Singh, Bhupal. A Survey of Anglo-Indian Fiction. Oxford University Press, 1934. pp. 1–30.
The phrase ‘Anglo-Indian fiction’ may be used in a broad or narrow sense. Broadly speaking it includes any novel dealing with India which is written in English. Strictly speaking it means fiction mainly describing the life of Englishmen in India. In a still narrower sense it may be taken to mean novels dealing with the life of Eurasians, who now prefer to be called Anglo-Indians. A very large number of novels surveyed in this book are Anglo-Indian in the sense that they describe the life of Englishmen and Englishwomen in India. But the survey does not exclude Indian novels written by men of nationalities other than the English. It also includes novels describing the life of Eurasians and of Indians.
2. Anglo-Indian fiction covers a period of about a century and a half. It may be divided into three periods. The first period begins with the Governor-Generalship of Warren Hastings and ends with the Indian Mutiny; the second period ends with the death of Queen Victoria and the publication of Kim in 1901; the third period begins with the Partition of Bengal in 1905 and may be said to be still in progress. The present survey, however, does not extend beyond the year 1930, which saw the publication of Edward Thompson’s book, A Farewell to India.1 Meadows Taylor and W. D. Arnold are the chief novelists of the first period; Sir Henry Cunningham and Kipling of the second; Edmund Candler, E. M. Forster, and Edward Thompson of the third. The novels of the first period are mainly romances of Indian history, or are descriptive sketches of English society in India; those of the second period are portraits of the official life of Anglo-India, mainly satirical; those of the third period show a vaster range in the choice of subjects and are a true reflex of the varied life and problems of India in transition. The first period shows the great influence of Scott on Anglo-Indian fiction and a little of Thackeray; the second period prepares the way for and sees the rise of Kipling; the third period continues the traditions of Kipling and shows some reaction against them.
3. Main ingredients of a novel of Anglo-Indian life.
A typical novel generally begins with a voyage, bringing the hero, more often the heroine, to the shores of India. On her arrival in a Presidency town or a mofussil ‘station’ she is welcomed by a father, aunt, or some distant relation, and invariably causes a flutter in the small Anglo-Indian colony there. She becomes the belle of the season, is much sought after, and goes through the usual round of Anglo-Indian gaieties. There follow accounts of burra-khanas, shooting-parties (generally tiger-hunts), picnics, visits to places of historical interest, balls and dances with their kala-juggas, and race-meetings. There are scandals and gossips at the club regarding her ‘doings’, interlaced with love-rivalries and misunderstandings, and finally everything ends in a happy marriage. A baboo, a begum, a nawab or a rajah, or a political agitator is thrown in for local colour, or to supply the villain indispensable to a work of fiction. There are, of course, many variations of the theme, but this may be taken as a skeleton of a typical Anglo-Indian novel. The hero, a handsome, strong subaltern, or a struggling assistant in the Civil Service, is seldom a model of virtue, but has invariably one merit: he is conscientious in the discharge of his duties. He risks his life in doing this, and whatever may be the trials and temptations of his position, he always remembers that upon him depends the prestige of the British Empire. He may make a fool of himself at the club or the regimental mess, he may gamble, drink, incur debts, and fight, but the moment he is dealing with an Indian
He only knows that not through him
Shall England come to shame.
The heroine of an Anglo-Indian novel is spirited, beautiful, courageous, and a good rider. She can talk well, and like the hero mentioned above has a proper sense of her responsibility as an Englishwoman in India. In spite of these admirable qualities she behaves foolishly, and involves herself in awkward situations from which it is the duty of the hero to extricate her. In most cases, however, she is a mere puppet. More interesting and individualized than the regulation heroine is the scandal-mongering, bitter-tongued, gossip-loving spinster, or the frivolous married woman, the peculiar product of Anglo-Indian life. It is she who relieves the monotony of life, keeps the clubs going, and is the chief source of attraction in a hill-station. It is she who enlivens the dull and dreary pages of Anglo-Indian novels. Some novels describe the beauty of Indian mountain scenery; the loneliness, silence, and spaciousness of our jungles; the splendour of our blue skies and starry nights; the sights and sounds of the bazaars; the scenes of sweating, shouting, brown humanity on a railway platform; and the picturesqueness, variety and squalor of Indian life in towns and in villages. Occasionally we get a glimpse of the zenana; an account of a nautch, Indian marriage, or funeral; the description of a communal riot or an epidemic; and a skilful handling of the problems arising out of the contact and conflict of East and West.
The mood in which these novels are written is generally one of disgust, sorrow, or ‘melancholy’. The sense of their being ‘exiles’ in a foreign land seldom deserts the English in India. Separation from their friends and families and the varied, intellectual, and civilized life of the West; the constant journeyings; the oppressiveness of the Indian climate in summer; the monotony of official life and the feeling that doing one’s duty in India is a thankless job—all these impart to the most frivolous novel a note of sadness.
A common theme of these novels is the unhappiness, misunderstandings, and complexities of married life in India. Of course unhappy married life is not a feature peculiar to Anglo-India. Marriages go wrong all over the world. But taking into consideration the comparatively small number of the English in India, it is surprising that year after year novels should be written whose only interest lies in unhappy Anglo-Indian marriages. Love and marriage constitute the main staple of fiction. But the chief motif of Anglo-Indian fiction is not so much crossed love as the misery of married life.
Artistically Anglo-Indian fiction is a record of the ephemeral. Excepting Kipling, there are not more than a dozen novels which may find a place in the history of English literature. Most of the modern Anglo-Indian novels are written by women. Most of them show little sense of style, are poor in characterization and plot construction, and occasionally suffer from a propagandist tendency. They are, however, valuable as showing how India has affected our rulers. If there are few instances of imaginative creation in Anglo-Indian fiction, it is at least remarkable for one character, i.e. Anglo-India.
4. Early Anglo-Indians.
The earliest Anglo-Indians are known as ‘nabobs’ in English literature. But the nabob of the English comedies is frankly a caricature of an Old Indian, if not a mythical monster. He is generally described as a parchment-faced, diseased-livered, wealthy, vulgar, and effeminate being whose only function (according to English comedians) was to make the audience laugh and to make a profligate nephew or an impecunious niece happy at the end of the fifth act or the third volume. But he cannot be taken as an average Englishman in India of the eighteenth century. He represents the wealth, extravagance, luxury, and vulgarity of a very few Anglo-Indians, but not their good points. He does not represent those Anglo-Indians who could not return to England because they were not rich; he does not represent the life of loneliness and suffering, or the struggles and trials of the earlier English adventurers in India who were never heard of in England. In view of the fact that only those Englishmen who had amassed much wealth could afford to return to England, it is not surprising that the English got the idea that all early Anglo-Indians were ‘nabobs’ and that India was an El Dorado. Contemporary memoirs and histories give a more accurate idea of the actual conditions of life here: of the wretchedness and desolation of friendless exiles separated from all that was dear to them, in a country where there was no one to relieve their sorrow by one gleam of sympathy or kindness. We learn from Lord Teignmouth’s (then Mr. Shore) biography that he had to tear himself from his wife twice because he could not expose her to the horrors of the deep and to the dangers of a savage country like India, that there were not two houses in Calcutta with Venetian blinds or glass windows, and that his salary as a writer was eight rupees a month. The Oriental Memoirs of Forbes furnish the best picture of the cheerless life of a young English adventurer on his arrival in Bombay. He describes himself as a ‘solitary deserted being’ who had to go to bed sorely against his will soon after sunset, because he could not afford the luxuries of a supper and a candle. This, too, is not typical of the life of all Englishmen in all parts of the country, but it is useful as a corrective to the caricatures of the nabobs. ‘Sydney C. Grier’ (Miss Hilda Gregg) has described the lives of her countrymen in India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or, as she herself puts it, ‘during the earlier stages of what it is correct to call the expansion of England’, in In Furthest Ind (1894). Although it lacks the intimate knowledge of a contemporary document, yet as a general picture of the time her account may be taken as correct. She tells us that the Company’s servants went about in palenkeens, dressed in white to avoid the heat of the sun; that ‘meats’ were served on plates of china ‘that cracks when any poison touches it’; that behind each Englishman at the dinner table ‘stood an Indian servant with a great fan of peacock feathers’, and that royal ceremony was observed in bringing in and removing the dishes.
It will therefore be useful to discard the use of the word ‘nabob’ in connexion with Anglo-Indians of the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and the first quarter of the nineteenth centuries. It is better to call them Old Indians. Most of them, however, resembled a nabob in their love of show and fondness for pleasure. They were semi-orientals in their habits and manners of life, loving ‘splendid sloth and languid debauchery’.2 They married Indian women or entered into liaisons with them. At the back of their compound they had their zenana, where wandered a crowd of olive-coloured children. If they married English or European girls, they lived in a separate establishment, but not in such seclusion as was preferred by their Indian wives or mistresses. Even Englishwomen succumbed to the eastern environment. They smoked hookahs, drank claret and beer, and left their children to the care of Indian servants. Expensive dinners and horse-racing involved young ‘writers’ in debts. The then prevalent style of wearing the hair required the ‘obvious aid of huge cushions and masses of tow or horse hair’.3 Pelleting, or making pellets of bread and flicking them across the table into the mouth of a gentleman as he opened it to speak, was considered by some ladies the finest of entertainments. The life of English officers in up-country stations is summed up by Warren Hastings (The Great Proconsul, by ‘Sydney C. Grier’). These officers were devoted to their duties and field sports; they displayed an admirable interest in Indian arts and letters, but they were ‘almost as far removed as the Gentoos themselves from the society of Europeans’. They often devoted themselves to the acquisition of a fortune,
‘with no higher end in view than to return to England as a nabob, displaying the usual marks of the species—a chariot at his door, madeira on his table, gold lace on his coat, and a black behind his chair.’ (p. 23.)
The usual mode of travel of Englishmen of average means was in palanquins or chariots borrowed from wealthy baboos. Men of position rode in state coaches with musalchis, chobdars and a dozen servants running before and behind their carriage, shouting their titles. Most of them seem to have lost the will as well as the power to return to England. Those who returned to England felt as if in a foreign land. By the second quarter of the nineteenth century they were becoming as rare as a mummy.4
5. ‘Qui Hai’ of the early nineteenth century.
The ‘Old Indian’ imperceptibly changed into the Qui Hai of the pre-Mutiny India. The Old Indian of 1845 is a different being from his prototype of 1785. We may distinguish him from his predecessor by calling him Qui Hai, a phrase common enough in the Anglo-Indian literature of this period. Several novels published between 1825 and 1844 show how a Qui Hai differed from or resembled an ‘Old Indian’. Unlike the Old Indian, he gave up Indian zenanas and some oriental habits. Marriages with Indian girls did not cease altogether, but became less common. Love for the hookah still continued, and so did love of luxury and dissipation. The Old Indian was an Indianized Englishman. Qui Hai retained his English habits and mode of life. Thackeray’s sketches of James Binnie, Joseph Sedley, and Colonel Newcome are sketches of Qui Hais who, in their turn, have now become as extinct as the nabob or the Old Indian.
The Old Indians, as seen in the romances and romance-like books of travel (allowing for a little exaggeration), are generally ‘ill-mannered, illiterate, and immoral’. These pictures of Old Indians are made up of ‘unsightly groups of unprincipled adventurers—dissolute soldiers, corrupt civilians, usurious merchants—all alike ignorant and immoral’. The Old Indians of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, whom we have called Qui Hais, are no longer isolated savages dwelling in a remote country, where ‘the sound of the church-going bell’ is never heard, and the light of European science and literature never dawns upon the benighted vision. The Old Indian was cut off from England; the Qui Hai was only six weeks behind his brothers and cousins in England. In the earlier period, the almost complete isolation from Europe of Englishmen in India tended to foster among them the growth of certain vices, such as avarice, lust, cruelty, &c.5 The moral and intellectual improvement of the Anglo-Indian of the first half of the nineteenth century was due to the steamship, to the example set before their countrymen by a number of Governor-Generals after Warren Hastings, and the establishment of the College of Fort William. Still, a Qui Hai has not shaken off all the vices of his predecessor. How he appeared to an Englishman with the highest moral ideals, like W. D. Arnold, may be seen in Oakfield. In his amusements, ‘pig-sticking’, snipe-shooting, horse-racing, cricket matches, picnics, balls, and banquets, the Qui Hai is as deeply absorbed as the Old Indian; also in his indifference towards, or lack of sympathy for, the people in whose midst he lived, and in openly treating a ‘black fellow’ as a beast, ‘to be driven, or otherwise employed, as seems fit to the white man, his master’,6 he is the lineal descendant of the Old Indian.
The Baboo and Other Tales (1834), a novel descriptive of society in Calcutta, portrays a number of characters who may be taken to represent Qui Hais. Lady Wroughton, living in royal style, holding her levees, and spending money without caring how it was earned, is a portrait of a society lady of the time. Captain Forester is described as lost to Anglo-India, being too fond of ‘black velvet’. ‘Scribbleton Papers’ in Anglo-India (1840) gives some sketches of Madras Qui Hais. Old Jeremiah Lawson, Chief Judge of the Sudder-ud-Dawlat, to whom Miss Scribbleton was promised as a bride, is a caricature of a Qui Hai. A more interesting and human book, giving a faithful portrait of bygone manners and customs, is The Lady of the Manor (1844), by Mrs. Sherwood. The story of Olivia’s life in her semi-orientalized uncle’s household is the sad story of the steady degeneration of a girl of eighteen during her stay in India. Mrs. B. M. Croker, writing at a time when ‘skirt-dancing was as yet in its infancy’ and a ‘lady figurante was a rare spectacle on an Indian stage’, gives us a picture of Qui Hai, a man who had lived so long here that he had become ‘fossilized’ ‘Nothing outside India appealed to him; the easy-going life had penetrated to his very bones; he had his well-trained servants, his excellent food and liquor, his cheroot or his huka, his Pioneer, his long armchair, and his pet grievance.’7
6. ‘Competition wallah’.
After the Mutiny and the institution of the Bengal Civil Service, the Qui Hais began to die out. In several books we find echoes of rivalry between Qui Hais or Anglo-Indians of the ‘old school’ and what the latter contemptuously styled ‘Competition Wallahs’. The Qui Hais were trained for service in India at Haileybury. Haileybury men were proud of themselves. Sir G. O. Trevelyan, in his letters written about the beginning of 1863, published under the title The Competition Wallah, shows how the Anglo-Indians of the ‘old school’ looked down upon the new civilians, and laughed at them. Married in India (1910), by Constance Howell (a story of Anglo-Indian life in the ’sixties), contains an interesting passage showing the attitude of the post-Mutiny Anglo-Indian towards India, as well as his characteristics.
‘Forty years ago, imperialistic sentiment did not exist. The English were not proud of the immense country they had conquered: including all India in a comprehensive contempt—they detested its climate, denied its interest, belittled its artistic achievements, abhorred its dark-skinned peoples, despised its language; and this condition of feeling was much stronger in the army than in the Civil Service. Army men professed to think that their own countrywomen had deteriorated by coming to the inferior land; and “I would never marry in India,” was a phrase fashionable among them: notwithstanding which affectation, many officers’ marriages did happen in India.’ (29-30.)
In this book the author explains the difficulties of English soldiers and civilians, with inadequate salaries and no private means, when they contemplated marriage in India. We learn that the railway did not exist beyond Cawnpore and the sahibs had to travel in doolis, each carried by four kahars. Their luggage was brought in banghis escorted by native policemen.
Mr. Wetherall, the subaltern, is a typical soldier of the time. To him all Indians are niggers and ‘lying rascals’, who can be brought to their senses only by means of the whip. He is immensely pleased when his fiancée tells him the interesting story of how a poor copra-wallah was knocked down because he refused to sell his wares at the price which the frivolous Miss Avice Featherstonehaugh offered for them. Mr. Alexander Allardyce gives a portrait of Qui Hai in the person of Eversley in The City of Sunshine (1877), while Sir Henry Cunningham gives a pen-portrait of an Anglo-Indian of the new type in the character of Desvœux, ‘a poetical dandy’, dressed with a sort of ‘effeminate finery’.
‘He was far too profusely set about with pretty things, lockets and rings, and costly knick-knacks; on the other hand, his handkerchief was tied with a more than Byronic negligence.’ (vol. i, p. 81.)
Desvœux is a civilian ‘of the new regime’, ‘a competition wallah’, and has his fling at the ‘old ones’.
‘“But you know,” he says to Miss Vernon, “how the old ones were chosen. All the stupidest sons of the stupidest families in England for several generations, like the pedigree-wheat, you know, on the principle of selection; none but the blockheads of course would have anything to do with India.” ’ (vol. i, p. 90.)
In Boldero, Sir Henry Cunningham has drawn a sketch of a district officer of the ’seventies. He is represented as over-zealous for the improvement and regeneration of mankind, disgusted with the complex machinery of government in which he saw ‘material, money, and time wasted; . . . office coming to dead-lock with office; one blundering head knocking against another; wants to which no one attended; wrongs which no one avenger’. He drove the Municipal Committee wild with projects of reform. He offended the doctors by invading hospitals, the chaplain by objecting to the ventilation the church and the length of sermons, the Education Department by a savage tirade on the schools, and the General by a bold assault on the drainage of the barracks—‘altogether a bustling, joyous, irrepressible sort of man’.8 In Blunt the author has projected a Competition Wallah into a Board, the other two members of which were educated at Haileybury, to illustrate the difference between the two types of officials. Sir Henry Cunningham acknowledges that ‘the vile corruption which characterized the East India Company in its earlier days’, which fired the righteous wrath of Burke, had disappeared, but ‘Indian Governments had long remained the home of jobbery’, and
‘The stringent remedy of the Competitive System had been necessary to deal with the accumulated dullness with which licensed favouritism had crowded the ranks of the service.’ (p. 224.)
In The Old Missionary (1897), Sir W. W. Hunter puts the following words into the mouth of a Lieutenant Governor of Bengal:
‘You Competition men come to Bengal with your heads full of ideas, and you expect me to find the money to carry them out. Why cannot you be content with things as you find them, as we were before you? It is only a few years since poor John Company was shovelled underground, and already his peaceful ways seem to belong to a remote antiquity.’ (p. 9.)
In the last twenty years of the nineteenth century the few Qui Hais, left behind in the onward march of British administration, finally disappeared, having been replaced by Competition Wallahs. There is no Qui Hai in the next novel of Sir Henry Cunningham published nine years later. In Philip Ambrose he has depicted the temptations of a young, charming Indian Civil Servant without much character and experience. Kipling’s Anglo-India is the India of Englishmen of the new régime. With the beginning of the twentieth century the Competition Wallahs begin to be referred to as ‘heaven-borns’ by members of other services. Present-day Anglo-India is the India of the I.C.S.; other services do not count for much. Military Anglo-India has lost much of its importance in these days of peace.
In several other modern novels there is an occasional reference to the type of Anglo-Indian who has now become extinct. In The Star of Destiny (1920) by Mr. H. M. F. Campbell we find an account of an Anglo-Indian of the old school. These old Anglo-Indians ‘regarded the native as a being of a totally different and necessarily inferior order of creation’; they learned as little of his language as was possible and deliberately anglicized it; they thought it was impossible to understand India and there was no use in doing so. They therefore made no effort to understand the country of their adoption.9 They came to India to amass a fortune, and were not too particular how they did it.10 They enjoyed unlimited freedom, and their authority was unquestioned; and they held the life of an Indian cheap.11
7. Anglo-India to-day.
(i) Imperialistic but isolated. The Anglo-Indian of to-day has not that profound contempt for natives which distinguished his countrymen of the post-Mutiny period, nor is he so deliberately ignorant of the language, customs, and history of India and her people. But he is proud of possessing India, and looks upon himself as a great colonizer and a great administrator, whose mission in life is to rule backward eastern countries in the interest of those countries. He lives an isolated life like Anglo-Indians of the past, and is not very liberal in his views. According to Mrs. G. H. Bell, his narrow-mindedness is the result of his very isolation. Mr. G. Lowes Dickinson compared the Anglo-Indian world to an ‘Atlantic liner floating on the Indian World. It has water-tight compartments.’ The Anglo-Indian is cut off from richer minds than his own and does not mix with Indians. Hence he lacks the very breadth of mind upon the possession of which he congratulates himself.12 Mrs. Barbara Wingfield-Stratford similarly writes in Beryl in India:
‘The whole white community in India was, as a whole, hopelessly narrow-minded, unimaginative, and lacking in dignity.’ (p. 11.)
Mrs. Maud Diver, who calls Anglo-India ‘this lively and apparently unthinking world of British India—a world dominated by official personalities, and abbreviations’, thus characterizes her countrymen in India in Desmond’s Daughter:
‘What are they, after all, these Anglo-Indians, and what spell is put upon them by the land of their service, that even their own countrymen deem them almost a race apart? Those that best know them are least ready with a definition: and as for the verdict of the travelled observer, one of the breed dismisses them airily as “a little scattered garrison . . . mute, snobbish, not obviously clever and obviously ill-educated”, stewards of great mysteries who “don’t and won’t understand any race but their own”; while another, seeing a few inches deeper, detects under the surface of muteness and officialism the sturdy self-control, the patient and persistent driving force that have made the country what it is to-day.’ (p. 49.)
(ii) Discriminately hospitable. The Anglo-Indian of today is discriminately hospitable. In times of trouble and need he is prepared to receive under his roof comparative strangers who may have little or nothing in common with him beyond the fact of their being Englishmen. In the early nineteenth century the open-door, indiscriminate hospitality of Anglo-India struck Englishmen as one of their brightest virtues. ‘One of the many lessons,’ says Mrs. Perrin, ‘that the great Mother India instils into the hearts of her white foster children is to sympathise with one another’s troubles and misfortunes, however trivial or however serious.’13 However, as time passed, this hospitality began to be less indiscriminate. Mrs. Ross Church (Florence Marryat) in Gup says that in her time it was a very general complaint in India that the country with regard to its hospitality was not what it used to be. She makes ‘old fellows, with the native cloth trousers sticking close to their legs’, say that when they were boys and utter strangers they were received by everybody with open arms. This shows that in the old days an Englishman was less common and therefore more welcome than he is now, and that under the rule of John Company the Old Indians ‘had a larger quantity of curry and rice wherewith to regale their friends’. According to Mrs. Ross Church, in the post-Mutiny India ‘unquestioning entertainment for man and beast is an impracticable virtue’. It is ‘uncalled-for kindness’ and impossible in a country ‘which is being daily reinforced by employees from every grade of society’. But she does not agree with ‘gentlemen of red and green plaid trousers, that it has entirely vanished’. Mrs. B. M. Croker in her first novel, Proper Pride (1882), speaks of the proverbial hospitality of the Anglo-Indian. Kipling in the Phantom Rickshaw thinks that ‘Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within living memory, blunted this open-heartedness, but none the less to-day, if you belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a Bear nor a Black Sheep, all houses are open to you’. There are indications that in the India of to-day, with good hotels springing up in the larger cities and dak bungalows in the remotest districts, the virtue of hospitality is not so essential as it necessarily was in the old days. In Mrs. Savi’s Sackcloth and Ashes (written after the war) Lance Kelly on his arrival in Bengal asks with surprise, ‘Where is the vaunted hospitality of the Anglo-Indians?’14
(iii) Its monotony. Anglo-Indian life is monotonous, especially for women. When the novelty of India wears off, the period of disillusionment begins. Banished from all interest or discussions in the affairs of India by civilians and soldiers,
‘not young enough to be content with the same round of amusements and too clever to stagnate, the monotonous routine of her daily existence begins to prey upon her soul. ... Every day was so much like every other day, a ride in the morning, and an idle empty day in the bungalow with nothing in particular to do, but read or sleep, a game of golf or a set of tennis till dark and then a long evening at the club.’ (Y. Endrikar, Gamblers in Happiness, p. 121.)
In many novels we get a glimpse of the trying monotony of the Englishwoman’s life in India, especially in the hot weather. A penance-like walk for health’s sake in the early morning, with the soul gasping for a breath of fresh air; a late breakfast and no luncheon, struggles to sleep or rest in the afternoon; tea; a drive in the stuffy, still evening, an hour passed under the fans at the club, with papers and magazines and languid conversation, followed by dinner in the garden; a short interval spent in gazing at the stars; and an early going to bed to make up for the early rising—these complete the picture of a normal day in Anglo- India. This monotony is sometimes broken by a moonlight picnic or a dance. Life in the cold weather, and in the larger cities and military cantonments, is a little more varied, but in a small station where the dozen or so of Europeans, who know every line of one another’s faces by heart, and everything about one another’s lives, have to meet at the club daily and listen to petty squabbles and malicious gossip, life is dull.
(iv) Its snobbery. Several writers speak of the snobbery of Anglo-Indians. Mrs. Ross Church writes in Gup,
‘Rupee is the name of the highest god they worship; then ‘rank’ for the women, ‘beauty’ for the men, after which they have no more religion.’ (p. 65.)
Mr. Alexander Wilson divides the people of this country into three divisions, ‘sahibs, snobs, and sinners’.15 This is an apt classification of Anglo-India. Sahibs may be said to represent gentlemen; sinners are gentlemen who have gone wrong; snobs are not gentlemen but pretend to be so. The worship of rank is the worst feature of Anglo-Indian society. ‘The laws of precedence’, writes Norah K. Strange, ‘which govern European society in India are almost as immutable as those of the Medes and Persians.’16 Mr. Edward Thompson writes bitterly of the ‘herd ethos’ of the Indian Civil Servants and their contemptuous treatment of all other classes. Mr. Shelland Bradley and several other writers ridicule the desire of Englishmen and Englishwomen to have their names on the Government House list.
(v) Its melancholy. In spite of the intoxication of power Anglo-India is not altogether happy. The English soldier pines for the sights and sounds of London, the mother for her children, the husband for his wife, the toiling official for the opportunities lost, the statesman for contact with minds more cultivated than his own, and the epicure for the joys of the English table. Mr. Oaten calls this longing for home and dissatisfaction with the country of their adoption Anglo-Indian ‘melancholy’. In earlier times, when the conditions of life in India were much harder, this note of melancholy was still more prominent in Anglo-Indian literature than at present. Increased amenities of life, better pay, greater opportunities and facilities for visiting England, have somewhat lessened the intensity of home-sickness, but not altogether removed it. In the fiction of the nineteenth century, from Hockley to Kipling we come across it again and again. Mr. W. D. Arnold it Oakfield and Sir Charles Lyall in verse voiced it with deep and genuine feeling. Sir Henry Cunningham expresses it in The Cœruleans. Masterly, who was given to talking in a tone of persiflage, becomes at once serious when Lady Miranda refers to Anglo-Indian life as delightfully free.
‘“Yes,” he said; “free as the desert, ‘the desolate freedom of the white jackass,’ freedom from the people you care about, the things you are interested in, the places you love—freedom from everything but what can be tied up in red tape, and put in a despatch box—freedom which is free in the same way that the Roman’s solitude was peace.’” (p. 129.)
In The Madness of Private Ortheris, Kipling has given expression to it in unforgettable words. Among modern novelists, Mrs. Coulson Kernahan says, in The Woman who Understood,
‘Anglo-Indian life is a sacrifice. It is a series of uprootals. There either a woman separates from her children or leaves her husband. Whichever it is, it is sacrifice. I often wonder if any gain compensates for the loss.’ (p. 156.)
John Travers’ (Mrs. G. H. Bell) is full of this note in Sahib-log. She sadly refers to ‘Indian partings and meetings’;17 she misses in India those ‘people who are in possession of what they love most’;18 she sighs for the birth of spring in England, and exclaims, ‘How one could weep for the breath and the sound and the sight of it by the waters of Babylon!’ (p. 125.) She knows that India stole much, destroyed much, but gave nothing;19 and her heart goes out in sympathy for those young wives and mothers whose children are in England, whose husbands are in the plains, and ‘whose homes are baked in the cantonments, dismantled and silent, save for the punkhas’ creaking, empty, but for the sweating soldier men’.20 According to Mr. Duff-Fyfe India is no place for a white man with slender means and no certain and heaven-born position. He loathes the country and everything connected with it.21 Sir Francis Younghusband, who was so anxious to ‘liven things’ for English soldiers in India, says that their life ‘without home attractions’ is dreary and depressing.22 But the most interesting of modern books from this point of view, marked by a deep note of sadness, accentuated by the disquieting conditions of modern political India, is Mr. Edward Thompson’s A Farewell to India. Mr. Thompson’s disappointment is great; as his love for India was great. Alden’s departure from India is the departure of a sincere Christian who had loved India, identified himself with her, was bruised and broken in her service, and yet was discarded by her without a word of gratitude or regret.
(vi) Its conservatism. Among other characteristics of Anglo-Indian fiction we may notice its conservatism. While Anglo-India is very unconventional in some respects, it is strangely conservative in others. Mrs. Savi draws attention to this peculiarity of Anglo-Indian life in The Unattainable. Edwina, the heroine, finds on her arrival from England that the circle in which she moved was ‘correct to the point of weariness’, and did things which ‘their grand-parents had done for generations’; they ‘echoed their views despite the advance of time and evolution’; they worshipped ceremony as a god, treated extremes of fashion as immoral, and freedom of speech as a ‘shocking breach of decorum, amounting to impropriety’, and ‘condemned to perdition all who refused to be hide-bound by custom’. This conservatism and love of ceremony result from their being cut off from the current of ever-changing and constantly moving life at home. They would begin to stagnate like a pool of water cut off from the main stream but for the constant influx of new thought, energy, fashions, and manners brought by new arrivals. Another force that tends to make the Anglo-Indians formal and conservative is their fear that sudden changes in thought, speech, and dress might adversely affect their prestige. English society in most of the stations of Anglo-India is limited to a small number which, on account of official transfers and other changes, is generally in a state of flux. It may be supposed, therefore, that in India an Englishman is free to do what he likes, as no Mrs. Grundy controls his conduct. But considerations of prestige, arising out of his position as a member of the ruling caste, act as powerful brakes on the Anglo-Indian, young or old. The English in India lead a glass-house existence. The minutest details of their lives are known to their servants. These latter talk in the bazaars, and thence the news, magnified, distorted, or exaggerated by imagination or misunderstanding, may reach the remotest corners of India, affording amusement to the elders of a village smoking their hookahs under the pepul tree, the women at the well, and even street urchins engaged in their pastimes and frolics. The fear of losing prestige explains many curious practices of Anglo-India. In some clubs all the windows and doors are closed so that the servants may not see the sahibs dancing. Mrs. Bell does not approve of short skirts and short sleeves, because it ‘horrifies the Indian’.23 Norah K. Strange says, in Mistress of Ceremonies, ‘what is ordinary and quite harmless in England takes a very different complexion in Eastern eyes’.
‘In England it is no body’s but your husband’s business if you choose to dress up like a harlequin and prance about like an inebriated negro; but in India it’s every decent thinking person’s business to see that his race doesn’t lose prestige in the eyes of a still subject people, who are as ready to magnify flaws as they are to forget past benefits.’ (pp. 118-19.)
Mr. Edward Thompson says in Night Falls on Siva’s Hill, that it is not often that Englishmen quarrel in India in the presence of native servants.24 Considerations of prestige are chiefly responsible for the almost complete exclusion of Indians from English clubs. Such clubs have done more to ‘breed ill-will than any other dozen institutions’.25 For political reasons some clubs have had to admit Indians of position, but they have done so with a bad grace. Mr. Endrikar refers to an interesting situation that arose in a club which had to admit Indians, because the Governor threatened to resign his membership otherwise. The Indian members were invited to take part in all the events, but when it came to dancing, ‘half the ladies of the station were up in arms at the mere suggestion of dancing with Indians’.26 In the past it was tacitly understood that none of these Indians would wish to be present at the club dances. But when Ratnaswami casually said that accompanied by a friend he intended to attend the club dance, the Mowlpure Club was taken aback. The exclusiveness of the older clubs is shown by the statement that while they welcomed all Englishmen, ‘prince and philosopher—sweeper and beggarman’,27 no Indian, even if he were a nawab or maharajah, was eligible for membership. Mr. Talbot Mundy writes in Om that the members of the Delhi Club were proud of the fact that ‘no Indian, not even a Maharajah, has ever set foot over its threshold’.
Anglo-India has several unwritten laws and traditions which may not be violated, except at the risk of incurring its serious displeasure. Anglo-India has definite views on the marriage of its countrymen in India. It does not approve of the marriage of an official at the commencement of his career, and condemns it as ‘an unpardonable piece of stupidity’.28 Military Anglo-India is still more strict in this respect. Its rule is: ‘A lieutenant can’t marry. A captain mustn’t. A major may if he likes. A colonel ought.’29 The tragedy of a wasted life recorded in Mr. Thompson’s Night Falls on Siva’s Hill is the result of independence shown by one of the Mianis in matrimonial matters. Anglo-India condemns mixed marriages in no uncertain terms. An Englishman who marries an India girl is pitied, and Anglo-India does all it can to prevent such a mésalliance. A romantic English girl who commits the folly of marrying an Indian gentleman is ostracized and regarded as dead by Anglo-India.
(vii) Its calling-hour. The calling-hour of Anglo-India has surprised all newcomers, and makes Anglo-Indian society resemble Cranfordians in this respect. The two hottest hours of the day are selected for paying calls. Sir Henry Cunningham considers this custom ‘idiotic’. He wonders how it arose and that no one has found courage or strength enough to break a custom ‘so detrimental to the health and comfort of mankind’.
‘Like Chinese ladies’ feet, the high heels on which fashionable Europe at present does penance, suttee of Hindu widows, and infanticide among the Rajput nobles, it is merely a curious instance that there is nothing so foolish and so disagreeable that human beings will not do or endure if it only becomes the fashion.’ (Chronicles of Dustypore, p. 47.)
Another peculiar custom is that it is the new comer who calls first, without waiting to be called on; the call is returned and the new comer is asked out or not, as people see fit. If no such invitation is received the matter ends there.30 The method of paying calls is simple. You drive to the first house on your list. If the lady is not receiving, the servant will bring a box with the inscription ‘Not at Home’. You simply drop your card and drive on to the next house on the list. If the lady is receiving, the servant brings the lady’s salaams and you have to go in for a few minutes. No call is expected to last for more than five minutes. ‘The funniest part’, writes ‘O. Douglas’ in Olivia in England (1913), ‘of it is that one may have hundreds of people on one’s visiting list and not know half of them by sight, because of the convenient system of the not-at-home box.’31 The etiquette of Anglo-India demands that you should leave as soon as another visitor arrives.
(viii) Its indifference to religion. Meadows Taylor in The Story of My Life refers to the indifference of his contemporaries to religion. Apart from missionaries, the average Englishman in India to-day calls himself a Christian more for political than other reasons. Church attendance on Sundays is necessary more to show the solidarity of Englishmen in India than to satisfy their spiritual needs. Most of them attend church as they attend parades, that is, under orders. Here is a characteristic passage from Mr. Y. Endrikar’s Gamblers in Happiness, typical of Anglo-India’s attitude towards religion:
‘I go on principle in India to show that I am not ashamed of my religion. I would like to have an order issued that every European officer should attend church every Sunday, if he is in headquarters. In England I confess I take a holiday.’ (p. 155.)
Sir Francis Younghusband says in But in Our Lives that living in India with Hindus and Mohammedans had made him realize that Christianity had never sunk into the very marrow of the bone of an Englishman like Islam and Hinduism into the Indian. Some Anglo-Indians are positively hostile to Christian Churches in India. Miss Bishop says in Wine of Sorrow that the Government viewed Christianity as a most dangerous innovation, and was loath to expose the Hindu to its contagion. He adds with sorrow that more than one Christian officer ‘bowed down to wood and stones’ to please a native people whom he feared.32 Mr. L. Beresford believes that if English rule in India is ever finally laid in its coffin, ‘the Church by the tactlessness of its representatives will have assisted to nail down the lid’.
(ix) Its social constitution. In order to understand Anglo-Indian life, it is necessary to understand its peculiar constitution. In Anglo-India most of the women are young and married.33 The very young girl and the very old lady are absent from it. Young children have to sent to England to be educated there and old ladies accompany their husbands after their retirement. This leaves Anglo-India with girls and wives. Secondly, these ladies have nothing serious to do. They have no ‘domestic responsibilities and occupations’. They have so many servants that there is little they need do themselves. If any enthusiastic mistress of the house desires to do things for herself, she soon finds that it is useless. ‘Cœrulean life is long and the art of Cœrulean house-keeping is extremely short’, says Camilla.34 Servants are many, living is cheap, the kitchen is unattractive and unhygienic, and the only house-keeping problem of the mem-sahib in India is to keep accounts of dusters or charcoal. Just to pass time, or for the sake of a new sensation, or a little excitement, these women begin to ‘play at being in love’.35 A third feature of Anglo-Indian life is that its men folk are either very busy or very idle. The Assistant Magistrate, the Civil Surgeon, the Engineer, and the Superintendent of Police are examples of busy people. The young unmarried subaltern, on the other hand, has very little to do. Fourthly, the climate of India separates the toiling husband from the wife, who spends the greater part of the year at one of the hill stations and comes down to the plains only in the cold weather. When we consider in addition the influence of climate and the scarcity of English females in India; the fact that for help and protection in time of trouble and need Englishwomen have to depend upon Englishmen in general; that there is no lack of bachelors making merry away from the discipline of their regiments, and of married men whose wives are in England; and finally that life at hill stations with its round of amusements, dances, dinners, picnics, and balls is gay throughout the year,36 is it surprising that a society so peculiarly constituted should become a Garden of Eden where the Devil enters to tempt Eve,37 or that tragedies or comedies of love and marriage should be the most prominent feature of the life of Anglo-India and of Anglo-Indian fiction, whose pages are so full of flirtations and frivolities, scandals and gossip, as to exclude almost everything else? Sir Henry Cunningham in his inimitable manner traces the growth of a woman like Mrs. Vereker, ‘a type of character which Indian life brings into especial prominence, and develops into fuller perfection than is to be found in less artificial communities’. He says:
‘She had come to India while still almost a child, and in a few months, long before thought or feeling had approached maturity, had found herself the belle of a station, and presently a bride. These circumstances separated her frequently from her husband, and she learnt to bear separation heroically. The sweet incense of flattery was for ever rising, and she learnt to love it better every day. Any number of men were for ever ready to throw themselves at her feet and proclaim her adorable; and she came to feel it right that they should do so. She found that she could conjure with her eyes and mouth, and exercise a little despotism by simply using them as Nature told her.’ (Chronicles of Dustypore, pp. 80-1.)
Sir Henry Cunningham wrote in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. To show that Anglo-Indian life has not changed in its essential elements since then, we quote the following from The Jungle Girl by Mr. G. Casserly, whose book was published only a few years ago.
‘Her husband, of course, was as blind as most husbands seem to be in the Anglo-Indian society. For in that land of the Household of Three, the Eternal Triangle, it is almost a recognised principle that every married woman who is at all attractive is entitled to have one particular bachelor always in close attendance on her, to be constantly at her beck and call, to ride with her, to drive her every afternoon to tennis or golf or watch polo, then on to the club and sit with her there. His duty, a pleasant one, no doubt, is to cheer up her otherwise solitary dinner in her bungalow, on the nights when her neglectful husband is dining out en garçon. No Cavaliere Servente of Old Italy ever had so dizzy a time as the Tame Cat of India of to-day.’ (p. 64.)
Mrs. Wingfield-Stratford, writing in 1921, thus describes Anglo-Indian life:
‘Once or twice it struck her that the lives of most of the women she met were singularly aimless ones. She was also surprised sometimes at the matter-of-fact way in which somebody’s husband and somebody else’s wife almost invariably paired off together. Every lady in the station, except herself, seemed to have what Mrs. Tukeson knew as a “Boy”, and were surprisingly frank about it.’ (p. 87.)
The young flirt, after a life of dalliance, wit, flattery, and strife, generally develops into the scandal-mongering wicked lady of the station, presiding over the club, and finding her chief business in life in pulling neighbours to pieces or in chaperoning a young niece.38 She discusses over her tea-cup the sins of her friends and acquaintances, criticizes other women’s gowns, calculates how much each man earns, and estimates the allowance he makes to his wife.39 Judging Anglo-Indian life from its pursuits, amusements, and clubs, a new comer is likely ‘to look with horror and loathing upon an existence which appeared to sap all that was best and sweetest out of life, and transformed it into a hideous, grasping, money-making, place-seeking travesty’.40
(x) Religion of work. But it would be a mistake to think that the flirt or the gossip represents the whole of Anglo-India. The life depicted in most Anglo-Indian novels is of a trivial character.41 But the men who govern India possess many sterling virtues, or they would have lost India long ago. Devotion to duty or ‘doing one’s job’, as Mr. Thompson puts it, is the most important of their virtues. It is well illustrated in several novels, though never so clearly or prominently as the life of gaiety and amusements. In The Cœruleans, Camilla found that real India was ‘something very different from that of magazine articles’. She found Anglo-Indians hard at work. ‘The nobility of their task seemed to throw a sort of moral grandeur over their lives that might otherwise have been commonplace and even ignoble in their dullness.’42 India is a hard taskmaster. She gives men plenty of opportunities of proving their worth.43 Novel after novel mentions (incidently) the whole-hearted devotion of Englishmen to their work. Sylvester of The Price of Empire and Delahey of the Shadow of Abdul resemble Henry Lawrence and remind one of the ancient Spartans and Romans. Even Sir Henry Cunningham, who has so mercilessly exposed the faults of Anglo-Indian society, acknowledges that Hannibal’s soldiers did not have to work so hard as the English officials at Elysium. This devotion to work is ‘a new religion’ to the Englishman in India. It grips him as nothing else does.44 It is a remarkable and pleasing characteristic of Anglo-Indian novelists that while they delight in drawing attention to the follies and imperfections of Anglo-Indians they do not over-emphasize the praiseworthy traits of their character. In the distant outposts of the frontier, in jungles and lonely mofussil stations often far removed from men of their own race, these civilians and soldiers have done their duty for duty’s sake. Mrs. Maud Diver is untiring in her admiration for the Spartan ideals of duty and service that distinguish the lives of her countrymen in India. Another book which embodies this ideal of silent service and worship of work is But in Our Lives by Sir Francis Younghusband. One finds a subdued echo of the same in Mr. Edward Thompson’s two books, An Indian Day and A Farewell to India. Hamar, Findlay, and Alden are his heroes; they suffer but do their jobs.
(xi) Anglo-Indian women misrepresented. Anglo-Indian novelists, both men and women, have not done justice to the women of Anglo-India. Even Mr. Thompson is hard on them, and goes so far as to suggest that much of the poisoning of the world’s thinking comes from the idleness and ease of sheltered women, especially young women. Hilda wonders if there is any country where it is so useless and ineffectual to be an Englishwoman as India.45 This is the feeling of many Englishwomen who are disgusted with the commonplace lives of their sisters in India. Some women writers like Mrs. Maud Diver, Mrs. Alice Perrin, and Mrs. G. H. Bell have attempted to show that the life of Englishwomen in India is not so frivolous as it appears on the surface, and that they also have played their part silently but heroically in making the British Empire what it is.46 However, it is not Anglo-Indian fiction that gives one the idea of the real contribution of the women of England to the greatness of England. It was left to a poet, Mr. George Essex Evans, to appraise the glorious part played by the women of the West in the expansion of England. For love they faced the wilderness, left the ‘vine-wreathed cottage’ for the ‘slab-built, zinc- roofed homestead’ or ‘huts on new selections’, leaving the ‘pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best’.
The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say—
The nearest woman’s face may be a hundred miles away.
For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts—
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above—
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.
These women of the West, like some flower transplanted to bloom beneath alien skies, make efforts to adapt themselves to their changed environments, and it is no wonder that they wither away. The gaiety of a few seasons does not compensate for the long years of a dreary existence that lie ahead, and if to a new comer India appears a land of never-ending amusements and pleasures, the glamour soon wears off, and even the most frivolous woman is forced to realize the difficulties and responsibilities of her position. Even Mrs. Savi, whose picture of Anglo-India is not flattering, says in one of her novels:
‘What a lot of women are unassuming heroines in private life. One has only to come to the East to discover the stuff there is in us.’ (A Prince of Lovers, p. 125.)
Mrs. Perrin writes, in The Happy Hunting-Ground:
‘Generally speaking, the conditions of Indian existence may be said to foster the finest feminine qualities of the Englishwoman, though in some lamentable cases the life may develop the very worst—and then it is the individual, not India, that is to blame.’ (p. 112.)
Sir Francis Younghusband divides Englishwomen in India into three classes—those who, losing all womanly grace, become mere copies of men; those who ‘live a hothouse, scented life, and wither and crinkle if a breath of fresh air enters their room’; and finally those whom Sir Francis calls ‘the glory of our race’,
‘ have been brought up in rain and sunshine, and have been accustomed to mix with men and women of every rank in life, and to live with animals, and who yet retain every womanly charm.... They are no mere drawing-room orchids: they have the charm and fragrance of the wild rose.’47
Anglo-Indian novels have delineated the first two types but generally ignored the third. We should not forget also, that many English wives who are represented as going wrong in India will go wrong anywhere, and that often their foolishness is interpreted as sin by jealous husbands and scandal-mongers. There are few novels in Anglo-Indian fiction more poignant in their pathos than Mrs. Perrin’s The Woman in the Bazaar, showing how the tragedies of Anglo-Indian married life might be averted if the husbands had a little more understanding of the feelings and difficulties of their wives in India, and could learn to look upon their mistakes a little more charitably. If they remembered the prayer of Rafella,
Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah I leave me not alone;
Still support and comfort me,
many an English home in India might be happier than it is.
Singh, Bhupal. A Survey of Anglo-Indian Fiction. Oxford University Press, 1934. pp. 311–336.
The story depicts the struggles of Stephen Locke, a mining engineer, to earn his livelihood. The book begins with Bombay and takes us to Tikana, a native state, and gives us a glimpse into the court life.
Vivacious Sybella and her extravagant widowed aunt go out to India in search of some suitable husband. Her experiences on board the S.S. Belgaria, told in the form of letters to her London friend, are narrated with gusto. She does find a husband.
Fanny Brandon’s love-story, varied with disparaging sketches of Anglican missionary life, the liaisons of Anglo-Indian society, and lurid pictures of Indian superstitions.
A collection of eleven stories (on the face of them fact rather than fiction) dealing with life on the frontiers of India.
Robert Neave, a Barrister in Burma, loving an English girl follows ‘the custom of the country’ and later on marries Ma O Tin. From this unenviable position he is happily extricated.
‘Opens with chapters of Anglo-Indian life at Simla under Lord Mayo (1869-72) and continues the hero’s autobiography in England, where he tries as M.P. to pass a measure for reforming the army.’ — Baker.
An Indian Maharajah with a hundredweight of Jewels, guarded by an escort of black scimitars; Mirza, the jewel thief; and the usual developments.
‘A novel of Afghan life and manners.’ — Baker.
‘The history of a marriage between a beautiful Eurasian and a highly correct Englishman.’ — Baker.
‘The British Expedition into Afghanistan; murder of Sir William Macnaghten; the treaty; its violation; the Retreat through the pass; the massacre; and the march to Cabul of the avenging army under Pollock? — Baker.
‘The hero of this pathetic story is believed to be the Rev. James Williamson of the Baptist Mission? — C.R. 1908.
‘Illustrates the influence of Buddhism on family life, and insufficiency to satisfy the wants of humanity.’ — Baker.
‘Reprinted from a Bengal Journal, recounts the story of a cadet of the Bengal artillery, contains a good satirical picture of life in India. — C.R. 1908.
Captain Colin Sheppard loses his memory owing to severe head wounds received in tribal warfare, and forgetting his bridal night suspects his young wife of infidelity. Her suffering attracts sympathy.
A variation of the eternal triangle. Shows first-hand knowledge of the Indian frontier, records the Anglo-Indian attitude towards Government, and gives a few sinister sketches of native India.
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.... His style is stiff and the story is dry and full of Indian slang.’ — C.R. 1908.
Sketches of Hermione’s life in Japan and India and tragedy of Eurasian marriages.
Pauline is the daughter of a great Sanskrit scholar. Scene: England and Germany.
‘A story written retrospectively. The action of the book is Helen Prideam’s gradual shrinking from her husband and growing dependence on Van Rennen. There is no intrigue or disloyalty; Helen’s thoughts and actions represent the unconscious but inevitable aversion of a sane woman from a coldly efficient lunatic.’ — T.L.S.
‘A love-story involving several characters, with a background of Anglo-Burmese life and manners' — Baker.
Austin Fairholt kept a Burmese girl as his ‘Housekeeper’ for six months and then was transferred. He returns to the district after 20 years as commissioner and finds that Dora Crombie is his own daughter, and on Crombie’s death has to take care of Dora. The Old Hag, the grandmother of Dora, threatens blackmail.
‘Sketches of Indian life and character’ contributed to the Temple Bar. (Not a novel.)
‘Véronique is a mixture of womanly weakness and strength. Gay and handsome, Gordon Romilly is well drawn. Mrs. Dowdson is most amusing and most natural. Scenes at Ootacamund Post Office and at Mrs. Dowdson’s levée are true to life’ — C.R. 1908.
Esoteric. Unfitness of the English and Western peoples to learn the mysteries of the East.
‘Lives of the higher Anglo-Indian Officials; tries to prove the folly and cruelty of educating young Indian princes to be hybrid Englishmen, also that East is East' — C.R. 1908.
A novel with a purpose, dealing with the petty squabbles and jealousies of Indian official life, the problem of the governing of India, and the love story of Lady Mary Villiers Browne.
First part deals with the childhood and adolescence of Harley in England. Later on he goes to India as a policeman and a ‘vampire’ seeks in vain to lead him to destruction. Finally he emerges engaged to the right girl.
‘A capital mystery and detective story—with a lovely haunted old house, a strange death, and orientalists of an Indian secret society watching the owner; with some exciting scenes in India.’ — T.L.S.
The love affairs of a young Englishwoman born and bred in Burma.
A novel of life in Burma. ‘The thread of the story is Travis Steel’s passion for work in the far frontier conflicting with the calls upon him at home.’ Overloaded with characters. Money, Edward. The Wife and the Ward, or A Life’s Error.' — C.R. 1859.
‘Provides thrilling adventures in the forests of India.’ — John o' London.
Malaya story of mixed marriage.
The volatile Miss Hastings, Cordelia, and John Elliot meet at Bijapur. The plot revolves round the secret of John Elliot’s parentage.
Study of Zemla Anderson, a Eurasian. Procession of an idol and worship of Vishnu.
Donald Oakley ‘axed’ from the navy finds a billet as ‘valetnurse’ to a rich invalid and falls in love with his daughter. Then they meet in India, and Estelle has much difficulty in bringing him up to the scratch.
‘Three stories studying Indian character in touch with British administration.’ — T.L.S.
‘Descriptive of society in India’, 2 vols. (C.R. 1908 gives the name of A. Prinsep as their author. They were published anonymously by the widow of the author.)
(India in 1723. Prologue, Nield).
Very unsympathetic treatment of Eurasians.
Calcutta Review, 1844-1931, is a repository of information, specially for the earlier Anglo-Indian publications. The following list may usefully be consulted.
Among other Indian periodicals the Modern Review is very useful, especially with regard to the study of R. N. Tagore. Its 1914 volume publishes a translation of Eyesore which has not been published in book form.
Modern Review, September 1924, has an article entitled ‘Indians and Anglo-Indians as portrayed by British Novelists’ by Mr. St. Nihal Singh.
Hindu University Magazine, 1926, has an article, ‘Some Indian Associations of English Literature’, by Professor P. Sheshadhari.
The Times Literary Supplement notices almost all books discussed in this Survey.
The New Statesman, 1924, has a number of articles and letters regarding Mr. Forster’s A Passage to India.
The Bookman (London) has an article on Mrs. G. H. Bell by Louis J. McQuilland.
Empire Review, January 1926, has an article, ‘Indian Characters in English Fiction’ by Mr. P. Krishnasvami.
A recent issue of the Book-Finder (1931) contains an interview that Mrs. E. W. Savi gave to a correspondent.
Some novels after 1930 also have been discussed. ↩
Sir G. O. Trevelyan, Competition Wallah. ↩
The Great Proconsul, p. 79. ↩
The Calcutta Review, 1844, p. 10. ↩
Calcutta Review, 1846. ↩
Long Engagements. ↩
Mr. Jervis, ch. xxiii, p. 184. ↩
Chronicles of Dustypore, p. 144. ↩
pp. 87-8. ↩
Locke, The Golden Lotus, pp. 305-6. ↩
Savi, Torchlight, p. 17. ↩
A. Perrin, East of Suez, p. 198. ↩
East of Suez, p. 141. ↩
p. 83. ↩
The Devil’s Cocktail, p. 321. ↩
Mistress of Ceremonies, p. 49. Miss Yvonne Fitzroy in Courts and Camps in India writes: ‘If I were asked what struck me as the chief concern of English social life in India, I should answer: “To seek Precedence and ensue it!” Precedence is the focal point of India’s social nonsense, convulses the home, and has even, it is rumoured, convulsed the Government.’ (p. 210.) ↩
Sahib-log, p. 14. ↩
Ibid., p. 114. ↩
Ibid., p. 211. ↩
Ibid., p. 210. ↩
The Relentless Gods, p. 21. ↩
But in Our Lives, p. 115. ↩
In the Long Run, p. 11. ↩
p. 20. ↩
Talbot Mundy, Om. ↩
Gamblers in Happiness, p. 172. ↩
G. B. Newcomen, Blue Moons, p. 110. ↩
A. Perrin, East of Suez, p. 287. ↩
F. E. Penny, A Question of Love, p. 39. ↩
Savi, Sackcloth and Ashes. ↩
p. 98. ↩
p. 22. ↩
Florence Marryat (Mrs. Ross Church) writes in Gup (1868): ‘For one of the greatest proofs of India’s progressing civilization is, that now there are old maids there occasionally. But Mrs. Alice Perrin, writing in A Woman in the Bazaar (1914), says: ‘The aged white man or woman is seldom to be encountered in India; they have done their time, gone home—or to their graves. Sometimes they stay to live out their last years in some more or less salubrious region, but such settlers are dying out, and with easier transit home, are not replaced; for though living may be less expensive, and cheap luxuries attractive, there is always the loss of prestige and the desire to end their days in England.’ (p. 76.) ↩
‘Housekeeping in the East is a comparatively easy affair; it is accomplished in the early morning, and consists chiefly of “orders”. The butler and the cook swagger back to the kitchen full of authority. They issue mandates under cover of “Missus’s orders”, the missus being innocent of nine-tenths of them. The result is admirable, a trouble-saving arrangement which should turn the whole body of housewives in England green with envy.’ (Living Dangerously, p. 74.) ↩
Mrs. Ross Church enumerates the types of females who are to be found on the hills, and who make the hills dangerous to an idle man. ‘There are the wives who can’t live with their husbands in the plains; and grass-widows . . . they are (without any reference to the amount of their charms) the most dangerous that the idle man could encounter. Then there are young ladies whose parents are not able, or willing, to send them to England just yet, but who are too old to live with safety in the heat of Madras.... And lastly there are mothers themselves, with their troop of little ones.’ (p. 102.) ↩
Thus writes Mrs. Margaret Mordecai about the gaiety of Anglo-India: ‘Station life in India is delightful. It is so easy and lazy, and at the same time so gay and bright: it reminded me of our old fashioned life at Virginia Springs. English coldness and English reserve seem to melt in the tropical sun, and the English military and official society is as sociable, friendly and gay as any that may be found in the world. Men dance there with apparent delight who refuse to do so at all in England, and they court the society of women as much as they avoid it at home. This at once makes for a gaiety quite lacking in England, and it may truly be said that in India every woman of any attraction whatever is a belle.’ (Indian Dream Lands, 1925, p. 306.) ↩
The Acid Test. ↩
L. Beresford, The Second Rising, p. 71. ↩
A. Wilson, The Devil’s Cocktail, p. 141. ↩
Ibid., p. 141. ↩
‘John Travers’ (Mrs. G. H. Bell) twice comments on the Anglo-Indian novel in her Hot Water. ‘I can’t see what such a novel could present to one’s mind that is not essentially commonplace, if its characters are the English in India. For you people cannot be odd or revolutionary. You cannot even be unconventional here.’ (pp. 56—7.) Later on she again speaks of ‘the feeble imbecility of Anglo-Indian novels in general’. (‘All Simla Gossip, and valiant warriors, and raids and proposals at picnics.’) (p. 127.) ↩
p. 206. ↩
K. M. Edge, The Shuttles of the Loom, p. 201. ↩
Mr. G. Lowes Dickinson in Appearances thus summed up Anglo-India: ‘twaddle and tea, after tennis, “frivolling”—it is their word; women too empty-headed and men too tired to do anything else. This mill-round of work and exercise is maintained like a religion. The gymkhana represents the “compulsory games” of a public school. It is part of the “white man’s burden”. He plays as he works, with a sense of responsibility. He is bored, but boredom is a duty, and there is nothing else to do.’ (p. 16.) ↩
An Indian Day, p. 204. ↩
In the past the race prejudice of the English tommy and Englishwoman widened the gap between England and India. Now some Englishwomen have begun to realize that they can play an important part in bridging the social chasm that is responsible for the bitterness of political life. Miss Yvonne Fitzroy truly says that to many Indians an Englishwoman in India represents all they can know of England. ‘We, in India’, she says, ‘may not be the flower of our kind, but by us will our kind be judged.’ ↩
But in Our Lives, p. 171. ↩