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Sympathy and India in British Literature, 1770-1830 by A. Rudd

By A. Rudd

India exerted a robust grip over the mind's eye of British authors through the Romantic interval. yet what used to be the real nature in their engagement with the Subcontinent? This learn argues that depictions of India needed to come to phrases with India's strangeness and distance from Britain, in addition to the classy specifications of eu tradition.

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Only the geographical remoteness of the East India Company’s servants protected them from scrutiny. 58 Secondly, it behoved Britons to regard the native inhabitants of British India as fellow subjects since, under the various Introduction 21 constitutional settlements imposed on India from 1765 onwards, Britain held a duty of care towards the Indian people. 59 Scope of the Book The book is organised along broadly chronological lines and moves from the more overt sentimentalism of the late eighteenth century into the Romantic era, although it must be emphasised that representations of India from this period were in a process of continuous development.

Walpole wrote to Sir Horace Mann in 1773, ‘a sink of Indian wealth, filled by nabobs and emptied by Maccaronis! A senate sold and despised! A country overrun by horse races! 38 One of the most popular novels of the later eighteenth century, Henry Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling (1771), written in the aftermath of Clive’s appearance before Parliament, features a rare imaginative excursion into the Indian colonial sphere. ’39 Harley contrasts the ‘equitable’ trade of the early colonial period with the recent ‘fame of conquest’, and describes the spoils of trade as being ‘covered with the blood of the vanquished’.

He admits that ordinarily ‘the cries of India are given to seas and winds, to be blown about, in every breaking up of the monsoon, over a remote and unhearing ocean’ but presents his own intervention as an imperfect but resolute corrective to collective failure of imagination in Britain (vol. 3, p. 403). In what may be a deliberate allusion to the analysis of judgement in Hume’s Enquiry, Burke in his later speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s debts acknowledged that ‘the scene of the Indian abuse is distant indeed’, but scornfully dismissed the ‘optical illusion which makes a briar at our nose of greater magnitude, than an oak at five hundred yards distance’ (vol.

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