approach to cultural comparison.

Travelling the other way 223 Despite his cosmopolitan background (to which I’ll return later), Abu Taleb writes as the representative of the late eighteenth-century Bengali intelligentsia, in Tapan Raychaudhuri’s words ‘the first Asian social group of any size whose mental world was transformed through its interactions with the West’,14 after the British took over political control of Bengal in the later decades of the century. According to Iranianist Juan Cole, before 1750 Asian writers in general, and Muslims in particular, took little heed of developments in Europe; ‘the Renaissance, the Copernican Revolution, the printing revolution, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment all might as well not have occurred for all the cognizance most Muslim intellectuals took of them’.15 Bernard Lewis’s stronger and more ideologically aggressive version of this argument has been heavily criticized by scholars; taking his distance from Lewis, Cole suggests that one reason for this state of affairs was the fact that knowledge of Europe which did exist in the Muslim world was contained in manuscript form, and therefore had limited circulation. The real reason, therefore, for the Muslim world’s late discovery of Europe was nothing to do with any essential lack of curiosity (as Lewis tends to suggest), but rather of the ‘non-adoption of printing by Persian-speaking peoples for three and a half centuries after the technology became widespread in Western Europe’. This didn’t reflect ignorance of technique (as in the contemporary case of Russia), but rather low rates of literacy and the small size of the indigenous middle classes.16 In his book Provincialising Europe, Dipesh Chakrabarty has recently called for a history that will attempt the impossible: to look toward its own death by tracing that which resists and escapes the best human effort at translation across cultural and other semiotic systems, so that the world may once again be imagined as radically heterogeneous.17 Chakrabarty writes of the massive, imperial dominance of European epistemology in the period after about 1850, a complete contrast from the situation a century earlier. Abu Taleb is of particular interest in this respect insofar as he exists on the cusp of this colonial transformation of the South Asian mindset, his formation being that of an earlier, pre-colonial, Indo-Persian ecumene. The attitude to Europe presented in his Travels looks radically different from that of the next generation of South Asian intellectuals, particularly those of the nineteenth-century Bengali Renaissance. However much these thinkers were energized by their encounter with European science, technology and progressivist politics, their crippling sense of failure, lack and inadequacy in relationship to the sovereignty of European reason is exemplified by M. M. Dutt’s poem ‘Oft like a Sad Bird I sigh’, a young Bengali’s longing for ‘completion’ as a European. By contrast, Abu Taleb ‘travelled the other way’ in negotiating the difficult terrain of cultural ‘translation’ between Britain and colonial India in terms of a very different, older, but none the less cosmopolitan worldview. As we will see, his travel narrative analysed the human consequences of economic and social modernization at the dawning of European colonialism, offered a comparison of the condition of women in Asia and Europe and mounted a moral and religious critique of upper-class British manners from an ‘oriental’ perspective. Above all, he offered a


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comparative analysis of Asian and European cultures without subscribing to the historicist telos which would come to dominate the nineteenth-century colonial world, Chakrabarty’s ‘waiting room’ model of history; ‘somebody’s way of saying ‘not yet’ to non-European peoples.

The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan Abu Taleb ibn Muhammed Isfahani (1752–1805) was a Shi’ite Indo-Persian munshi born in Lucknow in 1752, a former revenue officer for the Nawab of Awadh who had married into the Bengali nobility. Traditionally, Iranians formed a significant prop of the Mughal imperial bureaucracy, and given that Persian was the language of the Mughal court and of its provincial government, the prospect of emigration to wealthy north India was extremely attractive to well-educated men like Abu Taleb’s father, an Azerbaijani Turk born in Isphahan.18 The fact that many Indo-Persians worked for Hindu sovereigns as well as for Muslim rulers (mainly Sunnis rather than Shia) made employment in the service of the culturally alien British seem unproblematic, particularly as Persian was the language of governance in British India until 1835. But this cosmopolitan Indo-Persian service elite had double cause to feel that their familiar Islamic world was falling around their ears: by the time of Abu Taleb’s birth, both the century-old Savafid regime in Iran, and the Mughal empire in India, were fast fragmenting. In South Asia, provinces like Awadh, Mysore and Hyderabad asserted their independence, Hindu Maratha warlords threatened the borders of the Muslim states, while north India was invaded by Persian and Afghan armies in 1739 and 1759, and the imperial capital of Delhi sacked. ‘The face of the sky and earth was changed’, as one Mughal poet expressed it. The power vacuum was rapidly filled by expansionist Britain and France, and between 1757 and 1765 the British East India company occupied the rich weaving and rice-growing province of Bengal, establishing a bridgehead for eventual colonial dominance of the whole Indian subcontinent.19 Members of the displaced Mughal service gentry like Abu Taleb sought to cultivate client–patron ties with the new masters of Bengal, and much of the literary production of the period, including the Masir-I Talibi, was compiled for presentation to British orientalist patrons in expectation of lucrative employment. It’s ironic that this period of political decline was also one of cultural efflorescence for Mughal poets and scholars, and the case of Abu Taleb was no exception; Gulfishan Khan writes that ‘poetry completely permeated the literate sections of society whether the aristocracy or the notables . . . even the reigning Emperor Shah ‘Alam himself was a poet whose literary compositions still survive’.20 In 1787, Abu Taleb had been forced to leave Lucknow for Calcutta in search of alternative employment under the British, but despite appeals to Lord Cornwallis and John Shore, he remained unemployed for a decade. Frustrated, anxious and impoverished, he took the obvious next step of embarking on a literary career. In 1789, he edited a collection of Hafiz’s poetry and prepared an abridged edition of the Riyaz al-shu’ara, a biographical dictionary compiled by Ali Quli Khan Walih, as well as a digest of universal history. He achieved a reputation as a leading man of letters in Calcutta, an important poet in his own right, but also a reciter, critic and a good

Travelling the other way 225 historian with a gift for languages. Nevertheless, in 1799, depressed by the rapid collapse of his familiar Mughal world and failure to advance his career, he was encouraged by his Scottish friend Captain David Richardson to accompany him on his return voyage to Britain. Abu Taleb travelled with a view to making money as an orientalist, armed with a proposal to open an academy for teaching Persian, Hindi and other oriental languages to East India Company employees in London or Oxford. He was greatly piqued by the failure of the scheme, which he blamed on British complacency regarding oriental languages. After two and a half years in Britain, he returned overland to India via France, Italy, the Ottoman empire and Persia. Upon his return to Calcutta in 1803, Abu Taleb composed the Masir-I Talibi (based on his diaries and letters sent back to friends in Bengal), which he had copied by a team of katibs or scribes for the instruction of his fellow countrymen. A copy fell into the hands of Lt. Col. Lennon, who took it to Britain, where it was translated into English by Charles Stewart, Belfast-born Professor of Persian at the Company College at Haileybury.21 As we have seen, it was published by Longman in 1810 under the title of Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan in Asia, Africa, and Europe. A second English edition was published in 1814, and meanwhile, in 1812, a Persian-language abridgement was published by the Hindoostani Press in Calcutta, edited by Abu Taleb’s sons, and reissued in 1827 and 1836.22 The English text was translated into French and German. In his translator’s introduction to the 1810 edition, Charles Stewart insisted that he had ‘endeavoured to render [his translation] as literal as the different idioms of the two languages would permit’ (I, vii), although as we’ve seen he left out much of Abu Taleb’s original poetry. Given that Abu Taleb’s lively travelogue in so many respects ‘read like a novel’, Stewart needed to guarantee that this wasn’t just another Persian Letters or Hindoo Rajah. He announced that he had deposited the original Persian manuscript at Messrs Longman and Co. in London where it would remain for three months ‘for the satisfaction of any persons who may have doubts about its authenticity’.23 According to Gulfishan Khan, who has worked extensively on this manuscript (now held in the Bodleian library, Oxford, Pers.MS. Ouseley 108) there exist innumerable other copies of the text ‘both in Indian as well as European libraries; most of these are similar in contact’.24 Bernard Lewis claims that ‘[Stewart’s] English version is, to put it charitably, remarkably free and is probably the result of some form of oral translation through an intermediary’.25 This suggestion appears to be completely without substance, as all the numerous passages quoted in translation by Gulfishan Khan from the Bodleian manuscript are remarkably close to Stewart’s English text, and there seems to be no reason to disbelieve Stewart’s account of the work’s textual transmission. Early nineteenth-century Britain contained no shortage of readers expert in the Persian written and spoken in the Mughal courts, given that proficiency in the language was a compulsory part of the education of Company Civil Servants and soldiers. Because, despite this wide early dissemination, Abu Taleb’s Travels has (until very recently) disappeared from literary history, I’ll say something about the circumstances of its European reception as a work of Romantic Orientalism, before, in the second part of my essay, discussing the text itself.26 In a long 1810 essay in the Quarterly


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Review, Reginald Heber accepted the book’s authenticity, claiming for it an epoch-making importance as ‘the first description of European manners and characters, which has, as far as we know, appeared in an Oriental language’ (QR, 7 (1810), 92), and speculating that ‘the pride of man is secretly gratified by the surprise of a stranger at objects which are familiar to us’ (ibid., 80). Because ‘no real oriental traveller had yet appeared’ in Britain until Abu Taleb’s arrival, Heber continued (and we’ll see in a moment how unfounded was his claim), ‘his place and character were eagerly assumed by European writers, who under the names of Turkish Spies, Ambassadors of Bantam, and Chinese and Persian Tourists, endeavoured to instruct, as impartial spectators of European feuds and follies; or to amuse, by ridiculous oppositions of our own manners and characters with their own’ (ibid., 81). For Heber, there was now something tawdry about the fake Orientalism of the ‘Persian Letters’ genre, especially in an imperial Britain rapidly become expert in the languages and customs of its oriental colonies. ‘Amusing as they were, these Turks and Persians wanted the charm of reality . . . the difference in interest was almost the same, as between a view of the Great Mogul himself, and the well-bred Sultan of a French tragedy or an English masquerade’ (ibid., 81). Hence his pleasure in announcing that in the person of Abu Taleb ‘the reality . . . has at last made his appearance’ (ibid., 82). Heber’s announcement was prescient: as Michael Harbsmeier has indicated, around this time the eighteenth-century genre of ‘Persian Letters’ more or less died out; ‘a few Orientalists sometimes did their best to authenticate fictitious accounts . . . but more often they tried all they could to find the genuine texts of this sort and to make them accessible for the European reading public through translation’.27 As the nineteenth century drew on, European Orientalism seemed increasingly split between what Said has designated a ‘dream-like Orient’ in which Europeans (De Quincey-like) imaginatively absorbed the orient into the depths of their collective psyches, or else an exercise in philological world-building of the sort pioneered by Colebrooke, De Sacy or Renan. Heber was well off the mark in describing Abu Taleb’s book as ‘the first description of European manners and characters, which has . . . appeared in an Oriental language’, although he wasn’t of course denying that there had been any shortage of South Asian travellers, both Hindu and Muslim, visiting Britain in the eighteenth century, only affirming the fact that most hadn’t written about their experiences. Rozina Visram’s study Ayahs, Lascars, and Princes cites a Parliamentary Inquiry of 1814 which estimated that there were about 1,000 lascars (Asian sailors and deckhands) based in England, few of whom could write.28 Travellers from the privileged classes of South Asian society were fewer in number, and apart from the Mahratta embassy which visited London in the 1780s, most were Muslims, for the simple reason that that Hindus risked losing caste by crossing the ocean. Abu Taleb records meeting the upper-class Indo-Muslim wives and bibis of several retired East India Company Dignitaries in Britain and Ireland, as well as the charismatic Dean Mahomet, a former Bengal Army officer from Patna (like Abu Taleb a member of the Muslim service elite). Dean Mahomet had accompanied his friend Capt. Godfrey Baker home to Ireland, married an Irish women from the gentry class and made his home in Cork from 1784 to 1807 before starting a second career as shampooing

Travelling the other way 227 surgeon to King George IV. Although, as Michael Fisher indicates in an excellent recent edition, Dean Mahomet’s Travels (published in 1794) has the distinction of being the first book published in English by a South Asian, it focuses upon its author’s adventures in the Company armies in India, concluding with his voyage to Europe, and so narrowly misses being an instance of ‘travelling the other way’.29 Gulfishan Khan’s study of Indian-Muslim Perceptions of the West during the eighteenth century is largely based on the testimony of seven individuals, including Abu Taleb, who wrote Persian-language accounts of Britain and British rule in India in the eighteenth century. Even more significant, three of these actually travelled to Britain and wrote travel narratives about Britain and Europe. The very existence of this group questions orientalist stereotypes about the intellectual vitality of contemporary Bengal, Islamic incuriosity about the European world and the supposed inexorable decline of Mughal culture in the eighteenth century. As C. A. Bayly indicates, ‘an important influence on many of them appears to have been the usuli tradition of Shia legalism which emphasised the rational sciences and conceded the need to debate matters of custom in the light of reason’30. The ‘Age of Reason’ clearly wasn’t a European monopoly. The first of these travellers was I’tisam al-din, a scion of the Bengali gentry, who visited Britain in 1767–9 following the Treaty of Allahabad, bringing a letter from the Mughal Emperor Shah ‘Alam to George III, pleading for British military protection against the manifold enemies who surrounded him. In Oxford, he assisted William Jones with his Persian studies, then resided in Edinburgh, where he met many of the luminaries of the Scottish Enlightenment. I’tisam was a devout Muslim who refused even the slightest deviations from the rules of Shari’at: a keen observer of social tensions, he noted the resentment of European workers, peasants and migrants, and predicted the class struggle which would explode in France in the decades after his return to Calcutta. It is intriguing to speculate that his views might have been influenced by the contemporaneous lectures of John Millar in Glasgow, published in 1771 as Observations concerning the Distinction of Ranks. By 1785, I’tisam had completed his travelogue Shigarf-nama-I wilayat, an abridged Urdu and English translation of which was published in 1827. Khan describes the Shigarf-nama as the ‘first attempt to comprehend and assimilate . . . western ideas within the framework of indigenous traditions’, seeking to comprehend the meteoric rise to power of the Company within the framework of British history and Mughal political decline.31 Abu Taleb’s immediate precursor was Mir Muhammad Husain, like him (but not I’tisam) also of Persian descent, a former employee in the regional courts of Murshidabad, Awadh and Hyderabad. Social contact with the British community in Bengal whetted Muhammad Husain’s appetite to study European science. As he put it in his travelogue Risalah hiat-I Jadid Angrezi, composed in both Arabic and Persian, since the mysteries and principles of the new sciences were not yet diffused in India, consequently, to satisfy mental curiosity, I undertook a trip to the countries of Europe (bilad-I farang) in order to enjoy direct access to the mines of ideas and knowledge.32


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Muhammad Husain set off in 1775, spending a year in England and visiting France. Upon his return to India, his contributions to the Asiatic Society were acknowledged by William Jones in his Sixth Discourse on the Persians, and he assisted in translating the Hedàya, the book of Islamic jurisprudence, from Arabic into Persian. Although Muhammad Husain’s aspirations to disseminate Western scientific, and particularly Newtonian, ideas among his fellow-countrymen were largely unsuccessful, he appears to have inspired a new interest in Europe amongst his peers in Calcutta, including Abu Taleb.33 Abu Taleb stands out from the others on account of his aristocratic sprezzatura and the relish with which he described his travels, well exemplified in his poem ‘Ode to London’, one of the poems which survived Charles Stewarts’s cuts. Henceforth we will devote our lives to London, And its heart-alluring Damsels; Our hearts are satiated with viewing fields, gardens, Rivers and palaces. We have no longing for the Toba, Sudrek, or other Trees of Paradise We are content to rest under the shade of these Terrestrial Cypresses. If the Sheikh of Mecca is displeased at our conversion, Who cares? May the Temple which has conferred such blessings On us, and its Priests, flourish! Fill the goblet with wine! If by this I am Prevented from returning To my old religion, I care not; nay, that I am the Better pleased. If the prime of my life has been spent in the Service of an Indian Cupid, It matters not: I am now rewarded by the smiles Of the British Fair. Adorable creatures! Whose flowing tresses, whether Of flaxen or of jetty hue, Or auburn gay, delight my soul, and ravish All my senses! Whose ruby lips would animate the torpid clay, or Marble statue!

Travelling the other way 229 Had I renewal of life, I would, with rapture, Devote it to your service! These wounds of Cupid, on your heart, Taleba, Are not accidental: They are engendered by Nature, like the streaks On the leaf of a tulip. This poem makes a striking contrast with account of Britain by the devout I’tisam al-Din, a native Bengali (rather than an aristocratic Indo-Persian) who adhered to religious orthodoxy and strict observance of sharia law. Captain George Swinton, who knew both I’tisam and Abu Taleb personally, wrote with reference to the latter (casting some light on the tone of the latter’s ‘Ode to London’) ‘The Muslim upper classes paid little attention to religious sanctions at a personal level. They did not care for religious prohibitions against wine-drinking and therefore, frequently dined and mixed with the British in India’.34 Abu Taleb’s social class and Company connections gave him an entrée into British high society, as he himself put it, ‘I may perhaps be accused of personal vanity by saying, that my society was courted, and that my wit and repartee, with some impromptu application of Oriental poetry, were the subject of conversation in the politest circles’ (I, 162). (Heber’s ill-spirited comment on this passage was ‘Poor Abu failed to understand that ‘he was only entertaining from the Caftan outwards’ (QR, 1810, 88)). He became a popular celebrity and was dubbed ‘the Persian Prince’, doubtless on account of the elaborate Mughal court costume which he sported in public. His portrait was painted six times, and he was presented to the King and Prince of Wales, mixed familiarly with Lord Cornwallis, Warren Hastings, Sir John Macpherson and Sir John Shore, shared with Horatio Nelson the honours of the high table at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London, met the Prime Minister William Pitt, Henry Dundas and other members of the Cabinet, mingled in philosophical circles at the home of Sir Joseph Banks and argued about the Christian denial of Islam with the Bishop of Llandaff. Although critical of British orientalist scholarship (particularly Jones’s Persian Grammar), and making little headway with his plan for an Academy of Oriental Languages, he befriended scholars like Charles Wilkins, Captain Michael Symes, Sir William Ouseley and French orientalists Langlès and De Sacy in Paris. His activities were widely reported in the press, and the Asiatic Annual Register reported in 1802 that ‘he has now acquired a significant knowledge of English to read it to his own satisfaction, and make himself understood in conversation’.35 Abu Taleb’s flattering comments on individual members of high society hardly mask the generally critical nature of his account of English manners, however. (Unlike I’tisam he never visited Scotland and only passed briefly through Wales, so his general comments were limited to Ireland and England). Despite his largely secular consciousness, he was critical of English irreligion ‘and great inclination to philosophy’. His most sustained argument was a protest against the embourgeoisment of the English upper classes; echoing the criticisms of Whig and Dissenting


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moralists, he believed that British society was being undermined by luxury. As Juan Cole comments, the contrasting image he had in mind was the steppe or desert warriors among the Arabs and Turks who, in lore at least, were depicted as possessing ascetic values.36 However little this might seem to chime with the epicurean philosophy expressed in his ‘Ode to London’, he urged Britons to study the history of the early Arabs and Tartars, whose empire was founded upon ‘the paucity of their wants’ (II, 37). This was a critique travestied by the orientalist Heber as recommending ‘shorter meals and longer beards’ (QR, 1810, 89). In the first volume of the Travels, Abu Taleb commented upon the ‘overbearing insolence which characterises the vulgar part of the English in their conduct to Orientals’ (I, 43) and also criticized English prejudice against the Irish, for whom he possessed a special affection. (He’d first landed at Cork and travelled to England via Dublin, so his first, and perhaps most abiding, impression of Europe was formed in Ireland.) In an insightful act of sympathy with the Catholic subjects of Britain’s nearest colony, he expressed concern at the abject poverty of Irish peasants, who made their Indian counterparts seem prosperous by comparison (I, 106). Of the Scots, he noted a series of caricatures which ‘first exhibited a Scotchman, quitting his country to seek his fortune: and the itch being a very common complaint in Scotland, the poor fellow is drawn, rubbing his back against a mile-stone, on the road to London – marries an English widow – flatters a Minster – finally ends up seated in the chair of the Vizier’ (I, 140). Abu Taleb might have been particularly sensitive to such an image of the needy supplicant for metropolitan patronage, and he reveals here a sense of the internal ethnic divisions of Britain. As a social observer, he noted the irreligion and disorderliness of the English working class, and felt that, particularly in the light of the French Revolution, the ruling classes were courting disaster by failing to reform social and political abuses. Despite the much vaunted liberties of the ordinary Englishman, he argued that ‘this liberty is more in appearance than reality; for the difference between the comforts of the rich and of the poor, is, in England, much greater than in India’ (I, 265). In the second volume he turned from ‘personal narrative’ to systematic description of England, and in chapter 17 listed the twelve principle vices of the English: irreligion, pride, obsession with making money, indolence, irascibility, propensity to waste time in eating, sleeping and dressing, excessive luxury (threatening their grasp on empire), intellectual arrogance masking ignorance (particularly of foreign and oriental languages), selfishness (notably in their governance of Bengal), sexual promiscuity, prodigality and contempt for the customs of other nations. Although he admired the balance of the British constitution, Abu Taleb made devastating criticisms of the English Common Law, particularly the jury system which, notwithstanding its status as ‘the boasted palladium of English liberty’, easily permitted the judge to overrule the jurors (II, 4). He argued that the exercise of British law in Calcutta was corrupt, proposed that parties should plead their own cases and (following the practice of Muslim cazis) that barristers shouldn’t receive bribes or payment from litigating parties. Although respectful of the managers of the East India Company, he dismissed the proprietors of East India Stock as ‘low people’, and proposed a plan to pay off the National Debt, which he feared was

Travelling the other way 231 ruining the British economy. In an argument proleptic of later nineteenth-century Indian nationalists, he also criticized the inferiority of machine-made British yarn to the imported Indian article ‘owing to the thread being over-twisted’ (I, 238). He nevertheless admired British technical progress, and revealed a sophisticated comprehension of the principles of mechanism and divided labour when he visited factories. Perhaps alluding to Adam Smith, he singled out the division and organization of labour for special praise, whereby ‘wheels, chains, springs, etc., are made by different artists, and only require a person who is conversant in the business, to select and put the pieces together’ (I, 245). Given the subsequent publication of his own travelogue, it is significant that he had high praise for Europe’s many printing presses, which allowed for the dissemination of ‘works of celebrated authors, free from the errors and imperfections of a manuscript’. Nevertheless, he proudly affirmed that this art was already ‘well understood in Calcutta’ (I, 243). Balancing his devastating critique of English manners, Abu Taleb offered in chapter 20, a list of the ‘virtues’ of the English, which he named as honour, meritocracy, propriety, social conscience, conformity to fashion, sincerity, good sense, sound judgement and hospitality. Nonetheless, 5 pages on the virtues of the English (fazai’l-I Ingilish) hardly balance 29 pages on their vices (razai’l-I Ingilish). As with contemporary European travel literature, the itinerary narrative (particularly the part descriptive of his return journey overland via Europe and Asia) permitted Abu Taleb to compare and contrast Dutch, Irish, English, French, Italian, Ottoman and Persian culture, and his strictures on the vices of the English are mild in comparison with his devastating portrait of the Cape Dutch, or the inertia and complacency which he found in the Ottoman empire. In France, he admired the wealth of paintings in the Louvre, with its free access, although he found Parisian women ‘painted to an excess’ (II, 138). In general, he was warm in praising the French, Britain’s main colonial rival in India, and found them better versed in oriental languages; ‘perhaps the French language’, he suggested, ‘approaches nearer to the Persian idiom, than English; or, that our poetical expressions are more congenial to their ideas, than to those of the inhabitants of a colder climate’ (II, 139). If Abu Taleb wished to impress his potential British patrons, he could easily have scored points by running down their French rivals. Despite his admiration for Europe’s superior achievements in technology, Abu Taleb’s comparisons between his own and European culture are exempt from any sense of ‘cultural cringe’ – he is just as willing to criticize Europe according to the standards of his own culture, as the reverse. He even shows his awareness of the European belief in the stadial theory of social development, which he glossed as the belief that, ‘mankind has arisen from the state of savages, to the exalted dignity of the great philosopher Newton’ (II, 61). As in his comments on the French, he believed that cultures were largely the product of climate and physical environment. His account makes it clear that Europeans were not unique in observing skin colour, although unlike British colonial travelers, Abu Taleb doesn’t seem to have any ideological investment in classifying phenotypes. He noted the ‘wheat colour’ of the Nicobar Islanders, the ‘tawny colour’ of the inhabitants of St Helena; and of the Bombay poor observed on his return journey he wrote, ‘[they are] of small stature, very black, and nothing but skin and bone’ (II, 389). We shouldn’t forget that despite


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the fact that Abu Taleb was a colonial subject of Great Britain, he occupied a relatively elevated station in the ethnic and social hierarchy. This fact is brought home by his description of selling his Negro slave at the Cape for 500 dollars (I, 73). The translation of Abu’s narrative contains many instances of ‘defamiliarisation’ for the English reader reminiscent of the orientalizing rhetoric of the Persian Letters genre. The Islamic spatio-temporal coordinates of his world are studiously preserved by his translator, so that chronology is reckoned by Year of the Hejira rather than Anno Domini, the Mediterranean is described as the ‘Sea of Romi’ and the Canary Islands as the spot from ‘whence the Mohammedans commence their longitude’ (I, 89). Elsewhere, Abu Taleb amusingly likens whales to ‘large elephants’ with ‘immense nostrils’ which ‘threw up water to the height of 15 yards’ (I, 44), and fears that his description of ice-skating in Ireland in the winter of 1799, ‘will . . . hardly be credited by my countrymen’ in Calcutta (I, 147). He found that the ruins of Aberconway Castle in Wales ‘much resemble those of Allahabad’ (I, 154) and wrote that the public buildings of Oxford, ‘constructed of hewn stone, much resemble in form some of the Hindoo temples’ (I, 168). The House of Commons he described in a high-coloured orientalist metaphor, Whigs and Tories likened to ‘two flocks of Indian paroquets, sitting upon opposite mango trees, scolding at each other; the most noisy of whom were Mr Pitt and Mr Fox’ (I, 282). (This is one of the first descriptions of parliamentary government in the Persian language, although it contains little sense of the mechanisms of political representation in Georgian Britain. He had however grasped the European distinction of spiritual and temporal power.) Abu Taleb’s comments on the British upper-class fashion for classical sculpture is infused with an Islamic dislike for anthropomorphic representation: over the chimney pieces they place some of the heathen deities of Greece . . . It is really astounding that people possessing so much knowledge and good sense, and who reproach the nobility of Hindostan with wearing gold and silver ornaments like women, should be thus tempted by Satan to throw away their money upon useless blocks. (I, 120) He was particularly fascinated by British orientalist representations of South Asian culture, an interest which ironically mirrors the European fascination with ‘reverse travelogues’ invoked by Reginald Heber in his review essay. In Dublin he attended a performance of the popular melodrama The Storming of Seringapatam, which provided an occasion for a rare expression of sympathy for the fate of the Muslim ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, recently overthrown by Lord Wellesley: ‘the representation was so correct, that everything appeared natural; and the conclusion was very affecting’ (I, 133). Is this just an expression of tragic pathos, or of understated political solidarity with the (Muslim) Tiger of Mysore? Travelling through Gloucester, he visited the home of his acquaintance Charles Cockerell at Sezincote, currently being rebuilt in Mughal style, wrote a long account (cut from the translation) of a hot-house full of tropical plants, admired the Prince of Wales’s chinoiserie in Piccadilly and was amused by a masquerade in which ‘many represent Turks, Persians, Indians, and foreigners of all nations’ (I, 212).

Travelling the other way 233 Finally, Abu Taleb’s book has a lot to say about gender and sexuality, not the least of its interest for the modern reader. If the gendering of Hindu protagonists in orientalist novels like Elizabeth Hamilton’s Letters of a Hindoo Rajah often plays on the colonial stereotype of the ‘feminised’ Hindu, Abu Taleb seems to sport with a corresponding masculinist stereotype of the lascivious Muslim. He openly confesses ‘I am by nature amorous and easily affected at the sight of [female] beauty’ (II, 139) and, as we saw in his Hafiz-style ‘Ode to London’, his experiences of Britain are often troped as an erotic encounter with ‘the British Fair’. A keen observer of women, Abu Taleb is fascinated by female promiscuity amongst the Dutch at the Cape, Asian–Irish mixed marriage at Cork, High Society women in London and Paris, cicisbeism in Italy and unveiled Ottoman wives in Istanbul. Abu Taleb’s propensity for sexual role-playing is paraded in an early incident in the Travels during his stop-off at Capetown. When Abu Taleb’s handkerchief is stolen by a flirtatious Dutch Afrikaaner girl at a dance, he snatches it back, then announces he will only part with it to ‘the handsomest girl of the group’. ‘As this circumstance was an allusion to a practice among the rich Turks of Constantinople’ he continued, ‘who throw their handkerchief to the lady with whom they wish to pass the night, the laugh was turned against my fair antagonist, she blushed, and retreated to some distance’ (I, 69). Kate Teltscher comments of this passage that Abu’s ‘self-transformation from feminised, blushing passivity to masculine assertiveness . . . at once confirms and subverts the stereotype of the lustful Mohammedan as he knowingly enacts the oriental part’.37 Abu Taleb’s reclamation of his threatened masculinity here is reminiscent of Mungo Park’s description, in Travels in the Interior Parts of Africa (1799) of dealing with the collective curiosity of the ladies of a Moorish seraglio who wanted visual proof of his non-circumcision; ‘I observed to them . . . that if all of them would retire, except the young lady to whom I pointed (selecting the youngest and handsomest), I would satisfy her curiosity’.38 These European intertexts suggest that Abu Taleb’s adoption of the masculinist Turkish role was highly ironic and consciously subversive of European stereotypes of oriental sexuality. Elsewhere, he presents himself as an accomplished gallant and flirt. Visiting Captain Baker’s house near Cork, he flattered one of his host’s daughters who had inquired whether his tea is sweet enough; ‘I replied, that, having been made with such hands, it could not but be sweet. On hearing this, all the company laughed, and my fair one blushed like a rose of Damascus’ (I, 102). (His broken English at this early stage of his trip doubtless rendered the amorous compliment all the more comically artificial, an effect underlined for the English reader by the orientalist metaphor of the Damascus rose). In London, he ‘gave himself up to love and gaiety’, at one point curtailing his trip around the English shires because ‘Cupid had planted one of his arrows in my bosom, [and] I found it impossible to resist the desire of returning to the presence of my fair one’ (I, 175). Presumably this refers to Miss Julia Burrell, the addressee of one of his Hafiz-style odes in parallel English–Persian text, published separately in 1802.39 Even Abu Taleb’s devastating catalogue of the vices of the English is excused as an act of gallantry to the command of Lady Spencer, wife of the First Lord of the Admiralty: Her Ladyship particularly requested, nay commanded me, to write an account of my Travels, and to state my opinions, candidly, of all the customs and manners


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Abu Taleb’s moral strictures on English manners is legitimized by the figure of Lady Spencer as female moralist, an authority which goes some way towards domesticating its cultural alterity, and bringing it (illusionistically) closer to the conventions of self-criticism familiar to European readers from the ‘Persian Letters’ or ‘Hindoo Rajah’ genre. Similarly, Abu Taleb’s essay ‘A Vindication of the Liberties of Asian Women’, first published in the Asiatic Annual Register in 1801 and republished as an appendix to his Travels, takes the form of a dialogue with an English lady who had ‘censured [oriental] men for their unkindness, and the women, also, for submitting to be so undervalued’ (II, 401). Both the Vindication and his comparative remarks on the condition of women in England and India in the main body of his book critique the ‘sexual Orientalism’ so prevalent in early nineteenth-century Europe. Abu Taleb reverses the common enlightenment narrative of progressive European manners, in which Christianity and courtly chivalry are afforded the role of having liberated women from the constraints of patriarchal and oriental societies. After citing his own experience of gender relations in Europe, he concludes that ‘the English women, notwithstanding their apparent liberty, and the politeness and flattery with which they are addressed, are, by the wisdom of their lawgivers, confined in strict bondage’ (I, 261). In Asia, women are permitted to own private property, control the domestic environment of the zenana, readily obtain divorce and take custody of their children in the event of separation from their husbands. Seen in this light, like the superficially liberated English working class, English women might actually enjoy less freedom than their allegedly oppressed Indian sisters. It would of course be a mistake to read this as proto-feminism: the freedoms enjoyed by Asian women aren’t necessarily good news for their husbands, and Abu Taleb elsewhere hints that the success of his courtship of various European women has been stymied by their social confinement. Should Asian husbands follow the example of European patriarchy, which (Abu Taleb argued) has succeeded in the legerdemain of reducing real freedom whilst extending superficial liberties to women? In the end, despite his admiration for European scientific and technological progress and his wish ‘to inform and improve his countrymen’ (I, iii), Abu Taleb doesn’t seem interested in advocating the introduction of European manners in India, any more than (as the Bishop of Llandaff feared) seeking to ‘convert [the English] to Mohammedanism, and to make them forsake the religion [and customs] of their forefathers’ (I, 292). The kind of information offered by his book might even warn off his countrymen from too slavishly adopting European ways. Although his criticisms of British shortcomings are prefaced with a picturesque Persian proverb ‘He is your friend, who, like a mirror, exhibits all your defects: Not he, who, like a comb, covers them over with the hairs of flattery’ (II, 27), Abu Taleb seeks to judge Britain independently, refusing to mimic the reformist and modernizing discourse of the new masters of Bengal.

Travelling the other way 235 In conclusion, how can we arrive at an adequate post-colonial reading of the Travels of Abu Taleb Khan? As I mentioned earlier in my essay, its translation and publication in both Britain and India depended largely on its appropriation as colonial discourse: Heber, for example, argued that ‘there are some few things which are offensive to English nationality; but we may well endure that, where so much is said in our favour, some blame should be mingled’ (QR, 7, 1810, 89). Heber’s recommendation (endorsed by the Annual Review in 1810)40 that Persian and Urdu copies be published and disseminated in British India, may have contributed to a twentieth-century view of Abu Taleb as a colonial collaborator, a view initiated by Ronald Robinson.41 Juan Cole, a leading expert on North Indian Shi‘ism in this period, interprets the ‘occidentalism’ of Abu Taleb and his Indo-Persian peer group as merely an extension of Western Orientalism in the sense intended by Edward Said: ‘occidentalism was not the mirror image of Orientalism’ he writes, ‘but rather the extension of the Western power to shape images. Westerners often fashioned a representation of the Orient, which they then substituted for the actual thing, so that they created a representation of themselves as the Orient . . . they managed to have their portrayal written up in Persian and widely disseminated’.42 I hope that in the light of the foregoing argument, this claim will appear problematic, inasmuch as it repeats Heber’s colonialist appropriation in the name of post-colonial critique, in the process neutralizing Abu Taleb’s strictures on British society and effectively robbing him of critical agency. How unfortunate if Abu Taleb’s account of ‘travelling the other way’ were to be dismissed as Western ventriloquism, devoid even of the cultural reflexivity which makes a contemporaneous novel like Hamilton’s Hindoo Rajah interesting to us today as a work of literature. This is not to say that the charge of collaboration is entirely without substance; as Heber noted in his review, the praise which [Abu Taleb] lavishes on all the higher powers [of British society], however deserved, is not perhaps free from suspicion, since at the time of publishing his Persian Journal, he was still subject to British governors, and still a candidate for British patronage. (QR, 7, 1810, 89) But before writing off Abu Taleb as a collaborator, we need to think hard about the ideological complexity of his world, and about his intellectual courage in assessing the colonizer’s culture at its fountain-head, without uncritically genuflecting to the universalist telos of European progress. As C. A. Bayly reminds us in writing of another Indo-Muslim ‘collaborator’, Ali Ibrahim Khan, a member of the Shi‘ite intelligentsia who served the British as chief judge of the Banaras Adelat in the 1780s, ‘Ali Ibrahim was trying to instruct the British in good government because they were servants of the Mughals and “The Monarch of Islam”, the Mughal ruler, remained the pole star of his politics’.43 From a contemporary post-colonial (as opposed to an earlier Indian nationalist) perspective, ‘collaboration’ might in any case be a suspect category for interpreting Abu Taleb’s historical agency. As Tabish Khair points out in a recent article, the blanket dismissal of Indo-Muslims like Abu Taleb


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for ‘collaboration’ participates in a Hindu nationalist erasure of ‘500 years of Persian influence in India’.44 Ironically, this makes common cause with the Islamophobia and ‘Brahminism’ characteristic of much colonial Orientalism of the Romantic period (clearly represented in Hamilton’s Hindoo Rajah), a principle of ‘divide and rule’ dedicated to the interests of upholding British power. At any rate, I have tried to sketch a more nuanced historical context for Abu Taleb’s Travels, and a more complex play of cultural agency, than the favoured binary model of colonial discourse will permit.

Notes 1 Gulfishan Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions of the West during the 18th Century, Karachi: Oxford UP, 1998, pp. 100, 178. 2 Edward Said, Orientalism, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978, p. 12. 3 Marilyn Butler Festschrift, forthcoming. 4 Translation of the Letters of A Hindoo Rajah, ed. Pamela Perkins and Shannon Russell, Peterburgh, Ontario and Letchworth, Herts,: Broadview Press, 1999, p. 60. 5 Ibid., p. 67. 6 Ibid., p. 70. 7 Ibid. 8 The Hedàya, London: T. Bensley, 1791, vol. 1, p. ii. Thanks to Mike Franklin for supplying this information. 9 According to Kate Teltscher, another poetical composition in praise of his mistress Julia Burrell was published in 1802, in a parallel text translated by George Swinton. Copies survive in the British Library and Edinburgh UL. Teltscher, ‘The Shampooing Surgeon and the Persian Prince: Two Indians in Early Nineteenth-century Britain’, Interventions, 2(3), 2000, 409–32, at p. 420. See also Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 116 n. 126. 10 Reginald Heber, Quarterly Review, VII, August 1810, 80–93, at p. 89. 11 Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell UP, 1991, p. 58. 12 Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 117. 13 Kate Teltscher, ‘The Shampooing Surgeon’, 421. 14 Quoted in Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton UP, 2003, p. 4 15 Juan Cole, ‘Invisible Occidentalism: 18th Century Indo-Persian Constructions of the West’, Iranian Studies, 25(3–4), 1992, 3–16, at p. 4. 16 Ibid., 15. 17 Chakrabarty, Provincialising Europe, p. 545. 18 Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 19. 19 This paragraph is indebted to C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004, pp. 89–90. 20 Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 7. 21 A translation of Masir-I Talibi had however been serialized from September 1807–February 1808 in the Supplement to the Calcutta Gazette; see Khan, Indian Muslim Perception, p. 116. 22 It should be noted that numerous manuscript versions also circulated in Indian and British libraries and are described by a contemporary Persian scholar as being ‘similar in content’; Ibid. 23 The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, in Asia, Africa, and Europe, during the Years 1799–1803, trans. Charles Stewart, 2 vols, London: Longman 1810, vol. I, p. vii. Henceforth in brackets in text. 24 Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 116. 25 Bernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe, London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1982, p. 332.

Travelling the other way 237 26 Two excellent recent articles remedy this neglect; Kate Teltscher’s ‘The Shampooing Surgeon and the Persian Prince’, and Tabish Khair, ‘Remembering to Forget Abu Taleb’, Wasafiri, 34, Autumn 2001, 34–8. 27 Heber ‘Early Travels to Europe: Some Remarks on the Magic of Writing’ in Europe and it Others, ed. Francis Barker, Peter Hulme, Margaret Iversen and Diana Loxley, 2 vols, Colchester: Essex University, 1985, I, p. 79. 28 Rozina Visram, Ayahs, Lascars, and Princes: Indians in Britain 1700–1947, London: Pluto Press, 1986, p. 52. 29 The Travels of Dean Mahomet, an 18th century Journey through India, ed. with an intro and biographical essay by Michael H. Fisher, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997, p. xiv. 30 C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 80. 31 Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 78. 32 Ibid., p. 93. 33 Ibid., p. 95. 34 Quoted in Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions, p. 77. 35 Ibid., p. 98. 36 Cole, ‘Invisible Occidentalism’, 14. 37 Teltscher, ‘The Shampooing Surgeon’, 419. The episode also confirms Abu Taleb’s knowledge of European travel accounts, not otherwise paraded in his book. The account of the Turkish handkerchief game derives from Robert Withers’s Description of the Grand Signor’s Seraglio (1650), although it is more likely that Abu Taleb had gleaned the description from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s allusion to it in Turkish Embassy Letters, where she comments that ‘the common Voyage-Writers are very fond of speaking of what they don’t know’, before completely rejecting its veracity (‘To Lady Mar’, 10 March 1718), quoted in Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains, p. 38. 38 Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Parts of Africa, London: W. Bulmer and Co., 1799, p. 132. 39 Teltscher, ‘The Shampooing Surgeon’, 420. Teltscher suggests that the poem is unusual in naming its female object, alluding to the absence of purdah in England. 40 Ibid., 417. 41 Ronald Robinson, ‘Non-European Foundations of European Imperialism: Sketch for a Theory of Collaboration’, in Roger Owne and Bob Sutcliffe (eds), Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, London: Longman, 1972, pp. 117–42. 42 Cole, ‘Invisible Occidentalism’, 3–16, 15. 43 Bayly, Empire and Information, p. 81. 44 Khair, ‘Remembering to Forget Abu Taleb’, 38.

11 Conquest narratives Romanticism, Orientalism and intertextuality in the Indian writings of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Orme1 Douglas M. Peers Imperial and South Asian historiography is bedeviled by questions of not only how the British seized control over such a vast and variegated territory as India, but how such a conquest was rendered legible to a wider domestic audience. Over the years, a number of explanations have been advanced to address the former, with most of them singling out various combinations and permutations of the political, economic and military advantages purportedly enjoyed by Western powers in their campaigns to dominate the extra-European landscape. With respect to the latter, it is clear that the epic drama of these encounters, the capacity for such battles to throw up heroes and villains and the timeless and exotic locations in which they were fought, together account for the ease with which the military history of India came to be subsumed within the terms and tropes of Romanticism and Orientalism. This is not to deny that ultimately the British in India, and Europeans elsewhere in the colonial world, proved victorious on the battlefield. In the end, they were superior and it is not my intention here to rehearse all the arguments that have been advanced to account for that superiority. What interests me here is more the manner in which certain claims about that superiority, which explicitly or implicitly rest upon the assumption that it was innate, drew upon orientalized and romanticized readings of European encounters, and how those claims, rooted in these earlier encounters, helped to frame later analyses and in so doing perpetuated a discourse of difference when in fact closer scrutiny reveals that, at least in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the British and Indian armies that were vying for supremacy in India had much in common.2 History and fiction, as evidenced in the writings of Walter Scott and Robert Orme (amongst others), together not only helped to retail empire as an heroic and admirable enterprise, but they did so by bringing to light those characteristics that were deemed desirable, if not necessary, should Britain wish to maintain its global standing. This can be glimpsed in Walter Scott’s novella, ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, which he claimed was based on a true story related to him by an old India hand about events in southern India in the early 1770s,3 as well as in the histories of Robert Orme which document the rise of British power with a particular emphasis on southern India as well. At the same time, narratives of the conquest of India provided opportunities to issue warnings against the dark side of imperial rule: the impeachment of Warren Hastings and the pamphlet wars against returning ‘nabobs’ testify

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to anxieties that empire can corrupt. Such fears were commonplace in Orme’s day, though noticeably reduced by the 1820s when the figure of the ‘nabob’ was well on his way to becoming forgotten. Nevertheless, India still proffered settings wherein lessons could be learned about political virtue and how society is shaped by history and by the force of character. The power of the South Indian setting to which Orme and Scott turned is declared by the latter in the preface where he writes that India, ‘is the realm of imaginative licence . . . a place where the fantastics become possible in ways that are carefully circumscribed at home’.4 Despite the pretence of scientific objectivity claimed by many historians, echoes of this epic quality of Western expansion in general and British conquests in particular that so fascinated earlier writers can still be heard today. In little over one hundred years, the British position in India was transformed from a few scattered enclaves of merchants and traders into a territorial empire with millions of indigenous peoples ruled over by a British ruling caste which, prior to 1850, numbered never more than 50,000. Of these 50,000 or so Europeans, at least three-quarters were soldiers and their officers. If these figures reveal the militarized nature of colonial rule, they also dramatically illustrate just how outnumbered the British were. The seemingly meagre resources available to them accentuated the epic nature of this contest as reports circulated of heavily outnumbered British armies (their Indian allies and auxiliaries often ignored or relegated to the sidelines) dealing shattering blows to much larger Indian armies. The wars fought by the British in India appeared to confirm the romantic faith in the force of the individual; as Charles Napier, one of Britain’s more colourful commanders, put it, ‘all history teaches the necessity of confiding command to a single man, that he may direct the warlike energy of the nation with full effect’.5 To the historical debates over the mechanics of conquest have been joined a recent fascination with the historiographical dimensions of British domination, more particularly the question of how conquest has been inscribed into subsequent thinking and writing about Western domination. Not surprisingly, the stunning successes enjoyed by the British prompted many commentators (then and now) to conclude that there must be some quality to the British that rendered them superior to their Eastern opponents. Such orientalizing assessments of British character were consolidated in the public arena through contemporary conquest narratives, be they historical works like those of Robert Orme or fictional works such as Scott’s ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’. But unlike some of their contemporaries, neither Orme nor Scott sought to explain British superiority in terms of simple biological or innate racial difference. Instead, they subscribed to the then popular focus on environmental factors and the belief that civilizations are shaped by their physical surroundings. Implicit within this environmental discourse is the idea that people adapt to their environments, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. In the case of India, and particularly Bengal, heat and humidity sapped people of energy, making them more languid, less warlike and ultimately less masculine.6 While this emphasis on climatic conditioning lacked the racial determinism that would come with the more sociobiological explanations of the later nineteenth century, it nevertheless provided not only an explanation for uneven social development such as that which allowed writers


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to differentiate between India and Britain, but did so in a way that by playing upon themes like masculinity proved to be particularly compelling in narrations of military conquest. This enabled writers like Orme and Scott to ensure that their narratives had the dramatic capacity to draw upon the reader’s imagination and empathy. Critics urged authors to bear in mind the ‘necessity of engaging the feelings of the English reader in themes as strange to his daily experiences, as the modes and customs that have their mystical types in the sculpture of Nineveh’.7 Depictions of the clash between East and West (or tradition and modernity), initially captured in first-hand accounts of military actions but later disseminated through other genres, would in turn resonate in later historiography where the epic nature of such conquests, along with their accompanying ethnographic characterizations, would become stock elements in efforts at accounting for the rise of the West. While the more blatantly chauvinistic manifestations of these views have receded, especially those which define difference between the West and the rest in starkly racist terms, echoes of them continue to reverberate within a number of recent efforts at writing the history of the modern world.8 Reading Scott and Orme together allows us to appreciate how the experience and literary production of military narratives not only facilitated the interplay between Orientalism and Romanticism but also helped to perpetuate a number of important stereotypes about Britain and its place in India. Moreover, the significance that each of them attached to the military in their descriptions of colonial rule helped definitions and representations of Scottishness, along with Scottish Enlightenment ways of explaining historical evolution, to become integral elements in the dominant colonial culture, on account of the degree to which India was identified with the military and the military was closely associated with Scotland.9 Scottish soldiers were conspicuous in artistic renderings of the capture of Seringapatam in 1799; they would remain favoured subjects in the paintings and sketches of the Indian Rebellion. Contemporary accounts of the northwest frontier employed language which could just as easily have been used to describe the Highlands. So too is the case with martial races in which putatively martial communities are described in terms that were customarily associated with the Scots.10 *** To illustrate how these political and military transactions came to be embedded within the cultural life of Greater Britain, as well as the linkages between fiction and history that both facilitated and framed their incorporation, we should first consider this excerpt from the preface to ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, which Scott had written in 1827 as part of the Chronicles of Canongate. The dialogue is between Mr Fairscribe and Mr Croftangry, with Mr Croftangry playing the part of Scott. Mr. Fairscribe urges Croftangry to ‘do with your muse of fiction, as you call her, as many an honest man does with his own sons in flesh and blood’. ‘And how is that, my dear sir?’ [replied Croftangry]. ‘Send her to India, to be sure. That is the true place for a Scot to thrive in; and if you carry your story fifty years back, as there is nothing to hinder you, you will

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find as much shooting and stabbing as ever there was in the wild Highlands. If you want rogues, as they are so much in fashion with you, you have that gallant caste of adventurers, who laid down their consciences at the Cape of Good Hope as they went out to India, and forgot to take them up again when they returned. Then, for great exploits, you have in the old history of India, before Europeans were numerous there, the most wonderful deeds, done by the least possible means, that perhaps the annals of the world can afford.’ ‘I know it, said [Croftangry], kindling at the idea his speech inspired. I remember in the delightful pages of Orme the interest which mingles in his narrative, from the small number of English which are engaged. . . . They are distinguished among the natives like the Spaniards among the Mexicans. What do I say? They are like Homer’s demigods among warring mortals.’11 At the centre of this exchange is the contrast between the small numbers of European adventurers that went to India and to New Spain and the masses who confronted them. A word of caution is in order: we must take care not to accept European estimates of the numbers of troops involved at face value for there is plenty of evidence to show how contemporary chroniclers deliberately exaggerated the numbers of troops that opposed the Europeans so as to embellish even further the exploits of the latter.12 But even if we allow for inflation, we are still left with situations in which the Europeans were regularly outnumbered but were nevertheless able to emerge victorious. Given that military conquest was critical to the rise of the West, it is not surprising that the origins of Western military superiority have come to preoccupy historical imaginations. Identifying them promised not only to explain military victories but because the conditions that guaranteed victory were not confined simply to the battlefield, they have also been used to illuminate the deeper ideological, cultural and institutional characteristics invoked to account for and confirm Western superiority. The term ‘military revolution’ as a heuristic device for comprehending the transformation unleashed by the adoption of gunpowder weapons has become one of the few standardized concepts in modern history.13 Put crudely, gunpowder rendered heavy cavalry redundant and advances in military architecture produced fortifications which required massive outlays in resources to mount successful sieges. Gunpowder’s revolutionary potential was not limited to land: heavy cannons at sea revolutionized naval warfare as suitably outfitted vessels preyed with relative impunity on unarmed merchantmen. In the words of its bestknown proponent, Geoffrey Parker, ‘the absolute or relative superiority of Western weaponry and Western military organization’ is largely to account for European conquest.14 The idea of a military revolution is appealing because it places military history at the heart of some of the big questions in historiography: for example, state formation, economic development, industrial revolution and the rise of absolutism. We must however recognize, that neither technology nor institutions are as neutral a basis of comparison as we might otherwise think. Too often, we find that European technology and institutions, either implicitly or explicitly, are being taken as the benchmark of progress. We need to acknowledge that the ‘military revolution’ argument hinges on our continued acceptance of some of the epistemological and ontological characteristics of Orientalism. In particular, and notwithstanding that as


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every schoolchild knows it was the Chinese who invented gunpowder, the military revolution debate cannot exist without the a priori assumption that it is European military organization, European military technology and European military mobilization that will furnish the basis for any global comparison. The inner logic of the military revolution depends upon a clear juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, and India quickly came to offer many suitable examples, for India has customarily, if not always accurately, been depicted as a culture rooted in tradition. And while many writers have in recent years sought objectivity by focusing on the technological and/or organizational advantages enjoyed or allegedly enjoyed by the West, as compared to the more blatantly culturally determinist interpretations that preceded them with their fixation on ‘character’ or ‘race’, it is clear that the various permutations of this thesis share a number of common traits and assumptions. Key amongst them is the widespread acceptance of fundamental differences between cultures and societies, differences which present themselves in battlefield narratives that are explained in Orientalist terms, and manifested in the language of Romanticism. Moreover, this fixation on difference has obscured the fact that Indian and British armies were learning and borrowing heavily from each other. To insist that theories of the military revolution are anchored in the particularities of European history is by no means an original revelation. But what has not been so well appreciated is the extent to which the idea of a military revolution, and all the differences between Europe and the rest of the world that it contains, draws from the kinds of contrasts between Indian and British armies that were popularized by writers such as Walter Scott and Robert Orme. Such contrasts have become familiar to us owing to the attention that has been paid to orientalist discourse, but the Orientalism that is to be found here is much more ambivalent and contested than was once assumed, and those tensions are themselves partly the consequence of Romanticism and its ability both to celebrate the exotic and the different while simultaneously helping to manage it. The historical and fictional narratives that resulted helped to give shape and meaning to the British conquest, and ultimately fed into the historical arguments that culminated in the theory of a military revolution. In undertaking such an examination, it is worth remembering that imperialism and its legacies are as much cultural products as they are political, social and economic processes, and in their cultural production, they came to be influenced by the aesthetic and literary standards of the day. Hence, Romanticism and Orientalism were instrumental in naturalizing the experience of conquest and domination such that even today we have not fully escaped that experience. The literary conventions and markets of the day, particularly the fascination with the exotic, the picturesque and the romantic, facilitated this marriage of militarism and Orientalism. Contemporaries were not blind to the popularity of accounts of warfare in exotic lands to play upon public imaginations.15 In 1825 (two years before the publication of ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’), the editor and publisher of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine begged Captain J. R. McNeill, a surgeon serving as British emissary to Persia, to send him accounts of the battles then being fought along the Persian frontier, for ‘These pictures of Oriental manners interest everyone, and stamp quite a new feature on Maga.’16

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Two decades later, J. W. Kaye, prolific writer, erstwhile artillery officer and eventually high-ranking official of the East India Company, proclaimed that ‘whilst it has somewhat decayed in the West, the poetry of war seems to have its freshness in the East’ for ‘the nature of the country, the character of the people, their mode of warfare, their dress – are all surrounded with poetical associations’.17 Scott was himself susceptible to stories from the East, writing in 1815 to Major-General Sir John Malcolm, East India Company officer, future Governor of Bombay and the author of several histories of India, to thank him for the information and amusement I have derived and am deriving from your very interesting account of Persia; a history so much wanted in our literature, and which may be said to form the connecting link between that of Greece and that of Asia. Always the antiquarian, Scott went on to praise Malcolm for the ‘the pains it must have cost you, among many pressing avocations and duties, to collect and compose the materials of so large and important a work’.18 It is important to note that ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ is at first glance a rather unpromising example of Scott’s qualities as a writer, at least in strictly literary terms. It was far from being a critical or commercial success. Its sales were respectable enough, but it garnered little attention from critics then or now. There are some recent exceptions; however, it would certainly be considered one of his lesser works.19 It does not merit mention in Scott’s entry in the recently published Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.20 Critics of Anglo-Indian writings are just as dismissive. H. G. Keene, in his 1859 inventory of English fictional writings on India, declared that Scott’s depictions of Anglo-Indians (Anglo-Indian is used here in its historical sense, namely to refer to the European expatriate community in India) were ‘entirely free from that life-like interest which attaches to so many of the Magician of North’s creations and are evidently written from cram’.21 John Sutherland has been somewhat better disposed to the book, declaring it to be a ‘page-turner’ and that ‘there is a lot of death, much gothic violence and no happy ending to sweeten the last page’.22 But most other recent critics have largely ignored it, despite the importance now being assigned to Scott in the formulation of imperial identities.23 One commentator dismissed it with these words: ‘It begins well enough in a Scottish village, [but then it] is smothered in melodrama and curry-powder.’24 India would seem at first glance to be an aberration for Scott given his apparent reluctance to roam too far from his familiar Scottish settings. On closer inspection, his decision to shift to India seems less surprising, for India had by this time come to occupy a more pronounced place in the imperial imagination, and for no group was this truer than for the Scots. Wars, in which Scots were guaranteed to play a prominent part, were largely responsible for bringing India to the attention of the British public. By 1827, the British had been fighting fairly continuously in India for thirty years, interrupted occasionally by short bouts of heavily armed peace. India was especially meaningful for the Scots for they were present in India in numbers in excess of what one might expect, given their percentage of the British population.25


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In the words of Emma Roberts, ‘India has not unjustly been entitled ‘Scotland’s church-yard’.26 Or as Scott himself proclaimed in 1822, ‘Our younger children are as naturally exported to India as our black cattle were sent to England.’27 There had been a steady stream of Scots to India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some going out as administrators, others as merchants or missionaries, still more as surgeons, soldiers and officers. One of Scott’s nineteenth-century biographers reminisced that ‘the truth is, that in Scotland a hundred or more years ago, the cadets of good families not unfrequently became cultivators on the estates of their elder brothers, or near connections, rather than emigrate or seek service under the East India Company’.28 The Scottish impact on India can also be measured in ideological terms, for recent work has shown how thinkers associated with the Scottish Enlightenment (e.g., Dugald Stewart, Adam Ferguson, William Robertson and James Mill) made their mark on colonial policy-making.29 Culturally, the Scottish imprint on Anglo-Indian society was equally marked. The first Burns Night celebration in India took place in 1812, only two years after they appeared in London. One can therefore safely conclude that in ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, Scott was doing something more than simply exchanging the Highlands for Hindustan. India not only made marketing sense; it was an ideal canvas for Scott’s aesthetic and ideological sensibilities for empire proved to be remarkably responsive to Romanticism. In turning to India, Scott was able to play to the aesthetic and ideological needs of Anglo-Indians (many of whom would retire to Britain), for as Bhupal Singh’s survey of Anglo-Indian fiction has found, the second quarter of the nineteenth century in India was one in which Romanticism predominated.30 Not surprisingly, it has been suggested that Scott’s historical novels are the ‘paradigmatic novel[s] of empire’.31 Romanticism, by drawing upon the difference between tradition and modernity, which in turn served to differentiate between periphery and metropole, was ideally suited to highlighting the differences between the British and the growing numbers of people falling under their control, for it was during the years covered by this study that the empire in India grew most rapidly. Tropes of Orientalism, militarism and Romanticism, which are integral to ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, enabled it (and his other writings) to relate so effectively to the ideologies and conventions of the Anglo-Indian community in India. Scott quickly became one of the most popular if not the most popular novelist in India where he was not only widely read but was also widely emulated by Anglo-Indians and Indians alike (the rise of the Urdu novel has in part been attributed to Scott).32 Two British women travelling in India at the time of the Rebellion described their joy at finding the Waverley novels jumbled up amongst legal textbooks and manuals which dominated the bookshelves of most stations.33 Priya Joshi’s examination of the holdings of Indian libraries of the latter half of the nineteenth century has shown that Scott was one of two authors to be found in all the catalogues she examined, the other being Edward Bulwer Lytton.34 So strong was Scott’s pull on contemporary imaginations that several late nineteenth-century accounts by Indians of their travels to Britain not only invoked Scott when discussing Edinburgh, but they also singled out Kenilworth which they had first encountered vicariously through Scott (either in English or in translation as Kenilworth was one of the six works by Scott translated into Indian vernaculars).35

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Significantly, Scott’s works occupied a prominent place in the lists of books destined for soldiers’ libraries in India. In fact, his were the only works of fiction regularly requested and even allowed into barrack libraries. One Company officer, after reeling off a number of religious, biographical and historical works, concluded his order with ‘Waverley and all the works by the same author’.36 No other novels were listed. Another officer opined that ‘No writer of fiction, not even Shakespeare himself, has done so much to illustrate the military character as Walter Scott’.37 This view of Scott as an authentic chronicler of military culture was widely held. Edward Creasy, for example, cited Scott’s Life of Napoleon approvingly in his history of warfare published in 1852.38 Scott’s popularity within military circles can also be attributed to G. R. Gleig. Gleig, himself a writer on Indian affairs and like Scott a Tory in politics, not only authored a biography of Walter Scott, but was in a position to promote the reading of Scott within the army in his capacity as chaplain-general, for it was that office which ultimately had control over regimental libraries and education within the mid-Victorian army.39 Thus, Scott, the frustrated soldier, could live the life of a soldier through his writings, his travel, his kin and most of all through his reputation. Scott also enjoyed a considerable impact on other authors. J. W. Kaye and Philip Meadows Taylor, two popular writers on Indian affairs in the nineteenth century, both drew inspiration from him.40 So too did Henry Lawrence, the hero of the Indian Rebellion and icon of Victorian imperialism, who wrote a historical romance in which there are unmistakable echoes of Walter Scott.41 Lawrence chose to write a historical romance because, as he explained, it ‘offers pictures of men and manners, and seeks to sketch the interior scenes of life, and details that escape the casual observer, rather than to chronicle occurrences already recorded in official documents’.42 Such traits enabled historical romances to serve important didactic purposes within the British Empire, for they enabled readers to identify on an emotional level with the kinds of personal and cultural attributes that were deemed essential to the making and maintenance of empire. The popularity of Scott’s writings was largely due to their compatibility with the culture and ideology of the British in India. Scott offered a melding of adventure and romance that captured the ideals which many Anglo-Indians espoused, for he highlighted the aristocratic virtues and traits with which officers in India liked to be associated. Company officers, in particular, were susceptible to such treatments for they were constantly being reminded that their commissions did not enjoy the same claims to status as those of their counterparts in the Royal Army. This distinction was not lost on contemporaries; Thackeray reminds his readers in a parenthetical aside that ‘(Rosa’s father was a king’s officer, not a company’s officer, thank God!)’.43 Moreover, Scott’s writings accepted and even venerated the forms of social hierarchy that prevailed in the army as well as in the empire. Soon after their arrival in India in late 1822, officers of the Sixteenth Light Dragoons held a costume party inspired by a book which had been shared out amongst the passengers destined for India, Ivanhoe.44 His love of feudal and medieval imagery was easily transferred to India where such images were often used in efforts both to capture the essence of Indian society and locate British officials within it.


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As Thomas Metcalf has noted, In an age of industrialism and individualism, of social upheaval and laissez-faire, marked by what were perceived as the horrors of continental revolution and the rationalist excesses of Benthamism, the Middle Ages stood forth as a metaphor for paternalist ideals of social order and proper conduct.45 One reviewer rated Scott’s writings on the same level as those of James Tod whose vivid descriptions of the Rajputs were and continue to be considered classics of Anglo-Indian ethnography.46 This critic insisted that the two authors demonstrated ‘that the patient antiquary, and the faithful historian, could be gifted with the warm and vivid fancy of the romancer’.47 Scott and Tod were both fascinated by, and in turn popularized, such chivalric ideals as selfless, manly courage, character traits that would grow in popularity as the brutal realities of modern industrial warfare threatened to subvert the old order. Chivalry’s appeal was by no means limited to AngloIndians; many Indians also looked to chivalric values as a way of coping with the social upheavals then happening in India. Scott’s writings provided welcome reassurance to the anxieties at work in AngloIndian Society for it was a community acutely conscious of its beleaguered state. As one old India hand reminded his readers, ‘In India every war is more or less popular. The constitution of Anglo-Indian society renders it almost impossible that it would be otherwise.’48 Moreover, close scrutiny of many of the texts and authors associated with Orientalism has revealed that Orientalism was triggered more often by anxiety and uncertainty than it was by confidence and intellectual arrogance. These undercurrents of anxiety and of ambivalence, which were masked by the pride and complacency within which Anglo-Indians liked to envelope themselves, were captured in many literary works of the day. Orientalism often functioned in India in ways quite different from that envisioned by Edward Said: instead of always serving as an affirmation of superiority, Orientalism also anticipated deep-seated anxieties about the safety and security of the Raj.49 Nigel Leask’s work on Romantic writers makes a similar case, while Javed Majeed has shown that the orient was often a powerful metaphor used by writers who wished to discredit contemporary domestic ideologies.50 C. A. Bayly has demonstrated that while the British were certainly eager to acquire, collate and disseminate information, there were occasions when their supply of information dried up.51 It was then that imagination and anxiety were called upon to fill in the blanks, and not surprisingly, solace was sought in imagined pasts. Unfortunately, little work has been done on the relationship between Orientalism and the military. This is somewhat ironic in that Edward Said himself fleetingly noted something of a relationship when he declared that ‘European culture was able to manage – and even produce – the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period’.52 Scott and Orme, as we shall see, could not offer blanket endorsements of British imperialism in India. Instead, by turning to military exploits and by locating them within a romantic trope, largely accomplished by investing them with epic qualities, they were better positioned to accentuate what were then thought to be the

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more laudable characteristics of the British Empire, and mask over those which did not bring credit to the British. This returns us to the exchange between Fairscribe and Croftangry where we can see that it is the epic quality of British military adventures that has caught their attention. Yet significantly, these military encounters came to them through the writings of Robert Orme, whose fame rested largely on his major history of the era, A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan.53 It was on the strength of that book that Orme was appointed the official historiographer of the East India Company. Scott relied heavily upon Orme’s History, a work that deservedly has become the foundation for many other works on India, and one which he had first read during his youth. The wealth of detail contained in Orme’s work has been a principle source for many later works on the conquest of India, fictional as well as historical, and given Scott’s quest for authenticity, it is no surprise that Orme featured so explicitly. Thackeray too found it useful to invoke Orme, declaring that Orme’s History was Colonel Newcome’s favourite book. The frequency with which Orme is referred to in The Newcomes illustrates not only Thackeray’s familiarity with Orme’s History but suggests that Thackeray assumed that his audiences would be familiar with it.54 Thackeray was an admirer of Scott, and shared with him a dedication to history and antiquarianism.55 Orme’s history also became standard reading for several generations of officials destined for India. As one officer recollected, there was a ‘time was when The Arabian Nights and Orme’s noted works were our main sources of information relative to those interesting regions’.56 It was well received in France following its translation in 1765; its influence, for example, has been detected in Abbé Raynal’s Histoire Philosophique des Deux Indes.57 Throughout his time in India and with the East India Company, Orme fulfilled the role of an antiquarian, diligently collecting all manner of writings on India, public documents as well as private correspondence, so that upon his death his collection consisted of 51 volumes of printed matter and 231 volumes of manuscripts.58 Much of this material came to him through his extensive network of correspondents, including such notable figures as Sir William Jones who held his history in high regard.59 The sources he collected provided the basis for his history, a work that Thomas Macaulay himself admired, declaring, ‘Orme, inferior to no English historian in style and power of painting, is minute even to tediousness’.60 Contemporaries found his histories entertaining and informative. One commentator declared that Orme ‘had some imagination, much clearness, a pure diction, and many agreeable qualities. He was truthful, accurate, and desirous in every particular to avoid exaggeration, and to prepare a reliable narrative of a series of remarkable events’.61 Orme clearly had a didactic purpose in mind for his history was intended to extol as well as document British military efforts in India. As one scholar has noted, ‘Above all, his private correspondence, as well as his History, shows how quickly he was fired to admiration by any tale of gallantry and daring . . .’62 Orme was conscious that he was witnessing an epic struggle for domination over the East, and took upon himself the task of preserving that for posterity. But the struggle was not as unambiguous as he would have liked. Orme was all too familiar with the machinations, intrigues and corruption that infected policy-making in India.


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Moreover, the venality of the community incensed him, though there are suspicions that he was himself not above indulging in questionable transactions with Indian rulers. This placed him in a dilemma for he wished on the one hand to narrate Britain’s rise to greatness, yet he also knew the underside of that story all too well. As one of his earliest biographers put it, He had lived amongst heroes in an Age of Iron, and had told their story in language which did honour both to himself and them; it was not fitting that he should describe how lesser men thought that in the misery of the country they had found an Age of Gold.63 Hence, he deliberately chose to write a military rather than a political history, for the latter would become too easily mired in the polemic and passion generated by the pamphlet war carried out in London by the various factions.64 Moreover, by using war to frame his history, the differences between the British and the Indians could be most clearly and unambiguously revealed. A political history could not so easily differentiate between Britain and India given the sordid details surfacing in Britain about the behaviour of British ‘nabobs’. Scott faced similar problems, and like Orme he turned to military settings to resolve the dilemma, though because he was writing fiction, Scott had the added advantage of the trope of melodrama with which he could promote his moral reckonings. Orme’s History opens with a description of Indian society in which he finds that Hindus ‘have from time immemorial been as addicted to commerce, as they are averse to war. They have therefore always been immensely rich, and have always remained incapable of defending their wealth’.65 Combat distinguished Muslims from Hindus in that Muslims were shown as much more aggressive and manly, though his respect for them was tempered by his belief that their aggression was motivated by cruelty and religious intolerance. Consequently, their valour was not of the same quality as that of the British and therefore British superiority could be reaffirmed. In describing the differences between Indian armies and the British, Orme relied upon a strong visual contrast that emphasized the differences between them, and in particular how such differences resulted in a lack of order and discipline: The rudeness of the military art in Indostan can scarcely be imagined, but by those who have seen it. The infantry consists in a multitude of people assembled together without regard to rank and file: some with swords and targets, who can never stand the shock of a body of horse: some bearing matchlocks, which in the best of order can produce but a very uncertain fire: some armed with lances too long or too weak to be of any service, even if ranged with the utmost regularity of discipline.66 A strikingly similar tableaux was produced by Scott when he described ‘a tide of cavalry, riding tumultuously forward, brandishing their spears in all different attitudes’ followed soon after by ‘a confused body of men on foot bearing spears, matchlocks, and banners . . .’67 Images similar to these would become stock elements

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in subsequent accounts of colonial warfare as well as pictorial representations, their popularity no doubt arising from their capacity both to entertain through their vivid imagery as well as reassure through their emphasis on difference.68 Religion and culture are partly to account for this disparity between Indian and European, and Hindu and Muslim, but in Orme’s eyes the explanation ultimately rests upon environment in general and climate in particular. By imposing an environmental explanation, he was developing an argument that he had first made in 1761 in an essay entitled ‘The Effeminacy of the Inhabitants of Indostan’ (and which paralleled many of the ideas emerging in Scotland concerning the relationship between civilizations and environments). There he argued that the effeminacy of Indian males, and particularly Bengalis, which was owing to climatic and environmental conditions, accounted for the frequency with which India had been conquered. As he put it, Breathing in the softest of climates; having so few real wants; and receiving even the luxuries of other nations with little labour, from the fertility of their own soil; the Indian must become the most effeminate inhabitant of the globe; and this is the very point at which we now see him.69 Orme was not unique in seeking environmental answers to questions of social development. Alexander Dow, a contemporary of Orme who translated and commented upon several Persian texts, was equally convinced that the Indian climate had sapped Indian society of its vitality, rendering it vulnerable to despotism, first of the Mughals and later of the British. This notion that environment produced natural warriors, a popular theme in Scottish philosophical histories, was an integral element in Oriental ethnographies.70 Yet it would be incorrect to argue that it was purely an Orientalist product. Orme’s ideas of Bengali effeminacy were very similar to what Mughal courtiers had said about Bengalis. One such work, Abu’l-Fazl’s chronicle of the reign of Akbar, was featured in Orme’s list of sources.71 ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, we are told in the preface, was based upon a true story about a British villain who had seduced his sweetheart to India, only to ferret her off to the harem of some frontier ruler. Out of this, Scott developed the plot for ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, a storyline that has a number of similarities to Orme’s history, most notably the focus on developments in southern India as well as Scott’s use of Orme’s account of the Black Hole of Calcutta in which it is reported that a European woman was ferreted away to serve in the harem of an Indian ruler. ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ centres on an abandoned child – the offspring of a Portuguese Jew and a Catholic Jacobite72 – who was raised as Richard Middlemas by a good country doctor. Middlemas fell in love with Menie Gray, the doctor’s daughter, and won her over despite the best efforts of his rival, and our hero, Adam Hartley, a forthright young man of good stock who was apprenticed to the doctor (though he did come from the English side of the border). The hero and the villain both wind up in India where Middlemas at one point exclaims ‘India, where gold is won by steel’.73 There Middlemas succumbs to his avarice and inconsistency, qualities which are derived from his Jewish (read oriental) roots.74 He fights a duel with his commanding officer, in which the latter is killed, and is consequently forced to flee British territories.


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He becomes the consort to a widow of dubious European origins who had managed to retain control over the soldiers and forts of her deceased husband who had been a mercenary in India (there was a historical precedent for this in the person of Begum Samru).75 Menie Gray had in the meantime arrived in India where she had fallen once again for Middlemas. But Middlemas, in an effort to improve his own position and aware of the lust which a picture of her had awakened in Tipu Sultan (the son and heir to Hyder Ali, ruler of Mysore), concocts a plan whereby he would turn her over to Tipu, and in return be granted command over the fort of Bangalore. If that were not enough to label Middlemas as a cad and a villain, we are also told that he participated in the brutal treatments inflicted upon British prisoners of war. The latter incident was well known; stories of British prisoners being forcibly circumcized and converted to Islam on the orders of Tipu Sultan were widely circulated in Britain.76 But in ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, our hero arrives in the nick of time, and through the intervention of Hyder Ali, Menie Gray is rescued. Middlemas meets his timely end at the foot of an elephant, literally, for Hyder has him crushed by an elephant for his double-dealing. But not everything ends happily: our hero dies trying to give out medical treatment during an epidemic, and Menie Gray returns to Scotland and never marries. It should first be noted that his decision to produce ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ was largely dictated by his financial position, for he was determined to write himself out of debt as his finances had been seriously depleted by dubious ventures as well as bad luck.77 The immediate impetus might have been a visit in January 1827 from Joshua Marshman, who Scott described as a ‘great Oriental scholar’. Marshman was a missionary in India, who had played a leading role in establishing a Baptist mission station, with its own printing press, at the Danish settlement at Serampore and which figured prominently in the translation of works from English into a number of Indian vernaculars and vice versa.78 His social circle also probably contributed to his choice of India. One of his neighbours was James Ferguson, an officer who had served in India and was the brother of one of his oldest friends, Adam Ferguson, the son of the noted Edinburgh philosopher of the same name.79 Ferguson was a crucial source of information for Scott as he struggled to get the right words and set the correct ambiance for his novel.80 As was the case with many of his stories, Scott carefully fostered the impression that ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ was grounded in fact. Yet there is disagreement over the degree to which he knew and understood India. Iain Brown, while acknowledging that Scott was intrigued by India, has concluded that he actually did not know very much.81 Richard Jackson argues otherwise, suggesting that Scott was able to extract considerable insight from discussions with his informants.82 One visitor to his home in Abbotsford during this period was a distant cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Russell, who had served for many years in India. Russell regaled Scott with tales of sati and female infanticide, and also stressed to Scott just how decrepit the Mughals had become.83 Their stories were crucial in providing Scott with the details he sought to authenticate his story. But in a moment of frustration he complained that his contacts were willing to ‘write chits, eat Tiffing and vent all their pagan jargon when one does not want to hear it and now that I want a touch of their slang, lo! there is not one near me’.84 And then there was the

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distinguished antiquarian, linguist and naturalist, John Leyden, who gained considerable fame following his collaboration with Walter Scott in producing the first couple of volumes of Border Minstrelsy.85 Leyden went on to greater fame following his appointment as a surgeon at Madras, allegedly after Scott intervened on his behalf with Robert Dundas, where he took up the study of Eastern languages and literature. If we look beyond his circle of acquaintances at Abbotsford, we find that Scott had quite extensive contacts with India. Like many Scots, he had relatives in India. His eldest brother Robert had joined the East India Company after a stint in the Royal Navy. When Robert died in 1824, his son Walter became an engineer and joined the East India Company where, among other things, he supervised the Sind survey which employed that other great Victorian imperial romantic, Sir Richard Burton. Walter eventually rose to the rank of general.86 When his nephew was in Bombay, Scott used his family connections to get an introduction to the governor, Mountstuart Elphinstone (another Scot), who in turn helped further his career. Walter Scott’s wife’s younger brother served in India, and it was the remittances that he sent to his sister that helped the Scotts begin to clamber up Scotland’s social ladder. The National Library of Scotland has in its possession a number of letters between Scott and John Malcolm whom Scott described as ‘the poet the warrior the politician and the borderer’.87 Note the sequencing of these descriptors and particularly the joining of the poet to the warrior. Friends of the family were also influential. His father had been a close friend of the father of John Adam (member of the Bengal Council and acting governor-general in 1823).88 And Scott’s friendship with Lord Dalhousie, sent to India to serve as commander-in-chief in 1830, dated back to their days at school.89 There is even a suggestion that in 1810 Scott had toyed with the idea of accompanying Robert Dundas to India had the latter been appointed governor-general; the two had also been schoolmates.90 But his interests in India were certainly not limitless. For example, he declined an opportunity to meet Rammohan Roy while on a visit to London in 1831. John Malcolm, who had just returned from India where he had been governor of Bombay, wanted Scott to meet Roy who was enjoying a great deal of popular acclaim. Scott, however, managed to duck out of the meeting, noting in his diary that I am no believer in his wandering knight so fair. The time is gone of sages who traveled to collect wisdom as heroes to reap honour. Men think and fight for money. . . . I hate a fellow who begins with throwing away his own religion and then affects a prodigious respect for another.91 Scott’s depiction of Hyder Ali does not differ much from that of many contemporary commentators. One declared that ‘Hyder’s character was a composition of courage, cunning, and cruelty’; and, in the words of an able orientalist, ‘he was distinguished for all the terrible accomplishments of an Asiatic hero – equally prodigal of faith and of blood – equally victorious in the use of intrigues and of arms!’92 Yet Scott, like most others, viewed Hyder Ali as preferable to Tipu Sultan. Hyder Ali was certainly a ruthless despot, but he was not a capricious one, and Scott’s writings are populated with despots whom he acknowledges as not only having some redeeming


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qualities, but who are also entitled to respect on the basis of their historical lineages.93 Yet such respect had its limits, and by the 1820s, with Mysore no longer posing a threat to British rule, Scott could present Hyder Ali as a legitimate and effective ruler, one whose march on Madras half a century before not only threatened the very foundations of British rule but exposed the corruption that threatened to weaken those foundations from within. In taking up this position, Scott was aligning himself with contemporary comparisons of the two rulers, which by emphasizing the cruelty and depravity of Tipu Sultan, buttressed the belief that Indian polities were deteriorating to the point that British intervention was not only necessary but inevitable.94 This degeneration became even more visible when it was set against the much improved moral and ethical tone which by the late eighteenth century had come to be claimed by the British. Hence, by demonizing Tipu Sultan, Scott was able to suggest that the legitimacy and respect to which Indian rulers had hitherto been entitled was no longer valid, and that the Raj had matured to the point whereby the British could rightfully claim a moral ascendancy. Orme in writing his history, notwithstanding the many other similarities to Scott, could not so easily assume that he and his readers shared a common faith in that moral ascendancy, and hence he focused on military exploits as a way of avoiding some of the moral and ethical dilemmas of the first decades of colonial rule. Scott subscribed to many prevailing stereotypes, with Muslims being portrayed as intemperate, aggressive but manly and courageous. Yet, as Claire Lamont has convincingly argued, ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ did not rely upon what would become a common characteristic of later imperial writings (and a dominant trope within late colonial orientalist discourse), namely the presentation of Indian history as a narrative dominated by three antagonistic religions (Hinduism, Islam and Christianity).95 Instead, Scott shared with Orme and others a belief in the importance of environment shaping human behaviour, and hence avoided the religious reductionism which would become more commonplace as the nineteenth century progressed. In adopting this position, Scott aligned himself with a school of thought that stretched back to the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment, and which was increasingly out of step with the growing tendency to employ the vocabulary of innate racial differences.96 The kinds of crude racial typologies that have come to be associated with Orientalism were lacking in Scott, as they were in Orme, for while they each readily latched onto difference and the dramatic potential that such juxtapositions allowed, neither concluded that such distinctions were necessarily bad or permanent, and they both showed a willingness to acknowledge, however implicitly, flaws in the imperial character. It is also worth noting that Hinduism is hardly touched upon in ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ even though the story is set in the south; instead, the Indian characters are nearly all Muslims. By not including much by way of Hindu characters in his novella, Scott seems to be steering between the fascination with Hinduism that marked an earlier generation of Orientalism as typified by Sir William Jones and Nathaniel Halhed, and the denigration of Hinduism that featured in the works of later commentators on India who turned to sati and thagi as proof of the degraded state of Indian society. ***

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The blend of militarism, Orientalism and Romanticism that informed writers as diverse as Orme and Scott, and which illustrates the intertextuality of their works, ultimately drew its inspiration from real and imagined differentiations between the military capacities and cultures of the British and the Indians. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Scott was the second most favourite writer of that other great spokesman of imperial difference: Rudyard Kipling.97 The logic which is implicit in many of the works which purport to account for the rise of the West, including those which address theories of Europe’s military revolution(s), depends upon a clear juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, and as we saw in Orme and Scott, India could be recruited to confirm this dichotomy. Future generations would continue to dwell on these differences, but unlike Scott and Orme, later variations on this theme tended to foreclose the possibility that such differences in character could be erased over time, or that there was anything to be admired in the imperial other. Orme’s decision to write a history of military transactions, and not a history of the rise of British rule, enabled him to draw a comparison between Europeans and Indians according to what appeared to be the most objective and least objectionable criteria – battlefield performance. That comparison has had a lasting impact. Scott relied upon it to bring forth what he thought was admirable in his subjects, and like Orme, Scott was able to distance his heroes from an earlier age in which AngloIndians lived in an ‘Eldorado of Irresponsibility’.98 This fixation on military events as the stage upon which Britain’s presence in India could best be dramatized would persist, and with it too would the romantic gloss with which they were presented. In his review of Kaye’s History of the Indian Mutiny, another canonical text within the historiography of British India, James Fitzjames Stephen declared that the mutiny ‘only happened yesterday, yet it was so remote from all our common experience, that it has about it already something of an antique romantic air’.99 He went on to lament that ‘In the history of modern Europe, there is nothing more heroic or picturesque . . .’, a telling reminder of just how closely entwined the empire, the army and Romanticism had become.

Notes 1 I would like to thank participants of the Conference on Orientalism and Romanticism held at Gregynog in July 2002 for their valuable and insightful observations on an earlier version of this chapter. I am also grateful to the helpful suggestions offered on earlier drafts provided by Antoinette Burton, Dane Kennedy, Philippa Levine, Javed Majeed and P. J. Marshall. 2 The emergence of hybrid military formations in India, wherein Indian and British rulers drew upon each other’s personnel and practices, has been the subject of a number of works. See for example Seema Alavi, The Sepoys and the Company: Tradition and Transition in Northern India, 1770–1830, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995, Randolf G. S. Cooper, The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India: the Struggle for Control of the South Asian Military Economy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 and Douglas M Peers, Between Mars and Mammon: Colonial Armies and the Garrison State in Early-Nineteenth Century India, London: Tauris, 1995. 3 Claire Lamont in her critical edition of The Surgeon’s Daughter recounts the story as preserved by Scott. Walter Scott, Chronicles of the Canongate, London: Penguin Classics, 2003, 355–7.


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4 Sir Walter Scott, ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ in Chronicles of the Canongate, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1871. India also featured in The Antiquary (1816) and Guy Mannering (1815), though India was much more incidental to the story in these two works. 5 Lieutenant General Sir W. Napier, The Life and Opinions of General Sir Charles James Napier, G. C. B., 4 vols, London: John Murray, 1857, I, 323. 6 For a discussion on environmental theories in early colonial India, see Mark Harrison, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 and David Arnold, ‘Race, Place and Bodily Difference in Early Nineteenth-Century India’, Historical Research 77 (2004): 254–73. 7 Anon. ‘India; and its Administration’, Bentley’s Miscellany 34 (1853): 158. 8 The assumption of the inevitability of Western domination, and its relationship to modernity and to progress, is characteristic of many of the neoconservative writings that have proven to be so popular amongst policy-makers. See, for example, Niall Ferguson, Empire: the Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, New York: Basic Books, 2003, Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, New York: Touchstone, 1997 and David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why are Some Rich and Others So Poor? New York: W. W. Norton, 1998. 9 The relationship between Scottishness and British definitions of martial qualities, including the identification of martial races, is the subject of Heather Streets, Martial Races: the Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004. At the same time, looking to Scotland also enables us to rescue romanticism from what have been identified as its Anglo-centric moorings as discussed in the essays in Leith Davis, Ian Duncan, and Janet Sorensen (eds) Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 10 I touch upon the latter point briefly in ‘ “The Habitual Nobility of Being”: British Officers and the Social Construction of the Bengal Army in the Early Nineteenth Century’, Modern Asian Studies 25 (1991): 545–70. For a more detailed and recent examination of this phenomenon, see Streets, Martial Races. 11 Sir Walter Scott, ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, 9–10. 12 The Victorian propensity to do this, and the consequences for the writing of military history, is the subject of James Belich’s ‘The Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict and the New Zealand Wars: an Approach to the Problem of One-Sided Evidence’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 15 (1987): 123–47. 13 There is a vast literature on the so-called military revolution and its place in world history. One of the seminal works that has helped to define the topic is Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. See also Jeremy Black, War and the World; Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450–2000, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. Some of the ensuing debates can be traced in Geoffrey Parker, Geoffrey, Jeremy Black, Dennis Showalter and Jeffrey Clarke, ‘Military Revolutions: a Forum’, Historically Speaking 4 (2003): 2–14, and in the essays in Clifford J. Rogers (ed.) The Military Revolution Debate, Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995. 14 Parker, Military Revolution, 115. 15 Douglas M. Peers, ‘ “Those Noble Exemplars of the True Military Tradition”; Constructions of the Indian Army in the Mid-Victorian Press’, Modern Asian Studies 31 (1997): 109–42. 16 ‘Maga’ was the nickname of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC), MSS Eur D 1165/1, Blackwood to McNeill, 26 August 1825. 17 J. W. Kaye, ‘The Poetry of Recent Indian Warfare’, Calcutta Review, 11 (1848): 222. In the same article, Kaye asserts that ‘Your orientalist is the prince of story-tellers’ (p. 224). 18 H. J. C. Grierson, (ed.) The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, 1815–1817, London: Constable and Co., 1933, 133. 19 Iain Gordon Brown, ‘Griffins, Nabobs and a Seasoning of Curry Powder: Walter Scott and Indian Theme in Life and Literature’, in Anne Buddle (ed.) The Tiger and the Thistle: Tipu

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20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27 28 29

30 31 32

33 34 35

36 37 38 39 40


Sultan and the Scots in India, 1760–1800, Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland, 1999, 71–9; Molly Youngkin, ‘ “Into the Woof, a Little Thibet Wool”: Orientalism and Representing “Reality” in Walter Scott’s “The Surgeon’s Daughter” ’, Scottish Studies Review 16 (2002): 33–57 and Claire Lamont, ‘Scott and Eighteenth-Century Imperialism: India and the Scottish Higlands’, in Theo D’Haen (ed.) Configuring Romanticism: Essays Offered to C. C. Barfoot, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003, 35–50. David Hewitt, ‘Scott, Sir Walter (1771–1832)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. H. G. Keene, ‘India in English Literature’, Calcutta Review 33 (1859): 37. John Sutherland, The Life of Walter Scott, Oxford: Blackwell, 1995, 314. See, for example, Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998, Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: the Romantic Novel and the British Empire, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. George Gordon, ‘The Chronicles of the Cannongate’, in Scott Centenary Articles. Essays by Thomas Seccombe, W. P. Ker, George Gordon, W. H. Hutton, Arthur McDowall and R. S. Rait, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932, 180. John M. MacKenzie, ‘On Scotland and the Empire’, International History Review 15 (1993): 714–39. Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan, London: W. H. Allen, 1835, II, 17. J. M. Rignall, ‘Walter Scott, J. G. Farrell, and Fictions of Empire’, Essays in Criticism, 41 (1991): 11–27. George Robert Gleig, The Life of Sir Walter Scott, Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1871, vii. Martha McLaren, ‘From Analysis to Prescription: Scottish Concepts of Despotism in Early Nineteenth-Century British India’, International History Review, 15 (1993): 469–501. See also her British India and British Scotland, 1780–1830, Akron: University of Akron Press, 2001. Bhupal Singh, A Survey of Anglo-Indian Fiction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934, 3. Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism, xiii. I am indebted for this point to Gail Minault of the University of Texas at Austin. See also Meenakshi Mukherjee, Realism and Reality: the Novel and Society in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985, who notes the popularity of Scott in nineteenth-century Bengal, and how the great Bengali novelist, Bankimchandra Chatterji, was honoured by being called the ‘Scott of Bengal’ (18). Rosalind Harriet Maria Wallace Dunlop and Madeline Anne Wallace Dunlop, The Timely Retreat; or A year in Bengal before the Mutinies, 2nd edn, London: Richard Bentley, 1858, I, 129. Priya Joshi, In Another Country: British Popular Fiction and the Development of the English Novel in India, New York: Columbia University Press, 2002, 64–5. Nandalala Dasa, Reminiscences, English and Australian, Being an Account of a Visit to England, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Ceylon, etc., Calcutta: M. C. Bhowmick, 1893, 110, and Rao Bahadur Ghanasham Nilkanth Nadkarni, Journal of a Visit to Europe in 1896, Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala, 1903, 186. The other Scott works available in vernaculars were: Ivanhoe, Lady of the Lake, Bride of Lammermoor, Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marion. Joshi, In Another Country, 70–1. OIOC, Military Letter from Bombay, 29 Jan. 1823, L/Mil/5/384/85(a). Portfire, ‘The Military Character, as Exhibited by Works of Fiction’, Colburn’s United Service Magazine 2 (1857): 396. Edward S. Creasy, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World; from Marathon to Waterloo, 3rd edn, London: Richard Bentley, 1852, 537. OIOC, Military Letter from Bombay, 30 Nov. 1824, F/4/894; Rev. G. R. Gleig, The Life of Sir Walter Scott, Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1871. Nihar Nandan Singh, British Historiography on British Rule in India: the Life and Writings of Sir John William Kaye, 1814–76, Patna: Janaki Prakashan, 1986, 10.


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41 Henry Lawrence, Adventures of an Officer in the Service of Runjeet Singh, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1975 (first published in two volumes in 1845 by Henry Colburn). Lawrence’s debt to Scott was first suggested to me by Harold Lee in a fortuitous encounter in the tearoom at the old India Office Library building on Blackfriars. See his Brothers in the Raj: the Lives of John and Henry Lawrence, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002. 42 Lawrence, Adventures, II, 261. 43 W. M. Thackeray, The Newcomes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995 (first published in installments between 1853 and 1855), 946–7. 44 Brian Young, ‘ “The Lust of Empire and Religious Hate”: Christianity, History and India, 1790–1820’, in Stefan Collini, Richard Whatmore and Brain Young (eds), History, Religion, and Culture: British Intellectual History, 1750–1950, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, 91. 45 Thomas Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, 75. See also Michael Paris, Warrior Nation: Images of War in British Popular Culture, London: Reaktion, 2000. 46 Tod’s place in the imperial pantheon is ably addressed in Norbert Peabody, ‘Tod’s Rajasthan and the Boundaries of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century India’, Modern Asian Studies 30 (1996): 185–220. 47 Anon, ‘Anglo-India’, Asiatic Journal, 25 (1838): 71. 48 J. W. Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan, London: Bentley, 1851, I, 361. 49 B. J. Moore-Gilbert, Kipling and ‘Orientalism,’ London: Croom Helm, 1986, 6–7. 50 Leask, British Romantic Writers, Javed Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s The History of British India and Orientalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 51 C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 52 Edward Said, Orientalism, London: Routledge, 1978, 3. 53 Robert Orme, A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, Madras: Pharoah, 1861 (reprint of 4th edn of 1803). 54 Thackeray, The Newcomes. Orme and his history crop up in a number of places, namely on pages 30, 42, 556, 968, 970, 988 and 989–90. 55 R. D. McMaster, Thackeray’s Cultural Frame of Reference: Allusion in The Newcomes, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991, 107. 56 Captain F. B. Doveton, ‘A Last Look at India’, Colburn’s United Service Journal, 2 (1848): 427. 57 C. P. Courtney, ‘The Abbé Raynal, Robert Orme and the Histoire Philosophique des Deux Indes,’ Revue de Littérature Comparée, 214 (Juillet–Septembre 1980): 356–9. 58 Diwan Bahadur C. S. Srinivasachariar, Selections from the Orme Manuscripts, Annamalainagar: Annamalai University, 1952, x. 59 SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda, ‘Orme, Robert (1728–1801)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 60 S. C. Hill, Catalogue of Manuscripts in European Languages Belonging to the Library of the India Office. Volume II Part I: The Orme Collection, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1916, xxii. 61 Eugene Lawrence, The Lives of the British Historians, New York: Charles Scribner, 1855, II, 314. 62 Hill, Catalogue, xx–xxi. See also Srinivasachariar, Selections from the Orme Manuscripts, viii. Unfortunately little has been written on Robert Orme. But see SinhaRaja Tammita Delgoda, ‘ “Nabob, Historian, and Orientalist,” Robert Orme: the Life and Career of an East India Company Servant (1728–1801)’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 2 (1992): 363–76. 63 Hill, Catalogue, xxxv. 64 For the pamphlet war, see Huw Bowen, Revenue and Reform; the Indian Problem in British Politics, 1757–1773, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 65 Robert Orme, A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, 4th edn, Madras: Pharoah, 1861 (reprint of 1803 edition), I, 8. 66 Robert Orme, Historical Fragments of the Mogul Empire, of the Morattoes and of the English Concerns in Indostan, New Delhi: Associated Publishing House, 1974 (reprint of 1805 edn), 268.

Orientalism, Militarism and Romanticism

67 68

69 70

71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83

84 85

86 87


While Indian armies were often depicted as existing in conditions of near anarchy, there were commentators who wrote more favourably about the organization and discipline of Indian armies (though usually only after such armies had adopted European ways). See Randolf G. S. Cooper, The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India: the Struggle for Control of the South Asian Military Economy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Scott, ‘Surgeon’s Daughter’, 169–70. Douglas M. Peers, ‘Colonial Knowledge and the Military in India, 1780–1860’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 33 (2005): 167. On nineteenth-century representations of the military in popular culture, see J. M. Hichberger, Images of the Army; the Military in British Art, 1815–1914, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988, and Michael Paris, Warrior Nation: Images of War in British Popular Culture, London: Reaktion, 2000. Robert Orme, Historical Fragments of the Mogul Empire, of the Morattoes and of the English Concerns in Indostan, New Delhi: Associated Publishing House, 1974 (reprint of 1805 edn), 306. See also Richard Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, David Arnold, ‘India’s Place in the Tropical World’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 26 (1998): 1–21 and Mark Harrison, ‘ “The Tender Frame of Man”: Disease, Climate, and Racial Difference in India and the West Indies, 1760–1860’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 70 (1996): 68–93. Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993, 168–9. Scott, ‘Surgeon’s Daughter’, 36–7. For a discussion of the anti-semitism in this work, see Sutherland, Walter Scott, 309, 315. Scott, ‘Surgeon’s Daughter’, 64. Youngkin persuasively argues that by emphasizing Middlemas’s Jewishness, he replaces Indians as Scott’s colonized other. Youngkin, ‘Into the Woof’. Begum Samru (or Begum Samroo) (c.1750–1836) was a Muslim who married Walter Reinhardt, a soldier of fortune from Luxembourg, and converted to Christianity; after his death she took charge of his estate at Sardhana near Delhi. Scott, ‘Surgeon’s Daughter’, 126. See Linda Colley, Captives: Britain, Empire and the World, 1600–1850, London: Cape, 2002. The notoriety that surrounded Mysore also explains its appearance in another of Scott’s works, The Antiquary. Scotland was reeling from the banking crisis that had swept through the British Isles. The crisis had undermined several of the joint ventures in which Scott was involved. W. E. K. Anderson (ed.), The Journal of Sir Walter Scott, Oxford: Clarendon, 1972, 271. Anderson, Journal, xxxvi. Brown, Griffin, 72. Ibid. Tara Ghoshal Wallace, ‘The Elephant’s Foot and the British Mouth: Walter Scott on Imperial Rhetoric’, European Romantic Review 13 (2002): 312. Anderson, Journal, 22 and 55. See also Richard D. Jackson, ‘The Indian Colonel: William Russell of Ashetiel and Scott’s Guy Mannering’, Scott Newsletter 38 (2001): 8–14, in which a case is made that Scott modeled Guy Mannering after the William Russell, the father of James Russell. Anderson, Journal, 342. T. W. Bayne, ‘Leyden, John (1775–1811)’, in rev. Richard Maxwell (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. There has been some speculation that the character of Adam Hartley in ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ was modeled, at least in part, on John Leyden. See James Watt, ‘Scott, the Scottish Enlightenment, and Romantic Orientalism’, in Leith Davis, lan Duncan and Janet Sorensen (eds) Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, 104. Anderson, Journal, 206. Brown, Griffin, 74.

258 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99

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Anderson, Journal, 63. Anderson, Journal, 540–1. G. R. Gleig, The Life of Walter Scott, Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1871, 92–3. Anderson, Journal, 668. John Clunes, Historical Sketch of the Princes of India, Stipendiary, Subsidiary, Protected, Tributary, and Feudatory, London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1833, 58. Lamont, ‘Scott and Eighteenth-Century Imperialism’, 41–2. Teltscher, India Inscribed, chapter 7, and Kate Brittlebank, Tipu Sultan’s Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997. Lamont, ‘Scott and Eighteenth-Century Imperialism’, 40. Watt, ‘Scott, the Scottish Enlightenment, and Romantic Orientalism’, 98–9. David Gilmour, The Long Recessional: the Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, London: John Murray, 2002. H. G. Keene, ‘India in English Literature’, Calcutta Review 33 (1859): 37. James Fitzjames Stephen, ‘Kaye’s History of the Indian Mutiny’, Fraser’s Magazine 70 (1864): 757.

12 Orientalism and religion in the Romantic era Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s) Amit Ray

In his ‘Introduction’ to The British Discovery of Hinduism, a collection of excerpts from some of the earliest British works dealing with Hinduism, P. J. Marshall points out that, with ‘the possible exception of Jones’ the early ‘Orientalists’ were not trying to understand what Hinduism meant to the people on the ground.1 Their research was academic and textual. In focusing so specifically on written texts, these early scholars were contributing to and reinforcing a division which still remains in place today – between the ‘popular’ and the ‘philosophical’ in Hinduism.2 Marshall goes on to add that these Orientalists ‘created Hinduism in their own image’.3 I would like to modify Marshall’s statement somewhat. While many British Orientalists investigating Hinduism were certainly judging Sanskrit texts from within a Biblical frame of reference, they struggled to reconcile the apparent contradictions within Hinduism, as well as contradictions in relation to Christianity. Perhaps nowhere was this struggle more apparent than in efforts by Orientalists to show a precedent for monotheism in Hindu antiquity. Two of the fundamental criticisms against Hinduism arising out of Anglicist and Christian circles were the ubiquitous nature of idolatry and polytheism. However, by pointing out a textual basis for monotheism, Orientalists sought to disarm these critics. Obviously, for many Christians, the existence of multiple gods, as well as the idols that served to represent these gods, was anathema.4 The Orientalists, by providing a textual precedent for a monotheistic past, contributed to representations of a degraded present. And, by explicating a past which accommodated Christian notions of what was civilized and advanced, Orientalist work re-enforced the notion that Hinduism was amenable to Christian belief, not a heathen and paganistic void to be usurped by the wholesale Christianization of the sub-continent. The idea of mutual intelligibility proved to be an underlying drive behind the manner and style of the translations and interpretations that the Orientalists transmitted to Europe. Again, the struggle to pin down a textual basis for monotheism, and to valorize such a conception of God as the ‘true’ basis for Hinduism, was an attempt at providing an ideological conduit for converting Hindus to Christianity. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, John Shore (later Lord Teignmouth), the fourth Governor-General of Bengal would pronounce that the Vedanta was the true basis for Hinduism.5 And in 1805, H. T. Colebrooke would publish some pointed commentary on the late Vedas, the Upanisads, those tracts that form the basis for the


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philosophical tradition called Vedanta. In this very influential tract, On the Vedas, Colebrooke would conclude that: The real doctrine of the whole Indian scripture is the unity of the deity, in which the universe is comprehended: and the seeming polytheism which it exhibits offers the elements, and the stars, and planets, as gods . . . But the worship of deified heroes is no part of that system; nor are the incarnations of deities suggested in any other portion of the text, which I have yet seen.6 One of the west’s most forceful and consistent criticisms of non-Islamic religion was the so-called worship of idols. This became a critique of the Indian present that was widely prevalent. Both European and Indian textualists, such as Colebrooke and Rammohan Ray, proffered Vedanta as the core of ‘Hinduism’. Yet, since this position went beyond monotheism and into monism, such a view also carried within it the ‘mystical’ core that was increasingly being located as the source of Eastern thought – a stereotypical and essentialized version of the Orient. The discussion that follows will briefly outline Vedanta and some movements that contributed to Indian proto-Nationalist sentiment during the nineteenth century, concentrating on appropriations of and assertions made via orientalist discourse by a central figure in Indian modernization, Raja Rammohan Ray. The development of British colonialism in Bengal during the late eighteenth century radically affected life in the region. Western institutions of learning and belief circulated rapidly throughout the new colony, facilitated by the introduction of print technology. Born around 1773, Ray was part of that first generation of Bengalis born into such a transformed lifeworld. He would become one of the first Indians to assert elements of a specific ‘Hindu’ identity that was cognizant of, and responding to, European criticisms of India. I begin with the basic premise that a version of ‘textualized’ Hinduism was being brought into a comparatist framework dominated by European values of text – the ‘invention of Hinduism’ debate.7 During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the body of textual commentary surrounding the late Vedas (Vedanta, or ‘end of the Vedas’) came to be seen as the philosophical core of Hinduism. Vedanta came to the fore, at least in part, as a result of the value being assigned to ideas revolving around text and print; ideas arising partially out of the European interest being paid to Indian textual antiquity, and partially through the new primacy of print technology. Also contributing to this rise were debates over ‘backwards’ indigenous cultural practices such as idolatry and polytheism. A transnational discussion in the 1820s, sparked by Unitarian criticisms of Trinitarian theology in Europe and the United States, certainly played a part as well. As I will show, the Unitarian/Trinitarian controversy created a conceptual space of critique within which Vedanta fit quite well: these various forces helped to shape a modern version of Vedanta, a travelling form of the philosophico-religious system that, for its proponents, represented a perfected and uncorrupted version of Hinduism. A modern form of Vedanta arose as such a textualized formation that often mirrored, and occasionally distorted, the controversies surrounding the role of religion in the post-Enlightenment European state.

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


Vedanta is the name given to a very broad body of religious and philosophical discourse surrounding the late Vedas – the Upanisads. The oscillation between religion and philosophy in Western usages of Vedanta accounts for much of the nineteenth-century potency of deploying Vedanta within and outside of orientalist discourse. Vedanta could be applied to issues raised by theology, as well as to questions of ontology and epistemology. Though Vedantic scholarship existed in a host of different forms, the particular form relied upon by virtually all of its prominent nineteenth-century adherents (including Ray, Müller and Vivekananda) was Advaita (Non-dualist) Vedanta: This was, in essence, the argument for a conception of divinity as uniform. Codified during the ninth century AD by Shankaracharya (Shankara), this rigorous conception of the ‘divine’ remained highly influential in India – particularly in relation to the subcontinent’s other major religious formations, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam. Shankaran Vedanta argued for a rigidly defined monism: a position which superseded any other version of theism in that it promoted the inherent unity of divinity, a unity which would thus be intrinsic to all facets of human materiality and consciousness. Thus Shankara developed the implication, found in the Upanisads, that all reality was a single principle, brahman.8 As such, the practitioner’s goal would be to transcend the limitations of identity rooted in the self (atman) and to realize one’s unity with brahman. Such rigid monism explained human experiential knowledge as the individual’s differentiation from the universe’s essential ‘oneness’. This monistic view of divinity transgressed the human–divine hierarchy developed within the Western monotheistic tradition (stretching from and through Judaic, Christian and Islamic conceptions of ‘God’). Instead of viewing divinity from a theistic imagination, such monism argued for a mind/body unity that could only be developed under rigorous and austere methods, and which promised religious enlightenment. I suggest that it is Vedanta’s mystico-religious tenets that inspired so many Western observers to presume a mystical faith system for the entire Orient. Interests in text, language and the question of origins coalesced around Vedanta during the rise of British colonialism. The discourse of ‘civilization’ in Europe played a particularly influential role in the revival of Vedanta by Indians seeking to represent themselves to the west. Antique systems of thought were extremely important to discourses of civilization, as their existence served to highlight the degradation or ‘fallen’ nature of the colonized, justifying the presence of the colonizer as saviour or redeemer. As part and parcel of modernizing Europe’s colonial endeavours came an unprecedented large-scale movement of people and goods across the globe. For the first time, then, geographical translocation allowed for evidence of antiquity to be imported to new sites. This information provided additional fuel for systematic empirical treatments of the question of human origins. Empiricist strategies of accumulating concrete ‘proof’ and scientific methods of assessing evidence were being brought to bear on the rapidly secularizing, industrializing and technologizing lifeworlds of the colonizing European powers. For Bengali proponents of Vedanta during the nineteenth century – which includes many if not most reform-oriented Brahmins – the Orientalists had established avenues of discursive exchange between past text and


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present condition, allowing for the possibility of reworking both religious and social identity on a massive scale. The combination of textual past and print present was a brand new form of social power. In this space, Vedanta became a sphere of shared discourse between Orientalists and Bengali religious reformers.9 Non-Western antiquated texts brought along a new kind of threat to Christian orthodoxy. This fresh empirical evidence (particularly with literary texts) necessitated conjecture, exploration, elaboration and analysis. The entry of a new body of evidence into European intellectual circles forced empiricists to respond to their own late eighteenth and early nineteenth century debates about the origins, nature and roles of religion, especially in what would become the modern state. During the Enlightenment, anti-clerical thinkers like Voltaire posed the ancient civilizations of China and India as foils against Christian claims to creation and origin. However, at that time the lack of any established, non-religious European presence in Asia made many of those sources suspect. Indeed some texts were completely fabricated specifically to enhance or discredit particular arguments occurring in Europe. The work of the British Orientalists offered the first systematic exploration and dissemination of India’s Sanskritic culture outside of Asia, bringing a new sense of accuracy and reliability with regard to discussions about non-‘Western’ antiquity. Recent debates on the colonial roots of textual Hinduism reveal a particular set of concerns surrounding Vedanta. While it can be viewed as a colonially inflected construct, Vedanta must also be viewed as a ‘textual’ solution to the Europeanconceived problematic of ‘civilization.’ The elevated, or ‘modern’ status of European civilization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was predicated on literacy. Therefore, debates over the hierarchical and developmental nature of civilizations were deeply rooted in the concept of language. Indeed, the existence of writing and literacy were indices of a culture’s relative evolution in relationship to an imagined European centre. Within such criteria for ‘civilized’ status, Vedanta was enlisted in the construction of Indian Modernity – both the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj sought access to European notions of civilization through Vedanta. Vedanta could provide a space to show the Hindu’s equality with the European/Christian, and even to show how the Hindu might be dominant: through a claim to the origins of religious thought the Easterner could pronounce the spiritual core of humanity as being of Asian provenance. Vedanta enters into the purview of Orientalists and elite religious reformers, of those trying to negotiate a ‘modern’ Hinduism, both in response to and in accordance with some of the intellectual values of contemporary Europe. Vedanta satisfied European valuation on a number of fronts. It was based on textual commentary, philosophical idealism and a rigid monotheism. These were values that the elite indigenous modernizers in Bengal could enlist in the aid of social transformation. Rammohan Ray was one of the earliest figures to transgress a variety of orthodox Brahminical practices in Bengal. Vedanta was presented by Ray as a textual and traditional body of Hindu discourse, idealized through a lens of ‘reason’.10 Ray relied heavily on Advaita Vedanta to defend indigenous ‘civilization’ against the attacks of Baptist missionaries. He achieved broad transmission of these ideas through print technologies imported by Europeans to the subcontinent.

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


Thus Vedanta serves as an interesting marker of the complex path of European ‘literariness’ (or, perhaps, literateness), and the civilizational sense of superiority anchored in this linguistic and textual lineage. European notions of ‘civilization’, indeed the notion of a coherent ‘Europe’, were premised on the belief that a nearly 3000-year-old genealogy, dating back to Ancient Greece, through Roman Christendom and into Modern Europe provided a continuous and stable connection to the past. This myth was supported through a comparative discourse of literary texts, primarily via the Romance languages and ancient Greek documents – both directly by European scholars as well as through a series of (largely silenced) Islamic mediations. In this reconstituted and modernizing Europe of the mid- to late eighteenth century, the empirical nature of European expansion and the circulation of new proof of non-Primitive pasts, all set the stage for a cultural disturbance within the family of languages. These languages had previously been accounted for within a specific geographical region, a genealogy contained within Europe.11 Orientalist incursions into this genealogy of languages affected the very highest levels of European thought. Indo-European, the linguistic category invented as a consequence of the work of British Orientalists, thus became an area of tremendous cultural anxiety and contestation – later contributing to the sorts of racialized thinking (i.e. Aryan race theory) that would have devastating effects during the twentieth century.12 Religious reformers in both Bengal and Great Britain utilized the discursive spaces created by Orientalism in Bengal. Vedanta, Unitarianism and a new scrutiny of the concept of monotheism coalesced into what would become a transnational debate over the unity of Divinity, an early attempt to account for and accommodate religious difference. By the latter half of the nineteenth century, India would become critical to such debates in the Anglo-American world and the message of spiritual unity would come to comprise a sizable portion of representations of India, by both Indians and non-Indians, in the West. Ray’s was one of the earliest and most authoritative of these voices. The term ‘Raja’ (or ‘King’) denotes royalty, an odd designation for one who has been widely characterized as the father of modern India and a chief catalyst in a movement that would later become very important to early Indian nationalism. In the Dictionary of Modern Indian History, Raja Rammohan Roy is frequently referred to simply as ‘the Raja’.13 The Mughal emperor, Akbar Shah II, conferred this title upon him so that he might go to England as an envoy to the court of St James and argue, in front of the king, that the stipend received by Emperor Akbar was inadequate. Thus, in an interesting series of semantic displacements, this dictionary entry explains that the ‘Hindu’ designation for ‘king’, conferred by an Islamic ruler, becomes the common title given to a figure deemed responsible for initiating modern Indian statehood. Such semantic slippages are particularly apt for distinguishing someone like Rammohan Ray because of the remarkable fissures of language and culture that he bridged in earlynineteenth-century Bengal (indeed, the change in the English transliteration between my former and latter spellings of Ray’s name, the latter now considered the more ‘correct’ spelling, also reflects these cultural interactions).14 To my reading of this ‘dictionary’ entry on Ray’s life, I add the following supplement: Ray was one of the first prominent South Asians to travel to England, and he did so


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in breach of a Brahminical caste regulation against travelling overseas.15 The British East India Company, which did not recognize the ‘Raja’s’ newly conferred titled, allowed him to go to England none-the-less, where he arrived in 1830. He would never return to India, achieving a degree of celebrity and recognition in the West before dying in Bristol during the fall of 1833. Ray was part of the first generation in Bengal to experience full-scale British rule from birth onwards. He was raised in a family of wealth and privilege, their prosperity secured by property holdings. Though the details of his early life are in some dispute, it is clear from Ray’s family name that his ancestors had status within the Mughal imperial bureaucracy.16 Ray learned Arabic and Persian from his father, ‘as preparation for government service’, and Sanskrit from his mother in order to serve his religious duties. Bruce Robertson, in his recent study of the Raja, suggests that Ray would spend his lifetime traversing this cultural polarity established between mother and father – the two separate writing communities of a worldly Bengali Brahmin of the day. Thus Ray would become one of those who had, during the previous two centuries, developed a strategy of social accommodation to the IslamoPersian influence of Mughal rule. There was precedent amongst certain Brahmins in Bengal who had made such accommodations for quite some time and, thus, these negotiations between religious and political power were not uncommon.17 Ray’s family name signifies his place within the custom of laukika, or worldly Brahmins in service to the Mughal emperor. Ray’s family would have been stigmatized by many Orthodox Brahmins, for whom the priestly life of a vaidika was not to be abandoned. In many ways, the adult Ray’s brand of ‘equal-opportunity’ criticism against religious orthodoxy, which was to become his modus operandi, was influenced by the pre-British cultural dynamics of Bengal. During his lifetime, Rammohan Ray’s linguistic faculties and comparatist bent would ingratiate him to, as well as alienate him from, a startling variety of communities in Bengal and abroad.18 A large audience in both India and Great Britain received Ray’s English and Bengali writings. Often, these writings addressed the task of assessing and propagating India’s textual antiquity, its Sanskritic tradition. As a Vedantin (scholar of the Vedas), Ray took it upon himself to edit and translate the Upanisads for an English reading public. In another work, Ray edited the Gospels. Both these acts were soundly condemned by Hindu and Christian religious orthodoxies successively. Interestingly enough, in an exclamatory call for stringent monotheism, a youthful Ray’s first publication was in Persian, the language of India’s previous Imperial rulers. The overlap in Ray’s use of these languages, occurring as they were within Bengal at the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth, demonstrates the political and social positions he occupied throughout his lifetime. In Persian, English and Bengali (and as an interpreter of Sanskrit) Ray alternately addressed the three principle language communities that were historically intersecting within Bengal, thus thoroughly circulating his voice within the discourses of power in Bengal and England.19 The majority Bengali Hindu landholders in the region, of which Ray was a part, were busily reacting to the economic and political upheaval in the region. As the fortunes of the Mughal Empire withered away over the course of

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


the eighteenth century, the mercantile wing of British overseas ventures would blossom into the full-fledged political and economic management of the Indian subcontinent. Crucial to this rise of British power were the interactions occurring between the British East India administrators and their Indian informants. Ray’s regular affiliations with the British did not occur until the turn of the century when he moved near Calcutta. His linguistic faculties made him a prime commodity within the administrative circles of translation and linguistic work that were part and parcel of the East Indian Company’s Bengali holdings. Around 1804, Ray became a diwan in the company – the highest post for a native at that time. Like many enterprising and affluent Bengali landholders of the day, Ray entered into contract with the Company through money-lending institutions in Calcutta. There, Bengalis provided loans to enterprising Company employees, and he himself speculated on Company paper operations.20 While Company reforms enacted around the year of Ray’s birth were intended to curb such enterprising behaviour, corruption was not uncommon at the turn of the eighteenth century when Ray was moving actively in Company circles.21 The Company man who hired Ray as a diwan, secretary to the Collector of DaccaJalalpur, Thomas Woodforde, had earlier borrowed five thousand rupees from Ray. In Max Müller’s biographical sketch of Ray, he points out that Woodforde allowed a special clause into Ray’s contract that he should not be kept standing in the presence of his employer, illustrating the ‘special’ circumstance of the Raja.22 Ray would eventually become Woodforde’s munshi when Woodforde became Registrar of the Appellate Court of Murshidabad. It was here, in what had once been the seat of Mughal Adminstration in Bengal, that Ray composed the Persian tract Tohfatu ‘l-muwahiddin (Tohfat), or ‘To the Believers in One God’. Written between 1803 and 1804, the Tohfat ‘attacked religious leadership in general and Brahmins in particular’.23 Thus, Ray’s initial entry into public discourse via Persian, the language of the Mughal Court, displays the ease with which the young scholar perceived various religious and political perspectives.24 Both the language in which the Tohfatu ‘l-muwahiddin is composed, as well as its polemic emphasis, reflect the religious and theological wrangling occurring in Bengal at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Ray provides a powerful and sustained argument, via the stringent monotheism of Islam, for the essential monotheism of all religious beliefs. The piece is an examination of the concept of God in various religions. Ray’s simple premise is this: a fundamental split exists amongst religions between natural state and human habit. Nature provides for one true god, habit stokes the existence of many. In the Tohfat, Ray makes a very enlightened appeal to reason, claiming that one must carefully examine claims to the supernatural: all events have a cause, a reason, but individuals and institutions take advantage of situations where such a reason is not explicit, claiming for themselves supernatural powers. Ray delivers an impassioned entreaty, appealing to a turn away from ‘special beliefs in the forms of pure truths resting on miracles or on the power of the tongue’.25 Indeed, such calls to reason might be viewed as being in line with general European Enlightenment criticisms of human religious behaviour. His attack, couched as it is in Islamic terms, is aimed at faith without reason. This is accomplished through a


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careful dissection of how reliance upon magic and superstition (he lists raising the dead and ascending to heaven as examples) reflects the corruption of most varieties of religious behaviour. Again and again Ray returns to the idea of ‘One Being’ as a means for reconciling the diversity of human religion. He utilizes the reoccurring phrase, ‘the truth and falsehoods of various religions’, in an effort to traverse the boundaries of any single religious perspective. While Christianity and orientalism have established various means of setting up comparisons between an expanding field of religions and cultures in early colonial Bengal, Ray utilizes this situation to construct a measured criticism of all religions. His examination, composed in Persian and utilizing Islamic categories, is highly dismissive of supernatural, faith-based explanations as it seeks out a path among multiple religious traditions. No religion is spared from some measure of criticism. But his attack is clearly directed at Bengali Brahmins, whom Ray blamed for a corrupt social system. Generously supplemented with quotations from the Koran,26 Ray would extend his defence of monotheism to Sanskrit sources. Over the course of the next two decades, as Ray’s prominence as a public figure increased, his stances on various political positions of the day (including sati, widow re-marriage and English-language education) would be constructed out of such a characteristically comparatist framework. Jogendra Ghose’s ‘Introduction’ to a 1901 compilation of Ray’s English writing emphasizes the contextual nature of these ideas. Ghose quotes Count Goblet d’Alviella: It has been said that Rammohun Roy delighted to pass for a believer in the Vedanta with the Hindus, for a Christian among the adherents of that creed, and for a disciple of the Koran with the champions of Islamicism. The truth is that his eclecticism equaled his sincerity.27 As I will document, Ray’s eventual reliance upon Vedanta comes about as result of influences and pressure coming from all three of these religious traditions. During the decade following his publication of the controversial Tohfat, Ray set about mastering the English language. He assumed a post as munshi (private secretary) with another Company official, John Digby. It was Digby who aided Ray in his study of the language. Robertson speculates that this must also have been the time when Ray privately studied the Brahmasutras with a pundit, thus securing a more thorough grounding in Brahminical literature. Niranjan Dhar goes further, stating that it was during Ray’s stay in Rangpur, where he had already started to assemble people for ‘meditation of one Supreme brahman’, that he began translation work of the Upanisads.28 Over the course of the next ten years, Ray continued his association with the East India Company through his employment under Digby, moving with Digby to Jessore (now in Bangladesh), Bhagalpur (modern Bihar) and, in 1809, to Rangpur. In Rangpur, Ray was near the border states of Bhutan and Cooch Behar and thus was privy to the frequent disputes that occurred on the fringes of British dominion. In 1815, with his permanent move to Calcutta, Rammohan Ray established himself as an important voice in these debates. He immediately began mixing within the most erudite circles of bhadralok learning,29 spending considerable time at the

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


College of Fort William, the centre of Orientalist studies in Bengal. Later that year, Ray published his first essay on Vedanta, Vedantasara, or ‘Abridgement of the Vedant’.30 Initially published in Bengali, Ray offered an English translation of Vedantasara the following year. The Bengali translations, according to Bruce Robertson, ‘represent the first time, on record, of the sacred Upanisads being rendered by a Hindu into an Indian vernacular language for a non Sanskrit-reading public since the work of Dmra Shiknh’s Benares pandits’. The 1816 English-language translation of the Upanisads was the first English language treatment of the Vedas since Colebrooke’s 1805 treatise.31 In his introduction to the 1816 English language translation, Ray makes his primary aim explicit: ‘In order, therefore, to vindicate my own faith, and that of our early forefathers, I have been endeavoring . . . to convince my countrymen of the true meaning of our sacred books’.32 Making a claim for the Vedas as divine in origin, ‘affirmed to be coeval with creation’, Ray goes on to take aim at Brahminical orthodoxy as he sees it. The Vedas have been ‘concealed within the dark curtain of the Sanskrit language, and the Brahmins permitting themselves alone to interpret, or even touch any book of the kind, the Vedanta, although perpetually quoted, is little known to the public’.33 Ray’s goal was to counter the priestly monopoly of text and remedy it with his translation into Hindi and Bengali. The beneficent result was to be distributed ‘free of cost, among my own countrymen’.34 Ray was attempting to utilize the technology of print to break the ‘sacred’ order of text held by Brahmin orthodoxy. This was in addition to placing Indian theology and ‘tradition’ in line with western notions of civilization. While there is no question that Ray felt a proper British influence would have a positive influence on Bengal, his approach cannot be seen simply as a concession to European influence.35 The long-standing tradition of Vedanta, though certainly not the dominant variety of Brahminical scriptural interpretation in Bengal, provided an indigenous solution to the recently heightened argument against idolatry and polytheism proffered by East India Company servants and missionaries alike.36 During the next three years, Ray regularly published translated extracts and commentaries from the Upanisads in Bengali, Hindustani and English, all of which were based on Shankara’s expositions. This was part of a continuing attempt to place Shankara’s interpretation of the Vedas into the centre of Hindu belief and practice. However, Ray differed from Shankara in that he promoted an egalitarian Vedanta, a Vedanta that was not to be restricted only to the spiritual goals of Brahmins but, instead, extended to worldly practice for all Hindus. Re-interpreting Shankara to suit current social issues, Ray argued that anyone, not just Brahmins, was ‘qualified for theological studies and theognostic attainments’, and later argued that nonBrahmins (Bengali Sudras, or lower castes) ‘were eligible for Brahma knowledge’.37 He also argued that scripture did not support the practice of sati, one so shocking to European mores. Ray sought an indigenous basis for responding to European criticisms of Bengali social life. In response to social issues such as the treatment of women, of lower castes, and of foreigners, he preached an egalitarianized brand of Vedanta. Ray’s Vedanta maintained the core philosophical principles of Shankaran Advaita Vedanta but ignored the dictates of caste-based ‘qualification’ for Vedic


Amit Ray

study (adhikara).38 The person who engaged in worldly activities, who did not belong to the priestly class that dispensed spiritual and religious knowledge, was not precluded from such knowledge. Wilhelm Halbfass notes, ‘Again and again, Rammohan emphasizes that being a householder, having worldly, temporal goals is not incompatible with knowing the supreme Brahmin’.39 In doing this, Ray was also trying to ‘marshal the considerable force of European public opinion behind his campaign’.40 The sizeable print culture emerging in Bengal and urban regions of India insured that Ray’s views circulated widely. The printed word was primarily an urban phenomenon, occurring via the dissemination of print – journals, periodicals and newspapers. Ray’s utilization of the English language made him directly accessible to the language communities of Europe, though he and his associates were also writing in the vernacular Bengali and Hindustani. In 1817, Ray was involved in a spirited exchange with one Mr Sankara Sastri, who published a letter in the Madras Courier attacking him. The letter took issue with the titles being applied to Ray by the Calcutta Gazette – ‘reformer’ and ‘discoverer’ – and accused Ray of misappropriating Shankara. Ray believed Sastri to be a pseudonym for an Englishman and replied with the polemic, A Defence of Hindu Theism. In all of his works on Vedanta, Ray single-mindedly sought to dethrone the power of Brahminical priests and orthodoxy by showing that their uses of ritual and ceremony were counter to the tenets of the sacred texts themselves. He reiterates in the Defence a point that he has already made in the Abridgement of the Vedanta. Ray explains that with his English translation of the Upanisads and expositions on the Vedanta, he expected to prove to my European friends, that the superstitious practices which deform the Hindoo religion, have nothing to do with the pure spirit in its dictates . . . by explaining to my countrymen the real spirit of the Hindoo scriptures which is but the declaration of the unity of God, tend in degree to correct the erroneous conceptions which have prevailed with regard to the doctrines they inculcate.41 Such heightened polemic characterized much of Ray’s work during the period, further highlighting the controversial nature of his positions. In 1820, Ray’s writings initiated the infamous Precepts controversy, a matter that drew press coverage throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas. As he had done earlier with the Upanisads, Ray took it upon himself to edit and abridge the text of the Gospels. For his edited translations of the Upanisads, Ray received harsh censure from Brahmins and Vedantins alike; for his editing of the Gospels he inflamed Missionary passions. His stated purpose in producing an edition of the Gospels was to focus upon the ethical teachings of Christ. Published at his own expense at the Calcutta Baptist Mission Press, Precepts of Jesus, The Guide to Peace and Happiness invited controversy that would make Ray known throughout Europe. The fact that Ray had access to the Press demonstrates that he had, for the most part, affable ties with the Baptists. Since Ray was promoting monotheism to the Bengali elite, ‘some missionaries viewed Rammohan as nothing less than an instrument of Divine

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s) 42


Providence’. The Precepts controversy contributed to a severing of ties between Ray and most prominent missionaries. The Baptist response to Ray’s edition of the Gospels evidenced, once again, Ray’s unwillingness to conform to the expectations of his missionary benefactors and allies. Marshman responded quickly to Ray, attacking him for undermining the integrity of the Gospels. The main criticism leveled was that the Gospels were to be read as a whole and that any piecemeal version undermined the divine nature of the works. This was the same charge made against Ray by many Vedantins in response to his Abridgement of the Vedanta – not surprising considering that those who viewed sacred text to be of divine origin would tend to view scripture as an inviolable whole. In addition, for Ray to emphasize Christ’s teachings without recognizing his divine status was a repetition of the old Arian heresy, which made Christ out to be mortal. Ray would issue subsequent Appeals to the Christian Public, in which he defended his approach in a systematic fashion. This exchange drew enough attention in Europe that Marshman had his A Defence of the Deity and Atonement of Jesus Christ in Reply to Rammohun Roy published in London in 1823. The Precepts incident, along with other controversial applications of Vedanta and Islam, show Ray taking advantage of comparatist interactions – interactions ushered in by the late eighteenth century collaborations amongst British Orientalists and various literary communities in Bengal (as well as other regions in South Asia). During the final ten years of his life, accounts of the Precepts controversy appeared in most prominent European periodicals – including some of Ray’s defences against Marshman and the Serampore critics. In the period following the Precepts incident, Ray increased his contacts with adherents of British Unitarian liberal theology. The Unitarians were amongst the most reform-oriented Christian groups in England, agitating for the abolition of slavery and greater rights for women. Eventually, through such contacts, various segments of society in Bengal and England (with extensions into the United States) became linked by their core doctrinal belief in a universal theology.43 Due to the work of the early Orientalists, and the publication of Asiatic Researches, the ancient roots of Brahminical religion were viewed as being monotheistically oriented.44 Not unlike the use of Asian culture during the Enlightenment, such knowledge of ancient culture allowed Europeans and Americans who were against the doctrine of the Trinity to rely on Indian antiquity to address contemporary cultural issues in Europe. Not long after his battles with the Baptists over his editing of the Gospels, Ray, along with Dwarkanath Tagore (grandfather of Rabindranath) and William Adam established a meeting ground for promoting Unitarian religious belief, Christian and Hindu. In early 1823, the Calcutta Unitarian Committee was established, becoming an important space of dialogue between Unitarians and Vedanta-oriented Hindus. During the following years, as the Unitarian Committee gradually morphed into the Brahmo Samaj, the shared underlying motivation between these two bodies – Brahmo Hindus and Unitarian Christians – was a view of universal theology common to all ‘civilized’ peoples. While impressed by the achievements of Christendom, Ray felt that the attacks on Hindu and Indian tradition were fundamentally unsound, particularly in light of Trinitarian consubstantiality. Even prior to his formal affiliation with the Unitarians,


Amit Ray

he regularly questioned those missionaries who attacked the polytheism of the Hindus and yet embraced Christ as an embodiment of the divine: the Son of God. In the 1821 ‘Preface to the Second Edition’ of The Brahmunical Magazine, a publication Ray started in order to address missionary criticism of the Vedas, he attacked the apparent hypocrisy in the Trinitarianism of missionaries: ‘Yet if while he declares God is not man, he again professes to believe in a God-Man or Man-God, under whatever sophistry the idea may be sheltered, . . . can such a person have a just claim to enjoy respect in the intellectual world? And does he expose himself to censure, should he, at the same time, ascribe unreasonableness to others?’45 Ray was arguing for the universality of the divine, drawing attention to the multiple varieties of human belief to posit a single divine force. David Kopf claims that Ray gained his Unitarianism from early century Unitarian writings. Lynn Zastoupil addresses these Unitarian ties also. Like Kopf he argues that Ray derived much from Unitarianism’s radical history. This is a very credible observation. But both minimize the impact of Shankaran Vedanta on Ray’s thought.46 Robertson’s study makes a very specific attempt to remedy this oversight with an excellent chapter on Ray’s use of Vedanta, as well as on the credibility of his claims as a Vedantin. Robertson validates Ray’s Sanskritic claims but points out his specific deficiencies as well – those schools with which he showed little or no familiarity. His conclusion is that Ray was firmly grounded in the non-dualistic tradition of Vedantic interpretation established by Shankara.47 However, Ray’s deployment of Vedanta could vary depending on which language community he was addressing. Wilhelm Halbfass describes Ray’s polyvalent use of Vedanta: ‘the “Veds” which were thus presented to two different audiences, serve as vehicles for receptivity and reform as well as self-assertion in the face of the West’.48 With regard to the debate over monotheism, Ray’s choices when translating the Upanisads contributed to a significant degree of slippage when it came to his depiction of Vedantic conceptions of the divine. In his English translations, Ray was consistently evoking the linguistic (and Christian) notion of ‘person’. As pointed out earlier, the notion of deity systematized by Shankara was monistic. But in Ray’s English-language texts, the God he depicts is a ‘personal God’. Thus, as Halbfass cogently summarizes it: Even in those places where the Sanskrit text of the works translated and paraphrased by Rammohun uses the term brahman in the neuter case, he consistently uses the masculine form (‘he’) in his English works, in effect replacing the monistic principle of reality with the God of monotheism.49 Interestingly, in Ray’s Bengali language translations this was not an issue as there is no distinction between the neuter and the masculine in Bengali. Such translational variations show Ray gauging the reception of various language communities to his ideas.50 He would have been aware of the increased European receptivity to his translations if Shankaran monism were couched in the language of person. The gendering of brahman could serve as a useful rhetorical device, suggesting a personal god when the actual prose and commentary stayed within the basic tenets of Shankaran

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


monism. By utilizing the masculine instead of a non-gender-specific term, Ray made the text amenable to a reader seeking a personal god rather than the more abstract, deistic notion provided by a long line of Advaita adherents. Ray’s textual interventions were arising out of an extremely dynamic milieu. In terms of his place within the literati of Calcutta, Ray shared much with the early British Orientalists. He had read their work and was aware of the European and Christian traditions in which they were grounded. He was familiar with orientalist assessments of various aspects of Indian antiquity, including Colebrooke’s 1805 treatise, and it would be reasonable to identify him as the first Indian scholar to be widely acknowledged beyond Asia during his own lifetime.51 In addition, Ray’s Company and Baptist ties provided him with disparate and often opposed communities within the various European camps. Ray’s eventual affiliation with the Unitarians provided a forum from which he could espouse the idea of an ancient textual monotheism to declare a reformist, modernized Hindu identity. Halbfass writes that because of the work of Ray, and later the Brahmo Samaj movement he founded, ‘the framework and potential for the encounter and reconciliation of the traditions (Western and Christian) is now sought within the Hindu tradition; receptivity and openness themselves appear as constituents of the Hindu identity and as principles of self-assertion’.52 Perhaps not enough emphasis has been placed on Ray’s role in the revival of Advaita Vedanta. Robertson’s study has a detailed chapter on the matter, pointing out how Ray establishes a precedent, via Vedanta, for Indian self-assertion in the face of the superior organization and technology of the European colonizers. Advaita fits into a reading of human religious phenomena as arising out of a universal theology. The discussions of various theologians and scholars in the wake of European colonial expansion and the greater awareness of various non-European cultures helped to initiate what we might today call a ‘sociological’ perspective on the function of religious belief in societies. This can be seen as an inevitable outcome of the ‘scientificizing’ tendencies catalyzed by industrialization and modernity – the fairly recent historical movement towards ‘rationality’ and away from ‘metaphysics’. I am certainly not trying to say that Ray represents an initial moment or movement. What I am pointing out is that Christianity was being reconceived throughout Europe due to some powerful nineteenth-century ‘re-districting’ forces – particularly the increasing moves away from religion and towards secularism as the European nationstates began to industrialize. The re-invigorated debates over Trinitarianism being fought out in both the United States and England constituted but one small segment of this growing fissure between church and state. In debates such as these, the East entered into metropolitan conversations, forging spaces for germination and growth in the newly industrializing colonial powers. In early colonial India, Anglicization provided a utilitarian tool for Ray to speak with institutions of power in the language of power. In the Orientalist–Anglicist controversy, Ray did not clearly align himself to either position. Ray’s reliance on indigenous print culture showed how important it was for him to interact with various literate communities in Bengal and throughout India. The British hold on India would not unite that sort of concerted response until the modest demands of


Amit Ray

partial sovereignty petitioned for by the early Indian National Congress near the end of the century. But the Brahmo Samaj did begin to make distinct nationalist overtures to the British ruling authorities around the middle of the century. The initial terms of the Anglicist–Orientalist controversy were organized around the issue of how best to rule Bengal – to ‘Orientalize’ certain British East India Company employees or to ‘Anglicize’ indigenous literati. I do not believe the native ‘Hindu’ elites were against the idea of becoming educated in English. They saw it as an avenue to European power, a means of Western Enlightenment. The effort to desanctify Brahmins as a divinely sanctioned social class who would administer ritual and who held sacred purity was supplemented by Ray’s development of an egalitarian version of Advaita, accessible to anyone who sought out such knowledge. My larger aim is to suggest that India, during the nineteenth century, became central to western liberal theology. Efforts to sociologize religion – to study religion as relativistic, comparative and contextual – occurred in no small part due to the ‘discovery of Hinduism’. Religion came to be seen by various liberals and intellectuals as a human (as opposed to divine) phenomenon. In light of this recognition, India came to represent spirituality for a Western imagination that saw its own lifeworlds being evacuated of the once-dominant metaphysics of Christian theology and cosmology.

Notes 1 P. J. Marshall, ‘Introduction’, in P. J. Marshall (ed.) The British Discovery of Hinduism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970, p. 43. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 M. J. Franklin points out the differences amongst the early Orientalists regarding the issue of divinity and Indian antiquity. In contrasting Halhed and Jones, Franklin notes, ‘[w]hereas Halhed, looking back to a pristine, monotheistic, and classical Hinduism, had subscribed to the contemporary prejudice against popular Hinduism, Jones appreciated that this theory of historical deterioration was somewhat simplistic’, in M. J. Franklin, ‘Cultural Possession, Imperial Control and Comparative Religion: The Calcutta Perspectives of Sir William Jones and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed’, The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 32, 2002, p. 9. 5 N. Dhar, Vedanta and the Bengal Renaissance, Calcutta: Minerva, 1977, p. 27. 6 H. T. Colebrooke, T. E. Colebrooke, and E. B. Cowell, Miscellaneous Essays, London: Trübner, 1873, p. 100. 7 Recently, scholars have questioned the cohesiveness of ‘Hinduism’ as a religious body, suggesting that this categorization and grouping occurs as a result of European ideas and expectations as to what ‘religion’ was supposed to be. Both Ronald Inden and Richard King address this topic. Chapter 5 of King’s Orientalism and Religion, ‘The Modern Myth of Hinduism’ is a particularly useful overview, linking the rise of Hinduism to the nineteenth-century advent of comparative religious studies. See R. Inden, Imagining India, Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990 and R. King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘the Mystic East’, New York: Routledge, 1999. 8 The transcendental concept of ‘brahman’ is not to be confused with the social group of the same name. To differentiate between the two, I will indicate the latter without italics and with the spelling ‘Brahmin’. 9 The entrenchment of colonialism – the show of European dominance on a worldwide scale – depended heavily upon isolating and defining local conditions. Within the larger project of gathering knowledge, of codifying, accumulating, addressing and debating the

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10 11


13 14

15 16


varieties of lives ‘on the ground’, the orientalists sought an immediate and linguistic solution to the question of cultural precedent – thus the reliance upon key texts such as The Laws of Manu and the Upanisads. With time, a more present-oriented view of indigenous culture would emerge. The process of ‘cataloging’ culture encouraged the advent of what we now call ethnography and anthropology. See C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, N. Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001 and D. Ludden, ‘Orientalist Empiricism: Transformations of Colonial Knowledge’ in C. Breckinridge and P. van der Veer (eds) Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. It can certainly be argued, as some scholars have, that Ray’s ‘reason’ is constructed more through the Persian and Islamic traditions than that of the Enlightenment. See note 26. Martin Bernal’s controversial work, Black Athena, locates this construction, in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Western Europe, as a Greco-Latinate-Christian secularizing humanism, M. Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987. William Jones is the perfect example of someone shaped by this amorphous and contradictory formation. He was rooted, simultaneously, in deep religiosity, deep empiricism and deep skepticism – simultaneously seeking empirical textual sources on the nature of the ‘Divine,’ yet always careful to pull his insights back into the safe harbor of a particular brand of Christian faith in the Bible. Macaulay illustrates the kinds of anxiety displaced onto this ‘constructed’ genealogy of Western civilization in his now infamous Minute on Indian Education. Sheldon Pollock’s ‘Deep Orientalism?’examines the connections between Indology and National Socialism. Pollock offers up this startling and provocative proposition: ‘in the case of German Indology we might conceive of [the vector of European colonial power] as potentially directed inward – towards the colonization and domination of Europe itself.’ S. Pollock, ‘Deep Orientalism? Notes on Sanskrit and Power Beyond the Raj’, in C. Breckinridge and P. van der Veer (eds) Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993, p. 77. P. Mehra, A Dictionary of Modern Indian History, 1707–1947, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 734. Dermot Killingley, in the opening of his 1990 Teape Lectures, also remarks on the romanization of Ray’s name in the nineteenth century. This instability and contestation continue through to the present day as evinced in recent critical work, see Robertson and Zastoupil. Killingley’s collected and expanded version of the Teape Lectures addresses the multivalent qualities of Ray’s writings and influence. See D. Killingley, Rammohun Roy in Hindu and Christian Tradition, Newcastle upon Tyne: Grevatt and Grevatt, 1993, p. 1. Killingley offers up a comprehensive, detailed and subtle comparative study of Ray and his multiple (and multiplicitous) engagements. As he puts it, ‘[t]o follow the sources used by Rammohun himself, and what has been written on him by his contemporaries and later, requires a knowledge of English, French, Sanskrit, Bengali, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian’ (p. xii). In assessing these works, he provides a useful methodology for gauging the issue of Ray’s authorship (p. 13). This question of authorship was of regular concern throughout the early history of all emergent print cultures and is itself a continuing problematic for several fields of study, particularly in light of the emergent digital phase of human media history. A staid xenophobic feature of Brahminical orthodoxy during the period – in order to remain uncontaminated by foreigners, Brahmins were not allowed to cross the open ocean. B. Robertson, Raja Rammohan Ray: The Father of Modern India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 11. Robertson’s excellent study begins with a discussion of Ray’s biographies and other miscellaneous documents that give evidence of his life and work. During his lifetime, Ray made occasional mention of personal history in his writings (particularly in his schooling as a vedantin, as orthodox Brahmins were attacking his



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scholarly credentials). In addition, there exists a controversial autobiographical letter published posthumously in the English Athenaeum. See pp. 1–9. Concessions of this sort, to competing structures of power, were an extremely common feature in Bengali life during Mughal rule. The behavioural mores of those in power all too often translated to the ‘ground’ – consider the upper caste Bengali ghenna (disgust) for pork, almost certainly adopted in deference to Islamic customs and tastes. My thanks to Dipesh Chakrabarty for suggesting the term ‘comparatist’ in reference to Rammohan Ray. The term came up in a brief conversation we had and his suggestion began to resonate in my thinking. Ray’s influence was felt throughout India. He also published tracts in Hindustani that circulated via the developing vernacular print discourse, as well as the various Englishlanguage newspapers and journals circulating within and around British centers of power (in and outside India). The history of print in Bengal is a fascinating study unto itself and Ray plays a large role in its development. See A. H. Mustafa Kamal, The Bengali Press and Literary Writing, Dacca: University Press, 1977, S. Chakraborti, The Bengali Press: A Study in the Growth of Public Opinion, Calcutta: Firma KLM Private, 1976 and M. K. Chanda, History of the English Press in Bengal:1780–1857, Calcutta: KP Bagchi, 1987. Robertson, Ray, p. 19. Indeed, the controversial land reform of 1793, The Permanent Settlement Act, instituted by Lord Cornwallis (and the subject of Ranajit Guha’s famous 1963 study, A Rule of Property for Bengal), was likely adding to speculation and corruption rather than alleviating them. The new system was modeled after English property laws. Under the Mughal zamindari system, the zamindar not only collected taxes on the land but also functioned as the magistrate for the area. With this new system, revenue collection was often auctioned off to the highest bidder. Often the person buying the rights to the land had little knowledge of local conditions. Speculative practices under such conditions became even more prevalent as absentee landlordism became widespread. F. M. Müller, Rammohan to Ramakrishna, Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1952, p. 17. Robertson, Ray, p. 20. Persian, as the old language of privilege in Mughal India, was rapidly being displaced by the English medium. This was, in many ways, an event engineered by British Orientalists, administrators and evangelists. The Orientalists were providing a view of Hinduism that privileged the later texts and commentaries of the Vedic tradition; the written records and commentary based upon the manuscript records were maintained by, and primarily circulated within, the Brahminical caste. The combination of print technology, British incursions into Vedic texts, and the growth of vernacular all catalyzed the nascent Hindu/English collaborative efforts. With the changing face of British control in India, these efforts would eventually turn antagonistic. R. Roy and J. C. Ghose, The English Works of Raja Rammohun Roy, New Delhi: Cosmo, 1901, p. 956. A number of Ray scholars have argued that his rationalism is rooted in Islam, utilizing his arguments in the Tohfat to evince their claims. Abid U. Ghazi argues that Ray’s writing displays characteristic Islamic training. See A. U. Ghazi, ‘Raja Rammohun Roy’s Response to Muslim India’, Studies in Islam, vol. 2, 1976, pp. 1–38. Ghazi writes: He uses Persian couplets, Qur’anic verses and Arabic and Persian idioms to embellish his expression. Such would be acquired over years of study training and acquaintance with all aspects of Muslim culture . . . he uses the entire armory of Islamic logic to support his ideas, which themselves are ultimately turned against the tenet of all established religions, especially Islam’. (quoted in Robertson, Ray 26–7) Sumit Sarkar, in A Critique of Colonial India: laments the diminished attention paid to Ray’s Islamic background by most scholars of the Bengali nineteenth-century intelligentsia. He points out that ‘the uniqueness of

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


Rammohun’s rationalism cannot be taken as finally settled till much more is known than at present about the intellectual history of eighteenth-century India and particularly perhaps its Islamic components. (See S. Sarkar, Calcutta: Papyrus, 1985, p. 5) 27 Roy and Ghose, English Works, 1901, p. xxiii. This quote evinces a trait that, over the nineteenth century, has increasingly come to be associated with India and Hinduism; namely, the syncretic quality of Indian tradition. Ninety six earlier, H. T. Colebrooke’s characterization of the Vedas emphasizes a similar point. In the monograph, On the Vedas, Colebrooke points out that even ‘the writings of the heretical sects exhibit quotations from the Vedas’, see Colebrooke, Colebrooke, Cowell, Essays, p. 91. This observation is made in a discussion on the intertextual nature of Vedic scripture and Indian scientific developments, particularly astronomy and medicine. The simple gist of the passage is that Vedic scriptural authority permeates India’s multiple religious communities. Yet, he argues, scripture is attuned to the historical and scientific developments of the present, even if such developments are at odds with scripture’s motives. Towards the latter period of Great Britain’s colonial involvement in India, Nehru and Gandhi, as two chief architects of Indian nationalism, will both echo the cultural syncreticism of Indian religious tradition and authority. 28 N. Dhar, Vedanta, p. 38. 29 The term ‘bhadralok’ refers to the upper-middle-class Bengali elites who emerged under British colonialism. 30 The full title of the text leaves no doubt as to its argumentative aims: ‘Translation of an Abridgement of The Vedant, or The Resolution of All the Veds, the Most Celebrated and Revered Work of Brahmanical Theology; Establishing the Unity of the Supreme Being; and that He Alone is the Object of Propitiation and Worship.’ 31 The circulation of the Upanisads in European languages is a relatively recent occurrence. The first appearance in Europe of a portion of the Upanisads appears to be the work of A. H. Anquetil-Duperron. He published four Upanisads in France in 1787. But AnquetilDuperron relied on a Persian translation, the 1657 Sirr-i Akbar (‘The Great Secret’) commissioned by Dmra Shiknh, great-grandson of Emperor Akbar and son of Shah Jahan. In 1801 and 1802, Duperron published the influential Oupnek’hat, which included the entire fifty-one Upanisads of the Sirr-i Akbar. This became a primary source on India for the German Romantic philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, amongst others. Yet, most scholars of Sanskrit consider the translation deeply flawed. Robertson declares that this ‘first collection of the Upanisads available in Europe was an imprecise Latin translation of an imprecise Persian version of the fifty-one Sanskrit texts’, p. 60. Wilhelm Halbfass, in India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding, points out that Nathaniel Brassey Halhed also translated Sirr-i Akbar in 1787 but the manuscript remained unpublished, p. 87. Jones’s Isa-Upanisad was the first direct translation of an Upanisad into a Western language. It did not appear in print until the posthumous 1799 edition of his works. Colebrooke’s 1805 translation and treatise, On the Vedas, was a source of long-standing authority in Europe on the Vedanta. Ray’s translation, a decade later, was also regularly cited. Indeed, he was, for years, the only Indian whose work was referred to in Europe. Robertson points out that although ‘the Calcutta pandit establishment shunned him, the eminent British Indologists H. H. Wilson and H. T. Colebrooke quoted him on the subject of advaita vedanta, the only living vedantin whose authority they acknowledged’, p. 23. In 1840, H. H. Wilson, who had at that point become Boden Professor of Sanskrit, delivered two important lectures on Hinduism at Oxford that relied heavily on the works of Colebrooke and Ray. 32 Roy and Ghose, English Works, p. 3. 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid, p. 4. 35 It must be kept in mind that, during this period of early colonial rule, the British were very careful to maintain a certain degree of indigenous cultural autonomy. The work of the early British Orientalists was a concession to a system of rule in accordance with the



37 38


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standards of indigenous practice. Ray’s own financial interests were deeply tied to British activities and his increased property holdings between 1799 and 1810 supports this notion. The British were ‘in favour of the growth of a new class of zamindars in the country that would safeguard its interests . . . Rammohan thus came to be bound with British Imperialism’, in N. Dhar, Vedanta, p. 45. In essence, the British were reshaping the older structures of land ownership (the Mughal zamindari system), in order to consolidate an indigenous body sympathetic to Company power. Ranajit Guha’s seminal 1963 study, A Rule of Property for Bengal, tracks the development of the Permanent Settlement of 1793 in order to show how the anti-feudal sentiments expressed in that act instead became crucial to the development of a neo-feudal organization of property in colonial Bengal. See R. Guha, A Rule of Property for Bengal: An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement, Paris: Mouton, 1963. In her article ‘Weaving Knowledge’, Rosane Rocher points out that the British interest in Vedanta catalyzed Advaita and other Vedantic schools of interpretation in Bengal. See R. Rocher, ‘Weaving Knowledge: Sir William Jones and Indian Pandits’, in G. Cannon and K. Brine (eds) Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), New York: NYU Press, 1995, pp. 51–79. Robertson, Ray, p. 63. Halbfass writes, ‘Rammohun had tried to produce religious and soteriological egalitarianism. Now he sought sanction for it in the authoritative texts of Hinduism . . . especially in Sankara’s writings. In doing so he was forced to deal very selectively with these texts; the very explicit and emphatic passages in Sankara’s commentary on the Brahmasutras which support the restrictions of the adhikara were passed over in silence’, p. 206. W. Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding, Albany: SUNY Press, 1988, p. 209. ‘The idea of ‘absolute’ truth can thus be made available to everybody, and that ‘mass education’ and social progress can bridge the gap between the different levels of understanding and qualification, is one of Rammohan’s most radical deviations from traditional Hindu thought, and more especially, from Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta’ (212). In his book on the Brahmo Samaj, David Kopf argues that Ray’s reformist positions were a consequence of European influence, a reliance on preexistent Western modes of thought. Certainly such influence was present. The concepts of reason and egalitarianism, concepts which Ray champions, can be linked to the European Enlightenment. See D. Kopf, The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Indian Mind, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. However Robertson, Halbfass, Dhar, Subsobhan Sarker and others believe that the assessment of Ray’s thought as derivative of European conceptual models is incorrect. I concur with the opinion put forth by such scholars and others that Ray’s unique position between and amongst cultures became the constitutive force behind Ray’s thought: ‘The hermeneutic situation which is expressed in Rammohan Ray’s ‘multilingualism’, his crosscultural horizon of self-understanding and appeal, his position between receptivity and self-assertion, ‘Westernization’ and ‘Hindu revivalism’, forms the background and basic conditions of Hindu thinking and self-understanding’, Halbfass, India, p. 217. Robertson, Ray, p. 87. Roy and Ghose, English Works, p. 90. Author’s emphases. Halbfass, India, p. 209. David Kopf, in his study of the Brahmo Samaj, forwards the notion that this movement is unidirectional, coming out of early Unitarian writings and into Ray’s. However, he does not document this claim convincingly. The overlap between those early Unitarian writings and Ray’s own is less than a decade. Advaita Vedanta provides an indigenous theology that parallels the Unitarian idea of universal monotheism. Indeed, both of Kopf’s longer studies relating to Bengal assume that modernization is the exclusive domain of the West. While universal theology may have arisen in the context of a Christian theological debate arising in Europe, Vedanta provides an indigenous Indian textual solution to the dictates of that European conflict. As such, the ‘discovery’ of Vedanta becomes a subject for various reform-minded Christians who view its antiquity as evidence for an ‘original’ theism. Joseph Priestley, the British scientist who revolutionized the study of chemistry and who

Rammohan Ray’s Vedanta(s)


later became a key Unitarian theologian, referred to the Vedanta in such a manner in his 1799 A Comparison of the Institutions of Moses. His assessment of Vedanta relied heavily on the work of the early British Orientalists, including Jones, Wilkins and Halhed. 44 Charles Wilkins writes in his 1784 ‘Translator’s Preface’ to The Bhagvat-Geeta: The most learned Brahmans of the present times are Unitarians according to the doctrines of Kreeshna; but, at the same time that they believe in but one God, an universal spirit, they so far comply with the prejudices of the vulgar, as outwardly to perform all the ceremonies inculcated by the Veds, such as sacrifices, absolutions, etc. They do this probably for the support of their own consequence, which could only arise from the great ignorance of the people . . . this ignorance, and these ceremonies, are as much the bread of the Brahmans, as the superstition of the vulgar is the support of the priesthood in many other countries.

45 46

47 48 49 50



See C. Wilkins, The Bhagvat-Geeta, or, Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon; in Eighteen Lectures; with Notes. Translated from the Original, in the Sanskreet, Chicago: Religio-philosophical publishing house, 1871, p. 194. Roy and Ghose, English Works, p. 148. L. Zastoupil, ‘Defining Christians, Making Britons: Rammohun Roy and the Unitarians’, Victorian Studies, vol. 44, 2002, 215–43. In doing so, both Kopf and Zastoupil risk minimizing the complexities of colonial exchange. As noted earlier, Kopf’s work has consistently supported a developmental model of modernity, where ideas flow from the centre to the periphery. This is a major methodological issue not just in the historiography of South Asia, but historiography in general. And, of course, such a model has been deeply problematized in recent years. Zastoupil’s recent work on Ray, while wonderfully detailed in providing the context for Unitarian theology, and Ray’s engagement with it, also ends up being in this mould. While he articulates the case for a non-binaristic approach to the study of colonial history, his emphasis on Ray’s ‘derivative’ discourse seems to reify rather than complicate the categories of so-called ‘colonizer’ and ‘colonized’. I address this problem in greater depth by positioning Zastoupil’s approach to Ray’s influences vis-à-vis Killingley’s in my book-length study of South Asian Orientalism. See A. Ray, Negotiating the Modern: Orientalism and ‘Indianess’ in the Anglophone World, New York: Routledge, forthcoming. Robertson, Ray, pp. 15–18, 146–7. Halbfass, India, p. 214. Ibid, p. 208. Certain issues that would have been less amenable to a European audience are given lesser treatment in the English language translations as opposed to his Bengali writings. Particular distinctions such as those dealing with om, metempsychosis and reincarnation are not avoided in the English translations though they are ‘less conspicuous here than in the corresponding portions of the original texts or the Bengali versions’, Ibid, p. 208. In addition, the English language texts often deliberately frame themes in language that is reminiscent of the Bible’s. Whether or not Ray is the first Indian Orientalist can certainly be debated. There are several other Indian names that come to mind as far as the collaboration between European and Indian scholars is concerned. However, none was as involved or as regularly prolific as Ray in the print discourses of the day. The debates between pandit Mrutnajay Vidyalanker and Ray (during the period between 1815 and 1819) vividly illustrate the battles amongst vedantins as to the correct precedents to follow when it came to religious authority. Vidyalanker was the chief pandit under William Carey at Fort William. His reputation as a vedantin of the highest order is reiterated in virtually every account of the period. Yet he has definitely been given a second-order status in many histories since his English language writings were not very extensive. See Rocher, ‘Weaving’. Halbfass, India, p. 215.


Aaronson, Alex 39 Aberconway Castle 232 Aberdeen Magazine 174 Abrams, M. H. 202 Abn Tmleb Khan 26–7; Masir-I Talibi 222, 225; ‘Ode to London’ 228–9, 230: The Poems of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan 222; Travels 27, 43, 220–2, 224–5, 235; ‘Vindication of the Liberties of Asian Women’ 234 Abu’l Fazl M’ln-i Akbarl 88, 249; see also Gladwin, Francis Adam, John 251 Adam, William 269 Adams, Percy, Travel Writing and the Evolution of the Novel 221 Addiscombe College 55, 57 Agra 88 Ahmed, A. E. Salahuddin 44 Ahmed, Akbar S. 179 Aikin, Lucy 28 Akbar 4, 14, 26, 88, 263, 275 Akbar Shah II 263 Alam, Muzzafar 109 Alavi, Seema 109, 253 Alexander the Great 188 Ali Ibrahim Khan 235 Ali Khan Bahadur, Nizam of Hyderabad 89–93 Ali Quli Khan Walih, Riyaz al-shu’ara 224 Ali Vardi Khan 5, 26 Allahabad 232; Treaty of 227 alterity 84, 86, 107–8, 234 Amarnmth 169 America 47, 65, 87, 133, 135–7, 205, 214, 268, 269 Analytical Review 154

Anderson, James 42 Anderson, W. E. K. 257–8 Anglicists 21, 22, 25, 66, 145, 160, 166–7, 259 Anglo-Indians [Europeans in India] 17, 20, 181, 183–4, 194, 229, 243–6; poetry of 52 Annesley, George 106 Annual Review 145–6, 235 Anquetil-Duperron, Abraham Hyacinthe 138; Oupnek’hat 275; Zend-Avesta 133, 135, 137 Anti-Jacobin or Weekly Examiner, The 127, 130 Appadurai, Arjun 84, 108 Arabia 113, 115–16 Arabic 7, 55, 227–8, 264; poetry 114–16, 119 Arabs 23, 230 Archer, Mildred 62–3, 98, 111 Arcot 87, 93, 96, 98, 101,103 Armstrong, Nancy 156, 174 Arnold, David 254 Arya Samaj 262 Asaf ud-Daula (d.1797), Nawab of Oudh (Nawab of Lucknow) 93, 97–100, 101, 104–7, 109–10, 112 Asiatic Annual Register 44, 48, 58, 105, 234 Asiatic Journal, The 57, 63 Asiatic Researches 145, 171, 186, 194, 199, 212, 269 Asiatic Review, The 197 Asiatic Society of Bengal 14, 18–19, 53–6, 57, 120, 173, 214–15 Astley, Philip (proprietor of Astley’s Amphitheatre) 79; The Burmese War 49; The Siege and Storming of Seringapatam 27, 232; Timour the Tartar 72

Index 279 Athenaeum, The 197, 274 Aurangzeb 4, 88, 172, 179 Australia 122 Avestan 24 Avison, Charles 215 Awadh (Oudh) 86, 93, 96, 98, 101, 107, 109–10, 216, 224, 227 Aztecs 138 Babbu Begam 4 Babur 15 Baghdad 140 Bainbridge, Simon 150 Baker, Godfrey Evan 226 Baker, Captain William Massey 27, 233 Banks, Sir Joseph 24, 121–2, 229 Barker, Francis 237 Barker, Mary 144 Barlow, Joel, Vision of Columbus 135, 150 Barnett, Richard 110 Barré, Colonel Isaac 43 Barrow, Isaac 171 Basham, A. L. 175 Basra 23 Bataille, Georges 84, 108 Batteux, Charles 204, 215 Baudrillard, Jean 111 Bayly, Christopher, Empire and Information 15, 39, 40, 227, 235, 246, 256; Imperial Meridian 61, 64, 66 Bayne, T. W. 257 Beach, M. C. 110 Beatty, Bernard 180, 193 Beddoes, Thomas, Alexander’s Expedition down the Hydaspes & the Indus 143 Begum Faizh Baksh 20 Begum Samru 250, 257 Bell’s Life in London 73 Benares 10, 12, 22, 54, 101, 235, 267 Bengal 1–5, 7–9, 13, 15, 23, 24, 27, 31, 33, 36, 46, 51, 58–60, 65, 86, 88, 109, 113, 115, 120, 122, 154–6, 163, 164, 166, 177, 223–5, 227, 231, 234, 239, 249 Bengal Renaissance 11, 173, 223, 260, 261–2, 263 Bengali 55, 264, 267–8, 270, 273, 277 Bennett, Betty T. 193 Bentham, Jeremy 28 Bentinck, Lady Mary 216 Bentinck, Lord William Henry Cavendish 22, 32, 41

Bernal, Martin 273 Bernier, François 145 Bhabha, Homi 6, 109, 111 bhadralok 31, 266–7, 275 Bhagalpur 266 Bhagavadgitm 13, 124 bhakti literature (displaying intense devotion) 15, 177 bhumeawat (Rajput struggle for collective identity) 71 Bhutan 266 Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali 179 Bickerstaffe, Isaac, Love in a Village 157; The Maid of the Mill 157 Biggs, Edward Smith Twelve Hindoo Airs 199 Bihar 1, 266 Bird, William Hamilton, The Oriental Miscellany 199 Black, Jeremy 254 Blackstone, Sir William 139 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 242 Bligh, William 1 Blum, Stephen 213 Blumenbach, J. F. 20 Bolton, Betsy 83 Bombay 102–3, Bor, Joep 197, 213–14 Bose, Nemai Sadhan 41 Botany Bay 122 Boughton, Sir Charles William Rouse 34 Bourdieu, Pierre 112 Bowen, Huw 256 Boydell, S. 104, 111 Bracken, Christopher 108 Braganza, John 199 Brahmanical influence 16, 28–30, 72, 74–5, 79, 88, 145, 158–60, 178, 262, 274; textual monopoly of Brahmans 28–9, 178, 267 Brahmasutras 266, 276 Brahmo Samaj 262, 267, 271–2, 276 Brand, M. 109 Breckenridge, Carol 37 Brennan, Lance 32, 62 Britton, John 135, 149 Brittridge, Richard 91 Brown, Iain Gordon 254 Brown, John, A Dissertation on the Rise, Union and Power [ . . . ] of Poetry and Music 202, 204 Browne, Arthur 43



Brydges, Sir Harford Jones 23, 41 Buckingham, James Silk 49, 58 Buckler, F. 109 Buddhism 55, 261 Buddle, Anne 254–5 Burke, Edmund on ‘beggary of the Nabobs’ 34; on curiosity 106; on East India Company 17, 39, 46, 50, 164; on Hastings 7, 173–4; Indian expertise 47; on ‘Indianism and Jacobinism’ 24 Burney, Charles 26, 197–8, 214 Burns, Robert 244 Burrell, Julia 27, 43, 233, 236 Burton, Antoinette 253 Burton, Sir Richard 251 Busteed, H. E. 174 Butler, Marilyn 59, 151, 236 Byron, George Gordon, Lord 21, 24, 41–2, 132, 141, 144, 147, 181–2; Don Juan 113 Cabral, Adolfo de Oliveira 140–1, 143–4 Calcutta 1–3, 9, 16–17, 53, 59, 97, 101, 103–4, 106, 122, 155–7, 163, 165, 183, 199, 220, 224, 227, 232, 265–6; Black Hole narrative 249 Calcutta Gazette 8, 268 Calcutta Review 52, 62 Caldwell, Robert 54 Campbell, A. D. 54 Cannadine, David 40 Cannon, Garland 129, 204, 216 Cape of Good Hope 231–3 Capetown 233 Carey, William 26, 29, 34, 40–1, 43–4, 277 Carson, P. S. E. 61 Cashmere 25, 113, 167, 169, 182–5, 188 Cavendish [née Spencer], Georgiana, duchess of Devonshire 27 Chakrabarty, Dipesh 274; Provincialising Europe 223–4 Chakraborti, Smarajit 274 Chanda, Mrinal K. 274 Chatterjee, Kumkum 6, 33, 38 Chatterjee, Partha 37 Chatterji, Bankimchandra 255 Chet Singh, raja of Benares 12 Chillianwallah, battle 49 China 47, 103–5, 122, 137 Chinnery, George 51 Chitpore 1 Christianity 26, 28, 31, 41, 59, 126, 128, 145, 148, 161, 163, 169, 171,

176, 178, 252, 259, 266, 271; see also deism Clairmont, Clara Mary Jane [Claire] 184 Clavigero, Francesco Saverio 138, 150 Clayton, Martin 211 Clevland, Augustus 44 Clive, Robert, Baron 2, 15 Cockerel, Charles 232 Cohn, Bernard S. 62–3 Colebrooke, Henry Thomas 2, 29, 44, 54, 56, 57, 161, 226; ‘On the Duties of a Faithful Hindoo Widow’ 22; On the Vedas 55, 259–60, 267, 271, 274 Colebrooke, Sir (James) Edward 2, 32, 53 Colebrooke, Sir T. E. 275 Cole, Juan 43, 223, 230 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 24, 28, 43, 116, 117–18; ‘Kubla Khan’ 114, 117–18 Colles, H. C. 218 Colley, Linda 61, 257 Collins, William, Persian Eclogues 114, 116 Colman, George, Inkle and Yarico 83 Colquhoun, Patrick 45, 49, 61 Confucius 135 Constantinople 233 Cooch Behar 266 Cook, Captain James 122, 198 Cooper, Randolph G. S. 253 Copley, Stephen 195 Cork 226, 230, 233 Cornwallis, Charles, Earl 1, 2, 8, 21, 29, 30, 35, 44, 65–6, 82, 98, 141, 165, 176, 224, 229 Corry, Isaac 141 Cottle, Joseph 150 Courtney, C. P. 256 Courtwright, Paul B. 81 Cowell, Edward Byles 270, 275 Crabtree, Adam 195 Craufurd, Quintin 145 Creasy, Edward 245 Critical Review 42, 155, 174 Crotch, William, Specimens of Various Styles of Music 199 Cullen, Charles 138 Curran, Stuart 187, 195 Curry, K. 151 Dakessian, M. A. 81 Dalrymple, William, White Mughals 40, 53 d’Alviella, Count Goblet 266 Damascus 233 Daniell, Thomas 48

Index 281 Daniell, William 48, 106 Dmra Shiknh 4, 14, 267; Majma ’al-bahrayn [The Junction of two Seas] 14, 171, 173, 179; Sirr-i Akbar 275 Darnton, Robert 195 darshan 102 Darwin, Erasmus 24, 115, 128; ‘The Loves of the Plants’ 126–7 Dasa, Nandalala 255 Dauney, William 213 Davis, Tracy 83 Davy, Sir Humphry 137 Dawson, P. M. S. 195 Day, Major Charles Russell, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan 197–8, 207–10, 211–12, 214, 216–17, 219 De Bruyn, Frans 34 de Certeau, M. 81 deism 15, 28, 126, 171, 271 de La Clede, M. 139 Delhi 3, 53–4, 74, 80, 93, 140, 179, 224 de Palacio, Jean 193 De Quincey, Thomas 226 Derrida, Jacques 84 Devi Singh 173 Devis, Arthur William 47 Dewey, Clive 20 Dhar, Niranjan 266 Digby, John 266 Digby, Simon 43 Din Muhammad, 57, 226; The Travels of Dean Mahomet 5–6, 27, 38, 227 Dirks, Nicholas B. 16, 39, 63, 65, 81–2, 109 Dodsley, James 168 Doveton, Captain F. B. 256 Dow, Alexander, The History of Hindustan 28, 171–2, 179, 249 Draupadl 30, 160 Drew, John 25, 42, 64, 149, 177, 179, 180, 182, 188, 193, 195 Dublin 230, 232 Duncan, Jonathan 22, 41, 175, 177 Dundas, Henry 47, 229 Dundas, Robert 250 Dunlop, Madeline Anne Wallace 244, 255 Dunlop, Rosalind Harriet Maria Wallace 244, 255 Dutt, Govin Chunder 31, 44 Dutt, Michael Madhusudan, ‘Oft like a Sad Bird I sigh’ 223 Dutt, Toru 44; ‘Sita’ 31 Dyson, Ketaki Kushari 176

East India Company 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 13, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 46, 57, 65, 74, 141–2, 147, 190, 230–1, 243, 244, 264; and 1813 charter renewal 49, 128, 145, 167; army 1, 45, 50, 51, 53, 54, 57, 58, 164, 181, 225, 226, Chap. 11 passim; Calendar of Persian Correspondence 87; and female infanticide 21, 22, 41, 70–1, 250; and India Act of 1784 99; and Indian informants 6, 14, 15, 25, 54, 63, 68, 70, 171, 206, 265; as Indian rulers 5–7, 14, 19, 21, 22–3, 30, 46, 48–9, 50, 57–8, 65, 70, 145, 224, 229; Permanent Settlement 66, 70, 274; Regulating Act 87, 107; relations with Mughal empire 15, 70–1, 85, 88, 92–3, 225, 235, 275–6; see also Missionary activity under India East India United Services Journal 48 Eaton, Natasha 23, 61, 111 Eaton, Richard M. 257 Eck, Diana 111 Eclectic Review 24, 146, 148 Edinburgh 244 Edinburgh Review 48 Ellis, Francis 54 Elliston, Robert William 74, 79 Elphinstone, Mountstuart 251 Encyclopaedia Britannica 128 Enfield, William 174 Engel, Carl 213 English Review 67, 81 Epicharmus 42 Falk, Toby 62 Farquhar, George, The Constant Couple 161 Farrell, Gerry 199, 205, 214, 218 Fay, Eliza 29; Original Letters 166, 174–5 Ferguson, Adam 244, 250 Ferguson, James 250 Ferguson, Niall 254 fictionality 1, 2, 5–7, 9, 15, 20, 27–8, 32, 155, 158, 166, 173, 220–2 Figueria, Dorothy M. 66, 81 Finkelstein, David 61 Fisher, Michael H. 5, 34, 43, 62, 227 Fleming, John 23, 42 Fludernik, Monika 81 Forster, E. M. 51 Fort William College 29, 51, 167, 267, 277 Foster, John 24, 146–7 Foucault, Michel 82, 220 Fountain, John 26, 40–1, 43



Fowke, Francis, ‘On the Vina’ 183, 199–200, 215 Fowke, Joseph 199 Fowke, Margaret 199 Fox, Charles James 232 France 36, 45, 115, 127–9, 184, 196, 224, 225, 227, 228, 231 Francis, Philip 42, 66 Franklin, Michael J. 38, 42, 125, 129, 150, 174, 178, 194–5, 202, 203, 272 Frazer, Sir James George 86 Frow, John 108 Fulford, Tim 23–4, 34, 44, 149, 152, 196 Galland, Antoine 113 Gamer, Michael 82 Gazetteer and Daily Advertiser 81 Genlis, Stéphanie Félicité, Comtesse de 135 Gentil, Colonel Jean-Baptiste Joseph 110 George III 28, 47, 87, 89, 90, 97, 227, 229 George IV 6, 229, 232 German Romanticism 17–18, 39, 45, 115 Gerow, Edwin 168 Ghandi, Mohandas K. 275 Ghazi, Abid U. 274–5 Ghose, Jogendra 266 Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai, Sëir Mutaqharin 4–5, 6–13, 14, 16, 23, 26, 29, 32–3, 87, 93–6, 109 Gibbes, Phebe, Elfrida; or Paternal Ambition 174; Hartly House 2, 3, 20, 25, 32, Chap. 7 Gibbon, Edward 47 Gilchrist, John B. 44, 57 Gillray, James 141, 142 Gilroy, Paul 40 Gladwin, Francis, M’ln-i Akbarl 16, 23, 38, 39; New Asiatic Miscellany 39 Gleig, G. R. 245 Goa 88 Godwin, William 2, 8, 28, 32 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang 18, 159 Goldsmith, Oliver 20; Citizen of the World 220 Gordon, George 255 Graham, Maria 52 Gramsci, Antonio 5 Grant, Charles 20–1; Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain 66, 81 Greece 115, 123, 188, 211, 219, 232, 243, 263

Green, Katherine Sobba 155 Grove, Richard 257 Grundy, Isobel 164 Guha, Ranajit 81, 274, 276 Gurney, J. D. 109, 111 Guthrie, William, A New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar 170, 178 Hmfiz 15, 26–7, 116, 117, 171, 224, 233 Haileybury College 51, 55, 57, 225 Haines, Robin 32, 62 Hmjl Mustafm 8–13, 21, 23, 27, 29, 35–8, 88; Some Idea of the Civil & Criminal Courts of Justice at Moorshoodabad 8, 35–6 Halbfass, Wilhelm 268, 270–1, 275, 276, 277 Halde, Jean-Baptiste du 214 Halhed, Nathaniel Brassey 252, 275 Halima [Helen Bennett] 195 Hamilton, Alexander 19, 24, 54, 55 Hamilton, Charles, The Hedàya 43, 228; Historical Relation of the Rohilla Afghans 221 Hamilton, Elizabeth, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah 27, 43, 220–1, 225, 233, 234 Harbsmeier, Michael 226 Harper, Colonel 99 Harris, James 202 Harrison, Frank 213 Harrison, Mark 254 Hastings, Warren at Benares 12, 37, 39; blazons of 165–6; Durbar Accounts 1780–85 109; as ‘Great Mogul’ 9; impeachment of 2, 7–8, 32–4, 36, 65, 154, 173, 238; and indigenous law 13, 43; and Mughal rulers 4, 8, 14, 23, 34, 86, 88, 160, 166, 173; as patron 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23, 35, 41, 44, 47–8, 55 93, 96, 99, 101, 103, 107; Orientalist regime of Chap. 4 passim, 160, 166; portraits of 10–11, 154, 175–6, 229 Hawkins, John 197–8 Hawley, John Stratton 81 Hay, Edward 26 Hayley, William, Essay on Epic Poetry 143, 151 Head, Raymond 64 Heber, Reginald 226, 229, 230, 232 Hebrew 55 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 31, 160, 178

Index 283 Herder, Johann Gottfried von 18, 117, 159 Hewitt, David 255 Hichberger, J. W. M. 257 Hickey, William 39; Memoirs 166 Hicky, James Augustus, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette 9 Hindi/Urdu 5, 244, 267 Hinduism 20–1, 24–6, 28–9, 30–1, 41, 65–6, 78, 124–6, 128, 138–9, 140, 147–8, 157–8, 160, 162, 167–8, 169, 170–1, 180, 221, 252, Chap. 12 passim Hindustani 55, 181, 194, 267, 268 Hindustani airs 184ff., 199 Hindutva 29 Hipkins, A. J. 209–10 Hodges, William 19, 44, 47, 88, 145; Travels in India 19–20, 22–3, 156, 166 Home, Henry, Lord Kames 20 Homer 132, 136, 241 Horn, C., Indian Melodies: Arranged for Voice and Piano-Forte 199 Horsham 184 Howes, Frank 218 Hudson, Nicholas 40 Humphreys, David, The Widow of Malabar, or, The Tyranny of Custom 81 Humphry, Ozias 98–9, 101, 111–12 Huntington, Samuel P. 254 Hunt, Leigh 196 Huskisson, William 59 Hyderabad 53, 89, 96, 107, 224, 227 Hyder Ali [Haidar Ali], ruler of Mysore 250, 251, 252 improvvisatore 188–9, 195 Inden, Ronald 16, 272 India: and Britishness 148, 240; caste 16, 21, 28, 30, 39, 51, 57, 67, 69, 143, 175, 216, 221, 226, 239, 264, 267, 274; contribution to Britain’s wealth 16, 45–6, 49, 157; European women in 52–3, 156–7; evangelicals 20–1, 25–6, 145–6, 167, 169; gender issues 4, 10, 25, 71, 75, 78, 156–7, 160–1, 166–7, Chap. 11 passim, 169, 172, 173, 181, 184, 223, 248–9; Missionary activity in 21, 26, 40, 42, 48–9, 66, 167, 169, 250, 262, 268–9, 270, 271; part of British empire 45ff., 146–7, Chap. 11 passim, 271–2; poetic riches of 48, 142–3; print technology in 29, 35, 43–4, 260, 262, 267–8, 271, 273, 274–5, 277; and Scottishness 240, 243–4, 251, 254–5; and Western

theology Chap. 12 passim, 267, 269, 271–2; see also Brahmanical influence Indian Rebellion 240, 245 Indo-Muslim perceptions of the West 29, 110, 220, 227 Indo-Muslim wives 10, 20, 52, 160, 226 Indo-Persian culture 15, 25, 26, 27, 221–4, 229, 235–6 inqilab (reversal, revolution) 5 Iran 3, 38, 43, 222, 224 Irish 59, 167, 176–7, 226, 230, 231, 233 Irwin, Robert 129 Islam 8, 14, 43, 99, 119, 135, 142, 162–3, 165–6, 171, 176, 179, 250, 252, 269, 274–5 Islamophobia 162, 172, 221, 236 Ispahan 140, 224 Italy 17, 113, 180, 181, 182, 184, 188, 225, 233 I’tismm ud Din 27, 43, 227; Shigarf-nama-I wilayat 227 Jackson, Richard 250, 257 Jahangir 98 Jairazbhoy, A. N. 184 James I 8 Jawan Bakht 93 Jayadeva, Gltagovinda 15, 168, 212 Jeddah 9 Jehaji, Jerejah Chief 76 Jessore 266 Jesuit missionaries 47, 88 Johnson, Daniel 105, 111 Johnson, Joseph 154 Johnson, Richard 26, 89, 92–3, 96 Johnson, Samuel 7 Jones, Edward, Lyric Airs 199 Jones, Frederick 194, 195, 196 Jones, Sir William 1, 7–8, 13–15, 17, 23–4, 25–6, 34, 36, 47, 54, 56, 114, 117, 127, 120ff., 133, 138–9, 143, 159–60, 176, 186, 188, 221, 227, 247, 252, 273; ‘On the Arts, Commonly Called Imitative’ 201–2; ‘Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants’ 121, 125, 170; ‘Charge to the Grand Jury, June 10, 1785’ 36; ‘Design of a Treatise on the Plants of India’ 122; Eleventh Anniversary Discourse, On the Philosophy of the Asiaticks’ 171; ‘The Enchanted Fruit or, The Hindu Wife’ 30–1, 124–5, 160;’ Gltagovinda 15, 168; ‘On the Gods of Greece, Italy and



Jones, Sir William (Continued) India’ 42; A Grammar of the Persian Language 229; ‘A Hymn to Camdeo’ 125–6, 170; ‘Hymn to Durgá’ 168; ‘A Hymn to Lacshmí’ 167–8, 177, 195; ‘A Hymn to Sereswaty’ 25, 183, 194, 202–3; Institutes of Menu 145; IsaUpanisad 275; Mu‘allaqat 116; ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’ 182–3, 188, 195, Chap. 9 passim; ‘On the Mystical Poetry of the Persians and Hindus’ 178; ‘On the Orthography of Asiatick Words’ 178; ‘The Palace of Fortune: An Indian Tale’ 24, 118; ‘A Persian Song of Hmfiz’ 27; Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatic Languages 115–16; ‘On the Poetry of the Eastern Nations’ 115–16; Sacontalá; or the Fatal Ring 14, 18, 36, 48, 126, 154, 159; ‘The Seven Fountains’ 116–17; ‘Sixth Anniversary Discourse, On the Persians’ 38, 228; ‘Tenth Anniversary Discourse, On Asiatick History, Civil and Natural’ 7, 42, 197–213; ‘Third Anniversary Discourse, On the Hindus’ 159 Joshi, Priya 244 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 197 Judaism 261 Kmlidmsa, Ôakuntalm 15, 48, 126, 159, 168 kmma 169 Kamal, Abu Hena Mustafa 274 Kannum 184 Kashmir see Cashmere Kasturi, Malavika 71, 82 Kaul, Chandrika 61 Kaye, J. W. 28, 243, 254; History of the Indian Mutiny 253 Keats, John 42 Keene, H. G. 243, 258 Kennedy, Dane 253 Kettle, Tilly 87, 93, 110 Kew Botanic Gardens 121, 122 Khadwija, Husain 222 Khair, Tabish 235 Khair un-Nissa 20 Khan, Gulfishan 32, 110, 225, 227 khil’at (rulers’ robes) 23, 85, 86–7, 98 Khusrau, Amlr 15, 26 Kiesewetter, Raphael 214 Killingley, Dermot 273 Kindersley, Jemima 28, 156, 166, 174

Kindersley, Nathaniel, Specimens of Hindoo Literature 149 King, Richard 272 Kipling, Rudyard 253 Kippis, Andrew 2 Kirkpatrick, Colonel James 20, 39 Knight, Jeremy 195 Knighton, William 112 Koch, E. 110 Kopf, David 176, 270, 276, 277 Koran 266 Kramer, Lawrence 180, 193 Kunst, Jaap 213 Lahore 88 Laird, Michael A. 44 Lamb, Charles 146 Lamont, Claire 252–3, 258 Landes, David S. 254 Landor, Walter Savage 64; Gebir 144 Langford, Paul 34 Langlès, Louis Mathieu 229 laukika (worldly Brahmans) 264 Lawrence, Henry 245, 256 Lawson, Philip 61 Leask, Nigel 27, 34, 149; British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire 17, 61, 62, 64, 151, 182, 246; ‘Shelley’s “Magnetic Ladies” 189 Lee, Harold 256 Lefebvre, Henri 65, 81 108 Le Mierre, Antoine, La Veuve du Malabar 66–7, 81 Lennon, Lt. Colonel 225 Levine, Philippa 253 Lewis, Bernard 223, 225 Lewis, Matthew, Timour the Tartar 72 Leyden, John 251, 257 Lightbown, R. W. 63 Linnaeus, Carl 23–4, 115; Philosophia Botanica 122, 124–5; Systemae Naturae 119ff. Lippincott, Louise 109 Lippman, Edward 204, 215 Llewellyn-Jones, Rosie 111 Lloyd, Mary 175 Longman Archive 152–3; Messrs Longman and Co. 225 Lorraine, Claude 105 Love, H. D. 109 Lowe, Lisa 222 Lowth, Bishop Robert 117 Lucknow 9, 35, 93, 96, 99, 101, 103–4, 106, 110, 184, 199, 224 Ludden, David 37, 273

Index 285 Lumbsden, Matthew 44 Luther, Martin 28 Lytton, Edward Bulwer 244 Macaulay, Thomas Babington 51, 52, 58–9, 60, 247 McClintock, Anne 40 Macintosh, James 111 Mackenzie, Colonel Colin 54 Mackie, Captain 21 McLane, John 109 McNeill, Captain J. R. 242 Macpherson, Colonel Allan 8, 29, 34 Macpherson, James 34 Macpherson, Sir John 29, 34, 98, 101, 229 Madan, Captain Charles 29–30, 44 Madden, Lionel 146, 155 Madhav Rao Shinde (Sindhia) 101–2, 111 Madras 54, 87, 97, 103, 140, 181, 251–2 Madras Courier 268 Mahmbhmrata 13, 30, 160, 168 Majeed, Javed 63, 149, 196, 246, 253, 256 Makdisi, Saree 255 Malcolm, Major-General Sir John 243, 251 Malet, Sir Charles Warre 111 Manco Capac 135–7 Mani, Lata 41, 81 Manners, V. 110 Marana, Giovanni Paolo, Turkish Spy 220 Marathas 33, 70, 78, 101, 224, 226; see also Madhav Rao Shinde and Nana Phadnavis Marken, Jack W. 2 Marshall, P. J. 18–19, 20, 33, 34, 36, 39, 41, 110, 141, 151, 253; The British Discovery of Hinduism 259 Marshman, Joshua 29, 250; A Defence of the Deity and Atonement of Jesus Christ in Reply to Rammohun Roy 269 Martin, Colonel Claude 38, 104 Marx, Karl 177, 220 Mauss, Marcel 84–5, 108 May, John 133, 144 Mazzeo, Tilar J. 25, 42, 193, 195 Mecca 9 Medwin, Thomas 181–2, 188, 193; Lady Singleton 195–6 Mehra, P., Dictionary of Modern Indian History 263 Mesmer, Franz Anton, Discovery of Animal Magnetism 190 Metcalf, Barbara 109 Metcalf, Thomas R. 40, 246, 256 Mickle, William [trans.] Camöens, The Lusiad 143

Middleton, Nathaniel 16–17, 38, 39 Mill, James, History of British India 20, 40, 56, 60, 64, 132, 190, 195, 244 Mill, John Stuart 48, 59, 64 Millar, John, Observations concerning the Distinction of Ranks 227 Mille et une nuits 9, 11, 28, 113, 247 Milman Henry Hart, Nala and Damayanti 149 Milton, John 113, 116, 132, 136; Comus 178; Paradise Lost 48 mimesis 22, 84, 86, 90, 107–8 Mir Muhammad Husain 15, 38; Risalah hiat-I Jadid Angrezi 227–8 Mir Qamar Minnat 110 Mlr Taql ‘Mlr’ 5, 15, 109–10, 224 Mitter, Partha 61 Moncrieff, William Thomas, The Cataract of the Ganges! 21–2, Chap. 3 Monghyr 29, 31, 44 Montagu, Elizabeth 175 Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley 2, 163; Turkish Embassy Letters 237 Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, Baron de, Lettres Persanes 220, 222, 225 Monthly Mirror 146 Monthly Review 148 Moody, Jane 82 Moor, Edward, Hindoo Infanticide 75–6 Moore-Gilbert, B. J. 256 Moore, Thomas 128, 144, 147 Morning Chronicle 41, 68, 81–2 Morning Post 72–3, 80 Mubarak ud-Daula, Nawab of Bengal 1, 3–6, 8, 11–12, 33, 44, 162–4 Muhammad Ali Khan, Nawab of Arcot 87, 97, 101 Muhammad Reza Khan 8 Mukherjee, Meenakshi 255 Muller, Friedric Max 261, 265, 274 Müller, Max 261, 265, 274 Munni Begam 4 Munro, Thomas 70, 82 Murshidabad 4, 12, 32–3, 37, 106, 107, 226, 265 Music and Letters 198 Musical Times 216–17 Myers, Helen 213–14 Mysore 217, 224, 232, 252; Mysore wars 65, 78 nabobs 2, 32, 46, 141, 238–9, 248 Nadkarni, Rao Bahadur Ghanasham Nilkanth 255



Nana Phadnavis, prime minister of the Marathas 89, 101 Napier, Sir Charles James 239, 254 Narain, V. A. 41 nautch (dance performance) 184 nazr (tribute of valuables) 3, 85–7, 98 Nehru, Jawaharlal 275; Discovery of India 15 Nelson, Horatio, Viscount Nelson 229 New Annual Register 1–2, 14, 42 New Asiatic Miscellany 195 New London Magazine 69, 82 New Times 73, 83 Newton, Isaac 231 Nijenhuis, Emmie Te 215 Nussbaum, Felicity A. 81, 156, 164, 165 Ochterlony, General David 53 O’Hanlon, Rosalind 71 Opie, Amelia 184 O’Quinn, Daniel 20, 83 Oriental Herald 49, 58 Orientalist-Anglicist controversy 21, 22, 25–6, 166–7, 271–2 Oriental Renaissance 17, 29, 45, 60 Oriental scholarship 17–19, 29, 54–6, 117, 119, 123–4, 159–60, 188, 199ff., Orme, Robert ‘The Effeminacy of the Inhabitants of Indostan’ 249; A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan 28, 238–242, 246–9, 252–3 Ormsby, Sir Charles 166, 171 Ouseley, Sir William 229 Ovid 115, 123, 124, 126 Owen, Robert 28 Owenson, Sydney, Lady Morgan, The Missionary 25, 30, 128, Chap. 7, 182–3, 185, 194 The Wild Irish Girl 167; Woman; or, Ida of Athens 154, 167 Oxford 55, 232 Padshahnama 98 Palestine 113 Palmer, Colonel William 20 Paris, Michael 256 Park, Mungo, Travels in the Interior Parts of Africa 233 Parker, Geoffrey 241, 254 Parry, Jonathan 109 Peabody, Norbert 256 Peacock, Thomas Love 42, 196; The Four Ages of Poetry 190 Peckwell, Robert Henry 151 Peers, Douglas 28, 61, 253–4, 256 Periodical Accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society 41, 43, 145

Perkins, Pamela 236 Persepolis 140 Persia 113, 135–7, 142, 150, 225, 242 Persian 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 23, 25, 34, 36, 39, 40, 43, 48, 55, 135–6, 137, 142, 150, 165, 166, 176, 200, 204, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 228, 231, 232, 235, 249, 264, 265, 266, 273, 274, 275 ‘Persian Letters genre’ 220–2, 226, 232, 234 Persian poetry 114–16, 119 Persians 43, 133, 136, 137, 224, 226, 227, 232 Peru 135–6 Phoenicianism 167, 177 Picart, Bernart, Religious Ceremonies 132–4, 145 Piggott, Francis Taylor 214 Pigot, George, Baron Pigot 87 Pinch, William R. 40 Pindar 159 Pirti Singh, Rajah of Srinagar 172, 179 Pisa 182, 186 Pitt, William, first Earl of Chatham 46 Pitt, William [known as Pitt the younger] 138, 229, 232 plagiarism 1–2, 14, 170–1 Plassey, battle 2 Plato, Ion 190 Platonism 15, 25, 42, 123–4, 171, 189 Plowden, Sophia 184, 199 pluralism 2, 29, 167 Polier, Colonel Antoine-Louis Hanri 109, 200 Pollock, Sheldon 18, 39, 273 Polwhele, Richard, ‘The Unsex’d Females’ 126–7, 130 Pope, Alexander 2, 32 Popkin, Richard H. 40 Porter, Bernard 40 Portugal 139, 140, 143, 150 Prakash, Gyan 37, 40 Pramathah 186 Pratt, J. J. 110 Pratt, Lynda 24, 149 Pratt, Mary Louise 39 Priestley, Joseph 276–7 Prior, Katherine 32, 62 Prometheus 186 Public Advertiser 69 Pune 102, 111 Purchas, Samuel, Purchas his Pilgrimage 118

Index 287 Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review 197, 213 Quarterly Review 75–6, 83, 132, 138, 225–6, 229–30, 235 Quigley, Declan 16, 39 Quinet, Edgar, Génie des réligions 17 Raban, Jonathan 195 Rágamálás (miniature paintings personifying rmgas) 26, 182–3, 202–3 rmgas (musical framework for improvised melodies) 26, 183, 188, 202–3 raginis (rmga modifications allegorized as female) 180, 183, 188 Raheja, G. G. 16, 39 Rajan, Balachandra 42, 178 Rajput biradaris 71, 74, 79; see also bhumeawat: James Tod Ram Ram Boshoo 26 Rmma 30 Ramos, C. 135, 144, 149 Ramsay, George, ninth earl of Dalhousie 251 Rangpur 266 rasa (in aesthetics, a purified essence to be savoured) 26, 177, 194–5 Ray, Amit 28–9, 277 Ray, Raja Rammohan 28–9, 251, 273 n.16; Abstract of the Argument regarding the Burning of Widows, considered as a Religious Rite 22; Appeals to the Christian Public 269; The Brahmunical Magazine 270; A Defence of Hindu Theism 268; eclecticism 266; and an egalitarian Vedanta 267, 272, 276, 268, 276; and monism 260, 261, 270–1; and monotheism 268, 269, 276–7; Precepts of Jesus 268; Tohfatu ‘l-muwahiddin 265, 266; Upanisads, translation of 264, 266, 267, 268, 270, 275; Vedantasara [Abridgement of the Vedant] 267, 268, 269, 275 Ray, Rajat Kanta 33, 44 Raychaudhuri, Tapan 223 Raymond, M. (‘Nota Manus’) see Hmjl Mustafm Raynal, Abbé, Histoire Philosophique des Deux Indes 247 Rees, Joan 190, 193 rekhti (genre in which the poet adopts a feminine voice) 184 Renan, Ernest 226 Rennell, James 32, 44 Reynolds, Sir Joshua 47, 90 Richards, John F. 109

Richardson, Alan, and Sonia Hofkosh, Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834 17 Richardson, Captain David 225 Rickman, John 141 Rig Veda 22 Roberts, Emma 244 Robertson, Bruce 264, 266, 267, 268, 270, 271, 273, 274, 276 Robertson, William 244; Historical Disquisition 47 Robinson, Charles E. 195 Robinson, Ronald 237 Rocher, Rosane 38, 40, 62, 129, 275, 277 Roe, Sir Thomas 88, 109 Rohilkund 7 Rome 88, 185, 188 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 214 Royal Asiatic Society 56, 57 Royal Literary Fund 154, 174 Royal Society 121 Russell, Lt. Colonel 250 Russell, Shannon 236 Sa’adat Ali Khan, nawab of Oudh 107 Sacy, Antoine-Isaac, Baron Silvestre de 226, 229 Sa’dl 4, 15, 116, 176 Saglia, Diego 133 Said, Edward 39; Orientalism 2–3, 6, 15, 18, 27, 119, 220, 226, 246, 256; Culture and Imperialism 43 St James Chronicle 69, 82 St Helena 122, 231 St Vincent 122 Salmon, Thomas, Modern History 114 Sanskrit 7, 14, 15, 19, 22, 28, 29, 40, 42, 43, 48, 54, 55, 154, 159, 173, 176, 178, 188, 200, 204, 207 Sapphic ode 204 Sarkar, Sumit 274–5 Ômrngadeva, Sangltaratnmkara 200 Sastri, Sankara 268 satl 22, 41, 67ff., 146, 160, 161–2, 169, 175, 250, 266 Sauda 15 Sayers, Frank, Dramatic Sketches of Northern Mythology 133 Schiebinger, Londa 40, 130 Schiller, Friedrich 159 Schlegel, Friedrich 17, 19; Athenäumsfragment 116 18 Schopenhauer, Arthur 275 Schwab, Raymond, The Oriental Renaissance 17, 39, 45–6, 60, 159



Scott, Major John 16 Scott, Jonathan 13, 38 Scott, Robert 250 Scott, Sir Walter 28, 52; Border Minstrelsy 251; Ivanhoe 245; Kenilworth 244; Life of Napoleon 245; ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ 28, Chap. 11; Waverley 245 Scrafton, Luke, Reflections on the Government of Indostan 170, 178 Seeger, Anthony 214 Sen, Sudipta 20, 40, 78, 83, 109 Serampore 28, 40–1, 250 Seringapatam 103, 240 Seward, Anna 126, 130, 144 Sezincote 232 Shaffer, E. S. 55, 62 Shah Alam 88, 195, 224, 227 Shah Jahmn 14, 171 Shakespeare, William 116, 245 Shankaracharya (Shankara) 261, 267, 270–1, 276 Sharma, S. K. 64 Shelley, Mary 42, 182, 184, 188, 192 Shelley, Percy Bysshe 25, 42, 116, 132, 147, 167, 180; Alastor 167, Chap. 8; The Assassins 184, 185ff.; Defence of Poetry 180, 188, 190–1; ‘To Jane’ 193; Laon and Cythna 186, 192; ‘Lines to an Indian Air’ 180; ‘Philosophical View of Reform’ 177; Prometheus Unbound 25, 128, 167, 187ff., 180, 184, 187–9, 192–3; The Revolt of Islam 167, 186; The Triumph of Life 180 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley 154 Sheridan, Mrs Eliza 173 Shershow, Scott Cutler 109 Shiraz 23 Shore, John, Baron Teignmouth 33, 44, 97, 104, 110, 200, 224, 229, 259 Shuja ud-Daula, Nawab of Oudh 16 Sikhism 49, 261 Singh, Bhupal 244 Siraj ud-Daula, Nawab of Bengal 2 Sitm 30–1, 32 Sitacoon water 29 Siyar al-muta’ akhkhirin see Ghulam Husain Khan Tabatabai slavery 4, 10, 27, 36, 49, 78, 150, 232, 269 Smart, John 101 Smellie, William 128, 130 Smith, Adam 231 Smith, Charles 99, 101, 111 Smith, Lewis Ferdinand 105, 112 Smith, Nathaniel 13

Smith, Revd. Sidney 48 Somanmtha, Rmgavibodha 200–1, 203 Sonamarg 169 Sonnerat, Pierre 145 Southey, Henry 145 Southey, Robert 21, 24, 28, 62, 64, 116, 130, Chap. 6; Common-Place Book 117,133, 135–6; The Curse of Kehama 24–5, 60, 128, 131ff., 160, 167, 169, 182; Joan of Arc 131; Madoc 132–3, 135–8, 139, 144; Roderick, the Last of the Goths 144; Thalaba 42, 117, 131ff., 185–6, 187 Spain 140 Spencer, George John, second Earl Spencer 19, 27 Spencer, Lady Lavinia 27, 233–4 Spenser, Edmund 132 Srinagar 169, 172 Srinivasachariar, Diwan Bahadur C. S. 256 Stafford, William, A History of Music 198, 213 Stanfield, Clarkson 73 Stanley, Peter 62 Starke, Mariana, The Widow of Malabar 20–1, Chap. 3 Stavorinus, Johan Splinter 145 Steele, Richard, The Conscious Lovers 157 Stein, Burton 82 Stephen, James Fitzjames 253, 258 Sterne, Laurence 161 Steube, Isabel 44 Stewart, Charles 225, 228 Stewart, Dugald 244 Stewart, Robert, Viscount Castlereagh 166–7, 176 Stockdale, John Joseph 166, 169 Stoler, Ann Laura 82 Storey, Mark 151 Strachan, Huw 63 Strachey, George 140–1, 151 Strange, Sir Thomas 140, 151 Strangways, A. H. Fox, The Music of Hindostan 197–8, 210–13, 218–19 Streets, Heather 254 Subramanian, Lakshmi 39 Sufism 15, 26, 27, 171, 178, 179 Sugden, Edward Burtenshaw, Baron St Leonards 59 Suleiman Shiknh 171–2, 179 Sutherland, John 243 Swinton, Captain George 229 Sykes, William 51 Symes, Captain Michael 229

Index 289 Symonds, Richard 63 syncretism 4, 14–15, 23, 26, 159, 170–1, 173, 178–9, 275 Tagore, Dwarkanath 269 Tagore, Rabindranath 269 Tahiti 122 Tammita-Delgoda, SinhaRaja 256 Tandon, Banmali 111 tapas (power accumulated through religious austerity) 25, 30, 50, 146, 169 Tartary 113 Taussig, Michael 84, 86, 108 Tavakoli-Targhi, Mohamad 43 Taylor, Philip Meadows 245 Teltscher, Kate 34, 82, 160, 162, 175, 233 Tennant, William 145 Tetreault, Ronald 180, 193 Thackeray, William Makepeace 245, 247 theatres in Calcutta 156–7; in other Indian stations 52; in London 49, Chap. 3, 158 Tibet 113, 124, 147 Tillotson, G. H. R. 62 The Times 3, 20–1, 40, 43, 82–3 Tlpn Sultan 36, 42, 49, 65, 232, 250, 251–2 Tod, James 246 Trautmann, Thomas 18, 40, 46, 61–2 Trelawny, Edward 181–2, 194 Trevelyan, Sir Charles Edward 32, 58–9, 64 Trimmer, Sarah 135 Trinitarianism 260, 269–71 Trivedi, Madhu 111 Trumpener, Katie 176–7, 255 Tupac Amaru 135 Turks 26, 226, 230, 232–3 ul-Haq, General Zia 179 Unitarianism 260, 263, 269–71, 276–7 Upanisads 259, 261, 266–8, 270, 273, 275 Utilitarianism 190 vaidika (priestly Brahmans) 264 Valle, Pietro della 145 Vmlmlki, Rmmmyana 29–31 Van der Veer, Peter 37 van Rheede, Heinrich, Hortus Indicus Malabaricus 24, 120–1 Vansittart, Henry 35 Vedantism 15, 22, 25, 29, 42, 75, 161, 170, 171, 259–272; Advaita (Non-dualism) 261–2, 271–2, 275–6; see also Shankaracharya Vellore mutiny 145

Venuti, Lawrence 212, 218, 219 Vidyalankar, Mrityunjay 22, 277 Villoteau, Guillaume André 214 vina 183, 214, 217 Virgil 123, 136 Visram, Rosina 63; Ayahs, Lascars, and Princes 226 Volney, Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, Comte de 42 Voltaire, François Arouet de 66, 262 Wade, Bonnie C. 42–3 Wales, James 101–2, 111 Walker, Colonel Alexander 76, 77, 79 Wallace, Tara Ghoshal 257 Wallaschek, Richard 213 Ward, William 29 Warter, J. W. 133, 135, 138–9, 145–6 Watson, Richard, bishop of Llandaff 229, 234 Watt, James 257 Webb, Daniel 215 Weber, F. 213 Weekly Dispatch 79–80 Weinberger-Thomas, Catherine 81 Weiner, Annette 85, 109 Wellek, René 202 Wellesley, Arthur, first Duke of Wellington 48 Wellesley, Richard, Marquess Wellesley 29, 51, 62, 167, 232 Western County Magazine, The 16 West Indies 45, 87, 122 Westminster Review 48 Whale, John 195 White, Hayden 32 Wickwire, Franklin 81 Wickwire, Mary 81 Wilford, Francis 54; ‘On Mount Caucasus’ 186 Wilkins, Charles 17, 22, 161, 175, 229; Bhagavadgitm 13, 19, 48, 124, 277 Wilks, Mark 146 Willard, N. Augustus, A Treatise on the Music of Hindostan 197–8, 205–7, 216, 219 William IV 6 Williams, Edward 180, 181, 191, 193 Williams, Jane 25, 180–2, 184, 191, 193, 195 Williams, John 135, 149 Williamson, G. 110 Williamson, Captain Thomas, The East India Vade Mecum 52



Williamson, T. G., Twelve Original Hindoostanee Airs 199 Willison, George 98, 101 Wilson, C. R. 109, 111 Wilson, Horace Hayman 22, 40, 41, 53, 55, 275 Withers, Robert, Description of the Grand Signor’s Seraglio 237 Wollstonecraft, Mary 127, 154, 155, 157, 159, 168 Woodfield, Ian 62, 194, 195, 214, 215 Woodforde, Thomas 265 Wordsworth, William 116; Lyrical Ballads 117 World, The 82

Wright, Julia 177, 178, 194 Wynn, Charles Watkin Williams 24, 137, 138, 140, 141, 142, 143, 150 Yemen 115–16, 117 Young, Brian 256 Younge, Sir George 24 Youngkin, Molly 255 Zainuddin ‘Ishqi’ 15 Zastoupil, Lynn 61, 270, 273, 277 Zoffany 11, 23, 47, 93, 96–9, 101, 102–3, 105, 110 Zon, Bennett 25–6, 217, 218 Zoroastrianism 24, 133–8