Dhar, Kiran Nath. “Some Indian Novels.” *Calcutta Review* 127 (1908): 561-83.
Eighteenth century India has many chroniclers, especially in the field of travels and general literature. We have on the one hand the monumental works of Ives, Grose and Hamilton and on the other those of Leyden, Gilchrist and the greatest of all Sir William Jones who is praised by hundreds but read by units. The main feature of the nineteenth century, however, is the large output of novels and light literature, which far exceeds that of any other literary form. Vast and bewildering though their number be, there are but few Anglo-Indian novels which can claim to anything like a permanent place in the field of letters. There are, of course, a few bright exceptions and we shall try to study the more important ones. Indian novels may be studied under two broad divisions, viz., the historical and social, the one dealing with some important or interesting fact connected with the history of India, the other busying itself with the mode of life led by Europeans in India. The historical novel, again, may be treated under two periods, viz., the pre-British and British periods, the latter including the Mutiny.
The first great name in the history of Anglo-Indian fiction is that of Colonel Meadows Taylor. He was for many years Commissioner of the Western Ceded Districts of the Deccan and by his sympathetic treatment had endeared himself to the people and on his death in 1876 left an honourable reputation by his successful administration. He declared that he wanted to bring India nearer to England by writing about the people among whom he lived and whom he loved. This he accomplished by writing three novels on three great periods of Indian history which occurred at an interval of exactly a hundred years. The one that dealt with the earliest period is Tara which was published in 1863 and, on its publication, was characterised as the most successful novel of native life. The action of the tale is placed about the year 1657 — the year of the origin of the Mahratta power — when Sivaji was plotting against the King of Bijapur and even against the authority of Aurangzeb. Tara the heroine of the tale is a noble conception and is presented to the reader as the child of her faith till she becomes its victim. Among other characters Moro Trimmul and Tannaji Maloosray are still remembered in Mahratta history as the leading followers of Sivaji. But by far the best drawn and most interesting personage is Pahar Sing, the robber-chief who took service in the Mahratta cause. A descendant of his, writes Colonel Taylor figured in the Mahratta war of 1818-19 and subsequently took to highway robbery. Ten years later the family were engaged in dacoity and thuggee and it was not till 1850 that the gang was hunted down by the author and the last six of them brought to justice. It would thus be seen that Colonel Taylor has ingeniously treated from types familiar to himself the personages of a bygone time to illustrate the rise of the Mahrattas and their first blow against the Musulman power. The book gives a charming picture of some of the most beautiful scenery and pleasing features of native life in the Deccan. Colonel Taylor’s next work was published in 1865 under the title of Ralph Darnell. It gives a narrative of the rise of the English political power in the victory of Plassey in June 1757 and contains, among other incidents, a graphic account of the Black Hole at Calcutta. Seven years later appeared our author’s Seeta which depicts the horrors of the Mutiny of 1857. Long before the publication of these three historical tales Colonel Taylor had written in 1840 Tipu Sultan in which is told the story of the Mysore War of 1788-89 with a detailed account of the time. Tipu, however, is portrayed in darker colours than reality will justify. The author’s delineation of Indian scenery and Mahomedan manners as they appear in Hindustan is remarkably successful. Colonel Taylor’s last work A Noble Queen, published in 1878, chronicles the story of the heroism of Queen Chand Bibi, who, in the sixteenth century, resisted the Moghul armies and saved the town of Bijapur. As has been rightly observed these tales of Colonel Taylor’s are very long and, like most of the novels of fifty years ago, very leisurely and at times heavy. The stories are sometimes wanting in interest on account of their anomalous position regarding their fidelity and accuracy, but as pictures of native life and customs they have never been excelled.
Perhaps the earliest work on fiction dealing with the Anglo-Indian period of the history of India was written in 1879 in two volumes by Mr. S. S. Thorburn, B.C.S., who described Indian society particularly in the North-Western Frontier, in a book entitled David Leslie: a story of the Afghan Frontier. It depicts the manners and customs of the Hindustani and predatory Pathan tribes on the borders of India and imparts valuable political lessons interwoven with amusement. The military Deputy Commissioner is a capital sketch. Mr. G. A. Henty, who acted as Special War Correspondent of the London Standard in various parts of the world and who was afterwards editor of Union Jack, a journal for boys, wrote in 1883 a book entitled With Clive in India: or the Beginnings of an Empire. It is a popular history of the middle eighteenth century and all the historical places and characters including Arcot and Plassey, the Black Hole, Omichand and Siraj-ud-Daula are introduced. The book on the whole gives a fairly reliable account of the prowess of the Englishmen of the time. Among other works by the same author may be mentioned In Times of Peril: a Tale of India (1881) and For Name and Fame: or through the Afghan Passes (1885). In the latter year was published a two-volumed story under the title of Primus in Indis by Mrs. C. Scott who wrote under the pseudonym of M. J. Colquhoun. It gives an account of the 39th regiment which bears the words “Primus in Indis” on its colours, in acknowledgment of the services which that Corps — originally known as Adlerkrons — played in Clive’s campaign of 1756-7, In recounting the adventures of her hero, Neville Ravensthorpe, the authoress gives us a glimpse of eighteenth century society and the little touches introduced here and there show that the relations between Englishmen and Indians were much more cordial than they were a century later. Another book by the same writer is entitled Every Inch a Soldier and was published in three volumes in 1888. Captain John Percy Groves, of the 27th — Inniskillings — regiment, gives us a stirring story of military life relating to the events connected with the campaign against Sultan and the capture of Seringapatam in a book entitled The Duke’s Own: or, the Adventures of Peter Daly. It was published in 1887, i.e., two years after the publication of the author’s A Soldier Born, a tale in which he chronicled the adventures of the 95th in the Crimean Campaign and the Indian Mutiny. Among modern novelists no name perhaps stands more conspicuous than that of the talented lady who writes under the pen-name of Sydney C. Grier. In her first literary achievement which goes by the name of In Furthest Ind (1894) Miss Hilda Gregg gives us an admirable picture of the English in India in the seventeenth century, or, as the authoress herself puts it, “a general idea of the lot of an Englishman in the East during the earlier stages of what is correct to call the expansion of England.” She has, in her way, been successful in this object and furnishes us with a glimpse of the struggles between the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and the English for obtaining a footing in the East. The narrative of Edward Carlyon, late of the Hon’ble East India Company’s Service, is full of life, variety and colour. In Like another Helen the same writer entertains us with a bold and successful attempt to mould an historical romance out of the early history or rather the foundation and rise of the Indian Empire. A correct and graphic description of the Black Hole tragedy and the siege of Fort William by Siraj-ud-Daula is given in the book. Her account contains many fresh facts extracted from contemporary personal records and woven into the narrative with considerable skill. The book is written in the form of a series of letters relating the adventures of Sylvia Irene. Holwell, old Padre Bellamy and his son, Admiral Watson, Hastings, Clive and other historical personages are introduced into the story with great success. It has been truly observed that the actual and lifelike way in which the characters are depicted makes one think as if he is perusing a contemporary document. In 1904 was published Miss Gregg’s The Great Proconsul. It is not a book of so much fancy or interest as In Furthest Ind or Like another Helen, The narrative is presented in the form of memoirs by Mrs. Hester Ward, a friend and dependant in the family of the Governor-General. She is portrayed as a respectable female of her time. We have an account of the revolt at Benares, the Mahratta War, the Carnatic War and the dissensions in the Council of the Governor-General. The character of Warren Hastings is depicted with considerable skill and he stands out lofty, brave and unselfish. His adored Marian is well drawn and the book presents a living picture of the manners and customs of a past age. We find Sir Eyre Coote endowed with the divine gift of winning victories; Sir Elijah Impey, the able lawyer who knew how to maintain the independence of his court; his spouse Lady Impey, who swore that Madame Imhoff shall pay her the first visit; “Curricle” Barwell who encouraged Francis to play for high stakes in order to get him into his power. We get also a glimpse of Lady Anne Monson, a great grand-daughter of Charles II. by Barbara Villiers, who used to be the life of the concerts and card parties and was a very superior whist-player.
Quite a respectable number of novels have appeared relating to the great Indian Mutiny. The first story connected with that memorable event, so far as we have been able to ascertain, is entitled The Wife and the Ward: or A Life’s Error (1859). It written by Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Money, who had served in the Crimean War and in India where he afterwards became a tea planter. In 1872 he obtained the prize awarded by the Agri-Horticultural Society of India by writing an essay on the “Culture and Manufacture of Tea.” The “Life’s Error” referred to in the title of the book is the marriage of the hero (who was given the choice of two beautiful girls) with the wrong person. Although a respectable man he afterwards fell in love with the other girl who is the “ward” when it was too late. The characters in the story are drawn from life and the tragedy of the Cawnpore massacre is described in the concluding chapter. The publication was reprinted in 1881 under the title of Woman’s Fortitude: a Tale of the Cawnpore Tragedy. In 1868 was published a three-volumed novel on the mutiny entitled First Love and Last Love from the pen of Mr. James Grant of the 62nd Regiment. Eight years later appeared Sir G. T. Chesney’s Anglo-Indian masterpiece The Dilemma. It gives a graphic account of the defence of a lonely mofussil station in which the hero of the story fought desperately against odds. A sustained and powerful though tragical love interest — that of the young subaltern Yorke for Olivia, the daughter of a highly placed civilian — runs through the book. The author gives a faithful picture of what the Mutiny meant to mofussilites who had not time to concentrate in a big town. The study in madness at the end of the book, when Olivia’s brain at last gives way before her sorrows, is superb and reminds one of the ravings of an Ophelia. The Afghan Knife, a three-volumed Mutiny novel, appeared in 1879 and was written by Robert Armitage Sterndale, who afterwards became Governor of St Helena. Two historical characters are introduced in the book, viz., Syed Hyder Ali who is meant for Azimulla Khan, the Chief Agent and officer of Nana Sahib, and the clever, beautiful but cruel Rani of Asalghar who is the Rani of Jhansi under an alias. The Touchstone of Peril: a Tale of the Mutiny was issued in two volumes in 1886 from the pen of Dudley Hardress Thomas. A second edition of the book appeared one year later. The scene is laid in an old indigo factory in the United Provinces and the story gives us an insight into native habits of thought and life and other doings that lie beneath the surface of Anglo-Indian life. Major J. N. H. Maclean wrote in 1887 a legend of the Mutiny under the title of Rane in which he says that he was actually a witness to the occurrences described and took an active part in many of the adventures and tragic scenes. Rujub the Juggler is a vivacious three-volumed novel written in 1893 by Mr. G. A. Henty, already mentioned. It turns upon the tragic weakness of a man morally brave and capable of great acts of valour, who, nevertheless cannot bear the noise of firing without experiencing something like catalepsy. The feats of Rujub are of an astounding kind, and include many achievements which are due to thought-reading and hypnotism, besides the basket trick and other familiar Indian wonders. By far the best novel on the Mutiny, omitting most of its horrors, is Mrs. Flora Anne Steel’s On the Face of the Waters which was published in 1897. R. E. Forrest’s Sword of Azrael (1903) is a manly though mechanical story shewing the author’s exact acquaintance with the Surface of Indian life without an intimate knowledge of it. In his Eight Days (1861) the same author chronicles the events of the Mutiny from the 8th to the 15th May, 1857. Jenetha’s Venture (1899). by Colonel A. F. Harcourt describes the siege of Delhi, while in The Peril of the Sword the same author recounts the incidents connected with Havelock’s relief of Lucknow. The latter publication, it may be noted, is dedicated to Field Marshal Earl Roberts. A good story of thrilling adventure and a capital study of the Mutiny is H. C. Irwin’s With Sword and Pen (1904), The narrative is simply and naturally told without any tiresome details and “there is a go about it which keeps it ever in action.” The latest novel on the Mutiny (1907) is the Red Year by Louis Tracy. It gives a popular and graphic account of the massacre of Cawnpore and the siege of Lucknow. The author enjoys the distinct advantage of knowing the country as he was connected with the Press and had visited the scenes described. The historical celebrities of the period, such as Nicholson, Havelock, Sir Henry Lawrence, the last Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah and his daughter Roshenara Begum are effectively introduced into the story. The love interest is slight but the adventures of the hero, Major Frank Malcolm, and his servant, Chumru, especially thejr hairbreadth escapes from the hands of the enemy, make sensational reading. As the author himself observes, the work is more a history than a romance.
Mr. W. B. Hockley of the Bombay Civil Service, who had served under the Commissioner in the Deccan and in the Judge’s Court at Broach, wrote in 1826 a three-volumed novel entitled Pandurang Hari: or Memoirs of a Hindoo. The book was published anonymously and was almost forgotten, so much so that when Sir George Birdwood recommended its republication, the publishers were indebted to the liberality of Lord Talbot de Malahide for one of the few copies of the book which could be traced by Colonel Meadows Taylor in any library with which he was acquainted in United Kingdom. A new edition was issued in Bombay in 1861 and another with a preface by Sir Bartle Fere in 1877 and again in 1883. The book gives an authentic picture of native Indian society and the inner life of orientals. Mahratta life, as it must have appeared in the latter and more corrupt days of the Peshwa’s government, is faithfully depicted in its pages. Its great recommendation is its accuracy, and Pandurang Hari has been called the Anastasius of India. But Hockley’s best production is a collection of lively tales (2 vols., 1827) which goes by the name of Tales of the Zenana: or, A Nawab’s Leisure Hours. An introduction was added in 1874 by Lord Stanley of Alderley. These tales remind one of the Arabian Nights, and at the time of publication were given an even higher place by a section of the public. The book was considered as the greatest achievement in the sphere of fiction which was produced by Anglo-Indians before the appearance of Meadows Taylor’s Tara. The latest novel on Hindu life is the Silver Zone by Kathleen P. Emmett (Mrs. Foley). The book was published by Murray this year and is interesting as being dedicated to the Princess of Wales as a “faint echo of a chime of Eastern bells.” It is purely a story of Hindu life, without any European character in it and describes life as it is lived in a Himalayan valley near Dehra Doon. The merit of the book lies in the sympathetic insight evinced by the authoress into some of the phases in the life, laws and customs of the Hindus. “The continuity of Hinduism through the centuries and the supreme unimportance to the individual of the systems of Government introduced from the West are exemplified in the heroine Asta who goes through life in the twentieth century almost exactly as her forbears did in the tenth.” Mrs. Foley shews her appreciation of the wide charitableness of native life and her descriptions of the quiet domestic lives of the Hindus are interesting and true to nature.
Of the works of fiction dealing with social life in the Anglo-Indian period perhaps the earliest is a three-volumed novel entitled The Missionary: an Indian Tale. It was written by Miss Sydney Owenson (afterwards Lady Morgan) and published in 1811, the year before her marriage with Sir Thomas Charles Morgan, M.D. English Homes in India was published in 1828 and is designed to illustrate Anglo-Indian life as it was lived in varying phases by Anglo-Indian workmen from the resident at a native court to the subaltern officer and the railway employee. The Bengalee: or, Sketches of Society in the East was written by H. B. Henderson in two volumes in 1829, while Augustus Prinsep, a Civil Servant of the Bengal Establishment, wrote, five years later, another two-volumed novel descriptive of society in India, which went by the name of The Baboo and other Tales. In 1839 was published in three volumes the well-known Confessions of a Thug by Colonel Meadows Taylor. It professes to be the autobiography of Amir Ali, a notorious disciple of Bhabani, with whom murder by the ‘roomal’ was a religious rite as well as a hereditary profession. The narrator of the story had garrotted seven hundred men and only regretted that he had not reached four figures. The book abounds in details of a system of assassination which becomes all the more fearful from the part which superstition takes in its organization and maintenance. They are cleverly woven into a story — gruesome though it is — relieved with episodes illustrating Indian life and manners. Amir Ali’s recital of the terrible hours passed by him in the prison cage at Jhalone is truly graphic. The next novel of any importance was published in two volumes (1841), under the tittle of The Marriage Mart: or, Society in India by “an Indian Officer.” Peregrine Pultney: or, Life in India appeared in three volumes in 1845 from the pen of Sir J. W. Kaye. This lively novel was reprinted from a Bengal journal and recounts the story of a cadet of the Bengal artillery. The book contains a good satirical picture of life in India. The same author wrote in the following year Long Engagements: a Tale of the Afghan Rebellion. In 1853 appeared Oakfield; or, Fellowship in the East from the pen of W. D. Arnold, brother of the famous Matthew Arnold. He had come out to India in 1848 and became Director of Public Instruction in the Punjab in 1856. To his memory his brother Matthew wrote a Southern Night and alluding to his grave at Gibraltar said: “The South was parent of his pain, the South is mistress of his grave.” The book gives the story of an Oxford man brought up in strict ideas of duty and conduct, who goes to India and revolts from the dissipation of the Anglo-Indian community and their disregard of native interests. A high moral tone pervades the book which gives also a description of the second Sikh War and the Battle of Chillianwalla. In the same year appeared The Wetherbys and Too Clever by Half from the pen of John Lang, who, unlike Arnold’s treatment of the subject, exposed the vices of Anglo-Indians in their ugliest colours and lashed them with the most caustic satire. Randolph Methyl: a Story of Anglo-Indian Life by W. W. Ireland, the author of the History of the Siege of Delhi, appeared in 1863.
Major Charles F. Kirby wrote in 1867 a three-volumed novel entitled The Adventures of an Arcot Rupee in which he attempts to give some account of the British rule in India when Wellesley and Tipu Sultan were the conflicting heads and when the “Pagoda Tree” was in full luxuriance. The Arcot Rupee in passing from one master to another, both native and British, learns the secret of all parties including the love affairs of various individuals. The author is well up in his subject but lacks the gift of making his tale entertaining. His style is stiff and the story is dry and full of Indian slang. In 1869, was published a three-volumed novel entitled Veronique from the pen of Florence Marryat. She was a daughter of the well-known Captain Marryat and had married, when she was still under sixteen years, at Penang in 1854, Major-General T. Ross-Church, C.I.E., of the Madras Army. He was a son of an old Madras civilian and was a young subaltern at the time of his marriage. She had travelled over nearly the whole of India, and, although she had eight children, found time to write some ninety novels, many of which were translated in various European languages. After the death of her first husband, she married in 1890, Colonel Francis Lean of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. The character of the heroine Veronique is particularly well drawn, especially her purity, innocence and moral courage — a mixture of womanly weakness and strength. Similarly, the authoress shows considerable power in the description of the character of the gay and handsome young aide-de-camp, Captain Gordon Romilly. Of the minor characters, Mrs. Colonel Dowdson is at once the most amusing and most natural. The scenes at the Ootacamund Post Office and at Mrs. Dowdson’s levée are true to life though slightly exaggerated. Mrs. Church had contributed to the “Temple Bar” certain sketches of Indian life and character, which, when reprinted in 1868 under the title of Gup, met with severe criticism at Madras and elsewhere. She was so bitterly mortified at the hostile reception of her book that she attempted to sneer down her critics by making the unjust assertion in Veronique that the greater number of those connected with the local Indian press are half castes. Again, she took her revenge on India (which she had never liked) for the nine years of exile that she passed in this country by remarking that India is the nursery of bigotry, prejudice and small mindedness. One or two other hasty generalisations of a like nature mar the otherwise interesting pages of this charming romance. Perhaps the cleverest and most cutting satire on Anglo-Indian life is The Chronicles of Budgepore (1871) by Iltudus Prichard. As the author himself states in the Preface, the book is intended to illustrate some characteristics of social and official life in Upper India both in European and Indian Society and to show the quaint results which indiscriminate and often injudicious engrafting of habits and ideas of western civilisation on oriental stock is calculated to produce. This is accomplished by adopting the plan of stringing together an immense amount of acute criticism and cruel, if just, sarcasm on a series of thin sketchy plots. Four years later appeared in two volumes that remarkable work The Chronicles of Dustypore: a Tale of Modern Anglo-Indian Society, by the Author of “Wheat and Tares,” who is no other than Sir Henry Cunningham. He was Advocate-General of Madras and had latterly acted as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court and had married a daughter of Lord Lawrence. The book recounts the story of the wife Maud — a pleasing, if irritatingly foolish, kind of girl — who flirts abominably on the hills while her husband is fighting in the hot plains. But she loves him all the same in a hazy sort of way and is startled and suddenly recalled to her true self when unexpectedly she hears that her husband, Colonel Sutton, is down with the cholera. She rushes down to the lonely station in the plains where her husband is hovering between life and death, and in doing so risks her own life. All her old love returns and he at length gets well and they live happily ever after. A noticeable feature of the work is that the characters are all taken from contemporary society. As has been pointed out in a recent issue of Bengal: Past and Present, the organ of the Calcutta Historical Society, “Dustypore” is Lahore and “Elysium” Simla; “Felicia” is Mrs. Waterfield (“R.H.W.”) to whom the book is dedicated, while “Desvœux” is Sir Lepel H. Griffin, formerly Chief Secretary to the Government of the Punjab; “Fotheringham” is Mr. Lindsay and “Sutton” is Brigadier Keayes and two other Punjab heroes rolled into one. The Athenaeum, however, states that Colonel afterwards General “Sutton” is no other than Lord Napier of Magdala. In The Cœruleans (1887) which is called a “vacation idyll” Sir Henry Cunningham shows his remarkable smartness of conversation and keenness of dialogue, combined with a light airy way of looking at things. He describes how the inhabitants of Cœrulia — a pleasant hill station, presumably the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains — exist. The heroine Camilla is the opposite of Maud of the Chronicles of Dustypore and Mr. Chichele, who guided the fortunes of the place, is intended for the late Sir M. E. Grant Duff, Governor of Madras in the ’eighties. In 1877 appeared in three volumes The City of Sunshine by Alexander Allardyce. The scene is laid in the village of Dhupnagar and questions like caste, education, justice, betrothal of infants and money-lending are discussed. One cannot help being fascinated with the picture of the young Hindu student who rebelled against the superstitious faith of his fathers but was drawn back into it by the cords of love and interest. Five years later was written Mr. Isaacs: a Tale of Modern India, the first work of F. Marion Crawford, who was formerly editor of the Indian Herald of Allahabad. He visited the famous jewellery store at Simla of Mr. A. M. Jacob, a wealthy Hebrew gentleman whom he has immortalized under the name of Isaacs. To residents outside Simla Mr. Jacob is best known by the famous Hyderabad Diamond case in which he figured so prominently. He was charged at Calcutta by the Nizam of Hyderabad with criminally misappropriating twenty-three lakhs of rupees deposited by His Highness as earnest money for the purchase of the gem known as the “imperial diamond” and was acquitted on 22nd December 1891 after a prolonged trial. Diana Barrington: a Romance of Central India was written in i888 by Mrs. B. M. Croker, wife of Lieutenant-Colonel John Croker, late Royal Scots and Royal Munster Fusiliers. Being an Irishwoman she also wrote some Irish novels, but this is one of the best stories of Anglo-Indian life published since the Chronicles of Dustypore. The narrative is picturesque and full of vivid touches and there is an infectious gaiety about it that makes it immensely refreshing. Mrs Croker’s sympathy for Indians is shewn; by the testimony she bears to their courtesy, chivalry and charity, in describing the social events of a gay military station. In A Family Likeness published in three volumes in 1892, the same writer gives a sketch of life as it is lived in the Himalayas and her heroine Juliet Carwithen is presented as a pleasant and attractive young person. The most interesting and original character in her next work Mr. Jervis (3 vols., 1894) is a beautiful Englishwoman who had purchased her life too dearly in the Indian Mutiny and was passing herself off as a Persian in a retired spot away from Europeans among some hills. She had, however, but little to do with the unravelment of the plot. In Catspaw (1902) we have a picture of a third-rate boarding-house in Madras and the doings in the palace of an ancient Rani, a plotter against the Government and the Political Resident and all new-fangled ideas, while in Her Own People (1903) Croker gives a striking description of the domiciled community. The Old Cantonment (1905) is a collection of entertaining short tales which are rather scrappy and journalistic. The writer is, however, at her best in her latest Anglo-Indian story The Company’s Servant (1907). It is a bright little book giving an admirable sketch of life lived in India by English people. The hero, a nephew of an Earl, serves in India as a Railway Guard and is prominent for his probity and horsemanship. By far the most interesting character is another aristocrat in disguise who serves as a night watchman in the garb of an Indian and, in spite of his slavery to the ganja habit, is quite keen and picturesque. The next novel of importance is Helen Treveryan (3 vols., 1892) by Sir H. M. Durand who wrote under the pen-name of John Roy. The description of the hero Guy Langley is very happy and lifelike, and the opinions, passed on the various poets forming his library, by his friend Dale are really amusing. The author’s description of the Afghan campaign in the second volume is remarkably good. The part which women have played in the recent fictional literature of India is remarkable, and perhaps the greatest name among lady novelists is that of Mrs. Flora Anne Steel. The secret of her success lies in the fact of her possessing the rare gift of identifying herself with her characters, of mourning with them and of rejoicing with them. Her first Anglo-Indian novel of any importance is Miss Stuart’s Legacy (1893) while The Potter’s Thumb (1894) is a really powerful tale of native and English life. Mrs. Boynton is a very clever study and the story of George Keene, who does himself to death in a lonely up-country station and is buried secretly by Dan Fitzgerald who cables to his mother the merciful falsehood “Cholera,” is truly pathetic. In The Voices of Night (1900) — a love-tale of Anglo-Indian life — she gives a description of the lot of ex-royalties, while an interesting personality is the Lieutenant-Governor’s son who rouses the reader’s affection. The Guardianship of God (1903) contains seventeen stories describing Indian, especially Hindu, manners and characteristics. In ‘Surabhi,’ the authoress shows how deep is the love of an old Brahmin for his cow, while in ‘Fire and Ice’ she touches upon certain social evils in India. In From the Five Rivers, Tales of the Punjaub, The Flower of Forgiveness and In the Permanent Way she has produced some miscellaneous stories and sketches of the Punjab. We next come to Mrs. Everard Cotes née Sara Jeannette Duncan who is well known by her endeavours to interpret the American girl to the world of fiction readers. Her earliest effort, The Simple Adventures of a Mem-sahib (1893), displayed much lightness of touch. But her Anglo-Indian reputation rests on His Honor and a Lady (1896) which recounts the story of two Lieutenant-Governors, one of whom falls a martyr to his stubborn honesty, while the other won signal success through his hypocrisy. There is much cleverness displayed in the description of Indian scenes and surroundings. The Path of a Star (1899), though abounding in light sarcasm, contains graver treatment of life. A group of Calcutta characters, including a young Salvationist, a brilliant actress, a society lady and two Oxford friends, get into a tangle from which the authoress rescues them. The Pool in the Desert (1903) contains four lively stories, the best being “A Mother in India.” R. W. Frazer, author of A Literary History of India, wrote in 1895 a collection of tales entitled Silent Gods and Sun-steeped Lands. The only novel written by Sir William Hunter is The Old Missionary (1896). The hero of this pathetic story is believed to be the Rev. James Williamson of the Baptist Missionary Society who laboured for half a century at Suri, Birbhum, and passed away over forty years ago. He is buried at Serampore just outside the Carey enclosure. Mr. F. H. Skrine, the biographer of Sir William Hunter, calls this an “immortal” work. In 1897 appeared A Princess of Islam from the pen of Mr. J. W. Sherer, C.S.I. It is a touching tale describing life in a Native State and recounts the story of a Mahomedan princess who was married to a young Englishman, a member of the Uncovenanted Service, in India. For reasons of State the Englishman is made to believe that she died during his absence in England and he married again. The princess then had an opportunity of showing her true nobility of character. We next come to the novels of Mrs. Frank Penny. Her Romance of a Nautch Girl (1898) gives sketches of Anglo-Indian life in the Deccan and one or two touches here and there show the writer’s sympathy for the natives and persons of mixed blood. In her Forest Officer (1900) Mrs. Penny gives an admirable sketch of the trials and perils, the romance, magic and mystery of sylvan India, and evinces a keen observation and knowledge of native character. Her Caste and Creed (1902) is a highly meritorious novel in which the conflicting influences, to which the child of an English father and a native mother is exposed, are depicted in vivid colours yet without exaggeration. Zelma Anderson is a very attractive Eurasian heroine. The most interesting thing in the book is the description of the procession of an idol and the worship of Vishnu. Rutnam, the devotee, is an attractive character. In her A Mixed Marriage (1902) she shows her intimate knowledge of India and her people, while The Sanyasi (1904) is a humorous and well told story steeped in the colour and atmosphere of the East. Dilys (1905) shows the writer’s extraordinary insight into the irreconcilable differences between the rulers and the ruled in the Indian Empire and her sympathetic and humorous conception of the native character. The heroine Dilys has the fun and mischief of a child with the fascination of the most womanly of women, and the picture of the Lumbardee gypsies, by whom she was brought up, is drawn with admirable skill. Her Waters of Destruction gives a very realistic picture of life up-country far from the beaten track where years are often passed by Englishmen cut off from all intercourse with their fellow-countrymen, while The Tea Planter (1906) deals with life in Ceylon. The Stronger Claim by Mrs. Alice Perrin is based on the contending claims of country and the influences of East and West on human character. She is a daughter of the late General John Innes Robinson, Bengal Cavalry, and sister of Sir Ernest Robinson, fifth Baronet. She married Charles Perrin, M.I.C.E., who was then employed in the Public Works Department of the Government of India and who now holds an appointment under the Local Government Board, England. Pictures of native life and the sense of the Eurasian position in the East — between as it were two fires — are vividly presented in the book. The case of the Eurasian woman was rendered with extraordinary pathos in a novel entitled Poor Elisabeth. Mrs. Perrin gives us the Eurasian man and convicts him of irresolution at a time when decisive action is of great importance. She shows the gulf between the matter-of-fact British temperament and the mystery-loving Indians and the inexorable repulsion of white by black. That Mrs. Perrin has sympathy both for India and the Indians is shown also in her A Free Solitude. She holds that if India were left to herself for a hundred years or less, there would not be a trace of Western influence or progress remaining in the country. Again, she speaks through Katharine Rolland — “Surely we are not so immeasurably superior as a race that we should feel demeaned by shaking hands with the people of India.” She is of opinion that the sex question is the real cause of the gulf between Eastern and Western ideas, and, if so, it is a gulf that it will take centuries to bridge over. Her Red Records (1906) is a collection of some gruesome tales. The stories lose much of their horror on account of the idea of Fate as the relentless power holding men in its grip, which pervades the book. Some of the stories, especially those relating directly to the natives of India, are of a high standard. General Fendall-Currie’s The Land of Regrets (1903) gives us an insight into the government of the country, the ways and traditions of the natives and the lives of the Anglo-Indians in every department. Nina Stevens, only daughter of Sir C. C. Stevens, late Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, touches on the Eurasian question in her Perils of Sympathy. She became Mrs. Fredrick Griffiths and died in England on the 16th January, 1908. The latest work of Sydney C. Grier, who has been writing at least one novel every year since 1894, is The Power of the Keys (1907) which describes a hypothetical invasion of India. The most interesting personalities are a retired civilian who raises a body of horse, a nursing sister and a police scout with a strain of Indian blood. Interspersed with perilous adventures and graphic descriptions of fighting there are two love stories and a dash of pathos is afforded by the cruel death of the warrior hero. In the Two Women and a Maharaja (1907) Mrs. C. E. Phillimore deals with Anglo-Indian, especially Eurasian, life. She shows how well stocked her mind is with first-hand knowledge. Constance Maharani is a representation of Florence Maharani of Patiala, who died on 11th January, 1896. In The Broken Road (1907) Mr. A. E. W. Mason, M.P., describes the lives of the higher Anglo-Indian officials and tries to prove the folly and cruelty of educating young Indian princes to be hybrid Englishmen. The author aims at teaching that East is East and West is West and that it is a mistake to mix the two even educationally. One of the latest Anglo-Indian novels is India’s Saint and the Viceroy (1908) from the pen of Mr. S. S. Thorburn, already referred to. It is an interesting work full of satire and idealism. The hero Cosmo Sorel, is a millionaire who reforms the government of an important vassal state in India and ends a little war by the exercise of the charms of an angelic personality. On one occasion he produces the effect of a miracle by bidding an hysterical Pathan woman to arise and “thank Allah.” Satire appears in the sketch of the self-satisfied Viceroy and the selection of “Topsham” as a surname for the Prime Minister whom he alternately praises and despises. It was inartistic, says the Athenaeum, to make Sorel suddenly turn into the real Lord Eskmore and not flattering to a “Saint” to make his renunciation of a title a theme of his delirium. While this article was in proof a new Anglo-Indian novel by Maud Diver entitled The Great Amulet (Blackwood) has made its appearance.
No study of Anglo-Indian fiction would be complete without mention of the name of Rudyard Kipling. His works are so many and various that they require separate notice. Suffice it to add that he was more truly Anglo-Indian than any other writer before him. He always regarded India as his home and took it for the natural sphere of his life’s work. He was the father of short stories and in them as a collection are depicted with wonderful vividness almost all the details of Anglo-Indian life. A genuine sympathy for all things Indian pervades his works both in prose and verse. Kipling’s very many admirers may find a just appreciation of his works in Mr. E. F. Oaten’s recently published book on Anglo-Indian Literature.
Kiran Nath Dhar, B.A.