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Abstract

Before I turn in detail to the correspondence, it is useful first to sketch out a rough framework for the role played by social fantasy in Lyall’s apprehension of the Muslim ‘fanatic’ in 1857. While Christianity is one of the starting points for his reflections on native hostility — and a rhetoric of fanaticism quickly comes to shape his descriptions — the characterisations constructed during this correspondence are far more complex than the simple essentialised hostility towards Indian Muslims perceived both by his biographer and more recent historians.1 These complexities are most cogently expressed by Lyall in a letter of 1857 in which he considers characteristics of insurgent native responses:

There is always something very laughable to me in the way these Hindoos will walk off with their enemy’s property the moment that he is down. Plunder always seems to be their chief object, to obtain which they will perform any villainy, whereas the Mahometans only seem to care about murdering their opponents, and are altogether far more bloody-minded. Those last hate us with a fanatical hate that we never suspected to exist among them, and have everywhere been the leaders in the barbarous murdering and mangling of the Christians.2

Keywords

Christian Community Christian Identity Native Disaffection Colonial Governance Civilian Identity 
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Notes

  1. 4.
    Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Pyschoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press, repr. 1977; 1973), p. 103.Google Scholar
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    Steven Goldsmith, Unbuilding Jerusalem: Apocalypse and Romantic Representation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 21.Google Scholar
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    T Metcalf, Ideologies, pp. 44–6. Some recent critiques of the subsequent literature of rebellion that came to preoccupy Anglo-Indian writers over the next 50 years, have suggested that the violence of that response by the British appears to have re-inscribed, rather than erased, the disjunction between despot and progenitor of liberal values. See Maire ni Fhlathuin, ‘Anglo-Indian after the Mutiny: the Formation and Breakdown of National identity’ in Stuart Murray (ed.) Not on Any Map: Essays on Postcoloniality and Cultural Nationalism (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997), pp. 67–80; see also, Wurgraft Imperial, pp. 68, 95–100.Google Scholar
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    Clifford Geertz, ‘Ideology as a cultural system’, in Robert Bocock and Kenneth Thompson (eds) Religion and Ideology: A Reader (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), p. 81.Google Scholar
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    Letter to his father, 30 August 1857; letter to Mr Holland, 13 March 1858; letter to his mother, 19 March 1858; letter to his father, 14 May 1858; letter to his mother, 26 September 1858; letter to his father, 24 November 1858; letter to Mr Holland, 27 March 1859. Lyall’s rhetorical conversion of Nana Sahib’s followers should by no means be regarded as isolated: for his highly successful ‘Mutiny’ play, Jessie Brown; or the Relief of Lucknow, Dion Boucicault converted the Nana himself. Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988) p. 206.Google Scholar
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    C A Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780–1830 (Harlow: Longman, 1989), pp. 229–33.Google Scholar
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  16. 42.
    Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), chapter 1; Mohammed Sharafuddin, Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the East (London: I B Tauris, repr. 1996; 1994), pp. 214–74.Google Scholar
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    See for instance H B Edwardes, Our Indian Empire: Its Beginning and End (London: Young Men’s Christian Association, 1861).Google Scholar
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    D A Washbrook, ‘India, 1818–1860: The Two Faces of Colonialism’, in Porter (ed.) OHBE 3, p. 416.Google Scholar
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    John William Kaye, History of the Sepoy War in India, 1857–8 (London: W H Allen, 1864), Volume 2, p. 208, quoted in Wurgraft, Imperial, p. 97.Google Scholar
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    Frank Felsenstein, Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660–1830 (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1999), pp. 246–7.Google Scholar
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© Alex Padamsee 2005

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  • Alex Padamsee

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