Gothic Sympathy and Missionary Writing

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


Whilst not easily categorised as an ‘evangelical’ herself (she was in fact Episcopalian), Hamilton conveys overtones of Christianity that align Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah chronologically, if not denominationally, with the Evangelical Revival that emerged in Britain in the mid to late eighteenth century.1 This movement harked back to the ‘great awakening’ experienced by Methodists and other dissenting groups in the mid eighteenth century, but swiftly spread to the established Church of England, where evangelical clergy rose to prominence around the country. The Evangelical Revival has long been acknowledged as a force in early nineteenth-century culture and society, but has more recently been given its due as a prevailing influence on the culture of empire in Britain.2 Its impact, traced over the texts covered in this chapter, centred on the growth of the missionary movement and its drive to convert Britain’s Indian subjects to Christianity, a change from the religious tolerance practised under the governorship of Hastings and promulgated by Jones. Indian religion, particularly Hinduism, became less an object of scholarly curiosity and increasingly one of moral alarm and revulsion in the eyes of the assurgent evangelical lobby. Hindu beliefs, ceremonies and rites were construed in new ways that may be characterised as gothic.


British Literature Late Eighteenth Century British Reader East India Company Missionary Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See Colin Haydon, S. Taylor, and J. Walsh (eds), The Church of England 1689–1833: From Toleration to Tractarianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) and John Kent, Wesley and the Wesleyans: Religion in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Hilton, The Age of Atonement; Brian Stanley (ed.), Christian Missions and the Enlightenment (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2001); and Stewart J. Brown, Providence and Empire 1815–1914 (Harlow: Pearson, 2008).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (London: Cornell University Press, 1988), p. 200.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Alexandra Warwick, ‘Colonial Gothic’, in Marie Mulvey-Roberts (ed.), The Handbook to Gothic Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1998), pp. 261–2. See also Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, ‘Colonial and Postcolonial Gothic: The Caribbean’, in Jerrold E. Hogle (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 229–57.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Massimiliano Demata, ‘Discovering Eastern Horrors: Beckford, Maturin and the Discourse of Travel Literature’, in William Hughes and Andrew Smith (eds), Empire and the Gothic: The Politics of Genre (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 21.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    On the perceptions and realities of thagi see Mike Dash, Thug: The True History of India’s Murderous Cult (London: Granta, 2005) and Kim A. Wagner, Thuggee: Banditry and the British in Early Nineteenth-Century India (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Teignmouth, Considerations on the Practicability, Policy, and Obligation of Communicating to the Natives of India the Knowledge of Christianity (London: John Hatchard, 1808), p. 57.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Cited in William Wilberforce, Substance of the Speeches of William Wilberforce, Esq. on the Clause in the East-India Bill for Promoting the Religious Instruction and Moral Improvement of the Natives of the British Dominion in India, on the 22nd of June, and the 1st and 12th of July, 1813 (London: John Hatchard et al., 1813), p. 49.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    William Ward, A View of the History, Literature and Religion of the Hindoos: Including a Minute Description of their Manners and Customs, and Translations from their Principal Works, 4 vols (London: Baptist Missionary Society, 1811), vol. 1, p. 103.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    See Colin Haydon, Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England, c. 1714–80 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993) and Brian Young, ‘“The Lust of Empire and Religious Hate’: Christianity, History and India, 1790–1820’ in Stefan Collini, Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (eds), History, Religion and Culture: British Intellectual History 1750–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 91–111. For a consideration of anti-Catholicism after 1800, see Susan M. Griffin, Anti-Catholicism and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Portions of this unpublished work appeared in Moor’s Oriental Fragments (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1834); see Moor’s own account of this putative work, p. 94.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Claudius Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia: With Notices of the Translation of the Scriptures into the Oriental Languages (Cambridge: J. Smith, 1811), p. 155.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (London: Penguin, 1991).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    See Porter, Religion versus Empire? and Brian Stanley, The Bible and the Flag: Protestant Missions and British Imperialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (London: Apollos, 1990).Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Charles 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 — Written chiefly in the Year 1792 (London, 1813), p. 25.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    Lord Teignmouth (John Shore), Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Correspondence, of Sir William Jones (London: John Hatchard, 1804), p. 173.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    James Forbes, Oriental Memoirs, 4 vols (London: White & Cochrane, 1813), vol. 4, pp. 276–349. See K.K. Dyson, A Various Universe: A Study of the Memoirs and Journals of British Men and Women in the Indian Subcontinent, 1765–1856 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    Forbes, Reflections on the Character of the Hindoos: And of the Importance of Converting them to Christianity (London: White & Cochrane, 1810), p. 28.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    Maurice, Indian Antiquities, vol. 4, viii.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    See John Sarjent, Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn, B.D. Late Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Chaplain to the Honourable East India Company (London: J. Hatchard, 1819) and the more recent John R.C. Martyn, Henry Martyn (1781–1812): Scholar and Missionary to India and Persia (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  21. 28.
    Martyn, Journals and Letters, vol. 1, p. 156.Google Scholar
  22. 29.
    Sarjent, Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn, p. 132. Reginald Heber, who took his passage to India in 1823, found a much greater receptivity to Christianity among the ship’s company, which he ascribed to a generally improved state of morals. See his Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, from Calcutta to Bombay, 1824–1825, 3 vols (London: John Murray, 1828), ‘Journal of a Voyage to India’, vol. 1, xlii.Google Scholar
  23. 32.
    Anon., A Collection of Voyages and Travels … from the curious and valuable LIBRARY of the late EARL OF OXFORD, 2 vols (London: Thomas Osbourne, 1745). Page numbers for subsequent citations are given in the text.Google Scholar
  24. 35.
    On Southey’s involvement with India, see Diego Saglia, ‘“Words and Things”: Southey’s East and the Materiality of Oriental Discourse’, in Linda Pratt (ed.), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 167–86 (p. 184); Pratt, ‘Southey the Literary East Indiaman’, in Franklin (ed.), Romantic Representations of British India, pp. 131–53; and Carol Bolton, Writing the Empire: Robert Southey and Romantic Colonialism (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2007).Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    Robert Southey, ‘Oriental Memoirs’, Quarterly Review 12 (October 1814–May 1815), pp. 180–227 (p. 196).Google Scholar
  26. 37.
    Southey, ‘Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society’, Quarterly Review 1 (May–June 1809), pp. 193–226 (p. 210).Google Scholar
  27. 38.
    Byron referred to the denunciation of Southey in Parliament by the MP William Smith in the preface to The Vision of Judgement (1821) and dubbed Southey an ‘epic renegade’ in the dedication to Don Juan (1819–24); see George Gordon, Lord Byron, Poetical Works, ed. Frederick Page (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), pp. 156, 635. On Southey’s conservatism, see Geoffrey Carnall, Robert Southey and his Age: The Development of a Conservative Mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960) and David M. Craig, Robert Southey and Romantic Apostasy: Political Argument in Britain, 1780–1840 (Woodridge: Boydell Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    Southey, Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, vol. 4, The Curse of Kehama, ed. Daniel Sanjiv Roberts (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2004), p. 112.Google Scholar
  29. 41.
    Southey, The Book of the Church, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1824), vol. 1, p. 305.Google Scholar
  30. 44.
    Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan, The Missionary: An Indian Tale, 3 vols (London: J.J. Stockdale, 1811), vol. 2, pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  31. 46.
    A possible source of information for Morgan was Henry Colebrooke’s essay ‘On the Duties of a Faithful Hindu Widow’, in Asiatick Researches 4 (1799), pp. 209–19. Colebrooke relates that ‘it is held to be the duty of a widow to burn herself with her husband’s corpse, but she has an alternative: “On the death of her husband to live as Brahmachàrì, or commit herself to the flames”VISHNU’ (p. 213).Google Scholar
  32. 48.
    See Michael J. Franklin, ‘“Passion’s Empire”: Sydney Owenson’s “Indian Venture”, Phoenicianism, Orientalism and Binarism’, Studies in Romanticism 44.2 (Summer 2006), pp. 181–97 for a consideration of this figure.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 49.
    Maturin’s anti-Catholicism complicates Demata’s interpretation of Melmoth the Wanderer as a critique of English colonialism ‘from an Irish perspective’ see Demata, ‘Discovering Eastern Horrors’, p. 30 and Joseph W. Lew, “Unprepared for Sudden Transformations” Identity and Politics in Melmoth the Wanderer’, Studies in the Novel 26 (Summer 1994), pp. 173–95.Google Scholar
  34. 50.
    Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer, ed. Douglas Grant (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 273. Page numbers for subsequent citations are given in the text.Google Scholar
  35. 51.
    S.T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. Nigel Leask (London: Everyman, 1997), p. 342. These comments were published in the Courier, 29 August and 7, 9–11 September 1816; see Charles I. Patterson, ‘The Authenticity of Coleridge’s Reviews of Gothic Romance’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 50 (1951), pp. 512–21 and Alethea Hayter, ‘Coleridge, Maturin’s Bertram’, in Donald Sultana (ed.), New Approaches to Coleridge: Biographical and Critical Essays (London: Vision, 1981), pp. 17–37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew Rudd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations